Tag Archives: biking

The Fall Goal

Without really meaning to, I somehow came up with a fall racing schedule that I instantly fell hard for—as in, head-over-heels obsessed with.

I commiserated to all of you about how I felt goal-less, restless, and lost after Eugene. I think the post-marathon blues hit a bit harder than expected. Okay, a lot harder—and I can admit it now.

I’m finally coming to terms with the fact that while I was really excited to have accomplished a big bucket list goal, it was actually really hard to wave goodbye to that goal and look out into the great beyond. Qualifying for Boston had been my baby for so long, and I think I had this idea in my head that once I’d done it, all the running happiness would be mine forever and ever. That’s exaggerated—but you get the point.

But I didn’t feel like that, and it wasn’t just because I had a hard, less-than-perfect race. Yes, Eugene wasn’t as satisfying as I might have hoped, but I’m realizing now that it had less to do with the race itself and more to do with my lack of direction afterward.

I know I should have let my unrelenting goal-setting brain kick back and take a break, but that’s not really how I work. Even when I’m between training cycles and running less frequently, I still like to know that a new possibility is out there, waiting for me to take it on. Without a defined goal, I was left with a very jumbled mess of potential ideas, and consequentially a very blank drawing board.

I went back and forth on running a fall marathon, on committing to triathlons, on working solely on speed, on jacking up strength training (no pun intended). Around and around it went, until all I had was more confusion, too many “potential” race options, and not enough enthusiasm to even make a decision. In retrospect, this is one of the reasons my blogging went down so much after Eugene (okay…one of the reasons). I felt like I had no idea what I was doing, so what was the point of lamenting those frustrations to others?

So I kind of gave up. Not because I no longer wanted a goal, but because I decided a “roll with it” approach was going to be more tolerable than orchestrating a race schedule that I wasn’t totally psyched about. Sure, I had races lined up, but none that had a sparkly “goal race” asterisk attached to them.

But now, approximately 48 hours after a light-bulb went off, all that’s changed. I think the light-bulb may have actually broken with how much intensity the idea came to me.

FYI, this is a very long-winded explanation for my decision making process. Sorry…there was just a lot of build up.

It all started with a little triathlon last Saturday. I had such a great time at this race, and it left me hungry for more. Admittedly, when it comes to triathlons, I’m more interested in the distances that have an “iron” in their name. But it was too soon for that. There is a chance that I could do the 70.3 distance this fall, but I feel like it would be a little half-assed. I’m not experienced enough on the bike or in the sport itself to have a real go at it, and it’s not really my style to commit to a serious distance without a decent training cushion to go off of.

But I still wanted more from the tri. I wanted to become a “bike rider” and get more acquainted with my beautiful baby bike. And I want to open the option for a half-Ironman next year. That requires more practice, more training, and less marathoning.

Which all ultimately brought up the idea of the Black Diamond Olympic Tri in September. Arielle first mentioned this race to me last year, and it seems like this year there’s a lot of blogger interest. It was also far enough away to get in some actual tri-specific training in—and far enough after my second ultra-relay to allow for some recovery time.

So yes, I was on board for Black Diamond. But it still wasn’t clicking. It felt like a means to an end; a stepping stone, if you will, toward what would be an actual goal race next year. Therefore, I still felt as if I was winging it in terms of training and racing, and I was okay with it. Black Diamond would follow a lot of summer running, and eventually I’d figure out some more fall/winter plans.

But then, THEN…an idea came to me. I shouldn’t take credit actually, in fact—credit goes to a Twitter conversation between Lauren and Larira two nights ago. I spotted them talking about the Bellingham Bay Half-Marathon this fall, and I had to chime in since it was my own first half-marathon almost three years ago. I started thinking then about how much fun I had at the race, how nice the course was, etc.

Somehow, then, after remembering how much I loved that race and how much I wanted to run it too—it all came to me: I want to run a goal half-marathon this fall.

And not just any goal. No—that’s the fun part. This goal would be hard, elusive almost, and perhaps the most intimidating training I’d ever have to take on.

And I was hooked. This is exactly what I wanted to commit the rest of the summer toward, and it seemed silly I hadn’t thought of it sooner. I have never done goal-specific half-marathon training, in fact—I’ve never actually done intentional half marathon training, and I figured why not start after already running 6? 🙂

I considered a few options for races, but Bellingham just felt right. It’s close by, it’s cheap, and it’s a PR-ready course. I considered a few other options, but after navigating a few scheduling plans, this was clearly the best option. The best part was that I could still do the Olympic tri as it’s a full two weeks before Bellingham, leaving enough time for recovery while still gaining the tri experience.

So basically, I’m obsessed. For a number of reasons, but mainly:

1) I’m sticking to my no fall marathon plan 

I really wanted to try and commit to saving myself for Boston next year (assuming I’ll get in), but I could feel that commitment slipping away when I felt completely goal-less. It would be easy for me to just plan another 26.2 training schedule, but that wasn’t ultimately what I wanted. This plan totally fits the bill for maintaining distance but without going all out marathon.

2) Speed!

I have been wanting to focus on speed forever now but never fully could because marathon training + excessive speed work is kind of a recipe for disaster. At least for me. With a goal for a half instead of a full, I’ll be able to really narrow in on speed workouts, which will be very new to me in some respects. I can’t wait.

3) Forced cross-training

By keeping the Olympic distance tri on the schedule, it will not only force me to spend more time on my bike and in the pool, but also off the roads. Cross-training, IMO, has a direct correlation to decreased injury risk. Double wins all around.

4) Tempering the sadness of no fall marathon

Despite my aforementioned goal of not doing a fall 26.2, I knew that when the time came and everyone was after their respective marathon goals and running 20 milers, I would be seething with jealousy. Having a distance goal of my own will (mostly) help offset that little green monster and keep me focused on the Boston end-game.

5) Lots of work to do

No sugar coating…this goal is a big stretch for me. It is going to require more discipline and probable more puke-inducing workouts than I’ve ever done. And while that probably sounds awful to some, it’s exactly what I need right now. Feel free to remind me of this at my 4:30 am alarms 😉

6) It doesn’t feel possible (yet) <— Biggest reason of all 

Here’s the honest truth about training to BQ in Eugene: I was nearly 100% sure I could do it. The required pace was something I was already comfortable with, and without the injury when I ran Chicago, I’m almost certain I could have done it there. Of course, I wanted to work hard and I wanted to secure my confidence, but I never really had a doubt that unless disaster struck—I could do it.

This goal? Not so much. In the name of full disclosure, let’s get real with numbers here:

I would like to run a 1:35:xx half this fall.

That would require dropping nearly 15 seconds off my current half-marathon PR pace. And here’s the biggest kicker: I’m still convinced my current half-marathon PR was a fluke. Yes I’m proud of it and I’m happy it happened, but I still, to this day, have a hard time believing it wasn’t a lot of luck.

Which makes shaving 3 minutes off that time even scarier.

So no, I’m not totally sure if I can do it. Do I believe with the right training it’s possible? Of course—which is why I can’t wait to dive into the horrifying place of having a very big reach goal.

This whole agenda, tri and all, feels like the perfect formula for all the things I was hoping to take on this fall season, and I can’t wait to get started.

In fact I did start, yesterday, with a 5-mile tempo at my previous half-marathon PR pace. It wasn’t the easiest, but it happened—7:30s on the dot. And it’s a start.

Time to get uncomfortable folks, I can’t wait.

 

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15 Things Friday

You heard that right…FIFTEEN!

Why? Well, it sounded fun and exciting, and I also feel like there’s a lot of randomness going on that I haven’t posted about. It’s all going to be stale before too much longer, so now you get it in a photo/information dump of a post.

Also, I’m feeling chatty and the internet is hilarious today—so deal with it.

1) About three weeks ago, BF and I took a little weekend trip to Canada. And I never wrote about it. So here are some photos for your viewing pleasure, and because we all know that nothing actually happened unless you post it on the tubes. #proof

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It was awesome. I highly recommend Vancouver.

2) Glee did an ‘Nsync and BSB Mashup.

Again, this was weeks ago. But I’m probably the only person left in my age group that still watches Glee, and holy shiz this is like all my pre-teen fantasies come true. When I saw this I felt all the former boy band worshipping tendencies of my 11-year-old self come flooding back.

3) I got crazy and bought different shoes.

No one has ever taken a photo like this ever.

No one has ever taken this picture.

I’m still loyal to my Pure Connects, but I started listening to the masses and thought that maybe I should try and alternate between shoes. So I went up a step and bought the Pure Flows 2. Is this whole theory a myth? Did I just fall victim to a marketing ploy of the shoe industry? Whatever.

Anyway the verdict is still out. I actually think these might be the wrong size…fail…either that, or my feet are just too used to the Connects. I like them, but not in a “will wear regularly” kind of way. They just feel a little heavy.

4) Peter Sagal tweeted to me. And it was about running.

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So basically life is awesome now and we’re getting married.

5) This sports bra might make me reconsider my goal to never ever run without a shirt.

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I felt weird taking this, and posting it, and it’s cropped. Oh well, you understand. Brightness is brighter in real life. I blame the summer for eliciting this fondness for color. I don’t know who I am anymore.

6) Read Allie’s blog post.

http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/

This was shared many times yesterday, but I felt it worthy of promoting myself. It’s not happy-go-lucky Friday reading material by any means, but it’s beautiful. Her narrative is incredible, and her story is worth reading.

7) Breaking Bad, WTF.

imagesRemember how I’m constantly behind the times on everything? Yea, this is no different. BF and I are currently Netflixing galore on seasons of this show. It’s definitely all it’s cracked up to be and really intense. I also feel like I understand the complications/interworkings/consequences of the drug industry now, so that’s…good?

8) Starbucks is getting crazy.

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Actually, maybe I should say that Starbucks is exactly following suit with healthy food trends. I saw these “new” salads today, and I have to say…I’m impressed. They aren’t cheap, but if you want a good salad on the go that’s not filled with iceberg lettuce and sour cherry tomatoes, this is a pretty sweet option.

RELATED: A coworker also reported today that her fritter from good ‘ole Bux was much smaller than normal…as were the other pastries.

I see your evil plan, Starbucks.

9) Running!

Isn’t that what this blog is about?

lol

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I’ve recovered really well from Eugene, and running’s feeling great. Still going slow and Garmin-less, but I’m past the stages of sore–>less sore–>not sore, but tired–> not tired, but slow. I guess I’ve entered back into regular territory. Still, I’m not pushing it, because…who wants to do that? Kidding, kind of, but I am pleased that my bounce back has been more bouncy than not, or something like that.

10) I guess I have to start biking now.

In retrospect, this is more a picture of me than the shoes. Awkward. I guess I should have titled this "A selfie with half a shoe in it." I just wanted to capture my excitement.

In retrospect, this is more a picture of me than the shoes. Awkward. I guess I should have titled this, “A selfie with half a shoe in it.” I just wanted to capture my excitement.

BF got me clip-in shoes for my birthday!!! Oh yea, and my birthday was last week. I’m a horrible self-centered blogger.

I’ve wanted clip-ins for spinning purposes for SO LONG but never felt like spending the money. Now that I have my beautiful new bike, there was even more incentive to buy some…which I never followed through with.

Enter turning 25 years young, and voila, pretty white shoes! I’m so happy but so sad because now this means I have no excuse to not start the “triathlon training” I’ve yammered on about for years.

11) 30 Undeniable Facts That Everyone Knows Are True

14. This is the only way to get upstairs safely after turning off a light:

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God Buzzfeed is so funny.

12) We re-planted our garden.

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Yes I know that picture is terrifying.

We planted a vegetable garden last year and had the highest of hopes for abundant home-grown produce.

Then we watered it all of two times and it died. Except the chard, that shit was a champion. But regardless, we’re trying again…and this time we’re doing it right. I probably should have taken a picture of all the adorable planted seedlings, but I’ll save that shot for when we have bushels of healthy vegetation blooming. That should be in a week, right?

13) All of my photos from Eugene suck, except kind of this one:

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I actually look a little excited in this picture. The rest I look like the grumpy cat. Note to race directors: the photographers should be scattered throughout the course and not ONLY between miles 22-26.

14) I got crazy and bought myself a BQ/birthday present:

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I feel so fancy for doing this, and admittedly it helped that I had a few giftcards, but no matter…I LOVE it. Cross-body bags all the way for me; so much easier than hauling a 10-pound sack of crap around (which I’ve also done). This is only the second time I’ve done the post-marathon reward system, but I kind of liked it.

15) This is my life after work, everyday.

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Happy Friday!

Book Review: A Life Without Limits

Something that I do a lot of, but don’t talk enough about, is reading about endurance athletes. I spend a good amount of my reading energy (and my money) on absorbing as much written information I can from the memoirs, biographies, instruction manuals, and general musings of professional athletes. I find it incredibly motivating and ridiculously intriguing—especially those athletes that started out just like any of us: with a desk job and a keen interest in living their life to the fullest.

There are a lot of books I’ve read—primarily about running, but most recently I decided to check out the world of Ironman, via world champion Chrissie Wellington’s memoir, A Life Without Limits. Chrissie was a bright, athletic, and driven girl who didn’t even consider being a professional athlete until her mid-20s. A year later, she was being crowned Queen of Kona at the Ironman World Championships—a feat she admits she would never have imagined possible.

life-without-limits

If you’re curious, here’s my review of her book—both in the two-sentence variety and the extended version. Please note that informality is my speciality, and I tend to find enjoyment out of most everything I read. You can read more “professional” reviews on Amazon, or just use your friendly neighborhood Google.

Two-Sentence Review:

A Life Without Limits is a powerful exhibition on the capabilities of both the human body and the human spirit. For someone so decorated with accomplishment and praise, Chrissie is relatable,  hilarious, humble, and genuinely inspiring in her exploration of the limitless potential that comes with hard work and determination.

Extended Review:

This book is very much about Chrissie’s journey toward becoming a professional triathlete—not just her accomplishments themselves. She certainly spends a good amount of time detailing her training, racing, and career, however it’s not without a good description of her life pre-Ironman.

Not to downplay her early years, but in many ways, Chrissie was really just an average girl for the first part of her life. She went to school, felt like an outsider, struggled to find her passion, and went through a lot of the same trials we all go through. She spends a good amount of time talking about her experiences with bulimia and eating issues, and I thought it was refreshing to read about how even for the world’s greatest athletes—body image can still very much be an issue. It seemed that her issues started to go away once she found herself as a triathlete, but it just goes to show that none of us are immune to it—and I thought it was an important point for her to highlight.

Some of the early chapters detail Chrissie worldy adventures. She spent her first years post-grad as quite the world traveler and humanitarian. She spent a while working for the UK government—which fed her desire to aid in global development and to help others. She also spent time in Nepal, New Zealand, and South Africa.

I thought the additions of these details were important in showing Chrissie’s evolution as a person, and it also gave her a much more well-rounded presentation. I think it’s a little too easy to write off professional athletes as a little self-centered, as they focus so much of their energy on their own personal successes. Chrissie is quite the opposite, and I enjoyed reading about this whole other humanitarian side of her.

However, the reason I picked up the book was to read about swimming, biking, and running. Which there is plenty of. In fact, admittedly I found myself wishing there were a little less about her pre-Ironman life.

Chrissie’s transformation from a sporty, “average” chick into a world-class athlete seems to happen a bit overnight. She goes from performing well in a few pick-up triathlons, to turning pro and living at training camp fairly quickly. I loved the depictions she gives of her first coach, Brett, who made seemingly the biggest impression on her out of anyone else coaching wise.

You get a really good sense of not just the physical training she went through (a LOT) but also the mental training. Chrissie struggled with a lot of self-doubt in the beginning, and once again I really liked reading about this much more human side of someone who is seemingly so superhuman.

My favorite parts of this book  were each of her Ironman race descriptions, particularly her world championship wins (Kona) and her unofficial world record ironman at Roth in Germany. I think the most intriguing part of this mother-of-all-races for us mortals are the specifics of each discipline. I always wonder, “What is it really like to swim with hundreds of other people around you?” and, “What is running a marathon after 112 miles of biking really like?” 

Chrissie does a great job at addressing these types of inquiries. Her accounts of each race are remarkably detailed, and it’s clear that she’s been able to take lessons from each of them. She performs multiple times with lingering injuries or illness, and it’s incredible to read about how she not only triumphs over her competitors—but also over her own personal predicaments.

Chrissie’s athleticism is undeniable, which I found was most obvious in just how easy she makes an Ironman sound. Sure, she describes the tough parts and how much of a mental game it is, but with each win and each new PR, it becomes obvious that some—like Chrissie—are built for the sport.

She trains incredibly hard, some would argue too hard (how about biking the same day you break your arm?), but my impression is that Chrissie has a lot of natural talent to back her up. There are people who can do an Ironman, an incredible accomplishment in and of itself, and then there are people that win these monster races. Chrissie’s expedited road to the top shows that when untapped potential meets a concentrated discipline, incredible things can happen.

However, while Chrissie may be exceptional and “made for triathlon,” this doesn’t mean her book is any less inspiring or that she didn’t work hard for her accomplishments. Heck, by the end of the book I was Googling Kona-qualifying Ironman races and plotting my own triumphant entrance into the tri-world. Do you think I should start by finally buying that road bike?

The point is—Chrissie allowed me to dream, to think beyond the limits I’ve set for myself, and I think this is the goal of her book. When a reader can transcend into the mind and lifestyle of a world champion athlete, there becomes a moment when we recognize our own potential—and maybe, just maybe, we decide to dig a little deeper. This is why I love books about the best of the best—and this is why I loved Chrissie’s book.

One final thought: my most favorite thing about A Life Without Limits was Chrissie’s endless search for “the perfect race;” a race that in preparation, execution, and finale goes exactly as planned. This is something I can absolutely relate to—as I’m constantly choreographing the details of my own “perfect race.” This made her so relateable to me—and I loved that as an amateur recreational runner, I was able to make a direct comparison to a world champion. Because that’s the thing about sports—no matter our level or title, we’re all after the same end goal: to do the very best that we are capable of. Chrissie is constantly on a mission, both athletically and in her life, to reach these capabilities—and in doing so, she manages to break through the glass ceiling of limitations over and over.

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I recommend this book to anyone interested in endurance sports, running, triathlon, Ironman, or general athletic accomplishment. Chrissie’s combination of self-deprecation and detailed narrative really draws you in, and I’m willing to bet you’ll be waving your “Team Chrissie” flag before you’re halfway through. I could hear her voice throughout this whole book—charming British accent and all—and that level of authorial intrigue speaks highly of her passion and likeability.

Have you read A Life Without Limits? What did you think? 

*Disclaimer: I’m a terrible English major and read most of my books on my e-reader. Therefore, my sharing ability is very limited, so when you ask to borrow something and I say no—well, you know why.