Sunday, June 28, 2009

A new goal...

Recently, I've been thinking alot about my half iron race in Sept.

This race oftens has some insane weather ranging from 100 degree temps to horrible storms.

I get it. I know about the potential for external elements.

Weather aside, I have been thinking about my goals. I'm very certain to PR, regardless of weather.

So, I have been pulling previous years race results. Women in my age group have been nearly doubling their prescence every year. Of course, very few women in my age group (even today) compete.

This is where is becomes interesting. If twenty women compete this year, I have to place in the top 6 in order to qualify for Nationals. Last time, I was 8th.

There's quite a jump in finishing time from 6th to 8th. I'm well aware of that. AND, it's not likely that THIS year, with the increase in competition, that I will make it to the top 6.

But, it's a nice goal for future years, don't you think?

Afterall, the competition gets faster, but so do I.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Imaginary Blog Writing.

Since my training hours increased, I've found myself writing blogs in my head and then looking for them online. Maybe it's just me, but this summer certainly feels alot busier than previous summers.

Over the last two weeks and during my training, I've found myself thinking alot about "one thing" and "perserverance or dedication or that thing inside us" that keeps us coming back even when we've been knocked on our butts....hard.

One thing....
People don't like change. Ok, MOST people don't like change.

But I've found that people, in my life, have a very hard time with change. They want to lose weight or they want do a race or they want a new job.....but it becomes an all or nothing approach.

THAT becomes overwhelming.

And that means that nothing ever happens.

Because to lose weight, to get faster, to find a new job....that means changing something. Instead of believing that you need to change everything....change ONE THING.

If you want to lose weight, change one piece of your life at a time. You don't have to change your entire diet and go on an extreme exercise regime at once.

Start by walking everyday for 15 minutes. There isn't one person out there who doesn't have 15 minutes to walk. Someone I know always wants to tell me about shows she watches. She insists on giving me the latest updates of "Lost" and "CSI" and whatever else is on tv. Then I ask, "How was your walk today?" She says "I didn't have time".

Walking is cardiovascular and weight bearing and best of all, FREE.

If you are an athlete and have stopped exercising, don't expect to jump right back in where you left off. The past doesn't matter. I don't care that you've run 15 marathons or a gazillion triathlons. You haven't exercised in a year....start walking!


We all have times where our diets aren't quite right or we stop exercising for a bit....we're human. Don't be embarrassed by this. Just because you are running a 13:00 minute mile now when you used to run 9:00 miles....don't justify away what you are doing now.

The past doesn't matter. What matters is what you are doing now.

Remember, we can only be our best when we give ourselves the opportunity to be our best.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Now THIS is good stuff

Over the years, I've been fortunate to run into some of the cheesiest guys around. We've had the Mr. Cheese--the goldchain porno-watching-in-the-steam-room guy. We've had the arrogant Ironman who told me "Oh I did CDA before they made it easier."

Those were just my favorites.

Today, I got to meet Mr. Tanline. The pool was quite full when I arrived. I noticed three men standing at the edge of their pools. I thought I would join one of them before they got started. Lucky for me, one of them was just leaving. HE was talking to a guy in another lane. I tried to ignore the conversation, but the guy in the lane was talking at such a volume, it was clear that he wanted EVERYONE to hear what he had to say. So, I listened while getting ready. This guy went on and on about the fact that he is a TRIATHLETE and he has an awesome TRIBIKE. People are always stopping him on the road asking him when his next race is.

I am not kidding.

So, I'm thinking, "Ok, this guy is a total noob." He probably went out and bought all the gear before even doing a race.

I start swimming. When I stopped for the break between my speed sessions, he turns to me and says, oh you (dear reader) need the visual.....y'know when someone is talking to you and looking over a pair of glasses? That look? OK, he was looking at me like that and says, "I see you have the triathlete's suntan." Then he turns and points to his back and says, "So do I. You get that from being aero."

Can't you just hear the bowchickabowbow music playing?

I mumble something about being the triathlete's tatoo. I see him mull it over for a second and start laughing.

I think the best response was how his arse got CHICKED a few minutes later when I kept beating his butt up and down the lanes.

Now who's the triathlete?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Up Next

Last week, I started Specific Prep 1. My strength training is now down to maintenance only (1 day a week) and I've added a mid-week long bike. My mileage all around is increasing, again, this week. Next week, I'm into a "testing" week. I feel pretty good and think that I've gotten faster, but of course it's difficult to say with the mileage increase and feeling fatigue most of the time. Although it is becoming harder and harder to shave time off my swim (hopefully masters will change that), I'm still doing a decent job on the bike and the run.

Training hours this week: 14

I'm glad to have today as a relative rest cuz I'm feeling the last three days of training. I'm tired, and I didn't sleep well last night.

I have Rattlesnake in roughly 8 weeks, and it will be my first Tri of the season. It'll be a good test to make sure I still know how to bumble my way through transition. It'll also be a nice test to see how well I maintain my pacing. Don't look for a PR for this race. Look for a smooth, well-organized race. That's success this time around.

btw--I mis-stated my goals....not that anyone called me on it.....but I didn't mean that I was planning on hitting ALL those goals in the same race. If any ONE of them happen, I will be thrilled! I believe it will be more of a mix: maybe 1 minute on the swim, 10 on the bike, and nothing on the run....that sort of thing.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Today was my 3rd day in a row of hard workouts. Hard as in distances travelled not in effort.

This morning I set out to do my long ride on the Harvest Moon half iron bike course. This route is my route of choice because 1.) It's close and 2.) It's hard and 3.) Sometimes I don't think things through.

Still, I'm fortunate to live right next to Aurora Res where I can get my fill of brick workouts on the course of many different length races.

I set out to cover roughly 30 miles of the HM course. On weekends, there simply isn't a better cycling route. (Ok, in places the road can get a little rough because of the spring snows). But the positives are that: the locals give cyclists PLENTY of room; there is very little traffic; there are many cyclists, so you're never really alone out there.

This morning I left as soon as the fog lifted. As I rode east and into the sun, I was in awe at how beautiful it was. We've been plagued by droughts for about 6 years. This year, we've finally come out of it. The fields were green. The trees had life to them, and the creek beds were full of water.

As I topped one of the larger hills, I thought I saw something move out of the corner of my eye. Out here, we get to see all kinds of animals from antelope to deer to cows to various birds to rattlesnakes and I've ever seen a giant turtle. We also have coyotes. I've seen them in the distance while running, but I've never seen them out on the road. I looked to my right, but I couldn't see anything and figured it was a breeze blowing through the trees.

As I started picking up speed going downhill, a coyote jumps out and directly in line with my bike (now flying down the hill at 30mph). In that split second, I think I'm ready to have a horrific crash. Just then the coyote realized I was there, tucked his tail under, arched his back, and bolted across the street.

We came so close, I swear I felt his fur rub my leg.

It took me a few minutes to calm down. My heartrate was off the charts. I was getting ready to make the biggest climb, and didn't want to stop because I was (somewhat) on a tight time schedule. So, I lowered my gears and decided to take it easy getting to the top.

Even without running into the coyote, the ride was tough. After two days of cycling, I was starting to feel the same soreness that I experienced at Elephant Rock the previous weekend. Except that I realized, I've already gone further than E-Rock.

At the turnaround point, I was slower than I had been over the past few weeks, but I was also faster than I was the last time I did Harvest Moon (2007) at a lower heartrate.

Even before the weekend of hard workouts, I'd set some goals that I think are reasonable. Challenging, but reasonable.

I might as well share them here....

Last time, I placed 8th (I think. I'll have to check that) in my AG. I want to get into the top 5. The field is faster year to year. I really think this could be the year I crack the top 5.

This year, the swim is the wildcard. My swim was pretty good in 2007. Still, I think I can shave 4 minutes off my swim. Four minutes off a 1.2 mile swim is pretty substantial.

Next, the bike. My goal is to shave 18 minutes off my bike time. I think I can do this right now. 18 minutes over a 56 mile course is a reasonable goal.

The run is a gimme....I'm going to take off 27 minutes from my last time. Why so much? In 2007, we had a terrible thunderstorm with high winds, terrible rain, and hail. Several of us took cover in a porta-potty for about 20 minutes. Besides the storm, I've been focusing on my running and have made some significant improvements.

Of course, even shaving one minute off of each event will give me a pr, but we all need to have stretch goals.

And what's that saying? Reach for the moon because even if you miss, you'll still be among the stars.

The Indispensable Sherpa

In the endurance world, there are a few critical components of going long. We have training. Without training, we can't compete.

We have nutrition. Without proper nutrition, we can't compete well.

We have mental toughness. Without mental toughness, nothing will happen. We won't make any attempt to get up early to get in a 4 hour ride. Mental toughness is what carries us through pain. Mental toughness is that thing that pushes us beyond what we think we are capable of.

Here's the BUT, you were waiting for it weren't you?

I have never read an article in any sports magazine that stresses the importance of the Sherpa in endurance racing.

If you are new to the endurance world, let me explain the Sherpa.

Unlike the athlete, the Sherpa doesn't register to become a Sherpa. It just happens. The Sherpa is the person that provides the athlete with support. Complete unyielding, unquestioning support.

The Sherpa knows the athlete inside-out. The Sherpa offers advice. The Sherpa wakes up at 4am to drive to a race to support their athlete. They cheer on the athlete at the start. Then they sit and wait for a few hours, just so they can scream and yell and cheer again during that brief 5 minutes that they get to see their athlete again. Then they wait again.

The Sherpa is a "coach". The Sherpa is the person that knows the times of every race the athlete has competed in. The Sherpa knows when a race is going well or not just by looking at their athlete's face. The Sherpa is a cheerleader. The Sherpa is a photographer. The Sherpa is a medic. The Sherpa knows the best way to handle cuts, blisters, and chafing. They know how to handle dehydration.

The know every aspect of the athlete's race strategy.

The Sherpa might not understand the athlete's desire to go long. The Sherpa might worry about the athlete, but they never question the desire. They are accepting. They always know what to say, what piece of advice to offer, what words of encouragement to say. They also know that sometimes words can't heal disappointment, but a warm hug can.

During training, the Sherpa will drop everything when they receive the "rescue call" and drive out to help their athlete. The Sherpa will have every piece of a long run or long ride mapped out and will wait at a meeting place for their athlete, so the athlete can reload on snacks or drinks.

The Sherpa does all of the work and receives none of the glory. The Sherpa isn't the one crossing the finish line, but they put in much of the work. They are at the finish line snapping pictures, screaming, and waving the cowbell.

They don't receive a medal at the finish, but they seem absolutely genuinely happy when their athlete finishes.

Without our Sherpas, we couldn't do what we do.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Final Answer

I have OFFICIALLY decided to not run on Sunday. Here's why:

1.) I originally signed up because Mike and the boys would be out of town. They aren't now. (Normally, that's not an issue but read on).

2.) We are going to the Rockies game at 1pm. This means I have to drive into Denver twice in one day. (Ok, not a big deal since I take the train, but it is over an hour of travelling each way).

3.) I have a long brick on Saturday.

4.) I have a 2 hour bike on Sunday.

It came down to this:I don't want to sacrifice any cycling for running. It wouldn't be possible for me to run a half marathon and ride for 2 hours AND still get to the Rockies game without rushing around like a crazy person. As appealing as that might seem, I'd rather enjoy myself.
My race is just over 11 weeks away now. The half iron PR is considerably more important than running a half marathon right now.

Tikki has spoken.

Today: 1 hour run in which I got caught in the rain and the tornado warning. I couldn't believe it. The storm moved fast. When I left, it was clear out. Good thing it was a tempo run because I was haulin' arse to get home.

Earlier in the day I did a 2150m swim. Endurance swim with a bunch of moderate and fast paced intervals. The intervals were longer and within them it was speedplay such as 4 x 250 with each 250 breaking down as 100 mod 50 fast 100 mod.

Moderate = no greater than zone 3 (pretty fast). Fast = just shy of all out sprinting.

Unlike Tuesday, today I felt very good in the pool. I used the guy next to me for pacing. He was seriously fast. Probably the fastest guy I've seen there. I would take off immediately before him, and my goal was to not let him pass me. I knew he was only about 5 meters behind me. When I'd flip, I saw him. I kept going. At the last interval, he caught me and beat me to the wall. What a great workout! I'm not sure I would have pushed so hard if he hadn't been there.

Next week, I'm going to try out the 6am Master's swim on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Tomorrow is a 1:15 ride with 20 second accelerations throughout. I'll go early and beat the afternoon storms.

Did I mention that tomorrow is also Me 'n Mike's 16th anniversary? I bet 16 years ago he never imagined playing sherpa as much as he does.

Monday, June 8, 2009

E-Rock Race Report

On Saturday night, I didn't want to do this tour. On Sunday morning at 4:15am, I wanted to do it even less. It was a cold morning. I was tired. I was unprepared. I haven't spent significant time on the bike, and my last and longest ride was the previous Sunday when I went 30 miles.

This tour was 62 miles.

My poor poor buttisimo.

As I was eating breakfast, I was actually thinking about how I could get out of it. I could lay down on the couch and pretend like I fell back to sleep. I could "accidentally" forget my helmet or my shoes.

Instead, I left. At the last minute, I grabbed my heavier cycling jacket. What a good move.

When I got to the tour, the temperature was 42 degrees. We all know that I'm not a cold weather rider. 42 standing still is ok. 42 on a

My start time was 6:00am. I still didn't want to go as I sit in the car.

Eventually, I got out of the car,put my wheel on, and head to the start. I looked around at everyone. The sky was starting to get lighter, but we wouldn't feel it for quite awhile with the hills.

Then we started. Sometimes there are races that I don't want to do, but once I start, I'm ok.

This was NOT that kind of race.

The first 34 miles are uphill....roughly....there are some minor downhills. There were some areas that felt pretty flat, but it's mostly a 34 mile climb.

Until the first rest stop, I kept trying to figure out how to get out of this thing. Where's the sag wagon? If I turn around here could I figure out how to get back.

The only thing keeping me on task was knowing that I'd have to pass all those cyclists behind me....the true walk...or ride of shame.

That, as unhonourable as it was, was the only reason that I kept plugging on.

After awhile, I thought "Just get to the first aid station. Have a snack and see how you feel."

Keep in mind, my legs felt fine, I was holding a good pace, and everything was physically ok with me.

I just didn't want to be there.

At the first aid station, I hopped off. My toes were numb from the cold. I looked around at everyone. The other cyclists were having a good time. I started thinking that maybe I should just do what I can. I knew that I was undertrained, but just maybe I could go out and have fun. I didn't really know how far I could make it, but just try it.

When I got back on the bike, I felt really good. Unlike last year, where teams kept passing me and I often found myself alone except for one or two people ahead or behind me a few miles, this year I was always in the middle of a pack of quite a few cyclists. At any time, there were hundreds of people ahead of me, and hundreds behind me. I always had people around me.

I can't tell you what a huge difference that makes when you are doing a tough climb.

The next aid station was at the highest point. And, there are very tough, short, steep climbs. I really prefer the slow climbs to those steep ones.

But, I had people around me. We were all panting, sweating, talking (when possible), joking about how long this tour is going to take us.

During the first 20 miles, I kept cursing myself. The 2nd 20 miles, I realized how much stronger I've gotten over a year's time. Even being underprepared, I didn't stop until I hit an aid station. (Last year, I stopped several times). My nutrition was perfect this year. (Last year, not so much). This year, I managed to pass people on climbs: not alot, and I was still passed myself, but somehow, I managed to get better over the year.

When I started, I was mad because I kept thinking "When is this tour going to be easy for me?"

That's when I realized that it will never be easy. As we all get in better shape, as we all learn to climb hills better, it will never get easier. The only difference is that I will be faster, year to year. I don't do this tour because some day it will be a piece of cake. I do this tour because each year I see how much progress I've made over the previous year. It's not much year to year, but it adds up to alot over the course of years.

As I continued up the hill, I started really focusing on the other cyclists. I saw a pack of 20 Iraq Veterans. Half of them were missing one leg. 4 more were missing both legs. One amazing man was missing almost both complete legs. I looked at his artificial legs, trying to figure out how they worked. How did he do it? How with not more than a couple of inches, HOW does he do this?

There were a number of people who caught my attention from amazing cyclists to triathletes, to transplant recipients to the 13 year old (who once again kicked my butt--probably the same kid from last year). Of course, there were a couple of jerks, but they were few and far between. You'll find those people at every sport, regardless of your sport.

What I think about now, is that we were all out there, difference sizes, shapes, gender, abilities, and we all had our own stories about why we were there. For one day, we were all in it together. Encouraging each other, making each other laugh.

As I approached the last aid station, at 45 miles, I was starting to feel my lack of training. My butt was starting to hurt. It was manageable though. My inner thighs were really starting to burn. I took a little longer rest. I knew that I had 6-7 miles of serious climbing. As it stood, I wasn't quite sure that I was going to be able to do it. This was being realistic, not negative.

Still, I opted to press on. With fewer than 20 miles left, I decided that I would have to have significant problems for me to NOT finish. I stood there thinking for a minute, when the guy with the yellow cycling outfit (Who I don't recall seeing prior to this) yelled at me, "Are you coming? We're leaving".

I had to shake my head, when he turned and the back of his jersey read in big black letters: "Pitts". (Few people will understand this reference).

no.way. That's just not possible. I could only laugh at the coincidence.

The next 6-7 miles were hard, but not as hard as I remember them. In fact, they were easier than the map even showed.

I remember this section from last year. I remember getting to the top and my legs were just dead. I had nothing left.

This year, I climbed, and when I got to the top....I thought "Hey, that wasn't too bad. I wouldn't want to do it again, but that wasn't too bad."

I looked around. I realized that I was still with about 20 people that I started with. I thought for sure, they would have dropped me, but they didn't and we stayed together.

I think I have finally become an "average" cyclist.

At the top of the hill, I stopped for just a moment to look down the hill that I just climbed. I saw hundreds ofpeople making their way to the top, snaking their way through the hills.

I don't think I've ever felt so good about being average....a C student if you will.

At the finish, there were hundreds of people lining the mile heading into the finishing shoot. If I didn't know better, I would have thought I won the race the way they were cheering.

I might not have "won", but it certainly was a win for me.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Do you doubt what you can do?

At the pool today, I met a woman.

She is training for her very first triathlon.

She just bought her first wetsuit.

Two weeks ago, she bought her first bike.

The furthest she's ever run is 1 mile.

We talked for about 30 minutes. I answered as many questions as possible.

She's excited and nervous.

Her goal is to finish the sprint before the sun goes down.

Did I mention that she's 73?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

It's that time

Remember all my whining about not being prepared for this tour?
Remember all the back and forth of "oh, poor me, which race do I do?"
I'm a big fat baby.
I looked at the map after picking up my supercool packet.
The 62 mile route doesn't even get to go through Black Forest.
We don't even get to ride Roller Coaster Road.
So, I still get to climb up through the Palmer divide.....if I complain ONCE about being tired....or....wah.wah.wah....moan about how underprepared I am....I'm SOMETHING.
62 miles.
I can ride 62 miles.
Besides, there's BBQ at the finish!