Race Recap: Jackson Hole Half Marathon 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My mantra for the upcoming week:

Go Run

Happy training! Until next time…

When the unthinkable happens

For most of my adult life, I’ve lived with the motto memento mori etched at the back of my head where it meets my neck. I traced the letters from Andy Warhol’s various illustrations — someone who was rebellious and poked fun at conventional living. The placement of my tattoo is particularly symbolic in that this idea is something that I keep in the back of my mind every day.

Memento mori and Andy Warhol come together in an interesting way. Memento mori is a statement that literally translates to “remember that you have to die,” which is a phrase that helps one reflect on personal mortality and what it means in regards to vanity, earthly life, and the transient nature of the people and things that surround us. One of my favorite quotes by Andy Warhol is, “Sometimes the little times you don’t think are anything while they’re happening turn out to be what marks a whole period of your life.” These two elements came together in a natural way for me, and as the idea hit me, I ditched class to work on the design of the tattoo during the daytime and had it etched into my skin later that evening.

On Saturday, one of my esteemed colleagues lost his life on a major Seattle freeway to a young 20 year old man who decided that his phone was more important than anyone else’s safety or life. Granted, maybe he was getting a very important message or call, or perhaps he had just learned some very bad news and was distracted. It is worthless to speculate the what-could-have-beens, but regardless of that young man’s circumstances, he should’ve prioritized life over whatever communications were coming his way.

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As a human being in general, we have a certain amount of responsibilities to ourselves and other people to not put them in harms way. I give this young man the benefit of the doubt that whatever he was distracted by was important enough to him that he needed to take his eyes off the road. Given the outcome, I hope that he would’ve done things differently.

Not a lot of good can come from someone’s death in such a tragic way. However, I hope this lesson reverberates with this particular young man, his family, and his extended circle of friends. I hope that this is a lesson that others will learn from, so that my friend’s death was not in vain.

With regards to Sohel Ahuja, I met him in 2012 when I first considered moving to Seattle to work at Amazon. During my interview, he grilled me on how I would work on improving the team’s current product suite. When I was eventually hired, Sohel helped me feel at home, often swinging by my desk to reminisce about In-N-Out and the now-defunct Chano’s Mexican Food joint right outside of USC. Over happy hour, he oftentimes recounted the story of how he and his wife met. I’ve probably heard that story a dozen times. Every time he told that story, it was as if he was falling in love with her all over again. He also had a penchant for appletinis (of which the team relentlessly made fun of him) and whirlyball (something that became an annual team tradition).

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On a small design project, he and I tag-teamed on a few different tasks as our other engineers were busy launching another product. He was earnestly learning from our senior managers what it meant to truly lead a team. Learning as you go, you make a lot of mistakes, but then again, who’s perfect anyways? His efforts did not go unnoticed because no matter what he worked on, he never half-assed anything. Even if he weren’t 100% perfect at what he did, he gave 100% of himself to it. That was the Sohel I knew first-hand.

In early 2014, I had made the difficult decision to transition to another team at Amazon. Sohel took some time out of his insane work schedule to write out an 8-point bullet list that outlined all the reasons why I should stay. The first four were about my career as a designer and how I was a valued person on my team. The last four were, “5. The team really likes you. 6. Steve really likes you. 7. Katie really likes you. 8. I really like you.” I still ended up transferring out but would run into him every once in awhile around South Lake Union. We would quickly exchange pleasantries but dash off to another meeting. Such is life at Amazon.

Sohel played a supporting role during a huge phase of my life. He and I didn’t always see eye-to-eye on things, and eventually my focus (and reporting structure) was moved over to other people and projects. However, it is was the little ways in which he participated during this phase of my life that stays with me. He left us in the most tragic of ways, but I’ll try to remember the ways in which he genuinely tried to make someone feel like a part of the family.

A Week in Niseko

After being flogged at work and school for about six weeks straight, I was able to score a week or so off to hit up the slopes in Japan. It was my first international trip since I left LA, and my first trip to Japan, and it was awesome! The groomed beginner runs were challenging enough to break me into a sweat, and when I got tired of the narrow hairpin turns I tried out a short blue run a few times which took me forever but alas, I survived.

I’ve learned enough about myself out there to know that I psych myself out way too much. Half of the time my mind is in panic mode and the other half is in lala-land. If I keep reminding myself that I can pizza my way down a hill then I keep my bearings and manage down fine. It’s when I watch the other skiers zoom down the hill gracefully and effortlessly that I eat a mouthful of pow.

I’ve gotten pretty decent use out of my Epic ski pass this year already. 3 days in Vail + 5 days in Niseko so far. It’ll be nice to head back to Vail (or Breckenridge or Beaver Creek) before the season is up, but I have a ton of summertime activities to prep for. Thanks to my diligence at Orangetheory, I was fairly strong for this season’s ski vacay. I’ve been adding in some running over the last month so I have some base miles under me now.

It’s time to turn my attention to my race schedule for the rest of the year. I have a half marathon in March, a full marathon in June, and an ultramarathon in July. I have a sprint triathlon trifecta this summer as well (an excuse to keep me on the bike and in the pool during my rest days). I’m still wondering how I’ll squeeze in some open water swim training. In October I plan on celebrating a season well done with a half marathon trifecta in beautiful Lake Tahoe! Squeeeeee! It feels like the odd-numbered years are my overzealous years and my even numbered years are my rest years…so let’s see if the tradition continues on.

This year is already off to a pretty good start. Granted it’s already late February but I could’ve sworn that it was just the new year. Regardless, I’m pretty happy how things have turned out so far. I’m never going to forget this trip and I am definitely coming back!

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Looking forward to being stateside again in a day or so. My birthday festivities are coming up and I need to find a place that has enough snow for skiing in early March!

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 17: Rest day

Wednesday, June 18: 4.06 mile run

Thursday, June 19: Rest day

Friday, June 20: 4.02 mile run

Saturday, June 21: 8 mile run

Sunday, June 22: Rest day

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

Monday, June 23: Rest day

Tuesday, June 24: 4.68 mile run

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

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

Friday, June 27: 10.09 mile run…before work

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

Sunday, June 29: Rest day

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

Monday, June 30: Rest day

Tuesday, July 1: Rest day

Wednesday, July 2: 4.88 mile run

Thursday, July 3: 5.01 mile run

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

Saturday, July 5: Rest day

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

Week 9-10 training resolutions:

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

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

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

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

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

Lessons learned from the last three weeks:

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

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

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

Humble brags from the last three weeks:

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

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

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

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

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

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

2014 Charity Fundraising Announcement: Stand Up to Cancer

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks again for all of your continued support!

Week 4+5 Seafair Sprint Tri Training: Just Show Up

It seems like the weeks just zoom on by. Less than a month to Hawaii…and a month and a few days until Seafair. Oy vey! I’ve been pushing the distances a bit, presumably testing to see if I could even be ready for the Olympic distance instead of a sprint. I think it’d be a really big stretch but I think it’s possible. Should I go for the sprint distance still? Or upgrade to the Olympic? These are the thoughts that plague me. Small potatoes. I can’t even seem to get any swims in, so maybe an Olympic is still too ambitious. Maybe this week I could focus on getting more swims in. Who knows? What does it matter? Why can’t I just swim/bike/run? I like hiking so much. Can I substitute my long runs with long hikes? I’m just conditioning my legs right? (The answer is wrong, by the way.)

The theme of my last few weeks is ‘Just show up.’ I guess that’s pretty similar to ‘Just do it’ but there’s a different sentiment to it. A few years ago I took a meditation class and the lesson for us that day was that you could effect a pretty big shift in dynamics by just showing up. Your mere presence can make a difference to someone else. Or sometimes, all you have to do is just show up for yourself — as is the mentality with my training. I’m showing up to reach my goals, incrementally.

Today was one of those days where that lesson of ‘Just show up’ reared its head. I was laying in bed last night (Saturday evening) and browsing a local triathlon meetup group here in town. I’ve been feeling a bit blasé about cycling lately (nothing less than 15 miles is worth getting dressed for….?) so I wanted a change…I wanted to ride outside instead of riding on my trainer, which has been getting incredibly boring. I knew that I was too caught up in my head about cycling in the city ever since Ron’s accident, so I decided to follow a route I saw on meetup just south of Seattle. I got everything prepped, set my GPS, and headed out on my adventure of the day.

On the ride, I thought a lot about my reticence to ride outside more often. I thought a lot about how silly it was to think I could forget how to use my clipless pedals. (Turns out that I still remember how to use them!) It felt great having the wind in my face and it was a beautiful day out. However, the trail was eerily quiet. I remember seeing that there was a 50% chance of thunderstorms and figured that I would just chance it. Only chumps stay at home, right?! It was pretty nice for the first third of the ride. I saw a group of long-haired touring cyclists on the road with panniers and sleeping bags. I envied their lack of compression gear and clipless pedals and the way their hair flowed in the wind with a touch of “I don’t give a fuck.” It was nice. We exchanged pleasantries on and off as we passed each other and took breaks. I thought a lot about forgetting my RoadID and riding across railroad tracks. Always perpendicular, never parallel. I’ve seen too many cyclists crash on rainy days in Seattle and I’ve done my fair share of reading about riding in wet weather.

A few sprinkles came down. Didn’t seem like a big deal. My jacket was waterproof. I would actually tag it as water resistant at best, because when someone turned on the firehose I was soaked TO THE BONE. I knew that if I stopped for too long I’d definitely get cold so I made it a point to keep pedaling, no matter how slow I was going. At some point the Interurban Trail signs switched from Tukwila to Kent to Auburn, and even though I didn’t make it to the city center, I decided to turn back around. I was getting tired and I knew that 1) I still had homework to do when I got home and 2) I could always come back for another ride on another weekend. No big deal. On my way back I managed to fumble while clipping out of my pedals…uphill again…and so I crashed. I was about 20 yards shy of oncoming traffic. Some pedestrian trotting along with his umbrella made eye contact but since I got up just fine he kept moving. I have a small cut in my palm and it’s still a bit more, but it beats shattering a shoulder.

I pedaled back towards home base. All I could feel was the squish in between my toes. I felt like I was swimming with my bike. I was soaked from head to toe. I don’t have any fenders on my bike so I was pretty sure that I was getting pretty dirty. At least I finally learned how to ride clipless, otherwise the ride would’ve been really dangerous on slick medal pedals. I kept going and then in my field of vision I saw a downed cyclist. He had faceplanted into a railroad crossing that happened to pop out from a turn and he was lying in a small pool of his own blood. I saw his bike to his side and an oncoming train, so I rushed to clip out of my bike and signal the train conductor to stop. After ensuring I got the conductor’s attention, I turned my focus on the rider. I asked him how he was doing and if I could help. Moved him off the tracks and saw that he was in pretty bad shape. Didn’t look like he had any broken bones and he seemed to stand okay. We moved his bike to the side and the train took off. I stayed with the rider since he seemed like he was pretty shaken up. I handed him my water bottle so that he could clean up his face and mouth a bit since he was bleeding a lot. It seemed really painful but nothing life threatening. I saw that he broke his tooth so I went back to see if I could find the fragment. Nothing.

I went back to him and asked if someone knew he was out riding. I asked if he knew someone that could come get him and if he knew that number by heart, and he said yes. I tapped out the phone number and dialed. His girlfriend was understandably frantic but I tried to assure her that he was banged up but nothing life threatening, and that we would need her to come pick him up. I moved him away from the scene (we were at a weird part of the trail that was inaccessible by vehicles but somehow navigable by every single train car south of Seattle) to somewhere more quiet and along the road so that it would make for an easier pick up. There, he cleaned up some more and we chatted a bit. I tried to keep him calm but he was obviously very scared and the shock and adrenaline was beginning to wear off for him. His girlfriend peeled into the parking lot, threw his bike into the backseat, loaded him into the car, and headed off to the emergency room and I headed back on my way.

In hindsight, I was glad that I turned on my GPS. I generally track all of my workouts live with RunKeeper, and recently I had downloaded the RoadID companion app for the safety beacon feature. A couple of times during the whole ordeal the safety beacon countdown timer began beeping and it gave me assurance that if I were ever met with a fate like this rider, that someone would know that something went wrong. I really shouldn’t have forgotten my RoadID and will probably never forget it ever again after a day like today. ‘Just show up’ had a whole new meaning after today. It’s one thing to be on course while helping a fellow racer with dehydration, like during my last Seafair triathlon. It’s another thing to be in the right place, at the right time, with the right training to help.

Speaking of which, I should really look into the wilderness first aid classes. That was something I wanted to do this summer. With all of these hikes and future backcountry/sidecountry skiing I plan on doing, it is always better to be prepared.

Week 4 Seafair Sprint Tri Training:

Monday, June 2: Rest

Tuesday, June 3: 5k run/39:47

Wednesday, June 4: 10k run/1:25:24

Thursday, June 5: Rest

Friday, June 6: 5k run/38:16

Saturday, June 7: 3.16 mile hike/1:07:28

Sunday, June 8: 5k run/41:24

Week 5 Seafair Sprint Tri Training:

Monday, June 9: Rest

Tuesday, June 10: Nothing 🙁

Wednesday, June 11: Nothing, again. Work and school got really busy!

Thursday, June 12: Nothing 🙁

Friday, June 13: Feeling like a lame duck

Saturday, June 14: Make up a week of sloth with a killer 7-mile hike up Poo Poo Point. Will definitely hike this one again. This was a great workout, and the view was pretty spectacular! Need some better shoes or insoles…I could feel it in my knees on the way down. Definitely don’t want to feel those twinges ever again in my legs.

Sunday, June 15: Had my explorer helmet on and went for a nice long ride along the Interurban Trail, from Tukwila to Auburn and back. I will definitely make this a recurring route. I really liked it!

Week 2+3 Seafair Sprint Tri Training: Stay Overzealous, Friends

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.

Hiking Cougar Mountain

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.

Sunset over Lake Union

-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!

Week 0+1 Seafair Sprint Tri Training: Making Time for Priorities

I reached a point of terminal velocity with my schedule where I had somehow managed to wriggle out of all physical activity. (How did it ever come to that?!) Obviously my schedule had run amok and it was time to whip it back into shape. A 40-50-60-70-80 hour work week be damned — if I were going to delay my Ironman dreams yet again for another launch then at the very least I’d better get some mental breaks (and not to mention a few races) on my calendar.

So it started with another challenge again. Guy-that-I’m-dating (we’ll call him E) and I decided that enough was enough and that we needed something to keep ourselves honest to our goals. It’s one thing to say that something is a priority…it’s a completely different thing to make the time for it and to commit to it.

Our bet went something like this:

A: Hey, I’m tired of not going to the gym.

E: Yeah, I’m tired of not getting any time to run.

A: So let’s make a bet. Let’s make it a goal to SHOW UP at our scheduled workouts at least three times a week.

E: (Details are getting fuzzy…)

A: Loser cooks for the other. Deal?

E: Deal!

And so began our challenge. At the beginning of the challenge, I went ahead and purchased a sprint tri training plan. I didn’t have any time or brainpower to come up with a plan myself, or to add it in to TrainingPeaks or Google Calendar. So I found a decent 8-week plan that’ll whip me into shape for a sprint tri somewhere in July and I went for it. So far so good…I’m trying not to miss any workouts but it still happens. (Legitimate excuse: I got sick over the weekend!) And trying to cram in an hour to go to the gym is harder than it looks when you’re jugging a pretty intense workload at your day job and a few grad school classes. (My second one started this week. Eeeeeeeeeeee!)

Week 0 Seafair Sprint Tri Training:

Thursday, May 8: 17 minute/0.5 mile swim, 40 minute/10 mile indoor trainer ride. I’m sucking wind in the pool!

Saturday, May 10: 20 minute/0.5 mile swim, followed by 35 minute/2.47 mile elliptical run

Sunday, May 11: 20 minute/0.5 mile swim

Week 1 Seafair Sprint Tri Training:

Monday, May 12: Rest day

Tuesday, May 13: 40 minute/10 mile indoor trainer ride

Wednesday, May 14: 45 minute/4.1 mile elliptical run

Thursday, May 15: 45 minute/11 mile indoor bike ride, followed by a 15 minute/1.5 mile elliptical run

Friday, May 16: Out sick

Saturday, May 17: Out sick

Sunday, May 18: Reward – 4.29 mile hike at Rattlesnake Ledge

Lessons learned this week:

-Just because I can’t reach my A goals this year (Ironman + Grand Canyon hike) it doesn’t mean that they are forever off my plate. It just means that they are rescheduled.

-Always pick alternate goals in lieu of the major ones in case you can’t make them for sure. I will aim for an Olympic-distance tri in Palm Springs in December and couple that with summiting San Jacinto Peak in the same trip. So technically I still get an A-race and a major hike in this year. All in all I feel like I’m winning!

-Grad school and work is not enough of an excuse to not exercise. I’m at my best when I have a training/race goal. I know that. I need to design my lifestyle around my needs too, not just around other people’s needs.

-Finding zen in a shorter race will be difficult. I’ve had my sights set on an Ironman for so long. I need to make do with the time I have. I don’t have a lot of time for training through the rest of the year so I will take any level of triathlon participation I can get.

-Rewards work! I was looking forward to my hike all week and would’ve been bummed if I didn’t get to do it.

Looking forward to a fantastic 2nd week of training!