Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Thursday, August 31, 2017

About Strava

Public service announcement

Many people are not aware of this, but local and state governments buy the anonymous Strava data in order to make their streets safer for everyone and so they know how build a better infrastructure for the future. 

If you live in CO, PLEASE consider joining Strava. About 2 months ago, CDOT purchased the data from Strava. As you are probably aware, in the Denver metro area, including Boulder, the goal is to reduce the number of cars on the road by 35% by 2030.

My county in particular is doing an amazing job at adding paths and bike lanes. I want this to continue.

The only way this is possible is for them to know who is doing what on which roads, paths and trails.

Let's talk about privacy:

1.) The data sent to the government is anonymous. It is strictly numbers.

2.) You do not have to be an active member on Strava. Automatically upload your activities. Make your profile private. Make all your activities private. (This is done automatically in your settings). Don't accept any follower requests. Your generic data will still be sent to your local government.

BOOM. YOU never have to log into Strava again.

3.) You don't have to buy a fancy Garmin or Timex or anything. Strava has a phone app. When you start your walk or run or ride, simply turn it on. (Again, everything can upload privately if you turn on the settings).

4.) The best part is that Strava is FREE.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Quest



It's been awhile.

In the past month a lot has happened. I guess the biggest tri-challenge was that I did 4 races in 4 weeks.

It was one of the harder things I've done.

I'm coming up on my final tri of the year. I have fully recovered from the 4 weeks of racing.  I still have one race left. Of course, I'm being asked, "What's your schedule look like next year"?

Other than 2 races, which I'm pretty set on, I haven't decided. I told Liz about a month ago that I was planning on taking time off.

I want to use that time to think about goals for next year. I also want time away from triathlon where I can look back over 2017 and clearly look at what I accomplished.

I can tell you this. One of my goals for 2017 was to get athletes excited about short course. I wanted to change people's perspectives from short courses being stepping stones to the 70.3 and full IM to training for short/intermediate races as the end goal. 

This all happened because I was surprised to find out that many athletes are unaware that
1.) They can qualify for Nationals.
2.) At Nationals, they can qualify for the World Championship.
3.) When people find out you've qualified, they instantly refer to you as "the fast one".

All good stuff, right?

They didn't realize that short and intermediate distances had an entire population of people working toward becoming a part of Team USA. 

You want to feel the excitement? Join this FB Group.

As it happened, in July, I qualified for Nationals in 2018.

I'd been planning on making 2018 a year of 70.3 focus. Well....then.....*everyone* actually started getting excited about trying to qualify for Nationals.

All of a sudden, triathletes, who....for YEARS....tried to convince me there was NOTHING BETTER than doing Ironman.....wanted to qualify for 2018 Nationals.

Short course triathletes are a different breed. Not better. Not worse. Just different.

I realized that I can't get people excited about qualifying for Nationals, and then NOT SHOW UP MYSELF.

For those of you who have been asking me about Nationals in 2018. YES. I WILL BE THERE. My plan is to do the OLY. I've done the back to back a couple of times now. I'd rather stick around and cheer for people on Sunday than race again.

Along these lines, I told Liz that I was going to take some time off, starting right after my next race. We got into a very short conversation about next year. (Srsly, mentally...I just didn't want to go into 2018 goals in much detail).

She said a couple of things that struck me. I sort of tucked them away for when I was ready to deal with them.

This week, I was ready to think about the conversation that Liz and I had.

Based on recent training, I knew that I had to/wanted to change my approach to some goals. Based on recent training, meaning that training has been going exceptionally well, I am ready to change a few things around.

I scribbled out a bunch of notes:
--race time goals
--qualification goals
--training goals

I want to finish off 2017 strong.

Then, I'll have some downtime.

THEN, I'll see if those goals that I scribbled out, early one morning, still make sense.

After that is all said and done, I'll put together my race schedule for 2018.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Nationals weekend: Chasing dreams

Last weekend was Nationals.

I have never had more fun over a weekend than I did last weekend.

Liz had 13 athletes at Nationals. I don't know how many other athletes were there from the other coaches.

MSM had a pretty big showing. I was the self-proclaimed Party Coordinator for race day.

Here are the highlights:

1.) Racing an oly and a sprint on back to back days is physically and mentally exhausting. Prior to the race I had a conversation with Dina about my week leading up to the race and how to fuel & recovery between races. It was the best thing I could have done. Because of the stress of threshold racing on back to back days (versus one really long day at Z2-Z3), she gave me pointers that I hadn't thought of.

2.)I have never been more prepared for a race of this level. For weeks, I had been exhausted. Then a day or two into taper, I started to feel like I could take over the world.

3.) Results:

Oly:
In 2015, I did the oly at Nationals. I came in 119. This year, I came in 46th. That's a huge jump. Although the courses really can't be compared, this was a non wetsuit swim. In 2015, the water temp was low 60's.

Oly swim: An unusally slow swim for me, even without a wetsuit.

Bike: Fastest oly bike. I averaged 92% FTP for the race.

Run: RUN PR!!! BY 2 MINUTES!!! I don't think I've ever been more excited about a 2 minute PR.

Sprint:

For the morning of the sprint, it was pouring rain. Sadly, that morning, in transition, I sliced open my foot and had to go to medical. They medic said that I could race, but that it would be painful. He was pretty sure the bandage would hold up, though.

The swim: Unusually slow.

My bandage came off.

I limped up to transition and sat there for awhile debating whether I should continue. I had brought socks with me. I thought, "I've trained too hard for this. If I can get my sock on, I need to get on my bike".

If you know me, the worse conditions are.....the better I will do. I slowly put my sock on and squeezed my foot into my shoe.

I hopped on the bike. Because there's no pressure on your foot (cycling comes from your legs not your feet), I felt really good on the bike. It was raining for my swim, and it was still raining when I got on the bike. Mud and rain is splashing up.

I avoided puddles. I avoided the paint.

I KILLED THE BIKE. I held 95%FTP the day after riding hard for the oly.

The run:

When I got to transition, I made the decision that I was going to finish the race.

Getting my running shoes on was brutal. I was soaking wet. My socks were wet.

Along the entire run, I cheered for everyone and anyone. If someone had a Team USA kit on I yelled for them. I cheered for my team mates. I cheer for local athletes that I knew.

At the halfway marked, I looked down at my shoe, it was covered in blood.

When I crossed the finish line, I knew I hadn't blown away any of my times (except on the bike). I limped over to get my gear bag. All I wanted to do was get my shoes off.



Later that morning, I ran into Chris (Liz's husband). He came in 4th in the 40-44. I also talked to Jen Harrison.....who completely dominated the women's 45-49 (both days). (Chris raced both days, also, but I can't remember where he finished).

It was so nice to talk to both of them. Even though, they were podium finishers, and I came in 46th on one day and (maybe) 30thish on the 2nd day....our bodies had felt the same. We all woke up with our backs screaming at us. We all thought, "How am I going to do this"?  We all thought, "Maybe once I get moving, I'll feel better"?

Once we got to the swim, we all felt pretty damn good.

I have another story. One of the MSM athletes name is Nick. He ran passed me on the oly. I yelled at him and he gave me a smile.

When he ran passed, I thought, "OMG. He's running a sub 6 mile. He doesn't even look like he hurts".

He ran a 5:30 pace for the 10k. I know he was hurting.

It doesn't matter if you run a 5:30 or an 11:30.....the pain is the same. That's what makes this sport so much fun and the athletes so supportive.



The week after Nationals, I have been doing hardcore recovering. I'm recovering this week and (basically) tapering next week because I have another race in 2 weeks.

Liz is giving me a whole new level of  "recovery workouts". I have been eating really well. Today, I woke up feeling pretty good.

My foot is healing up just fine.

Liz and I talked about my weekend. We talked briefly about my ongoing goals. Briefly. I was so wiped out after the weekend, I didn't even want to THINK about triathlon. I wanted to lay on the couch and never move again.

Anyway, Liz said something that stuck with me. She made a comment about the next time I go to Nationals. My first thought was, "ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME"?

A couple of days later, I was feeling better. I realized that she (only) stated my own personal super secret goal. It was a goal that I had never told anyone. I thought, "She knows me better than anyone". She knows my abilities better than anyone. By sharing her thoughts, she was showing me that she believes in me and my goals. I thanked her for her vote of confidence. Sometimes it's hard to see ourselves for who we actually are when we are going through training like that.

I sat down and drew up a plan. It was a general plan for next year.

If I have a goal and if my coach believes I can get there......isn't it worth working for?

My plan for next year was to focus on the 70.3.

On Tuesday, I found out that I qualified for Nationals next year.

It was almost like a sign to keep going, keep chasing that dream.

Monday, July 31, 2017

1.2 mile swim race

This picture was taken by SwimLabs at the open water swim race I did. This show the start of the 2.4 mile swim. A friend won the 2.4 mile swim and swam it in 50 minutes. So, I'll just let you ponder that for a minute. 


In other news, I did an open water swim race this weekend. You can't even see the turn around buoy in this picture because it's waaaayyyyy out there. 

The purpose of the race was to work on pacing. Liz wanted me to surge for 200-400m, swim moderately, then surge 200m to the finish.

There were over 100 people doing the 1.2 mile swim.  

It was a very congested swim start.   

As we were waiting to start, there was a woman in front of me. I know her from my old masters. She immediately started talking loudly about how she was going to be last.

I know her. She would be one of the top 3-4 finishers. 

I tried to hide my eyeroll.

I hate that shit. 

The one thing you know about me. I NEVER sandbag my time. I NEVER lie about my times.  You might disagree about my assessment of myself. (For example, I will say the run is my weakest event....which it is.) But I HAVE NEVER said, "My 10k time is 1:10" when my 10k time is :59.

I never refer to myself as "slow". There is ALWAYS someone faster. There is ALWAYS someone slower. 

SO....eye roll galore.

When we started, it was an absolute slugfest. I surged. I got stuck between more swimmers. I surged again.

I had a hard time separating from the swimmers. 

I decided to take a risk and go all out. I didn't have to go far. I needed just enough space to separate from the group I was stuck between. 

I surged, like I've never done it before. I put a gap of about 10m between me and some other swimmers. I realized I could do it. I could surge and regain composure. 

You see, for those of you who are not swimmers, surging and going fast is hard because unlike land sports, where you can catch your breath relatively easily; with swimming, it's harder because your FACE IS UNDER WATER.

I felt my triceps and back really working. My breathing was hard, but I immediately went into a moderate pace without missing a beat. I'd never done that before! I was so happy. I kept swimming and held a good pace throughout.

The only problem I had was that I didn't expect a cloudy/drizzly morning. I didn't even think about it, and I had dark goggles. My clear goggles were sitting in the car. 

 I was still able to see, but it was challenging. My second win of the day was that I trusted my internal gps this time. In my races this year, I kept stopping trying to get a good visual. 

I didn't stop today. If I couldn't get a good line of sight, I kept going, trusting myself. 

As I was approaching the turn around, I realized that I didn't remember turning on my garmin. I glanced at it and was shocked to see my time of 16:15. What?! That means I just swam a PR pace for 1.2 miles.

With that, I got super excited. I started picking up the pace. I was running into more 2.4 mile swimmers, some of whom were doing the backstroke, so there was some dodging on my part. There was a guy who was zigzagging all over the place. I took the time to surge again. Feeling more and more confident that I could surge at a 1:10 pace, hold it for awile, then settle back into a 1:30 pace. (Of course, at the time, I had no idea what my pace was. I was merely going by how I felt physically and how my breathing sounded).

There was a woman who was with me the entire time. She was a little faster than me. I decided to pull in behind her and use her draft. She started going faster with about 300m left. I stayed with her, swimming really hard to keep up. 

When she stood up, I saw that I was drafting off someone who swam without a wetsuit. She was one of those stupid fast swimmers.

I stood up, started heading out when I realized that I forgot to give the timer my number. (There were no timing chips).

I also forgot to turn off my garmin and went all the way back to my back pack before I remembered to turn it off.

I looked at it. 32:56.

Holy cow. If I subtract off the time from the water back to my stuff, which was easily a minute, that means I swam a 32:00 1.2 mile swim. 

That's a 2.5 minute PR for that distance. 


I was THRILLED.

I want to say something about swimming, specifically MY swimming. If you've been reading for awhile, you know that I have worked very hard on my swimming.

If you want to get faster, you have to train faster. I have done that. I have pushed my comfort zone and taken risks.

In open water swimming, there can be a lot of external factors that affect a swim time: bright sun, bad conditions, etc. 

Sometimes I will be first out of the water. Sometimes I will be 4th. It changes from race to race.

None of that matters. I have absolutely NO swimming background. I taught myself to swim when I started triathlon.

There are few things that I am as proud of as how much I have improved with swimming. 

When I finished, I stayed to cheer on the the last of the 2.4 mile swimmers. The last 2 swimmers, were escorted in by the SUP team. 

I remember my very first tri, when that was me. I was one of the last out of the water, and I had my own personal escort into shore, with the guy telling me that I was doing great! Just keep doing what you're doing! You're almost there!

I always stay for the last of the swimmers to cheer them in because I know what it's like.

It didn't happen overnight. There have been tears and mostly a lot of fun making the improvement that I have. 

It doesn't matter what distance you are working for, you have to get out of your comfort zone in order to get faster. 

Get out there. Go fast. Hit the wall breathless. Then do it again. 

That's the secret recipe.

 



 

Monday, July 24, 2017

I never said it would be easy....

I started with Liz in Jan 2014.

I set a goal of qualifying for Nationals in the next 5 years.

I qualified for Nationals in 2014 (for 2015).

In 2015, I raced Nationals and set a goal to make Team USA in 5 years.

In 2016, I focused on the Sprint distance. I made Team USA for the sprint distance that year. Yes, 2016....the year I set a 5 year goal to make Team USA.

In 2017, I started focusing on the Oly distance in an effort to make Team USA at the Oly distance.

In 2017, I forgot about my 5 year goal. Actually, I forgot that it was a 5 year goal. 

You see. I was getting frustrated with myself. I picked a very tough race schedule this year to get me ready for Nationals. Every now and then, I'd see glimpses of greatness. I'd do something incredible that I'd never done before. 

Mostly, though, I had a growing frustration with myself over some things. I'd look at my times and paces and realize that this probably won't be the year I make the team at the Oly distance.

Over the past 2 weeks, I realized that I let those small things take over my head. I let those little things take over the fun of the sport. For weeks, training had become an irritating chore, like doing the laundry.

I stepped back for a minute and had to remember that I set a 5 YEAR GOAL. I already achieved that goal at the sprint distance, FIVE YEARS EARLY. 

The Oly distance is excruciatingly difficult. Coach Liz says it's the hardest distance.  I have only done two Olympic distance races this year. AND I PRd both races. 

My times might not be where I want them to be, but Rome wasn't built in a day. 

It's a daily, constant reminder that great things take time....and certainly more than 2 races.