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

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!

A Letter to My 30+ Year Old Self

Tomorrow, you upgrade to your next triathlon age group: F 30-35!

Your last decade was very interesting, wasn’t it? You finally got the big break in design that you’ve been looking for all of your life. Do you remember those nights as a teenager where you dreamed of calling your own shots, living a life that you designed all for yourself? You’re finally there. I know you wanted to be there ten years ago, or even five years ago. Regardless of those timelines, you’ve finally earned your stripes and you’re finally moving on up. Know that it only gets better from here. There’s going to be a lot of demands on your time and your creativity. Never let that entrepreneurial and creative fire die. Fight like your life depends on it, because it really does.

Spend your time focusing on the things, people, and experiences that matter. Those are the things that will carry you for the rest of your days. Those days are indeed numbered. Life can change in an instant. You must be prepared to live every day like it’s your last, not because you are cynical or skeptical but because that is the reality of life. There’s a reason why you have ‘memento mori’ on the back of your mind. You must truly know that the only constant in life is change. In life, nobody makes it out alive so be prepared to make the rest of your days count.

With the work that you do, the people you spend your time with, and the efforts you invest your heart into, do it to leave a positive mark on someone else’s life. Recognition, praise, and money never motivated you, and it probably won’t start to motivate you anytime soon. Continue following your heart because it never led you astray. Balance it out every once in awhile with your mind to make sure you’ve designed around all the edge cases. You’re a UX designer after all…act like it.

A word on your parents and your family – you only have one life to spend with them. They deserve more of your time and attention than you’ve given them. No matter how much you don’t want to admit it, they depend on you. Make them a priority. You can’t change what happened in the past but you can shape how you deal with it now. Forgiveness has been a major theme of your twenties. Keep moving on. Let go of that tragic childhood you endured. It doesn’t define you.

A thing on goals: you’ve got a lot of them. There’s a lot of unfinished business from your twenties: finishing grad school; finishing an Ironman; finishing that second book; traveling the world; climbing up the career ladder; starting an international design firm; starting a design school; building out a scholarship foundation for your alma mater; writing a design curriculum with your old design professors; building a halfway house; paving the way to become a design professor; learning some new markup and programming languages; getting your photography into a gallery or even published; finding Mr. Right. I dare you to continue chasing those goals. You solve a lot of problems at work. You solve a lot of problems for your friends and family. Take some time to solve these problems that will continue eating at you until the day you die.

This is day one of what can be ostensibly described as the most important decade of your life. It’s a turning point. Take caution and pause when appropriate. Know when to hang on and when to let go. Your heart and mind is way too precious to focus on the things that don’t really matter. Take care of the people that take care of you, but most importantly, take care of you. You didn’t endure all that you have to give up now. Fight until the end and set a blazing example for those who want to follow your path.

And, whatever you do, cross that finish line with a smile on your face.

Best wishes,

Your 20-29 year old self

 

On Fear and Falling

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

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

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

There is a moment when fears and dreams must collide.

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

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

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

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

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

An Extended Season Retrospective: Remember Why You Started

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

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

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

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

But honestly, I think that’s about it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And by continue, I mean the whole 140.6 thing.

Action always beats intention

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 23: 1 hour swimming

Tuesday, September 24: Rest day

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

Thursday, September 26: Mandatory mental day

Friday, September 27: 1:10 indoor riding

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

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

My triple brick. What an awesome training session!

Week 1 HITS Palm Springs 140.6 Training: Nothing Worth Having Comes Easy

With Ironman Louisville in my hypothetical rear-view mirror, I plodded along and laid down the plans for my new backup race in Palm Springs. This morning I thought about the last four weeks and how I’d been off my feet for three of them. This morning I didn’t feel any worse off having taken time off for my surgery or my family emergency. If anything, I think I came back stronger and more focused.

In celebration for…well, nothing in particular, I finally put up my medal rack. Well, I take that back. My boyfriend helped me hang it in my apartment. I figured that since I’m going to live here for at least another year I can dress up my pretty sparsely decorated apartment. It was a beautiful sign I ordered last year from York Sign Shop on Etsy. I will probably order another one soon for my upcoming bling.

All of my race bling!

My first week back at training was tougher than expected. I went a bit off schedule since my training group switched up our days so I ended up training 8 days in a row. Hopefully I can stay on track for the remainder of my weeks. 🙂

Week 1 HITS Palm Springs 140.6 Training:
11.6 hours of training
Swim: 5855.97 yards
Bike: 54.55 miles
Run: 4.05 miles

Monday, August 5: An hour and 20 minutes in the pool with two different coaches. Lois (my open water swim coach) met me at my gym pool in Seattle. After my session ended I still had some energy so I stayed for another session with my tri team with my usual coach. A fun way to spend an evening.

Tuesday, August 6: Swim with the group in the morning, followed by team strength training.

Wednesday, August 7: Indoor ride followed by a run.

Thursday, August 8: Indoor ride followed by a very short outdoor run.

Friday, August 9: Early morning swim (no team this time) followed by a grueling strength training session.

Saturday, August 10: Impromptu team swim

Sunday, August 11: First ride since Seafair. 26 miles or so with one of my teammates. (Two people bailed) It was a really fun ride, a bit hillier than what I am used to. If I can get strong on this route I think I will be good to go for HITS Palm Springs. Maybe do 4 loops of this for my 100-mile training ride and make stops at the Leschi Starbucks on each loop 🙂

At the behest of my teammate I have signed up for personal coaching through CycleU for some instructional 1:1 time on the bike. I definitely need it (and I need to be able to keep up with my teammates!).