Saturday, March 17, 2018

You're fuckin' with a cabbage

Feeling inspired doesn't even cover my current mood.

Yes. That is definitely more appropriate.

In the past month, I've gone from lost to found. Before, I wasn't really sure what I was going to do this year.

During one particularly hard bike session, it came to me. This will be the Year of Strong.

Strong in every way possible. 

It's starting to show. I think the universe sends us signs, and I'm listening.

I have to give credit where credit is due. Everything that is happening because of other people.


Coach Liz has me work with a trainer. I also have a massage therapist who is a cross fit coach. Between the two of them, I have been hitting weights hard and have been giving my muscles much needed recovery. Three times a week.

In order to make strength gains, it doesn't matter if you do heavy weights and low reps or high reps and light weights. The single most important thing is that you go to failure

By now, you know that I embrace failure. 

I do the plan from Liz's trainer. I do the specific exercises from my massage therapist (rolling, stretching and targeted strength training).

The result is that I'm stronger than I've ever been.

Raising my own bar.

Probably the craziest thing that has happened has to do with swimming. 
First of all, a woman (now a friend) joined masters late last year. She is an incredible swimmer and (prior to moving to Denver) she was a swim coach in Vegas.  She should be swimming in some of the fastest lanes, but we just clicked....and she swims with me, in my lane.  She pushes me. She coaches me. She's my secret weapon.

Second, a new guy showed up at masters about a month ago. He and I clicked IMMEDIATELY. He is one of the funniest, most intelligent men that I have ever met. He reminds me so much of my Googs (my oldest son). They are very close in age, too. I didn't know what his background was. All I knew was that he is sick fast, and he does things I've never seen another swimmer do.  He's another swimmer who should be swimming with the big guns. But he doesn't. He swims with me. 

Yesterday, he told me he was a Navy Seal and former All American swimmer.  Of course, I said, "Well, I'm a triathlete. So. There."

He replied, "You're a triathlete? Now, I'm REALLY going to push you".  

(He didn't act like it externally, but I'm pretty sure he was secretly super impressed).

Third, my friend Mike is back in the picture. Mike and I had become good friends. We'd swim masters together. We'd do open water swims together. He is another very very fast swimmer. He left our masters team and started dating a non-swimming woman. We saw each other less and less often.

This week, he came back to masters. 

When I say these people are very fast. I mean VERY fast. They can all swim 1:00 per 100's. I can't even get my head wrapped around this. I don't even know why they swim with me.....except for my striking good looks and charasmatic personality.

For the past month, I have been swimming my heart out at masters, trying, and often failing to keep up. 

The result was that I dropped my swim pace from 1:27 to 1:19. I dropped my pull pace from 1:18 to 1:10. These paces are from 250's not 100's.

So, the other masters swim coach asked, "Are you shooting for a 1:30 pace?"

I said, "No. I'm shooting for 1:20 or better".

He said, "We'll see about that".

I swam a 1:14.

When it comes to swimming, don't be a leader. Be a follower. Do everything you can to hold on to faster swimmers. Take breaks if you need them, drop a 50 here and there to keep up. Wear fins, use paddles. Do everything possible to keep up with fast people.

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.

I'm getting stronger. My bike power is improving (still chasing 4%). My swim has taken off.

What about running?

During my particularly dark time, I lost my love for running. Since I've been running for over 30 years, I know that my relationship with running is a lot like my relationship with people. We'll go through good times and bad times, but I don't give up on someone I love.

Liz and I have a completely different plan for running. I'm running less often. 

At first, I didn't even enjoy easy runs. I did them anyway. I ran without technology. I just ran.

There were some intensity to the workouts, but Liz told me, "Run however you feel that day. If you want to run easy, just run easy".

For awhile, that's what I did. I would attempt an interval or 2 and realize my heart and the speed was truly.....not.there.

But, I ran. Whenever she scheduled a run, I ran. 

Then, I started to enjoy running easy again. I started looking forward to those runs.

This week, I had more intervals. I failed the first two. I stopped and thought for a minute. I said, "All you have to do is run as hard as you can for 1:00. You can do that. 1:00 is all I'm asking."

The craziest thing happened. It worked. 

I ran for 1:00 at a time as hard as I could. I ran faster than I have in a very very long time. Although, I'm not sure. It might be the fastest intervals I've EVER run. 

If my race schedule is up in the air, what's the point?

The point is that this is the Year of Strong. I am becoming physically and mentally strong.

When I race, I know what I'm going to focus on for each race. I'm not out to impress anyone. I don't care if someone thinks I'm fast or slow or in between. I'm not out to podium. I don't care where I place. I'm not racing to prepare for Nationals. 

I'm racing for me. 

Sunday, March 11, 2018

12 years a triathlete

If it doesn't challenge you,
it doesn't change you.

A couple of months ago, I mentioned the book Chasing Excellence.  It's a book that really spoke to me because of the no bullshit approach. As a quick reminder, the book is about how crossfit champions become crossfit champions. I do not like self help books, but I loved this book.

I love inspirational quotes.

I love powerful songs.

But, quotes and songs don't cross the finish line.

To accomplish your goals, we always say, "It's the little things".Those little things are simple, but they are not easy to do.

I was one of those athletes who would always say, "Get ready for BIG things from me this year". "This year is going to be HUGE".

I used to think improvements came in leaps and bounds.

This is my 12th year of triathlon. I took some time to look back over my career. I came to this sport with NO athletic background. I didn't know how to swim, and I didn't even own a bike. 

My entire triathlon story is about little steps. I've moved from the back of the pack to the middle to the front to the podium to making Team USA. 

Yet, there is not one single race that I can point to and say "THAT was it. THAT was my breakthrough race". Every year and every race, there were things that I did that built upon my previous years of racing.

If you want to qualify for a World Championship or podium at a World Championship, it will not happen overnight. It won't even happen in a year. It can take years to accomplish your goals. 

We all need BIG goals. More importantly, we need those smaller intermediate goals. Without the smaller goals, we have no plan to reach the big ones. It's sexy to talk about qualifying for Kona. No one wants to know about the boring, little things an athlete has to do daily to make that dream come true. 

Somewhere along the line, reality set in with me. I no longer talk in BIG terms. 

Nowadays, I think, "I would like to do X".  I know that in order to accomplish X, I need to go through T-U-V and W. 

I (now) know how much work it takes to get to those really BIG goals. 

This year, I am taking the opportunity to work on more of the little stuff. 

Because the little stuff is everything. 


On an unrelated note: If any readers want to follow me on Strava, please let me know in the comments. (No one can see your comment unless I approve it). I recently received a request from a guy in Italy. I deleted his request because I don't normally accept requests from people I don't know. He sent me a message saying, "I've been reading your blog for a few years".  

OH. Ok. Then. 

Sunday, February 25, 2018

A different plan

I have decided to scrap my race season.

I know what you're thinking.

But no, I'm being serious. All my races are off the calendar. It was a really hard decision to make, and I stressed over it all of January. 

Once I made the decision, it was like a huge weight was taken off of me. 

I made this decision a little over a month ago. I know this is the first time you are hearing this.

I can imagine you might be shocked and surprised to hear this.

But I have moved on.

A month ago, Liz and I had a long talk. I wrote a post here, maybe sometime in January. I talked about the struggles I was going through. (I have since taken that post down).

I realized that I couldn't handle the training load with everything that I am going through. 

She was incredibly understanding (as is her way). I told her that I needed a few weeks off to clear my head. 

I took a couple of weeks off and started back with Liz last week. 

Probably the weirdest part is going from 16-17 hours of training a week to basically going back into off season. Then, one morning I woke up and remembered that I didn't have to do anything. It felt so good. I knew right then that I made the right decision.

Liz and I talked about doing a bike focus. Right now, I want to do the stuff that I really love. I love the bike more than anything. My 2nd favorite is swimming. I have an awesome masters team. I adore my swim coaches, and it's a great mental break. Recently, I've been making huge gains in my swim. My 3rd favorite is running. 

I have a goal of getting to w/kg of 4% on the bike. I have been closing in on that goal. Step by step, with a strategic bike plan....I'll get there either this year or next.

This year will be a step back year, so to speak. I will continue to "train" with Liz. My plan is to work on my weaker areas.

I can't tell you how much I appreciate Liz right now. She was incredibly understanding when I took time off and completely changed course from long to short. 

Most importantly, I can't overstate how important it is to work with a coach, to have a collaborative approach to training. When I brought up the possibility of doing a bike focus, we came up with a plan together

Bike focus, it is. 

And let me tell you, she started in full on beast mode. My hardest workout of the week was so difficult that I couldn't quite hit the intervals. I hit the first one and the last one and parts of the middle ones. 

What Coach Liz says: This is a very hard interval.
What Coach Liz means: I'm going to rip off your legs and feed them to you. 

Of course, she responded with, "This is a great workout for you".

She's absolutely right. I know that it's hard to see workout failures as a positive thing, but that's exactly how I see it.

Growth only comes out of pain. Otherwise, we'll just stay the same. 

She gave me a workout that exactly hit my weakness. Now, we can address it. 

You see. Getting better at biking or running or swimming isn't about doing more. 

It's about doing the right types of workouts for you, to address your weaknesses, so those areas become stronger and stronger. 

Taking a year off might seem like a shock, but just think about how strong I am going to be after taking a year to work on my weaknesses.


Friday, December 1, 2017

Chasing Excellence

I think most of you know that I'm not a warm fuzzy person. I am a "tell it like it is" type. I can smell bullshit a mile away. Fake compliments? Faghedaboudid.

As you can imagine, I'm not really into self help books. There's nothing wrong with them. They just aren't my style.

I'll get back to that point.

It was time for me and Liz to talk about my race schedule for the year.  With my two A races set, I asked her what I should do between them.

She shot off her recommendations.

I put together a schedule.

Sent it back.

She said, "I'd add this......"

Ok. That's not what I expected but...

Back to the drawing board. I sent her my new race schedule.

With this race schedule there are so many things I want to accomplish. There are things in my way.  The big one is mental toughness.

I don't want you saying I'm a bad ass or anything of that because you're full of shit.

I went to Liz, and we talked about the issue(s) holding me back. She agreed that I lack mental strength.

Don't ask for feedback if you don't want to hear what you need to hear. 

I have no ego in this game. I ask for feedback because I want to be my best.

A few weeks back, I started I started working on it. During a long run, I came up with specific weaknesses. I came up with a plan to help me overcome them.

Then the universe sent me a message over Facebook.

I didn't even know the universe had an account, but there you go.

An article came up about Allie Kieffer. Do you know who she is? I didn't either. That's because all the excitement at the NYC marathon was about Shalane Flanigan. Allie was the 2nd American woman to cross the finish line with a PR of 26 minutes.

She was the one no one even saw coming.

Allie talked about a book she read called "Chasing Excellence".  Immediately, I had to look up the book. It's by Ben Bergeron; the Coach to 3 cross fit World Champions (women and men).

Like triathlon, crossfitters all come with their own strengths. Some are better at rope climbs. Some are better at running uphill carrying 120lbs of sand and on and on. They are all in the best shape of pretty much any other humans.

So what separates each of them at the Games (the CF world championship)? Mental toughness.

Self help book? Yes. But one that I could really grasp and relate to because of his no bullshit way. Yeah, there is a little bit of repetition throughout the book. In a way, I need that.

Right at the start, I realized that how I referred to myself, saw myself, defined myself was wrong. I had a self defeating mindset. (I have never put myself down or called myself dumbass or slow or old. But there are other ways, more subtle ways we can defeat ourselves without being terribly mean to ourselves).

I was hooked. Some chapters are things I already do. But other chapters are offering me ways to become mentally stronger. That's the point, right? If I was doing everything perfectly, I'd have already accomplished my goals.

Learning mental toughness is not easy. Learning to push past your preconceived limits is really really painful. But you know what's even more painful? Falling short of your goals.

This is truly my year of Chasing Excellence.

Sunday, November 12, 2017


The first time I do something I've never done before, it's a fluke. One off.

The second time I do the same thing

The third time I do something

When I repeat the same behavior, under fatigue....

Back in May or June, Liz and I were talking about run cadence. To put this in perspective, I was a plodder. My cadence would average about 160. The goal cadence is 180.

I knew how important it was. I was frustrated beyond belief. I didn't want to talk about it anymore. There were NO drills that could help me.

One day, Liz asked me exactly what the issue was.

I told her, "I'm unable to do it. I don't mean I have a mental block. I mean, I am physically unable to hold a fast cadence for more than a few seconds."

I thought she was going to tell me that I just wasn't working hard enough.

Instead, she said to me, "I think you have weakened muscles. That's why you can't do it. You've done nothing wrong. It's the result of having babies. Once those muscles are stretched out, they don't go back on their own. Other muscles become overactive to make up for the loss. We have to work on those muscles to get them to engage again. Most women don't".

She gave my a list of exercises to do 3-4 times a week.

I knew she was on to something when I couldn't even do several of the exercises.

During this same time, I had been working with my massage therapist. He had been working with me on running posture & working out some ridiculously tight areas. He gave me a list of stretches to do...with instructions to do them every day....just do what you can for 15 minutes a day.

For months, I've done the work.

I went back to my massage therapist. "We're making progress. That's good. Don't get frustrated. This can take a long time to fix".

I religiously did my Liz exercises. I continued stretching.

Then, one day when I was running, I noticed that I no longer had soreness in my butt when I ran.

It seemed like it just happened out of nowhere.

We continued with cadence drills. Nothing was changing.

BUT, exercises that I couldn't do at the start, I was now able to do.

Exercises that I was doing before with a band, I was now doing with a stronger band.

My cadence wasn't changing but I noticed significantly less fatigue when I ran.

Then, this week happened.

Out of nowhere, I ran and held 180+ cadence, without fatigue, without even thinking about it. The previous week, I was at 160-165.

Ok. I don't know where that came from.

It happened a second time.

Then, a third time.

The true test was today. My legs are crazy sore (very fatigued). I didn't set any expectations. I didn't label myself as good or bad. I went out there and ran.

Sore and tired, and I ran with a cadence of 180+.

SIX MONTHS after first starting to really address the issue. SIX MONTHS without seeing a direct change.

Throughout the whole process, I stayed focused. There were times when I thought I'd never make any progress.

Getting good at one sport takes a really long time. It can take years to become a top 10 age group swimmer. It can take years to go from a 1.86  w/kg on the bike to 3.4%.

When you're putting 3 sports together PLUS transitions PLUS nutrition? Well, getting good at triathlon take a really long time, a really long time.

Good things come to those who work for it.

One day, you'll wake up, and you won't even recognize yourself anymore.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Gettin' cut, gettin' butt

I took the month of October off. Lemme splain what that means and what it doesn't mean.

Taking the month off from training means Coach Liz and I said our emotional good-byes (not really). For the month, I did whatever I wanted to without being analyzed; without having to hit any zones; without hitting any paces.

Liz gave me guidelines "take AT LEAST X days off from running".

You don't have to tell me twice.

And, "Don't do any exercise longer than X"


And, "HAVE FUN".


It doesn't mean sitting on my ass doing nothing. 

The first week of Oct got a little crazy. I was on vacation. Since my race was 9/30, immediately after Mr. Tea and I went into FULL ON CRAZY MODE.

We ate dessert at every meal and sometimes FOR a meal. I knew we sunk to a new low, when I was under the covers, in bed, eating ice cream.

THAT'S how you do time off.

When we returned from vacation, I'd had about as much sugar as I could handle. I couldn't even think about having anymore junk.

I got right back into my normal eating habits.

Then, the end of the month rolled around.

It was my birthday.

And the peoples rejoiced.

My birthday weekend started on Friday. By Sunday night, I was exhausted. I couldn't laugh any more. I couldn't eat any more food. I was done.

I was ready to start training again. I was ready to start eating right again. 

That's how I know I've gotten enough rest (physical and mental).....when I'm excited about training again.

Liz and I started up again on Nov 1st.

WELCOME TO the "GETTIN' CUT, GETTIN' BUTT" portion of my training.

Liz and I walked through the next few months of training.

I believe I'm heading into a breakthrough year in 2018.

I sat down to jot down a few goals. Then, I wrote down my plan to get there.

I decided to lean down a bit. Lose some fat. During Oct, I started hitting the weights hard. I made a couple of other changes as well. I went back to my notes from when I worked with Dina. I decided that I could switch some things up and have a big impact on my body fat.

These changes had an immediate impact on my body composition. So much so that Mr. Tea even commented on it. I noticed my clothes were fitting looser and my ROKA swimsuits (which run ridiculously small) were no longer allowing butt chub to hang out.

I hopped on the bike and did an FTP test. My test blew away all other tests and was even stronger than back in 2015 when I lost over 26lbs.

I'm heading into a really great year, I tell you.

Given that we have a looooong race early in 2018, Liz thought it was best that we don't do a single sport focus. I have goals for this race. I shared them with Liz, and she said, "very doable".

I know that just because a goal is "doable" doesn't mean it will be easy. I told her what I felt my challenges would be with the race and where I would excel. She told me a few things that I'll need to be aware of for this particular race.

We have a plan. I wrote down what paces I need to train to in order to reach my goals. There are going to be times when I know that I'm going to doubt myself, like when fatigue sets in.

Here we go again. I'll be stepping on the emotional roller coaster in about a month. Are you ready for the ride?

Because, you about to see something you ain't NEVER seen before!

My Spirit Animal

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Sometimes, "giving up" IS the right answer

We live in a world where "giving up" is bad. We're supposed to be FIGHTERS and blast through any challenge/issue/problem that comes our way.

Guess what?

That's bullshit.  Sometimes, "giving up" is exactly what we need to do.

About a year ago, I read a blog. The post was supposed to be about how strong the athlete was because he fought through the urge to give up.

He has been doing triathlon for a long time, but he continues to have goals that are unrealistic for himself (today) at the age he is.

He had put so much pressure on himself to compete at the level he was back in the day, that he completely shut down his ability to hit ANY goals.

He was getting ready to give up triathlon, when he decided to do one last sprint.

He won the race.

Why? NOT because he didn't give up, but because that's precisely he did. He emotionally let go of who he used to be. He let go of those unrealistic goals. He raced in the moment for the sheer joy of racing. Without that pressure, he raced to the best of his ability for where he was right now. 

Everyone was congratulating him on his ability to fight through it. I was thinking the exact opposite. I believed that his success happened because he did in fact "give up". He gave up an unrealistic expectation of himself. People don't want to see themselves as quitters. "NEVER GIVING UP" means he's a winner, a champion. "Giving up" means he's a failure in our society.

I'm here to tell you that it's ok to give up. Sometimes, it can be the healthiest choice. It's not easy to do, and it requires a healthy dose of self-awareness.

Of course, we need to know when it is appropriate to give up.

It's ok to give up when:
1.) A goal is no longer personally important
2.) When a goal is unattainable

I'm not a psychologist. So, I went on the hunt to find out if there was any such thing as "giving up"  being a healthy option.

Lo and behold. The psychological term for this is goal disengagement.

We live in a world where we are supposed to continue working for a goal until it is achieved. But this is locking us up emotionally. We are stuck of this mode of having to reach a goal before moving on to the next.

This is creating a cycle of unhappiness-->I'm not acheiving this goal-->I'm a failure-->I'm unhappy because I'm not achieving this goal-->I'm a fighter-->I should be able to fight through this-->what's wrong with me.

There's nothing wrong with you other than the fact that the goal might no longer be important to you. It's time to let it go.

Bearing down on this goal means we are missing out on other goals or interests that we might want more. We are stuck, thinking we can't move on until we finish the initial goal.

Many times over the years, I have written that it is ok to change your goals. Changing a goal doesn't mean you are a failure. It means your life has changed or your desires have changed. A new goal is NOT a lesser goal. It is simply a different goal. In some circumstances, you need to accept that your goal is unattainable. This is probably the hardest one to get over. If you run 5ks at a 10:00 pace, you have to accept that your goal of running a sub 20 5k, is probably not attainable.

Setting goals is a different topic.There have been many articles written about the topic, by people much smarter than me.

For those of you who are new to my blog, last year, my husband Mr. Tea had a major health issue. The day he was rushed to the hospital, he was 321lbs.  Over the course of the year, he's lost 131lbs. He had a goal weight that he wanted to reach. He was never able to get there. His weight would bounce up and down over the same 10lbs.

One day, he said to me, "I'm not going to shoot for that goal anymore. I'm healthier now. I feel good at the weight I'm at. I'm just going to eat right right. Whatever my weight is, it is".

Guess what? Once he did that, he lost more weight, and his weight stabilized at a healthy point. No more up and down the same 10lbs.

Goal disengagement.

Give up to move on.

It wouldn't be right if I write this entire post if I didn't talk about what this means to me.

Sad to say, I fell into this trap. I was writing about "changing your goals is ok". Blah blah blah. I was the epitome of "do as I say not as I do".

I was in the trap but didn't even realize it.

I have been racing short course for a number of years now. I set two goals a few years back.

I wouldn't even consider Ironman until:
1.) My sons had moved out.
2.) I hit X time at the 70.3
3.) I hit X time at the oly distance.

The times that I set were not unrealistic at all. However, I had clamped down on them. I absolutely would not attempt an Ironman until I met those goals.

YET, those goals were completely arbitrary.

I made up those goals.

Time goals are the worst goals to have in triathlon. TRAIN to time goals, but the weather, the course, so many external factors come into play on race day.

There is no law or rule saying that we have to accomplish X before we move on to Y.

If I made them up, that means I can change them. I can change my mind. I can do something different.

And most importantly, I can return to those goals at a later date.

A goal deferred is not a goal defeated.

Once I realized and acknowledged that, I felt free. I was no longer under the weight of attempting and failing to meet a particular, completely arbitrary, random goal.

I wrote this post on purpose. I have decided to move in a new, exciting direction.

It's time for me to work on a new, completely different goal.

Twelve years after doing my first triathlon, I'm going to do an Ironman.