Sunday, June 4, 2017

Hawaii 70.3 ~ I Can Do Hard Things.

Race morning I woke up at 1:30 feeling like I needed to throw up. I’m not a puker. Even when I was in college and had over-consumed alcohol to the point where it would have been best for my body to just purge it, I never did. My body just doesn’t really use that protection mechanism. And yet, there I was laying in bed thinking I needed to puke. Was it race nerves? I didn’t think so. I mean, I’ve been doing this for 20+ years. Yes, I still get nervous, but not that nervous.

The nausea feeling lasted and I couldn’t really sleep very well. I had some weird dream that it was race morning and for whatever reason I was all alone (no friends, no family) so I went to this room the race directors had set up for people who were alone at the race. It was like an orphanage of sorts, but for triathletes. I remember wandering around that room and trying to get some coffee- next to the coffee maker were the finisher shirts and medals. Just take one now so you don’t have to do it later?? In my dream I was also totally disorganized… like I couldn’t find my kit or any of my gear and I was just frantically scrambling around trying to get my shit together.

In reality, I was about as organized and put together as I’ve ever been for a race. Bags were packed. Bottles were prepped and in the fridge. Checklists were made. Kit was laid out on the bathroom counter next to the zinc sunscreen. I had 3 TeamBSC athletes at this race, plus my husband and daughter and probably 50 friends. So I don’t know where that dream came from. It was opposite of my reality.

The nausea didn’t go away though. When my alarm went off at 4:30, the feeling of wanting/needing to puke was consistent. I made my normal morning oatmeal but had zero desire to eat it. For years I’ve harped on my athletes about the importance of race morning breakfast, and when they skimp on it or skip it and then go on to have a crappy low energy race, I point out that they should have just forced down breakfast. I don’t care if you don’t feel like eating. Fueling correctly is a choice. And yet. I was, for the first time ever, having an incredibly hard time choking down my oatmeal. I brought it in the car with me and winced as I made myself swallow a bite every few minutes. I think I ate some bad/contaminated salad the night before. That’s the only explanation I have.

We got to the race site and Scott dropped me off and I made a decision. Mind over matter. I would feel fine. I pumped up my tires and put my bottles on my bike and put my speed suit on and drank my pre-load and stuffed down the Honey Stinger waffle just as planned. The nausea didn't bother me again for the rest of the day.

A few days before the race they announced a new rolling- but by age group- type of start. WTF? I was not happy about that. I mean, it looked better to me than the way they’d done it the last few years where the older women just get relegated to the back #lastwave but in my mind like if you’re gonna do a rolling start then at least make it self- seed so the swimmers can just go to the front and people who don’t want anyone swimming over top of them can start further back… Reality is though, it was a decent way to organize it. Of course I’m a bit biased b/c I happened to be lucky enough to be in the age group that they scheduled to go first for the women. I like being at/near the front of the race. It helps me stay engaged and motivated. So even though we were behind all the men, I was still at the front of the women’s race so personally, I had little reason to complain because that’s exactly where I wanted to be.

The day prior to the race the winds were blowing a good bit harder and the swim course was C.H.O.P.P.Y. I swam the whole course alone on Friday morning (People were like What? You did what? Swam the whole thing? All the way out there? Alone? Are you crazy? Lol. #noproblem) and honestly was just salivating at the thought of having an opportunity to race in those conditions. It’s so rare for swimmers to have a real advantage like that! Race morning turned out to be much calmer. Little bit of a bummer but that likely made a lot of other athletes super relieved so it was probably for the best.

They started the age group ‘waves’ 4 athletes at a time every 10” on a beep. I seeded myself in the front row of my wave and when the beep went, I ran into the water untouched and swam off alone. Water was perfect in every way. Clear, calm, warm, open, beautiful. I swam the whole thing completely alone buoy to buoy (just as I had done the day before!). It was exceptionally easy to avoid the men who had started ahead b/c they were all completely spread out. In years past when they start men in waves, we would run into a ‘wall’ of men that was hard to get around. But with the rolling start, it was a complete non-issue. So. A+. There’s nothing I would change about the swim.

Pre-race one of my bigger decisions was aero top or sleeveless tri top? I’d always raced in a tri top but I really like the look of the aero tops (and the sun protection was a huge bonus!) Some Coeur teammates had reported back that they were great to race in as well. My biggest concern was that I didn’t want sleeves on the swim (under my speed suit). I practiced tucking the aero top into my Roka speed suit and turns out, it was a complete non-issue. Lectie opted to wear the aero top and just swim with the sleeves hanging out so she wouldn’t have to deal with pulling the top up in T1. I opted to have the top rolled around my waist and then pull it up in T1. Both ways worked perfectly fine. Lectie- as always- had the fastest swim of the day even with the sleeves out. I swam as well as I wanted to swim and had no problem pulling the sleeves up/on while running to my bike. And I loved racing in the top for the rest of the morning. It kept me cooler, I think, because I could keep it wet and the material is really nice and thin and perfect. I didn’t get sunburnt back/shoulders. I just can’t say enough good things about the Coeur aero tops. I see no reason to go back to racing sleeveless. 

Apparently, its so common to race with sleeves now that Ironman actually gives instructions about where to tattoo yourself if your upper arms are covered.

Anyway, onto the bike, I was pretty certain that the only women ahead of me on the bike were part of relay teams. I set about doing my thing. I glanced a little at my power data but I wasn’t sure it was giving me accurate wattage numbers, so I mostly ignored it and rode by feel. The wind had picked up some, but I’d call it pretty standard wind- not super scary wicked gusts as it had been the day prior. I don’t think there’s a ton to say about the actual ride itself. I feel like I have learned how to do an excellent job at staying focused on the task at hand (Stay aero! Pedal strong! Eat! Drink!). The ride was as fair as I’ve ever seen it on this course. I saw exactly zero draft packs, which is shocking, really. But therein lies the benefit of the way they split up the rolling wave start I guess.

I felt like I was mostly riding as solidly as I could/should be riding. Legs didn’t feel exceptionally strong and the whole ride I was doing a balancing act of how hard I could push before I would feel a twinge of a cramp. Something about the big island, man, just tends to leave my muscles threatening to completely seize up, so I was really teetering on the edge the whole time. I only got caught/passed by one woman who claims she hasn’t been riding her bike at all in training. She went storming by right before we made the turn at Hawi. I wonder what it would be like to ride a bike like that without any recent training? I sure as hell couldn’t do it. Unapologetically, I train consistently and I work very hard. I don’t have enough talent to do it any other way.

One goal I had for myself for this race was to be brave on the ride. I’d had it worked up in my head that it was going to be scary windy and last time I raced here when it was scary windy (2012), my biggest disappointment in myself was that I felt like I rode like a wimp. I sat up and braked when strong gusts came. That was 5 years ago but I remember it like it was yesterday. I looked at the wind forecast this year as an opportunity to make that right! And I’m pretty happy with the confidence I rode with. I do remember having the thought that my Enve wheels were performing beautifully. There were times toward the end when the wind had really picked up where I was just flying and in my aero bars leaning right into a very strong crosswind and passing guys who were whistling at me (it was a complimentary whistle- not a degrading one!) and I was like YASSSSSSSSS I AM DOING IT. Just a personal proud moment for myself. 

Overall I am happy with my execution on that ride. I ate and drank everything I’d planned (1x bottle NBS, 1x bottle Infinit, 3x waters, 2x clif bars, 1x honey stinger gel). I also took 4x e21 tabs and that stuff continues to do a miracle job at holding off full on muscle seizures. I stayed focused, calm, and brave. I rode fairly. There’s nothing I would do differently if I could do it all again. Ok, well maybe I wouldn’t hit lap on my garmin at mile 10, making garmin think I was in T2 for 46 miles… I totally screwed up that data coach wanted. #sorry.

Strava thinks T2 was 46 miles! Lol... No segments. #sadface

I arrived in T2 as the second female on the course and leading my AG, but as I was putting on my shoes, I saw Nell riding in to rack her bike. Nell beats me every year at this race (she can run!) so when I saw her there I figured my shot at the top step of the podium was all but zero. My playbook at these races is quite thin. I’m never going to run as fast as the top gals run so my only chance to win, really, is to swim and ride as hard as I can and hope for a decent enough gap where maybe I don’t get caught. I didn’t have it in me to ride any faster than I did though, so I was just going to get beat by a stronger athlete. No worries. Next goal is always just to hang onto whatever place I’m currently holding. I knew I’d be thrilled with 2nd so that became the goal.

Being at/near the front of the race is fun b/c when you’re one of the first women spectators see, they cheer really loudly for you! Plus, I was dressed just like Lectie so a lot of people thought I was her so they yelled GO LECTIE!! at me. That’s a huge compliment so I wasn’t the least bit annoyed! :)

Onto the run, the game I played was simply to continue to attempt to strike a balance between how quickly I could move along without cramping. This run course is just stupidly hard. I was probably more mentally prepared than physically… I mean, my run is going ok in training and I’ve had some decent training runs, but I don’t know. I don’t think anything can truly prepare me for running that course in those conditions off a ride like that… I like to come up with a pre-race motto and for this race it was I Can Do Hard Things. I told my husband and he laughed. His reply was, You pay money to do hard things! #truestory :)

I knew I was having a decent day so out there on that golf course I was just trying to not screw it up! I did have the thought that I can’t wait to do a “normal” 70.3 course where the run is just like 13 “regular” miles. I mean, I love this race and all, but it’s almost laughable to try to run on that spongy golf course grass. Then you finally get onto a stretch of solid pavement and think maybe you’ll get a little reprieve b/c you’ve got a mile going slightly down, but, Psyche! There’s a 25mph headwind preventing you from relaxing while still moving faster. GAH! I mean, it was almost funny. If you were there you know exactly what I mean! I took short walk breaks up most of the steep little kicker hills. At one point I was walking up a short hill next to a guy who had apparently resigned himself to walking for the foreseeable future and he said to me, We can speedwalk together! And I replied, Oh no! I’m running again as soon as we get to the top! And I did. So that’s how my 13 miles went. Once I was within a mile or so of the finish line I actually started grunting. My friend Jodie was running nearby and she could hear me grunting and she was cheering me on- Go ahead and grunt! Grunting helps! Lol! I think it did help.


Shockingly, I hung on to my 2nd place AG finish all the way to the line. I remembered to make the Coeur heart with my hands at the finish line for the finish photo so it’ll be fun to see how those turned out. I’m sure I had a huge smile on my face! 5:25 isn’t even in the ballpark of my best time at this race but I feel like I did so many things right that I can’t be upset about that. I mean, I did the best I could in just about every regard. I’ve learned a lot of lessons in 20+ years of racing triathlons and I feel like yesterday I managed to pretty much put all of them together, which in and of itself is a big win. Then of course the finish line party is quite possibly my favorite few hours of the whole year… Everyone hanging out on the lawn and drinking beer and swapping war stories and its just super fun. 

I’d had 4 beers and very little food by the time I got to go stand on the podium. That smile was genuine! 7 years in a row on the podium here at Honu, but this was my biggest bowl.
I feel like I want to take a minute and thank my coach, Vince, for believing in me and working with me this year. I think he's the perfect match for me at this stage of my racing... He understands me and he cares. I can tell that he pays attention because I can tell he truly wants to. I just really appreciate that! It's funny though- when you have a coach who really believes in you, I think it easier to believe in yourself. It's a good scenario and its exactly what I need right now. So, without getting mushy, thanks, Vince.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Honolulu Triathlon... Moto Motivated

On Friday afternoon I got an email that said my name was on a list of local athletes suggested to start in the 'elite' wave. I wasn't planning on putting myself in that wave but somehow having someone else suggest me for it made it ok. In hindsight I'd say it was 100% a good choice! Having clear water to swim in and open roads to ride without shouting on your left on your left ON YOUR LEFT the whole time made for a way more pleasant (and less scary!) race experience...

They gave me #666 for this race. I decided that meant I should race like a bat out of hell! #beastmode

I drove to town at like 4am and parked on a side street not too far from the race start. My parking spot happened to be on a road right outside a bar where a bunch of people were hanging out after a night of partying... and all along the sidewalk were homeless people sleeping. This was not lost on me as I got my bike out of my car and realized that my wheels likely cost more money than those people see all year. Mental note: I live a life of privilege and it was a privilege to get to race today. #BeGrateful

Prior to the swim start I wanted to get in the water to warm up a bit... I looked around for someone who might speak English who would be able to zip up my speed suit... I asked some guy I didn't know and he tried to get it zipped up but in the process the zipper totally broke. DOH! Never fear I had a spare speed suit in my bag (I already mentioned my privilege) so I ran back to transition to swap speed suits and was good to go. Phew.

Swim was clean. I don't have a lot of starting speed but after the first buoy managed to pull away from some others who do have starting speed! There were several folks up ahead and I had one person near me but for the most part it was just head down swim strong for 23min. SO much better than swimming over/around/through a billion men in the age group waves! The only issue I had was that the sun hadn't come up like I thought it would (5:45am start!) and my dark tinted goggles left me wanting to see more clearly. In good news I don't have much fear of swimming in most scenarios so I handled swimming in the 'dark' just fine. If there was one thing I would change about how I executed this race today though, I would have chosen clear goggles. 6am race start would have resulted in being blinded by the sun on the way back... but 5:45am start is too dark for tinted goggles!
Look at that clear water! #soloswim

I heard that there were a couple women in front of me getting out of the water so onto the bike I went into HUNTING mode. This race they have lead moto for the lead male AND female(!). In 20 years of racing I've never had a lead motorcycle AND I WANTED ONE. So. Off I went. It took ~50min and a lot of watts (and some twinges of cramping) but eventually the cop on the motorcycle looked back at me like wait you're not my gal but I just smiled and waved as if to say I AM NOW YOUR GAL. GO!

Carly and I (all matchy matchy in our custom Coeur Sports kits!) were the only 2 women to crack an hour on that 22 mile course this morning! Want to learn how to ride a bike fast? I'd be happy to teach you. #callmemaybe #shamelessplug

Onto the run I knew my lead wouldn't last, so I wasn't surprised when the first Japanese gal went storming by... Carly went by a bit later than the other Japanese gal... I felt ok though and was ticking off pretty steady miles ~8:30s which for me off a bike like that would be filed under the 'great job' tab. Somewhere around mile 2 I was running along and saw Moana and Scott (yay!)... Scott was attempting to take a video and in the process, he let go of Maia's leash... and of course Maia was like HI MOM OH WE'RE GOING RUNNING YAY I LOVE RUNNING I'LL COME WITH YOU!!! Ha! I just about tripped over myself as she came at me. The video is pretty darn funny. I'll text it to you if you want to see it!

Was happy to not get caught by anyone else. The last 1/4 mile or so is along this stretch of path and when I got here I had this overwhelming sense of gratitude... Like just so happy to be healthy enough to be out there racing and competing and I don't know... Even if I wasn't smiling the whole time, I just really had fun with it all today!

Afterward we all hung out in the park and talk story while drinking beer/champagne which is a bit of a tradition at this point. The only real negative thing about this race is that they don't do an age group awards ceremony. They call the top 3OA up onto the podium, but not AG. Instead they tell the age group athletes to go to the table/tent to collect a coin that serves as the award. #WTF? That makes no sense to me. Age groupers want to be acknowledged and stand on a freakin' podium when they get top 3! In a lot of ways this race is great and I like it, but in this way it's a #fail. Seriously. Win your age group so you can stand in this line and collect a cheap coin? Makes it imperative to simply race for the experience of racing... Certainly at this race it's not about getting an award! And this isn't me bitching that I didn't get one- I pulled myself out of AG when I agreed to the elite wave... I just think that age groupers should be acknowledged for their efforts and their success. That's all.






Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Recently...

OMG... It's mid- May! Reports from some athletes on the mainland make it appear as if it's still winter (what? snow? are you serious?) but around here it's starting to feel like race season! Our temperature shifts are slight, but it's definitely a few degrees warmer now and the sun is coming up earlier and it just feels like spring.

There are 3 races that I tend to do every spring... Lanikai, Honolulu Tri, and Honu. Lanikai was a few weeks ago. It went ok. I went a little faster than I did 2 years ago and won my age group so, nothing to complain about. Well, I mean, I pretty much always complain about how my run sucks and should be faster, so I guess that's something to complain about... but, whatever. I got to wear my new Coeur team kit and I love it so that was cool!
Honolulu Tri is coming up this weekend. Maybe I'll write a more interesting race story about that one! Depends on if there's anything interesting to write about I guess.  I am looking forward to doubling the distance from Lanikai though... Those short fast races are so hard!

I started coaching the Kailua Masters swim team. I have to say, having the opportunity to be on deck and coach people in person has been awesome. I mean, it's just totally my thing! I love it, I have fun with it, and I think because of that, the athletes who show up are also having fun with it! Even when I make them tie their feet together...
Seriously though, its definitely the case that being on deck has helped me gain confidence as a coach. I don't get to do as much 1:1 stroke correction there as I'd like, but I get to do a little. It's enlightening though to get to watch how these athletes respond and step up to challenges and work together. I have no doubt that people who show up regularly will get faster. If you're local, come join us Mon/Wed nights from 7-8:15. If you ever come visit Oahu, drop in with us! I mean, for $5 you can't beat the workout experience!

My main coaching gig continues to grow and thrive. It almost feels weird how TeamBSC is growing... since we've brought on a couple new coaches and they've brought on their athletes, our private team page now has 66 members and I don't know some of them!?!? I mean, last month I saw a pic posted on the TeamBSC FB page and it was of 2 of our gals who were running Boston and they got to meet up b/c their coaches teamed up to work together and put them in touch... so there I was looking at that picture from this island in the Pacific and thinking WOW... How crazy that the team has grown to that point where these athletes get to have a 'teammate' at a race like Boston... and I don't even know either of them? I mean, it's crazy in a good way and looking at that picture made me think that what I started sort of on a whim 8+ years ago has turned out to be so much more amazing than I ever even hoped it would be. I feel like I'm blathering on a bit right now b/c I don't really have words for it, but, well, it's super cool. I don't feel like our growth has been forced. I haven't had to drill myself into the ground to accomplish any of it. I think the basis for our success is that we are passionate about triathlon and we love helping athletes succeed and we do our best to be the best that we can be and that's really all there is to it, at least in a big picture sense.

On a personal level, I've allowed myself to develop very real friendships/relationships with my athletes... Making myself open/available and communicating a lot facilitates this... and because of that, the personal satisfaction I feel when an athlete succeeds is fulfilling in a way that I don't think it would be if I closed myself off more and went about coaching in a more stoic way. I think a lot of athletes these days are craving the coach/athlete relationship where they know that their coach truly cares. So it's totally a win/win!

Lest you think that life here is all perfect, I have a sad shitty story to share as well. Did I ever write about our most recent rescue dog, Duke? I can't remember. Anyway, I saw Duke on a local pet rescue FB page and felt an instant connection like I wanted to help him. So I took him in... In a lot of ways, 2 dogs is a lot harder than 1 dog... but the dogs also had a blast with each other and the level of happy craziness in the household skyrocketed. It was all good until Duke bit one of Moana's neighborhood friends. We were shocked and obviously super concerned... I set about on a mission to rehabilitate this dog. I thought I was doing a good job with it and seemed like he was gaining confidence and getting better... but then out of the blue Duke bit my husband's sister when she was here visiting. After spending the day in the ER with her getting her stitched up, I had no choice but to return Duke to his original rescuer. It was one of the saddest days of my life, if I'm honest. He's such a sweet dog to those in his immediate pack. I hope one day he finds a home where they can help him overcome his anxiety so he can be around (and trust) people he doesn't know.


Monday, March 20, 2017

TeamBSC !!!!

I just had a meeting with a new athlete who's going to be coming on board with me/TeamBSC in the next few weeks. She came to my house and we spent some time getting to know each other. I'm excited to work with her because she has more potential than she thinks. That's one benefit of having been working with athletes for so long- I know potential when I see it. And that potential isn't always physical- sometimes it's more of a mental state where you can tell that an athlete has such a great never say die attitude. That mindset will take an athlete a long way in our sport! Anyway. What was cool was that toward the end of our conversation I showed her a mock up of our team kit (sweet aero tops made by Coeur Sports!)

... and our new team shirts and of course the bat caps that can't be bought (have to earn these babies!) and she was like WOW you guys really have a great team going, don't you?

And my thought was Yes! Yes we do!

Going into my 8th year of coaching here I feel really proud of what we have created. And it just keeps getting bigger/better! Krista and I have recently brought on not one but two new coaches joining us with TeamBSC. You can read more about them on our newly updated(!) website, but briefly, Taryn and Juda are going to make awesome contributions to our team. While we each still work with our own athletes individually, we work together as coaches to grow and expand our own thinking and the way we approach our jobs. When Krista approached me about Juda coming on as our 4th coach, my first thought was Whoa this is like a real coaching company now!? I mean, it was always 'real', but maybe you know what I mean... I started this thing as a part time hobby 8+ years ago and now I not only have my athletes to look after, but I also get to help mentor 3 other coaches! It's totally my dream job. We've set up regular conference calls where the 4 of us get together and brainstorm ideas about everything you can imagine when it comes to sport. And it's true what they say... 4 brains are better than 1! (Do they actually say that? We say that!)

Anyway, it feels good, to say the least. TeamBSC has been my baby but look at her now!?! This past weekend we had athletes flying all over the world... From Virginia Beach to California to Puerto Rico to Taiwan... Sometimes it all just blows my mind, if I'm honest.
Anyway, if you're a hard working athlete with big goals and you're looking for highly individualized coaching and an inspirational guide who will interact with you daily, check us out at TeamBSC. I bet we have a coach who would be a good match for you!

Monday, February 27, 2017

What's Going On?

The other day I got a text from a former athlete of mine and she said that I should update my blog more often again because she doesn't know what's going on in my life anymore. So, ok. Here you go! ;)

I told her I feel less of an urge to write the blog and I think it's because I (mostly) see this blog as a way to write about and share my training... but currently I'm sharing all my training with my coach (who pays attention- yay). Plus, it's all on Strava. So writing about it again here would just feel like complete overkill to me, I guess. But if you're not my coach and you're not on Strava, here's a basic summary:

It's going well! I feel like I am regaining some of the old "me"... The "me" from years ago when I trained kind of a lot and often felt like a machine. The "me" when I'd be melting into the couch thinking OMG there's no way I can go train again right now but then I'd start and surprise myself by not feeling so terrible. I like that athlete and I have missed her.

My hip is apparently all healed up. I'm running again and have no lingering niggles or injury issues <knock on wood>. Fwiw, I built that run pretty patiently with short frequent easy easy jogging... starting 3x/week for 15min then working toward 3x/week for 20min then eventually 5x/week for 30min. Then one of those runs got longer and that "long" run felt like it always just totally sucked, but now that's getting better too. Now sometimes my 30min runs have become 45min runs and sometimes they include hills repeats or short efforts where I pick up the pace. It feels like its been a reasonable build and while I'm still not where I used to be in terms of speed/distance, I'm WAY closer than I was 3 months ago and have hope that 3 months from now I will have nothing to bitch about.

Riding is going well enough. I'm doing a ton of it in my garage these days, which I actually enjoy a lot more than I ever thought I would. I like the control I have over watts and effort when I'm on my smart trainer. I like a lot of the Trainer Road sessions. I like the idea of not being smushed by a car. I like not worrying about a mechanical or a flat tire. I like not stopping at stop lights. I like that a 3 hour ride takes 3 hours, not 3.5 hours. I like watching Netflix. I worry that I might lose some of my confidence and/or skills on the road if I ride inside so often. But then maybe once/week I go ride outside and realize that I'm not losing my confidence and/or skills at all, so I stop worrying about that.

I've raced a little bit so far this year... Just short little local races for fun and to check in on where I'm at. I did the 3 run/swim biathlon races that Waikiki Swim Club puts on every winter. They consist of a 5k run straight into a 1k swim. My 5k got faster with each race so that was fun. And I won my AG at all 3 of those so that's also fun! Those were really low key non-stressful events that didn't make me nervous at all. 

Yesterday I raced a short 20k TT on my bike and was nervous as hell. Not sure why so nervous? I cared more, I guess. Plus, I knew how much it was going to hurt. Bike TTs have got to be just about the most painful thing we do. Instructions from my coach were to ride hard and for the love of god, wear your heart rate monitor... He just wanted the data afterward, which I totally understand. I didn't want to look at HR while racing b/c that would freak me out, so I had my garmin set so I wouldn't see it until I looked afterward. You know how they say your max HR is ~220 minus your age? That would put my estimated max HR at 177. My avg for the last 20min of the TT yesterday was 176 (max 179) so you can guess about how big of an effort that was for me. I couldn't have pushed any harder. I landed 2nd in a close race for top 4 and came away feeling happy with that effort.
In non-training related news, our animal sanctuary has expanded. Long story short, I adopted another dog who had been abandoned and was in need of a good home. I worried that he might have a legit case of anxiety disorder, because he seemed like an extremely *nervous* dog when we first got him. Pacing and panting and just seemed like he could not relax at all... But he absolutely adores Maia and he follows her around everywhere. He loves me and our whole family as well- very loyal dog. Moana named him Duke and that fits. His anxiety disorder disappeared after his first day with us and now he's just a normal happy dog who plays and eats and sleeps like a normal happy dog. 

It feels really good to be able to provide a life like that for a dog. 

Or in our case, 2 dogs. And 3 cats. All of these animals as one point were just dumped on the street. Now they all lead happy lives at the #SimmonsSanctuary :) 
Scott said no more animals. Fair enough. So that's it for now!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Playing The Endurance Corner Swim Game...

So its that time of year again... Time to swim more than any of us really should. Last year when the Endurance Corner Swim Challenge was on, I had run myself into an injury and therefore had some extra time on my hands. The game is essentially about swimming as much as you can and scoring bonus points along the way by taking on different 'challenges'. It was a good distraction for me and I set about swimming 5k (or slightly more) each day for 14 days and since I was the only one who did that, I won the game. I totaled just over 77,700 meters in the 14 days and that was apparently more than anyone else had done in the history of the game. Pretty cool!

Fast forward to this year... I am not injured and have been building my bike and run. So when the swim game was announced, my thought was just sort of that I would play, and log my swims, but I wasn't going to try to swim more than I swam last year. I mean, I thought maybe I could still win it but on less swimming??

HA! This year it appears some folks are more motivated than they were last year and the game is ON. It's Day4 and I thought I'd start a little running blog here which will be fun to publish when this is all over. My current thoughts at the moment:

~It's day 4. I've swam just over 26,000 meters.
~I'm ranked 3rd.
~I want to win.
~I'm not sure if I can win.
~I think it's going to take 100,000M to win this year.
~If I swim 100,000M and don't win, part of me will be satisfied. But shit. I want to win.

So let's go back!

Day 1: Super proud of myself for knocking out 6500M. I figured if I wasn't going to swim every day then I should swim big on the days when I was swimming, just to give myself a decent total at the end. Come home, log into the leaderboard only to find out that Larry freaking kicked the challenge off with 9100m. Um. What?!

Day 2: No swim on my training plan today but I snuck off to the pool anyway to get 5k done. I figured if I skipped a day then for sure I was out of the game and I wasn't sure I wanted to count myself out on day 2 so just in case I wanted to really play, I'd still have a chance. Bonus point today for Timed 5k straight (1:14:42, LCM). I opted to do it this day b/c I only had 90min to swim before the pool would close and I figured that was the best way to get as much done as I could. 300 easy c/d gave me 5300m for the day and I was happy with that, until I came home and found out that Larry popped off another 6300 and a gal I didn't know named Lindsey swam 6k Monday then 7k Tuesday... Um. These people aren't screwing around?! So I sent a note to my coach and told him that I was thinking maybe I should really play because you know I hold the record and to just let it go because I didn't feel like working that much wasn't exactly sitting well with me. Honestly, most coaches probably would have replied with some reasonable statement about how its just some dumb game that doesn't mean anything in the big picture... You know, let it go and instead focus on keeping a balanced program... But Vince replied and said, That's awesome you should go for it. Swim as much as you need to to win. I have to say, having a coach who understands that yes its just some dumb challenge but really, there are some serious benefits to be had by exploring your limits and allowing that competitive side to come out made me happier than ever that I hired him as my coach. It's like, he gets me. At this point in my athletic life, that might just be the #1 thing I really need in a coach! So. This is when I decided to really play the game.

Day 3: Swim with Mark as normal, but tack on an extra 2k or so at the end. 6200 gave me 18k for 3 days which I thought was SOLID. Larry and Lindsey both swam more than me though so their lead was increasing. And Chris joined the game and logged something crazy that put him ahead of me as well. Right behind me were Jeff and Laura. I mean, 6 people with 17k+ in the first 3 days? Holy Crap. This is insanity!
I gotta say, at least I'm not spending 2 hours/day in a little indoor 25yd fishbowl! Hats off to anyone on the mainland who does that. This is where I've been swimming for 12+ years now. Super spoiled, yes.

Day 4: This blog is mostly about swimming but I'll just mention that I have also been trying to keep up biking and running mostly as normal... This morning I tried to ride a key/quality ride but just had nothing. HR was depressed, watts were low. It was frustrating but I understood and wasn't surprised. If I keep this game up I'm going to have to back off bike and run b/c here's no way to swim as much as this and still ride/run without digging some super deep hole. At least, I can't. I swam alone this afternoon... I'd checked the leaderboard before I went and saw that Jeff swam 7k today... So Ok Jeff! I see your 7k and raise you 8! 8100m as: 4x2k with 100 easy c/d. Nothing really hard about it- just volume. Funny how I've wrapped my brain around 8k and decided it's not really that far. Our brains are funny like that. (Spoiler alert: I think this is one of the benefits of playing a game like this- it completely redefines our own perceived limits.) I finished feeling sunburnt and tired but I was sort of stoked thinking for sure I'd have closed the gap a bit to Lindsey and Larry. I was stoked to log my swim, only to see they both logged 8k today as well. No gain. Gah! Are they seriously going to keep this up for the next 10 days? I have to believe they will, which means I am going to as well. I might not win this thing but I'm not going to just give it to them. They will have to earn every bit of it.

Day 5: Swam my first double today. Truly, it's WAY easier when you split it up between 2 swims vs just doing a huge single session. 6k this morning, mostly with Mark. Felt fine. Then tried to run and didn't feel fine. It wasn't an energy thing as much as it was a diaphragm cramping issue. So that sucked. Went back to the pool in the later afternoon and swam another 4k. I wouldn't say I felt 'great', but I think I'm coming out the other side of the fatigue b/c I felt about as smooth and natural as I've felt in a long time, right from the first stroke. Once again I was stoked to come home and log my 10k... thinking for sure I'd gain on everyone with that! But dammit if Larry and Jeff both also logged 10k today. And Lindsey logged 9. So I'm still 3rd. What's crazy is that 2 other swimmers logged 6500-7000 and it's like that's not enough to even factor in the game. Freakin' NUTS. Now that I've figured out how to manage the doubles though, I think I can swim like 60k+ next week. 10k split 6/4 isn't that hard and I think I can do that 3-4x next week for sure. Up tomorrow- long ocean swim with a couple of badass friends.

Day 6: Long ocean swim with Mark and Stefan and Hudson today. We basically did a 3 hour tour of Kailua Bay. Conditions were good today and I felt like I could have swam all day long. I stashed some donut holes in the bushes at the boat ramp and we stopped twice to munch on those and drink some fresh water. Fun fact: donut holes are ah.maz.ing in the middle of a long ocean swim. Hudson's garmin called it 11.3k. Stefan's called it 11.5k. Mine called it 10.8k. I logged what mine said. I don't know yet what Larry and Laura and Jeff swam today. They haven't logged in yet. But whatever they log will largely determine my plan for tomorrow.

Day 7: Lindsey logged 14k yesterday. That was a big mental blow when I saw that. I paced about and stressed and tried to come up with a plan to combat that but honestly I just wasn't sure I was up for it? I sort of felt like a zombie this morning but I gathered up everything I needed anyway and headed to the beach today thinking I'd give myself a chance to answer it. I was okay through about 90min then my brain started coming up with all sorts of reasons why I should stop (pick a reason, there were so many) and what it came down to for me is that my WHY wasn't strong enough. 7k into my swim I was on the beach refueling and drinking fresh water and trying to think of a reason to get back in and do it again. Winning a contest on the internet wasn't a good enough WHY for me today and I bailed on the rest of the planned swim. Part of me felt like a loser for sure, because I just chose to stop. It wasn't a physical failure as much as it was a mental one. (i.e. I went for a short run after I was done with that 7K, because running sounded more appealing than swimming at that point!) I think there's a good lesson in there somewhere... about having a really solid WHY when you're doing an event that is going to cause mental and physical fatigue. You need something to grab onto when your brain starts giving you all the reasons to stop. Anyway, I came home and logged my 7k only to see that Lindsey and Larry both logged 17k!?! Once I was able to close my jaw, I actually felt an immense sense of relief. Relief that I didn't kill myself for 14k today b/c I would have been crushed to come home and see that 14k wasn't enough. Now I feel like the pressure is off me and I can go back to a solid but more reasonable amount of swimming and instead just get out some popcorn and watch those two HAVE AT IT!

I'm not sure there's a great reason to keep up blogging about the challenge for the next week, because I can make the call now that I'm done competing to win it! I Fold. All I'm going to do this next week is swim my 5K/day and I'll add back my bike and run so I'll be training in a more normal way, which doesn't exactly warrant a long blog post. But in conclusion, I'd say I'm glad I played to win in this first week. I gave it a shot but I'm in no place to compete with a 31k weekend like what Lindsey just pulled off. Originally I thought it was going to take 100k to win the game... Now I revise that and think it'll be 125k. Maybe more?? I'll have fun watching Lindsey and Larry play that poker game! I won't envy them next weekend though. If they both swam 17k today, what are they going to do next Sunday which is the last day!?! Shit! I'll get some popcorn.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Double Roughwater Swim (2016)

The ocean is like a box of chocolates. 
You never know what you're going to get...

I've lost count of how many times I've done the Double Roughwater swim? Maybe 8 or 9 times? (edit- I looked it up- I've done it every year they've heard it since 2006, so this was my 9th year!) I can't remember. I think I missed one year, and then last year they didn't put it on. I can't remember why? Maybe because there were shark attacks like every week through the fall so no one wanted to swim in the ocean. Anyway, most years since 2006 I've done this 4.5 mile swim in December.

I was glad to have this swim on my calendar this year because it gave me a nice goal to focus on when I couldn't run for 3 months. I've been pretty consistent with my swimming recently. Most of the last 2 months I've swam 16-20k/week.

It seemed like we had decent conditions this morning. Light winds means the water is glassy and that's always quite pleasant!
The race director describes this race as an "Equal Opportunity Swim"... meaning if there's a current (usually there is), we get to go against it one way and with it the other way. He also describes the ocean as a potentially dangerous place, with "big fish and things that sting". He finishes every pre-race talk with "If you have any concerns, don't swim." I love that.

Anyway, we each have our own individual escorts and once again, Scott was mine. The fact that we have done this together so many times before allows me to feel super confident. He knows where to be (in front of me and slightly off to the right) and who to follow for the best line, etc. We heard there was a head current going out so we decided to try to take an inside line on the way out. I think we did a good job of that, but yikes that current was still legit. At times I'd look at the bottom and see that I wasn't really moving forward. My strategy in scenarios like these is to not look at the bottom. :) I just keep swimming as strong as I can and trust that eventually, at some point, I'll get to the turn-around marker. I felt like I was swimming very strong and knew that there was nothing else I could do to move along any faster, so I just sort of tried to not think about anything other than meditating on my stroke/effort in each moment. Eventually that channel marker buoy did come into view. I made my way around it then stopped for a minute or so to down a Honey Stinger gel and drink some NBS fluid.

Somebody shoot me I've become one of those triathletes who swims swim races with her garmin. Blame my desire to upload everything to Strava... lol

When I was stopped I saw that there was literally NO ONE swimming near me. Scott said there were a handful of swimmers pretty far ahead, and everyone else was sort of far behind me. I told Scott that I was good and started swimming again. Immediately I was like WOW YES!! It felt like I was swimming on a conveyor belt! Woot! I still felt really strong and like my turnover was good. The return trip went by a lot faster than the outbound and seemingly all of a sudden I was at the turn buoy that marks like ~600m to go. Getting in from there it got hard again and felt like it took forever, but eventually I stood up on the sand and jogged to the finish line.
It was my slowest ever double swim at 2:13, but it felt like one of my strongest efforts. I was mostly stoked at how well I managed to stay focused and in the moment the whole time. Everyone else I talked to also commented about how it took longer than in years past. That's sort of how it tends to go with ocean swimming. Sometimes its fast and other times its slow. I won my age group and think I was 5th female OA? There are always some young gals who show up who just really are amazing swimmers. This year there were some folks from CA who showed up and made it extra competitive, so that was fun. Even then, it's a super relaxed fun kind of (Hawaiian style) competitive.

Anyway, so that's a wrap on the racing for 2016!