Monday, December 30, 2013

The Anti-Year-in-Review

I'm turning into a warm fuzzy pansy. 

You heard here first. Although, I'm sure the thought HAD crossed your least once in the past month.

Day 1 of training for the 2014 tri season.

I'm really excited about it. I guess that's normal. It's the new year. I'm enjoying my Vegas/Thanksgiving/Christmas/Vacation/NewYear eat-a-thon fat. I have more carbohydrates flooding my bloodstream than should even be humanly possible.

I confess. It's an exaggeration. After all the eating, I haven't really gained any significant amount of weight. In a way, that's disappointing because I really tried. 

Today, I had my first run of the season and my first "strength" workout. It was not a traditional strength workout. It's one of those workouts that (while you're doing it), you think, "Ok....this isn't too bad......

BUT HOLYMOTHERMARY&JESUS I am going to feel it tomorrow".

Back to why I'm going all warm fuzzy. It was on the run. I guess it just kind of hit me...that "Wow. This is it. This is the new."

I am doing what I didn't think I'd be doing. And I thought back to the past 2 years, and everything that I accomplished because of Coach Mike.

All I can think about is "That's just the tip of the iceberg."

I learned that I'm pretty good at some things. I need some serious work on others. Those "things" are in constant flux.

Every day of training, every race, I figure out something new.

But the one thing I haven't learned or figured out or experienced is "What's my top end? What's my potential?"

I don't think there is an answer to that because it IS constantly changing.

I think back on specifics. When I did Tour of the Moon, and I shocked the hell out of myself. I never thought I couldn't do it.

I thought, "Oh hell, this is going to be really hard."  But the thought never occurred to me to quit or walk. (Which would have been stupid. Do you know how hard it is to walk up some stupid +20% incline in cycling shoes?)

Then, I remember a race last year. I stood at the edge of the water and thought, "This is going to be a PR swim."

And it was, but I never expected to pull in a 23 minute 1500m it was NO BIG THANG.

Then, I had a goal. I wanted to run a sub 28 min 5k by the end of winter.

I never expected to run a 27:56 in my first 5k of the winter.

At every single one of these events, the thought of "failing" never occurs to me because failure doesn't exist.

I'm not saying "bad things" don't happen. Of course they do. They happen at every race. You're going to flat. You're going to get punched. You're going to race on the hottest or coldest day in history.

The only thing you can really control is your reaction. Sometimes (most times), my reaction is a bunch of 4 letter words, and then I'm done. I'm back to work.

Sure get mad.

Feel bad. Curse.

Then, get back to the job at hand.

That's what I'm doing right now. I had my time off. I am heading in a completely new direction in regards to training, doing things I've never done before.

It's the NEXT PHASE. Whereas, I felt a little lost at this time last year. I didn't really know what I wanted to do. There were a lot of "unknowns" last year, for lack of a better word. I never really feel like I committed to anything.

This year is very different. I know EXACTLY what I want. Even more importantly, I know that my potential is limitless.

When you go into a race season like that it's hard to NOT be excited.

Sit back, grab some popcorn. THIS is going to be a fun ride.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Whatever it takes, part 2

As you ALL know, I've been on vacation.

I was also under the explicit instruction of friends to eat a lot of good food and feel free to move BUT DON'T YOU DARE DO ANYTHING REMOTELY CLOSE TO SWIM BIKE RUN.

Well, ok.....if you insist.

After a few days of playing in the snow, staying up late and having dessert every single day (and sometimes more than once a day), (sometimes after every meal), I am ready to get going again.

Scratch that.

I am really excited to get back to a training regime and eating better again.

Excited, nervous and stupidly determined to hit my goals for the year.

The timing is pretty amazing, if I do say so myself. We went away for vacation during Christmas for the first time ever.

Taking time off....vegging tubbing....eating....eating...eating....(and yes, I FINALLY had my cheesecake!)

It lined up so perfectly with the start of the new year.

Not that I have resolutions, because I don't. Not that I'm against resolutions, because I'm not.

But, I do have goals. Some are new and some are rollover goals from previous years. Rollover goals are really important.

Rollover goals aren't failures. They are the SUPER BIG GOALS that take time reaching. Some rollover goals, I hit this year.

I still have others. I think they are going topple this year.


We were driving when "Whatever it takes" came on the radio.

Googs turns to me and says, "Whenever I here this song I think of you because you have that sticky on your computer that says 'Whatever it takes'. Do you remember that blog post you wrote?"

Well, yea. Of course, I do, but I can't believe HE knew about it.

Whatever it takes: it's still true today. I said in that post that there are times when we can't do it, for any multitude of reasons.

There are times when we have to take a day, a week, a year or even more off from "whatever it takes". We're still chasing goals and dreams, but we have other things in our lives that take priority.

Whatever it takes means exactly that. It means that I am in a place in my life where I can do whatever it takes to meet my goals. It means that I can make the time. I can dedicate myself to a healthy diet. It means emotionally and mentally, I'm in a good place to do this.

A house can be built on a weak foundation. Goals can't be met without a strong physical, mental and spiritual base. 

So, I'm back from vacation, completely rested, completely clear of mind. I'm ready to tackle some new things, new distances, new challenges. 

I feel like I should have my own group of cheerleaders following me around.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Throw away the chains

I'm not really sure what I want to say, but I found myself in front of the computer, in front of my blog.

So, here I am.

I guess if I go back 24 hours, I got a glimpse of what 2014 is going to be like. At the same time, I have no idea what it means.

I don't know what I'm trying to say. I was thinking about 2014 yesterday.

I am going to start from a different place. I want to thank a few people. Interestingly, it's not for the things they said, but more for the things they didn't say.

It was because of them, that I was able to do something that I wasn't expecting to do.

They made me realize that sometimes I need to do what's right for me and not be stubborn about it. In other words, I can't say, "No" to something that I want to do because other people try to do the hard sell on me to do it.

If I want to do it, then I need to do it for me.

That was how I decided a number of things yesterday, including re-organizing my race schedule for 2014. This post probably seems pretty dramatic to JUST talk about a race schedule. Trust me, everything that went on behind the scenes had nothing to do with a race schedule. It has everything to do with losing someone that I really cared about. I wish to God it didn't happen, but it did.

I know it had to happen, but it doesn't make it any easier.

So, the changes.

Today, I sat down to write a list of what I really want and what I really need for the upcoming year. I don't think I've really done this type of exercise in a few years.

I think my goals of a few years ago were appropriate for awhile. But things are different now. They are going to be different. How do I get through all of this without having this person to talk to, or to text or to email.

And I'm so sad. So heartbroken. So hurt.

Because for all my sarcasm and tough talk, I'm just a person who feels much more deeply than a lot of people. I'm real softie.

I was trying to convince myself that this is a fresh start, something new.

But, I can't make that jump yet. I'm still at the endpoint.

I *did* manage to write my list of what was important to me going forward. When I throw out the whiny baby parts, I have a good solid list.

From that list, I came up with what I wanted to accomplish. (This is a "life" list, not a training or race list).

I kept drilling down like that.

Finally, I got to the "training" part of my life.  With every other part penciled in, I was able to look at what I could realistically do this year.

I identified two "A" races:

In June, Loveland Lake 2 Lake, an olympic distance race with a 1500m swim/30mile bike/10k run


SOMA 70.3 in October.

Then, I removed other races, like Nationals.

And I back filled with others, like the Boulder Peak in July--a race that I've never done and swore off because of the size. But, I thought, "Why not?"

There's no more doing things because friends and virtual friends want me to do them. There's no more hang ups. There's no more baggage. There are just races.

I still have a lot of gaps, where some races have been eliminated, and I have yet to fill in with others.

I have a plan, though. As of yesterday, I felt like I had nothing.

Like my race schedule, I'm hoping to fill in other gaps as well. Hopefully, fill them with new friends who want to share a sweaty, gel covered hug at the end of a race.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Small steps for a big problem

"Big Problem" being relative.

My *big* problem is once again nutrition. I thought once I hit the end of my racing season that everything would fall into place and go back to the way they were before.

All of a sudden, I'm struggling to get through workouts again. (Hey, the positive in this is that I can now identify between being tired from lack of sleep and being tired because I need more to eat.)

I cannot tell you how frustrating this has been for me this year. Every single olympic distance race was a struggle.

Nothing seems to work. I decided to take DRASTIC measures. DRASTIC, I tell ya.

I decided to take matters into my own hands.

I have this completely useless Master's degree in Exercise Physiology.....which really is a long involved story, but one that I am more than happy to share should the time arise.

We spent a sick amount of time on nutrition......all different types of nutrition: daily for athletes and sedentary people, for fueling races/training, what happens at the cellular level, minerals, macronutrients, hormones, fluid intake, blah blah blah....have your eyes rolled back into your head yet? We covered everything.

A couple of days ago, I was getting ready to sign on with a nutritionist. I thought that I owe it to myself to pull out all the information that I have and create a plan for myself.

I still don't like tracking, but I came up with an idea....I will track "how I feel".  I don't know why I never thought about it before. I swim by feel. I ride by feel. Running....well, I always feel like death so that doesn't count.

I should be able to apply the same principle to nutrition. It *SHOULD* tune me in better to when I am missing calories or certain nutrients....I just wanted to test it out.

The first thing I did was calculate my calories and macronutrients. (Keep in mind, they're all estimates since I've never done any metabolic testing, but it gives me a range for hard core training, racing and not so hardcore training.)

My initial thought was "those numbers can't be right." Then, I considered how I've been feeling. I thought I'm just going to do this. If I don't see progress in, say, a month, then I'll get some help.

Instead of tracking, I know what's in the food I eat. It is more a matter of bumping up everything throughout the day.

Day One, I started and got crazy hungry very quickly--par for the course. I made notes to eat XX amount more for breakfast the next.

Day Two: I still got hungry, but it wasn't as extreme, and it took a couple of hours.

This is the game that I've been playing for the past few days. Am I hungry? Do I lack energy? If I had to train right now, could I?

So today, I worked up to a recommendation from my nutrition information. Overall, I felt pretty good. I only ran into trouble when I ended up being at the warehouse longer than I expected. That's going to happen.

It might take me longer than a month just to get "right now" figured out, but I'm ok with that. I'd rather get my stuff worked out before I start getting ready for next season.

I guess the lesson is that I have to take it slow and really pay attention to what I'm eating. If I'm not going to track calories and all that, then I really need to pay attention to the signals and identify what they mean.

The other thing that I am learning is how to prep for the "next day". Let's say I have light workouts do I manage my calories for the next day's 2 hour workouts.

I really wish this wasn't so much work.

BUT....I can see where I've screwed up in the past, doing races completely underfueled, fading fast, even being tired the morning of a race. (NOT a good sign).

I have a couple of really big swims coming up. Those will be my first real tests. All other workouts have been well under 2 hours and more like 1-1.5 hours.


Once again.

Wish me luck....this TIME, this is it. If I can't get my stuff together, I'm heading to a nutritionist.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Now that THAT's over

What have I been doing when I haven't been ruminating over friendships?

What started out as a "what if we did THIS race next year" conversation with Ms. Molly turned into a late night conversation of....

What about this?

Or this?

Or what about that distance? Is that one too close to this one? How far of a drive is it? Exactly HOW far is too far for me next year?

In other words, pretty much coming up with my race schedule for next year.

There are still some gaps, but I can fill those in later. Of course, I can't speak for Molly who is currently in off season much so that she doesn't even know how to log into anymore.

Maybe that's an exaggeration.

But maybe not.

I think I'm set for locations. Now, I need to figure out distances.

So far, here's what I'm thinking about:

Possibly a Feb half marathon. The jury is still out on this one. I have a 10 mile race already this month. So, if I want to do a half 2/2 is my only real option. Current contenders: Surf City in CA and some race in Colorado Springs, but I can't remember the name.

The only issue with the half marathon is that I'm not really used to running one so early in the season. If the Surf City half works out then that's a bonus.


March 16th, Bartlett Lake in Scottsdale, AZ. Still not sure which distance: sprint or Oly.

Then, I'm at a loss for April and May. Out thissaway, the only real options are running races. I've usually filled my schedule with running races for these months. This year, I'm not sure.

In June, welcome to my first A race! YAY! Back to Loveland L2L I was stumped on this one. Sprint or Oly. Didn't really want to run a 10k, but I just couldn't resist the Horsetooth climb again, which looks like this:

Last year, I was going through a phase and wasn't exactly trained to do this type of bike course. Granted, I did extremely well. I did probably about what I expected. However, I want to see how I can improve upon last year's time.

That's June.

July, I found the Tri Rock Series. It's right in my back yard. Why not? Sprint? Oly? I have no idea. YET.

THEN AUGUST! "A" Race #2: USAT Nationals  I can't even begin to tell you how long I have wanted to do this race. But, I always had to put it off because of the boys' schedules. School starting, summer sports programs and getting them ready for school.

I am beyond excited for this. I have been so patient.

There will be more....low priority races; I'm sure some long distance open water swim events will end up on my calendar again this year. I'm eyeing some bike TT's for earlier in the season.

Finally, drumroll.....I am hoping, fingers crossed that THIS is the year that I get to go watch the IM World Championships in Kona. I've been talking about it for about 2 months. Fingers Crossed. That's not really a race for me....but HOW COOL WOULD THAT BE????

I guess....there's still a lot of unknowns, but at least I'm heading in the right direction. I think I am anyway.

Really for the first time ever, I have the freedom to do whatever races I want. I can't tell you how good that feels.

I really LOVE the things that you do

I'm behind. I really enjoy reading blogs. I prop up my feet, grab my phone and read, catch up on what my friends are doing around the world.

In my own little world, I've typed up several posts and never published them. Given my frame of mind, that was probably a good idea.

For about a month, I had "relationship" problems. A good friend of mine...and well, I don't go into details but we'd been struggling. It was so frustrating to me. I had pretty much made up my mind to end it.

But it was killing me. So, I typed up an email, and I sent it to myself to read the next morning.

After sending it to myself, my friend Suz said, "Remember the Four Agreements."

I had to stop whatever I was doing. I picked up my little book and read it again.  I realized that some relationships are worth ending.

Some are not.

I stepped back and looked at the friendship as a whole and not as the last month or so.  Then, the next morning, I read the email that I had typed up. I realized that I sounded incredibly childish.

And the issue that set off our problems was my fault. I misunderstood something and took offense to it. Granted, he is not the best at communication. I'd been really busy. He was really busy. We haven't seen each other in awhile. We used to meet for lunch or coffee on a regular basis. It's very easy to confuse sarcasm or just take something the wrong way, over email or text.

I didn't realize how much my entire life was tossed upside down until I realized what I was about to do.

I guess I'm writing about all of this now because I can. I'm not willing to throw out a friendship like that. I need people in my life who will be honest with me and will get my sense of humor and are willing to meet for coffee or lunch or even go for a walk. I don't need a lot of time, but the people (who are just as busy as I am) and who do that for me are keepers.

In honor of all the best friends out there.....

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Quickie

The nice thing about 5K race reports is that they are short enough to entertain even the shortest of attention spans.

I recently ran a half marathon, 4 mile race and now 5K all within 2 weeks. This isn't normal for me. It was just the way the dates fell.

As I was telling Molly this morning, I didn't have very high expectations for this race.

I set a PR plan in my Garmin. Still, I was thinking there really was no way I could get the PR after racing 3 days really hard....3 days ago. Today was the first day the soreness from THAT race, was finally gone.

I changed my thought process. I thought. For every single race in this 5K series, I'm going to run it as hard as I can. It's all for fun. Why not?

This race is always small, or so I thought. I lined up in the front. Well, close to the front. I picked out 3 people. My goal is to hang with a certain group as long as I can.

Today, I chose: Santa, Backpack Man, and Mango-Lady.

The race started, and the 3 took off like someone lit them on fire.

OK....maybe they weren't the best of choices.

I started running and looked at my garmin. It was beeping like crazy, telling me to slow down. I was running an 8:20 pace on a downhill.

FUCK YOU GARMIN. I'm not slowing down today.

That's when I decided to change my strategy. I was going to run hard.....but no matter how hard I was running, I had to go faster the next mile.

I caught BackPack Man about a half mile into the race.

I could see Santa and Mango Lady. Santa was taking the lead over Mango lady.

We pass mile 1.

I ran faster. This mile is hard because there's a long slow hill. Not particularly steep, but hey, when you're running a 5k, even the smallest of hills feel huge.

I am closing the gap on Mango Lady and Santa.

Then, Mango Lady stops for water.

I'm yelling at her in my head, "NO NO NO. Don't do that. Keep going!"

She's still ahead of me. Now, she's passing Santa.

At 1.75, I pass Santa. I am closing the gap on Mango Lady.

At around 2.25, I catch Mango Lady. I can tell she wants to keep up. I can feel her on my elbow.

But I have a secret!


I still have gas left in the tank.

I start running. I can see the finish. I can tell that I've dropped Mango Lady. Now, it's on. I have to just hold on to what I'm running. How fast? I have no idea. I can't look. I'll lose it if I do. I feel sick. I want to stop. I just want to back off a little.

I know I passed 2 miles in right around 18 minutes. I know that I'm heading toward a PR. I just don't know how much.

With whatever I have left, I passed 3 miles. This is it.

How can 1/10 of a mile feel SO LONG.

I cross the finish.

Again, I almost pass out right after crossing the finish line. Almost. I get some water and go run my cool down. I thought they'd have results posted when I got back.

They didn't.

It doesn't matter. Whether or not it was a PR, I KNOW I went hard. I KNOW I went faster each mile.

That in itself is a win.

Of course, even a win can be sweeter with a PR....and it was.

That makes 3 PRs, at 3 different distances, in 2 weeks.