Friday, August 28, 2015

It feels good to feel good


It won't be easy, but it will be simple.

That's what I keep saying to myself.

I had my first meeting with my nutritionist this week.

Leading up to the meeting, I had to track my food for a few days. First, there are a few things that I loved about her right off the bat.

No calorie counting.
No weighing myself on the scale. I can if I want to, but I don't. I hate the scale. As I've gotten older, I know that due to those crazy hormonal fluctuations, I have about 2 weeks of the month where I can get a pretty good weigh-in. The rest of the time, I can go up as much as 3lbs in one night. Excuse me, but I don't need that kind of stress in my life.

I signed up with a nutritionist for several reasons.
1.) I want to lose that 10lbs that I put on.
2.) I want to know how to get the best out of my nutrition now that I'm heading into long course.
3.) I want to make sure my race and training fueling are where they are supposed to be. (How can I improve my race day fueling?)

We talked for an hour. I thought I knew a lot about nutrition.

Then, she started talking.

My world was turned upside down.

The first week, we're restructuring what I eat and when I eat. It's about making my body more metabolically efficient, burning fat at a higher rate than before. This isn't a low carb/no carb nutrition. It's about timing my intake of carbs to maintain steady blood sugar and giving me fuel for my workouts.

Honestly, there are quite a few changes that I need to make.

Yesterday was the first day I was on my own. (She and I talked weekly, and I email her with questions).

Yesterday was a disaster. I didn't eat enough. I thought I had it when we got off the phone on Wed. Sure enough....I didn't, and it cost me a run. No big deal. That's why I'm doing this during my off season, and I'm not even "training" for anything right now.

I woke up this morning with a renewed sense of making this work. Rome wasn't built in a day.

I figure if I can get it 90-95% right, I'm already WAY ahead of trying to do this on my own without a nutritionist.

Today, I nailed it. I couldn't believe how good I felt all day. I went for a swim and felt great. My mood was awesome. My blood sugar was steady all day. I had none of those mood swings because I wasn't eating right. I wasn't tired at all during the day. My energy has been better than it has been in years. Best of all, last night, I was out cold.


I felt great. Technically, it's only been one day, since I messed up the first day.

It's not easy. It takes work. It takes focus. It takes dedication. It takes discipline.

It's not really any different than training.

I can say feeling as good as I did today, kinda makes this whole thing easier. I won't be perfect. She doesn't want perfection. As she says, "Food is meant to be enjoyed. Don't give up the things you really love."

If I can get it right 90% of the time, I'm in a pretty good place.

It feels good to feel good.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Defining Success

I've been doing a lot of thinking the last 24 hours. Thanks, Jason

He asked something along the lines of what my limiter is because apparently.....I'm so awesome, it's hard to identify.

{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{BLUSH}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}

The conversation started me thinking of my 2 year plan, where I started and what my goals were for this year, looking at them from a BIG PICTURE view.

How did what I did this year help me with my 70.3 and Ironman plans?

Last year, I podiumed at every race. This year, I podiumed at about half my races. This was intentional. I didn't slow down this year. I didn't have any set backs. 

I intentionally registered for races where the competition was significantly higher. I podiumed at half my races this year, going up against some seriously amazing athletes.

And guess what? I qualified for Nationals FOUR TIMES between last Aug and April of this year. FOUR TIMES. 

And let me tell you, every single time I got the email....it was emotional, probably because I'm a big baby but also partly because it was something tangible, something that I could touch that showed all the work I put in, finally paid off. 

That's not a fluke. The women in the 45-49 AG are some of the most incredible athletes around and to have the privilege of racing with them, learning from them, and having them push me to NEW levels....sometimes it's humbling.

I put myself (well....admittedly, it was Liz that recommended I do most of the things I do) in the situations where I knew I wouldn't be a contender just to see how I react. Will I give up? Will I fight for a PR when there's nothing else on the line?

It comes down to "HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS?"  I was willing to forego any age group wins to win in ways that were going to help me down the road.

What were my wins?

1.) Finally pacing a 10k off the bike LIKE A BOSS. It might not have been the fastest that I could run, but I had to prove to myself that I could pace it correctly. It's a baby step but a necessary one. It was something that no one will see in my finish time. Anyone looking up my time will say, "oh....5th place....she must have had a bad day."

Why is that important? Because I'm heading into longer distances; distances where pacing on the run is critical.

2.) Getting my ass kicked.  This happened a lot. Nothing shows what you're made of more than getting your ass kicked in a race. Stuff happens at races. It can be a fueling issue, a weather issue, a mechanical issue. Hell, you can just be racing the fastest people. It can be anything. But, at some point, you'll have a race where you have to make the decision as to whether you are going to finish regardless of your time or you're going to throw in the towel.

What do you do when none of your plans are working? Plan A, B and C are out the window, and you are straight up in survival mode? Are you going to give it everything you have or do you walk off the course?

When everything was against me, I gave it everything I had for the first time ever.

3.) Renewed confidence. Triathlon is about being the best triathlete, not being the best swimmer, cyclist or runner. It's about playing to your strengths to get your best out of your weakness. This year, I learned that I can push harder on the swim, do what I need to on the bike and know that I will push through the pain on the run. (My old Coach once said that the swim is mis-marked than any other event. I don't know if it's true. He said that a number of years ago, and maybe technology has improved. BUT, I *do* know that I swim pretty damn straight, and my swims are almost always the same pace but different distances....and therefore finish times. Even at Nationals the swim was long. Fortunately, Liz gave me that critical piece of advice). 

Focusing on the Olympic distance (as much as I hate the distance) has taught me more than anything else. I've learned what real pain means. I mean. REAL FUCKING PAIN. I ran through it. I've learned how to pace my open water swimming, which is always tough with no clocks or lane lines and basing my pace on my effort....oh....and is THIS hard....or is THIS? What happens if I hold THIS pace? Will it affect my bike? All those things made sense to me for the first time ever. (I can't thank Coach Andrew enough for his help, and the work he has done with me, forcing me WAY out of my comfort zone at masters; telling me to swim up a lane and get lapped "because it's good for you". And Coach Liz having me swim long open water swims with paddles for goodness sakes. THAT was new....and uncomfortable....)

On the bike, I learned NO FEAR. I love going fast on the bike. In a way, I was afraid of my own power. In fact, Liz said to me once, "Don't be afraid of your power."  Getting the new bike two days before my A race of the year meant a race of ifs and buts and candy and nuts. It took me awhile to get familiar with the sheer speed of my bike, learning how to shift quickly, climb, where should I shift, where should I grind? Toward the end of the season, I started getting comfortable riding at my higher power zones. I was comfortable in those zones. NO FEAR.

She made me train, like she's never done before. The +2 hour workouts of bike/run/bike/run/bike/run/bike/run/bike/run/bike at 100-105% FTP and then run at 7:40 pace. You remember those days? I really did almost cry.

REAL FUCKING PAIN.

The type that makes you question everything you know about yourself and every one of those damn goals you set years ago. Are they really that important? Maybe you should just give up now....


When I raced and trained at efforts that almost made me cry, There was one thing that I believed with all my heart.

And on race day, the pain finally made sense.

**

Accomplishing these things made me realize....I've accomplished everything I've wanted to accomplish at these distances. If I want to make a run for Team USA, I can qualify again down the road.

For now, I've done everything I wanted. 

I can race....really race....being not just uncomfortable but being in pain. I know what to do when I'm dehydrated. I know what to do when I can't keep fuel down. I know how to race in +100 degree temps. I know how to race in 55 degree water. I can race in 50 mph winds (thank you Palm Springs). I can race in hail and rain. I can have bad training weeks and keep going. I can block out or accept the distractions.

I looked back over my year. There was nothing else I wanted to do with short course. I wanted to go long again. More importantly, I have the confidence to do it.

I'm going into the next phase of my tri journey armed with so much more confidence than I ever have.

I've taken my time to go long again. I work in goals that last years, not months. My race schedule is set up a year in advance working with Liz. We adjust training and racing as necessary when I'm faced with new challenges or as my schedule dictates. 

I don't jump into anything blindly. 


I do things when the time is right for me.  

Are you ready? The crazy is just getting started.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Colossal Fail

What is off season? For every triathlete, you'll get a different answer.

With tremendous trepidation, I stopped coaching. I thought it would be nice to not be analyzed for awhile.

Wake up in the morning and R*U*N!!! 

Or go RIDE! 

Or SWIM! 

On my own terms!

The first week off....I did nothing. Granted. I was tired. I've never been so tired in my life. I think all that hardcore training and mental focus 'n shit, finally caught up to me.

The second week: I swam. I started to run again and I rode.....all without a purpose. It was fun for the first two days. 

Then, I got bored with it. What should I run today? How far should I ride? The novelty wore off quick.

Today, I woke up and was buzzing around the house with more energy than I've had in awhile. Mr. Tea turns to me and says, "That's it. I'm calling Liz. I can't handle you with this much energy."

Truth is. I miss this.



So, I humbly wrote Liz an email.

PLEASE TAKE ME BACK. NOW! NOW! NOW! IF YOU DON'T IMMA GET DIVORCED!

There you go. 

I'm still in my off season, but I need a purpose. I'll be starting with Liz again in Sept.

Oh...and I have goals

But now, hopefully, I'll also remain married.

Friday, August 14, 2015

The next big thing



I keep thinking I should wait to talk about this, but I've waited weeks now. Nothing has changed. Part of the reason I don't want to put this out there is because it's a 2 year goal. Two years is a long time, and it's not a long time. Maybe THAT's really my issue. It will be here before I know it.

As you all know, I have limits to what I'm willing to give up when it comes to triathlon. That means first and foremost, I don't make any race decisions without talking to the family. Over the years, it has worked really well. I have been able to train when I want, without being completely exhausted for family stuff.

For years, Mr. Tea supported me with my short course goals.  A couple of months ago, he came to me and said, "What would you think about focusing on the 70.3 next year? You had such a great race at SOMA. I think that is your untapped potential."

He's right. I had a great race at SOMA. It was an emotionally charged race too. In other words, I wasn't mentally at my best for that race for reasons completely unrelated to training or fueling or anything like that. I, still, had a huge PR.

He surprised me by saying that. Yes, I've thought about it, but that was about it. I didn't have any crazy urge to go back. So, I slept on it for weeks.

I couldn't believe that he was really encouraging me to go long again. It's just me and him. We work in different locations, so he isn't around during the week when I do my training. On weekends, he sleeps so late that even my long days didn't really get in the way of our plans.

Because of my schedule, my training never really interferes with anything. The argument of "cutting into family time" is no longer valid.

I was getting my mind wrapped around this idea, when he brought it up again. "What do you think? What if you did TWO 70.3's next year?"

Me: The timing is right. Next year, I turn 49. I don't know about two 70.3's in a year. I'd want to talk to Liz about that....and also....SOMA wrecked me. I put so much into it. It would have to be a very early season and a very late season 70.3.  But, for a long time, I thought it would be cool to do Ironman for my 50th (when I age up in 2017).

Mr. Tea: YES. THAT's what you should do! Ironman for your 50th birthday.

Obviously, this is a big deal for me. That's why I haven't said anything. I wanted to make sure that I was willing to put the time and energy into this.

This is on my terms, my decision...because I want to do it. 


I asked Liz about my plan, and I think she was genuinely surprised and excited. We need to talk more about it in a few months as we start to hammer out the details of my race schedule.

That's it. It looks like I'll be going back to Ironman.

Beyond racing, I have a few other exciting plans:

1.) A few months back, maybe 6-9 months ago, I was going through a stressful time, and I put on about 10lbs. It sucked. I went through the entire race season heavier than I normally am. Hey, I think I look great. Mr. Tea thinks I look great, but this isn't about vanity. It's about being able to run faster and putting out better power ratio on the bike. I decided that once things calmed down, I would hire a nutritionist to help me get to a better weight.  I researched a number of nutritionists. I got a number of recommendations from friends. I contacted several of them and decided on one. We start next week. I'm so anxious to get started. How awesome will it be to start my 2016 season at race weight with my best nutrition plan already in place? I'm really excited especially since I struggled with eating while I was training for SOMA. It was so hard for me to get it the sheer number of calories that I made some bad decisions along the way. Desperate times call for desperate measures! Ha!

2.) Something old. Something new. Triathlon, old. Duathlon, new. Liz recommended that I race the Duathlon National Championships next year. Take away one of my best events....and replace it with the one that is my weakest???

I'M TOTALLY IN.

Duathlon National Championships are next June in Bend, OR.

3.) That leaves me with "Which 70.3 do I choose?"  I'm still not sure because there are a few moving parts.

My top choices are IM Miami in Oct and IM Austin in Nov.  Miami is the weekend of my birthday, so that's a bonus. Mr. Tea's vote is for Miami.

Austin....JMan will likely be moving to Austin next year.

Right now, I'm leaning towards Austin, but like I said....there are other moving parts.

Edit: Now, I'm leaning toward Miami. See how this is going to go?

4.) In order to get ready for the 70.3 next year, I decided to run a half marathon in AZ in Jan. I haven't run a half marathon in a couple of years. Getting away from the CO cold in Jan? I'm down with that idea.

5.) That leaves me with, "Which IM do you want to race in 2017?" Anyone who's anyone knows you have to register a year in advance. Which one? That's a slam dunk.  Ironman Arizona. I love racing in AZ. In fact, Mr. Tea and I love it so much that on our last visits, we went house hunting.

The plan is to head down to volunteer at IMAZ in Nov of 2016 and register.


So, that's it; my 2 year plan.

Heat Acclimatization

Re-organizing the blog to make the important stuff easier to find.

Like this post about heat acclimatization.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Coaching

I am around a lot of new triathletes lately, and people who are interested in changing coaches. I put together this little post about how to find and select a coach. You can also find it along bar above the posts.

Read the post: How to select a Coach.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Dream big, but make sure those BIG dreams are YOURS.



Usually when I write, "you" means "me". Not today. You means YOU, little goal setter.

Goals are YOUR goals: Your dreams that you hope to someday reach. That someday could be next week. It could be in 10 years.

The most important part is that they are your goals. 

When you're setting goals, keep a few things in mind:

1.) Let the dust settle. People get excited when they track their friends at races. If your friends or your spouse or your nemesis or your coach decides to do Ironman. (Ironman....just a place holder. I could easily say 'qualify for Boston' or "Nationals"). Big audacious goals are fantastic, but make sure you own it because you will be put to the test when you are least expecting it.

Don't sign up for a race just because everyone else is doing it. Don't do anything unless your heart is in it because it takes enormous dedication. More than you know.

If you jump on the bandwagon to do Ironman, you will regret it if you're not ready. Just because you're not ready, doesn't mean you're a weak person or don't aim high enough. You have to do what's right for YOU. Remember this, you might NEVER be ready. You might NEVER want to do Ironman. That's ok. Longer is NOT better. Longer is different.

Running a 5k is enough.  You don't have to run a 50k to prove you're a runner.

2.) Be focused. You're going to have distractions. Many years ago, when I decided to focus on short and intermediate distances, I found that I had to explain my position to people. It was a time when everyone was doing Ironman. I guess, the thought of someone going short when they could go REALLY REALLY FAR was quite perplexing to many people.

I could have easily given up on my dream to get faster. I could have easily given up on trying to get to Nationals. I mean, hell, it took me YEARS to finally get there.

But I had a plan. My goals were my own. I wasn't going to go off the path.  The people that really knew me, knew that I had big plans for myself. Nationals was just one of the steps. A step that I had to and wanted to take to do the next BIG thing.

Distractions aren't bad. They simply call into question why you're doing what you're doing. You need to be ready to answer the question.

3.) Choose wisely. It's not going to happen overnight.
If you want to qualify for Boston, you have to be 100% focused on JUST RUNNING. Sure, you can mix in some light cross training. If you're a triathlete....you best be ready to give up the swimming and biking in order to work 100% on your running goal. Likewise, you want to qualify for Nationals, you better be ready to give up those super long runs. Your long runs will probably not exceed 1:20-1:30.

It's going to be that way for awhile.



Now, back to my regularly scheduled not doing anything.