Saturday, February 28, 2015

Coming Soon: My Race Report

This is, Tea. Thanks for calling. I am currently on vacay. Road tripping across the Southwestern US, doing a race, cheering at another, eating a ton of mouth watering desserts....and regular food, too, staying up late, sleeping in and overall setting a fine example of how to do vacation.

Be assured a full report will be coming your way...which may describe my adventures in Vail (pretty tame but fun) and more importantly the real (or slightly exaggerated) Vegas panties story, lessons on what to do when things don't go as planned.

Or maybe I'll say "Forget all that! I'll be back in AZ in a few weeks. Onward to the next great adventure."

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


If you have been following along with Tea's Great Adventures, you know that I am currently in a hotel room in Grand Junction.

There is no significance to knowing that.

I feel so relaxed and happy. The reason has nothing to do with me.

I have a few friends who are the creative types: journalists, bloggers (the paid kind) and photojournalists.

One of them,  we have known each other for awhile but live a little far to plan things together. However whenever we see each other it is like we've never been apart.

In 2014, this friend had a very bad year from a substantial injury to having a substantial personal loss. Everything happened around the same time, Feb/march.

Throughout the year, I read his articles. Although, the articles were informative and not about his personal life, I could see through the words. I could see how much he hurt. His "voice" was different. His word choice was off. The grammar wasn't his normal high standard.

His readers probably didn't notice much difference, but I did.

Yesterday, he published his newest article. I realized that he hadn't written in maybe 2 months.

He sounded like his old self, and it made me smile. I knew he was healing. The hurt, hurt a little bit less, and he was back to his old writing style.

But I think what was really incredible was reading between the lines. I could see the process of reflection that he went through over the past few months.

He was finally able to "let go".

It made me so happy for him, to see that he had the peace he deserves. No more mourning the past.

He is living again.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Race Plan


The exclamation point is completely warranted.

I made a lot of progress this off season. I'm so excited to race. I don't think I've ever been so excited.

I present you with the plan that got two thumbs up from Coach Liz.

My plan will be really simple. Everything about this race, plays to my strengths. The swim is a short sprint. The bike is longer and a perfect square (very few turns), and the run is 3 miles.

Although it's early in the week, the temp for race day is supposed to be a high of 71. I've been training for much hotter weather--using space heaters and bundling up on my runs outside. 

Swim: 500m
In masters, we've been doing a lot of long & strong pull sets. I feel really strong. For the first time, I know my paces based on effort. I don't even have to look at the clock. I've also learned pacing, and I can hold my form when I'm getting tired.
At this distance, I'd like to go pretty hard. Start the race and get my bearings. Then GO. 

I feel really good about holding a hard pace for 500m. That's my goal.

(Gel at the start of the race)

Bike: 14 miles
Geesh. This bike course heads out of the park, then does a perfect square and heads back.
I've learned a new level of pain this off season. I've learned how to not just hold on but push even MORE when I'm there. I'd like to hit threshold and hold it for the duration of the bike. This is a very flat course and with few turns, it'll be a fast one too. 

Fueling: I'll have my sport drink on the bike and also water. (About 200 calories and 750mg of sodium)

Run: 3 miles
Believe it or not, I feel the best about my run (meaning that we're going to see the biggest improvement here). The run has always been a matter of survival. This year, I feel different. I can chase down people, and I can go past the pain and go harder. I learned that, really, only recently. What I used to see as my highest level of output is now my baseline.

Although it's not my goal, I wouldn't be surprised if I end up with a run PR. 

Recently, I've been able to pick up the pace when I'm hurting. I have no doubt that I'll do that in the race because it's now familiar to me. Granted, the sprint is a much more condensed version, starting at a faster pace and increasing from there.

That's my goal. My last 5k was a 9:15 pace, but I've made progress since then. I'm going to start at a 9:20ish pace for the first 1-2 minutes, get comfortable then GO. No messing around. Really go (especially in that last mile). At my 10K, I shocked myself with the last mile where I ran a sub 9 pace. This is only 3.

That's it. I'm going to go out to Palm Springs. Enjoy the warmth, have a good time, eat really good food and meet some really amazing Multisport Mastery athletes. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Challenge workout

Coach Liz is known for her challenge workouts. (That's my own terminology).

I've been with Liz for a little over a year, and I've never gotten a challenge workout until this week. I've heard about the workouts from other athletes. When they show up on your plan, there's no statement of "challenge workout" or "you'll be tested" or anything like that. It just shows up as a regular workout.

You don't even know until you start it. Then, you realize it immediately.

For the past few months, she has been giving me very hard bike workouts. Every time I get one, I think, "Ok. This will be really hard but doable."  I always manage to exceed the goals.

Last week, I saw the bike workout on my plan. I had to pause.

This was going to be the hardest bike workout I've ever done in my entire life.  The basic concept was
6 x (1 min @ 110%, 1 min @ 120%, :30 at 130%, rest for 3 minutes). Constant build.

If you aren't familiar with power on the bike, I think I can explain it like this. Let's say you run a 5k at a 9:00 pace. BUT that pace is everything you have, grunting to finish, feeling like you will pass out if you have to take one more step.

Translating this bike workout: You'd run 1 min at 8:30, 1 at 8:00, :30 at 7:30. It's a constant build. When I thought I couldn't go on, it was time to rest.

I saw the workout. Again I thought, "THIS is going to be tough".

And OH, was I ever right. After the very first interval, my legs were jelly, shaking, and I had to rest my head on my aero bars; I needed every second of the 3 minutes to recover.

I thought to myself, "I have to do this 5 more times".

My head never really fills with negative thoughts. I never thought "I just can't do this".

It wasn't a matter of thinking about what I could do. It was a matter of just doing what I could do. For most of us, those are two very different things.

I pushed as hard as I could. EVERYTHING I had.

When you look at the workout, it's 15 minutes of over and way over threshold. 15 minutes.

It was harder than the bike test.

At the 3rd interval, the middle minute, I just missed the watts. That made me go harder for the :30.

At the 5th interval, I missed the :30 watts by 10 watts. That made me go harder for the last set.

When it was all said and done, I missed the watts in 2 sections (that one middle minute and the one :30)

Don't leave yet.

This workout isn't over yet.

Immediately after the bike, she wanted me to run faster than 10K intervals off the bike. :30 seconds faster than 10K, :30 rest.

When I got off the bike, I thought to myself, "What is wrong with her".

The question really should have been, "What is wrong with ME?"

I didn't realize that this was a challenge workout. I mean. I'd never had one. I just thought it was another one of Liz's extremely difficult workouts.

I still had a run to do.

:30 on, :30 off.....tough, but I focused and did everything possible to recover as much as I could in the :30.

When I finished the workout, I had to lay down. I didn't want to move. I didn't know if I could move.

I felt empty: physically and emotionally, like I have never felt in my life.

I felt nothing. I didn't feel like I accomplished something huge. I felt nothing.

I gave everything I had. I didn't back down, and I still missed two intervals. I made 16 of them and missed two. Even on the two that I missed, it wasn't because I gave up. It was because I just couldn't get there. I was maxed out. I should feel great, right?

On the run, I ran every :30 at faster than 10k pace. For only one 30 second rest, I stepped off the treadmill to recover....I only did it for the :30, though.

I should feel great about it.  Nothing.

I wondered if THIS was the feeling that GREAT athletes feel. It went so far beyond working hard that it left me empty, not relaxed, not feeling like a job well done, not feeling tired. EMPTY.

When I filled in the details of my training log, I told her, pretty much everything I've said here....but mostly that I feel nothing and I missed a couple of intervals even though I gave everything. It was like for the first time ever I maxed myself out. How many times have I said, "I don't even know my potential because I've never even hit that ceiling."? MANY many times. When I say "potential", I am not talking about a static place. I'm referring to a constantly moving target. As I get stronger and faster, my potential will increase. My potential this year is greater than my potential last year.

She wrote back to me that this workout wasn't about the watts. This workout was to see if I had the guts to do it. She wanted to see what I'd do. Would I do it? Or would I back down? When I got tired, would I come back stronger or weaker on the next interval?

It was a mental test, and I did it.

She said I needed it. She was right.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Final Race Thoughts

Many of you know that I define success by how I feel, not by medals or podiums but by how I feel about a race.

I either give my best or I don't. It has nothing to do with race conditions. It has nothing to do with finish times. I can give my best in the worst of conditions, have a slower finish time and feel fantastic about a race.

Likewise, I can podium, know I didn't do my best....and be disappointed in my race. I'm all about internal satisfaction.

Yesterday, for the first time ever, I ran a 10K; I followed my plan exactly, and I enjoyed the distance. That was so much more than getting a PR. The PR is nice because it's a quantitative measurement of improvement, but I'm not about that; I'm an internally motivated person.

For years, the 10K has frustrated me. I think we all remember my breakdown last year, when I screamed at my Coach: I DON'T KNOW HOW TO RACE THE 10K! I feel like everyone has some secret that I don't know!!

That's a direct quote, from me.

That's when "Eat Pain" was born.

My opinion is that when you hire a coach, you need to commit to that person for a year to see results. (Barring, of course, a bad relationship. I've heard stories of coaches that don't respond, don't listen and just don't seem to care. Those relationships need to be cut off asap.) 

If you haven't had a Coach before, you'll see immediate results simply from having a plan created for YOU. Being consistent in your workouts and being held accountable go a long way to giving you improvements.

If you are switching from one coach to another, you'll be switching training methodologies. When you switch coaches, you may or may not see immediate results. I switched and learned where all my weaknesses were.

And that was a good thing because my weaknesses were actually very different that what I thought they were. When I started with Liz, I had to adjust everything I did but mostly I adjusted my perception of myself.

I sat back and realized that I wasn't as good as I thought I was (in some areas), and I was better than I realized in others.

Signing up with Liz then set in motion a series of events. I felt really good about my swim but having Liz as my Coach, I realized that "good" was no longer going to be good enough. I quit my old masters swim team to swim on a team that has the USMS Coach of the Year as the head coach.

When I told Liz about the change and about how fast everyone was and that I get lapped over and over, she said, "I get lapped every day in practice in warm ups. It's good for you."  Switching masters meant that I went from being one of the faster swimmers to one of the slowest swimmers. I chose to do that.

Getting my ass kicked day in and day out didn't discourage me. It made me hungrier. (Figuratively and literally). Every day I got in that pool, determined to NOT get lapped.

Masters wasn't the only change.

At first, I was dependent on Liz to raise the bar for me. She would say "Run THIS fast or swim THIS pace or ride at THIS power", and I would be worried about even being able to do the workout. BUT, every single time, I did it.

Over the course of the year, I started changing. Liz would say "Swim a 1:20", and I swam a 1:05. Liz would say, "I want power at a minimum of 250", and I'd ride at +300. She would say, "Run a 9:00 pace, and I'd run 8:50".

Instead of seeing her workouts as the toughest workouts I could do, I saw the workouts as a BASELINE.

I started raising the bar for myself.

It was a year of tearing down the old foundation and starting to rebuild this athlete from the ground up.

Yesterday was my reward. It wasn't the finish time. It was the fact that I realized I CAN DO THIS. I can follow a plan but more importantly take the risk to break from the plan. I can chase down a competitor. I can hold my own. I can take a risk and not back down.

That mental barrier is gone. From here on out, PRs are going to topple.

In August, if I'm in 25th place, I know that I will chase down 24th. I won't be afraid to do it. I won't be worried about not being able to do it.

I will do it.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Tastes like Victory

My goal for this race (10K) was discipline. A finish time didn't matter. A PR didn't matter. I wanted to show that I could be disciplined.

Disciplined to take the first 2 mile (as coach says) "Controlled".

Disciplined to go balls out the last mile.

There was a 5k going on at the same time. I've never done this race. I couldn't believe how many people came to race.

I missed the announcements while I was doing my warm up. I couldn't figure out if the 5k'ers were starting before the 10k'ers.

I didn't want to get wrapped up in speedy 5k racers. DISCIPLINE, Tea, DISCIPLINE.

I tucked myself somewhere in the middle of the pack.

The race starts on a downhill. People are blowing past me. I heard my garmin beep at me to slow down.....and beep again....and again.....slow, TEA SLOW.

It was hard. I certainly don't mind being passed. I mean hell....that's the story of my life.

The plan was 2 miles controlled, then get faster every mile thereafter. I set a goal of getting faster by about :05 per mile.

I didn't realize that this course was a rolling course. It was two loops.

At 2.5 miles, a woman passed me. She looked to be about my age. I didn't like that she passed me. I decided that I was going to try to hang with her.

But, she was widening the distance. By the 5k mark, she was 50meters ahead of me.

I nailed the first three miles. 2 easier, 1 picking up the pace. After the first 5k loop, I realized that in order to meet my goal, I was going to have to take advantage of the downhills and do a better job of pushing on the uphills.

I looked for the woman in my AG. I saw her and realized that I was gaining on her. It was slow, but I was GAINING ON HER.

ME. I WAS. ME. I don't "gain on people".

That's when something just clicked. I was going to catch her. 

I would love to tell you that I caught her in .25 miles, but I didn't. It was slow and methodical. It took me a mile.

At just past 4.25 miles, I passed her. I felt her glance at me. At mile 5, there's quick turnaround, and I saw her about 30 meters behind me now.



I decided to do it again. I saw a woman in a red ultra marathon shirt. ATTAINABLE. She was out running me. BUT, I could do it. She was only about 20 meters ahead of me. I could catch her. Then I lost her. I mean....she disappeared.

I saw another woman, wearing all black. In front of her were two women wearing tutu's. Ok. They are running too fast. I'm going for the woman in black.

She was ahead of me by about 30 meters. I have 1.5 miles to catch her. I get to the top of the hill. I see her. 1.25 left.

I have to do it. I have to catch her.

By now, my butt is starting to hurt. I am NOT backing down I will catch her. I start running harder.

At 5.5 miles, I pass her. I realized that I am thisclose to catching the tutu's. I run. I am giving it everything I have.

No. I mean. I AM GIVING IT EVERYTHING I HAVE. I am grunting and scaring children and adults alike who are walking the 5k.


I passed the TUTU's at mile 6.'s for the glory. There's no one ahead of me. No one to catch.

I must be making a ton of noise because I hear the announcer say, "CLEAR THE PATH! SHE'S COMING IN HOT." THEN everyone on the sidelines started cheering for me.


With nothing left to give, I cross the finish line.

I had no idea what my finish time was. My previous best was 1:01:51.

Today I finished in 1:00:45.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Hold on tight. We're in for a helluva ride.

ME, when Coach sent me THE LET'S SEE WHAT YOU'RE MADE OF Intervals

Me: When Coach Said swim MASTERS after those intervals

Me: When I got to Masters and saw the pyramid workout.

Me: when coach said strength work including 2 min plank on the medicine ball and right into 20 pushups on the med ball after masters.

Me: By the end of the week, when Coach said 400m intervals.

Of course, there's a reason for all this.

I'm a sick f*ck. 

And, my race season has officially begun with a 10K this Saturday. I'm 2 weeks from my first sprint tri of the season.

How do I feel? I don't know. I had a dream last night about Nationals. I was awesome. It was such an amazing race dream.

In it, I knocked out an 18 minute 1500 swim. IS that even possible? My previous best is 22. I nailed the bike, and I had a fantastic run. I really think that dreams show us our true feelings, whether or not we want to admit them. 

Lately, I've been thinking about my first A race (in April). It's an Olympic. I have been wondering how all this work is going to come together on race day. Pacing correctly, going to that place and call upon that fight....the fight, the desire to push harder and wanting to feel the discomfort and sometimes outright pain....that I've only recently been experiencing.

Confident? I would have said, "I don't know" until I had that dream. Clearly, part of me is ready to go.

My first test is this Saturday. I had just started to understand the 10K when my season switched to long course training. 

This Saturday, I'm going back to pick up where I left off. I don't feel excited or nervous. It's hard to explain. I guess the best way I can describe it is curious. 

I have never worked this hard before. 

Can I make it happen on race day? 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Live and learn

We are all human, all of us. Even if you think someone is superhuman, they aren't.

My mistakes over the years are well documented.  My mistakes make the best stories. They are the shared memories that make me and other people laugh. I never share the stories of my best races and times. There's no real fun in that. There's no real fun in pacing perfectly or getting my fueling right on or having perfect conditions. Yes, there is a personal satisfaction in hitting the ball out of the park....but it doesn't make for the best stories.

We can all relate to the screw ups. We can all relate to the dreaded code brown or crying in transition or feeling so amazing at the start of a race only to realize in a mile that we can't hold that pace for the entire 13.1's not just me, right?

My list of mistakes is by far longer than my list of successes. I have attempted training plans that were WAY too aggressive for my fitness level. I've thought those "rules" clearly apply to the average triathlete.....and clearly, I'm not average. I've eaten the wrong foods the night before a race. I've ignored others' well meaning advice.

BUT (and I know you like my big BUT), most importantly, I OWN THAT SHIT.

Every failure, every success is my own. There is no one to blame for my bad race times or DNFs except me. Yet, I can't have the success without YOU: the coaches who have worked with me, the friends and family who have given me endless support.

I own my failures, but you get full credit for all my success.

This morning, as I was waiting for an appointment, I thought about my entire triathlon history. For many years, there was inconsistency in my progress. Because I wasn't willing or able to really be the athlete I wanted.

I wanted one thing, but I was only willing to be something else. I wanted to be a top age grouper, but I wasn't willing to do what I had to do to be that athlete. It's really easy to fool ourselves into believing that we can swim a couple of times a week, get on our bikes and maybe cut a ride short and log a few miles a week....and be outstanding.

I've learned that wanting something isn't as good as working for it. You can say you are going to podium or qualify for Worlds, but what are you doing to get there?

You can be jealous of other athletes who HAVE accomplished that or you can study them, learn from them, watch them race, learn about the training. It wasn't until I said that I was going to do everything possible to excel at the sprint and oly distances, that I actually started to excel.

That's where I am now. I'm listening, watching & learning....and still making mistakes. But my mistakes now are from pushing my own limits. I can take risks in training now that I couldn't take before.  Coach says run 9:00 pace....what happens if I run 8:50? (That's what happened this week). I can push myself to see what I'm made of now.  The more I learn in training, the more risks I can take on race day. Because going up against the best athletes in the US, sometimes requires taking a risk. It requires, sometimes, throwing out the strategy and going for it with all your heart.

But there's one more piece: ALL OF YOU. You are part of my history. In one way or another you have helped me become the person and athlete that I am today. Maybe you're a long time friend; maybe you're a frenemy; maybe we haven't really talked in awhile. One way or another, you have helped me get here today.

You have shaped me into the athlete I am today.

You've inspired me to look up from the past and start working on who I want to be.

I'm dedicating this year to you. The people who have always laughed at my stories, helped me get through hard times and have helped me get where I am today.

Here's to everyone who has ever been part of my life.  Thank you.

Thursday, February 5, 2015


A funny thing happened. Someone found my super secret work FB account.

No, I'm not accepting your friend request....especially since you are one of the people I want to get away from.

Granted, I know it's not THAT hard to find, but you have to go looking for it.

Or (the other option) it shows up in your a "friend suggestion".

Oh Facebook. Really?

Even when I'm striving for anonymity, they make it so difficult.

That means that I started going through all the friend suggestions and started blocking people. This way, they can't see me, and I can't see them. Again, unless you know it's me, you probably don't know. I have no picture, no friends.

THERE'S A REASON FOR THAT, UNLESS YOU MISSED THIS POST and were completely unaware that I'm not really down with FB anymore.

But people can be pretty sneaky.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The best & worst

I was driving home from a great day of workouts. This song came on. Of course, growing up as a teen in the 80's....arguably the GREATEST DECADE, this song has a lot of memories.

However, I wasn't thinking about the GREAT 80's. When the song came on, it reminded me of a friend. We used to have a joke. For the life of me, I can't remember what the joke was or why I always chuckle when the song comes on, but I do. This song will probably remind me of him for the rest of my life.  I'm pretty sure the joke is perverted and has something to do with swimming ahem the breast stroke.

If it makes me smile in the middle of my day, that's a good thing.

In other news, I'm OFFICIAL. My shirt and swim caps came in today.

At the beginning of this post, I said that I had a great day of workouts. 

Yet, my swim was really jacked up today. In fact, it was so bad that my Coach came over to me at the end and the conversation went like this.

Coach: Tea, how'd you feel today?

Me: A little bit like a mess.

Coach: You looked a little bit like a mess. Do you know what you were doing wrong or why it felt like that?

Me: I was all jacked up. I was moving my arms too fast. I wasn't pulling deep enough. My pacing was entirely off. I started one interval way too fast. The next, I started too slow.

Coach: You're exactly right. Everything you said is what you were doing wrong. The good thing is that you can try out stuff at practice and see what works. It doesn't work, and you can sit on the wall for a second to figure it out. In a race, you don't have that luxury. Intentional or not. It was a good day for you.

I didn't intentionally try anything new. I was just jacked up. Nothing was going right. My swim which normally feels fluid and efficient, felt choppy and well, like a mess.

But what he said is absolutely true. I've recently been "finding" my own stroke. Today was a good way for me to see that a fast turnover just doesn't work for me. 

Why did I swim like that? I don't know. Sometimes we just have off days.

I think it's really important to pay attention to those bad days. Don't just throw them out and say, "Meh. It just sucked today."

Find out what you did wrong. That's how we become better athletes. Like Coach said: we have the luxury to screw up in training. We can take a break and figure out what's going on. In a race, we don't have that luxury.

Those bad days can become some of our best training days.

Oh, and I just remembered the joke. heh heh heh. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Remember why we're doing this

A couple of weeks back, I ran a 5k. The finish was an all out sprint. Me versus an 80 year old. Yeah. That's how I roll. At the finish, we were laughing about it.

Today, I had another 5K. We were supposed to get a dusting of snow. Instead we got a storm that stalled over the city. At my house, we got 10 inches. Even Denver got a good shot.  

Sorry Mid-west....I know the storm is now growing bigger and dumping on you.

I grabbed my waterproof running shoes with ice spikes. I got my cold running gear together. (The temp was around 0 at the start).  I head to the race.

The roads were terrible. There were very few people on the roads. As I was driving, I was thinking, "This is insane. I'm driving to run a race in horrible weather."  I knew there wasn't an option for me to not do the race. I never even consider skipping a race because of weather.

Because of the roads, I got to the race with only enough time to get my bib, get in a 5 minute warm up and get to the start.

When I got to the start, who is standing next to me but the older guy from the race 2 weeks ago. We talked and only slightly joked that today's race would be more of an exercise of staying upright than an actual race.

I was looking at everyone at the race. Everyone was smiling. It's cold (see weather report above). The race course is a mess. And everyone is smiling. Volunteers, supporters and runners all look like they're there for the sheer fun and madness of racing in such conditions.

I thought, "These are my people." We're all slightly crazy. 

When we started running, I thought I'd just take it easy. I turned on my garmin, but I never looked at it. Why bother in such conditions?

I saw an guy on my right. We seemed to be running about the same pace. When we got to the hill that was a sheet of ice, I said to him, "So. This is fun." He started laughing. 

I mean really. No one truly runs up a sheet of ice. It's a matter of sliding backward less than you move forward.

Ice spikes are great when you have something to grip. I always tell people spikes are a lot like a 4 wheel drive system. They are both awesome in snowpack, but put them on an ice rink, and you're no better off than someone with regular running shoes/tires.

Since we weren't running particularly hard, me and this guy (who's name I got later: Al), talked for most of the race. 

I thought, "This is what running is all about. This is the fun part." Racing and pushing yourself to new challenges are always fun, but they can also be frustrating. Sometimes the most fun races are the ones that turn out to be *not* races at all.

I ran a 5k with Al. Then we did our cooldowns together and walked back to our cars promising to pace each other again at the next race.

Running a 5K is easy for me. I'm so thankful for that. There are so many people who can't even walk a 5K. 

Sometimes I get frustrated. Sometimes I want to give up. Then, I have a day like today. Days like this always remind me of how much I love doing this. I went out for a run and met great people and had a good time just being with people who wanted the same thing that I did.

It's important that I never lose sight of that.