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.

(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.

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.)

Artsy shot in front of the sunrise.

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.

Working on getting out of the wetsuit.

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


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:


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.


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.

Back into transition.

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


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:


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.

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)

Crossing the finish line.

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 ...

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

8/25-9/7- Mostly in Minnesota

Too exhausted to do much of anything yesterday; a 70.3 distance race on shit training will do that to you. So, posting schedule gets a little shifted this week ...

As I posted a bit ago, I was on vacation two weeks ago so my workouts got a little wonky. Still, I had a few that I wanted to share with you here.

Wednesday, August 28, we were up in the northern part of Minnesota to see Split Rock Lighthouse. We hiked around there and detoured to Gooseberry Falls and got even more hiking in there (I'm a sucker for waterfalls).

Upper Gooseberry Falls.

The next day, Thursday, August 28, we decided to explore some of the Twin Cities by bike. It was slow and lazy, but also a lot of fun. We parked at Steve's house on the St. Paul side, rode into St. Paul, saw the capitol building and Mickey's Dining Car and paused by the Xcel Energy Center because they have a statue of 1980 Miracle on Ice (and UofM and SCSU and the 2002 games) coach Herb Brooks outside. Which I somehow never knew about before today. Obviously we took pictures.

"Do you believe in miracles? YES!"

Bikes and Brandon dealing with work stuff.

Picture time!

From there, it was off to the Minneapolis side of things. We stopped by Brandon's old high school and then made our way over to Minnehaha Falls.


Last time I saw these, they were frozen over.

After a few minutes there, it was back on the trail to go further into Minneapolis to Marathon Sports where our friend Lindsey works. Unfortunately, we had just missed her - she saw us while on the bus - so we grabbed a snack at Bruegger's and then headed back to the car. We had hoped to do a bit more riding, but the stops made the ride take a bit longer than planned, we had a lot more stuff to do that day and the rain clouds were rolling in.

So, we headed back to Steve's house, shared with him some root beer and baked goods and then topped off the adventure with some delicious ice cream.

The next week was fairly uneventful, but on Thursday, September 4, we met up with our friend Richard so I could get some open water swim help before my next race. We met at Bear Creek out in Morrison - a place neither of us had ever swam at, but we'll definitely be going back to.

Richard found that I had some inefficiencies in my stroke, making me take more strokes than needed and thus tiring me out quicker. So, I was taught essentially to slow things down - make myself more efficient - which will, in turn, speed me up in the long run. I was also given a few drills - some to help slow down my stroke and some for easier sighting. I made some slow improvement in the short lesson, so hopefully things would pay off for me come race day. 

Which is a good place to leave, as that'll be my next post this week ...

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Triathlon #1 of the Season: Lakes Country Triathlon

Late August and I'm blogging about my first triathlon of the season.  This is a first since 2010, and quite frankly, almost makes me depressed.  This race came about simply out of necessity; I wanted to do a triathlon really bad this year, we were going to be in Minnesota, and the timing worked out quite well.  Simple as that.

As you know from reading the blog, I'm vastly undertrained this year.  I've looked at my numbers, and they are nothing if not very sad.  Or maybe they make me very sad.  Regardless, I knew I was in shape enough to get through a sprint tri.  I've done it before and will do it again.

The few days beforehand, I was in Indianapolis attending ground school.  T drove up there with the bikes (bless her) and picked me up, and we made the long trek from Indianapolis to Brainerd/Baxter, MN on Saturday.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the upper Midwest, the drive consisted of corn, Chicago, farms, and Minnesota (Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota).  We arrived into Baxter very late, checked into our hotel, and collapsed into a sleep.  The race was the next morning.

Sunday morning, we woke up, shook our way out of sleep, and drove to the race.  It was gloomy, humid, drizzling/raining.  In other words, a typical Minnesota morning.  We picked up our packets and tried to stay dry.  The rain was spotty.  We kept our stuff dry in plastic bags and huddled under awnings to stay dry.  I eventually decided to take my bike out for a spin to test out the wet roads and came to the conclusion I'd be fine.  I got into my wetsuit and went to the water to take a pre-race swim.  I noticed the seaweed and smiled, remembering my time swimming in Minnesota lakes when I was a kid.

After that, I got ready to go. I was in wave 1, so the gun called for me.

The Swim
A 400 meter swim was enjoyable, especially with warmer water.  Still, I took my time, kept my breathing under control.  I passed a lot of people in the water, and felt comfortable.  Didn't push it, but could have.
Time: 8:09

T1 was steady, aside from my wetsuit getting caught on my ankle.  Don't know what happened there.  Either way, I was quicker than I thought I'd be.
Time: 1:50

The Bike
I was racing in my backyard essentially.  The scene was what I had grown up with; thick forests, country roads, lakes, cabins.  It was a pleasant ride for the most part, and the rain had stopped.  The road was still wet, but manageable for sure.

The lack of training showed on the bike.  I was struggling and feeling every pedal stroke.  My breath was ragged and felt like it wouldn't come, even with the lack of altitude.  I kept getting passed and just worked to keep steady.  

The final stretch of the ride was on a very bumpy road, and I hopped out of aero to save my shoulders.  The ride was taxing and I worried about the run.
Time: 45:54

Quick, efficient.  I was in my running shoes and off.  No hangups.
Time: 1:57

The Run
This is where I was most worried.  My running has been awful as of late, and I certainly have done no brick training or any tri-related run training this year.  I vowed to just keep steady and do what I could.  

Mile 1 was very slow, which didn't surprise me.  10:40.  I wasn't discouraged though; rather I knew I was conserving some energy.  

Mile 2 I definitely picked it up, but didn't feel like it.  I felt strong.  Like I was getting stronger.  The only downside was the sun was peeking out, which skyrocketed the humidity.  9:20 split on mile 2.  

I knew at this point I could get a sub-10 per mile run, which is always what I'm gunning for.  I steadily picked it up and saw the finish line.  The confusing part was which way you turned.  You were supposed to go left, but no one was there to tell you, so I went right.  Everyone yelled at me, so I went the other way.  Oops.  I crossed the finish line and saw my run time, and smiled.  
Time: 30:53

Wind down
I grabbed a bottle of water and went to wait for T.  She looked good and I ran with her a bit to the finish line.  Saw her cross, and we grabbed some watermelon and cookies.  We quickly packed up our stuff and trekked back to the hotel.  Couldn't play in the water park due to 2/3rds of it shut down, so we packed and headed to the Twin Cities.

Race Thoughts:
It was an okay race.  Definitely showcased my lack of training and fitness.  I also know mentally right now I do not have a strong mental mind this year.  I don't know what the deal is with that, but I need to figure it out.  I want to train, just cannot mentally get myself to properly do it.  I will figure it out, somehow, just right now don't know how to.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Race #11 of the Season: Lakes Country Triathlon

This race (for me) evolved greatly over the course of the year. First it was the Milk Run at the Minnesota State Fair. Then it was nothing. Then it was the Minneapolis Duathlon. Then it was back to nothing. Finally, it became the Lakes Country Triathlon in Baxter, Minn.

(Label "new stuff" because racing in Minnesota? Is new.)

We mainly signed up for this so Brandon could get a tri under his belt this year. We were going to be in Minnesota anyway, so I decided to randomly look for sprint tris and this came across my radar. Talked it over with him ... and yay, in.

The lead-up to this was kind of awful. Race was Sunday - I spent the vast majority of Thursday, Friday AND Saturday in a car driving across the country:

Day One: Colorado to Missouri
Day Two: Missouri to Indiana
Day Three: Indiana to Minnesota

(Detour in Indiana to pick up husband at ground school.)

I got in a bit of exercise on day two, but that was pretty much it. We also didn't get that much sleep the night before as we rolled into Baxter (little town up near Brainerd) a lot later than we expected we would. Thunder woke me up race morning - it was POURING. In grumbling and getting out of bed, we got an e-mail from the race director saying the race was still on, so we still had to get ready to race.

It rained intermittently pre-race ... which made setting up transition interesting:

(No trans towel, stuff in bags ...)

Brandon got in a pre-ride to test out the wet roads, but since I'd already raced once in crappy weather this year, I decided I was good. Brandon went back and forth on whether he wanted water on the bike and ultimately decided on it, but I didn't even bother with it.

We did, however, take the fairly obligatory pre-race selfie.


A bit before race start, we decided to get in the lake for a pre-race swim. I'm glad I did because about ... 45? meters from the shore, there was a giant clump of reeds and random aquatic plant life that clawed at your arms and legs. It was very unnerving. I didn't even look into the water when I hit this stretch. Blargh. Other than that, the water was fairly toasty.

A small pre-race meeting, and then we were pretty much off.

The Swim:

I was looking forward to this swim. Only a quarter-mile? This works out well for the slow swimmers (that is, me). The reedy area sucked going out but not so much on the way back in. The start was a wave start starting on the beach which was new for me. I think I still prefer in-water starts, but this was much better than a time trial start.

As weird as it sounds, I feel like I got beat up more in this little tri than I did at IMAZ. Maybe because it was such a small area or maybe it was because it may have been filled with more newbies, but I didn't get any free space to myself until I passed the final buoy heading to shore.

Which came quickly because the swim was SO AWESOMELY SHORT. Sighting actually wasn't bad, either.

Time: 10:36


I felt sluggish heading into T1. Up a hill, down to the end of the parking lot, fighting the plastic bags for my crap ... Not one of my better transitions.

Time: 2:03

The Bike:

The bike course was 14 miles on wet pavement. With a somewhat damp seat and a wet ass from the swim. All this dampness made me feel like I was sliding around on my bike seat for a good chunk of the ride.

I pushed the bike a decent amount. Not 100%, but probably more than I should have. I had no problems with the wet roads. It was really weird riding an unfamiliar course though in a place where I have NO sense of direction - I know logically we rode some sort of loop, but it definitely wasn't around the lake (on our right) and I feel like we took no left turns. Disorienting.

In any case, I passed some people, got passed by fewer people and pushed it in to transition.

Time: 45:25


Better than T1, but not by much. Transitions for this race sucked for some reason.

Time: 1:52

The Run:

Run course was a tad longer than the usual sprint tri for Colorado - 3.2 miles. I got off and ran a bit to start off, but the three days in a car came back to bite me and my legs started protesting fairly early. The rain had also stopped making it insanely humid which I am definitely not used to racing in.

Still, I managed to run when I could and tried to run more than I walked which I think I was overall successful with.

I was in a group of about three when I came on the finishers chute. A girl said something along the lines of, "Hey, let's pick it up to the finish!" She and the guy took off; I held off until I actually hit the chute and then took off on my usual sprint. I almost passed the guy, but I think he got pissed at me and found some extra gear to stay in front of me. I was maybe a second behind him crossing the line. Maybe.

Time: 31:41

Overall Stats:
Time: 1:31:35
97/152 overall
44/82 gender
4/9 age group (F30-34)

We knew we pretty much had no chance of getting a podium spot, so we ditched everything early to get back to our hotel and check out its water park ... which was a giant FAIL because the two really fun, more "adult-like" things we would have wanted to do were closed since some kid decided to crap in one of the slides that morning. 

So checked out, grabbed lunch, and headed to the Twin Cities.

Looking at the official results later, I saw that I was fourth in my AG. I looked to see how close I was to getting on the podium ... Yeah, 10 minute gap between me and third. Dangit.

Still, the time makes it technically my fastest sprint tri ever, but that's skewed due to the shorter swim. It also shows me how much time I lose in the water. I really need to become a better swimmer ...

Monday, September 1, 2014

August Round-Up

A little bit of radio silence on the blog, I know ... but it's hard when traveling. I sat down to write a post last week, actually ... but I didn't really want just an "I'm alive, no worries" post because reasons. Also no one really cares.

The good news is, I now have a couple good posts forthcoming. Here's the tentative schedule:

Today: August recap
Wednesday: Lakes Country tri recap
Next Monday: Last week's workout highlights
Next Wednesday: Harvest Moon recap

Anyway, August's numbers:

Running: 29.35 mi
Swimming: 6702.34m (4.16 mi)
Cycling: 96.45 mi
Lifting: five sessions (1:31)
Other: two hikes (2:11), one stint race volunteering (6:30), two walks (3:25), one white-water rafting trip (1:30), one session Wii Fit (:29)

Did I do something non-S/B/R related?: Yes! Even if you don't count race volunteering, I did go rafting. And hike. So definitely yes.

Am I strength-training regularly?: I am. I'm also doing more body weight stuff to make sure I keep getting it in, too.

Am I injury-free?: Still, yes. Woo.

I had two races this month - GtIS was an awesome surprise and gave some much-needed confidence. Lakes Country was what it was (you'll see soon). August wasn't bad and I know that September will be better. Now, to attack with renewed focus ...