Friday, November 29, 2013

Get your head right

I get confused. Most times, I can't remember if I've said things here, on my blog, or if I've said them as notes to my coach in my training plan. (Trust me....those could be blog entries in and of themselves.)

Because of that, I can be repetitive. I figure that if you don't want to read it, you don't have to. If it keeps my head straight (stop laughing) then it's worth it for me to be repetitive.

I mention this because I think I've figured out what I need to work on next year.

As I HAVE said before, sometimes training or racing issues can be hidden within other issues. It takes awhile to figure them all out.

This year, I've really been paying attention to what I do well and what I don't do well....or things that I need to address.

I've come up with 2 big issues.

Honestly, I have more than 2 issues. BUT, these are the two that I (personally) feel are the ones that are holding me back the most.

Keep in mind, I haven't talked about this with Coach Mike.

Speaking of which, Hi Mike. 

He probably sees a whole NUTHER set of things that I don't see.

which is fine. We'll deal with those too. I'm sure.

Here are my "areas for improvement":

1.) Nutrition
2.) Run

Let's break it down:

Worth repeating, the Oly distance kicked my ass this year. It did. There was one thing that was consistent throughout every single Oly distance race.

That one single thing was how I felt--physically at the same point in every race. That point was when I was starting my run.

It's the same way that I feel during the last 5k of a half marathon.

Obviously, I've made some big changes in my daily nutrition. Of course, triathlon season is over for the year, here in the States. I haven't really had the opportunity to see how these changes will affect me in a race.

I know this is mostly a nutrition issue because of my recent half, in which I felt better than I'd had at any previous race of over 2 hours.

The good news is that I now know the difference between how crashing (due to not enough calories) feels versus the discomfort involved at the end of a half marathon.

They are very different.

I affectionately refer to being depleted as "total body breakdown" (TBB). If it's happened to you, you know what I mean. Everything literally gives out.

Being uncomfortable because you're going hard....well, that's actually kind of a cool feeling. Yeah, it hurts, but it's not even in the same realm as total body breakdown.

That's HUGE progress for me, learning to identify the differences. I know what I'm up against when things start hurting.

At the same time, I've got to get my shit together in regards to nutrition. It's one thing to have TBB with a 10k left. It's totally different if it happens, and I've got 4 more hours of racing to go.

Not that I have PLANS to do anything longer. AmIright?

Hi Coach Mike.

Seriously, it's something I need to work on next year. I can't hit any of my Oly goals without it. Well, I can but really painfully. That's no fun.

I've said over and over....I'm beyond "toughing it out".

My training is great. Now, I have to get my nutrition in place.

This may or may not surprise you, but the run isn't about getting faster. I mean, really, show me ONE person that doesn't want to get faster.


My issue is how I approach the run.
Right now, my running-head is where my swimming-head was 2 years ago.

What do I mean?

It's a "goingthroughthemotionspleaseletsomethingsticksoIcanatleastgetalittlefasterorgolongerorjustanythingjustmakemyrunningbetter."

It's about being able to push through that barrier, being willing to really go hard. It took me awhile with swimming. It's so easy, so comfortable to go right up to the level of GREATNESS and stop before getting there and say, "Oh, this is good enough. I can be quite happy and comfortable here. After all, it's better than I used to be. Would you like some tea?"

And....everything becomes a habit.

Not pushing the limits swimming WAS a habit.

Now, pushing the limits swimming is my habit.

That's the mental jump that I have to make with running.

But it IS a little more complicated.....

Do you see the double whammy?

The RUN. My 3rd best event.....just so happens to come when I was going through TBB. We're taking an event that isn't very easy for me and turning it into a MONSTER.

when it doesn't have to be.

It's been a circular battle. Nutrition isn't right, so running sucks, which makes me like running less and less, which gave me a really bad attitude about the whole running thing and thinking I can't do anything and everyone is so much better stronger faster and I just suck at running.

Do you hear that?

That smacking noise?

My friends this is where the shit hits the fan. 

Where does this leave me?

With GOALS people! Goals for myself that GO BEYOND FINISH times

ipso facto....ultimately affect finish times.

I keep working on my nutrition. As that begins to fall into place, my attitude toward running will change.

But, I also need to work on it. I can't look at running as a grueling exercise. I don't look at swimming or biking that way. When I swim or bike, I see it as a challenge that I can rise to.  When I run, I feel like I'm getting a beat down. THAT needs to change.

In other words, "Get your head right, Tea."

Honestly, I don't exactly know what I have to do. It took time with swimming. I think I have to work with small accomplishments. It's like the first time I swam a 1:50, 100m. I did it ONCE. That meant I could do it again. I only did it once that day. But then it happened again and again.

Some people work really well with big lofty goals. That's never really worked for me. I have to find the small goals that I can hit (not easily mind you) but that require work. I get too intimidated by big goals.

I mean, how can I work for THAT if I can't even do THIS?

I don't know how the story is going to play out, but I know that I'm going to change my view of running.

Running is the newest challenge. The bright shiny NEW challenge.

When things start to click, I'll have the total package. That's when I'll be ready to graduate to the next distance.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Nice surprises

I didn't really want to write a race report about my half marathon. For those of you who don't follow me on FB (and WHY wouldn't you?), I got a pretty awesome PR.

After a few days went by, and I started to think about my year. Don't worry, this won't be a year in review thing.

I have been working with Coach Mike for 2 RIGHT NOW....happy coaching anniversary!

Let's go back to when we started. I told him to treat me like a newbie. My thought was that if I'd developed bad habits (which I had) I needed to hear the right way to do things.

Since I signed up with him, I've been a PR machine. It's surpassed everything I thought I could do. There hasn't been a "perfect race". There have been a bunch of races where something inevitably goes wrong but then something inevitably goes very right in the same race. Ultimately, it leads to a PR. The good outweighs the bad.

He treated me like a newbie. When you first sign up with a coach, you can expect to see improvements very quickly.

But it takes time to address the "real" issues. It takes time because everything is improving on an accelerated rated (especially if you have never been coached before....personally coached).

Year 1 went by, and I was happy with just about everything.

Year 2 went by, and I just this week recognized strides that I had made that I didn't even pick up on before.

My goal (from day one) was to start with sprints and work my way back to Ironman. It could be 3 years. It could take me 10. I didn't really care.

Logical thinking says, getting faster at sprints = getting faster at longer distances.

At my half marathon last weekend, I PR'd and ran my fastest 10 miles ever. It was a 6 min PR over 10 miles. I almost peed myself I was so happy because this is what I have been working for. It takes time getting faster at longer distances. I've logged a lot of running miles always wondering, "how will this translate into a half?" Well, I'm almost there. I'm almost at the goal that I set 2 years ago. I know this because of my 10 mile time.

At my half, I passed the 10 mile mark in 1:42. Although I've seen dramatic improvements at the sprint and oly, this was the first time that I've seen a substantial improvement at the half.

Now I'm left with a decision to make.

If you read about the bet that I made with Coach Mike, you know that I lost. This meant that he gets to choose my longest race next year.

When I was in Vegas, he told me the race he was thinking about.

I was floored. I was really blown away. I thought he was going to go with a completely different race.

I'm kind of stuck now. There was a goal that I wanted to work toward next year, but I don't think the training would work with the race he selected.

I have to decide what I want to do next year.

The issue is that they are both really great goals. They are races that I think I would do very well. Actually, I think I'd KILL those races. Seriously.

One would push me harder than I've ever been pushed with no guarantee of a PR, but the satisfaction of going as hard as I can.

One would pretty much be PRs across the board. Still tough, but in this a PR worth it? It's a step toward another goal. That's the decision I have to make. UGH. Everyone says the course is really easy (ie flat). Do I want a bike course that doesn't really play to my strengths (hills)? Is that a dumb thing to consider?

Nothing is ever guaranteed, but if you were a 5 hour marathoner years ago, and now you're running 1:30 pretty know that you'll get a marathon PR....understand what I'm saying?

I keep floundering. AND of course, I know a certain someone WHO has already said she would do Coach Mike's race with me. That's always a bonus. 

I thought I was going to be ready to talk about my 2014 race season next month, but I won't be ready until Jan or so. I guess I'll just sit back and figure it all out later.

Damn Coach always throwing curve balls at me.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Things I have learned from my Coach

Life Lessons from my Coach

Be confident but humble.

A sense of humor will take you far.

You are unique and special.

So is everyone else. Treat everyone like they are unique and special.

People will rise to the goal you set; people will always exceed your expectations.

Be sincere

Eat more.

No. more than that.

Family is more than blood relatives.

Make fun of yourself but lift up everyone else.

It's ok to be warm & fuzzy every once in awhile.

Open up to people; even though it's scary. They're probably waiting for it.

Own your goals. Own your training. The only person who has to believe you can reach your goals is YOU.

Your life is what it is because of YOU. Not because of a bad boss, bad boyfriend/girlfriend, bad parents. Own your decisions.

"Don't poop yourself" is more than just a mantra.

Actions speaks louder than words.

Plan for the worst. Hope for the best.

Push your boundaries. Be uncomfortable, really uncomfortable.

Good. Now do it again.

What really goes on in those IM tents.

Sight every 4 strokes, buy that cassette, swim 6 days a week, run 35 miles and love the power meter.

Throw tantrums but admit when you're wrong.

Get out of your head. Your body is always ready before your mind is.

Believe it to see it.

When you don't know what to say, quote a movie.


People will always give you advice. Listen to the people you trust. Ignore the rest.

You can't control your environment. The only thing you can really control is your reaction to your environment.

Take what you do seriously, but don't take yourself seriously.

Hugs shouldn't last longer than 2 seconds. Unless......

Life lessons from my Coach who is more than my coach. He's also my friend.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Finding your motivation

This is not an instruction manual.

This is my way of looking at the crazy stuff I do and figure out a way to be better at it.

Over the weekend, I stumbled upon an article about motivating employees. Motivation is a hot topic for me, and it's a confusing topic for me.

For me, motivation is internal.

Yes, I enjoy motivational videos.

Yes, I love motivational quotes.

But none of them motivate me to be or do the best I can in any venture.

When I'm struggling on the bike, watching an Ironman video doesn't get me excited to do a race.

When I have a hard time (everyone does), what works best for me is to figure out why. Sometimes it's as simple as having too much other stuff going on in my life. Sometimes it's that I need a new route to ride to a new challenging workout.

For me, it's about how I feel about myself.  When I feel good, a song on the radio will make me feel even better, but ultimately, the initial motivation came from me.

I thought about this during my long run because it was one of those runs where you feel like you're running through mud.

I used to look back and say, "Well, look how far I've come!"

BUT, I learned something from that phrase. When I said that it was a way to make me feel better about not being where I thought I should be. Progress....YES.....but not the progress that I thought I should be making.

I was running, and it was hard. I refused to look at my pace. I didn't want to feel discouraged if I really was running slow. More importantly, I didn't want to get into the "Well, you're running faster than you used to!" Of course, I am. But if that was my end goal, then I'm done.

I was running up a big hill, and I thought about the previous days workouts. They were all hard. Now, I'm running long after those workouts.

Every workout has a purpose. Every WEEK, put together by individual workouts HAS A PURPOSE. I don't always know what the reason or purpose is, but I don't always care.

Sometimes workouts are about physical strength and sometimes they're about mental strength but neither can be accomplished without the motivation to do it.

That's when I realized that my motivation isn't to be better than I have been in the past, it's for future me. It's for the unknown. It's for hitting one goal and then realizing that I can go further or faster than I thought and reaching for a goal that I might have thought was impossible.

I felt like I was running in mud. At that point, I didn't care because I knew I was supposed to feel this way, physically and mentally. This run. The culmination of weeks of training, getting ready to run my fastest half. That was the purpose. And that was all the motivation I needed.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Making the decision, every day.

Today while I was running, I thought about when I started running again (1996). I had kids in 1994 and 1995, and I wasn't allowed to exercise during those years. (It was a high blood pressure pregnancy issue).

I realize I tend to repeat myself on my blog. Every year, when I look back on certain events, I learn something new.

It was '96 when Jordan pointed to my flabby arm, wiggled it around and asked, "That?"

Fifteen minutes later, I had my running shoes on. I ran to the stop sign (20-30 meters), was out of breath, turned around and walked home.

The next day, I ran to the stoplight (maybe a quarter of a mile?), turned around and walked home.

I did that every day until I got to the 2.5 mile mark of a 5 mile loop. I realized that if I kept running I could, well, I could just KEEP RUNNING.

For the next few years, running was fantastic. No matter where in the world I was, I could bring my running shoes.

But it took that first step....whether it was based on vanity or desire to just do something for myself, it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter HOW I started running again. The important thing was that I did.

With little kids, running was everything for me. During the week, I ran shorter distances. On weekends, I ran long. It was my time. It was the only time of quiet that I had.

Then, the accident happened.

I remember being in my cast. I was in it for months. First unable to walk, then into a walking cast. At one of my appointments, I asked my doctor when I'd be able to run again. He said, "Run? You'll never run again. You'll be lucky if you walk without pain again."

As important as running was to me, I stared at him, and I said, "No. That's not acceptable. Can I pool run?"

"Pool run? No. You can't do anything."

"Can I pool run without touching the bottom?"

SIGH...."Sure you can pool run."

"Can I swim?"

SIGH...."ABSOLUTELY NO FLIP TURNS. We can't risk you hitting your foot on the wall."

"Can I ride?"

"NO. Absolutely not."

With the thought of being able to swim and pool run, I took off to the gym.

I started swimming regularly. I'd always been a non-competitive lap swimmer. But I took my swimming more seriously now.

On the days I didn't swim, I took my little floatie and did deep water pool laps.

I had planned on running the (then) Denver Marathon in October. I didn't care what the doctor said. He wasn't going to take my running away from me.

My walking cast came off in July.

I had been swimming. I had been pool running.

I found out that the women's only triathlon Danskin was in August, and it was right down the street from my house.

I knew it was a long shot, but what if I could do it? If I could do that, maybe I could still do the marathon?

I started walking.

And the pain was unbelievable.

But I kept going.

I figured that if it hurt to walk, it was going to hurt to run. So why not run? I went to the store and bought the softest most cushioning shoes they had. I started running on the grass for 15 seconds at a time.

Every step hurt.

I knew that all I had to do was be able to swim 750m/bike 12 miles/run 5k.

I decided to register.

3 weeks later, I finished my first triathlon, a sprint, in 2:45, and having to walk and limp my way through the 5k. (Let's not even talk about my first open water swim AND not being on a bike).

Over the coming weeks, I realized that the marathon was out the picture. The pain was too much. I couldn't even get to 10 miles. I was still having to use crutches on occasion to just help me walk.

I kept swimming, and I got on the bike when I could. I really didn't know much about swimming or biking. I'd done bike events, and I always swam, but I never "raced".

I bought a book about triathlon training and started following the plans. I figured over the winter, I could do those plans and maybe get in shape for the next year.

Two years later, and many many hours spent practicing yoga, hours spent in the pool on the bike and running....I got home from a run and realized that I had just finished my first pain free first in 2 years.

I was running today, and I was thinking of all of this. Since then, I've done so many triathlons, so many running races, swim races and numerous bike events.

And I think that if Jordan hadn't asked me "That?"....would I be doing what I'm doing today? In a way, I have him to thank for getting me back into my running shoes, which in a strange twist of fate, led me to the pool and onto the bike.

In a few weeks, he and I will be racing the Turkey Trot again, a race that we've been doing since he was in kindergarten.

Honestly, I don't even know if I have a shot of winning, but I know that I will give it absolutely everything I have because I owe that to the guy who at 2 years old, got me back into my running shoes.