Tag Archives: Happiness

(Training and Normal) Life is Good

I’ve been terrible about keeping up with this blog, mostly because I know that almost no one can – or does – read it. I like to think that’s due to the privacy settings I have set up for the time being and not that I’m totally lame. Fingers crossed that’s all settled soon so I can really get to the bottom of this.

In the meantime sometimes I feel like OMG SO MUCH HAS CHANGED since I updated the Internet about my training progress every few days. Other time I feel like there’s nothing to talk about because it ranges from similar to the exact same every.single.day. I love the schedule and repetition in my life, but know, and am cool with the fact, that not everyone cares. I love working hard to achieve gains that only I notice. I love proving to myself that hard work pays off.

Training friends, normal life friends, and family ask, “So how are you? How are things going?” And I feel like I don’t have a reply. Things are calmly perfect. There are actually very few ways that they could be any better, really. I’ll take a winning lottery ticket any day, but outside of that I’m at a loss as to how life could be better than it is. I don’t have a lot to talk about.

I’m chipping away at training very well. After every single swim, bike, or run, I wish I had done better or been stronger. But when you add it all up? I have gotten better and stronger. A lot better and stronger, in fact. I question less, I work harder, and I recover more effectively. My new coach and team is exactly what I needed this year. My hours and fitness are up and my fatigue is down. Win/win.

I love my job. It isn’t really work to me, but rather it’s what I want to be doing during the hours where no one will swim/bike/run/drink wine with me. Of course there are days that I would rather sleep than wake up at 5am to fit everything into my day, but 99.9% of days are awesome and there really isn’t much that I would rather be doing from 9-5. And then there’s the fact that my colleagues WILL actually swim, bike, and run with me.

My best friend/husband/tri sherpa/the-most-wonderful-person-on-the-planet and I just got lucky and found our dream home. And then we purchased and moved in to it. It’s a lot of work, but we knew that and are okay with it because we get to live here for forever if we want to. It was a hellacious process to get the house and be where we are, and I swore up and down that I’d NEVER FORGET HOW TERRIBLE IT WAS, but dare I admit that I’m starting to?

My friends and family are healthy and happy and life is good. What else matters? Oh. I’m drinking a really awesome glass of wine right now while I watch the sunset’s reflection in the lake.

So. Things are pretty rad.

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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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Sunrise Window

Twice a year, every year, a magic running time happens in Seattle.

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I didn't take this photograph, but I present Sunrise from Montlake.

Those magic days are when I get to catch the above in person. For a two week (or so) period in the spring and fall the sun rises while I’m on the Montlake bridge, and my surroundings look exactly like that photo. Those runs are some of my favorite of the year. As the time changes and days get longer I track the weeks, and when I predict the weather and sunrise will align I change my schedule to make sure I have enough distance planned to run that far and experience it.

I’m sad to think that I might miss that time this year.

Yes that's a boot. Yes I have a sfx.

I’m going to get faster on the bike and faster in the pool, but Vh1’s Jump Start Video and the tiles on the bottom of the 24 Hour Fitness pool just won’t compare.

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You can do it.

Done and done.

 

Some excitement is in the works, and I can’t wait to say more!

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Photo Run

When I woke up this morning first I headed to my apartment’s gym to get in some warm up, stretching, and abs.

Then I hit the streets for my run. Have you ever wondered what Denny looks like with no cars on it? Okay, well maybe just a couple of them.

Next stop: cake!

This view makes climbing up Dexter worth it.

Usually Lyons Grocery has coffee outside for visitors, but on second thought maybe that’s only during summer? Regardless, I could have used some today. I was dragging!

Mornings are very different under the Aurora Bridge. There’s nearly no road noise and the lights are pretty, whereas during the day it’s a noisy traffic-filled trap.

It was really thoughtful of someone to bring my yacht around to Westlake just in case I got too tired to continue.

In the hundreds of times I’ve run by this, I never realized until today that it reads Marina Mart. Funny, because there aren’t any “marts” in the complex.

This is the crime scene from the great goose attack. I’m hoping that this spring I’ll get by without another tale, but somehow I doubt it.

Have you ever seen the (incredibly inappropriate but also hilarious) website This is Why You’re Fat? Well, This is Why My Neighborhood Smells Like Bacon.

And nearly home, the sunrise beginning over Capitol Hill.

Photo runs will work a lot better in a few weeks when it gets lighter earlier, but in the mean time they certainly are a great way to keep my HR under 150 on slow and easy days. Sometimes it’s difficult to accept an easy run for what it is; I feel like I’m not making progress or feeling the pain that makes me love running. But it is refreshing to take in my surroundings and enjoy the wonderful running city that I live in.

In other training news, track last night kept the streak of awesome going that started with a fast Saturday run, a beautiful Sunday ride, and a breakthrough Monday swim. For the first time, quite possibly in the history of me running on a track, I didn’t think “omigod I’m gonna die” on repeat for 60 minutes. Instead, I flirted with that feeling and then focused that energy on silencing my head and letting my legs do the work. Another This is Why I Love Running moment in the books.

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The Jar

Does anyone other than me love New Girl on FOX? Zooey Deschanel can sometimes be too much; I’m not a fan of cringe-worthy humor and the previews really rode that line closely. But one night I was watching something else on FOX and was too lazy to change the channel so we ended up watching it. If you don’t watch this show please know that you should. It is awkwardly hilarious, and though I rarely find tv and movies to be laugh-out-loud-worthy this show does it over and over.

On the show Jesse Day (Zooey’s character) lives with 3 guys who run the gamut of personalities. All of them are worthy people, but each of them occasionally shows their douche bag side and when they do they’re forced by the other housemates to contribute to The Jar. Whether it’s humble-bragging, showing off, or the like, the rest of the housemates punish the DB with monetary payment and the amount they deem must get paid.

On my long run today I encountered another runner at a drawbridge, and gave him the runners nod to say hello. Well, he wanted to chat and our conversation ended up including the following topics as we waited for the bridge to rise, the boat to pass, and the bridge to lower.

  • Racing
  • Off season
  • Pacing (as in “you look like a 7:15” as well as “I was much faster last month”)
  • How to get to Green Lake with the fewest stop lights and least feet of climb
  • Hydration
  • Warming up
  • Headlamps
  • Shoes that shrink in the rain (I have never heard of this)
  • Thus, the need to buy shoes that are too big
  • Apparently Nike’s shrink a lot, ironic for a PNW-based company
  • Arm warmers (specifically 2XU’s)

So, basically, if we had a jar I’d definitely owe at least $20. Or more, considering those topics were all covered in less than 5 minutes.

In regards to the run (not talk) portion of my run, it was awesome. Awesomely awesomely awesome. Today’s miles were why I run. Today’s run was why I sometimes think that the world would be a better place if everyone ran, if everyone could produce the feeling of flying and pure joy out of almost nothing. It wasn’t easy, I dug deep, but I was looking forward to digging and then was happy to find that despite the dig I continued to fly and smile for 14 miles, and not to mention hit my pace goal without the struggle I sometimes face.

14 miles: Mile 1-7 @ 7:38 avg pace. Mile 7-13 @ 7:10 avg pace. Mile 13-14 cool down.

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2 Days in Seattle – Runners Edition

My husband was selected to participate in a campaign for Seattle’s Convention & Visitors Bureau and lucky me got to participate by association. As part of 2 Days in Seattle we spent this weekend touring the city like out-of-towners, visiting sights, eating at restaurants, drinking at bars, and browsing at shops to find and enjoy the best of what Seattle has to offer. Tip: 2 days isn’t nearly enough! We ate at some sentimental favorites and tested new hot spots, and after 24+ hours of delicious I still need want more.

I was a good little triathlete and fit in my training before and after the fun, but I wish I had themed my training to Best of Seattle too in order to continue the staycation vibe. One of my hands-down favorite things to do on vacation, or even just in a new place, is run. I think it’s simply the best way to get a feel for new surroundings, get integrated into a new place, and spot locals doing whatever it is they do. So, in honor of vacation running here are my favorite Seattle routes. I hope if you have 2 days in Seattle and love to run that you’ll give them a shot.

Myrtle Edwards Park You can run loops or incorporate it into a longer run, but Myrtle Edwards is hard to beat. One-of-a-kind views of the city and the sound make this a great place to soak in your surroundings and experience Seattle. The South end is home to the Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park where you can find unique outdoor art installations, stop for a drink at the visitor’s center, or count on a clean bathroom. Though the park is safe, flat and wide open it isn’t lit during dark hours so winter can be rough. You can easily extend this run up to Magnolia Bluff or along the waterfront for more mileage.

Magnolia Bluff One of Seattle’s most beautiful neighborhoods is Magnolia, just outside of downtown. Magnolia Blvd shares similar sound views as Myrtle Edwards, but from the top of a bluff as opposed to sea level. In the times I’ve run here I’ve almost always spotted a bald eagle (one time 3!), and even if the steep incline slows you down the ocean air picks you right back up. The homes in the area are almost as amazing as the expansive sound, and if you eat hills for breakfast I highly recommend cutting through the neighborhood to get a few more feet of elevation and additional beautiful views. Then make sure you stop in Magnolia Village for some well-earned coffee and treats.

Discovery Park Trail I admit, I’ve actually only run this trail once in the 6 years that I’ve lived in Seattle. But I loved it. Loved! And everyone else does too, which means that you’re destined to love it as well. Discovery Park is Seattle’s in-city wilderness oasis; once you get out on the trail and experience the forested patches, sandy grassy dunes, and views of the sound and Olympic Mountains you’ll feel a world away from downtown, though you’re only about 5 miles away. Also, you will probably want to move here. This park is what Seattle is all about.

Seattle Half Marathon Route The Seattle Half is hilly, but if you like running hills or even just don’t hate them you can’t beat this loop. The course guides you through downtown, over to Lake Washington Blvd to experience what I think is the best running in the city, up Interlaken through a canopy of every color of red/orange/yellow you can imagine (run this in the fall), and back to Seattle Center. You’ll have but a moment of flat terrain, but you’ll get the absolute best of Seattle in just 13 miles. Note, the race allows runners to actually run on the freeway, so amendments to need to be made if you’re running the course for pleasure.

I could go on and on and on. So if you need running recommendations in the city feel free to message me and I’m happy to share more secrets. And if you’re wondering where we spent our actual 2 Days in Seattle:

We stuffed our faces with delicious at Fonte Coffee, Chez Shea, Matt’s in the Market, & The Coterie Room

Time flew with great entertainment at The Seattle Aquarium, & The Triple Door.

We got tipsy at Etta’s, Art Restaurant & Lounge, and nearly everywhere we ate.

We slept at the Fairmont Olympic.

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Race Recap: Magnuson 10k

When I woke up yesterday morning the last thing that seemed like an awesome way to pass time was to be outside. It was raining and cold with a forecast of snow. But despite a stupid hamstring and even more stupid weather I really wanted to race this one. My hamstring has been making good progress despite continued training and a half marathon last weekend, and to me part of racing is making the best of the cards you are dealt that day and doing the best you can under the circumstances. There’s really no such thing as “if the course wasn’t so hilly” or “if I wasn’t dehydrated” or “if only I had slept better last night”. You chose a hilly course, you didn’t drink enough water, and that sucks that you didn’t sleep well. But that’s how it is and you better try your hardest to be the best you can today, and do your best to capitalize on others’ crappy cards, too.

Back to the hamstring: Though I haven’t slowed my training much I’ve been really excellent about icing, not stretching, and listening to exactly what my dumb leg needs, constantly. And I guess I’ve been doing something right; since the worst of it the Tuesday before last I’ve made notable progress daily. Which made it disconcerting when I woke up for the race and it felt more tight than it had the day before. Tight muscles + 36 degree racing weather isn’t exactly recipe for success, but I decided to go, check things out, and give myself permission to quit without considering it quitting at any time.

When I arrived on site it was so windy that Lake Washington was white-capped and crashing all along the park. Oh and there were kiteboarders there. On Lake Washington. If that tells you anything… I arrived, registered and developed my plan of attack: 30 minutes before start time I’d start running parts of the course to warm up. If my leg didn’t let up I’d slow jog the 10k. If with 10 minutes to go it still felt good I’d throw in some fast accelerations to see if it would tweak out or adapt to the speed and hold.

Warm up was a success in more ways than one. I saw a bald eagle swoop to the lake to fish about 100 feet away; I’ve never seen one so incredibly close and it was breathtaking. My leg started loosening up and letting go of the knot, so my new goal became to stay loose up until and through the race. I knew if I stayed smooth and steady – even if fast – it would behave. And lastly out on the warm-up I spotted some “race friends,” AKA runners I recognize from past events. Though I still think triathletes are the friendliest athletes around, I like that I’m starting to get a better feel for the running scene. It’s nice to know who the fast ones are, and it’s nice to feel like maybe some of them recognize me, too.

Finally it was Go Time so I slow jogged back to the start, climbed into the starting queue two rows from the front and we went!

10k 6.2mi // Time: 42:52 // 6:55 min/mi

Things I did well:

Adapt my plan and stay smart. I knew that I shouldn’t have a lot of expectations for this race, so I managed realistic hopes for a steady performance rather than set an awe-inspiring goal. With every stride I assessed my health and pushed my pace conservatively. When the course got muddy or hilly or snaked I reassessed some more to keep my pace strong but not compromise my leg with an uneven surface or quick movement. I wasn’t too proud to accept this and be okay with it.

Keep a competitive mindset. I effectively used the people in front of me to pull me forward and to scout what was coming up ahead. This was a little tricky because the 5k, 10k and 15k all started together and consisted of 1, 2 or 3 loops accordingly, so you never knew who was running what until you reached the finish of a loop and runners either stopped or kept running. Though I wasn’t running to gut myself I picked people to pull from and continued to climb the ladder for the entire race.

Size myself up and start right. I’m pretty good at knowing my own pace, but I also assume that I’m much slower than everyone else. The last couple of races I’ve gotten frustrated trying to pass around slower groups of people so at the start I lined myself up two rows back, right behind the crazy fast guys. I only got passed by a couple of people the entire race (5k-ers) and ended up picking off many of those who started in front of me, and  constantly had someone to try to catch. I think I did good.

Things I could have done better:

Scout the course. I absolutely know I should have done this and I didn’t because I’m lazy, not because it was impossible. If I had scouted the course I would have known where the big hill was, where the crappy snakey path was, and to expect a mud run in the second half of the loop.

Reach out. Like I said, I always feel like triathletes are more friendly than runners. They cheer each other on as they get passed, and nothing brings two strangers together more quickly and closely than a mutual love for the sport. I saw runners that I recognized and waited for them to give the smile and nod. They didn’t, so I didn’t. But one of them gave me a cheer at the end of their 5k, and I realized I should have been the one to reach out. Next time. Though I was the only person on the course to cheer people on as they passed, I could have done better.

I had a really great time yesterday, and though many signs pointed to ‘skip it’ I’m really glad I didn’t. I’m starting to get the hang of racing so that I can show up, know the plan will work, and feel confident about what I’m doing rather than worry about everyone else. In my opinion racing should always hurt and be uncomfortable if you’re doing it right, but if you have a plan and confidence you welcome the pain rather than fear it. Now I’m really looking forward to my next race in February.

Magnuson Park Run Seattle Washington

Course Map: 1 loop for the 5k, 2 loops for the 10k. The lucky 15k-ers got the snakey death path and mud run zone THREE TIMES!

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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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