Tuesday, February 21, 2017

St George

About a month ago, I learned that my first race of the year was canceled. If my race schedule wasn't already jam packed, I probably would be disappointed.

Onward to my May race: St George.

The last few weeks of training have been tough. I never signed up for easy, though. What's the saying?  It doesn't get easier, you get better.

Training has been tough because of the course. All hills, all the time.

I'm doing tough bike workouts. (THANK YOU Zwifters for the RIDE ONS). I'm doing tough runs and a lot of strength training.

Losing out on one race means that we have more time to prepare for a tough race.

I'm tired, often. I'm sore, often. I feel like I'm in an endless hunger pit.

We've changed up a lot, as far as training goes. I'm doing back to back to back to back swims now. I'm running more often, and the bike workouts...well...sitstandgrindforcemorepowermorepowermoremoremore.......THANK YOU ZWIFTERS for the RIDE ONS.

Although I haven't asked, I think she's doing this intentionally. There's a method to the madness, but I haven't the energy to inquire.

It goes back to something I've mentioned before. What do you do when you're tired? Do you quit? Do you back off? That is certainly what I want to do. But there's also that voice that reminds me, "this is the stuff that counts. Any damn fool can train when they're feeling fresh. Giving it everything when you're tired is something that not everyone is willing to do".

It's really easy to just get through a workout.

It's harder to give it your everything when your body wants to stop....and just....rest for a bit longer.

During today's run, 5k pace intervals on an incline (of course on an incline), I felt pretty decent. You know, "pretty decent" for the work I'm doing. I mean, my legs were screaming at me. My heart rate was over threshold. I was drenched when I finished the workout and so badly wanted to lay down when I remembered, "I have to swim".

The swim was brutal. Liz gave me a form swim instead of swimming masters today. Form = easy, but there was nothing easy about it. In fact, lately all my swims have been a struggle.

I went, and I struggled through it. I struggled to hit my intervals. I thought about backing off a little bit, but I didn't. As I was swimming, I remembered that every time I have a few tough swims in a row, I have a huge breakthrough.

My time for a breakthrough swim is coming, but to get there, I have to hold on right now.

My time for a breakthrough race is coming, but I have to hold on right now.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The misunderstood cyborg

"Don't think. Be a machine, Tea. Be a machine."

Liz said those words to me 4 years ago.


I was reminded of this because Mr. Tea and I had conversation. I said, "Liz is really pushing me, right now. I'm doing more at this time than I have done in the past".

Mr. Tea replied, "She's trying to figure out if you're a cyborg".


When Mr. Tea speaks, I listen. Am I that misunderstood? Do I make it seem like this is easy for me? Do I not complain enough about being tired or sore? Should I talk more about how I felt like I couldn't pedal one more stroke during that ride? Should I mention how much planning I have to do to get this all to work? Even then, it rarely goes to plan?

I'm a true morning person. Not the kind that sets an alarm and gets up to be at 6am masters. I go to bed early, naturally, and I'm up hours before sunrise (without setting an alarm). I didn't know I was a morning person until (our youngest) JMan moved out. Back then, my schedule was dictated by our sons' school, sports & other activities.

Mr. Tea, on the other hand, is not a morning person.

Mornings are my best times. Since I'm up early, no one is at work, and Mr. Tea isn't even awake, I can accomplish a lot.

Interestingly, I'm not an early morning workout person. I struggle to get up and start training.

I know this....I'm far from being a cyborg.

Instead of training, I work.

From 4 or 5am to 8am, I work. Around 8am, I do my first workout. When I'm done, I work again. When I'm at a point I can take a break, I do my second workout. Then, I work again. Because I'm up so early, my workouts (with the exception of strength training) are done by 1pm.

Because of the nature of my job and my work schedule, I don't necessarily work 8 hours a day, but I do work 7 days a week. Thursdays and Fridays are my long workout days because I have a shorter work day. Saturdays and Sundays are shorter workouts because I work most of the day.

My schedule is often tighter than I'd like it to be. That's why I schedule out my meals during the week.

Yesterday was a good example of how NOT a cyborg I am. I was supposed to get to the grocery store on Thursday. I knew we were low on food. I was so tired after my workouts, I skipped the store.

I got through Friday ok.  Then, I had a long run on Saturday. The day after long workouts, I tend to be hungrier than normal, and I had a long run.

I got home from my run. We had no food in the house. I had a protein shake to hold me over, so I could figure out what to do. Just then, Mr. Tea walked in the door with a bowl of Turkey chili from Panera, "I knew you'd be hungry when you got home".  That's why he's the Best Man.

That was lunch. It filled me for a bit. Then, we had Googs 23rd birthday lunchner. I was very very hungry at that point and threw down more pizza than you'd actually think a person could eat.

When we got home, I know my carb (and not the good kind) count is through the roof, but my protein intake was low for the day.

We went to the store and picked up enough food to get through Tuesday. I made some quick lettuce wraps (bibb lettuce and chicken) to get in more protein.

I have a hard bike and strength training planned for Sunday. My hope was to get in enough good stuff, so I can handle the bike.

It's not my nature to complain.

I've learned that some of my best workouts are when I'm sore, and I doubt that I'll be able to do anything.

I've learned that some days that effort > pace.

I've learned that training while tired is exactly the point.

I've learned to be nice to myself.

Recently, someone said to me, "You're lucky that you can train in the middle of the day. Having your own business must be really nice".

I thought to myself, "Is it also really nice that I have to pull money from my own bank accounts to keep the business running when bad times hit?"

We are all fighting our own battles. This isn't easy for anyone. Because I don't complain, doesn't mean I'm not facing my own challenges.

I'm not a cyborg. I'm human. Every day, I get up and do the best I can with the hours I have.

It's not easy, but it is simple.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

I'm back....sort of

As you may know, I have a love/hate relationship with social media. Back in the first half of 2014, I closed my Instagram & Twitter accounts and temporarily deactivated my FB account.

I'm a pretty private person (yeah, right? A BLOGGER?). I have always set my privacy settings as high as I could get them. I use FB as a messenger service (which saves me from giving out my cell number) and as a way to keep up Team MSM's activities. I also post blog updates to a very small group of people.

I have a Twitter account. I only use it for Coach Liz's updates. She posts the latest and greatest in training and mental strategies from the experts.

Of course, snapchat....which is fun as hell.

Strava....because.....it took over for FB back in day. People used to post their workouts on FB. Googs once made a comment about posting my workouts on FB. I realized that he was right. No one cares about my workouts on FB. Strava took that over. I can post about my workouts, talk trash with the best of them & know that we're all managing training & life. I get so excited for people when they knock out a huge workout or PR a race. When things don't go your way, your Strava fans will give you support when you most need it. When Mr. Tea and I went through that rough time last year, it was hard for me to get workouts done. The Strava athletes were there when I needed help getting through workouts.

Finally, there's Instagram. Of all of them, Instagram was my favorite because of the lack of political posts. Today, I decided to go back to Instagram. I opened up my old account. (I had deleted everything back in 2014).  I haven't figured out exactly how I want to use it. There have been a lot of updates since 2014, so there's some re-learning on my part. I can't guarantee that I will post anything very exciting, but I'm back......sort of.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

What I eat.

Another break from the alphabet to talk about food.

Every week, I get at least two messages asking me what I eat. I feel a little weird writing about this, but ok.

Here you go. Here is a snapshot of what I eat. At the end of the post, I talk about how I make it all happen.

A few things you should know:

I primarily eat organic and pasture raised. Not always. Whenever possible.

I am training ~12 hours a week now. This snapshot is from a day that I trained for 2 hours.

Immediately upon waking up:
1 BiPro protein water

Within an hour of waking up, Breakfast:
Egg sandwhich:
1 egg
1 slice of cheese
a ton of kale
1 slice of Golden age boule bread (1 slice is HUGE)
Half and half for coffee
1 piece or one cup of fruit (whatever is in season)

This breakfast (and the Bipro) is roughly 551 calories. I don't count calories. This is to give you an idea of how my day goes.

Second breakfast:
This depends on my training schedule. I have a number of smoothies that I drink when I need something fast or that I need to bring in my car on the way to swim.

On days I swim:
Pina colada smoothie with paleo pure egg white protein powder.
The smoothie consists of:
.5 c pineapple
.25 c of shredded unsweetened coconut
juice from either 1/4 or 1/2 a lime.
1 tsp of maple syrup
1 scoop of paleo pure protein powder
.5c full fat coconut milk

The smoothie has ~320 calories

On days I don't swim, I have a regular meal:
Chipotle seasoned chicken
brocoli
roasted sweet potatoes
1 fruit

~365 calories

Lunch:
Ground turkey tacos
small corn tortillas, ground turkey, hot pico (tomatoes, onions, etc.)
1 fruit

Afternoon tea:
Turkey chili
1 fruit
mixed nuts

~585 calories

Dinner:

Ground turkey burger seasonsed with shredded zucchini, garlic powder, ginger & tumeric
1 slice of cheese
I put it on top of a bed of power greens (kale, spinach, arugula, etc. It's one of those premixed bags).
Sweet potatoes

384 calories

Bedtime snack:
Chicken lettuce wraps. Seasoned chicken in bib lettuce.
150 calories.


I know what you're thinking, "I don't have time to cook all that".

Neither do I.

I present you with:
How I make these meals happen.


Sundays are prep days. I cook all sweet potatoes on Sunday. Then, I easily have it to just heat up.
Chili or soups (which I make a lot) are great for separating into individual portions. (I make soups like turkey meatball soup or other types of meatball meals.)

Some stores sell pre-cooked seasoned chicken breast. If it's available, I pick it up. Otherwise, make the chicken on Sunday also. A quick maranade is tabasco & lime juice. That's my go to seasoning, but you can use anything really. Experiment.

I pre-chop veggies on Sundays, so they are ready to go. (Kale is chopped and ready each morning. Broccoli, also....or use frozen).

I also keep deli turkey on hand and make sandwiches. It's a really fast meal when I'm crazy hungry.

I also make no sugar, protein muffins which are so delicious. I bake on Sunday and freeze them for the week.

During the week, when I make turkey burgers, I make extra. Then, I have those in the fridge for when I need a quick meal.

There you go. There's nothing magical about what I eat.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Oops I did it again: 10k race report


Yesterday on the MSM FB page, an athlete made the comment that Liz is as much a life coach as she is a tri coach. If you aren't part of the group, I highly recommend that you join. You don't have to be coached by the MSM coaches to join. You don't have to see yourself as an athlete. Her scope goes beyond swim, bike, run.

I'm mentioning that because it is so true on every level. The greatest gains I have made are on the mental side. Liz has given me that edge.

She has taken me from an athlete who didn't know what would happen on race day to someone who owns the day.

One of the most helpful things we have done, she calls, "resetting".  Without giving away her trade secrets, the general idea is if you are riding at 90% FTP, she'll interject intervals of +110FTP.  If you are running 400m intervals, she'll interject 100 or 200m intervals. (Those are my own made up examples. They aren't short pops. They are true intervals).

The point of doing this is to reset your mind as to what you think is hard. We do this regularly; 90% FTP might feel hard, until you do 110%. When you go back to 90%, it's not so bad.

Over the last few weeks, we have been doing this with incline repeats. She's been having me run threshold pace on increasing inclines. The workouts have been incredibly tough and mentally trying.

Fast forward to yesterday, I had my first standalone 10k in years. My PR at the 10k was 1:01:25. It's been a longstanding PR.

Before my race, Liz dropped me a note saying, "I'd like to talk about this race". That got my attention because I'm thinking "this is just a run. Why do we need to talk"?

The fact is, when we set my goals for the year, one of them was learn how to run a 10K.  I have a history of running a 5k and fading fast.

We talked and came up with a plan. This time, it was more of Liz telling me what she wanted me to do. That helped me immensely because I trust her. I know she's going to give me the best plan of action.

My plan was simple: 2.5 miles easy, 3 strong, .7 all out.

All week, I was trying to figure out what 2.5 easy would be. Should I look up my last PR? NO. You're not that person anymore.

I had a stroke of brilliance. My incline repeats have been at 6% at a 9:47 pace. My goal will be to start at 9:47 pace. If I'm running 9:47 at 6%, I should be able to do that at a race for the entire time.

Keep in mind, I have no idea what finish time that will give me. I thought, my effort will go up throughout the race. Holding that pace will be hard enough.

I'm no dummy. I know that last mile was going to be unpleasant.

My goals for the race:
1.) Finish before the awards ceremony start. Granted this is out of my control. Still, it would be fun to accomplish it.
2.) Follow the plan, so I don't get in trouble.

For the first 2.5 miles, I stuck with my plan. I was right around the 9.47 mark. I surge on the hills and took advantage of the downhills. There's one hill on this course. I kept saying, "There's no way this hill is 6%. RUN IT HARD".

And, I did.

When I passed the 3.1 marker, I did a system check and thought, "I feel pretty good. I'm going to be able to pick up the pace".  I couldn't believe I was feeling as good as I was. I had no idea what the time was when I passed the 3.1 marker.

Again, I know it's not going to feel super great for long.

At this point, I realized that I could pick up the pace. I set a goal of getting faster for each mile with .7 going all out.

I was going to hit the hill again at mile 5. The second time around, I ran it harder than the first.

I ran the downhill as hard as I could.

With the last .7, I start chugging. I looked ahead and wondered if I could catch a guy in a blue shirt. It took me about .25 miles to pass him. Then, I saw another guy. I wondered if I could catch him. I caught him at about 5.75 miles.
 
I had one more person to catch. A woman was a bit ahead of me. With about .2 miles to go, I was going as hard as (I think) I could. I have no idea if I ever caught her. I had no idea what my finish time was. I was focused on my task RUN HARD. 

I crossed the finish line and had to hold onto the fence. I was dizzy. I couldn't stand up.

Then, I heard, "We're getting ready to start the awards ceremony". I looked at my Garmin so fast. If they started on time, that meant I ran sub 1 hour for the first time ever.

My finish time was 59:19 with an average pace of 9:33 beating my goal of 9:47.  That means I ran faster today than I did at my 5 mile race a few weeks back.

I wasn't trying to get a PR. I just plain did it. I followed the plan, and the result was just over a 2 minute PR, or +:20 per mile.

I had a super secret goal of hitting 9:30 pace. I barely missed it.
 
All I wanted was to hold a 9:47 pace, and here I averaged 9:33.  

I was so excited to see a longstanding PR finally happen that I was was overcome with emotion. All winter long, I've been telling Liz that my fitness gains are hiding under layers of winter clothes, fighting winds and doing balancing acts on snow and ice. 

I knew I was going to see it happen. It takes so much patience to put in the work every day and not know when you will have the opportunity to shine. 

Yesterday was my day. 

It was a huge step for me. On the drive home, I realized what it meant in terms of my big goals. 

THAT little 10K meant that I'm on track. 

I'm right there. I'm right on the edge of reaching my goals, and I'm still 6 months out from my biggest race.
 
 







Thursday, February 9, 2017

Knowledge is power

This post will not be very interesting to 99% people reading. I beg you to read it.

PLEASE.

DVT (deep vein thrombosis) and pulmonary embolism is becoming a growing problem for endurance athletes.

I want to talk about this because historically it was something that primarily affected overweight & sedentary people.

If you are a woman and take birth control pills, you have a greater chance of getting one or both. Please take extra precautions.

This is an issue of life or death. Recovery takes a very long time. If you are an endurance athlete, your plans will be put on hold for a year.

A YEAR.

Last September, Mr. Tea went to the emergency room. They rushed him to the hospital with pulmonary embolism. (Mr. Tea was overweight and sedentary).

He almost died. the doctors told me that if he didn't go to the emergency room, he probably wouldn't have made it through the night.

PE is a silent killer. Typically, people will say, "Something is off. Something doesn't feel right".

Why are more an more athletes suffering from PE?

Endurances athletes tend to have very low heart rates which means very low blood pressure. Dehydration then thickens the blood. Thick blood + low blood pressure is a dangerous combination. Blood can pool and clot in the veins. Often times after a race, an athlete will sit around either in a car for a road trip home or on a plane for a flight home. With dehydration, low blood pressure and no movement, this becomes a deadly combination.

In addition to this, athletes who have had an injury are at a greater risk of getting blood clots, particularly PE.

How do you know if you have a blood clot?

Take a look at this article from the Mayo Clinic.

I want to stress this point. BECAUSE YOU ARE NOT COUGHING UP BLOOD DOESN'T MEAN YOU DON'T HAVE A BLOOD CLOT.

Mr. Tea did NOT cough up blood until he was several weeks into recovery.

What can you do to avoid getting blood clots?

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, especially after a race.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate during road trips and flights.

Stop every hour and get up and move for a few minutes. I do a lot of road trips. I usually stop at rest stops and either walk or jog around the parking lot.

On flights, stand up. If you can, walk up and down the aisles. If you can't, write the alphabet with your foot, bounce your legs up and down. Do something that moves your legs. If you can avoid it, don't cross your legs.

Wear compression socks during these times (and after hard effort workouts). Please note: wear compression socks not sleeves. Sleeves cut off at the ankle and can cause swelling or pooling of blood, which as you now know....is very bad.

Compression socks, however, have been shown to increase blood flow. We have learned a lot about compression over the past few months. (If you have blood clots, your doctor will probably recommend compression socks).  The socks should not be uncomfortable. If they are painful at the top or cause pain anywhere, they are too tight. Most athletic compression socks are a lighter weight compression. You probably won't have problems. If you have a health issue, you can get them custom made for you and your particular issue.

The bad news is that DVT and PE can be deadly.

The good news is that we can make very small changes to prevent getting them.

These are simple, easy steps you can take to avoid getting them.


Here's the update on Mr. Tea.

After weeks of twice a day shots and about 2 months of restricted diet and overall pain, he started walking.

Since his PE (which likely started as DVT), he has lost 90lbs. He has less than 40lbs to go. He was on high blood pressure medication. Last week, his doctor told him that in another 10lbs, he will likely go off of BP medicines.

His activity is restricted to walking. He is supposed to walk as much as possible. He walks ~20 minutes, twice a day. When he was first diagnosed, he could barely walk from couch to fridge; breathing was that difficult and painful.

He is still on blood thinners, which means he has to be careful about a number of things: falling, getting a cut, anything that can cause internal bruising or bleeding.

For the past 6 months, he has been to the doctor on a regular basis for monitoring.

He will soon have his follow up appointment with his blood doctor. (We call her that. She is actually one of the best Cancer doctors in CO). At that time, they will run a bunch of tests to determine if he needs to remain on blood thinners for another 6 months or if he can move to an aspirin routine. He will have to take a daily aspirin every day for the rest of his life.











Sunday, February 5, 2017

J is for Journey

"You're obsessed".

"You're too hard on yourself".

"You'll never make it".

"You should swim with that other (slower) group".

"You shouldn't train like that. It's not good for a woman's body".

At one time or another, people have said these things to me (and a whole lot more).

I have taken "well meaning" advice with a smile and a nod.

I have listened to my "form" being critiqued by people who see themselves as experts.

I have overheard people talking about me when they thought I had already left.



Being an athlete isn't for the weak.

People can talk.

People can criticize.

People don't realize....



I don't care what they think.

This is my journey and mine alone. I don't have to explain myself to anyone. 



This journey is constant and ever changing. As we grow and hit new obstacles (a new level of pain, a new pace that we can't seem to get passed), the time comes when we figure it out. We breakthrough to a new level that we've never been to before.

A week ago, I had (once again) the hardest run I've ever done. Liz and I are preparing for a very difficult race. That means strength workouts disguised as bike workouts. I'm running ridiculous inclines at 10k paces.

A week ago, I gave up. I saw the workout. Before it even started, I had given up. Sure enough. The workout was a failure.

In one week, I had a bike and a run failure. I was really pissed off at myself.

I looked ahead to see what was on my plan for Sunday (today). It was the same workout but harder than last week. It was harder than the workout that I failed.

All week, I thought about the upcoming workout. I wasn't going to fail again.

That's easy to say when you're driving and your favorite song comes on the radio.  It's harder to do when you're getting ready to jump on the treadmill.

But, I had been angry all week long about that workout. I let myself down. I didn't trust myself.

Like the race where I was passed in the last half mile, that wasn't going to happen again.

Then this week, Tom sent me a message. He mentioned my old mantra "Eat pain".

The athletes, who are the best at this distance, take the pain better than anyone else.

I can be that athlete. 

I stuck my garmin in a cup holder, so I couldn't see it. I didn't want to see how much time I had left. I didn't want to see my heart rate. The interval will be over when it's over.

The only thing I need to control is effort and attitude.


As I started ramping up the incline, increasing speed, increasing interval length from 1 minute to 3 minutes to 5 minutes, I didn't think about how hard it was. I didn't think about how I couldn't do it. I thought to myself, "Feel the pain. Own it. Experience it fully, so it becomes familiar to you".

Eat that pain.

Do it better than anyone else.

The result was total workout domination.

A year ago, I couldn't have done that workout. Six months ago, I couldn't have done it.

This is my journey.

This year, I'm going out there to accomplish things I've never done before.

See you at the finish line.