Friday, June 21, 2013

It's Ironman Week!

It's hard to believe it's been a year already since I finished my second Ironman and felt like I was on top of the world because I crushed my time from the previous year.

I've been feeling a little emotional about it since yesterday since Thursday evening is usually when my journey to the finish line begins.  I did the same Ironman (Coeur D'Alene) two years in a row, so I think that if I had signed up for a third year I would've done the exact same thing I did the previous years.

Thursday- Catch the 9pm flight to Spokane, WA that arrives at 11pm. Arrive in our rental house by midnight.

Friday- Wake up, have a hearty breakfast. Head out to the beach, sign my life away and pick up race packet.  Buy souvenirs, jump in the water for a warm-up. Go for a 10min run.

Saturday- Wake up, have a hearty breakfast. Head out on my bike for final check, run 10mins. Head down to Ironman Village, drop off my gear and take the rest of the day to rest. Stay off my feet and hydrate.

Sunday- Give it my all. Smile. Enjoy.

Monday - Start a week-long vacation at the cabin with my man.

Things have been different this year, and honestly, I'd been relieved that I didn't have to train.  And honestly, I'm relieved I'm not there.  It's so much work.  But given that it does bring back some memories, I'd like to share the good, the bad and the ugly.

1. Crossing that Finish line is the best feeling you'll ever experience. It's unreal and inexplicable.
2. You will never be more fit in your life.
3. It is acceptable to eat a full pizza at midnight, and have a full blown breakfast at 4am. And another at 6am. No one will judge you and you will not feel guilty (and you will wonder if you can eat a second pizza).
4. Champagne tastes better after a 14 hour workout.
5. If something goes wrong, you probably won't remember 2hrs later and in the end: IT DOESN'T MATTER. You always have time to recover.

1. As good as you think you are with your nutrition, it's hard to fuel your body during a 14hr race. Something WILL go wrong.
2. Your run never goes as planned.
3. If you feel good at any point in the run, it's probably a bad thing.
4. You will get blisters.
5. The first 1000m of the swim is like attempting to swim inside a clothes washer, so just go with the flow.

1. The swollen ankles the day after.
2. Eating 16 GUs in one day
3. After you complete an Ironman see how long it takes for you to get back into swimming (I haven't swam since August 2012) or into your bike (I haven't been on my bike since January 2013), or running shoes (ok, I've been running and it only took me a week, but then again, I'm a runner at heart).
4. Naked ladies in the changing tent... covered in salt from their own sweat.
5. The porta-potties on the run course. Here's a piece of advice: DO NOT GO IN THERE UNLESS IT'S A MATTER OF LIFE OR DEATH. Because the people in front of you did the same... so go figure.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

My favorite kind of run...

Or should I call it "runs". LOL.

I'm SORRY. This is MY blog and I NEED to talk about this... so if you're not a runner or get easily grossed out you may want to skip this one post.

What's on the schedule for today? Recovery run. And Lindsay had asked if we could do some short hill intervals. So I decided to go with her on a 4ish mile loop which included some hills. I went to work after a nice healthy breakfast, I worked hard, had a salad for lunch, went back to work, enjoyed a SMALL slice of cake (I swear it was small), went to a meeting and at the end of the day, drove up to Lindsay's.

We got ready and headed out on a run that she had mapped out.  The whole first mile was uphill and while we were running a comfortable pace, I told Lindsay we should slow down to help her pace herself and make it all the way to the top without walking. She did.  We got to the top of the hill in 14 minutes and it was just under 1.2 miles. Drank some water and down we go...

Wait, my stomach started feeling weird... uh oh, no. UH OH (yep, with capital letters).

Ok, what the heck is the deal with the extremely urgent need to "use" the restroom (to put it nicely)? Alright, I'll be more accurate: WHAT THE HECK IS THE DEAL WITH THE EXTREME NEED TO DESTROY A BATHROOM? And I'm still being sorta nice with that statement.

I'm almost positive there's something in my diet I should completely eliminate: dairy. Yet cheese is my favorite thing in the world, so I continue to eat it.  Is my need to poop while running consistent to eating dairy, you ask?  No, it isn't.  That said, that's probably the reason why I just won't stop eating it.  Usually, if 5 hours go by after eating dairy, I can run no problem.  But eating office birthday cake (delicious, by the way) at 4pm and running at 5:30 means I will eliminate it all. :)

So our run today consisted of a nice steady uphill run of 1.2 miles, a painful downhill of a half a mile to where I decided we needed to circle back towards the beginning of our run so I could destroy a public bathroom, then run towards "our" hill. I enjoyed my second mile the most as I had a gigantic smile on my face after "taking care of business" and although tired, did four 30-second hill intervals and a nice downhill cool down for a total of 5.05 miles.

And a piece of advice, if you run, at all... IT WILL HAPPEN. So just embrace it.  It happens to the best of us.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Mountain Games

Just like in previous years, my man and I decided to head up to Vail for the summer Mountain Games and this year I was signed up for two events.  I stupidly decided to do the Vail Pass Half Marathon AGAIN and for the first time I signed up to do the 10K.  Both events are longer than they claim.  The half marathon is a nice 13.9 course and the 10K is a 6.9 mile course.  

Anyway, this year we had a bunch of other friends come up and it was a blast all around.  We left early on Friday, around 2pm and met up with my man's childhood friend Jeremy in Vail to walk around, pick up our packets and have some dinner.  As usual, I was tired before it even got dark and decided to go home around 8pm.  Chuck and Jeremy stayed out and they came home around midnight.  When my alarm went off at 6am, I got up, got ready, had some breakfast and left the house with the boys.  We parked the car at 7:50 and I speed-walked to the start line.  The race started at 8am and it seemed like there was more people than usual.  My strategy was to just run at a comfortable pace as much as possible trying to not underestimate the last 4 miles which are steeper and well above 9,000ft which also makes it hard to breathe.  

I wanted to call it good at mile 3. I was feeling tired and wasn't feeling overly motivated but I kept thinking to myself that I needed to learn how to push through that.  I was convinced that during my 50-mile race I will probably have that feeling of giving up more than once and I needed to learn to push through.  In  the end, I was there to train towards a bigger goal.  I kept going.  As I was approaching the second aid station at roughly mile 6, I thought to myself that I could just turn around and run back to town and it would legitimately be a 12+ mile run so I would at least accomplish the time/distance I meant to do that day, but again the thoughts of having to explain a DNF invaded my head and I decided to push through convincing myself that it was all in my head and I could keep going.  After mile marker 7, it starts getting steeper.  That's when you start gaining elevation faster. To avoid crashing and burning I decided to easily jog 1/4 mile and walk a tenth of a mile and to keep that going until the finish.  I thought of this strategy as a hill workout of 3 minute hill effort and a 1:30 minute recovery.  That seemed to work just fine. 

Once you go past mile marker 10 it gets even steeper for a little while before it seems to flatten a little.  No flats on this course... but I guess it's just not as steep so it looks flat.  I hit the last aid station maintaining my rhythm. It was mile 11.7 according to my garmin and the person there told me the finish was less than 2 miles away.  I still calculated 2 miles since I knew the course was closer to 14 miles than it was to 13. The path seemed to get flat and even go downhill so I just kept jogging as much as I could (I was not gonna walk the easy parts even if that had been my strategy).  I finally saw the finish line and even though it was uphill it was hard to walk so I just kept running.  I finished in 2h47m which is 15 minutes faster than last year.  That made me happy.  

I caught a ride back to town and felt like my bonking was out of control.  I felt like I was going to pass out and somehow managed to get up and buy a smoothie and eat some chips. Chuck and Jeremy eventually went to race their mountain bike event and I sat at the bar of the Red Lion to feast on a delicious burger and a couple bloody mary's.  Again later that night I crashed early as the boys stayed out.  

The next morning we had to do it all over again.  The alarm clock at 6am, breakfast and get ready to race.  Our 10K started at 8am and Lindsay and I met up with Sam.  Lindsay was the only one of us three who had done that course before and she was ready to beat last year's time of 1h52m.  So I made that my goal.  Lindsay is a really strong downhill runner and holds her ground darn good on flats.  She struggles uphill, but then again, who doesn't?  I've made a point of training on hills to become better but I'm still not that great... regardless, Lindsay and I make a great team because I make her push it on the ups, she makes me chase her down on the downs... we like to chat on the flats.  Sam joined to make the perfect trio! Sam had just run a 50-miler the weekend before so she was there for the fun of it.  We started off uphill and started walking 1/2 mile in, jogged a small flat and hiked the first big climb.  We were at the back of the pack but shortly started passing people once we started going downhill.  

The course was incredibly challenging, but fun.  There were lots of ups and downs and some dirt roads and lots of single track.  Heck! At one point we found ourselves going straight up a ski run and at another point we went straight down a different run.  It was fun... and once we hit the top of the last climb, Lindsay took off... It was actually funny how I could tell she was ready to be DONE.  Sam and I lost sight of her fairly fast and we didn't see her again until after crossing the finish line (and we were probably still like a mile or more away from the finish).  Sam and I finished in 1:39 and later learned that Linsday only finished 15 seconds in front of us.  Sam and I turned it on towards the end to catch this slowpoke blocking our sight of the finish line. ;)  Lindsay was the last finisher before Sam and I... too funny we didn't see her at all the last 10mins of the run.  

Happy runners (especially Lindsay!)
All in all the weekend was fun, but came back home exhausted as usual.  I was glad I got two long runs and I'm ready to tackle the next thing. And yes, I'll be back to race both the half and the 10k. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

There's a day for us runners...

Given that yesterday was National Running Day, I felt somewhat inspired to go run.  I had a good "recovery" run and ran into one of my neighbors who currently works for New Balance.  We talked tons about running and shoes and he gave me a brand new pair of New Balance shoes to try out.  I did some trail running hill workout today and they were pretty sweet.  You never know, they may actually replace the Nimbus.  Whoa... did I just say that??!?!?

Awesome new shoes!!
Anyway, right before going to bed, I was reading one of my many books that I'm currently reading and I'd like to share some with my readers (however many there are...).  A little backstory first though.  I met Krissy Moehl, an ultra running chick, a couple of weeks ago at Patagonia at the GRAND PREMIER of her movie about running around Mt. Kilimanjaro alongside other amazing ultra runners.  I became inspired and did a little research about her.  I have all my ultra running people that I'm in love with, but they're all dudes.  So it was great to FINALLY get to know a girl that does what I love the most (even if I'm not sponsored by Patagonia or win stuff).  She happened to write a chapter in this book, and I relate to it so much, maybe too much.  She basically asks herself: "Why run an ultra?" and while I'm posting what her answer is to that, it answers my question of why I run long distance trail races... It's a good answer and hope you enjoy it:

"Because you are looking for the next challenge? Because you have recently met someone who runs farther on their "training" runs than you would consider even racing and you saw that sparkle in their eyes when they spoke of the trails and the mountains?  

How often in life do we have the opportunity to inspire ourselves? Often we look outward, to other individuals and teams, to fill that need for inspiration, whether it be in our work, sport, or daily living. Pushing your physical limits, putting yourself to an unknown challenge is personally inspiring. 

It inspires you to get out of bed in the morning and train no matter the weather.  It inspires you to learn more about nutrition, training, and equipment to help you accomplish the task.  To make it to the starting line is personal inspiration and to pull off the feat is an accomplishment hard to match. You know the experiences you've gained through the process as well as the tough times you endured to make it happen. It is a very personal goal and one that will fulfill your soul.

The energy gained in having a goal, in training for that goal, and reaching that achievement not only grounds your daily life, but also adds meaning and purpose. It creates memories both personal and shared. It brings you into a community no matter where you travel, because runners like you exist all over the world." 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

No judging!

Why do people judge when it comes to other people's lifestyles?  I mean, if I am legitimately hurting myself, then please do reach out to me and just tell me what it is that I'm doing wrong and HELP me get better.  Pointing fingers and telling me all I do is wrong won't really fix anything.  You have to help me.  Oh, and of course, by help, I don't mean drag me with you to what you THINK is the best, just helping me get away from bad habits is good enough.  

Why do I say this?  Well, lots has happened over the past year.  Lots of changes, got away from people that are toxic to me and got closer to people that understand me better.  Turns out, I was surrounding myself with people that run and who train with me, but in the end, people who continuously lied, continuously competed "against" me, and people who said understood why I do what I do, but really didn't. This is the thing: When I'm judged when I decide to not drink, I step away from you. When I'm judged because I run too much, I will step away from you. When I'm judged because I go to bed early on Fridays and Saturdays, I will step away from you... You get the picture, right?  If you'd like to be part of my life, then respect what I do, love me for who I am and I'll do the same. 

It was made clear to me today that many people just don't understand this easy concept.  When a person has a full time job, yet practices running, hiking, climbing and other sports on a regular basis... I'd say that's pretty good on its own.  If on top of that you get to eat fairly healthy, well kudos for that.  Neither one of us is perfect and while I don't win all these races, I do have fun.  My racing is not tied to winning so I can enjoy my race.  My racing is not tied to having a roof and food on my table every day so I can enjoy the running... no pressure.  I do it for fun.  So if I don't care about winning, why should you?  Here's a thought though, I do care about getting faster and more efficient (and this is just me) mostly so I can enjoy my race even more. Maybe, once I'm fast enough, my priorities will change and I will want to win. But today, I want to enjoy.  

How do I train?  What makes me different to the regular Boulder athlete?  Well I rest on Mondays, so I usually go to work and come back home to eat a bag of potato chips (the Tapatio Ruffles are my go-to snack) and go to bed at 10pm. Yep, I go CRAZY on Mondays.  Tuesdays I do some speed work with my coach and while lots of really fast people show up and I'm usually the last one to finish the loops, I try to put into perspective that my 7:25 min/mile effort is legitimately faster than my 5K pace... judge me if you want, I'm happy with that.  Wednesdays I do recovery runs, so I'll run anywhere between 30 to 60 minutes (depending on what Eric prescribes). I take it easy, embrace it and work on loosening the legs.  Thursdays I do another run... sometimes some hill work, sometimes some speed work with co-workers at the track, or sometimes alone and whatever Eric tells me to do.  Fridays are off again.  And I LOVE happy hours, so I go to happy hours (yes, I drink alcohol from time to time and I'm ok with it... so should you).  Saturdays and Sundays I run longer.  Sometimes it's a couple of hours, sometimes even longer and sometimes it's endless hours of hiking because I have a guy, who has a life as well, and likes to feel supported, and he climbs mountains, and so I go with him to get some miles in instead of doing intervals.  Oh, and I usually eat crappy food on weekends (for example, last Sunday we enjoyed a gigantic meal at Hooters, and it was delicious). 

And this is WHY I smile every day.  So don't go telling me that running on trails is dangerous and I should stick to roads because I embrace my bruises and scratches from when I've fallen down. And don't tell me to stop eating chips because they're bad for me because I still won't stop eating them.  And don't tell me that my lame 7:50 min/mile pace is not fast enough for a 5K and this won't get me to the podium, because 1. 7:50min/mile this year is faster than last year's 8:30 min/mile, 2. 7:50min/mile has actually gotten me a 2nd place in my Age Group (3rd overall), mostly cause I'm a pretty bada$$ runner and I got out there when it was cold and rainy and the "fast" people were too scared of the weather and I just decided to show up for the fun of it. And 3. I've always been a distance runner, so giving my all at a 5K is a huge accomplishment as is.  

So why don't we all just chill, and celebrate a healthy lifestyle (physically and mentally) with a few drinks this weekend.  Maybe with a morning run, some hot wings for lunch and some beer on the side... and maybe some pizza for dinner.  And let's just have others enjoy their hobbies in whatever way they want.  :) 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

I can see your occiput.

This is going to sound really weird but I went to a yoga class last night thanks to Lindsay Sacrum (that's her new nickname).  I had an ok experience during my first yoga class at CAC, but I believe I attended a very advanced class.  This time around, Lindsay Sacrum took me to a more of a beginner class and it was better, much better.  I was made very aware that I have an occiput and a sacrum.  I think these were Matt's (teacher) favorite words.  

Yoga has always been intimidating to me cause people stretch in weird ways that I believe the body should not be able to do, but I felt like I needed to since my IT band has been getting a little banged up.  Lindsay Sacrum is really good at convincing people to do stuff so I went with her.  The room was hot and people are so quiet and seem to be at peace (I do wonder what kind of issues they are REALLY dealing with).  Anyway, I set down my mat and sat down to wait for the teacher.  We started stretching a little and I thought: "Oh, this is nice" and then people were encouraged to OM. 

I googled it.  OM is a very simple chant with a complex meaning. Often chanted three times at the start and finish of a yoga session, om is the whole universe coalesed into a single sound and represents the union of mind, body and spirit that is the heart of yoga.  When chanted, the sound of om is actually three syllables - a, u, and m. And here I was thinking I was only going to stretch.  Ok, so here go: "aaaaauuuuuuummmmmmmmm" 

I opened my eyes and sorta smiled trying to hold back a loud laugh, Lindsay Sacrum was also looking at me, she smiled too.  Anyway, back to yoga.  After OMing we started doing more serious stuff and it was hard.  I discovered my feet were always in the wrong place. People tend to put their whole foot on the ground while I was usually on my toes.  And also, it's like playing a memory game.  Matt constantly asked us to go to different poses and I had no idea what he was talking about.  I did learn a few though: 

Anyway, right in the middle of the class, I started sweating quite a bit, I mean, I was dripping on the borrowed mat and people around me were as well (who would've thought). But the girl next to me was completely dry and just doing everything right.  Bitch. I also felt somewhat lightheaded when I was trying my hardest... I truly felt like I was going to pass out.  After a little while, we slowed down a bit again and it felt like all the items and people around me were regaining their color.  The rest of the class went pretty well and i could feel a ton of muscles stretching.  It was all real good until... again more noises.  No OMing, just mostly people breathing really loudly.  It sounded like a goddamn train when Matt said to breath out freely or whatever they call it.  CHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO (see, almost like a train).  

All in all it was fun, entertaining and a very powerful experience. Ok, I may have exaggerated.  In all seriousness it was fun, it was strengthening and I love the stretching. 

And here are the words you never thought you'd hear from me: Yes, I'd do it again.   

NAMASTE, bitches!