Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Melissa Stockwell: Bronze medalist

My Coach Liz Waterstraat and Coach Jen Harrison co-coached paratriathlete Melissa Stockwell to and through the Paralympics.

Melissa earned a Bronze medal in Rio.

If you have a few minutes, read her story here.

This picture is of them at the Chicago Tri, where they competed as a relay team right before Rio.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

A PR & a podium

I've been running for 33 years. I've never once stepped up on the podium at a running race. The closest I've ever come was my race in March. I came in 7th.

Since Liz and I are working my run fitness, I was really happy to find a new 5k race on the same course that I PR'd in March.

I PR'd the 5k in March; then again at Nationals (last month).

My plan consisted of completely new strategy: Go out as hard as I can and see what happens. The 5k is short enough where you don't have to hold back. Of course, there are consequences. If you don't hold back,'s a lesson in pain management. If you do hold back, you wonder what you could have done.

I chose the lesson in pain management.

For the first time ever, I looked at the other runners and decided to line up in the front. I chose a nice little spot behind the guys that looked super fast. Yes, I was totally judging people based on their looks.

The countdown started.

The horn went off.

I immediately regretted lining up at the front.

Once again, I had no pace goal or time goal. I was really hoping to PR. I checked in with my pace at the half mile, 1.55 mile, 2.5, etc. For the most part, I race by effort.

I ain't gonna lie. This 5k really hurt. I was in pain before I even reached the turnaround.

I kept saying to myself, "Just hold this effort. Whatever the pace is, just hold the effort. Once you hit the turnaround, that's when it's really going to count."

I kept my eye on a woman in a tutu. All of a sudden, I realized I was catching up to her. I focused on her with the goal of catching and passing her.

If you race 5ks regularly, you'll notice a difference in how people race shorter races versus longer races. Anyway, MY experience is that in a half marathon, if you pass someone during the race (not the end), they won't really fight you on it. You can catch them, pass them....and you don't really see them again. Everyone is pacing their own race. (That could just be because historically I'm a middle of the pack runner.)

In a 5k, if you pass are racing them. As soon as I passed the tutu, I felt her on my shoulder. I really really wanted to shake her off. 

I started pushing the pace a bit more. I hit the turnaround and saw her about 3 cones behind me. That's when I saw another woman cut the course. She was about 5 cones behind me and sure as shit.....she turned around and was now ahead of me.

None of us like cheaters. I don't know her age group. But there were not many women in front of me. She very likely took a podium spot from someone because of what she did.

The last 1.5 miles is about guts. Nothing else. What do I think about?
"12 minutes, and it's over. You can do this for 12 more minutes."

"With a half a mile, I want you to go as hard as you can."

"Your legs will do whatever you tell them to."


The cruelty of this course is that it is an out and back along the top of a dam. Perfectly flat, but it's a mental course. You can see the turnaround from the start and the finish from the turnaround.

I knew at the last bend that I had a half mile left. That's when I thought about all those half mile repeats I'd done at ridiculous paces. 

I can do this. I know I'm super close to a PR. 

Quarter mile.......I can now see Mr. Tea (who wanted to see me race since he missed my season).

I can't smile. I can't wave. I just need to focus. I'm staring at that DAMN finish line, which doesn't seem to be getting any closer.

That's when the clock comes into focus. I'm going to break 27 minutes. For the first time ever, I'm going to break 27 minutes, but it will be close.....painfully close.

I start running with everything I have left. 

When I cross the finish line, I'm dizzy. I can't even stand.

I knew I was really close to breaking 27 min. Did I do it?

Mr. Tea came up to me. I still couldn't stand up. He said, "YOU DID IT. You broke 27 minutes! 26:51!"

Wow. I did it. I'm *in* the 26's now. 
We walked back to the car.

That's when I found out that I was 3rd F40-49 and 26th overall (male and female) out of +500 runners. (I'll have to double check that 26th later. I'd really like to know where I was among women. There were not a lot of women ahead of me.)

My first running podium......and I left the race.

Who would have thought that I'd finally podium TODAY????

Friday, September 16, 2016

Little things

I'm a little giddy.

USAT (USA Triathlon) ranks their athletes every year. Go here to find the rankings page.

In order to be ranked, triathletes must:

1.) Be a member of USAT
2.) Complete 3 races in a calendar year.

If a triathlete is a member but did not complete 3 races, they will show up in the "unranked" section. Their races will still be scored, but they won't be officially ranked.

If a triathlete is not a member and completed +3 races, they will not be ranked. (If you're doing +3 races, it makes sense to be a member).

Every time I race, I get a score.

At the end of the year (technically calculations are done in Feb of the following year), rankings are finalized. Athletes in the top 10% are given the honor of "All American".

Your rankings can change year to year. If you do a new distance or you age up, your ranking will change. OR, if you only do one race, you won't even have a ranking. Other people age up and out, and that changes the competition. In other words, a drastic change in ranking isn't unusual.

Still, I've always wanted to be All American.

From 2009-2011, I had no ranking.

In 2012, I was ranked 812 with a score of 72.583

2013: I was 676 with a score of 74.442

2014: I was 587 with a score of 76.967

2015: I was 510 with a score of 78.871

This year: my score is 82.72, and I still have one race left. This is the biggest jump I've ever made.  I won't make All American this year, but I'm ranked higher than I have ever been at this time of year.

One of these years, I will make the top 10%.
I love this. Expect to see it often.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Back to the ER with yee

When Mr. Tea & I walk into the ER, hospital be like...

We spent Wed afternoon at the emergency room.

The day kinda went like this:

I have a 2 hour brick. I finished my ride and hear Mr. Tea on the phone. I don't think much of it and head out to run. Halfway through my run, I get a text message saying, "I need to go to the emergency room."

So, I ran as hard as my little legs would carry me after doing 30 minutes at 100-110% on the bike.

Since this was my cooldown, MB decided this was my Resting Beast Face.

The trip was due to a number of symptoms that pointed to internal bleeding. When you're on blood thinners, you're told "no contact sports or anything where you could fall, no lifting weights, avoid cutting yourself." 

In other words, don't do anything stupid. It's precisely when you are told not to do anything stupid, that you will, indeed, do something stupid.

In this case, he banged his head and started throwing up blood.

Just a little disconcerting, eh?

The end result is that he's ok. That's all that matters.

We left the ER with a message from the doctor, "Don't bang your head."

I have decided to take Ti's advice. She told me to write as much as I needed to in order to process everything that is going on.

After yesterday, I woke up feeling like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. We know there will be many more rough days ahead, but the end result is that he is getting better.

I feel like there's been a lot of doom and gloom in my blog lately.

It is a serious subject. There are days that are tough, but there are really good days too.

This week, I had an amazing breakthrough swim.

I finally hit a 1:25 pace for 10 x 100's. What could make this more incredible? It was a hypoxic workout. 

That's right 10 x 100' equipment...just a swim....while feeling like I'm drowning. 

I was so excited that I jumped out of the pool and hugged my coach.

So, if you think you've had a bad day.....imagine what my coach went through.

When I started triathlon, I swam 2:45 per 100. I joined my first master's team and over the coming years, my pace dropped to 1:55. Then, I stalled, for awhile.

I started looking around for a new masters. I found Andrew

I learned what masters should be like. His program is extremely organized. He is the only level 4 swim coach in the state of Colorado. When I told Liz about him and I told her about the program: the types of workouts, etc. (Liz is a level 3 masters swim coach). She told me to do whatever he said to do. I simply tell her what days I can swim masters, and she schedules those days.

The rest is history. There have been days where he pulls me out to my own lane and works with me directly. This means on a day that I should swim 3400-4000, I'll swim maybe 2000. But I have a dedicated coach, working on my own issues.

At the end of this year, I will be with this masters team for 2 years. 

In the beginning, we worked on the big things: my pull, body rotation. 

Over time, we've moved to smaller nuances: head position, hand position, arm turnover & changing my kick to a 6 beat kick.

He's pushed me too. He sets my paces and won't take NO for an answer. "Tea: 25 in :16....if you do +:18 or more GET OUT OF MY POOL."

"Tea: I want these 100's at 1:30."

My lanemate would say, "She raced this weekend."

Coach "Tea: I want these at 1:32."

There were days he tested me by moving me to a faster lane AND making me lead the lane.

There were days he would video tape my stroke to show me what I was doing wrong.

My paces started dropping. I saw 1:45. Then 1:35.

I stayed at 1:35 for awhile. He started making some adjustments. BOOM! I went from 1:35 to 1:30 after making a few simple changes.

I was at 1:30 for a number of weeks.....not months....when he started really working on my kick and explained why the 6 beat kick was so important. 

I know triathletes think they don't need to worry about their kick, but they do. A 6 beat kick was tough for me to learn, and it required a new level of leg strength. Once I got it, my pace fell to 1:25.

All of a sudden, I felt like a missile through the water.

It wasn't always easy. I have had more than my fair share of "bad" swims. It would be a swim where nothing goes right. Nothing is easy. Everything is a struggle. The days where I get lapped by new swimmers; air ball my flip turns repeatedly or hit the lane lines so much that I look more like I attended a martial arts class than masters swim.

I've learned that when you deconstruct a part of your stroke, only to reconstruct it, there are going to be those days where old habits and new lessons intersect and get in the way of each other. 

What do you do on those days? You just go with it. You don't quit the workout. You keep swimming. I've found that when I have those complete disaster swims that the next time I get in the water, I have a breakthrough day.

I'm not a gifted athlete in any way. Whenever, I post a swim on Strava, I always get the "You're so fast" comments. I respond with "Thanks." But inside, I know how hard I've worked to get here.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Little wins & moving forward

The song above is my new favorite. I think it's pretty amazing. The movie, which was made from a book, which I read and loved (years ago), came out a few weeks ago in the US. Tim Burton worked with Florence to write this song. I have never heard a song that so perfectly captures a story.

Well, maybe Rocky music.....

"Even closer to you, you seem so very far."

(Doesn't that line capture relationships? It's so painful and so beautiful.)

Little Wins
I'm a really flexible person and go with the flow pretty easily. Even I am being challenged now.

Mr. Tea went off his shots; only to be put back on them. The timing of the shot is really important. We are in the second phase of his recovery. It goes like this: 1.) Critical/life saving 2.) Stabilization 3.) Extended care.

We are in the stabilization phase. This can take weeks to months to figure out. Going off and then back on the shots was an emotional roller coaster. Then we both agreed that being on the shots is better than being off of them and having something really bad happen; like, going back into critical care. I guess, now, if he goes off and back on again, I'll be used to it.

These shots go into his stomach, which is now covered in bruises.....because the shot is a high does blood thinner. He looks like a UFC fighter that definitely got the worst of it.

The impact this has on me (not being selfish here just explaining the situation) is that Mr. Tea has a big problem with needles. Although some people can give themselves shots, Mr. Tea is NOT one of them. I plan my day around when I need to give him the shots. If I don't get up super early to run, I have to wait until after I give him the shot. Again, it's a timing thing. It's critical. The night one isn't such a big deal. We've come to an agreement that if I'm giving him his shot, we have to work somewhat around my bedtime schedule. (I've always been an early to bed, early to rise person. He is the opposite).

One of the hardest aspects of this is diet. I had no idea his diet has to be so restricted. No green veggies (and a bunch of others); no dark fruits (blackberries/blueberries).  There are some absolute NO foods and foods he can have in very small quantities.

There are more wins than frustrations. As of Monday, he was able to sleep in a bed instead of upright in a chair. Sleep is still up and down, but he can (at least) lay down. Little win.

As far as exercise, he has no restrictions. However, that doesn't mean it's easy. He's walking every day and a little further every day. Little win.

He is doing his breathing exercises, and every day he is getting stronger. Little win.

Moving Forward

I've always been a "no excuses" person. If my life is too busy to take care of myself and do things I's TOO BUSY, and I start cutting things out. Busy is not a badge of honor. It's the definition of someone who's life is out of control.

You'll never hear me make excuses for anything. I won't complain about the weather. I won't excuse away a performance. The only thing I control is effort and attitude. I can't control who shows up to race. I can't control the weather.

Right now is no different. I get all my workouts done. It felt really weird being disconnected from work for a week, but things are falling back into place. The fact is, other than giving him shots, I can go about my day as is normal. At first, there was a lot of stress. Liz and I worked through that together, but I need exercise to keep me healthy (physically and mentally). As I said in my Nationals race report, triathlon is my saving grace right now.

This week, I'm running a 5k. I'm really looking forward to it. My last 5k was right before surgery. I ran a PR. Liz and I have been doing a lot of work on my run. For me to reach my goals, my 5k needs to get to a 25-26 minute finish. I don't know how long it will take me to get there. My PR is 27:14. Anyone who runs, knows how hard it is to take seconds off a 5k. I want to take off minutes.

In October, I have my last tri of the season planned. Originally, this was planned as a vacation race. Now, we're not sure if Mr. Tea will be going. He can travel as he wants. He's just nervous about leaving while he is still in the stabilization phase. I totally understand that.

However, I'm going. The race isn't the reason I'm going. There are always races. (Although, I am looking forward to it). I'm going so I can have other people take care of me for a little while. Running the entire household and a business and taking care of someone and getting to doctor's appointments and doing my own training is a lot of work.

Monday, September 12, 2016


A few months ago, I wrote a short post called, "It's not too late".

A near death experience causes people to look at their lives. Mr. Tea has been going through this. He has been reconciling with people with whom he had "falling outs".

While this is good, don't wait for something like this to happen. I know it's hard. I know it's scary. I've done it. Sometimes, I've been welcomed back. Sometimes I've been rejected.

That's ok.

But don't wait.

Waiting one extra day, could be one day too long.

Friday, September 9, 2016

10 Days

I woke up early to give Mike his shot. We had an early follow up appt this morning.

Although I slept well, I didn't really get the amount of sleep I would have liked.  But it's almost the weekend. Trips to and from the hospital are over.

For the next 2 months, we have to go to the doctor every 10 days.

I grabbed some coffee, and off we went. When we got home, I made sure he had everything, so he could sleep more. You see; sleeping can be painful. Weird isn't it? The one thing your body needs, and it's a cause of stress to find a way to be comfortable.

I was looking over his medications which were now increased. The doctor gave me a list of medications to stop immediately, another list to continue, and another list of new medications. It made it easy. I went to the pharmacy and handed them my list.

I pulled out my grocery list. He needs to eat a vegetable & protein rich diet, but there are over 20 veggies and fruits that he is not allowed. Kale: NO (lucky duck). Spinach: NO. Broccoli: NO. Asparagus: NO. blueberries: NO. Blackberries: NO. and on and on and on.

That's pretty much everything we keep at the house.

When I got home, he was hungry. This was the first time he's been hungry. He ate and went to sleep.

I went running.  I thought about when I was at the pool yesterday. I was talking to another masters swimmer. She said, "You've probably skipped all your workouts this week, right? Your husband needs you at the hospital."  The implication being that I wasn't a supportive spouse.

I didn't take it personally.

I can only assume that many people view exercise like that, as something they feel they have to do. It's a burden. When life get's in the way, they can excuse exercise away, "My spouse needs me. Work needs me. My kids need me."

I've been active my entire life. I was doing aerobics with Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons. When I went to high school, I joined track because of a boy. 

Who would have thought that a little crush would turn into a lifetime of being active.

Running, swimming, biking....these things are part of me. I can't give them up anymore than I can give up the air I breath. No matter what is going on in my life, doing some sort of exercise is how I stay in touch with myself.

In an earlier post this week, I talked about "making yourself a priority". This is something that I learned a long time. I have lived my life this way for about 12 years. But I didn't always.

I want to explain what it means to me.

Making yourself a priority doesn't mean having an obsession with exercise. It doesn't mean doing triathlon or running a marathon. In fact, I have seen many athletes form a very unhealthy relationship with exercise.

It means:

saying "No" a lot.....a whole lot.....women in particular struggle with this. It means saying No to that job you hate or the boss who doesn't appreciate you. It means saying "NO" to family when they are pulling you in too many directions. Remember, taking care of yourself is not selfish.

Saying "No" to toxic people. Cut out toxic people and don't look back. THESE are the selfish people. Not YOU. People will only take advantage of you if you let them.

Saying "No" to any event or activity that you really don't want to do. You don't even have to give a reason.

Saying "No" when everyone else is saying YES. Avoid bandwagons. Do your own thing. Do what you enjoy NOT what is the latest fad. Sure, give it a try if it seems interesting. About 4 years ago, I tried crossfit. I did it for a month. It wasn't my thing.

Saying "Yes" to things you enjoy.

Saying "Yes" to going to bed and waking up on a schedule that works for you.

Saying "Yes" to really great food. Mr. Tea always jokes about how I love food more than anyone he's ever met. It's true. I love food. I love really good food. Life is too short to skip out on dessert or a fantastic meal.

Saying "Yes" to being nice to yourself. Remember: If you wouldn't say it to someone else's face, don't say it to yourself at all.

In other words, it's about healthy relationships, with people, with food, with exercise, with yourself.

Business owners have a saying, "Do you run your business? Or does your business run you?"

You can insert any of word instead of "business". "Do you run your training? Or does your training run you?"
"Do you run your life? Or does your life run you?"

Make yourself a priority. How? Sit down and list out the most important things to you. Cross off everything until you get to the two or three most important things to you.  Every decision you make goes toward achieving those goals. Simple? Yes. Easy? Not at the beginning.

One day, you'll wake up and realize all your fucks are gone. You've got no more left to give. That's when you've made yourself a priority.