Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Holding my shit together

At this writing, I'm tired.

But, I survived the Easter rush.

I lost it a few times. For the most part, I HELD MY SHIT TOGETHER. This was our busiest Easter ever, so that is QUITE the accomplishment.

I got my training done. There were days that I really struggled. Now, it's over. Life can go back to normal.

Getting through this season meant that I had to do things that I didn't want to do. I didn't WANT to skip masters. I messed up my eating for a few days (not bringing enough to eat and losing more weight and sacrificing one run because of it).

I'm quite pleased with myself. It's shown me that unless things change at work (which we are working on), an early season 70.3 is probably NOT a good idea. Which means, that it's not likely I'll get do the Boulder 70.3 next year (which was on my to do list). We posted a few jobs today. It really comes down to who and how many people we have on staff next year. We were really understaffed this year. Believe it or not, it's hard to staff a young company. It's too much risk for some people. For others, they can't work in an environment where everyone does a little bit of everything. They prefer a very structured job description. We're not to that point.

But back to MOI.

I can see clearly now. Even though, I'm in a big training week.....I can see where this training train is taking me: To the land of soreness, muchas hunger and PRs.

In two weeks, ON my HALF birthday (which is pretty cool in itself), I have a 5 mile race! You know. The same one I've been doing FORev. Because of that, it's a great barometer for me.

I've also done a lot of thinking lately about my future with triathlon and where I go with it after this year.

No. I'm not getting ahead of myself. I've spent a lot of time training by myself these past few weeks.

This year, I get to decide if the 70.3 is for me. I get to decide if I like it. I get to decide if I want to go further. I get to decide if I prefer the shorter distances.

It's part of a plan that I'd put in place a few years back, but the plan has been changing over time.

I have to admit that I got a little melancholy when I started thinking about doing a full and how I was supposed to do it with a special friend. It's a little sad. It's great to have friends supporting me, but it's something special to do a race with another person or a group. I'm not really interested in triathlon forums. Believe it or not, I don't even have a login for Slowtwitch.

Still a full ironman is in the distance a bit, if at all. I have to go through this race season first.

Meanwhile this year, I have a number of races. Races that I have to define my strategy. I am going to have some personal challenges that I need to deal with, and I constantly go back and forth with how to deal with it. Maybe there will be enough distractions that I don't have to deal with them.

Until then, I'm hoping to get caught up on some much needed sleep this weekend and get ready for my race in 10 days.

And hopefully, have a little more interesting blog posts once know the trash talking, self deprecating posts that seem to define my racing season.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Self Analysis: Training, Recovery, Rest & Nutrition

With everything going on, the one thing that is being prioritized at the top of the list, is my training. I absolutely need it right now. It's my stress release. Even when the workouts are hard, it's my calm in the middle of the storm.

I can't help but compare myself year to year. I've always done it. Doesn't everyone? We want to be stronger or faster each year. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'm just crazy, but I don't think I am. Otherwise, why would we even do this insanity?

One of the of the many things that I like about my Coach is that she tells me which days are the "work" days and which days will be recovery.

In this particular cycle, my schedule follows the typical (for a masters athlete): build for 3 weeks, step back week. Within each week, I have 3 "work" days and 4 recovery days. I swear. Those recovery days often feel harder than the work days. In addition to that, she will list out workouts that if necessary, I can skip. This is fantastic. She removes the guesswork. Granted, I haven't had to miss any workouts, except for one optional swim a few weeks back.

During the glorious step back week, I get a full day off, with the option to skip workouts or take more time off if needed, especially if I'm feeling tired.

As we've been building volume, fueling has become more and more of an issue. I think I mentioned here that I lost 5lbs in one week and then 2 the following week. Keeping my calorie intake high is really tough. High....for a 46 year old. It came to my attention this weekend that I probably eat  more than most women in my ag. It's really hard to manage. This weekend, I did really well. During our Sunday Whole Foods visit, we loaded up on very easy and quick foods for me to heat up very quickly.

In addition to daily nutrition, Coach and I have been working on my training fueling. I never realized that my fueling strategy was completely wrong. I knew that I struggled with the half marathon distance. I knew that I struggle with the run during an oly race.

But, I've tried EVERYTHING to get it to work. Apparently, I didn't try everything. Over the past 3 weeks, we have been working with different strategies to see how they affect me. She tells me what to do. I do it. She checks my numbers at the end of the workout and comes back to me with tweaking.

It seems that I was doing the exact opposite of what I should have been doing.

In a way, it's very frustrating. I feel like I'm cramming for a 70.3, learning everything that I can. I feel really bad for putting my coach in this situation. Had I known, what was going to happen, I wouldn't have signed up. I'm sure she's used to people signing up for an Ironman and then signing up with her! Although, I have a lot to learn. At least, I'm not new to the 70.3.

Still, I have a long time until my race: 6 months. AND, I'm excited about it. I really am. As frustrating as some of my fueling issues have been, I'm working through them one at a time. When workouts are difficult (like today's run), I just keep going.

There are ugly workouts. There are fantastic workouts. In some weird-yet-to-be-understood-way, they will all fit together when it comes to my races.

I'm now about 5 weeks from my first race.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The countdown is on

Life has been insane lately. I've taken countdowns to keep me sane. I have a paper calendar. Every day, I put a giant X through the previous day.

1 week left of the Easter shopping craziness.

3 weeks left for school for JMan

4 weeks until finals are complete

5 weeks until graduation

It's been so busy that there are times that I feel like I'm losing all control. Yet, everything is still getting done....except maybe laundry....and grocery shopping. But what the hell? A few days a week of eating out and wearing previously worn clothes....not a big deal. Not until the clothes start to smell, right?

Really though, it's a matter of prioritizing. Right now, JMan's senior year and graduation and EVERYTHING that goes along with that is my first priority. It's been a couple of years since Googs graduated. I can't believe there is so much work involved. It's not just with graduation and dealing with Senioritis and finals and various awards ceremonies, but it's also getting ready for college.

We are short people in the warehouse and can't hire because of things yet to be announced. So, that's priority #2: Helping in every and any way possible, packing, taking pictures, dressing mannequins, taking out trash, sweeping the warehouse floor.

Then, training. I'm getting it all done, even when that means having to train ridiculously early or ridiculously late or missing masters in order to just plain get MY SWIM DONE.

I have virtually no downtime at the moment. HENCE, the reason for the countdowns. When my head hits the pillow at night, I'm exhausted....only to hear the alarm go off, seemingly, minutes later.

On the other hand, I'm getting crazy excited for the things yet to be announced. The first step has been completed. The second step will be done in about July.

In getting ready for that, I've been apartment shopping the Boulder area. We'll be going to Boulder this weekend, to check out the apartments that I've found online.

Why Boulder? It's nestled nicely between the two universities that my sons attend. Longmont is in the mix, but I couldn't find quite what I was looking for there; which is basically a luxury apartment that will pretty much take care of everything for me and that I don't have to worry about when I leave for weeks or months at a time. Broomfield is another option but not quite right because my preference is walking access to as much as possible. Although this move could happen as early as Oct. It could also be delayed for any length of time depending on things yet to be announced.

Besides that, we're looking for residence #2 which has to be resolved around August because of Step #2 (July) in things yet to be announced. 

Following me?

That's all I have time for. Gotta get my run on, so I can get to the warehouse early.

7 days until the end of the Easter craziness.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Good Stuff

I've been wanting to write this post for awhile, but it's so random. It's just a bunch of thoughts that I've had over the past few months. Things have been really crazy for me with work and some personal things. The personal stuff is not at all major. It's just a lot of little stuff that tends to add up.

Here's my list of random thoughts:

1.) For about a month now, I've been using Infinit's  Mud and Nocturn products. I love this stuff. Nocturn is a recovery/protein type of drink that I have before going to bed. The tryptophan means NIGHTY NIGHT. I was previously having a shake before bed, but this stuff. It's fantastic. I personally have to mix in frozen fruit because I'm not crazy about the taste, but some pineapple and OJ and peaches and coconut milk, and I'm good to go. The Mud is one that I have when I wake up. The taste is amazing, and I've given up having coffee in order to have my Mud on Ice.....or blended in the blender. FREAKING AWESOME.

2.) I'm now down 7lbs, which is pretty great because it's all in the form of fat loss. I'm maintaining and getting stronger on the bike. So, it's a good loss. You all know how much attention I have been giving to my nutrition and fueling.

Speaking of fueling....WOW, it's come to light that I have been under fueling in training and races. Coach and I have been working to find the right mix. This weekend, we really nailed it. I've never felt so good during a long workout.

3.) Strength training. One of the things that I felt was missing from my training was strength work. One of the benefits of having a Tri-Coach who is also a Certified Functional Strength specialist is that she has the best strength training routines that are....wait for it.....PROGRESSIVE. As I get stronger and as I just start to knock out the workout, she goes and changes it on me. I love it. I have always loved strength work and had gotten to the point where I just thought it didn't work with triathlon. (I'm completely aware that strength work goes hand and hand with triathlon. I just couldn't figure out how to get it to work without completely draining me for my next workout.)

4.) You are aware of my monster swim breakthrough that I had recently. Based on my 5K PR very recently, my run is also improving. You know how it goes, when you're in the midst of training, that's no time to figure out if you're improving. There are days that I'm tired or days that I feel great. I feel pretty good about where my running is going. The bike is a little different. We did a bike test. Then the week I was supposed to do my follow up bike test, my Quarq died. Unfortunately, I had a terrible experience with their customer service and didn't even get a return label from them until 8 days after my first contact. Once I got the label, they identified that my unit was dead and immediately sent me a new one. I'm a little disappointed that I was unable to do my bike test because I know I've gotten significantly stronger on the bike. (My zone 1 and 2 workouts are now CRAZY easy). Hopefully, we'll fit one in soon.

5.) Race Schedule. My first tri is in May. In other words, it's NEXT month. I'm really excited. I don't have any goals for this race. I just want to see how the pieces are going to fit together.

6.) Early this week, I went onto a forum that I haven't been on in....probably over a year. It was so interesting. I was reading the conversation that took place in 2012. One person said to me, "You're not the same athlete you were a year ago."

I wish I had my training history that I could go back to, but I don't. I would love to go back and read my thoughts on different races. Instead, I thought back to about a little over a year ago and where I was.

I realized that person was lying. I was the same athlete. I'm not knocking the person. They probably said it to make me feel good because they knew it wasn't true. Even back then, I knew it just wasn't true.

NOW, I've changed. NOW, I'm a different person, different athlete.

So, I had a conversation with my coach this week. She mentioned that my goals should be proving something to myself not anyone else. BUT, I don't have anything to prove to myself. I have always believed that I am better than my race times show. I just hadn't gotten there....yet.

I don't doubt my abilities. But there are people who do. It's the same way I built my business. If you tell me that I can't do something, I will work to exceed everything you said I couldn't accomplish.  Triathlon is the same way.

I don't think that's a bad way to race or train. There will always be people who doubt me. I like it that way. I like being the underdog.


See? Completely random and rather pointless post.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Finding your Tough

I love this image because I was absolutely NOT born with beast mode on.

In fact, whatever BEAST MODE involved, I was certain that I completely missed out on that DNA.

I've been doing a lot of reading lately about how "toughness" and "pain tolerance" are learned.  Drive, on the other hand, I think that's something we are born with. Some people are very driven, and some are more laid back. Who knows? I'm not here to argue nature versus nurture.

BEAST MODE: Last year a friend would call me BEAST all the time. In fact, I'm pretty sure he might have even said, "Beast Mode on Tea" at a race. I hated it. That wasn't me. I'm not tough like all those other triathletes. THOSE people who could seemingly push through any amount of discomfort and keep going.

I kind of thought, "Well, I don't have to be a beast. I can do my best with what I have. I can still accomplish some pretty huge goals being me and doing things my non-beastly way."

If you've been following along with my story, and I can count on one hand those of you who have been, you've probably noticed.....I've been changing.

When I started triathlon, every race was a matter of just finishing. As I got stronger, my races became focused on getting PRs.

No matter what I did, I would still get to that point of serious discomfort verging on pain....and I'd back off.
I was afraid of blowing up. I was afraid of not being able to finish.

Even though I was getting stronger, I'd still back off....right at that point. You know the point I'm talking about. It's that point, right on the edge, where we decide if we are able to continue at the pace we're at or if we think have to back off.

Over the past 12 weeks, my running has improved beyond what I even thought was possible in 12 weeks. Getting that taste of success, of snippets of speed, has made me want more. and MORE. I wanted to see what I could do.

I've found that in my speed work, my pacing days, my tired days, my hill repeats, I'm going beyond what I've always thought I could do.

on steroids.

Every day, I go out there, and I don't think about it. I just do it. When it hurts, I go harder. I push myself beyond the limits that I had set for myself. YEARS of self setting limits are starting to fall. I don't go out and say, "I'll hit this pace or that pace". I go out there and give everything I have for that workout, that interval.

I'm faster on the run. I'm faster on the bike.

But, I had one more fear to face. I had to do this on the swim. I'm a strong swimmer, but I've been getting increasingly frustrated at my lack of willingness to put into the swim what I've put into my running and biking.

I finally got mad enough at myself to do something about it. I didn't want to be the lead swimmer in a slower lane.

I wanted to be the slowest person in the fast lane.

So, today....I got into the 2nd fastest lane at masters. The lead guy said, "You want to swim with us today?"

I shook my head. And I was slightly terrified of what I was going to do. I was really mad at myself. If I need to take extra time to rest, I was going to do it. BUT, I wasn't going to underestimate myself. I wasn't going to get out of masters and think "Oh that was a nice little swim."

I have goals to hit. The only way I'm going to hit them is by getting out of my own comfort zone, throwing out those limitations I've set for myself.

I wanted to feel it. I wanted to be as uncomfortable swimming that I have been running and biking.

We took off at a faster pace than I've ever swam.  It seemed like it was only seconds before I was hitting the wall and flipping.

At the end of the first 2 intervals, the lead swimmer would check on me. I told him I was good. We'd take off again. Then, he stopped asking me.

It was hard. I hurt. There were times where I thought there wasn't enough oxygen in the world to satisfy my need. There were times where I thought I couldn't possibly make my arms go any faster or make my kick any stronger. I thought.....I must be holding up the entire lane.

I wasn't. I was staying right with them. The fast swimmers.

I was swimming 1:23 100's. I've swam that pace in open water with the benefit of a wetsuit, but I've never swam that in a pool before. My previous best was 1:30.

A self-limiting 1:30. It was only 1:30 because....well, 1:30 is a great swim time! It's a top 3 AG swim! Who needs to go harder?


I'm finally discovering my own tough, my own BEAST MODE.

Just finishing isn't good enough for me anymore. Setting PRs isn't good enough.

I want more, and I'm going to go until I get it.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Hard lessons learned

As a business owner, I spend time watching other businesses, not just our competitors. I watch many different types of businesses.

I find it absolutely fascinating to watch what they post on social media and to read their newsletters.

Over the years, I can tell when a business is struggling and when they are successful just by what they post.

Even more interesting than that, I can see the mentality of the owners change as well (particularly when they have some success). More often than not, I see the ego start to blow up. Power starts to go to their heads.

That's really sad to me; because although the owners of the company were the drivers of success, they could not have done it without their employees or contractors or....most importantly: customers. It's always a team effort.

I can speak from experience on this one. Until we started added significant staff, we were small potatoes. We wouldn't be where we are today without our team; we struggle as a team, and we experience success as a team.

Not all business owners can handle success. They are so focused on empire building that they forget how they got where they are. This attitude becomes evident in their social media posts and email newsletters. Instead of talking to or trying to engage customers about how the business owner's service or products can benefit the customer.....all the posts become about the owner/company. Instead of educating customers, the newsletters (in particular) become shoving their greatness down the customer's throat. I see it all the time.

As the owner becomes successful, they become more and more greedy. I've said this before. When your focus becomes money, you lose focus on everything that is truly important.

So, I watch. I watch the story unfold.

I know how easy it could be to just sit back and let revenue roll in, but that's the wrong perspective.

When business starts growing, business owners need to fight even harder for every dollar. Because when they start to focus on how GREAT they are....there are smaller competitors sneaking up on them.....taking away the customers that the Power hungry business owner has forgotten how to take care of.

Those can be some of the hardest lessons to learn.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

You could do it, you know

"You could qualify for Kona"

"What?" I looked up from my book and stared at him.

"YOU.could.qualify.for.Kona." He said the words slowly.

"What are you talking about? Do you know how hard that is? Do you KNOW how fast those women are?"

"YOU are one of those fast women. You could qualify."

"Wait. I'm doing my first 70.3 in SIX years this year. I don't even know how it's going to go. And the training. You know what type of training it takes to do Ironman."

Just then J-Man popped in with, "Yeah, remember....I'm going out for a ride. I'll see you IN SEVEN HOURS."

Me laughing: "Yeah. That."

"All I'm saying is that J-Man is leaving. You have time to train. You're fast. Why not?"

"Maybe next year, I'll do a couple of 70.3's"

"Maybe next year, you should do a 70.3 and an Ironman. You have time to train. I'm just saying, Pick a non Ironman race. Those don't fill up very fast. Do it and see how it goes."

I couldn't respond to that. Ironman really hasn't been on my radar. Even with the boys moving out, I was waiting. We're going to have a lot of free time, and I didn't want to fill "our" time with training. But was that just an excuse? I have the flexibility to do long training days when Mr. Tea is at work.

I had a friend that I was planning to do Ironman with. We were going to do the same race, but that's no longer an option. It was going to give me someone to train with....but that person is gone now.

Could I do it on my own? Could I enlist people to ride with me for portions of a long ride?

We do have Ironman Boulder now. I'm sure I could find training groups or group rides to keep me entertained.

The one thing that was holding me back the entire time was having support from Mr. Tea.

Now, I have that?