I do remember the first really "big" day of training I did, I went down to Denver to train with Sonja. I think we did a forty-ish minute run (me gasping for air WAIT UP YOU GUYS), noon masters which is a short-and-sweet wham-bam awesome punch of swimming, and then maybe ninety minutes of riding with some hill repeats. The next day I woke up so sore I could barely roll over to grab the phone and post about it on twitter. After ten minutes of warming up at masters with my usual coach, he stopped me at the wall and said, in a caring and slightly worried fashion, sooooo...what's going on today? in the way that you know actually means you should probably get out of the pool before you kill someone. And I laughed, because of the day - on paper - that put me in that kind of hole. It's amazing how quickly the body adapts to sitting on your ass eating cookies.
But the body also comes around, grudgingly, and mine did. The swim started showing up first, which was surprising because of my yeah, you probably broke it and actually in a few places elbow situation, or maybe because I am just more stubborn about
kicking the ass of swimming with my friends in the water, but whatever the reason, it started to feel good again after three or four weeks. I've only been riding my road bike since the first of the year and most of my rides have been on the trainer due to the would you like 6º weather or 85mph winds? Colorado winter experience. So I literally have no idea what is going on with my bike fitness except for the fact that it's alarmingly easy to get my heart rate up but it's starting to get more challenging to keep it there and the ceiling is coming down which I suppose probably indicative of ..something. And I have made so much peace with the run. Perspective is everything but my first couple of runs were at a pace that was a good...many minutes slower per mile than what I was running back in November before ironman. The honest and probably a little bit crazy truth is, I was glad to see that, it means my body got the deep rest it needed and it's kind of fun, starting over on the MAF house. It also means I get to party like a rock star at tiny milestones that mean nothing, like the first time I ran an hour and didn't have to walk to keep my HR under MAF, that kind of thing. I know I sound like a sadist but I enjoy the work of rebuilding and have finally almost learned not to give a flying fuck about pace.
I raced a 10K at some point in January, it's not even worth a race report, just a couple of comments. There was a yeti, I think that's the most important thing to talk about. I know he looks tough but I am pretty sure I could whip his yeti ass if I had to although maybe we could reschedule that for April.
The day was warm so we were treated to some pretty excellent winds AND the course changed last-minute to include running up a huge hill in mile 6, which is a favorite trick of race directors everywhere, post some crap about construction and then put the line of cones in the worst path you can find back to the start line. I got to run a bit hard, it was nice to see pace in the single digits again and also get a quite-starling wake-up call about the status of my body when it is in less than 5 layers of ski pants/pajamas/yoga pants. That status was a big red light with a sign over it that said maybe you drank a bit too much wine in December after all. Although according to this picture I won the race, let's pretend together.
Racing in January, good for the part of the ego that needs to get hit with a hammer, WHAM. I kept on running, training, la tee da, and my run just wasn't coming around the way I expected. I didn't worry about it, other than to mention it to Sonja in conversation to make sure she wasn't worried about it (nope), and kept plugging away, knowing that it will pop up one of these days and I honestly don't really need it until April and really I could do without it until August, so, whatever, RUN, stay asleep if you want. I did a lot of running, some of it relatively hard, in the week leading up to my first half marathon of the year, and mostly it felt okay. After spending an entire day sitting in the Denver airport watching planes for Atlanta depart without me on them due to the rough weather on the east coast, I returned home and did the shake-out run that was supposed to be the last one before the race but would instead kick off a weekend of just regular old training. And there they were, the run legs, feeling good and saying hi, just a little. That Sonja sure is sneaky.
I've always been a big fan of functional strength, lifting has been a part of my lifestyle since the first time I got laughed out of a PTs office after a squat assessment. Last year, however, I was phoning it in more often than not, I was letting it get pushed out of my life by stress and fatigue and "busy." I kept up the basics for injury prevention, but wasn't pushing myself or trying new things or sometimes doing much more than laying on the floor mat and calling it a plank. This year I've been working much harder in the weight room, it coincides with a big scary test I am studying for quite well. It was also time to educate myself better about what my body needs, what a triathlete's body needs, and how to continue to keep it fresh and new
and sore. Now that I have a bit more time to devote to these sessions, I am really enjoying this work and what that is doing to my body (translation: I fall flat on my face/ass/floor/Bosu much more often). My strength is starting to feel less protectively functional and more like actual strength, and I'm excited to see where this tiny part of my journey will take me and clearly no blog is complete without a picture of my still-recovering-from-the-off-season-large-and-in-charge ass.
I've always enjoyed training more than racing, that is true and it probably is wrapped up in fear somehow that I don't want to devote any words to untangling for the fifteenth time right this moment. Despite that, after a few years of chasing PRs and faster this and faster that, I think I'm finally looking forward to honest strong races. I know that I say all the time that I don't generally care what is on the clock, also true, but last year I feel like I still had a beef with some finish lines. I wanted to get a solid half marathon on paper, I had some things I wanted to do in the 70.3 and ironman distance, some goals for legs that kept me motivated when training got tough. This year I am more motivated by the work, I'm not sure if I can even explain it but this is a blog so obviously I am going to try because rambling about their feelings is what bloggers do best. Wanting to crack X time on the IM swim or the 70.3 run kept me motivated to train hard and on race day, kept me chasing. This year I feel like I'm more interested in the reveal, like I talked about back in January, I want to uncover whatever is inside and not settle for simply a PR being good enough. I'm not satisfied with hitting times or splits or whatever in training and saying, okay, that's all I need for an X half marathon but instead I'm chasing the deeper dig. When fatigue starts to show up, I think it's easy to recline back onto the good enough instead of hunting around a bit for the best that can be pulled out that day.
(Picture stolen from Sonja's blog but I heart it so much that it should be on the internet twice). I've seen that in the pool sometimes, I saw it late in the fall, there were Monday mornings where I got into the pool absolutely beyond smashed after a big weekend of training, and when I let all those thoughts go and just promised my body that I would try, I was consistently surprised about what I could pull out of my ass. And I know I have room for that on the bike and run, I know that I have soft-pedaled it in at times when I should have blazed forward, looked for the edge. If there was something (ELSE) that I wanted out of this year, that would be it. To rise to the surface when hard work gets hard, instead of backing off just a hair and calling it enough. I've been spending more time training with Sonja (training with your coach is the awesomest of awesome) and I think this is one of the best positive pieces that are rubbing off all over me, second only to a weird new craving for ridiculous hats. Or maybe it's just because when you train with someone else that is so much stronger than you, the little baby inside your head doesn't want to get dropped all the time, but either way, I'm lucky to have it.
Next week I'm heading out to California to train with Anabel and a little bit of Yasi which I'm sure will be another really fun weekend of yelling WAIT UP WAIT FOR MEEEEEEEE just like it was last year. After that the poet and I are going to Utah to race our brains out and then I'm off to another race with some of my athletes as long as I can actually get on a plane and when I look over the next few months of my life and see all the amazing experiences that are waiting for me, well, I just can't find anywhere in my heart that wants to say OMG I don't want to run you guys somebody make me goooooo because I am just so very full of gratitude for my life.
Graham says hi.