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!

Week 5 HITS 140.6 Palm Springs Training: Doubt Kills More Dreams Than Failure Ever Will

Five weeks down, thirteen to go. It’s been a challenging training week.

I ordered my bike trainer and all my new indoor cycling equipment for the training season ahead. I’m skydiving on Saturday and meeting with my tri coach on Sunday to work on bike handling and some of the basics. It’s been a challenge hitting all of my training time and budgeting my energy. I feel like I complain about that every week but that’s because it’s a problem, every single week. One day this will get easier — maybe if I am more in shape or conditioned to handle the workload. But for now, it is exhausting. I wish I was a better planner of the minute details. That is what stresses me out the most. Even when it comes down to timing my training — mostly morning — and what I can punt to the evenings and weekends. Sometimes I just run out of energy once I’m out of work. The stress of training is a welcome break from the daily stress I face from finances, family, work, and the like. It’s the one type of stress that I have some semblance of control over, even though sometimes it doesn’t feel like it.

I’ve been doing a lot more reading about cycling and understanding what it takes to get into century shape. It would be nice to consider one day doing centuries for fun the way I (used) did marathons. Heck, it would be great to run a marathon too, but I guess not until after my 140.6, since, well, that includes a marathon. And a century. And quite the swim as well.

My donations are up! I had one gracious donor last week, Briana, who sent $25 my way to give me some inspiration for my cycling. It helped and I definitely thought about it when I was in the bike portion of my race. As the season moves forward I plan on working on some fundraisers — both in-person and virtual — so fingers crossed that I meet my fundraising minimum. And soon enough, when I get some time, I will be able to provide more narrative as to why I am doing what I am doing.

Donate donate donate to my fundraiser!

 

Week 5 HITS 140.6 Palm Springs Training:
12.7 hours; Swim 3238.4 yards; Bike 53.12 miles; Run 8.71 miles; Race 32.2 miles.

Monday, September 2: Quick 15-minute open water recovery swim

Tuesday, September 3: 1 hour ride and 1 hour swim

Wednesday, September 4: 50-minute swim and 50 minute strength training

Thursday, September 5: 1 hour ride, 40 minute run

Friday, September 6: Rest day

Saturday, September 7: Lake Stevens Olympic Tri. Read my race recap here.

Sunday, September 8: Rest day

Race Recap: 2013 Lake Stevens Olympic Triathlon

So, let me tell you about a time when I finished last place. You read that right, last place.

I headed out to Lake Stevens with my training group. There was a handful of us who had trained since the Seafair Triathlon for this event. I didn’t doubt that my teammates could go from non-swimmers or sprinters to the Olympic distance without a hitch. They all blew me away with their performances. I think overall we were mostly pleased with our results, with exception of those who were particularly competitive 😉 Generally, I like to stay close to my race the night before. However, I’ve been on a money-diet of sorts (trying to aggressively pay down my student loan debts now) so I opted to stay at home and drive in to the race. It also worked out since a few teammates and my coach came by my place on Friday night for a carb feast. (Again, this was in lieu of eating out. I think I fed everyone for the same price it would’ve been for me to eat out. 1 meal of eating out = host and feed 4 people at my place! That’s especially true when you pick up the ingredients from Costco, too!)

We drove out in separate cars to the race. It was about a 45 minutes to an hour north of Seattle. Very manageable, if you ask me. I think it would be fine to drive up again for IM 70.3 Lake Stevens next summer since it seems very manageable. (I’m guessing that packet pickup would be out there though. Bummer!) As I drove in, I got a peek at the water as the sun was coming up. What a gorgeous lake! It reminded me a lot of American Lake — glassy, smooth, and clean. Well, from the outside it looked cleaner than Lake Union, but I’m guessing anything is cleaner than Lake Union.

The roads were not drenched. They were a bit wet from the drizzle but nothing major. I tried not to think too much about it and psych myself out since the bike leg is already hard enough for me as it is on flat/dry/smooth ground. To think about hills and wet, oooooh that was a different story. I told myself that I was ready (enough, at least) and that I would give it an honest go. About a half hour to forty five minutes later the rest of the team showed up and we hustled over to the transition area and prepped all of our gear.

I headed out with a teammate, Sara, to the water to get some warmups in. Sara was doing a relay with another teammate, Andy, who would be doing the bike and run later that day. She had a lot of tension about swimming in open water, which was surprising because she looked so effortless in the water to begin with. The minute I got in I felt instantaneously happy. If I could just float the day away I would. I peeked and looked for the buoys but there were none yet. After a few more minutes more triathletes were joining us in the water, and I saw the crew load up the safety kayaks with buoys attached.

We all got in position and our waves were called, one by one. This was the first deep water start for me. Thankfully I got a lot of practice swimming in Lake Union with deep water starts. There is no beach area at the park where I practice at. You just jump in the water and begin swimming. Here there was a boat landing ramp thing but I was able to swim out to the start and just float/wade until I was called.

WIthin the first 1/3 mile I was already winded. Did I not eat enough? Was I too stressed during the week? I was starting to think that the wetsuit was too tight for me. After all of the practice I’ve had in open water without a wetsuit, wearing one and feeling winded was surprising. I tried not to overanalyze or think about it too much and just concentrate on the next buoy. I also focused on the other red-capped swimmers next to me. One girl was going off course and I tried to tell her to come back. Another girl towards the end (on her second and last lap) just started floating on her back. Why?! I wanted to tell her that she was only about a tenth of a mile from the finish and could’ve pushed it out, but I let her be and I swam on my merry way.

After that first moment, I had a pretty cruising swim. No major hiccups or worries. I got distracted by one of the safety kayaks. He was talking to another kayak and I popped up my head and said “what?” and he was confused. I quickly calculated that he wasn’t talking to me so I went along. I turned the second to the last buoy, sighted my last one, and went for it. Over and over, in my head, I kept chanting “find a way,” which was Diana Nyad’s manta during her Cuba to Florida swim. My breathing was fine except for the moment I just about made it to shore. It was the only time I took in water during the swim! Oops. I’m usually pretty good about that. Coming up the boat landing ramp I made a beeline to my sandals (the transition area was on concrete, and a gravel-y one at that) and my feet are a bit sensitive. I headed to the bike area and saw that Sara had already made it out of the water! Hooray! She survived!

I got my wetsuit off (eventually) and got my things together and headed out for my ride. Almost forgot my gloves, and they ended up being a godsend on this ride. I lost my cycling gloves (well, actually they were weightlifitng gloves) and haven’t been able to locate them since my last long ride with Kurt about a month ago. The ride was wet to start and was wet the entire 25 miles. No fenders on my bike, so water was splashing on my legs at a constant speed. It felt like a shower…a shower from the street. The first few miles had a lot of turns and police and volunteer escorts, which was very nice. I hate getting lost during a race. (I’ve only done that once and I didn’t bother finishing.) It had just the right amount of signage and since it was a small race (maybe 400 or so?) I got a bit lonesome. I tried not to dwell on speed or anything, just kept pushing along. The course was insanely hilly (by my standards) which was made harder by my lack of cycling fitness and lack of clipless shoes. Yes, I used my running shoes on this leg again and this time, they were a mistake. I should’ve used the end of the summer to learn how to ride clipless because the rain, mixed with my metal pedals, were slippery as heck. It was like trying to bike with ice pedals! Every few miles or so my feet would lose grip with my bike and I’d wobble here and there.

Soon enough plenty of people were ahead of me, or passing along the other side of the loop, and I was alone. The scenery was beautiful and if I weren’t racing, I would’ve definitely pulled over to take some pictures! Rolling hills with a handful of steep climbs that I never thought I’d survive, I tried to focus on that luscious landscape, trees, llamas, horses, and cattle I saw. There were some beautiful homes as well. Each time I came across a hill I tried not to psych myself out and think to myself “find a way.” I leaned into the climb and put myself into it, and tried to remember all the things that Kurt and my books have told me about shifting gears. I got wobbly and weaved a bit but luckily I had the road alllllll to myself with no other racers. (Perks of being last?) Actually, I lied — at this point I was not last. When I was at the turnaround on the bike leg, I noticed the sweeper (a big pickup truck that follows the race) following behind two bikers who were riding along. So at least at that point I was third from last. Anywho, I think I started to wonder if I had taken a wrong turn somewhere because I had not seen a car or volunteer for miles at this point. I thought to myself, who would come get me if I got lost? How would I get back? I didn’t have my phone or GPS on me. What would happen if I just skipped the race and kept riding along? Who would know? Could I just skip the run and say I did a duathlon instead? (Someone would know, I’m sure.)

I finally came up to some more turns and volunteers and huzzah, even more turns. I’d never been happy to see turns. I eventually turned in to the transition area and racked my bike. My legs felt trashed from the ride. I was exhausted. If you know me at all you know that I have very little balance on the bike and I can’t eat or drink while riding. I generally pull off my training rides to get my nutrition in, but during a race I just do the whole thing in one go. So, I was pretty hungry and thirsty and I wondered to myself if anyone would know if I skipped on the run. It was a 2-5K loop around the bend of Lake Stevens. I bargained with myself (which I’m pretty good at) and said that I’d try doing the first 5K and then re-evaluate how I was feeling. My ankle had not really given me any problems at all, despite its soreness all week. What felt most sore were my hamstrings and my lower back.

I headed out on the run and as I made the first turn, I heard one of my teammates names being called and I saw a few other girls on my team running and cheering. People on my team were already finishing their race and here I was starting my first run leg. I ran by my teammate and my coach and kept on plodding along at what seemed like slow motion running. I made my first turn heading back to the transition area for loop two when someone came up to chat with me. He seemed like a nice enough guy and then after a few more minutes it became apparent that he was flirting with me. And then he asked for my number. I politely told him I was taken and he ran off. He was going at a decent enough pace that I didn’t want to slow him down anyways! I made my last turn and saw that couple that was right behind me on the bike leg. I was happy to see them together and we exchanged pleasantries. After that last turn I never saw them again though, which put me at last place! About a mile from the finish the sweeper came on by and asked me how I was doing and I said I felt good and would be finishing soon, so he gave me the peace sign and drove off (presumably to go pick up the volunteers at the turnaround). I headed straight into the finish chute with a volunteer running by my side and crossed the finish line just a minute before they were going to shut down the course, with the team there cheering as well. It was a good race!

Later that evening, I checked my results and I was surprised. I knocked off 3 and a half minutes from my swim and shaved 15 seconds off my run. I took a pace hit to my ride, which was completely understandable since there were so many hills. So, even though I finished last, I actually made a marked improvement overall. All in all, it was a really good race. I am still icing my back and sporting my compression socks around the house, but I’d love to try this race again next year and see how much better I can do. I’d also be curious to check out the Ironman 70.3 Lake Stevens next summer since it is so close!

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.