Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Making Tough Decisions

In September 2000, I completed my first half Ironman triathlon.  There was nothing pretty about it.  My swim was fine.  The bike and run were much hillier than I anticipated and temps were in the high 90s with REALLY high humidity.   To date, it is my slowest race at the distance, but obviously I was hooked.

So, here it is 17 years later and my goal this September was to complete my 17th half Ironman race.  Ideally with a new PR.  17th half IM...17 years after the first.  Has a nice ring to it!  But, with all the exciting travel this summer with family and friends, I didn't get to ride or swim much.  I was able to run quite a bit, though.  I went back and forth a lot.   I really wanted to make this happen.  And, with my years of experience, I could have.  But, at what cost?

I have 4 years of medical issues behind me at this point.  While I know I could complete the distance, would it be a smart thing to do?  I ultimately decided...no.  So, I rounded up some really fun friends and put together a relay team.  No pressure to place well.  No pressure to run a certain time.  The Hooligans will just be out there to have fun, and I always have fun with these friends.  So, I have two goals on the course on Sunday in Boulder as I run 13.1 miles.  Have fun.  And, cheer on as many other athletes as I can.  Not exactly how I wanted to do this race, but I think it will probably be pretty amazing!

My daughter is learning about the meanings of different sayings.  It's been fun watching her learn these things.  Some of them really strike a chord with me.  Finding a silver lining.  Count your blessings.  The more years I spend in endurance sports, the more relaxed I become about the details - times, placings, PRs.  It's becoming more and more about having fun, relaxing and just being present.  21 years ago, this was not the case.  It's been a long road with tons of ups and downs.

One of the biggest lessons I've learned is not to jeopardize my goals for an A race by putting too much importance on other events and races along the way.  Hence my dropping to a relay this weekend.   I've also learned that I cannot do it all.   I totally understand the desire to sign up for every race that sounds fun, is in a cool location, that all my friends are doing.  But, doing ALL these things may not be in the best interest of my most important goal.

So, everything I do in the next 11 months will be focused on Ultra520K Canada.  If something doesn't make sense, it's out.  Eyes on the prize and all that.  I'm looking forward to a fun relay on Sunday and even more fun in the next year!


Thursday, June 15, 2017

We Had a Good Run!

So, that's it.  The streak has been broken.  I made it 165 days.

Yesterday my plan was to run after coaching track.  Pretty easy, right?  Nope.  Toward the end of the track workout, I was sitting on the track with an athlete and had a very intense vertigo episode.  This is not unusual for me.  I have mild episodes several times a week.  I have a more intense episode probably every couple months.  This one was BAD!  Thanks to Danielle for taking over the very end of the workout and the cool down for me!  It eventually passed, but when I have these kinds of episodes, they leave me extremely nauseous and totally wiped out.  I feel like I have been hit by a truck!

I made it home and crashed on the couch.  It takes a good 12-24 hours to fully recover from these.  At about 9pm, I rallied the troops (husband, kids, dog) and headed out for a 20 minute run/walk - just to keep the streak.  We walked around the block and I knew there was no way I could do it.  I was still very nauseous and a little unsteady.  I knew it was the right thing to do - to end the streak.  No doubt.

So, I kinda expected to wake up and feel really sad or disappointed about breaking the streak after 165 days.  But, I still felt crappy enough to know that there was nothing else I could have done.  And, I feel good that the streak ended when it had to.  Not because I didn't want to get the workout done.  Not because I didn't plan my day for my workout.  Not because I opted to do something else other than the workout with my time.  There were many days in the last 5.5 months that I really didn't want to get the workout done.  But, I did!  Including last Thursday when I went out at 9:45 pm after getting home from a four-course fondue meal to get my run done.    Including last Saturday when I got my trail run in at 1:00 pm in the 90 degree heat after spending 6 hours outside at the kids swim meet.  SO many times I could have quit.  Wanted to quit.  But, I didn't.  So, the new streak started today with an 8 mile trail run that was fantastic!

So, no excuses!  Getting the workouts done!  We all have setbacks.  But, I'm not accepting excuses from myself.  Now, I know I can!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Let's Ride!

Everyone who knows me knows that I love to ride my bike.  During triathlon season, I ride 3-4 days a week, usually alone.  I don't ride bike paths very often. I ride roads - state park roads, roads in Highlands Ranch, Morrison, Golden, etc.  I don't think twice - I just get the bike ready, get on and ride.

But, I hear very often from women who say they don't like to or won't ride alone.  These women are often training for half or full Ironman triathlons.  In longer races like that, the bike can be the most important piece of the race.  So, getting in the miles is important.  And, you might not always have a buddy to ride with.  So, what can you do to be more comfortable riding alone?  Below are a few thoughts I've had recently.


1.  Ride with people at first.  If that is your comfort zone, then by all means get some rides scheduled with friends or find a local group ride happening in your area.  On these rides, be aware and learn from other, more experienced cyclists.  Watch how they handle turns, reach for their water bottles, etc.

2.  Work on your bike handling skills.  You can actually work on some of these things on the trainer or on a straight, safe stretch of road, maybe in a state park.  Work on reaching for your water bottle, taking a drink, putting the bottle back with only brief glances down to do it.  Practice unclipping from one pedal early - much before you need to actually come to a stop.  Practice mounting and dismounting your bike - note - your butt should NOT be ON the saddle as you start/stop.   Relax.

3.  When you start riding alone, stay in an area where you are comfortable.  In the Denver area, Cherry Creek State Park and Chatfield State Park are great.  The park roads are easy to follow and you will only be exposed to park traffic.  No stop lights and very few stop signs.  Stay in the park for a while until you are comfortable riding there.  Then, consider riding in an area with large bike lanes (Highlands Ranch) or fairly wide shoulders (Boulder).  

4.  Map out your ride first or get a route from a friend.  To really get the lay of the land, consider mapping out a route for yourself and then going to drive it.  Make notes of intersections, available shoulders, etc.   Know where you are going - upload the route or write down your important turns.

5.  Always ride defensively.  I ride defensively all the time, but even more so when I'm alone.  Ride as far to the right as you safely can.  Clearly indicate your movements to other cyclists, pedestrians, motorists - turning, slowing, stopping.  You can also put flashing lights on your bike for use at all times of day.

6.  Always wear or carry ID.  I use Road ID.   Text a friend and let them know that you are headed out to ride, let them know your approximate route, how long you think you might be out there (include a cushion of time for bathroom breaks, stop lights, etc.), and then text that person when you return home.  I also carry a copy of my AAA card in my seat bag and some cash.  AAA provides bike roadside assistance in case of a mechanical where you can't ride home.  

7.  Know how to change a flat tire and how to get your chain back on if you drop it.  These are the very most basic skills that you MUST know how to do.  It's simple to learn, I promise!  Bike shops often teach this in a monthly class or a coach can show you.  You must also carry all your own gear to change a flat - seat bag, extra tube, CO2 cartridges, CO2 adapter, tire levers.   If you are not awesome at changing a flat, often another cyclist is willing to stop to help but you need to have all the gear.

To some extent, you will just need to bite the bullet and do it!  Just like with almost anything, the more you do it, the more comfortable you will be.   Have fun and be safe out there!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

So, Now What?!

See this guy?


This guy is NOT me.  I don't love change.  But, I've learned that more often than not, change leads to great things!  I've coached for Team in Training for 17 years.  Yes, 17 years.  I've raced, fundraised and coached with them for 19 years!   And, it has been amazing!  I coached for them in Dallas, and they were the first call I made when we moved to Denver in 2004.  And, this week, I retired from that coaching position.  It was not an easy decision, of course.  But, it is time for a change.

So, now what?!

I know that the TNT Lavaman triathlon athletes are back in Denver this weekend wondering the same thing!  They trained hard for 5+ months, raised lots of money for the LLS, completed their race in Hawaii.  So, now what?!

That's the question.  And, one that must be answered in all parts of our lives.  Just got married - now what?  Newly single - now what?  Starting a new job - now what?  Finished your big race - now what?

I'm a planner.  Often before I've finished one thing, I've already planned the next.  (Just ask Brian!)  So, I've already started planning the next thing.  I will continue to coach triathletes and runners through my business, In Transition Coaching Services, as I have since 2003.   The plan is to add some group training opportunities in the south Denver area soon.  I'm really excited to put some new focus on my business.  Look for a website soon with all kinds of great info!

And, for those of you playing along, 19 years seems like an odd year to finish something up, right?!  So, let's go ahead and make it an even 20 years!  In 2018, I will join TNT again to celebrate 20 straight years with the organization.  This time, I will once again raise money for the LLS and train for a fun event.  Mark your calendars - Tahoe Century 2018!   You can ride 100 miles with me or I'll even let it slide and you can ride the 70 miler.  (I must be getting soft in my old age!)  I really do hope that everyone I have had the honor of meeting through TNT over the last 19 years will join me for this last hurrah in Tahoe.  Dallas peeps - that means you!  Denver triathletes, runners and cyclists - you too!  I'm giving you plenty of warning, so let's do this!

A huge thank you to EVERYONE who has been a part of my TNT journey. Todd Codish who coached me for the inaugural Rock n Roll marathon San Diego in 1998 and my first triathlon in Pacific Grove in 1999.   (Remember when I agreed to do ONE triathlon and then I was going back to marathons?  So much for that!)   All the coaches I had the pleasure of working with over the years - Todd, Dave, Charley, Brett, Justin, Khem, Mitch, Steve, Nicole - hopefully I'm not forgetting too many others - I'm old and my memory is going!  All the TNT staff over the years who do the hard administrative work.  My amazing friends and family who have always supported my training, fundraising and coaching efforts.  And, the hundreds of athletes who did the hard work fundraising and training for marathons and triathlons over the years.   Just ask the families of any blood cancer patient - your efforts HAVE made a difference in people's lives.

So, now what?  More coaching.  More group workouts.  And a little more TNT.   Join me!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

To the Rock on Mount Falcon…You Will Not Beat Me!

My trail running was going awesome!  I was feeling strong, getting a little more confident on the trails, feeling great about my upcoming races.  And, then it happened.  The rock.  In the wrong place.  At the wrong time.

We were doing 10 miles on Mount Falcon for my recovery week.  It was fun as usual.  On the 4 mile rocky descent back to the car…BAM!  My foot landed on a rock in just the wrong way jamming up my ankle.  The pain was searing!  I stood on the trail wondering how I would make my way down the last 2.5 miles on the rocks.  I managed to limp my way down.  "How's the ankle?" you may wonder.  Oh, it's great.  You know what's not great?  The hip on the other side!  Apparently as I limped for 2.5 miles, my right hip took the brunt of the force going down the hill all while I babied my left ankle.

Thankfully, my awesome physical therapists at Rebound Therapy (http://reboundclinic.com) are great at putting me back together.



This is never me at all.  Never.  Right, Djimmer and Christiaan?!

And, thankfully, I'm getting a tiny bit smarter in my old age.  And, thankfully, I'm a triathlete!  Can't run? Fine - I'll just swim and ride.  Sore shoulder?  No problem - I'll just run.  Being a multisport athlete allows me to get through injuries with many options.   And, it has allowed me to continue my workout streak.  Day 93 of workouts!  And, I even gained a little swimming buddy last week - Amelia swam with me on Saturday - so much fun!

The hip is feeling better after a little set back last week.  Still thinking I can make it through my first trail marathon in 2 weeks.  I WILL go back and conquer Mt. Falcon again soon, too.  I'll show that rock!  I'm not scared!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

OK, Nike…I Get It!

I'm not a huge fan of Nike.  But, I think they got one thing right.  Just Do It.  There are just so many places we can use this idea in our lives.  It's come up a lot lately for me.  Monday, I had a run scheduled for 10:15 am right after coaching masters swim.  At 10:15, I was sitting on my couch.  "Maybe I could go later - maybe it will be warmer.  Nope, weather forecast says it's going to get colder.  It's SOOOOOOO windy out.  Ugh.  Maybe I could go run after I drop the girls off at church later today.  I wonder what the weather will be like at 4pm?"  I spent probably 20 minutes on the couch negotiating with myself about doing this run.  Finally, it clicked.  Just do it!  Just change clothes and get out the door.  So, I did!  Right.  Then.



Another Skirt Sports ambassador summed it up so well.  Even though I LOVE to run, love to work out,  love to train, it's still a decision - every time.   And, it's not always an easy decision.  But, I never regret getting out there!

So, back to that windy run.  I have a wind scale that goes from 1 to Ironman Arizona 2014.  Those of you who raced that year know what I'm talking about.  It was awful.  There were tears.   So, Monday's wind rated from a 6 in the first half of the run to an 8-9 later in the run with a few moments of IMAZ14.    That race years ago has forever changed my perspective about wind.  When we go through hard things, it definitely changes our perspective.  Giving birth to two babies has changed my perspective about what's hard.  Labor and delivery - HARD.  Ironman - fun.   Raising two girls - HARD.  Getting out to swim, bike or run - fun.   It's all how you view things - where you've come from, what you've been through.


So, on day 68 of my workout streak, I'm feeling good, making the tough decisions to push forward, moving closer to my race goals for 2017.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

60 days…and an injury?!

Wow!  60 straight days of workouts!   It's not always easy, but it feels great!  Some days, it's just a short 2-3 mile run.  Other days are 2-3 hours running on tough trails.  Many of my workouts have been really fun adventures with friends.  Others have been slogs on the treadmill late in the evening to get it done.   Day 60 included a few miles on the treadmill with a couple TNT athletes.  Treadmills are way more fun with friends!  Overall, I'm just so grateful to be out there!

And, I have two new favorite words - PAIN FREE!   I feel absolutely amazing on my runs.  No pain. So, what's this talk of an injury, you ask?  Apparently I slept REALLY wrong on my arm/shoulder last Saturday night and have had issues with my right arm since.   I went to Djimmer and Christiaan - my amazing physical therapists at Rebound Therapy and Wellness - to get it checked out.  "What did you do?!"  Um…I went to bed and then I woke up.  Yep - I hurt my arm sleeping!  That sounds about right.  Other than having a t-rex arm for a few days, it has not held me back much and I can still run without any pain.  Yay!  PAIN FREE!

A workout streak is pretty easy when the weather is great.  But last week, I ran 10 hard trail miles in 3 inches of snow and then ran the following day in more snow.  Thankfully, my friends are tougher than me, so I'm grateful to them for the inspiration to just get out there!  I'm still nervous about my first trail marathon in April, but I'm really excited for this new adventure!  Onward to day 70…thanks for reading!