Planning and running forward!

I’m a little Type A, but organization doesn’t exactly take a front seat in my life. I do over-schedule myself a bit and enjoy multitasking, but I’m rarely worked up about things. I’m far from work-obsessed, and I don’t have a short fuse.

But I NEED to have a plan. It doesn’t have to be functional. It doesn’t have to ever come to fruition, but I can’t help myself from planning for often dozens of potential outcomes from events.

It’s unclear whether I’ll be able to come back to my current company after my next Army school. This is a fact that I knew going in – as my work is entirely grant-based. I sacrificed job security for a shot at doing something interesting, and working with a smaller company where I can actually be innovative without a lot of red tape. It’s been awesome. The job suits my lifestyle too. I can’t work more than 40 hours per week, and my time is flexible. I don’t get vacation days, but I haven’t been told “no” yet when asking for some unpaid time off. It’s a good system. I like to get paid, so I work when possible. But, if I want to take off for a long weekend, it’s generally a non-issue. There’s lots of good communication and clear expectations all around.

So, my career plan is: Wait.

The reality is, I won’t know for a while if I can come back to the current job. If I can’t, I really can’t start a job search that many months in advance. I’m still poking around and exploring my options, but I really won’t start applying until the fall. I’m ok with it.

Athletically? Well, that’s a different story.

The problem with athletic goals is that it usually takes a LOT of time to do them well. I do really want to make the Army team, but I know that my Olympic time, while it meets the standard, it is not up to par with the amazingly talented ladies that made the team this year. Also, the dead of winter is not exactly a booming time for triathlon in the US.

Plan A is still an awesome military program that I’m trying to get in to… but it’s starting to look like Plan B is a marathon. I ran my first (and so far only) marathon back in 2012. And, I ended my race report with “If I ran more while training, I’m certain I could run faster. But, we’ll save that for another time.” I ran this after a half ironman, where I took a week or two off, and then did a 10 week build. It worked, and I ran to the best of my abilities, but nowhere near my potential.

Luckily, Plan A and Plan B and Plan make-the-army-tri-team-someday will all benefit from a solid block of running. And solid run mileage is good for basically any other plan I can come up with.

So, until I find out if Plan A might actually happen, I’ll keep the run miles up, the strength training consistent, and come up with 37 other alternate plans because that’s how I roll.

This weekend I learned:

  1. How windy is actually too windy for a mountain bike ride.

Despite a less-than-stellar weather forecast, we decided to hit the AZ trail for a few miles of off-road riding. The weather was cool (70s!) but the wind… oh the wind. Up to 30mph sustained, with gusts up to 40. This is officially too windy to ride. We made it about 5 miles from the trailhead in about 30 minutes! No lie. Uphill, into the wind, or with stiff crosswinds that more than once swept me off the trail. We stopped at a gate and decided to turn around. I admitted I was miserable, but put on my game face and tried to enjoy the mostly downhill, tailwind assisted return to the car. Lucky for us, the front carrying all of the rain was nice enough to wait until we got back home.

  1. That people bocce is a fun game!

I hosted an open water swim clinic/practice on Sunday. 9 people came out, and we had fun! We practiced drafting, sprinting and sighting. Then, we played a round of people bocce. I swam out about a dozen strokes from the crew, and each one tried to swim to me without sighting. It tells you a lot about how straight you naturally swim, and if you tend to veer constantly to the same side, you can start to work on correction.

I also participated, and was probably ~6ft away from my target. I also forgot to breathe, because in my mind not sighting meant not taking my face out of the water, period. Oops!

  1. That crossfit is proof that I’m an endurance athlete!

My current fitness focus is running & building some strength. Tri is currently taking a bit of a backseat to prep for the next round of Army training. I’ve got some goals, and I think being a bit stronger will help me get there.

With heavier lifting workouts, I’m usually in the bottom two or three for weight used. I’m not frustrated by this (yet!) because I have a lot to learn technique-wise, and I’m doing things I’m simply not used to doing.

With lighter, higher rep workouts, I’m usually rocking out the reps with the best of them. Today was 6 rounds of 20 seconds of empty bar presses, and then 30 seconds of sit-ups.  No rest. I crushed it! Yesterday was weighted jump squats, body weight squats and lunges, timed, for max reps. I might be the only one that held my rep count steady, and even increased on the last round.

While I’m pretty sure my month of crossfit won’t allow me to be anywhere near the ability level of some of the beast-mode ladies in the gym, I’m excited to add some new stuff to my fitness toolbox to help me achieve whatever I decide will come next.

Renewal

I’ve been hiding.

My last relationship ended with constant harassment, a restraining order, a new phone number and e-mail address, and a change in where I was living. It was THAT bad.

I stopped being consistent in my training. I left my coach because I wasn’t holding up my end of the bargain. I was generally a quiet, introverted, doubtful, scared, insecure, self deprecating version of myself. I put this out there because I know I’m not the only person who has ever dealt with a curve ball like this one.

My family, friends, and dog offered consistent support. But, I was stuck. Weekends were spent laying on the couch with the dog. My family is AMAZING, but over 2000 miles away. My friends opened homes and hearts to me, but I had to really force myself to take advantage.

A 3-day Drill weekend with the National Guard helped me start to refocus a bit. There’s not much time to dwell on one’s own problems while leading a platoon of over 30 people, helping them out with their needs, and working 16+ hour days.

The following weekend, I headed out to Austin to volunteer at the Team RWB Tri Camp. It started with a 12ish hour solo drive out to Austin. I LOVE road trips. I listened to some awesome podcasts (Sawbones and Nerdist top the list!), drank a few too many energy drinks, and arrived at a somewhat ungodly hour. I didn’t factor in the 2 hour time change, or the El Paso traffic… anyway…

Team RWB Tri Camp was AMAZING.

First – the athletes. Civilians and veterans participated, each of varying ability level. Incredible, motivated, strong, resilient, determined, selfless, amazing people. 

Second – the volunteers. So much time, effort and love put into this event and it showed. Every second, every mile.

Third – the pros. Passionate, skilled, helpful, and SO approachable.

I was brought to tears multiple times over the weekend for virtually every possible reason: sadness when learning of their struggles, happiness for their presence, inspiration, empathy, pride, joy…

I left with a full heart and a renewed spirit.

I feel like I’m returning to my normal self. When life or workouts have gotten tough, I think about all of the people I met who have faced and overcome so much in their lives. My personal struggles often pale in comparison. And, it’s not in devaluing my own struggles that I push to overcome them, it’s in using strength that I know is inside me. The strength that occasionally runs low and needs some topping off. The strength that I saw in each and every one of these athletes fuels me.

I will carry this camp & it’s participants with me.

Our deepest fear…

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

- Marianne Williamson

SuperSeal Olympic Triathlon Race Report

I beat my sub-2:35 goal with a 2:33:59!

Race day started with a nice little ride from my parked car to transition. I arrived at 6:30, because transition was closing at 7, but I wasn’t racing until 9. I got there just in time to see them closing the parking lot and directing us somewhere else. Oh well.

They kept transition open later for the Olympic Distance athletes – the Sprint started at 7, and the Olympic at 8 – which was a nice surprise. It was a pretty relaxing morning, though I was getting anxious to go race!

Around 7:30, I changed into my tri kit.  Around 8, I grabbed my wetsuit and headed through the tunnel to the start.

I finally got suited up and in the water around 8:40, and warmed up at little. I chatted with another girl in the military division. I even found a girl with no wetsuit ready to brave the 64 degree water!  She said she was afraid she’d overheat, so I pegged her as a hardcore swimmer, because who else follows that logic?

At 9, we were off! The bay was calm, the course had TONS of marker buoys, and the water temp was perfect in a wetsuit. My wave was military men and women, clydsdales, athenas and relays. I took off with the front pack, but by the first buoy resized that this was NOT their initial surge, and that I probably shouldn’t swim THAT fast for the full 1500m. I looked to my side and saw non-wetsuit girl. I spent the rest of the swim hanging on to her feet. It seemed like every time I sighted, we were at the next buoy. I was super pumped about how quickly the swim was going by, and that I found feet moving at the right pace.

I got out of the water, and realized I never put my HR monitor on, which was critical to run pacing! Luckily, I knew exactly where it was, and my bag was against the transition fence. HR monitor on,  shoes on, helmet on, and off I went!

The course is two “loops” which are really out and backs with transition right smack in the middle. We divided it up into 4 sections, and had target power numbers for each. This is a fantastic course – fast, flat, smooth, and naturally broken down into pretty even sections! I more-or-less hit my numbers well. On the first loop, I passed a guy in nothing but a speedo on a hybrid. He decided to draft me because he said he liked my pace, and actually kept up with me for a solid 3 miles. He honked his bike horn and cheered the whole time. It was awesome. I was in good spirits, and I felt like a caged animal. I wanted to ride faster, but I stuck to the plan because, you know, I still had a 10k to run.

As I started the last ¼ of the bike course, I finished my water. I usually don’t do that. I had a 24oz bottle! It was warm. They had an aid station at the last turn around where I tossed my bottle and grabbed a new one. Hadn’t planned on it, but luckily I have a stash of PowerBar water bottles, so I’m sure I won’t miss the one I tossed!

Racing with a power meter really, really helped me stay “in the moment”. Speed wasn’t on my main screen. I just had certain #’s to hit, and I hit them. So simple. Not thinking about pace, effort level (am I going to fast? too slow?), or time… awesome.

Into transition I ran to the wrong rack, looked around, and then found mine – my bright orange lining of my Blueseventy wetsuit was like a beacon of hope to a confused triathlete. After that mishap, this went smoothly, and I took the time to put on socks. Still a little worried about my shin, I ran in regular shoes, not my fancy-pants tri racing shoes. The plan was to do the first 5k at the high end of my tempo run HR, and then take off for the last 5k. Well, my HR never really got low enough. I toughed it out (DANG it felt like AZ weather, not beautiful SoCal weather!) and at mile 3, after dumping water on myself, I went for it… and I didn’t seem to get much faster. I had a really stressful week and just didn’t have the mental fortitude to push the last two miles. I still finished right around my standalone 10k PR – which speaks volumes about my improvement on the run, but I can’t shake the disappointment in letting myself slow down.

I had no idea where I was for my total time when I crossed that line. I saw 3:33 and hoped beyond hope that our wave had taken off exactly an hour after the first wave – and it HAD!

I happily accepted my 3rd place military female award – and noticed that I would have had 2nd if I raced in my AG instead. Oh well!

Based on my race, and some upcoming stuff in life, it’s time to switch to a run focus. I’m not declaring my shin “healed”, but I’m declaring it under control if I do the right things (strength, stretch, roll, and sometimes ice).

Also, the Army team roster was released. I am NOT fast enough (yet!), and even cranking out a 10k that’s 5 minutes faster (which I think I have the potential for) would not have landed me a spot on the team. And I’m ok with that. If I made it the first time I applied, where would the challenge be?

SuperSeal, here I come!

And just like that, it’s race week!

I feel more prepared entering into this event than I have for any tri I’ve ever done. Seriously, despite my 3-4 weeks of not running because of concerns about my shin, I’m so excited to get out there and race to see what I can do!

So, what’s different this time around?

Well, I’ve been working with a coach – Laura a.k.a. Frayed Laces. It’s my first time being coached as a triathlete. So, that’s been awesome.

I got a power meter. I’m more focused, motivated, and dedicated to my bike than I’ve ever been, and I’ve been training smartly on it.

And, I’m really not sure what to expect. I’ve made some serious gains, and I haven’t raced in what feels like forever.

So, we’re working on a plan. I’ll have some Power numbers on the bike, and Heart Rate for the run. We’ve discussed a swim strategy. Nutrition. Clothing. Shoes. Weather. I’m ready.

This weekend, a lot will be determined! The day before the race, the 2014 All Army Tri Team roster comes out. I’ll have a pretty good idea of what it actually will take to make the team. If you need me on Saturday, I’ll be stalking my competition via Athlinks and resting up for the race!

With what I learn on Saturday, I’ll be racing my heart out on Sunday.

It looks like I’ll be traveling solo for this event, so I’m very happy that I booked a room at a beach-front hotel, and I included Sunday night in the original reservation. Post-race, I’ll be relaxing – or maybe obsessively planning my next round of athletic endeavors – but either way, there will be beers! And beach! And sunshine! 

February is almost over already?

I’ve got a race report to post (Ragnar Florida Keys) and a race support report to post (24 Hours in the Old Pueblo MTB race), but they’re in my draft folder and not as exciting as some other things…

I’ll give you the quick and dirty anyway:

Ragnar Florida Keys

Awesome, as usual. I ran all 18 of my miles after taking ~3-4 weeks off of running to avoid an oncoming shin injury. Not the best idea ever, but it worked. My amazing little sister was on standby for all of my runs with her shoes on, ready to hop in for me the moment I felt pain… never did :) It was great to see most of my family, my van had a blast, and I got to catch up with some great friends!

24 Hours in the Old Pueblo

I was the solo supporter of my friend’s attempt to do this solo. Crazy, right? He had his mountain bike stolen in the week before the race, and then broke the frame of his fancy racing MTB. So, he went into it on a borrowed bike, which had its own set of challenges. He was running in 4th for the first few laps, and then dropped to 6th after he stopped to sit for a while because his back was killing him. Night came, he slowed down a little, but seemed to be feeling better… and then crashed out on lap 7. He’s ok, but his race was over.

Team RWB Tri Camp

I applied for this opportunity a while ago – not to be a camp attendee, but to be a volunteer athlete. I’ll be assisting coaches, and helping out new triathletes on our swim, bike and run adventures. I can’t wait to work with some amazing veterans to show them the wonderful activities and community associated with Triathlon. Derick Williamson is the coach hosting the camp, and I’m pretty excited to work alongside Time O’Donnell, Brad Williams, and Caroline Gaynor, among the many other Triathletes that will be there…

Army Triathlon Team

So, the requested time to apply for the team is a sub-2:35 Olympic Distance race. I applied this year anyway. Historically, Army Women has ranked the lowest of the military branches. Well, history is changing! I needed to ask a question regarding my application, and I got an extremely polite response that said there are EIGHT women in the 2:09-2:22 range. They pick five for the team. Holy cow, that’s smoking fast! So, this may become more of a 2016 goal, than a 2014 or 2015. Or it may not be a goal. I know that two years of hard, smart, consistent training should get me within that range, but am I willing to dedicate my free time and athletic pursuits to this one goal? We’ll see. SuperSeal will now serve as more of a benchmark than an attempt at qualifying. I’m a little relieved, to be honest. A 2:2X will certainly light a fire under me.

Prepping for Missouri

Last night, someone tracked me down after seeing me in the Army Tri Team e-mail, then again on the Team RWB Facebook page. She’s the one that applied with a 2:09 race. Anyway, she used to live in Missouri! Not only was she super encouraging regarding my training and making the team, but she’s also a wealth of knowledge about triathlon clubs and races in the area I’ll be spending my summer/fall.  Maybe a few months at Ft Lost-In-The-Woods won’t be so bad after all.

Work

We submitted a grant application that – if it’s approved – will guarantee me employment beyond my next round of Army training. Cross your fingers for me!

You made it this far?

Awesome. Here’s a bike. And then, a dog. 

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