Monday, June 29, 2015

Wandering


A few weeks back, I mentioned that I'll be taking some time off (after Nationals).

Time off is really important. People who train constantly are doing themselves a huge disservice by not having downtime.

When I said that, I knew that I wanted to change things up. I wanted to do things differently in the future, but I wasn't exactly sure what I wanted to do.

Since then, I've been thinking about it. A lot.

Liz and I talked several weeks ago. She and I were on the same wave length about a lot of it....which is so amazing that she knows me so well.

Some how, she seems to know what I want to do without me saying anything. She could have easily made her own recommendations, that would have been WAY off target for me. But she didn't. I can't figure out how she does that.

I'm getting off track a bit. What I mean to say is: I have some pretty big, exciting things planned.

Stuff....you'd never expect from me.

This is my 10th year of doing triathlons. I think it's time for me to take the next step.

There are things that I want to do that I've had to set aside while I work on getting to and having a great race at Nationals.

I still plan on swimming, cycling & running. I love all three. I love doing swim races. I love being on my bike, and I love running road races.

I'm not leaving the competitive arena. I will be swimming, biking & running. Maybe in a little different format than you're used to me doing. In fact, I'm registered for RNR AZ half marathon in Jan. I'll do swim meets and time trials.....and a few surprises.

I'm not quitting.

I'm going to wander for a bit.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Race Report: How bad do you want it?

I know. I was all hush hush about my plan, but hey I warned you.

I really wished that I could write something funny and witty because the race was really great.....but

Instead, you'll get the condensed version.

The Swim

Slow start. We could not see the buoys. I don't mean, "Hey, is that the buoy out there?" We couldn't see them on shore and being in the water was worse. There was no other pointers that we could use to see the last buoy.

The swim start was frantic. Aren't they all? The first thing I thought to myself was, "It would really be beneficial for people to practice running starts into the water. AND, if you are in the back, and you pass the very front swimmers, you're probably going out too fast."

After the crowd cleared, I found that I was neck in neck with another woman. It took me awhile to realize that she was using me as her guide. And funny enough, I was using her. Either way, neither of us could see. I had no idea where I was going. I couldn't see the swimmers ahead of me. I could barely make out kayakers.

I finally stopped and looked up at a kayaker. He said LEFT....you need to veer left. I yelled out Thanks. (You can see this on my map). I actually think I did MUCH better than I thought.  I thought I was zigzagging all over the place. I don't know why there is the weird pointy thing on the map. I'm pretty sure I swam pretty straight, but that could also be where I was avoiding the newbie sprinters.


When we reached the turn point, I felt good. I was ready to start getting faster. I looked ahead and didn't see anyone else with my swim cap, except the woman next to me.

As we made the turn, we had a short gap, then we ran into the slowest of the sprinters. Backstrokers, breaststrokers, etc. I got stuck right in the middle of a group (because I thought I could dart through the middle and stay my course), instead I got Malachi crunched.

I saw the woman, now ahead of me.

I wasn't really focused on trying to beat her or anything like that. I liked having her nearby and wanted to stay with her.

I found out later that I couldn't see any other swimmers ahead of us because we were 1 and 2 out of the water.

I felt really good about my swim.

After thinking about it, though, I think I have to resigned myself to the possibility of no longer having swim PRs. It's not for a lack of effort. It's for the simple fact that I'm always in the last wave now. That means swimming through less experienced and slower swimmers.

If I can stay in the top 3 in AG, I'm pretty happy with that....whatever the end time ends up being.  I know I can swim that course in 1:20-1:23, but it's just too hard swimming through ALL the previous waves.

When I got out of the water, I felt like I gave the effort I needed. I feel really good about that.

End result: 1:33 pace

The Bike

My goal was to build the first 5 miles. I did that pretty well.

The website gave THREE different distances for this race. This is now the 3rd races that listed 3 different bike distances. HOW HARD CAN IT BE to get the correct distance? It's not a HUGE deal, but listing 24-27miles can affect fueling.  Here's the elevation profile.

And yeah, that downhill? Top speed 42mph. Probably would have been faster if it weren't for some of the turns.

I loaded up planning for a ride of about 1:30.

I brought 48 oz of water and an additional 24 oz of inifinit. I used it all in my 1:18 that I was on the course.

All in all, I'm really happy with my ride. This is definitely a PR for me, averaging 20.1 mph on the bike.

I was 3rd on the bike.

The bike is quite perplexing to me. I keep my garmin on Lap NP.

NP (normalized power) is never even close to where I'm supposed to be. My understanding is that NP takes into account: climbs and coasting. It's a good measure of where I am for a segment.

My NP was 144....which is the middle of zone 2....and NOT oly pacing. My speed was 20.1 which was a PR Oly bike speed. That's cool, but still...

I'm either WAY underperforming (VERY likely) or I don't understand how to use power in a race.

The Run

Things got a little weird here. Although I didn't know it at the time. My problem with running a 10K off the bike is that I start off WAY to fast.

My plan was to start slow....I mean really slow.....zone out everyone around me. Don't be concerned with what anyone else is doing....and run my pace.

I decided to be THAT dork and wear my fuel belt. It ended up being the best decision I made all day.
After taking in as much fluid and calories on my bike, I *thought* I was in good shape for the run. I had my gel right at the start with one flask.

Because this is a physically and mentally tough course, I broke it down into 2-2-2. The course used to be 2 loops of the 5k course. So, I knew that passing the 5k mid point was going to be mentally hard on me. Instead of focusing on the 1.55 point, I stared straight ahead, and kept repeating 2-2-2. Two miles at a time, and it'll be over quickly.

I met the coolest guy running. We talked and talked and talked, and he asked if I'd mind if we ran together. I certainly didn't. I could use the diversion. Even though, there were long gaps of silence, it was nice to have company. By the second mile, he said couldn't keep up and needed to walk. He knew I was chasing a PR, and said "I'll see you at the finish".

Things are going along pretty well, but I noticed that I was starting to get thirsty by the 2nd mile. Granted it's hot, but I JUST had 10oz of water at the start. I mean, really thirsty.

In addition, to my 30oz that I was carrying, I was throwing down 4 cups of water at every aid station. This has never happened before. I couldn't get enough cold water.

YES. It's hot. Yes. The sun is beating down on us. YES. The route is hilly. Yes, it's a dirt road. THAT'S HOW TRIATHLON IS. But....this was different. I couldn't even look at the reservoir. Thinking about ice cold water was too much for me.

I did ALL my normal stuff. Triathlon is always is the summer. It's always hot. My water plan is pretty solid.

During the race, I wasn't too concerned. I decided that I was going to drink as much as possible at every damn aid station. I did. It wasn't until I finished when I realized that I was super dehydrated.

Although, I adjusted my run plan downward, I felt really good about the way it went. Sometimes, the wins are mental more than anything.

Normally, when I finish a race (especially an oly), I'm running to the porta potty.

Today, I asked the volunteers for extra water bottles. I drank them down faster than a college student doing a chaser. I didn't pee for a total of 4 hours. I've looked at it from every angle. I can only say that it was just one of those days.

I honestly couldn't carry anymore water.

It's ok though.

My plan was to intentionally run slow. I most certainly did that; except that I went even slower.

Why was my plan to intentionally run slow? It's complicated. My problem is my focus. When I race, I think about everything else except what I should be doing. I think about the other women. I think about getting passed or passing others. That causes me to lose focus and run off my plan. My thinking for this race was, "Today, you're going to have to be ok with getting passed."

The plan worked. This race wasn't about podiums, placings or pacings. It was about race strategy.

Again. I'm really happy with today overall.

Today with a longer race, I beat my time from my April A race. That's pretty darn good.

Friday, June 26, 2015

6 weeks



Yep. Sh*t just got real. I got an email from USA Triathlon.

The top age-group triathletes from across the country will be descending on Milwaukee, Wisconsin in six weeks for the USA Triathlon Olympic-Distance and Sprint National Championships. Olympic-Distance triathletes have been racing for the past year for an opportunity to qualify for this race. Both Olympic-Distance and Sprint athletes will be racing for National Championship titles and awards, but they will also be racing for the opportunity to claim a spot on Team USA for the 2016 World Championships in Mexico.


Um.



Monday, June 22, 2015

Racing Plans



I love racing. I love racing often. Sometimes it can be frustrating when things don't go right....like my last race where I didn't fuel up the days before the race and bonked my little butt off.

Since I do short course, I can race often and with little recovery afterward. Granted, the Olympic distance takes me a little longer to recover from; still not as long as the 70.3 does....which makes me feel like ass for over a week.

Speaking of racing often, I'm racing this weekend.

As always, Liz wanted my race plan. I wanted to do something different for this race based on much of what I've been talking about.

When I sent her my plan, her response was, "wow. this is a completely different approach for you. I like it."

We talked a bit more. She wanted to make sure that I was fully mentally prepared for what I wanted to do. I really appreciate that. This plan is going to challenge me in a new way, but it's a step that I have to take to make the next jump. It's going to require a lot of discipline and a lot...ummm....being honest with myself, for lack of a better way of saying it.

At the end of our conversation, we talked about adding a few more races prior to Nationals.

Her exact words were "Find a race where no one knows you, and you can be a complete idiot. I want you to do some crazy stuff at this race."

How more awesome can a Coach get?

I found a small race, within walking distance from my house, in a few weeks; about the same time as the Boulder Peak--all the top AG'ers will be at the Boulder Peak. The Peak is a huge, highly competitive race. Believe it or not.....it's a race that I really don't like. Been there. Done that. Not going back.

Meanwhile, I'll be doing the neighborhood race.

I'm not exactly sure what she wants me to do at that race, but I have an idea. One thing's for sure, it's going to be a lot of fun.

Until then, let's see how this new plan works out.


Friday, June 19, 2015

Free yourself



The pressure to be great has become all consuming for me. I put this pressure on myself. I must free myself from the pressure of being GREAT (ie making a certain amount of money, climbing the biggest mountains, being the fastest person in your age group, qualifying for a particular race). Somehow, I've gotten away from accepting my average regular self.

To accomplish the great things we can accomplish, we need to accept ourselves as we are. Where I am and where I want to be are two different places. Where I am right now is not a bad place. It's a good place.

Think about it. Have you ever put pressure on yourself to hit a certain pace? A certain time goal? I have. In my recent races, I want to believe I'm faster than I am. I set goals based on what I want to be. The pressure is subtle but deep. It constricts us. It restricts us from being great. I miss the goals because I have so much pressure to perform to those standards. If I just let myself be.....I could accomplish so much more.

When we accept who we are at any particular point in our life, that's when we are free.  The pressure of thinking about being great is gone.

This is where I am now; after months of struggling with it. I put too much pressure on myself to accomplish certain things.

Yesterday at the track, it hit me. I was the only one there. I was the only one who knew what I just did. I didn't go into the workout thinking "I have to hit these goals."  No one knew, and if they did.....they wouldn't even care.

Instead, I went into it, thinking, "I'm just going to run. I don't know what I can do. I'm going to do the workout. The times will be what they will be."

It's easy to fall into the trap.

Now, I'm going to climb out of it.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Born to Rise



Last week, I had a bad week.

It was so bad that I got an email from Liz asking me if I was ok.  We talked for a bit, and she said, "Take tomorrow off. Let's talk tomorrow afternoon."

It was a bad week. Why? I don't know. I mean, I can look back and see a few things that weren't quite right.

It was several days of missed intervals, missed paces. Everything just felt off.

I ain't gonna lie. It messes with my head. Having one bad day is one thing. Having a few days in a row....I started doubting myself. I was tired. I wasn't thinking clearly.

I kept thinking, "Maybe I've bitten off more than I can chew. Maybe I need to re-assess (ie----completely change----) my goals."

For all the negativity that I felt, I kept going. I took my day off. I started really paying attention to how much I was eating. I made sure to get to bed earlier or sleep in....or both. I skipped an open water swim in Boulder (with friends) in order to get more sleep.

I did my workouts. I wasn't feeling great for a few days. I would stare down workouts, procrastinating about starting because I was afraid of another failure.

But, I did the workouts.

I came face to face with the hardest two days of my week. The Wed/Thurs combo. Back to back hard effort days.

After a week of struggling, the clouds cleared and magic happened. I hit every interval and went harder than I thought I could. 

When my legs were shaking or felt like jelly, I held on harder than I ever have. When I ran my intervals off the bike, I pushed beyond every discomfort, every muscle ache.

For a year now, Liz has been in my head with her "Eat Pain and go back for more."

I was more of a "Eat Pain and puke it back up" type of athlete.

Until what felt like something broke overnight.....something in me gave. I got up today, tired and mildly sore and knowing that I had a hard track workout followed by another bike today. My legs were screaming before the end of the first interval.

I didn't care. I kept pushing. It hurt. Each interval had to get faster. I didn't stop to think about not being able to do it. I JUST DID IT. I didn't think at all. I didn't wish the workout was over.

I just ran.

I went home. No one will ever know what I did. I was at the track, by myself. No one knows that I just ran some of my fastest paces in that zone, paces that kept getting faster.

I uploaded my workouts. And Liz responded immediately....it was as though she was waiting for me....

It is no wonder you are so successful, Tea. We all have bad weeks. It's part of being an athlete. Keep on moving in the direction of your goals!  It doesn't change your path. THIS was a homerun.

She's right. We're going to have bad weeks; weeks that just beat us up and make us question everything about ourselves and our goals.

But that's when we're being tested. Stay focused. We were born to rise.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Strength & Power

I've mentioned before that Coach Liz is a big proponent of strength training. She's a functional strength specialist and will create programs for each of her athletes depending on our goals.

I do a lot of power work, like plyometrics.

I thought it would be a good idea to post some of the workouts that she has me do that are readily available on YOUTUBE.

These workouts are great for runners and triathletes. The best part is that they can be done at home and only take 10 - 15 minutes a few times a week.

Keep in mind, you might have to modify the exercises. That's ok. We all do. Be creative in how you modify.

In other words, don't just give up. If you can't do a push up, just hold yourself up in the position. Do your best. The next time, you'll be able to do more.

This one is one of my favorite core workouts.


Coach Jay Johnson has an entire 8 week program of progression.

This is the link to his progression workouts.

Here is the first in the progresssion.
There are 5 parts to his progression, click on the link above and you can see the entire 8 weeks of exercises.

He also has a lunge matrix which should be done as a warm up for your run.

If you really want some fun, do these after your run to build power.

Keep in mind, that your goal should be entire body strength. If you aren't doing anything, these are a great way to get started. If you currently are strength training, these would be a good set of exercises to mix in to keep things interesting.

Have fun!