Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category
In early September, I struggled to decide that my 2014 racing season was at its end. I was a little depressed about this as I listened to others talk about their upcoming races and watched my husband prepare to complete his second 100-miler in October (success!). However, I know that I have nothing to be depressed about, as I look back on my season and see that I made significant progress and accomplished a lot of goals.
My 2014 “big” goal was to complete a half-Iron distance race. Some people use the term “1/2 Ironman” but I didn’t do an “Ironman” branded event, so I think we will call it what it is. I completed Rev3 WI Dells in about 6:30:XX, on a tough course on a hot day. What a beautiful course! I learned a lot about what to do and how to prepare in hindsight. I thought I was more prepared than I was, but I realize now that I probably hit my peak of training about 3-4 weeks after this race (on the next peak!). This is helpful to know how to plan for next year, although given a more normal winter, I might have had enough time in the saddle outside on the road to prepare for a half by the end of June. I also learned a bit about course selection (although everyone will tell you that every course is tough), there was an awful lot of vertical on that course for which this (now) Midwestern girl was not prepared! Additionally, I think I overtapered-I strayed off plan a lot the last 2 weeks before the race. I do not taper well, and I should know that by now, but as it was my first long event, I deferred to Mr. Prepared as to how I should feel heading into the race. Overall, I think I did OK considering my preparation and the course. I nailed my nutrition and hydration, which is often a rookie mistake. My goal for next year will certainly be to crack 6 hours at this distance.
The weather was also a factor in prepping for my half-marathon at the end of March. Training went pretty well, although I realize that I should have put in more long runs prior to the event. Also, I know that shoe mixing is important! I ran pretty exclusively in one pair of shoes for a couple of months prior to the event, and my feet paid dearly on race day, and for a couple of weeks after. I don’t think it was entirely the shoes, but I do think they played a role in addition to my lack of multiple long runs (10+ miles). My goal was to finish under 2 hours, and I got pretty close- 2:01:XX. I feel pretty certain I can improve on that number in the spring, provided I am consistent with my running frequency, which I have found is the key to injury prevention for me.
Thus, lessons learned in the early going of 2014 were to be more prepared- train up to distance prior to the race more often, don’t taper too much, and plan for peak fitness later in the season.
I started my tri season with a bang- winning my first “First Overall” award at Island Lake Spring Tri at the end of May. I totally should have done the Olympic, but kind of chickened out and went for the sprint. It’s OK- I love to sprint, what can I say? And that course seems to love me too.
I had some fun doing my first adventure triathlon at the Battle of Waterloo in July. What a blast! This is the kind of race for me, I thought. Again, my fitness was better, although I can’t say I went crazy training after the half-iron, but I was certainly consistent enough to see gains. This race has prompted me to consider doing a similar race in New York called Survival of the Shawangunks in the next couple of years, as well as get my butt on my mountain bike consistently in order to train for some Xterra off-road tris.
More fun was had a few weeks later at the Age Group National Championships in Milwaukee, WI. My goals were to enjoy the experience and get my Olympic time under 2:30:00. It was easy to accomplish the first goal, as USA Triathlon did an awesome job and the venue/course were excellent. My time was a little off the mark- 2:31:31. I could have done a better job training after BOW. I didn’t. Olympic distance races don’t scare me anymore, and I knew I wasn’t going to be fast enough to make Team USA, so truthfully, I know I blew off more workouts than I should have, and my bike leg definitely suffered as a result. I didn’t blow off the big bike workouts, but I did blow off the little ones, those that added speed on top my endurance.
I wrapped up 2014 outdoors with a 100 mile charity ride with an awesome group of riders. We had a great time, and while I was probably not ready for 100 miles, I managed it. I had to take 5 days off after, but I managed it. 😉
This racing season had some magical moments that I have waited a couple of years to achieve. It’s amazing to track my progress with this blog, although the evolution of this blog is at a bit of a stagnant stage. Some days, I catch myself looking in the mirror and wondering, “Who’s that?” I still don’t recognize my own image. I remember very vividly how intimidating a 5k seemed, and what a mess I was after my first one. Sometimes, it’s hard to brush off comments like, “Oh well, it’s just a 5k-that’s nothing for you!” because it wasn’t too long ago that it was TOO MUCH for me. I am proud of how far I have come, but I know I have a long way to grow- to continue to learn as I train and teach.
So for those of you not in the know, I have about 7 weeks to go until my first 70.3 triathlon race. I would call it a half-ironman, but I really hate that term- when I run 13.1 miles, I can’t stand the term half-marathon, and I really don’t think busting my butt for 6 hours should be considered half of anything.
I have rewritten this post twice because the first 2 times were super, super whiny. Admittedly, my “why can’t I go to IKEA and eat lingonberries and let my children play at SMALAND on a Saturday like everyone else” self as the culprit for these drafts. They were both quite, quite, small-minded.
Today I busted out my big ride, and I did it in no half-ass fashion (unlike last week, where I broke it into MTB riding and road riding). It’s quite amazing what 10 hours of good sleep + a day off will do for a person. I got on the Dark Horse ( that’s my pretty speed machine bike) in Stockbridge, rode the Waterloo Rec loop for recon on a future mission, and did Chelsea-Dexter-Ann Arbor to finish it out. Which is pretty awesome. I love going places via bike that I have never gone before. This gives me an opportunity to see things I don’t see via car, like a geodesic dome farmhouse, or a Harvestor Blue Silo, which is something that you only see in the midwest and also Mr.Prepared’s grandfather created and sold the patent for these to Purdue (ok, I know that fact is boring, but still!)
I rode into Ann Arbor to the bike shop for a re-fit on the bike as part of my ongoing “let’s be intelligent about training” process. I think I have a few key factors that have made the difference in this season going forward:
- Training. I have used Endurance Nation as my coaches for the season. These guys have built triathlon training for the age group athlete to a science. I respect that as I build my own business that they have their own mission and success dialed in, and I can only hope to be as good as Rich and Patrick at what I do. I am certainly sold on the model and the advice that these guys give. I just have to remember to get my ego out of the way.
- Injury Prevention. Shawn Kitzman of Synergy Movement Therapy has been a literal game-changer. Many of you know I stopped running in the fall to try to give physical therapy a chance to work. With Shawn’s Neurokinetic Therapy (NKT), I no longer have to wait to see if something works in a couple of months. He must truly be one of the best at what he does because I have lived with hip pain for a couple of years. In the first few weeks of working with him, I kept checking my back pocket or purse for a missing wallet or phone because I couldn’t figure out what was missing. It was hip PAIN! He is amazing, such that I am thinking about adding NKT to my practice by getting certified in the fall.
- Dialing in the bike. Between working at Hometown and finding a great crew at Transition Rack in Ann Arbor to help me with my TT bike, I have gained a ton of confidence on my bike in terms of fit, fix, and find. I found my beautiful bike, I can fix it now, and I have resources to fit it too. Lucky me.
Most importantly, I know that I am grateful and honored to be able to do what I do. Many people would love to be able to race, ride, and run like I do most days without thinking about it. Trainer Guy once told me something that has stuck with me almost every day:
I am grateful for the day. I am grateful that I am alive in this body and that it can do what it does.
I know this mantra will carry me through Rev3 WI Dells and the rest of my race schedule because I am racing with a grateful, happy heart.
We have many ugly features in our house, so it is no surprise that the unsightly but not too horrible floor to ceiling mirror in the hallway next to our bedroom has gone under the radar. As I have been working on getting ready for racing season, little notes have started popping up here and there and everywhere. I love positive little quotes, tea bag labels with good ideas, and even reminders about my goals in life, triathlon, and work.
With winter giving us the blues, we needed to find some way to lift our spirits and tap into some positive forces. So much has been happening with work for me (trying to open my own business!) that I need a place to ground myself when I am starting to doubt myself. This morning after a long, drawn out playtime of Barbie/My Little Pony drama, I got the idea of turning the mirror into a magic mirror. On the advice of my sister, I had been trying to look in it every day and tell myself, “I love you,” but truthfully, the mirror was so minimal I almost always forgot, and let’s face it, I felt a little like Jack Handy from the old SNL skit. However, I figured if I made the mirror a feature that I would want to look at, I would look at myself and repeat those words and find inspiration in the quotes, goals, and mantras pasted up there.
It made me feel so much better, like a strong frame around my picture when I have to face my fears. And then the teacher in me added some instructions.
Ok, so the home decor people out there are gonna recoil in horror, but I am more of a practical girl. I mean, let’s be honest, I have two bikes sitting in my living room right now. And yes, I have a garage. But if the magic mirror is going to make me a better version of me (or hopefully, all of us), then I don’t care if it’s slightly unsightly. Just look in the bathroom to the right of it. That will make the magic mirror look good by comparison.
Sometimes I have a real GUILT TRIP about the amount of time, money, and emotional investment I make in triathlon. I am certain that there is a fair amount of the general population that thinks one of 2 things:
1. “Seriously, does that woman just need an expensive, consuming hobby?” (to which the answer is NO and YES, possibly)
2. “What do we care about some almost middle-aged lady doing sport?” (Hold up, I am getting to that…)
On the treadmill this morning (the day my Friday run becomes an outside run will be the most GLORIOUS day of my life this spring!), I had my headphones off and was checking my cadence when I instead heard one middle-aged man call out another middle aged man in the weight machines section of the gym. The first man must have been complaining about soreness, workouts, the cold, or something of the sort to the second man. Then the second man goes, “Oh, stop acting like a girl!”
EXCUSE ME? What did that man say? (In the first man’s defense, he was offended. Not offended like me, who took most of my self-control not to jump off the ‘mill and punch the dude. Show him how a GIRL acts.)
What is it about women and sports? WHY does inequity still exist in 2014? Why do stereotypes continue to exist for women being serious athletes?
Sochi 2014 will be the first year that women will be allowed to participate in ski-jumping. As far as sources can date, women have participated in ski jumping since the late 1800s or early 1900s. So now, over 100 years after the first recorded women’s jump, we are just now getting around to adding it? And since we have finally added women’s ski jumping, what about Nordic combined? We already have both races separate (x-country skiing and jumping in one event, for those not in the know)…why not Nordic combined?
Women have the same goals, drive, and passion to pursue sport. In fact, many have shown themselves to continue to be passionate for sport long after their ship was supposed to have sailed (try telling that to a woman!), and in particular I think of Olympians Dara Torres and Janet Evans mostly due to my swimming background. In my personal experience, I played on the University of Michigan women’s water polo team while women’s water polo was on the cusp of NCAA sanctioning. We were a club team, but that was a very important role that we played despite the fact that no one will probably ever know we existed. However, the USA gold medal team of 2012 was anchored by a goalie that used to stroll the sidelines of our practices as a mere teenager after school. I am sure that this early influence was not lost on her; otherwise, where would she have been when women’s water polo became a varsity sport in 2001?
While more opportunities exist for women to compete at the highest levels than ever before, many stereotypes continue to exist for women and girls. Women have an important role to fill as lifelong ambassadors of sports- creating a more equitable playing field for the next generation. As a fitness professional, I feel a responsibility to continue to both make sure that my girls include fitness and activity as part of their lifestyle. As a mother of girls and an athletic competitor, I feel a responsibility to make sure that my girls have even better opportunities than I did to compete at the highest level at which they choose to achieve. The strongest way to live out that commitment is to be a role model to those girls every day of my life.
It thrills me that triathlon became an NCAA sanctioned sport for women this year. It validates my own work in the field, as well as that of my friends all the way up to professional competitors. My heart sang when my oldest daughter told me she wanted to compete in her first triathlon this summer. However, if she told me that she wanted to start Nordic combined, you can bet your bottom dollar I would be there making sure that there were opportunities for her to act like a GIRL and compete to her heart’s content.
Most people who don’t race themselves often shake their heads in wonder as to our sanity as a couple when it comes to endurance racing. I think that the blogger Just Another Endurance Junkie says it best in her post here (mostly the 4 paragraphs below the kissing picture of Rinny and Tim O’Donnell). I have posted these below this post too- truly read it, it’s worth the perspctive.
If you read it and get it, you just get it. If not, think about the things that you are into. I always try to honor what people are passionate about in an authentic way, even if I am not into it myself. I love to see the different things people are passionate about. So much of our life is stuck in the drudgery of work, carpooling, and cleaning toilets that I HOPE everyone I meet has a passion for something. I think it rocks that you LOVE geocaching, Jesus, Mother Earth, yoga, or whatever. Go on with your bad self, and honor my desire to do the same.
If you find yourself feeling passion-less, I have one suggestion: Make Space For It To Come In. Create space, time, and place for a passion to grow, take root, and turn your life upside down. Right now, I am having a really hard time with this concept. I alternate between freak-out-need-to-get-a-job-any-job moments and making the space for my dreams to work themselves out. I really want to pursue health and wellness as my career, and I am taking the steps to find work, but I know that I need to make space for my dream career to come together too.
I know that it is coming, though, because I have moments when there is a glimpse of the vision. Talking to the owner at the local grocery store today about school food, nutrition, and the state of wellness in our area gave me ideas and insight that feed the fire. I can feel that food and the role it plays in people’s lives is going to play a part in my dream career. Even talking about it with a new group of people tonight I could feel something so big I almost need to get out of its way.
But now, when I write it down, I have a panicky what-if-it-never-happens moment. However, I feel confident that I can do this. There have been other moments like this. For example, I made a space to devote to running, and over the holidays, I found the FUN in running. I ran 8 days in a row from Christmas to New Year’s. I made the space for it to come, and today as I ran, I know my running is solid, strong, and ready for what’s coming.
I am no longer afraid of being injured, or slow, or not able to run the distance ahead. I just need to make the space for the dream to come and take root and turn life upside down.
The thing about triathletes and endurance athletes is that many of us have rediscovered the power of positive motivation, encouragement, and coaching in our adult lives. The paradigm of pushing through personal boundaries to shatter past records and achieve new, previously unattainable goals is something many of us move away from after we graduate from high school sports teams. This lens–one of encouragement, big dreaming, and distinctive goal-setting–is the one through which we understand how to show love and affection. If one of my friends mentions a goal she’s been entertaining, you sure as hell bet I’ll be on her case about realizing that goal and surpassing it. This comes off as annoying to some, but more often than not I’ve been met with appreciation.
Perhaps most people don’t get enough of this on a regular basis. When was the last time you heard someone say something like, “I believe in you,” “You can do anything you set your mind to,” or “Dream big”? These are things we were liberally showered with as children, but such encouragement and belief in oneself falls by the wayside as we grow up and hide away behind our desk jobs. This makes me sad.
I think people who are drawn to things like endurance sports are people who have recognized that realistically, only a finite amount of achievement and goal realization is possible in the “real world”. The concept of the entirely self-made man or woman is a thing of the past, as our careers and personal lives function more at the whim of the economy, our happenstance social network, and random obstacles that arise than our education and persistence. No longer does good, honest hard work necessarily translate into getting where one wants to be.
With triathlon, the payback is reliably and predictably related to the amount of work that’s put into it. Working hard = progress, and progress = personal growth and improvement. We crazy endurance junkies have found an arena in which one of the most basic human needs is not only attainable, it’s incredibly accessible. Maybe we’re not so crazy, after all?