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.

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.