Friday, August 11, 2017

SMASH Women's Camp 2017 ...

... or how I got my ass handed to me for five straight days. Hooray!

I knew I would be undercooked going into camp. Woefully undercooked.

And I was not wrong! I spent a lot of time crying, despite telling myself that someone always has to be the one to come in last and hey, there can be respect in being the lanterne rouge (or ... whatever), and I figured as long as I didn't quit, a win's a win, right?

Day One: Thursday, August 3

I rolled into town the night before, not wanting to wake up stupid early and go straight from the car to the pool. Uh, gross. Stayed at some random hotel by the airport because it was cheap before heading to my casita (a.k.a. the AirBnB on the Starr Pass grounds) that was going to be home base for the next few days. Got all settled in with my stuff and my groceries (eggs and orange juice for breakfast), met roomie Colleen, and we headed down to the swim at the University of Arizona Rec Center.

Except we get there ... and it's pouring. Thunder and lightning and the pools are all closed. Plan B ended up being a hotel pool back up at Starr Pass that was actually 25 yards and had lane lines on the bottom of the pool (but not the actual plastic ones that go on top). All told, with weather and travel and whatnot, we started our swim probably about an hour late.

Thoughts I had during the swim:
- huh. so this is what circle swim is like. and I am ... not good with this.
- bands seem like they might make OWS a lot better. must use more.
- holy crap I'm in the slow lane and getting lapped. so much.
- aw, I see a rainbow! at least that's happy ...
- I am REALLY fucking BOP here.

This swim was probably meant to be about 4k ... yeeeeah, I managed 2900. Oops. I also got quite a bit of stroke instruction from Alyssa which let's face it, I need.

After the swim, it was off to TriSports for dinner and a nice talk from Seton. Thanks, Seton!

Day Two: Friday, August 4

Did not sleep well. Uncomfortable bed, nerves? Who knows. This will end up being a thing for most of camp (but mostly due to sunburn. I'm getting there.).

Friday morning was riding Gates Pass and doing the McCain Loop Time Trial. We did a practice hill before doing actual Gates and then went up and over. Oh hey, that wasn't too bad! Confidence boost!

The TT loop. So, when I think of a "time trial" loop, I think fast. Something not with ridiculous hills. This loop? A couple substantial fucking hills. I guess that's just Tucson? The roads were also full of debris thanks to that pesky rainstorm we had the night before and a camper went down with some road rash. She was a beast though and did all of the riding and running the next couple of days (wasn't allowed to swim).

Also, apparently the west side of Gates? Is the shitty side. I had to stop to breathe a few times going up (and not falling over when getting back on. Hooray! Hillary was kind of impressed at this.) and, at one of these stops, I had my first technical pee-on-the-bike moment. I had kind of needed to go back during the McCain loops, but knew I could hold it. Apparently, standing off my bike catching my breath, my bladder decided "nope. I'm done," and let it go, so I peed standing there on the side of the road. Gross.

I got back to the casita in a huge hole (hallway scale said I was down six pounds from the night before). I showered to feel human again, grabbed my swim stuff, and did the best thing I could do to be able to shove a crapload of calories down my throat - I went to In-N-Out. I knew there was a chance I might regret it later during the swim, but since I needed calories so damn badly, I just didn't care. Thankfully, no burger came up during the swim.

The swim was in theory the 100x100 set ... but since I'm slow, I got to do 50x100. Being in the water for four hours (with no chance to reapply sunscreen) turned me into a super painful lobster. Seriously. OW. My ass is sunburned. Literally. So is my back. A week later, I'm starting to peel, but still have some major red spots. Besides that, though, the swim wasn't actually too terrible. Since I was doing 50s while everyone else was doing 100s, I got adequate rest and I didn't have to do a lot of super speed work (unlike yesterday ...), so it felt manageable, surprisingly. I mean, fatigue definitely set in, but other than that ... it wasn't a workout to really make me cry. Hooray!

(The best part, seriously, was walking back into the Rec Center and hearing Shinedown's "Enemies" come on five seconds later. Felt good to hear my favorite band after doing that swim.)

After the swim, I went over to Sushi Garden for all-you-can-eat sushi. Once again, calories. However, it was tough eating - so much chewing ...

Then on to SMASH HQ for some shopping and social time (new kit! new capris! new sports bras!) and a stop by CVS on the way back to the casita. A few of the other ladies went up to the hotel for s'mores and dessert and I really considered joining, but I made the terrible mistake of flopping on the bed and I just was not getting back up again.

Day Three: Saturday, August 5

Today was a lazy start (comparatively). We got to meet up at 8 as opposed to 6 or 6:30 ... because we were heading higher in elevation and therefore didn't need to try to beat most of the oppressive Tucson heat. We headed southeast of the city to Parker Canyon Lake, south of Sonoita. When we parked for the run, my phone legitimately thought we were in Mexico (we weren't).

The "trail" (dirt road) run was two hours - hour out, hour back. Since my run is trash and I have Pikes Peak coming up, I basically hiked all the uphills and ran as many downhills as I could. The recent rains meant there were water crossings (SO WEIRD). All in all, I got in just over 8 miles. Probably not ideal, but it's what I could manage. 

I am very thankful I had the foresight to pack an Orange Crush in my cooler for post-run, because it was AMAZEBALLS.

We had a picnic lunch at the lake post-run ... which I kind of couldn't eat. I really need to learn how to eat in heat, because it is NOT a thing I can really do. When my body gets hot, it does not want to consume food.

While we were digesting, Hillary and Alyssa shared some OWS tips and tricks ... which I will mostly pass off to Brandon because I am too slow to really utilize many of them. Then, it was into the water to swim for about 30 minutes. I got left in the dust - go figure - and at one point, even asked Alyssa why the hell I am so much slower in open water. I mean, I'm mostly comfortable in it. She couldn't give me a definitive answer, but did say my body positioning did actually look better, so there's that. Maybe I just need a new wetsuit and that will help since I loathe mine. Who knows.

After the swim, Hillary approached me and asked my thoughts on Lemmon. I told her that it would probably be difficult, but I really wanted to try and make it all the way up. She said that if I ended up skipping the planned run at the top in order to get the satisfaction of completing the climb, she'd be okay with it. Even hearing this, I decided I would pack my run shoes for the next day regardless (spoiler alert: this was smart).

We then drove back to Tucson, stopping back in Sonoita for some ice cream and snacks. My brain didn't want to figure out dinner, but I figured more calories would be good, so I just popped over for more In-N-Out. Mostly because I could not decide on what to do and I headed over in that direction so I could pick up my Chick-fil-a for the bike and boom. Decision made.

Day Four: Sunday, August 6

We campers got split up into three groups for climbing Mt. Lemmon - four of us at 6am, two at 6:30, and the rest at 7. Obviously I was in the early group.

The four of us rolled out with Hillary (Alyssa would go with the later groups) and as we hit the climb (four miles down the road), I got dropped pretty quickly. I just kept plugging along, knowing there wasn't much else I could do, stopping occasionally to catch my breath (and to eat my pickle juice-soaked chicken). I pulled off about 9ish (?) miles in at Molino Basin to pee. I almost passed it by, but not knowing when my next bathroom opportunity was ... I took it.

I also somehow kept missing the SAG truck. We think there was some miscommunication with him and his stopping spots with us all being so spread out.

It was definitely slow-going, and the asshole groups of eight or nine motorcycles that would fly by going 60 mph were terrifying (and anxiety-producing), but I kept plodding. I think the first person from one of the later groups passed me around mile 12 or 13, which made me pretty happy. Mostly because I was just waiting for it to happen at any moment.

I started panicking at one point because I knew I was getting super low on hydration and I had no idea if I was going to even find SAG. I ran out somewhere around 14 miles and was freaking out because I didn't know if I should even try to make it 11 more miles without any liquid or what. Alyssa and a couple other ladies caught up to me around mile 15, with me on the side of the road crying. She gave me some of her liquid (which tasted strange but hey I needed something), told me that SAG was up around mile 17, and that we'd go together. I didn't really lose her the rest of the ride ... which also means, that except for the pit stop to refuel, I also didn't stop again until the finish. She talked me through a lot of different climbing techniques to try to keep my heart rate down and it mostly worked.

In any case, four hours of ride time (not including stops) later, I rolled into Summerhaven and to the famous cookie cabin. Since I rolled in with Alyssa ... it also meant that I was running. At 8000 feet. It was pretty damn slow and painful - and probably a lot slower and shorter than she would have liked it to be - but I still managed a run.

I got a Dr. Pepper first ... but decided that if I was at the damn Cookie Cabin, I should probably get a cookie. So I did - chocolate chip with a scoop of vanilla on top. The ice cream? Was amazing. The cookie? I maybe ate half of it. I just could not stomach it. Oh well.

lemmon


The best part of the day was the descent. Well, Lemmon is basically 20ish miles up, a small downhill, another up, and then a cruise into Summerhaven. So leaving was a climb, a small descent, another stupid climb, and then 20ish miles down before a very toasty couple of miles back to our cars.

Lauren said it was like descending into hell. The heat by the end made me think that statement pretty accurate.

In any case, I actually was able to pass a few people on the descent and made it down the mountain in just over an hour without stopping. I wasn't last in something - hooray! And I wasn't last by quite a bit, even. I had time to pop into Safeway for a snack before everyone got back.

Dinner that night was at Hillary and Maik's and we got to Skype with Cherie Gruenfeld, which was super cool.

Day Five: Monday, August 7

Also known as the day I was least looking forward to - track day. 

I've mentioned it a few times in this post and if you've been following me for any length of time now ... you know my running is complete garbage right now. I don't enjoy running from our house (neither of us do) and I have no speed anymore and no endurance and no anything and it's so not fun and blah. So, the thought of a track session? Especially one that we learned the night before was going to be two hours? Well, that was enough to give me anxiety all morning.

The perk is I think I was finally tired enough to sleep without waking up the night previous.

We rode our bikes down to the track, as we were doing a recovery spin (which, in camp land, was still going to be over an hour) after. From the second we got to the track pretty much through the time I finished running, I was super ridiculously anxious. On the verge of tears (if not outright crying), barely able to control my breathing, slightly hyperventilating, whole thing. 

So the track workout was about a mile and half warmup (I did a mile and a quarter. The slow thing ...), and then it varied depending on who had what going on. Linda and Bri, who have IMCDA in a few weeks, got to do 21 800s, which, with rest intervals, ended up being about a half-marathon on the track. The rest of us? Oh, we just had 4 all out 200s with 200 recovery and then a mile at our goal half-marathon pace. And then repeat it twice more.

I remember a couple years ago, this must have been back at the apartment, when Brandon and I would walk up to the track and do 200s. I remember them not being too terribly torturous. These? Were torture.

The mile was almost worse. Even though my dream goal half-marathon pace is sub-2, I know that's in no way practical for me any time soon, so I said sub-2:10. Which I still technically haven't done yet (my Garmin said yes but not the results). Which meant that my 200 splits should be around 1:14. 

Yeeeah, mine were more like 1:20. But they were consistent, at least for the first two of the miles.

Because I finished so far behind everyone and I was dying post every mile, I got to skip the first of the second two sets of 200s (so instead of doing four reps, I got to do three) for the extra recovery. I definitely pulled every last ounce of anything I had out of my poor legs, though. I fell into the grass after the second mile and again after the last 200. Alyssa said she wanted dying animal noises, and this sports asthmatic can 100% do dying animal noises! I was having trouble running in a straight line at this point which is probably why I fell over after that 200. Oops. My final mile was a complete shitshow. At that point, I just did my best to keep running even though I couldn't hold any pace at that point. The mile cool down also ended up turning into a walk/run because my hips were having none of it anymore. Two of the other ladies ended up running a bit with me - Brooke with my final 400 for my last hard mile and Jan for 400 of the cool down - reassuring me that I was doing okay and that yes, this is really hard, but remember, most of them are coached by these ladies (or general Team HPB), so they were a bit more prepared by default.

Post-track was the first time I broke down officially in front of everyone. I cannot express how many times I wanted to quit during that track session. How much pain I was in, not only thanks to my stupid sunburn which I felt, but due to my legs not moving that fast in ages. How my lungs felt like they were burning for an hour straight. How I cried through 75% of that track workout.

But. 

I didn't. I stuck through and I did it. It was ugly as sin, but I did it.

track


From there, it was a recovery ride along the Tucson Loop trail, where I kind of broke off from everyone for a while on the way back because to really spin my legs out, I needed to be in aero going a bit faster than the group. We spent a lot of time out of aero and sitting up at camp and my wrists (particularly the right. Thanks, barista arm.) were stupid cranky by this point. We stopped back at Hillary's car to say our goodbyes and to get our track stuff ... and I about started crying again thinking about climbing the hill back up to the casita. Any mental toughness reserves I had were completely gone at that point. Thankfully, Jan missed the "spin to track" memo and drove, so she offered to take me and my bike back, which was the most amazing thing, and I am so grateful to her for that small little gesture.

*****

Camp was ridiculously tough. CRAZY tough. I was so unprepared it wasn't even funny. And yet ... somehow, I made it through. Quitting didn't ever seem to be an option (even though thoughts of it ran through my brain quite a few times), so I could only acknowledge the voices in my head and just ... put my head down and do the work.

I'm still not entirely sure how I survived, but I did, and I'm so thankful to my body that it was somehow able to hold together for this insane feat.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

July Round-Up

I always plan a big month and then I don't follow through or ... something.

Swimming: 15600m (9.7 mi)
Cycling: 164.55 mi
Running: 24.8 mi
Lifting: 17 sessions (3:32)
Other: five hikes (11:45:05), one stretch session (:05), three walks (2:30), two yoga sessions (:40)

There were a couple good things about this month. I swam a fairly significant amount more and I did ride more. I also hiked a hell of a lot more. Running was about stagnant ... because running and I are not getting along. If I'm honest with myself, we haven't been getting along for about two years now.

I didn't get as long or as tough of rides in as I wanted and I didn't get quite as far in the pool, but I did get in some decent distance. Strength is continuing on and I am thankful for it.

We didn't get as high up on the Barr Trail as I would have liked (Pikes Peak Ascent route), but that is on the docket for August. 

I'm probably not as prepared as I would like to be as I head into camp this weekend, but I did what I did and that is going to have to be enough.

In theory, August will bring good things - camp is going to help tremendously with that with mileage alone - plus we'll be building up for Santa Cruz. It's the rest of the year that's going to be interesting ...

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Race #6 of the Season - Boulder Peak Triathlon

... also known as my 100th start line ...

... and one of my most terrible races ever, time-wise.

Oh, Boulder Peak, how I dislike you, with your hill of death (Olde Stage), and your crappy Olympic distance which I just don't like, and your dusty run course with no shade. I never want to do you again.

I really didn't want to do this stupid race this year, but my entry got deferred from last year.

(If you remember, we wanted to do a race pre-IM Boulder. IM Boulder 70.3 sold out, so we signed up for Peak. Then Peak got cancelled due to fire, so registration got moved to this year.)

I'm kind of but really not trained for the distance - particularly on the bike. Oh and the run. And I took like two weeks off of swimming which means I wasn't in swim shape either. Brandon, (un)fortunately, couldn't race, as the timing of Peak means get that off or get my birthday off, and we all know which one I'd rather have him around for (birfday, obvs, especially because we went and saw Shinedown this year!).

So, I was on my own for this race for the first time in quite a while. I was able to wake up (tricky these days) and get to the Res with plenty of time for a good spot and to chat with people I knew ... namely George and Szabo.

peak
Transition photo. Look, I still remember how to do this!

peak2
Sunrise.

It was eventually time to get ready to swim, so I squashed myself into my old, dying wetsuit and went for a quick warm up. I was wearing my brand new Team SFQ aero top - which meant sleeves! And not needing to sunscreen my back! - that I'd never tested out before. Nothing new on race day? Pfffft ... In any case, I had tons of shoulder mobility, so life was good.

I found my Skirt friend Emily post-practice swim and hung out with her until it was time for our wave to go off.

The Swim:

Wait, do I remember how to do this open water swim thing? Fo' realz?

Yes. Yes I do.

I mean, sighting was utter shit for the first half because, duh, right into the sun. I also didn't really feel like I got into a rhythm until late in the back half of the swim ... probably because these days it takes me that long to get warmed up ... but all in all, I feel like I've had worse triathlon swims. Not much worse given my time, but y'know.

Got out, saw 45ish, thought "ah crap that sucked," and headed into transition.

Time: 46:16 (26th division, 229th gender, 593rd overall)

T1:

I love T1. So easy. Get out of the wetsuit while putting on my helmet, put my bike shoes on without sitting down ... it's amazing. 

Time: 1:40 (4th, 41st, 127th)

The Bike:

Aaaaand then I get on the bike and start pedaling and hooooo boy, my lack of training/intensity kicks in. Nothing I can do except pedal, grin, and bear it.

I should mention that I recently got new gearing on my bike. A slightly more compact crank (50 as opposed to a 52) and an 11/28 in the back as opposed to the 12/25 I had that came stock. In theory, easier climbing gears.

Yeah, well, I still needed more than one good practice climb pre-race. Ha. Oops.

I had to pause a couple times on Stage to catch my breath and yes, I did walk once (dangit), but for the most part, I was able to manage up the hill. I completely spaced on all the wonderful climbing technique Katie taught me a few weeks ago, though. Oops.

Then the downhill ... I probably went slower than I could have during the speed zone on the back side of Stage because it's pretty dangerous to take your hands off your unstable tri bike going 20+ mph down a hill, kids, but as soon as I made the turn onto Lefthand? In the paraphrased words of Buddy the Elf, downhills are my favorite.

I bombed the Lefthand descent as well as the Nelson stretch, averaging over 27 and 26 mph, respectively, on those sections. Then came the 63rd rollers ... and I remember how much I hate the stretch between Nelson and Niwot. Susan passed me at some point on 63rd, too, and I just couldn't catch her.

On the nutrition side, I did manage to eat a few bites of my Bobo's bar (whaaa? Me fuel during an Oly?) as well as destroy my bottle of Skratch right about the time I hit 51st again. Probably should have had more Skratch on me in hindsight ...

Time: 1:48:28 (21st, 204th, 580th)

T2:

I struggled a bit in transition, dealing with my basically dead tube of Body Glide for my feet and trying to squash the rest of my Bobo's bar into my back.

Time: 2:25 (12th, 136th, 409th)

The Run:

I could tell the run was going to be a struggle and a half as soon as I hit the run course. I was hoping there'd be aid right out of transition like there sometimes is - nope. Sometime late in the first mile, I saw Skirt's Nicole DeBoom flying the other way and high-fived her. 

The wonderful people from IPA Endurance at the second water station had ice (SWEET BEAUTIFUL ICE) that I took and put down my shorts, down my shirt, in my hat, and in my water, so I could have wonderful cold ice water to drink and to suck on the ice cubes. I think the heat was getting to me as I felt a bit nauseous at times. I tried to take down some of the bar - not sure it helped.

Honestly, I think that my body wasn't used to training in the heat with that much sugar/electrolyte - usually, I do more than one longish ride pre-race with said things - and it wanted to revolt on me.

Soon after mile two, I caught up to Susan and decided to just hang with her. Yeah, she was going slower than what my pace was attempting to be, but a race buddy sounded nice. So, I hung with her for pretty much the rest of the run. I saw Emily going the other way just before the turnaround - she was probably less than a half mile ahead? - and I almost thought of leaving Susan to catch up to her, but quickly decided against that.

The heat was BRUTAL. I am not used to racing in that crap.

We ran into one of Susan's friends with about a mile to go and said friend hung out with us for a little bit. I ended up letting gravity take me down the final hill and I ran the entire final stretch to the finish. Skirt sister Becky was out cheering and snapped this awesome picture, where I don't look as dead as I clearly felt:

peak_run_becky
Plus: the debut of my gorgeous Team SFQ kit!

I was sorta hoping to hit the slip 'n' slide at the finish, but I did not have the energy.

Time: 1:28:10 (26th, 221st, 580th)

Overall Stats:
Time: 4:06:58
25/26 division (F30-34)
224/245 gender
608/639 overall

Slowest at this distance BY FAR. I figure if I had managed to keep my running pace pre-Susan, I would have at least squeaked in under 4 hours (which, not gonna lie, would have been nice), but with how nauseous I was starting to feel? I might have also crashed and burned, too. Who knows.

I did meet up with Emily and Nicole post-race for some photos, though.

peak_deboom

peak_deboom2

Now, time to focus on training for camp and for Pikes Peak ...

Friday, July 7, 2017

June Round-Up

In terms of numbers, June was definitely a better month.

Swimming: 10900m (6.77 mi)
Cycling: 155.8 mi
Running: 25.22 mi
Lifting: 17 sessions (4:00)
Other: two hikes (1:45), three walks (6:20), two yoga sessions (:39)

Numbers were up across the board in terms of the three main triathlon disciplines, but I know I skipped too many workouts. Which sucks.

I'm swimming longer, which is nice, but not nearly as often as I've planned. This is mostly due to our usual pool being under construction (a good thing! it's so gross!) ... which means we have to drive at least 25 minutes (with traffic, sometimes more) to our old pool. Which is obnoxious. And I don't know the good times to swim anymore. Boo. I've used this as an excuse more often than I should have.

I annoyed Katie until she agreed to drag me up a hill on my bike - which she did! - which meant that I did more climbing than I have at one time in about three years and was my longest ride by, oh, 20 miles or so, since Chattanooga. That climb, by the way, was made marginally less shitty thanks to borrowing one of her spare rear wheels with an 11/28 configuration. LIFE CHANGER. I've been riding a 12/25 since buying the bike. As a result, we just dropped some coin to get some better climbing gears.

I'm fighting the run. I know I am. It's a mental thing - I am so convinced it's a mental thing - but that block is the hardest to get rid of.

Hiking has not been as plentiful as it needs to be. We had a long one planned for the end of June ... but it being balls hot and waking up three times in the middle of the night? One of those times for an hour? Does not leave you well rested enough to drive an hour to go hike three. Then drive back the hour.

I've still been sticking fairly regularly to the TIU daily workouts, and I do think they're helping. Consistent strength work - even if it's way lighter weight than I'm used to - is better than sporadic or no strength work.

July is scheduled to kick my ass (so I can kick camp's ass in August), so wish me luck!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

WRtW June Event

I missed May's event due to travel, but I was back in June. I also missed a photo of our second speaker. Oops. I'm also going to do primarily bullet points because that's how I take notes on my phone during these things.

First up, we had Susanne Menge, a health coach and speaker. Her word was stuck.

- This is about getting there (to the stuck point) and getting past it.
- She had two primary goals - getting to Kona (IRONMAN World Championships) and to self-actualization in Maslow's hierarchy of needs.
- She did well in triathlon thanks to being physical. She didn't have any goals once she got to Kona - it was just to get to Hawai'i and to get out alive.
- She did IM Canada; it was 104 degrees and she qualified for Kona, which was the culmination of goal number one. The completion of a huge goal like that can leave emptiness ... which is kind of how she ended up getting to Kona a second time.
- After that, it was time for goal number two, which has no set concrete training plan.
- She did try to decide to try for the Olympics and her body stopped her, which was the beginning of what she called hard street. If you think there's one more thing to do and it brings you to your knees ... where do you go from there? 
- Then people died and she got raped and was blamed for it which led to her divorce ... and she hit rock bottom.
- Every time there's a hard circumstance, you learn to breathe and can tap into your own intuitive capabilities.
- She developed a three g system - God, girls, and gratitude. If something doesn't fit in with those three things, it doesn't fit in her life.
- Also: self-care? So important.

(That latter point seems to be a recurring theme here recently ... hi universe, I get your message.)

wrtw_june

The second speaker, who I forgot to get a picture of, was Pam Moore, an author and speaker. Her word was heart.

Her book, if you're interested, is There's No Room for Fear in a Burley Trailer.

She was not athletic growing up; she tried out for the lacrosse team and it was a disaster. She stuck with it until senior year when she finally quit, but along the way she learned that she liked running (or at least the feeling of pushing yourself to your limit when running) and kept at it. She started running marathons and then started doing triathlons. As a result, people would ask her questions about getting started and she'd answer, but would refuse to identify herself as an athlete.

She finally did her first IM and people asked her why she didn't identify as a triathlete even though she did triathlons. However, the image of her as a loser in high school stayed with her.

Moore discovered and read about impostor syndrome - you think you're a fraud and not good enough. She realized the issue was fear; the fear of becoming who she really was and that she has the drive. There's also apparently a high risk for this when you're out of your comfort zone.

The final two things she imparted were really pretty awesome, so bullet points for those:
- Growth forces you to stay in your discomfort.
- We all have the strength in our heart to find the courage to conquer our fears.

The final speaker was Olympian and former pro cyclist, Mara Abbott. I know I've shared her TedX talk here and her talk shared a bit of that experience, but her main point involved her word - authenticity.

She started off with a confession - she is terrified to ride up Sunshine Canyon.

As a pro cyclist, she was a hill climbing specialist and would do repeats up that hill. She hasn't ridden it since 7.30.2016 when she left to go to Rio to compete in the Olympics. 

She related her retirement from her pro career to a divorce, and that returning to Sunshine Canyon would be like that first coffee date out when you and your ex are just friends.

Her cycling career, when it started, moved insanely fast; so fast that she didn't even know if she wanted to keep doing it and, more importantly, didn't know why she was doing it. At the end of a great 2011 season, she took herself out of the sport (retired for the first time) with an eating disorder. When she quit, she was convinced that all of her problems were cycling's fault when in reality, she had a lot of work to do herself. Abbott realized that she did actually miss the sport and that if she was going to mount a comeback, she was going to do it for her. If she was going to be a pro, she was going to do it with full authenticity.

Just post the London Games, she ran into one of the head guys from USA Cycling who knew that the climbs at Rio were ridiculous ... which prompted her to send a text to her coach about winning gold in the 2016 games (which, as we know, almost but didn't quite happen).

Eating disorders are an issue with the third chakra, which deals with self-expression. So, if she was going to come back, she had to come back with full honesty which meant with herself, too ... and also honest with the world with where she had been the past year (the 2012 season).

We all face the temptation and the risk of muting ourselves ... when we commit to goals that aren't our own, when we stay places where we shouldn't, when we say it's okay when it's not ... if we are practicing to be someone we're not, nothing good happens.

wrtw_june2

July's lineup hasn't been announced yet, but I know either next month or in August we're going to hear Shirin Gerami, who you might remember from last year's Kona broadcast, so I'm excited for that.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Race #5 of the Season: Skirt Sports 10K

The final part of the Skirt Sports Ambassador weekend 2017 (first part see here) was the race on Sunday. The race, put on by 3W Races, offered three different distances - a 5K, a 10K, and a 13er (because it's not half of anything). 

I waited until race morning to register because I wasn't sure what distance I wanted to run. My original original plan was to run the 13er, but I was NOT trained for that. I mean, I could have probably hung out at the back with some people, but I didn't feel like doing that for 13 miles. If I was going to run the 5K, I was probably going to want to race the 5K ... and I really wasn't trained for that, either.* Soooo ... 10K it was. Even though I hate that distance. But it's okay, because I ended up finding a race buddy to do it with.

(More on that in a bit.)

I've been having some issues waking up early in the morning now that I've quit the day job, but somehow I was able to roll out of bed ass ridiculously early (the race has starts around 6am ... which is good for a June race. Because it gets stupid hot here.).

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Car face.

I got registered, hit up the porta potty line (... for an all-women's race, even though it's small ... they need more toilets), and in general, just wandered around. 

At one point, I noticed a SMASH-Dimond tank in the bathroom line (that's basically the elite version of Team SFQ) so obviously I went over and said hi. Because my extreme introvertedness occasionally decides to hide in venues I feel comfortable in. So that's how I met my teammate Sarah, basically. She ditched that line and we jogged over to one of the local hotels to use their bathroom instead so she didn't miss the start of the 13er.

The 13er went off and it was soon time to start the 10K. I lined up by myself, but soon dropped back to stay with Deb, one of my fellow ambassadors and one of the most wonderful souls on this planet. We had briefly talked about doing the race together on Friday, and I wanted to run with someone, so this worked out wonderfully.

They changed the course again this year - it was behind the Home Depot as usual, but then up a little-used side road up to the 36 bike path and then around Davidson Mesa.

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Sneakily taking a photo of Deb. Also: look at the view!

Deb and I chatted throughout our run/walk - something I never do usually - and it was really nice. I also got to enjoy the beautiful views from the mesa ... another thing I probably wouldn't have been able to appreciate had I been racing.

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Finishing! Pic courtesy Jen Allen.

Overall Stats:
Time: 1:17:40
18/25 division (F30-39)
53/76 gender
54/77 overall (all female race ... must have had something weird happen?)

After the race, some chocolate milk and delicious Kim and Jake's. And waiting for the 13er runners to come in.

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New friend Sarah coming to the finish, getting third in her AG!

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Running celebrity Mirna Valerio coming to the finish of the 13er.

After the race, several of us went out for one last group event, brunch at Murphy's in Louisville (proceeds benefiting Running Start).

One last group photo, and we were back to our regular lives.

This weekend is so amazing, and I love being able to spend some time with my Skirt family. Brandon and I occasionally toss around the idea of moving out of Colorado, but I don't know if I could leave my Skirt sisters - seriously. There might be other races scheduled on Skirt weekend, but it would be so hard for me to not go to this retreat every year.

Friday, June 9, 2017

2017 Skirt Sports Ambassador Weekend

As a reminder, I am a Skirt Sports Ambassador. As such, I get to represent this AMAZING company. As a captain, I get a teeny bit of compensation in the form of a discount (for me and a code to share) and a gift certificate each year. I was not obligated to go to this retreat and totally not required to write about it, either. Buuuut, it was awesome, and I live an hour southeast of it, so clearly, I did/am doing both.

Part of the perk of being a Skirt Sports Ambassador every year is getting to attend the retreat/weekend that Nicole and company put on in Boulder at HQ every year. I've gone every year they've had it and the ladies keep outdoing themselves every year. The weekend culminates with a race on Sunday - which will get its own separate post.

The weekend kicked off with a cocktail reception at the store on Friday night. We got to meet new ambassadors, say hi to old friends, shop for more Skirt (if that's even possible!), drink, eat some great food, and hear about Skirt. We also got a sneak preview of the upcoming Fall/Winter 2017-18 line, but no pictures of that.

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Friday night festivities.

We then met back up Saturday morning for hiking, speakers, breakout sessions, a workout, and more food.

We had a choice of hikes to go on. Since I'm training for Pikes Peak Ascent, I went on the longer one. I also learned that I need to get a lot more vert in my life ...

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As our hike was the "Snot Rocket" hike, Nicole decided to put on a clinic on how to blow a snot rocket up at the top.

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On the way down.

After the hikes, we met back up for a quick breakfast, and then we started the speakers.

First up was Maria Uspenski from the Tea Spot.
- She started a cold brew tea; the idea of which came because of her experiences with Ride the Rockies.
- Think about hydrating with tea - it can save your teeth, you know what you're putting into your body, you can cater to your own needs, it has antioxidants and antibacterial properties, and obviously, the caffeine is helpful.
- Self-care is non-negotiable. You have to take care of yourself first before you can take care of anyone else.

Next we had fellow ambassador Mirna Valerio read us a chapter from her upcoming book (available for pre-order), talking about fat, body image, and self-acceptance. Following Mirna was another ambassador, Mary Sutter, our resident social media expert answering some questions about that.

Somewhere in there we had a workout - either yoga or a HIIT-style bootcamp (I did the latter), but after all of that, we took a break for lunch.

While we were eating lunch, we were split into groups by regions to come up with a new idea for Skirt, Shark Tank-style. A wide range of ideas were thrown around, but I don't want to mention them here just in case they end up in the works for the company. Don't want to leak any proprietary information, after all!

After that, we had our final speaker of the day, Dr. James Rouse, whom you might remember from my post on February's Women Run the World event.
- He wanted to remind us all how good we are.
- Don't lose a sense of your true self.
- We all (want to) improve ourselves, but sometimes, we are just sick of one more book that tells us we suck.
- There's a space in between self-improvement and self-acceptance, and in that space is self-compassion, which is the secret sauce of awesome.
- It gives us an unfair advantage over the inner critic.
- There is an opportunity for an uprising in our inner dialogue.
- We just need to live life loving and well.
- Each and every morning, ask yourself, what would love do now?, and then live your day off of that answer.
- Put into place five practices - optimism, play, functional nutrition, mindfulness, and gratitude.

All in all, it was a day full of fun, amazing energy, and a little bit of sweat. And a few pictures, which I'll share now.

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Taking a picture of Emily pretending to take a picture of herself with the Skirtmingos.

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Catching Lisa resting.

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Me hamming it up for the ever amazing Jen Allen, our official weekend Skirt photographer. This was during the workout break.

I would be remiss if I didn't also acknowledge all of the amazing sponsors who came together to help Skirt Sports put on this weekend for us!

- Noosa Yoghurt

- Ska Brewing
- Justin's Nut Butter
- Skoop! (Healthy Skoop)
- Golden Root
- Bhakti Chai
- Alpine Start (instant coffee)
- Noodles & Company
- The Tea Spot
- Kim and Jake's Cakes
- Mad Greens
- Skirt Sports
- 3W Races

The energy would continue on to the Skirt Sports 13er/10K/5K the next day ... which you will read about in my next post. Probably Wednesday.