Sunday, December 25, 2016


Shine by Mondo Cozmo

And, I'm off. My season is starting tomorrow.

Yesterday, we did our Christmas celebration with JMan & Googs & JenNah. How holidays change as your kids go from being kids to being adults.

They completely surprised me with running gear. Not just any running gear. Running gear that I needed so badly for the winter. I was waiting for the after Christmas sales to purchase. 

During dinner, JMan pulled out a beer stein from the cabinet.. He said, "This is the coolest mug I've ever seen. Where did you get it?" He looked at the stein and read it, "AGE GROUP CHAMPION. OF COURSE. Because my mom is an AGE GROUP CHAMPION".

I think it's a very good thing that they grew up watching me trying to meet my grandiose goals. They've seen me struggling. They've seen me get back up and go again the next day. They've seen my wins. I can see them take that exact attitude to things that they do. When they struggle, they get back up and pick up where they left off, the next day.

I guess that's why I woke up this morning thinking about my goals. I usually get up on Christmas Day and run. But, today is my last day off for the foreseeable future. I stayed in bed, instead.

Many times over the years, I've said, "Train to your weakness. Race to your strengths".

I really believed that, but I didn't do it. Year after year, race after race, I've had to listen the comments, "If you could just get your run together, you'd be an awesome triathlete".

The weird part was that I already thought I was a pretty awesome triathlete. 

Still, I think, those words echoed in my head for too long. I would go into a race, focused on one thing and one thing only: RUNNING.

I would swim. I would bike. The event that was on my mind was the run.

That process was more along the lines of  "Train to your weakness. Race to your weakness".

This year, my goal is to change that. 

Two years ago, I raced Age Group Nationals for the first time. The swim start was very crowded. The women I raced with were talking about splitting ourselves up. Let the really fast swimmers start. (These were the 21:00-23:00 1500m swimmers). (We're talking about split seconds here. The wall was very crowded.It was a logical thing to do. We actually had more room in Omaha than we did in Milwaukee). At the time, I said that I wouldn't be in the first tier of swimmers, but I would definitely be the lead group of the 2nd tier. 

At the time, I was right. In two years, my swimming has improved at a crazy rate. I don't want to set stupid expectations of anyone who is trying to improve your swim. If you are swimming on your own, your swim isn't going to improve. Period. If you are happy where you are, that's totally cool.

You all know that I swim masters 3-4 times per week. I've taken private lessons. (This week, I am having a video analysis again). My masters coaches know that I want feedback. They know I need to be pushed, and they will, sometimes, set a pace that I doubt I can hit. I always prefer to be the slowest swimmer in a lane. I'd rather get lapped than wait for slower swimmers. When I swim, sometimes I stop and watch the truly amazing swimmers swim. I watch their form. I am in awe at how far their pull takes them.

This year at AG Nationals, my goal is to take off with the fastest and stay with them. This will require a lot of practice, but I have QUITE the race schedule to figure it out. I've talked to my swim coaches about my pacing for the 1500m swim. Now, it's up to me to really put in the work. In theory, I know the 1500m feels easy to start, but to hold that pace for the entirety, it requires more effort as the race goes on. (The 1500m swim is actually my best distance, so this will be a fun year for swimming).

That's my goal for the swim this year: Get my pacing down and hang with the fastest of the women in my age group.

The bike is going to be interesting. It's going to be a blast. It's going to be the biggest challenge I've had, ever. Again, the race that I'm focused on is Nationals. No race is the same. Terrain & weather can change from year to year from race to race. Once again, my goal has nothing to do with finish times. I have an aggressive, aerodynamic set up on my bike. What this means is that my power output during a race is often much lower and my speed much faster than it is when I'm on my trainer. I've learned that my specific power output on race day isn't as important (as it is for an IM and 70.3). BUT.....I want to improve. As long as my threshold keeps improving, I will be faster on my bike. As long as my legs are burning, I'm in the right space.

Before I even get to Nationals, I've chosen races with particularly difficult bike routes: steep hills. My goal for the bike is to get strong, strong on the hills. The Nationals bike course has a steepish hill that we climb twice. I want to fly up that hill. In the races leading up to it, I'm going to work on my gearing and gut it out on the climbs. I'm already strong on hills, but I want to be better. (Descents are just as important. There's no rest for the weary).

Last year at Nationals, I passed 12 women on the bike. I wasn't passed once, not even by younger athletes. This year, I don't want to be that far behind when I come out of the water. I intend to move up when I'm on the bike.

My goal for the run is to be the best that I can be. Typically, the 10k is my worst distance. That's because I NEVER pace it correctly. This off season, Liz and I put work in on "pacing". I'm starting to get it. 

The advantage, as I see it, is the run course being changed this year to a two loop run. I always prefer multiple loops over one big loop when racing. For me, it's a mental countdown 1.55 miles at a time. 

Guess what? I'm going to be passed on the run. #sorry #notsorry 

My goal isn't to hold my position as I come off the bike. My goal is to bring my best run to that race. You can bet that I'm going to be working on my pacing over and over and over again, until Nationals.

In order to make Team USA, I have to come in better than 25th with an estimated time of 2:35 and better. Last year, I was 26th. Ten of the top 25 women all age up with me this year. The time of 2:35 is a stretch for me. 

I should explain the importance of the finish time.....or lack of importance. In order to qualify for Team USA, I need to come in 20th or better before the Age up rule is applied. Since 10 women are aging up with me, next year, I have to look at their finish times to get an idea of what I need to train to in order to get close to 25th. 

A time of 2:35 is a stretch for me. But that's what I'm training to. Team USA doesn't care about finish times. They care about placing. If faster or slower women show up to race....I don't control that. I control my effort and attitude only. I own that part of my race. 

Back in 2015, I didn't think I'd make Nationals again. I raced Nationals with the attitude that "I was just happy to be there". This year, I'm not just happy to be there. I'm going there to accomplish something.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Dec 3rd: Getting your shit together day

On Dec 3rd, I was scrambling around the house like someone set me on fire.

Mr. Tea finally asked, "WHAT are you doing"?

I replied, "Today is the day I'm getting my shit together".

Mr. Tea: "Today? Dec 3rd? Is there anything significant about Dec 3rd"?

I said, "There's no real reason. I decided yesterday. Today is the day".

Mr. Tea: It's not Jan 1st. I like it. I want to do "Getting my shit together day, too".

There you go.

Forget resolutions.

Pick a random day.

And get your shit together. Whatever that means for you.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Stay the course

If I wrote this post a week ago, it would have gone like this.

I hate off season.

I hate running.

I hate swimming.

I hate everything.

I hate the cold.

I want to crawl under my covers and stay there until June.

Instead, I waited a week.

Mr. Tea was sick in Oct. My entire masters team was sick in Oct. I got sick in Oct. This wasn't any normal cold. It was the worst cold I've ever had in my life. I could barely walk from the couch to the kitchen. It lasted a full 3 weeks.

You might also remember we had several people we know pass away.

The week I felt better, I sprained my ankle when I stepped into a snow drift. Fortunately, it wasn't a bad sprain. It was minor all things considered. I started rehabbing immediately.

But THAT day is the day I caught my next cold. WTF?!?! The last time I was sick was 2014, and I get sick twice in two months, not to mention my ankle sprain.

Oh but it gets better. As I was dealing with that I had the worst hormonal issues I've ever had....because 49......I sat in the kitchen one morning in tears as I watched the hot flash and ensuing rash cover my body. It was the most painful experience I've ever been through. I went into the bathroom and stared at this body that I no longer knew. My body was betraying me. This phase of hot flashes lasted a week. Each *flash* lasted 45 minutes and left me completely depleted of energy. It would take me 2-3 hours to recover. That week, I lowered my intensity and did one workout a day until I got through it.

Then our treadmill died. Any off the bike runs meant I had to put on layers to run outside. Running in the cold when I was already sweaty was not at all fun, easy or warm.

And until you have attempted to take off a completely drenched running bra only to put a dry one on a sweaty don't know what it really means to be a contortionist.

During this time, it is our busy season at work. We attempted to hire two people. Neither one worked out.

Then, the staff stepped up (again).

Then, Mike hit his 3 month recovery mark. The 3 month mark is a really big deal. They are the hardest months of recovery. We started noticing that he hadn't been in pain. He was hardly ever coughing. He was walking regularly. (Although, he can't walk outside in seriously cold weather).

My hormones mellowed the fuck out. I doubt they'll ever go back to the nice predictability I had before. At least, for now.....I have re-set my expectations. I'm doing more from a training and nutritional perspective to help me with those times.

If you didn't know this, women and men need to train and fuel differently. Peri-menopausal women need to fuel differently than women under 45 (possibly 40 depending on the woman). AND menopausal women need to fuel differently than all other women.

Did I mention, we need different fueling for different times of our cycle?

In other words, just when we're feeling like we have a handle on things Mother fucking nature throws a curve ball at us.

Most importantly, no woman is the same as another. Each experience is our own unique experience. I'm not like your wife or girlfriend or you. You, your wife or girlfriend are not going through the same thing I am.

Please don't group us together. There are few things that will piss off a perimenopausal woman more than a guy saying, "Oh yeah. You're just like my wife".

I will rip off your fucking face if you ever say that to me. (Yes. I have had men say that to me. Although they lived to tell about it.....they aren't the same person anymore).

But, I digress.

Things improved.

Mike is getting better. We decided to get ourselves a new treadmill as a Christmas present. It arrived on Friday, and I get to use it for the first time today.

In the past 3 days, I feel like my 2nd cold might actually be over.

My ankle is all healed up.

I went to masters 2 days this week, since I hadn't been in a couple of weeks. Nothing will make you feel more loved than a bunch of swimmers running up to you asking, "Where have you been? We missed you"!

I've been figuring out my nutrition and finding new things that work. Two months ago, my old fueling stopped working, meaning that it was making me sick. I couldn't even put it in my mouth with gagging.....which is another very normal thing for women my age.

I'll continue to experiment.

In all that, I'm still on my quest of 235 miles. Back in January, I set a swim goal of 235 miles for the year. (Keep in mind, I only do sprints and oly distance). With my half marathon, surgery, and being ridiculously sick for two months, I didn't think I would hit my goal.

Last week, I realized that I was 20 miles from my goal. I could still meet my goal. I hammered off an email to Liz saying, "You know I don't stray from my plan.....yadda yadda.....but this was my goal....yadda yadda....could we bump up my swim volume?"

She said, "You know what, Tea? Swim as much as you want (up to 5 days a week), until 1/1/2017. Do what you want when YOU have time to do it".

This past week, I swam +5 miles. I now have only ~13 miles left to hit my goal.

Next Saturday, I am running a 10k. It will be stupid cold and probably below 0 for the race.

This will be my first stand alone 10k in YEARS. Originally, I thought it would be a PR attempt. Now, I don't care about that.

The 10K race, my swim goal....they are about what happens when I stay the course; go with life's ups and downs. It's ok to get mad or frustrated but STAY THE COURSE.

Everything is temporary.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Find your anchor

I follow Dwayne Johnson on Instagram. I've always liked him. I gravitate toward people who take what they do seriously, but they don't take themselves seriously.

In one of his recent posts, he said, "find your anchor".

I never thought about that before.

What does "find your anchor" mean? To me, it's the people and places and things that keep me balanced.

For me, "find your anchor" is much deeper than a support network which is important but probably includes a dietitian, massage therapist, people you train with (like masters or some running groups)...a group that you probably don't necessarily share you deepest thoughts with.

It's who or what keep me balance; keep me rooted. It's where I go to be who I am at my core. 

When it comes to people, these are the people who like me for who I am, not for who I know or how much money I have, not because of what I've done. These are the people who accept my flawesome.....all my flaws and all my awesome.

Mr. Tea and Coach Liz are my anchors. They are probably the only two people who can give me unsolicited feedback that I will heed....or at least take note of until I'm ready to hear it.

I have close friends that....geez....I don't even know how to describe them. They're my anchors.

Since my tri season ended, I've had a few weeks (here and there) where I was off from training. I would simply go in to TP and tell Liz that I want this week or that week off.

That's when I realized that riding my bike is my anchor. I rode my bike every day when I had those weeks off. When Mr. Tea was at his worst and I had to be at his beck and call, you'd find me in the basement riding my bike. Now, I'm on a run focus. I miss my bike, horribly. I'm still riding 3 days per week, but I miss my bike on the other 4 days.

That simple, little phrase, "find your anchor" was a reminder that I have a place or people that allow me to drop the walls and just be me.