Tag Archives: Ironman

Good morning

I had a fantastic swim this morning.  I know!  It’s crazy to actually type out something like this given how much I’ve struggled with it.  I swam just 2250 yards out of my planned 3000 but thanks to some great coaching earlier in the week I managed to shave some time off my 100 yard split and I felt so strong.  My entire body felt much more engaged and I didn’t feel nearly as much friction in the water as I normally do.  I also improved  my DPS.  I felt really good!

And Ironman just posted highlights from 2013 Ironman Texas.  

Watching it gave me goosebumps; so many stories and a tremendous amount of inspiration.  While Ironman Lake Tahoe (IMLT) will be a different experience (e.g. altitude, temperature, etc), my excitement about IMLT continues to grow – if that’s possible!

This morning is a good one.

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Just Going With It

After spending last week recovering from the Silicon Valley Long Course Triathlon, I’m supposed to resume my training today.  I’m suppose to start training for Ironman Lake Tahoe.  Last night I eagerly packed my swim gear, bike shoes and cycling clothes.  Last night I placed a couple GU Energy gels and water bottles in my gym bag. Last night I prepared my chocolate milk, my recovery drink.

When my alarm went off at 4:30 am today I woke up with my left leg feeling pretty bad.  It’s been a little tight all weekend.  But I’ve been spending some time on the foam roller and tennis ball.  So I tried to ignore the discomfort as I got out of bed, put on my swimsuit, pulled my hair back and brushed my teeth.  I even made it out the door with MLH.  But as much as I wanted to I couldn’t ignore the pain anymore.  After a brief, quiet exchange with MLH, we both decided it would be best for me to take it easy for one more day. I would also schedule an appointment with my PT.  (Side note: I finally found an awesome PT/chiropractor!)

It should be no surprise that I am pretty bummed about this.  I’m so looking forward to resuming my training.  I can’t wait to start my two-a-days.  I’m really excited to start this next chapter: becoming an Ironman.  This change in my schedule takes away from this.  But as I opened my front door to reenter, put down my gym and swim bags, and changed into non-workout clothes, I thought…one (more) day or even two (more) days off isn’t that bad and may even be a good idea (given that I took just one week to recover)…it’s better that this happen now when I’m about five months away from my A race…getting all worked-up over this (especially at 4:46 am on a Monday morning) is not going to help the situation at all…look at the pros who deal with injuries and continue to have amazing careers…don’t fight it, just go with it…this is part of the journey….

 

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Thank you once again, Triathlon

Thank you once again, Triathlon.  You are my favorite sport; my true outlet; provider of peace and comfort; my strength trainer; and my special connection to my beautiful son.

This week triathlon was there for me…once again.  Even in the off-season, this sport provided a high point in what otherwise has been a super challenging week – the first week of December.

On Sunday while running on a treadmill at my gym, I was blindsided with a seemingly innocent image on TV.  I don’t usually look at the monitors when working out at my gym.  I usually focus on my music, my zone and the workout at hand.  However, every now and then my eyes will wander up and catch a glimpse of a reality show, cooking demo, sports game or some random commercial.  Well, this time, my eyes caught a fraction of a baby commercial:  new parents walking through the front door of their home for the first time with their baby.  BAM!  We never brought Noah home.  As this joyous – for the majority of viewers –  event registered in my head tears started streaming down.  Thankfully all of my sweat from the run camouflaged my tears so any onlooker wouldn’t notice me crying.  What a trigger.  Instead of getting completely to the other side of it,  I think it ignited something in the rest of my body.  Up until that moment I was trying to prepare for this month but I think it was on more of an intellectual level.  It’s the 12th month of the year.  It has the most popular holiday of the year.  It’s the month that puts an exceptional amount of attention on children and families.  This is my second December without Noah which means my second Christmas without him; my second Christmas as an incomplete family.  And it’s the month Noah was born.  As December approached I’ve been thinking about this more and more of course.  But until last Sunday, that’s what I’ve been mainly doing – thinking.  My brain was processing this month.  After that run though I’m now feeling the presence of December in my heart and throughout the rest of my body.  Even as I type this post I can feel it in my hands, belly, feet…almost everywhere inside.

So far this week has been touch and go.  The rest of Sunday and Monday were brutal.  On Tuesday morning I did not want to get out of bed at all.  I had a lot of meetings scheduled and planned to attend a book signing event with a friend in the evening.  I had my swim session first thing that morning.  I could cancel my meetings.  I don’t have to go swimming.  My friend had to bail on joining me in the evening so I’m not obligated to attend the event.  I could have easily stayed in bed which I seriously thought about doing for a while.  But I thought back to those early days after Noah passed away when I didn’t feel like training, not because I didn’t like training but because I did not want to leave home.  I thought about how I took baby steps to get through those workouts.  Just change into workout clothes.  Just pack the gym bag.  Now put on the running shoes.  Don’t think.  Try not to feel.  Just go through the motions.  I applied this same tactic on Tuesday.  Just get out of bed.  Just take a shower.  Just collect the necessary material for my meetings.  Just get in the car.  Just get on the highway.  And that’s how Tuesday went.   During the hour between my last meeting and when I needed to leave for the book signing, I went back and forth in my head about going or not so many times that I started to give myself a headache.  Once again, just take little steps.

The book to be signed was As the Crow Flies:  My Journey to Ironman World Champion by Craig (Crowie) Alexander.  A local bike shop in Santa Cruz hosted the event.  The place was packed.  This Ironman World Champion signed books and answered questions.  It was great.  I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this truly amazing triathlete talk about training for and racing triathlons.  As much as I tried to avoid it, a few guests chatted with me.  Like other tri-related events my conversations were about coaches, transporting bikes, training, Nationals, Worlds and other races.  I left the store with a couple of autographed books (one for my friend, who couldn’t join me, and his wife) and even a photo with Craig.  I left the event feeling a bit lighter than when I arrived.

I still feel Sunday’s trigger but it’s not as piercing.  I have my favorite sport to thank for this.  Thank you, once again, Triathlon.

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My Last Race of the 2012 Triathlon Season

Burlington, VT is beautiful.  It’s so green and lush and far from commercial.  I made a point to enjoy all of this as I rode and ran the USAT 2012 Age Group Olympic  National Championship course on Saturday.  Lake Champlain was really choppy so I wasn’t able to enjoy this part of the race at all.  Also I encountered a lot of physical body contact in the water; the most I’ve ever experienced in a triathlon.

I naturally talked to Noah (both silently and out-loud) while I raced.  I’ll instantly connect with him as I’m pushing myself and digging deep.  I’ll automatically think of him as I grasp for oxygen and endure pain.  I found myself exclaiming, “we can do this!”  several times during the race.  Or, just like the bike leg in Hawaii,  I’ll look to the side and take in the scenery with Noah.  It’s actually a bit amusing:  I had cyclists aggressively passing me while I looked at all of the acres and acres of green meeting the mountains which in turn reached up to meet the few clouds and blue sky.  The run started off with a very steep incline and all I did was smile as I climbed it.  Throughout the run I felt like the harder I pushed myself the bigger my smile got.  I think Noah and I make an awesome team.  I am grateful for this.

I did not come in last place but I was close.  I overheard fellow athletes talking about the pressure they put on themselves, especially during the bike, to qualify for the World Championship in London.  I kept thinking I’m just happy to be here.  Although I admit I was slightly disappointed in my swim; I wanted to shave off a decent amount of time.  But even if I had I still would have found myself towards the bottom.  As expected athletes at this race are super fast.  I did improve my bike and run.  I didn’t set specific goals for this race so I am fine with how everything went and appreciate having the opportunity to compete at a National Championship.

My results:

  • Swim – 33:39.4 (place – 1589) / Bike – 1:21.38.3 (place – 1685) / Run – 47:24.0 (place – 1192) / Overall – 2:47:50
  • Division place: 103/142 / Gender place: 543/851 / Overall place: 1558/1989

Crossing the finish line on Saturday officially ends my 2012 triathlon racing season.  However I’m not taking a complete break during the off-season; I simply can’t.

I’ve got a training weekend planned for September and I’m running a half marathon with MLH in November.  I’m working with my coach to maintain a strong base as well as improve  in specific areas.

Also, I already have a triathlon on next year’s calendar.  I’ll race my first Ironman on September 22, 2013!  With Noah’s help I’ll swim 2.4 miles, bike another 112 and finally run 26.2.

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I’m a Triathlete. I’m a Bereaved Mother. I’m Both.

This is Susan.  She’s joining us for the first time; she’s training for Nationals.

Welcome to our first Women’s Triathlon Summit.

Yep, this past weekend was very much a social one for me.  And yes, it involved interacting with other endurance athletes.  On Saturday I joined my coach’s Saturday group workout for the very first time.  And thanks to a good friend I attended a women’s only triathlon panel discussion on Sunday.

I was a bit anxious about Saturday’s group training session and admitted this to my coach.  Aside from knowing we’ll swim, then bike and finally run, I told him I really didn’t know exactly what else to expect:  What do I need to bring?  Will I have time to change from my swimsuit into cycling clothes or should I wear a trisuit for the swim?  Should I bring my fins?  Is there anything else I should know?

What I didn’t tell him but, of course, fed my anxiety was having to meet new people and engage in conversation with them for a few hours.  My strategy consisted of staying under the radar.  I figure I’ll most likely swim in the slowest lane and ride at the back of the pack.  As for the run, I’ll just push myself so I’m breathing really hard.  Then I won’t be in a position to talk.  Well, I did in fact swim in the slowest lane.  Interestingly though I made an attempt to swim in the next lane over because the only other person in the slowest lane was a pregnant woman.  (Great start, I know.)  However, I felt as though I slowed down the other lane so I moved over to share the lane with the pregnant woman.  (By the way, the fact that I qualified for Nationals while consistently finding myself swimming in the slowest lane bewilders me!)  I ended up being so focused on my workout I barely saw her and her belly.  And when I did I immediately looked away.  It wasn’t ideal but it wasn’t really horrible either.

We did have time to change in the locker room where I met another member of Pete’s team.  As we changed into our cycling clothes we talked about riding and Honu 70.3‘s horrendous crosswinds.  So far so good.

I grabbed my bike off the top of my car and rode it over to join the rest of the group.  My coach introduced me since it was my first time.  And he announced I have Nationals coming up.  Gulp!  So much for staying under the radar.  For the two hours we rode folks talked about racing, training and technique.  Woo hoo!

I quickly learned everyone doesn’t run off the bike during these sessions.  (Officially Saturday’s workout plan does include a run though.)  Unless I’m nursing knee issues or other injuries I make a point of running after biking.  (It’s great brick training.)  So I ended up running with only two other athletes.  We talked about how each of us found Pete and his training group, Honu 70.3 and training for Kona (aka Ironman World Championship).  One of the athletes who ran with me is training for it!

I managed to avoid the topic of children and made it through the other end of the trigger caused by swimming next to a pregnant woman; not too bad.  And the icing on the cake was I enjoyed the conversations I had with everyone.

On Sunday for the Women’s Triathlon Summit, MLH and I were running late from a previous appointment so I rushed over to where the event was being held. The organizers had a pretty nice spread of food, and I was incredibly hungry.  (I don’t think I ate enough after my long run earlier in the day.)  Everybody else was chatting in their chairs.  Nobody was eating.  (The event was running late.)  So while more polished, lady-like women would make their way gracefully over to the food, I dropped my purse on a chair and made a straight shot to the table where I filled a plate up with goodies.  I know, it wasn’t just hunger; I saw this as a way to avoid people.  But then I had to make my way back to my chair to eat.  And eating I did but then a couple of women introduced themselves to me.  Oh well.  We proceeded to talk about our upcoming races.  That’s it!  Once again, I really enjoyed the conversations.

I will say that as one can and should expect — when planning to attend I somehow didn’t think completely through this unfortunately — some of the topics at a woman’s triathlon event will touch on juggling children/family with training.  I didn’t experience very strong triggers when these topics came up.  I felt a little bit of emptiness inside but it wasn’t an overwhelming feeling.  Perhaps this is because I was in such awe of these women who have children, challenging jobs, partners (who either are endurance athletes and/or have challenging jobs as well) AND are top athletes in their divisions!

It’s kind of weird.  I’m so glad I attended both events and most importantly enjoyed talking to the people I met each day.  I still feel anxiety and automatically put up a wall because I never know when I’ll be asked about children or encounter a trigger.  I don’t know if this will ever truly go away.  However, during this past weekend, I was fortunate enough to talk to fellow triathletes about setting PRs, working with coaches, technique, swimming, bike fits, nutrition and race goals.  I got to meet some amazingly accomplished athletes who’ve qualified for Kona, turned pro, completed 26 Ironmen and earned their way onto the podium several times over!  I almost felt like another person at these events.  I was more social at both of these events than I’ve been at any other event over the past two years.  I actually hung around after the summit to chat with a couple of participants!

Aside from the handful of times children were brought up during the summit and dealing with the pregnant woman during the swim, at these events I felt like just another triathlete training for her next race.  I don’t think it’s like I live a double life:  One moment I’m a triathlete and when I’m away from the sport I’m a bereaved parent.  I think it’s more like I have a couple of layers or dimensions inside.  At both of these events, the triathlete who wants to improve, learn and share is dominant and the bereaved mother, while very much present still, takes sort of a backseat with my wall surrounding all of me.  When I’ve had to attend purely social events, my wall is a lot thicker with the bereaved mother and triathlete switching positions.  And I feel like most of the time when I train both layers are evenly present.

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