Category Archives: Goals

New Team

There’s no time like now for a little training update. Right? Especially since tomorrow marks exactly 3 months out from August 25, also known as Ironman go time?

After IMC last year I was ecstatic about my race for a couple of days, then exhausted for a few more, and pretty soon after that I started thinking about the next one. It didn’t take me very long to decide for certain that there would be another, but I didn’t want a repeat of 2012. I wanted, and still do, a lot more than that.

I want to go to Kona. And if I don’t get a spot I want to walk away knowing there was not one thing that I could have done to be more well-prepared to earn it. If I believe that in my heart, I will be a happy Ironman no matter what.

I can’t complain about my 2012 season or Ironman Canada. If I had a magic ball the only things I’d change are things that can’t be controlled anyway: freak weather in Boise, freak bike crash in July, more freak weather at Lake Stevens. I have not an ounce of regret about how I handled any of it, but when the season quieted down I knew, and know, that I can do better.

What worked for my first Ironman (and second summer of triathlon) isn’t the same thing that that will help me continue to grow as an athlete. If anything, 2012 was more of a preparation against failure rather than aggressive and planned growth. So last fall I outlined what I needed to do to be better and came up with a few things:

  • Bike more. No matter the bike, no matter the weather. Saddle time!
  • Train, purposefully, with FAST friends. Force myself to (try to) keep up.
  • Join a master’s swim group to swim more. <- Thinking that if I swim more, I’ll get better, and hate it less, maybe.
  • Challenge myself. Make myself uncomfortable. Work through it, and find confidence.
  • Have fun.

Then in December I did something that was pretty challenging for me (thus meeting one of my goals?). I broke my routine with the friends and coaches I had become comfortable with and  joined a new tri team: Pauole Sport. And I think I was more afraid for that first day of master’s swim than I was the morning of Ironman Canada.

The good news is: it’s working. I’ve gotten stronger in the water and on the bike. And on my run off the bike as well. I have a pool (literally, ha) of talented athletes to use as carrots, training buddies, and resources. And I’ve met some awesome people who I’d want to hang out with even if we didn’t all have to ride for a million hours every Saturday so we may as well do it together. And on top of all of that my new coach is fantastic.

Things still feel exhausting and hard on many days, but having confidence in my coach’s plan, having friends to endure it with, having resources to learn from, and having the occasional day off is currently making all of the difference in the world for me. These things make it possible for me to spend time with my family and friends, have a (small) life, stay sane, and still think Ironman is fun while getting better.

Greg LeMond’s quote is the real truth, “It never gets easier, you just go faster.”

 

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Aging Up

Today is my birthday, and in the amateur sporting world of running and triathlon it’s a big one. Though I only turn 29, based on the timing of my birthday I will from this point forward be aged up into the 30-34 age group.

Eeeeek!

The 25-29-ers are fast and fierce, don’t get me wrong. They feel and look friendly, kind, and caring, but out of nowhere athletes will in essence eat you up and spit you out. But in a friendly way. They’re there to compete, but there’s an air of compassion and we’re-all-in-this-together-ness. Athletes are there to race, but against the clock, the course, and themselves. All season long this year, at the start of every race, I watched those 30-34’s and thanked goodness that I was still in the 25-29 group.

The 30-34’s look more hardcore. They’re geared up. They know what they’re doing. They line up, size each other up, and are ready to go. There are fewer athletes that are new to the sport – it ain’t their first rodeo – and they look more confident, calculated, and dialed. They chat and smile and wish each other luck, but it looks to be surface. The 30-34’s are there to race too, but against EACH OTHER.

Next time I pin on a bib I’ll be racing among athletes who are older than me, but in triathlon age is (to a certain point) a virtue. My set of competition will be more experienced and they’ll have more years of endurance build up under their race belts. And there will be more of them! The 30-35 in women’s triathlon is one of the more popular female age groups so the swim start is large and the field is wide. I’m worried that I’ll be intimidated. I picture the swim start at Ironman Lake Stevens 70.3, lined with fellow-colored swim caps, and wanting to turn around and walk back ashore.

Not that I don’t usually feel that way but…

The upside is that I have about 10+ months until I race an Ironman again, and when I do (assuming I race Canada) my age group will have not only double Kona slots but more to start with due to the age 30-34 participation ratio. Another upside? In an Ironman every last athlete starts together so I can seed myself in the chaos or on the fray depending on how I feel; no matter what I’m up against 2,800 people for the first 1:00:00-1:30:00. And I’m not a competitor in road races, plus there’s no violence like in a swim start, so the worst thing that happens is I get crushed (in performance) in NYC. But unless your name is Kara Goucher that’s pretty much a guarantee, meaning I’m used to it and unafraid. However in triathlon I’m generally average enough at everything and not terrible at anything  so I perform and place decently; every second I spend swimming rather than getting beat up counts!

Another upside… when I actually turn 30 it will feel like a nothing birthday because I will have already endured the worst part: aging up. 🙂

On a more serious and sap-tastic upside note though, I’m about 800 miles from home, my husband, my family and friends, and I’ve never felt so loved. Riding into San Francisco in the back seat of a cab I was reading birthday wishes from so many people and I’ve never felt more satisfied with my life. I never imagined that I’d be right here, right now, but the details of my life are exactly how I always wanted my adult life to be but didn’t know was possible. As a 12, 15, 17, or even 22 years old if you’d have told me this would be my life I’d have responded:

Living in Seattle? Maybe. Seattle’s cool.

Married to my best friend at 27? I’m too selfish to conceptualize what that means. Or I was… until I fell…

A Boston Marathoner and Ironman? HAHAHA. I HATE RUNNING SOOOOO MUCH.

Working at a full-time job that isn’t work because you believe in the purpose? I wish! But since I don’t feel that strongly about anything other than exercising I doubt it. Unless someone will give me a salary for elliptical-ing!!

But when I string it together right now my life is just as me as when I was 12, 15, 17, 22, or 25. The things that have always been common, that are unchanged with age and experience because they are inherently who I am, are thriving right now because I’m living the life that I always wanted but never knew specifically existed. I’m 29, and I’m truly happier and more myself than I ever remember having been.

I hope for many things, but when I blow out the proverbial candles tonight I will wish for this feeling to recur on every birthday for forever. Life. Is. Good.

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Race Recap: Ironman Canada 2012

I asked the twittersphere how long a race recap could get before it got “too long”. I received a lot of good responses, all of which reminded me of something. It was my day. And I want to remember it. Plus, this is my blog. If you lose interest, I’m sorry I’m not sorry.

It was an amazing and wonderful day, one that words can’t do justice. And the journey to get there has been, dare I say, even better than that single day. So without further ado, my Ironman Canada race.

 

Ironman Week and Race Morning

About how I did hardly anything leading up to the race, and it was awesome. Except when I thought I had kidney stones again.

 

Swim and T1

About how I finally had a good swim in a race, and that I should medal in transitions.

 

Bike and T2

About how my bike was pretty strong  until my stomach started hurting. I still threw down a good ride, but it wasn’t a good sign of things to come.

 

Run and Post Race

About how I ran until my stomach no longer hurt, and the only leg I didn’t cry on.

 

Happy reading or snoozing!

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Race Recap: Ironman Lake Stevens 70.3

Since Ironman Lake Stevens 70.3 wasn’t really a race for me, I instead decided to use it to learn a few new things and test out some others.

Overall the day was okay. 5:46:50

The Swim: 37:50

The water was warm and relatively calm. I was happy to start in the first wave following the pro’s, until it became clear that with the frequency waves were starting with it would be extremely difficult to maintain personal space to minimize the chance of getting smacked in the head (exactly what I didn’t want to happen). I swam on the inside of the buoys on the way out and moved to the outside right before the last buoy. The problem was that I didn’t realize that was the last one and I overshot the turn by probably 50 meters. Drat!

The Bike: 3:16:21

We got poured on during the bike. I told myself if it was raining during the bike I would stop for safety reasons, but once I got out there I couldn’t quit. For better or worse I don’t have that in me. As demoralizing it was to watch people fly by me it would have been a bigger blow to myself to stop. So I bargained with myself and kept my focus on the next aid station, and then the next. And I stayed as far away from other cyclists as I could, because though I trust myself to be safe I couldn’t risk another crash. The course would have been hard without the weather conditions combined with my conditions but on a different day I really think I would have liked it.

The Run: 1:48:53

And the sun came out for my favorite part of the day – the run. The run course was awesome – basically a figure 8 with one of the loops being an out and back. The smaller true loop was tougher with not much to look at and a few pretty steep, but thankfully short, inclines. The out and back leg was heavily lined with the crowd for much of it, and even once the road narrowed you still had “oncoming traffic” to look at. I went out at a pace that was very maintainable. And I ran, and cheered, and focused on maintaining effort up and over the hills. And for the first time in history my splits were almost identically even with an 8:20 min/mi pace for the first half and an 8:17 min/mi pace for the second half.

Things that went well: 

1. Because I wasn’t “racing” I used the day to test random new things, including keeping hair out of my face, how to keep a new outfit chafe-free, using on-course nutrition rather than packing my own (minus on the bike and 1 emergency gu on me). These are things I’m never really willing to risk during a race but I learned new stuff that works for me. It’s nice to know that in future races I can rely on aid stations a bit more to simplify my transitions.

2. I used Infinit on the bike for the first time in a race, and forced myself to drink 2 bottles. I probably should have had even more but consuming even this amount was a nutrition breakthrough for me. It prevented the “empty” feeling quite well and I was happy to stay hydrated and not experience any stomach issues either. There was a point where I didn’t quite feel topped off in terms of energy so I broke the rules of Infinit and indulged in some chomps. I thought I was going to have stomach issues around mile 3 of the run but it settled and everything was great.

3. The swim and bike were pretty bleh, but I had a lot of fun on the run. Yes, we do this sport for fun, but by the run I’m usually more dying (and it’s fun when it’s over!) than rallying and enjoying every mile. I used keeping myself at 80% as an excuse to scream for every person I knew who passed by, to cheer on people passing me (or that I was passing), to high-5 everyone with their hand out, and to thank every volunteer within earshot. It was good times and helped redeem the day for me.

4. My transition times were decent. I kept it simple, stayed focused, and followed the plan/layout that I had visualized prior to the race. It worked. Now I just need to figure out how to repeat it. T1: 1:50, T2: 1:56 

Things to improve on next time: 

1. The swim was sucky. Not only because I was afraid of getting smacked, but it took me about 3/4mi to feel warmed up, comfortable, and panic-free, and by that time I was near done. I felt disoriented/seasick on the swim – which happened the Friday prior during an OWS too – and I wonder if it is concussion related or that pool swimming is making me soft. Regardless, by about 800 in I could only breathe on my strong side to keep from feeling affected by rotation. To me this means I need to focus on open water a lot more before I head to Penticton. It’s more important to get comfortable swimming in open water than chance that the minuscule strides I might make in the pool in the next month will be worth it.

2. I would love to know how this bike could have gone without the crash. It felt okay; far from awesome but not terrible. The bike I borrowed fits great and rides great, but it simply isn’t what I’m used to. The balance and weight were really different, and had never ridden a road bike in my life until a week before this race. I did much better on the climbing than I thought I would…but I know I could do better. Needless to say I didn’t make use of downhills – or even flats – other than to let people fly by me! With technical terrain combined with pouring rain this was not the day for me to test anything here. My mantra was to stay as far away from other people as possible.

3. Also on the bike, I need to work on shorter TT type efforts. The flats weren’t terrible but my cadence felt way out of whack. Either high (ie. mid 90’s) or low (mid 70’s). Historically I’m most comfortable in the low 80’s (I know, should be higher and I try!) but I just couldn’t find the effort and gear to match comfort or ideal range.

4. I need to continue to train the nutrition and hydration plan that I’ll use race day. I’m really exceptionally horribly bad at this when I train, but I need to force myself to take in calories and water at the same intervals that I want to on race day. I need to practice everything from bike handling while eating to hydrating with a high HR. I have a really hard time “compromising” my training pace or intensity to do this, and though I had an easy out today at only holding 80% I need to be better come Canada.

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Two Weeks ‘Till Boise! In Highs, Lows, and In Betweens.

Saturday officially marked two weeks until this.

I’m excited because I haven’t raced in a while and look forward to the day. I’m nervous for countless reasons, but mostly also because I haven’t raced in a while…plus the conditions will be a crapshoot and I haven’t gotten in open water as much as I’d (psychologically) like. I’m anxious because I feel like this whole thing crept up on me so quickly. I’m confident because I know I’ve been working hard and even through injury I haven’t put up with excuses from myself. I’m worried because I feel like there’s still a possibility that I won’t do the best that I know I can do, for many reasons (including the ice cream I just ate! :-/).

Because I’m racing in two weekends this one wasn’t too stacked in terms of training. It wasn’t easy but it didn’t feel overwhelmingly stacked.

So the highs, the lows, and the in-betweens:

In Between: On Saturday I had an 80 mile ride with 3x 18min intervals with HR @ 160. I don’t have a Lap HR set up on my watch, and failed pretty miserably at keeping my HR avg at 160. I wasn’t dying, and it’s not that I couldn’t, but I just didn’t see the average ticking low on my watch (155ish). That said I was pretty happy with the ride otherwise. I’ve never ridden that far, I rode at a good clip, and I felt stronger at the end (and for the rest of the day) than I did during the 75miler.

High: I got a (very small) chance to repay the Husband for all of his sherpaing but being his 5k sherpa. And even better, he got 4th OA, 1st AG, and came in sub 20! For someone who only recently starting running again this is hugely impressive.

In Between: I enjoyed an amazing array of delicious food and drink this weekend. It was awesome, but I feel guilty.

Low: On Sunday I was supposed to swim a 45 min OWS in the lake. As a prep for Boise I had really psyched myself up to swim straight without stopping to enjoy the scenery, and to really focus on what was working to keep my form good and pace steady as I’ve been known to freak out in the water. Well, when I arrived the lake looked rough, and as I wetsuited-up it just go rougher and the swimmers who had all headed in. This turned into an In Between, because I forced myself to swim through it and adapt and though I didn’t make the gains I was originally looking for I left the water feeling able to tough the chop out.

Low: This morning I was supposed to bike hard for 40mi and run for 60min. I drove all the way to a loop with hardly any lights and by the time I arrived it was raining and soggy. By the time I got home it was sunny, but I didn’t have time to drive back and there aren’t any places to bike nearby that don’t have 800 stop lights (not conducive to keeping HR up). So I had to tough it out on the trainer but I wasn’t really sure how mileage/time translates. I rode 46 mi in 1:45 and I have no idea of that’s even remotely comparable to the original plan.

High: I ran! Off the bike! For real! A real run! My 60 minute run was supposed to be at max 8min/mi pace, and I averaged 7:47 ‘s. So. Freaking. Happy. About. That. It was tough, but I went in thinking it would be really tough and turned the run into a mind game right off the bat to pick a pace and lock it. The pacing I went with was hard by mile 6, but not impossible. And I didn’t feel the need to die at the end.

In Between: To bikes who want to pass me: Please do so as I am not the speediest out there. However, please don’t pass me, then slow down so that I have pass you, then expect me to want to ride with you. I probably don’t especially if you pull that kind of asshat move.

High (for entertainment): On Saturday’s ride I made a quick pit stop to refill my bottles in a sort of sketchy park. Not unsafe in daylight, but it holds some questionable inhabitants. During my fill up a minivan full of said inhabitants wanted to know how much my bike cost. Not wanting to tell them I skirted the topic. They told me their guess was $1k as though that was TOTALLY INSANE. I wish buddy.

High: I had a few moments during the weekend where I really felt like my hard work was coming together. Even though things weren’t perfect I felt like I’m almost there, a pretty infrequent feeling for me.

Low: I subsequently had a breakdown, with tears, over training-related frustrations with myself. It’s amazing how quickly the mind can switch from “I got this!” to “I suck, big time,” for no good reason. I take a lot of pride in the fact that I won’t accept excuses from myself, as well as in how hard I work. But no matter my dedication or work ethic, I will never be able to control the rain, the wind, or other people. Such is frustrating, such is life.

High: I felt better after I cried for a minute. It’s been a long while.

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2012 Will Be Busy

Not to be negative, but I sort of hate New Years. It all feels arbitrary to me. If you have resolutions or goals to make, why not commit the moment the moment that you realize you can’t stop thinking about them? Why does 1/1 make it easier to put them to action and apply to life? (It doesn’t). Tomorrow probably actually won’t be easier than today, so rather than starting a diet tomorrow why not skip the pie and ice cream now? Because there’s also a possibility that tomorrow will be MUCH.FREAKING.HARDER. and that you’ll need that pie for survival.

New Years also always has this massive amount of buildup around it. What are YOU doing for New Years Eve? Well, if you really want to know, if I had my way I’d probably stay at home in my PJ’s that I got for Christmas, eat that pie and ice cream I was just talking about, and be asleep by 10pm. But alas I will get dressed up. I will have a marvelous dinner with good friends. It will be an amazingly fun night, NYE or not. And hopefully I’ll still have those PJ’s on by midnight.

Truly though, 2011 was a really incredible year. We rang in NYE in Paris, followed by London, Venice, Florence, and Milan. I ran the Boston Marathon. I completed my first Sprint, Olympic, and Half Ironman triathlons, all sort of on a whim. We had our 1 year wedding anniversary. Garth’s blog was a huge success, like, ridiculous huge. We looked at a house, decided to stay renters, and feel ridiculously good about it. We learned, laughed, healed, and had a lot of fun with hardly a moment to rest. I don’t know if we’ll be able to beat all that fun in 2012, but we’ll certainly try!

There’s some fun in store for the new year already, and there are some definite things I want to accomplish in 2012. Clearly. See my race schedule page if you don’t know what I’m talking about. And not only do I have a race schedule plotted out, but I have some lofty goals to accompany each race. I want to break a 1:35:00 half marathon. I want to give IMC my all get a Kona slot in Canada. And if I’m not too broken by November I’d like to BQ before we ring in 2013. Along the way I want to eat too much good food and drink too much good wine (disclaimer: this goal may not be as lofty as the rest). My plan to get there is to follow the plan and make every day count toward arriving at where I want to be. This year, there’s really nothing to change. Just lots to keep doing, and do it I will.

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What The World Needs

This morning on Twitter I read a quote from Jordan Rapp:

“If you have a dream, pursue it as hard as you can. The world needs more of that.”

I believe in the truth of his statement with all of my heart. Though I haven’t thought it in such a succinct way nor let it escape, I also haven’t been true to it as of late. Rather than approaching ups and downs as an opportunity to reach far and fix what’s broken, training and (mostly) not-training related, I’ve felt bogged down and buried. Trapped. Apathetic. These things are not me.

You see, I believe I’m only trapped to the extent that I allow myself to be. Excuses are lame. I can pursue what I want much harder than what I am doing right now. And if I feel trapped I should be. Yes, it might take some hard work and waiting, and then more hard work and more waiting. But if I did – in sport and otherwise – things would most certainly be better. Pursuing a dream might make the dream come true, and if it doesn’t, well, at least I’ll know I tried.

The world needs many things, and I don’t need to list them to paint a clear picture. But, the world also needs more passionate, happy, hardworking people. The very effect that we have on others when we’re at our best is enough to make dreaming worth it, let alone the effect that it has on our own hearts.

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Will Do’s

As part of the post-race exercise my coach asked that I put together a list things that worked well for me this race, as well as a some things that didn’t that I might change for future preparation or simply not do again.

Overall I feel pretty good about Sunday’s race. You can’t complain about a 4 minute PR, ever. Especially one that’s as a result of a mostly run-free spring and summer; the product of just two months of butt busting to build strength and speed for race day. I am happy that I did well and grateful that I had the opportunity to do so. But, my goal was a 1:35 and I came in at 1:37, so there is room for improvement and I won’t get over that part. I’m not losing any sleep over it, but I am already trying to plan my next road race to shut my brain up and prove more fastness.

It was a good exercise to think about things I’d do again versus things I shouldn’t do again, ever because it forced me to think about what I’ve learned and how far I’ve come. And it made me identify specific actions that I’m responsible for that contributed to and handicapped meeting my goal. The best part being that if I’m responsible that means that I have control over these things, meaning that I can change them, meaning that I can make sure they go better (or keep going well) next time around.

Here’s the summary:

Things I’d do again to prepare for race success. For sure. 

1. Running the course pre-race. Usually I drive courses or just generally study up on the terrain, but running it so many times really helped me focus on what I knew was coming next (flat stretches, hills, turns, etc.). Though I may not be able to replicate that for IMC, it worked well for this race and is something I would find helpful to replicate when I can. It was a huge relief while I was pushing myself through the race that I didn’t have to think about how far I had to go, since I just knew and knew how to stick to the plan.

2. Plan water station stops and stick to the plan. I used this tactic during Black Diamond too, and rather than waiting until I’m thirsty I just made a goal to run through every water station if only for a tiny sip. For the Seattle Half I planned ahead to stop at alternating stations and hit that right on target. I never felt like I was fighting dehydration or nutritionally related lack of energy, and I think planning it out ahead of time contributed to that. I’ve never used Gu during a half and forced down 3. No stomach issues and once I recovered from the Madison and Interlaken hills I felt good nutritionally speaking.

3. Pre-race Warm-up. Jogging to the start line and a few long sprints made a big difference in the start of my race. The warm-up calmed some pre-race jitters and got (and kept) me warm, and I didn’t have trouble adjusting to going out fast. Usually in a race, and sometimes even in a high intensity training session, my HR spikes really high and then levels, but that feeling always generates a bit of panic and I was happy to not experience that this race.

Things I wouldn’t do again, or would change, to make sure future races are a success.

1. Don’t feel locked in to the pacing group. I mentioned in my short race recap, the pacer was a blessing and curse. He reminded me that I needed to get myself out of the crowd and keep moving for the first few miles, but the zig zagging and catch up on his terms rather than my own stressed me out and used energy inefficiently. Bottom line is that I think to feel really in the race I need to establish my own footing.

2. Use training to build confidence (not just fitness). I didn’t feel extremely confident heading into this race. I did strong training leading up to it and hit most of the training goals, but for some reason I never felt confidence build alongside progress made. During training even when I hit pace/time I felt like I could have done better, and when I missed splits or pace by just 2 seconds I felt down on my performance. Long progression runs did a tremendous amount for my fitness (I wouldn’t change those at all!) but I wasn’t accustomed to the effect they have and without the “that was easy!” feeling that I’m used to during long runs (which I’ve done slow and steady in the past) I didn’t build myself up as much. Probably nothing to change here, just a learning curve thing.

3. Practice racing. I feel toughest and most aggressive during training, as opposed to when I race, so I think I need to race more to practice my mindset. During training I welcome the challenge, but during a race I get more worried about pushing myself too hard and find myself worrying about not finishing. Silly, but true. A race doesn’t get me into a competitive mindset anymore than a training run with difficult pace parameters does, so I think I need to find a better way to position a race in my mind so that I’m focused on “beating” my own plan.

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Celebrate, and other things

The Seattle Half is almost here, and it’s looking like it will be a soggy day.

I’m trying not to let the weather report get me down. I’ve proclaimed my love for winter running many times and truly mean it. We big heart each other, lots. But racing through the sideways rain is a different story. Prior to a long progression run I don’t generally stand outside for two hours with thousands of my closest friends, milling about, in the rain, in a trash bag. And even if I did practice such a weird ritual, during progression runs the first half should be slower and act as more of a warm up. Come race day the pace is less forgiving; you better be warm and ready to go when the gun fires.

Also not helpful, I’m nervous. I’ve never set my sights on what I consider such a significant PR. When you’re only talking about 13.1 miles, making up 6+ minutes is a lot. My previous 1:41:08 was what I consider a decent time, and though I know I’m faster now than I was then, 1:35:xx seems worlds away. I know I can do it, I’ve proven it in training runs, but it’s still a challenge for me to not let pressure build and to silence any negativity that creeps in.

I think that most athletes sometimes have doubts, but during my next race training cycle I want to feel more excited. I want to feel pumped up and ready to kick race butt. I want to rest easy. I want more confidence. And to channel my pre-race nerves in a productive way, here are some ways I’m going to do that:

Celebrate!

When I have a good training run, awesome weights session, or killer swim, I need to do a better job at celebrating that success. Bi-lateral breathing through the whole workout = awesome! Weights felt effortless for the first time ever = party time! Missed your overall pace by a fraction but hit the first half of your progression run 15 seconds faster/mi than prescribed = rockin’!

No matter how good I do I always think about the portion that I could have done better. Though that drive encourages me to do better it doesn’t give me the confidence I need to sit back and let myself do what I know how to do. I need to give myself a real hug when it’s deserved, rather than one that is simultaneously whispering in my ear, “But you coulda done better.”

Ride the Line

Even if I’m just out for a long progression run I haven’t pushed myself to the point of can’t but once in recent history. I am afraid of can’t. I usually stop just short of can’t so that I get to consciously decide rather than succumb, and then spend the next minutes/hours/days/weeks cursing that I did that. Can’t is both physical and psychological, and I am too much of control freak to let it happen naturally… I want to know when to anticipate it, then decide that I’ve reached it, and then pull the trigger. I’m a control freak.

So what if I really bomb the last 400 of my last 1200? What does it matter if I can’t hold the pace for the last 1/4 mile of my long run and break just short? Who cares if I have to take an extra 30 seconds between sets to recover? All of that is better, in moderation, than just barely hitting the goal every time, but not knowing what you can do. I want to know where that line really resides, and keep pushing it backward. But I gotta ride it if I want to know where it is, and I’ll probably surprise myself.

Get More Involved

Countless times I’ve thought about helping out with Girls on the Run, or showing up for a new-to-me running club to meet some new friends and get in a few miles, or starting a lunchtime group run at work, or trying a masters swim session. And I have 101 excuses that include everything from not wasting a workout to complicated car logistics to “but then when will I do my laundry?”. Lady, you’ll find time for laundry. Or you’ll get some new running clothes to fill the gap! But either way you’ll survive.

Sport is inspiring to me and makes me happy, and has filled a void that I didn’t realize was missing since my teenage days. Training is a big part, and a favorite part, of my life, and I want it to be my lifestyle, too. There are so many fantastic people involved in running and triathlon in Seattle, and I’d like to feel truly part of that community. For a long time I felt like I wasn’t good enough or fast enough or experienced enough to hold my own, but I think I can do it now.

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Why & How

Since I got sucked into the triathlon vortex I’ve thought daily about two things:

1. Why am I doing this?
This is a tremendous amount of time and energy to spend on an “extracurricular” activity. Not to mention a lot of money.

2. How am I so head over heels in love with this? Why does all of this feel not crazy, but rather, like home? I feel like this is how things should have been all along.

After writing that out I’ll admit I’ve actually thought about two five things on such a regular basis: The above, plus: 3. What’s my workout today? 4. What am I eating today? and 5. When do I get to go to sleep today? But these additional questions aren’t a far departure from typical, so I won’t bore anyone with full results of my food dreams. I exercise a lot, so I’m hungry a lot. Investigation unnecessary.

I’ve put a significant amount of thought into these questions however, and have tried to pinpoint answers without being overly emotional and sentimental. In the end, It seems it’s a sort of emotional topic for me so I’m not sure how effectively I can communicate without some sap. But along with the sap comes answers, and answers that I feel proud of, at peace with, and ones that I know are strong enough to keep me here.

So why does this feel like home? Why is this second nature? Why am I so in love with this? Rewind to 9 year old – 15 year old me.

A typical day required me to wake up, pack my gym bag, pack lunch, go to school, change in the bathroom, hop in my mom’s car, do homework on the 30-45 min drive, practice for 4-5 hours, more homework on the drive home, eat dinner, finish homework, and go to bed. Rinse. Repeat. But I loved it so. I loved the blood, sweat, and tears. I loved the battle wounds. I loved the ups and the downs and the stories of the human capacity that the sport produced. I loved that the hardest workers to rose to the top.

My parents enabled me by driving me back and forth to practice, but there was no pressure from their direction. As long as I got good grades my parents likely felt glad that I was motivated and productive, knowing there were much more harmful things a 13 year old could care about. The only pressure to get stronger and better was internal.

I intensely remember being asked on a regular basis if my dream was to go to the Olympics, and vividly recall being caught off guard each time. Silly stupid adults. I didn’t want to go to the Olympics and knew I wasn’t competitive enough. Why would they be so condescending and not understand that’s not what it’s about? It was about so much more than which skills were performed how well. There was a romance for me in the routine, rhythm, and mental demands of enduring and growing within the sport. There was beauty in learning what your body and mind could truly do without limits, as well as a beauty in learning how to remove said limits. There was confidence to be built, torn down, and reconstructed. Friends to be made. Trust to be gained amongst others, and yourself. Discipline to be learned. And lots of hard work.  13 years later my body has not retained the skills necessary to throw a tumbling pass, but my mind can feel the tempo and cadence of each discipline. I wouldn’t dare try, but I can feel the bars, beam, floor and vault in my heart, body, and soul.

At 16, with rampant injury, I cut my losses and experienced high school. Then I went to college, and learned, made friends, and had fun. I got my first job and worked as hard as I played. All along I was happy and thriving and having a ball, but I wasn’t the same me, and knew it. Then I met the man who would, in the future, become my husband, and as our relationship grew his love and support naturally enabled me to re-find myself. There wasn’t a search party assigned or any crises that triggered it, but feeling loved and secure and happy resupplied the tools I didn’t know I had lost.

There are many differences between the sports, as well as my life then and now, but more is similar than not. I really don’t know what it’s like to not completely and entirely devote yourself to whatever you are passionate about. I took a break in my late teens and early twenties, but that break wasn’t from aspiration; I simply didn’t have anything inspiring me to take action. Triathlon crawled into my heart and mind and now resides in the same spot that gymnastics owned, and I feel home. I am constantly eager for the physical work and
emotional battle, every single day.

So, why am I doing this?

Simple. Because I can. I love working hard. I thrive on the physical and mental challenge. I want to know how good I can be.

I don’t have an awe-inspiring story of overcoming illness, raising money for medical research, or building awareness for a cause. Maybe I should look into that, but raising money would never be enough incentive for me to swim 2.4mi, bike 112mi, and run 26.2mi all in one day. If we’re being honest, it really wouldn’t actually be enough motivation for me to do even one of those things in one day. Call me selfish, but I can only get it together to kick my own ass when it’s over something that I want. Conveniently, I want this a lot and my ass is ready for kicking.

The majority of the time, that is truly enough for me. I want it, so I’ll do it. And on those occasions when I need more I have a great fan club of friends, family and fellow triathletes to remind me that every single day in this journey counts.

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