Saturday, February 6, 2016

Mental Discipline Breakdown

It's been said that mental discipline/toughness is the 4th discipline of triathlon.  Really, I think eating and sleeping are there somewhere, but yeah let's be honest - there are many more disciplines to our sport than just swimming, biking, and running.

Today I had 1800 meters in the pool and a 6 mile run scheduled.  Should be no problem, right?

Didn't go as planned.

The swim was fine. In fact, I'd say that it was a great swim.  It was a speed session, and more or less it demonstrated to me that the work I'm putting in is paying off.  So that wasn't the issue.

No, the issue was the 6 mile run.

T had scheduled a 40 minute easy run.  So what we agreed we'd do is do the 10 minute warm-up together, then I'd take off along the trail, do my run, and meet her at home.

It really never had a chance.  The weather is cloudy, and a lot colder than forecasted today. My Garmin was not cooperating (heart rate was in Z3 when it should have been in Z1 and vice versa, the pace was way off as well) and my brain began to go places that I don't want it to go when I'm running.  About 16 minutes into it, I stopped the Garmin, let T catch up, and we cut mine short to hers (she was having her own separate issues).


So why did I break down mentally?

I think it started off this morning.  I got to the gym nice and early.  6:26 am start.  I had the pool to myself.  I was in my happy place.  By the time I was 1000 meters in, the pool was nearly full.  Some older lady decided that she was just going to jump into my lane and use 9/10ths of it.  I wasn't in the mood for that, so I had some choice words for her.  Bottom line - do not assume you can just share a lane with someone.


At the homefront, my garbage disposal decided to start leaking, meaning I have to replace it.  I'll be the first to admit I'm not the most handy guy around, so tomorrow will be quite interesting with replacing that.  

I'm also dealing with going back to flying the line.  My schedule went from smooooooooth to rackum frackum I have a lot of work to do for the rest of February!  Lots of flying, pretty much every day the rest of the month.  Greaaaaaaaaaat.  NOT!

February also tends to be a bad month for me, just in my mental state.  Garfield the Cat described February as "the Monday of months" and he's right.  Winter blues begin to set in. The freshness of the new year wears off.  The Christmas bills become due.  Both my parents and one of my in-laws celebrate birthdays, which means more presents to dole out. Taxes are due.  February all around is just a dumpy month.

So I guess now that you've read my rambling about my mental breakdown for the workout today, you're probably wondering what I'm doing to combat it?

1.  Celebrate the small gains.  This is the first time all year that I've deliberately cut a workout short due to mental fatigue.  I cut a swim short due to a vomit feeling, but that was a physical ailment I blame on Chipotle.  Stupid spicy.

2.  Be patient with myself.  While I didn't stick to the scheduled run workout today, I still got some miles in, and I shifted my longer run to tomorrow.  Tomorrow is a new day.  Also, I need to remember that for the last two years, I have made excuse after excuse to not make the necessary gains in the sport.  It'll take time to shed all the bad habits.

3.  Remind myself that we're still early in the year.  If there is a time that it's "acceptable" to have a mental breakdown, this is the better time to have it.

4.  Use my resources.  T is a valuable resource to have, as she's gone through most of the same trials I have.  Coach will be a good resource to lean on as well.  I'm not in this fight alone.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

January Round-Up

It's funny, really, how much coaching changes things.

Mostly mileage. It really changes mileage. 

Swimming: 14350m (8.9 mi)
Cycling: 210.39 mi
Running: 30.85 mi
Lifting: seven sessions (1:38)
Other: two mobility training sessions (:08), five stretch sessions (:50), two walks (:55), one yoga session (:12)

Those swimming and cycling numbers I swear are higher than some of my summer month numbers when I was in Ironman training. And okay, yeah, I'm technically in IM training right now, but barely! This is base building! 

... I think I'm terrified of what's to come. And simultaneously excited. Mostly terrified, though.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Race #1 of the Season - Chilly Cheeks Duathlon #2

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I know to rediscover my love of triathlon, I'm going to need to race.  A lot.  Well why not kick off my racing season in January, right? 

T and I woke up to very cold temperatures, but sucked it up and headed to Cherry Creek Reservoir.  It was going to be 19 degrees at race start, but whatever, right?  We got to the res, I checked in and got a bib, then we went back to the car to stay warm.  Hung out in the car for nearly an hour, and then headed back to transition to get ready for the race.

The format was interesting.  It was run-bike-run, but the runs were short (1.25 miles and 2.75 miles) and the bike was 10.8 miles.  Also, the dudes started 4 minutes ahead of the ladies.  T and I decided to have a bit of friendly competition (whoever won would be "Champion of House").  We walked down to the start, said goodbye, and off I went.

Run 1
I knew running 1.25 miles would be easy, even with the cold.  That being said, I refused to go out fast.  Coach reminded us to save a lot for the last run, so I took it very very easy.  I held a sub-10 for the entirety and before I knew it, I was back at transition.  Time - 11:52

T1
I need to work on transitions.  Time - 1:20

Bike
I like this bike course and generally ride it pretty well.  I also knew to pace it properly, because even being a 10.8 mile course, it wouldn't be easy with the cold.  I also wanted to stay far enough ahead of T so I could push in Run 2 and ensure my victory.

So early on, I was pleasantly surprised at my speed.  Woo trainer sessions paying off!  I even climbed the stupid hill of doom pretty well.

Shortly after making the loop on the tower road, I saw T and knew she wasn't 4 minutes off.  Therefore, I'd have to make my move on the second run.

I got back to transition in pretty good time.  Time - 38:49

T2
This went a bit better, but still...need to work on transitions.  Time - 1:42

Run 2
Run 2 did not start as well as Run 1 did.  I was a bit sluggish out of trans and it took awhile to find my legs.  I knew though that the push needed to come in the final 1/2 mile, so I didn't worry about it too much.

With .4 or so to go, I took off and pushed hard for the finish.  I beat another dude who was ahead of me, which felt good.  Time - 29:16

Post-Race
T crossed shortly after I finished, and we congratulated each other.  Then we walked over to trans to get banana bread, cup o noodles, and water.  While we grabbed our food, we checked the results.  Not seeing our stuff, we waited a few minutes and then a new sheet was posted.  We found that I beat her by 8 seconds, thus crowning me "Champion of House"!  However, we determined that racing in the cold, both having a great race, means that we are co-Champions of House.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Race #1 of the Season: Chilly Cheeks Duathlon #2

You get so wrapped in the process of training, that you forget about blogging. This is what happens when I don't make blogging a priority. Fail.

Anyway, this was way back on January 16th. We'd been obsessively watching the forecast to see if it would be snowy or clear or what. Both Brandon and I were really hoping to ride.

Race morning rolls around and it's cold as hell (19!), but roads were dry. Good enough. We can handle that.

A lot of our friends thought we were crazy to be racing, but it's Colorado, and there were still a ton of people there that day.

 photo cc2_zpsr1nafgxz.jpg
Fairly full transition.

Most of our warm-up was literally hopping around trying to stay warm. I over-dressed for the first run so I would save time in transition to the bike knowing I wouldn't have to add layers for the bike.

Run #1:

The first run was 1.25 miles and I kind of just went out. I didn't try to go out that quickly, but as in racing ... it ... just sort of happens. Oops.

Time: 11:43 (12th division, 27th gender, 84th overall)

T1:

Throw off hat, change shoes, toss on helmet, try to take bike off rack without taking the whole rack with me ... the usual.

Time: 1:04 (3rd, 10th, 35th)

Bike:

I got off on the bike and was happy I had my new fancy Garmin 920 as the speed on my cyclometer wasn't working due to the sensor getting shifted in transit. Such is life; it happens. I was a little shocked I headed out in the low 20s - what? I'm going that fast? - but that died soon enough. 

I managed up the stupid hill in Cherry Creek State Park fairly well - think I got out of aero, but it wasn't as horrible as it has been. Going toward the tower loop, I saw Brandon, took note of where he was, and kept a loose eye on the clock to see how far behind him I was. He started four minutes ahead of me, so if I could finish within four minutes of him, I would have the faster time on the day (mini goals). As it turns out, at that point, I was.

As it happens, though, the back course of that bike can suck, especially if a.) you haven't rode it in a while; and b.) you haven't really ridden a hill since October. Heh. Still, rolled in pretty happy that I cranked out the 10.8 mile course in under 40 minutes.

Time: 39:22 (7th, 17th, 67th)

T2:

This took me a bit longer as I decided to shed a few layers and things kind of got caught on other things. Stupid winter.

Time: 1:33 (8th, 26th, 71st)

Run #2:

The second run was 2.75 miles (so if you did run loop one and two, you'd do four miles ... for that option). It was definitely a little rougher. It was a lot hillier than the first run and I definitely had more problems catching my breath on the second run. Plus the wind started kicking up and that never makes life easy.

I saw Brandon starting the run as I rolled into transition so I knew there was a chance I'd finish within that four minutes, but I had no idea if I actually would or not ...

Time: 29:27 (11th, 27th, 83rd)

Overall Stats:
Time: 1:23:11
9/14 division (F30-39)
21/48 gender
74/114 overall

The times were a little wacky on site - especially given our splits (damnit! i thought i biked sub-40!), but when we checked at home later, everything was correct. And ... Brandon beat me by a measly 8 seconds, which he got me on the second run. Stupid lungs.

After the first run, I had him by 14 seconds. By 29 seconds after T1. He gained a little bit on the bike; after that, he was up by 4 seconds. I got that back and added an extra 3 seconds in T2. But ... he was 12 seconds faster on the second run and that made all the damn difference. 

Still, great test of early season fitness, and a great indicator to see what coaching is going to do for us.

Friday, January 15, 2016

2016 - What does it mean for me?

I've been absent for the past few months.  There's a legit reason for this - I recently transitioned from the Q-400 to the Embraer 170 at my airline.  This meant another training event which was pretty consuming.  You'll be happy to know I passed my training with flying colors and am now just waiting on my company to get my schedule so I can finish up my actual on-line experience.

In the meantime, we're two weeks into January.  What has traditionally been a slow month for us, a lazy month, has been anything but.  We dove right into training, building up a base and getting ready for what will be an eventful, race-filled season.

To help us with this, we hired our friend Corie as our coach.

Corie is an excellent triathlete, finished many Ironmans, a Boston Marathon qualifier, and someone who has a zest for life.  Recently relocated to Bend, she is exploring the outdoors on a daily basis with her kids and husband, and is someone who both T and I fully trust with our season.

We hired her because in addition to trusting Corie, she believes in us.  She knows there's so much potential in these bodies.  She came to IMAZ to cheer us on in 2013 and has been a supporter from afar.  Long story short, I know that in 2016 we're going to need guidance and help to get to where we want to be, and Corie is going to be that crutch.

So anyway, what do I want out of this year?  

Back to Basics
Triathlon and training has to be fun for me.  Plain and simple.  If the sport isn't fun, I won't do it.  Why would you, right?  So I'm breaking the sport down to basics.  Taking it one day at a time.  I'm armed with a couple new tools in my arsenal - a motivational playlist and a mantra that will keep me going.  

Do it Quietly
I mentioned in a post last year that I've become the pilot who is an Ironman.  And over the past couple years, I've been talking the talk without walking the walk.  This year, I don't plan on tooting my horn when I'm at work.  I don't need to.  No one at work cares at the end of the day.  It's up to me to do the training.

Discipline
I feel better when I eat better.  I feel great when I hit training goals and race goals.  To do this stuff, it will take discipline.  

Most importantly, I need to do the one thing that I love to do in this sport - RACE!  I love to race.  Over the past couple years, I've made excuses to not race.  Work mostly.  This year, I will not let the job get in my way.  While I still want to pursue my dream airline, and will attend job fairs to do so, I will be racing a lot.

Monday, January 4, 2016

2016: The Year of Me

As I mentioned in my December/2015 recap blog, if that year was for discovering my inner awesome, the end result is that ... I'm not. Which, okay, great. I thought that anyway. Thanks for confirming my lack of self-confidence, life. Appreciate it.

Luckily, though that chapter has been written, it's not the final one of the book. I still have the chance for this year to basically yell, "PLOT TWIST!," and turn things around. I am the one in control of my own destiny ... and therefore, 2016 has hereby been designated as ...


The Year of Me.

Yes, it sounds selfish, but hear me out. To become my best self (embrace last year's inner awesome, as it were), I need to do what's best for me. For my health. For my emotional well-being. For my physical body. I need to do this to best find my balance. I haven't found that yet, and I'd like to. 

To do this, as I also mentioned last blog, I hired a coach. I'm two days in and, well, I've already almost puked. Success ...?

In terms of triathlon-related things, I made it clear sometime last year that this would be the double-Ironman year, and so it shall be. Ironman Boulder on August 7, and Ironman Chattanooga on September 25 (also known as the TBD wedding anniversary). Therefore, I have a few goals related to this stuff as well.

- Finish two Ironmans, and at least one of them well. Boulder is the A race. We were tossing the idea of Chatt being the A (fast swim, fall race), but we have no idea how recovery is going to be from Boulder. That, and if I'm going to be racing an IM on my wedding anniversary, I'd ideally like to be able to race as much of the day as possible with my other half. So, since we can train the course and hopefully be able to heat adapt ... Boulder it is. Obviously we want to do well in Chatt too, but if I can cross that finish line with Brandon by my side, I'll be a happy T.

- Get a fast 5K again. I would say 5K PR, but I think I've had that a goal for the past five or so years and it doesn't happen, so yeah. Odds are good that it will happen at the BAA 5K (sea level!), and I have more hope now than ever that the record will fall thanks to the ColderBolder ... but I don't want to get my hopes up, particularly since I'm not specifically training for a 5K PR.

- Hit my potential in the half-marathon. I'm probably only going to have one chance to do this with a stand-alone (unless I choose a very late season (read: October/November) race), but I know for damn sure I can run better than a 2:09:44/2:11:59.

- Become the cyclist I know I can be. I'm already discovering that it's going to be harder to hit heart rate paces on the bike (greeeeat), but I know I can pound a bike. I occasionally have decent bike splits in shorter races, and I'd like to also have a decent bike split at a longer race. Which hasn't happened so far.

- Explore the fullest potential of my legs. Basically, this is what the last three points come down to. I know my legs have speed in them. I know that they do. I just need to figure out a way to harness it, while also having my lungs cooperate.

- Step up to average in the water. I will never say that I'm a good swimmer. I'm pretty bottom-of-the-barrel when it comes to flailing around. I can swim well enough to finish a swim within the cutoff and to not drown ... but that's pretty much it. I am not naive enough to hope for "good" in a year, but I'd at least like to get to "average."

I'm also hoping to get back into more regular blogging, but more importantly, meaningful blogging. Not the weekly updates like I did in 2013, or the set posting schedule of 2014. I've had a few ideas of stuff I've wanted to talk about for a while now and just haven't done. I need to just do it, damnit.

In relation to that, I actually started doing YouTube videos, called the MDot Diaries. They're horribly crude, and you get to truly see how awkward I am, but hey. It was a thought of something I should maybe do three years ago; I'm just getting around to it now. 

2016, here's hoping you're a good one, and I find out what I'm made of. More importantly, I hope I find it's something I can be proud of.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

December and 2015 Round Up

Oh December, in which I essentially gave up and chose to not contribute to the holiday stress by forcing workouts.

Swimming: 0m (0mi)
% to goal: 42.7%
Cycling: 16.53 mi
% to goal: 33.5%
Running: 8.78 mi
% to goal: 54.6%
Lifting: four sessions (1:25)
Other: two yoga sessions (:34)

As for the general 2015 goals ... 

Did I embrace my inner awesome? Um, I'm going to say ... not really, unfortunately. I don't really believe I did. I mean, at times, but not enough. I think I'm the type of person that needs poking and prodding to achieve inner potential.

Did I hit my mileage goals? Ha, no. As you can see above, I did not hit my goals of 250,000m swimming, 5000 mi cycling, and 500 mi running. However, I still did get in some decent mileage. I about doubled what I swam last year, which is a good thing. Cycling was only about 200 miles off my IM year total in 2013, which is nothing to sneeze at. Running ... this was a super down year in running. Not good any which way you slice it.

The idea of two 70.3s in a month to hopefully test our mettle for two 140.6 mile races in two months was technically a failed experiment, as we DNFed both races. I may have a lot of mileage, but I didn't have a lot of quality mileage. That ... makes a difference. Who knew? /sarcasm

Overall, this wasn't a good year if you think about it. I feel very much less than awesome right now. I failed at every single one of my goals, and had my first two career DNFs. It was very, very hard for a very, very long time to not beat myself up over this.

The reason I ultimately didn't (or rather, in my case, stopped)? Because I can't truly know success until I know failure. Because I can't know how far I can go until I know how far I can fall. I fell, and I fell hard. Soul-searchingly hard. All I can do now is crawl out of the giant hole I've built for myself. The difference is, this time I'm not doing it by myself (or just with Brandon). We finally took the leap of faith and are (still kind of attempting to) putting our fates in the hands of someone else more qualified than us. Yep, we're being coached by a fellow MaccaXer and friend, Corie.



I also want to keep trying, and pushing, because if 2015 was a year to find out who I was, then I don't like the answer. I want to rewrite that page, because that output sucked.