Category Archives: Augusta 70.3

Why I’m Not Racing Augusta 70.3

Because I do not want to.

I know.  It’s three weeks away and I’ve been training for nearly five months.  I am fitter than I’ve ever been in my life and I’ve already invested countless hours and many, many dollars into this endeavor.  Everyone has pre-race anxiety.  Everyone experiences the crushing pressure of an important endurance goal.

This is not that.

When I cycle outdoors, I feel profoundly unsafe.  I have ridden outside four times in five months.  Without question, I would have come much further if I had pushed myself from the beginning and followed through on my goal to ride outside weekly.  I would have stronger handling skills and banked confidence to draw on.  It was just too scary.  On Sunday, I rode about 40 miles with 2,000 ft of climbing.  I could barely leave the parking lot, I was so afraid.  As I rode, I calmed down but I didn’t enjoy it for a single moment.  I just wanted it to end without incident.  By all accounts, it went very well (with the exception of a flat in the last 10 miles.)  I powered up the hills and held a pace that earned praise from my superstrong friend Jess but all I could think in the last five miles was “I don’t want to do this race.  I don’t want to do this race.”  I came home, mowed through 10 miles on the trainer and attended Dailey Method.  4 hours and 15 minutes of exercise and barely any soreness this morning when I woke up.  Did I feel strong?  Absolutely.  Did I feel any more confident or enthusiastic about the race?  Not an iota.

Today, I did an “easy” 35 minute run.  Felt good.  Legs were tired but I wasn’t daunted by the workout and completed it slightly faster than I should have.  Taught some lessons, had a snack, and headed to the pool for a race distance swim.

Got in and barely made it 700 meters before I was so nauseated that I had to get out of the pool.  This has been happening for 5 months and I don’t know what it is or how to fix it.  I’m pretty sure it has to do with my breathing but I just don’t care anymore.  I don’t care that you could “float a log down the Augusta swim course and it will arrive at the Swim In in 45 minutes.”  I don’t care that I could breast stroke and eventually make my way down there.  It sounds like a miserable, terrifying experience that would only be the brief precursor to a much longer miserable, terrifying experience.  And then if I were fortunate enough to make it to Bike In without some humiliating or painful debacle, I would have to run a half marathon.  A completely appealing distance in and of itself.  So appealing that I’m already researching which half marathon I would run in the coming weeks.

I don’t want to do this.  No part of me wants to do it.  I’ve read and reread recaps of wonderful women who have done this race.  The same ones that brought tears to my eyes and inspired me to register in the first place.  I feel nothing positive.  I find myself looking desperately for clues or insights that might sway me in one direction or another.  Every conversation I’ve had with friends has either been “you’re absolutely fine, you’ll be fine, just keep going” (from the athletes) or “it’s totally okay to quit” (from friends and family).  None of them have satisfied me.  Now it’s nearly 1 am and I’m wide awake, researching my flight change policy and imagining chucking my bike down a well.

This is the first blog post I’ve written in ages that feels honest.  This afternoon, I was discussing all of this with a very strong friend.  She falls into the athlete camp that is encouraging and believes I can complete the race and will be better for it.  I don’t disagree that September 28th might be a hard day with a kaleidoscope of emotions including regret.  If I saw it through, maybe I would have a great day.  Maybe I would have a horrible day but it would all feel worth it when I crossed the finish line.  I’m sure that moment would be amazing but I just don’t feel any pull towards it.  I have no desire.  I don’t want it enough to earn it. We discussed regret and the value of learning about myself by seeing this challenge through to completion.  Clearly what I’ve learned is that I have a much stronger work ethic than I ever knew and that I also have human limitations and human preferences.  Those limitations don’t make me weak or lazy, as I sought to prove to myself when I first started working out years ago.  I don’t need to prove anything to myself anymore.

On one hand, I wish I had decided this sooner.  It would have saved my poor husband and friends a LOT of whiny texts.  It would have saved me a lot of tears and anxiety.  It would have eliminated the “so close” element that might haunt me down the line.  On the other hand, I got that much stronger and laid a fantastic foundation for future challenges.  It’s clear what kinds of activities I love to do.  I’m all for 2 workouts a day and very hard work when it’s the kind that’s right for me.   And if I feel like I have unfinished business, I will climb down that well, retrieve my bike, sign up for master’s swim and try again.  I now know exactly what I would need to successfully train for a 70.3.

But I do NOT see that happening.  😀

Thank you for your support and love.

 

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Oh Dear.

This morning was supposed to be my big confidence-boosting race distance swim.  Just get in the water and keep pushing through.  It might be a slog but doable right?

WRONG.

F*CK.

I got in a breast stroked a couple laps to warm up.  Felt fine.  Began my main set at a conservative pace.  Felt fine until the second lap when my labored breathing told me to slow down.  I got through a few more laps reminding myself that I was still warming up and not to be concerned.  Mentally, I tried to think of it like a 3-4 mile run: first third is a warm up, I’ll find a nice groove in the middle, and nearing the finish would help me push through to the end.

NOPE.

F*CK.

After a few more laps, I had to switch to breast stroke to get my breath under control.  That was demoralizing and I began to hear “I can’t do this.  I can’t do this.”  Not helpful but sadly, I was right.  I found a nice groove for a couple laps after that but it was short lived.  After only 10 laps, I switched to breast stroke again briefly.

By lap 12 (less than half of the total distance) I was crying in my goggles and so nauseated that I had to get out of the pool.  Barely made it to the locker room.

I changed quickly, tears in my eyes.  Got to the car and just cried.  And texted expletives to my husband and super patient friend IronmanJess.  They were both encouraging and sweet as I questioned if today is the day to throw in the towel.

It isn’t.  I’m going to try again tomorrow but again, F*CK.  I have no one to blame but myself.  I avoided swimming and I’m paying for it now.  It’s only 30-40 minutes of a 6.5 hour race so I CANNOT let it wreck my entire experience.  Hopefully tomorrow goes a bit better so I get the boost I was seeking today.

Bright side: celebrated runner and badass lady Lauren Fleshman made my day:

#donkeylobby

#DonkeyLobby.  Tell your friends.

What do you do when you have a TRULY SHITTY WORKOUT WHEN YOU REALLY NEED A GOOD ONE?!

Adjustment and Acceptance

Since my most recent post, there has been some progress.

I’m so grateful for the comments and tweets from all you amazing folks who have experienced the same doubt and frustration.  There were some great suggestions, many of which I knew I should do but really appreciated hearing in a supportive (instead of self-critical) tone.

One of the suggestions was to potentially ride with a Camelbak.  For some reason, I thought this was verboten but I didn’t find anything to that effect on the Augusta 70.3 website.  In fact, I found numerous threads on different triathlon websites about their use.  Most triathletes on the boards were against it because it’s not aero (don’t give a sh*t), it’s dorky (super don’t give a sh*t), and it’s hot (fair enough).  The idea of being able to drink continuously at my leisure and only have to refill it once lifted a large weight off my shoulders.  Ironic!   Pulling over to gobble some food every half hour won’t add more than 5 min to my bike time and will surely save me 5 minutes on the run since I’m less likely to bonk the bonk of death.

I chose the smallest one.  It feels very comfortable and holds 1.5 liters.  And it’s pretty.

My new, pink friend who will save my life!

My new, pink friend who will save my life!

It was suggested that I just get in the pool and swim the whole distance.  Touché.  It’s on my training plan for this week.  So is a 3+ hour bike ride and a 9 mile run.  If I can successfully complete those three workouts, I will believe that I can do this.

This weekend, my wonderful parents visited from Seattle.  I discovered that my dad had some concerns about triathlon in general but specifically the swim.  As I explained to him about the kayaks AND safety folks out on the course AND the buoyancy of my wetsuit AND the speedy current AND the fact that I could always breast-stroke, I realized I’m fine.  It might be hard and scary but it will end.  Same with the bike.

The most significant progress I’ve made in the last few days is in the form of adjustment and acceptance.  Training for this 70.3 has not felt how I thought it would feel based on previous training.  It’s been fun and successful physically but draining and demoralizing emotionally.  I’ve been too focused on what I can’t do that I haven’t celebrated or trusted what I can.  That negativity has fed on itself week after week to the point where OF COURSE I WANTED TO QUIT.

It isn’t what I thought it would be but that’s okay.  I don’t feel like superwoman.  I’m unsure.  I’m disappointed with this whole endeavor and that in itself is disappointing but again, it’s okay.  I’m beginning to accept this for what it is and intend to make the most out of the next 4 weeks.

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I don’t know.

Augusta 70.3 is one month away.

Last night, I took a UK-themed spin class at Ride Oakland.  Sometimes I hold back on the resistance in spin but this time, I really brought it.  At the end of an intense seated climb, I imagined myself pushing, pushing, pushing up one of the hills on the Augusta course.  I had a realization as I pushed:

I don’t know if I can do this.

I truly do not know and in that moment, all my ambivalence made sense.  I’ve never done anything so challenging and I’ve never felt less sure that I’m capable of completing the task.

I’m completing almost all of my workouts as though I’m still working toward that 70.3 mile “victory lap” but I’m not sure I see it happening.  I don’t know if I can get through the swim.  Everyone says “of course you can!  It’s the easiest swim course!  You could float a piece of paper down the river in 45 minutes!”  I haven’t yet completed that full distance in the pool so those comments unfortunately feel demoralizing rather than comforting.  I have absolutely no idea if I can do the ride.  I think so?  My legs are strong and I have certainly ridden for a long time but all on the trainer.  There are so many question marks around the bike and so many regrets.  The skills and confidence I needed to build over the last 5 months didn’t come easily and immediately so I procrastinated.   Now I’m a month out and I still can’t eat or drink on the bike.  I have no confidence climbing hills in real life, despite being able to push like a monster in spin.  Oh and then 13.1 miles of “running” without music or distraction?  After all that hard work?  I do not know if my mind is that strong.  As I type that, something deep quietly says “…yes….you will get through it once you’ve come that far…” but I can’t picture it.  None of my friends or family are coming with me so once I cross that line, I will be alone.  It’s hard to imagine that too.  Sitting in the grass, texting people that I did it.  It’s very bittersweet to imagine.

Crying now.

I want to write separately about how much I’ve changed since I wanted to do this and now.  That’s the bright spot in this entire process.  I am strong and don’t need the validation of this goal anymore.  But I’m on the hook for it and it feels insane not to see it through after working so hard.  In this last month, I hope to make some strides so if I do get on that plane and go through with this, I’ll feel more assured and enthusiastic.

Sigh.

A Good Day

Today I ran 9 miles and then took a great and intense Dailey Method class.  It felt awesome.  I felt strong, energized, confident.

I felt like myself.

I needed this.

Tomorrow is the beginning of week SIXTEEN of training for Augusta 70.3.  I have no idea how to articulate how it’s been going.  How about a good old Pro/Con list in the form of Good/Bad:

Good

* No injuries.  Today’s 9 miler was an important test.  I haven’t run that far since the marathon almost a year ago.  It was the 9 mile run during training for the curs-ed Oakland Running Festival where my ITB, knee, and hamstring collectively voted NO.  I’ve been more consistent this training cycle but I have missed some long runs.  I’m very relieved to know that my legs are holding up, especially at a faster pace.

I am super fit.  I am, without a doubt, in the best shape of my life.  I’m very satisfied with my “easy” and “moderate” paces.  They’re considerably faster in all three sports than ever before.  I’m not pushing them much because it’s all about going looooong these days.  Still, I’m noticing fitness gains and that always feels nice.

My mental endurance is improving.  Today’s 9 miler was with a podcast.  Yes, I still had some distraction but I did not require thumping music to motivate each step.  Mentally and physically, I was chill.  Just moving forward.  I’ve listened to podcasts during most of my epically long trainer rides and have been sufficiently entertained.  This is really important as I will not have music during the actual race.  Here’s hoping that the other racers, crowd support, and focusing on nutrition will be enough to get me out of my head.

I’ve really figured out the food thing.  I’m eating enough, not too much.  Eating almost completely “clean” which for me means no gluten, very little dairy, very few processed foods.  Minimal food rewards.  I’ve maintained my slightly-reduced weight within 5 lbs for the last four months.  It feels really good.  Last year, during marathon training, it was way too easy to justify ice cream and pizza as pre-long run loading or post-long run recovery.  Not this time!

I am completely in love with indoor cycling.  It is one of my favorite thing EVAR and I wouldn’t have discovered it had I not been required to cycle so much.  Give me pumping music and a gnarly hill climb.  I am happy.  I am so looking forward to spinning my ass off for forever and ever after training is done.

I am doing a whole lot of workouts.  I have not done every single workout on my plan but let’s save that for the other list.  I HAVE done many, many, many, many workouts.  I’ve hardly missed a single cycling workout.  I’ve missed some runs but not enough to derail a safe ramp-up, as demonstrated today.  I have swum many times.  Best news: I’ve managed 2-4 Dailey Method classes per week, in addition to teaching several a week.  I maintain that the strengthening and lengthening of TDM keeps me injury-free and sane.

There’s another list to write but today is a good day.  Let’s leave it there. 😀

How have your summer workouts been going?  What’s on your good list??

Happening

Things have happened, are happening, and will happen.

I’m a Dailey Method Instructor!

LE.GIT.

LE.GIT.

I had hesitations about taking on Dailey Method instructor training during 70.3 training for obvious reasons.  The training, class observations/assists, endless practicing, and mock classes were just as time-consuming and emotional intense as I expected.  The quality of instruction is very high and TDM means a lot to me so I knew I would have to fully invest myself in the process.  That investment really paid off.  I felt confident and prepared for the mock classes at the end of my training.  Mocks typically don’t have high attendance so please picture my face when my second mock had 11 people, 6 of whom had never taken TDM before!  I was a bit intimidated but it went well and I learned a lot about how to respond to who is in the room and how to spontaneously tailor my language to the needs of the present clients.

On Sunday, I taught my first official class.  It was a typically light time slot but just like my second mock, it was inexplicably PACKED.  More and more people came in and I realized I would be teaching my first class to a nearly full room.  I taught TWENTY people (the room holds 24) and had a ball.  Friends and other instructors came to support me and we had some serious thigh-shaking fun.

First Class TRIUMPH!

First Class TRIUMPH!

I had several more classes this week and they all went well!  My language is feeling more and more organic, which is a huge relief.  I opted to script all my transitions and cues which ultimately gave me the security to go rogue.  I even killed a spider without losing count or my train of thought.  SO PROFESH!

So, how did this all balance with the last 8 weeks of Half Ironman Training?

I’ll just show you:

Funfetti of Training!

Funfetti of Training!

June looked like that too except all the workouts were longer.

In the last 8 weeks, I’ve maybe missed 5/90 workouts.  Without question, I’m in the best shape of my life.  I’ve lost about 10 pounds by adjusting my food (gluten-free, no refined sugar or carbs.)  I generally have a lot of energy and have completed workouts without problems.  This last week has been really tough and I’m not sure why.  I’m hoping it’s hormonal because I’ve been struggling bigtime physically and emotionally but that’s a topic for another post.  Generally, training is going well and I’m making progress in all three sports.

Some exciting things have happened in my singing life.  I traveled to the Ojai Music Festival to perform Beethoven, Ives, Feldman and a program of spirituals.  I sang a solo recital of Debussy and Wolf that got a positive review.  There are some other exciting things that I will share as soon as I can.

Not in sweaty spandex!

Not in sweaty spandex!

The big thing I’ve taken away from these intense months is to just GO FOR IT and take risks.  People have been unbelievably supportive of each leap I’ve taken and that makes the successes so much more wonderful.  I hope to have the space to blog more and elaborate on some of what I’ve been going through, especially in my 70.3 training.  In the meantime, I hope YOU are having a wonderful summer and taking some fun risks of your own.

 

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And we’re off!

It begins!

Where ARE WE?

Where ARE WE?

After absolutely CRUSHING yesterday’s rest day, today brought the true beginning of Augusta training.  I had a 50 minute trainer ride that had to include 5 x 20 seconds in a big gear at a high cadence.  My plan for the ride was to execute those intervals and also keep my cadence above 90 and stay in the big ring if possible.  Mission totally accomplished!

Screen Shot 2014-05-13 at 8.14.08 PM

I began the ride with the pilot of Lost.  The first three seasons are amazing and engrossing (don’t get me started on the infuriating downward spiral of that show or I will LOSE IT) so I thought they would be a nice motivator during my trainer rides.  The ride began in my basement but as sweat poured down my everywhere, the patio beckoned.  Set my trainer up in the shade and enjoyed watching the 580 commute.  None of us went anywhere!

Oh, your car is not on a trainer?  Sorry...

Oh, your car is not on a trainer? Sorry…

When I moved outside, I switched to music and found myself cueing Dailey Method thigh work.  That sure helped the time pass!  I imagine I’m going to spend a lot of my Augusta training thinking through my new teaching.  Great way to get out of the “are we there yet?” mindset.  Because, no, we’re not there yet.

Due to a light work day and wanting to take Dailey tomorrow, I moved my swim to today.  I figure that it doesn’t really matter if I swim on a running day or a cycling day.  I intend to follow my schedule as planned, the only exception being moving swims and TDM sessions around.  I also won’t ever put off a training session.  I can only move them earlier, not push them off.  Rules is rules.

So, it’s like a million degrees this week and I’ve been looking forward to trying some of the outdoor pools in my area.  My house is right between the pool at Mills College and Lions Pool in Dimond Park.  Just being specific in case you live in the East Bay and are looking for a pool near my house!

I really enjoyed the Dimond pool.  There are two large lanes (slow and medium) and one narrower lane for faster swimmers.  Word on the deck is that if you even swim freestyle in the slow lane, some regular aqua joggers will get in your face and tell you to move up to the medium lane.  I actually heard it happen!  Thankfully they didn’t give me shit when I moved into the slow lane to do my kicking set.  Probably because I was going very, very, very slowly.  Or they could tell that I would splash them if they sassed me.

I cannot TELL you how heavenly this swim was.  Yes, the lane was busy and there were some people who didn’t totally get the circle swimming but generally folks were friendly.  I introduced myself and asked questions about how people were planning to swim and all was well.  I felt amazing.  Strong, steady, and so happy.  None of the nausea or yuckiness I had experienced at my gym pool.  Totally hooked.  And totally tan.  I seriously have a full swimsuit tan already.  How the hell am I supposed to get sunscreen on my mid-back, btw?

My happy place.

My happy place.

I didn’t quite finish my workout because the lap swim ended when I still had a few hundred more meters to do.  Who knew kicking was so hard and slow?!  The YouTube video I watched did not mention that.  I did 4 of the 8 x 25 prescribed and did not feel bad about moving on to my main set.  Since it was literally my first time with a kickboard, I’ll make up those extra yards later this week.

All in all, it was a phenomenal first day.  I ate enough to feel happy and energetic all day but didn’t go off the rails in “celebration.”  As in, I didn’t consume any of these things.  Just this wonderful thing:

Mmmmm compressed and sliced meats salad.

Mmmmm compressed and sliced meats salad! Love those crazy Greeks…

And now, we foam roll!

What are you favorite swimming drills?  Any kicking tips?

 

You Spin Me Right Round, Baby, Right Round Like a Record Player Right Round Round Round!

The motto of Augusta 70.3 training (which officially starts in about two weeks, holy crap) is…

JUST DO IT.

Meaning:

*Cut the drama.

* Ignore the nerves.

* Get your work done.

I employed this motto for the first time about a month ago when I spontaneously decided to put on my hand-me-down pedals (thanks, Jess!) and clip my hand-me-down cycling shoes into them (thanks, Velia!)  I figured I would watch thirty YouTube videos and practice in my doorway for a month before actually attempting to clip in outside.  I floated this idea with my stepbrother (who can literally eat a spaghetti dinner while riding his bike in the snow) and he said “why don’t you just go ride?  Just do it!”

So I did!

Customary excitement and falling!

Customary excitement and falling!

I only had a couple little tipovers, AFTER I had clipped out and put one foot on the ground.  That’s how I do!

So, riding clipped in is AWESOME.  You all knew that.  I love being able to use my hamstrings and glutes more.  I could definitely feel the difference riding in the wind and I’m sure hills will be infinitely easier.  Hear that, Bears?

In the spirit of just doing stuff, I went to my first spin class today!

The class was held at my gym.  I arrived about 15 min early to ensure that I got a spot.  When it was time to enter the studio, I introduced myself to a few other classmates (including another brave newbie) and the instructor, Benjamin.  He was super cool and helped me set up my bike.  I clipped in and started gently spinning until the class officially began.

I LOVED IT!  WHERE HAS SPIN BEEN ALL MY LIFE!

Loved the hill climbs.  Loved being out of the saddle.  Loved the sprints.  Loved cycling in time with the music.  Loved it loved it loved it.

Without question, I need to get comfortable riding outside.  I will not substitute spin classes for outdoor time in my own saddle but a mid-week ride?  YOU BETCHA!

What have you “just done” this week?

Any triathletes out there incorporate spinning?

Anyone want to give me infinities monies to go to fancy spinning in SF?