Thursday, July 23, 2015

"Bare Wood"

It's been awhile since I've blogged.  There's a reason for that.  Actually, a couple reasons.  

First, I will say that my fitness is going well for 2/3 sports.  I'm seeing gains, especially in the pool.  Swimming a mile easy nowadays.  More importantly, I'm enjoying both swimming and biking a lot.  I crave being in the pool and being on the bike.  But notice how I only said 2/3.  That means one is not going well, and obviously that's running.  

Running and I have a love/hate relationship.  Always have, always will.  I can go months where I love running.  Love putting on my shoes and hitting the bricks.  Then there's weeks or months where I hate running.  Can't stand it.  To look at my shoes is to glare with hatred.  That's where I am with it currently.  To pinpoint why I am despising running, I consulted a friend of mine, who is also an airline pilot, about the issue.  He's a triathlete as well.  He said that lately, we are all working very very hard.  We have seen our days off decrease and our flight time increase.  Furthermore, our overnights just aren't allowing us to get adequate rest to where we can find the strength to go out for runs.

It makes a lot of sense if you think about it.  I have always found solace with running on the road.  Swimming is very difficult to do while traveling, and riding is generally done on an exercise bike.  But running?  You can do it anywhere, right?  It's something that has no boundaries.  You don't need a pool or a bike.  You just need a pair of shoes.  But when you get in to the hotel late, and leave early, day after day after day, you just want sleep.  You crave sleep.  And running falls by the way.

So what is a guy like me to do?

Borrowing a term from boxing, I am stripping my running down to "bare wood".  I'm going to take it from the beginning.  That means no Garmin for awhile.  No outrageous distance goals.  No time worries.  Long story short, I am going to run because I know somewhere, I like to run.

Back in 2007/2008, when I was attempting to change my ways from Fat Kid, I had a treadmill workout that I did.  It's a profoundly simple workout, and to be honest, it does nothing for anyone with even an ounce of running skill, but when you are stripping your running to "bare wood", you do what you need to.  For me, this is a return to the womb.  Back to basics.  Use whatever metaphor you want, but it'll get the job done.

Other than that, I'm attempting to manage my life at work better, and let's just say that in July, a lot of work stress piled on all at once.  With that, my fitness took a short dive.  A lot of people use work emotion to pull themselves along a workout.  Me, I am more the "dwell on it" kind of guy.  I'm not very good at using emotion for my benefit in fitness.  Playing hockey growing up, I was never the guy who jumped around before a game, screaming at the top of my lungs.  No, I was more the guy who just went out and did his job.  Emotion has never played a big part in my fitness.  Well, I'm hoping to change that, to challenge negative emotions into positive workouts.  Stay tuned on that front.

I do also appreciate everyone's support, no matter the venture.  I have had a lot of good energy thrown my way during some difficult work days, and for the most part, it's been overwhelmingly positive.  When you doubt yourself, when you are unconfident in what you are doing, it helps that the vast majority of people that you surround yourself with believe in you.

Cheering at Peak and More: Catching Up

It's really been three weeks since I've posted? Geez ... 

I've been training. I was supposed to have been racing (70.3 Muncie, July 11), but due to losing so much training with the house, we scrapped the race, unfortunately.

We rode the 105 down in Sedalia and saw a fitting sign due to the jersey I was wearing.

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I participated in Bike to Work Day (and thankfully only worked a short day as there was horrible, awful flooding on the very paths I took to work) and Brandon joined me for both trips.

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Mmm, pancakes.

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Fork? I don't need no stinkin' fork!

I don't have pictures from it, but a fun little perk for being a Skirt Sports Ambassador is that I got to be one of their real woman models! None of my photos have appeared on mailings/their website yet, but if I see one, I'll post it here. Because dude.

A side perk of not driving to Indiana to race 70.3 Muncie was being able to cheer on a colleague of Brandon's, Mark, on at his first ever triathlon - Boulder Peak. For it being his first tri - and on a hard m-f'ing course, too - he pretty much rocked it.

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Talking pre-race.

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Possibly my new favorite picture of Mark.

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Artsy beach shot.

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All ready to go!

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And he's off!

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Swim swim swim ...

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And he's out of the water.

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On to the bike.

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Done with the bike.

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"This is f'ing hard." Also: it is not normal for one's hair to look THAT good after swimming and biking ...

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Liz almost done with the run.

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Brandon running a tiny bit with Mark.

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And another triathlete has joined our ranks.

Like all of us, he thought it was horrible, hard ... and can't wait for his next one. We have plans of coercing him into doing Boulder 70.3 with us next year ...

Thursday, July 2, 2015

June Round-Up

The progress begun in May hath continued in June ... read on:

Swimming: 9100m (5.65 mi)
% to goal: 21%
Cycling: 180.28 mi
% to goal: 16%
Running: 22.51 mi
% to goal: 23%
Lifting: five sessions (1:30)
Other: seven yoga sessions (1:46), one hike (1:15)

I didn't quite get into 5 digits for swimming like I did the first three months of the year, but it took until the last week or so to get into a consistent, two to three times a week swim routine. I had my first three-swim week in who knows how long, so I'm really happy about that. I also did a 1400m* set (short variation of one we did during IMAZ training) for the first time since March and, out of the six times I've done the set this year, had my 2nd fastest time. My measured 200m time, however, was average. 

This was my second-highest cycling month this year which is a really good thing, but I need to get a lot more miles in ...

Average running month, but, like swimming, it's been taking a while to get into a consistent rhythm. I also had my first three-run week in way too long, too. 

I've also been adding in a ton of yoga, and it's been feeling great. I can tell I neglected it for a while because when I first started adding it back into the routine, it was rough. Flexibility is coming back (what little I have), but balance ... not so much. It'll get there, I hope ...

For July, I'd just like to build on June ... including getting outside on the bike more because that will be the easiest way to build mileage. We're not doing Muncie now (booooo)(month off will do that), but I've kept the days requested off at work, so I'll have almost a week to hopefully get in a lot of good training. I've got some plans for riding that, if they pan out, will be awesome ...

* When I built back up to include this set earlier this year in February, I decided that I'd use the all-out 200m portion of it as a good gauge of where I am in the pool. Times did drop over the next two months; overall, and for the 200m. Since I'm back about to that range of swim workouts in the pool again, I decided to go for the set and was pleasantly surprised that the overall time wasn't too far off from when I last did the workout. The sprint, however ... we'll work on it.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Race #2 of the Season - Skirt Sports 5K

Last year, I didn't run this race even though I could have.  No real reason for it, just didn't do it.  This year, I had the opportunity to do so and was going to take advantage of it.

The day before, T and I rode in Boulder.  We were planning on doing 25-30 miles, but the day got cut short due to me suffering from heat exhaustion.  I was puking on the side of the road.  I wish I could say it was due to working really hard, but I think it was just due to the heat.  Regardless, I was worried about how I'd perform in the race.  Not that I cared all that much.

The morning of, we drove up and got there with plenty of time.  T said hello to some of her fellow Skirt ambassadors and I just stayed loose.  We talked with some guys from Skratch and tried the macha Skratch (it's pretty good, surprisingly).  Then we got in about a 1/2 mile warm-up around the Home Depot parking lot.  Then we lined up for the start of the 5K.

The Race
It was a simple out and back.  Normally, T and I talk about our race strategy beforehand, so we're on the same page.  In running races, we like to run together until late in the race.  In tris, if we get the chance to stay together on the run, we do.  Because we run slightly differently, it helps to have a strategy in place for this.  Usually, my strategy is to pace it easy early, then gradually pick it up until I'm balls out late.  Sometimes though, I'll just run as hard as I can and do a walk/run strategy.  This race though, we had no discussion.  

We bombed out at a really fast pace, clearly an unsustainable one.  We began walking quite early, which I didn't have a problem with.  By the hill of doom that this race has, we were struggling.  My lungs had nothing!  

On the way back in, I was hoping to do a bit more running, albeit at an easier pace, and forgo walking.  T didn't have as much strength in her lungs as I did (her legs are awesome though) and she was having a tough time.  I was determined to push her a bit though, which I know isn't the best thing to do sometimes.  Oops.

I began picking it up for the finish line a bit earlier than T wanted to, only because I had the strength in my legs to steadily increase.  She tried to hang on, but on that day, I was slightly faster.  I heard Nicole DeBoom call our names and mention whoever loses has to do the dishes for a week.  As I beat T by one second, I pointed back to her.  Nicole thought that was amusing.  

T and I hashed it out and determined our lack of communication was not good and we'd have to remember that in the future.  We hugged and made up and then I ate lots of cake.  We stuck around for a few minutes, waiting for the results to be posted.  Last year T got a podium spot, which was really cool to see, and we were hoping she'd get to repeat that.  I had no aspirations of such.  But lo and behold, I saw from the results I was 2nd in my age group.  I wasn't sure if the dudes that ran the race were going to be on the podium, but sure enough, I was on the podium!  T snapped a couple pictures with me wearing her TriSports shirt (mine was in the wash) and I smiled proud.  T snagged the 3rd place in her age group, so we got a couple shots of her as well.  Then we tagged Nicole's car with a car pen and headed home.  

Ultimately, although we both were on the podium, we still have a long way to go with running.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Race #2 of the Season: Skirt Sports 5K

Totally meant to get to this last week, but eh.

Catching up from where we left off last post, we were up in Louisville for the race and I had just taken a group photo with my fellow Ambassadors and everyone in the KickStart group. 

After that, all the people running the 13er needed to get to the start line so Brandon and I decided to take a few minutes and get in a warm-up ... particularly because our legs needed it. About a half-mile later and a few strides, we figured we'd be okay. 

(Also sometime between getting up there and starting, we talked with the guys at the Skratch tent (Skratch was providing hydration for the race). We mentioned that we were taste agents, had some delicious lemon-lime Skratch ... and actually tried the Matcha Green Tea with Lemon. I was skeptical. Highly skeptical. I like hot green tea, but I deal with matcha at work and I hate it. Serves me right to doubt the Skratch guys though - it was good. I probably wouldn't drink it during a workout, but before or after? Now we're talking ...)

Now one thing we usually do is talk race strategy; today, we didn't do that for whatever reason. Mine was essentially the same as last year - go out as hard as I could and hang on for dear life. I knew it'd be tricky thanks to the massive hill at the turnaround, but given my lack of training, it's the best I could hope for.

Race started and off we went. I knew my legs didn't have much, but I was making them work as best as I could. The course changed slightly this year - instead of up a hill in a neighborhood and an extra out-and-back, we just went up a different, hellish hill to make the course a true out-and-back instead of an out-and-back with a deviation of an out-and-back.

I died as the race went on; legs were okay, but the lungs, they had nothing. Brandon was also trying to keep me at a more manageable, steady pace instead of my race plan (lack of communication right here) and it was making me upset in my race brain.

To top things off ... he out-sprinted me to the finish (which RARELY happens) and Nicole was on the mic and she gave me crap for it.

I crossed the line, about died, walked over to the car, and started crying. Brandon had no clue why, so once I calmed down, I explained what my race strategy was and said that we had a relationship/race fail by not talking about it.

We both had to work that afternoon, but we wanted to hang around for results. In the meantime ... cake.

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All the cake.

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Brandon with cake and fruit.

Eventually, the results got posted:

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Final Stats:
Time: 29:49
Overall Rank: 34/122
Gender Rank: 18/92
Division Rank: 3/26 (F30-39)

Podium again, second year in a row. Brandon made it on too.

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SOMEONE didn't bring his TriSports shirt for possible podium pictures so SOMEONE stretched out mine.

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After that, we pretty much had to get going ... but I couldn't help but be a giant nerd after remembering I still had a chalk pen in my car and knowing who we were parked next to ...

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Sorry Nicole!

I looked at the results after the race and it looked like a lot of my fellow ambassadors did well in the other races, too, getting quite a few of us on the podium. Great job, awesome Skirts!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Skirt Ambassador Weekend

As you know, I'm a Skirt Sports ambassador this year. Well, in conjunction with their race (13er, 10k, 5k), they hosted an ambassador retreat weekend. Even though Brandon was actually home, I attended pretty much all of the events and had a blast. I met a ton of other Skirt devotees ... Ladies, I know I didn't talk much (super introvert over herrrrre), but I truly did enjoy meeting all of you!

Friday evening was a welcome dinner and tour of Skirt Sports; basically a great chance to meet each other. Founder Nicole DeBoom gave us the Skirt story and we were treated to delicious food from Evol (burritos!) and, because it's a Skirt event, fantastic cake from Kim and Jake's. Also shopping, because of course.

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Fellow ambassador Lisa thanking Nicole (electric blue top) and Noelle (to the right of Nicole). Birthday girl Deb off to the far left!

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Nicole and Noelle with their gift baskets, given to them by the ambassadors.

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Caaaaaaake! Almond poppy seed with a cream cheese frosting. We had leftovers of this the next day ...

Saturday morning, it was up early again to drive back to Boulder for a hike. There were 40-50 (of 200) of us at the dinner and probably about 15-20 of us at the hike. We hiked the Hogback Ridge Trail loop on the south (?) side of Boulder - basically right near Olde Stage Road.

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Ladies from all over the country tackling our rough elevation and doing fantastically well.

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Trail of hikers ... and views of Boulder.

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At the top.

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Hiking back down.

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Wore my brand new ambassador tank on the hike, as well as my 70.3 Boulder visor in honor of the race going on that day.

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I, um, kind of beat everyone down the hill.

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Previous picture, not zoomed in.

After the hike, we convened at Noelle's (Noelle's basically the one in charge of the ambassador program) for leftover cake, coffee, fruit, quiche, and conversation. 

This was probably one of the least-advertised part of the weekend, but also I would wager one of the most important parts of the weekend, and one of the things I felt that makes me love Skirt Sports even more. As we are the faces of the brand, Nicole and Noelle wanted to hear our thoughts on the brand, on product, on the ambassador program itself. Are women still wearing running skirts? Is there a reason Skirt can't get into more retail stores? Why might women, say, wear Lululemon before Skirt Sports? Obviously all assembled were Skirt loyalists, but we also know other female runners, and some of those runners may hate running in skirts and/or prefer skirts by other brands.

After the roundtable, we were free for a few hours before a BBQ. Brandon came up so we could get in a ride. We parked at Skirt HQ (just down the street from Tom Watson and so much less crowded) and right up 63rd ... and saw the runners out on the Boulder 70.3 course. So, less than a mile into our ride ... and we stopped so we could cheer on the athletes.

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Go runners, go!

After about 10, 15 minutes, we continued on with our ride. About what would have been a third of the way through our original plan, Brandon started not feeling well. And REALLY not feeling well. Side of the road vomiting not feeling well. As it was in the low-90s, we think he got heat exhaustion. As a result, instead of going from Niwot/Neva to 36 to Nelson back to 63rd ... we turned it back around at 36. 

We also stopped and cheered some more before heading back to the car.

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Poor guy.

Due to Brandon being half-dead, I decided to skip the ambassador BBQ which Noelle hosted at a lake near her house. On the way back to Brandon's car, we swung by there - I had RSVPed and didn't want to no show, and I also wanted to snag some more mild food to possibly help Brandon feel better. 

Sunday morning was the 13er (half-marathon; so named because it's not half of anything), 10K and 5K. I had signed up for the 5K and Brandon signed up for it as well that morning. Before the races started, all the ambassadors and ladies in the Kick Start program assembled for a massive, giant photo.

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The rest of my story continues with the race ... which I'll leave for another day.

In any case, the first (annual?) Skirt Ambassador weekend was a total blast and I'm so thankful to Nicole, Noelle, and the rest of the Skirt crew for putting this on and bringing us all together. If this happens again next year (and I'm fortunate enough to be an ambassador again), I'm totally in for it!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Back in the Saddle

We've already mentioned on here ad nauseum how the house derailed us. For me in particular, it meant that after Tucson, I didn't get on my bike for almost a month. For someone who wants to ride 5000 miles this year, it meant lots of lost time and mileage.

However, I've been attempting to get on my bike, and on it a lot. The below is a smattering of the rides I've done recently.

Friday, May 29:

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We rode the Cherry Creek Trail from the house to Confluence Park. Brandon tried out his Team TriSports tri shorts on the ride.

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All the rain lately means Confluence is flooded. You can kind of see this behind me.

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Being silly back at the house.

Saturday, May 30:

I picked up a short shift Saturday evening at work and since I don't live all that far away, I decided to bike in.

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Work and back: a nice 12, 12.5 miles round trip.

Monday, June 1:

Hopped on the trainer and decided to try out my TriSports kit.

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(You can also kind of see our new basement pain cave here!)

Wednesday, June 3:

Mark, a work friend of Brandon's who is doing his first triathlon this summer (Boulder Peak), came over for a quick ride - also down to Confluence/REI and back.

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Mark doesn't have a helmet yet, so he borrowed Brandon's and Brandon was that nerd on the trail in an aero helmet. I sprinted ahead so I could get this photo.

Thursday, June 4:

On Thursday, we went up to Rocky Mountain National Park (to get use out of the yearly pass we bought) to ride. I think, like Mt. Lemmon, it was a little ambitious. We parked at Rainbow Curve (above 10,000 feet) and hoped to make it to the top of Trail Ridge Road. However, as I'd only had about a week and a half of bike legs back under me (and not a lot of cardio in general) ... the ride started taking longer than I thought. My legs actually weren't bad; however, I had to stop about every half-mile to catch my breath and calm my racing heart.

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Despite the lungs, my legs are still stronger than Brandon's.

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Stupid lungs.

But, we made it well up over 11,000 feet and had to ride the brakes on the way down (ostensibly to not speed - speed limit was 35 mph and I hit at least 40) ... on probably the first descent that I felt more comfortable than Brandon on.

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Brandon thought this would make a funny shot.

When we got back down to the parking lot, we were messing around taking photos, so clearly I needed to do tree pose.

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With a little bit of trainer time and outside time, I'm happy my legs are bouncing back pretty well. The downside to such a long time off from activity is my lungs go to hell and it'll take forever to get them back. Hopefully soon ...


On the way back down from RMNP, we stopped in Boulder to see our friend Nic who works at Skratch and also stock up on lots more tasty hydration goodness (and also to try their new fruit chews!). If you see me at a race, ask me for a sample packet of Skratch (and a TriSports discount code). 

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Outside their offices. Storefront is in Boulder, right near Boulder Beer.

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Logo made from old license plates. LOVE the Colorado centennial plates for the S!