Race Recap: Jackson Hole Half Marathon 2016

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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








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

Dopey Challenge Week 2: Planning the Season

Dopey Challenge update: Two weeks down, 27 more to go.


Training has been going well. Nothing is off-track yet, although my workload is kicking up into high gear. My stress levels have been negatively affecting my training, but I’ve been aiming to at least get 6-7 hours of sleep in a night. On the nights I achieve that, training isn’t so bad so long that I’m not reading emails in between intervals. It also helps if I’m not ruminating over the amount of work I have on my plate.

I’ve been planning some warm up races for the long road ahead. There are some nice ones in the fall, so I signed up for the Breckenridge Half Marathon in September. It’s at 10,000 feet above sea level. My lungs will probably explode, but luckily there’s a 4-hour time limit.

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In December, when the miles pile up, I was able to find a two-day race in Dallas (called the Texas Double) that will allow me to get in my half-marathon and full marathon over the weekend for my training plan. It’ll be nice to run in the outdoors, rather than slogging out 39 miles on a treadmill. I can’t even begin to imagine what that is like.

In addition to those races, I have a few virtual races in progress too. I love races in general, but over the years I’ve found that they are fairly expensive, since I really enjoy the larger races. I’m now saving the big races for a few times a year at most, and I imagine that when I begin taking up triathlons again my pocketbook will suffer once more. Perhaps when I finish paying off my student loans (another 3 years/$110K later, if I follow my financial planner’s schedule), I can celebrate with an Ironman! Or an international race! Or an international Ironman! 😀

So, the Pacific Coast Highway virtual race is about halfway complete. I’m really enjoying the email notifications I get for the landmark mile markers! It’s such a neat little service.

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Another challenging race I’ve signed up for is the Amerithon Challenge. I’m using my FitBit to log all of my miles and so far in the first week I’ve logged a little over 25. Not bad!



There’s a few other virtual races I want to sign up for. The Appalachian Trail series looks pretty neat. I’ve always wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail. There’s a schoolteacher in my parents’ town who hikes it regularly, and the local paper always covers it. Regardless, in the absence of being able to do the trail in person, it’s a nice substitute.

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My treadmill doesn’t afford a very nice view, but it allows me to run with my husband, who runs considerably faster than me. I’m currently trying to convince him to train to qualify for the Boston Marathon, but one goal at a time he says. (He’s also training for the Dopey Challenge.)

This is my mantra for the upcoming week:


Since I try to run first thing in the morning, it can get pretty difficult. I usually want to jump right in to my design work, or grading student assignments. However, I know that by taking care of myself first, I can be the best version of me for everyone who depends on me.

Happy training! Until next time…

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

Hi party people! Four weeks in to my new training regimen and I’m feeling good. Still squeezing workouts into random time pockets in my calendar but at least I feel like things are somewhat back to normal. Week 2 was particularly momentous because I got some wonderful news: my fracture was completely healed up, and I received my long-awaited Bia! Woo-hoo!

Because my fracture was all healed up, I took to the streets and trails to make up for some lost time. Hence, I haven’t been biking and swimming as much as I should be. Running is just so convenient…all I do is lace up and head out. I suppose with my bike on the trainer it is still sort of like that. My swims are at odd hours of the day, mostly because of my work and school schedule. So far 2am has been the best time to catch some laps at my local pool. It’s okay though. Even though my training is not as regimented as seasons past, I think I can still forgive myself because I’m really still just getting back into the swing of things.

So far the odd scheduling is working for me: work during the day, go to sleep immediately when I get home from work. Wake up at around midnight. Maybe head in for a swim or get cracking on my schoolwork. Try to catch some sleep by 5am. Wake up at 7, get some training in, and then head to work again. Weekends are for resetting the sleep schedule and hiking during the day. I’m really beginning to appreciate my decision of sticking with sprint triathlons this year…it’s really opening up my schedule for school and for all the hiking I missed out on last year. Maybe I can finally have it all…?

I think what’s most confusing about me is that I focus on so many things simultaneously. I can’t choose one sport…I choose five. I have so many simultaneous goals and aspirations that it’s hard for me to give my time accordingly. Also, it really cuts out time for socializing, which I think is semi-okay, since the people I want to spend my time with will have similar interests anyways and will join me on some of these excursions! I just sent out a save the date for my December San Jacinto Peak hike. Still keeping my tri goals in check. Ever excited about skiing Niseko next winter. This girl can’t choose just one sport. (Believe me, I’ve tried.) So, I guess the only alternative is to do it all. Be overzealous. Always have a reach goal — something that causes you to stretch out of your comfort zone, something a little more difficult than what you want to take on. It is in that discomfort zone that the magic happens. Been there…and I want to be there again.

Hiking Cougar Mountain

Week 2 Seafair Sprint Tri Training:

Monday, May 19: Rest day

Tuesday, May 20: 11.25 miles cycling on the indoor trainer/45 minutes

Wednesday, May 21: 3.17 mile run. My first run in eons. My fracture-is-finally-healed victory run!

Thursday, May 22: 3.2 mile run. Still feeling good.

Friday, May 23: 3.56 mile run. Okay, maybe a bit overzealous. Legs are getting really tired at this point but I don’t really care because I get to run!

Saturday, May 24: 11.25 miles cycling on the trainer

Sunday, May 25: 2.81 mile hike at Cougar Mountain, Shangri-la Trail

Week 3 Seafair Sprint Tri Training:

Monday, May 26: Memorial Day weekend called for back-to-back hikes. 3.83 miles up Poo Poo Point trail. It was really steep for our level so we backed out. Will definitely go back soon!

Tuesday, May 27: That steep hike really kicked my butt. It kicked my butt so hard that my hamstrings were totally shot. Tried to head out for a run and only made it up the street and back. 0.46 mile run.

Wednesday, May 28: Tried to run again. 0.42 miles. Still hurting. Still icing and rolling. I hop on the bike instead for half an hour, 7.5 miles. (I killed my time going out for that test run so I couldn’t bike as long.)

Thursday, May 29: Squeezed in a 0.5 mile swim. Quick and efficient. Still hovering around the 20-minute mark. Would like to continue working on this and work my way down to 15 minutes. I wonder if I should even bother with a wetsuit for a sprint tri. I guess it depends.

Friday, May 30: 1.01 mile run. Hamstrings are mostly on the mend but are still a bit sore. Decided not to push it so that I could bank my recovery for weekend hiking.

Saturday, May 31: 3.74 mile hike at Cougar Mountain

Sunday, June 1: Today, I haven’t headed out yet…but will probably hike Tiger Mountain or Cougar Mountain, hopefully something in the 3-4 mile range.

Lessons learned this week (and last):

-Don’t go too hard too fast. My hamstring is still kind of annoyed with me. My heart has more endurance than my body — that’s a fact that I need to accept. Gradual adaptation is best.

-Balance and harmony is everything. If I’m not feeling a workout, it is better to stop early than it is to push myself and get injured. Personally, my injuries come from when I’m not paying attention. I rarely slack.

-Have goals in mind, but follow where your heart leads. My goals are an Olympic triathlon and a summit at the end of the year, but right now I want to focus more on running and hiking. That’s okay. I know that I won’t perform as well in the swimming or biking portion for now but it is a trade-off I am willing to make.

-Training slows down life just enough so that I appreciate my surroundings and the people I am with. Life moves at such a hectic pace, and training really allows me to slow down and regroup for a few small chunks of time. This time is sacred to me. I don’t get to experience the holistic picture of my life in front of a computer screen, at a bar, or with my nose in a book. I get to experience it when I unplug and explore my surroundings and my limits.

Sunset over Lake Union

-One of these days I’ll actually have to swim a bit more consistently. And I’ll have to do some practice swims out in Lake Union, just to make sure that I haven’t forgotten how to swim in open water.

-I need to take my bike off the trainer. There’s a park nearby — Interlaken Park — that is supposed to be wonderful for cycling. I can always hit the Burke-Gilman though. There’s just so many tree roots in the way.

So, on that note…onwards to week 4+5…Seafair awaits!

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

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

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

Our bet went something like this:

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

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

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

E: (Details are getting fuzzy…)

A: Loser cooks for the other. Deal?

E: Deal!

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

Week 0 Seafair Sprint Tri Training:

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

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

Sunday, May 11: 20 minute/0.5 mile swim

Week 1 Seafair Sprint Tri Training:

Monday, May 12: Rest day

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

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

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

Friday, May 16: Out sick

Saturday, May 17: Out sick

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

Lessons learned this week:

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

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

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

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

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

Looking forward to a fantastic 2nd week of training!

Week 11 HITS 70.3 Palm Springs Training: One Step At A Time

So I promise you one thing: after I write this week’s nothing recap blog, I’m going to clear out my TrainingPeaks 140.6 plan and actually put together a real, feasible plan for the next 6 (and some change) weeks until the 70.3. I foresee a lot more time on the bike, a handful of 10+ mile training runs, one open water swim a week, and some pool time to get me race ready. Feasible, despite this being my third week off from training.

Has it really been three full weeks? I’ve trained here and there…just not very consistently. Those of you who know me well know that I’ve hit a rather major rough patch in my personal life, with some definite highs and lows. It’s a strange adjustment to focus more on myself lately. When I feel like shopping, I go shopping. When I feel like booking a vacation, I book it. When I feel like making a huge purchase, I do it. My wallet isn’t happy but I think it’s historically the way I’ve dealt with past troubles, except this time I actually had a cash reserve in place for something like this. And hey, these aren’t things that will diminish into the night. These are all things that help me focus on me.

Headed out to a weekend camping trip with a friend. Had a great time at one of the most beautiful state parks in Washington. It was relaxing and cathartic. I finally felt myself relax and reflect into my thoughts and examine what I’ve let slip through the cracks. I thought a lot about where I was in my creative life (it is *not* just a means to an end, right?), I thought a lot about friends and family, I thought a lot about all the things I’ve been wanting to do and how to put the pieces together. All in all a good time.

Oh, and there was hiking. And beaches.

Benson Beach, Cape Disappointment


Climbing up to get a better view
Wind-created sand ripples
Embarking on a hike
Sunset at Benson Beach, Cape Disappointment

Monday, September 14: Traveling

Tuesday, September 15: 6.26 mile run

Wednesday, September 16: 18.31 mile ride

Thursday, September 17: 0.5 mile open water swim

Friday, September 18: Vacation

Saturday, September 19: 3.5 mile hike while on vacation

Sunday, September 20: Traveling

All right! 6 weeks until Palm Springs. If there was ever any time to do it, *this* is the time to focus.

Week 9 HITS 140.6 Training: It Didn't Happen

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

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

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

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

Relentless forward progress.

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

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

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

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

And by continue, I mean the whole 140.6 thing.

Action always beats intention

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 23: 1 hour swimming

Tuesday, September 24: Rest day

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

Thursday, September 26: Mandatory mental day

Friday, September 27: 1:10 indoor riding

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

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

My triple brick. What an awesome training session!

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

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

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

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

In life, be a warrior, not a worrier

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 10: Morning 10K around Seattle

Wednesday, September 11: 40-minute swim

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

Friday, September 13: 1-hour ride

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

Sunday, September 15: 2-hour ride

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

Monday, September 16: Rest day 🙂

Tuesday, September 17: 1:15 ride

Wednesday, September 18: 8.35 mile sunrise run

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

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

Saturday, September 21: 30.84 mile ride

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

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

$244 down. $1,256 to go!

Week 4 HITS 140.6 Palm Springs Training: Inspire Through Example


I feel like I’ve made some good progress with swimming this summer. However, I’ve made almost zero progress with my cycling. I think I have actually digressed because at the beginning of spring I rocked a 56-ish mile ride and did great, and now I’m struggling through a 28 mile ride. That’s bad news for me since, well, as of today summer is kind of officially over here in Seattle. I mean, it doesn’t pour rain for days on end (I think? I can’t remember) but the outdoor training time that I so desperately need is dwindling down. Why oh why did I pick a winter race knowing that I’d be coming into a season of cycling training?! What was I thinking?! Do I have to go head-first into cycling in the rain? (I had better invest in a better helmet, if so.)


So this week I had one really good win — I finished my first 1.2 mile swim in open water. Granted it was lap intervals in the little dock near my place, and I took a few breather breaks in between, but I finished! That’s a good first step. I was hipping and hopping from such an awesome swim, thinking about how far I had come in conquering my fear of the open water, when I hopped on my bike on Sunday to realize that my planned ride of 60 miles seemed so physically out of reach. I timeboxed my saddle time to 3 hours and I only went 28.75 miles. UHG! Slowpoke much? To top it off I fell of my bike once at an intersection (hello neosporin) and wobbled off my bike at another intersection. I’m starting to feel that I’d feel a lot better about my rides if I didn’t ride with a GPS, but unfortunately it is a necessity in my training. I feel great when I am just riding along, but when I look at the data of how slow I am going, it is soul-crushing because I think of the cutoff times for my race:

Race starts at 7am
9:20am swim cutoff (max time 2:20 for 2.4 miles)
5:20pm bike cutoff (max time 10:20 for 112 miles = 10.84mph)
12:00am run cutoff (max time 6:40 marathon = 4mph roughly)

Okay, so maybe when I actually see it spelled out that way it doesn’t seem too bad. Still, I don’t want to finish off the skin of my teeth. My times are manageable at these snails paces at the half IM distance at best. I really need to rehab this ankle quickly and get a move on my training! And I need to get some good experience on the bike without wrecking my budget. Trying to budget my time, energy, and money simultaneously is exhausting. Remind me to never attempt so many different things all at the same time ever again. This might’ve been worse than that time I decided to train for a sprint tri and a marathon at the same time, where training for my first sprint tri included learning how to swim and bike. It looks like I’m still technically on that same path, right?

I was really, really down on myself after that bike ride on Sunday though. It was such a beautiful day too. Everything hurt. The saddle hurt. Falling off my bike hurt. Riding into the wind hurt. It wasn’t even that windy but I normally go a lot faster on the trail, so either my entire body was filled with lead, or I was tired, or there was wind that day. You know, I remember the days when it was a victory to even bike 1.5 miles to work. Then it was a victory to bike 3 miles to work. Those days are behind me, when a 15 mile ride was considered my long A-race ride. How will I manage 112 miles? And will my behind survive?

And did you hear about Diana Nyad swimming 103 miles from Cuba to Florida? That woman is extraordinary. I can’t even imagine cycling 103 miles at this point. She inspires people through example. I have that engraved on my RoadID but rides like the one I took on Sunday make me feel lower than low. I just have so much work to do on the bike.

Remember why you want to do this.

Also, embarking on a fundraising journey is very taxing. No donations yet but hopefully someone will toss a few dollars my way. I really want to do right by the charities that I am fundraising for. I will get to the $1500 mark somehow, hopefully through a mix of generosity of those around me and by my own giving.

Week 4 HITS 140.6 Palm Springs Training: 13.5 hours; Swim: 5496 yards; Bike: 73.75 miles; Run: 8.83 mi.

Monday, August 26: Swim + tri team strength training brick workout

Tuesday, August 27: Spin class in the morning

Wednesday, August 28: Swim + tri team strength training brick workout in the morning. Spin class in the evening. I feel like dying from exhaustion but apparently it isn’t my time yet.

Thursday, August 29: Spin class in the morning. I feel like dying still. I was so exhausted that I actually went home and took a 3 hour nap before work.

Friday, August 30: Long run on the elliptical because of a bum ankle. I really hope it doesn’t give me any grief during my race.

Saturday, August 31: 1.2 mile open water swim in the morning, 1 hour ride at a snail’s pace

Sunday, September 1: 3 hour ride at a snail’s pace 🙁

My last official race before HITS is this Saturday. That’s a long break between races. I hope I do all right this weekend, considering that I’m still icing my ankle.

Week 19 Ironman Louisville Training: Finish What You Started

Among many silly reasons, I started my journey to Ironman because I wanted the challenge. I wanted to see what it felt like to take something from concept to completion. I wanted to do it to see if I could do it. There have been a lot of things I’ve started and never finished…plenty of unread books, academic and career endeavors, design projects, and so forth. At this point in my life I don’t think that’s a practice I should continue. I mean, welcome to adult life, right? Take a stand, deliver on your promises to others, but most importantly, yourself. Ironman Louisville is THE BIG RACE but it really just is a celebration for a training season well done. I’ve been training since November 19, 2012. Come August 25th that will have been 9 months and 6 days since I’ve made the honest effort at training for a 140.6. It started out with HITS Marble Falls TX and then got replaced with IMLOU. And, even if that doesn’t work out, there will be HITS Palm Springs.

But, on to this week — at the completion of my training week, I was all smiles. I survived three long days in a row! A 2 hour run on Friday night, a 5 hour indoor triathlon on Saturday, and a 2.5 hour run on Sunday. I felt like I was finally ready to move up to the comfortable half Ironman finish, meaning that I could probably pull off a 70.3 at this point in my training if I really wanted to. Lake Stevens is in a few weekends but I already have my tune-up race scheduled that same day — The Seattle Seafair Olympic-distance tri. An olympic-distance tri will be more than enough for me. A 70.3 a month out from my big A-race may not be wise since it may set be back further because of recovery from such a hard effort. I should put that effort into my training instead.

Finish what you started, and never forget to start

Week 19 Ironman Louisville Training: 14.1 hours; Swim: 4892.8 yards; Bike: 58.85 miles; Run: 29.33 miles Rowing: 1.09 yards

Monday, June 24th: Rest day

Tuesday, June 25th: 0.5 mile swim/10 mile ride/45-minute tri team speed/agility class

Wednesday, June 26th: Rest day b/c my surgery site was very sore

Thursday, June 27th: 0.5 rowing/4 mile run/3.75 mile ride

Friday, June 28th: 0.96 mile swim/11.08 mile run

Saturday, June 29th: 1.32 mile swim/45 minute cycle/2.57 mile run

Training with a new/old lap watch and some new nutrition

I’m testing out using a watch for the race, since I can’t have my phone on me the entire day. I’m really kind of paranoid about finishing before the 17-hour cutoff, and all of the other cutoffs in between, so I’m hoping my phone will help pace me. I want to track all of my race splits — Swim – T1, Bike, T2, and Run — and I think I can use something this simple to help me. Too bad I can’t set multiple alarms for different things. So far I’ve been able to use it in the pool to count my lap times — but, because it only counts 30 laps, I don’t hit the splits button until after every forth lap. I then tested out some new nutrition mixes today as well as a fueling plan — 100 cal HEED after the swim/getting on the bike, and alternate between HEED and Gu every 35-45 minutes. Worked out great and I was fine for my run.

Sunday, June 30: 11.69 mile run (only!) Got it out of the way in the morning so that I could enjoy the wonderful day ahead.

On a side note, I live in this small neighborhood called Eastlake. It is on the east side of Lake Union. I originally chose this side of town because of the proximity to the lake and thought that it’d be great for open water swimming. In the last year I’ve never seen anyone jump into the lake and tonight was the first night I saw a group of people dive right in. So, I think I’ve finally realized that I am two blocks away from a lake swim. Huzzah! Now all I need to do is to grab a few buddies to join me a couple of times every week.

Swimming in Lake Union. No one else looked scared!

In other news, Ironman Boulder is opening up for registration. I can’t imagine what it’s like to race at elevation. I (obviously) live at sea level and I’m pretty sure my lungs would just explode!