Monday, April 17, 2017

Taper time

I kept this on the DL.

I'm racing on Saturday.

My first race of the year was cancelled, and I got all {{sadface}}. I found out the race was cancelled around Feb.

After about a month of thinking that my first race of the year wouldn't be until MAY. MAY! And feeling like I really do need as much practice as I can get.....

I talked to Liz about a race. She sent me an email with two simple words:

DO IT!!!

That race is this weekend. My training volume for sprints/olys tends to be very similar (or more) than your average triathlete's 70.3 training. So, I can go about my training with no one really noticing when I'm training or tapering or having a step back week. 

It's actually pretty cool. 

I kept the race on the DL for no particular reason. I race sooooo much that (again) most people can't really keep up with my race schedule. My friends who do long stuff, typically do 1-2 races a year. I race 6-8 times in 6-8 months...sometimes more.

Being that it's taper time, I had to send Liz my race plan. 

It was succinct.


 
 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Ask me anything

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to take part in the AMA on the Multisport Mastery Facebook page.

I was to talk about my experiences going from last to fast. When Coach Liz asked me to do this, I was so touched that she would think of me.

I was also really nervous. I kept thinking, "What am I going to say to people? I'm just me. Nothing special".

I was so afraid of having a "dud" conversation that I asked a few friends to stage questions. As it turned out, I didn't need the staged questions.

It was so much fun.

Here's the link to the conversation. You do not have to be an MSM athlete to be part of our group. You'll have access to great coaches and amazing athletes. Feel free to join the group. I don't think you have to be a member to see the conversation.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Overwhelming gratitude

The longer I do this sport, the more I appreciate some of the very special people in my life.

It's because they have such a profound impact on my life. I am so humbled by this sport. I am so honored to have these people in my life.

You may have read about a recent swim breakthrough that I had.

I had another one (a couple of days later).

I'll give you the short story. At the end of masters, my swim coach came over to me and asked if I'd want to do an 800m time trial. The pool was set up as long course meters. He was going to take my splits for me.

Of course, I said, "YES".

The plan for the time trial was to practice my race pacing. When I race in open water, my plan is to always go out as hard as possible, get to the front (or away from the pack), and then settle into a very hard/fast pace.

I've always been afraid of going too hard. Isn't that a fear we all have?

For the time trial, I decided to give it a try. Who cares if I slow down too much? It's my safe place. This is where I can take those risks, try things out before race day.

I went out like a bat out of hell. Every time, I hit the 100, Coach yelled out my paces, but I couldn't hear him.

The entire time, I kept my eye on the clock, but it didn't make any sense. The times/paces didn't make sense. I didn't judge myself on the times...I was either swimming crazy fast or crazy slow.....I left the labels behind and swam as hard as I could. When I was coming up on the 800, I thought, I think I have 100 more to go. So, I did another 100.

When I finished, Coach told me I did the 900 in 13:20. That's an average pace of 1:21 per 100 and a HUGE new PB.

And that was at the end of my masters practice. A practice, in which, I covered 3600m.

When I finished, we talked about my open water race strategy. He told me that my first 100 came in at a blazing fast 1:10, exactly what I want.

AND I MANAGED TO HOLD ON for the rest of the swim.

I had two other incidents this week. I had run intervals.

Because I do shorter races, I tend to bring my garmin but not look at it when I run intervals. It's really important to learn how to race to feel. For me, knowing my paces and heart rate can be an inhibitor. I use my Garmin selectively.

Liz and I have been talking a lot about running lately because something has been happening. We've seen gigantic jumps in my paces.

The goal for my run intervals was to get outside and run them on the track. The past few months of training have taught me more in regards to mental toughness than any months before.  So, when I got to the track, I knew I was going to run those intervals hard. (technically, they were builds. I didn't start super hard).

I blew away my previous times/paces.

I ran 1200's, 800's, and 400's paced perfectly and when I needed to go harder, I went harder.

I had the same thing happen for my 2 hour bike.

As I was pushing watts, I kept saying "Fearless". Fearless, as in I'm not giving in. Not this time. Not next time.

I was telling Liz about this change.This is a really big thing for me. I'm not afraid of pain. I'm not afraid of going too hard.

She told me that I've expanded my comfort zone.

I realized she was exactly right. I'm now most comfortable at the top edge....or as some people call it "redlining".

This is a first for me. I can get to a high level of output and hold it. It has nothing to do with physical ability.

It has everything to do with mental toughness.

This is a level of toughness that I've not had before. I wouldn't have it if it weren't for the coaches in my life who constantly work with me, teach me, push me to give my best and believe in me.

That's where the overwhelming gratitude comes in. I'm so humbled by the fact that they believe in me so much, to give me so much of their time.

The results I'm getting are because of them. They've helped me get where I am today.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

From last to fast


I've been struggling in the pool lately. I've been tired and sore and haven't been able to hit any of my normal paces.

This has been going on for weeks. It's been so tough that I surrendered my lane leader role and told the lane that I can't go by pace. I'll give the best effort (sound familiar?) I can and take whatever rest is scheduled. 

The struggle is real. It's hard, and it can really frustrating.

I knew, I KNEW, if I kept at it....kept giving everything I could even though my paces weren't there.....eventually I'd have a breakthrough swim.

Days went by. Weeks went by. I had nothing to show for it, except a growing frustration.

I showed up for masters swim yesterday and looked at the schedule. Great. USRPT (ultra short race pace training) was the training for the day. AWESOME. Another day of of struggling.

At the end of the workout, we had to do 15 x 75's.

My Coach came over to me and said, "Tea, I want these done in 1:00".

I stood there in disbelief. My PR at the 75 was 1:08. That was for ONE interval, and I haven't been able to hit that for a couple of months.

I rolled my eyes and replied, "You realize that my PB is 1:08, right"?

Coach (who is not in the least intimidated by my eye roll) says, "Trust your body. You can do this".

My mind was filled with "but this....and that....and but.....but....I'm tired.....but....I haven't been able to hit any paces in weeks".

I kept my mouth shut.

I turned to my lanemates.  They said, "You're leading. There's no way we can hit that time".

Rather than argue with Coach and my lanemates, I said, "Ok. Interval time 1:20. We'll do the best we can. If anyone misses the interval (thinking it would be me), the next in line takes the lead and the person who misses skips the next one".  (This is how the workout is structured. If you miss your goal time, you sit out an interval, swim an easy 25 to get back with the group. The extra rest is meant, so you can hit your goal for the next intervals).

Let's do this. On the top.

As soon as I took off, I felt different than I have in months. Every stroke was powerful. My kick timing was right on with my stroke.

When I'm swimming inefficiently and wrong, I can feel it, but I can't figure out how to fix it.

Yesterday, I was swimming as well as I could, and I felt it.

I hit the wall in 1:02.

That was a :06 PB at the 75. Of course, I thought, "One and done. There's no way I can do that again".

Then BAM. It happened again. BAM. Again. Over and over, I kept coming in exactly at 1:02, 1:01.....even 3 in 1:00.

The rest of the lane slowed down a chose a slower pace. My friend said, "I can't do this. I don't know what's wrong with me". I told her, "You'll get there. Come in every day and give what you can. You'll get through this".

At the end of the intervals, Coach came over and asked if I hit the intervals. I said, "Yes. I did."

A smile spread across his face as he could see my disbelief.

I have never been so excited about any race or any PR as I was about this PB in the pool yesterday.

It's because I have NO swimming background. I taught myself how to swim using videos.

At my first sprint race, I don't believe I was the last swimmer to exit the water, but I had a canoe escort bring me in (which is what they do with the last swimmers).

At the time, I was swimming about a 3:00 per 100 pace. Yesterday, my time came anywhere between 1:20 and 1:22, which was PB in the 100. My previous best was 1:25.

But, the part that really gets me excited is how this will translate to open water. Last year, I was swimming 1:35's in the pool and 1:20's in open water.

I finished the swim and practically rushed to get out of the pool. I wanted to tell Liz. When I started with her, I was swimming 1:50's. I've now shaved off about :30 per 100.

When it's comes to swimming, there are few people who really understand how much dedicated work it takes to become a better swimmer. Even Mr. Tea. He see's me come out of the water, but he doesn't really get 1:20 per 100, etc. That's because open water swimming has a number of issues: currents, water temps, sun, etc. All of those factors can dramatically change a pace.

So, I sat in my car. I'm sure I had the biggest smile I've ever had.

I'm so excited.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Shaken confidence


I wasn't going to write about this because it seems like a small issue. Then I thought, maybe it was one of those things that every person has to deal with at some time.

Saturday, my confidence was completely shaken.

My races this year have very difficult bike courses. I did this intentionally. The olympic course of Nationals has one climb that we hit twice. Now, this hill isn't substantial for someone who lives and trains on hills.

But, I have a bigger goal on my radar. 

In order to reach that goal, I chose a race schedule that is filled with hills.

In order to race well, we have been doing all new types of bike training.

I saw Saturday's workout. I set it up in Zwift. I looked it over and thought, "a 1 hour and 15 min workout. Ok. I can do that". 

A short workout means there will be some serious intensity. I had 4 intervals to get through.  This is my bread and butter. This is the stuff I love. I don't cringe when I see these workouts. I look forward to them.

When I was 2 minutes into the first interval, I started thinking, "I'm not going to make it through this workout". 

During the recovery, I thought, "WHAT IS THIS WORKOUT"?

WHY is it so hard?

The second interval hit. I check my power. I check my HR. Everything is where it needs to be, but I feel like I'm going to pass out.

There has to be something wrong with me. I can't keep going like this. I need to drop power.

Just keeping pushing. Keep pedaling.

For the last 2 intervals, I used every single mental strategy I had to get through. I was counting down intervals. I was saying, "You can do anything for 7 minutes...anything for 6 minutes. Only 5 minutes left. Chase down that guy".

I was repeating, "You've got this".

On the last interval, my legs were burning like they never burned before. With every rotation, the voice in the back of my head was there saying, "This shouldn't hurt so bad. There's something wrong with you".

At the end of the last one, I collapsed on my aerobars, unable to even spin the pedals. My legs were shaking. My arms were shaking, and I had sweat running off my face like a river.

As I recovered and started my cooldown, I started analyzing the ride. Why was it so hard? What am I going to tell Liz? "I did it, but I didn't do it well".

I stared at the treadmill. For the first time I can remember, Liz gave me an out, "OPTIONAL OFF THE BIKE RUN".

I sat there and debated skipping it.

For no reason, except that I was so tired, so very tired. I couldn't even think of attempting to run.

I sat on the edge of the treadmill.

I remembered something. Back in 2008, I was training for Ironman CDA.  There was a day that I wanted to give up. I was on the trainer for hours upon hours. JMan came down to check on me. I told him that I was thinking of quitting.

He replied, "So. Are you just going to quit? Are you going to do that in your race, too? Just get off the bike and walk back"?

That day, I kept going.

I sat on the edge of the treadmill and started getting my shoes on. I started running.

I thought of something that Liz said to me years before, "Your legs won't feel like they are there, but they are. You have to trust your body".

Step by step, I kept going. My legs never felt good; in fact, they felt about as bad as they could feel. I never felt "energized", but my pace and heart rate were right where they needed to be.

I could only think of one thing, "If you don't fight for this now, you are giving yourself permission to quit down the road".

I finished the run. I laid on the couch and thought about the workout. No sense of satisfaction. No feeling like a bad ass fighter. No sense of a job well done; just the feeling of being thankful that I was done.

A few hours later, and after I ate and recovered, I typed up my notes to Liz, telling her everything that went through my head.

The very first thing she said was, "tea, this is an extremely difficult workout". She explained how it was going to help at my races.

There was a lot going on in my head on Saturday. I pulled from every single mental strategy I had to get through the workout.

But this is what I want YOU to know, when you think you are at wit's end; when you think you have absolutely nothing left to give........You ALWAYS have more to give.

Training won't always be pretty. Some days, it will be downright ugly, but ugly counts.



Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The end of an era

The end of an era and a new beginning.


As I look back over my time in triathlon, I can see where (for lack of a better word) one chapter ended and another began.

It's not that all those times were monumental. They represented change or a new outlook or something like that.

I think I'm heading into my next new beginning. There are things I'd like to accomplish that I wasn't ready to tackle until now. It's simply because of growth. We all have goals. But reaching those goals takes a plan and steps along the way.

You can't be a podium finisher with the mindset of a middle of the pack athlete. You can't be a World Champion with the mindset of a podium finisher. With each level that we go for, we change. We become better.

It's a long process.

Some of the goals that I've set for myself for this year are things that weren't really on my radar even last year. That's because I wasn't ready for them.

"You aren't given a wish without also the ability to make it true".

That means, as we grow, our dreams can change.

While my big goals are out there on the horizon, I'm taking my smaller goals and making them bigger.

Liz has helped me get to a new level.

When it's my turn, I will shine.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

From here to there

Back in Nov, Liz made a comment about the difference between triathletes and runners (or triathletes with a strong/competitive running background).

I'm sure the comment was an off the cuff observation that she's seen over years of coaching.

That little OTC (off the cuff) comment has stayed with me. Even though it might not be earth shattering for a lot of people, it was something that I'd never thought of before. Honestly, I didn't really think there was a difference. After all, triathletes are runners, right?

For months, I have been working on moving from "here to there". It's a bit of a mindset change. 

Change doesn't happen overnight. It's the result of a bunch of little steps put together. Some days, I think, YES...I'm almost there. Other days, I head back to the drawing board. 
Remove the word "sacrifice" and replace it with "investment".


I know it's up to me to figure out how to get there in my day to day training. 

Three and half years with her, and she still says things that make me stop to think.