Friday, October 24, 2014

Coming back from the dead: 70.3 Recovery

After the race on Sunday:

OMFG THE SORENESS. MAKE IT STOP. Pleasebabyjesus. What did I do to deserve this? Shower? Are you kidding? I can't even lift my toothbrush, and I'm supposed to shower? I will never function like a normal human again. Who does this to themselves? This is torture. Oh no. Please, I can't go to the restroom again. I just went like an hour ago. I won't be able to get off the toilet this time. Can we call the hotel to help me get off the pot?

WHO invented stairs? Really? That's just the dumbest thing ever. At least, I can walk today. If you call it walking. My feet were moving....and forward. That's progress. Yesterday, I felt like I was hit by a train. Today, I feel more like I was hit by a Prius. But why am I so tired? What happened? I was ok.....until....ZZZZZZZZZ.

Wednesday: The depression
I fucking hate life. I hate triathlon. I'll never do this again. WHY AM I SO TIRED? I WILL NEVER DO ANYTHING LONGER THAN A SPRINT AGAIN. This is ridiculous. I hate running. I hate everything. I'm hungry. WHY AM I STILL PEEING? I'm so tired. I just want to take a nap. No. Sleeps. I want to take long long sleeps. I will never fit into pants again. 

Wow--I'm starting to feel better, but I'm so tired. PJ's are ok for the grocery store, right? How many naps can a person take before it becomes a medical condition? Maybe I could ride my bike today. Let's switch wheels and see how I feel. 

Ok.Nevermind switching my wheels took everything out of me. I need a nap. WHY AM I STILL PEEING SO MUCH? Seriously, there can't be anything left. What I wouldn't do for a good poop right about now. Who does this to themselves? Voluntarily? I'm never doing this again. 

WOW! I could go for a run today! I'm feeling pretty good. The veil of depression has lifted! And the universe rejoiced! Hey! I'm not even peeing anymore. LIFE IS WONDERFUL! ALL HAIL THE TRIATHLON GODS!

Maybe I should look at races for next year. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What I learned this year

1.) I've always known that I race by feel, but I could never figure out how to make that work. Numbers don't mean a lot to me. They are more of a guideline. This year, Coach Liz really helped me with this. She didn't just say "Hold these watts". She said, "You will feel like will feel like you can't take another step. You will hurt more than you've ever hurt. Take it to the edge. Eat Pain, redline, go back for more. How will you feel? GOD AWFUL".  That's how you get through to me. I like that. Those are the words that I need in order to be my best. Don't tell me it's going to hurt. Tell me it's going to feel like death.

2.) Never underestimate the power of heat acclimation. We had an unusually cool and wet summer here. I spent many hours acclimating to heat: using the sauna several times a week, using two space heaters set to 90 degrees when I was on the trainer. I wore layers when I ran outside. When it came time to race in the heat, I was one of the few people out there who didn't struggle with the heat. Of course, Liz also gave me race day strategies for shedding heat while I was racing. Ice in my bra. Ice over my head. Ice down my back, drink 3 cups at every aid station. Put everything together and it resulted in a 40 minute PR.

3.) The important of POSITIVE language. At one point during the year, Liz sent me a research article about the important of positive language. The Research showed that when athletes use negative words, their performance suffered. For example, when a golfer said, "Don't hit the ball off the green". They would often hit the ball off the green. However, when they said, "Hit straight toward the hole". They hit the ball exactly where they wanted it. I was notorious for this. I thought I was doing the right thing. I would tell myself, "Don't slow down".  Once I read this article, I switched all my verbal cues. "don't slow down" became "hold this pace". "Don't give up on the hills" became "Climb strong". The crazy thing??? IT WORKED. Holding pace became so much easier when I said HOLD PACE.

4.) Using 3rd person language. Another research article Liz sent me had to do with how athletes talk to themselves. The research showed that when "you" used the the word "You" instead of "I", athletes were much more likely to be successful at reaching the goal. When you're struggling with intervals, say, "You've GOT THIS" instead of "I can do this". Crazy huh? It's how I've always done things. I tried it one day using "I".....the workout was much harder....I immediately went back to saying "You".

5.) The unexpected will ALWAYS happen. The sooner you can accept that, the better your race will be. This year, I repeatedly had unusual things happen during training. On the bike, I had mechanical failures. I had nutritional issues. I had stomach problems. I've found that if I allow myself to get stressed or start thinking about how this will affect the "outcome", I would get more stressed and things would spiral out of control. Instead, focus on the task at hand. Focus on fixing that flat. Focus on how you can adjust your fueling. Focus on the task at hand. Focus on the process. NEVER focus on the outcome or a finish time. Again research shows that when we focus on the process, we feel a greater level of satisfaction. This was never more true than my OLY in August. I was late getting to the race and barely made my start. There was a problem with the swim course, and it was chaos. In my rush, I forgot my fuel for my bike. If you look up my finish time, you'll see I had a pretty slow Oly....but it was one of the races that I felt the best about because of how I handled everything. After having a slow bike and a rough ride because I was out of water and fuel.....I spent extra time in transition. Then, I ran a 10K PR. I didn't let the previous events negatively affect my run. I got out there and ran my best run ever.

6.) Effort + Attitude = EFFATUDE.  The only things you can really control when you are training and racing. This year, I learned that I have a ton of EFFATUDE.

7.) Letting go of who you "were" allows you to become who you want to be. It doesn't matter how fast you raced last year. When you believe you are stronger than your race times, you give yourself the room to become who you want to be.

8.) Cut out the "yes" men and surround yourself with the people who will give you honest feedback. Those people are going to see the great things in you that you'll tend to ignore. They will also give you the constructive feedback that you need to be your best.  When I started with Coach liz, I did 2 races with her when I received an email saying, "You're steady state Sally, afraid to bust out." No one ever said that to me before. I never even realized that's what I was doing. As soon as she said that, I realized that I needed to change that in order to be the best athlete I could. My next race I ran a negative split.

9.) You always have another gear.

10.) Don't be afraid to state your goals out loud. No one has to believe in your goals but you. People will try to convince you that you need "realistic goals". FUCK'em. What those people think says everything about them and nothing about you. Because they can't do it, doesn't mean you can't. ALWAYS go for the biggest scariest goal out there and state it with confidence. Embrace it. Sleep it. Post it everywhere. When you believe it, you will attain it. You'll have to work for it, but you WILL achieve it.

11.) Be humble. There will always be people who are faster. There will always be people who are slower.

12.) Do what YOU want not what you think you should do and not what everyone else is doing.

13.) Learn your weaknesses. Accept them and find a way to overcome them when you need to. We all have our challenges. The most successful people have found ways to overcome their weaknesses. I don't like running long. During my HIM, we had a plan. Run to each aid station. Walk the aid station and start running again. Instead of 13.1 miles, I knew I just had to run 1 mile. I didn't think of it as running 1 mile 13 times. I focused only on the mile I was doing. Run THAT mile. Don't worry about the next one. Don't think about the one I just finished. Run THIS mile to the best of my ability.

You are worthy. You deserve this. Don't be afraid of success. Don't be afraid of your power. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Where do I go from here?

I was going to wait to post my goals for next year, but it just so happened that Coach Liz and I talked about it today. I thought I'd wait until the end of the year, but why wait?

I didn't like the 70.3. I didn't really enjoy the process. I made the best of it. The fact is that I just don't like going really really far. THERE is no real challenge for me to attempt to PR whilst moving slowly. (I'm only slightly joking. We all know that a HIM pace is slower than an OLY pace regardless of how fast you actually go....your oly pace will be significantly FASTER. If it isn't, then you're not doing it correctly). Going slower for far distances, isn't exactly exciting for me. Why pace myself at 19mph when I can go lungs and legs ablazing at 23mph?

When I crossed the finish line, I didn't feel any kind of joy or elation over such a huge PR....I felt like, "Meh....I'm glad THAT's over." I don't get the woody that other people get about going really really far.

But what I dislike even more is wasting a race registration. I did it because I paid for it. I might as well see how far I've come. In that regard, it was a huge success.

Why am I telling you this?

Because unless my situation at home changes (ie: I have nothing better to do than train ALL FUCKING DAY), then it is unlikely that I will EVER do a 70.3 again.

I know what you're thinking.

Sit down. Take a deep breath. I know this is quite a shock.

I did the HIM. I PR'd. It's done. Now I can go back to what I truly love and enjoy: Sprints and Olympics.

You all know how much I love going really really fast. This year, just as I was really starting to get going, I had to stop to train for the HIM. Even though I did some really incredible things, I felt like I never got the opportunity to really see what I could do. I raced the best CO has to offer, and I held my own....I was top 3 or 4 at every race, after only a few short months of working with Coach Liz.

Next year, we're (coach liz and I and you all) are going to qualify for nationals and make a run at making Team USA to compete at the World Championship.


That means I get to go back to the gut busting, burning leg, IJUSTWANNASCREAM workouts that I really love.

And YOU get to listen to me ramble on for at least another year about triathlon.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


Where do I start with this race report? I don't want to give you the blow by blow....for a would take me all night.

I think most of you know that I did this race because I lost a bet last year. Soma 70.3 was selected by my previous Coach. When I lost the bet, I immediately signed up....even though, my heart wasn't really in it.

BUT....I committed to doing the race cuz that's how I roll. I lost the bet. I held up my end of the bargain.

Let me say this: The training that Coach Liz had me do was the BEST training I've ever done for a 70.3.

And, there's more. A week ago, she sent me an almost 6 page email about specific recommendations for the week before, two days before, 1 day before and the day of my race.

All of the recommendations were things I'd never done and in some circumstances, never even heard of. Last week, I was sold. I bought into everything. I did everything she said.

She said, "No sweets or alcohol." I cut out all sweets. (I don't drink anyway, so that was a slam dunk).

She gave me specific dietary guidelines. I followed them to the best of my ability.

For the day of the race:

The swim: She told me to treat it like a warmup. If I wanted to build throughout the swim, that was fine, but ultimately I had to look at the swim as a warmup.

The swim at soma is a deep water start. It was complete chaos. Women took off like crazy fast. I thought, "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?" Me? I just kept saying, "Warmup. Keep it easy." I knew that even going easy, this swim was going to be a PR.

And it was, I passed 3 and 4 (at least) waves in front of me. I didn't care where my AG'ers were. I was here for me. I got out of the water with a huge smile on my face. I was joking with the volunteers, and I yelled at Mr. Tea "Well THAT's the first PR of the day."

(I don't have any times for you because I'm unable to upload my garmin, but I think garmin shows a 1.36 mile swim in 37:XX. I have no idea what pace that was.)

I ran to T1. (By the way, I had one of THE best transition spots. I was at the very end....on the very end of the rack. The people around me were the NICEST triathletes I have ever met).

Liz was very careful about my bike plan. She repeatedly told me to be conservative on the bike because of the heat. Race day temps were supposed to be around 92. I was under strict instructions to not exceed 80% of FTP. She stressed over and over the importance of making sure I hit my fueling.

With that in mind, I head off on the bike. OH! While I was bobbing around in the water at the swim start, I talked to a women about the bike course. I asked, "Is the course as confusing as it seems?"

She gave me the BEST advice. She said, "Use the first loop to get familiar with the turns and uturns. Take the first loop easy. Then, the next two loops will be very easy."

Liz wanted me to take the first 30 minutes easy. The loop was about 18.5 what if I went easier for the entire first loop? I kept my watts at the low end of my range. Took the turns very conservatively, and felt great at the end of the first loop.

At that point, I started thinking, "I'm feeling really great. I mean spectacular. What if I go a little harder for this loop (and stay within my range)??? Yes. Let's do it."

I can't even explain how I felt on the bike. It was downright magical. Coach Liz told me that many age groupers lose focus at "these points". She said I'd hate the bike. She said that my legs would want to stop....that I wouldn't want to eat.....and I kept waiting for all of it....and none of it happened. I was smiling the entire time. I was talking to other athletes and volunteers....

I didn't want the bike to end.

When I got to the third loop, I thought, "What if I went a little bit harder?" At this point, I was catching and passing everyone and anyone. There were women who passed me at the very begining....I blew past them all like they were standing still. I went up the hills in aero the entire time when other people were standing.

I felt absolutely unreal. It was like it wasn't even me out there.

Every loop averaged 18.2 mph. I believe my garmin said my time was 3:04 for the 56 miles. (There's quite a bit of a run from dismount to the timing mat.)

When I got off the bike, I felt noodle discomfort. I felt amazing.

I nailed the bike nutrition. I nailed the watts.

Now it was time for the run. I spent extra time in transition (again) as I reapplied the sunscreen. I grabbed all my gels. I took salt tablets. I put on socks (which I don't do for short distances).

All the while, I kept thinking, "Wow...I can't believe how good I feel".

Another little tidbit from Liz "lose the heart rate monitor,..don't wear it".

That might be the BEST advice I've ever gotten.

We had a pacing plan in place. I was doing really well with it. Then, I had a bathroom emergency somewhere around mile know the kind.....the BAD kind.

I ran to a porta the door and immediately shut it. One of the race marshalls saw me, and I said, "FAHGEDABOUDIT" He laughed and said a mile up the road are real bathrooms. Ok....I can wait.

A quarter of a mile up the road, I need to go NOW. ON the bike course, I saw an out house. I made the decision to go off the run course and hit the bike porta potty....I mean NO ONE Ever uses those. I was right. Unfortunately, it was a delay that really slowed my average pace.

AFter that, I just couldn't get my average pace back up to where I wanted it. Granted, I also wasn't giving it everything I had, but my mental state was positive. I was thankful to be there. I knew I was heading to a big PR, and I was STILL smiling.

I kept fueling. Ice in my top. Ice down my back. Water over my head. Coke. Gels. Water. Ice. Ice. Baby. And more ice.

The plan that liz recommended was: hold pace. walk the aid stations to manage your heat level and ICE ICE BABY.

It really worked.

I knew I was going to have  a PR. I knew everyone was tracking me. I ran from aid station to aid station. I only walked the aid stations. I still felt good (well....except for the GINORMOUS blisters on feet that I felt popping one after another). I thought, "Hey. no matter how slow..always run...running is faster than walking. just keep going hold pace."

When I got to 12.1 miles, I had 1 mile left. 1 mile left of my season. I never really thought it would end this way. All I wanted was to break 7 hours. That's it. I would check my garmin every 3 or 4 miles, and I couldn't believe I was going to do it. I was going to have a HUGE PR.

PR's at all three events.  A stellar swim. An amazing bike. And ok....not my best effort run, but my best HIM run ever.

And I couldn't really believe it
I rounded the last quarter of a mile....there was Mr. Tea. I would have smiled, but now I was all about getting the race done.

And I ran. I ran straight down the finishers shoot. People were cheering. It's like 93 degrees, and people are out there screaming and yelling for me. No one else was around. I felt like I was winning the entire race.

I crossed the finish line.

I thought, "WOW." That was it. I mean. WOW. I saw Mr. Tea. He came over and hugged me....I think he did....maybe it was a stranger. I don't even remember now.

Then he asked, "What did you think?"

I said, "Never again."


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

On my way

I did my last bike workout in the hotbox.

I swapped cassettes and put on the race wheels.

I've printed off my list of mantras and race strategy.

I've packed my gear, snacks & fuel.

After a quick swim tomorrow morning and breakfast with Mr. Tea, I start my road trip to AZ.

Thank you all for your support over the past few months. Y'all my rainbow.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

When you're almost there, you're almost home.

Know you're not alone.

11 days until race day.

I'm a little surprised at how I feel. I'm closing in on my longest race in a very long time, and I feel nothing.

No nerves.
No excitement.
No race dreams.


I just feel regular. I don't even feel like I have a race coming up.

I guess the word is "calm". I don't know. I've never felt this way before. I'm not making lists. I'm not panicking. I realized over the weekend that I was out of tubes and cartridges and no freak out. I just bought some.

I don't feel rushed or hurried or like I'm running out of time.

I still need to change my cassette, but I'll get to it. Everything will get done in due time.

I started planning my eating (carbo loading) for next week, making sure that I have snacks for my road trip.

Yesterday, Mr. Tea told me that he wouldn't be going to the race. It didn't really phase me. Of course, it would be nice to have a weekend away, but I'm it wouldn't really be a weekend away anyway.

I feel weird because of the lack of bad feelings, the stress feelings.

There is also the lack of "doubt". I'm not doubting myself. I'm not worrying about whether or not I'll hit certain times.

I'm just going to "do" one event at a time to the best of my ability.

Maybe it's too soon? Maybe next week?

On the other hand, I've had unusual things happen all year long. Maybe this is the result of getting used to the unexpected? You just kind of keep moving.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Worthy of your time

Two posts/blogs that are worthy of your valuable time.

The first one is from Amanda. She is coached by my coach and recently won her AG at the 70.3 World Championship. When you read her race report, you will truly understand what racing is all about: the ups and downs and how not to let those things get into your head. Maybe most importantly, how to become the athlete you've always been meant to be.

This week, Amanda is racing Kona. Read her World Championship Race Report here. It will bring tears to your eyes.

Second, Coach Liz posted an excellent article about how to handle your off season. I love this article because she doesn't just say "Do a swim or bike or run focus", she emphasizes the whole athlete. Set up your off season to accomplish the goals that are important to you. Don't just follow the herd. Do you!

Read her off season article here.