Hi party people! Four weeks in to my new training regimen and I’m feeling good. Still squeezing workouts into random time pockets in my calendar but at least I feel like things are somewhat back to normal. Week 2 was particularly momentous because I got some wonderful news: my fracture was completely healed up, and I received my long-awaited Bia! Woo-hoo!
Because my fracture was all healed up, I took to the streets and trails to make up for some lost time. Hence, I haven’t been biking and swimming as much as I should be. Running is just so convenient…all I do is lace up and head out. I suppose with my bike on the trainer it is still sort of like that. My swims are at odd hours of the day, mostly because of my work and school schedule. So far 2am has been the best time to catch some laps at my local pool. It’s okay though. Even though my training is not as regimented as seasons past, I think I can still forgive myself because I’m really still just getting back into the swing of things.
So far the odd scheduling is working for me: work during the day, go to sleep immediately when I get home from work. Wake up at around midnight. Maybe head in for a swim or get cracking on my schoolwork. Try to catch some sleep by 5am. Wake up at 7, get some training in, and then head to work again. Weekends are for resetting the sleep schedule and hiking during the day. I’m really beginning to appreciate my decision of sticking with sprint triathlons this year…it’s really opening up my schedule for school and for all the hiking I missed out on last year. Maybe I can finally have it all…?
I think what’s most confusing about me is that I focus on so many things simultaneously. I can’t choose one sport…I choose five. I have so many simultaneous goals and aspirations that it’s hard for me to give my time accordingly. Also, it really cuts out time for socializing, which I think is semi-okay, since the people I want to spend my time with will have similar interests anyways and will join me on some of these excursions! I just sent out a save the date for my December San Jacinto Peak hike. Still keeping my tri goals in check. Ever excited about skiing Niseko next winter. This girl can’t choose just one sport. (Believe me, I’ve tried.) So, I guess the only alternative is to do it all. Be overzealous. Always have a reach goal — something that causes you to stretch out of your comfort zone, something a little more difficult than what you want to take on. It is in that discomfort zone that the magic happens. Been there…and I want to be there again.
Week 2 Seafair Sprint Tri Training:
Monday, May 19: Rest day
Tuesday, May 20: 11.25 miles cycling on the indoor trainer/45 minutes
Wednesday, May 21: 3.17 mile run. My first run in eons. My fracture-is-finally-healed victory run!
Thursday, May 22: 3.2 mile run. Still feeling good.
Friday, May 23: 3.56 mile run. Okay, maybe a bit overzealous. Legs are getting really tired at this point but I don’t really care because I get to run!
Saturday, May 24: 11.25 miles cycling on the trainer
Sunday, May 25: 2.81 mile hike at Cougar Mountain, Shangri-la Trail
Week 3 Seafair Sprint Tri Training:
Monday, May 26: Memorial Day weekend called for back-to-back hikes. 3.83 miles up Poo Poo Point trail. It was really steep for our level so we backed out. Will definitely go back soon!
Tuesday, May 27: That steep hike really kicked my butt. It kicked my butt so hard that my hamstrings were totally shot. Tried to head out for a run and only made it up the street and back. 0.46 mile run.
Wednesday, May 28: Tried to run again. 0.42 miles. Still hurting. Still icing and rolling. I hop on the bike instead for half an hour, 7.5 miles. (I killed my time going out for that test run so I couldn’t bike as long.)
Thursday, May 29: Squeezed in a 0.5 mile swim. Quick and efficient. Still hovering around the 20-minute mark. Would like to continue working on this and work my way down to 15 minutes. I wonder if I should even bother with a wetsuit for a sprint tri. I guess it depends.
Friday, May 30: 1.01 mile run. Hamstrings are mostly on the mend but are still a bit sore. Decided not to push it so that I could bank my recovery for weekend hiking.
Saturday, May 31: 3.74 mile hike at Cougar Mountain
Sunday, June 1: Today, I haven’t headed out yet…but will probably hike Tiger Mountain or Cougar Mountain, hopefully something in the 3-4 mile range.
Lessons learned this week (and last):
-Don’t go too hard too fast. My hamstring is still kind of annoyed with me. My heart has more endurance than my body — that’s a fact that I need to accept. Gradual adaptation is best.
-Balance and harmony is everything. If I’m not feeling a workout, it is better to stop early than it is to push myself and get injured. Personally, my injuries come from when I’m not paying attention. I rarely slack.
-Have goals in mind, but follow where your heart leads. My goals are an Olympic triathlon and a summit at the end of the year, but right now I want to focus more on running and hiking. That’s okay. I know that I won’t perform as well in the swimming or biking portion for now but it is a trade-off I am willing to make.
-Training slows down life just enough so that I appreciate my surroundings and the people I am with. Life moves at such a hectic pace, and training really allows me to slow down and regroup for a few small chunks of time. This time is sacred to me. I don’t get to experience the holistic picture of my life in front of a computer screen, at a bar, or with my nose in a book. I get to experience it when I unplug and explore my surroundings and my limits.
-One of these days I’ll actually have to swim a bit more consistently. And I’ll have to do some practice swims out in Lake Union, just to make sure that I haven’t forgotten how to swim in open water.
-I need to take my bike off the trainer. There’s a park nearby — Interlaken Park — that is supposed to be wonderful for cycling. I can always hit the Burke-Gilman though. There’s just so many tree roots in the way.
So, on that note…onwards to week 4+5…Seafair awaits!
I went for my morning swim today. It was only a half mile and it kicked my butt. It made me kind of sad. A half mile used to be my warmup, before I broke my leg. And now a half mile is a workout! Regardless, after a quarter of a mile I was sucking wind. Never mind that I forgot my water bottle or that I hadn’t eaten anything beforehand. I was feeling a lot of things, and none of them stack-ranked against “awesome,” “stellar,” or “fantastical.”
And then, I had that familiar moment. That time when my rhythm found a certain clarity, when everything momentarily aligned. Your ability to achieve flow in your work, training, creative endeavors, and the like is incredibly important. It isn’t until you’ve planned and executed on something that you can achieve flow. I don’t think flow is extemporaneous. You earn it. Inspiration is spontaneous, but flow is intentional.
In a moment of flow, everything feels effortless. You don’t realize what’s going on until it’s over and you’re able to reflect on your masterpiece (a workout flawlessly executed?). In an effort to achieve flow in the inevitable ebbs of life, I’ve decided to get organized a bit. It’s one thing to have a bunch of ideas floating around in your head. The what-ifs. The could-have-beens. Getting it out on paper (or in this case, screen) makes it feel more real, tangible, plausible. It forces you to strategize. It forces you to timebox and set deadlines and contingencies. It also forces you to see how everything works in tandem. There’s a special magic to it.
Here’s what I came up with. Your designs and results will most likely vary.
I know exactly what is important to me (right now, at least) and the things in each area that I want to accomplish. I also recognize that things will change — that the desires and milestones are fluid. As circumstances and desires change, so will the chart. And that’s perfectly okay.
What’s also okay is if, at any given point on this timeline, things come to an end. Because I’ve always lived my life to the fullest — living in a way that would minimize the most amount of regrets in the least amount of time — I’m perfectly fine with how things will eventually end up. This isn’t a hard and fast doc meant to dictate my life. This is meant to give structure to some of the thinking I’ve done intermittently on Monday mornings when I get back into the office…the thoughts that creep in my mind while I’m swimming laps or cycling in the living room…the questions that creep up when I enjoy a glass of wine by myself. It’s a living, breathing doc. And things will inevitably change.
So with this broken leg still a’healing, and my free time at an absolute black market premium nowadays, I’ve considerably scaled back my Ironman goals this year. There is simply not enough time to get in the requisite base training at this point for me to comfortably tackle a full 140.6 event by year’s end.
So, what exactly does that mean?
As you may already know, I’m not really one to throw in the towel. The goal hasn’t changed…but perhaps the milestones and timeline have. Here’s the thing: triathlon is who I am. It’s in me. It’s like my little black dress: I wear it with pride, it looks great on me, and it makes me happy. It doesn’t matter what distance I get to swim, bike, and run, so long that I get to do it in succession and to finish with a smile on my face.
That said, I’ve scaled back my goals to the sprint distance for the rest of the year. Except for my last event, which is still the HITS Palm Springs Championship. Maybe I can work my way up to Olympic or Half-IM again. Not sure if it would be worth taking the time off and traveling with my bike for such a short event, but that’s neither here nor there right now.
I’ve had trouble wrapping my brain around racing sprints again, mostly because they don’t seem worth my time. But take a look at that sentence again. How arrogant and presumptuous of me. I used to aspire to a sprint! Since when am I beneath a sprint triathlon? There is so much room for improvement — my times could be way better, I could focus on form. A shorter race means less time for recovery, which will be great with my heavy workload. A shorter event gives me just enough time to train since, again, my free time is at a black market premium at the moment. I don’t even know the first thing about putting together a sprint tri plan. How many hours a week should I be training? What are the miles like? Shorter training times means less excuses to NOT go to the gym, easier to fit brick workouts into a workday. I can work on speed and form. And, for some reason, shorter distances also seem to get me into better shape. It’s at the longer distances that I seem to overcompensate for my training and I end up eating more than I burn anyways, which defeats a few of my purposes for racing and training for triathlons.
My broken leg isn’t the only reason for scaling back my Ironman goals though. Work will be guaranteed crazy through the end of the year, so I will be pretty swamped there. I also got in to the human-computer interaction graduate program over at Iowa State earlier today, so hopefully I’ll start classes in a few weeks. I’m already starting my marketing class (went back to another school too to finish my masters) so with two concurrent grad school programs and a full-time job, my free time is *really* at a premium. I need to spend my time wisely, so I think sprint tris are still the way to go. I’ll still get to do what I love, at the distance that I originally fell in love with. And I get to go to school. And I get to push my limits at work. It’s all this delicately amazing experience, when you think about it.
All I know is that there will always be another Ironman…another marathon…another ultramarathon. There will always be another lofty goal to chase. I guess it all works out in my favor.
Tomorrow, you upgrade to your next triathlon age group: F 30-35!
Your last decade was very interesting, wasn’t it? You finally got the big break in design that you’ve been looking for all of your life. Do you remember those nights as a teenager where you dreamed of calling your own shots, living a life that you designed all for yourself? You’re finally there. I know you wanted to be there ten years ago, or even five years ago. Regardless of those timelines, you’ve finally earned your stripes and you’re finally moving on up. Know that it only gets better from here. There’s going to be a lot of demands on your time and your creativity. Never let that entrepreneurial and creative fire die. Fight like your life depends on it, because it really does.
Spend your time focusing on the things, people, and experiences that matter. Those are the things that will carry you for the rest of your days. Those days are indeed numbered. Life can change in an instant. You must be prepared to live every day like it’s your last, not because you are cynical or skeptical but because that is the reality of life. There’s a reason why you have ‘memento mori’ on the back of your mind. You must truly know that the only constant in life is change. In life, nobody makes it out alive so be prepared to make the rest of your days count.
With the work that you do, the people you spend your time with, and the efforts you invest your heart into, do it to leave a positive mark on someone else’s life. Recognition, praise, and money never motivated you, and it probably won’t start to motivate you anytime soon. Continue following your heart because it never led you astray. Balance it out every once in awhile with your mind to make sure you’ve designed around all the edge cases. You’re a UX designer after all…act like it.
A word on your parents and your family – you only have one life to spend with them. They deserve more of your time and attention than you’ve given them. No matter how much you don’t want to admit it, they depend on you. Make them a priority. You can’t change what happened in the past but you can shape how you deal with it now. Forgiveness has been a major theme of your twenties. Keep moving on. Let go of that tragic childhood you endured. It doesn’t define you.
A thing on goals: you’ve got a lot of them. There’s a lot of unfinished business from your twenties: finishing grad school; finishing an Ironman; finishing that second book; traveling the world; climbing up the career ladder; starting an international design firm; starting a design school; building out a scholarship foundation for your alma mater; writing a design curriculum with your old design professors; building a halfway house; paving the way to become a design professor; learning some new markup and programming languages; getting your photography into a gallery or even published; finding Mr. Right. I dare you to continue chasing those goals. You solve a lot of problems at work. You solve a lot of problems for your friends and family. Take some time to solve these problems that will continue eating at you until the day you die.
This is day one of what can be ostensibly described as the most important decade of your life. It’s a turning point. Take caution and pause when appropriate. Know when to hang on and when to let go. Your heart and mind is way too precious to focus on the things that don’t really matter. Take care of the people that take care of you, but most importantly, take care of you. You didn’t endure all that you have to give up now. Fight until the end and set a blazing example for those who want to follow your path.
And, whatever you do, cross that finish line with a smile on your face.
Your 20-29 year old self
Before you start reading a post like this, you have to cue the music. (Here’s the link.) Don’t forget to turn up the speakers.
Every once in awhile, I’m reminded that life will throw you the proverbial shit sandwich. It will also throw these aforementioned shit sandwiches in spades when given the opportunity. Earlier this week I was completely blindsided by some unfavorable news. I suspect that it was because my life has been on an upward trend and it was time to knock down the good ol’ self-esteem down a few notches anyways. What can I say…life happens.
That said, I’m always surprised by people who do some really mean things to one another. I find it partially fascinating and partially terrifying. How can someone, in clear conscious, ever seek out to hurt someone else for their own personal gain? How is that even satisfying? I can’t fathom it. I wonder if these people ever have the capacity to realize that in hurting someone else, they are in fact setting off a chain reaction of that person hurting another person, and that person hurting another person, etc? These events start off a negative spin cycle that makes it incredibly difficult to break out of, until someone is strong enough to step up and turn it all around.
I’m trying to go zen but every day, I face a different battle. Reality vs. expectations. What I feel vs. what I know. What everyone else thinks vs. what I think. I know that I can’t control how other people act. I can’t control how other people treat me. There isn’t really much in this world you and I have control over, except for one thing: how we react to the things that happen to us.
My coach said it best — “You choose your thoughts. And you also choose to believe them.” I choose to believe that the way I was treated was a reflection of that person’s reality, not of my character. I choose to believe that every passing moment will be better than the next. I choose to believe that people enter into your life to teach you valuable lessons. I choose to believe that people depart from your life when they have nothing left to offer you. I choose to believe that forgiveness is possible. I choose to believe that love prevails when there seems to be no reason that it should.
The world’s greatest lie is that “at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate.” I choose to believe that we all make a series of decisions that propel us forward or set us back. But it is all a series of choices that we make. We set all the pieces in motion to arrive at where we are right this very second. When we realize that, we can learn to set the pieces in the direction of your goals and aspirations.
I came across a saying the other week: “What you seek is seeking you.”
There was a certain peace and comfort that I found in that phrase. For as long as I remember, I’ve been looking and seeking for a lot: I’ve been looking for a life of accomplishment, things worthy of my pursuit, and people worthy of my time. I think I’ve reached a point in my life where I’ve actualized my penchant for difficulty. I seem to be drawn to the most difficult path. You could even argue that the difficult path may be the most efficient path in developing character, persistence, determination, and the like.
What you seek is seeking you. What is it that you seek?
I seek the proverbial road less traveled. I seek the hard way out. I seek the hardest way to make an easy living. I seek the pastimes that make me sweat. I seek the things, emotions, and titles that I have to earn. I seek the miles I have left to go. I seek a type of happiness that someone can’t buy or rationalize. It’s something you have to earn. It’s something you strive for and it comes with the process of loving, living, and compassion. I live to live — my method of living has been misunderstood by many people, those who have come before you and those who will inevitably come after. I seek love, but not in the way that you would normally think. I believe that love is a verb, not a noun. I seek the act of loving, which for me comes in the form of sharing my art and sharing my time. (I suppose you could count that sharing my art is a natural extension of sharing my time, since my craft takes time to manifest.) This blog itself is a manifestation of love. There’s nowhere else that I share a lot of these innermost thoughts. Sure, in my natural conversation with friends I may reference snippets here and there of my daily life but it is here that I really lay it all out. It is up to you, the other person at the end of this connection, to take that initiative to click through and dive in.
I also seek a lot of clarity. There’s more than enough knowledge, books, and the like that I will never have enough time to consume all of this information, but I make do with the time I have. That is, of course, the essence of life: the ability to make do with the short time we all have. There is a certain zen to it, an intersection of ability, time, desire. You could deduce that a lot of what I do — throwing myself into a giant question mark, a lot of unknowns, things supposedly beyond my reach — seems a bit silly, or maybe a giant waste of my time. However, if my life was spent pursuing what I loved, with the people I decided to share that love with, and understanding my implicit motivations, then I would argue that I lived a life worth living.
I’ve spent a lot of my off-season considering my many reasons for pursuing the iron distance. What does it mean to me? What is it that I seek from such a distance? For starters, I think I’ve been thinking about this race for so long that I want to do it already. I am pretty confident that with the right training, the right coaching, and the right prioritization that I can accomplish what I set out to do. It’s a matter of aligning the universe to conspire with me, right? The more I look at this year, the more the 140.6 seems like it’s out of reach. The stresses of work will certainly overcome my ability to train through mental fatigue, and if there is something I’ve learned from the last eighteen months at work is that mental fatigue certainly trumps physical fatigue. Thus, I’m thinking that this is a good year to work on a little bit of me time…the offseason plans of skiing have been progressing nicely. What about nailing a steady 10k, or riding my first criterion, or spending some more time in open water without the goals of a 140.6 looming over me? The race will always be there to burn some brain cells in the back of my mind…it will always fuel me, but then what? All of this is a lifelong endeavor. It doesn’t stop with one race, or goal. It is a way of life, a way of thinking and existing. It is the way in which I choose to construct my world.
So, if what I seek is seeking me…I say, bring on the lifetime of uncertainty, difficulty, discomfort, and insecurity.
There was a time in my life when I was enrolled in one of those 3-month programming schools. Right before I dropped out to take a full-time design job with Amazon, Jared Tame, my mentor at Bloc, shared this golden nugget with me:
“You only get to be a beginner once.”
I’ve thought quite a lot about what he’s said since then, and even more so in learning how to ski.
Lately I’ve been quite frustrated with myself. Wanting to see impossible gains in a short period of time is like wanting to strike it rich with a game of roulette. It’s just not going to happen. I don’t say that in a self-defeating way…mostly a realistic way. Having a really supportive boyfriend who doesn’t leave my side on the hill is helpful. So is the reassurance from my other friends who say it takes awhile to get a hang of things. I’ve looked in to some private instruction, but the snow conditions aren’t quite right this weekend and my legs are just not having it. Nonetheless, the instructor is lined up. The equipment is primed and ready to go. My season pass is ready to be used. All I need is a pair of functioning legs!
Cue doge, who will explain everything to you:
So in addition to my coach warning me that I was overloading my legs, my massage therapist started helping me connect the dots. That two-month old foot cramp has been tugging on some of the deeper muscles in my lower leg and locking up my calf muscles. Those old sprained ligaments are tensing up my lower legs. And for reasons beyond me (as well as my compression socks), my legs feel like LEAD. Like, the type of lead that I generally feel during an intense brick workout. I have less response time. My brain says, “TURN!” and nothing happens…so I dive for the snow. For the record, I think I did that 20+ times on Sunday, which eventually resulted in the bloody mess below when I fell into my ski pole and needed a trip to the ER to get my eyebrow glued back together —
Rest and recovery was never something I did particularly well. My idea of doing nothing is….doing something. If I was over-exerting myself physically, then I’d instead over-exert myself mentally. My method of balance was really just counterbalancing, which in of itself, is just swinging the pendulum from one extreme to another, right? I wish I could take things a bit more zen, but I feel like that’s beyond me. Unfortunately, it’ll be pretty crucial to my longevity in any sort of endeavor. I can’t always fire on all cylinders. I need to know when to push it and when to push back. It’s never been in my personality to take the relaxed approach to any new endeavor. My friend uses the phrase “hard in the paint” to describe the way I do things: “To approach a problem, obstacle, or challenge with supreme confidence of success through a commitment to use all facilities available to one’s self to achieve a goal.”
I see an obstacle, something difficult, something new. I want to figure it out. I want to crack it, understand it, experience it, overcome it. I hate turning away from a problem. The only way out is through. But yeah, I only get to be a beginner once. This is the fun part. This reminds me of all the things that went through my head when I was starting off with swimming, biking, and running. I remember what it was like to get started. I remember how inferior I felt. I remember how much I dreaded going to the pool when people were there. I used to wait for the lanes to clear before getting in. I would go to the pool at absurd hours to avoid swimming with people. I’d go out of my way to run alone when I first started. And don’t even get me started with biking. I’m a bit of a kook I guess.
“While one person hesitates because he feels inferior…the other is busy making mistakes and becoming superior.”
None of this feels natural. I’m feeling meh. I can’t even train until my eyebrow heals over. How frustrating. I have a ton of misdirected energy. I have the energy to go for days but my legs won’t carry me. Time to make friends with epsom salt, a hot tub, and my foam roller. And maybe work on a warm-up routine and mood-setting mental routine for the next time I’m headed to the mountain. And maybe I’ll check in on my races for the year. Or something. Again, misdirected energy.
This whole thing is an exercise in patience…something that I have very little of. Gahhh!
Well before I resume the hustle bustle of the workweek, I like to take a short bit of time to reflect on the things I’ve done, and the time that I’ve spent. They say that what you spent your New Years Day doing is you’ll spend your new year doing.
I wonder if they are right.
I’ve recently gotten into something new: skiing. Terrifying, really. I have (had? is it past tense yet?) a fear of falling down mountains. I fear moving quickly, even though people say I move fairly quickly in my day-to-day life as it is. I fear the usual barrage of worries regarding broken bones and twisting ankles. I fear the night and all the bad things that can and have happened to me after sundown.
My twenties were all about facing my fears, imagined, real, and actualized.
I think learning how to ski at the end of my second decade was symbolic. It reflected within me a cumulation of preconceived notions and personal judgements. It is true that you are your own worst enemy. You are the one that most stands in the way of your own goals. “Every mountain top is within reach if you just keep climbing.” Every goal is surmountable if you put in the effort.
And so, I spent my New Years Eve running away from work and worries for a bit to conquer a much bigger challenge: conquering my mind. Like the night before a triathlon, I rehearsed it all in my mind: where to grab my gear, how to pack it, how to navigate to the hill, estimating how long it’d take me to get there, gauging my energy level to see how far I could go and still have enough energy to make it back for some evening festivities.
The next day, I returned with my two favorite gents of Seattle for another day on the hill. I had a blast. My usual goal for my triathlons is to finish with a smile on my face. That evening, I finished with a smile on my face but also a snowball in my pocket, like some sort of existential welcome gift from the snow gods.
This challenge is refreshing, especially after the great swim-bike-run fatigue of 2013. Every time I get off that lift, my heart still races a little. I’m getting closer to conquering those demons inside, the ones that tell me that I’m not good enough, that I’m too slow, the ones that keep me from being the best version of myself. After all, my new years resolution was legs, core, and doing the things that terrify me most.
Here’s to doing the things that scare me…always.
So this year was an amazing year in many respects. I’ve traveled 2,704.9 miles in 448 hours.
I somehow managed to hit some pretty great highs and some awful lows all in the span of twelve months. It included:
-6 races: 3 half marathons, my first 2 Olympic tris, and 1 half Ironman
-My mom going missing (during a psychiatric emergency) and having to fly down to LA to locate her
–That time I learned that my friend died in a cycling accident
-Finally completing a major goal race, my first half Ironman
–Getting over my fear of open water
–That one time I finished last at a triathlon
–Losing love & finding love within myself [I pity the fools who don’t think I’m amazing company]
-Signing my new coach, Brett from ZenTriathlon
-Making an appearance in a CNN article
–Gaining some perspective at 12,500 feet
-Vacationing in Hawaii for the first time ever
–Skiing & clipping in to my bike for the first time ever
–Meeting my fundraising goal for the year
-Getting surprised with a new set of skis, bindings, and boots for Christmas
You learn a lot about yourself over the course of 448 hours. (When you do the math, that was only 5% of my year.) You learn what you’re capable of. You learn what you want and what you don’t want. You learn to listen to yourself in some ways, and to ignore yourself in others. You learn that you are most definitely more resilient and stronger than you think.
I’m looking forward to dreaming bigger in 2014. I’m looking forward to smashing some PRs. I’m looking forward to crossing more items off of my goals and bucket lists. I’m looking forward to putting my all into everything I do and never apologizing for it. I look forward to getting over my fear of falling off of mountains. I look forward to entering a new age group (HELLO F 30-35!). I look forward to love and loss and everything in between.
Let’s do this.