Category Archives: Growth

Mindfulness – Part One

About a month ago, I began to live more mindfully.  Since then, I’ve attempted to write about it several times and found myself stuck every time, including now.  These changes have been so profound, even in a short amount of time, that I can say that it has changed my life.  Consider this the first of many posts about the topic.

Fundamentally, I am trying to be present in my mind and body at every moment.  Truly *being* where I am with no thought of what’s coming next, unless I’m purposefully planning.  The only unhappiness and anxiety I have in my lovely life is a product of worrying.  When we worry, we use our creative minds to remove ourselves from present contentment and place ourselves in an imagined future where something is going wrong.  Put that way, it sounds like a terrible way to live but it is so common!

Recognizing that in this moment everything is fine can be really powerful.  In the first few days of thinking this way, I noticed 2-3 times per day that I felt anything other than contentment.  That’s it!  They were fleeting moments that dissipated as quickly as I noticed them.  I was truly amazed by how content I was, even when sitting in traffic, waiting in lines, etc.  If you’re just *being* with your thoughts, your music, your podcasts, the sunshine…everything is pretty nice!  Of course, not every moment is fine.  Someone may say something hurtful, a driver might do something dangerous that frightens or angers you… Those are still realities of life but we can choose whether we let those moments pass quickly or dwell on them, forcing ourselves to re-experience the hurt/discomfort over and over again.  No thanks.

I can get daunted pretty easily and daunted typically equals very unhappy.  However, when I’m actually doing the daunting things, they always go well!  I love my job and whether I’m teaching a voice lesson, a Dailey Method class, or singing, I feel this amazing sense of flow.  I’m so fully engaged that time seems to speed up.  I leave each activity feeling more alive than before.   My motivation for actively seeking presence was to feel as engaged and positive outside of those activities as I feel when I’m doing them.

To eliminate feeling overwhelmed, I committed to stop looking at my calendar.  Instead, I take 5-10 minutes each day to sit down with the next day’s schedule and set an intention for each activity.  I think about what each student, class, or workout needs.  I make a little notation in my phone and boom, the day is handled.  I can spend the other 23 hours and 50 minutes of today being in today!  I’ve also noticed how much time I truly have when an activity is contained within it’s allotted time (instead of being thought about all day).  4 lessons and 2 DM classes isn’t ALL DAY, it’s only 6 hours.  That shift has allowed me to reclaim and enjoy a whole lot of previously squandered time.

Birthday Notes!

Birthday Notes!

Around the time this all started, I had a wonderful Dailey Method workshop with Lorna Samatas, owner of The Dailey Method – Elmhurst.  The topic was “Theming Your DM Class” but much of it was about mindfulness techniques.  One concept that I really took to was the idea of “arriving” in a space.  The idea is that when you cross a threshold into a new space, it’s a mindfulness trigger.  You take a moment to pause and consider why you’re there and what you hope to get from the experience in that space.  My Dailey Method students have responded well to this as a way to truly begin their practice.  I’m using it everywhere from entering a rehearsal to retreating to my bedroom at the end of the day.

Without question, this has significantly changed my running.  I will explore this in a subsequent post(s) but I want to tell you that last week’s 17 miler and yesterday’s TWENTY were both amazing runs.  I was *calm* the entire time.  I didn’t have any dread or fear of the distance.  At the beginning, I had no sense of how long I had to go.  I simply ran.  I noticed physical sensations, noticed ebbs and flows in my energy, noticed clouds, noticed my own happiness.  It was tremendous and couldn’t come at a better time.

Happy from beginning to end!

Happy from beginning to end!

There’s a lot more I want to share and now that I’ve gotten this first post through my fingers, more will come soon!

Please ask questions or share your favorite mindfulness tips and resources in the comments!

 

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The Elephant in the Room

Note: This post may offend.

I went to college in 2000 a bit overweight and with a history of some depression and anxiety.  Early into my freshman year, I got into a relationship that would last four pizza-filled years.  My “freshman fifteen” was closer to fifty and by sophomore year, I was nearly two-hundred pounds for the first time.

#tbt

#tbt

During my sophomore year, my depression became untenable.  I was crying constantly.  I did not want to continue.  My poor boyfriend had no idea what to do.  He was very loving and complimentary but also had issues.  As we bonded and “coped” with food, I gained more weight which fueled my unhappiness.

My situation eventually got so desperate that I sought help.  I went to a small music conservatory that was serviced by the health center at Northeastern University.  The doctor I saw listened to me describe my debilitating sadness and anxiety.  Somehow in the conversation, I disclosed what I understood of my mother’s mental health issues, including the medication she took.  The doctor said that I likely had similar brain chemistry and after a ten minute conversation, prescribed me the same SSRI.  She did not ask me if I was on any other medications that might be affecting my brain chemistry (aka oral contraceptives.)  We did not know each other.  The doctor did not know how complicated my relationship was with my mother and how difficult it was for me at that time to be told that I had the same issues as her.  One of the sources of my anxiety and depression was the feeling that, like my mom, I would never be happy.  This prescription compounded those feelings and set me on a course of inconsistent self-medicating and new fears.

In the same year, I had instability in my right knee to the point where it felt like it would buckle with every step I took.  I went to the same health center and the doctor had me stand up and take a few steps.  He said: “You have probably ground off all the cartilage in your knee cap by standing hyperextended.  There’s nothing that can be done.”

Nailed that diagnosis, Doc.  F*cking lazy idiot.

Nailed that diagnosis, Doc. F*cking lazy idiot.

At no point in either of these appointments did either doctor address the elephant in the room: my obesity.  The simplest explanation is usually the right one.  How could these medical professionals look at my body and not ask me what I was eating and if I was ever moving around?

Near the end of college, I lost about 30 pounds with Atkins and felt much, much happier.  My knee didn’t bother me and my depression was much less intense.  The underlying issues were still there but by taking control of my eating and having success, I felt in control of my life for the first time in a long time.

The next year (around the time the top photo was taken), I had gained the weight back and more.  I was in graduate school in New Hampshire and my depression was more intense than ever.  The last thing I wanted was to talk to another person who would confirm that I was on the same lifelong miserable trajectory as my mom.  I did not want to keep going.  Self-preservation thankfully won out and I went to the University health center.  This doctor listened and patiently deciphered the occasional word between sobs.  He asked me if I was on any kind of medication.  I had recently switched birth control but I assured him that it wasn’t the birth control that was the problem, it was me.  He wasn’t condescending but he urged me to discontinue the birth control and see if I felt better.  If I didn’t, we would move forward with treatment.

Within a day, I was fine.  Well, as fine as I had been in five years.  It was miraculous.  And I was furious.  What if all those years ago, I had simply discontinued my birth control?  Why didn’t that doctor address my situation similarly and save me so much grief?  Relief revealed the strength I needed to pick up and move back to California.

Six more years of yo-yo dieting, depression, anxiety, self-discovery and gradual progress got me to the start of this blog and the start of a completely different life.

I tell this story for context.  What I’m actually interested in discussing is the culture in which medical professionals do not address the most obvious cause of health problems: obesity.

Did I have irreparable cartilage damage?  NO!  I WAS TOO HEAVY FOR MY JOINTS.  Did I have a mental illness that required medication?  NOOOOO.  I was short-circuiting my brain several times a day with massive amounts of refined sugar and as I gained more weight I was destroying my self-esteem by living my mother’s life instead of my own.

Both of these “diagnoses” were wildly inaccurate but they came from doctors so I believed them and folded them into my identity.  They impacted my self-esteem and choices for nearly a decade.  Perhaps the first doctor felt that discussing my body would be too damaging for me to bear at that time.  Well, you’re a doctor.  Figure out how to talk about nutrition to a depressed young woman so you can help her.  That’s your job.

Now, it should go without saying that nutrition and activity are not the only solution, nor are they easy to address.  There are all types of situations in which therapy, medication, and other interventions are necessary and helpful.  Also, changing your eating is hard work.  Facing your fears and becoming active is hard work, especially if you’ve never done it before.  Untangling a lifetime of experiences and issues to face yourself and eventually love yourself is possibly the hardest work of all.

If one of those doctors had told me to eat more healthily and become active, I probably would not have been ready to hear it.  I recognize that.  But I accepted what they did tell me so maybe I would have filed it away.  Maybe I would have come to a healthier lifestyle sooner if it had been suggested.  Especially if it had been suggested by every doctor I saw.

Everyone deserves love.  Everyone deserves self-love.  Everyone deserves a healthy, vibrant body to live their life in.  If someone isn’t healthy, if someone is obese, they absolutely deserve love and respect.  If they have health issues or low self-esteem and they’re obese, it is not unloving or unsafe to acknowledge that physical condition and address it.  It’s simple and vital.

Thoughts?

 

 

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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?

Fast(er)

Happy Monday!

054

 

I’ve been told a number of times by a number of runners that I am “faster than I think.”  It’s sweet when people say this but it’s not completely accurate.

I’m faster than I run.

Case in point.

Remember this? Case in point.

And definitely faster than I race.

Last week’s 10K took me by surprise.  I would neeeeeeever have planned to run 6 miles at a 9:17 average two weeks after the marathon.  I only ran that pace a handful of times in the last five months and never for that long.  And honestly, it wasn’t that hard.

Now that I’ve completed all of my 2013 running goals (!!!!!!!),  I’ve thought a lot about what’s next.  I have some specific races and some semi-insane race fantasies but the big goal is speed.  Despite my conservative approach, I’ve grown tremendously as a runner.  Now it’s time to actually listen to my body and not only run to my current potential on a regular basis (um, see above graphic)  but to push the boundaries and get even faster.

076

 

So what does this mean?

* A weekly interval session.  (Time to hit the track! Eek!)

* A weekly tempo, progression or steady state run.

* A weekly long(er) run about 30 seconds faster than my LSD pace during marathon training.

This all really hit home when I plugged a sub-2hr half marathon goal into the McMillan calculator and it spit out…

MY CURRENT TRAINING PACES.

So, THAT’S AWKWARD.

Time to get to work!

What’s your favorite speed workout?  How do you push the limits when it’s so comfy and happy not to?  

Truthy Tuesday: Fashion Fun and Marathon Mentality

* And for my next trick, I give you….. Chic Floridian Lesbian!

Denim.  Lobsters.  Waves.

Denim. Lobsters. Waves.

Back to school seriously makes me want to SHOP!  So does feeling fit and sexy!  I’m clearly not ready to let go of summer, hence the lobstered Bermudas but I’m on the hunt for fun accessories and blazers/jackets to pull my outfits together.  I’ve also replaced all my BRAS!

Truth time: as a result of years of yo-yo dieting, my boobs are like sandwich bags half full of pudding.   They look great in a push-up bra, as long as the band isn’t from 3 years ago when I was 40lbs heavier.  I typically buy my bras at Marshall’s and TJ Maxx because I have no boobs and it’s not terribly difficult to find inexpensive and cute bras.  This time, it took me a few tries to find a store that had any selection of 32B and 34B.  I was entirely prepared to buy A cup bras and was pleasantly surprised that there’s at least a B’s worth of pudding in there still.  Now I have all my colors and they all fit!  Best purchase I’ve made this season.

Oh, except for THIS:

FINALLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

FINALLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have coveted the J.Crew version of this pave link bracelet for years.  I’ve been on the fence about buying the BaubleBar version because it’s still a little pricey and now it’s sold out.  Today, I took a closer look at the jewelry case at MOTHERFUCKING TARGET and they had a really expensive looking version for $20.  I am so, so, so, so excited about this purchase.  I win.  I am the winner.

* I had an interesting experience today while shopping.  I’d been feeling really cute all day in my summery outfit.  As I was trying on a pair of boots, I looked in the mirror and my shorts had ridden up showing quite a bit of jiggle and cellulite.  Nothing scandalous but not attractive.  I had a fantastic workout this morning and had been feeling wonderful about my strong legs, which have historically been my least favorite body part.  My first reaction was “wow, that does not look lovely.”  So I sat down, adjusted my shorts and stepped back in front of the mirror.  I saw exactly what I had been envisioning all day: a cute, fit little lady.

Did the cellulite cease to exist?  Nerp.

Did it negate all of my other positive qualities and render me unattractive?  NO WAY!

I finally fully realized that the less good does NOT outweigh all the good!  Often we focus on our flaws and they eclipse our strengths.  We assume that everyone else is hyperfocused on the things we don’t care for and blind to every other quality.  Maybe we’re over-acknowledging our faults to steel ourselves against hurtful criticism.  Maybe we truly can’t see our beauty.  Maybe we can and feel like it’s not appropriate to appreciate it.

Without a doubt, it’s a process but I’m proud to say that today I felt great about myself and when I briefly noticed something I didn’t like, it didn’t change anything.

* On the flip side, yesterday I had a semi-meltdown about the upcoming marathon.  I felt bummed about my training paces, afraid I wouldn’t finish with a time I would be proud of, and disappointed in myself for not pushing harder.  Throughout this training cycle, I have purposely held myself back and adjusted to slower paces to avoid bonking in the big show.  I’ve read a thousand times that one shouldn’t have a time goal for their first marathon.   My stated goal has always been to finish without injury and with a smile.   As a result of setting conservative paces for most runs, I’ve hit them all right on the money.  I should feel great about my progress since I’m stronger than I’ve ever been.  But yesterday, I really really didn’t feel great.

I reached out to all the amazing Twitter ladies and one very special lady for support.

They affirmed everything that was important about the first marathon: finishing!  Being awesome!  Smiling!  In whatever time it takes on that particular day.   I’m so grateful for the support I’ve gotten from all of these incredible women.  My buddy Sara who is also running Portland (WOOOOO!) asked if I had been doing any speedwork.  I have most weeks but it’s been awhile since I really lit the fuse.  What’s the worst that could happen?

THE BEST!  THE BEST COULD HAPPEN!

THE BEST! THE BEST COULD HAPPEN!

I SEE A SEVEN!

And so, about those Yasso 800’s that tell you your marathon pace?  Welp, I’m not planning on a 4:02 or a 3:40 marathon this time around but it certainly made me feel a LOT BETTER  about my loose goal of 4:30.  It could end up being 5:00 and I will still bawl happy tears at the finish line without a doubt.  I’m also clearly capable of more and I intend to remind myself of that every time things get rough.

* For me, belief follows proof.  I need to experience something to believe it will happen.  I can’t run 26.2 miles before I run 26.2 miles for a medal.  As a performer and human of the type-A variety, this is probably the biggest challenge.  I will have proved that I can endure and I will have proved I can endure more than I had before.  That’s going to have to be enough.

Tell us the truth: what’s your most BEAUUUUUTIFUL part?  😀

Phenomenal

Yesterday, was the best run I’ve ever had.

I cried happy tears.  Twice.

On Saturday, I will run my second half marathon!    My goal for the race is simply to beat my PR of 2:15:45 (10:29 avg) from October.   My most recent long run was riddled with mistakes, including going out too fast.  I’ve historically been good at conserving my energy (arguably being a bit too conservative) and I’d like to take that approach for this weekend’s race as well as the marathon.  For yesterday’s six mile run, I planned to execute my pacing for miles 1-6.  That meant around 10:20 for the first four miles and then up to 10:00 for the remaining two.  I also wanted to practice being much nicer to myself by saying positive things and re-framing any negative thoughts that showed up.

I began to run and things felt great.  So I told myself that!  Starting the positive thinking right away!  It always takes a couple minutes for the lap pace on my Garmin to settle but I kept an eye on it until it hit 10:20.  At that point, I focused on how my body felt and my breathing pattern.  I chose to save my music for the second half, as I will in the race.  It was nice to have a specific pace to focus on at the beginning of a longish run so I didn’t feel daunted by the distance.  As I warmed up, I noticed the pace creeping down.  Instead of worrying that I was going to go out to fast and have a miserable run, I noted how great I felt and just kept telling myself to dial it back.

First mile clocked in at 10:02.  Oops!  I felt wonderful.  Dial it back.

Mile 2: 10:15.  Gave myself a pat on the back and continued to challenge myself to dial it back.

Mile 3: 10:04.  Still feels really great!  I began to realize that I had chosen 10:20 somewhat arbitrarily as a pace that would feel very comfortable and force me to hold back energy for later.  Clearly yesterday, that pace was closer to 10:00.

Mile 4:  9:57. Turnaround point + music = Shauna let out of the zoo!  If I hadn’t made a very concerted effort to hold back, this mile would have been much faster.  This was also the point I had happy tears for the first time.  I felt so good, so successful, so strong.  I was joyful!  I spent the next mile considering the possibility that I could feel joy during Saturday’s half.  Or all the time?

Mile 5:  9:35. Rather than practicing the first half of my race strategy, I was clearly executing the back half.  So great!  At this point, I stopped holding back and just enjoyed my music and how amazing I was feeling.  I had heard the word “phenomenal” float through my mind about thirty times by this point.

Mile 6:  9:15.  So happy.  So happy. SO SO SO SO HAPPY.  Seriously kicked it in for the last quarter mile and felt like I turned into a bicycle!  That’s where the happy tears showed up for the second time.

Phenomenal.

 

 

 

Little Engine

I’ve been having some difficulty blogging lately because I’ve had so many enormous breakthroughs in all three sports.  POOR MEEEEE!  😀  I’ve wanted to tell you all about it but then the next thing happens and then I feel behind and then I eat donuts and go have another incredible workout!  Sawry!  But despite what my blog (and the scale) would suggest, I am doing things other than eating do(ugh)nuts!

Today, for example, yesterday I did this:

Three Bears.

Three Bears.  Check out the elevation before you judge the speed, thaaaaaanks.

Before I get to the story of Bear Climbfest 2013, let me backtrack a couple weeks.

In the cycling breakthrough department, I’ve delved into longer rides.  A couple weeks ago, I had my first 26 mile excursion.  The majority of it was on the Iron Horse Trail which was just straight up annoying.  It’s a great area to ride but this trail had walkers, cyclists, runners, and lots of KIDS.  It also jogged over streets about every mile and I constantly had to ride in between those stupid little poles.  Lots of awkward tight turns at the intersections.  Forced me to deal with infinity obstacles at about 10 mph.  26 miles took 3 hours and by the end, I WAS OVER IT.  My friend was super-patient with me and I felt quite accomplished as soon as I got my aching body off the bike.

The next week, a friend and her boyfriend went out with us for a loop around Orinda, Lafayette, and Moraga.  I had an absolute meltdown on the way to meet them.  I was feeling incredibly anxious and stressed.   All my cycling fears bubbled up and, not gonna lie, I cried most of the way there!  Once I met up with them and started riding, I felt fine but I was very concerned about looking like a lunatic in front of my friends.  The route was 20 miles with a bit more climbing than we expected.  It was mostly on roads, with the exception of a stretch of trail connecting Lafayette to Moraga.  Despite the rough start, I LOVED this ride.  I pedaled on descents!  Even on the last climb, I felt strong and confident!  Must have been the secret weapon Diet Coke we stopped for before the last push…

That's the good stuff.

That’s the good stuff.

When I returned home from that ride, I discovered that we had gained about 1,000 ft.  I was thrilled!  Had I looked at a route with even that limited amount of climbing, I would have felt like it was beyond me.  Velia was also very positive about my climbing abilities.  The whole experience was a tremendous confidence boost.  I couldn’t believe I felt safe the entire time.  I went home that evening and started looking at routes that I had previously written off.

Enter the bears.  Three Bears is a popular cycling route in Orinda, CA, about ten miles east of Oakland.  It’s named for three climbs (Mama, Papa, and Baby) on Bear Creek Rd. but loops around the Briones and San Pablo reservoirs.  On the recommendation of my friend and cycling guru TJ, we rode the loop counter-clockwise to avoid a headwind.

Going counter-clockwise gives you Papa Bear right off the bat.

I.  DIED.

I was in the small ring going like 6 mph and HEAVING FOR AIR.  Less than a mile into the ride, I had to stop on the hill.  Then I couldn’t get going again so I walked my damn bike up the hill.  Yes, in the first mile….

….of twenty.

Had I been by myself and/or not had a big confidence boost last week, I might have given up.  I definitely would have been in tears.  Instead, we just laughed and reassured each other that it couldn’t get worse than that.  Once it leveled off enough for me to get rolling again, we continued up the hill.  It took us about 23 minutes to go 2 miles.  I could have run it faster.  So that bodes well…

“It looks flatter up ahead! Right?”

Beautiful view of Briones Reservoir.  Worth the climb?  .......Sure!

Beautiful view of Briones Reservoir. Worth the climb? …….Sure!

The name of this ride was “cautious optimism.”  We would ride, climb, regroup.  Each time, we were cautiously optimistic that we had just climbed one of the bears and that it had to be chill from that point on.  And then we’d face another hill.  For the climbs, I would get down into the small ring and chug on up.  I was the little engine that could, chug-a-lugging up each hill.  The weirdest songs kept looping through my head.  “Little Girls” from Annie.  Really?

“Heeeey, Aqualung!”

Velia was typically behind me on the climbs since she’s on a much heavier touring bike.  Kinda sweet because she got the above awesome shot of an orange speck of me.  She dusted my ass on the descents and then politely waited for me to roll in.  #teamwork

A number of the descents were the steepest I’ve encountered and I made huge strides in this area.  I got into my drops and instead of feathering the breaks constantly, I embraced the speed.  I focused on the ground up ahead, scanning for anything dangerous and began to enjoy the feeling of flying through the air.  I even pedaled to gain speed on the less intense descents!

While the official bear climbs are all on Bear Creek Rd., the rest of the ride is not at all flat.  There were a few more climbs that had my quads burning and brought me close to desperate tears.  One notable one had me chanting “I can. I can. I can.  I will. I will. I will.”  Finally, as I reached the top, I switched to “I am! I am! I am!

At least it's beautiful!

At least it’s beautiful!

The last five mile section had a lot more traffic and some not insignificant climbing.  Velia and I rallied, pushed through one last climb and were shocked to arrive suddenly at the intersection where we parked!  We had done it!

Our usual high fives did not suffice.  There were several sweaty hugs.  Instead of feeling demoralized, we both felt thrilled at the accomplishment and motivated to get stronger and faster on those climbs.

Until next time, Three Bears.  PREPARE TO BE DOMINATED.

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What I Learned From My First Triathlon

Here goes:

1. It’s emotionally challenging to continue training after successfully completing a race. If I hadn’t already been registered for another sprint tri, I may probably would have immediately wanted to sign up for another one. Who knows. All I know is that the day after, I really did not want to continue training for three sports. I gave myself a rest day and on Tuesday it was back into the pool and my running shoes. Each day this week has been better than the last and I’m back in the groove. Still, I know that after California Sprint Tri, I’ll be ready to switch mental gears. I plan to swim twice and cycle at least once a week during marathon training in case I want to do another tri this season. I enjoy swimming and cycling and I think they’ll provide a nice relief from alllll the running. What I need is emotional closure to this training cycle.

*** In the future: I’m not sure how I will schedule my race calendar next season. I’m still learning as I go but I imagine I will give myself more time between events and have clearer expectations for each one. I intended for Mermaid Tri to be a “practice” race for California Sprint but since it was my first one, I couldn’t help but have a lot of investment in the outcome.

2. Detailed preparation and practice is absolutely worth it. So much of triathlon is out of your control. You can’t anticipate someone kicking you in the eye, getting a flat (thank Jeebus I didn’t) or the performance of the people around you. You can control your own training and preparation. Every article I read, every time I practiced transitioning in my living room like a total nerd, every annoying interaction in the pool prepared me for race day. And you know what? I still forgot my helmet. I can’t even imagine what a shitshow it would have been had I not taken the time to visualize and practice every aspect of my race experience.

*** In the future: I will not leave T1 without my helmet. Naturally. I will continue to practice all aspects of racing so they become second nature. I will learn to change a flat because I got incredibly lucky not to have one and I think racing again without that skill is really tempting fate.

3. I lack swimming fitness. This is not news but with every gasping breath, every other stroke, I was reminded of how unfit I am as a swimmer. I need a lot more practice swimming in open water. There are so many elements (other people, sighting, gunky sea gunk) that distract me from good swimming technique. During the swim, it occurred to me that I would have to swim twice that distance in a few weeks and all I could think was “I can’t do that.” Shit.

*** In the future: The solution to this is two-fold: become a much stronger swimmer so that technique is second nature and practice swimming in open water. Swim a lot more. Continue to enjoy the fact that I really like being in open water and that the only thing holding me back from being a BEAST on the swim is my swimming. No problem!

4. I have potential in this sport. I had this thought on the bike leg. As I passed lady after lady on my platform pedals, HR in zone 2, I smiled knowing that this is only the beginning for me. I have no illusions that I will ever be an elite athlete but I know that I can be a much stronger swimmer, a faster runner, and most ironically, I think I could be a powerful cyclist.

*** In the future: Longer, faster, harder, smarter, stronger….

Hills, track workouts, swimming toys, clipless pedals, training buddies, nutrition strategy, HR training, OWS…

5. Photos shouldn’t be taken from below.

Could you please stand up, sir?

Could you please stand up, sir?

*** In the future: continue to seek out the photographer and smile at them. Also continue to bring a loved one to races who can get amazing photos and videos like Tim did. STANDING.

6. I need contacts and sunglasses. I look like an idiot in my glasses.

*** In the future: get contacts and sunglasses. Don’t look like an idiot.

7. Don’t get caught up in the details and forget about the work. While I was generally happy with my preparation and visualization, I realized as I was getting tired on the bike that it was hard! I hadn’t fully appreciated what it would feel like to “race” these events back to back. I wasn’t considerably faster in the race than I was in training but I definitely came to play. And on legs that had run a 5k PR the day before. I didn’t push myself nearly as hard as I could have out of fear of blowing up and it was still more tiring than I think I expected!

*** In the future: train harder and get even more comfortable with being uncomfortable. As I continue to get more confident with my handling skills, I can really start pushing my pace on the bike. (Clipping in will make a significant difference and as soon as funds allow, I’ll get myself some shoes and new pedals.) I know what it feels like to run hard but I still have a lot of opportunity for growth there too. Ideally, I would be able to do speed-work before race week (!) and future work will reflect that.

8. Triathletes are lovely and cool. Everyone I struck up conversation with was super nice. Since I was racing alone, those pleasant interactions made the whole experience so much more enjoyable. I walk a very weird line between introversion and extroversion. I love meeting new people but it makes me very nervous to put myself out there. Facing so many other fears in this process has made the social stuff a lot easier and I’m so glad.

*** In the future: take a risk and try to turn those pleasant interactions into friendships and training buddies! If I’m gonna ride 50 miles, I’m gonna need friends to do it with!

9. Triathlon is amazing. It’s intense. It’s hard. I’m overwhelmed and intrigued by it. I think I’m really, really into it.

*** In the future:

Wouldn’t you like to know?

I Needed That

OH HAI LEGS.

OH HAI, LEGS!  HAPPY NATIONAL RUNNING DAY TO YOU TOO!

Fastest run post-injury.  Last run before SJR 5k and Mermaid Tri.  Off a 30 min super-windy ride.

I so, so, so, SO needed this win.

BRING.  IT.  ON.