Tag Archives: race

Thankful for This Intense Training Day

This past Saturday I had a very intense training day.  OK, it was actually my first triathlon of the 2013 season, the Silicon Valley Long Course.  A couple of weeks ago, three-time Olympian (two-time medalist) & 2013 New Zealand Ironman champion, Bevan Docherty, said something during a talk he gave that resonated with me:  B [aka warm up] races are just intense training days.  (This race is definitely a B race for me.)  I’ve heard this before but for some reason it really sunk in this time.  So for the past couple of weeks I truly thought of this race as “just an intense training day.”  Because of this I wasn’t nearly as nervous as I usually am during the week leading up to race day.  I definitely continued preparing in terms of tapering and packing my gear.  Mentally, spiritually and emotionally I think I spent more attention on the events that took place last week.

The race was hard especially given the intense heat.  And while I felt  pain and exhaustion, at the same time I felt strong and awesome.  There were times when I dedicated the next mile to somebody.  Heck there were even moments when every single step had a name and purpose associated with it.  And there were times when I felt really tired and simply had to focus on form and technique: reach out, push, pull, straighten back, firm up the core, keep shoulders back, bend elbows, light feet, powerful legs, arms at my side, check my breathing, grab water, switch to Cytomax

My results:

  • Swim (1.2 miles): 0:42:30
  • Bike (56 miles): 3:33:25
  • Run (13.1 miles): 2:06:39
  • Total (70.3 miles): 6:30:55

Morgan Hill, the race location, is gorgeous.  Except for the heat, the day was perfect.  The sky was blue.  It was so nice swimming and looking up as I took each breath to see a powerfully bright, huge sun shining in such a clear sky.  I was surrounded by lots of green.  The bike route was nice as well but a bit quiet as this race didn’t have a lot of participants.  Rolling hills, trees and a huge reservoir created a wonderful setting.  I’m finding that whenever I take in my natural surroundings I thank Noah.  I thank him for all of this.  I thank him for helping me with my training and racing.  I thank him for opening my eyes to such beauty.  I thank him for helping me appreciate mother nature more and more and being present with the peace she brings.  I thank him for giving me strength to do this.

We had a good intense training day.  For this I am thankful.

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Tomorrow’s Race or Ending a Rough Week by Honoring and Supporting

So much is going on this week.  First and foremost we’re all trying to process what happened at the Boston Marathon and what’s happening there right now as I write this.  I think about all of the victims and the City, itself.  I think about the future of marathons and other sporting events which require wide open spaces and a fluid flow of people ranging from participants, volunteers, to spectators, media and so on.  I think about why we run, bike, swim and do what we do as athletes.  I think of my fellow runners, triathletes and other athletes who wonder about the same things and have shown support by going for a run or signing up for a race.  I think about the newly bereaved parents of all four victims (including the young MIT police officer) who died from this horrendous act and the journey of grief they’ve been forced to embark.

And this week I’ve been thinking a ton about a couple of bereaved parents who are going through exceptionally tough times right now.   I’m praying for them and sending lots of love and positive thoughts their way.

Also during this week I had a couple of tests done on my heart.  I requested them after a relatively high number of deaths occurred during triathlons over the past couple of years.  (Some may read this paragraph and think I’m overreacting by having these tests done, especially given I’m generally healthy.  Maybe I am.  And maybe I’m a bit too sensitive to heart-related issues given what Noah, MLH and I’ve been through.  As far as I’m concerned, NOT doing what I can to help limit my risks seems irresponsible.)  With all of the wires, numbers and other readings displayed on monitors, the ultrasound and a four member medical team assessing me, my exam was rather surreal.   I found myself tearing up a couple of times.  Even talking to my GP earlier about ordering these tests made me feel like I was in some sort of neither world.  We discussed the triathlon-related deaths, the heart, tests, reliability of results, even Noah and other aspects that caused images of my son and the CICU to flash in front of me.  Funny and sick how triggers work.

Finally, my first triathlon of the season is tomorrow.  I’ll race to honor the victims.  I’ll race for the newly bereaved parents and their angels.  I’ll race to help hold my two friends up with empathy and love.  And as always I’ll race for Noah.

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Food 4 Thought #4

Oatmeal isn’t a new breakfast option for me but for a couple of reasons I’ve become a huge fan of it this year.

One of my dearest friends introduced me to Trader Joe’s Steel Cut Oatmeal which takes 3.5 minutes to heat up in the microwave.  I usually add a couple of tablespoons of almond butter and a fruit (e.g blueberries, strawberries or a banana).  It’s such a healthy and satisfying breakfast.  And for me it’s become comfort food.  You see my friend who introduced it to me did so by making it for her daughters.   When I stayed with them for a couple of weeks last spring I spent my mornings visiting with the girls as they ate their oatmeal and continued getting ready for school.  I really enjoyed starting off my mornings this way.  So now when I eat oatmeal, especially this particular brand, I think of them and their parents, which provides a great deal of comfort.

Then during the summer I came across Three Sisters Cereal Oatmeal.  It’s pretty good as well.  The fact that I can travel with it won me over big time.  Before this year, my race morning breakfast usually consisted of a bagel, peanut butter, coffee and an Ensure.  When I travel for a race, it’s a challenge obtaining these items for breakfast.  When I have to stay overnight often times finding a bagel for breakfast is challenging.  Even if I don’t have to stay overnight and can drive to the race site in the morning, I have to pick up a bagel the day before.  The bagel is pretty hard and dry by the time I need to eat it.  So, before this summer my pre-race breakfast consisted of at least one new/different item every time.  It’s never a good idea to change things up on race day or even the day before.  But many times I’ve had to do this.  That is until I discovered Three Sisters.  The oatmeal comes in individual serving packets.  The packaging can be used to measure the water which is all one needs to add to make it.  These days most hotels place a mini-coffee pot in each room so I use it to heat up my water and bingo!  I’ve got my oatmeal.  I’ll bring my banana with me or pick one up at a nearby store.  They’re pretty easy to find –  even Starbucks sells them!  I’ve also discovered Justin’s Almond Butter packets.  These packets are super easy to travel with.  The Ensure is relatively easy to take on trips and if not, most drug stores carry them.

I love how oatmeal is part of my diet.  On race day it’s great because it’s a reliable pre-race food and super easy to consume.  On other days I’m comforted as I eat my breakfast.

What food gives you comfort?  What is your pre-race breakfast?

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Tomorrow’s race will be my last triathlon of the 2012 season. And I have this strong urge to set the expectation that I will most likely come in the bottom half of my division; I may very well be last. It’s not that I’m trying to sandbag or anything. This urge is based on the data: last year’s USAT AG National Championship results and my current splits. However after thinking about this I’ve decided setting this type of expectation messes up my race mindset. Besides what real competitor thinks this way?

So what should I expect from this race?

I expect to push myself harder than ever. (Yes even harder than in Hawaii.). I expect to enjoy my short swim and ride today. I expect to find inspiration from fellow triathletes. I expect to feel gratitude that my body can support me as I push it; that it can easily breathe hard, increase (and decrease) my heart rate and endure pain. I expect to cherish my connection with Noah as I swim, bike and run tomorrow morning. I expect to honor my son by leaving it all out there and crossing that finish line. I expect to have an amazing experience.

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A Bug, A Silver Lining and a Smile – What a Week!

When I woke up a week ago Sunday morning, I already felt a little off.  I figured it was from the previous night’s dinner when I succumbed to my pizza craving and dined at my local favorite pizza joint.  I should have known my workout wasn’t going to be a good one when I realized I forgot my Clif Shots as I was on my way to the running trail.  Luckily there’s a sporting goods store nearby so I ran over and picked up a couple of GU shots.  And then I was off and running…well I was sort of off and running.  I still wasn’t feeling great and by mile two I realized my upset stomach was determined to take over.  But my body should know by now that I only push myself harder when I begin to struggle.  And as rough and ugly as it was I managed to complete my entire run.  I kept telling myself just get through this and then I’ll decide if I can complete my assigned ride as well.  Well after the run my stomach felt even worse.  After taking a short break I felt somewhat better, so I told myself to just get on the bike and go for as long as I can.  It’s an easy ride; just shake out the legs.  Once on the bike I focused on keeping the legs moving.  I managed to complete my entire workout, albeit slowly and sloppily.  However afterwards I found myself with nausea on the couch where I pretty much stayed for the next two days.   By mid-day Monday, I realized that while I didn’t eat very well that Saturday night, I was dealing with something a little bit more serious; I picked up a bug from somewhere.

So, looking back, I admit I was guilty with doing exactly what Ilene and I discussed – ignoring my body’s signs.  I should have stopped at mile two.  I definitely should not have continued with the cycling session.  Shame on me!  However once I landed on my couch that Sunday I did start to listen to my body.  I guess I cheated a bit because Monday was an official recovery day so taking that day off was a no brainer.  But as upsetting as it was I did take all of Tuesday off as well.

Being sick stinks.  I really tried to maintain a positive attitude during this time.  I tried to not worry about how this will impact my training and ultimate race goals. I tried to distract myself by reading and watching videos on TED, PBS and Netflix.  But lying down for two days allows the mind to wander.  I found myself riding a very intense emotional roller coaster.  I missed Noah a lot.  I felt guilty, sad and at times even sorry for myself.  If I can’t train and be ready for my races then I’m a failure, right?  I was disappointed in myself for not training.  Noah dealt with major GI issues and much more pain and significantly more serious challenges than this and yet I can’t handle a little bug?  On the flip side I found myself thankful that it’s just a bug and nothing else.  Thank goodness I didn’t pass out on the trail or during my ride.  And I’m glad I experienced this earlier in my training and not right before a race.  I even managed to find a silver lining:  I ran eight miles and biked 15 while my stomach was wreaking havoc!   I’ve heard of athletes encountering major GI issues on race day.  Sometimes these issues force the athlete to slow down or even worse end up in the ER.  I now know what it feels like to endure such a problem.  I’d like to think I learned from this experience and I’ll handle it differently next time.

I felt a lot better by Wednesday.  Trying to find a balance between pushing myself and respecting my body, I opted to go on a very short, slow run (instead of my assigned swimming and speed work).  I felt even better on Thursday, so I completed my assigned workout.  I did maintain some discipline by holding back a bit though.  And by Friday I felt like I could resume my training in full force.

Being able to fully train again is wonderful!  During both of my long workouts this past Saturday and Sunday I felt reinvigorated.  During Saturday’s hilly 35 mile ride and two-mile run, I actually felt genuinely happy!  Chrissie Wellington is known for her big smiles during her races.  Well, I felt like her when I ran.  I was in a zone and found myself smiling to the very end.  Then on Sunday as I ran outside in 44 degree weather for nine miles I found myself in that same zone.

What a week!

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