Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Journey to U520K Canada - March - Done!

More fun in March!  Some "racing", lots of training, fun with friends.  It's been another great month!

March was a little easier because I had a week of taper before my first 50k and a week of recovery after it.  Still got in some good training!  Here's the scoop:

Swimming - 26,800 yards - I'm swimming 3500-4500 yards in each swim now.  And, feeling great!  I still find this a surprise.  I'm not as fast as I once was, but even with the muscle weakness in my arms, I'm feeling pretty good in the water.

Cycling - 262 miles - Got in some good rides in March.  Still some on the trainer where I always cut my planned distance down to 75% of my outdoor plan.  I got to ride with Kat up to Red Rocks and show her that masterpiece.  She loved the climb!  ;)

Running - 132 miles - Some really fun running this month including my first 50k trail race.  Check out my previous blog post for that race report.  I did another 20 mile trail run followed the next day by a road half marathon.  A hillier course than the one in February, and I ran it 7 minutes faster even on really tired legs.  Felt great!

We had pretty great weather all month and dry trails to run.  Except that one day when Kara and I ventured down to Larkspur. A little snow, but still a beautiful day.  And, I still can't believe I ran 33 miles on some hard trails in Moab.  It was awesome!  And, I had the privilege of running a really fun St. Pat's Day 5k with Tracy and my girls to celebrate Tracy's comeback to running.

Rest days - 6 - One was to rest up for the 50k.  Two were to recover from it.  The rest were just working around the family schedule.

I hope to do more swimming, cycling and running with all of you in April.  Join me anytime!

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

My First Ultra! Behind the Rocks 50k - March 24, 2018

Wow!  I am so excited that I finished my first Ultra.  The course was harder than I expected, but it was so much fun and I felt great!  This will be long, but I want a way to remember all the details.

Behind the Rocks 50k

It's been 16 years since I've done an event that was really scary for me.  I did my first Ironman in 2002.  It was a great challenge, and it was scary.  I went on to do several more, but they are no longer scary.  So, this year, I felt like I really needed the next big thing.  Enter ultra racing.

We camped in Moab at the race site all weekend.  It was a remote, beautiful location.  We love our pop up camper and the girls really enjoy camping.  The day before the race, we did the hike up to Delicate Arch.  So much fun!


Staying at the race site was great.  I picked up my packet about an hour before the race started - in my PJs!  I stayed in the camper until about 10 minutes before the race to stay warm.

We were about three minutes into the race when I realized I was going to love ultra racing.  Just three minutes in, and everyone was stopped on the dirt road facing backwards.  All to get pictures of the sunrise.  It was totally worth it!

The first six miles to the first aid station flew by.  I held back, ran easy, walked every 1.5 miles or so to hydrate, hiked the steeper stuff, chatted with people along the way.   Quick bathroom break at the aid station and then back out onto the trails.  I ran mostly alone for the next 10 miles.  It was great!  Beautiful scenery.  The trail was definitely tough.  Lots of uneven, hard slick rock.  Lots of soft sand that was a little harder to get good grip, so there was a bit of sliding in some spots.  At mile eight, I had to slide down a rock on my butt to get to the trail below.  That would be just the first of many opportunities to slide down rocks, climb up rocks on my hands and knees, scramble around.  But, the views were amazing!

When I got to about mile 14-15, we were on some fairly narrow ledges at times.  I pulled aside often to let the faster runners pass who were coming back from the turnaround aid station as it was often too narrow for two people to safely pass while running.  Then, some steeper rocks to slide down onto ledges.   A woman I had seen earlier mentioned that it would only get tougher before the aid station.   A few minutes later, a guy passing going the other way mentioned I should catch up to the runners ahead of me - I would want their help getting down the next section.  He was right.  Fortunately, a  guy slid down first and then offered myself and another woman a hand down.  I know I could have gotten down, but having a hand was so nice!

When I got to the aid station around mile 16+, Brian and the girls were there.  It was so great to see them!  I felt great, and it was fun to tell them about the course.  I visited the porta-potty, which was down another little hill.  I got a rock out of my shoe.  Filled my camelbak, mixed a bottle of sports drink, ate about 1/4 of a sandwich, hugged the family.  I probably spent a little too much time at the aid station with the family, but it was totally worth it!

Then, I finally headed back to scramble up all the rocks we had just come down. I was staring at a rock section trying to figure out how I would get up, when another runner came the other way.  I gave her a hand to slide down.  And, she gave me a boost to get up.  Again, I know I would have gotten up it, but having help from another runner was great!

Leaving the aid station at mile 16, there was a lot of climbing.  Around mile 17, I hooked up with a woman named Caroline.  We got to talking and the miles just clicked by.  We ran everything we could.  If it was too steep, we hiked with purpose.   It was probably an eight mile section with a good amount of climbing.

As we chatted, I learned that Caroline is a bad ass ultra athlete.  She's done it all!  Multi-day adventure races, plenty of ultra running, long cycling, Ironman, off-road Ironman, outrigger paddling, you name it.  She told me so many great stories!  A 50k was just a Sunday run for Caroline I'm sure.  But, she hung with me, encouraged me, and made this race a lot more fun!  We eventually made it to the aid station at mile 24.  Filled up water, grabbed some Coke, chatted with the amazing volunteers.  We continued running everything we could, hiking the climbs, chatting.  I remember looking down at my Garmin as it beeped "27 miles".  My longest run ever!   At about mile 28, we hit the last aid station.  Grabbed a few things and then we ventured into the last stretch of the race.  Garmin beeps "30 miles".  I just ran 30 miles!!  What?!  I knew the course was long - not actually 50k, but closer to 32+ so I was already mentally prepared for that.  Caroline picked up the pace a bit in the last 4 miles, dragging me with her.  My feet hurt and I was getting tired.  I was no longer really talking.  Caroline kept encouraging.  We ran most of the last 3-4 miles solid.  With about 1.5 miles to go, we could see the finish line!  Yes!  Kept pushing.

Then, up the little hill and into the finishing chute.  I don't think I have ever smiled so big approaching a finish line.  What an awesome feeling!

Caroline was first in her age division.  I was thrilled with my finish!  When I saw how tough the terrain was from about mile 16 until 24, my goal was to try to finish under 8 hours.  And, we did!  I'm really grateful for Caroline's advice, encouragement, and pushing me.  I would not have come in under 8 hours without her support.  I'm so proud of this finish!  I can't believe how good I felt all day.  No GI issues.  No injuries.  My hips were a little tight and my feet were really sore, but overall, I felt great!  Just the first of some new scary goals this season for me.

Ultra running is a blast.  The people are so friendly.  No one cares how long the race takes you.  Everyone is willing to lend a hand, hang with a newbie, offer advice.  They drink beer around the campfire the night before the race.  Then drink more beer around the campfire after the race.  The post-race food was amazing!  It was nice to meet a new Denver Trail Runners Facebook friend in person - Scott did awesome out there.  And, we were hanging out around the fire and able to watch another DTR Facebook friend, Jess, finish her first 50 mile race - one minute under the cutoff.  A ton of runners and spectators formed a human tunnel for her to run through in the finishing chute - she received a rowdy welcome!  It was great!

I can't wait for my next races.  I'm glad I'm challenging myself to do new, hard things.  I would recommend it to anyone!  If you're a marathoner, try a triathlon.  If you only do road races, try some trail races.  If you've already done a bunch of Ironman triathlons, try some ultra races.  I hope to keep challenging myself.   Thank you to Brian and the girls - their support means everything!  Thanks to all my training buddies - I would not have made it to the start line, much less the finish, without you!  Thanks to my TriBella teammates, especially Julie who came and found me at Milt's in Moab to give me a post-race hug!  It was so nice to have that support!  Thanks to TriBella for all the technical support this season as I get ready for Ultra520K Canada.  Thanks to Djimmer and Rebound Therapy for keeping this old body moving.  Thanks to Carla, the best massage therapist around!  And, thanks to Honey Stinger for the great nutrition - I used the chews through out the day and they were great!  Next training race is just 13 days away.  Excited for more fun!

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Road to Ultra520K Canada - February!

A lot packed into a short month!  I've raced more in 2018 than I did for all of 2017.  "Race" would be a strong word - I participated in some races.  And had a blast doing it!

I'm finding that the hardest part about this training is NOT the workouts.  It's the juggling of the schedules.  Work, kids activities, family time, rest.  It's hard to schedule the workouts I need to get in and still get everything else done.  When I'm out there swimming, riding and running, I'm loving it!  And, I'm feeling great.  But there is often this nagging thought that there is so much work to be done, family things to be done, etc.  I'm getting it all done, mostly thanks to my family supporting me all the way!

I'm thankful for good friends to train with and beautiful scenery.  We've also had really great weather for the most part given that it's Colorado in February.

Swimming - 22,900 yards - I'm so happy to be able to swim 3500 yards in a workout with no issues.  I feel good in the water and these workouts have been great for my body!

Cycling - 228 miles - Not a ton, but when I ride the trainer (which I had to due to weather/roads a fair amount in February) I cut my planned distance to 75% of my outdoor distance.  Feeling great on the bike.  Hoping for some good outdoor riding in March!

Running - 132 miles - This has definitely been the focus since my first 50k trail race is in just three weeks.  My proudest (and slowest) half marathon was in February.  I ran 20 miles on Friday morning and then forced myself to get out and run the Snowman Stampede half marathon on Saturday morning.  My feet were KILLING ME!  But, overall, I felt good and just ran it pretty easy.  Some great, fun miles logged this month for sure!

Rest days - 2 - One was on a day where I woke up just exhausted.  I can definitely tell the difference between "tired" and DONE.  On the days I need it, I take a nice big rest day.  I always bounce back feeling awesome!  The other rest day was a scheduling issue.  But, grateful for that rest as well.

I had some really cool things with work this month as well.  I'm working with some amazing clients at SwimLabs who are making incredible improvements in their swimming.  It's just so wonderful to see their excitement and progress.  I also had the opportunity to work with the incredible Katy Evans and D'Arcy Toffolo to teach a swim clinic for our awesome TriBella race team.  These ladies inspire me so much!

Join me in March if you can!  I'm always game for friends to join me at the pool, on the roads or on the trails.  Can't wait to tackle my first trail ultra in March.  I'm SO nervous, but really excited.  And, I look forward to meeting up with many of you as I continue moving forward toward my ultimate goal!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Road to U520K Canada - January is Done!

Whew!  Made it through January.  This felt like the longest month ever!  But, I got in some good training and managed to make it fun throughout!   Here's the race I'm getting ready for...

Ultra520K Canada

My mantra for 2018 - get a little better every day.  So each day, I'm trying.  Trying to be a better athlete, better coach, better friend, better wife, better mom.  It's not always easy, and I often fail.  But, I'm trying!

Here's January:

Swimming - 19,900 yards/meters.  This might not seem like much to my swimming friends, but I'm coming off 3 years of not swimming.  I was worried that building up my swimming, however gradually, would flare up the issues with my arms.  For those who are not aware, I have muscle weakness and pain in my arms from some medical issues dating as far back as 2013.  So, the fact that I'm up to swimming 3000 yards twice a week is huge for me!  The first 1000 yards are always a bit painful, but my arms seem to be figuring it out!  I'll be swimming 3000+ three days a week in February.

Cycling - 312 miles.  Again - not a ton, but I didn't ride much in 2017, so I'm gradually building this up.  Cycling always comes back pretty quickly for me and seems the easiest for me.  Love being back on my bike!

Running - 111 miles.  This has been fun!  A New Years Day run with fast friends - I was just hanging on in the back!  Sometimes running on dry trails on warm days.  Sometimes running in snow.  But, lots of great miles with friends. 

Rest Days - 3.   These were wonderful!  My recovery week was amazing!  And, the body is holding up well so far!

Running a 5k for fun this morning to top off my recovery week.  Then, it's back at it in February!  Want to swim, bike or run with me?!  Shoot me a message - I'm always up for company!

New Years Day run with some fast ladies!
A long 16 mile run in Waterton Canyon.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Ultra 520K Training - Weeks 3 and 4

Still just building some easy training and enjoying the early weeks of training.  I'm still enjoying time with the family, soccer, relaxing.  I know there will be less relaxing in 2018!! So, I want to take advantage of it now.

Week of Oct 16:
Swim = 5000 yards
Bike = 16 miles
Run = 25+ miles
Strength = 1 hour (1 session)

Highlights: I got to run with Denise C, Rebecca,  Kara and Denise E this week.  I also had the opportunity to introduce some people to trail running.  They loved it, and they don't hate me!   I also got to ride with Roger.   Doing what I love with great people is why I have trained and raced for 22 years.  Thank you, guys!

Missed the Mark:  Tuesday I had a major vertigo episode.  One of the worst I have had.  I didn't snap out of it for about 8 hours.  And the effects lingered for weeks.  So, I missed pilates and a run as well as a ride the following day.  But, I'm doing PT and hopefully will get a handle on this soon.   Thanks to Tonya for working with me on this!

Notes:  Vertigo was a big factor this week.  :(

Week of Oct 23:
Swim = 2600 yards
Bike = 37+ miles
Run = 19+ miles
Strength = 45 minutes (1 session)

Highlights: Got to ride with Roger, though we nearly froze to death!  Also got to ride with Jess.   Had a fun trail running adventure at Matthews Winters with Kara and Rebecca - forgot how hard that 6.5 mile loop is.  And, I ran a 5k for fun since I was working at the event.

Missed the Mark:  Missed one strength session.  And, I let myself have a Saturday off for kids soccer and college football.  It was pretty awesome!

Notes:  I don't love racing 5ks.  But, running a 5k without chip timing, etc. for fun with a bunch of people in Halloween costumes is fun!  Pretty excited to run The Great Candy Run with the family in a few weeks!

On to weeks 5 and 6!!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Training Has Officially Started! U520K Weeks 1-2

I've decided to post about my journey to Ultra520K Canada 2018.  Mostly so I can look back on the journey and recall the highs, the lows, the crazy, the friends who accompany me, the laughter and the tears.  So, the first 2 weeks of training are done.  Since the race is not until August, I'm just building up slowly to get ready.

Week of Oct 2:
Swim = 4800 yards
Bike = 16 miles
Run = 18+ miles
Strength = 1 hour (1 session)

Highlights: Even though I only got one short ride in and haven't ridden in a long while, I was reminded that every time I get on my bike, I feel like I'm home!  It's never really hard, always fun and I love it!  Also, super glad Kara joined me for part of my long run!

Missed the Mark:  Needed to add one more strength day.

Notes:  Kids' fall break started and we were in Vail for 3 days for a soccer tournament!

Week of Oct 9:
Swim = 7000 yards
Bike = Nada
Run = 23+ miles
Strength = Nada

Highlights: Since all my medical issues, I have not been able to swim very long, fast or consistently.  So, while 7000 yards in a week might not sound like much, the fact that I was able to swim three times in one week with no issues is HUGE!  I will never be able to swim fast again.  (And, let's be real, 1:25 per 100 is not that fast!) . But, things are going well!  And, I'm happy that Rebecca was able to join me for my long trail run!

Missed the Mark:  No bike or strength.  (Did I mention the kids are off on fall break?!)

Notes:  Yeah...fall break.  Oh, and it snowed on Monday!  Enjoying the slow ramp up and plenty of family time with soccer, movie nights, etc.

On to weeks 3 and 4!!

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!