Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Marathons and Mountain Biking

About a week ago, I ran a marathon!  It was fun.  Prior to this, I hadn't run an open marathon since April 25, 2004.  FYI, that's 13.5 years ago.  WHAT?  Man, I'm old.  Side note - when I looked in my old logs to find the date of that last marathon (Cleveland Marathon, BTW), I took a look at what I did for training for it too.  I did a 23.5 mile run.  Haha.  Whose idea was that?  Also, we didn't have GPS watches then so all my comments are "comfortable pace", "fast pace", "easy pace" with absolutely NO concept of how fast any of those paces were.  #thegoodolddays

I mostly did Philly because I had several athletes running it and because I somehow swindled Kait and Kim into also doing it.  And because I wanted to remember what it felt like to run an open marathon.  It brought me back to my roots.  Kim and I ran through the half in 1:37.  We were both still pretty comfortable.  We started to run some 7:00-ish miles.  We ran through 19 or 20 together.  Kim took off.  I stayed pretty steady.  The last 5 miles was hard!  I ran a bit with my athlete Michele, who was SO tough.  She inspired me!  I finished with a 1:35:35 second half for a 3:12+.  Got a qualifying time for Boston and NYC.  Ate a big burger.  Goal accomplished.

My partners in crime.  #lifetimemiles got us through.
My athlete Becca took a video of me finishing.  I posted it on Instagram (@bethshutt), but I can't figure out how to extract the video to post here again (since it was a repost).  Too bad.  My stride looks pretty much exactly like Shalane's when she was winning NYC.  #ornotatall  :)

SO!  Then I came home and decided it was MOUNTAIN BIKE SEASON!!  Because I have a new mountain bike.  Her name is Cami.  We go on adventures together.  I talk to her.  She somehow gets me home alive every ride (through no skill of mine).  

Cami is purple.  #duh

This is the thing though: mountain biking scares the living s@##HI@#! out of me.  Think of the thing that is really hard and scary to you.  That's mountain biking for me.  For the most part, the trails in New England are rocky, full of roots, and, well, very technical for someone like me with very little skill.  Oh and narrow. The trails are narrow too.  Most rides have one of these challenging elements to them.  Some have all of them - rocky, rooty, narrow, crazy ups/downs.  Sometimes I want to cry when I ride on trails like that.  And I've really only ridden with people that have far superior skill.  And they make it look SO easy.  John does things on his bike that I can't even fathom.  Like wait, did you just somehow get your bike on top of that very high rock and then shoot straight down off the other side?  Yup, he sure did.

Here is where I say something really profound about fear and challenging yourself daily to do scary things; get outside of your comfort zone.  Or maybe here is where I say something about how the fear makes me feel ALIVE!  A little, maybe.  Really the fear just makes me feel...well, like I might cry.  :)  And sometimes I force myself to do the really scary thing that I don't want to do and I feel quite accomplished when I do it!  And sometimes I chicken out even when John is saying "you CAN do this", and I walk my bike down the hill or over the rocks without even trying.  And that makes me feel a little disappointed in myself.  MOSTLY I think I like riding mountain bikes because it is a huge challenge and I'm proud that I take it on, even when I don't rise to the challenge (annnnnd she's walking her bike again...).  The thing is, I'm pretty determined to get better at it and that usually means one thing...I'll use my true talent in life to get there: persistence.

In the mean time, if you are riding in the woods in New England and you hear someone yell "GO CAMI!", it's probably me.  Watch out because I don't really know how to maneuver around people well and chances are, I'll run right into you.  

So go out and do something scary today!  Even if you don't rise to the challenge and chicken out, there is always tomorrow.  :)
One of the best things about about mountain biking is, you can ride when it's really cold!  21 degrees this morning and I was quite toasty about 15 minutes in.  

Monday, November 6, 2017

It Was A Good Run

6 years ago I wrote a blog about my decision to race pro in triathlon the following year.  I re-read that blog not long ago and smiled.  I was so darn young and green.  And giddy with excitement.  I was SO FREAKING hungry to see just how fast I could go.  And now, 6 years later, I am happy to say, I really feel like I answered that question.  I chased my passion and did the very best I could.  And I am so, so thankful for the opportunity that I was given to do this.

6 years of racing pro triathlon.  It was a good run!  I met the most fantastic people.  I traveled to really cool places.  I laughed hysterically.  I cried probably just as much.  I saw the very rawest version of myself.  Racing gives you a front row view of that.  Sometimes I liked what I saw.  Other times, not so much.  Chasing a dream and having a passion is such a gift - it will give you the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.  I don't regret one second of it, even the bad decisions I made.  They always eventually turned to good.

At Ironman Louisville a few weeks back, I raced my last pro triathlon.  It was a fantastic end to a career I'm proud of.  Most of all, I am proud that I raced with integrity.

And now, I make the transition to life.  It's a transition I've already been making so it's not a huge jolt.  Although I was always worried I wouldn't know how/when to finish pro triathlon, it was actually much smoother than I thought.  I just knew it was time and I just knew what I wanted to do next in life.

I have just as much passion and competitiveness inside of me.  Now I channel it into different things: The Run Formula, which is my baby; family and friends; new athletic goals - mountain biking (Xterra?), trying to break 3 hours in the marathon, Pemi Loop with my boss, going after a sub 20 minute 1650 in the pool.  Oh and maybe watching a little tv, hanging out at my favorite place (The Villa - duh!), and sleeping in every now and then.  Life on the other side ain't bad at all.

Blogging doesn't seem like a thing people do anymore.  Maybe I'll do it anyway, because I'll have to share my pictures of my mountain biking bruises somewhere!  Or maybe I won't.  That's the thing about retirement - you do what you want, when you want to.  :)

Who doesn't love pizza and a coke after a 70.3?  My last, in Augusta, Georgia in September.

After IM Louisville, we did Louisville things.

One of my all time favorite races (why, I'm not sure - it's always miserably hot), Eagleman 70.3, this year.  With some of my favorite friends in the world that I've been racing with for ages.  :)

Okay, pizza and a coke after a race is great, but burger, fries and milkshake with Kim after a race - EVEN BETTER!  Chattanooga 70.3 in May.

Steelhead 70.3 in August.  Amber and I laughed so hard my stomach hurt.  :)

These two.

Run Formula Vermont Trail Camp!  More of this fun to come!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Do people still blog?

Because apparently I don't.  At least not very often!  The other day one of those memories came up on Facebook and it was from what seemed like a lifetime ago (really only 4 or 5 years ago) and a comment was made "remember when Instagram and twitter and social media didn't really exist and we all just blogged instead?"  Right!  The good old days!  (but I do kinda like Instagram...)

ANYWAY, my blog was looking a little sad since I hadn't updated it for almost 4 months so I decided I'd write an entry.  I'm not ready to give up the good old days just yet, I suppose.

What has happened since I last raced, in Texas, in November?  Not that much.  Or maybe a lot?  That's what happens when you don't blog for 4 months - you forget what happened! So we'll let the pictures from my cell phone tell the story...  :)

On Christmas Day I went mountain biking with John.  It was warm and awesome and I didn't crash (badly).  WIN WIN!

For New Year's we went to Burlington, my first time in Vermont.  And we saw the world's tallest filing cabinet.  Because why not?  :)

I started training "for real" again some time in December or January.  I wasn't very fit.

I went to my first Bruins game!  With John, who is very suspect of selfies.

And I got a new race bike!  She's fast and furious and ready to roll, thanks to my bike mechanic/fitter extraordinaire!

Then I went to Florida for QT2 pro camp.  I got to ride my bike outside in the sun with awesome people.

I had a meltdown (or two) at camp.  I went in unfit and it was hard.  Like REALLY hard.

But there's only one way back to fitness and that's a painful, long road that involves a lot of hard work.  Thankfully I had awesome, fun teammates for 3 weeks to help with this process.

I had my best day of camp on the last day.  We swam long and hard and then ran 18x800.  I stopped thinking and just told myself to stick with Jennie.  So for 9 miles, that's what I did.  Somewhere along the way, I decided that I'm not done with this sport just yet.  It was an important decision.

Then I came home and it snowed in Massachusetts.  Not surprising.  But my fitness was way better than when I left.  Also, not surprising.

And THEN, this past weekend, The Run Formula had a Boston Marathon training camp!  I had a blast with these awesome campers.  They inspired me and made me laugh and they all crushed it.  I want to run the marathon now too.
And that pretty much brings us to the current!  Oh, I ran a half marathon in there somewhere too.  It went well.  I ran fast and then we turned into the wind and I ran slow.  All in all, just about right.  :)  First race of the season is Chattanooga 70.3!  I even went so far as to get plane tickets to TN so this is HAPPENING.  Blog report to follow.  Eventually...  :)

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Austin 69.1

Last Sunday I toed the line for the final race of my 2016 season.  It was a fun little adventure.

The race itself got a little delayed because of fog.  As in you couldn't tell where the water/lake was, let alone where the buoys were.  So, as you can see in the picture above, we sat around for a while.  I mostly thought about how badly I had to pee.  And also how I REALLY didn't want the swim to be cancelled.  I'm obviously not a great swimmer.  But I'm not a bad one either.  I'm one of those people that isn't really good at anything, but isn't really bad at anything.  A cancelled swim leaves me in roughly the same spot as I would have been with one.  So really I just wanted to put all my hard swim practices and early morning masters wake-ups to good use.

No such luck.  The swim was cancelled.  So onto a TT bike start it was!

Stretching my arms before starting the bike.  Because that's obviously very important.  :)
Because my last name is Shutt and that's at the end of the alphabet, I got to start almost last in the pro women's field.  I liked this a lot because I like to chase people.  Much harder, in my opinion, to race off the front.

So chase is what I did.  I haven't been riding well all year but my cycling legs came alive a little for this race.  Not quite up to last year's standards but MUCH better and closer than I've been all year!  That made me happy.

Because of the TT start, I wasn't quite sure where I was in the race off the bike.  We had started at 30 second intervals.  I had caught some people.  Some people where still ahead, or were they?  Who knows.  Just run hard and keep as cool as you can is all I told myself.

It was hot by the run.  Like really hot.  Like high 80s hot.  Last time I did this race there were record lows.  This time, record highs.  What can I say, I like to go to extremes.  :)

As the run progressed, I knew this - Jeanni (my QT2 teammate) was going to win by a lot.  Jennie (also my QT2 teammate) and I were really close.  And Kelly (not a QT2 teammate) was running me down and if I didn't let her get toooooo far ahead, I could probably still beat her (she started 4.5 minutes ahead of me on the bike).  But dang was she running fast (as usual).  There was a lot of mental math going on when I was really, really hot and tired.  Every time I saw John he told me to "stay in it, people are all over the place" and that was very true.  In the end, Jennie beat me by about a minute and I barely squeaked it out over Kelly.  Third place.  I'll take it!  Plus that meant QT2 went 1-2-3!  I was very proud of that (and really glad I wasn't the reason we didn't do it!).

See you at camp in the winter, girls!  Let's just hope it's a little cooler.
I deemed this a fine way to end my season.  It's been a rough one, but in the end, when I DID get to race, I enjoyed it and it turned out pretty well.

Mostly I was excited about the fact that for one of the first times ever, I was staying after a race to explore the city and see what Austin was all about!  That's one thing I regret over my years of racing. I've always just come home directly after races.  Which means I've been to tons of great places, but never really seen any of them.  That's kind of sad!

So over the next three days, John and I ate and drank our way through Austin.  It was awesome!

Austin is a beautiful city on a lake.

Graffiti words of wisdom.  #nevergiveup

We took a boat tour at night and got to see the bats under the bat bridge!  So. Many. Bats.

We went canoeing!  And by that I mean, John paddled and I sat in the front and put my feet in the water.

So. Many. Turtles.

Voodoo Donuts!  On Halloween of all days!

Vicki, my gracious homestay and friend, took me to Magnolia Cafe before the race.  It was awesome!  Thanks for everything, Vicki!

She warned me that the pancakes were big.  I didn't fully appreciate this until I tried to eat two of them.  I was defeated.

Izzie.  Best homestay dog ever.  My, what long ears you have!

Always an honor to race with these strong women.
So that's a wrap on 2016!  I thought long and hard about racing in 2017.  There were certainly times that I was pretty convinced this would be my last year racing as a pro.  Mostly because my body fought me a lot this year and at some point you have to ask, "am I just too old to do this anymore at this level?"  The trouble is, I still REALLY love to race.  And I still feel competitive.  And well, I just really love to race.  I have so much support and a busy, yet good lifestyle to continue to train.  So I will.  I'm not sure what TYPES of races 2017 has in store, but for sure, I plan on being on some more starting lines.  On most days I curse this sport but I'm not ready to give it up just yet!

Biggest thanks to a lot of people who keep me running (literally and figuratively).  A great group of sponsors - Coeur, QR, Rudy Project, Normatec.  My actual family who has put up with my shenanigans for years.  My QT2 family who REALLY are like family.  The Snows and my 441 family who have been through all the ups and downs of the past couple years with me and have made me laugh and smile despite it all.  And John and the Peterson family - it is said that a happy athlete is a fast athlete and if that's the case, thank you for making me so fast.  I have a lot of really amazing people in my life.

So now it's time to mountain bike!  If my next post is about my broken arm, you'll know why!  :)

Saturday, October 22, 2016

SOMEone's Got Some Catching Up To Do.

So.  I've gone and not blogged for a while.  #badbeth I will try to make up for this with lots of pictures.  #nobodyreadsthewordsanyway

Since I last wrote, I caught a cooking bug.  Don't worry, it didn't last long.  I'm back to eating cereal for dinner.

Soup.  It was good.  I had to google how to mince garlic.

From Shalane Flanagan's cook book.  It was also good.  Get the book.  Make the lasagna.
Also, we went to Kait and Matt's wedding.  It was fun.  Matt and Kait looked great and there was dancing and food and good company.  What more could you ask for.

Sometimes we don't wear cycling clothes.

The girls.  Largely outfitted by Lauren.

The guys.  Also largely outfitted by Lauren.

The 441.  I got yelled out for using the wrong finger for the "1".  #mypeople
Also, cross season started.  One day I'd like to try it, but honestly, spectating cross is probably more fun than anything else...

Also, I ran a few races!  It was super fun to get back to my running roots.

First, a 4 miler.  John never runs but somehow managed 6:10 pace with me.  What the heck?  It was fun and we got coffee cake for our efforts.  Can't ask for much more.

Then I ran a half marathon a few weeks later.  1:23 which is equal to my PR from about 10,000 years ago.  I was surprised and happy with the outcome.
Also, we went camping.  On the ONE weekend of the year that it rained THE ENTIRE WEEKEND.  #oops.  
John rode his mountain bike.  And got a little wet and dirty.  I stayed in the van.  :)
So that's that!  Next weekend I'm racing the Austin 70.3 and then we are staying for a few extra days to explore the city.  I'm excited about this.  Last time I did Austin I went straight home.  #nofun

And then I'll be done with my season.  But I already bought winter cycling tights AND winter cycling shoes.  Me and my road bike have a date!  

Monday, September 12, 2016

Pumpkinman v2.0

This past weekend two of my very favorite races happened - Ironman Wisconsin and Pumpkinman Half Ironman.  Two very different feels - one an Ironman branded race that has all the Ironman bells and whistles, and the other - a local race with plenty of it's own special touches that has an awesome, grassroots feel to it.

Ironman Wisconsin was originally on the docket, but, as discussed in my last blog entry, axed after I caught the plague.

The plague eventually went away and I got back to a tiny bit of training and so, my new light at the end of the tunnel became Pumpkinman.  A full distance race didn't seem like a great idea but a half distance race was doable and could make for a great training day/reintroduction into going hard.  If you can't do one of your favorite races, well why not do the other!

Luckily, Kat, the Pumpkinman race director, was kind enough to allow me into the race last minute.  And right there is one of the best parts of Pumpkinman.  It's the kind of race where everyone knows the race director and she's there cheering you up the (nasty) hill from the water to transition and she's there to give you a hug at the end of the day and she's...well, she's just everywhere.  For every last participant.

The race itself got a little crazy.  It started well with a solid (for me) swim.  I spent the first loop of the 2 loop course SPRINTING to keep on some feet I had found (elite men and women start together so I had some feet to choose from!).  Then on the second loop those feet either slowed down or I finally caught my breath, and it started to feel easier.  We exited the water in just under 28 minutes (27:53 to be exact, for me) and I was pretty pumped.  That was about a minute faster than last year.  There is no doubt in my mind that I'm swimming better than I ever have, but I have a pretty hard time translating that into open water swim prowess in races.  It's a matter of finding feet (which is often not an easy task in the small women's pro fields) and being able to handle the significant oxygen debt from the fast early pace, until the pace slows a little.  Anyway, swim was good.  Next up bike.

Bike, not so good.  Actually, I'm not sure how it was.  My power meter was not working right and so I was trying to go off feel and HR.  I'm not that good at that.  Actually, I think the real problem was a significant lack of bike fitness.  I felt great for about an hour, then the last 1:25 or so felt not so great.  And long.  Like really long.  HA!  I kept pedaling though and eventually ended up in T2.  I biked a good 6 minutes slower than last year but that wasn't surprising.  I was ON FIRE last year on my bike at this time.  Now, not so much.  But you have to (re)start somewhere so after yesterday's ride, I'm one small step closer.

I started off on the run feeling pretty good.  I was running a tempo-ish pace that was eventually going to feel hard (probably) but that felt very comfortable at the time.  But then things got crazy.  First, I heard the men's lead biker tell my lead biker that they weren't allowing anyone else on the run course as there was a BIG storm coming.  Huh, it didn't even really look dark anywhere?  That was around mile 3.  By mile 3.5, I was not questioning whether a storm was coming because I was all of a sudden in the middle of it.  Holy. Cats.

It got nasty fast.  Wind, hail, branches/limbs/trees coming down everywhere.  My lead biker and I continued on.  I was mostly thinking how glad I was that I was running and thinking about the poor people on their bikes still.  I made it to about 4.5 miles when a police cruiser flagged me down and told me to get in.  Race was stopped, everyone was to get off the course ASAP.  He was there to give me a ride back to transition.

YIKES!!!  I pretty happily hopped in the back seat of his car.  Of course I wanted to finish the race but it was insanity out there and didn't feel that safe.  I certainly didn't expect to end my day in the back of a police car (he turned his siren on and everything!  fun!!) but it was the right call on Kat's part.  Safety first.  I think everyone agreed.

As luck would have it, the storm really only lasted 20-30 minutes and then the sun came out and the weather was brilliant!  This only meant that we could still have the awesome turkey dinner (Pumpkinman is FAMOUS for their post race meal!) and the awards and end the day on a great note.

Takeaways?  Pumpkinman is awesome.  My cycling needs some work.  Half Ironman distance races should always end with 4.5 mile runs (not even sore today!).  Police car rides WITH siren included are super fun...assuming you aren't going to jail in it...  And I'm super happy to be back on the up and up in terms of health.  Feels good to ask my body to do something and it (kinda) listens.

HUGE thanks to Kat, all the wonderful volunteers who stuck around in the bad, bad weather to make sure all the athletes safely made it to transition and to my travel mate Lauren that raced her way into 3rd and then rescued my bike while I was riding around in the cop car!

Next up - a 4 mile running race this weekend!  I ONLY have to bring running shoes!  :)

This podium is made up of Wayland Masters swimmers.  And we were all at practice this morning (the day after the race) too!  Big congrats to Kim and Lauren.  Always a pleasure racing these women!

You get to start Thanksgiving early if you race Pumpkinman.  I was quite concerned the storm was going to mean no awesome post race meal but of course, that was an empty worry.  Meal. Was. Awesome.
And then I headed home to Boston, which is really starting to feel like home.  (notice the perfectly sunny skies after the storm - there has to be a lesson in that somewhere...)
Big thanks to my sponsors.  I don't give thanks enough to a great group of companies/people that continue to support me through a pretty rough, inconsistent year.  That's when you know that you have good people on your side - they stick with you through all the ups and downs.  Coeur (ALWAYS keeping me looking good), QR (the bike works beautifully, just not the legs powering the bike), Rudy Project (keeping my noggin and eyeballs happy and healthy), NormaTec (I have a date with Norma every day), Beet Performer (drink your beets!) and of course, QT2 Systems (not just my team and my coaches, but my family as well).  I am truly a lucky girl.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

So...That Happened...

So.  Last I updated, I had finished IMLP and was getting geared up to race IM Wisconsin.  I was pretty pumped for it.  Training was going reasonably well.  Not great, but not bad.  I caught a cold the first week or so back into real training but that wasn't too bad.  I think I missed a day or two of training and then got right back into it.

Then, on a training ride one day, I got stung by a bee (or some other evil insect).  I'm allergic to bee stings.  Not in the sense that I can't breathe and go into anaphylactic shock, but allergic in that this happens:

Yea, my lip/chin usually isn't that big.
So that was annoying.  But the swelling will eventually go away on it's own, so I continued on with training for the next few days and tried not to scare small children when I stopped in convenience stores for extra fluids on my rides.

Later that week though, I started to feel not great.  Like I might have something nasty brewing.  I went to swim practice one Friday morning and felt awful.  I remember we were swimming 200s on 2:30 and I seriously wanted to cry.  Like for real, tears in my goggles.  I came home and thought I'd lay down for "20-30 minutes" before my ride.  I woke up 4 hours later with the sheets soaking wet.  I was in a rough spot.

It didn't get better from there.  As in I got pretty sick.  And I developed a sharp epigastric pain to the point where I couldn't really stand up.  I definitely couldn't eat or drink.  And John finally convinced me to go to urgent care.  At urgent care, the doctor convinced me to go to the ER.  And that, my friends, is how you buy yourself a day in the hospital.

Worst IV ever.  It was ever so slightly kinked so if I even THOUGHT about moving my arm, the pump started beeping madly at me.  It was worse than swimming 200s on 2:30.
Not much was discovered at the hospital.  Lots of tests and poking and prodding.  My first ever belly CT where the nurse did NOT tell me that the contrast they inject into your IV makes your whole arm feel like it's on fire.  Seriously - you should tell people that's going to happen.  I thought I was dying!  (I don't get sick often so I really suck at being sick, as you might be piecing together here...)  Some discussion about a bad appendix but then my appendix wasn't visible on CT.  To which my doctor asked "you DO have an appendix, right"?  Umm...I think so!  Nobody ever took it out to my knowledge!  Oh man...

In the end, I left the hospital with no real answers but I was pumped full of IV fluids and medicine and I thought feeling much better.

Except I wasn't really better.  And the next couple days were pretty darn miserable.  I still couldn't eat  or really drink and I lost more weight than I should have and I definitely was not training.

Eventually my symptoms got better just by me sleeping most of the day, but what didn't come back was my ability or willingness to eat.  Now.  Those of you that know me, KNOW eating is one of my talents.  And in my 37 years of life, I NEVER remember being sick enough that I couldn't eat.  I spent 12 years as a clinical dietitian trying to convince sick people that the only way to get better was to start eating.  And I never understood how it could be so hard.  For real - JUST EAT.  Even if you don't feel like it...just eat.  But now?  Now I get it.  Not having an appetite and being sickened by the thought of food - that's a real thing.  It's a sad thing.  It made me very sad.

So another doctor's visit and some new medicine (that tastes like chalk but makes me able to eat) and I'm slowly getting back to normal.  Whatever the heck I caught, it was no good.  And I don't recommend catching it.  Zero fun.

Chalk medicine.  For people with peptic ulcers and stuff.  Or people like me who REALLY want to eat again.

In the mean time, I've slowly started to return to training.  VERY slowly.  Somewhere in the midst of my misery (I'm making it sound like it was months and years of pain and torture...really it has only been about 2 weeks), Tim and I decided Wisconsin wasn't a great idea.  Not just from the viewpoint of missed training, but also due to the fact that after being pretty sick, putting my body through an Ironman didn't seem like a great method to full recovery.  So that's pretty disappointing.  But that's sport for you.  Sometimes you are GREATLY, greatly rewarded for your hard work.  But much of the time you are disappointed.  And that's okay.  When the rewards no longer outweigh the disappointment, it will be time to move onto something else.  But I'm not there just yet.

So what's next?  Other than slowly adding food back into my life (oh food!  how I missed you!!)?  I'm not sure!  We'll see how the body responds and take it from there.  One thing's for sure though - I will never take my good appetite for granted again!  Eat on, friends!  And stay away from the plague!!

I made myself brownies in hopes of wanting to eat them.  But then I didn't even want those, really.  Sad clown.

No worries.  In the mean time, the sky was really pretty last night.  :)