Race Recap: 2013 HITS 70.3 Championship Palm Springs

It is not everyday that you can say that you had a perfect race…but I had the most perfect race that anyone could have dreamed of!

Mind you, a part of this journey included: a (minor) black eye, a painfully popped blister on my pinky toe, 30MPH gusts of headwind and crosswind, and a potential bout of dehydration.

Regardless, it was still a flawlessly executed race.

The night before a new distance, I get incredibly nervous and anxious. They say that sleep the night before a race is pretty much a write off. From experience I know that to be true. I got plenty of sleep during the two nights prior, but during the night before my race I woke up every hour, on the hour, between 10pm and 3am. I eventually gave up on sleeping and got up to head out to the race.

I left my hotel at around 4:30am and got to the race site in record time. I snagged an awesome parking spot, steps from the start, and headed to transition to set up my gear. I had a separate bag packed for the changing tent, which was a totally new experience for me. All of my races prior to this were in warm months, so I was used to being able to continue racing with a tri-suit. The weather was way too cold for that this time around, so I had to put on proper cycling clothes. 56 miles is too long of a leg to tough out cold weather! (For me, at least.)

After things were neatly set up, I snuck back to the warmth of my car. I brought my music with me, so I spent some time trying to get into the zone. By the time 6:20am rolled around, I decided that it was time to wriggle into my wetsuit and to drop off my jackets and windbreakers at transition. The plastic bag technique ensured that I didn’t spend an hour sweating into my suit or getting too frustrated.

Afterwards, I headed lakeside to get some practice in, and before I knew it, I was ashore for final announcements!

My heart nearly leapt out of my body when we watched the men swim off at the sound of the horn. I high fived a girlfriend who was also racing, and when our horn went off, it was game time. At the sound of the horn, all anxieties melted away and I set out to execute on the plans I’ve made during training…no deviations, not pushing out too hard — just doing everything exactly to plan. The night before the race, I did one last mental rehearsal and wrote out, step by step, how I was going to execute my race. It helped to review that in my head leading up to the race. This was also something I practiced for Ironman Louisville, so it wasn’t new to me.

The swim was a mass beach start. Maybe 250 or so females got in at the same time, so for all intents and purposes it was not as crowded as it could have been. The swim was two loops, with the first half of each loop along the shoreline and the latter half of each loop in the deep end. Swimming in the shallow end was interesting. Every once in awhile when I tried to sight (navigate) into the sunrise! I saw people standing and walking. Needless to say, it was strange and distracting, but not as much as the blinding sunlight. (Next time I’ll be sure to opt for tinted swim goggles!) I kept my head underwater as much as I could to focus on my breath and form and before I knew it, I glanced up and spotted a buoy about two feet in front of me. My reaction time was a bit slow but I swam into this large metal anchor, which proceeded to ram itself into my goggles. It completely startled me. I felt around for blood and maybe a crack in the goggles. Nothing. I pressed my goggles back on and continued swimming.

After the ten foot buoy (which, by the way, totally blocked out all that blinding sunlight!) I took a sharp turn and continued down the next set of buoys. At each buoy, a group of swimmers would realign themselves around it, effectively creating an environment akin to a washing machine. Aside from these momentary churns, the water was relatively calm, and definitely not as frigid as the other racers made it seem. (Thanks, Lake Union and Puget Sound!) The water was a beautiful shade of aquamarine, and I spent a good deal of time admiring it while managing my swim.

And then the evil thoughts came creeping in. What was I doing? Why was I breathing on only one side? Had I trained enough? What would happen if I just stopped racing? What were my alternatives? As my mind looked for an escape, I reined in my emotions and began thinking through my list of mile dedications. I wasn’t even 1.2 miles into the swim yet and I began thinking of my mom, and eventually the charity that I dedicated the swim to, RAINN (the Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network). I thought to my earliest memory of sexual assault at the age of six. I thought about the long ten years I endured from my attacker. Just like then, I knew that I was in the deep end now, and that the only way out of this challenge was to work through it. I had too much on the line — the support of my donors, my closest friends who made it out to the race, but most importantly, I had something to prove to myself. I got my mind under control, began breathing bilaterally again, and zoomed past the other racers.

So, two loops around the lake completed my distance for the morning. It was interesting having to run up on shore only to get back into the water. Indeed it was strange, but it was actually kind of nice being able to take a quick breather before continuing. As I finished my first loop, I thought to myself “Awesome! Only 50% more to go!” (Breaking up the distance would be a mind game that I would continue playing all day long.) Taking the second loop around, I knew what to expect and worked it to my advantage.

Reach, pull, reach, pull, reach, breathe, pull, sight, repeat. I kept going and before I knew it, I was running up the beach on my way to T1. I headed over to the changing area and managed to wriggle out of my wetsuit and into my thermal cycling kit, headed over to T1 to fuel up, and head out.

The first mile of the bike was also interesting. I wasn’t too disoriented but my feet were frozen cold. I couldn’t really get a feel for where my feet were, if they were clipped in, or if they were even on the pedals, so I dismounted my bike. I came upon a small hill and went ahead and took the liberty of walking up it since I didn’t want to fall or crash or do anything stupid because of something so minor. Once I got to the top, I shook out my feet a bit, slapped my calves around, and headed out on a long ride. In the first mile outside of the park, the road was quite narrow and the pavement was a bit bumpy. Per the race instructions, I took it incredibly slow, fluttering my brakes the entire time. The street eventually widened up and I loosened my death grip on my brakes.

I was incredibly thankful for having done that short test ride the other day. It really mentally prepared me for the scenery and change in terrain. Don’t get me wrong — the course was primarily flat, but the pavement quality changed frequently, and there were landmarks and winds to get comfortable with. The ride was pretty, in its own way — flat lands, scenic mountains, palm tree farms, kale farms. No wild dogs on the course as I had previously feared. For the entire bike leg, I had company — between 3 to 7 racers at any given time. We took turns passing each other, cheering each other on, and more.

One of my best friends, Kaylee, managed to pull together a cheer station of other random lookyloos. I recognized her car, and her, but no one else. At first I thought that maybe I was so tired that I was already spacing out, but no, it turned out that I genuinely didn’t recognize anyone there. It was helpful having her before the turnaround, which meant I saw her three times before she had to bail. (The bike portion was also a two-loop course.)

At the last turnaround point, I decided to dismount for just a minute to take in some gels and to drink some water. The last leg would surely be a challenges, and I didn’t want some of the basic physiological things to get in the way. I knew I’d be in for a mental challenge. I quickly glanced at my phone for the first time to see that I was making excellent time, and that I would definitely not get sweeped from the race. In a cheerful and chipper mood, I mounted my bike, clipped in, and rode off. The winds were surprisingly absent from this portion of the ride, so I knew that I’d better not coast. After all, just like life, there is calm before the storm. I increased the intensity and cadence, knowing very well that the end of this rather comfortable ride was near…and I was right.

I’d say I was about five miles out from the finish, when the wind finally picked up. The wind whipped me back and forth a bit. It wasn’t quite sure which direction it wanted to blow. I was, more than anything, scared that I would get blown off my bike and into oncoming traffic. Alex had told me the night before that the chances of that happening, with my smaller bike frame and all, were pretty slim. I hung on to that thought with a sliver of faith and pedaled on. I turned my last corner near the residential area and knew that the roads would be well maintained, but I did not anticipate the dust storms and the gusts of wind coming off of the base of the mountains.

This was the hardest part of the race, hands down. The sidewalk blocks creeped along, rather than flying by like during the last fifty miles of my ride. I thought about the merits of dismounting my bike and just walking through the windstorms. I cursed at the wind, quite literally, not yelling too loudly in an effort to conserve what little energy I had left to push through. I tried some positive self-talk and some inner singing as well, and when I ran out of juice (demoralization really drains it out of you) I thought back to my dedication list. My brain was mostly disorganized so instead of trying to remember everyone, I went through a mental slideshow of faces and thought about what each person meant to me. (Admittedly, a few people flashed in my mind more than once.) I thought about Diana Nyad’s mantra (“Find a way”) and James Lawrence’s mantra (“I get to ride my bike”) and so, through the power of crowdsourced motivation, I made it back to T2 in one glorious piece.

Lots of bikes were already racked. I think the guy next to me had already completed the race. He saw me coming in and I wonder if I looked disoriented or something but he began helping me try to rack my bike. It didn’t require much precision and as thankful as I was to have an extra set of hands, it was exactly that…an extra set of hands that I couldn’t manage. I sat down to peel off my bike shoes and took the liberty to change into a fresh pair of running socks. So cushiony! So luxurious! I have a weird sense of what true luxury is, apparently…

Towards the end of the bike, I made a pact with myself that I would walk and jog the run portion…nothing more, nothing less. Walk and jog my way to the finish. Finish easy, finish strong, finish with a smile on my face and enough energy to enjoy the evening with my friends. Lucky for me that I made that pact because had I started out too fast (like I’ve done historically) the race would’ve had a much different outcome. I eventually came up on the first aid station outside the park, and stopped for some gels and Heed. At that point I felt like I was going to overheat, wearing effectively two windbreakers that I rode the bike portion in, so I took one of them off and tied it around the leg of the aid station. I would come back for that jacket later, since it was one of my favorites. I plodded along, flashing smiles and the occasional “good job!” at the athletes who were rounding their last lap as I was beginning my run. Everyone looked so good, and I was truly happy for them. The woman in front of me was donning a sparkly skirt, which I’m pretty sure was giving her the legs to jog out this race.

The run was flat, and mostly uneventful. I wasn’t too tired, but by the time the next two aid stations had rolled around I began getting a metallic taste in my mouth. I felt parched. I thought that I’d been having enough water and gels, but then a wave of cramps began settling in. I downgraded from a jog to a walk so that I could let things settle. I glanced at my phone really quick. I was making great progress and according to my calculations, I would definitely make the cutoff if I hustled for just a little bit longer.

I saw one of my girlfriend’s girlfriends zoom by and gave her a big cheer to send her off. I caught up with another guy who was just ahead and chatted with him for about a mile or so about his start in triathlon, and she did for a living. When things seemed settled enough I continued my strategy of jogging and walking.

Right around the 11 mile run mark, I caught back up with the sparkly skirt girl. She and I exchanged pleasantries for a few minutes before we came up to the last race photographer on the course before we headed in to the finish chute. He asked if I could run for a few yards so that he could snap an awesome race photo, and I said the equivalent of “Sure! Why not?” I picked up my feet and my pace, flashed a smile, and actually felt pretty good so I kept going…Forrest Gump style.

At this point I began thinking of my dedication list and began feeling quite emotional…I was actually doing this thing, finishing it like I had dreamed of doing so many times before. My eyes watered and I tried not to choke up, since I needed my breathing to be pretty steady if I were going to knock this thing out of the park. I thought about that list and realized that this last mile was indeed, for me…so I kept running, feeling my footfall transition from the streets to the trails of sand, eventually to the grassy path that would take me home. I cheered along the iron distance triathletes who were in the lane next to me, knowing that this time next year, I would be on the other side.

I crossed the mile 13 timing mat and was met by my support group. My friends were there, wildly cheering me on, and for a second I stopped running out of confusion. Was this it? No, it turns out…I actually had another tenth of a mile to go, and so sheepishly I flashed a grin and kept going. My friends ran the rest of the way there to meet me underneath the finish chute, and before I knew it, I was announced as a finisher and a medal was placed around my neck.

I felt energetic and coherent. The fatigue had not settled in to my bones yet. (Ironically, it never did.) There was a sense of warmth, accomplishment, happiness, and almost a longing for more. My first half ironman was behind me. It went by so quickly. I treasured the experience. I felt like a caged tiger that had just been let out. I wanted to swim a victory lap in the lake. I had so many thoughts that raced in my head and honestly, the biggest and goofiest smile to show for it. We posed for a few photos, but I remembered that my friend wasn’t too far behind me. She had been so supportive of me along the way and I really wanted to see her finish. This had been a goal for her for so long.

She came through the chute all right — her big smile beaming brightly. She looked great, fresh, and ecstatic as I did. We hugged it out at the finish line. Thankfully I still had my sunglasses on or she would have seen me tearing up. We finally did it. This moment was two years in the making for us. We had sacrificed so much. We had gone through so many changes. And now, we were here together, celebrating yet another training season well done.

After the celebrations were over, I packed up my stuff and wheeled the bike and gear back to my car. It wasn’t until I got into the driver seat, inhaled a thing of butter sugar cookies, and took off my glasses to see a nice, small black eye greet me back in the rear view mirror. I examined my eye…no blood clots. It looks like smudged eyeliner, which I guess I may have to even out when I head back to work. Or I could just rock the mini black eye.

So, that’s the story of my first half ironman. The day felt like a training session….one super long brick workout, executed to perfection. The conditions may not have been perfect, but it always goes back to how you manage the way you react to a situation, right? After all, that’s the only thing you can control. I am thankful for all the obstacles I faced on this journey. I am thankful for every demoralizing ride, every frustrating swim, every panic-ridden open water swim, the uncomfortable runs, terrible weather, training cramps, misplaced flip flops. Without the discomfort I would have never known what a flawless race looked like.

I can’t wait for next year’s 140.6. Let’s do this!

On Fear and Falling

Ladies and gents, I am so happy right now. Like, bursting at the seams happy.

So, finally after many months/years of this weird mental game of being scared of clipping in, I decided to give it a go again. And guess what? I did it! I’m still in one piece!

It might sound kind of lame but I finally felt like a *real* cyclist. Is that even such a thing? Anyhow, I am completely over the moon. I felt pretty comfortable since I had plenty of practice leading up to it. I worked on some clip in/out speed drills on the trainer. Skiing definitely helped me get over the fear of feeling locked in. Seeing that my feet didn’t come flying off when tumbling down the bunny hill was pretty reassuring for some reason. And skydiving definitely helped assuage my fear of falling.

There is a moment when fears and dreams must collide.

For some people, this is probably a really trivial skill. But, for me, it means a lot. I was scared to do it, but I did it anyways. Falling is normal — it’ll happen again eventually. Just like in skiing and skydiving, I need to embrace the fall. After mentally agonizing about this for years — yes, YEARS — I feel accomplished in finally getting over this hurdle. I look forward to previewing the bike course tomorrow morning and also getting some more riding in. Nothing too strenuous…just want to get the legs moving. The weather here is so beautiful that it would be a waste to not get in some fun riding in the sun!

With this under my belt, I somehow feel more confident that I can finish the bike leg under the time limit. It might be a mental crutch, but I’m hoping that this will give me the badly needed boost in the cycling department.

In other news, I fell in love last weekend. (It was my first time ever on skis.) Felt so exhilarating to learn something new, get over old fears, and practice patience with myself. I seem to be thinking about it a lot more, trying to schedule it in as much as possible, etc. I’m definitely working it in to my off-season training! I think a part of it is that I felt that I was nearing the top of my triathlon career (note: I said triathlon and NOT Ironman!) — I’ve got the basics down, and now I just need to work on strength and endurance. With triathlon, I’m working on improving what I currently have. However, with this endeavor, I’m venturing into unknown territory again — learning new things, getting out of my comfort zone, facing my fears head on. I’ve not felt this way in a long time. I struggled with the basics of just standing up. I fell every two to three feet. I don’t feel comfortable turning left. It’s the little things, you know?

Anyways…yes, I am bursting at the seams happy. Might’ve been all of the delicious food I had today, the fact that I’m finally on a real vacation, that I got to travel and read today, that I successfully clipped in and out of my bike, or that I’ve been sipping a mint melange tea for the last few hours, but I am quite excited at what the next few days, weeks, and months have in store for me.

Two Weeks Until Race Day

I’ve had a decent stretch over the last few weeks getting back into training for my impending half Ironman. To think that I could lapse out of training and kind of pick back up where I left off is nothing short of astonishing, really. And a little punishing.

To give me enough buffer time so that I don’t do anything stupid (like sprain another ankle or something equally race-cancelling) I silently decided to go after my three race distances in one week to see if I had what it takes to finish all of the segments. It turns out that I did. One day after work I completed my 1.2 mile swim. The next morning, I slogged out a 56+ mile bike ride on the trainer. (Still not as good as out in the outdoors but I’ll take it…) The next day after work, I headed out for a half marathon jaunt around town. I made it through all of the workouts without a hitch. Some mental efforts, but my body was able to physically keep up.

Getting the race packet in my email today was a big wakeup call. I have to survive Thanksgiving (otherwise known as Friendsgiving) and perhaps a ski weekend (where I don’t break my legs or twist an ankle) and then I’ll be boarding a plane to my race. I’m hoping to get some test miles out on the road in Palm Springs. Biking is still my biggest worry. I’m not sure why. I’m most insecure about it, but I guess everyone has to have a hangup (or two or three), right?

Less talking. More doing. Before I know it, it’ll be game time.

An Extended Season Retrospective: Remember Why You Started

So if you’ve been following my training lately, you’ll probably notice that I’ve logged significantly less time swimming, biking, running. After about 11 months of intense training (as well as the ebbs and flows that come with it), and all the stressors that come with life in general, I think my body finally gave in.

My 70.3 is a little under a month away. There is no worry, or panic, really. I am comfortable with the swim and run distances. The bike distance is still a bit scary, but things in life worth doing generally are. (Also, I have completed a ride greater than 56 miles before, so it’s not like I can’t do it again.) I feel comfortable in the water. I feel comfortable on my feet. I feel comfortable enough on my bike if I’m not clipped in. Palm Springs is flat and far as the eye can see — clipping in would be nice, but with such little ramp-up time (totally my fault here) I think I’ll stick to my usual M.O. and just use my running shoes on the ride.

Many things went right this season. I got into the mode of strength training 2-3 times a week, and that paid dividends come race day. That’s definitely something I want to replicate in the future, although maybe at the lower end of the spectrum in terms of the frequency. I conquered my fear of swimming and open water head on and now I enjoy it so much. I proved to myself that most of triathlon was mind over matter — I was racing the weekend after I returned home from when my mom went missing and was subsequently found. I’ve met some really fun people along the way, and trained my way to better health. I’ve never felt more healthy and alive than I do at this very moment, even with the last eight weeks of abuse! (And my abuse I mean that I’ve been “off” my training regimen, going back to pescetarianism, drinking a little more, and enjoying the sweets a bit too much.)

What went wrong this season? There were a few things. I got injured more than I would’ve liked. I stressed out way more about my training schedule than I should’ve. I definitely should’ve learned to clip in to my bike outside of the rainy season. I should’ve tried again after I fell down.

But honestly, I think that’s about it.

I couldn’t have trained harder, gone farther or longer. I have a finite amount of time handed to me every day, and I spent a lot of it on triathlon. There’s a lot more in my life outside of triathlon…my creative endeavors, traveling, family, friends. This is one thing on my bucket list but there are tens and hundreds more line items I need to cross out. Triathlon is a lifelong pursuit — not something I plan on starting and stopping once I reach the finish line. I’m in it for the long haul. There will always be another race, another 140.6, another destination. Being 70.3 ready is part body, part mind. I’m already there.

Remember why you started. I remember. I’ve never forgotten. Things have gotten in the way but no, I’ve never forgotten. I started to prove myself wrong. (Check!) I started to see how far I could take my body, my mind. (Check!) I started to live a healthier life. (Check!) I started to inspire people. (Check!) I started to help others. (Check!) I haven’t stopped, but I need to keep going.

Triathlon is a lifelong journey and this is only the beginning.

My 7-Week Training Forecast

Starts off at 13:30 a week. Tops out at 16:30 a week.

Clear your mind of can’t

The goal is to leave room for two consecutive rest days on the weekend, so that I may actually get a chance to enjoy my weekends doing non-training related stuff. Wednesdays by far are the hardest day since I stack all of my training on that day and I will be coming off of my long ride and going into my long run.

Okay, maybe it’s a bit overzealous. Now that I have a schedule I will probably do everything in my power to *not* follow it anyways…so this is a start.

Better head to bed so that I can get my training in and get to my 9:30am meeting!

(Click through to the calendar to see it in full size.)

My training plan for the next 7 weeks

I Wish You Could See What I See

As I’m sitting here enjoying a warm bowl of oatmeal and a mug of white tea, I’m reflecting on one of my best open water swims I’ve ever had. I have a hot compress to my feet, my heater is on full blast. And my cats are nodding off.

It’s warm, cozy. Snuggly even. About the exact opposite of what it was like this morning.

I got the text sometime after 6:40am today that my (friend? co-worker? insta-swim buddy?) was outside my apartment. We parked his bike in the garage, dropped some goods off inside my apartment, and headed down to Terry Pettus Park.

Seriously though, I will never be able to leave Eastlake. I mean, look at this.

View from this morning’s swim at Terry Pettus Park

After wriggling into my wetsuit, I hung out on the deck for awhile. I let him jump in first. He didn’t make too big of a deal of the water temperature, so I gingerly climbed in. The best and worst feeling of jumping into cold open water is the feeling of water leaking into the wetsuit. It’s like long, cold fingers reaching all over you until it gets a grip on you — and then the warming begins. I did a few strokes before I dunked my head under water. The moment your head goes under is really the moment of no return.

We swam out about 20 yards to start. Then we went another 20. Then another 20. And pretty soon we got into a groove of just doing laps. I felt at peace, almost one with the water. I swam like I never stopped. Reach, turn, pull, reach, turn, pull, sight, breathe, repeat. It felt so automatic, so natural. I thought the same thing that I think when I finally do something for the first time — what took me so long? Why didn’t I do this sooner? I wish you could have been there to see what I saw, to hear the music in my head, to feel the cold envelope me and carry me through the motions.

It was beautiful.

Week 10 HITS 70.3 Palm Springs Training: Respect The Distance

7 weeks (and some change) until the big day.

It never gets easier. You just get stronger.

These last four weeks or so I’ve been resetting my expectations for a lot of parts of my life. Things haven’t been easy. I oscillate between my highs and lows pretty frequently. I’m really just trying to take things day by day. I’ve lost a big part of my life. Adjustments are needed in my attitude, perspective, lifestyle.

Hence, “respect the distance.”

The distance is what separates us from where we are and where we want to be. Whether that’s 140.6 or a serious relationship, distance matters. Physical distance. Logistical distance. Emotional distance. The farther you’re removed from thinking, breathing, living your goals, the farther you are from where you want to be. That is the reason I’ve relentlessly pursued everything I’ve ever been passionate about or fell in love with. I pursued it until either 1) I grew tired of it, 2) it grew tired of me, or 3) I realized that it wasn’t for me. The hardest part about the past few weeks — months, even — is that my situation grew worse over time. The more I felt that I was being sandboxed, the more I felt alone even in the midst of everything swirling around me.

A life lived in regret is not one worth living. I think people, ideas, and goals come in and out of your life for a reason. Perhaps the timing was a bit off this time. This year was just a series of unfortunate events. This decade even. “At first you feel like dying. And then you feel reborn.” That sounds about right.

Respect the distance. Respect the miles I have left to go. Respect the miles in between where I thought I once wanted to be and where I am now. Respect the distance and don’t push for more unless you can actually get what you want, when you want it. Respect the distance and take your time. My goals will still be there, burning inside. They aren’t going anywhere. What’s the point of rushing? I’d rather let things happen. I’d rather stack the odds in my favor.

Strength is the product of struggle. I’ve had plenty of struggles in the past. One could argue that the struggles of my childhood at early twenties far outweigh any struggles I’m facing now. Alas I’m still planning on taking things day by day.

The day I got back from my trip, I headed out for a lap around the lake. This morning I rode my bike trainer. Tomorrow I’m jumping back into Lake Union. It feels strange, odd, ethereal to be slowly reintroduced back into my past life with a new, future me. Feels spiritually jarring. I have faith that things will work themselves out. Looking forward to reconnecting with nature this weekend and going off the grid. Hiking + shooting + writing + cooking. I’m looking forward to the roaring campfire. I’m looking forward to midnight shoots. I’m looking forward to afternoon naps. It’ll be cleansing. It’ll be exactly what I want and what I need.

Training will resume. A much lighter training regimen, but it will resume. Things will fall back into place when I let them.

Week 9 HITS 140.6 Training: It Didn't Happen

I want to say that I probably have a blog title of that sort at least once or twice a season. They come up unexpectedly, generally because of some sort of shenanigans in my life. This time, it wasn’t purely shenanigans — my boyfriend and I (of almost three years) split up. Thus, I spent the entire week off from training, aside from Friday morning team training.

On Saturday, I decided to clear my head and drive on over to Rattlesnake Ledge for a short hike. Something about being out in nature was mentally cleansing.

Once I got to the top, I wrote a few pages in my journal and spent my time soaking up the sun and the air. It was a beautiful day out. Hiking up and down the hill, I felt a great sense of release from a lot of the stress I had been bottling up, and for the first time in a long time, I truly felt happy again. Like, 13-mile long run happy, or killer open water swim happy. For the first time in awhile, I felt at complete peace. It goes back to my theory about reincarnation — a soul can die a thousand deaths but you can be reborn a thousand and one times. I’ve been able to lean on the support of many, many friends (more than I apparently thought I had) during this difficult time, and I am very excited about what my future holds. I’m looking forward to going on holiday at the end of this week. I look forward to planning a few excursions by the time the year is over. I’m looking forward to traveling abroad next spring. This is going to be great.

So, regardless of whether or not I got the training in, I’ll keep moving forward. At this point I am 70.3 ready but it has always been the half-to-full training scale that has been historically difficult for me to maintain. Now that an emotional weight has been lifted from me, I feel like I can fly. That was worth having the week off. I have exactly two months to get from 70.3 to 140.6 ready. I’ve done a 2.4 mile pool swim before. I’ve done a full marathon. All I need to conquer is the century ride (and then some). Depending on the weather this may all be on the trainer, but I think I have enough bike handling skills for the flat terrain I’ll be facing at HITS Palm Springs. I just really need to learn how to clip in/out when I’m not on the trainer! (That is looooong overdue.)

Relentless forward progress.

Week 8 HITS 140.6 Palm Springs Training: Action Always Beats Intention

What a week, folks. I’ve been thoroughly stressed out about things non-training related (for once!) and I’m so glad to have a community of people who I can rely on when things get really tough for me. Thank you. You know who you are.

It was actually a bit light on the training side during the weekdays. The weekend though, especially today, was difficult. An unassisted triple-brick was probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever attempted to do on my own. No one around to help (not that I really needed it, but it would’ve been nice) and nothing to really keep me motivated besides what was between my ears.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes me happy (and not). I think when you try to re-evaluate things, there will always be some tough calls. Emotions are a tricky thing. I found myself losing a lot of steam towards the end of the week when said emotions got very heated (in a bad way) and come Saturday I didn’t really think I’d have it in me to continue.

And by continue, I mean the whole 140.6 thing.

Action always beats intention

Heretofore I’ve derived a lot of strength from external factors. I place them in buckets outside of myself. Maybe it’s a way for me to dodge total responsibility for, you know, being accountable to my goals. I do/did things out of love. I did them to be an inspiration to others. What I learned is that I need a lot more love and inspiration within than the world needs from me right now. Right now I’m a bit down on personal issues, but in due time I am sure they will work themselves out.

What got me thinking, though, were a few external factors that I could not shy away from. Two designers that I know at work — one that I’ve worked with, and one that I know on a casual basis — both confided in me about things that were going on in their lives. One is going through chemo, the other will have surgery on both of their feet. The latter friend has been eyeing a 70.3 for the entire time I’ve known him and he is so bummed that he can’t train until next spring/summer. Having those two stories behind me, I thought of James Lawrence, the guy who completed 30 Ironmans in one year. Insane, right? In one of his last races, the HITS 140.6 Lake Havasu City (you know, the one race that I missed when I first joined Amazon) he races with a young boy with cerebral palsy.

He said something in his film that really struck a cord with me. He said that he wanted to quit so bad, so many times, but he thought to himself that unlike the boy he raced with, *he* got to ride his bike. *He* got to run. I thought about that a lot as I was pedaling nowhere on my trainer. I thought a lot about it on my runs. I thought about it in between every transition I had today, every lingering pain I had in my body, every time I was short of breath. I thought about the people who couldn’t do what I do, about the causes and foundations that I am personally fundraising for, and it pulled me through.

The whole fundraising thing was self-directed but it looks like there is another race that does the same. I was quasi-invited (okay, maybe directly invited) to join the race, and since I’ll be tapped out for 2013 I will definitely add that to my agenda for 2014. It’s already looking like a marathon and Ironman season and the year isn’t even over yet!!

Oh, and before I forget — my fundraiser is still active! $288 raised, $1,212 to go in 10 weeks time.

Donate to my fundraiser – http://crowdrise.com/amaravp

Week 8 HITS 140.6 Palm Springs training: 10.87 hours; 4,928 yards swim; 68.65 miles cycling; 14.32 miles running.

Monday, September 23: 1 hour swimming

Tuesday, September 24: Rest day

Wednesday, September 25: 30 minute swim (I had nothing in me to train)

Thursday, September 26: Mandatory mental day

Friday, September 27: 1:10 indoor riding

Saturday, September 28: 1:10 swim, 1:00 ride followed by deathly GI pains. I haul myself back home in the rain to breathe and relax and it subsides.

Sunday, September 29: Due to my lack of consistent training during the week I opt to lump all of my training together. Yeah, it’s never a good idea, but I tried to position it into something positive: a triple brick. 1 hour intervals each. EHRMAHGERD. (Needless to point out I survived the ordeal.) I can’t believe that I actually did this!

My triple brick. What an awesome training session!

Week 6+7 HITS 140.6 Palm Springs Training: Warrior, Not Worrier

Week 6 and 7 are in the books. Only 10 weeks left to go before the big day!

I’ve spent the last few weeks pretty stressed and exhausted. I never knew what it was like to be so tired that I couldn’t sleep. My legs and body would be sore but my mind would wander and race. (Typical me.)

In between week 6 and 7 I went tandem skydiving. It was really awesome. One of the only times this year that I actually found peace. Not having to really worry about equipment and such it was really nice going along for the ride. There’s nothing like falling out of a plane at 12,500 feet with a minute of freefall to give you a new perspective. When I was falling, all was calm in between the ears. I was mostly awe-stricken by the beautiful scenery. It was probably one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life. The irony is that my father (and probably by proxy, mother) were horrified that I had made the jump. I got a few choice words, like “what were you thinking?” “you could do anything else, just not this” “you know everyone is talking about this”.

In life, be a warrior, not a worrier

Let me be clear — crystal clear — that I don’t do any of this to impress anyone. I do these things because I want to do them, plain and simple. And I don’t care if people gossip or talk ill about me behind my back. I could honestly care less. My goals have never been able to impress anyone. I’d rather befriend and motivate people to make changes in their lives for the better. Yes, I take risks…like swimming in open water, riding my bike in traffic, driving my car around, and okay, once jumping out of a plane. All of these things are calculated risks. No one ever expected life to be a safe ride, right? I’m tired of hearing that people are scared of doing things. Fear holds you back. Fear is what keeps people from learning about others, experiencing new things, exploring new places, or understanding themselves. I’ve spent my twenties conquering a lot of my fears — fear of success, fear of falling, fear of failing, fear of swimming, fear of responsibility, fear of commitment, fear of never being able to speak openly about the things that have happened to me. When you live in fear, you lower expectations. I never want to live that way. I could care less if it makes someone else uncomfortable, because frankly I think the positivity I bring to the world far outweighs the fear of naysayers.

Life doesn’t have to suck – do something about it

On a good note, I also had another win last week. My friend signed up for the Whidbey Island Marathon! Looks like I’ll be running another 26.2 after all in April. I’m really excited about getting him race-ready. I’ve put together a pretty sweet plan between the time he gets back from vacation. We’ll be running once or twice a week together. It’s going to be awwwweeesome! On a bad note, my coach cut his hand pretty deep with an ax during a camping trip and it looks like I’ll be doing my Ironman solo. Bahumbug. You win some, you lose some.

Week 6 HITS 140.6 Training: 9.9 hours, Swim: 1408 yds, Bike: 58.75 mi, Run: 10.43 mi

Monday, September 9: 50-minute swim, 50-minute tri team conditioning

Tuesday, September 10: Morning 10K around Seattle

Wednesday, September 11: 40-minute swim

Thursday, September 12: 1-hour ride, 50-minute evening run

Friday, September 13: 1-hour ride

Saturday, September 14: Skydiving! (but the day started out with a 1-hour ride)

Sunday, September 15: 2-hour ride

Week 7 HITS 140.6 Training: 16.7 hours, Swim: 6547.2 yds, Bike: 83.39 mi, Run: 27.17 mi

Monday, September 16: Rest day 🙂

Tuesday, September 17: 1:15 ride

Wednesday, September 18: 8.35 mile sunrise run

Thursday, September 19: 1.32 mile swim, 12.63 mile ride, 5.24 mile run

Friday, September 20: 1.2 mile swim, 3.24 mile run

Saturday, September 21: 30.84 mile ride

Sunday, September 22: 1.2 mile swim, 26.25 mile ride, 10.34 mile run

Also, thanks to everyone who has donated to my fundraiser so far. $244 of my $1500 goal. I really appreciate it!

$244 down. $1,256 to go!