Monday, December 10, 2018

Training & the art of letting go



In my little world, I see things like this.

Being active: Taking the stairs, parking in the last parking spot. Walking somewhere when you could drive. Riding your bike somewhere when you could drive.

Exercising: Making a conscious effort to move outside of being active. Taking a walk, going for a run, attending a class of some sort (martial arts, cross fit, TRX, yoga), without a performance goal at the end. (Although, there can be goals: wanting to do 20 pushups).

Training: The focus here is working on a performance goal. Training means following a plan, analyzing data or workouts, adjusting your nutrition to fuel for performance.

None of these are defined by hours of work.

Although, I see each of these in a progressive linear fashion, ie each one is a next step. Each of these is perfect. Each thing is exactly what you should be doing at different times in your life.

Many of you who read my blog nowadays have gotten bits & pieces of what has happened this year.

What you really need to know, is that 2018 was the worst year I've had in a very long time. I can't even think of another year, that was even close to 2018.  In fact, every time something bad happens, I now respond with "because 2018".

Back in June or July, Coach Liz and I talked about how to continue my year. At that time, I decided to continue on with my very watered down training plan.

Looking back now, that was a mistake. I should have stopped all training. The stress took it's toll on me. I couldn't physically get through workouts.

Thank you to those of you who stuck with me; even when I was pushing you away.

When my last race came up, I kept saying "just get through this race. Then, take as much time off as you need".

Liz would check on me to see how things were going; even though I wasn't working with her at the time.

As the weeks and then months went on, I realized that what I wanted to do was stop training. STOP all training and just do whatever I wanted to do when I woke up.

I signed up for a 5k race series, one that I haven't done in years but I love so much.

Of course, the 1st race came up quickly. I realized I hadn't run in about 2 weeks. I hit panic training mode and absolutely surprised myself by running 3 minutes faster than I thought I would. I didn't have any goals or expectations. I knew I wasn't in 5k shape, given that I just did a 70.3, and I was still emotionally recovering from the combination of training and life stuff.

For awhile, there was SO MUCH NOISE about next year. I knew I was nowhere near being able to train. For the first time in awhile, I was starting to enjoy just being active and exercising with no analysis, expectations, or obligations for how long or how hard I went. The last thing I wanted to do was to go back into that world of training again.

But I waited. I waited and waited. Black friday came and went.....a long with it....all those discounted race entries.

Then, I made the decision. I was going to take off 2019.

Believe it or not. I didn't tell anyone. I told a few people what I was thinking of doing. But, I couldn't get to the point where I felt the decision was real.

I think it was because sometimes people have a hard time understanding. I didn't really want to deal with all that.

I don't mean this in a drama queen way. Please understand, that I was getting ready to do something that I hadn't done before. Cutting out something that took so much physical and emotional energy every week, even when it's fun....is quite a change.

Over time, I came to realize that "Yes, taking time off is not only what I need to do, I really want to do it".

Then came the next worst part. I was going to have to tell Liz that I wasn't coming back for 2019. I wrote an email and sat on it for 2 weeks, tweaking it. When I read the final version, I was in tears.

That's how you know you have a great relationship with your coach. It gutted me having to write it. She has done so much more for me than just help me achieve my performance goals.

She made me a better person. Knowing her has changed my life.

I sent the email.

Not 30 seconds later, I get a text from her. She was SO understanding. She knew exactly where I was coming from. I told her that I'll be back to the sport, but I need this time off. I don't know how much time I need.

After that, I felt better than I had in a year.

I've always been one to buck the trend. As other athletes kept wanting to go further and further and more extreme, I've held my ground with a focus on shorter distances. There is nothing wrong with going further and further. It just seems like it has become the expectation. I've never done a race because everyone else is doing it.I've always done what is right for me at a particular time in my life. MANY times I've been asked about WHEN I'm going to do IM. The fact is, probably never.

This time is no different. I've already been asked:

Aren't you afraid of losing fitness? 

Uh no.

What about Nationals? 

I've done it many times. It'll still be there when I get back.

You've worked so hard to get where you are, now you're just going to stop?

Well. Yeah. Sort of.

Wait. You're just going to STOP being a triathlete? 

Yep, until further notice anyway.


NOT training doesn't mean becoming a couch potato.

I'm going to work on everything that I haven't been able to because of training. I'm going to do things that I haven't had time for. I'm going to run races and strength train like Ahnold. I'm going to do more open water swimming because I love it.

I want to work on the details that I have been ignoring.

RULE YOURSELF.






















Sunday, September 9, 2018

My "too damn tired" race report

I'm too tired to write a race report for Kokopelli.

Here's what you get: a nice screenshot.





Monday, July 23, 2018

Eye of the storm






We came through the eye of the storm. We made it. We're on the other side. 

I don't want to go over everything that has happened over the past 6 months.

We have all had to adjust to new schedules and new responsibilities...and do it all while we are still mourning.

Life goes on whether or not we want it to.

Once I scrapped my race season, I talked to Coach Liz.  I was thisclose to canceling coaching. I was at wits end....I really was.

I have been with Liz for 5 years. So making that decision was the worst and hardest decision that I ever had to make.

BUT, Liz and I talked. She recommended that I not stop coaching. In my heart, I didn't want to stop. I needed it, but I didn't think I could do it.

I really really wanted someone to take the decision off my hands.

I decided to keep going. Since May, Liz was scheduling me for about 8 hours a week. I hit about 5 hours on average. I pretty much stopped all swimming. (Part of that was actually for a different reason).

With minimal sleep and even less actual training, I had a race in June. Seriously, I was in no shape to actually race.

We talked about the race, Liz said that I should do it for the sheer fun of racing and try to remember how much I enjoy this sport.

With ZERO expectations, minimal training and sleep and the funeral in the afternoon....I decided to race Loveland lake to lake.

I WON MY AGE GROUP. 

My speeds were nowhere close to what they have been in the past, but I will be damned if I didn't give absolutely everything I had. I raced over threshold for both the bike and the run. Never in my dreams would I have thought I had a shot at a podium.

Even Liz commented, "You are racing very very well. You are doing it because......"

She was right. I'd had two races and two1st place age groups. (One of those was my first duathlon).

The match was 🔥 lit 🔥.

It was the 2nd week of July when I was able to commit to training again. Until this point, I was still skipping whatever I had to skip to get through life, but I had increased my training time to about 7 hours.

Then, this past weekend, I had another race planned: TriBoulder. This race is crazy competitive because it's getting close to Nationals.

With basically one week of true training under my belt, I sent a message to Liz and told her that I was going out there and do my best. No one can ask for more.

I came in 2nd in my age group with a MONSTER bike. 

As I sat on the grass, I sent her a message, "I don't know how I'm doing what I'm doing right now".

Honestly, I don't know. I have no idea. I'm just going out there and giving my best at every race.

Maybe that's enough.




Thursday, June 14, 2018

Resilience

The universe has been talking to me lot lately. 

The message has been, "Patience, Grasshopper". I can't even count how many times this year has thrown a curve ball at us. 

Twice, I have had to scrap all race plans. 

Ironman Florida 70.3
Age Group Nationals
Ironman Louisville

TWICE.
Summer Open Sprint
Loveland Lake 2 Lake

Twice, Coach Liz has gotten tearful emails from me saying, "I can't go on". 

TWICE, she has talked me down from the ledge. 

I had no choice but to let life run it's course. 

I have taken the downs (not with Grace and dignity) but with tears and tantrums. The good times, I haven't celebrated but instead I felt like I was walking on eggshells afraid that even the slightest wrong step would send us back down the rabbit hole. 

This week, the universe sent me another message "It's almost time, Grasshopper". Each day, I'm getting memories posted in my feed about races at which I SMASHED goals. 
Ironman Boulder 2016: 25 min PR.

Some other random race in 2014. A smile that big = PR.

June is almost over, I know physically and mentally, I can start "training" again, but I need a couple more weeks of "patience" before I can light the match again. 



I think the universe agrees. 

Monday, May 7, 2018

My 1st Duathlon

You might have read my race plan for my first duathlon.

If not, you probably want to do that before proceeding.

Let's see how well I followed the PLAN.

Drive to race:

HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?

G*D DAMMIT! I'm LATE. 


Really, HOW DID THIS HAPPEN? 

Throws bike in back on car. Grabs helmet, throws on front seat. WHERE DID I PUT MY COFFEE? 


Forget it. Frantically pulls out of driveway. Notices coffee cup roll off car engine. Shit. 


Wait. Do I have everything? Mental checklist:

water, shoes, shoes, helmet, bike.....that's enough. I can run a race with that.


Arrive at Race: 

The instructions said this is a half mile walk to the start. I'm turning on my garmin. This is DEFINTELY a mile walk. I don't have time to warm up, get to registration and put up my transition. I'm counting this as my warm up.

(Arrive at transition: ARE YOU KIDDING ME? It's packed. Where am I going to put my bike? Great! THere's a spot....in the back....I might as well be in Kansas for as far as this is from the bike/run exits).

HOLY SHIT DO I HAVE TO POOP.  Why couldn't this happen at home? There is NO WAY I'm waiting in that porta potty line.



WARM UP
Ok. I have 10 minutes to warm up. I KNOW There's a "real" bathroom around here. OMG, I need to poop. 

Run and clench on the way to the nearest bathroom.  See a woman coming out and yell, "IS THAT BATHROOM OPEN?"

15minutes later: Geesh, I really need to pee. I just went. How is this possible? 

Head back to start line.

20 minutes later: I need to pee again? DAMN this NO SWIM thing. I can't run with pee running down my legs. Right? I mean. That would be wrong.....wouldn't it? Let's keep an open mind. I wonder if I can hold it for an hour?  Where does all this pee come from anyway?



Start of Race: 

Why is no one lining up in the front? You KNOW all of these woman are going to past me. Why doesn't that Team USA woman line up in front? Isn't this the biggest group of sandbaggers I've ever seen?

F*ck this, I'm lining up in front. 



Run 1:

COUNT THE WOMEN WHO ARE ALREADY RUNNING BACK TO T1. ✅

EVERY SINGLE WOMAN HAS NOW PASSED ME.

Hit the turnaround: Oh....not EVERYONE has passed me. There are two women walking.

Why is THAT woman walking? She looks super fit.

I know. This is bad. I'm now getting, "YOU GO GIRL" cheers. That's always a bad sign.  

Thank volunteers. 

Attempt smile.


T1

ALL THE BIKES ARE GONE. Did I go too slow? Seriously? Even the fat tire bikes are gone?

Ok. Well. What's done is done.


As far as I'm concerned.....



THE RACE STARTS NOW!

You really need to listen to the song to get the full effect.

BIKE:

You are going to chase down EVERY SINGLE PERSON ahead of you.


LEFT
LEFT
LEFT
ON YOUR LEFT
LEFT 
LEFTLEFTLEFTLEFTLEFT
LEFTLEFTLEFTLEFTLEFTLEFTLEFT
LEFT 
LEFTLEFTLEFTLEFT
LEFT
LEFTLEFTLEFTLEFTLEFTLEFTLEFTLEFT

WHY DO THEY PUT +40 WOMEN IN THE LAST WAVE? 

WHAT is that Jeep doing? Why isn't he passing the cyclists? THere is plenty of room.

Awesome, I'm stuck here at 18mph. BEEJEEZUS. COME ON. JUST PASS. I can't get around. 18mph is NOT good enough. You know what? Those people need to get over or I'm going to sit behind this car all ride. 

LET THE CAR PASS. GET OVER! (Hey, look.....not to be rude....but I'm out to win this fucking course).

THERE's MY CHANCE! GO GO GO!

OMFG. I might regret that pass. What were my watts? I'm SURE they were close to 400 on that pass.

CLEAR road ahead. HERE WE GO! Time to make up lost time.

UNLEASH THE BEAST! HERE WE GO BLACK BETTY!

I really need a drink, but I can barely breath. On the next downhill, take a drink. A BIG ONE. Why does my nose run so badly on the bike? There has to be biological reason for this.

Holy SHIT where did that S turn come from? I'm going too fast, too fast. i CAN'T MAKE THAT TURN GOING THIS FAST. 

OMG....OMG...OMG.....I JUST WENT THROUGH THAT S TURN FASTER THAN I'VE EVER GONE THROUGH A TURN! 

FUCK YEAH!!!!!!

I'm close now. Where is everyone? I know I didn't catch everyone.

HEY! There's TOM! HI TOM! GET IT DONE! 

(Tom yells back)

He's such a nice guy.

WAIT. I JUST CAUGHT TOM. HOLY SHIT! I could be first overall. Is that even possible? He started 5minutes before me.


Wait, two women! I see two women ahead of me. GET THEM NOW. GET THEM. GO! GO! GO!

Holy shit! They are in their 30's! OMG! I'm going to have the fastest bike split of the day.

I KNEW IT! I KNEW I COULD DO THIS!

WTAF? WHO PUTS A STEEP CURVY HILL AT THE BIKE FINISH? 

I am definitely going to fall over.

I BEAT ALL THE WOMEN! 

T2:

Thank volunteer.

Attempt smile.



I should take a drink of water. HOLY SHIT! I KILLED THAT BIKE. I am definitely going to regret that decision.

RUN 2:
Is it possible that I could be in FIRST PLACE in my age group? That's not possible right?  

Back up the enormous hill. Take your time up the hill. Everyone said this run would suck. 

At the top LIGHT IT UP. Or well, you know. LIGHT IT UP in your TEA kind of way. 

I forgot sunscreen. How did I forget sunscreen?

I should get a drink at the next aid station. It's hot out here. 

WATER. Thanks. Attempt smile.


Throws water on face.

That didn't go well.

I'll get it next time around. 

One mile until the turnaround. That's like running to the church. You can do this. 

I hate running on gravel.

I hate hills.

It's starting to get hot.

Why do I do this?

IS THAT THE TURNAROUND? OMG OMG OMG. I'm almost there.

WTF? 

That wasn't the turnaround? 

Seriously? The turnaround is at the top of the hill.

Hang on. Where are the women? I haven't seen any women coming back.

There they are.

One. She is definitely younger than me.

Two. Oh yeah. She's in her 30's.

Three. Hmm. I'm guessing 40. 

Four.....I'm pretty sure none of them are in their 50s

TURNAROUND.

About a quarter of a mile after the turnaround. THERE SHE IS. She is about a half mile behind me. She is in my age group. I passed her on the bike.

SHE'S CRUISING. OMG. She is running so fast.

Dammit, I'm going to lose this in the last half mile again. She's cruising.

I can't beat her. She's too fast. She's going to catch me.

STOP IT.

Don't write that story. If you're going to write a story make it a good one. Write about how you're going to tell Liz you came in 1st in your 1st duathlon.

Is that her behind me?

One mile left.

No. It's a guy.

OMG. OMG. RUN. RUN. RUN.

This hurts so bad.

Liz said, "If you feel like you never want to do a duathlon again, you're in the right place".

I'M THERE LIZ. I'M SO FUCKING THERE.

KEEP PUSHING. YOU ARE NOT GOING TO GET BEAT TODAY.

I am NOT GOING TO CRY.

I'm GOING SO HARD. I'm GOING AS HARD AS I CAN.

I CAN'T BEAR IT. I CAN'T BEAR TO GO AS HARD AS THIS ONLY TO GET BEAT.

RUN HARDER.

I AM NOT GOING TO CRY.

I CAN'T RUN THAT HILL AGAIN.

THERE'S THE FINISH!  JUST HOLD on!

EVERYTHING YOU HAVE FOR 2 MINUTES, TEA.

EVERYTHING! RIGHT NOW!


FINISH LINE:

Hold me up.

Please.

We got you. I'm going to take off your chip.

Thank you. Attempt smile.



I need water.

What was my time? Where do I get my time?

Goal time for the race: 1:20 (If everything went well).

My actual time: 1:17.


I just won my age group.

Wait.

I JUST WON MY AGE GROUP.



I HAVE TO TEXT LIZ.

How did that happen? I JUST WON MY AGE GROUP in my FIRST DUATHLON.

I need to check the results again. There's no way.

Wait. I'm the only 50-54 on the board. Was I the only one in my age group?

What about the woman behind me?

I can't really tell Liz I won my age group if I'm the only one in my age group, right?




That's bullshit. You showed up. It's counts.

I'll pack up my stuff and check the board again.

I'm so hungry.

Let's check the board again.

1st place: Tea 1:17
2nd place: 1:32
3rd place: 1:33
4th place 1:35

HOLY SHIT! Not only did I WIN my age group! I killed it!



Tuesday, May 1, 2018

I DU NOT think this is a good idea

Due to this guy's amazing performance at Duathlon Nationals and then the ensuing promise of donuts, between us, I signed up for a duathlon.

Now don't fall out of your chair. I know this seems like it is coming out of thin air. But don't you remember when I SAID I'm doing different stuff this year? 

Coach Liz and I have been training for it. Well, SHE's been setting up a duathlon plan.

I've been sort of picking and choosing what I want to do.

Yeah. So. This has been on the plan. I've been wanting to do one for a couple of years, but I couldn't get it to work with my schedule and plans and goals.

Goals change, and I decided that 2018 would be the year.

When I started with Liz, she had me start writing race plans. Well, I do A LOT of sprints. Last year, I did 9 of them. I don't really write race plans much anymore. 

Since this is my FIRST duathlon, I decided to write a plan and get her feedback.

********************************************************************************************

Here's the plan that I sent her:



Drive to race: Think about how fucking awesome I am and how I'm going to dominate the race. 


(Siri, Play Eminem).



Arrive at race: Start analyzing all the women and think about how fast they are.

I'm totally getting my ass kicked today. 


(Possibly talk loudly about what a great swimmer I am).


Warm up: 20 minute run, wondering if it's too late to volunteer for the race instead.

Start Line: Pray to sweet baby Jesus that 1.) I'm not last in my age group. 2.) If I AM last, hope that I beat the only 80 year old who is registered. (YOU ARE GOING DOWN OLD MAN).

Run 1: Go out like a bat out of hell, at a pace that is completely unsustainable for more than about :20 seconds.



Count the women who are already running back to T1.

T1: Start to regret how fast I ran.



Bike: Go into full fledge panic mode thinking about all the women ahead of me. Ride at 130% FTP or until my legs start bleeding lactic acid as I try to catch up.



T2: Being unable to bend over to put on my running shoes, contemplate my poor decision making so far in the race.



Run 2: FUCK FUCK FUCK. I hate this. Why did I sign up for this? Where's the old guy? Please tell me I'm ahead of him. MY LEGS WON'T MOVE. I'm running like I have a stick up my ass. Start to write my own obituary.



At the halfway point, think about how I *only* have 1.55 miles left. I fucking hate when people say that. MY LEGS ARE BLEEDING LACTIC ACID. I wonder if they have a medic on the course.

This course is supposed to be flat. It doesn't feel flat. I'm complaining to the RD.

Think about how much I hate Jason for talking me into this shit.

Cross the finish line:



SELFIE! Send text to Liz, "OMG OMG OMG LIZ. THAT WAS SO AMAZING. I did so GREAT

Post to IG. 








#Nailedit

That was just my race plan.

Or so I thought.

Liz had other thoughts.

STAY TUNED to find out how the race goes.





Thursday, April 19, 2018

Pain is ok.



This morning I was fortunate to be able to spend time at the DMV.

The DMV is the place of wonder.....the place where.....like it or not...we get to spend (sometimes) hours waiting for our number to be called to renew our driver's license or license plates.

That means, I had plenty of time to myself, to think.

The trend in 2018 seems to be athletes talking about their lack of mental strength and trying to figure out how to get it.

Sadly, we can't just go to the grocery store and purchase it.

It's across the board and typically follows a race where someone didn't have the results they expected.

There are two issues here rolled into one.

1.) Goal setting
2.) Mental toughness

I'm only addressing mental toughness. Every single athlete is different. Every single athlete has an approach that works for them.

This is why it is so important to have a Coach or a mentor or someone help you find the right strategy.


Of course, I'm in this group. This is the Year of Strong. This is the year that I am working on getting to the next level of my little triathlon hobby.

Inspirational quotes only go so far. When you are out on the course, alone with your thoughts, what happens?

Many years ago, Coach Liz told me (not a direct quote), "The half iron and iron are about outlasting the competition. The oly race is about pain. The people who race it the best either embrace the pain it or ignore it better than others".

I thought I understood what she was saying. Over the 4.5 years that I have been with her, I have found that I only hear what I am ready to hear at that moment and understand it in the way that I can for where I am.

Years later, I understand the deeper meaning of what she says.

A few weeks back, Liz sent me an article about peripheral versus central fatigue.

The article hit me like a load of bricks.

Here's a completely watered down explanation. Peripheral fatigue is the physical fatigue that we get. It's the legs burning feeling when you're pushing hard on the bike.

In other words, peripheral fatigue is PAIN.

But, it doesn't mean you're tired.

Here's where the article got interesting. Central fatigue is along the lines of mental fatigue. But, you're not really tired. Your body is experiencing fatigue/pain, so your central fatigue kicks in and says, "you're tired. slow down. back off".

I remembered Liz telling me, "The oly is about embracing the pain or ignoring it better than others".

And that's when it hit me. Just because I'm in pain, doesn't mean I'm tired.

I sent off an email to Liz with all my thoughts.  We went back and forth for a bit, and she said, " An old Coach once told me, 'The central governor won't let you die' ".

Just like that, I had a paradigm shift.

I started approaching my training with a completely different outlook.

Liz would give me a workout that was really hard. I started constantly saying to myself, "You're in pain. You're not tired. Pain is ok."

I started having incredible success with my running (in particular).

One day, I opened my training log to see that Liz wanted me to run my intervals at a 7:30 pace. I doubted myself and started at 7:57. I ended up building the intervals to the exact pace she wanted.
Throughout the workout, I repeated, "Pain is ok. You're not tired. You're in pain. Pain is ok".

I know. It's not exactly a quote that is going to be posted on an inspirational image of people running.

But hey, it worked for me.

I had another workout. It was my favorite type of workout: one of those run-bike-run-bike-run-bike workouts.

Those workouts are straight up brutal. To make it even harder, my runs were going to be sub 8:30 pace.

I'd never run as far as she wanted me to run at an 8:30 pace. NEVER.

After bike intervals at 105%, I didn't think. I started running at an 8:27.

Trust me. It really started hurting. Over and over, I repeated, "Are you tired? No. I'm not. I'm in pain. Pain is ok. Run harder".

I sped up to an 8:13 pace.

I amazed myself, truly amazed myself.

I know this is just training. I don't get wrapped up in training PRs. Still, they are glimpses that I might have found an approach that works for me.

It's not a natural way to think. In fact, it's not really an incredibly motivating way to work. It's more of a "cut through the bullshit. We have work to do" approach.  I'm a ways off from where I want to be and where I believe I can be, but these are the first steps in the right direction.