Friday, January 27, 2017

New Kicks!

I'm not a normal athlete ... well, for many reasons, really, but for today's purposes ... because of my feet. 

Yep, my feet. 

I inherited some beautiful bunions on BOTH of my feet (thanks, Grandma Adele!). I've looked into possibly removing them but haven't for several reasons:

1. That would put me out of commission for too long;
2. There's a strong possibility that, despite removal, they'd still grow back; and
3. I could run the risk of never being able to run again.

So yeah, no, hasn't happened. As a result, shoe shopping? The one thing every woman says she can rely on - "Oh, clothes don't fit, but shoes always do!" - I find a nightmare.

(Obviously, the same happens with running shoes.)

I'm by no means brand specific, but I've tried quite a few different shoes over the years:

2011: Nike Lunarglide+ 2 (enjoyed a lot, actually.)
2012: Saucony Cortanas (hated. hated. hated.)
2013: Saucony Triumph 10 (I honestly don't remember much about this shoe ...)
2013: Mizuno Wave Rider 16 (LOVED. adored. went through a few different pairs.)
2014: Mizuno Wave Rider 18 (never liked as much.)
2015: Saucony Ride 8 (these actually weren't bad ... they're just Saucony and wear out in 300-some miles which is annoying.)
2015: Zoot Ultra Kalani 3.0 (bought on super clearance at TriSports. I wear them more for running errands than I do actual running. I'll do super short bricks in them, but they rub too much for anything more substantial.)
2016: Adidas Ultra Boost (purchased maybe two weeks before IM Boulder? didn't mind them, but they never quite fit properly.)

(pre-2011 included Mizuno Wave Alchemy, probably a different Saucony, random Adidas that I had purchased at a big box store, New Balance shoes I wore in college for free since my hockey coach worked for them, more I don't remember ... I also tried Hokas for like a week, but my shins did NOT like them going downhill.)

That list brings us to ...

2017: New Balance Fresh Foam Zante 2


(The New Balance and the Adidas.)

I decided to try New Balance again for really, the stupidest reason. Since our favorite running store shut down (okay, technically rebranded with new ownership, but in my eyes, it died), buying running shoes has been a struggle for Brandon and I. It's so hard when we go into a running store and know more than the employees about what we're looking for and how our feet are supposed to look on the treadmill. It's also hard when I say I will specifically special order a shoe because I know I need wides and the employees ignore me and throw me in men's shoes (especially hard when this was at a highly-recommended and highly thought of store).

In any case, Brandon popped into a local running store to try the newest version of the Wave Rider (I think we're on 20 now) and while he was doing that, I wandered over to the clearance section looking for stuff in my size. There weren't many, but there was a pair of New Balance Fresh Foam Zantes that I tossed on, jogged around a little in, and was instantly intrigued about. I almost spend the $60 gamble that day, but decided to wait a bit.

We returned a week or so later after Brandon said that the gamble would probably be worth it, but unfortunately, they were gone.

A few days later, we were back down in our old stomping grounds of Lone Tree running errands when we randomly decided to stop in the Runner's Roost down there. Roost locations have been so hit or miss for us, but we decided, what the hell, and walked in. Brandon walked out with a pair of Nikes and I walked out with a special order of the Zantes in wide hopefully coming.

I give Roost a lot of credit for what happened next; I got a call from them saying that they couldn't do a special order of the wides because new models are coming down the pipeline relatively soon. They said I could wait for the new ones (potentially a few weeks), or I could just find the current ones online. When a local business recommends a customer going online away from them so it will make them happy? I respect that a lot.

So, Amazon it was ... and I have my shoes.

The question is ... do I like them?

Short answer ... I think so.

Long answer ... I think I need more time. I have heard that with shoes these days you shouldn't need to "break them in." That being said, my first run in the Zantes was a little painful - tight around the midfoot area (between ankle and bunion). I fiddled with the lacing a bit and since then, they've been okay. Granted, my longest run in them has only been three miles (ramping things up slooooowly this year), but I haven't had the weird blister/rubbing issue on the bottom of my big toes that I was getting in the Adidas (thanks to them not coming in wide). I've also had some "moments of brilliance" as I like to call them, with my run showing flashes of returning to me ... moments that I haven't felt in quite some time.

Let's cross our fingers and hope they work! Otherwise, I may be making a special trip down to a TeamSFQ teammate-owned running store to beg them to work some magic ...

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Guess Who's Back ...

... back again ... as a Skirt Sports Ambassador captain???


That's right, this girl! This marks my third year as an ambassador and second year as a captain. As you may know (or not ... I've been seeing a tad bit more traffic 'round these here parts ... hi everyone!), I've been a fan of Skirt for several years. I first tried their product back in 2008 (technically 2007, but really, 2008) and converted totally to Skirt in 2010. I have a large(r) booty for a white girl (thanks, genetics!) and don't really like showcasing my ass in spandex when I run (getting a little better about it in day-to-day life). I ran in lacrosse-type shorts for a while, but ended up having to layer them over spandex anyway.

Nike tempo run shorts? Ha. Chafe city.

But Skirt Sports? Cute flirty skirts with shorts underneath (if you need them! There are a few styles with just spankies underneath) with POCKETS??? You mean I can run a 5K with my car keys? Whaaaaat? Or take my phone/camera/money/keys/food with me on a run and not have to hold anything if I so choose? That's just crazy talk.

Plus I love their #REALwomenmove movement, using actual real people as models (seriously. I'm friends with at least one of the ladies used frequently on the site) and embracing all women at all levels of fitness and activity level.

You see me in Skirt a lot on here. I do get a little compensation for being an ambassador, but even if I didn't and I weren't an ambassador, I would wear Skirt anyway because I love it that much.*

In full disclosure, I haven't loved everything Skirt I've ever owned. I have a Skirt Sports tri kit (and it's in that collage up top), but I prefer SMASH to race in (which is why I chose to be part of that team!). There are certain Skirt items that just don't work for me, but work wonderfully for other women. That's why they have so many products! There will certainly be something for you, even if you DON'T like wearing skirts. :)

Friday, January 20, 2017

Women Run the World ...

... a.k.a. Second Tuesdays at Skirt Sports. 

On the second Tuesday of every month, Skirt Sports hosts an event at their Boulder store. The events start out with a quick workout and then include (usually) three speakers. Nicole DeBoom has arranged some amazing people to talk - we've heard from Erin Carson (owner of RallySport Boulder and personal trainer to many pro triathletes), Justin from Justin's Nut Butter, the owner of Bhakti Chai, running coaches, etc. 

I've been to almost all of the talks, but something about the speakers at January's event just spoke to me. 

The first speaker was Tricia Downing. Trish was a teacher and a high-level cyclist working on breaking into the pro ranks when she was struck by a car and paralyzed. She ended up becoming one of the pioneers of women's wheelchair triathlon. Her message for the night was comparison is a killer. Don't play the comparison game with other people; all it will do is make you upset, depressed, and feel terrible about yourself. You need to remember to ride your own race.

This message resonated with me for many reasons. If you look at the ol' race results, you can tell that I'm basically an average to below-average triathlete. I compete, sure, but it is extremely rare that I'm competing for a podium spot. I'm friends with and know so many amazing triathletes (and regular athletes) that it's hard to not compare myself to them.

Then I remember ... on one of my long swims last year during IM training, a girl in the pool thought I was a competitive swimmer. Me! And our good friend Norm (he of the "third in his AG at the BAA 5K and then requalifies while "smelling the roses" at Boston" fame) is awed at what B and I do in terms of Ironman. Because to him, that's amazing.

Tricia was also selling her book, Cycle of Hope, which I bought and then subsequently read. It's a quick read and a good story, detailing the accident, trying to come to terms with her disability, and then becoming an athlete once again.

The second speaker was Samm Grace, a kidney transplant survivor and mom. Nicole met Samm in store and learned her story and had to have Samm talk. Her message is one that I tell myself all the time, but it's always worth hearing from others - we are enough. We have befores (before Ironman. before marriage. before kids. etc.) and we have afters (after all those things), but where we are right now is more than enough. 

For me right now, this is good to get drilled into my head some more, as I try to regain my run. I was a speedy-ish runner several years ago. I haven't been in a really long time. I know what I can be and often get frustrated about not being able to get back to that point. I have to remember that where I am right now is okay, and enough. 

The final speaker was Sara Vaughn, an Olympic Trials qualifier in the mile, mom of three, and real estate agent. I've listened to a bit of Sara before on Nicole's podcast, but I loved her realness. Her message was balance. We (particularly women) get a lot of articles thrown our way about balance and how we can have it all - job, family, killer sex life, blahblahblah. Sara's message was that yes, we can, but balancing it all equally? Is bullshit. If you shift your priorities consciously (in her case, putting her realtor career and in many ways, her family on the back burner so as to be able to focus on running for the Trials), you can succeed. Compartmentalize when necessary - when you're working out, be 100% focused on working out. Don't be thinking about your family, or work, or whatever. If you're with your family, be WITH your family.

I think that if we (well, we women mostly, but the royal we as well) want to have it all, we should be able to try. I also think that if we want to maybe only have a few things, we can do that. Sara's message of being able to do them all perfectly as bullshit, though, I completely agree with. 

L to R - Samm, Sara, Tricia, Nicole.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Race #1 of the Season: Chilly Cheeks Duathlon #2

This past Saturday, I raced the second offering in the Chilly Cheeks Duathlon series. Brandon chose not to race and instead be my personal race photographer. Thanks, mrr!

As the January race usually is, it was much warmer than December. I think it was around 20-some degrees at race start? In any case, even though it had snowed a bit on Thursday, roads were nice and dry, so I was doing the full thing.

Ready to race!

Run #1:

The first run was pretty short; 1.25 miles. If you recall from Friday's goals post, my hope was to not kill myself on it. I thought I was doing pretty well with this, but my Garmin split at the first mile told me, uh, no. Clearly I still need to work on tuning in to my natural pace better ...


Time: 12:42 (12th division, 36th gender, 85th overall)


So, I love those Skirt Sports convertible mitten/glove thingys, but they don't make untying shoes easy. So, had to ditch a glove to untie my shoes and get into my bike shoes.

Time: 1:22 (5th, 12th, 41st)

The Bike:

I know this bike course. I know this bike course very well. I also haven't ridden this bike course in a long, long time. It was also cold, and I have a lot of training to do this month/year. So ... I consciously took it easier and didn't hammer as much as my racing brain wanted me to. In short, did I achieve my goal of pacing those 10.8 miles? I would say, kind of! Probably best I have yet  ...


Time: 41:26 (8th, 25th, 71st)


Took a bit of extra time here, ditching the MaccaX jacket and once again taking off a glove to get my shoes on. I don't bother with speed laces anymore, but they would have been helpful on the day as my cold fingers just didn't want to work.

Time: 1:37 (10th, 26th, 61st)

Run #2:

Second run was a bit longer, 2.75 mi. Coming out of transition right off the bat, I was having trouble breathing. Cold? Sports asthma? Did I hammer the bike too much? Damnit. I consciously kept my goal of "smooth and steady" in the back of my brain, though, and tried getting into a rhythm as soon as I could.

Starting the second run.

Being mature.

The run was a bit of a struggle, but I managed through okay.

Time: 31:28 (11th, 35th, 81st)

Overall Stats:
Time: 1:28:36
10/14 division (F30-39)
31/45 gender
78/100 overall

I was about five minutes slower than when I did this race last year, but I'm also a few pounds heavier and working on slowly coming back from an extensive break. Besides, my goal for the race was to have fun (which I did!) and really, to not destroy myself (and therefore make myself sick, like I have a tendency on doing). By that criteria, it was a successful day.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Chilly Cheeks Race Goals

Okay, so the first race of the season is upon me tomorrow; Chilly Cheeks Duathlon #2. The weather has been pretty good, so it looks like I'll actually be able to ride my bike as opposed to swapping to the run-only option again. Woo!

I mean, it'll be cold (high of 40-something that day), but eh.

Chilly Cheeks is fun in that the format changes for each race in the series. The first race starts off with a four mile run and then ends with a 10.8 mile bike (with a random dash across the line). The third is basically that, but reversed (bike first). The second is the more standard du, with a 1.25 mile run, a 10.8 mile bike, and then a 2.75 mile run (so four miles total in running).

So. My goals for tomorrow are as follows:

- Don't kill myself on the first run. I tend to go out way faster than I probably should on the opening run of a duathlon. As it's going to be cold, and my lungs hate cold ... I need to consciously rein it in.

- Pace the bike. Partially because I haven't cycled a whole hell of a lot over the last few months. Partially because of the above - cold, lungs, blahblahblah. Partially because, duh, I have to run next.

- Smooth and steady on the second run. I'm not looking to place or to do anything outstanding in this race, mostly because I know I'm not in the shape to do so right now. I know I shouldn't push it hard tomorrow (unless I want to wreck myself completely, which I don't), so I'd like to see how smart I can be.

- Have fun! Always. I sign up for this series as pseudo-training motivation for the winter, for the sweats, and for the excuse to eat Jill's amazing homemade banana chocolate chip bread and Cup 'o Noodles (because I don't like them in any other context).

Back Wednesday to share how it went!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

2017 Goals

I'm doing things a little differently when it comes to goals this year.

(Obviously, I have the simple goals of represent both Skirt Sports and Team SFQ, but I'm talking besides that.)

My one, very simple goal, is this:

Enjoy the m f'ing process.

(Yes, that deserves the extra font, bold, etc.)

In the past year or so, I feel like I've lost some of the enjoyment I get in triathlon. I touched on this a tad in my IM Choo recap; I definitely enjoy racing, but all that lead up? Not so much. There are all of these quotes about enjoying the journey, and the process, and I know so many people who genuinely love the day to day of training ... and love it MORE than racing. I am not one of those people right now. I think I kind of was a few years ago, but that has been a giant pile of NOPE lately. I think the lack of enjoyment led to my ... okay, let's be real, three month break at the end of last year.

So. How do I enjoy the process again? 

Well, I'm not entirely sure. Step one to finding joy in the journey once more for me is setting the habit of moving my body daily. In January, I have committed to doing yoga and/or stretching (okay, I have officially written down "yoga," but some days so far it's been more like stretching ...) every other day. On the days I'm not doing yoga, I have been running. So that's yoga every other day, and running every other day. In February, I'm hoping to swim every day (partially because I know that is probably the best and easiest way to find progress in that area of life).

I think once I get in the general habit of simply moving, I'll look forward to the motion and therefore enjoy it? At least that's the early plan ... I'll reassess if need be.

Other than that, I am obviously still racing (see sidebar). I have quite a few planned (because it's me ...) and yes, I'd obviously like to do well in said races, but ultimately, I think if I train consistently and happily, everything else will fall into place. I also am planning on some races being complete fuck-around races, though.

- Chilly Cheeks 2 and 3? Totally weather dependent on how I do ...
- Cherry Creek Sneak? Will either be racing the 5 mile or joining friends in the 5K for their first race (so exciting if we can pull this off!)
- BolderBOULDER? After last year, I'm never "racing" this again. Waaaay too much fun to do the slip 'n slides and eat random crap.
- Skirt Sports 5K/13er? I'm planning on racing the sprint tri the day before, so I'm tentatively hoping to run the 13er super easy with some other Skirt ambassadors. If that doesn't work out, I'll probably race the 5K and see how well the back-to-back goes ...
- Pikes Peak Ascent? This race is a total bucket list item and my only goal is to finish with Brandon. Partially because I have no idea how my lungs are going to cooperate with the altitude ...

If all goes well, it will set me up for a fabulous 2018 which I'm already loosely planning out (shhh ...). 

Also: this might be famous last words, but I have the goal (pipe dream?) of posting in this here blog twice a week (with sketched out posts ahead of time!). So, come back to this space on Wednesdays and Fridays for new content!

Friday, January 6, 2017

December and 2016 Round Up

I ... think I have things to say about last year, but let's get the numbers out of the way, shall we?

Swimming: 3700m (2.3 mi)
Cycling: 23.92 mi
Running: 16.6 mi
Lifting: four sessions (1:26)
Other: four yoga sessions (1:09)

So, I wrote out this grand plan for December and the month was going really well ... and then Brandon's parents came into town for this grand brunch we planned which no one came to and really, just NEVER host in-laws the same weekend you're hosting a party and I became a GIANT stress ball and yeah.

It was horrible.

Needless to say, I tried to rally after that, but really, the month was shot. Plus cookies. Mmm, cookies.

As for 2016 ... numbers-wise, it wasn't terrible. Highest ever year of both swimming and cycling and third-highest in terms of running. Might have been highest ever run year had I gotten to the run at IMChoo.

As for my actually stated goals ... let's see, shall we?

Finish two Ironmans, and at least one of them well: Um, kind of. I self-DNFed IMChoo in order to stay with my husband as he was trying not die from heat exhaustion, so I didn't finish two. However, I *did* PR IM Boulder, so I guess that counts?

Get a fast 5K again: I got back into the 27s at the BAA 5K with my second-fastest 5K time, so we'll count this as a yes.

 Hit my potential in the half-marathon: I ran one, and although it ended up being my ... second-fastest, I think? ... the wheels fell off hard, but even if they didn't, I still don't think this would have been a thing. So we're going to go ahead and say no.

Become the cyclist I know I can be: Um, no. The only bike split I'm calling myself happy with this year was at Barkin' Dog. Other than that ... gross.

Explore the fullest potential of my legs: If this year showed that, just ... I need to quit this shit now. So no, I don't believe I've come close. Please. Hopefully.

Step up to average in the water: I think an 11-minute swim PR at Boulder may say yes to this? Plus some girl at one point in my training thought that I was a former competitive swimmer, which I was very flattered to hear despite internally laughing (and crying).

The main thing to take away from 2016 was, unfortunately, I actually felt like a worse athlete at the end of the year than at the beginning of it. We tried the coaching experiment this year. While I love Corie and I'm (probably) still open to the idea of coaching, the fit wasn't right. The experiment was good in that I learned things that I do need in coaching, but until I can 100% figure it out, I'm going back to planning my season and my workouts myself. More on this in probably my next post ...

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Race #13 of the Season: Chilly Cheeks Duathlon #1

While many area multisport athletes use the annual Chilly Cheeks series as a way to stay in shape and compete over the winter, we pretty much use it as an excuse to get a pair of sweet sweatpants and to eat delicious homemade banana chocolate chip bread. We don't take it too seriously ... a good thing especially this year, as any relative shape I was in after IM Boulder/Choo? Gone. 

Also a good reason to not take these races too seriously? When it's ass ridiculously cold out.

Posted on Instagram. The weather, all of the layers I was wearing, a selfie race morning.

Staying warm in the car.


Needless to say, we switched to the (four mile) run-only option as both the run and bike courses were covered in snow and it was flirting with positive temperatures.

(Fun fact: my race number got swapped to 617. I posted a picture of my bib on Facebook, saying something along the lines of, "Fitting I'm representing the 617 today in my race because I'm pretty sure the last time I was in weather this cold was back when I was *in* college.")

(617 is the Boston area code, if this confused you.)

Given the facts that:
A.) we're out of shape; and 

B.) we'd be running in a good two to three inches of snow; and
we decided to not care at all about time and to just enjoy ourselves. Who cares how slow we'd be?

Turns out, pretty damn slow.

Final Stats:
Time: 54:57
11/15 overall (for the 4-mi run only)
7/9 gender
4/5 division (F 39 and under)

But, whatever, right? The more ridiculous the conditions, almost the more fun it is. 

I'm just hoping for better weather for the second and third races in the series ...