Thursday, April 30, 2020

So You're Saying There's a Chance

It's amazing how much can change in a month.

At the beginning of April, I launched this Gold Star Project for TeamBSC. My vision was that maybe each athlete would pick 1-2 specific targets (short ones) and train specifically to hit a personal best (as recorded in Training Peaks) at that target. Training Peaks keeps track of specific distances/durations for bike and run so those were the ones we were going to use. Since races are far away, I figured focusing on short distance peaks (5" up to 10min) made more sense bc long distance peaks would mean you're in race shape (!) and well, we don't really want to be in peak race shape when there are no races right now!

This project taught me so much this month... Both as an athlete and as a coach. Initially I just sort of thought maybe it would be a decent distraction from the wacky world we all find ourselves living in right now, but it morphed into a motivating quest for personal bests! It also ended up being a really great team building thing as we cheered each other on with our attempts.

As a 46yo athlete with 20+ years training for triathlon and 8+ years of pace/power data recorded in my Training Peaks account, some of my All Time Peaks are pretty solid. In all honesty, I looked at my top 3 all time run splits for 400/800/mile and thought there wasn't a snowballs chance in hell that I was going to be able to hit those this month. I mean, no way. I was way too far off. Part of me definitely thought that it was silly to even try.

But here's the thing. My athletes were trying! And many of them were surprising themselves! It seemed like every time I logged into Training Peaks, there was another file from an athlete who had just achieved a new personal best at a short distance. I do believe that leaders should model the behavior they expect from their people, and I decided that the behavior I wanted to really emphasize was the effort... I kept saying, The value is in the attempt. And I totally meant that! Some of my athletes have crazy huge peaks in their past. I definitely didn't want them to be discouraged if they were trying but not hitting them. So I figured that it truly made sense for me to try as well, even if I didn't really believe I'd hit any running peaks.

So 4 weeks ago I headed out and attempted a 'fast' mile. I was almost a full minute off my best mile time! Ha! Kevin attempted a mile as well. His initial report was that he wasn't even in the ballpark. Casey had a similar story the first time he tried. I kept preaching that it was fiiiiine... the value is in the attempt! So we all tried again the next week, and we got a little closer.

After one of my key runs, I studied the file and thought, I'm in the ballpark here... Like, not that far off... Maybe there's a chance? At the same time, some of my athletes were posting files that showed giant gains in their fast running paces. If they could do it, maybe I could too? Heidi knocked out a run where she just nailed it- fastest splits ever from 400 up to the mile! She's turning 50 next week and she also has a long history of training recorded in Training Peaks... She was making my excuses invalid. Hmmm.

So then a few days ago Casey posted a run file that showed he'd hit All Time PRs at the 400 all the way up to the mile. Wow! Solid Gold! Casey is also my age, with a long history in Training Peaks. What was my excuse again?

Momentum is a powerful force, you guys.

Today was officially the last day of the Gold Star Project. Last night, as a team, we had 185 total stars (counting 1st, 2nd, or 3rd all time bests as recorded in Training Peaks). I mused that it would be fun if we hit 200! Could we hit 15 more today?? That seemed like kind of a big ask. Several of us had planned attempts on our schedules but I wasn't sure if those would be successful attempts or not? Maybe? I threw it out to the team thought that if anyone had any more that they thought were possible to get today, take one for the team and go get it! Monika and Michelle both did that (!) so we ended up with 7 bonus stars that hadn't even been planned attempts... That put us right in the ballpark to hit 200. So you're saying there's a chance?

I was so inspired. I got all dressed up in my Coeur team running kit and I planned my route and I ripped my own legs off (panting wheezing breathing hands on knees afterward kinds of efforts) but I managed to get Top 3 All Time stars in all 4 distances today. What?!! I wasn't actually planning on going for all 4 distances but I was motivated to help the team get over 200 and I thought maybe I could... Its amazing what happens when you start to truly BELIEVE. Then I got home and checked Training Peaks again and saw that Kevin went out and did it tooooooo. In all we had our biggest day in star collection today, with 25 more stars collected. 210 in total!

I am incredibly impressed and inspired by this team. I feel like this project was a success beyond my wildest dreams and that's a credit to the tenacity of the athletes I have the honor of being able to work with. On Saturday we're going to have a team Zoom Party to celebrate everyone's accomplishments (there are so many individual stories of success!) and to share some 'war stories', because isn't that the best part of racing? Sharing your stories afterward?

I'll keep processing the valuable lessons learned this past month. But off the top of my head right now, I'd say that success seems to come from an idea/goal that you find motivating... believing that it might be possible to achieve... watching other people do it... and being motivated to contribute to a cause bigger than yourself.

Congratulations to everyone on TeamBSC! I'm super proud of you all. ⭐

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Inspiring a Sense of Personal Pride

We're half way through April!

I feel like I'm settling into a new routine of sorts. I sense that we all are. Much of the unsettling upheaval feeling has dissipated and now things are sort of rolling along in a way that feels like a new normal has been established. It's one I think my family and I can live with for a while.

How have things shifted for you? Generally speaking, these things come to the top of my head:

~Everything in our days (speaking about my family here) seems to have been shifted back an hour or so. We wake up a little later (ok I don't but husband/kid do), lunch is a little later, dinner is a little later, bedtime is a little later, etc. I don't feel like I'm in as much of a rush to get things done 'on time' bc time is so abundant. That said, sometimes days just FLY by and I'm like HOW is it 4:00 already!?!

~I spent a lot of time learning how to use new apps. Its easy to see why Zoom is popular. It's so simple to use. No learning curve required! Just download the app and put the meeting code in and you're there connecting with your people! I've started hosting weekly TeamBSC Zoom meet ups just so we can connect and chat and that has been a positive change that we will keep going even after society goes back to 'normal'.

~I've also been playing around with the new 'group ride' option on Trainer Road. This one was a lot more complicated for me, but I think it was because the new desktop app that is required had some bugs when it was first released. After ripping my hair out in frustration trying to get it to work, eventually I did, but not without unloading and loading the app a bunch of times. That said, once you get it set up, I think its potentially quite a 'value-add' for coaches and athletes because we can be riding at the same time together. I've sort of come to the conclusion that for *us* *right now*, the best use of these group rides is just to do our aerobic rides together. That way we can actually talk! We tried a harder ride but I think most of us are pretty good at pushing hard on our own so we'll probably do more of our aerobic riding together and consider them more like social hour spins. :)

In a weird way, I feel like this recent upheaval has actually been a good thing for me as a coach. It's forced me out of my comfort zone, forced me to find new ways to connect with my athletes and motivate them since races (as we are used to them) seem to be a ways off. Though maybe not too far off?? WTC announced a new dates for Puerto Rico 70.3 today (Sept 6) so there must be some officials somewhere in Puerto Rico who are at least mildly optimistic that they'll be allowing travelers in by then. So maybeeeeee....

It's been good for my kid (in some ways) too. Right now, as I type, she is on a Zoom Meeting with some of her neighborhood friends as they conduct a "Book Club". They came up with this idea all on their own... They picked a book, gave each other time to read two chapter, and are meeting right now to discuss it. They are 8-11 years old. So impressive.

So we're half way through the month with our TeamBSC #GoldStarProject and I have to say, I have been FLOORED by the peaks my athletes are achieving right now. I mean, ok maybe some have some low hanging fruit if they've never *really* attempted specific peaks for short durations, but I'd say the vast majority of the stars they are earning are just outstanding efforts and its been so inspiring for me to open files all day long and see star after star after star pop up. ⭐ We're mostly going for short distance peaks from 5" to 10min on the bike, though some people have earned peaks over longer distances if they're jumping into other challenges like the IM Virtual races and such... I don't think anyone has earned Gold Stars for all 4 short power peaks YET (5sec; 1min; 5min; 10min) but a few are close with 3 achieved already! Personally, I've got my 1min and 5min peaks... I've earned a 2nd and 3rd best all time 5 second sprint peak and am still trying to mentally prepare myself for the effort required to hit my 10min one... I have a distinct memory of the effort I put out to achieve the one I did several years ago and would be lying if I didn't admit I have a little bit of fear about whether or not I can do that again! I will give it a go though! If I hit my all time 5min peak then it makes sense that I have the fitness to hit the 10min one too so... #confidence

Keeping track of the peaks on the graph Moana created has been a fun project too! I swear, I thought *MAYBE* if we had a great month we might collectively hit 50 peak performances by the end of the month... But here we are half way through April and we have 67! I've had to rescale this graph several times already to make sure all the stars can fit. #triathloncoachproblems

Some of these are short distance running peaks as well. I'm a little more hesitant to tell some athletes to go after the shorter run peaks bc the potential to hurt yourself is way higher... I don't want anyone ripping their hamstring or groin in an effort to get Training Peaks to award them a gold star! But as they're ready some are going for it and its been invigorating! Truly. The feeling of personal pride is something everyone cherishes regardless of the crap that's going on in the world around them. I'd argue that the feeling of personal pride might be even more important now than it's ever been. I mean, you can just feel how stoked Casey is with his shiny new All-Time 5min peak power effort!! This is what I was hoping this project would inspire...

Monday, April 6, 2020

In Hindsight...

When I was a freshman in college (at University of Hawaii), I lived in a little dorm room (Johnson Hall B, baby!). I had a really great roommate from Kauai. This was 1992 (I'm aging myself, yes!) so internet was only just sort of becoming a thing. I didn't have a TV. I didn't have a computer nor a cell phone. How did we even survive? Can you imagine? Lol. Somehow though, we managed. I even had a social life! It was called, go to the one bar that most of my friends would go to most often and see who else might happen to be there. That was our social life. If we needed to communicate with each other, we used landline phones and left messages on answering machines.

One early morning I remember hearing a really loud siren... over the public emergency broadcast system. I don't have a great memory of a lot of past events, but I have some vivid memories of that. It was a Friday morning, around 4AM. Someone went running down the hall shouting HURRICANE IS COMING! HURRICANE HITS AT 4! CLASSES CANCELLED!

I was from Ohio and honestly didn't really even know what a hurricane was, but I remember feeling somewhat grateful that classes were cancelled, because I was kind of hung over.

With absolutely ZERO understanding of what was coming, we did all the dumbest things one might think people could possibly do in that scenario. I remember watching one of my friends get on the bus with his boogey board. I was like, "Where are you going???" He replied, "To the beach! Surf's up!" The rest of us headed to the store and got cases of beer and spent the day drinking together. Things get a little fuzzy in my memory around that, but I do remember that night being outside as the wind was ripping and it was DUMPING rain and the street outside my dorm had morphed into a raging river and we danced outside in that rain and honestly I remember it being super fun.

The next day, I remember my roommate being super upset. She told me that the restaurant she used to work at on Kauai had been flattened by Hurricane Iniki. That storm brought winds of 145mph and damage to the state of over $1.8 billion. 14,000+ homes damaged. 6 people died. Meanwhile, I was the dumbass out dancing in the rain.

Knowing what I know about hurricanes now, my/our behavior that day was ludicrous. Having full access to news and such now (pick a source! There's access to news everywhere.) I know that they warn about hurricanes coming 24/7 for at least a week before the hurricanes get anywhere near our islands. That day in college, the first I'd heard about any hurricane was when the sirens went off. Seems crazy now, but that's the difference between paying attention to news vs not paying attention to news.

I share this now mostly bc I suspect that even though access to news these days is abundant (for most of us), I suspect there are a lot of people (young people especially) who actively disengage from the news. Shoot, our own president* has tried to drill it into our heads that any news we don't like is #fakenews. Given that backdrop, is it any wonder that we're having a hard time coming together and acting collectively as a society to combat a pandemic virus?

Whenever I read comments people make about this whole thing being over-hyped, my first thought is that they do not watch/read the news. I suppose it's possible they just watch different news, because for sure there are some networks that were actively downplaying the threat of this virus. I think a lot of that has stopped this week, as the death toll across the country continues to rise (and that's hard to lie about). Even then though, watching the news at all has become an act in critical thinking, because there is a ton of bias. Trying to figure out who is telling the truth vs who is exaggerating for effect vs who is just straight up lying to cover shit up is one of the major challenges of our times. Given all that its really no big surprise that many people just tune out the news altogether. That is a big systemic problem in our fight against this new virus.

I suspect that in hindsight, some people might view their actions during this pandemic differently than they currently view them. I can say 100% that I view my actions during Hurricane Iniki differently now than I did then. #themoreyouknow

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Who's Judging Who?

The other day Francesca sent me an article about Moral Fatigue. It was really well written and I think many of us can relate. Like, all of a sudden, every decision we make feels like it takes on a new weight... It's not "just" all the readjusting we are doing right now, but also like all decisions feel like they could be the potential difference between life or death. And what a crazy sentence to even write? I mean, it sounds like a complete exaggeration, but in some ways it's potentially not an exaggeration at all. The decisions we make as individuals and as a society right now are important.

But here's the thing. Guidelines of what we are supposed to do or not do change daily. It's hard to keep up. Should I be wearing a mask or not? Currently people are arguing both sides of this. I suspect that in another week it'll be very very normal to see everyone wearing a mask. Then we'll get to judge each other on that decision as well. Did you see Karen went to the store and she wasn't wearing her mask??? Shame!

Currently in our world (triathlon world), it feels like a lot of our personal moral decisions are about cycling. Most of us (though not all) have accepted that group rides are taboo right now. I don't know what the percentage is (maybe half?) have decided that riding outside at all poses too great a risk, so they're riding 100% indoors now. I understand this thinking, though I'd say personally I'm not there. I guess I think about the number of times I've started a bike ride and ended up in the hospital... Has it happened? Yes. Once. In ~25 years of frequent riding. That's how I justify it in my head that I can ride outside and not have it be an excessive risk. I mean, I ride in my garage probably 6 days a week then on the 7th day, if its nice wether, I go out. I rode outside today and it was glorious. I enjoyed it very much.

When I'm making these decisions for myself, I think about a lot of things... I weigh the pros and cons. Is there a potential to get physically hurt riding outside? Yes. That potential is not actually any different today than it was a month ago though. In fact, in some ways it may be even safer to ride outside now than it was a month ago because there are FAR fewer cars! So what's the risk of catching COVID19 by riding outside? I'd guess that it's very low. Especially if you're riding alone (or with someone you live with). I passed some other riders on the road today but truly just never felt like I was in a position where there would be a possibility of coming in contact with the virus. I didn't stop at any stores. I didn't touch anything other than my own bike. Overall, risk felt low. If I were to rate the risks I encountered today, I'd say my greatest risk were the two off leash dogs chasing me in Waimanalo. They gave good chase! One of my goals today was to try to hit a new peak 5" sprint power so maybe those dogs were just trying to help...

On the plus side, I can definitely say that my enjoyment factor felt high! People who are non-athletes might not understand this, but all athletes know... When we get our 'fix', there's a sense of satisfaction (could we call it "relief"?) when we get to go on a nice long ride in the sunshine. I came home today having achieved most of the goals I'd set out to achieve. ⭐ I felt happy! I was able to then spend the rest of the day working on projects with my kid. I think (and I have always thought) that if we neglect to take care of ourselves- if we skip doing things we love- we are not then 'better' people. If I want to be a good wife and a good mom, its super important that I not neglect my own needs. I'm a good wife and a good mom because I'm a happy person. I think many women give up a lot in an attempt to take care of other people (typically their families) and while the intention there is good, I think in the long run it backfires because at some point she realizes that she's just flat out exhausted. Exhausted women don't make good wives or moms. Take care of yourselves, ladies.

This blog sort of took a tangent! I was planning on focusing on the feeling of excessive moral weight of our decisions right now... Back on task!

I have tried these last few weeks to consciously not judge other people and their reactions to our world situation right now. But I'll admit, when my neighbors next door (adult, grown men) were having a little day party in their backyard yesterday... drinking beer and smoking cigars and laughing, it was hard to not be judgmental. I looked out my window and just thought Gah! What are you doing?? But then I don't know... They probably saw me dressed in colorful lycra rolling down the road on two skinny tires this morning and thought Gah! What is she doing?? 

And meanwhile I'm over here on my moral high horse because I wasn't the coach out riding with my whole team today. Did I judge them for their group ride? I did. Is it my place to do that? I don't know. I can say that I saw a few of my athletes out riding today and my first instinct was to flip a u-turn and go ride with them for a bit. In 'normal' times I totally would have done that! It felt super sad to think to myself, Wait. No. Don't do that. I mean I guess for both their safety and for mine... I'm pretty confident right now that I do not personally have the virus. I just don't think I'll be an asymptomatic carrier if I get it. But I'm not 100% sure on that so I'll continue to adhere to the current guidelines given to us.

So that said, my plan is that as long as we are allowed to ride outside, I'll ride outside, sometimes. I'll still do the bulk of my riding on my trainer for the same reasons I was doing the bulk of my riding on my trainer last month. It's good training! I will not ride with any other people until this has passed (and I'm actively trying to NOT think about how long that time frame might be). I'll try to not judge you if you're riding in a group, but if I'm honest, I'd admit that I am judging you. But then there are probably people who are judging me for my decision to ride outside at all right now. This is where we are folks. Judge away, I guess. Don't exhaust yourself though in doing so.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Count Your Lucky Stars

I don't know how you're feeling but man I feel like days are just flying by now. Like all of a sudden it's 5pm and I'm like how did that happen?? Must be because we're having so much fun. ;)

I actually feel like I have more to do now than normal, but it might just be that some transitions are still taking place and such. I can say I DEFINITELY have more dishes to do now. Holy cow. I try to be pretty positive and not dwell on negative things but last night I did start to lose my patience and just flat out told Scott and Moana to put their damn dishes in the dishwasher. I swear they make every.single.meal and leave on the counter and I suppose if that's my biggest gripe about this shelter in place situation then I can count my lucky stars. But sheesh.

Speaking of lucky stars... ⭐ Yesterday I officially declared Moana to be TeamBSC's new administrative assistant. She likes her new title! Her first task was to figure out how to make a graph where we could display the stars that TeamBSC athletes are earning this month for hitting ALL TIME PEAKS. Francesca got one yesterday and Heidi got 2 today so we're off to a good start! I figured a graph showing numbers going up in a positive way would be a nice respite from other graphs we're all seeing every day where we don't actually want to see those numbers go up... Anyway, Moana had not actually had any experience yet with Google Sheets but she fooled around with it for a few hours and got it figured out! How cool is this??
She's projecting that we might (as a team) accumulate 50 stars this month... I'll post it each week so we can watch our progress! I've spent 4-5 hours the last few days combing through everyone's files trying to edit out erroneous garmin data that shows false peaks (#fakenews!) I don't think any running peaks/PRs should be counted when done on a treadmill. I mean, treadmills are VERY useful tools, yes, but garmin does a crap job of measuring pace on them so all the peak paces that showed athletes running 3min/mile got deleted in the last few days. Also, sometimes garmins go crazy and spike up to 3000w in the middle of an easy ride- those peaks all got deleted too. I think in a big picture sense, running peaks will be harder to hit than short distance riding peaks. MOST of the running peaks I combed through the last few days were from races. Its hard to hit peak running paces when not racing, but that doesn't mean some folks won't try! Honestly the beauty of this gold star project is the trying part. It's all about the journey, as they say. I look at some of my short distance running peaks (mostly from 2012, but a few from 2017) and think they're way out of reach... but I suppose that's the beauty of this project... and why it would feel so amazing to even get in that ballpark again!