Saturday, July 31, 2010

I Wasn't Going To Race Today, But...

I haven't spent a lot of time talking about this, but my big goal coming up is to do well at the 112 mile around the island bike race that is coming up in 5 weeks. And, um, since I haven't ridden more than 60 miles since, um, I don't know when, I figured it's time to up the distance a bit. So I set out for a 95 miler today with the group.

I've been riding a decent amount, mostly road bike, lots of hills, but all alone. So I felt sort of unsure about where my fitness actually is. I mean, I've been feeling good, but maybe I've felt good on my bike rides because I haven't been pushing that hard. That can feel good, you know. I guess my point is, without a power meter (bummer I don't have one) and without people to push you, who knows if your hard is really that hard? I think it's hard, but... you get the picture.

It was windy today. Really windy. And it was wet. We rode in and out of rain for the first 2-3 hours of our ride. Ugh. I was not happy. At our first stop I looked at Sandy and without smiling said, "This feels like training." You know, sometimes long bike rides are just awesome and it feels like you're doing it because you just love it, and other days it feels like you just have to freakin' put the time/distance/effort in. Today felt like the latter.

So eventually we got to the bottom of Pineapple Hill. I didn't mention this earlier, but there was this gal, Jane, who showed up to ride with us today... she came out once last year (from CA) and rode with us too. I remembered her because she pretty much just kicked all our asses and then went home without saying a word. Well, welcome back, Jane! It did not come as a surprise that she would dictate the pace up Pineapple Hill. And she did not wait. Right from the bottom she just put the hammer down and started climbing.

I had one of those moments... decision time... Are you coming or not??? And the answer was... YES! I'm IN. I wanted to play with Jane today. So I did. (Turns out I was the only one of our group who wanted to play so it became a mano-a-mano duel up the hill.) At that moment I was wishing hard for my road bike (Jane was on a road bike, I was on my TT bike) but wishing doesn't magically change the geometry of your bike so I just had to deal with the cards I had. Every steep pitch we hit, Jane would gear down, stand up, and just HAMMER. Man she had some power. I hung right in there with her though, amazed at myself and wondering who's legs I must have borrowed today?? I was psyched to be doing this today though. You know, I really wanted to test myself a few weeks ago at the Pineapple Hill road race, but I didn't get to that day because of race tactics... so in my own mind (not sure if Jane got the memo?) today became my Pineapple Hill Road Race!

It turns out, Jane must have gotten the memo because I swear, she was doing everything in her power to drop me. And eventually she did. I'd like to say that I could have stayed with her if I would have been on my road bike and able to stand up and climb like she could (that just doesn't feel the same on my TT bike), but who knows? Anyway, I kept the pressure on even after I lost her wheel and caught her again once the road turned a little flatter. Sweet. Hey Jane! I'm baaaack. I'm sure she was thrilled. Lol. She hammered all the way through to the top of the hill with me on her wheel and then without a word we just settled into a more normal pace and continued the loop.

We regrouped at the 7-11... faced a wicked headwind for the next 40 miles. Joy joy. I was sure I was going to have to pay dearly for that big climbing effort and was really NOT looking forward to the trip home. Its hard enough when you're fresh to battle that wind. But when you haven't been riding long and you just spent all your energy on the climb, well, I was bracing for ugly. I was cautious and sat in a good draft for the next 90 minutes or so. Jane did the same- right on my wheel. We let the boys do the heavy lifting into the wind.

Until... we got to about 15 miles from home and that's when we hit some little rollers. Little rollers that can feel like mountains if you're hurting... but you know what? I was not hurting. I felt fantastic! Not sure where this came from, but I was going with it. I waited until we got to the first little incline and then I attacked my little group. OFF THE FRONT! Woohoo! I laid it all out there and after coming down the hill on the other side I glanced back and saw that I had actually dropped Jane. Must have caught her by surprise. Awesome. But I sat up and waited. I had no interest in riding home alone- I wanted to play with Jane some more, and now that I'd played the first hand, I knew that she would throw her money in too... She just seemed like that kind of rider. And I was right about that. Holy hell that woman can attack up a hill! Oh my. We hit some more little rollers and she just geared down and went for it. I knew this was coming so was prepared every time and matched her up every little incline. It was awesome!

It was just the two of us at this point again... I know these roads a lot better than Jane did (obviously since I live here and she does not) so I knew where the final little climb was... she started going hard up it but she was on the tired side of things b/c she'd been pulling for a while and it was still very windy... I felt super and thought that *maybe* I could get around her on this final climb but wasn't sure... and didn't want to be rude about it since she'd been pulling... but then you know what? Jane is the type of rider who would respect me more for throwing it at her so that's what I did. Max power output coming from Michelle! Man, I laid it out there. Jane followed of course and then I just did not let up for about another mile until we hit some traffic and the ride was pretty much over because we were just a few miles from home.

Phew! How fun was that? Jane and I don't know each other really at all. In fact, I don't think she ever even asked me what my name was. But as we were soft pedaling the last bit of the ride I said, "I really enjoyed riding with you today." And she replied, "Likewise."

Thursday, July 29, 2010

No Coaching On Deck?

So my friend, Brett, offered to meet me and a couple of my athletes at the pool today to watch our strokes and help us tweek them to make ourselves more efficient. Brett is a huge proponent of technique in swimming. He calls good technique "free speed". He's been giving me tips for the last several weeks in the morning while we swim together and I am working on what he tells me. I feel like it's starting to come together for me and it's feeling more natural (change can be hard, you know).

Anyway, I invited two of my athletes to the pool to meet us today and they were psyched! Before we got in, Brett gave the three of us a little mini lesson on deck and then we hopped in to warm up. I brought a video camera so Brett could tape us and we could see what he was talking about...

So imagine our surprise when we finished warming up and heard Brett tell us that he was not allowed to give us any help on stroke technique. What?? You can hear a bit of his conversation with the lifeguard in this first short video* he was shooting... (this is me and Jennifer warming up)

The gist of it is that they do not allow any coaching on deck during lap swimming hours. The only time instruction can be given to swimmers is during swim team practice hours, which means that unless you are on the age group swim team (no masters at this pool), you can't have anyone actually help you with your stroke. I'm sorry, but that is NUTS.

Ok, I can see how they don't want people running a business on their public pool deck... I get that. But we weren't paying Brett. He was doing it once, as a friend, helping us out. But nope, not allowed.

I spoke with the pool manager after we got out about their rule. Apparently they have had some problems with parents coming on deck and coaching their kids during lap swim hours... still not sure I see the issue with that. It's PUBLIC lap swim. I can't believe they really got in anyone's way. And you know what? If Moana becomes a swimmer someday and wants me to come help her with her stroke technique on our own time, it sure seems like I should be able to help her with that, no?

Anyway, Brett was allowed to continue taping us, he just wasn't allowed to talk to us. Lol. Ridiculous. BUT, we did get some decent videos with his commentary, and he did say he was going to write up his thoughts for us and send them via email, so in the end we still got pretty much what we wanted. It just would have been nice if he could have given us corrections there on deck so we could have tried to implement the change immediately, instead of wasting that time and opportunity.

*You like our beautiful long course pool with no lane lines? It might qualify as the slowest pool in the country, with currents strong enough to almost push you backwards that come from jets blasting out of the walls... but this is where I've been training 3-4 days/week for the last 6 years. It feels like home.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

24 hours In The Day

The other day, somebody asked me how I fit it all in. Something about how there are only 24 hours in a day. I guess the key is not wasting any of those hours. Though I waste at least one of them a day on Facebook. Damn Facebook. Anyway, here's my day today.

4:15 AM. Get up, log into Training Peaks while grinding coffee for the french press. Send 2 hours writing programs for athletes. This is the quiet easy part of my day.

6:15 AM. Eat breakfast. Pack Moana's lunch. Get Moana up and dressed. Put on my bathing suit under my cycling clothes. Pump up my tires. Thank Scott for taking Moana in to day care today.

7:00 AM. Arrive at pool. Fly through 3700 long course meters, including a main set of 4 x 500's descending. Started the first one WAY faster than I planned and was afraid I might not be able to descend all 4, but found out that I'm faster than I thought. Nailed that set. Thank Nalani and Brett for being such awesome swim partners.

8:30 AM. Start riding. Steady aero bar ride today. 35 miles alone to think about everything else I have to do today. Amazed that I can be looking at blue sky and puffy white clouds while being simultaneously pelted with rain. Only in Hawaii.

10:15 AM. Arrive home. Make recovery shake. Check email. Respond to emails. Check Facebook (amazing how I find time to fit this in.) Shower. Yes, I checked FB before I showered.

11:00 AM. Back to the computer and phone to continue drumming up business for COH. Turns out, the more work I do, the more work I have to do. Guess it works like that when you're in sales and pretty much creating your own position and trying to justify your existence with the company. Good thing I like this kind of stuff.

1:00 PM. Go out and call on accounts face to face... Apply make-up in the car while I'm stopped at red lights (yes, I'm one of those women. My make-up bag actually lives in my car these days.) Make some new cold calls, some follow up appointments. Another fun part of my day. I like working with and meeting new people.

4:00 PM. Go pick up Moana from day care. Smile when I see her laughing and kicking a soccer ball outside in the yard with one of the other kiddos. Wish that some fresh food would magically appear in my refrigerator, but know that won't actually happen so fight the town traffic and head to Costco. Sing with Moana in the car even though I really just want to yell at all the cars to MOVE OUT OF MY WAY ALREADY.

4:45 PM. Fill up that whole dang Costco cart with fresh food while eating frozen yogurt with Moana.

5:15 PM. Finally start heading home. Talk to my friend Mike while driving home (using my headset of course since it would be illegal for me to actually hold my phone while driving, even when only going 10mph on the highway.) Listen to Mike tell me that I hadn't really been working all day since I had time to go to Costco. Um, that's still working, Mike. It's my third job as a wife/mother/homemaker that I do *after* my job(s) as coach and saleswoman, and after I satisfy my need to be an athlete...

5:45 PM. Arrive home. Situate Moana in front of the TV to watch Sesame Street (it's the only way) so I can carry load after load of pineapple, watermelon, honeydew, carrots, red peppers, cucumber, bread, avocados, peaches, mangos, beans, clif bars, cereal, soy milk, cheese, pasta, diapers, etc from my car, up the stairs, and into the house.

6:00 PM. REALLY want to just fall onto the couch and watch Sesame Street with Moana, but instead go back to the computer and respond to emails while cooking dinner at the same time. THIS is my SUPERHERO power- cooking and emailing at the same time- made possible by the fact that my desk/computer is about 3 feet from my kitchen. See, sometimes a small house works in your favor.

6:45 PM. Scott arrives home. We eat. He plays with Moana and then takes her upstairs to get a bath. I clean up the kitchen and finish unpacking and putting away the groceries. Get back on the computer, read the comments my athletes write in TP about their workouts today, and then finally write this blog.

8:00 PM. Now I am going to do my best to just ignore the dog hair on the floor and mindlessly watch The Daily Show instead of vacuuming. I will continue reading Dara Torres' book 'Age Is Just A Number' before passing out into slumber by 9:30 so I can get up and do it all again tomorrow.

Does that add up to 24 hours?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

In It To Win It

We had another ocean swim race this morning up at the north shore. If you remember my experience from a couple weeks ago, you'll remember that a fire was lit within me and I made a decision to up my effort in the water before the rest of the ocean swims this summer. And I did. I've showed up at morning swim workouts with bells on the last two weeks. Ready to work. Ready to push it. Believing in myself. Focusing on form. (You get the picture.)

So I'd like to say that I was supremely prepared for this morning's race... well, I pretty much was. I won't lie. Yesterday was Scott's birthday and we went out last night and tied one on (what does that mean, anyway?) I wasn't crazy hungover this morning like some people were, but I didn't bounce out of bed like I might have had I not had that third glass of wine last night... anyway... let's ignore that little fact, shall we?

The swim this morning was a point to point, through some rocky spots, against a current (but it wasn't really that bad of a current). Navigation on this course can be a challenge and it's everybody's question... inside or outside? Meaning which line do we take? Where is the current best/worst? The only rules here in these point to point races is 'stay in the water' so as long as you don't get out and run on the shore, you can take whatever line you think is fastest to get to the finish buoy. Fun to add that element of strategy! I was asked multiple times after we finished this morning, "Did you go inside or outside?" And the answer, honestly, was that I did not know. Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself.

Two weeks ago the winner of my age group was a gal named Robin Lyon from Flagstaff Arizona. When I saw her name on the results I was like, "Robin Lyon!?!? I know her!!" I used to live in AZ and trained with Robin and her husband all the way back in 1995 (when we all lived in Scottsdale). Crazy small world. Anyway, I was bummed that I missed her at the race because we've completely lost touch... but low and behold, guess who's still here?? Yep! Vacationing for over a month, apparently. Nice, huh? Anyway, It was great to see her this morning and catch up on the last 6+ years since we haven't seen each other...

I knew Robin was a fast swimmer- she and Nalani finished in the same time zone last race (when I was about a minute and a half back)... but we lined up next to each other this morning and as we were chit chatting about her lazy vacation, the horn sounded and all hell broke loose and 500+ swimmers all started sprinting in the same direction. I put my head down and joined the group... it was a white water MESS with all the kicking and sprinting and I was looking forward to getting those first 200 meters over with so I could just settle in with my pack.

But the pack I became a part of included Robin... I could see her, right behind me actually... and it was then that I decided I was in it to win it this morning. Hangover smangover, I'm fighting for this today! (I've been asked before how I know who it is that I am swimming with in these races... well, our water is crystal clear and we don't wear wetsuits, so you can tell by someone's cap or suit if you know what to look for!) So I didn't 'settle in' like I normally would... no, I pushed and pushed and pushed and stayed right in there with my pack. At one point, maybe half way through the swim, I already felt like I might puke right there in the water, but I looked to my right and saw that Robin and I were swimming side by side, stroke for stroke, and on my immediate left was Nalani! It occurred to me at that point that THIS is what I love about racing... duking it out full force with people who you absolutely love and respect. And I tell you what, while I was thrilled (and ok, a bit surprised) that I was right in there with these gals, I vowed to not give this race away... I was going to fight with everything I had to beat them both to the timing mat!! This was racing at it's best!

So check out the picture below... toward the end we had to navigate around those far rock islands... the key (if you're brave enough) is to go on the inside of both of them. It's shallow and you're right on top of some rocks and have to take care not to land on top of one, but it's the fastest route so this is where our group went...

So I made it safely through the rocks... still killing myself to hang with this pack of maybe 6-7 swimmers, including Robin and Nalani and I don't know who else... and then Robin abruptly took a cut to the right and surged at the same time... started her finishing kick!! Ok, come on, Michelle! GO GO GO!! But alas, given that I started my finishing kick 35+ minutes ago when the horn sounded, I just didn't have it to up my pace any further. I got dropped by the group. Darn! BUT, I kept at it and pushed as hard as I could alone to the beach and was supremely happy with my race and my effort!

Here we are just after finishing congratulating each other on an awesome effort. I was probably telling Robin about how I just couldn't go after she surged right...

To my surprise, Robin was not first in our age group today... that other gal Anna actually was! I don't know this gal but I'd certainly like to meet her! Maybe next time... anyway, so I ended up 3rd in the age group, with only 40 seconds separating the three of us. I was 60th OA and 25th female (most of those fast females being 14 year olds. Ha! Those little kids can SWIM.)

So I learned a good little lesson today... and that is that I don't need to actually win to be happy with my race. (Ok, I knew this before but it became as crystal clear as the water we swam in today) I just have to try to win and that makes me happy. I gave everything I had today. I have no excuses about the current or the line or the rocks or the chop or anything else... I swam as fast as I could and the people who beat me are just flat out faster. Fine. Knowing that I gave my all was supremely satisfying!

And in good news, there's one more race in this series... in two weeks we will all go duke it out again (Robin will still be here and I would guess Anna will be as well) so THAT is going to be fun! I am giddy just thinking about getting to race with these gals again. :)

Another thing that made this race super fun was that Scott and Moana came up too! Moana just loves loves loves the beach and the ocean these days so she had a ball. Here's a video to prove it (and see what I'm talking about with the clear water???) The beginning of the video is of swimmers still finishing in the bay...

I neglected to mention earlier that I saw two turtles while we were swimming (that's what happens when you keep your head down- you see the turtles you're swimming over!) Mark saw a ray and there was a pod of spinner dolphins playing and showing off for us in the bay. (Just in case you weren't jealous of the swim conditions today I figured I'd throw that in about the sea life... ;)

Not surprisingly, Moana fell asleep within about 30 seconds of being put in her car seat on the drive home... Scott dropped me off about 1/2 way home and I ran the rest of the way. Boy, there's nothing like topping off a great swim race with a 2+ hour run in the middle of the afternoon on a hot Hawaiian summer day. Um, Ice bath, anyone??

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Random Tidbits

I'm not normally at a loss for blog topics, but seems like this week I just haven't had much to say. Weird, huh? Things are just humming along... training... selling coffee... working with my athletes... and of course, being a mom. Oh, and watching the Tour this week too. I haven't had a lot of time to watch TV the last few months, but this goes to show that you *make* time for anything that is a priority because I've found time to watch the Tour (at least the exciting parts of it!)

So here are some random tidbits from the week:

~I'm trying to make a habit of spending special mommy/daughter time with Moana after I pick her up from day care. I get her at 4:00, so from 4-5:30 we go do something fun. Lots of times it is the playground, but sometimes if it's warm enough we go to the pool. I took her to the pool yesterday and she just had a blast! I know there are swim lessons for toddlers but we haven't worked on any actual skills yet... we are just playing in the water.

~Speaking of playing in the water, I've added a swim day to my training week. All winter/spring I pretty much got in 3x/week, but now I'm in 4-5x/week and I know that's what I need if I want to actually swim well this summer. 3x/week I can maintain what I've got, but 4x is required for me to improve. It's great though, because I do my Thursday swims alone. I work on technique stuff and strength in the water and don't worry about speed at all. It is SO nice to have a day where I'm not busting my a$$ in the water.

~ I haven't talked a lot about my running on here lately, but I'm still humming along nicely on the run. It's not my focus right now, but I'm trying to maintain a decent level of fitness- enough to get me through the run at the Rev3 Half at Cedar Point on Sept 12. That's the only triathlon left this year that I'm planning on doing. After that I will drop the bike training altogether and just swim/run in preparation for the Honolulu Marathon and the Double Roughwater Swim in December.

~ I've actually been running lots of hills and quite enjoying it! In a few weeks I'm headed back over to Moloka'i... partly for work but the trip is planned around the Moloka'i Mountain Run... Sounds like such a cool event! It starts at sea level and goes up up up on dirt fire roads and trails. I spoke with the race director trying to get details about the run... It's a 'show up and sign up' type of low key event (island style for sure!). She said she wasn't sure exactly how long it was... nor the elevation at the finish... But she did say it was between 12 and 16 miles. Lol. Um, that's a big difference, you know. Whatever. 12ish miles up a mountain with stellar views? I can do that.

~ I should have named Moana "Cathy"... as in, "Chatty Cathy". She talks *all the time*. Sometimes she wakes up in the middle of the night and talks to herself (and her stuffed animals) for like an hour. She repeats everything we say. Tonight she was all squirmy and giggly and I called her a 'nut bag'. So she said, "Nut bag." Ha!

~ There's nothing not to love about Andy Schleck. I think part of the reason I like him so much is that he's just so real. In his pre and post race interviews, you just get the feeling that he's telling the truth. He's not playing games and/or hiding anything, which is rare when it comes to cyclists- or athletes in general. Seems like lots of athletes (cyclists are the best at this though triathletes are good at it too) never really give you the whole story about how they're feeling or what they're thinking. But Andy does. I respect that about him.

~ Tomorrow is Scott's birthday! So Happy Birthday to him! I'm gonna try to make homemade carrot cake for him tomorrow (his favorite!) and surprise him at work with it. He doesn't read this blog all that often so I can feel pretty safe about not spoiling my surprise by typing it out here. And with that thought, time to make my shopping list! :)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Bike Racing

Been watching the Tour de France? I have. Sometimes several times a day. It's interesting to watch and observe those guys racing... I'm sad to see the fire gone from Lance's eyes. You can totally see that he's just not 'in it' anymore. Watching him get dropped on a climb when he's not even breathing hard and there are still 50+ guys in the group who have not been dropped... it's just sad. But I can see how you really need the mental FIRE to have the will to put your body through something like that. Clearly he does not have that fire this year.

I'm not a fan of Contador. I know he's a good rider and all, but classic example of why I don't like him is what he did to Vino on Friday. Chased down his own teammate right before the line and snatched the win away from him... only to give it to a guy on another team. What an Ass.

This morning on Oahu we had our own version of the Tour. El Tour de Pineapple Fields. Lol. Pretty much the same thing as the Tour de France except not that many strong riders showed up and we only did two 16ish mile loops around the north shore... BUT, each loop included a decent 5ish mile climb. We'll call it a category 3 climb, though really I have no idea how they do those calculations.

Unfortunately there were only about a dozen women who showed up to race this morning. And our strongest competitor opted to race with the men instead of the women. Honestly, I thought that was quite disrespectful on her part. (And I told her that after the race... keep reading...) The message she sent by opting to race with the men was, "You ladies are not strong enough to push me..." I disagree. I think we would have given her a really great race today. Anyway...

The plan for our Pac Velo team to get the win included having one teammate, Maria, ride on the front for the first loop and set a solid pace that might whittle down the field a bit. Then at the bottom of the climb the second time around, Jenny would attack, I would follow whichever gal chased her, then if she/we caught Jenny, it would be my turn to attack. It was a good plan to get Pac Velo the win. And we got it. The race unfolded exactly as planned, except that I never got a chance to attack because the gal chasing Jenny wasn't strong enough to catch her after the first attack. She was a good strong rider, but clearly had not done the type of hill/interval training required to be able to respond to attacks on a steep climb. I kinda felt bad listening to her wheezing trying to get any bit of air into her lungs... and I was just sitting on her wheel as we watched Jenny ride away. She looked to me once to come around and take a pull but given that it was my teammate up the road going for the win, I couldn't really do that. And I told her that. She understood team tactics so didn't argue about it at all.

So there I was, hanging out behind this gal who was wheezing and I was just riding on her wheel and thinking that even though it was the appropriate 'team' thing to do, it felt unsportsmanlike somehow. Because really, what I was supposed to do was sit on her wheel until the finish and then sprint by her for second place. But that just seemed wrong. But I was NOT going to pull a Contador and drag her up to Jenny because what if she got some crazy burst of energy in sight of the finish and rode by for the win? Then *I* would be the ass and I wasn't going to have that. But as it turned out, we went slow enough that Jenny was pretty much out of sight, this gal was still wheezing, so when we got to a steeper pitch about 3/4 of the way up the hill, I geared down and put in my own attack and rode to the finish alone. At least I could kind of earn my second place finish.

I have to say though, it was one of the most unfulfilling races of my life. I'm not disappointed because I was second, but I would have liked to have actually been able to race today... and by race, I mean give my all. In playing the teammate card, my 'job' today was to mark this other gal, and I did that, but it didn't take an all out effort to do so. And that's why I say unfulfilling. I don't think I actually make a good domestique. Maybe because it's not actually my 'job' and I don't get paid to do this stuff like those pro guys do? Or maybe I'm just too competitive to accept a second place when I wonder if maybe I would have been able to win given the chance to try? We'll never know.

Anyway, after the race I rode another loop by myself... just trying to collect my thoughts. As I finished up I saw the strongest gal, (also named Michelle) walking to her car. I rode up behind her and asked her, in a nice way I think, why she chose to race with the men instead of the women. I knew what her response would be. I knew it because I'd just come to the same conclusion while riding that hill for a 3rd time... so I wasn't angry or upset at her, but when she asked me how my race went, I did tell her that it would have been a lot more fun had she raced with the women. She wanted to be pushed, and she thought she would be pushed more by the men than by the women. Maybe. Maybe not. I told her that I respect her as a rider and that having her in the race to play with today would have made the whole thing way more interesting and fun. Which is why we race, right?

In the end, I'm not stroked on bike racing right now. I think I would be if we had a bigger stronger group of gals to race with locally. The gals are here... there are plenty of strong female riders on Oahu. They just don't show up to race. Probably because it's not really that much fun. But it would be fun. If they showed up...It's like Which came first? The chicken or the egg??

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Would You Stay In An Abusive Relationship?

I had a very strange encounter the other day at the pool and I haven't been able to shake it from my mind... so it gets a blog post.

I was in the locker room post swim when a woman I'd never met before approached me and asked me, out of the blue, "Would you stay in an abusive relationship?"

I was sort of taken aback by the question... seems sort of odd to be asked that in such a random environment like that... but I did not hesitate with my answer.

"Not for one day."

The woman clearly needed someone to listen to her. She needed to vent. She needed help. So I stood there in the locker room and listened to her story. She told me about how her husband of 17 years had stabbed her, knocked her down, broken her ribs, beaten her with a shovel... how he had been in and out of jail and was homeless living in a beach park if she didn't let him come home... she told me about how he was mean to her and how he was really overweight and missing a front tooth and couldn't care less about being intimate with her... but then she cried and told me how much she misses him when they're not together.


Ok, I just could not relate to this situation at all. I told her she needed to get OUT. Immediately. I told her that she was worth more than that. That she didn't need to put up with ANYONE treating her like that. I told her that I didn't care of he was a GQ model with $2 billion in his checking account... No woman should stay in any relationship that is abusive. Period. No ifs ands or buts.

She looked at me like I was telling her something she'd never heard before. Like she'd never met any woman who was so headstrong and unwaivering. She asked me how I was so strong. I told her I had a good mother.

She told me that she watched her dad hit her mother. And that her mother is still with her dad.

That's what this woman has known her whole life. I cannot get over how sad that is.

My interaction with this woman lasted about 30 minutes. We ended the conversation with me telling her that it's time for her to start believing that she is worth MORE than that. That it's time for her to start taking responsibility for her choices and her actions (and inactions) and only allow people who are a positive influence to be a part of her life. By the end of our conversation she was thanking me and told me that I had changed her life. I don't know if I did or not. I hope I did. If anything, at least she saw that it is possible for a woman to have self-confidence. It's possible for a woman to believe in herself and her self-worth enough to know that she does NOT have to put up with a man who tries to take any of that away from her.

I left our interaction with a renewed sense of my responsibility in teaching Moana these same lessons. I do think that they will come naturally based upon what Moana sees and feels every day... but wow, what a huge an important role we play as mothers... not just in our daughters' childhoods, but for the rest of their lives. This is important stuff.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Go Big or Go Home

Moana's new thing right now is to nonchalantly say, "ok" instead of yes when you ask her a question.

Moana, do you want some milk?


Moana, do you want to read a book?


Moana, do you want to go to the playground?


It cracks me up! I didn't think that Scott and I answer 'ok' a lot, but we must.

At the playground, she likes to go big or go home. Here she is asking to hang on the high bars.

I think it's funny that her arms don't reach up much past her head even when fully extended. My arms are so long... my elbows are above my head when I reach straight up.

So, speaking of saying 'ok'... I said ok the other night when a swimmer friend called and asked if I wanted to be on their relay team for the Maui Channel Swim! Let me tell you, I didn't exactly think it through before answering in the affirmative... but regardless, I'm IN! I think it's gonna be a blast! I'm going to be on a relay team with three guys from California and two guys from here. I only know one of them, but whatever. I'm all about making new friends. :) The six of us will share the duty of swimming from Lanai to Maui. It's 9ish miles and takes 3-8 hours depending on the currents. I'm actually coaching a local swimmer who will be crossing the channel solo on the same day (that's one way to celebrate your 50th birthday I guess!) so it'll be sweet to be there on the beach to give her a hug when she finishes.

I say I didn't really think it through because now that we are planning out the logistics of the weekend I'm wondering how I'm actually going to do it all? You see, the Maui Channel swim is the Saturday of Labor day weekend. Which would be fine, except that the next day, Sunday, is the big 'around the island' 112 mile bike race that I'm planning on doing... so the bummer is that I will not be able to stay for the banquet after the Channel Swim- instead I'll have to fly back to Oahu Saturday night and then see if I have time to sleep at all because the bike race starts at 5:45 AM on Sunday morning. Perfect. I think I can do the two events back to back.

But then Monday morning, Labor day, is the annual Waikiki RoughWater Swim! 2.4 miles. It's the Queen of the summer ocean swims around here. Super competitive. People fly in from the mainland and Australia for this race. Last year Macca did it and, get this, got third in his age group! (That just sort of made me laugh.) And then I saw this on facebook today...

It's an article from 1976 about the Roughwater swim that year, won by none other than the guy, Brett, who Nalani and I are swimming with now! Too funny. Turns out Brett was the overall winner of the swim 3 times, first in the year I was born. Lol. This article talks about how he beat professional triathlete Dave Scott that year.

Anyway, looks like Labor Day weekend is going to be a 'Go Big or Go Home' kind of weekend. Am I game? Ok.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Welcome Back

So this morning was my first swim back... I mean, I've been swimming regularly, but half-heartedly. Today was the first time in quite some time where I showed up with my game face on and ready to be aggressive and actually swim well. (Especially unique given that it is a Monday morning!) That swim race on Saturday was still at the forefront of my mind and I had just finally reached the point where I was DONE being complacent in the water.

From my first stroke this morning I could tell that it was going to be a good day. Not that physically I felt a whole lot different. It's not like I am more rested today then I have been on any other day... but mentally I could feel that I was back. I had that aggressive feeling in both my head and my heart and was ready to have a good swim.

How may times have I blogged about deciding that you're going to be fast today? Or about how you're faster than you think? I had a good reminder of that for myself this morning. I am continually amazed at what a large part our brains play. I think part of the problem for me is that I've been swimming with Nalani and Mark and Brett, three very fast swimmers. And somewhere along the line I'd made the decision that they were all faster than me... so when they would swim ahead, I just accepted it.

Today I decided that they were not faster than me. Nope. I decided that I am just as fast as them. (Ok, not as fast as Brett. He is a genetic freak who is like 8 feet tall and more naturally talented than most humans but I am ruining my point here so let's not focus on Brett. Lol.)

Our main set today was 300 steady, 150 FAST, 50 easy, x2, on pretty tight intervals. (Or what I thought were going to be pretty tight intervals for me.) But I was aggressive even in the 300 steady and came in about 10 seconds ahead of where I would have last week. Awesome. Right into a 150 FAST. At the 100 I looked across the pool to see how far ahead Nalani was, and um, was that her behind me?? No way. Change your mindset, Michelle. You are FAST. Dig and GO!

Can I just say that I haven't beat Nalani to the wall in any fast swim in like, probably 10 months?? I'm telling you, it's all in our heads. And then I did it again on the second set.

And there's nothing not to LOVE about Nalani. As we were walking into the locker room after the swim she said, "You know, I'm sorry you didn't have a great swim on Saturday, but if that's what it took to light your fire, then I'm glad it happened. Welcome back."

Indeed. It feel good to be back. :)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

I'm Gonna Have To Put My Game Face On

Today was the second swim of the North Shore Swim Series races... 4 ocean swims that serve to satisfy our craving to race in swimming. This is my sixth year doing the series and I absolutely love it. Unfortunately, I missed the first race this year because I was in Tex-ASS.

I'm sitting here feeling a bit dissatisfied (an understatement) about my result today so that's my warning to you about this post. (Also, I'm finishing my second beer. So you know this will be straight from the heart. Lol. What is that rule about not drinking and blogging?*)

So the truth is, I've been taking my swimming for granted. I swim pretty well. I know I am not the fastest SWIMMER swimmer, but I am fast enough for triathlon and have probably become a bit complacent as of late. I should know better, but it is what it is and my eyes were opened today. I mean, my eyes are open every M-W-F morning when I show up at the pool and get my butt kicked by Nalani and our two ex-collegiate swimmer guys, but I've become so accustomed to being the 'slow' one at swim practice that I've just come to expect to be beaten by them so most of the time I just do my thing and hope to make the interval (which I always do because, um, I am the one who picks the intervals.)

Anyway, about today... you know, because of this whole complacency thing, I did not give a second thought to this race this morning. I didn't think about it all week. I didn't cut back on any other workouts because of it. I didn't wear my TYR speed suit **. I'm not telling you this to make an excuse for why I lost today, but just to give you some insight into my errors. I made the mistake of thinking that I could just show up and win my age group. I knew that uber-swimmer Miki turned 40 this year (phew! She beat me every swim last year- I was 2nd, 4x), and I knew that there is another gal in my age group who is pretty fast, but she hasn't beaten me in a couple of years so I was not particularly worried about her. I swear, and I am embarrassed to admit this, but I just ASSumed that I was going to win my age group. And you know what they say about people who ASSume.

So I warmed up well this morning and when the horn went off I sprinted. I found myself some feet and felt like I worked pretty hard to stay on them. I didn't look up and sight a lot, but again, I was on this gal's feet and it seemed to me that she was a competent swimmer so I let her do the sighting. I ASSumed she was doing a fine job because every once in a while she would do a couple of breast-stroke strokes for some extra sighting. Fine. I stayed on her feet. My stroke felt long and strong and I felt good so I ASSumed that the reason there were so few swimmers around us was that we were just swimming faster than most of the others. Lol.

I wondered briefly if this gal I was drafting off of was in my age group. She did not look like a young gal to me but I couldn't really see her that well. I just knew I did not know her. This is a small island and though most of us know each other, that doesn't mean that new people don't move in... but honestly, as we were approaching the finish, I felt no urge or desire to try to sprint by her or run by her up the beach. I just didn't really care. She beat me by 3 seconds.

That is not like me.

But whatever. I ran up the beach and crossed the timing mat and then saw 2 gals I knew standing there and was immediately a bit disappointed. If they were standing there, that meant they'd already finished, which means they beat me. Not taking anything away from these two gals, because they are good swimmers... but on a good day, well, I would expect to be ahead of them. That's all. So I thought I was swimming well, but clearly not as well as I thought I was.

Oh well.

I checked the results. Um. Ok. The gal I was drafting off of was indeed in my age group. And, um, she was third. Oh my. I hope this doesn't come across like I am a sore loser. I don't see it that way. I did my best today. I got beat fair and square. BUT 4th in my age group is not an acceptable result for me at these races. The only other time in 6 years that I have placed 4th in my age group I was 7 months pregnant!

I swear, I tried not to let it bother me... But then I had 3.5 hours on my bike (into a stiff headwind most of the time) and I spent that time beating myself up for my fourth place finish. Why do I suck at swimming now? That was my main thought.

But the truth is, I don't suck at swimming. HOWEVER, there are some other (new) fast gals here in my age group now. I checked the results and the gal I drafted off of today lives in the next town over and posted a good result at the first swim two weeks ago. Ok good. So the fact of the matter is that I'm going to have to put my game face on for these races if I want to place better in the next two. Perfect. I needed some motivation. I needed a swift kick in the butt. And I got it today. So now it's GAME ON. I am going to SWIM. And I will show up at the next race with a better mindset and will be ready to race! Perfect.

*Scott said the rule is 'not more than 3 beers before blogging', so I'm good.

**Nalani said that wearing a speed suit at these races would be like wearing a ball gown to a BBQ so we just didn't do it. Nor did most of our competitors.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Combining Work and Play... Or... In Praise Of Beach Park Showers

I was just telling a friend today that I'm feeling pretty good this week about the life I've created for myself. As long as I'm not traveling, I feel like I've been able to strike a pretty good balance between being a mom, a wife, an athlete, a coach, and a saleswoman. It just takes a little prior planning (and beach park showers) to fit it all in.

Take today, for example. My plan was to call on a couple of restaurants up on the north shore... but I also wanted to fit in a bike ride that included a couple of long aerobic climbing efforts... and since there's a great 25-30 minute climb up there, I knew that would be the best place to do it. So after dropping Moana off at day care, I packed my bike, helmet, shoes, sunglasses, nutrition, work clothes, shampoo, towel, make-up bag, and coffee samples into my car and headed north.

I know I write about riding hard a lot, but the truth is, I do believe in aerobic base riding. And climbing easy. And I do it, quite often. I just don't normally write about it because it's boring. I've found that in order to force myself to ride easy, I need to arrange a couple of things beforehand. #1 I have to go alone. Forget training partners on your easy days. People always say they're going to go easy but human nature, in most cases, takes over and it's never as easy as it should be. #2 Wear a HR monitor and stick to your zones. OR #3 Do NOT look at your watch and attempt to time yourself in any way. I used to time myself on my easy days just for fun, or just so I'd know how slow easy pace really is, but inevitably I'd end up pushing the pace a bit in an effort not to see a slow time on my watch. So yeah, I don't do that anymore.

So today I was all set to climb easy up Pineapple Hill. I was riding alone. I did NOT look at my watch at the bottom of the hill. I forgot to pack my HR monitor this morning but I think I know what easy feels like and given that I had two of my three rules covered, I figured I'd be fine. And I was. The effort up the hill was perfect. I don't know how long it took. It doesn't matter. :) I cruised down the hill to finish the loop and began the climb again.

And then I saw him. Uh oh.

Some random rider up ahead of me on the climb. The self talk began. Do not go catch him, Michelle. You do not care about that guy. Just ride your own easy pace... etc. It would have worked too, except that guy ahead of me was slow. I was catching him. Oh well. Make a swift pass and maybe he'll let you go and that'll be that. So I passed him. And then you know what happened.

So this guy picks up his pace because heaven forbid he get passed by a girl. He jumped on my wheel as I rode by. Keep your effort easy, I tell myself. Ok, so the guy decides that he can now push harder so he passes me back. Control yourself, Michelle. Let him go. You do not care about this guy. Do NOT ruin your ride because of your ego. So I let him go. But you know that after about 1 minute this guy started to poop out and come back to me.

This is exactly what I was trying to avoid, but here I was, riding back and forth with this guy who thought it would be fun to push the pace beyond his capabilities. I knew that if I just rode tempo for like 2-3 minutes I could drop him and be done with it, but I stuck to my plan and just cruised. About 10 minutes later we face a steeper pitch of the hill and wouldn't you know it? This guy, who had been sitting on my wheel, rides by huffing and puffing and stands up to propel himself ahead of me on this part. Are you serious? Ugh. Once again, I let him go. But I would be lying if I said I was not annoyed by this point. But I stuck to my pace.

That was, until 'Pump Up The Jam' came on my iPod. I'm sorry, but I just could not help myself any longer. I'd controlled myself for most of the hill but I was done controlling myself. I didn't jump up and attack or anything, but I imagined I was wearing one of Julie's "I Drop Boys" jerseys and pumped up the jam until I caught him, and then rode right by. Guess who did not jump on my wheel this time? A few minutes later I crested the top of the hill and glanced back. Guess who was not even in sight? Make my day.

Back down the hill and to my car which was parked at a beach park with facilities to help working athletes like myself...

10 minutes later I was showered and dressed and ready to go sell some coffee. Love those beach park showers.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Ride Like A Triathlete

I can see why I may need to go back to having my own coach.

I was really good at setting my own program for myself (and following it!) all spring leading up to Honu. But then since Honu I've been feeling like I'm floundering a bit, which is fine, really. For now anyway. My problem isn't that I don't do the training. My problem is that, without a structured plan, I do too much of it. Or too much of it too hard.

This weekend was a prime example of that. The Saturday group ride was flat out fast and hard. And long. Then I took off running yesterday with kind of a plan in my head about how far/fast I was going to go... of course it ended up being far and then I started picking up the pace coming home and eventually I just turned it into a progression run with a fast finish. All well and good until I get to today's hammerfest and I'm doing everything I can to hang on and my legs are just screaming at me and my HR is through the roof... I guess it's fine as long as I take a couple of easy days to recover now. But a good plan keeps you from doing this kind of stuff to yourself in the first place, you know?

(I know that. Really, I do. I just don't care to do it right now.)

Today was actually quite interesting. I got a call a few days ago from a guy who wanted a "personal triathlon coach for the weekend". What? I've never really heard of such a thing. But shoot. I'm game! Turns out, we weren't actually able to meet up until this morning. I gotta tell you though, I was overwhelmingly curious about what kind of person would hire a "personal triathlon coach for the weekend"... I knew his name and that he was visiting from NYC... which is enough for google. Lets just say that I felt a bit nervous when I found his profile on I'm not sure I really know how to relate to anyone who has a profile on

But triathlon brings people together in a unique way and it turns out I was able to relate just fine. Though I should have known that he would show up completely decked out with his top of the line TT bike and aero helmet and 808's. Duh. Maybe I should have unpacked my TT bike after all? I was on my road bike and, well, after we took off at what felt like 90 mph down the road, I was wishing I had my P3 instead. This guy was flying. I guess a guy like him doesn't know how to give anything short of everything... I did think it was a bit ironic that he was paying me to sit on his wheel, but, whatever. He said he wanted someone to push him so I just did so verbally, from behind, uttering things like, "nice job" during the rare moments when I could get a breath. Then we took off running. I was thinking that maybe I should just ride my bike beside him while he ran, but he wasn't having any of that... so there I was, huffing and puffing and chasing this guy around Diamond Head... kind of comical. All I could think was that this was such a triathlete way to train. The Just go as hard as you can for as long as you can mentality.

Anyway, it appears that he enjoyed the training session because he said he would call me again next time he comes into town. Next time I'll shave and taper so I can better survive the Triathlete Training Day. Lol.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Ride Like A Roadie

All spring, Saturday mornings meant pretty much one thing... long brick. I have a group that I ride with... starts near my house... a bunch of strong triathletes riding on a relatively flat windy road... lots of aero bar time... steady state stuff. It's a fast ride, but not like 100% all out sprinting fast, but it's never easy. Done riding? Go for your run.

Those rides served me very well for the triathlon racing I did all spring. But now, looking at my calendar, my triathlon races are pretty much over for 2010. Well, I'll likely do the Rev3 at Cedar Point in Sept, but that's pretty much it.

Looking at my calendar, it's clear that it's time for me to switch gears a bit. Literally. I'm going to be doing some bike racing on the road in the next few months! Fun stuff. But if you've ever done bike racing, you know that most races are decided by who can get up the hills the fastest. BIke racing is not about steady state riding and conserving energy for the run. It's about sprinting and attacking and climbing as hard as you can and trying to crack your competitors. Yeah, a little different training is going to be required this summer...

With that in mind, I put my road bike in my car this morning and drove into town to join another local cycling team for their Saturday ride. I knew some of the guys there but it has been probably 3-4 years since I've ridden with them, so there were lots of new faces too. None of them were triathletes. All roadies.

Roadies ride differently than triathletes do. It's all about slow/very fast rather than steady consistent speeds. It's really a completely different type of training. And these guys actively seek out hills. Big ones. Steep ones. And they ride up them as hard as they can. Perfect. Exactly what I wanted today. Except for the wind and the rain. It was ugly out today. But of course I stuck with my belief that you train in whatever conditions are presented to you... because when we race... well you know how that goes. Anyway...

Since my goal was to just crush myself today, I rode the first hill quite hard. It was the longest one of the day was about a 15 minute effort. I hung with a little group of 4... then we were a little group of 3... then I cracked and watched the other 2 ride away. I knew we would regroup at the top so all was ok. Good solid effort that left me physically shaking at the top. Down the other side of the mountain, through a tunnel that was literally a wind tunnel... flying down, unable to see because I was being pelted by the driving rain and my glasses were all fogged up... my least favorite part of the day by far but we made it to the bottom safely and then continued the hammerfest. I swear, up every little incline these guys would just HAMMER and I would grit my teeth and do everything I could to hang on. I could not hang with the fastest guys but I found a few in the chase group that were more my level so I hung in there with them and worked my tail off. So it went. For like 75 miles. I did what I could to recover recover recover between climbing efforts... took myself to my 'crampy place' and almost succumbed to full on leg cramps but managed to back off the effort in time to save myself from literally being forced to just lay down on the side of the road.

This was clearly the hardest ride I have done all year. Maybe in 2 years. It's just so different than how we normally train, but in a good fun way! I like being tactical. I like pushing it all out and testing myself truly to the limit. I don't think I could train like that every weekend or I'd be completely burnt out, but every once in a while, it's fun to go ride like a roadie. Unfortunately, my legs set themselves on fire every time I climb the stairs... and just watching the Tour prologue this afternoon made them burn...

Friday, July 2, 2010

It's Hard To Do It All

Phew. I am glad this week is over. I feel like the last 3 days have just been a whirlwind and Mama needs a break. That's the biggest problem with travel, isn't it? You have a great time while you're gone, but then you have to come home (and I won't go into the nightmare of travel that can entail) and everything you were supposed to be doing is still right there, waiting to be done, but now you just have less time to do it all. That's how this week went.

Suffice to say that my bike is still sleeping peacefully in its box and shall remain there for time unspecified. Hey, at least it finally showed up here at my house. 2 days late is better than lost completely. And at some point I'll unpack my suitcase. Really, I will. I unzipped it the other day and saw that the glass french press I took with me was shattered so there was broken glass all over. Rather than dealing with it, I zipped that suitcase right back up and left it there. Does tell you anything about my personality? Maybe when I open it up again the glass will be magically gone? I know. Not likely. But I need to have a different mindset before I can clean all that up.

Anyway, in good news, I made a positive change with my coaching business this week. I've recently gotten calls from several more athletes who want coaching, which is great, but I was feeling overwhelmed with my unsatisfactory way of managing them all via email. So I bit the bullet and bought myself into the Professional Edition of Training Peaks. I've been contemplating this for a while but when I only had a handful of athletes I just couldn't justify it. But now I've got pretty close to what is a full load for me and my old way was NOT working for me anymore. I *knew* that transitioning into this program was going to cause me some extra work as I was really going to have to sit down and concentrate to learn all the bells and whistles of the program. I have to say though, the live support I got from the staff at Training Peaks was awesome and extremely helpful (thanks, Chris!). I'm proud to report that I managed to get all of my athletes up and running on TP in the last 3 days and all their schedules are written for next week. Phew.

So given that, here's what my days have looked like:

5:30 Wake up before my alarm with my brain spinning 100rpm with all the stuff I need to do but have not done yet. Get up and log onto my computer and start working. Spend several hours with a cup of coffee and work until I can't see the computer screen anymore. Get Moana up and ready for day care and thank Scott for taking her in. Keep working in my pajamas. Eventually I get to T1, which involves changing into run shorts and a sports bra and taking a break to go clear my head on the road. T2 involves a shower and one of my Coffees of Hawaii shirts (and some lip gloss, coffee flavored now, nonetheless) and then out the door to drum up some more business for COH. Smile! It's time to sell coffee! T3 @ 4:00 involves bringing a sippy cup full of milk to pick Moana up from daycare. Try to forget about all work (um, put that phone away!!) and play with my daughter at the park for an hour before dinner. T4 quick change into housewife mode as I prepare dinner and hope that Scott comes home before Moana rips the whole house apart. Eat. Clean kitchen. Thank Scott for taking care of Moana's bath/bedtime. T5 back to the computer to obsess about Training Peaks for several more hours until I can't see the computer anymore. T6 involves getting back into my pajamas and asleep by 10. Repeat in the morning...

This morning I did manage to get down to the beach as the sun was coming up for an ocean swim with Nalani. In truth, I don't think either of us were really looking forward to it. The wind was howling, the water was choppy, and it was not as warm as it should be for JULY in Hawaii. We're both tired and stressed out right now (for different reasons, neither of which are athletic related) and I think it would have been easy to dump the idea of a swim altogether in that angry ocean. But you know what? The ocean, even on those crazy choppy days, is a cure all. We finished up our workout with some barefoot running and skipping and sprinting in the sand and the smile that put on both of our faces was priceless. Ready to start the day!

I do think that next week will get a bit easier. First of all, I'll actually have 5 days to get my 5 days worth of work done. Seems like the last few weeks I've been trying to get 5 days worth of work done in 3 days. That's really hard.

Anyway, of course I am looking forward to the weekend and the Tour starting tomorrow, though I am foreshadowing some disharmony in our house given that the World Cup is not yet over... Scott and I may have to arm wrestle for that remote!