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Monday, January 25, 2010

Herstory Part 1

Several weeks ago, Rachel (who is probably my oldest friend--we've managed to stay in touch since high school) mentioned in that off-hand, sigh, slightly bothered way that she has, "golly gee willikers, I sure wish you talk more about the business."

For the next few weeks, I chew on this idea thinking, "Who really cares? Seriously?"

Then I realized a couple of things:
1.) I write about training. I actually have a job. You would never really know it, though.
2.) Maybe, just maybe there are people out there in big wide world of the internet that might find this interesting. Maybe they are thinking about starting a company. Maybe they don't have the first idea how to start. Maybe they have a successful business that I could learn from.

With those thoughts in mind, I thought "Hey why not? But let's start from the beginning so everyone has perspective and background"

So, dear friends, I present to you Herstory Pt 1.

I know many of you know bits and pieces of my story. Here's the opportunity (whether you like it or not) to put the pieces together.

My working career started in banking and financial services. I did that for a long time. During this time, Mike and I met and shortly thereafter we were married and in even less time we had two boys (Jordan born in 94 and Justin born in 95).

During this same time period, I was putting myself through college. I attended the Women's College of the University of Denver. (In fact, I started when Justin was not even 2 months old).

In the early to mid 90's, I jumped into the high tech start-up craze. This time period was probably my favorite. I really loved working for start up companies. It wasn't the possibility of getting crazy rich that drove me to these companies. It was the getting down and dirty; everyone doing everything; no bureacratic red tape.

Of course, we had our challenges, but more than anything I remember how much I loved working with the people that I worked with. We all had so much fun even during stressful times.

Unfortunately, in the late 90's one of the companies decided to close their offices in the States, and I was unemployed.

On a positive note, I was also working on my MBA during this time. It really helped me to stay focused during the period I was unemployed.

I found a job at another company and discovered very quickly that.....how do I say this.....well, I truly believe the President's heart was in the right place. I really do. But the rest of the executive staff was a bunch of liars and unethical jerks. Those are the kindest words I have for them.

But I felt stuck. I tried to change the way things were done to no avail. I slowly began to become someone that I didn't like. I still tried to change things, but when your company does things that go against your core values, it causes tremendous emotional distress.

In 2004, I left. This is where the story begins.

I looked back over my entire work history. I thought long and hard about when I enjoyed work and when I hated it.

I made the decision to start my own business. I've always read, "Do what you love and what you know."

I didn't know anything. Or so I thought. Mike had worked for awhile in the clothing industry. I
knew enough about the more technical aspects of running a business, project management...but mostly I'm resourceful and I dream big. How do you turn that into a business?

Well, you put the two together.

We launched our first company in 2004. We sold men's and women's clothes.

It failed miserably.

For a variety of reasons. I would say that the main reason it failed is because I was 100% bought into it, but Mike was not. I needed him for his knowledge.

But I knew....deep down inside....that it could work. I wasn't ready to give up on the idea.

We closed shop. Re-organized, re-defined who we were, re-designed our website....really we started over, completely. In August of 2006, we re-launched as a new company under a new name.

Mike still wasn't bought in, but said that he thought we could have a nice "part time" income from it.

I didn't agree. I saw the company as being much more, much bigger. In fact, I started thinking about the company that I would be proud of. It would an ethical company in which everyone has the opportunity to be great. That was it. That was kind of company I wanted to build.

In early 2008, I almost lost Mike, professionally. I could tell that something was happening. I think it was the stress. I started quietly making plans for his exit. How would I handle the stuff he does? How would I be able to move forward without him?

I'm not sure if you've caught on to this, but this business was all we had. We weren't working anywhere else.

This wasn't like buying into a franchise. We were unknown. We had no customers. Nobody knew us, and they didn't know if we could be trusted. From a financial perspective, we tried to get SBA loans but found out quickly that SBA loans are a joke. We financed the entire thing on our own. No loans from friends and family. We put everything we had on the line.

I was never worried. There were tough times; don't get me wrong. I think that's the benefit that "dreamers" or "visonaries" have. We can see beyond the day-to-day business, and we can see the other side of struggle. I realized that I had to communicate better my vision and the direction of the company.

Since that time, we have grown tremendously.

Now we're faced with managing the growth and planning out our future steps. Looking back, we've made some mistakes, but we've also had great success because of those mistakes.

As hard as some of the times were, I wouldn't change anything.

I can tell you that starting a business takes different types of personalities in order to be successful. I think Mike and I have that balance. When he can't see the forest for the trees, I'm in a hot air balloon over the forest pointing toward the mountains.

So when I'm not spending a couple of hours a day training, I'm actually "working". Yes, shocking, I know but true.

All the stress we have now is good stress, forcing us to be better, make smarter decisions, and define our own path.

Because of it, I can train for a couple of hours in the middle of day. We are home for the kids when they get out of school and when they leave in the morning, and we don't have to miss any of their events because our boss wouldn't let us leave work.

Those are the values we are going to take with us as we grow.

Friday, January 22, 2010

It's You vs. You

Not to point out the obvious here, but Life is what you make it.

You can make it very difficult on yourself or you can take the perspective that everything is a challenge that can be overcome.

That doesn't always mean you'll be successful on the first try, but I would almost guarantee that you'll not just be more resourceful but you'll probably have learned a few things.

I went running yesterday. As I was running, I was thinking back over my rather lengthy running career. I remembered in detail my first half marathon where I truly didn't fuel properly and finished--but finished in alot of pain and wanting to quit while my legs cramped up into tiny little balls. I remembered a PR that I got in the 7k where it was SO cold and the last .75 miles is uphill. I thought my lungs would either burst from cold or exertion or some horrible combination of both. I remembered a 10 mile run in subzero temps; I had icicles on my lashes; the wind was brutal, and I think my butt fell off somewhere around mile 7.

As I was running yesterday, a guy ran by me with a t-shirt that read "It's You vs You".

I thought back to all those races. In not one of them was I running against anyone else. I was running against my own voices, demons, pains.

When I wanted to stop, I didn't because I wanted something else more...

Sometimes just finishing is a huge accomplishment. Sometimes it's an incredible PR. REgardless of the situation, there is no one that can do it for you. You can't swap out tired legs or burning lungs for a new pair. You can have an entire team of people cheering for you, but you have to put one foot in front of the next and make the conscious decision to keep moving forward, silencing the "I'm too tired, too cold" voices and replacing them with "hold it, hold it, you've got this."

As an experienced runner, I watch new runners going down the street. I secretly root for them, wanting them to feel the success and knowing that sometime they are going to face a seemingly insurmountable obstacle. I wonder what they will do. Will they take it on? Will they quit?

Crowds will be cheering.

Everyone will be watching.

They'll be doing something they never thought possible, and they'll be so tired. They'll start hunching over, running, running, walking, running, walking, walking....

All of a sudden the hundreds of people are quiet. And they realize:

It's You vs. You.

What are you going to choose?

Monday, January 18, 2010

no more words

We found out last night that one of Justin's baseball teammates (from last season) died unexpectedly.
He was 14 years old.

If you are a parent, nothing shakes you up more. One of the other parents put together a slide show, and it's almost too hard to watch. One minute everyone is joking around on the field and the next, funeral arrangements are being made.

Here's to Big Zach. Please keep his family in your thoughts. He is survived by a mother, father, and sister. All of whom are exceptionally nice and caring people who always showed up as a family to his practices and games and had only words of encouragement for all players.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Let's see where this takes us

As my training volume has increased, I have less time to write. I still have various random thoughts, some deep and thought provoking and some shallow.

This is where I am. I thought that by this point I would have dropped my cycling, but since I feel great, I'm gonna keep going.

This week was a swim-rest week. My swims were short and sweet with the longest being 45 minutes.

My running has been going great. I've found that I do best with slow ramp up and run-rest weeks every 5 weeks. So, for example if I have a 7 mile run on Sunday--do that two weeks in a row then do 8 two weeks in a row--then drop to 5 (or 2 less than where I started). This is the plan that my body works best with. I don't have to worry about overtraining, and I never feel beat down. Although it's more conservative than the initial plan, it works better.

Cycling is more drill work than anything and that's probably why I have been able to keep it going with my running mileage.

Yoga--aahhhhh---love yoga---have I said that before? Well, I do. I typically do it about 5 times a week. I don't do it on long run days because that's enough stress on the muscles.

Strength training--so far still at 2-3 times per week. This week I start lowering my reps and going heavier.

All this, all that training stuff I wrote above? That's about me. I write my plans based on my history, my abilities, my race schedules. In fact, I try not to post too many details because I don't want anyone jumping in assuming they can do a particular workout when they are new to an activity. It's silly to assume you can do upward bow, headstands, should stands, 3000m swims, speed runs and grind workouts on the bike if you've never done them before. And attempting them can lead to injury.

That leads me to something that I've been thinking about this week: Acceptance and accountability.

I guess it's just the time of year, but I over/hear, read (blogs/facebook) soo many people who have not found acceptance in themselves. I don't know if I will explain this very well because I think there are a couple of different issues at play.

First: Acceptance. ACCEPT.WHERE.YOU.ARE. This doesn't mean not to strive to get better at a sport. It means if you're in the bottom 25% of your age group ACCEPT it. Don't excuse yourself away. I'm SO tired of the excuses. We all have bad races (ie my half marathon in Oct where I came in at 2:47.). I'm not talking about those. I'm talking about where your times usually fall. I'm so tired of hearing: oh I didn't train properly or I have ongoing health thingy or or or....and that's why my race time was so bad. Yet the finish time was pretty close to your average finish time.

A bad race is when things fall apart. Everyone who reads my blog regularly knows EXACTLY how that feels.

You finish with a time that is pretty much what your other races predict and YOU want to blame everything EXCEPT YOUR TRAINING AND DEDICATION?

BS people! Take ownership of where you are. If you want to get better, they only way to do it is to train! It hurts. It's hard. I know. If you're a 5:30 marathoner, be proud of that! You can't just expect in a year, to shave off an hour of your time! It takes work. These people who are faster than you PUT IN THE TIME and the DEDICATION. PERIOD. They have sh!t going on their lives too.

WAH WAH WAH

HTFU*

I guess I've already addressed the accountability issue, huh?

Seriously, there is NOTHING wrong ABSOLUTELY NOTHING wrong with being the last across the finish line.

I take issue with the fact that people are never satisfied. If they have a 5 minute PR, they complain that it should have been a 10 minute pr. Oh but I didn't get the 10min PR because my spousal unit did this or I was too stressed.

Say these words with me: I didn't get the 10 min PR because I DIDN'T train poperly. (by training properly I mean answer the questions below).

Look in the mirror:
Do you get enough sleep? Do you have set sleep hours? Do you fuel your body to push it to the limits? Do you training consisently? Do train correctly? Do you have reasonable goals? Do you have an appropriate timeframe to get there?

If you answer no to any of these questions, accept the responsibility when you cross the finish line.

V recently reminded me a quote:

We don't rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training.




Thank you. I feel much better now.

*Harden the F!$%K up!

(I think it's important to stress the fact that I don't feel this way about the people who read my blog. Y'all are pretty amazing the way you do balance personal/professional issues, school, health issues. I never hear you guys make excuses. It is what it is, and I respect you for that).

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Mergers & Acquisitions

Back when I was working on my MBA, I took a class called Mergers & Acquisitions. It was one of my favorite classes (next to ethics). The entire class was a project. Half the class on one side, half on the other.

The goal, to take our two companies and come to a deal.

At the end of the quarter, we didn't have a deal. At the time, I didn't really think much of it. In my professional career, I've been through several mergers. I've never orchestrated the mergers; I was just a playa.

I own a company. We have cash. We want to find an investment.

Another company, needs cash, needs help.

The two together would be very good.

Of course, there are complications. Over the past two days, I have been going over different situations in my head. There's been something, some little nugget that is bothering me about this whole situation, but I can't put my finger on it.

So, I set it all aside and went swimming.

Warm Up: 400m
move from soleprop to incorporating both companies, profitably of B is alot lower than A, behind in rent, invoices, hell all payments, cash flow, buying power, ownership....shareholders, how to split, value of existing business, systems.....

oh hell systems of all kinds.

That had to be the fastest 400 I've ever swam. (not really but I was....er....distracted).

300m on 1:30 rest.

even split? responsibilities, decision making, buying, finances, who does what, responsibilities, retirement, is it fair? what are the expectations? city renovation, costs of improvement, employees, health insurance.

I'm not there. What is it? What is bothering me?

2 x 150m on :45

pull, glide, pull, the water feels so nice today, it's just there, letting me glide on through.

corporation, no access to money, corporation, executive staff, no access to money....

no access to money....company A has to fund all improvements until B can get up to par. cash flow. no access to money....sole-prop won't step down....that's ok....responsibilities...

that was a fast 150. pull feels strong. where did all the other swimmers go? pull, pull, pull, rotate, easy.

That's it.....it's psychology not finances that's bothering me. owner of B will not step down, what will his responsibilities be? how will he figure into decision making? What is an appropriate salary? Will he be ok with taking a salary? No more pulling money out of the cash drawer. Loss of identity.

4 x 75 on :30

time is going by fast today. sometimes everything just comes together in the pool. stroke, pull, rotate, breathe, no thought, just let your body do what it needs to do.

lower profitability, not negative equity but certainly not as high as the owner thinks it is. Ego.Ego.Ego. 24 years in business. can we entice him....will it take enticing? He doesn't do much actual work now. exit strategy, how to replace, shares....ahhhh.....estate planning.....no longer an "owner" but with a stake in the company.....is that a negative or positive?

100 easy

We have to proceed carefully. Clearly, this business is his identity and "retiring" means giving up that identity. He needs something. He needs a job to go into everyday. But, he doesn't really want to work. He's old. He has health issues. He wants out but doesn't know how to go about it. I wonder if he would be open to an increasing monthly income over time, once we are able to start making investments in the company, improving the efficiency of sales and inventory management, increase our buying power, advertising. It will all work, but it will take a little bit of time. He can stay in the store, wander around, give input into buying, etc.

Will it work?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Fit for a Princess

I'm not a Princess.

When I run, I feel like a Princess.

What would a Princess wear today?

Black headband, black jacket, white technical shirt, black gortex pants, black gloves, running shoes.

Running changes our perception of ourselves.

When we run, we change from the person sitting in the drab grey cubicle punching out email after email, attending meeting after meeting, into something spectacular!

Whatever our pace, we feel graceful, fast, gazelle like. When we're sitting at home, we don't feel lithe and fast, efficient and graceful. But, when we run, we can conquer anything, go anywhere, accomplish our dreams. or simply, DREAM.

Because before "do" there's "desire".

Before "desire" there's "dream".

Running takes us there. When we run, we become marathoners. When we run, we PR in the 5k. We forge a new path for ourselves. One that we wouldn't dare dream as we sit at home watching tv.

When I run, I'm a Princess. I'm strong and beautiful. I run fast and efficiently. People passing me just see a 42 year old woman, lumbering along, avoiding slippery spots. But I see a Princess slaying the dragons of the past, taking on hidden attackers, forging a new path for myself.

....a path that no one else can clear for me.

...a path that becomes uniquely mine as I travel down it.

Others might dream the same dream, but they have a different path.

Sometimes the path has potholes or obstacles. Sometimes I stare up at the path and realize how much I have to climb to get there. Sometimes it seems impossible to overcome.

But I follow it anyway knowing that it only becomes clear when I run.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Behold the Sufferfest

We all have them whether we like it or not.

They can't be scheduled.

And they certainly cannot be avoided.

I am referring to the Sufferfest: the workouts that make you want to stop. They make you want to cry. They make your muscles scream. Likewise, you might just scream.

Emotionally and physically draining, the sufferfest is the sign of growth.

For those of you unfamiliar with endurance events, a sufferfest is not about going long or fast. Yes, those workouts are hard, but they aren't impossible.

A sufferfest feels impossible.

That was my workout today. To really understand, rewind 24 hours. Yesterday, I did a speed workout (run). Immediately, afterward I did an hour of strength training. Last night, I spent 35 min on the bike doing intervals.

This morning, my body was feeling the previous day's workouts. Today, I had a swim and recovery run.

Before even getting into the water, I.was.tired.

As I hit the water, I started flopping around like a fish out of water, reaching just trying to get to the other end of the pool. Gasping, doggie paddling, scrambling, you name it, I did it. During my intervals, my lats were screaming at me. My legs would take intermittent breaks from kicking assuming they were just along for the ride today.

In summary, not a pretty swim.

But the sufferfest is not about grace. It's about sheer determination. The kind that makes you grit your teeth and grumble "I am NOT giving in. This swim will not beat me. Not today. Not any day."

It's the kind of day where your sense of accomplishment is off the charts. When others listen to you and think you're crazy for going through a "seemingly easy" workout, you go home and log your training as "I did it! Not easy, but I got through it! Weaker people would have quit".

Get the picture?

As hard as the swim was, I had to do a swim/run brick today (due to time constraints). Out of the pool and into my running clothes for a few recovery miles.

Sufferfest: when even a recovery run is difficult.

So many times I wanted to jump off the treadmill. I wanted to slow my pace to a walk. I wanted to speed up to get it over with.

Instead, I stuck with my plan. Kept the pacing, grit my teeth, and stared straight out the window until I was done.

The sufferfest is over. I did it. Got the job done....not by doing "junk" miles but by pushing through and holding my paces even when I didn't think I could.

Sometimes you have to stop analyzing. You have to stop thinking and just do.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Back to Basics? Or the start of something great?

I'm sure everyone has noticed the increased number of people at the gym. I can barely find my friends and other familiar faces because of the sea of unknowns.

I go to the pool and even at the most obscure times, there are two people to each lane.

The treadmills are full.

All the benches are taken in the weight room.

Personal trainers are pushing people around and taking measurements.

It happens every single January, and I wish it wouldn't. Not for the reasons you might think.

I don't want people to have to go through this. I want people to live healthy lives all year long. I don't mind sharing lanes or weight equipment. I just get to meet more people that way.

I can see they are excited to be there. I watched a woman today who was working with a personal trainer. At the end of her session, she was sweaty and could bearly make it down the stairs. But she turned to the trainer and said, "Thanks. That was the hardest thing I've ever done. See you Friday."

Yea, it really IS hard. The blood sweat and tears that goes into leading a healthy lifestyle is offset by the sense of accomplishment. It's the growing confidence as we push ourselves and realize that we're stronger than WE know.

The only way to do it is by taking the risk. Taking the risk of walking into the gym, possibly overweight, out of shape, and not knowing how to use the equipment. It's overcoming the fear that everyone will be looking at us. It's the overcoming the feeling of not belonging.

In the gym, EVERYONE belongs.

Because it's not about your current, future, or past fitness. It's about joining a family of people who do have something in common.

The goal of being healthy.

The next time you walk into a gym and feel intimidated, whether it's because you haven't been in awhile or it's your first time, remember you're among friends with the same goals.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Chicken (Bwok, bwok, bwok)

From the comfort of my home, sitting in front of the fireplace, sipping tea, laptop on my lap, every race looks exciting and easy. I check for registration dates, and I mark them on my calendar.



Looks to be an exciting race year! I think as I click here and there overestimating my fitness level.



Then January arrives and most registrations open.



I stare at my screen giddy with excitement.



I'M going the register for the 50k and the Sunrise Century today!



But first, I need to get a biscotti. I set the lap top down. Reach into the mystery bin and grab out a triple chocolate biscotti. My mouth starts watering before I even have it unwrapped.



I sit back down with the biscotti nestled nicely in my lap. Chocolate crumbs begin to take form on my white technical t-shirt that shouts out "I'm a MARATHONER and have the t-shirt to prove it".



As I pull up the 50k website, I actually take time to read the waiver.



I know harm....dismemberment.....death......falls are likely.....rolling down the mountain.....I swear......No suing the race director....it's really far.



I might be exaggerating, slightly.



The biscotti falls sideways between my fingers leaving chocolate skidmarks down my fingers.



What am I doing? I start licking the chocolate off my fingers.



Maybe I'll wait a few days. Early registration goes until the 15th. Death and dismemberment are pretty big deals.





Let's look at the sunrise century. We can register for that one.



Yes, cycling. Good idea.



I click the registration button and a message pops up. I skim through it.



Very hard....peak to peak....feel like you're gonna die.....what goes down must go up....legs can't move....train hard....train right....fitness like lance.



(maybe that's not exactly what it said.)


Oh dear.

What am I gonna do? I've talked and talked about my BIG HUGE RACES. Races so tough, they make grown men cry IN PUBLIC, IN SHORT LITTLE SHORTS. That's serious. (not to pick on the guys).

Would it be worse to not register and see if anyone even notices a few months away?

Yea, I can see it.

Bill A: How'd the 50k go? Weren't you supposed to do it 5 months ago.

Me: Yea, ummm yea...you know...uh sometimes (think Tea think)....ummm....How was YOUR race? You were going to do the 70.3 right?

I raised two boys. I got the whole "diversion" tactic down.

It won't work. I know it. These people KNOW me.

Let's go to the gym and talk to David since he's the one that got you into this mess.

****

At the gym, I see him. I go running through the gym, arms flailing, yelling "David, David! WOO HOO!"

D quietly slinks back behind the squat machine.

You can't hide. I see you.

"I have a question." I say...rolling my eyes and chuckling, "Is Greenland reeeallly all that hard."

He just looks at me...nervously....flinches for a second then does this very slight nod, "well, it's the hardest 50k I've done. It's really hard for a 50k".

WHAT?!?!?

Shitake mushrooms.

****

Now here I sit, staring at the "Confirm your registration" button. It's staring at me. I've entered my credit card number.

All I have to do is click the button....














Sunday, January 3, 2010

De-Wimpification

I couldn't face the treadmill today.

COULD NOT.

I put on the layers and head outside for my "long run". It's not really a long run, but the Sunday slot is the "long run"....so there ya go.

When I got outside, I immediately knew something was up when I heard the arguments start.

"It is WAY too cold out here"

"I'm all for doing 1 or 2 miles and finishing on the treadmill"

"No, let's stay out. Everyone will think we're totally hardcore running in this."

"No, let's turnaround and change clothes."

I'm not very good and turning around and changing clothes. If I turnaround, I'll put on shorts and run on the treadmill.

We're gonna keep going.

"But it's windy. AND cold. AND icy."

"It's not fit for man or beast out there."

Well, I'm neither man nor beast, so I guess I'm running.

I admit. It was really icy. So icy in fact that I decided to keep my garmin hidden, so I wouldn't worry about pace.

Just call me Safety Pup.

I certainly did underestimate the cold. However, in times like these my "lack of focus" really helps. Instead of focusing on the cold, I dissolved into each step. Each step had to be carefully anticipated and planted. Baby step baby step baby step, jump. slow.walk.step high.sink in. stop.take a breath.

Then I see her, a woman up ahead. I can follow her steps. Step for step we match each other's pace almost exactly. In another season, she could be my running partner. For a minute, I consider trying to catch up to her, strike up a conversation. No better let her have her peace.

Two more miles running 'together' and we come to a fork in the road. She veers to the right and I to the left.

I keep running. I have no idea what I was thinking of. I don't think it was anything except keeping my balance. As I start running up the last hill to my turnaround point, I feel ice crystals hitting my face. The wind is picking up, and my arms are cold. At the turnaround, a jeep pulls around, and I see the driver staring at me. I immediately think of Marc Parent's article in Runner's World: 15 degrees of separation. Maybe the driver of the jeep just thinks I'm nuts. But maybe he was a runner once. Maybe he's been thinking about running again. Maybe he wants to get in shape.

Maybe I just inspired him to run.

Maybe the cold isn't so bad afterall. I start running back and look down at the stream. Somehow I ended up on the wrong side. It's frozen over on top, but I can see the water running below. I keep running along side, trying to negotiate my crossing point. It's too wide for me to jump. It's too slippery to get to close to the edge. I see my opening. With my right foot, I push off. I jump too hard and hit the slope. I go sliding down the slope and stop with my left foot fully submerged in the icy water andmy right foot covered with mud and snow.

Dammit. Cold & wet is NOT how I wanted to finish this run.

I kept plugging along. For awhile, I heard the sloshing in my shoe then it disappeared.

With less than a mile until I got home, I realized how good I felt. I had taken a gu, drank my water without even being aware of what I was doing. While my mind was occupied with staying standing, my body was doing what it always does. Over the years, running has become second nature.

When I get home, I was physically tired but emotionally charged. I pulled out my garmin to see that I ran 45 seconds per mile faster than I was supposed to, truly unexpected. It's funny how cold conditions can change perception. I felt like I was working a little harder, but I assumed it was because I was slogging through the snow. It didn't occur to me that I was actually running faster.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The rising

I've never been very good at writing these things. 2009 was not a year that I can sum up in a word, not even 10 words.

In many ways, this was a year of emotional challenges and overcoming them.

Personally & professionally, it was a challenge. It was early this year that my grandfather died. Justin had an accident at school. He was rushed to the emergency room. There was a lot of blood, some broken bones, stitches, and concussion.

Later in the year, I knew of 8 people my age who passed away. Some of these were friends, some friends or spouses of friends, but all were my age. As healthy as I am, those numbers change the way you think about things, especially when they all passed in an 8 week time period.

During this same 8 week time period, Mr. Tea's grandmother suffered a massive heart attack, had surgery, was sent home with internal bleeding and collapsed after being home only a couple of hours.

Of course, on Thanksgiving, my uncle also suffered a massive heart attack. He went into a coma. Because of his weakened state, the surgeons were unable to perform surgery. After two additional heart attacks, he had no brain activity and passed away a week later.

Because all of this happened so recently, it's what's on my mind the most. Death is difficult, but the hardest part has been....not sure how to say this.....at a time when you think people will pull together to support each other, they pulled apart---arguing, fighting over decisions made.

Everyone mourns differently, but I don't get it. I don't expect anyone to explain it to me. Why make a hard situation even harder?

From a professional perspective, the company continues to grow. This year our growth rate was 39%. I love it. I love every bit of what I do. It's hard to call it "work" when it's fun. It was a challenge because of the rate of growth. I know we are heading into our high growth stage, and we have to manage that growth.

After working for some horrible unethical companies, I know that it is difficult to maintain the values a company was started with. We have to figure out how to maintain our culture and values as we add people. I know I'm using those terrible business cliches, but it's life. We were ahead of the curve when we started our company. There are more competitors out there now. We were responsible for vendors changing the way they did business. We need to continue to push our comfort zones, find technology that is most suitable for us, and keep moving.

There's no rest in starting a company. We have to be flexible. We adjust quickly to changes.

I started this company with one simple goal: Everyone should have the opportunity to be great. With that as a goal, how can you NOT have fun?

On to athletics:
I started this year with really one goal in mind: to find joy in training by only doing things that I wanted to do.


to have fun


Early in the year, I took off from swimming....for months. Likewise for riding. Ok, you got me, not much running either.



In May, I did a half marathon. It was my first time doing this race, and I didn't like the course. I ran into a few problems during the race and really started crashing the second half.



When I finished, I thought I had PR'd! That was until several days later when I realized that I did not PR and the last time I pr'd at the half marathon, was....2003! wowzer!



Still, I felt great about the race....eventhough it wasn't a PR.



The only problem was that I didn't really like the course. The roads were a disaster. I swore I wouldn't run it again.


Besides, I'm focusing on the bike now.


As it turns out, I got an email from the race director for an entry into next year's race (not free but under $20). I really couldn't turn it down.



Maybe just maybe I could PR in 2010 in the half marathon for the first time in 6 years....



June came along, and I did Elephant Rock once again, but this year instead of the century, it was the 65 mile ride. Unlike the half marathon, where I trained, I did not train for this tour. I thought I could do the climbs, but I wasn't sure if my butt could handle it. After suffering through the cold dark morning and cussing and thinking about how stupid I was for doing the ride, the sun started rising. As I was heading down the valley wall, I stared straight ahead at Pikes Peak. Just then, the sun rose over the valley wall, making Pikes Peak glow like nothing I'd ever seen before. Up until that point, I had wanted to turn around and head back. But staring at the peak, I felt its strength and starting climbing harder, up and out of the valley. We turned to head toward the mountains.



As we climbed, I met several woman along the way. We yo-yo'd and joked about "THIS is the last hill", and I realized that the day was what I made it. For the last 3 miles, we roadies hooked up with the mountain bikers. The last 2 miles, we hooked up with the family riders.



The whole big group of us finished together.


The next few months I spent training for my Half Iron. This was my A race of the year. I was more dedicated and more focused on this race than any in my life. I set easy and aggressive goals. The bike course is known to be challenging. I rode the complete course 5 times and parts of the course repeatedly during my training. I practices my swim starts and finishes in the water. I ran around the run course.


A few weeks before the race, I did the Dip n Dash. It was a full house with about 100 of us "racing". About 25 meters into the swim, I took a tough punch to the jaw. I went under and had two people then swim over me. When I finally surfaced, I was completely shaken. I couldn't calm down. I finished the 1500m swim but I was weak as I head out on the run.


The swim stayed with me.


I was afraid to get back into the open water. I've taken my fair share of hits. I've had my legs cramp so bad, they felt like anchors. But I've never been trapped under the water before, getting kicked.


I knew I had to get back into the water. I TRAINED so hard for this half iron! Early one morning, I packed up my bag and went down to the water. I stood in the water. That morning, the water was very rough. I stood in the water then I allowed myself to float and feel the motion of the water. Another woman walked toward me and said, "No way. I'm not going out in that today." I just looked out at the water. I took off swimming. The motion of the water is what calms me. It's the rocking. It's staring directly into the sun.


The day of the race came.


Train to your weakness, race to your strengths.


But what happens when your strength gives way?


I felt positive I'd pr on the bike. The run would be ok. The swim (my strength)....I had no idea. This would be the first time that I'd be back in a large group.


That morning, I was so calm and pulled the biggest pr I've ever pulled in a race in all 3 events.


A month later, I had a half marathon. This race is my favorite half marathon. It was to be my "set up" race. It was to determine what I would run for my PR attempt in May 2010.


It's where I learned that sometimes we have to step back and let life run its course. It was that weekend that Mr. Tea's grandmother collapsed.



After spending the weekend in the hospital and being unable to sleep. I almost skipped the half. Mr. Tea advised that I do it anyway as a means to clearing my head and getting away from the chaos.


I did. I finished the race, emotionally drained and physically exhausted.

You want times? Times don't mean squat. How about finishing a half marathon in 2:47 with tears running down your face being unable to even run the last 5 miles? Does that make me a better or worse athlete? Do we all need to be categorized as fast or slow? Or used for comparison purposes? It was the culmination of so many things. At the finish, I just sat on the grass for awhile before heading back to the train station.

Good, bad or indifferent, I finished the race.

I will always and forever maintain that finish times do not matter. I remember when I used to hear about people who were so much faster than me. I would get so discouraged. Then, I'd push harder and harder only to get injured.

If I PR, I'll tell you. My bike at the HIM was a HUGE PR. I worked hard for it. I doesn't matter if my time was 4:30 or 3:00.

I just refuse to fuel this competition that exists. Unlike some others (not everyone), when I line up at the start, the only competition I am chasing is my previous time.

I am more than a finish time.

When I finish a race, it's not the race itself that creates all the emotion.

It was the adventure getting there.

A few weeks later, we all did the Turkey Trot: a family "race" that we do every year. Each year, I have a target on my back. So far, no one has caught me. I suspect that next year I will be surrendering my crown to one of the boys.



For 2010, my goals are simple.

I'm doing the 50k with my friend.

My goal for the half marathon is to move closer to a half marathon PR. By next Oct, I hope to shave 5 minutes off my half time. That will put me closer to a pr. Then in 2011, I hope to PR in that distance. (fyi---my half marathon PR was done at sea level....san diego to be exact. Once I PR here at 7000ft, I would love to go back to San Diego and race it again).

I'm also doing the Sunrise Century which is a bike tour that goes through the mountains. It'll be difficult, but it's the next step for me. This is not a race. It's a tour.

I will probably also do Elephant Rock again. I'll do the 65miler. After 5 years, it's become a tradition for me. (Besides the post race bbq is off the HOOK!)

Finally, I hope to the the Aquabike of the Half Iron that I did last year. For the moment, I'm not interested in doing long course tri's. Some extended time off will do me well. The aquabike gives me the opportunity to take part in my two strongest events (swim/bike). I'm excited to see how hard I can push the bike knowing that I don't have to run afterwards.

I'm sorry if this year end summary was not what you were expecting. As I mentioned before, I wrote this for me, so I can always look back and remember what I can do even when faced with things that might seem like obstacles.

Even though we might disagree on some things, you are all people that I respect for many reasons. Most of all, I am impressed by the simple fact that we all manage to balance family, work, training, and in some cases school.

Now, it's time to "break on through to the other side".

for some reason, my year end summary is not posting.

Friday, January 1, 2010

To post or not

I wrote this rather lengthy year end summary. I really wrote it for me to remind me of the year and how I did, etc.

I didn't publish it because I often wonder if people find that self-serving (which it is) or boring. This whole virtual world sometimes confuses me....what do I post? How often? Does it matter? Don't I just write for me anyway? (No, not really....if I didn't value everyone's opinions and hilarious smart-aleck comments, I wouldn't even bother with blogging.)

Do I post it?

Do you care?

Should I just post it for myself?

Am I over-analyzing?

Am I just trying to impress the hell out of you?