This was not a sunrise run, but it WAS the earliest I've been running in a very long time. Today, this week, however you want to look at it, is the beginning of my next phase. I didn't plan it that way. It just happened, which means, I am ready to move on. I don't really like calling it "the next phase". For lack of a better word, that's what it is. The first phase (Nov and Dec) was all about emotional recovery. I did what I wanted when I wanted. I slept more, skipped days and ate my share of baked goods. I realized that I had no desire to swim, so I didn't. I ran a little bit. I found myself riding more than I ever have, sometimes just easy and sometimes using harder effort Trainerroad workouts. I started strength training a lot. Now that the holiday season is over, and I feel like I'm in a good place mentally, I'm committed to adding more veggies back into my diet and running a bit more (3x per week). I'm signed up for the NCC through USA Triathlon, so any running mileage helps the team. The holiday is season is a blur of chaos, probably more for us small business owners who are also in retail. NONE of this has been planned. None of this is intentional. But, taking time off Nov and Dec was the best thing for me. I have never believed in forcing things. I do things on my own time.
With this being a gap year for me, I was thinking how cool it would be for me to talk about the people in my life who had positive influences on me. These aren't in order of importance. I got this idea when I was cleaning out my closet of riding gear. I came across this cap.
It's only appropriate that I start with the Ranch Riders. Many years ago, there was a group of riders based in London. But, they were known to ride around the world. They would write up ride/race reports that were so entertaining. These were back in the good ole days of MySpace and blogs. I have no idea how we came to know each other. I can tell you that the Ranch Riders are one of the reasons I put so much work into the bike. When I first started riding, I knew NOTHING about riding. I knew a bike had 2 wheels and a chain.... but that was the extent of my knowledge. Being a new cyclist and seeing the way those guys and gal could ride, blew me away. They always seemed like they were having so much fun. I wanted that too. I watched YouTube video after video learning how to care for my bike. I remember when Jman and I spent HOURS and probably 5 tubes, learning how to fix a flat. I went to empty parking lots, so I could learn how to corner. Over the years, I lost contact with all of them, except one. They probably never realized the positive influence they had over this dork, newbie rider. I'm still a dork, but at least I can change a flat now. #windbeneathmywings
In my little world, I see things like this. Being active: Taking the stairs, parking in the last parking spot. Walking somewhere when you could drive. Riding your bike somewhere when you could drive.
Exercising: Making a conscious effort to move outside of being active. Taking a walk, going for a run, attending a class of some sort (martial arts, cross fit, TRX, yoga), without a performance goal at the end. (Although, there can be goals: wanting to do 20 pushups).
Training: The focus here is working on a performance goal. Training means following a plan, analyzing data or workouts, adjusting your nutrition to fuel for performance.
None of these are defined by hours of work.
Although, I see each of these in a progressive linear fashion, ie each one is a next step. Each of these is perfect. Each thing is exactly what you should be doing at different times in your life.
Many of you who read my blog nowadays have gotten bits & pieces of what has happened this year.
What you really need to know, is that 2018 was the worst year I've had in a very long time. I can't even think of another year, that was even close to 2018. In fact, every time something bad happens, I now respond with "because 2018".
Back in June or July, Coach Liz and I talked about how to continue my year. At that time, I decided to continue on with my very watered down training plan.
Looking back now, that was a mistake. I should have stopped all training. The stress took it's toll on me. I couldn't physically get through workouts.
Thank you to those of you who stuck with me; even when I was pushing you away.
When my last race came up, I kept saying "just get through this race. Then, take as much time off as you need".
Liz would check on me to see how things were going; even though I wasn't working with her at the time.
As the weeks and then months went on, I realized that what I wanted to do was stop training. STOP all training and just do whatever I wanted to do when I woke up.
I signed up for a 5k race series, one that I haven't done in years but I love so much.
Of course, the 1st race came up quickly. I realized I hadn't run in about 2 weeks. I hit panic training mode and absolutely surprised myself by running 3 minutes faster than I thought I would. I didn't have any goals or expectations. I knew I wasn't in 5k shape, given that I just did a 70.3, and I was still emotionally recovering from the combination of training and life stuff.
For awhile, there was SO MUCH NOISE about next year. I knew I was nowhere near being able to train. For the first time in awhile, I was starting to enjoy just being active and exercising with no analysis, expectations, or obligations for how long or how hard I went. The last thing I wanted to do was to go back into that world of training again.
But I waited. I waited and waited. Black friday came and went.....a long with it....all those discounted race entries.
Then, I made the decision. I was going to take off 2019.
Believe it or not. I didn't tell anyone. I told a few people what I was thinking of doing. But, I couldn't get to the point where I felt the decision was real.
I think it was because sometimes people have a hard time understanding. I didn't really want to deal with all that.
I don't mean this in a drama queen way. Please understand, that I was getting ready to do something that I hadn't done before. Cutting out something that took so much physical and emotional energy every week, even when it's fun....is quite a change.
Over time, I came to realize that "Yes, taking time off is not only what I need to do, I really want to do it".
Then came the next worst part. I was going to have to tell Liz that I wasn't coming back for 2019. I wrote an email and sat on it for 2 weeks, tweaking it. When I read the final version, I was in tears.
That's how you know you have a great relationship with your coach. It gutted me having to write it. She has done so much more for me than just help me achieve my performance goals.
She made me a better person. Knowing her has changed my life.
I sent the email.
Not 30 seconds later, I get a text from her. She was SO understanding. She knew exactly where I was coming from. I told her that I'll be back to the sport, but I need this time off. I don't know how much time I need.
After that, I felt better than I had in a year.
I've always been one to buck the trend. As other athletes kept wanting to go further and further and more extreme, I've held my ground with a focus on shorter distances. There is nothing wrong with going further and further. It just seems like it has become the expectation. I've never done a race because everyone else is doing it.I've always done what is right for me at a particular time in my life. MANY times I've been asked about WHEN I'm going to do IM. The fact is, probably never.
This time is no different. I've already been asked:
Aren't you afraid of losing fitness?
What about Nationals?
I've done it many times. It'll still be there when I get back.
You've worked so hard to get where you are, now you're just going to stop?
Well. Yeah. Sort of.
Wait. You're just going to STOP being a triathlete?
Yep, until further notice anyway.
NOT training doesn't mean becoming a couch potato.
I'm going to work on everything that I haven't been able to because of training. I'm going to do things that I haven't had time for. I'm going to run races and strength train like Ahnold. I'm going to do more open water swimming because I love it.
I want to work on the details that I have been ignoring.
We came through the eye of the storm. We made it. We're on the other side.
I don't want to go over everything that has happened over the past 6 months.
We have all had to adjust to new schedules and new responsibilities...and do it all while we are still mourning.
Life goes on whether or not we want it to.
Once I scrapped my race season, I talked to Coach Liz. I was thisclose to canceling coaching. I was at wits end....I really was.
I have been with Liz for 5 years. So making that decision was the worst and hardest decision that I ever had to make.
BUT, Liz and I talked. She recommended that I not stop coaching. In my heart, I didn't want to stop. I needed it, but I didn't think I could do it.
I really really wanted someone to take the decision off my hands.
I decided to keep going. Since May, Liz was scheduling me for about 8 hours a week. I hit about 5 hours on average. I pretty much stopped all swimming. (Part of that was actually for a different reason).
With minimal sleep and even less actual training, I had a race in June. Seriously, I was in no shape to actually race.
We talked about the race, Liz said that I should do it for the sheer fun of racing and try to remember how much I enjoy this sport.
With ZERO expectations, minimal training and sleep and the funeral in the afternoon....I decided to race Loveland lake to lake.
I WON MY AGE GROUP.
My speeds were nowhere close to what they have been in the past, but I will be damned if I didn't give absolutely everything I had. I raced over threshold for both the bike and the run. Never in my dreams would I have thought I had a shot at a podium.
Even Liz commented, "You are racing very very well. You are doing it because......"
She was right. I'd had two races and two1st place age groups. (One of those was my first duathlon).
The match was 🔥 lit 🔥.
It was the 2nd week of July when I was able to commit to training again. Until this point, I was still skipping whatever I had to skip to get through life, but I had increased my training time to about 7 hours.
Then, this past weekend, I had another race planned: TriBoulder. This race is crazy competitive because it's getting close to Nationals.
With basically one week of true training under my belt, I sent a message to Liz and told her that I was going out there and do my best. No one can ask for more.
I came in 2nd in my age group with a MONSTER bike.
As I sat on the grass, I sent her a message, "I don't know how I'm doing what I'm doing right now".
Honestly, I don't know. I have no idea. I'm just going out there and giving my best at every race.