Friday, November 28, 2014

My most awesome day Part 2

The email notification beeps at me, and I open the email expecting to see Black Friday deals.

Instead I saw this

I look at it.

I shake my head.

What?

What does this mean?

I read it again.

And again.

I realized I QUALIFIED TO COMPETE AT THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP IN AUGUST 2015.

I had to fight back the tears.

And I started screaming to Mr Tea and JMan and GOOGS. "I qualified for the National Championships!"

I ran downstairs and I was screaming. I was shaking as I showed them my cell phone with the message.

I know people who qualify for Nationals at their first race. I know people that qualify every year.

I'm not that person.

When I started triathlon, I came in 2nd to last at my first races. Gradually, I moved to around the middle of the pack. Since then, I'd had inconsistent results. Sometimes I did better. Sometimes I did worse.

Until this year when I started to see how the pieces were going to fit together. How do I take advantage of my swim and bike to hold my position on the run? How do I fuel to get the best out of all three? How do I push myself past my comfort level and be comfortable there?

I stared at the email, and my entire triathlon history came rushing back to me.

Liz and I set up my 2015 race schedule to play to my advantages. My A race was set for April in AZ, sea level and mostly flat. The goal for that race was to get an idea of how close I was to qualifying for Nationals.

Then, after THAT race....my 2nd A race would be later in the year....again at sea level....to see how much I've improved and make a real run at qualifying.

But the email arrived yesterday.

I don't need to go to sea level. I don't need to race a flat course. I qualified for Nationals in Boulder, CO.....racing against the fastest women in the state.

I remember the race. I had gotten out of the water, 2nd place was :15 seconds behind me. I beat her out of transition. I remember riding the fastest bike I've ever done. I remember running a PR run, only to have 2nd place pass me at mile 2, like I was standing still.

And I felt great about my race that day. Not knowing where I had finished. I didn't realize that I had podiumed and left the race.

I stared at the email again, still in disbelief of what I accomplished. All those years of getting up early and giving everything I can in training.....it finally paid off, about 2 years earlier than I expected.

I did it.



I emailed Liz. I think she was genuinely THRILLED for me.

We decided that I will compete at both the Olympic distance and the sprint distance (on back to back days) at Nationals.

My next goal is to qualify for the World Championships. It might not happen this year, but I've qualified for Nationals once. I can do it again.



My most excellent day Part 1

This week has been one of the best weeks.

Both Googs and JMan are staying with us from Wed through Saturday. If you have little ones or no kids, it's hard to explain how much fun adult children are. I hate even using the term "children", but you get what I'm saying.

We all got up to run our Annual Turkey Trot on Thursday. I always joke about the RACE of the CENTURY and what it means to have family bragging rights.  I didn't clue you all in, but this year was a little different. About a month ago, Googs dislocated his toe.  He's been unable to run, so the race wasn't really going to be the bloodbath of previous years.

Wed night, the menfolk stayed up late drinking and talking and playing games. I always get worried that I've sort of "forced" this tradition on them. I told them repeatedly that they could all stay home. I was planning on racing, but that didn't mean they had to.

It was a beautiful morning. Chilly at the start (for my little tri shorts and lightweight t-shirt), but it was perfect for running.

The biggest thing that I've gotten from Coach Liz is "goals based on a process". Once again, I didn't have a time goal.

Several weeks back, she and I were talking about the 10K. She told me that a fit person can hold threshold for about an hour. A 10k should be run at threshold. I told her that based on what I see at races, I don't think most people run a 10k that hard.

She said, "That's why people hate the 10k. It hurts really bad."

I (obviously) have never run a 10k like that. Hell, I don't believe I've ever really run at threshold for any particular length of time.

I made it my goal to run the 4 miles at (at least) threshold. I knew it was going to really hurt. 4 miles....longer than a 5k.....not 5 miles. This is going to hurt.

I took the first mile a little easier, intentionally....not slow, but I needed to build to threshold. I've never done this before, so I wasn't quite sure how I was going to handle it. All I knew was that I was going to do it.

And, I did. I ran miles, 2, 3 & 4 at over threshold. Honestly, the first 2 miles were ok. By the time, I got to 2.5 and then 3 miles, I was starting to really feel it. I'd check my HR, if I dropped to threshold, I ran harder.

I didn't mentally give up, not once. I just kept pushing. When I came up to the last half a mile, which is a false flat, I could see the finish. I knew my pace would drop, but I didn't care....the EFFORT had to be there.

People around me started dropping off, slowing down, walking. All I could think was, there was a time I would slow down RIGHT HERE.

When I crossed the finish line, I had nothing left. I ran +3 miles at over threshold. I was weak. I was dizzy. I wanted to sit down, but I knew I need to walk around. I needed water. I had forgotten to hit my garmin. When I looked at it, it said 38:18 which was almost a minute PR. Then I realized I had forgotten to turn it off. When I check my 4 mile time, it was 37:57.

I snuck in just under 38 minutes. I couldn't believe it. I have these goals. 36 min, 37 min, 38 min. I know at some time, I will get there. Yesterday, I thought I could PR, but I never expected over :15 seconds per mile PR.

A few minutes later, Googs crossed the finish line. A few minutes after that, JMan came in. I ran back looking for Mr. Tea. He hadn't done the full 4 miles in years. I wanted to make sure he had support for that last mile. I ran back to mile 3. I thought I had missed him when I saw him on the other side of the street. I ran to him. We finished the last mile together.

We all found each other, and I listened to everyone telling their race stories. Then Googs said the best thing ever.

He said, "Thanksgiving wouldn't be the same without this race."

The entire drive home, I got to listen to them talk about how they did and how they paced, or didn't.

When I got home, I uploaded the race. I felt so awesome about how I did. I felt so great about my effort. At every race, I'm showing what I can do. Not every race goes the way I want, but I go home. I talk to Liz. I figure out what I did right or wrong, and I go back out there.

I was typing up an email to Liz.....when I got a notification of a new email.

That's when I saw it.

----to be continued----

Thursday, November 27, 2014

So. This happened.


I can't even begin to tell you how shocked and happy I am. It was my goal for 2015, but I didn't really think it would happen.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Yo, Tea. Wassup?

I'm sure you're wondering exactly how I've been spending my time lately.

Besides the obvious ranting about the ACA.

And emotionally recovering from JMan's major freaking car accident. Oh you missed that one? He was coming home to drop some stuff off prior to Thanksgiving break. He came home during a terrible snowstorm that dumped quite a bit of snow, ice and cold temps out our way. He hit a turn on the highway, lost control of his jeep, spun around, went into the median, hit the cabling (which is to prevent accidents from going into oncoming traffic....so THAT worked) and his jeep got pretty much sliced in half from the cabling. Fortunately, he DID have a big, heavy duty, older jeep....with a big engine because the engine prevented the cabling from cutting through into the cabin.....or who knows how the accident would have ended up.

He walked away.

His jeep wasn't so fortunate.

If you drive by, you can still see the remaining pieces sitting on the fence.

So. That's fun.

The next BIG NEW THING was that I joined a new masters swim team. I love it so much. I want to give the group a hug every time I see them. They push me harder than I have ever been pushed, and I am rising to the occasion, finding speeds that I never even knew existed. I always believed in my heart that I was faster than I was, but I could never figure out what I was doing wrong.

In addition to that, I am getting 1-1 coaching from one of the swim coaches there. Coach Andrew might be one of the only level 3 coaches in CO. He definitely is in the Denver metro area. He is awesome. I visit Mr. Andrew once a week, immediately before masters....cuz I'm a sick pup like that. I've already made HUGE progress and have surpassed ALL my pool paces from 2014. In addition to that, I've become much more efficient, so those faster paces feel easier.

But all is not sunshine and pixie dust. It's hard work. I have to constantly FOCUS on what I am doing to ingrain the muscle memory.

The good thing is that during our 1-1 coaching, he videos me and gives me feedback. I thought I had a weak kick. Turns out I have a pretty righteous kick....or in swimming terms: I have a strong/synchronized kick. I also have fast arm turnover. (in other words, you don't want me to bitch slap you. you'll never see that shit coming.) Wait sorry. I checked out for a minute. Both of those things are good.

The bad....which is more of tweaking. I need to work on my pull, going deeper, internally rotating my shoulder more and working on my body rotation....both of which work together.

The reality is that I'm not swimming that much: 3 times a week. 1 on my own to go slower and practice my technique and 2 for the sucking wind DEARGODI'MGOINGTODIE sessions.

That's swimming.

The bike: well you know. The bike rocks. I'm doing more of a "general maintenance" there. Doing drills on the trainer a couple of times a week.

Running is where COACH DON'T PLAY. I'm doing some running. Yes.I.AM. Sick shit at that. On Sunday, I ran 6 miles descending with 1 mile cooldown. I ran SO fast. I was sore....for days. Tomorrow, I turn around and have another BEAST like workout....much like Sunday's workout.

In between those, I do easier runs.

I've never run descends before. I think they are harder than mile repeats because there is NO REST. It's constant: GO FASTER EVERY MILE. As Coach says, "Place of Pain? GO THERE."

It's exactly what I need to build the strength and confidence to know that at the end of a race, I will be strong enough to kick into that last gear. Like swimming, I'm finding gears that I didn't know I had. Every time I go, I want more. I want to give more, be faster & stronger.

It's taken me almost a year to get to this point. (Technically, it's been 8 years.) Coach Liz got me there in less than a year.

I race next Thursday. Many of you know the story of the Turkey Trot. For those of you new to my blog, here's the story.

I started running the Turkey Trot when the boys were babies. I would run. Mike would push them in the stroller.

Then they started walking it with Mike. I would run.

Then, they started running. I would run.

Then, I had a target on my back, and the race became more than a fun family Thanksgiving Day run.

SHIT GOT REAL.

Then, Googs beat me. Then, he beat me again. Then, last year, I passed him at mile 3. He yelled out, "YOU GOTTA BE FUCKING KIDDING ME". (The MOUTH on that kid). The last mile was a bloodbath. I would run through tight areas trying to lose him. I would pick up the pace. He would pick up the pace. We stepped on the timing mat at the exact same time. (Technically, I beat him by 6 seconds because I started behind him).

This year, he started training MONTHS ago and has run 5ks. I'm doing my fastest running ever.

I cannot overstate the importance of this race....

Then we go home for a BIG family breakfast and start trash talking next year's race.

WHO WILL BE THE VICTOR? It will be decided in 8 days.


That leaves me with strength training. Coach has me strength training several times a week. I love love love her plan. Right now it's filled with core work but soon we move on to more power moves in addition to the core work. I've gotten strong fast, and I'm back to being able to hold one leg plank for a minute....HUGE Progress. I think next week, I'll move to the stability ball.

There you go.

That's my off season. When I don't feel like doing a workout, I skip it. It's my off season. I take naps on occasion. I sleep in when I can. I drink hot chocolate with whipped cream. I read a lot and watch movies with Mr. Tea. I  It's my time to turn down the volume, eat good food and enjoy life outside of triathlon. I'm not even training 10 hours a week. In January, I start getting focused again because my first race is in Feb.


But first things first, we have a Turkey Trot to run.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

From slogging to sprinting

If I'm going to be slow, I might as well go long.

For a long time, that was my thought process. I wasn't consciously thinking it but looking back that's exactly what I was doing.

It's not so impressive to say I ran a 36 min 5k as it was to say I ran a marathon!

I don't believe I was doing it so much to impress everyone else. Maybe I was. After all, no one is really impressed with someone running a 5k as much as they are a marathon. Maybe I needed to feel like I was accomplishing something because I was so slow.

Over time (and really only in recent years), did I learn that I just don't like going far. It's boring as hell. To me, there's no real challenge in going far....slowly. (Again, I respect people who do go far.)

That's me now. But it was a process to get there.

In committing to shorter distances, I was also committing to do things that I hadn't done before. Run for two hours? easy peasey....all day long.

Building output to over threshold for 7 miles? That was going to hurt.

Mentally, it was hard to get there. I would always back off. I'd want to get there, but IT HURTS. I had to be willing to feel like I was going to collapse.

I was NOT at that point.

I wasn't used to it. I was used to plugging along. Speedwork meant going a little bit faster than a long run. It didn't mean gut wrenching workouts that ended with me being dizzy, light headed.

You could always see it in my race times. My 5k was faster than my 10k, but my 10k was not much faster than the half marathon.

Because the 10k is SCARY. The 10K means going super hard for 6.2 miles. With the 5k, you know it's over soon. It's over before you really feel pain. NOT with the 10K. The 10K requires a pacing that starts that a high level and only builds from there. The 10K means jumping in to pain, relishing it, looking forward to it and wanting it more.

It's not until you're miserable, that you know you're racing a 10K.

It's not only running. On the swim, being willing to go there requires strength. Moving your arms fast, doesn't get you anywhere. Pulling hard and pushing off.....it's exhausting.

On the bike, it requires being able to handle the burning in the legs and lungs. Knowing that when you get off, you get to run a 10K.

ALL OF THAT. I wasn't willing to do. I wanted to do it.

I knew I would have to take it in pieces. I couldn't just go from plodding along to being able to handle such intensity.

This year, I made progress getting there.You can see it in my times this year. I can podium at the sprint, but I'd dropped off dramatically on the Oly. I'd hold my own on the swim and bike, but I didn't RUN the way I was supposed to run.

In 2015, I want to make even bigger strides.

When I asked Coach if we'd be doing a swim focus, I was thrilled when she said, "You don't need that. We're going to make you an explosive and strong runner."  I'd always done a swim focus in the winter....but do what you've always done and get what you've always got.

My winter schedule has filled up with 5ks/10ks strategically placed throughout the coming months. I know that this winter is big for me. If I can bust through and learn how to really run stand alone 5ks and 10ks, I can take that to my tri's this year.

In training, I've been willing to go there, go to that place of pain. I've learned that I can go there. I've learned that I can run when I feel like I should fall apart. I just have to embrace the discomfort knowing that it means I'm really racing. THIS IS EXACTLY HOW RACING FEELS. It means that I'm doing things I haven't done before, great things.

Now, that I'm learning how the whole thing feels in training, I know what to expect and look forward to in a race.

Things are looking good so far. I keep making more strides toward racing instead of merely doing triathlon.

I can't wait for my first race.





Monday, November 10, 2014

Fresh Start

Another one from the Great LBTEPA.

Today's post is brought to you by Totally Random Shit.

I joined a new Masters swim team. My first day will be this week. Why did I leave after 5 years of working with the same team? There are two reasons that sort of affect each other. The first is that I just cannot handle the gossipy, rich, stay at home moms who have the same mentality as their 13 year old daughters anymore. The second reason is that I felt like my swimming has stagnated this year because my favorite coach left earlier this year. When you're unhappy because of immature people AND you're not getting the results you want...well, a move is the next step.

The university that I went to has the BEST masters swim team in the State. They have top notch coaches and have won the state championship 2010-2014. They have minimum requirements for being able to join (300yds in 6 minutes rest 1 minute, repeat).  In addition to this, my old school has one of the best D1 college swim teams in the entire US. And WE, the masters swim team, have access to those coaches. The team has level 3 swim coaches. 

The real question would be, "Why didn't I leave earlier?" I have a problem with loyalty. I'm more loyal than a dog. Even when things aren't going my way, I have this profound sense of wanting to make it work. 

Last week, there was an incident at masters. I got to my beep beep, and I thought, "No more. I've had it." I called Mr. Tea, and he said, "I don't care how much it costs....join the new masters team."

That weekend, we went over to the university to check out the pool, get pricing info, etc.

From the minute I contacted them, I was nothing short of impressed with their organization, the coaches and the ability of the swimmers. 

I was so excited that I bought NEW FLIP FLOPS and New SWIMSUIT. If I'm going to have a new exciting fresh start, it was going to be with new flip flops.

Then, I went to the pool, and my jaw hit the floor.

Do you remember the first time you showed up for masters? Do you remember how intimidating it was?

This was like that....ON STEROIDS.

Honestly, that was my very first thought as I watched these part fish humans swimming effortlessly back and forth. THE VERY first thing that popped into my head, "I'm going to show up and everyone is going to see I'm a poser."



Right there. 

STOP.

I CAN SWIM. 

I CAN COMPETE.

I sent an email to the head coach. I told him exactly what my abilities are. I told him that my endurance is pretty solid but my threshold paces are lacking at the moment because of my race and taking a bit of time off. I told him my pace is 1:36 per 100yd normally (the pool is in yards....and I'm used to meters which will really test my math skillz), but right now it's probably slower. I told him I'm a short course triathlete. I told him that I'm pretty good at stroke except for fly which I have a love hate relationship with. 

Before hitting send....I looked at the email. Is that right? I thought to myself. Are those paces right? Why am I so worried about "being found out"?

There's nothing to find out. I go. I show up. Maybe I can swim a 1:36 RIGHT now. Maybe not. But I'm not embarrassed about who I am or what I can do. I'm not going to hide or slink away.

I'm going to show up, and I'm going to improve.

Because I have a goal for this year. I want to consistently be first out of the water. I was first out, probably 95% of the time. In 2015, I want that to be 99% of the time. I can compete with those women in my AG DAMN WELL, if it means I have to suffer a bit in masters to do it; IF IT means I have to start in the SLOWEST lane; IF IT means I'm going to get my ass kicked day after day....I'm GAME.



So, I hit send and sent the email.

An hour later, Coach responded with, "I have the perfect lane for you. See you this week."

That's when I remembered.

When you show up to masters, no one cares how fast you are. No one really cares what your pace is. 

All they care about is how hard you work.

I might not be the fastest swimmer when I go up against "swimmers", but I every time I show up, I give it everything I have that day, so I can be the best when I show up on race day.

And THAT is most important thing. You get what you give.




Monday, November 3, 2014

Beyond training


I rarely talk about work for a reason. I've found that in doing so people often think I'm a lady of leisure or they form whatever thoughts it is that they have. Over the years, people have made some very interesting assumptions about what it is that I actually do.

I prefer it that way.

There are many parallels between my training life and my work life.

In training, I want to become a better athlete. In my work, I want to build a better company.

Ironically....or merely coincidentally, both held big changes for me this year. Some people call it a "transition" year. That's what I called it.

You know what changes I went through this year on a training level.

At the company level, we made some equally big changes. Prior to this year, we had employees scattered throughout 4 different states.

By March of this year, we eliminated those positions and consolidated here. All employees are now located in the same location.

It was time for that change. When we first started hiring people outside of the state, we had very good reasons for doing it. It helped us grow. However, we got to a point where it was no longer feasible and was hurting the company in many ways. It hurt from a financial perspective. It hurt from an efficiency perspective. It hurt from a security perspective.

Whether YOU like it or not.....without profits there is NO company. There are NO employees. So, we made the decision to let those people go and re-hire locally. A company cannot survive in a break even environment or even a small loss fiscal environment.

Honestly, I don't f*cking care what anyone thinks about my decision to let them go. If I cared about what anyone thought, this company wouldn't exist.  As soon as you build a company that grows at +100% for 5 years running, then we'll have a conversation. Until then. STFU.

In addition to this, we found out that the employees we let go...fired....laid off....choose whatever words you want.....lied to us about a few things.

Let me tell you this, that PISSED ME OFF TO NO END. Why? Because I went ABOVE AND BEYOND to help those employees.

I paid for medications when they were unable to.

I paid for RENT when they were getting back on their feet.

They could work whatever schedules they needed (obviously within reason) in order to go to their kids events at school. The point, here, is that they were never reprimanded for taking time to go to their kid' events. It was something I never had working for DA MAN.

And this is just the short list. I always wanted to have a company that valued employees and gave them the opportunity to be GREAT.

AND THEY F*CKING LIED TO ME.

I don't think people are bad.

I think we hired poorly.

And don't worry, I'm not mad about it at all. It made the decision to let them go that much easier.

And I'm a very passionate person. If I wasn't, I certainly wouldn't be a business owner.

That was merely the beginning of the changes.

In addition to this, we had to cut off a long standing relationship with another small business. We both started around the same time. We've grown up together.

Just like your BFF in high school then college/service.....one day you wake up and realize that the relationship just isn't working anymore.

That's what happened. We cut off that relationship around June.


Most recently, the biggest of all the changes happened. We put in an offer to buy another company. We....sort of....low balled the offer expecting the company to come back to us with a counter.

They didn't. They accepted the offer.

We just purchased a company for 1/3 the value of the company.

This means a lot of work is ahead of us.  We are working on the legal agreements. The contracts. All the details.

We have to merge two different locations. We have two locations worth of merchandise. We have to merge systems. We have to hire personnel. We pretty much need to tear down and rebuild the "new" location (which will ultimately become our main location).

And Fall/Winter/Spring are our busiest times.


It leads me to this. I don't care how big your company is.  You have to constantly be moving. Constantly working. Constantly looking ahead to the next thing. Constantly keeping an eye on your competition. Constantly keeping an eye on what other companies in completely different segments are doing.

And don't take, "No." for an answer.

And don't listen to "well meaning" advice from other people.  They think too small or don't think at all.

YOU need to dream. You need to follow those dreams, but it takes a lot of work.

It's not any different from training.

When I started this company, I was told I was crazy. I was told it wouldn't work.

When I posted my goal to qualify for the World Championship, I got email responses saying, "Nice goal but not sure it's realistic".


Who are YOU going to believe?