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 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!

Triathlon Is Not A Solitary Sport: Here's 70.3 Miles of Dedications

On the cusp of my first half Ironman race, I thought I’d take the time to do something I’ve been thinking about since my first marathon…I wanted to dedicate each mile of my race to someone important to me.

Triathlon is definitely not a solitary sport. Sure, you train alone, but it’s really the journey of a group of people. For some, this group is small and tiny. For others (like myself) it is a large group of loosely connected people who have been somewhat helpful and inspirational on my journey thus far.

Thank you for all that you do.

Love and light.

-Amara

The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.
  1. Mom: My mom taught me that I could get somewhere in life if I was a good person. It was better to be good than to be smart. (…but it was always good to be smart.) She has always inspired me to give back selflessly without expectation. I dedicate my fundraising efforts to her.
  2. Dad: My dad taught me the meaning of focus, hard work, and determination. A lot of his drive and commitment carries over into my training. He told me that I only had one body this life and to give it all I have. I’ll do the best I can, dad!
  3. Ann: She’s my best friend. I’d give an eye, a kidney, or my life savings to keep her safe and healthy. She never questions my motives and supports me 1000% in all of my endeavors. I’m surprised she doesn’t think I’m crazy. 
  4. Aimey: I love her because she tells me what I need to hear, not what I want to hear.
  5. Kaylee: She somehow always knows what’s going on with me, even before I open my mouth. ESP?
  6. AlexSomehow he manages to have much more faith in my abilities than I do. I’m grateful for it. You have no idea how much it carries me through a large part of my training and races.
  7. Barce: The guy who got me into running. It’s all because of you. Thank you so much for the inspiration…I haven’t stopped running yet.
  8. Greg C: He was there when I announced that I wanted to do an Ironman. Saying it in front of him made it real. Thanks for your support. You’ve quite literally been there for me every step of the way. I can’t thank you enough.
  9. Gabriel: He was there when I registered for my first marathon in Greece. Without him I wouldn’t have figured out how to change a tire!
  10. Vidur: He’s such a great friend, hands down. I wish he’d do a race with me though. Definitely a tri next summer 🙂
  11. Guillaume: He’s the first person from work to ever donate to my fundraiser. (He might’ve also been the last…?)
  12. Skrud: He’s confirmed that I’m crazy for doing all of this. (I think we all need those types of people around, right?)
  13. Emma: She inadvertently sparked my interest in the Ironman due to a brief discussion about where I’d get my M-dot tattoo. (She had me at tattoo.)
  14. Katie: She’s incessantly patient with my training schedule and my energy peaks and lows at work. Without her support I don’t think I would’ve been able to travel and get my training in. Thanks so much.
  15. Anna: She’s the lady version of #12 who also confirms that I’m crazy, most days of the week. 
  16. William: My first coach. He helped me bust through my plateau and got me into the best shape of my life. And then I got fat when he left me for another club. THANKS COACH. 🙂
  17. Lois: My open water swim coach. I didn’t think it’d ever be possible for me to enjoy swimming in open water, but somehow you’ve made it one of my life’s joys. Thank you for this gift. 
  18. Amy B: One of the sweetest and gifted athletes on my team! It was great swimming with her in Lake Union over the summer. Can’t wait to race with her next summer. She is such a sweetheart.
  19. Andy: This badass got his first set of triathlon prison tattoos in HAWAII. And he’s an awesome cyclist. “How can I be awesome like Andy?” is usually floating somewhere in my head when I’m on my bike.
  20. Darci: Doctor Darci has a quiet ferocity to her training. It was great watching her overcome her fear of the water. She is such an amazing athlete. I hope to grow up to be like her one day!
  21. Greg T: We lost touch after we both dropped out of our first IM race. I hope things are going well and that you’ll get to the 140.6 distance soon.
  22. Jim: He swears that I’m running from something in my past. And he’s probably right. But aside from that, he has always been so supportive and motivational. You are such a great friend. I am happy to have you in my life.
  23. Jasenka: She validates me on my fat days. Every girl needs a girlfriend like that. (And…THANK YOU!)
  24. Jaewon: My swimming buddy in spirit. She’s consoled me when I was down, and she’s been there to celebrate my achievements.
  25. Tyler: My training brother from another sport. I commend and admire your dedication to the acrobatic arts. Of all the people that “get” the training ups and downs, you certainly do. Thanks for the inspiration!
  26. Shirley: She convinced me that a half Ironman was still a respectable distance, after three Ironman DNSs. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
  27. Jason J: The founder of RunKeeper. We’ve kept in touch here and there over the years, but the app/company/service he’s founded has changed my life. I can’t thank him enough. 
  28. Chas: We’ve talked about training, we’ve talked about RunKeeper. He’s had some good tips and words of wisdom for me. Thanks for your support!
  29. Erin: Another one from the RunKeeper family, she’s been incredibly supportive of my journey. I can’t thank her enough.
  30. Jake: I’ve been chatting with Jake the longest out of the entire RK family. He’s been there through most of my transformation. Thank you for your support.
  31. Rodney: My Twitter brother from another mother! He’s another person on this earth who might actually love the sport of triathlon more than I do. His spirited messages keep me upbeat. I can’t wait to race with him in the future and to cheer him on at his first marathon. (You know, the race that doesn’t start with a swim and a bike ride.)
  32. Zindine: He got me back on the bike after a few disappointing races this summer. His support and check ins have been ever so important as I lost focus and direction for a bit. Thank you. 
  33. Irina: She is a machine! What a talented athlete this woman is. She also does it while balancing a full-time job and a family. I’m pretty sure she is SuperWoman and I hope to one day grow up to be just like her.
  34. Ron: You passed away too soon. I still remember when I found out about your accident. I miss you. I know that you’re running and riding along beside me where ever I go.
  35. Debra: Your strength and motivation inspire me. Love and light.
  36. Roman: I admire your drive to head out to the mountains every weekend for a double-digit trek through the wilderness. I hope to one day join you when I am not in training!
  37. Tracy: You are a great friend. Thanks for taking me snowshoeing last winter and thanks for all the great times around Seattle and the Eastside. I hope to have many more adventures with you in the future.
  38. Natasha: My globe-trotting tri sister! We never did get a chance to race together but seeing as though you are traveling the world, maybe one day we’ll be able to meet halfway and swim/bike/run again. 
  39. Briana: You can do anything you set your mind to. You have it in you. It is so uncanny to have a soul sister like you. I applaud your drive and ambition in all that you do. If there is anyone that understands self-reinvention as well as me, it is you.
  40. Nathaniel: My bestie from art school. You’ve always been an inspiration to me. Thank you for all that you do!
  41. Hai-Ping: One day I hope to grow up and be as awesome as you. I’ll be thinking of you while wriggling into my wetsuit. (And I’m finally being more patient with it, thanks to you!)
  42. Rachel: Seriously, the secret is mac and cheese. And cats. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.) But really though, you are an amazing lady with tons of drive, creativity, and energy. I admire you.
  43. Jen J: Keep on running, lady. You kept a pretty good pace when we were running together at Border Stylo. Rock your race…can’t wait to hear all about it.
  44. Robert: I’m happy to have shared our first LA Marathon experience together. You were there when I was first riding Big Bertha around town to Venice, freaking out about my first triathlon, and more. We’ve come a long way and I’m glad to see you doing so well!
  45. Debbie: Your feats in triathlon are amazing! Plus, any girl who can ride rollers is pretty awesome. Looking forward to seeing what’s in your tri future! Maybe one day we’ll get to trade war stories. 
  46. Marcus: You’ve been a constant source of inspiration for me. Business owner who runs ultramarathons in his spare time? That’s pretty awesomesauce if I do say so myself.
  47. Mark: Thank you so much for your support during my first two marathons. Hope you are on track with all of your goals. Drink a cup of tea for me!
  48. Jean-Marc: Your positivity has helped me more than you know. Thank you for always checking in on me. You’re a great friend and I’m glad to have you around.
  49. Sara: I’m so glad I met you when I did. You cram so much living into your exciting life. You are seriously just…amazeballs.
  50. Frank: Seriously, you too. Both of you. Power couple! In between riding and snowboarding and drinking, you both are just living THE LIFE.
  51. Nellie: I admire your work in the charity world. I can’t believe I finally convinced you to run a marathon. You’re going to do great!
  52. Adriana: You too. You keep saving the world, one charity at a time. You are such a positive spirit. I am happy to have crossed paths and to have worked alongside you. Good luck in the LA Marathon!
  53. Tracey: Thank you for the opportunity to help bring the 5K and the LA Marathon to Dress for Success. It was an amazing experience being able to connect two things that were near and dear to me.
  54. Rhonah: You lost your battle with brain and breast cancer before I had a chance to visit you here in Seattle. You were a guiding light when I had my design business. You were a beautiful, smart, and intelligent woman. I could not have fathomed a more suitable mentor at that stage in my life. Thank you for everything.
  55. Page: You are simply inspiring. I love all of your recaps and everything that you do. I admire your ability to stick to and follow through with a training plan. You make it look so easy, lady.
  56. Shauna F: I’ve loved seeing you achieve your tri and marathon goals this year. To more tri and marathon goals in 2014, my tri sister!
  57. Heather: Thank you for all of your guidance and help over the years. You’ve given me a lot of perspective on many aspects of my life.
  58. Nick: The photos from his ultramarathons, hiking excursions, and even his honeymoon was so inspirational. Can’t wait to cross paths with you one day.
  59. Dustin: One of many plant powered Ironmen who have encouraged me to stick to my goals. 
  60. Emily: She is one of my heroes. Goofy Challenge? Ironman? Coach? Ultramarathoner? I hope to one day achieve half as much as you have.
  61. Chris F: Thanks for your continued friendship and always being so encouraging of my training. I hope you reach your health and wellness goals in the near future!
  62. Laura B: One of my old designers when I had my firm, you inspired me with your strength and innate talent to make everything you touch so beautiful. I’m so glad you have found happiness in your new life!
  63. Amy T: One of my students from back in the day. She checks in on me from time to time to see what my next race entails. I’m so proud of how far she’s come in her life. Can’t wait to call her Dr. Amy!
  64. Shant: We’ve grown apart but thank you for all that you’ve done for me. I won’t forget the times you helped motivate and support me.
  65. Diana N: I don’t know you but you have achieved some amazing feats during your career. When the race gets difficult, I promise I’ll find a way.
  66. Rich R: I don’t know you either but I feel like I do. Listening to your difficult experiences during the Ultraman on Molokai will help give me perspective when things look tough. Thank you for being so inspirational. You live an exceptional life.
  67. Charlotte F: We met on the plane on our way to a race and we ended up racing together again in Portland and Seattle. Hope to see you at the start line of another race sometime soon. Keep on running and inspiring others along the way. You are amazing!
  68. Cappie B: The race is a celebration of a season well done. Let’s get out there and rock this half Ironman! Can’t wait to catch up with you at the finish line. Congrats on all of your wild success in the sport. You’re incredibly inspirational.
  69. Alan: I’ve always admired how you used your birthday to fundraise for charity. You were one of the first people I knew that raised money through running. It has definitely shaped my perspective on racing and charity and how people can carefully combine the two.
  70. Me: Yes. Mile 70 is dedicated to me. To all the miles and hours and lonely times when I thought that I couldn’t make it, to only come out the other side stronger. I finally made it to the start line in one piece. Now all I need to do is make it to the finish!
And the last 0.3 miles? That’s dedicated to you

Week 2+3 HITS Palm Springs Training: A Twisted Ankle, and Then Some

Oh boy. I got one good training week in and then BAM — I was hit with another twist to the ankle on my morning run. I was down by half my training time this week (week #2), and I’ve reloaded it on week 3 hoping that it doesn’t overload my week 4 which, coincidentally, ends with my last “prep” race before the big 140.6, even though it is quite a ways out.

Making the time for training hasn’t been too much of a problem these last few weeks. It’s working around getting injured again. I’m icing and wrapping my ankle everyday. I might need to look into something like KT Tape to wear consistently. How paranoid is paranoid though? Can I really withstand 15 weeks of training with KT Tape on both of my ankles? And will I really know how to effectively wrap my ankle on my own? (I guess I could probably learn…)

Today was Ironman Louisville. A DNS. Blerg. Trying not to beat myself over it. I even grabbed a drink on Friday with a bunch of friends at work to help lessen the blow to my morale. It was followed up with a massive apartment makeover, along with lopping my hair off for charity this evening. (Hooray for knocking off something from my 30×30 list.)

Cutting my hair to donate to Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths program

I think I will be able to make it back to training tomorrow morning with a new appreciation for fresh beginnings. I’m trying not to let the baggage of my DNS at Louisville get to my training for Palm Springs. Most people seem more excited that the race is in Palm Springs anyways…I guess the weather will be in my favor, with exception of the ice cold swim. I’ve been getting my share of non-wetsuit open water swimming lately and I can feel the water temps dropping lower and lower. Polar plunge. I’m getting all of my training buddies together at the dock near my apartment, and it’s been fun swimming with more than just one other person (usually Shant, and he is of course very good company).

I’ve been looking at a few charities to race for as well. There’s lots of causes that I champion, but I want to make sure that my fundraising dollars make a great impact. I’ve been debating between a few causes — maybe 3 charities, $1000 each. It adds a different stress to my training. I remember when I trained for my first marathon I really wanted to focus on the training. It wasn’t until my second marathon that I added the charity element to it. I’ve thought about joining a charity team too but I’m not sure if anything is forming specifically for the HITS race. Hence, I may attempt to do it on my own. Look for an announcement about it soon. Training for myself is a pretty selfish endeavor and I’d like to balance it all out by doing it for some sort of greater good, rather than just to cross something off my bucket list.

I think the biggest win I had with training for Louisville was really getting over my fear of open water swimming. Sometimes on my first 100 yards I still get a bit choked up, but I’ve really learned to move beyond my fears and just push through and have faith in my abilities. I hope that I similarly learn how to do that with cycling this coming season. It will be difficult with the rainy season upon me, so I will need to look for ways to get some outdoor riding in when things get slushy. I can’t remember how bad the weather gets after Labor Day but…yeah, I will need to figure something out.

Anywho, on to some training recap. I need to be in the pool at 5:30am! (Which is less than 7 hours from now…)

Week 2+3 HITS Palm Springs Training: 

Monday, August 12: 50 minute swim, 50 minutes strength training with the team

Tuesday, August 13: Rest day!

Wednesday, August 14: 55 minute swim, 50 minute strength training, 35 minute open water swim.

Thursday, August 15: 1 hour cycling, 45 minute run

Friday, August 16: 1 hour cycling, 35 minute run

Saturday, August 17: 1:31:59 run (a rather sad 6.5 mile run, I was so exhausted!)

Sunday, August 18: 2:25:46 cycling, 24.1 miles. Lots of headwind and also rode with a few friends which called for an early stop.

Monday, August 19: Rest day

Tuesday, August 20: 55 minute run…and then I twisted my ankle! BOO! 🙁 🙁 🙁

Wednesday, August 21: Nothing. Mostly pouting.

Thursday, August 22: 30 minute open water swim. Ankle is incredibly sore to start but feels a lot better after my swim.

Friday, August 23: 55 minute swim, 50 minute strength training

Saturday, August 24: 45 minute swim, open water, mostly helping teammate getting acquainted with the darkness that is LAKE SWIMMING

Sunday, August 25: 1:15/1.2 mile swim in the lap pool. Half the distance I originally wanted to do but oh well. There’s always next week.

Onwards to week 4!

Week 17 + 18 Ironman Louisville Training: Surgery + Post-Op Recovery

This post will be relatively short since I spent week 17 in massive amounts of pain and eventually surgery. I spent week 18 recovering from my surgery, considering my racing/training options, hopped up on pain medications, handling personal family issues, and mentally prepping for a half-marathon since I couldn’t actually physically train. So, even though I didn’t really train, I sure got a lot done.

Strive for progress, not perfection

At the end of week 18 I came to a number of conclusions:

1) Running a half marathon is easier than walking a half marathon
2) Being scared of finishing last is an irrational fear
3) There’s no such thing as resting during post-op. You’re in pain and it feels like work anyways.
4) I miss solid food.
5) I still have a fighting chance for Ironman Louisville if I play my cards right.
6) Reading about training is no match for actually training.
7) Don’t say you feel great when you actually feel lousy.
8) I should strive for progress, not perfection

So, although I don’t have anything exciting to offer in this particular post, I’d have to say that I am convinced of my hairbrained ideas more than ever…meaning that I’m still registered for 7 more Rock ‘n Roll events this year, along with Ironman Louisville in August and a 140.6 or 70.3 in December depending on my performance at Louisville.

I’ve modified my plan by scrapping the original beginners plan provided by the Ironman Louisville sponsor. I applied my old 13 week minimalist training plan that I originally bought to my calendar and it seems a bit more manageable, given the reduced timeline that I have to prep for the race. I have 12 hours next week and 8 hours next week (a bit reduced since I am getting back into the swing of things), and then things ramp up a bit until race week: 16, 8, 12, 14, 15, 8, and then race week. Isn’t that crazy?! Only 9 more weeks? EEEEK. I’m really trying to stand by my credo that it is better to DNS than DNF. I mentioned that when I was originally recovering from my sprained ankle in some of my early training weeks. I remember how disappointed I felt when I missed my 70.3 last November — yes, a new job and incredible work deadlines got in the way of my training, and so did my upper wisdom teeth surgery, but there’s no reason why it has to be the same story again this time around. I’ve done my base training. I’ve been incredibly disciplined. I’ve got the basics down and now I need to work on consistency and endurance and break down some of my mental blocks. My boyfriend thus far has had the most faith in my training and my ability to get back on my feet after my sprained ankle and jaw surgery, and I think that’s what gives me the most conviction. My half marathon over the weekend gave me a new perspective as well, but I’ll save that for the race recap.

In the meantime, here’s what I have to work on this week. My goal is to make an honest effort to arrive at all of my training sessions well rested and to put in the exact amount of time on my feet that I have planned. This is my first week back and I need to make it count! If my teeth are giving me problems then I will rearrange my schedule and take my medication.

Monday – rest
Tuesday – Swim 1 hour, bike 1 hour, train with the team for 45 minutes
Wednesday – Swim 1 hour, run 45 minutes
Thursday – rest
Friday – Run 2:15, train with the team for 45 minutes (still not sure when to get my long run in…)
Saturday – Self-administered fitness test: Swim 1:15, bike 3 hours, run 30 minutes.
Sunday – rest

Here we go!

Race Recap: 2013 Rock n Roll Portland Half Marathon

So I’ve had Rock n Roll Portland on my list for quite awhile now. I was really happy to knock this one off my list! This particular half marathon was very important to me since it was my first official long run since I sprained my ankle a few months ago. Thankfully, it held up to the punishing hills that I was NOT anticipating and it was business as usual.

The weekend started off normally enough. It was a busy one in particular, because I opted to squeeze in an open water swim clinic on my way to Portland. I got a good warm-up in (as the swim group called it!) and after that, I drove my drippy self over to Portland. I totally didn’t plan the post-swim drive very well. I really should’ve worn the tri-suit underneath my wetsuit and nearly had to contort myself backwards in the drivers seat to avoid flashing anyone in my car. I had a few hot yoga towels with me that kept me covered and dry during the wiggle out of the wetsuit and one-piece swimsuit and into some driving clothes.

It was a pretty boring drive. Green, lots and lots of green and trees and stuff. Pretty, but also pretty boring. I was by myself and had a pretty ass-kicking week at work as usual. I grabbed some breakfast in Tumwater (where?!) and then grabbed some coffee about another half hour down the highway. I made it over the WA/OR bridge and went straight to the expo.

There, I missed Kara Goucher’s talk but sat through a few other ones. Managed to stock up on a few boxes of Gu, grabbed some new compression socks, and got myself from free KTTape as well. Met a new friend in line (hi Leanne!) and met up with an old friend from a past race (hi Charlotte!), so that was really nice. Seems like running girlfriends become instantaneous girlfriends, but since I’ve rarely made friends outside of races I tend to still be a loner when it comes to the local 10K around the lake. (I keep trying to convince my guy friends to join me to no avail…)

I ended up crashing at a cheapie motel about fifteen minutes down the highway from the race. After the expo, it was raining like crazy and I ended up questioning all of my clothing choices. Dashing out the door, I didn’t bring a waterproof windbreaker, a running hat, or my gore-tex running shoes. After my carboload dinner with Charlotte (where we talked about E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G!) I headed out to a few shops to stock up on my potential rain gear. Yeah yeah, I know that you’re not supposed to wear new gear, but I’ve never been chafed by a hat nor have I ever been chafed by a windbreaker on top of a running base layer. So there. I also head to a supermarket to grab some low-cost bites for breakfast and a gallon jug of water for my Camelbak.

I prep my gear and head to bed pretty early. The race night butterflies have definitely settled. I didn’t feel nervous at all. None of the tossing and turning that happened in my first year of running. I think I’ve done a good handful of half marathons now that I don’t feel like there is anything to be scared of. Now, get me at the start line of a marathon or a short tri and I’ll feel like wretching…but that’s besides the point.

Portland, by far, was one of those easiest cities to navigate. Even on race morning, with all of the road closures, I was able to make it from my hotel to the start line in about ten minutes. Parking was ample, and as I turned off the highway and into the city I immediately found a parking lot that wasn’t charging an arm and a leg! I pulled in and it was a little more than an hour to the start, so I chowed down on my breakfast: 2 greek yogurts and a large coffee. The yogurt and honey had the carbs to keep me going. It had the fat to keep me full. And the coffee just wired me! (Although McD’s coffee is pretty weak. I would’ve preferred Starbucks but I had no time to spare!)

Met up with Charlotte and her friend at the start for some photo opps and good luck hugs, and pretty soon, we were off! I was in corral 19, pretty far down, but I didn’t mind. Prior to the race, I chatted with my coach to tell him that I was going to employ a new race strategy. Since I probably won’t start my Ironman marathon with a full-speed gallop, I figured that I could practice a walk/run strategy. Walk 1 mile, run a few, repeat until I finish. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but when I ran it by my coach, he said — “you didn’t train all this time to walk in the half marathon!” I wanted to protest, but seeing as though he was not my Ironman coach per se but was really just a strength and conditioning coach I could see where he was coming from. I decided to just take it as I felt, and when I crossed the start line I had a plan. I wanted to work on pace, and oh man, those hills really challenged that plan!

Rock n Roll Portland Half Marathon Route

So, as much as I enjoyed the race, my legs really burned! Thankfully, only my legs burned and my ankles were holding up just fine. As you can see by the RunKeeper report above, I kept a pretty consistent pace. I stopped to walk at a few aid stations but I had my Camelbak and some nutrition with me. My least favorite miles were 1-3, mainly because the first 3 miles of every run naturally sucks, but also because we ran through a particularly smelly (like, urine smelly) area. I wish they moved those first few miles elsewhere, or at least made them more scenic. It was awesome running across a bridge (great idea to lay out that flooring so that our shoes wouldn’t get stuck in the mesh wires!) and some of the neighborhoods of Portland. One thing I will always love about Rock n Roll races is that it is impossible to get lost, and the routes always go through the best parts of town. It’s like being able to take a tour of the city on foot. (Now if they can only provide an annotated tour during the run…that would be awesome!)

Overall, it was a fun race and yes, I would do it again. Except this time I’d do more hillwork, for sure. I had my new running shoes ordered while I was at the expo, so it was nice coming home to them. They should last me the summer if all goes well.

After my jaunt around town, I headed to the downtown 24 Hour Fitness to get some quality swim and hot tub time in. It was so worth it!

How To Recover From a Sprained Ankle

After a painful weekend, I think my ankle is well on the road to recovery. I’m finally able to walk without limping too much and I can finally ambulate crutch-free! (Plus, I was pretty sure that I was more of a hazard with my crutches than without.)

Doctor wrapping a sprained ankle
There are so many things you can do to heal your sprained ankle. Some sprains are worse than others, but here are some basic tips.

Here are the things I did to get my ankle up to speed. Thanks to some quick action by my core support group, I’m up and not-yet-running-but-you-understand-the-metaphor.

1) I immediately sat down when I twisted it and iced it (see point #2). Within 2-3 hours of twisting my ankle I got it checked out by 2 different docs, 1 of them being a chiropractor. My chiro adjusted it that morning (5 days ago) and again this morning, which really loosened all of the scar tissue and adhesions so that the stiffness went away. With the urgent care doctor, I got an ankle brace to immobilize the joint, some crutches to keep weight off of it, and x-rays to rule out any possible fractures. (There were no fractures and dislocations in my x-ray!)

2) Ice religiously. I iced every waking hour for about 15-20 minutes at a time. The ice was necessary for the pain, but also the swelling. Swelling = pain and pain = not good, so ice kept it at bay (mostly). Lucky for me I spent a lot of time off my feet with some work-from-home arrangements and a free weekend at my disposal. Ice, ice baby!

3) Take a 20-30 minute epsom salt bath every night. I’m not sure what it is about epsom salt baths that are so therapeutic, but they’re very relaxing and they help soothe sore muscles. I soaked in the tub mainly because I couldn’t stand, but by proxy I got to finally indulge in some of my fitness magazines while relaxing my stresses away. Lukewarm at this point is best, since heat will just aggravate any pain and swelling you have. When I was in cheer in college, there were ice whirlpools that you could soak your affected limbs in. It was hardly relaxing but at least it sped up the recovery process. Either way, soaking is good.

4) RICE: rest, ice, compression, elevation. Seriously. All of those are super important. Never neglect the basics. You’d be surprised at how much better you will feel once you take care of just these things.

5) 2-3 nightly ankle massages using Chan Yak Hin medicated oil. I picked this up in Chinatown in LA when I last rolled my ankle on the sidewalk last fall, and since then it’s been my little secret. Every time I take a tumble or roll, this medicated oil really speeds up the recovery process. Slathering it on isn’t enough though; you really have to work it in with a good massage. Having studied reflexology makes it easy for me, but don’t be scared to ask someone you trust for help with this one. (Massage always feels better when someone else is giving it!)

6) Elevate your foot while sleeping. I used one of the cushions from my futon that is in the shape of a half-dome. It’s flat on the bottom and goes nowhere, unlike some of by other head pillows. It’s also wide enough to stay in place and heavy enough that it won’t succumb to nocturnal soccer with my significant other.

7) Cut your training volume. This was probably what made me the most sad. Seeing all of those unfinished workouts and the unfinished hours accumulate was seriously dinging my psyche. I had to preemptively cut down on my next two week’s worth of workouts just to make sure that I didn’t injure myself by coming back too much too soon. (I’ve since added some more elliptical workouts because I feel like I can handle it at a low intensity.)

8) Eat a protein-heavy diet. Look, I’m no dietician but since I’m trying to recover from a strained ligament or muscle it makes sense to load up on some protein to give my body the tools it needs to do the job. My diet is generally pretty light on protein anyways so it was a nice change. I stuck to tofu, eggs, and protein shakes since I’m on a vegetarian diet.

9) Sleep 8+ hours a day. That’s saying something for someone who generally sleeps 5-6 hours a night. Again, lucky (or unlucky) for me I twisted my ankle right before the weekend so I got some good veg-out time to do absolutely nothing. Like, I would do things that required no brain-power from me: eating, watching movies, napping, etc. While sleeping your body does most of its recovery work (the Triathlete’s Training Bible says so!) and I really wanted to get my body in tip-top shape. Heck, I also needed the sleep from the insane hours I’ve been pulling at work and in training anyways…

10) Rehab exercises for ankles with someone who knows what they’re doing (i.e. kinesiologist, trainer, physical therapist, chiro). That last part is really important. Don’t just pull some exercises off the internet and start going at them at full speed. Work with people who’ve been trained in this stuff. They’re experts and will know when to push you and when to lay off. My trainer is a kinesiologist and my chiros are obviously trained in subluxations. It helps to have a set of expert eyes on your recovery. It’s definitely worth the investment if you have someone that you trust. I was terrified to set foot in the gym this morning, but when I sat down with my coach, he put together a set of great exercises to loosen up my ankle and to get the limp out of my walk. When I met with my chiro this morning, he examined the ankle and adjusted it so that my limp was completely eliminated. It was awesome.

Any other tips you want to share? My ankle no longer has acute pain but is still a bit sore, so I’m still icing and I’m all ears.

Week 3 Ironman Louisville Training: Hope is Not a Strategy

This week was a great week. I’m coming off a high of a pretty awesome training week. I really feel like things are coming together. It’s not easy but I’m seeing progress (despite setbacks here and there). I spent some time combing through my training plan this week, doing research on the swim/bike/run route in Louisville. There’s still a lot of things to look over and study but I think I have a rough idea as to what I’m coming up against.

Hope is not a strategy – Luck is not a factor – Fear is not an option

I need to definitely work on performance consistency in the pool, getting in some endurance while still maintaining focus on form. I need to get lots more miles on the bike and as the weather clears up, I think I will have more opportunities to do some outdoor riding. I think indoor riding will save me in terms of hill/endurance/speed training this season, so I’m looking forward to more funsies with the plethora of indoor bikes at 24…and maybe taking a cycling class regularly. (I’ll have to work that in to my schedule!)

I finally hit the “Buy now” button on my cycling purchase: got some new pedals, new shoes, some jerseys and a new pair of cycling shorts. It should tide me over until I can get to a local bike shop to try on some saddles. I had one objective this weekend outside of training and that was to put my bike pedals on…I haven’t done it yet, and since I’ve done my nails already I don’t foresee myself doing it anytime tonight. Maybe tomorrow, after swim…

Got the shoes, got the pedals…

I was thinking that I could treat myself with a session of bikram yoga for a week well done. I was thinking I could try to make it tomorrow!

Today, I worked out my tri race season…found an olympic distance race in June and it looks like I’ll be doing the 70.3 Lake Stevens after all. Coach said that it should be an “easy” race and should get me ready for the full distance in August. I think I’ll push the olympic but go easy on my 70.3 since it’s only a month out from my A race and I don’t want to do anything stupid (like break all of my bones and pull every muscle in my body).

Week 3 Ironman Louisville Training:

13.4 hours training; Swim: 7656 yards; Bike: 77.61 miles; Run: 10.56 miles; Walk: 4.2 miles; Total mileage: 96.72 miles.

Monday, March 11: Runners conditioning class. I do some weird long jump over huge tires and land funny and pull my hamstring. I follow up this class with a 1-hour(1320 yards) swim class.

Tuesday, March 12: Walked to and from work. Took the day off from training completely because my left hamstring was hurting a lot when I put weight on it. Sat at home on an edamame bag and spent most of the evening catching up with reading.

Wednesday, March 13: I head in early morning to the gym. After my evening research about hamstring injuries, I find that using the elliptical can help me isolate some muscle groups. I use the elliptical to get in my mileage/time without bothering my hamstring. I run into my coach and ask if biking is okay; turns out that it is, so long that I ride easy and flat. I head home to grab an hour of training (I cut a half hour off) and keep it easy. After my chiro appointment in the afternoon I’m able to book a massage appointment for the next evening.

Thursday, March 14: After falling asleep really early on Wednesday night, I head to the pool at 5ish for a swim. I use a foam dumbbell to keep myself from kicking (therefore sparing my hamstrings again) and focus on mileage and my freestyle stroke. I swim for an hour and 20 minutes for 1.2 miles. I follow it up with an hour and a half on the bike before I jet to work with my car. That evening I get my massage and VOILA! My hamstring is back to normal. It was a sweet, sweet pain type of massage, but the work was so great that I felt good as new after walking out of the office. Huzzah!

Friday, March 15: I rejoin my tri team in the morning for agility training. Headed home and walked to work after breakfast. I head to the gym after work — despite my desire to do so — to knock out 45 minutes on the elliptical because my workout plan said so.

Saturday, March 16: This was one loooooong day. 1 hour in the pool (1.2 miles) + 2 hours on the recumbent bike (26.11 miles) + 45 minute run on the elliptical (3.5 miles). I got home at around 4 pm (I spent about 1 hour just chatting with my coach) and proceeded to eat and nap for the majority of my day.

Sunday, March 17: 1 hour 15 minutes in the pool (1.2 miles) and 50 minutes on the elliptical (4.1 miles).

I really look forward to running (on something that’s not an elliptical) next week!! I think laying off my hamstrings were a good idea and since they are not bothering me now, I should be good to pick up where I left off.

Feeling grateful for being able to rebound from an injury quickly. Work is uber stressful these days and balancing my training with it has been a challenge. Regardless…relentless forward progress!

Week 2 Ironman Louisville Training: Challenges and Changes

My birthday week was one of my most successful training weeks yet! I made it to all of my workouts with exception of taking Wednesday night off. I was incredibly exhausted from training and found that I had actually trained 10 days in a row, so taking an evening off didn’t kill a streak or anything. I ended up making up the sessions on another day anyways, so all in all I got most of my time in this week. I decided that it was time to buckle down and be more diligent with my hours, and so it became that way. All in all it was an incredibly successful week!

The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

It was a challenging week, getting in all of the hours and doing everything on schedule. After last week’s disappointing hours/mileage, I tried to stick to my guns as much as possible. The distance still feels overwhelming, especially on the bike portion. I’m looking in to a few upgrades this week and next for my bike that will hopefully increase my time and mileage on it. I also plan on getting to spin classes since my boyfriend is headed back home for a bit. I will need to fill my time with lots and lots of cycling, and I’m not sure if it is productive for me to be in my bike since I’m finding it really hard to reach certain levels of speed and resistance on it. Spin should be good, and I can use it as an opportunity to try some clip-in shoes or something…maybe even break in new jerseys and shorts.

There’s still something very daunting about a 140.6 mile race. What was I thinking? The two marathons I have under my belt weren’t even impressive in terms of time. 112 mile bike ride? I think my longest to date is 43.7 miles. Eek! That’s barely a third of the distance!

What I know about the swim start for Louisville is that the cutoffs don’t start until the last age grouper enters the water. I want to be the first person in the water so I can have some extra time to finish–no joke! I might just consider sleeping out on the docks the night before to ensure it! Regardless, the cutoff time is 2 hours 2 minutes after the last person gets into the water…and then there are bike cutoffs on each of the two loops (2:30pm at mile 60 and 6:20 at mile 112). Then there is a cutoff for the run loop at 9:45pm with a finish line cutoff at 12:00 midnight.

At least knowing there is a TIME cutoff (and not quite a duration cutoff) makes it a little easier on me. I will have to hustle the entire day but I think that with adequate training I should be able to….Fingers crossed! I need to get out on the bike trails a bit more for some real-world training, get hustling on my 13-26 mile runs (okay, maybe not the full 26 miles but at least get over the half mary hump) and get more efficient in the water. It will be challenging, but I think I can definitely make this work.

If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.

Week 2 Ironman Louisville training:

15 hours training; Swim: 4696 yards; Bike: 62 miles; Run: 10.31 miles; Strength training 1 hour 30 minutes; 90-minute hike.

Monday March 4: 38-minute/5K run mid-day during lunch, 50-minute swim in the evening.

Tuesday, March 5: 1-hour morning strength training session, followed by a 1 hour 15 minute bike ride on the trainer afterwards at home. 45-minute/4.06 mile run mid-day at work.

Wednesday, March 6: Rest day! Super exhausted and sore from the day before. I think at some point this evening I started weeping because of how tired I felt. Headed to bed early.

Thursday, March 7: Got up super early for my birthday tri! Got to the pool by 5:15 and swam for 1 hour 30 minutes/1.2 miles. Then ran on the treadmill for 42 minutes/3.11 miles. Headed home (free parking ran out!) and biked for 13 miles/1 hour to round out a sprint-ish triathlon for my birthday. Felt great afterwards and barely even tired! (Maybe I didn’t try hard enough?)

Friday, March 8: Group training in the morning for 45-minutes, followed by an hour and 15 minutes in the pool. (Negligible mileage!)

Saturday, March 9: I totally spaced on my 1:1 with my coach. In its place I woke up early for a 1 hour 15 minutes on the bike (14 miles) and a 50 minute/4.1 mile run.

Sunday, March 10: Almost 2 hours on the bike (21 miles only!) followed by a short 2 mile or so snow hike in Snoqualmie Pass.

Taking a mini snow hike in Snoqualmie Pass

 

Things to do this coming week:

1) Figure out some spin classes I can attend at my local 24.
2) Order some cycling shoes, new bike shorts, jerseys, and pedals.
3) Find time on my calendar for bikram yoga. I’d like to go once a week or so to get used to heat again.
4) Email that woman I met a few weeks ago about biking together around Mercer Island and Burke Gilman.