Thursday, March 5, 2015

That last kick

In triathlon, training is a process. That's how it is for all sports.

One of the coolest parts to having a Coach is seeing the process. I'm not a Coach. I have NO desire to be a Coach. I don't know know how or why Liz does the things she does. Honestly, I don't have time or energy to talk to her about it. In other words, I don't really care because it works.

I don't know what is coming down the path, but I can see where we've been and why she's done the things she's done.

She also manages to attack my biggest issue at that time. It's all very logical, but I could never do it on my own.

Last year (as you know) was all mental work, getting to know each and building a foundation. This pre-season, she started to push my limits and get me stronger.

Each step builds upon the previous stage.

Now, in my opinion, we have been working on "that last kick". By this I mean, pushing hard when fatigued.

Once again, I've never done that before. When I got fatigued, my goal was to just NOT SLOW DOWN.

Obviously, we have been building upon this for about a month now. We have worked up to the intervals that I'm doing now. In 2 weeks, those intervals will even be harder.

In the past when I did an interval, it was run or ride for a certain distance/period of time then rest. Those are fine for less experienced athletes or even those coming back after being out of the sport for awhile.

What I learned from traditional intervals is that if I just get through that interval, I can rest. They didn't teach me how to excel when I'm fatigued.

They taught me the mentality of survival. That really hurt me in races when I needed that last kick.

Liz does intervals differently.

Yesterday, I was looking at my intervals and had a question about them. I was going to do them one way when I thought to myself, "This is Liz we're talking about. I think she wants me to do them this way....which is sick."

Sure enough, She confirmed that she didn't want me to do hard intervals; she wanted me to do the sick intervals.

Liz does building intervals. Maybe 1 minute at 110%, 1 minute at 120%, 30 secs at 130%.  Then rest. (I think we did that workout a few weeks back).

Yesterday, my intervals were 1:30 @ 100-110%, 1:30 120-130% then rest.

The first 1:30 isn't bad. Although, I can't really believe that I'm saying that now. A month ago, that was really difficult.

The gift of these workouts is that they don't let up. There is no "Just get through this time and then you can rest."  You get through the first bit and the second bit is harder.

I know they are only going to get harder as I head into my peak weeks....I looked at next week's workouts and they ramp up quite a bit. (I always look 1 week ahead, so I know how to plan out my day. If I have a 3 hour workout, I know I need to have a window of recovery before I get back to work.)

This is how the puzzle works. Last year, we worked on the mental side. I couldn't do these workouts without that foundation.

One of the biggest changes that I made was based on an article that Liz sent her athletes. (She sends us lengthy emails every week and attaches articles or current research). She is fully committed to helping athletes succeed.

The article that made the biggest impact was about the type of language we use as self speak. I wrote about this last year, but here's the quick synopsis.

If you say, "Don't slow down".....research shows that you will slow down.

However, if you say, "Hold your pace" or "Pick up your pace".....research shows that you will hold your pace or speed up.

Remove the "negative" language for positive results.

These are the little things that separate the people who reach their goals and the ones that flounder around. I know. I was a flounder for a long time.

I had 8 intervals yesterday. At 3, I was really starting to feel it. I had 5 left to go. During my recovery (3 min), I recovered. I didn't think of the next interval. I needed the mental and physical break. These intervals take an enormous amount of energy.

When the last 5 intervals hit, there was a lot of "hold it! hold it! hold it!"

Because I've learned that if I said, "Don't give up", I would have given up.

When interval 8 hit, it was "LAST SET, BEST SET." over and over and over.

I did every single damn interval stronger than the previous.

When the mind and the body come together, connect like that, it's a beautiful thing.

I have been doing it over and over and over. I don't even have to think about it now. It happens on its own.

Repeated behavior becomes a habit, so natural that we don't even have to think about. It just happens.

It's not magic. It's a change of behavior.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

I ♥ these people

Me: Michael, I can't do this right now.

Michael: It's ok. Let's back off for a minute. You've got this. I know you're tired.

Andrew: What's up?

Me: I'm just tired. I'm struggling to hit the intervals. I raced this weekend. These 500's are doing me in. My entire body is sore.

Coach Andrew: This is how you are supposed to feel. You ARE hitting the intervals. I don't care that you are struggling to hit them. You ARE hitting them. I know you're tired. This is what Liz wants you to do. This is how you get stronger, Tea.

These are the people I get to train with. Michael is a much better swimmer than I am. I'm the better cyclist. Together we make great training partners.

Andrew is my swim Coach. He is constantly pushing me to be better than I am. He is always yelling out my splits. He stands at the end of my lane. At the end of my intervals, he asks, "What did you do right? What did you do wrong? How did you fix it mid-interval? What's your heartrate? What's your pace? DON'T LOOK AT THE CLOCK. What's your pace?"

Even just a couple of years back, I didn't have THIS much support.

It's everywhere. From Mr. Tea making me a week's worth of food to getting random "Good Luck!" text messages.

I've never really been one to have haters like I hear other athletes talk about. For a short time, I had one or two "runners" (who did A single triathlon), give me quite a bit of shit about my run speed. But I cut them out of my life. Nevermind the fact, that triathlon is about being the best triathlete, not runner.

Every single day, I'm so thankful for everyone that helps me....right down to my bike shop people, who call me after a race to see how I did and find out if I had any problems. THEY CALL ME.

When I started triathlon, I was surrounded by triathletes, specifically Ironman triathletes. That's good and bad. In the beginning, it was good for me. Later, I found my "own" self. I realized that I don't want to be surrounded by triathletes (in general). Triathletes aren't bad people at all. They are incredibly supportive.

I need breaks. Think about it this way. I work 8-10 hours a day. I train (currently) 13 hours per week. Then, I also have to update my training log and provide feedback to Coach Liz. I have to plan food. I have to schedule all my normal appointments around training.

That's my max, right there. I don't want to spend anymore time talking about triathlon. I don't tell people I'm a triathlete. I'm not interested in following pro's, unless I know them personally. I recently went through my lists unfollowed all Coaches (except Coach Liz) and races (unless I am doing them this year). I have never set the dvr to record the IM World Championships. I don't follow Le Tour de Anything.

What I DO: take every opportunity to meet people with interests that are very different from my own.

When I am training, I'm surrounded by people who really care. Why they care is beyond me, but they really do seem to care and are invested in my success.

Sometimes I get overwhelmed by how lucky I am to be surrounded by such great people.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Desert Triathlon Race Report: Maybe Not?

The gist of the report is that I was pretty happy with my effort overall. I got a flat on the bike.(Yes, I was prepared for a flat, but it's a long story...and this was a sprint...just trust me). I ended up having to walk the rest of the bike course which was very tough in the wind. With about a mile left, a course mechanic found me walking and helped. I was able to then ride back and finish the race. We had extremely high winds on the swim which meant an extremely strong current and the buoys were launched. I ended up swimming 950m in a pace of 1:20 instead of 500m.

Sadly, about 10 other people also got flats in on the course and 5 of them took a ride back to transition. (Mr. Tea filled me in on that tidbit at the finish). When I was packed up and leaving the race, I saw 3 people making the march up the hill with their bikes....also with flats.

It is hard to put in the training hours to have a race like that. My effort was really good. But, I really wanted to see what I could do on the bike. I also knew that I was set up to have a fantastic swim and had estimated my swim time to be about 6:00.

I didn't realize we had a problem on the swim until I spoke with Amanda and Chris W (Coach's husband) at the finish. (Amanda was 2nd place OA Elite on Sunday in the pouring rain). She said they were all counting on me and another person to be #1 and #2 getting out of the water. Then they saw the buoys taking off. She said the swim became chaos at that point with people just cutting the swim short. (Mr. Tea said several women got out of the water crying.) BTW: Only my wave was affected. We were the last wave to go. Winds had been going all morning, but they went bonkers for my swim start. When I got to shore, I had been maintaining the lead. So, when I saw about 15 other women getting out ahead of me, I knew something was weird.  The current was such that I couldn't really tell that I was chasing the buoy. (Me and the two women who were pacing right behind me....we all ended up swimming the same almost 1000m)

Here's my swim map from Strava.
Um. yeah.

And the bike data.

I wasn't going to accept a ride or a DNF for this race because I felt fantastic. The only thought I had after the bike was that even if they take my chip, I was still going to run.

Well, I didn't take a lift back to transition. So, there wasn't an issue.

The run:
Although I didn't follow the plan...I honestly just forgot about the plan. I wasn't upset at all. Sh*t happens. I started running, and I had forgotten about the details of my plan. Instead, I still picked up the pace and effort. However, the race became more of a run. What I did well was that I kept fueling when I was walking the bike. I had packed extra water and extra calories just in case. That ended up helping me on the run. 

That pretty much sums up the race. I ended up coming in 8th F45-49.

Nothing really spectacular about the race other than it was the FIRST of the year. 

I'm heading to AZ from 3/19-3/21 or thereabouts for my next race (another sprint). Then, my peak race is in AZ in April. 

Again, it was a race of mixed emotions. I felt fantastic. I was SO ready to race. I was disappointed that it went the way it did. Triathlon is complicated. Things are going to happen.

Give me a few weeks. I'll be ready for the next one.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Coming Soon: My Race Report

This is, Tea. Thanks for calling. I am currently on vacay. Road tripping across the Southwestern US, doing a race, cheering at another, eating a ton of mouth watering desserts....and regular food, too, staying up late, sleeping in and overall setting a fine example of how to do vacation.

Be assured a full report will be coming your way...which may describe my adventures in Vail (pretty tame but fun) and more importantly the real (or slightly exaggerated) Vegas panties story, lessons on what to do when things don't go as planned.

Or maybe I'll say "Forget all that! I'll be back in AZ in a few weeks. Onward to the next great adventure."

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


If you have been following along with Tea's Great Adventures, you know that I am currently in a hotel room in Grand Junction.

There is no significance to knowing that.

I feel so relaxed and happy. The reason has nothing to do with me.

I have a few friends who are the creative types: journalists, bloggers (the paid kind) and photojournalists.

One of them,  we have known each other for awhile but live a little far to plan things together. However whenever we see each other it is like we've never been apart.

In 2014, this friend had a very bad year from a substantial injury to having a substantial personal loss. Everything happened around the same time, Feb/march.

Throughout the year, I read his articles. Although, the articles were informative and not about his personal life, I could see through the words. I could see how much he hurt. His "voice" was different. His word choice was off. The grammar wasn't his normal high standard.

His readers probably didn't notice much difference, but I did.

Yesterday, he published his newest article. I realized that he hadn't written in maybe 2 months.

He sounded like his old self, and it made me smile. I knew he was healing. The hurt, hurt a little bit less, and he was back to his old writing style.

But I think what was really incredible was reading between the lines. I could see the process of reflection that he went through over the past few months.

He was finally able to "let go".

It made me so happy for him, to see that he had the peace he deserves. No more mourning the past.

He is living again.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Race Plan


The exclamation point is completely warranted.

I made a lot of progress this off season. I'm so excited to race. I don't think I've ever been so excited.

I present you with the plan that got two thumbs up from Coach Liz.

My plan will be really simple. Everything about this race, plays to my strengths. The swim is a short sprint. The bike is longer and a perfect square (very few turns), and the run is 3 miles.

Although it's early in the week, the temp for race day is supposed to be a high of 71. I've been training for much hotter weather--using space heaters and bundling up on my runs outside. 

Swim: 500m
In masters, we've been doing a lot of long & strong pull sets. I feel really strong. For the first time, I know my paces based on effort. I don't even have to look at the clock. I've also learned pacing, and I can hold my form when I'm getting tired.
At this distance, I'd like to go pretty hard. Start the race and get my bearings. Then GO. 

I feel really good about holding a hard pace for 500m. That's my goal.

(Gel at the start of the race)

Bike: 14 miles
Geesh. This bike course heads out of the park, then does a perfect square and heads back.
I've learned a new level of pain this off season. I've learned how to not just hold on but push even MORE when I'm there. I'd like to hit threshold and hold it for the duration of the bike. This is a very flat course and with few turns, it'll be a fast one too. 

Fueling: I'll have my sport drink on the bike and also water. (About 200 calories and 750mg of sodium)

Run: 3 miles
Believe it or not, I feel the best about my run (meaning that we're going to see the biggest improvement here). The run has always been a matter of survival. This year, I feel different. I can chase down people, and I can go past the pain and go harder. I learned that, really, only recently. What I used to see as my highest level of output is now my baseline.

Although it's not my goal, I wouldn't be surprised if I end up with a run PR. 

Recently, I've been able to pick up the pace when I'm hurting. I have no doubt that I'll do that in the race because it's now familiar to me. Granted, the sprint is a much more condensed version, starting at a faster pace and increasing from there.

That's my goal. My last 5k was a 9:15 pace, but I've made progress since then. I'm going to start at a 9:20ish pace for the first 1-2 minutes, get comfortable then GO. No messing around. Really go (especially in that last mile). At my 10K, I shocked myself with the last mile where I ran a sub 9 pace. This is only 3.

That's it. I'm going to go out to Palm Springs. Enjoy the warmth, have a good time, eat really good food and meet some really amazing Multisport Mastery athletes. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Challenge workout

Coach Liz is known for her challenge workouts. (That's my own terminology).

I've been with Liz for a little over a year, and I've never gotten a challenge workout until this week. I've heard about the workouts from other athletes. When they show up on your plan, there's no statement of "challenge workout" or "you'll be tested" or anything like that. It just shows up as a regular workout.

You don't even know until you start it. Then, you realize it immediately.

For the past few months, she has been giving me very hard bike workouts. Every time I get one, I think, "Ok. This will be really hard but doable."  I always manage to exceed the goals.

Last week, I saw the bike workout on my plan. I had to pause.

This was going to be the hardest bike workout I've ever done in my entire life.  The basic concept was
6 x (1 min @ 110%, 1 min @ 120%, :30 at 130%, rest for 3 minutes). Constant build.

If you aren't familiar with power on the bike, I think I can explain it like this. Let's say you run a 5k at a 9:00 pace. BUT that pace is everything you have, grunting to finish, feeling like you will pass out if you have to take one more step.

Translating this bike workout: You'd run 1 min at 8:30, 1 at 8:00, :30 at 7:30. It's a constant build. When I thought I couldn't go on, it was time to rest.

I saw the workout. Again I thought, "THIS is going to be tough".

And OH, was I ever right. After the very first interval, my legs were jelly, shaking, and I had to rest my head on my aero bars; I needed every second of the 3 minutes to recover.

I thought to myself, "I have to do this 5 more times".

My head never really fills with negative thoughts. I never thought "I just can't do this".

It wasn't a matter of thinking about what I could do. It was a matter of just doing what I could do. For most of us, those are two very different things.

I pushed as hard as I could. EVERYTHING I had.

When you look at the workout, it's 15 minutes of over and way over threshold. 15 minutes.

It was harder than the bike test.

At the 3rd interval, the middle minute, I just missed the watts. That made me go harder for the :30.

At the 5th interval, I missed the :30 watts by 10 watts. That made me go harder for the last set.

When it was all said and done, I missed the watts in 2 sections (that one middle minute and the one :30)

Don't leave yet.

This workout isn't over yet.

Immediately after the bike, she wanted me to run faster than 10K intervals off the bike. :30 seconds faster than 10K, :30 rest.

When I got off the bike, I thought to myself, "What is wrong with her".

The question really should have been, "What is wrong with ME?"

I didn't realize that this was a challenge workout. I mean. I'd never had one. I just thought it was another one of Liz's extremely difficult workouts.

I still had a run to do.

:30 on, :30 off.....tough, but I focused and did everything possible to recover as much as I could in the :30.

When I finished the workout, I had to lay down. I didn't want to move. I didn't know if I could move.

I felt empty: physically and emotionally, like I have never felt in my life.

I felt nothing. I didn't feel like I accomplished something huge. I felt nothing.

I gave everything I had. I didn't back down, and I still missed two intervals. I made 16 of them and missed two. Even on the two that I missed, it wasn't because I gave up. It was because I just couldn't get there. I was maxed out. I should feel great, right?

On the run, I ran every :30 at faster than 10k pace. For only one 30 second rest, I stepped off the treadmill to recover....I only did it for the :30, though.

I should feel great about it.  Nothing.

I wondered if THIS was the feeling that GREAT athletes feel. It went so far beyond working hard that it left me empty, not relaxed, not feeling like a job well done, not feeling tired. EMPTY.

When I filled in the details of my training log, I told her, pretty much everything I've said here....but mostly that I feel nothing and I missed a couple of intervals even though I gave everything. It was like for the first time ever I maxed myself out. How many times have I said, "I don't even know my potential because I've never even hit that ceiling."? MANY many times. When I say "potential", I am not talking about a static place. I'm referring to a constantly moving target. As I get stronger and faster, my potential will increase. My potential this year is greater than my potential last year.

She wrote back to me that this workout wasn't about the watts. This workout was to see if I had the guts to do it. She wanted to see what I'd do. Would I do it? Or would I back down? When I got tired, would I come back stronger or weaker on the next interval?

It was a mental test, and I did it.

She said I needed it. She was right.