Sunday, August 21, 2016

Where's Brandon Been?

Yes I’m still here!

There’s a reason why I haven’t blogged in a long time and I can’t wait to share the details with you all. 

Starting on 9/6, I will officially wear the uniform of a Delta Air Lines pilot!!!

Now you might be asking “what does that have to do with Brandon disappearing from the public eye for so long?”

Let’s take it back to the beginning.

Those of you who know me well know that I’ve wanted to be a pilot for a Legacy carrier for a long time.  Starting just after I completed my first Ironman in late 2013, I began taking the steps necessary to do that.  I began attending seminars to learn how to write a better resume.  I reached out to old contacts asking for letters of recommendation.  I was focused in my goal to leave my current employer, and was willing to do everything it took.  I paid the money to attend job fairs and get the face-to-face time necessary with these airlines.  While I generally found the job fairs to be tedious and somewhat frustrating, they were also valuable.  I believe that as long as you are working to better yourself in the employment arena, you are ahead of your competition. 

In late May, I got a call from Frontier Airlines asking if I wanted to come in for an interview.  I heartily agreed, even though Frontier was not where I wanted to be for the rest of my career.  Deep in my heart, I knew that.  But that being said, I figured I could use it as a stepping stone, and let’s face it, it’s not my current employer.  So I scheduled my interview for June 24th and began the tedious process of getting ready for my interview.  I signed up for a company called Emerald Coast which specializes in job interview preparation.  I was determined to get hired by Frontier.

Within a week of scheduling my Frontier interview, I got an email postponing my interview.  I was unsure why they were doing this, but I didn’t mind.  I had Ironman Boulder to think about as well and sure didn’t want to miss Boulder.

The old adage is “when it rains, it pours”.  Whoever came up with that is sure right, because on June 8th, I got an email that would change my life.  I was actually done with a 2 hour ride and met T at Starbucks.  I was randomly checking my email and nearly dropped my phone when I saw the email from Delta asking me to schedule an interview.  I showed it to T to make sure it was real, which of course it was.  I took a few seconds (minutes, hours) to compose myself and then I called a few friends at Delta to ask advice.  They told me to get ready to buckle down, because I was about to go through Hell to study for this thing. 

The next day, I got my interview scheduled for August 2nd.  With the date firmly locked down, it was time to study.

I was able to reschedule my Frontier interview for July19th.  I decided I would study for Delta and go into Frontier with that.  I figured if I was studying for Delta, it would be good enough for Frontier, but studying for Frontier would not be good enough for Delta.  Here’s a small smattering of everything I was studying:

-       Turbine Engine theory
-       Weather theory
-       Advanced Aerodynamics
-       Navigation
-       Federal Regulations
-       Human Resources
-       My own background information

Lost in all this is the fact that I was still training for TWO Ironmans!  If you remember, in 2013, I was studying for Ironman while I was upgrading to Captain.  I thought this was going to be the same experience, but holy good Lord was I wrong.  Upgrade to Captain was a regimented 9-5 schedule and allowed a lot of flexibility.  2016 involved a full-time job commuting ¾ of the way across the country to fly tough schedules.  Through the whole process, I was exhausted.  I tried to find the balance but this time finding the balance was much more difficult.  I called Coach Corie way more often than I should have to cry and complain about my life.  She helped me as best she could, but I think her ultimate stance was “get the job, worry about the rest later.”

On July 19th, I interviewed at Frontier.  I won’t bore you with the details, but I was hired.  It was an incredible feeling to get the job and I was very relieved.  At the very least, I could leave Republic.  Unfortunately, the start day was August 8th.  That meant that if I was to do Ironman Boulder, I would have to show up the day after at Frontier a sunburned, shuffly mess.  Nonetheless, I accepted the class date and bore down on studying for Delta.

On August 2nd, I interviewed at Delta.  Again, I’m going to spare you the details, but let’s just say that when I got handed the “Red Folder” that signified the Conditional Job Offer, I about collapsed with happiness!  I’ve had various demons chase me throughout the years, and to know that I had exercised them yet again was an incredible feeling!

Day 2, August 3rd, involved a meeting with a psychologist that went well, and I received the class date the following week.  The day after finishing Ironman.

So anyway, that’s where I’ve been.  My Ironman Recap is coming very shortly.  I finished that as well, so seriously, it’s been a good summer. :-D 

Friday, August 5, 2016

July Round-Up

July ... was an odd month. I'm a little frustrated with how this month ended up, but it is what it is, right?

Swimming: 22800m (14.17 mi)
Cycling: 292.17 mi
Running: 59.44 mi
Lifting: three sessions (:19)
Other: five stretch sessions (:50), two walks (2:40), one yoga session (:10)

This month should have had a lot more to it. I'll admit it, I bagged/cut short quite a few sessions. I missed a race due to fire (Boulder Peak; fire in Nederland meant emergency personnel needed to be there, not babysitting athletes; totally correct decision). 

I didn't miss too many swims, but that number still should have been closer to 30000m. I should have had well over 300 miles, if not close to 400, but that didn't happen. Running actually was about normal - maybe another 10 or so miles, but not much more. I needed to get new running shoes - had to cut a long run a bit short due to my poor feet - and I did manage that.

Strength ... is what it is around this time training for an Ironman. I did, however, slack on some of my stretching/yoga/recovery stuff, and that is NOT acceptable. Giant fail on my part there.

I also experienced a lot of sympathy stress with Brandon. I'll let him talk about all that if he so chooses, but he's been going through a stressful time and I've been trying to help share that burden as much as possible. 

So, should this month have been bigger? Absolutely it should have. However, I also listened to my body, too, and I think it wanted to taper sooner than Corie and I wanted it to. I just fervently hope I didn't screw myself over for Sunday ...

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Race #8 of the Season: Skirt Sports 5K

Picking up from my last post, the last part of the Skirt weekend was the 13er (it's not half of anything) and the 5K.

My original original season plan was to have missed out on all the Saturday fun (boo) because of racing Boulder 70.3 and then suffer through the 5K on Sunday. Those plans changed when the 70.3 sold out before we could register (... sad, but I got to hang with my Skirt family instead, so oh well), but I still decided to keep with the 5K.

If you recall, I had gotten third in my AG the last two times I'd raced this race, and was hoping to continue the streak if at all possible.

Brandon was out of town, so I was flying solo for this race.

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On the phone with B pre-race.

My general plan for this race was the same as it has been for most of my 5Ks - go out hard and hold on for dear life; with the special race-specific guide of managing the killer hill in the middle.

I was generally successful with this. I started out up front and settled into high-8s, low-9s pretty quickly.

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Behind Kim of Kim and Jake's. Photo courtesy Jen Allen.

My pace struggled with the hill and I had to walk some and I got passed a bit (boo). I tried to hold on as best I could, but it was hard.

The last half of the race (down the hill and back to the finish; race was a straight out-and-back), I was running in the 7s when I could run, but it wasn't sustainable at all. I made it to the finish dead, but with a race PR.

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Crossing. Photo courtesy 3W Races.

Final Stats:
Time: 28:50
6/32 division (F30-39)
17/116 overall (only women)

If we had five year age groups (so F30-34), my third place streak would have stayed alive, but alas ... it was not to be.

I still had fun post-race, though, with my girls and cake before I had to leave to get some stuff done before work that night.

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Caaaaaaake. Photo courtesy Jen Allen.

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13er medals. So cool!

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Delicious tasty Kim and Jake's.

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Skirt sister Jennifer got a hula-hooping contest going. She and Noelle (pictured above) rocked it out!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

2016 Skirt Sports Ambassador Weekend

As you all probably know by now, I'm a Skirt Sports Ambassador. I love their product, what they stand for, their #REALwomenmove movement, everything. You don't even have to love running skirts (or ... running ...) to get their products - they have tops and fantastic capris and so much more.

One of the best things Skirt Sports has done recently is actually found this ambassador program and have yearly weekends (I'd say retreat, but I don't know if that's the right word ...) and bring an amazing group of women together. Yeah, we all converge on Boulder because we love the clothes, but it's the family, friendships, and sisterhood that keep us coming back for more.

This year's weekend took place waaay back in June from the 10th-12th. It started off Friday evening with a reception at the brand new Skirt flagship store in Boulder (come visit!). We got fed that night and throughout the weekend by Skirt friends/sponsors Mad Greens, Noosa Yoghurt, Bhakti Chai, Two Moms in the Raw, Luna Bar, Justin's Peanut Butter, Ska Brewing Company, and of course, Kim and Jake's Cakes.

At the reception, we got to reunite with old friends we made the year prior and meet new friends as we gained more to our numbers and different Skirts made it out this year.

We heard from our fearless leader, Nicole DeBoom,

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whom we gifted (along with ambassador coordinator Noelle) gift baskets to.

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All the Skirt ladies!

We were treated to a fashion show sneak peek of the Fall/Winter line (all my pictures were too blurry for me to want to share) - some cute things coming - and the prints that will be coming out next Spring. I like the Fall/Winter prints, but ADORE what's coming up next year!

And of course, cake.

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Saturday, we met at Noelle's house up in Lyons for a hike, breakfast, and Skirt roundtables.

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Starting the hike.

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Trying to find the trailhead ...

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Yay, we found it! The gate does exist!

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Skirts in the wild.

As I mentioned above, post-hike we split into two groups (after eating) - one for ambassadors, and one for captains. Another thing I really love about Skirt Sports is that they take their customers' feedback seriously. They know that we already love the company as ambassadors and truly value our input on how we can share the love to others. 

Yes, we get to feed our Skirt addictions at a discounted price, but besides that, we aren't compensated by the company to share our love of Skirt. I'm not paid to write this and tell you how much I love them. As a result, I feel that we're more passionate about the product and are more genuine in sharing our joy. I'm wearing this because I love it

And if you aren't convinced on how the masses have a voice with this company, just Google "gotta go skirt". Trust me. (I also have one, and need to write on it ... eventually.) There's also a new thing launching on the Skirt site that will also take feedback into account. More on that as it comes ...

Anyway, after the breakout sessions, we all joined up together to learn the art of the running selfie, thanks to Kate and Amy, our Instagram running picture queens.

We had to break up after that, but we would all gather again Sunday for the 13er and 5K races, which is where I'll pick this back up.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

June Round-Up

A mini vacation and then the usual anxiety that hits me this time of year means I got behind on catching up. Figures. So, this, and then FINALLY my Skirt weekend blogs that I've been needing to get up!

June wasn't horrible. I mean, it was a bit of a down month from May in terms of mileage, but I also pretty much took the last week of the month off. If I hadn't, I most likely would have surpassed all numbers from May except for running. May was a heavier run month due to the half I ran.

Anyway, onward:

Swimming: 17276.77m (10.7 mi)
Cycling: 263.73 mi
Running: 53.64 mi
Lifting: eight sessions (:47)
Other: one hike (1:15), two stretch sessions (:20), two yoga sessions (:21)

I'd been having a tendency to skip swims which is HORRIBLE for me since I really need to make sure my swim game is strong this year. So, I finally asked Corie to schedule me for four swims a week; that way, if I skip one (or, god forbid, two), I at least get two to three in instead of one or, um, none. It helped.

Truth be told, I should have had more cycling miles regardless of the week off. We cut a few of our rides short due to heat/wind/bad management. Still decent time, but distance wasn't as good. A four hour ride that turned into three. A five hour ride that turned into four. Still decent, but not what was needed/scheduled. Stuff like that. The improvement over 2013's IMAZ training is that instead of cutting what would probably end up being a three hour ride into 45 minutes, we're still getting in good chunks of time, but we need to not be cutting things in the first place.

As for running ... I actually didn't cut too many runs for a change. There were one or two, but for the most part, I stuck to my run schedule. I'm not getting in as much mileage as '13 - partially because I have more prescribed runs that are having me run slower - but if it ends up preventing the early run taper I had to deal with that time around ... I'm totally okay with it.

I do need to do a lot more injury prevention stuff (stretching, yoga, etc.), especially as peak training ramps up. On the aforementioned mini vacation, we did get massages so I know that will help (and my shoulders are a tiny bit less cranky) and we may be considering adding in a few more in the coming weeks.

July ... better be huge or Boulder is going to be a shitshow ...

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Race #7 of the Season: Colorado Sprint Triathlon

Catching up still! I have a list and a plan, though, so I can hopefully get back on track with this here blog. I'm sure y'all care ...

A few weeks ago, back on June 4th, we raced the Colorado Sprint Triathlon up in Boulder, Colo. Brandon wanted to do an early season sprint - mostly to regain some confidence after all the DNFs last year - and I raced alongside him because:

1. Why wouldn't I?
2. Familiar course - basically the same Boulder sprint course as we've done before.
3. A Without Limits race, which means slip-n-slide (see: Harvest Moon).
4. Flippin' Flapjacks was there serving pancakes afterward, which, duh.

Race morning was pretty standard. Wake up, eat food, drive up to Boulder, get there right about the time when transition opened. I was once again wearing my new Smash kit while Brandon broke out the old Team MaccaX kit.

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I also, since it was a tri, got my first calf smiley of the season:
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We chatted with the guy on the rack with us, I shared some sunscreen, fun times. 

We walked down to the water to warm up; I ran back to trans as I forgot my snack (Bobo's Oat Bar - this was a great pre-race snack; ate about half). I got in about 250 yards for a quick warm up. I forgot how much that first open water of the season sucks; took me a while to get my lungs and breathing and chest under control, doing my old tricks of bobbing my head underwater and getting used to the cold and blahblahblah. That anxiety had not been missed, let me tell you.

The sprint waves went off fairly late - after all the olympic waves - but soon enough, it was time to start tri season.

The Swim (750m):

Oh, tri open water swims. You are the bane of my existence. I swim so well in the pool, I'm comfortable in the water ... but throw me in open water and for some reason, I swim like :40/100m slower than I do in the pool. I'M WEARING A WETSUIT. THIS MAKES NO LOGICAL SENSE.

Now that I have a Garmin that tracks said swim, I also know that I sighted pretty damn well as the line on my Garmin map pretty much looked like the line on the swim course map.

Maybe the wetsuit/tri suit and how they hit my body change my stroke due to subconscious noticing of chafing. I don't know, but it needs to get figured out. *grumble*

Crawl out of the water, think about hitting my watch there to get a more accurate actual swim time even though the time includes the run up to the mat right outside transition, don't, regret it later.

Time: 22:55 (8th division, 121st gender, 257th overall)


Jog through transition gingerly (owowowOWow), throw off the wetsuit, toss on the bike shoes, helmet, and sunglasses, clomp out. 

Once again, get an amazing T1 time. This is why I don't practice transitions; I have a freakish ability to do well at them. 

Time: 1:29 (1st, 14th, 45th)

The Bike (17mi):

I know this bike course like the back of my hand I've ridden it so damn much. I am still highly frustrated with how much 36 from the Jay to Broadway NEVER gets easier despite how much I ride it. That is the one section of Boulder tri course riding that hurts me so damn badly. I lose so much time there, and I have no idea how I can get better on it. It might just be a mental block, but I don't know.

At least I can fly down the hill right after Broadway and for good chunks of Neva/Niwot.

Legs kind of started hating me as I hit the Diagonal (too much time off the previous week, I think; didn't mean to take that time off, but I had cookies to bake!), but I pushed through their crankiness back into the Res.

Time: 57:23 (5th, 58th, 160th)


Always a little slower, but I didn't bother Body Gliding the feet as I still had a lot of the baby powder I shoved in my bike shoes caked to my feet. Bike shoes/helmet off, socks/running shoes on, race belt skirt on, hat on, out transition.

Time: 1:35 (5th, 62nd, 141st)

The Run (5K):

I'm pretty sure my lungs were still trashed from riding Stage a week ago, as I kept having to stop to walk. When I could run, I was running in the high-8s, low-9s ... but I couldn't sustain it.

Out on the path by the dam around the Reservoir, see Brandon coming the other way (about a mile or so ahead of me), turn around, fight back.

Make a really ugly face crossing the finish line right before hitting the slip 'n' slide (trust me: it's bad).

Time: 31:10 (8th, 96th, 214th)

Overall Stats:
Time: 1:54:34
7/10 division (F30-34)
80/160 gender
190/322 overall

This ... was a disappointing race. I know, I know, I KNOW I'm not training speed right now, but that swim just pisses me off. Still. I felt GOOD during it. I felt like I was pushing it some. But that time ... abysmal.

The bike was okay. I didn't feel as snappy as I could (or probably should) have felt, but I really can't be too upset with damn near an 18mph average. 

The run ... well, I know why that was mediocre, and I saw glimpses of what I could do.

I did 10 minutes faster at essentially this same race (with a two mile shorter bike course) three years ago. The swim was :30/faster per 100m, but I don't know exactly where the mat was. Regardless, my T1 time was only a minute longer, so even if it was right as you got out of the water, there's an extra minute there. The bike average was faster even with the shorter course and the run was 20 seconds faster. If you go by the old 17ish mi bike that the course typically had, this year was the fastest by three minutes. So who knows ... I'll stop grumbling and let this go since it is MOST DEFINITELY IN THE PAST.

But pancakes. Mmm, pancakes. Flippin' Flapjacks, I love you.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Race #6 of the Season: BolderBOULDER 10K

... though I really hesitate to call this a "race."

As Brandon said in his recap, we forced ourselves to take this one easy. This meant the Saturday prior was Operation: Trash Legs, which meant riding three hours and climbing Olde Stage Road in the process. Operation successful, let's just say that, shall we?

Monday, Memorial Day, we wake up early and drive to Boulder to get there before they shut down the streets. Like we do. We parked at the 29th Street shopping center and headed to the Starbucks. I'm slowly learning I shouldn't run on coffee (or at least iced coffee the way I like to drink it), but as we weren't *racing*, I decided "meh," and got it anyway. And my new addiction, the raspberry swirl pound cake. Norm and Emily came to meet us before Norm had to go run in the super speedy A wave while we took our time.

Our bibs said the E waves (EC and EG, respectively), but as we wanted to make sure we got to experience the fun, we actually started somewhere in the Fs.

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All the people!

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In the start corral.

Our new wave made its way up to the line and off we went. Less than a mile into the race, we both realized, hey, we should probably pee. Off to the first bank of porta-potties we went!

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Obligatory Steve in a Speedo shot.

Legs ... were definitely feeling Saturday's ride. We both mentioned to each other how much it hurt, but whatever. We were making steady progress. 

The rest of the run was a blast. Slip 'n' slides, bacon (me), marshmallows and cotton candy (B), watermelon (me), Red Vines (B), Otter Pops (me) ... I never want to race this race again. We also ran into the always amazing Katie and her Team Amazing Day peeps and got a mid-race running selfie, but I didn't bother to transfer that from my phone to my computer, so you're going to have to find me on Instagram for that one.

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Slip 'n' slide (first one. I hit two).

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Catching marshmallows.

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Trust me, there's cotton candy in his hand.

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Dorito costumes!

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Highest point on the course banner.

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Okay so I really had dropped most of this on the ground and it was really sad but I got a picture pretending I was still really happy about having the Otter Pop regardless.

Overall Stats:
Time: 1:12:52.93
277/521 division (F32)
9059/23930 gender
21020/44632 (I think) overall

I will probably return to this race, but I will most likely never "race" it again. This year was just too damn much fun.