Saturday, November 21, 2015

I dreamed a dream

A funny thing happened to me. I had an Ironman race dream. Keep in mind that I'm not signed up for an Ironman; I don't have any immediate plans to do one; and I'm in my off season.

This was not a normal race dream where everything goes wrong or you get lost in transition or your bike is on the 3rd floor of a department store.....yes, I really had that one.

In the dream, I was doing Ironman AZ. I had a fantastic swim. I got to transition and that's where things got funny.

"I forgot my bike and running shoes! I can't continue"

All of a sudden, my bike and running shoes are there.

"I Forgot my fuel! I have to stop!"

My water bottles all of a sudden are ready to go.

In other words, I was set up for a great race. I felt it. Yet, here I was making excuses. I knew that's what I was doing.

When I woke up, I realized that there's nothing left blocking my way to anything. That's what the dream was about.  The only thing that will stop me is ME not wanting to do it. I have no more excuses.

That's a pretty big step for me.

Speaking of big steps. It has become very clear to me that Liz has me working on my endurance strength.

How do I know?

Because this is how I look when I run.

I continue to strength train/do plyo workouts 3-4 times per week, depending on the week. Often times, my legs are....what's the word? Sore.....tired....miserable...when I run. 

I kept saying that all the work I've done at the Oly is going to help me when I get to the 70.3.

Guess what? 


What I have found is that when I focus on my running and break it down in my head (while I'm running), I realize breathing isn't horribly labored like it is in the Oly. My legs just hurt.

WELL HELL.....I can handle the physical discomfort!


And finally, some really big news.....I have decided on a FALL 70.3 2016. I present you with.....

which also just happens to be....

Let's do this thing, shall we?

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Start with belief

This week is goal setting week. Let me 'splain. Liz and I work together to set up my race schedule for each year. I pick my A races. She makes sure they are spaced appropriately. Then, she makes recommendations for races to do between the A races. 

After the race schedule is done, we set goals. The goal setting comes in two parts. 

This week we addressed the first part: what I want to accomplish at my races.  (The second part of the goal setting is outlining the process to reach those goals.)

I have gone through so many phases with setting goals.

For the longest time, I was embarrassed about my goals. Even though, I believed SOME day I would reach them....I felt like other people/readers/friends would think they were completely far fetched. More likely than not it was my own insecurities coming out.

Every year, I have my goals. I've tried different things. I've posted my goals. I've kept them quiet. All the time, I had this nagging feeling that I couldn't accomplish them.

I found myself in a weird place when Liz said she wanted my goals. I didn't hesitate. I wasn't embarrassed. I believe I can reach these goals. I really do.

When I sent them to her, I wasn't the slight bit nervous about what she would say. 

She looked over everything, and said, "these are all within your reach". We talked about how I could slice and dice one race in particular to reach the goals. We talked about what would be easier and what would really push me outside of my comfort zone. 

In one way or another, I'll be outside my comfort zone. 

My Coach believes in me. I believe in me. 

These goals, they're big. It'll be very tough, but for the first time ever, I'm starting from the simple belief that I can do it.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Triathlete, business owner, & the holiday season

Yesterday I got the call.

"The truck arrived early. It's here."

The truck. The semi truck full of holiday shopping goodies. Not a little UPS truck with a few boxes.

An entire semi truck filled to the top with pallets of boxes.

I said, "I'll be there first thing in the morning."

This is a physically demanding time of year for me. I have never been and will never be one of those business owner that sits back and watches people work. I won't let anyone do a job that I'm not willing to do myself. Trust me. I've done everything from helping customers to cleaning the bathroom to packing boxes.

I do what I do because I love it.

Being a triathlete and having my own business has challenges. One day after having a chat with Liz, I brought my garmin to the warehouse. In one day, I logged 7 miles; not to mention the picking and packing orders.

As hard as it is, it's the time of year that I enjoy most. I get to hang out in the warehouse and talk to people in greater depth than I usually do.

As soon as I heard the truck arrived, I opened training peaks to get an idea of what my training would be.

Of course, it was a brutal hill repeat day and strength training. I knew that I would get up early to do the hill repeats when I had the energy. I also knew that, realistically, the strength work might not make the cut.

This morning, I got up and got going as soon as I could. I had a mild breakfast of scrambled eggs & an apple with almond butter. This is one of my tried and true breakfasts that I know I can eat quickly, and it won't interfere with my workout....even a hard workout.

Because our roads and sidewalks still weren't clear from the snow, I planned to do this on the treadmill.

The workout was 10 x 30 second hill repeats on a steep hill and then another 10 x 30 second repeats....with very little rest between them.

Steep. What's steep on a treadmill? I wasn't sure, so I set the treadmill to 10%. I live in an area called The Hills. I'm always running up or down huge hills, so my perspective on "what's steep" tends to be skewed.

F*CK ME. It hurt. My legs were screaming at me. They were already uncomfortable from yesterday's workouts.

For the recoveries, I left the treadmill running at the speed and incline and hopped off to walk around.

My heart rate came down quickly, but it felt like as soon as I caught my was time to run again.

I started doubting myself.

Something's wrong with me. Maybe my head's not in the right place today. Why is this so hard?

I had a brief rest before the second set of 10.

This time, I decided to drop the incline to 8% and run faster. Every interval, I increased my speed.

My legs are hurting. During the recoveries, I felt like jelly legs. This time, my heart rate wasn't coming down much and each interval was harder and harder.

It was so tough that instead of running for my cooldown. I walked. I tried to run, but I had nothing left.

I did the workout. The entire time I was doubting myself, "There's something wrong. This shouldn't be this hard." I finished the workout completely spent.

I went upstairs and had "lunch" or "second breakfast" depending on your perspective. I could barely walk the flight of stairs.  I needed to sit for a few minutes before I head to the warehouse, so I uploaded the workout. I told Liz that the workout was either crazy tough or my head wasn't in the game today.

She responded with something along the lines of "IT WAS RIDICULOUS, AND YOU DID IT!"

F*ckin' A. I was so preoccupied with everything that needs to be done for work, that I missed the fact that she hit me with a classic Challenge workout.

Funny thing about her challenge workouts, you don't usually feel excited or thrilled or energized that you did it. You just feel dead.

I showered, ate, packed my snack and head to the warehouse.

Nobody could mentally prepare me for the giant walls of boxes that needed to be opened and unpacked.

I got my instructions for where to start and listened to where I was supposed to unload different items.

After a few hours, one of the guys looked at me and said, "Maybe you should sit down for a few minutes."

I really wanted to sit down. All I wanted to do was get off my feet, but I knew if I sat down, I wasn't getting back up. I told him.

He sent me over to help pack today's orders.

When everyone started packing up to go home, they sent me home too. I wanted to stick around to help move racks to make room for tomorrow. (We're not even close to being done unpacking the pallets). They told me to go. I left on the promise that they were going home too.

With the busy season upon us and the truck arriving early, I was so glad that I had picked up some groceries yesterday, but I forgot a few key items. On my way home, I stopped at the store for those things.

When I got home, I forgot all the chores that I didn't do because I had to get to work early. All I wanted to do was sit down for a few minutes.

I did exactly that.

By the way, the strength training didn't make the cut.

PS: they lied to me. I left, and they finished unpacking. I got a text message saying so.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

What swimming masters is really like

Today, I had a master's swim on my schedule.

I'm one of the weakest swimmers at masters. Seriously, there are two people slower than me. One of them is a 70 year old man who just learned how to swim.

This fact doesn't bother me. Long ago, I got over the ego bruising that is swimming masters. I know that on a normal day of freestyle, I'll swim in the second slowest lane. On IM day, I'll be in the remedial lane. 

On freestyle day, the guys I swim with normally don't lap me until we do 400's. Sometimes, they catch me on 300's, depending on the testosterone they had for breakfast. They're ok having a slower swimmer swim with them. That's why masters is so awesome. If someone catches you (touches your toes), you pull to the side (normally at the end of the lane), and let them pass. No harm. No foul.

But today, was IM day. For the non-swimming readers, IM is individual medley. Believe it or not, I didn't know this until about 5 years ago. I thought IM meant Ironman know long sets. Hell, it was the only IM I was aware of. Long set day? THAT would be easy. IM means stroke day. Stroke day refers to butterfly, back, breast, free (in that order for IM). 

Many....I dare say....most triathletes don't swim strokes. You don't have to swim strokes. But, I've always believed that if you truly want to improve, you do what you can to become a stronger person. Swimming strokes works your body in many different and sometimes very frustrating ways. Some days, I swim butterfly more like a bumble bee. Sometimes, I make it to the other end of the lane without staring death in the eye.

Sigh. It's stroke day. I look around and choose the remedial lane. I have no lanemates today. (Like I said, stroke day isn't a favorite for most people. The people with a swimming background seem to love it, but I'm not that person. For me, it's mostly, "Let's see if I can avoid drinking more chlorinated water this week than I did last week.")

I love swimming with my lanemates. So, IM day has the challenge of swimming on my own. I've learned that it's not fair to me or to my normal lanemates to swim with them on IM day. Yes, they are right next to me.....technically....but there is no divider wider than the lane lines in a pool. It's like border patrol. 

As we were setting up the lanes, (not really setting up....more like kicking out the swimmers who were swimming on their own). I had to tell a random swimmer that he needed to move. I also added, "You are welcome to swim masters with us, if you'd like." I said this....maybe too eagerly. He smiled and said, "I'm not at that level yet".

Yes, I understand. My massive shoulders led him to believe that I was like an older version of Missy Franklin. 

That's a common misconception of masters. Masters is to help you become a better swimmer.....PERIOD. There are no time minimums. You don't have to know strokes. I've written about that ad nauseum.

Coach arrived and started posting our workout. I knew that in order to keep up with the team, I'd have to drop a 50 during the sprints. 

For our first 100 IM, I started before the lane next to me. They were discussing (ahem procrastinating) who would start first. This is a normal tactic of swimmers....everyone is afraid to be the lead swimmer. No one really wants that pressure, and no one really wants to admit to being the "fastest".

Somewhere along the line, those guys passed me. I made it a goal to stay with them, by dropping the extra 50. I thought, "If I can finish the same time they do, I'm doing really well." Dropping a 50 meant that I'd only be doing 150 less than they are. 

During the breast stroke section, Coach came over and asked where I was. I told him, and he said, "Perfect. That's right where you should be."  (Yes, I told him I was doing 1 less 50 per set). 

The end result is that I survived another IM day. Coach says that you need to swim 3-4 times per week to see an improvement. Right now, I'm swimming 2 days per week, so I'm more or less "maintaining". I'm ok with that for the moment.

At the end of practice, I was counting up the distance. I came in at roughly 2600yds. A year ago, I couldn't do a full IM practice, so maybe my paces aren't super fast for IM.....I've improved in other ways. What's my IM pace? I'm not really sure. I tend to not time those days, so I can focus on what I'm doing and not be concerned that I'm swimming faster or slower than I think I should be.  My goal is to go out there and give the best I can for that day.

Sometimes, that's all you can ask of yourself.

What it's really like

After my last post, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what I want this blog to be nowadays.

If it was truly just for me; then no one would be able to read it.

It is for me.

It's also for you.

What's been missing? The broken record post, really got me thinking. I *do* sound like a broken record. Yet, my life is anything but the same races, same training, same day to day.

It's really easy to write about those awesome workouts where I feel invincible. It's also easy to write about the races that didn't go the way I thought they would.

What's missing is all the inbetween stuff. The every day stuff is missing. Between fantastic workouts & races, there's a lot of life stuff that takes place.

Some days, I'm confident. Some days, I'm not. Some days, I fuel perfectly. Some days, I have to make a rescue call in the middle of a long run. Some days, I have to negotiate a training and work schedule. Some days, I'm making an emergency drive to have lunch with JMan or Googs. Some days, I feel strong. Some days, I wish I had an easier hobby.

I feel like I haven't been honest in who I am. It hasn't been intentional. I don't believe I've ever painted a picture of myself that is different than who I am. I've never hidden my paces or race times.

I want to write more of "what am I really thinking"; not just, "what's a good read?"

Don't worry. There will be plenty of self deprecating humor and ridiculousness, but there'll be other stuff too.

Hopefully, you faithful reader(s) won't might some of the changes.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Broken records

Because Sheryl Crow.....and Sting

I went onto Athlinks the other day to scroll through all my races. My history only goes back to 2003, but it's enough.

Then, I started reading through old blog entries. I remember each and every one. I read race reports, and they make me smile.  Sometimes, I think that my posts must sound like broken records. Maybe I say the same things over and over.

To me, I'm so glad I have those old posts.

This.....THIS.....has been such a journey.

Many of you know that I was a runner before triathlon. The whole marathon thing never really appealed to me, but I loved running.

But triathlon?

It was love at first race.

Over the past few months, Coach Liz has been pummeling me. Two a days? This isn't football. This is triathlon.

Three a days workouts? Please. Those are my easy days.

Liz has taken me to a whole new level. There are days I do 4 workouts. There are days of 3 workouts. My easiest day this week was 4000m masters swim sandwiched between yesterday's run/bike/strength and tomorrow's run/bike/run/strength.

She's hit me with sprinting hill repeats. She's pushing me with squats, lunges, burpees, jumps, hops, core, more

After my workout yesterday, I laid on the yoga mat. I started thinking about those earlier blog posts.

I used to need them to keep me motivated. I used to need the "Good Job" or "You're a BEAST!" comments. I needed to go to the gym to be "seen". Like it was some kind of validation. YES, I was there. She saw me! He saw me! I was sweating and working really hard. If I saw someone look at my pace on the treadmill, I'd bump up the speed.

Oh....and I talked about triathlon. I wanted everyone to know what I did for fun.

Somewhere that all changed.

I laid on my yoga mat. I stared at the treadmill. I just ran 7:53 intervals at an 6% incline, and I had more to give. I realized, somewhere along the line....I lost interest in talking about triathlon. I don't tell anyone, unless they ask, even then, I usually short answer them. one is really interested unless "you do that BIG one in Kona?????"

I used to compare myself to everyone else. There was a pressure to perform, coming from many different sources, including internally.

Since I started working with Liz, my interest in what everyone else is doing has faded. I get lapped at masters, but one day, I won't. I make myself hold core movements until I want to cry, but no one is there to see it. I run hill repeats over and over. I do bike drills to muscle exhaustion. No one sees the work.

And I blog.

To you, I might sound like a broken record. But when I read those old posts, I see how much I've changed.

I no longer need to hear those "Beast mode" comments, but I know you're there always supporting me.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Where do I go from here?

You are so very welcome.

With it being the end of the year, I've seen many posts and articles about goal setting.

Everyone is signing up for races. Coaches are writing articles about how to set up goals. Yet, here I am; at a loss. I haven't even wanted to talk about next season because I don't know. In typical Tea fashion, I let those feelings be. I didn't know why I felt that way, but I did.  I know the more I push to figure it out, the more resistance I was going to feel. It has nothing to do with feeling burned out or anything. I just don't know what to do.

For those of you who know me, I'm a goal oriented person. I always have the next big thing lined up.

I let it be. Anyone who asked about my schedule, I replied, "I'm enjoying my time not thinking about next season."

Weeks have gone by. I started putting the pieces together and figuring out (without thinking about it) what's going on.

When I qualified for Nationals and then raced Nationals, it was the biggest goal that I had. It was a monster goal for me. It was a 5 year goal. Of course I didn't need a goal after that. Five years was a long time.

Then, I hit my goal 3 years early. Technically, I guess it was 4 years early since it was my first year with Liz.

Athletes have those little short term goals: What am I going to do at my next race?
Then, they have the season bigger goal: What do I want to accomplish at my big A race?
Finally, we have the BIG SCARY GOALS: What do I want to accomplish somewhere down the road that scares the pachookie out of me? (Things like qualifying for Kona.....or say Nationals).

I accomplished my big scary goal. Now what?

Yes, I've talked about working my way back to Ironman, but can I commit to that training? Is there something else I need/want to do first?

I've mentioned this before. Several years ago, I had a conversation with a friend. I told him that I don't even know what my best distance is. He replied, "I do."  But he wouldn't tell me what it was. He could have been bullshitting me, which is more than likely the case, but the conversation always stayed with me.

What is my best distance? I don't think anyone else that I know, thinks about this. 

So, I went to Nationals, raced both distances in a weekend. 

I accomplished my big scary goal, but was it enough?

At 48, I'm now in the best shape of my life. My nutrition/fueling/training is allowing me to give my best. 

What if I have more to give at the shorter distances? What if I I gave my best for where I was? How could I have really given my best if I wasn't at my best? Clear as mud?

But, there was more than just short course. There are other things I want to do.

Over the weeks, I was able to narrow my focus. 

I came up with TWO big scary goals.

1.) I want to go sub 6 at the 70.3 (half iron).
2.) I want to qualify for Team USA at the sprint distance.

Maybe not the BIG Scary Monster goals but very big.

My last 70.3 was pretty far off from sub 6, but given everything I've been doing, I can get there. (Also remember, my last 70.3 was in 2014. I wasn't really into it.) It will hurt more than anything I've ever done. The 70.3 that I chose has a very fast bike course but a tough run course. But, I can do it. 

My best sprint race was 1:16. In order to qualify, (based on last year's times), I have to race better than 1:15. (To make Team USA you have to finish in 22nd place or better after the age up rule is applied).  22nd place came in at 1:15 last the 45-49 AG. However, I turn 49 next year, which means that in order to qualify, I would fall into the 50-55 AG (because that's how old I would be for the next World Championship.) Those women are very fast, but so am I. I can do it.

I decided on a 70.3 for the first half of the year. 
I decided to race the Sprint National Championships (in Omaha) in Aug.

When I laid out my plan, Coach liked the plan, but she asked, "Then what? What's after that?"

I told her I wanted to leave it open. She and I already talked about leaving the Fall schedule open, so it was no surprise to her.

Why? Because I'm looking at something really big. I've learned that I can do things I didn't really think were possible. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I believe I can accomplish every goal I set my mind to.