Reviving Old Ambitions

There’s something to be said about chasing old ambitions that never quite died. After the Dopey Challenge, I’ve been searching for the next big thing and I haven’t quite found it yet. I’ve come full circle from time goals, distance goals, and now I think I’m back to triathlons again. At some point, I wonder if it’s just one of those nagging things I need to do once in my life before I can move on to the next thing. For some people it’s getting married, or moving abroad, or skydiving. (I suppose I’ve done all of those things…?)

I’ve given a lot of thought into what constitutes a worthy goal to me.
-Is it challenging enough?
-Does it scare me?
-Will it require a significant enough commitment that causes me pause?
-Will its potential for greatness outweigh its potential for harm?
-Is it flexible enough?

The last triathlon I completed was a sprint distance in Tacoma on 6/28/14 called the Five Mile Lake Triathlon. I was woefully underprepared for it —  mostly underprepared for the open water swim, but I did well enough. Well, it’s actually a bit difficult to compare them against one another since the swim and bike distances can get a bit inconsistent. I did well enough given the preparation I completed since I had come off of a fractured leg, an Ironman DNS, a major family event, and two catastrophic breakups. So, in all fairness, I was a human disaster trying to piece my life back together and I barely finished my sixth triathlon. All I wanted was to desperately feel like things were back to normal.

#TBT: Three years ago, I raced a sprint triathlon after having recovered from a slew of emotional and physical injuries. I was so undertrained that a few minutes into my swim, I clung onto a safety kayak and was ready to get pulled out of the water. The kayaker told me to hang on for a bit and catch my breath. It took awhile, but I finally did and continued around the array of buoys and went on to finish the race. // Honestly, I still feel like I’m catching my breath. Never let these social media highlight reels, LinkedIn profiles, or portfolios fool you. Sure, I work hard most of the time. Some days suck, some days are awesome, but most days I’m just lucky to be where I am and so are you. Really. 🍀 #triathlon #running #roadtoironman

A post shared by Amara Hulslander (@amarahulslander) on

Racing felt normal. I feel at home in the start corrals of a running race, or wading the waters before my swim wave is called. I feel at home when I’m called upon to start. I love to execute the plan of action I’ve rehearsed day in, day out, morning, day, and night, for weeks on end. Of all the uncontrollable things in my life — the world around me, work drama, text messages left unanswered, family aggressions left unresolved, promotions left unfulfilled, to-do lists left incomplete — this was the one thing I still had some control over.

* * * * * * *

I’ve fielded a lot of questions from close friends about when I’d try my hand at the full-length triathlon again (2.4 mile swim + 112 mile bike + 26.2 mile run). Ironman Louisville never came to be, and I went for the HITS 70.3 instead in 2013. I’ve checked out my training plans again in TrainingPeaks and when looking between my run training on runCoach, Ironman base training, and between the 13- and 16- week full distance training plans it doesn’t seem that insurmountable. It will wholly depend on the race I settle on and the time of year on which it falls. Ironman Boulder has especially bad timing because all of the peak training weeks fall around particularly busy weeks for my students, which means it’ll be busy grading and advising weeks for me, depending on how I schedule my classes or manage my time (which is negotiable and totally up to me, to be honest). There’s Ironman 70.3 Boulder which falls much later in the summer too, which would be more manageable. The downside of a full 140.6 is losing weekends to long training runs and rides, which cuts into quite a bit of travel. Granted, we haven’t planned our travel yet, and could preemptively look at that I suppose before we hammer the nail into the coffin.

I’ve also contemplated other races outside of North America, like Ironman Australia, Ironman Cozumel, Ironman Austria, Ironman Copenhagen, or Ironman Barcelona. After all, why not treat my first Ironman the same way like I did my first marathon…go big, and then go home?

First things first: I’ll need to focus on my weakest sport, cycling. I’ve finally cleaned off my bike, but now I need to replace the trainer I gave away when I moved to Denver. It’d be great to get some summer riding in too. All of my riding, aside from riding to and from work, has been indoors. I’ll also need to figure out how to gently re-lay out the living room, especially now that I live with someone! Maybe I can make a home for myself on the balcony without getting struck by lightning? I haven’t been out in open water for three years now, so getting out there with a group or making some swimming friends will be key. I’ve been hitting the lap pool at the gym again. My upper body is pretty weak since I do zero strength training. Maybe some rowing on dry days?

It’ll be a fun journey. I’m already plotting the work I’ve got ahead…

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 17: Rest day

Wednesday, June 18: 4.06 mile run

Thursday, June 19: Rest day

Friday, June 20: 4.02 mile run

Saturday, June 21: 8 mile run

Sunday, June 22: Rest day

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

Monday, June 23: Rest day

Tuesday, June 24: 4.68 mile run

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

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

Friday, June 27: 10.09 mile run…before work

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

Sunday, June 29: Rest day

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

Monday, June 30: Rest day

Tuesday, July 1: Rest day

Wednesday, July 2: 4.88 mile run

Thursday, July 3: 5.01 mile run

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

Saturday, July 5: Rest day

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

Week 9-10 training resolutions:

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

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

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

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

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

Lessons learned from the last three weeks:

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

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

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

Humble brags from the last three weeks:

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

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

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

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

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

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

2014 Charity Fundraising Announcement: Stand Up to Cancer

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks again for all of your continued support!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week 4 Seafair Sprint Tri Training:

Monday, June 2: Rest

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

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

Thursday, June 5: Rest

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

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

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

Week 5 Seafair Sprint Tri Training:

Monday, June 9: Rest

Tuesday, June 10: Nothing 🙁

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

Thursday, June 12: Nothing 🙁

Friday, June 13: Feeling like a lame duck

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hiking Cougar Mountain

Week 2 Seafair Sprint Tri Training:

Monday, May 19: Rest day

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

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

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

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

Saturday, May 24: 11.25 miles cycling on the trainer

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

Week 3 Seafair Sprint Tri Training:

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, May 31: 3.74 mile hike at Cougar Mountain

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

Lessons learned this week (and last):

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

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

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

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

Sunset over Lake Union

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our bet went something like this:

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

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

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

E: (Details are getting fuzzy…)

A: Loser cooks for the other. Deal?

E: Deal!

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

Week 0 Seafair Sprint Tri Training:

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

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

Sunday, May 11: 20 minute/0.5 mile swim

Week 1 Seafair Sprint Tri Training:

Monday, May 12: Rest day

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

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

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

Friday, May 16: Out sick

Saturday, May 17: Out sick

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

Lessons learned this week:

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

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

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

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

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

Looking forward to a fantastic 2nd week of training!

2704 miles + 448 hours = 2013

So this year was an amazing year in many respects. I’ve traveled 2,704.9 miles in 448 hours.

I somehow managed to hit some pretty great highs and some awful lows all in the span of twelve months. It included:

-6 races: 3 half marathons, my first 2 Olympic tris, and 1 half Ironman
-My mom going missing (during a psychiatric emergency) and having to fly down to LA to locate her
That time I learned that my friend died in a cycling accident
-Finally completing a major goal race, my first half Ironman
Getting over my fear of open water
That one time I finished last at a triathlon
Losing love & finding love within myself [I pity the fools who don’t think I’m amazing company]
-Signing my new coach, Brett from ZenTriathlon
-Making an appearance in a CNN article
Gaining some perspective at 12,500 feet
-Vacationing in Hawaii for the first time ever
Skiing & clipping in to my bike for the first time ever
Meeting my fundraising goal for the year
-Getting surprised with a new set of skis, bindings, and boots for Christmas

You learn a lot about yourself over the course of 448 hours. (When you do the math, that was only 5% of my year.) You learn what you’re capable of. You learn what you want and what you don’t want. You learn to listen to yourself in some ways, and to ignore yourself in others. You learn that you are most definitely more resilient and stronger than you think.

I’m looking forward to dreaming bigger in 2014. I’m looking forward to smashing some PRs. I’m looking forward to crossing more items off of my goals and bucket lists. I’m looking forward to putting my all into everything I do and never apologizing for it. I look forward to getting over my fear of falling off of mountains. I look forward to entering a new age group (HELLO F 30-35!). I look forward to love and loss and everything in between.

Let’s do this.

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

My 7-Week Training Forecast

Starts off at 13:30 a week. Tops out at 16:30 a week.

Clear your mind of can’t

The goal is to leave room for two consecutive rest days on the weekend, so that I may actually get a chance to enjoy my weekends doing non-training related stuff. Wednesdays by far are the hardest day since I stack all of my training on that day and I will be coming off of my long ride and going into my long run.

Okay, maybe it’s a bit overzealous. Now that I have a schedule I will probably do everything in my power to *not* follow it anyways…so this is a start.

Better head to bed so that I can get my training in and get to my 9:30am meeting!

(Click through to the calendar to see it in full size.)

My training plan for the next 7 weeks

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.