Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sunday Randomness

Today I gave a little nutrition lecture at the Pittsburgh Triathlon Club clinic.  It was fun.  It never ceases to amaze me how many people are interested in our sport in little Pittsburgh and how we are growing!  When I first started into triathlon, I only knew 2 or 3 other triathletes.  Now this place is crawling with tri geeks!  Watch out Boulder!  :)

Look how they are all pretending to be interested!  (Oscar took the picture through a class window, hence the glare)
Also, I got a new pair of goggles.  THE best goggles ever (and no, I'm not sponsored by them and yes, I bought these with cold, hard cash) - the TYR nest pro nano, goggles that actually fit my face.  By the way, every time I go to type goggles, I type google.  Am I the only one?

Also, I got an email from The Dirk today.  He says this upcoming week is a "transition week" - not as easy as a recovery week, but not very hard either.  And that I should take a "good deep breathe this week before we go HARD".  Totally thrilled and scared all at once!  (there might be weeping)  Here's to no mental meltdowns and many miles of fun!  Yahooooooooo!

Have a great week everyone!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What Meltdown #1 Of 2012 Taught Me

Ah the highs and lows of training.  :)

After the high of Saturday's solid training (finishing with the Postal Swim) and of being SOOOO close to finishing off one of my biggest weeks yet (actually, it was more than a week, so let's just call it a "block"), the low of Sunday came.

Yes, my first meltdown of 2012.  :)

Before I started working with Dirk, I never had any training meltdowns.  This was likely a result of not really being pushed to discover new limits.  Last year I had about 3 or 4 meltdowns.  A meltdown for me ALWAYS involves the bike.  Yes, that innocuous piece of carbon fiber knows my number at times!  :)

Sunday training started off awesome.  I had a long run on my schedule and did almost all of it with Oscar feeling strong the entire run.  I ran over 19 miles, which I haven't done since Kona (and it could be debated that what I was doing for the last 10 miles of Kona wasn't really running per se...).  I was excited about Sunday's run because, after struggled with running long the past couple years, it is VERY nice to really start to notice a difference in my strength over the past couple weeks/months.  I certainly have a long way to go but any progress forward is progress worth celebrating.  

After the run we ate, showered, stretched and napped.  This is the perfect scenario.

Yet looming over me was my last workout of the week, a 4 hour trainer ride.


Four hours on the trainer in and of itself is not a big deal.  I've done it many, many times before.  But it was the 19+ miles of running in my legs earlier in the day that was going to make it tough.  I knew it wasn't going to be pretty but after learning my lesson the day before about setting myself up for failure before I even started, I tried to go into it with a positive outlook.  And also with the understanding that even if it didn't feel great, the objective was to get 'er done.

That worked for about 2 hours.  My legs felt pretty rough but hour #1 went okay and I hung in there for hour #2.  At which point I started to notice a rather distinct drop in both power and HR.  As in I couldn't quite get that HR up over 120.  Ohhhh baby.

This is when it would have been REALLY good to be outside and 2 hours from home so the only solution was to keep pedaling until you got home.  But unfortunately I was on my trainer, already in the comfort of my home and it was toooooo easy to quit.

At 2:20 I got off my bike.  Calories.  I NEED CALORIES!  (even though I had been taking in calories and didn't need any, I was grabbing at straws).  I laid on the floor and ate a PayDay bar (yes, it's true they still make those and yes, its true we actually had one in our house).  I laid there for a while thinking through my options but unfortunately, mostly thinking up reasons why I shouldn't continue (ie: What the point if I can't get my HR up above 120?  My legs are so toast at this point, it couldn't possibly be of benefit.  I don't want to dig a big hole for myself.  Blah, blah, blah...)

I texted my coach but he was out riding himself.

And then I came up with a plan - just ride for 30 more minutes. 

So I got back on my bike but OH MY did my legs protest.  Like they were REALLY unhappy.  Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. 

And so after another 10 minutes of riding with my HR near 110, I got off for good.

Meltdown #1 in the books.

Let me just say, I HATE not finishing workouts.  I know, I have to listen to your body, blah, blah, blah.  I totally understand and get that.  If I am hurt or sick or about to harm myself, I understand that I must be smart.  But I was none of those and I don't have any races coming up to be concerned about.  No, this was more of a mental failure - a "I'm really tired and sick of this and I hate everything and I'm just DONE" kind of situation.  Not physically done, but mentally done.  And the same can be said for my meltdowns last year.  While I do a reasonably good job of working through most low spots in training and racing, I clearly still need some work in this area.

I knew I should have continued but I didn't.  After discussing with Dirk it was confirmed - that workout at that time, was very important to finish.  Major fail.  Not how I like to operate!!!

Yet it probably taught me more than any other workout this week or this month.  My inner voice of "never, ever give up!!" still needs to be developed.  It's easy to look back on it now and think through it when my body is recovered and feeling better and I'm not hungry, sore and tired.  But I need to be have that Never Give Up Voice in the heat of the moment as well.  Like at mile 20 of an IM marathon. 

I'm thankful for Dirk because he didn't give me an easy out.  He never has given me one.  I suspect that's why he's a good coach and is a great athlete himself.  He was positive in the fact that he encouraged me not to be too hard on myself - it was a week/block that I probably couldn't have even attempted last year - but he was also resolute in that I MUST continue to develop a certain mental resistance to fatigue that will allow success in a race as tough as Ironman.  His quote: "you hired me to make you fast at Ironman" to which I wanted to scream "WHY, WHY, WHY DID I DO SUCH A THING?????!!!"  :)

And so now I'm chomping at the bit to get another shot at polishing off a big block from start to finish.  But unfortunately I have to rest, recover and let my body soak in the hard work first.  I'm inpatient!  But luckily I won't have to wait too long - soon I leave for SC where I'll be devoting the majority of 3 weeks to training and training alone.  Here's to no meltdowns (and outdoor riding where I don't have the option of quitting... :).  GIDDY UP!

Monday, January 23, 2012

What The 2012 One Hour Postal Swim Taught Me

This past Saturday I did the USMS One Hour Postal Swim.  You can click on the link to read more about it but the basic concept is, you swim as far as you can for one hour, someone counts your laps and writes down all your 50 splits, and then you send your results in to see where you stack up.  Yeah, pretty cool.

I love stuff like this, mostly because I like to try to beat myself every year.  In the grand scheme of things, I'm usually in the 15-20 range place wise in my age group once all the results are tabulated.  Last year my age group was won by Kelly Williamson (yep, that Kelly) and she swam something crazy like 5200 yds. 

Anyway, I've done this swim 2 times before, once in 2009 where I swam 4250 yds and then again last year where I swam 4460.  In 2010 I was hurt (intercostal strain and I didn't swim almost all of Jan/Feb) and was majorly bummed not to be able to do it.

So that brings us to this year.  When I got my January training schedule I excitedly scoured the weekends for potential Postal Swim days.  I need to do it on a weekend because my lap counter (aka Oscar the Great) has a job and can't come swim with me in the middle of the day (lame).  :) 

I ended up picking this past Saturday because I had a 6000 yd swim on the schedule and because Oscar didn't have a track meet and could count for me.  But it was far from an ideal weekend since I was in the midst of one of my biggest weeks of  I realize this is no world championship, but I do aim to be a little fresh for it (you swim hard).  Instead, the day before (Friday) I swam a double (total 7500 yds) and biked for 2 hours.  On Saturday, I had planned to do the swim first thing so I could at least be fresh on the day, but we had a big snow storm and the roads weren't touched.  That meant I had to do my 3 hour ride before the roads were clear enough to drive to the pool.

You can see where this is going.

THEN, instead of having about 5 hours between the ride and the swim, I only had about 2 hours because we realized the pool we wanted to go to was closed and instead we had to hurry to another pool to get there during lap swim hours.  This, of course, was after I stuffed my face with lunch following my ride.  So now I had tired legs, tired arms, a full belly and it was time to swim for an hour as hard as I could. 


Now I'm sure you can REALLY see where this is going.

My goal had been to break 4500 yds.  That doesn't seem like much of an improvement over last year but it really is if you think about it.  That would require swimming about 40 seconds faster which, over an hour doesn't seem like much, but darn it if swimming improvement isn't measured in 0.5 seconds!  Right?!

Anyway, driving to the pool, I started making excuses in my head (and aloud to my trusty lap counter) about how this wasn't going to go well.  I EVEN considered bagging it and just doing a normal swim workout. 

And then, then I caught myself.

UGH!  How could I be so lame?  I know that's wrong - to set yourself up for failure before you even start.  To start giving yourself an out before you even get wet!  I got a little ashamed of myself.  That is not how to go about things.  So I told my trust lap counter, "it is what it is, I'll do my best."

And so I jumped in, warmed up for about 500 and then Oscar yelled go.  I swam as hard as I could (well it's not all out of ARE swimming for an hour!) and you know what?  I swam 4565 (1:18.9/100 yd pace), about 100 yds farther than last year, and surprised the heck out of myself. 

What did I learn?  I learned that you just CANNOT give yourself an out.  You cannot let yourself fail before you even start.  You need to go into every workout and every race with confidence that you will succeed.  Lesson learned.  No excuses.

Anyway, the actual swim itself went relatively well.  Oscar stuck a kickboard in the water every 500 to alert me as to how far I was.  Yellow kickboard meant I was on pace to break 4500 (6:40/500; 1:20/100 pace) and a blue kickboard meant I was behind pace.  When I saw the yellow kickboard after the first 500 I was thrilled!  (even though it wasn't true - my trusty lap counter lied!!!)  And with each yellow kickboard I got more confident that I could do it.  My 500 splits: 6:44, 6:37, 6:30, 6:31, 6:26, 6:31, 6:35, 6:38, 6:40.  I went through an IM swim (4224 yds) in roughly 55:30.  Now let's see some of THAT action this year in the races!  :)

If I was a triathlon coach, I think I would make all my athletes do this swim.  It is a TRUE exercise in surviving mental tedium and remaining focused for a long time.  You get to 1500 and you are so totally bored and over it you just want to cry.  Kind of like mile 80 on the bike in Ironman right?  :)  But you still have so long to go.  From 1500-3500 the mental fatigue is overwhelming.  Then from 3500-4500 the physical fatigue takes over.  My arms were definitely numb afterwards.  :)

So that's my story of the 2012 Postal Swim.  Don't let yourself off the hook like I almost did my friends!  You never know what the day/workout/race holds...  :)

Huge thanks to my trusty lap counter.  Watching someone swim for an hour has got to be the most boring thing ever.  But he agrees to do it every year!  :)  And I'm glad he lied to me about that first split.  He knew I needed to see a yellow kickboard.  :)

Oscar's view for 60 minutes...coming...and going...

And finally, I must mention JoePa.  I know if you didn't go to Penn State, it's hard to understand the love that the students, community and alumni have for him.  All I can say is, he deserves all the adoration and more.  Today Oscar honored him at school:

And my FB post from yesterday: "What I will personally remember about JoePa: seeing him walking on the trail near his home during our morning runs and he would say "it's a beautiful morning for a run girls!" and we would squeal with excitement like we had met the president. He was an amazing coach and an even greater man. RIP JoePa."

Friday, January 20, 2012

Play Harder

Occasionally I get asked to try out a product and review it on my blog.  I usually decline because I don't want my blog to be one big advertisement.  But sometimes when I'm genuinely interested in trying the product offered, I agree.

110% was one such product.

If you hop onto the website, you'll see that 110% is a company that makes compression gear with the added twist of being able to combine either ice or heat while you compress for that extra bit of help in recovering faster.  Because we all know, if you recover faster you can train harder.  And we all know what happens when you train harder.

I first learned of the 110% concept in Kona this past October.  I was intrigued by it but, I'm not going to lie, a little scared off by the price.  At the time all extra funds were going towards the "buy a power meter for Beth" fund and I didn't want to get enticed by anything that would take away from contributing to that fund.  I convinced myself I didn't need a pair of $250 compression tights because how special could they really be?

Well lucky for me, I got to try them anyway!  Not the tights, but the shin/calf sleeves.  And I pretty easily answered the question of "how special could they really be?"  Umm...REALLY special.

Okay, so it all started when this arrived via FedEx earlier in the week.

It couldn't have come at a better time because as I've not mentioned a gazillion times, I'm in the midst of a big training week and I could definitely use ice, heat, compression and any other recovery trick in the book!

Inside this shiny little package were compression sleeves, much like any other compression sleeves you've seen...

...EXCEPT, the shiny little package also came with these, ice/heat sheets!

All you have to do is get these wet, let the little fluid cells "fill up", and then place them either in the freezer or the microwave depending if you are looking to ice or heat up your legs.  The sheets are reusable and last ~6 months per the 110% website.  If/when they "wear out" you can buy inexpensive replacement sheets.  The finished product looks like this:

You then can cut the sheets to size so you can place them IN your compression gear for added recovery affect.  The ice isn't going up against your skin, it's going inside a pocket within the calf sleeve.  This pocket goes all the way around so you can ice your shin or your calf (or both).

And ta-da - you have compression AND ice/heat at the same time!  Pretty much THE ideal situation! 

I first tried the compression sleeves after a double run day that included intervals/hills in the 2nd run.  My legs were pretty cooked and my shins/feet sore.  There are varying opinions in research as to how effective compression works but anecdotally, I can honestly say my legs felt better for wearing the compression/ice combo for ~30 minutes and then wearing just the compression for the rest of the evening.  I really haven't been this jazzed about a product for a while!

And just as a side note, I've worn my new 110% compression sleeves every day this week!  Definitely a product worth it's weight in gold!

Of course now what I REALLY want are the full compression tights.  My hamstrings got so jealous when they saw the possibility of being compressed and iced all at once (my hammies have always been trouble children...).  There are also shorts, knee sleeves, elbow sleeves, full length arm sleeves and knickers.  The possibilities are endless!

Oh, and you that shiny little package that arrived in the mail?  It also serves as an ice box to keep your ice sheets (and perhaps a recovery sandwich?) cold for up to 6 hours!  (the ice sheets will stay cold up to an hour in normal temperatures).

Definitely worth a look-see if you are seeking out top-notch recovery methods!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

This Week

This week is a big training week.  One of those weeks where you don't look too far ahead on the training schedule because you should really only focus on one day at a time.  I like.  I like a lot.  It's not quite as fun when you know most of your bike miles will be on the trainer (vs out in the warm summer sun) but I'm not complaining.  13+ hours on the bike this week will leave me lots of time to catch up on LOTS of TV!  (or stare at the wall like I usually do when I'm riding hard :)  AND there is a chance (yes, it's true!) that Sunday might be DRY and in the 40s and I can ride outside!  If you have fingers, now would be the time to cross them for me.  ;)

Speaking of weather, our winter has been extremely strange.  A normal Pittsburgh winter consists of the following: some snow and cold that starts in December and then just gets colder and snowier until about March at which point it's cold and rains and then some time in late May the sun comes out and it's a bit warm.  This winter?  Not so much.  We've had close to no snow and although we've had some frigid days, we've had many, many days of high 30s and 40s.  Weird.  Very weird.  Of course every time it's 40, it rains all day.  Today would be a good example.  I did run #1 of the day in rain and as based on this hour by hour account of our weather, it appears that there is a likely chance that run #2 of the day will also be in...rain.

But look at those temps!  50s in January in Pittsburgh?  At least I won't be too cold.  :)

In other news, the FedEx man brought me a fun package today.

I can't wait to try it out!  I got the shin sleeves.  Full review to follow. 

Also arriving in the "mail" today (that would be my email inbox), a few long swim set ideas from Katie.  Woo-hoo!  I love me a good swim workout and she had some great ones!  (thanks again Katie!)  But let it be known, Katie is a heck of a swimmer and I *may* need to do some adjustments on the send off times.  HA!  Example: one of the sets included 3x1400 on 17:00.  Crap.  That'!  :)

Okay, time to get back to work.  Hope everyone has a great day!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Race Schedule

First, thanks so much for all your kind comments on my last blog entry!  I was expecting the worst but got the best.  Now I know I'm not done talking about my faith, but for now, we'll move to another topic...


Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!

I *think* I finally have a race schedule put together.  Well, more like 1/3rd of a race schedule.  I've divided the racing season into 3rds this year and I've only gotten as far as to figure out the first 1/3.  But boy was it harder than I thought!  One great thing about racing as a pro is that you don't have to sign up for races year(s) in advance, but one down side is, you don't have to sign up for races year(s) in advance!  So because you CAN hem and haw about it, you do.  Well at least I did. 

Anyway, the races (up until the end of June):

February 11 - Hilton Head half marathon (yeah!)
February 26 - CMU swim mile (double yeah!)
March 31 - Oceanside 70.3
April 22 - New Orleans 70.3
May 20 - Columbia Olympic
June 24 - IMCdA

Woop woop!

I'm bummed I couldn't make Eagleman work this year.  I was going to do it and then I wasn't and then I was and then I wasn't... Dirk finally said no to that one which is fine.  It's only 2 weeks before IMCdA so it would have been tight anyway.  I'm really excited to do IMCdA because I haven't done a non Kona (non 10,000 degrees) IM before!  And I hear it's beautiful in Coeur d'Alene!  And I don't mind cold water (that much).  I of course had to do Columbia because I've done it the past 5 years and now it's a tradition.  And a whole bunch of fun friends are doing New Orleans!  And Oceanside?  Well, I did that race in 2009 and LOVED it.  Like really, really loved it.  I signed up for it the next year but was hurt and couldn't go and then last year I WANTED to sign up for it but it closed before I got my butt in gear.  So this is my year to return.  And I like Oceanside for the reason that it's early and I always get REALLY anxious to race come March.  (I'm actually anxious to race now but beyond going to Pucon, I didn't think there was a race I could do...  :) 

Now the only down side to this schedule is that I will not have my sherpa extraordinaire with me for my first two races!  SAD CLOWN!  But my sherpa seems to have a job and no more vacation days (dang Kona) and so I must go it alone.  Luckily I have some really good people taking care of me in both Oceanside and NOLA so hopefully I'll survive!  :)

So there you have it!  Beyond June I'm not sure what is going to happen but I am hoping at least one other IM is involved (Arizona?) and also some Rev3 races.  There are so many good choices, it's really hard to decide! 

Hope everyone has a great weekend and stays warm!  :)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

My Faith

My faith is not something I've ever wanted to write about on my blog.  Well, actually it is, but it's not something I've perhaps had enough courage to write about.  Talking about religion or Christianity sometimes doesn't go over so well (just ask Tim Tebow), and in general I try to keep my blog about light topics - training, racing, Roxy (the dog) and other such things.  In a way, I'm a deeply private person.  I know it doesn't seem like it when I've been blabbing about all my comings and goings for the last 8-9 years on my blog.  But 99% of my blogs are superficial.  Which is the way I like it.  Again, I'm a private person.

Still, recently I can't get the idea of writing about my faith out of my head.


I don't really even know what to write!  (how's that for a good blog post?)  I guess mostly I just want to write about the importance of God in my life and how my faith and belief in God is what drives me, motivates me, directs all my decisions and makes me get out of bed each morning.  Yes I know, you thought TRIATHLON did all that.  Not quite.  :)

I'm a relatively new Christian.  I didn't understand God or who Jesus really was until I was college-aged.  I had a roommate my freshman year in college who was a very faithful Christian and I would go to church with her all the time, not really understanding ANYTHING that was going on.  I remember one time taking a bus trip to the Raleigh Relays in college (which were held at NC State) and it was around Easter.  I wanted to read about what happened at Easter in the Bible but I didn't even know where to look so I asked a teammate.  The thought of that just makes me laugh!  I've now read through the Gospels and the details of Jesus' death and resurrection hundreds of times.  I guess we all start somewhere.

I kept going to church with my teammate and somewhere along the way met Oscar and he would go with us too.  Oscar was already a strong Christian and would really help me understand what this stuff was all about!  At which time I would finally come to the point of understanding that being a Christian meant that I believed Jesus died on the cross for MY sins and that he arose from the grave on that 3rd day.  It wasn't a hard decision to come to.  Once I understood, I knew in my heart it was true.

Since college I've certainly done a lot of growing and learning and maturing and I will continue to do so for the rest of my days here on this earth.  I still shake my head at some of the stupid things I do or say.  Hurtful things or prideful things or selfish things.  I am far from perfect and never will be but with God's strength, will improve a little each day.

I know Christian athletes take a lot of heat.  Ryan Hall does.  Tim Tebow does.  People say that God doesn't really care if Denver wins or not.  Or if Ryan makes it to the Olympics.  But He does!  That's the funny thing about all the criticism.  God cares deeply about every single detail of all of our lives.  Ryan and Tim and many other athletes have been given great gifts and they glorify God by using those gifts.  You don't think God cares about that?

I also know God cares about me, about my racing, about my marriage, about the relationships I have with others, how I treat people and how I react to life's situations.  He cares about all my prayers, about the decisions I make and about the path I take in life.  And THAT is what drives me.  I want to glorify Him when I race.  I want to work hard in training and in my job to be the best version of myself.  I pray each morning for the strength to be the triathlete, the daughter, the wife, the dietitian that He wants me to be.

I'm certain I'm not making much sense.  I'm also certain I've probably lost a lot of readers by now.  :)  It's a hard topic for me to broach even though it's THE most important topic I could ever write about.  It's just seems very difficult for me to adequately describe something as big and amazing as our God.

I guess that's why I like Hillsong.  They do a very good job of singing it.  :)  One of my all time favorite songs (that I sometimes listen to on repeat for HOURS on my trainer) is Forever Reign.  Here's a YouTube video of them and below that, the lyrics of the song with my editorial notes.  :)

You are good, You are good
When there's nothing good in me (definitely nothing good in me)

You are love, You are love
On display for all to see

You are light, You are light
When the darkness closes in

You are hope, You are hope
You have covered all my sin

You are peace, You are peace
When my fear is crippling (I don't understand how one lives without God's comforting care?)

You are true, You are true
Even in my wandering (and I've had a lot of wandering)

You are joy, You are joy
You're the reason that I sing (you won't catch me singing any other time, thankfully :)

You are life, You are life,
In You death has lost its sting (no reason to fear death)

Oh, I’m running to Your arms,
I’m running to Your arms

The riches of Your love
Will always be enough
Nothing compares to Your embrace (nothing ever, ever will)
Light of the world forever reign

You are more, You are more
Than my words will ever say
You are Lord, You are Lord
All creation will proclaim

You are here, You are here
In Your presence I'm made whole (no win, no PR, no accolade, no relationship with others, no materal thing... makes us whole)

You are God, You are God
Of all else I'm letting go (true bliss when you can just let go...)

Oh, I’m running to Your arms
I’m running to Your arms

The riches of Your love
Will always be enough

Nothing compares to Your embrace
Light of the world forever reign

My heart will sing
no other Name
Jesus, Jesus

So, that's my weak attempt at writing about my faith and about our awesome God.  I'm sure many people don't agree.  This is the stuff wars are fought over.  But it is what I know to be true.  And it is what I know to be right.  And it is what I know to be my purpose in this world.  And now you know a little bit more about me.  :)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Training! favorite topic!  It occurred to me that I haven't written about training for some time.  Not sure why other than sometimes I worry people don't want to read about the boring details of swimbikerun.  But who am I kidding, even when I don't write about swimbikerun, my blogs are boring!  HA!

So, what have I been up to?  Well, training is getting serious over here in Pittsburgh, PA.  Last weekend Dirk sent my new schedule that covers most of January.  Let me first just say, I LOVE LOVE LOVE getting new schedules.  I pour over all the details, re-write all the workouts, put them into my planner and figure out when I can go to masters, when will I do this workout or that workout, run first or bike first this day?, etc...  It's awesome.  Like Christmas morning!  And then with each day, I cross the workouts off.  But I keep all the sheets to look back through weeks, months (and soon...years) of work.  It makes me giddy with excitement just thinking about it!

Anyway, let's start with swimming.  I mostly find myself wishing I could do more.  I'm also pretty convinced that when I'm done with triathlon (if that ever happens) I'm just going to swim.  Like 5000 yds every day for years on end.  I've always enjoyed swimming but the more I do it and the better I get, I like it even more.  I found this program on the US Masters Swimming website called Go The Distance.  The basic premise is that you set a certain goal for the number of miles you want to swim in a year, you log your workouts, and the program keeps track of if you are on pace or not.  If you reach certain milestones you get prizes!  The first milestone is 50 miles (no problem), 250 miles, 500 miles, and so on.  Well the top prize is for those that swim 1500 miles in one year.  Of course I immediately thought "I WANT TO DO THAT!"  But then I calculated how many yards/week that would be.  50,769.  Umm...WHAT???!!!???!!!  I settled for a goal of 400 miles.  :)  If only I didn't have that pesky biking and running to do...  Anyway, swimming is going well to say the least and I've really been challenging myself with some tough intervals that I normally wouldn't attempt.  I'd say I've NOT made the interval on more swims these past couple weeks than all of last year.  Which is actually a good thing.  Stepping out of my comfort zone.  I've been putting in a lot of weeks either at 20,000 yds or just a bit over but then Dirk pulls me back and I swim a 10,000 yd week.  I hate those weeks.  But I don't question Dirk.  I know he knows what he's doing.  Next up?  Learn how to swim butterfly.  :)   

Biking up next.  What I have to say about biking is this - I'm starting in a much better place this year than I did last year, both physically and mentally.  My power numbers now are roughly the same that they were in May/June of last year.  My newest schedule is starting to look a lot more like what I'm used to seeing - lots of hours on the bike.  I'm not nearly as intimidated by it as I was last year at this time (I almost cried a few times last year) but I'm not stupid either - I know big bike miles are a challenge for me so I know it will be tough again as the hours start to add up.  Time to giddy up on that front!  :)  (that giddy up was for you Kiet!)  Next up?  Getting a power meter.  I can ride with power on my trainer (I have a Tacx trainer) but not when I'm out on the roads.  I'm narrowing in on what I want to buy.  Cycling technology is not my forte so I still have some research to do.  Fun fun!

And finally running.  Ahh running.  I do love to run!  Especially this time of year because it's one of the few activities I still do outside in the fresh (cold) air.  :)  This is probably the biggest difference in my training thus far this year vs last year - lots more running.  Dirk truly is a mastermind though because despite an increase in run volume (which is usually the death of me), I have remained healthy and happy!  Although I often say I can never find a rhyme or rhythm to Dirk's training plans, there truly is a master plan and when I really look, I can see the ever so slight builds he puts me through - not just week to week and month to month, but now also year to year.  I'm lucky to have Dirk, that is for sure!  Running is the sport that I see the most ups and downs in (always have) in that some days I feel AWESOME and some days, not so much.  But I know feeling "good" is all relative and really doesn't have much to do with progress.  Consistency and hard work does.  Next up?  Well, I don't really have a "next up" for running.  But I do get to do a running race in one month - a half marathon!  :)

I feel like I could go on and on and on and on... about training but I think I'll stop here.  :)  Although winter isn't my favorite, I do love this time of year because it's a time to really put your head down and WORK without being interrupted with racing too much.  I love the routine of working hard and love the excitement I feel for each session. Yet I also know that *consistency* is key and in fact is the motto I've adopted for this season - consistency in training and making every session count, consistency in recovery, consistency in eating well and sleeping well.  Consistently going about your work every single day.

Finally, I'll leave you with these two items that speak volumes for consistency...YEARS of consistency.  :)

(1) An article about Desi Davila and her rise to become a favorite for the Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston this month.

(2) Yet another awesome video of Jan Frodeno and the meaning of hard work.

Happy training!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2011 Highs And Lows

As in years past, I shall present my highs and lows of 2011!  Actually, looking back in past blogs, I don't think I've listed out my highs and lows for a few years now.  Oh well, time to RE-start the tradition I guess!


This is the easy part.  2011 was a great year for Oscar and I and there were many highs!  The only hard part is deciding which highs to choose.  Nevertheless, here are my picks (after quite some thought).

1) Our trip to Northern California in July for Vineman 70.3.  Oscar and I both really enjoyed this trip.  It was obviously mostly for the race but we also got to see San Francisco for the first time, went to a Giants game, saw wine country, visited Stanford, etc...  It was such a blast!  And because Oscar was off school, we got to travel together (usually I fly first for races and he comes later, etc...) and weren't rushed to get back home.  FUN!  Of course there was also the race itself which was awesome - I got to meet and re-meet lots of awesome people and triathlon friends and the course was BEAUTIFUL!  Plus I had a great race which in a way was a turning point for me mentally this year.  It was after Vineman that I really started to believe I could race at a higher level and possibly race elite in 2012.

View of the Golden Gate Bridge is awesome!
View from Giant's Stadium isn't too bad either!  :)

2) Kona.  It's hard not to choose a 10 day vacation to Hawaii with your family with an awesome race in the middle as a highlight for the year!  :)  PLUS many awesome friends happen to be on the vacation too!  :)  I had so much fun in Kona this year - seeing old friends, meeting new ones, spending time with my family, getting to swim in that awesome blue ocean and of course, PRing by 30+ minutes in the Ironman! 

Best finish line on earth!

Fun friends to swim with!!  :)

Other high point contenders: Christmas in Hilton Head, being a part of Ballou Skies, and so many others to mention (I do have to go to bed sometime tonight...  :)  Like I said, 2011 was an awesome year and we were blessed in many ways!


This is a tough one for me.  I have been hugely blessed this year in that I've had no major life lows (ie: loss of family or friend, financial instability like loss of job, etc...).  In fact I was actually going to write this blog last night after work but instead spent the evening at the funeral home unexpectedly with my dear friend Lori.  Her mother passed away over the weekend after a lengthy battle with leukemia.  My heart broke for Lori and her family as Lori is my age, with 2 young children and her mom was only 61.  That seems far too young.  Being with Lori only solidified in my head how blessed I have been to have all my friends and family happy and healthy.  Life really is good! 

And while I would categorize myself as a mostly positive, happy person, that's not to say I don't have low points or didn't have any tough times throughout the year.  Most of my lows come from feeling overwhelmed with life (ie: too much to do, how to fit it all in?) or worried over the decisions I have made in regards to how I want to live.  But really those times are few and far between and they are what I make of them.  To me, happiness is a choice.

So here's to another great year in 2012!  Can't wait to see what's in store.  Giddy up!  :)