Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Reflection on 2014

I've been pondering this blog for awhile now.  Mostly, what do I want to say?  How does one measure a year?  How do you determine if a year was good or not?

To figure it out, I've been weighing what was good and what was bad.  Here's some highlights of the "good":

- I got a ground school instructor position with my company.  An important resume builder
- I transferred bases, from Newark to Kansas City.  Much easier commute
- I solidified some great friendships, added new friends, and kicked out some negative people in my life
- I began taking more steps to further my career (ground school instructor being one of them)
- I had some great trips this year (Minnesota and Vegas were awesome)
- I got my finances secure, to the point that we are actively house shopping

But there were some "bad" things too:

- T and I had a somewhat rocky year in our relationship life (not airing any dirty laundry, just stating the truth)
- I became a workaholic for a period of time, driven by money and money only
- I developed some laziness, becoming a bit of a couch potato

But since this is a fitness blog, you can probably guess what is the worst thing of the year was...that's fitness.

Simply put, fitness was not a priority this year.  To the point that my fitness year was the worst since 2006.

I have weighed on why this was, and have come to a few conclusions. 

The first is that I rode the wave of being an Ironman finisher way longer than anyone should.  There are some reasons for this, but none truly valid.  The second is that as the year went on, the excuses for not working out got more creative (work, work, etc.).  Eventually, working out became a chore.  Going to the gym, putting on my shoes to go for a run, dragging my bike outside?  It all became work.  Even in years past, when riding/running/swimming/lifting weights were tedious and monotone, basic fitness was never difficult for me.  This year, even something as simple as going to the hotel gym to lift for 15 minutes became a chore.  Things like TV, dicking around on the internet...these were things that became more important than 20-30 minutes of activity.

Now, instead of dwelling on what 2014 was not, it's time to move on, turn the page, and make 2015 the year that it needs to be.  A lot of people would say that you shouldn't rely on the New Year to flip the calendar and begin change, but right now, I need something to flip the mindset, and a new date on the calendar seems like a great excuse to do so.  Obviously talk is cheap, and unless I put my words into action, 2015 will simply be a repeat of 2014.  So let's talk a bit about the game plan:

- 175,000 meters of swimming
- 5,000 miles of riding (exercise bike and trainer counts)
- 500 miles of running

There's races to be had.  I have three half-Ironmans on the schedule, a couple half-marathons, some other sprint tris, and various other races sprinkled in.  The reason is that racing gives me a purpose.  Racing is why I do what I do.  I love racing.  Simple. 

I also need to improve food.  That's pretty obvious.  My eating habits are terrible.  I'd say we're right now at a 50-50 healthy/unhealthy.  A long way to get to 80-20 or 85-15.  Luckily, if I start working out a lot, that will be pretty easy to figure out.  That process, my friends, will also be in baby steps.

Obviously life can throw wrenches in the mix.  My schedule is inconsistent at best.  There are life goals that will take time this year (buying a house for example).  Most importantly, the chance to further my career is becoming quite serious, and that will ultimately take priority over pretty much everything.  But there can always be a balance.  Always.  It's up to me to figure that balance out. 

To begin the year, tomorrow morning I will hop on the trainer and do The Pain Cave, which is a pseudo-new years tradition.  It's not much, but it's a good way to start off the year. I have a rough gameplan of fitness over the next few days of this trip I'll be on. 

There's a few hours left in 2014.  Tomorrow, the page turns, and 2015 begins on the right foot.

Also, next year, I vow to blog at least once a week, and hopefully twice.  Look for workout stuff, but also life lessons as well.

See you next year!

Triathlete Christmas

Yes, remiss in blogging, but when I'm not doing jack, I don't have much to blog about. I'll do a year-end post soon (as well as my 2015 goals post), but for now ... this.

It's weird being an adult. Christmas presents are barely a surprise and when asked what you want, all you want to reply is, "I dunno, bill money?" The few things I might want (since come on, triathletes always want new gear), I don't want enough to get for Christmas ... especially because those few things are out of our gift budget.

That being said, most of our presents to each other were definitely triathlete-related.

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This is a big box ... I wonder what it could be?


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That big box? Was a second trainer for the house. Yep, Skippy got a brother (or sister) as well as a climbing block to accompany it.

What else is triathlete-y in that pile?

- Ironman sweatshirt (for me)
- Ironman 2XU compression socks (for Brandon)
- USA swim trunks (for Brandon)
- a doughnut swimsuit that yes, says "will swim for donuts" on the butt (for me)
- a BU running pullover (for me)

Simple, and easy. 

Hope your holiday season has been wonderful, everyone, as has your 2014. We here at TBD can't wait for 2015!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

12/8-12/14 - Diving Back In

Oh hey look, a normal-style post around here!

I've taken some time off. We know that. I'm taking more time off this week (stupid getting sick). But last week, I actually kind of got back into the swing of things.

I ran, I lifted ... I got back on the bike for the first time in like six weeks.

On Monday, December 8, we joined our friends Richard and Carlos for a ride. It was easy (read: slow), but it was looong - about 30 miles in two hours. Quite possibly a little ambitious for our first ride back.

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Brandon and I think Carlos's butt.

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Selfie Carlos took (that I shamelessly stole for my purposes).

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Picture I put on Instagram at the turnaround point.

The other workout of note happened Sunday, December 14. Since we're both a bit squishy right now, we hired Richard to be our personal trainer. He'll give us some workouts but we're also meeting once a week with him so he can kick our asses into shape. And oh boy howdy, did he. Neither of us could really walk for two days after (and today, three days post-session, I'm still a bit stiff) and my immune system suffered to the point of me getting a stupid cold.

But we need the kick in the ass and some help strengthening ourselves up, so this will be a fun, interesting journey.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Skratch Night at KE

The Thursday after we got back from Las Vegas, our local tri shop, KompetitiveEdge, held a Skratch Labs night. Founder Allen Lim came to talk (he is HYSTERICAL) and he and another guy from Skratch, Jon, made some rice cakes for us to try.

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Jon on the left, Lim on the right.

It was a very informative night, both with Lim's talk and with the subsequent Q&A. We learned how Skratch got started, the whole point of real food, Lim's experiences working on the pro cycling circuit, how Skratch compares to say, Osmo, and much, much more.

More importantly, rice cakes were made! Both a sweet (chocolate chip and blackberry) and a savory (peanut butter and bacon).

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The white are sweet, the brown are savory.

They were tasty and I am willing to try them training if I fiddle with the insides a bit.

The night just solidified why I love Skratch and taught me that if Lim is ever talking, I need to go, because he is AWESOME.

Quote of the night: "Don't jam it in your mouth if you're not in love with it." - food and romance advice from Dr. Allen Lim

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Race #13 of the Season: Rock 'N Roll Las Vegas Half-Marathon

On paper, this is my worst stand-alone half-marathon. Let's just get that out of the way first. I hit the 10 mile point about where I would have loved to have finished the race. But as we all know, things don't always go according to plan. Let's see why, shall we?

****

Training had been ... okay leading into the race. The week of, we didn't run as much as we had planned on. We didn't run before we left and then Thursday, the day we got in, we decided to just hike Red Rock Canyon as opposed to run it.

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Friday was a lot of walking, but we did get a nice morning run in on the Strip on Saturday.

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Super-awkward running selfie. Also wearing our Vegas shirts from 2010.

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Paused at a light.

The run taught us that going ... north? on the Strip was fast and we'd need to be careful with our speed so as to not blow up early in the race.

Sunday was strange, with the race being in the afternoon/evening. Completely threw us off our typical "race morning" preparation, but since we had kind of thrown all true goals out the window, we decided to just treat it as an evening training run (of which we had done several because of the time of this race). We grabbed a baguette sandwich lunch and headed down to the start.

The start? Not well-labeled. We knew it was south of Mandalay Bay, but which way to go? Not so clear. We figured it out, but yeah. Signs to gear check? Non-existent. Given the weird weather that day (chilly for Vegas), we just decided to say screw gear check and keep the few extra things with us (me; RunCO pullover, sunglasses, phone ... Brandon pretty much nothing). Therefore, I was able to get photos with my phone during some points of the race/lead-up.

We waited in our corrals for a good long while - there were tens of thousands of runners and 50some corrals.

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Waiting for everything to start, trying to stay warm.

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Just a few corrals away from starting!

We started off with the plan to take the first few miles easy and slowly pick it up. We accomplished this perfectly for the first five or so miles (10:32, 10:03, 10:01, 10:08, 10:00). We didn't have to walk for the first time until about mile 6 ... when Brandon started to fall apart.

5K split: 31:51

He started feeling some weird pain in the ball of his foot; if you look at the official race photos (which I'm not going to post here since, y'know, copyrights), his stride looks off from early on. He vocalized the pain around mile five and it got worse from there.

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If we were going to walk, I was going to get Mr. Pawn Stars fan in front of this place.

10K split: 1:04:38

Things just got worse from there. We had a few miles in the 11s, but by mile eight, Brandon couldn't really run again. He tried stretching his foot out; didn't help. He retied his shoes so they were super loose; didn't really help. I had him lean on me a bit to help support him and get weight off the sore foot; kind of helped.

A kind runner gave him some Advil which maybe kicked in by the end, but it was slow-going until the finish.

10 mi split: 2:01:42

Brandon wanted me to leave. I was feeling great when we were descending pace and I knew I had quite a bit in my legs ... but we had really reconnected thus far over the weekend and I refused to leave him. After all, he stayed with me throughout the disaster that was the run at Harvest Moon, so I just told him I was returning the favor.

Since I had my phone, we called our friend Nic to help Brandon out. She helped give him some great perspective - there will always be other start lines, this wasn't an A race, etc. Besides, if there's a race that's a good one to walk large chunks of it, it's this one. North Las Vegas Blvd. is usually kind of sketchy (up toward the wedding chapels, and Circus Circus, and Fremont) so that was probably the best time to be able to walk it and be safe and see the lights.

Brandon insisted on running a bit more as the race went on (my guess is the Advil kicked in) and we crossed the finish line together, holding hands, in the same time.

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Post-race. Brandon is dead. I am not.

Final Stats:
Time: 2:55:15
Pace: 13:23/mi
Overall Rank: 18930/25243
Gender Rank: 11123/15862
Division Rank: 2175/2902 (F30-34)

I helped Brandon limp back to the hotel - it was pretty bad - where we showered and tried to figure out dinner. Walking anywhere was out of the question thanks to his foot, and driving was going to be tricky due to the Strip being closed down for the race. I offered to go walk someplace and bring back food as I was feeling pretty okay, but we couldn't think of anything we really wanted. So, thanks to some help from the Bellagio concierge, we figured out that we could leave the hotel property by car ... so we just went to In-N-Out and stuffed our faces. It worked.

****

Worst stand-alone half on paper, but a race that I do not regret. Could I have done fairly well if I had left Brandon? Probably ... but who knows? I also know that I would have worried horribly about whether he was doing okay or not. I stayed by my husband's side when he needed me the most, and to me, that's what matters on the day. Nic's right - there will (almost) always be other races.

November Round-Up

Radio silence again from me, I know. Post-Vegas, I went into the off-season and am now just emerging from it. I can't tell you how many times I've sat down to blog and just ... haven't. You'll hopefully start hearing from me more regularly again though ...

November's numbers suck, but that's because I really didn't do much ...

Running: 36.75 mi
Swimming: 0 mi (0m)
Cycling: 0 mi
Lifting: two sessions (40 min)
Other: seven walks (7:40), one hike (1:00)

Did I do something non-S/B/R related?: Yep, I hiked.

Am I strength-training regularly?: I was until my off-season break ...

Am I injury-free?: Yes, thankfully.

This has been one hell of a long racing season and I needed a HUGE mental break. My plan for this month ended up being survival until Vegas and then ... nothing. Except for some walking, I've accomplished that, and it has been fabulous. 

I have worked out once since December began, but I still don't feel any deep urges to get going again ... although I'm currently quite squishy and some of my work clothes are getting a little tight, so I may need to start easing back into things and hope that motivation comes back as a result ...

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

11/3-11/9: New Kicks and Core Killing

Remember this post? Where I lament about running shoes?

Well, I finally got my new kicks - the Mizuno Wave Rider 18.

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So pretty ...

At the store, they seemed ... eh, but we decided to go for it. My first run in them - October 30th - was a four-miler that I negative split and that I'm pretty sure ended up being my first sub-9 run of the year. Coincidence? Probably, but it convinced me that maybe I'll keep the shoes. ;)

I've run a bit in them since and they get more comfortable with each run, so I'm pretty happy with them.

For actual fun stuff, though, on Tuesday, November 4, I went up to Boulder for SkirtSports' monthly clinic. It ended up being murder on my core - 250 reps of various core exercises - crunches, reverse crunches, bridges, mountain climbers, supermans, and stuff I know I'm forgetting. My core hurt for days. We also did a warm-up run and some FitDeck exercises, which was a blast.

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Stolen from the SkirtSports instagram - I'm in the top right photo on the far left, on the right in the bottom left photo, and on the far right in the back in the bottom right photo. Arya print for the win!

Other than that, I've been laying low with the exception of a plank-a-day challenge. We started with 20 seconds and we're currently up to 90 seconds ... and will in theory get to five minutes by the end of the month. We also head to Las Vegas TOMORROW for our final race of the season, so woooo to that!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

October Round-Up

 I totally meant to write this Monday and was even thinking about it over the weekend ... but I had Monday afternoon with the husband and I haven't been able to spend much time with him lately, so yeah.

October ... was okay. Running picked up nicely, but everything else ...

Running: 51.6 mi
Swimming: 1500m (.93 mi)
Cycling: 23.5 mi
Lifting: seven sessions (1:46)
Other: crossfit (:30), two stretch sessions (:30), nine walks (4:55)

Did I do something non-S/B/R related?: Yep; I tried out crossfit.

Am I strength-training regularly?: Still, yes.

Am I injury-free?: My butt is starting to get a bit cranky with all the running (piriformis, probably), but it's not painful, so we're going to go with yes.

As I wrote in my paper log, running wasn't awful this month, but pretty much everything else was. Swimming has been shit because every time I go to the pool, I feel nauseous. Different times of day, different diet ... doesn't matter. I'm wondering if either 24 or just that 24 changed something with the sauna in the room because oh god the smells ... and then the lifting sessions I have planned after the swims suck because I still feel like poo from the swim. So frustrating.

The bike ... well, it's hard to force myself on the trainer. Walking has been my savior in terms of activity lately.

For November, it's running until the Vegas half-mar and then hopefully just picking up strength training from here on out. We're thinking of hiring a friend of ours as a personal trainer for a few months to really build up a strong core base for next year's training and racing. We're also doing a plank-a-day challenge with the MaccaX crew, so yay for that ... I guess ...

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Grind

I think my lack of blogging stems to my current situation - the grind. 

I'm at the point of the year where it's the offseason for most ... and it feels like it should be for me as well given all the crap I've done this year, but I still have one more race - the Rock 'N' Roll Las Vegas Half-Marathon. I've thrown out any and all goals I may have had for this race at the beginning of the year - I just haven't trained enough or properly to hit them - but I'm still hoping to do relatively well and, most importantly, have fun.

But it's hard to keep training. I had a couple good weeks of run training ... and then two that turned disastrous. Last week was another full week. This week should be, if I don't sabotage myself. Then two more weeks and it's race day. So soon and it needs to be much, much further away.

Cycling is pretty much on the trainer these days and it's hard mentally to get on there. The effort it takes seems monumental. I've tried swimming, but the last month of swims have gone abysmally thanks to something going on at the gym - some smell, something they've changed with either the pool itself, the sauna or the steam room. I manage 5 or 600, but then the nausea takes over and I have to get out.

I have plans, grand plans for next year and I've checked out of this year and am just looking forward to 2015. I just still have to remember that I still have the rest of this year, too. And that I need the rest of this year to set myself up for success next year.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Of the Oatmeal and Running

As an aside, I think training needs to get more interesting, as I have nothing to talk about on here. NOTHING. 

However, two Mondays ago (the 13th), The Oatmeal (a.k.a. Matthew Inman), came to Colorado as part of his book tour for The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I RUN Long Distances. As I had nothing else going on that evening ... I went to go see him speak and get a book signed.

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Inman talking.

He didn't talk much about running; instead, he chose to talk about a trip to the Galapagos and attempting to walk in Charles Darwin's footsteps (stuff he's working on for a future comic or two). He did, however, share a story on his possible fastest mile ever ... with him trying not to crap himself, something all of us who run have done at least once in our lives. (Example 1, example 2.)

There was a loosely organized group trail run with him before the signing, but unfortunately I couldn't swing it. 

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Signing books.

I got mine signed, and he was gracious to chat with everyone there. I was wearing my IMAZ jacket and mentioned that since that was so hard, and I've heard stand-alone marathons are harder than Ironmans, I have no desire to do a regular old marathon. He said that his 70.3 seemed harder than a regular marathon, so who knows. Maybe someday ...

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Signed to Team Baby Dinosaur!

If you get the chance to see Inman speak, do it. It's highly entertaining. Also: GO BUY THIS BOOK. It's awesome. Also read about the mantis shrimp (possibly my favorite comic of his EVER), because knowledge.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

10/6-10/12 - Of the Trainer and Crossfit

Despite being in the midst of run training, I'm trying to make sure I cross-train as well. Strength-training is staying around and I'm also attempting to swim.

The main thing I've been trying to do (mostly for next year's plan) is to get on the bike. Outside time hasn't happened so much, but I got on the trainer twice last week for a whole hour. That's nothing compared to what I was doing (five hour trainer ride, anyone?), but if it helps me get back into it, all the better.

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Getting back used to this view ...

I also tried something technically new on Tuesday, October 8 - Crossfit.

It was somewhat intentional. SkirtSports does monthly group "runs" (although I hesitate to use the word run as this one was NOT really a run) on the first Tuesday of the month. I thought there was going to be more running then there was, but there WAS Crossfit. 

More specifically, two laps around the office complex, stretching and then three sets of 25 each squats, push-ups, and lunges (with a short lap in between each set) followed by two more laps to cool down.

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Stolen from the SkirtSports Instagram feed. I'm in front in the pink shoes and IMAZ shirt. Taken during stretching.

I ... couldn't walk for a few days thanks to that workout. My manager who does Crossfit says the workout we did was no joke (and it was technically half of what was supposed to be done).

My thoughts? I get the appeal. I really do. I finished the whole thing, but both my squat and lunge form purposefully went to hell by the last set - I did NOT want to pull something and I felt that if I kept trying to keep proper form AND go fast ... I would injure myself. Which is something the detractors of Crossfit mention, and I totally agree with. I like how Crossfit gets people lifting. I really enjoy lifting (and need to do it much more often than I actually do), but you need to lift safe, and I'm not sure that always happens with Crossfit.

I will also say that I probably could have slowed down and kept with proper form even if it took me longer because we weren't actually being timed (like we would in an actual CF box), but I'm a little competitive and felt like I had to go fast. I do think Jen (our instructor, who was great) maybe should have told us to NOT go as fast as one normally would so as to keep proper form/reduce injury risk, but maybe that's just me.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

9/29-10/5: In Vegas Training

This past week's recap will actually not be as fun as most of them are, unfortunately, as I haven't done anything all that fun. 

That being said, we've officially started training for the Vegas half-marathon.

The week started off slow (going to a metal show on Sunday night and then working very, very early both Monday and Tuesday will make one terribly exhausted), but on Wednesday, things picked up and have been progressing nicely since then.

I've also decided, for October, to do what I did back in January and commit to moving/working out at least 10 minutes every day. I can find 10 minutes a day. 

In terms of running, I had what I'm pretty sure was my largest running week in training yet this year - 17.22 miles (this does NOT include racing) including quite possibly my longest training run this year - 9.29 miles.

That 9-miler was ... interesting. If you paid along to my weekly recaps I did on here last year during IMAZ training, you may have noticed that I had a lot of things in "CCSP." CCSP is Cherry Creek State Park, which we happen to live down the hill from (no, literally, down the hill). We ride in there a bit, but I've rarely ran in there because I never wanted to attempt running-mapping the trails.

Then I got a Garmin, and I started to run in there a bit, but only a bit (my main 7 miler is an out-and-back into the park). Sunday, I decided, screw it, I have a Garmin, I may as well run in here.

Because it's me, and the universe likes to screw with me, my Garmin lost satellites at some point on the run after the 6 mile point. I glanced down, saw "6.03 miles in 1:03:xx" and thought, "okay, I thought I was moving a bit faster than that, but whatever," and kept running. 

After a while, I hadn't heard my Garmin beep for mileage (which I sometimes don't hear anyway), so I looked down ... "6.03 miles in 1:22:xx." Huh. That's not right. Stopped it, restarted it ... and oh look, distance registered again. 

Since thankfully the time kept running, I knew how long I had gone for, but I knew there was no way I only ran 7.whatever miles. So I ended up having to map the run ANYWAY. Thanks, universe, you a-hole.

In any case, it capped off a great second week of half-marathon training, so yay for that.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Running Shoe Lament (Free Verse of the Wide-Footed)

(Poetry corner on the blog today ...)

my feet, they be tricky;
bunions make buying shoes
an awful, awful experience.
let's go up a size
or ideally, in wide
for comfort is hard to be found.

since i started running,
lo these many years
(okay, seriously since 2005),
i've maybe had two pairs i've loved:
an adidas microbounce in black 
with teal and silver accents
and fun inserts in both teal and purple
that i got cheap at sports authority
(knew what i was doing? pshaw.)
and my glorious wonderful
(and unfortunately pinkish red)
mizuno wave rider 16s,
the shoe of ironman
(and thank you mizuno
for putting a wide in a fun color
that's not just boring white.
even if it was technically pink.).

then they died, as shoes are wont to do
and replaced, they needed to be.
the 17s? though pretty they were,
the seamlessness
and the top of my foot
were not friends when they met.

with 18s months away from release,
off to the internet to find more 16s
(old models meant cheap
or so i hoped)
and of course they're cheap
except the ONE PAIR of 10 wides i needed.
i needed shoes, so here, take my money.

but ... 
they never fit the same.
they try to blister my heels.
wide? you mock me, shoe!

people i know
who know people themselves
made me think i got a bad batch
(for the shoe says wide,
but believe it i don't).
a waste of my money
(serves me for not shopping local).

the 18s are out soon
(yesterday, in theory)
yet i haven't been able to find a wide
(i need to try before i buy)
(stupid feet)
as of yet.
i have a half-marathon in six weeks
and would like new shoes.

brand loyal i need not be
(i usually am
but said feet? mean shoes can not be)
but i think mizuno i'd prefer.
(never liked asics.
saucony? you wear out too fast.
nike misses more than they hit
and while zoot intrigues the triathlete within,
skepticism still reigns.)

so wish me luck in this journey
as my feet need to be shod
(barefoot i'll never run;
especially in vegas - yuck!)
and uncomfortable running shoes
are misery indeed.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Patience

Today I did an 8.5 mile run, which went really well.  I'm dramatically increasing the running, and the body and mind are responding.  I'm feeling like I'm making good gains, and that my Vegas goals are in line.

What's hard for me right now is patience.

For those who know don't know me, I tend to be impatient.  I'm that guy who is tapping his foot when I'm held up for whatever reason, looking at his watch, etc.  Maybe it's my nature as a pilot.  I don't know.  What I do know is that on long runs, where I'm holding back as much as I can, is I want to go faster.

It's an exercise in patience.  Dial it back, force yourself to go slower.  Gains are made in the LSD runs as much as they are on the track or treadmill.  

The other point where I'm forced to exercise patience is in the shape of my body/my weight.  Yes, I am starting to lose the lumpiness I've gained over the past year and seeing gains there.  But not as quickly as I'd like.  I'm forced to remind myself that I didn't gain the weight overnight, and I won't lose it overnight either.  Patience.

Friday, October 3, 2014

9/15-9/28: What I've Been Up To

Yeahhhh, we know I've been a bit remiss with blogging lately. As a result, I've got some workouts to catch up on!

On Wednesday, September 17, we rode into Cherry Creek State Park ... mainly so I could test out my new helmet.

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At Crescent Moon, I won a free Rudy Project item (sunglasses or helmet), so I decided I'd try out a new road helmet. The chin strap is a bit bulky, but other than that, I like it okay.

A few days later on Saturday, September 20, I went on a group ride with Richard and Carlos and a few other people from Kompetitive Edge. We rode from the store up to Dinosaur Ridge, past Red Rocks, through Morrison and back to the store. It was a fun 30 mile ride.

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Almost back to the store; stopped at a light.

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Stoplight selfie.

September 24 we hit up what is seemingly turning out to be our monthly track session for some 200s. We successfully managed one more this time than last outing, so yay for that.

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After we finished.

Finally, on September 25, also known as our third wedding anniversary, we played a little hockey. I forked out quite a bit of money for an hour of ice time so we could skate and shoot and realize how out of hockey shape we are. It was a total blast, though.

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Messing around.

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Kind of looking like I know what I'm doing.

Yay, fun times, right? I know y'all missed this ...

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

September Round-Up

Anniversary mini-vacation meant no blogging. Which is unfortunate, because I have workout posts about fun things. They'll still come, though.

Anyway, September. September was only half-way decent thanks to Harvest Moon. And only kind of.

Running: 37.62 mi
Swimming: 2881.21m (1.79 mi)
Cycling: 105.51 mi
Lifting: four sessions (1:11)
Other: one walk (:24), one session of hockey (1:00)

Did I do something non-S/B/R related?: Yes! We rented ice for our anniversary and played a little puck and it was AWESOME.

Am I strength-training regularly?: Still averaging that once a week, but yes.

Am I injury-free?: Unless you count frying my skin, including a horrible triathlete tramp stamp, which I did at Harvest, which actually did affect my run ... yes, yes I am.

Motivation has been hard to come by since the spring/early summer. Vegas is on the horizon, though, and we are picking up the running. The cycling and swimming are going to be tricky, but I know we need the cross training, so hopefully I'll still have some progress in those. We both want the strength to get ratcheted up so I'm hoping to have a few hours worth of that next month.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

On Being "Slow" and the Fear of Success

This is a post I've been thinking of sitting down and writing since probably May. Today was a good time to just get it over with since I don't really have anything else to talk about otherwise. Took a good chunk of last week off/easy (70.3s on little training tend to beat one up pretty badly) so I don't have any fun workouts to post about.

So, this. This instead. It'll be a bit rambling, so bear with me.

On Being "Slow"

I say I'm slow all the time. My times - especially in triathlons - tend to back up my words as well. Compared to some, it's also true. I'm also quite friendly with a lot of fast people:
- Mike - Olympian, marathon winner, second at the Leadville 100 this year
- Nic - marathon winner, Olympic trials qualifier, probably more that I don't even know
- Norm - half-marathon winner, consistent AG podium runner, qualifies for Boston at Boston
- Sonja - local triathlete badass, winner of my AG at IMAZ
- Ann - friend of Norm, qualified for Boston in her first marathon, just qualified for 70.3 worlds, 6th in my AG at IMAZ in her first IM
- Jenna - MX12 teammate and consistently places on podiums
- Richard - local triathlete friend, Ironman All World Athlete, podium-finisher
- Steve - speedy runner/triathlete from the Twin Cities
And even more that I'm not mentioning here. When I compare myself to them, I feel unbearably slow.

I also know, however, that compared to others, I'm also faster than them. I try to amend my words, to when I say I'm slow, that I'm comparatively slow

I wonder though, is this holding me back? Should I not say that I'm comparatively slow, but instead that I'm not as fast as I'd like to be? Or as fast as I could be?

I believe that this all ties into ...

The Fear of Success

I do believe I am afraid of success. I have been for YEARS. It is realistically why I'm stuck in my current job (essentially minimum wage slave, but I've been working there long enough that I'm in pseudo-management and definitely not making minimum wage anymore). This is partially because I don't like the spotlight, and success typically means the spotlight.

When a bit of success comes my way, I tend to downplay it. You've seen that here.

- Barkin' Dog Duathlon - My first ever podium. I justified it by saying I got lucky, that I didn't have to swim, that all the fast people did the long-course.
- SkirtSports 5K - Podium number two. Small race, all of the fast people must have done the half-marathon.

At the same time, just like almost every other triathlete, I dream about making it to Kona*. Realistically, if that happens, it'll be because I got lucky through the lottery or I raced enough to get a legacy spot, but why shouldn't I try for the qualification? I say it's because I'll never be a fast enough runner, or because my swim is such a disaster ... but is that negative thinking the biggest problem of all?

I know I am better than I think. I know there is potential in me that's waiting to be tapped (in more than just the athletic realm too, trust me). I know Nic sees it and I also know that Richard does. I see glimpses of it myself - the GtIS half where I pulled a half-way decent time out of my butt on little training (and an assist to gravity). The realistic notion that I feel with decent training, I could have pulled a sub-7 out on the Harvest Moon course despite it being fairly difficult. That I had a sub-7 (or at the very least, a PR/sub-7:30) until the lack of training caught up to me the same time a massive hill and headwind did.

The question then becomes, how do I (or anyone else facing this issue) fix this? Is it a mental block? Brandon says that in general, I get fairly decent and to a point of breaking through a wall, breaking through to that next step. I try to break through, maybe just a little, fail ... and then retreat back into the comfortable. 

The comfortable IS enough. It allows me to race and to finish and to be healthy. We stress in our household that we ARE enough. 

At the same time, I'd like to be more, too. The more intrigues me. The more terrifies me. To change the limits and push through the fear - that is what I need to do, to be not "slow" and to succeed.

I think that to do this, it is twofold:

1.) Change the mindset. Ironman terrified me as much as it excited me. I made it a mental game from the outset to a when not an if I crossed. It was never going to be a question. My conscious choice this year to embrace the hill on the bike has worked for the most point. I still don't like hills and climbing - as a bigger athlete, I probably never will - but I don't dread them and they don't mentally break me anymore. I do not need to say that I'm slow anymore. That I'm not that good. I need to say ... something else. Right now, I don't exactly know what will work, but I do know that I need to figure it out.

2.) Put in the work. I can change my thinking all I want, but if I don't put in the work, I'll never be able to back it up. In IMAZ training last year, the best point was when the work made me truly believe I could back up my when I cross claim. I've got plans for putting in the work next year - I won't reveal them yet - but I've already shared them with a few people. Some people say I/we'll fail; others can't wait to watch us succeed. I, for one, can't wait to see us succeed, either.



*Yes, despite all the bullshit surrounding WTC, and how much of a dick company they're turning out to be ... they've hooked me with this. I can't help it. I know I shouldn't want to feed the machine, but it's been so conditioned by this point. Damnit. It's exactly like my merch comment in one of my IMAZ posts.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Race #12 of the Season: Harvest Moon Long-Course Triathlon

As an aside before I start this thing ... I've raced 12 freaking times this season?! No wonder I'm ready for next year ...

I was smart for this race.

Unlike my three previous tris this year, I actually didn't stay up super honking late the night before. Well, later than I wanted, but not 11pm-late like most of the others. 

I was worried for this race.

I knew I wasn't trained. I knew that going in. I am so thankful that Brandon ended up getting the race off because I don't know if I could have raced and made it across that finish line without him. Having him believe in me helped me believe in myself. Knowing he was there waiting to see me come back in off the bike helped me through the hellish hills and wind.

I had really no goals going in except sub-8. I was really hoping I could stubborn my through to a sub-8.

*************

Race morning, we woke up early and got ourselves ready to go. I felt a bit nervous that morning - nervous like TriRock morning, which wasn't good - so I actually took a probiotic to try to settle my stomach. We left the house at 5:30 - the res didn't open its gates until 6 - and sat in a line reminiscent to our first ever oly, RattleSnake back in 2010. This time, though, it wasn't because we showed up late-ish. We were fortunately able to be on the res road, but others weren't so lucky.

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(looking back to the cars backed up over the horizon on Quincy.)

We parked, pumped up my tires and headed to get my chip before going into transition. I left Brandon on the outside to set up my spot. I then got body marked with my ominous number of DOOOOOOOOM.

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Yes, I was number 666. Cracked out laughing when I saw it a few days prior.

We mostly hung out until it was time for me to get in my wetsuit and get in a warm-up swim. I sunscreened, but I only had 50 SPF with me as opposed to my usual 90 and/or 100. (Spoiler alert: this came back to haunt me big time.)

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Artsy shot in front of the sunrise.

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In the water, waiting for my wave to go off. I'm fifth from the left.

The Swim:

My wave was the second wave to go off. The swim was an out-and-back and the first half was fairly standard - put my head down and go. And sight often, because of course it was into the sun. Because the first leg of triathlon swims are ALWAYS into the sun.

Coming back, the wind started picking up and adding some chop to the water. It wasn't as bad as, say, what those at Cedar Point went through, but for someone who has never swam in chop? Not pretty. I got slapped in the face a lot by the water before I figured out that if I rotate more like I in theory should be doing anyway, I avoided the water in the face. This also helped me get less water up my nose, too.

(Underrated triathlon skill: hawking a loogie underwater.)

By the time the last few buoys came around, I said "screw it" when it came to sighting them and just used the swim-out arch to sight back. This made it more efficient except for it took me into the res police dock so I had to make a slight detour around it. Oops.

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Working on getting out of the wetsuit.

Time: 54:10 (348th overall, 138th gender, 18th division)

T1: 

Looking back at my lobstered self, I probably should have sunscreened, but otherwise, just in and out.

Time: 1:28 (24th overall, 4th gender, 2nd division)

The Bike:

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The perk of such a race number like 666 is that it gets you a ton of comments. I have never gotten so many comments from people in a race. It was ... actually kind of awesome.

This bike course - or at least the part on Quincy - keeps you honest. It is pretty brutal. I felt pretty good for the first part of the bike. I hit 38.5 mph on the main downhill before the turnaround (the course was a loop but with a tiny out-and-back at the beginning). 

After the turnaround, the loop started with a right on Watkins. That stretch felt great - it was also the stretch I saw Brandon again.

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The whole time on Watkins I felt awesome. I tried not to push it too hard - my lack of endurance always on my mind - but since I felt good, I figured I may as well try to keep it going. 

Cross over I-70, turn right on ... Colfax, I think? Still felt okay. I did get passed by some HUGE piece of farm/industrial equipment with tires bigger than I was. That was a little frightening. The road turned and on to Bennett/Kiowa Road. It got a little rougher as the miles went on and the lack of mileage in the legs became evident. At mile 31 ... I died. I spent the next few miles yelling at myself, telling myself that goddamnit you're a fucking fighter and you can get through this. 

That worked for a few miles. I looked at my watch and realized I was still making good time and that the race might not be the disaster I thought it was.

Then I turned on Quincy. Into a headwind. Climbing up a monster hill.

I saw my average speed drop. I felt my legs give up. I had very little left in the tank. I kept turning my wheels over, trying to keep my cadence at a decent level, kept attempting high spirits. But it was hard. I was deep in the pain cave. The last 15 miles were absolute and utter hell.

The end of the bike couldn't come soon enough.

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Back into transition.

Time: 3:35:35 (320th overall; 112th gender; 15th division)

T2: 

I spent a bit of time sunscreening (not enough) and took the time to, well, try to attempt to BodyGlide my feet (with my melted, gooey BodyGlide).

Time: 2:56 (215th overall; 73rd gender; 12th division)

The Run:


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I felt like crap coming out of transition. Brandon met me and offered to run with me a little while and ended up running the whole 13.1 miles which I appreciate so much.

The first half of the run was more walking than running. I felt awful and couldn't get my legs under me. I tried a banana, a bit of an Oreo and some clementines and eventually started to come around.

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One of the times I managed to run.

Estimated first half time: 1:49

By the turn around, I was sick of being on the hot course and decided that we would neg split the course. From about mile 6.5 to mile 10, I was successful at this, and we chopped down the miles and actually started passing people. 

At mile 10, though ... all the lack of endurance killed me. The final 5K was horrible. Brandon peeled off at mile 12 to beat me to the finish line for photos. But I neg split the back half (in about 1:30) and beat my Boulder 70.3 time from 2011.

Time: 3:19:00 (356th overall; 141st gender; 17th division)

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Crossing the finish line.

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Finish line slip 'n slide!

Overall Stats:
Time: 7:53:11
17/18 division (F30-34)
135/145 gender
351/363 overall

My swim was five minutes faster than 2011 and two minutes slower than 2013. Given the conditions and my lack of swim training, I am really happy with my 54 minute swim (also given that it includes the stupid run to transition).

T1 is naturally faster at Aurora ... but I was super shocked to see that I had the 24th fastest T1 time (out of 363). That made me really, really happy.

The bike was six minutes slower than 2011 and seven minutes faster than last year ... but last year's bike also had the flat, so who knows. If I had a few more long rides under my belt - in the 40-50 mile range - I might have actually had a better time on this arguably harder course.

T2 ... is a crapshoot given the different races.

The run was 21 minutes slower than 2013 and 44 seconds slower than 2011. The run is where my lack of endurance training really showed ... which sucks, because my running actually hasn't been that horrible this year.

All in all, it came to a race that was slower than 2013, but faster than 2011. I also think that, with proper training, I could actually probably manage a sub-7 on that course. Even with the hills and heat and wind. Will I go back to actually try it? Well, that's a different story ...