Race Recap: Jackson Hole Half Marathon 2016

My race in Jackson was my 30th. The Tetons were a beautiful backdrop to a particularly meaningful day.

We drove in to Jackson from Denver the day before. I think this was the farthest I’ve ever traveled — by car –for a race. It was really scenic and allowed us to explore a bit. (We didn’t get a chance to really do that during our move since our cats were in a hurry to get home.)

The open road allowed us to catch up a bit. The hubbub of school, work, freelancing, and teaching have all interfered with my capabilities to have a normal human conversation without incessantly complaining or crying about my lot in life. This was the first time in a long time that I was genuinely smiling and cheerful. Erik took notice (and has been doing so since I’ve last reported in to work).

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It started off as any other race — my alarm clock went off way too early. I could hear the people in the room next to us shuffle about. They were out the door in about 15 minutes flat, whereas I took my sweet time getting ready. (It would turn out that we would run into these runners again over the course of the weekend.)

I laid out my race kit the night before. Crumpled my race bib, like I always do. I read about a pro runner doing it early on when I was running, and now I can’t remember the story but I always do it regardless.

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It was to be a colder race. Since all of my training is done on the treadmill, I thought back to my outdoor running days and thankfully remembered to pull some base layers. My shoes still have some miles on them. The new addition to this race was my headband (I’d been training with it and it hasn’t slipped off yet!), along with a handheld water bottle. I had lost the one that Dress for Success gifted me in 2011 for my fundraising efforts during my last move to Seattle, and this was my first replacement. I’ve used hydration belts for running but I’ve felt that they were more suitable for triathlons. I’m not even sure if I can find mine right now, but I bought one for my husband so I figured I’d buy one for myself. Jackson Hole’s race was a cup-free race, and I thought it was a really noble and respectable initiative. I wish that more races were like that, but I can see how it would be more feasible during a smaller race. (Imagine having to fight 20,000 other runners for a refill!)

On my way out the door, I managed to twist my ankle on some uneven pavement right outside of my hotel room. I got really upset to have gotten this far uninjured only to have painfully rolled my ankle at the eleventh hour. I decided to play it by ear and see how I feel at the start, knowing that I could hitch a ride back to the start.

The race shuttles picked us up at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. It brought back a flood of memories to the week I spent there a few years ago learning how to ski. It was a magical week for me. I spent a significant amount of time during the day alone, despite traveling there with my then-boyfriend. Nevermind that at the end of the trip it ended with me getting dumped…a month later I met my future husband anyways, so all in all it all worked out. Everything was as I remembered it to be, without the snow. I thought about how we could sneak in a trip later in the year when they opened up again. Maybe sometime after the Dopey Challenge, if our legs aren’t completely trashed.

After a 20-minute or so ride, we were dropped off at the start line. Having driven up the mountains, it only got colder. I was thankful for my base layers, but not very thankful for my ankle. I kept stretching and massaging it, hoping for the best. I thought about walking the entire way down the mountain, but even walking on it was very painful. At that point, I figured that I could try to make it to the first aid station and then see how I felt.

The race started and we were off. I lightly jogged on it and it felt better than walking on it. Oddly enough it didn’t hurt at all. I’m not sure if it’s the “racing effect” but I went with it, hoping that I wouldn’t incur any sort of physical debt for this later on. I still  have a few tune-up races this season before the Dopey Challenge and I didn’t want to put them in jeopardy. I jogged along knowing that my pace would be slower and telling myself to be okay with it.

It turns out that the elevation change between Denver and Jackson — only 1,300 feet or so — made a big difference. I found myself a lot more tired early on. My breathing was slightly more labored. It was better for me than the other folks who flew in from places at sea level though. I’m sure that they struggled a lot more, unless they all trained on insane hills and in saunas. (That’s not out of the realm of possibility…I know plenty of Ironman athletes who have done that.)

As I ran, I tried to soak up the scenery as much as possible. It was an absolutely gorgeous race. Since the field was so small — 200+ runners or so — it allowed me plenty of space to pull off to the side to snap some photos without interfering with someone else’s race. I felt really lucky to be privy to the views — having an opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors, and being able to run, even if on a bum ankle.

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I continued along the race. It was mostly uncovered so it eventually warmed up. I didn’t wear any sunscreen except for on my face, so I didn’t take off my base layers. I ended up trying to stay cool by drinking as much water as I could and refilling with cold water during each aid station. I also had a cooling headband that I could activate at any time, but I never had to. Walk breaks in between also helped a lot.

I spent a lot of the race reflecting on the last two years. The transition between two cities and two very different companies. Having completed grad school and getting married and beginning to teach. I thought a lot about my co-workers at Sphero and how hard everyone had worked on the product launch. I hoped that they weren’t toiling away during this holiday weekend and that they had been able to steal the weekend for themselves. I thought a lot about some old coworkers at Amazon, especially some of the younger ones that had joined my teams right out of college. I knew some of them were still sticking it out. I thought about some of my mentors who had left the company and how they mentioned that the doggedness that was required there came back to haunt them at their future companies. I wondered if I had fallen prey to that. I thought about my mentors and wondered if they were happy with where they currently were — one is on sabbatical, two are working at completely new companies, and the other one is still on my old team. I thought about my students toiling away on their projects over the weekend because I had set a benchmark deadline to prevent them from procrastinating until the last minute, because the worst thing is trying to deliver something that might end up in your portfolio under negative pressure. I also thought about my fundraiser for Best Friends Animal Society and if it really made any kind of difference. I know it does, but I want to do so much more. At the moment, I lack a support network here in Denver. I lack a circle of friends or community mostly because I’ve buried myself in work and school during this first year, something that I had not done in the absence of friends and acquaintances in other cities. I thought about my fundraisers in LA and Seattle and the people who’ve helped contribute to my journey. I thought about my parents and wondered how they were doing and if I should take a few days to go visit them in between teaching, interviewing, and freelancing.

So, in other words, I thought a lot about a lot of other people, but it was a typical amount of thinking that I would do over the course of three hours anyways.

The results came in and I was fairly happy with them. I’m not a stellar athlete but at least I’m out there. I didn’t fare too poorly between mile zero and 8.5:

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Post-race, I was pretty satisfied with myself. I thought I’d be able to break three hours, but alas my ankle and the elevation got the best of me. There’s always next time.

We got back to our hotel. I commenced the most elaborate recovery routine ever. My ankle was fine for awhile but it had began swelling up with the lack of activity. I tried RICE and we acquired an ankle brace. It eventually swelled up to the size of a baseball. We were both pretty exhausted and slept the day away. It was really nice. I consider that quality time. 🙂

The next day, we topped off our vacation — and I delivered the last portion of his birthday gift — with a trip to the nearby hot springs.

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All in all, it was a great race-cation. I’m looking to some more great ones this season…hopefully with a lot less ankle injuries.

Dopey Challenge Week 3 + 4: Fund-running for Best Friends Animal Society again!

Guess what? I’ve finally got my charity picked out for the Dopey Challenge! All of you who know me know that I really enjoy fund-running for my big yearly A-races. My charities over the years have varied a bit, but it took some time for me to really hone in on the one that I wanted to focus on this time. The one that I chose for this race is…………..Best Friends Animal Society again.

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I chose this charity again because of all the amazing work that my friend Kaylee does with this organization — she has persevered through so much so that so many lives are saved every day. She has to deal with work trips to tacky Las Vegas, hot days in endless LA traffic, and other travesties (like when people think it’s better to buy pets than adopt them). All that aside, BFAS does some amazing work for other rescues around the country too! They even hooked me up with one of my furever friends, Dexter. When you begin donating to my fundraising campaign, you’ll start getting thank you notes from him! I plan on donating $1 for every training mile I complete during the Dopey Challenge, so I hope you’ll join me for my virtual (or real life!) miles.

Won’t you consider donating a few dollars to their fine organization? Help keep a few kitties and pups off the streets this summer. They’ll be furever thankful that you did!

On another note, I’m really glad that I’m sticking to such a conservative race training plan. If this plan were any more stringent right now, I think I’d already be discouraged.

The Internet has also been out all weekend at home, and this afternoon I cracked open the ultra-running book I was reading through a few years ago. Romancing those thoughts after slogging through a 5.5-mile run seems a bit foolish, but strangely appropriate. It’s funny how even the shortest of runs seem to do that to you. I wonder if the Dopey Challenge counts as an ultra, since it spans over the course of a few days. It doesn’t matter too much, I suppose.

This week, we’ve also sent in our passport renewals, and thus I’ve renewed my efforts in planning out my worldwide, 7-continent marathon tour. We began looking over races to research. Some of them included the Mt. Kilimanjaro Marathon, Victoria Falls Marathon, Rio Marathon, and some other ones. Antarctica is still on my list and its an unwavering desire of mine, so that’ll probably happen soon after the Dopey Challenge. There’s a race in Australia that we were looking at that is a 45km race, so I suppose that qualifies as one! 🙂

So the miles haven’t been too bad over the last few weeks. For week 3, it was 3 runs: 2 45-minute runs, followed by a 3 mile run. What that came out to were three 3.1 mile runs at 45 minutes each for week 3. For this week, it was 3 runs again: 2 45-minute runs, followed by a 5.5 mile run. This week’s work schedule was also similarly intense (although not nearly as bad as last week’s), but I wasn’t able to keep up with my run schedule so I had to cram my runs off-cadence unfortunately. I got them in though.

Today’s 5.5 mile run was a bit difficult since I got up really early (5am or so) but we didn’t get started until 9am. By then I was already really hungry, but generally when I eat I tend to get really sick when I run. So a rungry run it was. The run went well, seeing as though it was a treadmill run. I really would like to get outside sometime. It’d be nice to get out to Sloan Lake to run around a bit, but that requires more logistics. We have some upcoming warm-up races scheduled that I can look forward to 🙂 I really do enjoy running outside, but I guess I ended up being a bit more weary of running along Cherry Creek than I originally thought. And I ended up being a lot more fed up by traffic lights now than I used to be than when I first began running.

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I missed last week’s recap post because of work. WORK. Work? Work! All the work. My energy was zapped for most of the week. The meeting schedules got shifted around and with my sleep issues bad enough as it is, I am really struggling to keep up with the new work call time. 8:30am meetings have been wreaking havoc on my body, especially when they necessitate a very early call time, with an even earlier marathon training schedule, with an unwavering launch schedule and teaching schedule. There isn’t a whole lot of flexibility to work with, unfortunately.

I wish there were some sort of nap room at work, or that the weather was nicer so that I could nap in the car midday. Right now it’s a blistering 90-100 degrees out, so I’d probably die (literally) if I were to do that. I’m sure things will slow down here in a bit (maybe?!) so I’ll try to take it a day at a time. I see some of my coworkers heading out for runs during lunch and I wonder how crazy they are, but mostly really how far they are going. I mean, how far can you go during lunch? Maybe the Boulder Creek Trail is shaded enough where it stays somewhat cool? I’ve biked along it and it’s already pretty hot during the mornings. I don’t think I could steal any time during the weekday to do any training runs — that, and Erik and I do all of our weekday training runs together — but maybe it’d be nice to venture out for a head-clearing walk sometimes. But probably when it’s not 100 degrees out. For now I’ll drive down to the local Jamba Juice 🙂

My mantra for the upcoming week:

Go Run

Happy training! Until next time…

Monday Morning Stand Up: Seafair Weeks 6-7-8 + Portland Weeks 1-2-3 2014 Training

For lack of a better way to combine the concurrent training threads, I’m now officially lumping them both together in the headline. The last few weeks have been insanely bizarre. Not only is my sleeping schedule all over the map, but so is my schoolwork and work-work (because when you say it twice, it’s legit).

So my swimming activities are pretty much nil. Same goes with my biking. I’ve finally switched out all the batteries on my speed/cadence sensors and my heart-rate monitor so things should be paired and working well with the Bluetooth dongle and TrainerRoad. I tried riding to work and making it a habit but I find my messenger bag to be quite infuriating. It’s not really worth riding the few miles to and from at this stage. I think when I was still learning to ride it made more sense. I suppose it would make sense now so that I could get comfortable clipping in and out at stops and stuff, but for most of my races I will be riding long distances between clipping in and out anyways. (Maybe I’m just rationalizing myself out of riding to work?)

Week 6 Seafair Sprint Tri/Week 1 Portland Marathon Training:

Monday, June 16: 4.08 mile run, 0.5 mile swim

Tuesday, June 17: Rest day

Wednesday, June 18: 4.06 mile run

Thursday, June 19: Rest day

Friday, June 20: 4.02 mile run

Saturday, June 21: 8 mile run

Sunday, June 22: Rest day

Week 7 Seafair Sprint Tri/Week 2 Portland Marathon Training:

Monday, June 23: Rest day

Tuesday, June 24: 4.68 mile run

Wednesday, June 25: 2.05+1.54 mile bike commute, 5.22 mile run

Thursday, June 26: 1.41 mile bike commute, 4.02 run

Friday, June 27: 10.09 mile run…before work

Saturday, June 28: Five Mile Lake Tri, which served as a season dress rehearsal – 0.25 mile swim, 14 mile ride, 3.1 mile run

Sunday, June 29: Rest day

Week 8 Seafair Sprint Tri/Week 3 Portland Marathon Training:

Monday, June 30: Rest day

Tuesday, July 1: Rest day

Wednesday, July 2: 4.88 mile run

Thursday, July 3: 5.01 mile run

Friday, July 4: 6.84 mile hike up Mt. Si, probably one of the most challenging hikes I’ve completed this season

Saturday, July 5: Rest day

Sunday, July 6: 5.67 mile run around Green Lake during one of the hottest days of the year

Week 9-10 training resolutions:

-I resolve to use my vacation as a partial jumpstart to my tri training. I would actually argue that it is way too late, but I’m going to aim for it anyways. I’ll continue my marathon training and try to add swimming during my leisure downtime and maybe wake up early to run and jump on a spin bike at the Waikiki 24 Hour Fitness. (I don’t think I’ll be renting a bike this time so this is my next best and free alternative, since I already have a membership.)

-I resolve to do as much swimming in Hawaii 5 out of 7 days, with a half-mile minimum. The clear and shallow water will be good for me. I can practice dodging humans and form while working on my tan. And since I’ll have to swim in open water without a wetsuit, it’ll help me regain some of that alignment I may have lost in all of the time I’ve spent out of the water.

-I resolve to ride on my trainer while doing my reading (as much as it is possible for me to still comprehend my reading and still focus on the workout). I would like to get at least 2 rides in while I am still in town, and to ride 4 times in the early mornings while in Hawaii.

-I resolve to continue with my marathon training plan, but giving myself permission to drop one of the easy/short runs, or to break up the weekly long run with half-run sandwiches (splitting a 12 miler between 2 consecutive 6 milers)

What’s really important is that Seafair will be the weekend I return from Hawaii, so it is really important that I at least get *half* of my resolved sessions in. AT. LEAST. I’m sure I’ll survive. I think I will. I think I can!

Lessons learned from the last three weeks:

-Respect the distance: Just because you’ve done the distance before, it doesn’t mean you can attempt the distance (comfortably) without the training. During my last race/open water swim I seriously thought I was down for the count. I’ve never flagged down a safety kayak but I did that morning. I ended up making it out of the water just fine but seriously…I can’t let that happen again. It’s a safety hazard at that point. I need to get in the training if I expect to be able to finish these races comfortably.

-Train before your brain knows what’s going on: Making things dead simple and automatic is the name of the game. You perform what you practice, so take the brainpower out of practice by scheduling everything in advance (as much as possible) so that you can focus on execution. This became apparent to me on race morning when I got my gear ready at the last minute (instead of laying everything out the night before) and then being at a loss of how to fuel before the race (since I’ve made it a habit to train in the morning on an empty stomach). It’s one thing to be self-aware…it’s a completely different story to self-correct.

-If you can’t get the little things right, you can’t achieve the bigger things: Seriously…fueling issues? Can’t get my swim training in? How do I expect to ever finish a 140.6 if I can’t nail the little simple things? 140.6 miles is no joke, and it’s a dream I’ve been chasing for years at this point. If I want to go for it, I’ll need to prove that I can stick to something consistently and get the training in. The more I fumble on these little things, the more the bigger goals are out of reach.

Humble brags from the last three weeks:

-Nailing an A-average across both of my grad school classes, despite my insane schedule

-Getting most of my marathon training in, on point and on schedule

-Still cognizant and self-correcting on my triathlon training mishaps

-Actively trying to make better eating choices, going to begin logging my food intake again

-Still managed to finish a triathlon, even though I had some pretty severe highs and lows during the race

-Raised $215 for my Stand Up To Cancer fundraiser in the first week

2014 Charity Fundraising Announcement: Stand Up to Cancer

Hi folks! It’s that time of year again were I announce my fundraising efforts for the 2014 racing season. Since I have (haphazardly) already finished my first race of the season (with at least seven more to go between now and December) it’s time to unveil my charity of choice this year…

A couple of years ago, I was tested for cervical cancer and received a false positive. The week between receiving the erroneous results and the final results were one of the most nerve-wrecking times of my life. I spent most of that week getting my financial affairs in order, and considering how I’d break the news to people who were closest to me in case the biopsy came back positive. When I received the final negative test results, I felt relieved but I knew deep down inside that not everyone got that second (or third or fourth) lease on life.

Since then, I’ve met a handful of survivors and known of friends and family/friends of friends who have been negatively impacted by cancer. The survivors I know are incredibly resilient and strong people. In honor of those people who are still fighting it today, and in memory of the people who have lost their struggle, I dedicate my 2014 triathlon fundraising season to them. Here are my first 10 people I will be honoring this race season:

  1. Garland
  2. Cardoni
  3. McNamara
  4. McCormick
  5. Repp
  6. Appiah
  7. Kiraz
  8. Schultz
  9. Harvey
  10. Wang

As an added twist to this year’s fundraiser, I will race with the last names of people who are still fighting or have lost their fight to cancer temporarily tattooed to me throughout the season. For each donation, donors can specify a last name to add to my list.

I’m hoping you’ll join me on my triathlon journey this year, and help me fundraise and reach my $2,000 goal by December 6, 2014.

Thanks again for all of your continued support!

Week 4 HITS 140.6 Palm Springs Training: Inspire Through Example

Le sigh. SIGH SIGH SIGH.

I feel like I’ve made some good progress with swimming this summer. However, I’ve made almost zero progress with my cycling. I think I have actually digressed because at the beginning of spring I rocked a 56-ish mile ride and did great, and now I’m struggling through a 28 mile ride. That’s bad news for me since, well, as of today summer is kind of officially over here in Seattle. I mean, it doesn’t pour rain for days on end (I think? I can’t remember) but the outdoor training time that I so desperately need is dwindling down. Why oh why did I pick a winter race knowing that I’d be coming into a season of cycling training?! What was I thinking?! Do I have to go head-first into cycling in the rain? (I had better invest in a better helmet, if so.)

Bahumbug.

So this week I had one really good win — I finished my first 1.2 mile swim in open water. Granted it was lap intervals in the little dock near my place, and I took a few breather breaks in between, but I finished! That’s a good first step. I was hipping and hopping from such an awesome swim, thinking about how far I had come in conquering my fear of the open water, when I hopped on my bike on Sunday to realize that my planned ride of 60 miles seemed so physically out of reach. I timeboxed my saddle time to 3 hours and I only went 28.75 miles. UHG! Slowpoke much? To top it off I fell of my bike once at an intersection (hello neosporin) and wobbled off my bike at another intersection. I’m starting to feel that I’d feel a lot better about my rides if I didn’t ride with a GPS, but unfortunately it is a necessity in my training. I feel great when I am just riding along, but when I look at the data of how slow I am going, it is soul-crushing because I think of the cutoff times for my race:

Race starts at 7am
9:20am swim cutoff (max time 2:20 for 2.4 miles)
5:20pm bike cutoff (max time 10:20 for 112 miles = 10.84mph)
12:00am run cutoff (max time 6:40 marathon = 4mph roughly)

Okay, so maybe when I actually see it spelled out that way it doesn’t seem too bad. Still, I don’t want to finish off the skin of my teeth. My times are manageable at these snails paces at the half IM distance at best. I really need to rehab this ankle quickly and get a move on my training! And I need to get some good experience on the bike without wrecking my budget. Trying to budget my time, energy, and money simultaneously is exhausting. Remind me to never attempt so many different things all at the same time ever again. This might’ve been worse than that time I decided to train for a sprint tri and a marathon at the same time, where training for my first sprint tri included learning how to swim and bike. It looks like I’m still technically on that same path, right?

I was really, really down on myself after that bike ride on Sunday though. It was such a beautiful day too. Everything hurt. The saddle hurt. Falling off my bike hurt. Riding into the wind hurt. It wasn’t even that windy but I normally go a lot faster on the trail, so either my entire body was filled with lead, or I was tired, or there was wind that day. You know, I remember the days when it was a victory to even bike 1.5 miles to work. Then it was a victory to bike 3 miles to work. Those days are behind me, when a 15 mile ride was considered my long A-race ride. How will I manage 112 miles? And will my behind survive?

And did you hear about Diana Nyad swimming 103 miles from Cuba to Florida? That woman is extraordinary. I can’t even imagine cycling 103 miles at this point. She inspires people through example. I have that engraved on my RoadID but rides like the one I took on Sunday make me feel lower than low. I just have so much work to do on the bike.

Remember why you want to do this.

Also, embarking on a fundraising journey is very taxing. No donations yet but hopefully someone will toss a few dollars my way. I really want to do right by the charities that I am fundraising for. I will get to the $1500 mark somehow, hopefully through a mix of generosity of those around me and by my own giving.

Week 4 HITS 140.6 Palm Springs Training: 13.5 hours; Swim: 5496 yards; Bike: 73.75 miles; Run: 8.83 mi.

Monday, August 26: Swim + tri team strength training brick workout

Tuesday, August 27: Spin class in the morning

Wednesday, August 28: Swim + tri team strength training brick workout in the morning. Spin class in the evening. I feel like dying from exhaustion but apparently it isn’t my time yet.

Thursday, August 29: Spin class in the morning. I feel like dying still. I was so exhausted that I actually went home and took a 3 hour nap before work.

Friday, August 30: Long run on the elliptical because of a bum ankle. I really hope it doesn’t give me any grief during my race.

Saturday, August 31: 1.2 mile open water swim in the morning, 1 hour ride at a snail’s pace

Sunday, September 1: 3 hour ride at a snail’s pace 🙁

My last official race before HITS is this Saturday. That’s a long break between races. I hope I do all right this weekend, considering that I’m still icing my ankle.

You Can’t Run Away From the Quantified Self

When I first started my health and fitness journey with running a few years ago, I logged every mile and for a stretch, logged every morsel I ate. I think that measurement gave me a barometer by which I could measure progress. I could see when I stalled, when I made progress, when I was slipping and when I was succeeding.

One of the things I’ve been ignoring pretty heavily has been my personal finances. Actually, I’ve been ignoring the problem for almost 14 years. 14 years of bad spending habits, lackluster saving habits, poor judgements, and more. There are things I spend my money on, and then there’s the things I bleed money on. You could probably say that triathlon is one of those things, but believe it or not I think I balance the cost/benefits pretty well.

The thing about the quantified self is that there are no judgements. There are only numbers and trends and forecasts, and they do not lie. It’s like looking at a training plan and seeing a bunch of missed days, or looking at a food log and seeing five-too-many Ferrero Rochers logged. (Guilty on both charges.)

This morning, I crunched the numbers. I took a long hard look at one of the things that make me the most uncomfortable — my student loan debt. The principal wasn’t budging much in the last few months and I needed to take a hard look at it to see why. I was appalled to see that 80% of my payment was interest. It’s like training at low intensity for 16 weeks hoping to run a really fast and speedy marathon. It just doesn’t work that way. I was already getting really fed up at where I was financially. My peers are buying homes and raising families. I felt like I was stuck in the same rut I’ve been in since I got my first job when I was 15: trying to hopelessly budget my money and save cash here and there. It wasn’t working.

So, as with many things in my training and on my journey to self-improvement, I’ve made a commitment to myself. This $62K horse I have on my back really has to go. That’s right — $62K. About a third of it was for my undergraduate and the rest of it was for my private grad school degree that I’m only halfway done with. My goal is to be done with paying off these student loans in 2 years. And, if I want to go back to school, I will pay in cash. Just like my training, I will stay connected to the details and make up where I am deficient. I will learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Does that have to put a dent in my triathlon dreams though? Absolutely not, and here’s why:

1) I can pare down my coaching and training a bit — maybe opting for training 1x a week instead of 2-3x a week. I could stretch out my paid training blocks over two months instead of blowing through it once a month. The sessions might be a little more per hour but I will still get the benefits of strength training with the team once a week. This will also give me a chance to work on yoga or rowing once a week, which is perfect!

2) I could budget for specializing coaching on the bike and in open water as needed. I am finally getting the hang of open water, and if I get more practice, it’ll be great. Once I burn my private lessons I can stick to group clinics (which run me about $20 a pop, not to mention the gas money it takes to drive all the way down there). For the bike, I really need a few sessions to get the hang of things and then I need to practice, practice, practice! A way to do this would just to ride more!

3) I could register for my BIG triathlons way in advance and save lots of money by going with the HITS Triathlon race circuit. They race at less commercially popular venues so travel is a bit cheaper. If I can fly with Southwest then even more brownie points.

4) If a large Ironman is in my future, I can race via the Ironman Race For Free program. I pay $50 to register for an event and commit to raising $3,000 for the Ironman Foundation. That’s a pretty sweet deal! I already love fundraising for charity and a $3,000 commitment would definitely be a challenge. They have openings for Ironman Canada and Ironman Lake Tahoe, both races that I am very interested in. It’ll be difficult to have back-to-back fundraisers though.

5) I could test around with more natural foods on my long rides and runs, rather than relying on expensive Gu. (I’m already finding that orange slices and bananas are working great for me…and they are probably much healthier anyways, not to mention cheaper!)

6) I can race in a lot of small, local community races here in the summer. The small community races aren’t too expensive and if I plan ahead enough, I can make space in my budget for them.

So, yes, it is less of an athletic challenge but this goal will definitely effect some of my other plans as well. I look forward to finding creative ways to still enjoy racing but doing so on a budget. The days of limitless traveling and racing may not necessarily be over, but perhaps a bit more controlled and planned. Looking back at my race recaps, it looks like my first year I amassed 12 races. The year after that it was 5. It looks like I’ll cap this year at 5 as well. It might be a tradition worth keeping around!

But, enough stressing about finances. I have an 1-hour open water swim, a 1 hour ride, and an hour and a half run tomorrow. Isn’t that technically an Olympic distance tri? And isn’t that a self-tri a week before my next Olympic distance tri?!

HITS 140.6 Palm Springs: Racing for a Cause

So, after much deliberation, I finally narrowed down my fundraiser to three charities. Well, technically I couldn’t decide between three charities, so I’ve decided to fundraise for all three of them:

My HITS 140.6 Charity Fundraiser

I’ve decided to dedicate portions of my iron-distance triathlon to these causes: swimming 2.4 miles for the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, cycling 112 miles for Best Friends Animal Society, and running 26.2 miles for Children International.

Why fundraise for the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network? Those of you who know me very well know my story. Those who don’t…don’t. I’ve survived all three things listed in the name of that organization and really turned my life around in my mid-twenties. This organization has both indirectly and directly helped me put my life back together when things got very rough. Sexual abuse in all of its forms is a crime against humanity and no person who walks this Earth should ever have to suffer the way I had to. This organization provides support, counseling, information, and lobbying to keep people safe, and predators behind bars.

Why fundraise for Best Friends Animal Society? They do some pretty fabulous animal rescue work around the country and have led an initiative to end animal homelessness. In addition to running a number of sanctuaries in my hometown, they work on policy reform that positively effects animals across the country. Not to mention, one of my closest friends hooked me up with one of my best friends from the sanctuary as well. His feline presence is priceless! :3

Why fundraise for Children International? Thanks to my hardworking parents, I never knew what it was like to grow up in extreme poverty. However, my mom was privy to that lifestyle because she was orphaned at a very young age. I sponsor two girls from this organization — one in the US and one in Africa. I participate in the monthly sponsorship mostly as a tribute to my mother. She fought hard to stay on the good side of society, learn a trade, and to survive. The children in this program receive essential medical and dental care, have access to a community learning center that is safe and out of harm’s way, and are connected to sponsors and mentors within the community to help drive their potential.

So, over the next 99 days, I will be swimming, cycling, and running to raise money for these organizations. I hope you will join me on my journey and contribute what you can. It would mean the world to me and give me a bit of mojo to push through training and even get to the finish line.

Oh, and there will be giveaways and prizes. SO MANY PRIZES 🙂

Planning for Rev3, Personal Training Certification, and More

A bit of trailing exhaustion and/or fatigue has gotten in the way of doing anything somewhat routine. After my short half mile pool session yesterday, I felt a bit under the weather because I was convinced that I might’ve caught some dreaded germs from the water. I felt a bit lethargic today but just chalked it up to the weather. However, I woke up this morning feeling a bit sore from my swim, which means that I’ve definitely lost some conditioning since I haven’t been in the water for about 6 weeks or so.

The holidays are upon us and with Thanksgiving comes my early resolutions. I always resolve to never make a promise to myself that I can’t keep, and I’ve always found that making those promises before Thanksgiving will help keep me on track. (Strange what a difference a few weeks makes!)

So, this holiday vacation, I hope to spend it present with the people I care about. I hope to devote a chunk of that time to myself, presumably because I am on that list of people I care about. I hope to carve out early morning chunks out of my vacation to really focus on my training so that I can be Rev3 training ready come February.

Hoping to finally tackle the 70.3 in July of next year. No more excuses and waiting! 30 IS UPON ME.

I signed up for a TraningPeaks plan to help me build some conditioning and base…it’s six workouts a week all focused at pushing me beyond my usual comfort level (30 minute swim, 1 hour bike ride, 45 minute run…those all sound about right). When you first start working out you don’t know any better and you naturally push yourself. However, I find that I’m getting incredibly complacent. A workout no longer feels like a workout, hence the reason why I forked the money over for this training plan. Ideally the plan will get me in to Olympic distance shape at the end of January so that I can make the jump into 70.3 training in February, which then puts me at toeing the line in July.

My training schedule for the next week. No more guesswork. Thanks TrainingPeaks!

I’ve also progressed nicely in my personal training reading. I’m aiming for certification by the end of the year (or at least sitting for my first exam), and per usual I got caught up in the anatomy section. There’s just so much to learn! Anyways, it’s been pretty awesome being able to drop knowledge bombs about health and wellness at work. I’m just always surprised at how little people know about their bodies, and I’m more than happy to guide conversations along the way about nutrition, fitness, etc. My goal isn’t to be a know-it-all or anything, but really to give them enough information to act upon. I’m also really excited about getting my CPR/AED/First Aid certification again. That way I can sign up to be a safety czar at work. (Nerdy, I know…)

Oh, and this week, I finally finished my social media book. I’m a volunteer mentor for Dress for Success and the book was written and edited to help me with preparing women to re-enter the workforce by having their social media profiles and identity under control. It took a lot of work but it was definitely worth it!

My first book – Your Sometimes Online Life (available for Kindle and in print)

It’s currently available on Kindle and will be about a week or so before it’s ready on the Amazon.com website. It’s up on CreateSpace right now too. I was hoping to finish it on time so that I could give a copy to my parents but I guess I will just have to get it shipped directly to them when it is ready. I’d also like to ship a box to Dress for Success to have on hand for women who need it. I’m planning on donating all proceeds to Dress for Success, so if you know of someone who may find this type of information useful, consider buying my book. 🙂

Writing a book reminds me of what it mentally feels like to run a marathon. I’m tired just thinking about all the work and editing and design I’ve done on it. I can’t wait until I tackle my next book but for now, I’m still tired. Ideally I’d finish my certification and then work on a couch-to-5K type book. I have a few other books already outlined (about completely different things) but with all things creative you really have to be in the mood to talk about certain things…and right now I think I’m still only interested in talking about health/wellness at length!

I head out of town for the holiday tomorrow…more than a week of sunshine. It’s going to be great. Probably a bit dramatic in some places, but I hope to get out of my head for awhile, get some training in, spend some quality time with my loved ones, let the wireframes flow, and just have a good time!

Would you be interested in joining my virtual training team?

Hey ladies and gents!

I just posted a new vlog after a year-long hiatus. (Warning: it’s pretty much the same thing I’m blogging here.)

So after reading about a friend who just joined Team in Training for Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge next January, I clicked through to another blog from a charity runner who was conducting a similar virtual race of her own. My idea is not quite original but I figured that it was worth a try.

Here it goes: I’m thinking of hosting another marathon training team. This time, though, it’s virtual. If you’ve wanted a reason to finish a 5K, 10K, half marathon, or full marathon, then here it is. I’m hosting my very own virtual training team and race so that you no longer have the excuse of time to fall back on. Your “registration fee” is actually a 100% donation to Dress for Success for my fundraising campaign. In exchange for this generous donation, I will help you cross off this distance off of your bucket list!

The race date is tentatively set for January 20, 2013. That cuts it a bit close for the full 26.2 distance, so I will think of alternative dates that it can be held on. You can run where ever you want — you pick the course and location. I’ll provide a training plan for your selected distance and provide a weekly chat where we can all log on and talk about how training is going, address any concerns you have, etc. In the week leading up to this virtual race you’ll get a goody bag and your bib. Once you finish the course and provide proof of finishing (i.e. photos of your time, etc) I will send to you your finisher’s medal and certificate.

If you think you may be interested, you can let me know in the comments or tweet/Facebook/email me! If cost is a factor, I think it’d be more than fine if you fundraised that amount as well. (All fundraising will be funneled through the Dress for Success race fundraising page on Crowdrise.)

Here are the details —

Race date: January 20, 2013 (tentative — 26.2 may be delayed for about 4-6 weeks)

Costs:
$20 donation – 5K (3.1 miles)
$35 donation – 10K (6.2 miles)
$50 donation – Half marathon (13.1 miles)
$100 donation – Full marathon (26.2 miles)

Register via Donation on Crowdrise

 

What you get:
1) A training plan (for distance, NOT speed)
2) Weekly virtual video chats with the group
3) A race goody bag
4) A race bib
5) A medal
6) A finisher’s certificate

Perks:
1) One lucky random donor will receive free registration to ANY race of their choice! (Up to $135 value)
2) Receive an awesome gift for fundraising 3x your donation amount
3) Get a network of support for your goal
4) Feel satisfied knowing that 100% of your donation goes to Dress for Success

Important Notice:
In order for you to receive your medal and finisher’s certificate, you must provide proof that you finished the distance. You can send a photo of your measured/timed run (i.e. photo of the treadmill screen, picture of your Garmin time, screenshot of your phone, etc). Additionally, by entering in to this training program you acknowledge that you have the medical clearance to do so and that I am not advising you directly on how to train, eat, etc. I provide mentorship, encouragement, and guidance only since I am not a certified personal trainer, doctor, health professional, etc.

Race Recap: Sporty Diva's Half Marathon

This weekend’s race was a lot of fun! It was my first small race (less than 50 participants) and it was mostly women-focused. The race was more of a “run your own race” sort of event, with distances of 5K, 10K, 15K, and a half marathon. I totally underestimated what the event coordinator meant by “sweeping vistas” and “rolling hills” and “extensive switchbacks.”

Per usual I was pretty cranky the morning of the event. I didn’t feel like running. The hotel I was staying at offered free breakfast, and after such a gnarly work week I just wanted to wind down. My boyfriend came into town just to support me for the race and I felt like it was sucking up too much time of the little time we could spend with each other. I kept being an absolute terror, but he was a trooper and put up with it (per usual).

The race was held in Chambers Bay in Tacoma, which was right along the waterfront. Since it was in a completely new town with strangely numbered roads, naturally my GPS got me lost. Shant had to navigate my cranky self most of the way there and we arrived just a few minutes from the start. Since it was a small race, checkin was pretty easy and I had arrived right in time for the door prizes.

Rosie of Sporty Diva’s was there passing out really awesome door prizes, and her enthusiasm was quite infectious. She highlighted some racers who had an amazing story to share, including one woman who was in her seventies who had recently been screened for cancer and had caught an early stage tumor. She was able to undergo surgery without much downtime since she was in good shape and had urged all of the women (and a few men) who were racing that day to take as good care of themselves as possible. Indeed, the only true wealth is health. And with that, the race was off.

And we ran up a huge hill. Check out the map below between mile 1 and 2.

Sporty Diva’s Half Marathon Route

Yeah, it was quite gnarly. And since this was a looped course, I went up the hill about 5 times total. The course itself was quite beautiful. It was very good for training runs — I can definitely see myself training there for my 20-miler. The course was much more diverse than I was used to. Most of the running I do is quite flat and this provides some very good variance in terrain.

After the first loop, I noticed that a lot of the runners were done. I would say about 60% or so were done for the day. It was no wonder that so many people were gunning those hills. I couldn’t imagine putting that much gusto over 13 miles. I wished more people were tackling the longer distance. It would’ve been nice to have some company on the path but I generally stick to myself anyways. I thought a lot about work, my co-workers, my current lot in life, my boyfriend waiting at the finish line, my friends and family, my marathon fundraiser, and the people I was seeking to help. I thought about the 70.3 in a positive way for the first time in awhile.

About 9 miles in or so I came across a walker with a race bib. I chatted with her a bit — her name was Gina and she was the dean of a local Bible college. She had been trying to lose weight for 17 years and this was the first time she had actually stuck with her goal. Over the past 10 months she had been training for this marathon. She said that she first started off with walking a few miles here, a few miles there. She did all of her exercise in secret because her husband was super fit and didn’t really believe that she would stick to her goal. Now, after all of this time, she was here on this course jamming out her 13.1 miles. It was very inspirational, and I can remember being in her situation — not as dire, but I remember being in that position with a sense of urgency.

The best part of this race was that since it was an open and public course, my boyfriend was able to join me for one of the loops. I had just finished 3 loops and was on my 4th one. (The fifth loop was to round out the 13 miles, and it only meant that I went up the ginormous hill and back down.) We walked about half of it together, which was something we were never able to do before in a race. After about a mile or two I decided it was time to finish what I started so I took off and he was able to continue strolling through the switchbacks. I really should’ve learned my lesson a long time ago about running the tangents on windy hills.

My finish time was a lot slower than I was used to, but that said, it was one of the hilliest courses I’ve ever done. It reminded me a lot of Athens. Regardless, the race was really fun, the race director was awesome, the participants were great, and my boyfriend got to join me for a few miles of it. It was great! After this race, I’m actually really excited about the rest of the season’s long runs. If I was able to complete this race, I should be able to tackle any of the flat courses I’m registered for. So, all in all, my first half marathon of the season was a success!