Thursday, August 25, 2016

2016: The Unexpected Year

I haven't written a "year in review" in a few years. It probably seems weird that I'm doing one in August.

Nationals was (in my mind) the end of my tri season. Everything after Nationals is work for 2017.

This year might be the most incredible year that I've ever had because it was full of the unexpected. It was definitely the year that everything started coming together for me.

In order to understand why 2016 was so incredible, you should understand the path that I've taken to get here.

I started triathlon in 2005. From 2005 until 2011, I followed a variety of training plans. I did a couple of races (sometimes just one) a year. We had started our company and were raising two sons. And....life sometimes has a shitstorm waiting for you.  My level of commitment to triathlon was low. I used triathlon, running, swimming, cycling as a means of release: stress relief or time to myself or fill in the blank.

In 2012, I came up with a list of the most ridiculous goals anyone could ever dream up. I never shared these goals with anyone. Sure, I shared the safe goals with people. I've blogged about them. The ginormous goals, I kept to myself.

The easiest way to mediocrity is through setting reasonable goals. My goals were CRAZY and completely unrealistic. I didn't care. Every day, I thought about them. Every day, I visualized reaching those goals. Every day, I went through the feelings and emotions of reaching those goals.

From 1/2012-12/2013, I hired my first coach. Somewhere along the line, I think in 2013, I got my first podium. It was a very small race. There might have been 4 or 5 women in my age group. I podiumed simply because I finished. Needless to say, I was happy to get a podium.

But, I still had that feeling that I could be so much more. To me a podium is all fine and dandy, but I'm an internally motivated person. I am not motivated by external factors. I want to be my best.




At this point, I had been in triathlon for 8 years.

At the end of 2013, I needed some time off from the sport. I needed to disconnect and figure out what I wanted to do.

We all go through this. This is normal with every sport. We all have times where we need to step away.

I started making changes.

In January 2014, I started working with Coach Liz. As many of you know, I am still with Liz. Although I give her credit for the athlete I am today, I have to give her credit for this one piece of advice. I knew that I needed a break, but SHE was the first person to EVER to say to me, "Take a break. Before we start training, I want you to take X number of weeks off. No training. No thinking about triathlon. Exercise in different ways. Be active. Enjoy life in new and different ways."

I have been with her for 2 years and (almost) 9 months. It has taken me 2 years and 9 months to get where I am now.

The first year with her was what I call a foundation year. We started from scratch. My first year with her, I got my first "1st place AG" win, and I qualified for Nationals. But it wasn't all pixie dust and rainbows. I was learning her system. I was faced with new levels of challenges. By the end of the year, I liked what I saw.

The second year with her, Liz upped the game. I rose to every challenge. This was the next phase. More than ever, we worked on my physical and mental strength. Newsflash.....your mental game isn't about someone telling you how to think differently. It's about learning how to think differently.  It was in my 2nd year, that I realized I had to make more changes if I wanted to reach my goals.



My third year, 2016, was the unexpected year.

In the winter of 2015 and 2016, we had a Super El Nino. I live at 6300ft. Many of you remember I was training for a half marathon. 99.9% of my training was done on a treadmill staring out a window only to see 3 feet of snow. Liz's half marathon training was unlike any I'd done before. (I've done a lot of half marathons).

I PR'd the half marathon.

Right after the half marathon, we moved into bike training. I asked Liz if we could do this. I felt like the bike was the key to many things, and I never had the opportunity to focus on the bike. I'm strong on the bike. WHAT if we hit the bike hard. Liz listened, and said, "Let's do it."

Over the next few months, we did one bike test a month. My w/kg exploded from 2.85% to 3.4%.  In March, I ran a 5k PR. A long standing PR fell.

I had an April race planned and was chomping at the bit to race when we got the news that the race was cancelled (not the RD's fault).

In 2012, I got an umbilical hernia. You can go back and read the entire story. The end result was that I decided to get it fixed this year. Many concerned citizens told me my season was over.

I didn't listen to them. I didn't listen to horror stories.

I listened to my surgeon. I went through surgery. I didn't take any opiates for pain. The day after surgery, my surgeon told me to start walking as soon as possible. I was up and walking.

A few weeks later, I was released to start training again, no restrictions.

As I was sitting in the parking lot of the doctor's office, I called Liz.

"We have 8 weeks. Do you think I can be ready for Boulder 70.3?"

Her response, "Absolutely."

"Ok. Then. Let's do it."

Having 3 weeks off and then 8 weeks to get ready for a 70.3 requires a lot of dedication. Dina (nutritionist) gave me recommendations for pre and post surgery; all of which I followed to a T. I then worked with her for my 70.3 training.

Liz put me through the hardest 70.3 training I've ever done. I'd trained with her in 2014 for a 70.3. This training was training on steroids.

The result was a 23 minute PR and with a placing that I could only dream of. THAT day, I realized I could compete at a high level at the 70.3....if I chose to.



I had other fish to fry. Remember those BIG goals from 2012? I was focused on reaching them. I wouldn't reach those goals by jumping on a bandwagon. I would only reach those goals by following my plan, my own path.

After Boulder, we went full bore into training for Nationals. I told Liz that I needed/wanted to do a sprint before Nationals, so I could get some sprint practice in.

At the last minute, I signed up for Tri Boulder.

I came in 2nd with a huge bike and run PR.

Up next was Nationals, and well....you all know how that played out. I came in 26th at Nationals with PRs all over the place. This was the first glimpse I ever had that those big scary goals could become a reality.

After Nationals, Liz and I talked. For the first time ever, I shared the BIG scary goals from 2012. Not all of them, I felt that was premature. I shared two of them with Liz. She didn't hesitate. She didn't stutter.

She said, "LET'S DO IT."

I went home and told Mr. Tea. He said, "Wow. I had no idea. Those are some big goals. No goal is worth it if it isn't big."



Nationals is over. Liz and I set a plan for the coming months.  Like back in Jan, I asked her, "What if we do this.....?"

Unlike January this time, she said, "No. We're going to stick with our plan". (Well, she said it in her LIZ way). That's what great coaches do. They tell you what you need to hear; not what you want to hear. Athletes can get ahead of themselves. It's up to a Coach to know when to say "No" and when to say, "Yes.".

We are now working on our two year plan.

I'm not the same person I was +2.5 years ago. I'm out to crush every single one of those big goals I set for myself back in 2012.


Monday, August 15, 2016

Race Report: AG Nationals Sprint 2016

"When it's your time, YOU WILL SHINE."

Two days ago, I didn't think I'd be racing Nationals. Mr. Tea had a major health scare that turned into a minor one. Minor in comparison to what we originally thought. He was unable to exercise; unable to travel and was on medications. It left me and emotional mess and exhausted.

Now, I'm sitting at the awards ceremony, blinking back tears. I was finally able to release the emotion of the week and the race.

And that's when I saw this.....

I officially lost it.



I arrived in Omaha late Friday night. I was an empty shell. 

On Saturday, my goal was to shake off the week. Get to the race site, fully immerse myself in triathlon. On a normal basis, I don't like being around triathletes or talking about it.....I prefer to separate myself from the sport. 

For some people, triathlon is a lifestyle.

For me, it's something I like to do.

The difference is subtle but important, and it starts with an attitude toward a sport that can fully encompass someone. 

On Saturday, triathlon was my saving grace. I watched the swim starts. I cheered on the multitude on Multisport Mastery athletes. I so badly needed to clear my head and focus on my race.

As the day went on, I started thinking, "I'm going to have a great day."

I repeated that all day long.

At one point, I laid down in the grass, and I visualized my race. "It's just me and the yellow buoy. It's just me and the next buoy. It's me and my bike. It's me and Black Betty taking on the hills, cruising up, flying down. It's me pushing through pain. It's me running. Holding my pace. Giving it everything I can. It's me and the finish."

On race morning, I sat on the deck waiting for the signal to jump in the water. I stared at the yellow turn buoy. "It's just me and the buoy."

Because there was a long gap between the previous swim wave and mine, we had plenty of time to talk before the swim. But I had checked out mentally, my mind kept playing the record, "It's just me."

The heartbeat started.

The horn blared.

And it was just me and the buoy. I've never been in the zone before, not like this. I just swam.

I got out of the water. I didn't think. I sprinted up the hill and into transition.

 I grabbed Black Betty, and we took off running.

On the bike, it was all me. I only used my garmin to keep me honest. (For those of you who are numbers people. I averaged 21.8 mph the first half of the bike. For the entire bike, I averaged 22.5mph and an NP of 178....or 20 watts below my FTP. My best effort to date. MY BEST.) I didn't back down on the hills. No holding back. I blasted up hills at over 300 watts. THANK YOU Coach Liz for all those 500 watt intervals that made this quite bearable. I flew down the back side. I went from 22nd place to 12th place just on the bike.

At the turn around a guy said to me, "That's some suffering."

As I passed him, I thought, "Pain yes. Suffering. No. Pain is pain. Suffering is a choice."

My legs were burning. My breathing labored. I was grunting and growling. I had sweat running down my forehead into my eyes and down my nose. My hands were sweaty. 

But, I didn't think of all that. 

It was just me and Black Betty doing what we do best. 



With 2 miles left, I saw two women. They were both in my ag and wearing TEAM USA kits. 

At THAT moment, I had one goal. No matter how much it hurt. No matter what my watts went to....I WAS GOING TO PASS THEM.

The race was on. I blew past the first. 

I blew past the second.

I knew they would catch me on the run.

But for that ONE moment. I realized that I could compete at this level.

I hit the dismount and took off running as fast as I could. I was sprinting with my bike, knowing Team USA was probably 1 or 2 minutes behind me.

Racked my bike. Had problems getting my shoes on.

I took off RUNNING. 



The first 1.55 miles, I race an 8:50 pace. For the entire race, I averaged 8:59. 

Then, for the last half mile....something amazing happened. A woman who had been on my shoulder the entire time started picking up the pace. She passed me.

"NO!"

I think I might have said that out loud.

I started running. I started sprinting. I thought for sure I saw death looking me in the eye.

I wasn't going to give up. I started going harder. She ran harder. OH GOD I HAVE TO HOLD ON.

Running harder than I ever thought possible. We crossed the finish line and collapsed.



My time: 1:23:55.2
Hers: 1:23:55.5

I ran the last half mile at a 5:43 pace. If it wasn't for her, I never would have run that hard.

This gave me an all time 5k PR of 27:14 or so. (I kept forgetting to hit the lap button on my garmin).






I wrote about times and power and paces in this post. 

But I didn't know ANY of this during the race. 

When I crossed the finish line, I had NO idea what my 5k time was. I didn't know I PRd the run. I didn't know I PRd the bike.

The woman "catcher" at the finish line, held me up. She yelled at someone to get me ice and a towel. Someone else gave me a bottle of water. Another person put a medal around my neck.

Once recovered, I went over to check the results. I was 27th. Last year, I was 72nd. I never even checked my paces or times. 

I went over to get my gear bags and turned on the phone.

I had messages from Liz and Mr. Tea. I broke down. Liz was genuinely happy for me. She had 10 athletes who had podiumed or made Team USA.....and here she was SCREAMING AT ME via TEXT. I've never seen her so excited.

That's when she said, "TEA. YOU NEED TO GET TO THE AWARDS CEREMONY. YOU HAVE A SHOT AT TEAM USA."

I was in disbelief. 

I age up.

7 woman in the 50-54 category were aging up.

With roll down, I could make TEAM USA.

From there it was a mad scramble. I had to get packed at my hotel. I left my bike at the race site and jumped on the shuttle. I showered, packed and had to be out of there at noon. I left the hotel at 11:55.

I drove back to the site, packed up and had to be at the convention center at 1pm.

I walked into the meeting room at 1pm....only to find out that I won't know for at least a week and possibly until the draft legal sprint races in a couple of months.




I got home at 9pm.

Only then did I find out that I PRd in every way possible. 

After the drive home....and feeling like I was hauling ass all day long, it's starting to hit me. I'm only now processing what I accomplished.

When I started with Liz, I put myself on a 5 year plan to get to Nationals.

In 2014, my first year with her....I qualified for Nationals.

My first Nationals race was 2015. After that,  I put myself on a 5 year plan to make TEAM USA. I just missed that THIS year....one year later. 

Liz and I talked late last night.

We have a plan for the next two years. 

That plan starts today.


UP NEXT: Chicago.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The return of SST


Two months after starting with Coach Liz, back in Feb 2014, I had a 5k race.  After the race, I was frustrated with myself. 

I was mad. I wrote in my notes to Liz, "I should be faster than I am. What's wrong with me?"

She told me I was, "steady state Sally, afraid to bust out."

When she said that, I was mad. I took a few days to respond. Then, I realized that she was right. THAT feedback was what I wanted and needed. THAT is exactly why I hired her. 

Over the next 2.5 years, I worked to get rid of steady state Sally. 

I put everything into my bike and run.

I never did it with my swim. I work at my swim. I go to masters. My swim has improved dramatically since I started with my new coach.

But I always knew I could "get by" on my swim. Why swim hard if I'm going to be first or second out of the water? I didn't actually think that way. If I can swim at pretty fast pace without much effort and be first out of the water, why apply myself?

Liz and I have been talking about my swim lately. On several occasions, she has told me that I'm not swimming to my fitness and strength. In other news, my swim Coach has also been mentioning that I'm not really going all out at masters. I'll get a two body length lead on the other swimmers in my lane. Instead of expanding my lead....I just sort of sit back and hold it.

Blah blah blah....noise....noise...noise...noise.

I justified it in my head. "Oh. I'm going plenty fast. That's good enough."

But was it?

I did a swim TT in open water, without a wetsuit today. 

Something finally clicked in me. Was I catching and passing people? Yes. Did I go hard? Absolutely not. Did I even feel it? No.

It came crashing down on me. I'm steady state Sally on the swim, and I've always been that way.

It's time to get rid of that bitch once and for all.


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The strong



I did it.

Today, I accomplished something that I didn't know I could.

I had a mishmash of running intervals.

A couple of weeks ago, Liz told me that she was going to find new ways to challenge me. When I saw what was on my plan for today. I thought, "Ok. I can do that."

Then, I realized it was multiple sets of those intervals.

There was a time I would be nervous about a workout like this. I was nervous because I knew I couldn't do it. I suffered more disappointments that successes. For awhile, I went through a dark time with the sport.

Now, I'm still nervous. I still procrastinate before stepping out the door. Once I step out that door, there's no turning back. 

I get nervous. I'm afraid. I'm afraid because I know I will do it. I will excel. Every week, I blow away my pace goals, but it hurts like hell doing it.

Why do I do it? My goals are worth fighting for. They are WORTH going through the pain and discomfort. 

Not giving it my all in training means.....giving up on my goals.....well, that hurts more than anything.


For all those times when I felt weak......my strong showed up today.


Monday, July 25, 2016

Tri Boulder: The WOW factor



Besides Mr. Tea and Coach Liz, there were only two people who knew I was racing.

I was intentionally/unintentionally quiet about the race. I had some personal issues I needed to work out for this race. Sometimes, it's best to do that on the DL. I didn't want the distractions that go along with posting about a race. I really love all the support I get. Sometimes I just need to go inside and work out my shit.

There were several things that I wanted to work through before Nationals. I'd only had one race this year, and it was a 70.3. I needed a short race to practice the whole moving fast thing.

USAT does regional championships. Regional championships offer more slots to qualify for the National Championship. The Peak was a regional championship this year. Unfortunately do to a wildfire, the Peak had to be canceled. This was because all emergency personnel were out handling the fire. The course was not in the line of the fire.

Immediately after that, USAT stepped up and gave the qualifying slots to TriBoulder. I was already registered for the race. I was already going to Nationals. I was looking forward to a nice low key race to practice my stuff.

TriBoulder was not an A race. In fact, the race was the culmination of a pretty good sprint build up. I knew that I wasn't going to feel fresh. But hell, I never feel fresh during training. I was going to give it everything I had.


That morning, I felt GREAT. I felt strong. Maybe it was because I was racing a sprint. It's an amazing distance.

BUT, I was nervous AF. I'm not kidding. I had a laundry list of things I wanted to accomplish. I couldn't bear it to let myself down. For some reason, deep down inside, I knew today was going to be a great day.

When I got to the race site and started unpacking my transition, I realized that this nice little low key race.....was not really going to be that way. The women who are in the top of my age group in the state were here to race. Seven of the women in my age group had already qualified.

In other words, I had no plans or expectations to podium today. It's never on my mind. It's never a goal of mine. I was planning on using these women to help me achieve my goals. I was going to hang with them as long as I could.

I've mentioned this before, but it is worth mentioning again. These women are not just amazing athletes, they are incredible people. We had a fantastic time race morning. We're (once again) the last wave, so we had plenty of time to talk.

Finally, it's GO TIME. As soon as the RD started the 5-4-3-2-1, the nerves left me. I lined up at the front and took off running into the water.

For open water swimming, most people take off like a bat out of hell. I've learned that patience is best. Let them take off; I'll do my thing, and they'll fade.

Of course, I instantly found myself in a crowd of frantic swimmers. I kept my head down and thought of Andrew yelling at me "HEAD, HAND, PULL. HEAD, HAND, PULL, HEAD, HAND.PULL".

The sun was particularly bad. NO ONE could see the buoys; not even with the best of the best ROKA goggles. From the beach, I had gotten a good visual of where the buoys were. I have a really good internal gps.

When I saw the group veer off the right, I was debating. Am I on the right course? I'm almost positive they are going off course.

The next thing I know, I'm alone. the group took off to the right.

Out of nowhere a boat speeds in front of me. I hear them yelling at the crowd, "SWIMMERS GO LEFT."

I'm on the right course. I glance up, I realize I'm very close to the first buoy. I've caught the previous wave.....and I'm the only woman in my age group.

At the second buoy (the turn point), I turn on the speed. I look up, and I see a woman in front of me with the same color swim cap. I look around. We're alone. I don't know if she is in my ag or older. I decide to catch her.

I didn't catch her.

I had decided to race this race without my Garmin. I had it with me, but I didn't look at it. I hit the lap button when I finished my swim.

It ended up being a slow sprint swim for me. It was a pace slower than my half ironman in June. So. Probably a good thing that I didn't know what my pace was.

I hit the beach and started running up the hill with everything I had.

I got to our racks.......and looked around......every bike was there except one.

I thought for a second......all of the women are still in the water.

I grabbed my bike and head out.

The bike was pretty uneventful, which is always good. The first 5 miles of the course is uphill. I killed it. I had my fastest 5 miles ever. If I didn't catch you on the swim, I most definitely did on the bike. I really didn't know where I was in my age group, but every guy I passed yelled at me, "GO GO GO!!!"

I really wanted to ask if they've seen anyone else in my age group, but it's hard to have conversations when you're riding 26mph.

The bike ended up being a 1:20 PR.

I never saw another woman in my age group. I flew into the dismount area (27mph thankyewverymuch) and took off running with my bike.

I got to the rack. EVERY bike rack was empty....except one. There was one bike already racked. DAMMIT, she's so fucking fast. (I found out later that we had the exact same bike time.)

I'm pretty sure I'm in 2nd at this point. But you never truly know because sometimes people set up at the wrong bike rack. You just never know.

I'm moving as fast as I can. I struggle with my shoes. I have sand stuck behind my achilles. I don't have time to fix it. If I'm in 2nd, I have no idea where 3rd is. I have no idea how far ahead 1st is. All I know is that 1st is a faster runner than I am.  I don't have time to mess around with comfort. I have to run.



Let's stop. RIGHT THERE.

THIS was the #1 thing I wanted to accomplish today.

I have always hidden behind my bike speed.

It's really easy to do that. Have a great bike; then tell myself, "I'm not really a runner, so just do your best."  My *best* never was. It was always me "giving up". I was using the excuse of "not being a runner" as an excuse for not giving it my all.

I didn't want to disappoint myself. I took off running as hard as I could. I didn't look at my garmin. Of course, I wasn't perfect. There were times, I realized that I was spacing out. I would snap out of it and say, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING! THERE'S NO TIME FOR SPACING OUT."  I re-grouped immediately.

On the course, I don't see any women coming at me. As I'm approaching the turnaround, I see Courtney (1st place). She's about 2 minutes ahead me. I don't see another woman. I do the math in my head. Courtney beat me out of the water by seconds. We were probably very similar on the bike. There can't be anyone else between us.

I'm in second place.

HOLY FUCKTARD BATMAN. I'm in second place.

I hit the turnaround. I start to see the first women I've seen. ANY one of them could be 3rd place.

With one mile left and one hill left, I start running. I don't know where 3rd is, but if she was going to beat me.....I was going to make her work for it. To beat me, she is going to have to run a PR.

I went tearing through the finish line at full speed. Courtney caught me at the end. She yelled, "WE DID IT!"

She showed me her finisher's ticket. She was 1st. We rushed over to find out if I was second.



Even though this was not my A race, this race was the biggest emotional win, I've ever had.

For years, I'd been criticized and mocked about my run speeds. It didn't matter how fast I swam. It didn't matter what my power output was on the bike. For some reason, MY run....MINE....really had a lot of people concerned. That got into my head.


Triathletes that come from a running background will always believe that the fastest runner will win.



That's bullshit. The best triathlete will win.

Yesterday, I was 2nd on the swim; tied for first on the bike; and 5th on the run.

The fastest runner came in 4th.

Yesterday, my run was a 2 minute PR and my fastest ever 5k off the bike.  I would describe the run as a "solid run" albeit not my fastest given my current fitness level. My 5k PR is 27:15. Today, off the bike, I ran 28:03. I'm closing the gap. 

My win (yesterday) was that I finally let go of the past. I stopped hiding behind my bike speed. I stopped thinking about myself as "not a runner". 

I started seeing myself as a triathlete.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Well, NOW I'm terrified


After yesterday, I really wanted to follow up and talk about the conversation that Liz and I had.

I had mixed feelings after the workout. I started questioning everything. Why was it so hard? Why did it feel like it was out of my reach? Did I not fuel properly? Have I been eating enough? What could I have done differently?

Even though I felt like I gave absolutely everything I could, I felt like I failed.

It turns out I was wrong.

I wrote all those feelings in my feedback and sent it to Liz. She wrote back (and I'm summarizing), "Tea, you were phenomenal. I made that workout for you. I usually give those intervals as 110%, but I wanted to challenge you. That's why I set the intervals at 130%-150%. You didn't quit. You ADAPTED to the conditions. We don't reach our goals from going easy."

Trust me. I thought about quitting, but the thought of telling Liz, "I quit" was worse than the intervals. I kept going, and that's what she wanted to see. She wanted to see what I would do when my back was against the wall.

This whole conversation really got to me.

After the bike, I ran (later in the day). I thought about what we've been doing lately.

Sometimes I look at the workouts, and I'm actually terrified.

When we talk about my race plan, I'm terrified.

I'm terrified because I'm learning about a new level of pain; a new level that I never realized I could get to.

This morning, I had 800m repeats. Believe it or not, I really love the 800m repeats.

After yesterday's workout that left me wrecked physically and emotionally and being sore from my strength workout the day before, I knew I had to take the warm up slow.


I've also learned that the body will do whatever I ask it to. Trusting my body has been the #1 thing I've learned this year.

My 800m were all descends. Start at X pace and get faster for every single one.

As my new normal, I no longer look at my Garmin. I just kept running.

For the very last one, I decided to check in with my pace at around 400m. I realized I was running at a pace of :25 seconds per mile faster than I thought I was running....and I was within striking distance of my super secret pace goal.

I started running.

I mean.

I STARTED RUNNING.

I was all in. I didn't care about the noises I was making. I didn't care about how I felt. I was going to get that goal today.

I took my average pace from XX:25 to XX:03 in 400m.

I missed my goal by :03.

For the last 400m, my heart rate was 10 beats higher than my threshold heart rate.

Last week, I would have been thrilled with a pace of xx:03. This week, it wasn't good enough.

Next week, I have 400's. All of a sudden that goal that I'd been working for doesn't seem so tough now.

You can bet I am going to go after a new goal.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Today, I was brought to tears.

I had an interval set on the bike.

Look, I've trained for and done 70.3's. I've cried during 70.3 training but only because I was so happy a workout was over....not because the workouts were crazy tough. Crazy long, yes.

There are NO workouts in this world that break me like sprint training.

Today I hit that dark place.

I had 20 intervals. RIDICULOUS intervals.

At 5, I realized I couldn't do it anymore. I had already done 5. I had 15 more.  15 MORE.

I got discouraged. I cut intervals 5-6-7-8 by :15 seconds.

I almost quit, but the thought of having to face Liz and say, "I quit" was terrifying to me.

I thought to myself, "Don't quit. Change the plan."

I decided that I would shorten the intervals, but the shorter I went, the harder I had to go.

Each interval, I finished, shaking. I couldn't pedal. I rested my head on the aero bars, trying to recover in time for the next one to start.

I finished this watered down workout, successfully. But I didn't feel good about it.

I keep reminding myself that these workouts are less about hitting the intervals and more about the mental side.

Are you going to give up?

Are you going to quit?

What are you going to do when things get tough?

What are you going to do when you are discouraged?

Quitting is the easy way out. Giving up is the easy choice.

Week after week, Liz is pushing me harder and harder. I miss one set of intervals. I think, "She'll back off this week."  Instead, she comes at me with harder intervals.

I keep at it. Why? I don't know. Maybe because deep down inside, I think, that she believes in me....that she believes I can do this.  That there's a reason she's pushing me like this.

That....she's going to take me to the brink, and I'm going to see something absolutely beautiful on the other side.