Monday, June 30, 2014

On Hard Decisions and Painful Truths

It's been a month.

You'll see exactly why ... probably on Wednesday ... when I post my monthly recap, but let's just say it hasn't gone as well as I would have liked.

There have been a lot of reasons for this. Some are of my own creation; some came out of nowhere that I wasn't even expecting.

Needless to say, if you pay any attention to that race calendar to the right of this post, you'll notice two omissions - Beyond the Horizon long course on August 16 and the Minneapolis Duathlon on August 24.

Both Brandon and I were hoping to race both those races, but we'd be forcing them. As it is right now, I know I'll be forcing TriRock in a few weeks as well as Georgetown to Idaho Springs (although that one was a train-through anyway). And probably Harvest Moon, but I really hope not.

I don't like this. In fact, I kind of hate it. Still doesn't change anything.

I got out of my early season racing happy and exhausted and ready to start training. The exhaustion overtook everything. I'm currently in a phase where I hate my day job and it makes doing anything other than coming home and flopping on the couch with my computer look entirely unappealing. I've been in this phase probably since right after Colfax.

I thought I was ready to train heavy. I really did. Yet ... I really haven't been.

Why is this? Few reasons:

- Never done what is essentially two racing seasons before (early block; late block). I didn't realize how much racing what is a typical full year's worth of races in two months would wipe me out. 
- Due to his job, Brandon hasn't been able to train/race much. Since we've been together (Dec. 2007), this is the first year since 2008, before he even got into triathlon, that we haven't trained and raced together. Sure, I've done a handful of races without him, but 90% of our races since the end of 2008 have been together. This year? He may not even do a tri.
- The above has messed with more than I ever even considered it could. It's hard training when my training buddy has no reason to train. I know I could - and probably should - find more training partners, but Brandon is my TeamBabyDino teammate and partner for life and we've essentially taken this crazy triathlon journey together and it's hard to travel the path without him.

We dropped those two races because he knows he won't be ready for them. He feels like they'd be forced. I agree. The only reason I haven't dropped the other races on my schedule (Vegas is far enough away that it doesn't count right now) is because I've already signed up and paid my money. We were waiting on Beyond the Horizon as we weren't even sure if it was going to go on (heard they don't have a lot of entrants and it might be cancelled) and we just hadn't gotten around to registering for the du.

It's hard to swallow, but it has to be enough. If I look inside deeply enough, I know that even Harvest Moon is going to be rough on me. I'll finish everything because damnit, I'm stubborn enough and I know that I can, but the results won't be as good as I was hoping for. Those goals I made at the beginning of the year for my tris? Out the window. Completion is good enough right now. 

I'm in the middle of learning some painful, awful lessons right now. I'm just thankful they aren't bad enough to derail me off this triathlon train; they're just going to make me be a lot smarter about things in the future.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

6/9-6/22: Hiking, Track Work and Friends, Oh My!

I know, I know, there's been quite a bit of radio silence on my end for the past two weeks. A lot of it has been due to general life stuff - a bit of relationship rx, work hell, etc.

I have had every intention of sitting down to blog ... but I'm too tired to focus on it. Or other stuff is going on. Really no good excuses. Anyway, here I am with what I've been up to the past few weeks ...

Wednesday, June 11: Hiking at Mt. Falcon

In order to do some non-triathlon-related crap, we headed up to Mt. Falcon, just outside the city, for a hike. We could have gone much further than we did, but we still had a ton of fun. The outside bonding was exactly what the two of us needed.

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The two of us on a rock outcropping.


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Brandon climbing around on the rocks.


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Me hiking up the trail.

Wednesday, June 18: Track work; riding with Richard

The other notable workouts from the past few weeks happened a week after the hike (I typically have Wednesdays off which is why fun stuff happens Wednesdays).

Early that morning, we tried track work for the first time*. We got a workout from our friend Nic and tried ... most of it. The workout was 400s; some at 1/2 marathon pace, some at 10K pace. We figured out what we needed to it by plugging in some numbers into a pace calculator and went to the track.

Hitting specific numbers? Is hard. We ended up doing four 400s; Brandon did a much better job than I did. Two of his were right on 1/2 mar pace and the other two were very close to 10K pace. They weren't in proper order, but eh. 

Me, on the other hand? 

I couldn't hit the paces because I was going too fast. I couldn't slow down enough to get to where I needed to be ... which Nic thought might happen, anyway. Oh well, lessons to learn ...

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Brandon rocking it out.


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Me, coming into the finish of one of my 400s.

After the track, we got coffee and then headed out to meet our friend Richard for a ride. We know Rich through Run Colorado and he did IMAZ with us - I was able to talk with him on the run for a bit. In any case, he was doing an easy 40 miles on the bike and we joined him for about 20 of it.

It has been a long time since we've ridden with someone OTHER than our friend Mike and let me tell you, it was nice. No drop ride, easy conversation and we got to explore a bit into Chatfield that Brandon and I had never done before. Definitely something we'd like to do again.

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Brandon and Richard in his Ironman All World Athlete kit. We know good people.



* We've done track work before, but it was never structured/actual workouts. More like ... let's run fast! 100m sounds good! Yeah ...

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Race #8 of the Season: Crescent Moon Sprint Triathlon

No pictures for this one; had my camera, but didn't really have any pictures to take. Plus didn't know anyone was there to take pictures until the very end.

As I mentioned in my last post, this race was my seventh in seven weeks. I was definitely ready to be done. I didn't even really prepare for this one that much, my first triathlon of the season.

Friday night, I drove down to Colorado Springs to see a friend from Boston who was in town ... and we somehow ended up crashing one of USA Hockey's award banquets (former BU coach was being honored). As a result, I didn't get home until just before 11pm and got in bed about 11:20ish ... after being up since about 3:30 that morning. Yeah, it was a long day.

Then, my alarm went off a mere five hours later. I packed up my transition bag (I made a list on my phone of everything I needed to pack), packed up my bike, ate breakfast and left for Aurora Reservoir. I wanted to get there at 5:30 when transition opened; I got there about 5:45. 

I was still happily able to get a decent spot near the bike out and had plenty of time to pick up my packet and everything. A friend from Run Colorado, Jeanne (also known as the person who now has my old bike, Bob) was doing the race as well. It was her second-ever tri and first in open water. She racked near me and was asking me a ton of questions. There were a couple other people fairly new to the sport near me; it was a bit weird being the experienced one, but cool at the same time.

Soon enough, it was 7:25am and we were kicked out of transition. My wave still had about an hour before it went off, so I wandered in to the water (a balmy 62 degrees) to adjust to it and get in my first open water practice of the year. It took a while to adjust - it never gets any easier; six years, and it sucks every time - but the little bit of swimming I did went fine. Eventually, it was time to go.

The Swim:

The swim was a wave start; I actually seeded myself up near the front. I'm not the fastest swimmer, but I'm fairly confident in open water by this point, so I figured I'd head toward the front. It actually worked, too - not too many other people swam over me. The first buoy came up really quickly and I felt like I sighted really well going out - did a tight turn around both the second and third buoys. 

Coming back to shore was a different story. I kept swimming with this one girl who kept switching from freestyle to backstroke and as a result, was zig-zagging around and it was tough swimming around her. I also had a bit more trouble sighting.

As a result, it was very disappointing reaching the shore and seeing around 20:00 on my watch. I got out of the water, took advantage of the wetsuit strippers (they had enough volunteers to have a few) and ran the long way up to transition.

Time: 22:23 (rank: 192nd overall; 96th gender; 16th division)

T1:

Transition is so simple. In, put bike shoes on, put helmet and sunglasses on, leave.

Time: 1:11 (rank: 26th, 13th, 2nd)

The Bike: 

I was a little concerned about the bike thanks to a pre-ride of part of the course that week. Triathlons at Aurora Reservoir have tough bike courses because you ride the prairie and it is CONSTANT rolling hills. I am attempting to embrace the hill this year, but it's still a little ugh at the same time.

That being said, the bike went by fairly quickly. The new fit is AWESOME and I am SO much more comfortable on Sweet Cheeks now. I did have an issue shifting on one of the hills once and almost dropped the chain, but was luckily able to figure it out and had no further issues.

With all the hills, I was able to keep an average cadence of 85, which I was SUPER happy with ... especially because it felt like I couldn't keep a high cadence on the way back to transition - that final mile, mile and a half felt like it was all uphill into the wind.

Time: 45:26 (rank: 146th, 63rd, 13th)

T2:

Here is where you can tell I started mailing it in mentally/subconsciously, as my T2 times are NEVER as bad in my division as they were here. I was chatting with a relay guy next to me as I was putting on my socks - I was just really lackadaisical. Totally not me.

Time: 1:43 (rank: 193rd, 96th, 16th)

The Run:

I never really felt good on this run. I also forgot how rolling hilly the run courses are at Aurora Reservoir. I ran when I could, walked more than I should have ... and the constant toll of racing made itself known in this portion as I couldn't muster up anything mentally to actually put forth more effort than I did. I hurt, but I usually hurt in races. I couldn't mentally get myself past it.

As a result, I had one of the worst runs I've had in a sprint tri in a LONG time.

Though, to be fair, even though this was supposed to be a 5K run, the 5K sign came well before the finish line.

Time: 34:27 (rank: 195th, 93rd, 17th)

I crossed the finish line, got a medal (wasn't expecting that), saw a different friend from Run Colorado (woo Leanne!), grabbed a bottle of water and hung out waiting for Jeanne to finish.

Overall Stats:
Time: 1:45:11
170/275 overall
79/147 females
14/23 division (F30-34)

Not my best sprint tri but definitely not my worst. I was happy to be of use to the women around me - and Jeanne! - who were newer to the sport, as I wish I had more people like that to talk to in my first several races.

I'm also really glad to have six weeks of solid training ahead of me before I race again ... because two of my next three tris are at Aurora and they're all longer distance. I have a loooooot of work to do ...

Monday, June 9, 2014

Seven Races in Seven Weeks ...

... makes one really tired. And thankful for the simplicity that training gives. I have enjoyed this stretch of racing (which is really eight races in nine weeks if we get picky), but dear sweet jeebus am I glad it's OVER.

That being said, a few reflections on the whole adventure:

- It was hard, but I'm glad I did it. This was an early season block; my main racing is still yet to come. I learned a lot of valuable lessons ... like how motivation to train during the week is hard to come by.

- I need to learn how to be smarter about recovery and getting back into training. I think this means I need a different job/no job ... ha. Or something like NormaTec boots ... (I have a birthday coming up ... hint hint)

- Nicole DeBoom was spot on in that in racing multiple weeks, week three is usually bomb-ass (not her words) (also true - that was my first podium with Barkin' Dog), but week four is where things start to go downhill (damn you Colfax 5K).

- I was a little surprised at how done I was by the whole thing. I had my worst run in a sprint tri in several years this past Saturday at Crescent Moon (recap hopefully on Wednesday!) and I think part of that was because I just had nothing left in terms of race brain. I had no other mental place to go to anymore.

- It made me really want to train again since I kind of let that go by the wayside in the process. Being excited to put in a ton of miles over the next six weeks to three months is actually kind of awesome.

- I surprised myself by snagging myself two podiums. Granted, I got a bit lucky with both, but still! Me! Slowpoke McGee! I STILL have more thoughts to come on this ...

- Mad props to the professionals who race this much for their careers. Petr Vabrousek comes to mind as a guy who races A LOT. Even bigger props go to the age groupers who manage to do this and do this well. 

- I now actually have to think of blog posts again - it's been nice essentially only writing race recaps. Oh well, I guess better content ahoy?

I've got another chunk of racing starting in six weeks, but luckily that's going to be five races in ... eight or nine weeks. Nothing quite so crazy ... but it is a lot of bigger distances. Here's to the upcoming mileage ...

Friday, June 6, 2014

Race #7 of the Season: SkirtSports 5K

Also race #6 in six weeks. I'm getting tired, man.

I'm not sure what I expected going into this race. Possibly (hopefully) a PR. I had a slightly better week in lead-up to this race than I did into Colfax a few weeks ago, but motivation has been a bit hard to find. Mentally, this constant racing has been rough.

In any case, Brandon thankfully came home Saturday night - his dad went in for heart surgery right after Memorial Day - why Brandon had to peace out after the BolderBOULDER (everything's okay now, though!) so he was able to come up to the race with me. He considered racing it for a minute, but then decided to just cheer me on. As a result, all photos you see are courtesy him (thanks, mrr!).

In any case, we got up to Louisville about 6am - 45 minutes before the half-marathon went off and about 90 minutes before I went off in the 5K. 

We walked around, talked to Nicole DeBoom a bit ... mainly just hung out. We watched the half-marathon go off and then soon enough, it was time for the 5K. 

I started out near the front - my initial race plan was just to GO and pray and try and hold on. Unfortunately, I didn't have the lungs to execute. My Garmin said my early paces were in the mid- to low-7s ... but I kept having to walk. Race went slightly uphill and then waaaaay uphill. I knew a PR was NOT in my cards. I just had to run when I could and see what happened.

Then I saw a girl, probably middle-school-aged, struggling. She was running with her dad, but they kept getting separated. I heard her crying. At one point, I asked if she wanted someone to run with; she said yes, so I did. She ditched me soon after when I had to walk, but I caught up with her again with probably about 3/4 of a mile to go. We stayed together after that but I held back a bit at the finish line so she could have her own moment (she finished 8 seconds ahead of me).

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Tim DeBoom and daughter Wilder coming to the finish in third (Wilder was DQed thanks to dad).


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Coming around the corner with Julia, the girl I ran with.

Afterward, waiting for results, we hung out, ate bagels and delicious gluten-free chocolate cake and I got a picture with the DeBooms.

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Lotta Ironman royalty here ...

I also won a jar of salsa and a massage for my mad dance skillz. They were doing some games for prizes and they had a mini dance contest that I somehow ... won. I know, right? I don't mention it here, but if you know me in person, you know that I lack rhythm. Luckily, I am also starting to not care about that in my advanced age.

Eventually, the results came out ...

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3/14? What?

Final Stats:
Time: 28:57.9
Pace: 9:21
Overall Rank: 22/161
Gender Rank: 17/138
Division Rank: 3/14 (F30-39)


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Yep, the smaller race and my halfway decent time meant I got third place in my age group and my first ever actual award (something that says I placed, rather than just a random pint glass) for a running/multisport race.

Totally wasn't expecting that - wasn't my best race and I essentially put my own race aside to help someone else out ... which made the result that much more gratifying. 

One more race and then SIX GLORIOUS WEEKS OFF ...

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Race Recap: BolderBoulder 10K

5th year in a row of running the BolderBoulder.  This is a great streak, and if the day went as planned, it'd be a PR in the 10K, a race PR, and overall, a good day.

Nope.  Fell a tiny bit short of that.

We woke up very early, got ready to go, and headed out.  Norm stayed with us and left about 10 minutes prior.  We got up to Boulder in plenty of time and hit Starbucks early.  Grabbing a table as our base, we all hit the bathroom (a couple times) and just relaxed.  Norm found us, we chatted with him, then made our way to the FedEx mobile locker line.  It looked long, but moved fast.

With our possessions in the truck, we sent Mike off and found our wave, the EG wave.  This is the final wave of sub-60:00 runners.  I have talked about this a bit before, but it's worth mentioning again.  It's funny how different people are in these more advanced waves.  The mood is a tad more serious; people are more focused.  The chatter is light and the breathing heavier when the race goes off.  I like it.

Anyway, the Call to Post was played, and then the horn went off.  The race had begun!

The Race
The past couple races we've let T pace it.  This hasn't been a problem for the most part, except that we've gone out too hard and sort of stumbled our way in.  So we agreed I would pace this race, at least early on.

The first mile was good.  Wasn't too hard, wasn't too easy.  9:07

The second mile starts your climbing, and isn't too bad if you keep it under control.  We did, and hit 9:27.  A tad slower, but not bad.

Mile 3 is mile 3.  It sucks, for everyone.  Still, we did sub-10.  9:53

Mile 4 was surprisingly tough.  I was faltering a bit and T held back.  I hoped at this point I could pick it up on the downhills, bomb into Folsom, and make it.  9:54

Mile 5 was pretty good.  We were stronger, and as far as I was concerned, back on track.  9:30

Mile 6 T's colon decided to not cooperate (bad timing) and since we agreed to stay together, we slowed it down.  I do believe this is where we lost our PR chance, but that's okay.  9:53

The final .2 was an 8:12, which involved a lot of zig-zagging and one hill, but we both pushed hard.  Still, fell a tiny bit short.  59:29 overall.  20 seconds short.

Post-Race
It took a bit of walking/talking to people to get over the non-PR of the day.  I was eventually able to shrug it off and we cooled down.  

I know there is a lot more in this body.  I know there is.  I know I can beat that PR.  And next year, I will get it.

After the race, we headed home where I quickly packed/showered and headed to Minnesota for my dad, who was having a heart issue.  More on that in another post...

Monday, June 2, 2014

May Round-Up

Writing this means that it's June. This year is nearly half over. WTF?

Running: 39.64 mi
Swimming: 6800m (4.2 mi)
Cycling: 51.11 mi
Lifting: four sessions (2:09)
Other: one hike (1:30), one stretching session (:10)

Did I do something not S/B/R related? Yes! I didn't post pictures (but if you're curious, go here), but we hiked around Dinosaur National Monument before the Dino Half.

Am I strength training regularly? Still once a week. 

Am I injury-free? Getting a few twinges here and there, but I can thankfully say yes.

May's goal was speed. I did start to add in some speed work, but unfortunately, it really didn't manifest itself in my racing. I think the toll of constant racing is starting to catch up with me. Luckily, I only have one more race to go (Saturday) and then the rest of June is solely dedicated to training. I am SO EXCITED for this. It also means I need to start upping the mileage fairly consistently, but I should be able to do this as I won't be killing myself in races every weekend.

In general, though, even though the numbers aren't great, May wasn't a bad month. It was a month of a lot of learning and my first ever podium. Seriously? I'll take that.