Monday, December 30, 2013

The Anti-Year-in-Review

I'm turning into a warm fuzzy pansy. 

You heard here first. Although, I'm sure the thought HAD crossed your least once in the past month.

Day 1 of training for the 2014 tri season.

I'm really excited about it. I guess that's normal. It's the new year. I'm enjoying my Vegas/Thanksgiving/Christmas/Vacation/NewYear eat-a-thon fat. I have more carbohydrates flooding my bloodstream than should even be humanly possible.

I confess. It's an exaggeration. After all the eating, I haven't really gained any significant amount of weight. In a way, that's disappointing because I really tried. 

Today, I had my first run of the season and my first "strength" workout. It was not a traditional strength workout. It's one of those workouts that (while you're doing it), you think, "Ok....this isn't too bad......

BUT HOLYMOTHERMARY&JESUS I am going to feel it tomorrow".

Back to why I'm going all warm fuzzy. It was on the run. I guess it just kind of hit me...that "Wow. This is it. This is the new."

I am doing what I didn't think I'd be doing. And I thought back to the past 2 years, and everything that I accomplished because of Coach Mike.

All I can think about is "That's just the tip of the iceberg."

I learned that I'm pretty good at some things. I need some serious work on others. Those "things" are in constant flux.

Every day of training, every race, I figure out something new.

But the one thing I haven't learned or figured out or experienced is "What's my top end? What's my potential?"

I don't think there is an answer to that because it IS constantly changing.

I think back on specifics. When I did Tour of the Moon, and I shocked the hell out of myself. I never thought I couldn't do it.

I thought, "Oh hell, this is going to be really hard."  But the thought never occurred to me to quit or walk. (Which would have been stupid. Do you know how hard it is to walk up some stupid +20% incline in cycling shoes?)

Then, I remember a race last year. I stood at the edge of the water and thought, "This is going to be a PR swim."

And it was, but I never expected to pull in a 23 minute 1500m it was NO BIG THANG.

Then, I had a goal. I wanted to run a sub 28 min 5k by the end of winter.

I never expected to run a 27:56 in my first 5k of the winter.

At every single one of these events, the thought of "failing" never occurs to me because failure doesn't exist.

I'm not saying "bad things" don't happen. Of course they do. They happen at every race. You're going to flat. You're going to get punched. You're going to race on the hottest or coldest day in history.

The only thing you can really control is your reaction. Sometimes (most times), my reaction is a bunch of 4 letter words, and then I'm done. I'm back to work.

Sure get mad.

Feel bad. Curse.

Then, get back to the job at hand.

That's what I'm doing right now. I had my time off. I am heading in a completely new direction in regards to training, doing things I've never done before.

It's the NEXT PHASE. Whereas, I felt a little lost at this time last year. I didn't really know what I wanted to do. There were a lot of "unknowns" last year, for lack of a better word. I never really feel like I committed to anything.

This year is very different. I know EXACTLY what I want. Even more importantly, I know that my potential is limitless.

When you go into a race season like that it's hard to NOT be excited.

Sit back, grab some popcorn. THIS is going to be a fun ride.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Whatever it takes, part 2

As you ALL know, I've been on vacation.

I was also under the explicit instruction of friends to eat a lot of good food and feel free to move BUT DON'T YOU DARE DO ANYTHING REMOTELY CLOSE TO SWIM BIKE RUN.

Well, ok.....if you insist.

After a few days of playing in the snow, staying up late and having dessert every single day (and sometimes more than once a day), (sometimes after every meal), I am ready to get going again.

Scratch that.

I am really excited to get back to a training regime and eating better again.

Excited, nervous and stupidly determined to hit my goals for the year.

The timing is pretty amazing, if I do say so myself. We went away for vacation during Christmas for the first time ever.

Taking time off....vegging tubbing....eating....eating...eating....(and yes, I FINALLY had my cheesecake!)

It lined up so perfectly with the start of the new year.

Not that I have resolutions, because I don't. Not that I'm against resolutions, because I'm not.

But, I do have goals. Some are new and some are rollover goals from previous years. Rollover goals are really important.

Rollover goals aren't failures. They are the SUPER BIG GOALS that take time reaching. Some rollover goals, I hit this year.

I still have others. I think they are going topple this year.


We were driving when "Whatever it takes" came on the radio.

Googs turns to me and says, "Whenever I here this song I think of you because you have that sticky on your computer that says 'Whatever it takes'. Do you remember that blog post you wrote?"

Well, yea. Of course, I do, but I can't believe HE knew about it.

Whatever it takes: it's still true today. I said in that post that there are times when we can't do it, for any multitude of reasons.

There are times when we have to take a day, a week, a year or even more off from "whatever it takes". We're still chasing goals and dreams, but we have other things in our lives that take priority.

Whatever it takes means exactly that. It means that I am in a place in my life where I can do whatever it takes to meet my goals. It means that I can make the time. I can dedicate myself to a healthy diet. It means emotionally and mentally, I'm in a good place to do this.

A house can be built on a weak foundation. Goals can't be met without a strong physical, mental and spiritual base. 

So, I'm back from vacation, completely rested, completely clear of mind. I'm ready to tackle some new things, new distances, new challenges. 

I feel like I should have my own group of cheerleaders following me around.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Throw away the chains

I'm not really sure what I want to say, but I found myself in front of the computer, in front of my blog.

So, here I am.

I guess if I go back 24 hours, I got a glimpse of what 2014 is going to be like. At the same time, I have no idea what it means.

I don't know what I'm trying to say. I was thinking about 2014 yesterday.

I am going to start from a different place. I want to thank a few people. Interestingly, it's not for the things they said, but more for the things they didn't say.

It was because of them, that I was able to do something that I wasn't expecting to do.

They made me realize that sometimes I need to do what's right for me and not be stubborn about it. In other words, I can't say, "No" to something that I want to do because other people try to do the hard sell on me to do it.

If I want to do it, then I need to do it for me.

That was how I decided a number of things yesterday, including re-organizing my race schedule for 2014. This post probably seems pretty dramatic to JUST talk about a race schedule. Trust me, everything that went on behind the scenes had nothing to do with a race schedule. It has everything to do with losing someone that I really cared about. I wish to God it didn't happen, but it did.

I know it had to happen, but it doesn't make it any easier.

So, the changes.

Today, I sat down to write a list of what I really want and what I really need for the upcoming year. I don't think I've really done this type of exercise in a few years.

I think my goals of a few years ago were appropriate for awhile. But things are different now. They are going to be different. How do I get through all of this without having this person to talk to, or to text or to email.

And I'm so sad. So heartbroken. So hurt.

Because for all my sarcasm and tough talk, I'm just a person who feels much more deeply than a lot of people. I'm real softie.

I was trying to convince myself that this is a fresh start, something new.

But, I can't make that jump yet. I'm still at the endpoint.

I *did* manage to write my list of what was important to me going forward. When I throw out the whiny baby parts, I have a good solid list.

From that list, I came up with what I wanted to accomplish. (This is a "life" list, not a training or race list).

I kept drilling down like that.

Finally, I got to the "training" part of my life.  With every other part penciled in, I was able to look at what I could realistically do this year.

I identified two "A" races:

In June, Loveland Lake 2 Lake, an olympic distance race with a 1500m swim/30mile bike/10k run


SOMA 70.3 in October.

Then, I removed other races, like Nationals.

And I back filled with others, like the Boulder Peak in July--a race that I've never done and swore off because of the size. But, I thought, "Why not?"

There's no more doing things because friends and virtual friends want me to do them. There's no more hang ups. There's no more baggage. There are just races.

I still have a lot of gaps, where some races have been eliminated, and I have yet to fill in with others.

I have a plan, though. As of yesterday, I felt like I had nothing.

Like my race schedule, I'm hoping to fill in other gaps as well. Hopefully, fill them with new friends who want to share a sweaty, gel covered hug at the end of a race.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Small steps for a big problem

"Big Problem" being relative.

My *big* problem is once again nutrition. I thought once I hit the end of my racing season that everything would fall into place and go back to the way they were before.

All of a sudden, I'm struggling to get through workouts again. (Hey, the positive in this is that I can now identify between being tired from lack of sleep and being tired because I need more to eat.)

I cannot tell you how frustrating this has been for me this year. Every single olympic distance race was a struggle.

Nothing seems to work. I decided to take DRASTIC measures. DRASTIC, I tell ya.

I decided to take matters into my own hands.

I have this completely useless Master's degree in Exercise Physiology.....which really is a long involved story, but one that I am more than happy to share should the time arise.

We spent a sick amount of time on nutrition......all different types of nutrition: daily for athletes and sedentary people, for fueling races/training, what happens at the cellular level, minerals, macronutrients, hormones, fluid intake, blah blah blah....have your eyes rolled back into your head yet? We covered everything.

A couple of days ago, I was getting ready to sign on with a nutritionist. I thought that I owe it to myself to pull out all the information that I have and create a plan for myself.

I still don't like tracking, but I came up with an idea....I will track "how I feel".  I don't know why I never thought about it before. I swim by feel. I ride by feel. Running....well, I always feel like death so that doesn't count.

I should be able to apply the same principle to nutrition. It *SHOULD* tune me in better to when I am missing calories or certain nutrients....I just wanted to test it out.

The first thing I did was calculate my calories and macronutrients. (Keep in mind, they're all estimates since I've never done any metabolic testing, but it gives me a range for hard core training, racing and not so hardcore training.)

My initial thought was "those numbers can't be right." Then, I considered how I've been feeling. I thought I'm just going to do this. If I don't see progress in, say, a month, then I'll get some help.

Instead of tracking, I know what's in the food I eat. It is more a matter of bumping up everything throughout the day.

Day One, I started and got crazy hungry very quickly--par for the course. I made notes to eat XX amount more for breakfast the next.

Day Two: I still got hungry, but it wasn't as extreme, and it took a couple of hours.

This is the game that I've been playing for the past few days. Am I hungry? Do I lack energy? If I had to train right now, could I?

So today, I worked up to a recommendation from my nutrition information. Overall, I felt pretty good. I only ran into trouble when I ended up being at the warehouse longer than I expected. That's going to happen.

It might take me longer than a month just to get "right now" figured out, but I'm ok with that. I'd rather get my stuff worked out before I start getting ready for next season.

I guess the lesson is that I have to take it slow and really pay attention to what I'm eating. If I'm not going to track calories and all that, then I really need to pay attention to the signals and identify what they mean.

The other thing that I am learning is how to prep for the "next day". Let's say I have light workouts do I manage my calories for the next day's 2 hour workouts.

I really wish this wasn't so much work.

BUT....I can see where I've screwed up in the past, doing races completely underfueled, fading fast, even being tired the morning of a race. (NOT a good sign).

I have a couple of really big swims coming up. Those will be my first real tests. All other workouts have been well under 2 hours and more like 1-1.5 hours.


Once again.

Wish me luck....this TIME, this is it. If I can't get my stuff together, I'm heading to a nutritionist.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Now that THAT's over

What have I been doing when I haven't been ruminating over friendships?

What started out as a "what if we did THIS race next year" conversation with Ms. Molly turned into a late night conversation of....

What about this?

Or this?

Or what about that distance? Is that one too close to this one? How far of a drive is it? Exactly HOW far is too far for me next year?

In other words, pretty much coming up with my race schedule for next year.

There are still some gaps, but I can fill those in later. Of course, I can't speak for Molly who is currently in off season much so that she doesn't even know how to log into anymore.

Maybe that's an exaggeration.

But maybe not.

I think I'm set for locations. Now, I need to figure out distances.

So far, here's what I'm thinking about:

Possibly a Feb half marathon. The jury is still out on this one. I have a 10 mile race already this month. So, if I want to do a half 2/2 is my only real option. Current contenders: Surf City in CA and some race in Colorado Springs, but I can't remember the name.

The only issue with the half marathon is that I'm not really used to running one so early in the season. If the Surf City half works out then that's a bonus.


March 16th, Bartlett Lake in Scottsdale, AZ. Still not sure which distance: sprint or Oly.

Then, I'm at a loss for April and May. Out thissaway, the only real options are running races. I've usually filled my schedule with running races for these months. This year, I'm not sure.

In June, welcome to my first A race! YAY! Back to Loveland L2L I was stumped on this one. Sprint or Oly. Didn't really want to run a 10k, but I just couldn't resist the Horsetooth climb again, which looks like this:

Last year, I was going through a phase and wasn't exactly trained to do this type of bike course. Granted, I did extremely well. I did probably about what I expected. However, I want to see how I can improve upon last year's time.

That's June.

July, I found the Tri Rock Series. It's right in my back yard. Why not? Sprint? Oly? I have no idea. YET.

THEN AUGUST! "A" Race #2: USAT Nationals  I can't even begin to tell you how long I have wanted to do this race. But, I always had to put it off because of the boys' schedules. School starting, summer sports programs and getting them ready for school.

I am beyond excited for this. I have been so patient.

There will be more....low priority races; I'm sure some long distance open water swim events will end up on my calendar again this year. I'm eyeing some bike TT's for earlier in the season.

Finally, drumroll.....I am hoping, fingers crossed that THIS is the year that I get to go watch the IM World Championships in Kona. I've been talking about it for about 2 months. Fingers Crossed. That's not really a race for me....but HOW COOL WOULD THAT BE????

I guess....there's still a lot of unknowns, but at least I'm heading in the right direction. I think I am anyway.

Really for the first time ever, I have the freedom to do whatever races I want. I can't tell you how good that feels.

I really LOVE the things that you do

I'm behind. I really enjoy reading blogs. I prop up my feet, grab my phone and read, catch up on what my friends are doing around the world.

In my own little world, I've typed up several posts and never published them. Given my frame of mind, that was probably a good idea.

For about a month, I had "relationship" problems. A good friend of mine...and well, I don't go into details but we'd been struggling. It was so frustrating to me. I had pretty much made up my mind to end it.

But it was killing me. So, I typed up an email, and I sent it to myself to read the next morning.

After sending it to myself, my friend Suz said, "Remember the Four Agreements."

I had to stop whatever I was doing. I picked up my little book and read it again.  I realized that some relationships are worth ending.

Some are not.

I stepped back and looked at the friendship as a whole and not as the last month or so.  Then, the next morning, I read the email that I had typed up. I realized that I sounded incredibly childish.

And the issue that set off our problems was my fault. I misunderstood something and took offense to it. Granted, he is not the best at communication. I'd been really busy. He was really busy. We haven't seen each other in awhile. We used to meet for lunch or coffee on a regular basis. It's very easy to confuse sarcasm or just take something the wrong way, over email or text.

I didn't realize how much my entire life was tossed upside down until I realized what I was about to do.

I guess I'm writing about all of this now because I can. I'm not willing to throw out a friendship like that. I need people in my life who will be honest with me and will get my sense of humor and are willing to meet for coffee or lunch or even go for a walk. I don't need a lot of time, but the people (who are just as busy as I am) and who do that for me are keepers.

In honor of all the best friends out there.....

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Quickie

The nice thing about 5K race reports is that they are short enough to entertain even the shortest of attention spans.

I recently ran a half marathon, 4 mile race and now 5K all within 2 weeks. This isn't normal for me. It was just the way the dates fell.

As I was telling Molly this morning, I didn't have very high expectations for this race.

I set a PR plan in my Garmin. Still, I was thinking there really was no way I could get the PR after racing 3 days really hard....3 days ago. Today was the first day the soreness from THAT race, was finally gone.

I changed my thought process. I thought. For every single race in this 5K series, I'm going to run it as hard as I can. It's all for fun. Why not?

This race is always small, or so I thought. I lined up in the front. Well, close to the front. I picked out 3 people. My goal is to hang with a certain group as long as I can.

Today, I chose: Santa, Backpack Man, and Mango-Lady.

The race started, and the 3 took off like someone lit them on fire.

OK....maybe they weren't the best of choices.

I started running and looked at my garmin. It was beeping like crazy, telling me to slow down. I was running an 8:20 pace on a downhill.

FUCK YOU GARMIN. I'm not slowing down today.

That's when I decided to change my strategy. I was going to run hard.....but no matter how hard I was running, I had to go faster the next mile.

I caught BackPack Man about a half mile into the race.

I could see Santa and Mango Lady. Santa was taking the lead over Mango lady.

We pass mile 1.

I ran faster. This mile is hard because there's a long slow hill. Not particularly steep, but hey, when you're running a 5k, even the smallest of hills feel huge.

I am closing the gap on Mango Lady and Santa.

Then, Mango Lady stops for water.

I'm yelling at her in my head, "NO NO NO. Don't do that. Keep going!"

She's still ahead of me. Now, she's passing Santa.

At 1.75, I pass Santa. I am closing the gap on Mango Lady.

At around 2.25, I catch Mango Lady. I can tell she wants to keep up. I can feel her on my elbow.

But I have a secret!


I still have gas left in the tank.

I start running. I can see the finish. I can tell that I've dropped Mango Lady. Now, it's on. I have to just hold on to what I'm running. How fast? I have no idea. I can't look. I'll lose it if I do. I feel sick. I want to stop. I just want to back off a little.

I know I passed 2 miles in right around 18 minutes. I know that I'm heading toward a PR. I just don't know how much.

With whatever I have left, I passed 3 miles. This is it.

How can 1/10 of a mile feel SO LONG.

I cross the finish.

Again, I almost pass out right after crossing the finish line. Almost. I get some water and go run my cool down. I thought they'd have results posted when I got back.

They didn't.

It doesn't matter. Whether or not it was a PR, I KNOW I went hard. I KNOW I went faster each mile.

That in itself is a win.

Of course, even a win can be sweeter with a PR....and it was.

That makes 3 PRs, at 3 different distances, in 2 weeks.


Friday, November 29, 2013

Get your head right

I get confused. Most times, I can't remember if I've said things here, on my blog, or if I've said them as notes to my coach in my training plan. (Trust me....those could be blog entries in and of themselves.)

Because of that, I can be repetitive. I figure that if you don't want to read it, you don't have to. If it keeps my head straight (stop laughing) then it's worth it for me to be repetitive.

I mention this because I think I've figured out what I need to work on next year.

As I HAVE said before, sometimes training or racing issues can be hidden within other issues. It takes awhile to figure them all out.

This year, I've really been paying attention to what I do well and what I don't do well....or things that I need to address.

I've come up with 2 big issues.

Honestly, I have more than 2 issues. BUT, these are the two that I (personally) feel are the ones that are holding me back the most.

Keep in mind, I haven't talked about this with Coach Mike.

Speaking of which, Hi Mike. 

He probably sees a whole NUTHER set of things that I don't see.

which is fine. We'll deal with those too. I'm sure.

Here are my "areas for improvement":

1.) Nutrition
2.) Run

Let's break it down:

Worth repeating, the Oly distance kicked my ass this year. It did. There was one thing that was consistent throughout every single Oly distance race.

That one single thing was how I felt--physically at the same point in every race. That point was when I was starting my run.

It's the same way that I feel during the last 5k of a half marathon.

Obviously, I've made some big changes in my daily nutrition. Of course, triathlon season is over for the year, here in the States. I haven't really had the opportunity to see how these changes will affect me in a race.

I know this is mostly a nutrition issue because of my recent half, in which I felt better than I'd had at any previous race of over 2 hours.

The good news is that I now know the difference between how crashing (due to not enough calories) feels versus the discomfort involved at the end of a half marathon.

They are very different.

I affectionately refer to being depleted as "total body breakdown" (TBB). If it's happened to you, you know what I mean. Everything literally gives out.

Being uncomfortable because you're going hard....well, that's actually kind of a cool feeling. Yeah, it hurts, but it's not even in the same realm as total body breakdown.

That's HUGE progress for me, learning to identify the differences. I know what I'm up against when things start hurting.

At the same time, I've got to get my shit together in regards to nutrition. It's one thing to have TBB with a 10k left. It's totally different if it happens, and I've got 4 more hours of racing to go.

Not that I have PLANS to do anything longer. AmIright?

Hi Coach Mike.

Seriously, it's something I need to work on next year. I can't hit any of my Oly goals without it. Well, I can but really painfully. That's no fun.

I've said over and over....I'm beyond "toughing it out".

My training is great. Now, I have to get my nutrition in place.

This may or may not surprise you, but the run isn't about getting faster. I mean, really, show me ONE person that doesn't want to get faster.


My issue is how I approach the run.
Right now, my running-head is where my swimming-head was 2 years ago.

What do I mean?

It's a "goingthroughthemotionspleaseletsomethingsticksoIcanatleastgetalittlefasterorgolongerorjustanythingjustmakemyrunningbetter."

It's about being able to push through that barrier, being willing to really go hard. It took me awhile with swimming. It's so easy, so comfortable to go right up to the level of GREATNESS and stop before getting there and say, "Oh, this is good enough. I can be quite happy and comfortable here. After all, it's better than I used to be. Would you like some tea?"

And....everything becomes a habit.

Not pushing the limits swimming WAS a habit.

Now, pushing the limits swimming is my habit.

That's the mental jump that I have to make with running.

But it IS a little more complicated.....

Do you see the double whammy?

The RUN. My 3rd best event.....just so happens to come when I was going through TBB. We're taking an event that isn't very easy for me and turning it into a MONSTER.

when it doesn't have to be.

It's been a circular battle. Nutrition isn't right, so running sucks, which makes me like running less and less, which gave me a really bad attitude about the whole running thing and thinking I can't do anything and everyone is so much better stronger faster and I just suck at running.

Do you hear that?

That smacking noise?

My friends this is where the shit hits the fan. 

Where does this leave me?

With GOALS people! Goals for myself that GO BEYOND FINISH times

ipso facto....ultimately affect finish times.

I keep working on my nutrition. As that begins to fall into place, my attitude toward running will change.

But, I also need to work on it. I can't look at running as a grueling exercise. I don't look at swimming or biking that way. When I swim or bike, I see it as a challenge that I can rise to.  When I run, I feel like I'm getting a beat down. THAT needs to change.

In other words, "Get your head right, Tea."

Honestly, I don't exactly know what I have to do. It took time with swimming. I think I have to work with small accomplishments. It's like the first time I swam a 1:50, 100m. I did it ONCE. That meant I could do it again. I only did it once that day. But then it happened again and again.

Some people work really well with big lofty goals. That's never really worked for me. I have to find the small goals that I can hit (not easily mind you) but that require work. I get too intimidated by big goals.

I mean, how can I work for THAT if I can't even do THIS?

I don't know how the story is going to play out, but I know that I'm going to change my view of running.

Running is the newest challenge. The bright shiny NEW challenge.

When things start to click, I'll have the total package. That's when I'll be ready to graduate to the next distance.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Nice surprises

I didn't really want to write a race report about my half marathon. For those of you who don't follow me on FB (and WHY wouldn't you?), I got a pretty awesome PR.

After a few days went by, and I started to think about my year. Don't worry, this won't be a year in review thing.

I have been working with Coach Mike for 2 RIGHT NOW....happy coaching anniversary!

Let's go back to when we started. I told him to treat me like a newbie. My thought was that if I'd developed bad habits (which I had) I needed to hear the right way to do things.

Since I signed up with him, I've been a PR machine. It's surpassed everything I thought I could do. There hasn't been a "perfect race". There have been a bunch of races where something inevitably goes wrong but then something inevitably goes very right in the same race. Ultimately, it leads to a PR. The good outweighs the bad.

He treated me like a newbie. When you first sign up with a coach, you can expect to see improvements very quickly.

But it takes time to address the "real" issues. It takes time because everything is improving on an accelerated rated (especially if you have never been coached before....personally coached).

Year 1 went by, and I was happy with just about everything.

Year 2 went by, and I just this week recognized strides that I had made that I didn't even pick up on before.

My goal (from day one) was to start with sprints and work my way back to Ironman. It could be 3 years. It could take me 10. I didn't really care.

Logical thinking says, getting faster at sprints = getting faster at longer distances.

At my half marathon last weekend, I PR'd and ran my fastest 10 miles ever. It was a 6 min PR over 10 miles. I almost peed myself I was so happy because this is what I have been working for. It takes time getting faster at longer distances. I've logged a lot of running miles always wondering, "how will this translate into a half?" Well, I'm almost there. I'm almost at the goal that I set 2 years ago. I know this because of my 10 mile time.

At my half, I passed the 10 mile mark in 1:42. Although I've seen dramatic improvements at the sprint and oly, this was the first time that I've seen a substantial improvement at the half.

Now I'm left with a decision to make.

If you read about the bet that I made with Coach Mike, you know that I lost. This meant that he gets to choose my longest race next year.

When I was in Vegas, he told me the race he was thinking about.

I was floored. I was really blown away. I thought he was going to go with a completely different race.

I'm kind of stuck now. There was a goal that I wanted to work toward next year, but I don't think the training would work with the race he selected.

I have to decide what I want to do next year.

The issue is that they are both really great goals. They are races that I think I would do very well. Actually, I think I'd KILL those races. Seriously.

One would push me harder than I've ever been pushed with no guarantee of a PR, but the satisfaction of going as hard as I can.

One would pretty much be PRs across the board. Still tough, but in this a PR worth it? It's a step toward another goal. That's the decision I have to make. UGH. Everyone says the course is really easy (ie flat). Do I want a bike course that doesn't really play to my strengths (hills)? Is that a dumb thing to consider?

Nothing is ever guaranteed, but if you were a 5 hour marathoner years ago, and now you're running 1:30 pretty know that you'll get a marathon PR....understand what I'm saying?

I keep floundering. AND of course, I know a certain someone WHO has already said she would do Coach Mike's race with me. That's always a bonus. 

I thought I was going to be ready to talk about my 2014 race season next month, but I won't be ready until Jan or so. I guess I'll just sit back and figure it all out later.

Damn Coach always throwing curve balls at me.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Things I have learned from my Coach

Life Lessons from my Coach

Be confident but humble.

A sense of humor will take you far.

You are unique and special.

So is everyone else. Treat everyone like they are unique and special.

People will rise to the goal you set; people will always exceed your expectations.

Be sincere

Eat more.

No. more than that.

Family is more than blood relatives.

Make fun of yourself but lift up everyone else.

It's ok to be warm & fuzzy every once in awhile.

Open up to people; even though it's scary. They're probably waiting for it.

Own your goals. Own your training. The only person who has to believe you can reach your goals is YOU.

Your life is what it is because of YOU. Not because of a bad boss, bad boyfriend/girlfriend, bad parents. Own your decisions.

"Don't poop yourself" is more than just a mantra.

Actions speaks louder than words.

Plan for the worst. Hope for the best.

Push your boundaries. Be uncomfortable, really uncomfortable.

Good. Now do it again.

What really goes on in those IM tents.

Sight every 4 strokes, buy that cassette, swim 6 days a week, run 35 miles and love the power meter.

Throw tantrums but admit when you're wrong.

Get out of your head. Your body is always ready before your mind is.

Believe it to see it.

When you don't know what to say, quote a movie.


People will always give you advice. Listen to the people you trust. Ignore the rest.

You can't control your environment. The only thing you can really control is your reaction to your environment.

Take what you do seriously, but don't take yourself seriously.

Hugs shouldn't last longer than 2 seconds. Unless......

Life lessons from my Coach who is more than my coach. He's also my friend.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Finding your motivation

This is not an instruction manual.

This is my way of looking at the crazy stuff I do and figure out a way to be better at it.

Over the weekend, I stumbled upon an article about motivating employees. Motivation is a hot topic for me, and it's a confusing topic for me.

For me, motivation is internal.

Yes, I enjoy motivational videos.

Yes, I love motivational quotes.

But none of them motivate me to be or do the best I can in any venture.

When I'm struggling on the bike, watching an Ironman video doesn't get me excited to do a race.

When I have a hard time (everyone does), what works best for me is to figure out why. Sometimes it's as simple as having too much other stuff going on in my life. Sometimes it's that I need a new route to ride to a new challenging workout.

For me, it's about how I feel about myself.  When I feel good, a song on the radio will make me feel even better, but ultimately, the initial motivation came from me.

I thought about this during my long run because it was one of those runs where you feel like you're running through mud.

I used to look back and say, "Well, look how far I've come!"

BUT, I learned something from that phrase. When I said that it was a way to make me feel better about not being where I thought I should be. Progress....YES.....but not the progress that I thought I should be making.

I was running, and it was hard. I refused to look at my pace. I didn't want to feel discouraged if I really was running slow. More importantly, I didn't want to get into the "Well, you're running faster than you used to!" Of course, I am. But if that was my end goal, then I'm done.

I was running up a big hill, and I thought about the previous days workouts. They were all hard. Now, I'm running long after those workouts.

Every workout has a purpose. Every WEEK, put together by individual workouts HAS A PURPOSE. I don't always know what the reason or purpose is, but I don't always care.

Sometimes workouts are about physical strength and sometimes they're about mental strength but neither can be accomplished without the motivation to do it.

That's when I realized that my motivation isn't to be better than I have been in the past, it's for future me. It's for the unknown. It's for hitting one goal and then realizing that I can go further or faster than I thought and reaching for a goal that I might have thought was impossible.

I felt like I was running in mud. At that point, I didn't care because I knew I was supposed to feel this way, physically and mentally. This run. The culmination of weeks of training, getting ready to run my fastest half. That was the purpose. And that was all the motivation I needed.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Making the decision, every day.

Today while I was running, I thought about when I started running again (1996). I had kids in 1994 and 1995, and I wasn't allowed to exercise during those years. (It was a high blood pressure pregnancy issue).

I realize I tend to repeat myself on my blog. Every year, when I look back on certain events, I learn something new.

It was '96 when Jordan pointed to my flabby arm, wiggled it around and asked, "That?"

Fifteen minutes later, I had my running shoes on. I ran to the stop sign (20-30 meters), was out of breath, turned around and walked home.

The next day, I ran to the stoplight (maybe a quarter of a mile?), turned around and walked home.

I did that every day until I got to the 2.5 mile mark of a 5 mile loop. I realized that if I kept running I could, well, I could just KEEP RUNNING.

For the next few years, running was fantastic. No matter where in the world I was, I could bring my running shoes.

But it took that first step....whether it was based on vanity or desire to just do something for myself, it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter HOW I started running again. The important thing was that I did.

With little kids, running was everything for me. During the week, I ran shorter distances. On weekends, I ran long. It was my time. It was the only time of quiet that I had.

Then, the accident happened.

I remember being in my cast. I was in it for months. First unable to walk, then into a walking cast. At one of my appointments, I asked my doctor when I'd be able to run again. He said, "Run? You'll never run again. You'll be lucky if you walk without pain again."

As important as running was to me, I stared at him, and I said, "No. That's not acceptable. Can I pool run?"

"Pool run? No. You can't do anything."

"Can I pool run without touching the bottom?"

SIGH...."Sure you can pool run."

"Can I swim?"

SIGH...."ABSOLUTELY NO FLIP TURNS. We can't risk you hitting your foot on the wall."

"Can I ride?"

"NO. Absolutely not."

With the thought of being able to swim and pool run, I took off to the gym.

I started swimming regularly. I'd always been a non-competitive lap swimmer. But I took my swimming more seriously now.

On the days I didn't swim, I took my little floatie and did deep water pool laps.

I had planned on running the (then) Denver Marathon in October. I didn't care what the doctor said. He wasn't going to take my running away from me.

My walking cast came off in July.

I had been swimming. I had been pool running.

I found out that the women's only triathlon Danskin was in August, and it was right down the street from my house.

I knew it was a long shot, but what if I could do it? If I could do that, maybe I could still do the marathon?

I started walking.

And the pain was unbelievable.

But I kept going.

I figured that if it hurt to walk, it was going to hurt to run. So why not run? I went to the store and bought the softest most cushioning shoes they had. I started running on the grass for 15 seconds at a time.

Every step hurt.

I knew that all I had to do was be able to swim 750m/bike 12 miles/run 5k.

I decided to register.

3 weeks later, I finished my first triathlon, a sprint, in 2:45, and having to walk and limp my way through the 5k. (Let's not even talk about my first open water swim AND not being on a bike).

Over the coming weeks, I realized that the marathon was out the picture. The pain was too much. I couldn't even get to 10 miles. I was still having to use crutches on occasion to just help me walk.

I kept swimming, and I got on the bike when I could. I really didn't know much about swimming or biking. I'd done bike events, and I always swam, but I never "raced".

I bought a book about triathlon training and started following the plans. I figured over the winter, I could do those plans and maybe get in shape for the next year.

Two years later, and many many hours spent practicing yoga, hours spent in the pool on the bike and running....I got home from a run and realized that I had just finished my first pain free first in 2 years.

I was running today, and I was thinking of all of this. Since then, I've done so many triathlons, so many running races, swim races and numerous bike events.

And I think that if Jordan hadn't asked me "That?"....would I be doing what I'm doing today? In a way, I have him to thank for getting me back into my running shoes, which in a strange twist of fate, led me to the pool and onto the bike.

In a few weeks, he and I will be racing the Turkey Trot again, a race that we've been doing since he was in kindergarten.

Honestly, I don't even know if I have a shot of winning, but I know that I will give it absolutely everything I have because I owe that to the guy who at 2 years old, got me back into my running shoes.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Whatever it takes?

I couldn't sleep last night. I'm laying in bed, and my mind starts wandering.

I don't exactly know how I got on this topic, probably a stream of consciousness.

I started thinking that I'm willing to do whatever it takes to reach my goals. Then, I asked myself, "Are you? Are you really willing to do that?"

It's a logical question. I've always wanted to think that I have been, but reality is different. "Whatever it takes" is all nice and warm fuzzy on a beautiful Spring day.

Whatever it takes is truly WHATEVER IT TAKES at 5am in January when it's 10 degrees, and I have to swim outside.

Whatever it takes is more than just training and weather. It's getting that training done no matter what. Work is too stressful? Family is too stressful? It doesn't matter.

I admit to wanting to do this in the past but being to "weak" to do it. I know "weak" can sound harsh, but I've said this over and over to people.

I mean "weak" as in "I don't really want to get out of bed to go swim or bike or run" when there's really nothing wrong with me.

Being tired is an excuse. EVERYONE is tired.

Unconsciously, I guess I've been working toward WHATEVER IT TAKES. Each new "thing" would always take me awhile to adapt.

You want me to bike how far? OH HELL NAW. You want me to do WHAT race? OH HELL NAW.

I throw a tantrum. I kick and scream. Then, I do it. That's my history.

If I'm going to end up doing it anyway.....Maybe, just maybe, I could use the energy that I put into my tantrums....into REAL training...instead of complaining?

Novel idea.

Over the past weeks(?), I don't know how long it's been. Let me set the stage a little bit. In triathlon, unless you are doing Austin, Miami, B2B, Arizona, FL, your season is pretty much over (in the Northern Hemisphere).

I hang out with a lot of triathletes nowadays. The questions always goes to the "off season" training. I know everyone always means well, but invariably when I tell them what I'm doing, I get the exclamation, "It's THE OFF SEASON. YOU NEED UNSTRUCTURED TIME OFF."

This has been going on for a few weeks as triathletes compare notes to see who is doing what.

I'm laying in bed thinking about these conversations.

I think I have changed over the past year because my relationship with my Coach has changed. Last year, I didn't always do what he said. I wouldn't say that I was argumentative, but...well, I was argumentative. We tried a swim-focus, and it didn't go over fact, it lasted all of a week. I had too many other things going on at the time. At THAT time, I wasn't willing to do WHATEVER IT TAKES.

A few weeks back, he told me we're going to do a swim focus again, 6 days a week of swimming. I didn't ask him "why". I didn't argue. I started formulating my plan. I told my friends and family. They took bets. The over/under is two weeks.

But I ignored them and took a look at why it didn't work last year. I am determined to make it work this year. Instead of saying, "Yea. They're right. I can't do this." I sat down and came up with a plan to make it work. Fortunately for me, my friend Suz is willing to help me through it. She's volunteered to swim with me as much as possible.

This year, I'm excited about the swim focus. I'm going to do WHATEVER IT TAKES.

Then again, I always seem to do better when I know someone else thinks that I can't do something.

Last week, it happened again. Coach informs me that I'm not eating enough. I'm listening to him, and I start thinking, "What do I have to do to make this work?" I don't know how much I'm eating, but from the sounds of it, he wants me to eat double what I'm currently chowing down on. I don't track my food, and I hate tracking food.  But I'm willing to do WHATEVER IT TAKES. So, I went to the store and bought a week's worth of "new" groceries, and I logged back onto MyFitnessPal and started tracking my food again. .

I have to admit that the first days were really difficult. I don't think I've ever felt so sick. But he warned me it would happen. Over the next couple of days, I still felt full, but I started getting hungrier and hungrier.

The week's worth of groceries that I bought...lasted me 3 days, but I feel better than I have in a long time. It really isn't easy. It requires a lot of planning. I have a list of "emergency foods" that I can grab when something unexpected happens or I'm running late or I'm hungrier than normal.

I explained this to a friend, and her response was, "Why are you doing that? Aren't you afraid of gaining weight? That's too many carbs."

I didn't even know how to respond to her. That perspective is so wrong on so many different levels.

I have to be honest....that thought NEVER even occurred to me. Coach told me to do it, so I'm doing it. PERIOD.

The only thought I had when he told me was just like when I found out about the swim focus: "How do I make this happen?"

I know I will always have days where I just don't want to get out of bed or feel like I can't leave work to do my swim.

For those days, I've posted this at work and at home.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The last year

My youngest son is a senior in high school this year. It's a big deal. There are times when I'm excited about the future, and there are times when I break down thinking about the years of trick or treating or Easter egg hunts. I am not going to be able to handle graduation.

I don't think I'm alone when I look back over my life and can see sections or the start and end of big phases.

One of those phases started in 2004. That's when I left my old job. I went from travelling all the time and missing my sons' games or having to be on a plane on Sunday to be in another country by Monday am, and worst of all having to show an id at their school because the school didn't recognize home for breakfast, helping out with their homework, volunteering at their schools and being home when they got home in the afternoon.

You only have one opportunity to raise your kids.

Even when they got to high school, I made sure that I was there for breakfast, and I was there at the end of the day. I got to go to practices, bring drinks for their teams and watch games that I would have otherwise missed.

Now, JMAN is a senior. That means that each day his schedule changes. Some days he has to be at school at 6:50, some at 9am, some at 7:30, some at 9:30. Likewise, every day he gets out at a different time. Some days he comes home for lunch and then he's home for the day by 1.

I want to be there for that. I like having breakfast and lunch with him and hearing about his day or what is going on, what's important to him, what makes him happy or angry.

This is the choice I've made because we only have one opportunity. I love doing it, and I want to do it.

But, I'm not writing this to talk about my own personal parenting philosophy.

This is about stages. When I started doing triathlon in 2005, I didn't know anything about anything. I
was so very lucky to meet a few really great guys like Bill and also Tom and Dan (from Ranch Cycling of London---now global). For what I lacked in everything and anything related to cycling, these guys knew their stuff. I would get so frustrated with my inability to even go up a small ant hill. Yet, they were there constantly offering support and advice.

Bill probably doesn't even remember this conversation. But he told me that it takes 5 years to really get good at riding. Of course, back then, I blew him off with a "Yea, Bill. WHATever."

I mention them because if it weren't for these guys, I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing today. I probably would have quit triathlon. I am lucky to have people who are better, stronger, faster athletes than me....telling me that I *CAN* do this. 

When I decided to do Ironman Coeur D'Alene. It was the wrong decision. It was the wrong time. It was wrong on every level.

But....these guys helped me through it. They probably didn't even realize how much they were helping me at the time. I remember sending an email to Dan in which I was pretty much yelling/screaming/throwing the ultimate tantrum. Of course, Dan responded as though he was speaking to a rational adult.

Of course, Tom had a way of making me laugh, one laugh could wipe out an entire bad day.

These guys were like long lost brothers to me: teasing me over my attempts to be the "cool cyclist" and supporting me through my worst of races. Over the years, as people moved or family or work situations changed, I don't really talk to Dan or Tom much anymore. I'm fortunate that Bill is still around to keep me in line.

Ok. I know. This is becoming a little warm fuzzy, but I am getting to my point about stages.


The other day, I mentioned to the world's greatest coach that for a long time I was afraid to go back to Ironman, but I'm not afraid anymore. Now, I can't commit to the training.

The reason I can't commit to the training is because it's the last year. I am not going to skip breakfast with JMan to swim 3000m. I'm not going to miss him coming home from school because I'm running 10 miles.

But, I'm getting close.

And, I'm starting from a different place. For me to start thinking about doing Ironman, I need to be in a place of confidence because there will be plenty of days during training where my confidence will be shaken and days in which I question what the hell I'm doing. For me to be successful, I need to do it on a strong foundation. The foundation is there now; and in another year, the time will be too.

I won't be ready next year. What I hope is that the people that were there for me in the beginning will be there for me again...because it's coming. And, this time it'll be different.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Out with the....uh....slow?

It occurred to me this morning that I am about 12 days from my first half marathon of the fall/winter.

I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am. Some people love the marathon. The marathon is just not my thing.

I love the half marathon. I love everything about it. I love the training. I love the distance. I love the challenge. We all have our distances, and this is my favorite.  If there was a way for me to run more half marathons throughout the year, without sacrificing on my triathlon times, I would do it in a heart beat.

Besides loving the distance, the race that I'm doing is RNR Denver. I've been doing this race FOREVER. Literally, I ran it before it was RNR, when it was the Denver marathon, then there was a time that it disappeared and then came back. Over the years, the course has changed as RD's changed. It's been pretty much the same course for the last (maybe) 3 years, now.

I have a history with this race. This morning I wanted to see what my PR was for this particular course.

This might sound odd, but I needed a little bit of a confidence booster. I'm not really all that interested in Denver as much as it's a stepping stone to my PR attempt in Vegas.

I pulled up my times.

I realized that even when I've run slow, my current times are faster than my last PR on the Denver course. Not only do I have an opportunity to get a course PR. I could possibly get a half marathon PR here in Denver. It's not unrealistic.

Here I was thinking that it was going to be tough to even get a course PR, now I realize that I'm set up to have a really great race not just in Denver but also Vegas.

As I was writing down my previous times, I thought, "They don't even matter. All they'll do is hold me back."

Those old PRs don't mean anything anymore. Instead, I wrote down my goal for Denver and stuck it on my computer screen.

Running a half marathon isn't easy, but I'm ready for it. All I really have to do is focus.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Day 2: Total Body Breakdown

Desert Edge Triathlon

Sunday rolls around, and I'm suffering from Total Body Breakdown.

TBB is when you are BEYOND soreness. Soreness has turned into pain. I wake up, and I realize that I'm in trouble.

I mentioned in the previous report that it's COLD. Sunday morning was warmer (33 degrees), but add in the fact that this is a triathlon, and we're supposed to hop on our bike soaking wet....well, the day is going to be tough for everyone.

I get up and have some breakfast, trying to figure out what to do. Do I take a *DNS*? Do I go and support my friends who will be there? (Including Coach Mike and Jeff---both of whom did the 60ish Tour on saturday).

I decided to give it a go. Looking back, I think this was the wrong decision made for the wrong reason. I shouldn't have done the race.

I get in the beep beep and turn on the heater to HIGH. I turn on the heated seats. I'm doing everything I can to try to alleviate the pain and loosen up my muscles. My back upper and lower is killing me. My arms are wiped out, but the worst part is my legs. I have never experienced pain like this, not after marathons, not after half irons.

I don't know what to do.

Mistake #1: Starting the race. I shouldn't have done it.

The Start:

The water temp is 64 degrees (which for me is perfect swimming temps). I get overheated very easily while swimming because of that I swim sleeveless, and the colder the better. I wasn't concerned about water temp as much as getting on the bike.

As soon as we started, I was struggling.I had no power. I couldn't swim. I let everyone take off ahead of me and just maintained my own stroke. I felt like I'd been out there forever when I hit the first buoy. I tried to look at my watch but I couldn't see it.

3/4 of the way through the swim, and I stop. I'm exhausted. I feel like I've been swimming for an hour. I'm having trouble breathing. I'm staring at the finish. All I could think was, "I'm not going to make it. I'm going to DNF on the swim. I can't even believe this." I tread water for a little while longer. I just need to go slow. Get to the shore and decide if I'm going to get on the bike.

A normal oly swim time for me is 24 minutes. My swim: approximately 33 min.

I got out of the water. I can't even reach my strap to get my wetsuit off. I must have looked like I was going to fall over because some guy grabbed me and asked if I was ok. I nodded and kept walking.

T1: As one of the CU Tri kids said, "The longest transition in the history of transitions".

EVERYONE is changing clothes, adding layers, socks, pants, etc.

I put on a jacket with a hood, socks and gloves. I can't get my gloves on. My hands are wet and numb. I can't even feel my fingers to get them into the gloves.

The whole time, I'm thinking, "Just try the bike. Give it a go."

Mistake #2: Getting on the bike. 

T1: Had to be around 6 minutes. It felt like 10, but I don't think it was that long.

I get on the bike within a mile(?) there is a hill. It is super short but super steep. At that point, I realize I have nothing left in my legs. I almost fell over sideways getting up the hill.

I'm shaking (with cold), and I have nothing in my legs. I can't see my garmin times or distances because I can't push the buttons with my gloves on.

I have no idea why I'm doing this. I hurt. I have no power in my legs. I should have turned around. I kept thinking 40k....on a bad day....I should be able to do 1:20.

Throughout the ride, I'm doing the calculations to figure out about where I am. I figured that the multi-time on my garmin should be at about 2:05 when I finish the bike. (Remember I didn't know how long transition took).

Oh. how.wrong.I.was.

The bike was hell. Around mile 5? Coach Mike blows past me going the other direction. Are you kidding me? He's almost done. He only started 3 minutes before me. How slow am I going?

I just want to get off this bike. I just want to get off the bike. I keep going in and out of aero to try to stretch out my back. I can barely support my own weight on the bars.

I pulled into T2 at 2:10.

I strip off my jacket, gloves and decide to run. It looks like every bike is back.

I can't even call what I was doing "running". I'm telling you. I can't even begin to explain the pain that I was in.

At a half a mile into the run, I can't run anymore. I considered turning around.

Mistake #3: I should have turn around and quit at that point.

The people at the race were so nice. They kept saying "almost there."

What they didn't realize is that I wasn't even close to being almost there. I was just starting my first loop.

At about 1.5 miles, Jeff passes me. He doesn't even recognize me. I don't say anything. He looked GREAT and very focused.

The run for this race is pretty much single track. As a walker, that means I keep having to get out of everyone's way. I just wanted to find a rock and sit down.

As I'm thinking that, a guy runs by and yells at me, "GET OUT OF THE WAY. Some of us are RACING."

A few seconds later, I see Coach Mike, and he asks why I'm walking. How do you take everything that has happened over 2.5 hours and sum it up in 20 seconds? You can't.

I don't even know what I said, but I feel tears welling up. I turn away just as I felt tears rolling down my cheeks, and I keep walking. I knew right then that I couldn't go on. I just wanted to go home.

By the time I got to the finish, I got my act together. I told Jeff that I was taking a DNF. He said, "I'll walk it with you."

I couldn't walk anymore. If I could, I wouldn't be stopping. I was already over 3 hours. Another 5k was going to take me another hour at the pace I was walking.

It wasn't the outcome I would have chosen, but I'm ok with it. I know a lot of people struggle with taking a DNF. (Trust me. Read the comments on my FB wall). But I don't have a problem with it. If you've never had one, you can't understand. This "race" was part of a challenge. I just didn't get there. It's not the end of the world. It's the end of my season.

Once I made the decision, I felt so much better. I just wanted to go home and start recovering.

The weekend was just too much for me. I wasn't "physically" ready for what was involved on Saturday.

Lessons Learned

The biggest lesson that I learned is that I'm not going to be so agreeable to doing these challenge weekends. It brought back memories of all those races that I've done over the years and not being prepared for them. I've suffered through so many half irons and even olympics where I was out there for hours upon hours. I don't want to go back to that place.

"Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can." --Arthur Ashe    (Thanks LBTEPA)

Challenge weekend is over, and I'm moving on.

Tour of the Moon Report

I don't even know where to start this report. There were so many fun little things that happened in no particular order.

I'll keep this quick. Tour of the Moon is not a race; it's a tour. There's no timing. You just ride.

Originally, the plan for the Tour was a 60ish and a 40ish ride. Because this is through a national monument both courses were changed, and my 40ish became 30ish.

I was very happy about this. While other people in my group were trying to convince me to do the 60ish, I was *thrilled* that I was only going to ride 30. I'd been really sore since Thursday and didn't really know how I was going to do.

BONUS #1: Shorter ride

The next thing that happened. We had a cold front move in that brought snow and sleet and different things depending on where you were in Colorado. Because of this, I opted to bring only one bike. I could have made two work, but I just didn't want to deal with it. I knew the Tour could be difficult on a TT, but I thought, "What the hell? It's challenge weekend. I can go super slow if I need to".

On Friday, I get checked into the hotel. For the price I paid, this hotel was unbelievably nice. I still can't believe how cheap it was. The thing I like the most is that they had a kitchen and started serving a HOT, sit down breakfast at 6am. So many times I've gone to races and had to bring my own food because 1.) They have a crap continental breakfast. or 2.) They don't open until after the race starts.

BONUS #2: Hot breakfast

I got unpacked and worked that afternoon. I was really tired from the drive. I had dinner plans that night that I was going to cancel, but then I thought that it would probably be good for me to get out and take a break.

I had the pleasure of having dinner that night with Coach Mike and 2 of his friends. One of the guys reminded me so much of one of my sons. I was trying not to stare at him. Physically, he didn't look like him, but it was his mannerisms. I wanted to take him home and tuck him into bed. But, he's in his 20's, and that probably would have been weird.

Saturday morning is SO COLD. I layered up. My roomie and I had our nice hot breakfast, and we head out.

I was meeting up with a group of people and with Coach Mike for the ride. We were supposed to start at 8am. Due to some unforeseen circumstances, they were unable to start at 8am, so Mike and I took off.

BONUS #3: Hanging out with Mike for a few hours

I'd looked at the map. It looked like we had anywhere from 10-15 miles of climbing. You know how maps are.

Knowing it's coming, but not knowing HOW BIG THE CLIMBS are......well.....ignorance is bliss.

Remember this: I haven't done any climbing. The rides that I have done were on my road bike.

In a nutshell, there was a lot of grunting. Believe it or not, I don't believe I cursed once. That's only because I couldn't curse. I could only grunt.

Meanwhile, Mike is holding full conversations, while we're moving at 6mph up this ridiculous mountain.

Me? I'm still grunting.

And trying not to laugh at Mike's horrible Rocky Balboa impersonations. (Yea. Mike. You need to work on it. Aren't you Italian? Shouldn't that

Mike rides up ahead to leave me with the few other people who are grunting and moaning and.....STOPPING....yes. People were stopping to walk.

I didn't. I wished like hell that I had a 3rd chainring, but I never stopped (except to take off and put back on layers). I never walked. My legs felt like they were going to explode.

BONUS #4: Doing something I didn't think I could

I took this picture from the top. I wish I'd gotten a better picture of the road to give you an idea of how steep is was going up and down.

   ^^This^^is good old Bionic Thighs (Coach Mike) doing a photobomb in my beautiful scenic picture.

Then we had to go back down. The downhills scared the hell out of me. Steep, hairpin curves...oh and you're looking over a mutha f*ckin CLIFF. Hey, no big deal FOR EVERYONE ELSE. Big freaking deal for me. I did what I could....road my brake....the entire time.

We get to basically the bottom, and Mike has to leave for the 60ish. Meanwhile, I'm SO HAPPY that I'm only doing 30ish.

BONUS #5: Having a great time with Mike BUT trying to get over the guilt of how much he kept stopping for me. DUDE: You're training for IM Austin. It's cool. You could have gone on. Thanks though. It was a lot of fun.

I had planned on 3-3.5 hours for this ride of 30 miles. I finished it in about 2.5. I don't know what my actual "ride" time was. I just let my garmin keep going.

BONUS #6: Exceeding my own time goal. 

I got back to the convention center. There is literally NO ONE there except maybe 5 riders. The 5 I rode down with.

They had a big lunch prepared for us, but all I wanted was to warm up. I grabbed a cup of super hot coffee and loaded up my gear to head back to the hotel.

Shower and hanging out that afternoon was glorious.

That night I had another great dinner with Coach Mike, Coach Dave and the CU Tri Team.  I'd met Dave before, but this was the first time that I was able to talk to him. He's a really great guy. He's one of those guys that you could just hang out with. CU tri team was awesome. I met some really great "kids". That team really loves their coaches.

When I went to bed that night, I was laying there thinking, "WOW. I just can't even believe I did that today." Throughout the day, I met some great people and learned a lot about riding as they were giving me pointers or giving me advice about which other tours to do. (I've only done Elephant Rock and the MS 150).

A GREAT day in the books.

Day 2 of the Challenge, up next.

Sunday, September 29, 2013


I have a lot of complexity in my life. I've raised two sons and run a company.

In the rest of my life, I like simple things. I like sitting on patio having breakfast in the morning or reading a book by the fireplace during the winter....simple.

Although it might seem counter-intuitive, structure makes my life easier. I like to know what time I'm supposed to be some place. I like to know how long it will take, etc. It doesn't mean that things won't happen and my structured little world gets blown up. It just means that 90% of the time, things go pretty smoothly.

I started as a runner. I moved to the glamorous sweaty, dirty, bike grease, gel covered world of triathlon in 2005.

Because apparently running was too easy.

As much as I like structure, I also like challenge.

Accommodating the training schedule for triathlon is a world unto itself. I have a lot of flexibility and can schedule my training. I can't imagine training for triathlon with a job has regular work hours or irregular work hours. The trade off for me is that I'm often working early in the morning or late at night or on weekends, but it's at my own discretion.That schedule works for me.

It's simple. It's easy to understand.

That was all good when I started working with Coach Mike. We worked on sprints. I could easily manage the training volume. The "fueling" was easy.

Piece o'cake. I thinks to myself. I can easily move to the Oly.

And I did. Initially, it wasn't easy as I had to figure out how to negotiate more hours for training. By the middle to the end of the season, I was doing pretty well.

The complexity for me with this distance, is in the nutrition aspect. I haven't been able to figure it out. I've screwed up many times.

One of the reasons that is has been difficult is that I want to keep it simple. I refuse to count calories and macronutrients. It takes all the fun out of eating as far as I'm concerned. If I want a cupcake, I'm going to have a cupcake without worrying about how much BAD stuff is in it. My problem isn't eating so called bad stuff. My problem is eating enough in general.

I don't want to sacrifice training and racing because I haven't eaten enough. One of my issues is that I'm not really big on carbohydrates....problematic when training and racing exceeds 2 hours at a time.

In a way, I feel like I never really left square one. I think I have things figured out only to have my energy levels crash two days later.

Maybe the irony in all of this is that my race day and training "fueling" is pretty much spot on. But that only works if I've eaten correctly the rest of the week. Trust me. I've been thinking about this non-stop all season. The reason training and racing isn't a big deal is because of all the options out there: drinks, bars, gels. All of these options to keep my macro-nutrients where they need to be to support my activity level.

Here I am, once again, trying to figure out yet another piece to the puzzle. All is not lost though, I clearly understand what doesn't work. After all, it took 99 wrong ways to make a light bulb, right? Since my biggest challenge is taking in enough carbohydrates, I recently came up with a simple solution for my lack of love of all things bread and pasta: THE POTATO which I love (and not the french fry version).

Maybe I have moved from square one on to step #2. Hey, it's a start.

As I was running yesterday, I thought, "How can something I love so much, frustrate me this much." It's simply because I love it that it does frustrate me. It's no different than any other relationship. When you stop caring, it's time to move on.

I don't know just yet what type of volumes I'll be doing over the winter, but I have my own goal: get a little closer to better fueling.

For the first time in several years, I want to do a 70.3 again. I just can't do it until I can get this other stuff worked out. It's one thing to bonk on a 10K run. It's quite another to have it happen 40 miles into a 70.3.

Of course, this upcoming weekend will be the perfect ground to get my nutrition nailed down. I have my 41 mile bike tour through the Colorado monument on Saturday and an Olympic distance triathlon on Sunday. Neither of which, am I doing for any PR attempt. It's more of a "training day" (yea, I know that sounds somewhat ridiculous). But, when Coach put it on my training plan, I could only laugh...knowing that I'd do it. That IS our agreement after all. (And one that I might want to look into amending).

Hopefully once I get home, I won't be too tired to write up an appropriate novella of the weekend.

Until then....

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Highs and Lows

Last night, I sent an email to my riding group saying that I wasn't going to make it today.

Unexpectedly, I awoke to messages like this: "NOPE. You can't abandon us like that. We'll wait as long as it takes for you to get there. Besides, we're riding commando."

Of course, I can't turn down an offer like that. 

The reason I was going to skip out on the ride was because I went really hard on Thursday then followed it up by a long run on Friday. Saturday, I was in a world of hurt, not soreness as much as just feeling tired.

I ran around the house this morning like crazy trying to get everything done. Normally, I'm all set the night before....but well, I also thought I'd be in my jammies watching pre-game football talk.

When I get there, I was thinking about how I really *did* need to do this ride. I haven't done any significant climbing, and my tour is going to suck.

Just the day before I was saying that I wasn't going to do the tour. I was tired. I was worried about my ability to simply be able to do it.

This got me thinking. We're all riding. There's one hill on this route, and it's a bugger. The last time we did it, I had to stop and walk.

Today, I made it. As small of a victory as it was, it was definitely something that I was proud of. I was the only one who knew about it.....well, not really. My riding group knew. 

I was thinking about my run on Friday. I was so happy on Friday that I did it. I was tired. I ran 10.29 miles. I hadn't done that in a long time. 

The highs and lows of training.

Just yesterday, I was thinking "I can't do the tour." Now, I'm thinking "Yea, I can. The race the next day might be tough, but I can do it."

Blogging isn't really a big thing anymore. Most of the people that I know (myself included) write race reports; or once in awhile, they'll write about a recent training session. We all want to write about the GREAT stuff going on, but I think the bad days equally important. We all have them. Ignoring them (via blog writing) sends the wrong message.

It's not always fun and games. It's not always easy. 

The beginning of last week was NOT easy for me. I knew I needed some time off, and I took it. 

There are days that I would skip masters swim if I hadn't committed to another person to be there.

I would have skipped out today if I hadn't gotten those messages tell me to KIT UP. It ended up being a great day on the bike. Me and my friend didn't get to finish the entire ride with the guys, but we put in exactly the mileage I was hoping to get in.

This is what has been missing for me in the past; having partners to say "I know you're tired, but we're going to wait for you no matter how long you take." These partners aren't just real life friends. They're everyone that I talk to online when I think I really can't do this. OR, I'm just having a bad day and want to skip a doubt I'll see someone else post that they're having a crazy day but they got their run in. 

Instead of getting mad at themselves or frustrated, they just get it done. Meanwhile, I get angry.

I need to work on that. I tend to get mad at myself. I need to stop bottling it all up. If I'm tired or frustrated, I need to just call Coach Mike or ANYONE else---whether they are currently training for a race or not. They know. Sometimes, I just need to know that someone else is tired, or they have no time, so they end up doing a swim at 10pm because it was the only time they could squeeze it in.

All these little things add up to big results. A text message on race morning. Three texts on the day I didn't want to go. A random message in the middle of the day saying "Hey how are you doing? I know you were having a hard time."

I think those things are just as important as those "easy" training days.

How am I? I'm doing well. I had a long ride that I almost skipped, but I didn't. I had a personal "win" on the bugger climb. I had great conversation with friends. 

Best of all, I can't wait to do it again next weekend. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

When we last saw our heroine, she was knee deep in a box of chocolates wallowing in self pity.

Let's see how she is doing today....

in a word


Great, once I took a few days off from structured training and did whatever I felt like doing because Bestest Coach got the 3 alarm fire alert and went into a frenzy clearing out my training plan before I went into full on freak out mode. Let me tell you, he barely made it out in time. 

And yes, there was a LOT of whining like a little baby. Don't believe me? Ask Bestest Coach.

Seriously. No one can throw a tantrum better than me. My thoughts are that if he hasn't fired me in almost 2 years(!) then odds are that he probably isn't going too no matter HOW MANY tantrums I throw or HOW many times I tell him that I'm JUST NOT GOING TO DO something. 

buy a new cassette (sigh, yes, he was right)
or sight more (sigh, yes, he was right)
or pick up the cadence (sigh, yes, he was right)
or kick less (can we be done now, please?)

But enough about that.

I'm better, and I have done stuff this week. It's probably along the volume of work that YE GRANDE MORTALS do. By no means can my "exercising" be counted in hours this week. But still, it might JUST be enough to ward off the red velvet muffins that came into my possession. 

Seriously, the bakery needs to be a little more careful where they place things. THEY WERE RIGHT IN MY REACH for goodness sakes. Am I supposed to just walk right passed something like that?

Anyhoo, you'll be happy to know that I'll be back to my regularly scheduled off season program next week.

Until then, tootles dearies. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Stick a fork in me

I'm done. Toast. Burned out.

I don't know if I've ever been burned out before. I've been tired at the end of a season: normal. I've looked forward to the off season: normal.

But, I've never wanted to give up on everything before. I used to look forward to my half marathons and off season training.

Now, I can't even think of training at any level.

I'm trying to figure out what things will interest me. So far, there's nothing.

After failed workouts yesterday, I'm skipping my long run today.

I've known this was coming. If you are a FB friend, you know how much I was looking forward to off season.

What happened?

I don't know, but I know it was psychological. I feel like the intensity just never let up, like I was still in race season. Hit THESE numbers. Go THIS fast. Do THIS workout.

My mind was thinking "Oh thankgoodness....OFF SEASON. I can let up."

Meanwhile, it "felt" like I was still training for races.  I knew at some point, some thing was going to have to give.

I had a great season. I gave what I could. I was never so happy that a season was over. There's only so much I can give. Honestly, I think that's the sign of a good season.

I'll go into recovery mode for awhile. I was looking at classes at my new gym. Maybe I'll try something completely different. I was planning on signing up with a personal training in Dec, but maybe I'll do it sooner than later. I need something that is not triathlon related but that still allows me to move....because I *will* drive everyone in the house crazy if I'm not moving. Hell, I'll drive myself crazy.

In the meantime, I walked LDG (Little Girl Dog). Now, it's time to get back into jammies.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Self Assessment

In my little Tea world, I have one real binding principle. I take what I do seriously, but I don't take myself seriously.

Someone important said that. I just stole it.

It's true, though.

Last week, I had a "real" reflective week. Real meaning that I found myself in QUITE the quiet mood, thinking a lot about my season. I'd just finished my last triathlon of the year, and I had an entire week to think about the year.

(Before I get any crap about this, let me clarify. I have ONE more triathlon this year, but it doesn't count. It will hardly be race and more of a "let's see how much suffering I can put myself through before I start crying like a man with a cold")  (Oh, sorry guys with colds.) The reason for the sufferfest is that I will be doing a bike tour the day before. Granted, the 41 miles isn't's the route and the fact that combined days bike mileage will be around 66 miles or so. For me, that's a lot.

But I digress.

Back to my reflection.

Just for fun, g'head and listen to a little Delta Rae while you're reading. G'head. I won't mind.

I thought about a lot of things: racing, good, bad, personality flaws (yours not mine. KIDDING. remember the whole "don't take yourself seriously"?)

Here's what I came up with:

1.) I think I come across as a complainer. I'm not. I believe strongly in letting out emotion. I've been known to have a good cry on the bike and run. I've been known to drop F bombs on a regular basis, and I complain. But I always do the workout; unless there is a really good reason for missing it.

I'm not someone who holds back emotion. If I like you, you'll know. (You might even be a little creeped out, but you'll get used to it). If I don't like you, you will DEFINITELY know.

2.) I may very well be a wussie. Now. Now. Don't go all " are so NOT a wussy. You are SO tough and awesome and clever and beautiful and did I mention awesome? BTW, can I borrow $40?"  I'm being serious. Do I push myself hard enough? Am I doing what I'm supposed to be doing? Am I focused?

I don't know. I guess it depends on my goals, right? Maybe I do good enough for what I do? What if I want more?

I need to go through dewussification.

3.)  Next: I talk too much to the wrong people, about training. Imma gonna reel it in a bit and use my blog more for my thinking out loud. Again, I think it sends the wrong message.

Those are the personality issues I'm going to address, just little ways we can all improve. I think I did pretty well with my list from last season. Sometimes, I don't even realize how I come across until I really "see" another person's reaction....or lack of reaction.


I had a few thoughts. These are all good because I learned a lot this year. Every year that goes by, I learn a little more about myself, what I can do, what I like, what I don't like, etc.

I'm happy to say that this year was mostly about things I like or things that I'm good at.

This year, I learned just how much I love swimming long distances. I love it. I have no desire to give up triathlon to become a marathon swimmer. But I sure do love doing those 2.4 to 5k swims. I never would have guessed it.There's just something relaxing about swimming. I love swimming with my gang. There's something to be said for training WITH people but being unable to talk or support each other verbally, you just have to know the others are there for you.

It is completely different in that regard.

As for the bike, it's a work in progress. I had some of my best races ever, on the bike. Quite honestly, I have a lot to learn. I think it would be good for me to do more (ie--a lot of bike tours next year). I don't know if Coach will go for it because we probably won't talk for a couple of months (about next year). I think it would be a good way for me to do long rides once in awhile.

On the other hand, I sure do love those threshold workouts. I love them.

But, we can't just focus on what we're good at or what we like to do, now, can we?

Running is an animal all to itself. I've always loved running. I confess, I've never been a fan of track work, but I can work around that. I still love my long runs, slow as they might be. In particular, I love winter running. I'm looking forward to those cold or snowy (hopefully) days.

But, I have a hang up. It's hard for me to push after the bike. I don't know how to fix it.

Those are the sports individually.

Then there are races. No clue what I'm going to do next year. I have plenty of time to figure it out. I just don't know if I should venture back to the oly or maybe stick with the sprint.

That 10K is really a killer for me, and....and.....I didn't enjoy it this year. I loved the swim, loved the 40k bike, but the run? It was so difficult that I've considered (for the upcoming tri) either taking a DNF after the swim and bike OR dropping down to the sprint. Although, I'd rather swim long/ride long. I don't actually have to decide on that until race day.

Remember, this race doesn't really mean anything to me. I just don't know if I want to end the season on another bad run.

This is where I feel I need to stress a point. I'm not at all upset with running. I made big strides this year. DON'T MISUNDERSTAND ME. PLEASE. I call it as I see it when the mood hits. I love running. I'm just struggling with running at the end of a tri. It's frustrating.

But improvements are NOT linear. If they were, there would be no challenge in these sports. We'd know that all we have to do is show up day in and day out, and we'd automatically get faster or go longer.

The CHALLENGE is the reason I do this. That's why I haven't given up. Sometimes, we have to take steps back to go forward. 


Now the one thing that I do think is a good idea is the Challenge Weekend concept. Find a weekend where there are two different types of races and do both.

Suz brought up the idea of the Big Shoulders swim (5k maybe) and the Chicago Half marathon the next day. Great idea, except that they are on different weekends. But, that gives you an idea of the Challenge Weekend. I'm sure one of my training partners will come up with some crazy idea that always sounds AWESOME the day you sign up. I know people who do back to back marathons, but that's not really my thing.

Now that I've completely lost my train of thought, I'm probably at a good stopping place.