“You’re Going to Win”

This past week of work outs, I finally feel back to where I was before Tahoe. During basically every work out, things were just clicking into place and I felt like I was cruising along. I’m still having a hard time balancing such a low heart rate during running, but overall I’m feeling a lot more comfortable with where I’m at, as New Zealand looms on the horizon.

On Saturday morning, Katie and I met up for a swim at the YMCA in Berkeley. It’s an indoor pool, so a nice change from the outdoor swim works outs that I’ve been dealing with lately. I had missed my swim work out for Friday, which had been 10 x 400 yards with 1 minute rest in-between, so I decided to do that. I’ve been really lazy the past few years when it comes to swimming because it comes so naturally to me from all my years of competitive swimming and water polo, so I kind of neglect that discipline in favor of running and biking. I’ve been swimming a lot more the past few weeks and I can feel my stroke coming back. When I first started swimming 3 weeks ago, it just felt like I was spinning my arms around in floppy, mad circles and not catching any water. I probably looked like I was having a seizure in the water. Or like I just wanted to punch someone in the face every time I hit the water (I’ve been told that’s what I look like when I’m swimming by some of my closest friends).

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So anyway, Katie and I started doing our separate work outs on Saturday. She was doing about 3,300 yards and I was doing my 10 x 400’s.  Throughout the set, from time to time, we would sit on the wall and talk a little bit about anything from the colorful people of the YMCA, to what we were going to be doing over the weekend. There was the guy with a snorkel and fins splashing everyone in the entire pool and bulldozing anyone in his way. There were the “hungry, hungry hippos” as Katie fondly calls the people doing water aerobics as well as the guy instructing them with an intercom system made out of a bright, yellow safety vest.

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I felt great for the first couple of 400’s, it really felt like I was moving along effortlessly. Then around the 6th one, I fell apart. My stomach was empty, and I was out of energy. My endurance for swimming is just not where it used to be. I stopped on the wall and Katie stopped as well. I asked how much farther she had to go, and instead of just finishing out the set, decided that when she was done, I would be too. But Katie, being the wonderful person she is said to me, “But you’re going to win.” She has said this to me in past work outs. But this time, it really hit me.

New Zealand was originally where I wanted to qualify for Kona. I never dreamed that I would do so well in Ironman Lake Tahoe. But after looking at the results of last year’s race, and how the girls in my age group did, my confidence was all but extinguished. That dark part of me said that I would be nowhere near the winners in my age group. I can’t bike that fast. I can’t run that fast. I can’t, I can’t.

Unless I start believing in myself, and believing that I can win, or at least qualify for Kona, it’s not going to happen. If I don’t believe it, who else is going to? Everyone has these expectations that I will do well, that I can do this. But what if I can’t? I have to be the one that makes them happen. There is going to be someone out there willing to do those last 4 x 400’s. There is going to be someone willing to get up when it’s 25⁰ out and go for a run. There is always going to be someone willing to push themselves farther and harder out there. So now, this is going to be one of my new mantras: “You’re going to win.” Every time I have to get up at 6:00 am and go for a swim outside, I have to remember this. When I’m pulling doubles almost every day and feel “too tired” to go do that second work out of the day, I have to remember this. When my butt hurts and it’s time do another 100 mile bike ride on the weekend, I have to remember this. And the more I think about it, the more I realize how much I want it and how much more effort I could still be putting into this dream and making it a reality.

Part of that training is realizing when to push myself, and when to not. Yesterday, I did another Lactate Threshold test with Craig Upton. (By the way, he’s from New Zealand so he also gave me the inside scoop of what to see. His family also had a lake house when he was growing up in Taupo where the race is being held. I also highly recommend him to anyone interested in creating a more custom fit training plan for you.) Basically this test is hooking your bike up to this computer that measures what the most optimal training zones are for you specifically. Every 3 minutes, it creates a harder resistance. Part of the process is that Craig pricks your finger, takes your blood and measures the oxygen and lactic acid in it. Based on how your body responds, you can create these training zones of 1-5, 1 being almost an effortless, active recovery and 5 being an all-out, sprint that you can’t maintain for more than 100 yards or so.

And what the results showed was that I have been doing way too much training in zone 3. This means, that instead of chilling out and building a base of endurance in zone 2 or getting some really fast, hard work outs in at zone 4, I’m sticking in the middle. My results have only slightly changed since the last time I took a test at the end of August. You can improve in zone 3, but only so far and I’ve basically reached my limit to how much I can improve. This means I really have to listen to Hauth when he says he wants me to do a run or bike at zone 2. As much as I don’t feel like I’m pushing myself, or that I’m not getting the work out I need to, there is a reason to the madness. In this level of zone 2 effort, you’re supposed to be able to hold this pace for hours on end without expending very much energy. This is optimal for doing an Ironman. It’s such a long race that you want to use as little energy as possible so you can conserve it for the entire race. If you can push this zone 2 up so that you are outputting more power, with less energy, you’re going to go faster with essentially the same amount of energy as before. If I’m trying to do the same thing in zone 3, at first I will be going faster, but then I’m going to run out of energy faster and in the end, I will have nothing left. Hauth thinks I have enough time to push this zone 2 up another level before Ironman New Zealand, I just have to be patient and slow down.

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Better View here: Lactate Threshold Test

My results. The fainter lines are from the last test I took. There is a bigger difference on the heart rate side, but not as much on the power outage side.

My body has been kind of acting funky lately. I’ve been stressing out about a lot of things and my body is responding to that stress. I’m quitting my job when I go to New Zealand and either staying there for a while or going to the next phase of my life. I’m feeling kind of lost and confused. I know I want to continue doing triathlons and I would love to do something associated with them. I’ve struggled with this ever since I went to college. From Kindergarten through high school, there’s a plan. Even going to college can be part of that “plan”. But the second you get to college, nobody is telling you what to do anymore, it’s just up to you. I must have changed my major in college like 6 times and ended up with a liberal arts degree because it was the most broad thing you could do. There’s not one thing that I’ve always wanted to pursue, no one true passion I’ve always dreamed of. It’s hard to feel like I have direction when there are no signs. So I have some big decisions to make in the next few months. Take the road less traveled and stay in New Zealand, take the GMAT or LSAT and go to grad school or law school, or find another job. To be absolutely honest, I’ve never been so freaked out in my life…in other words, this is my quarter life crisis.

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4 thoughts on ““You’re Going to Win”

  1. I love reading these Barbara! So much determination, it’s inspiring.
    All I can say about New Zealand is you have to go bungee jumping while you are there. It’s so much fun 🙂

  2. Zone 2 workouts require a lot of patience if you’re continually doing them. I like to feel like I’m pushing myself, and I don’t feel that way with those workouts. But I’ve taken the time to do more of them (and less of the zone 3ish), and I can tell a difference. If you have the time before NZ, it’ll be time well spent.

    I’m sure that you don’t want to take life advice from a total stranger, so I’m not going to give you my opinion. But I will say that I spent a decent amount of time traveling to various parts of the globe, experiencing other cultures, and it was one of the best decisions I ever made. I didn’t end up going to college (undergrad) until I was 27, largely because it took me that long to figure out what I wanted to do. I don’t regret the time I spent traveling instead of getting an earlier start on my career. I’m 33 now, have a career, mortgage, kids on the way. Some days my wife and I reminisce about our travels. Go do it while it’s still a viable option. (Ok, so I lied, I did give my opinion).

    • Yes, I am having a tough time slowing things down and doing the zone 2 work outs. Especially on the runs, I find myself glancing at my heart rate and just rolling my eyes and being like really? I’m going this slow and my heart rate is still THAT high? It’s just something I’m going to have to make myself do though if I want to continue improving.

      And the thought of going to travel the world is really tempting. I had the opportunity to study abroad my junior year of college and it was the best time of my life. I even moved back to Europe the summer after I graduated. The only thing holding me back is the thought that I may lose all of my training and just go off and never come back haha. It’s a hard decision. I don’t know what to do!

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