The Grass is Always Greener on the Other Side

ImageFeeling very happy after a great first ride outside since New Zealand. Plus, no knee issues!

It was just a couple of months ago that I was burned out, unmotivated and dying for a break. Now that I’m semi-benched and missing out on running, I am going a little stir crazy. It’s been a month now since Ironman New Zealand, and I am feeling a bit lost. There are three components to triathlons, and I am missing one of the essential pieces. For the time being, I am able to still bike and swim, but I really miss running. Running is my release. Last summer, every day after work, I would look forward to the days I could just go run and lose myself, get that runner’s high. So yes, the grass is always greener. I’ve had my over share of a break from training and now I am chomping at the bit to get back into some serious work outs and start focusing on the races over the summer.

On Wednesday, I will be meeting with a sports focused physical therapist at Presidio Sport & Medicine in San Francisco. Hopefully they can shed some light on what the heck is going on with my knee and how we can fix it. The most frustrating part of this whole ordeal is that my knee doesn’t hurt 99% of the time. It’s only when I run that it acts up. Hopefully that means it will be easier to fix than if it was hurting constantly.

The thing is: I’ve never really been injured before. I had some shoulder soreness back in high school when I was swimming about 21 hours a week and just had to do some kicking work outs. But after a week, I got right back to swimming and never really looked back. So this is a whole new animal for me. On the positive side, it is a great opportunity for me to focus on my cycling, which is my weakest sport. I’ve just been in sort of a funk, and was really freaking out about my knee. But I don’t know what is going on yet, so I’m trying to stay calm until I know what the issue really is. At this point, there is nothing I can do about it. I need to figure out what needs to be done in order to fix my knee. Hopefully this is a good thing for me to take some time off running and focus on cycling. It could really help in the long term.

Thanks everyone for all the positive thoughts and feedback! It’s hard to know what the right decision is about which path to take regarding my knee. But I am going to trust my coach on this one and see what the physical therapist has to say. Then decide from there if something more serious needs to be done. Will keep you all posted. Much love!

ImageThis is my happy place. Where I go to escape and just run. I’ll be back soon.

 

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My Knee Hurts Real Bad

Welp, in case you missed it, something is wrong with my knee. As I shared in my race report, during Ironman New Zealand, around mile 11, my knee flared up really bad. I tried my best to ignore the pain and finished out the race. It was hurting for about a week after the race but gradually subsided. Thought it had healed itself and that all was good until I went for my first work out after the Ironman. The same thing happened again, but about 5 miles into the run. No bueno. So I am getting it taken care of ASAP to see what is going on and how I can fix it. Thanks to everyone who gave me suggestions for places to go. I am sure I will be in good hands no matter where I decide to go.

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After Wildflower last year. Don’t be fooled by that smile on my face, I was just happy to be done.

After some chatting with my coach, my next race is going to be Wildflower. They call it the Woodstock of triathlons. You drive out into the middle of nowhere in Lake San Antonio, camp overnight, try to grab some shut eye while some spectators party their brains out and then wake up and race the next day. I did this race last year and almost dropped out. It was one of the most mentally challenging races I have ever done. It gets REALLY hot and there is about 4,000 feet of climbing on the bike course. It is considered to be one of the hardest half Ironmans in the country. I will sure as heck be looking for some revenge and redemption.

ImageHere is a much more accurate portrayal of how the race actually was.

However, there has been a slight change on the Wildflower course this year. Since California has been suffering from a major drought, the lake level is so low that we can’t even swim in it. So we will be swimming in a river, running 2.2 miles back to transition, doing the bike course, and then finishing out the rest of the half marathon with the 2.2 miles subtracted. It’s going to be interesting but I think this may work to my advantage since I am a stronger swimmer and a decent runner. It will allow me to put some more distance between me and some of the competition who are faster on bikes. And chick some people in the process. Always a good thing!

Coming up this weekend are a lot of races with people I know so I want to give some shout outs:

The original BP will be racing at Ironman Los Cabos and going for the Kona dream! Wish you the best of luck BP!!!! You have been putting in the time for this, you have the passion and just remember to dig deep. You can do it!

My fellow National Champ buddy Chad will be competing at Oceanside. He’s been training with Craig Upton lately and I think it’s going to show at this race. Good luck!

And tons of people will be competing at Lavaman, including a bunch of my past Team in Training teammates and coaches. Wish you all the best of luck! This race last year is where I really fell in love with triathlons. Have fun out there and enjoy the ride! Wish I could be there with you all, it just wasn’t in the cards this year.

Good luck to everyone else who is competing this weekend! May the wind be at your back and tri fortune on your side!

100happydays

100happydays

So I am not usually into these kinds of things, but I just signed up for a challenge called 100happydays. It is a challenge to take 100 pictures, over 100 days, of things that make you happy. It can be anything. Finally getting a burrito you were craving, your dog’s face, where you go to escape, anything. It is easy to get caught up in life and not enjoy the simple moments. But I want to. So starting today, via my Instagram, I am going to take on this challenge. To check out their website, or join me, you can visit here. And apparently, at the end of the challenge you get a book of all the photos of the things that made you happy :).

The question is, what makes you happy?

Back to the Grind

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Over the past couple of weeks with my time off of training, I have been doing a little bit of self-reflection. After getting so much feedback from everyone, I had a nice big slice of humble pie and realized, that I did a lot better than I actually thought I did. My time at Ironman Lake Tahoe was 12:40.22 in September 2013. My first ever Ironman. And now, 5 months later I took off almost exactly an hour and a half of time to bring me down to 11:10.23 at Ironman New Zealand. I know you can factor in some of that for altitude and there being a significant difference in the elevation of climbing on the bike, but still, dang. That is a really significant amount of time to take off, not matter how you really look at it. I also went from a 4:02 marathon to a 3:47 marathon…in an Ironman.

My coach asked for an update and I gave him the race report you all saw last week with some more nutrition type details. After reviewing it, he had some questions for me: What was my best time for an Ironman? For my bike split? For my marathon? For my best ever half Ironman? My answer…everything at New Zealand. I did a personal best in everything. He then basically chastised me for having these extreme expectations. There is only so much a person can do at a time. I can only take off so much time in 5 months. There’s just this driving force inside of me to do better, to prove something. I just need to sit back a little bit, have faith in the training I am doing and be a little bit more gosh darn patient. Because I know I can do even better given the right amount of time. I set these expectations for myself and when I don’t reach them, I just drag myself through the ringer over and over. I need to realize what I did was a huge accomplishment and be happy about it. So there’s that.

On the brighter side, the past two weeks off of training whizzed by! Mainly because I spent the first week off, touring around New Zealand spreading the delight that is Fireball to the kiwis (sort of an ongoing joke with a few triathlon buddies). The past week back in the states has consisted mainly of me eating semi badly and getting lots of rest. Ok, and some more Fireball. But now, it’s time to get back to work.

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My work outs for the next few weeks are revving me back up into training. The only planned work outs for this week are:

Monday-Rest

Tuesday-1 ½ hour easy spin

Wednesday-Rest

Thursday-1 hour easy run

Friday-Rest

Saturday-1 hour swim

Sunday-Rest

Noticing a theme here? Lots of rest and easy, stretching out work outs. Which I am totally ok with. However, I guess that means I need to take my bike which is currently in the trunk of my car (in pieces), to get put back together again just like Humpty Dumpty…by tomorrow? Hmmm…I may need to swap some work outs.

And so begins the road to Ironman Lake Tahoe. Countdown: 6 months and 4 days.

2014 Ironman New Zealand Race Report

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First and most importantly, thank you to every single one of my supporters! It makes all of the difference in the world knowing that I had so many people rooting for me and knowing that I couldn’t let you all down. The amount of support was overwhelming and I am truly floored by the outstanding people who surround me. So thank you all!

Swim
Got right up to the front and center at the start. Surprisingly, people weren’t too aggressive. Had to roll over a couple of suckers, but nothing too terrible. The first half felt a little disjointed. Was trying to pick up the pace but my body wasn’t having it. Tried to do a couple sets of high turnover to get things moving. Settled into a better pace on the second half. Was sticking with two girls who I thought were in my AG with the same colored cap on. One of the girls took off right at the very end but I couldn’t hang with her.

Time 55:55, 1st in Age Group (abbreviated as AG)

T1-5:38
There was about a 500 meter run from the swim to transition. What a work out! I was trying to rush through because I thought the girl who had taken off was in my same age group, but then they announced that I was currently in first place!!! This was the golden moment of the day.

Bike
My coach had told me to be in Zone 3 out of 5 for my bike. I was a little intimidated by this. But the first part of the bike I was flying at 20+ miles an hour and was feeling uber surprised and confident. Cut back on my planned nutrition a little bit after a discussion with my coach prior to the race which came back to bite me in the buttlater on. Started getting passed by a few girls in my AG right before the first turn around.

Things started taking a bit of a turn for the worse as I went to the second half of the first loop. The whole way coming out had pretty much been downhill and going back was just a long, sustained climb with the added benefit of head winds. By the end of the first loop I was feeling pretty gassed and didn’t feel like I could hold Z3 anymore. I think this was a combination of not thinking I was capable of sustaining that amount of effort for so long and also my lack of nutrition. Going out for the second loop I tried to maintain Z3 because I knew it was going to be even harder coming back on the second loop as the winds picked up in the afternoon. For whatever reason, I just couldn’t do it.

In fact, I went into survival mode on the second half of the second loop. Just kept telling myself to get to the effing run, get to the effing run. The last 12 miles were pure torture. The head winds had picked up and were switching in all different directions. Was just done and needed to be off the bike. My energy continued to dip as I switched over from my Odwalla bars to Gu chomps, also a last minute change to my nutrition plan. Another mistake.
Time: 6:17.19, 13th in AG

T2 4:05
Was a little dazed and confused when I got to T2. Twice I had to go back and get things out of my transition bag that I had forgotten.

Run
Let myself run and just flow. Thought to myself even though my bike sucked I could still have a good run. There were only water stops every 2.5 km or approximately a mile and a half. I also had to adjust my nutrition plan yet again.

Hit a hill at 3 miles in and just felt like I had nothing in the tank. Started walking and then snapped out of it and realized I needed to start eating. Almost immediately felt better. For the first loop my pace bounced around a little but I was down around 8:05/mile for most of it. Took the speed but tried not to go over the top and blow up.

Started slowing down a little bit the second loop but just tried to maintain my pace for a sub 3:50 marathon. Took a walk break at mile 11 and realized my knee was killing me. Hadn’t even felt it before. Took some pain meds. Had to take a couple more walk breaks. First 13.1 was around 1:50. Realized if I could just run about a 9:30/mile pace for the rest of the marathon, could still get the 3:50 pace.

Knee was feeling better as I went out for the third loop and just wanted to finish out strong. Had a pretty solid third loop. Pace was still a little bit slower than I would have liked but kept it around 8:45/mile. Was trying to push the pace and get as close to 3:45 as possible. At the turn around on the last loop with 4 miles to go, since my left knee had been hurting I was running on my right foot weird to compensate and ended up getting a nasty blister on the bottom of my pinky toe. Just ran right through it to finish the race. With less than 2 miles to go, I put the blinders on and put everything I had left in me to get to the finish.

Time 3:47.26, 5th in AG

Overall time 11:10.23, 9th in Age Group, 47th Female Overall, 336th Overall

Even though I should have been completely happy with this performance, I have mixed emotions. It doesn’t help that I am my own hardest critic.  It was unbelievable and unfathomable to me when I came out of the water first and in 55 minutes. For the first quarter of the bike, I could feel Kona within reach. But as more and more girls passed me, my confidence started to slip. I started beating myself up mentally and psyching myself out. I really dropped the ball on the last quarter of the bike and my last minute changes to my nutrition plan killed me. I really have to figure out my bike split nutrition and just continue getting stronger. If my knee had not been hurting during the run I feel that I could have run a sub 3:40 marathon, which is my goal for my next Ironman.

It’s like I have two pieces of the puzzle on the swim and the run to get to where I want to be but I really have to conquer the bike. I knew I should have trained more and knew I was capable of performing better. My motivation is somewhat restored but I am happily enjoying 2 weeks off of training. My knee is still giving me some residual pains so I may need to go get it checked out at the doc’s office.

But hey, I got 9th place in my first international performance which really isn’t that bad and I freaking killed the swim! Just have to take the things I know I did well on, be happy with them and just work on the ones that didn’t go well or the things I was not happy with. I know I have the potential to perform even better so I just want to focus on the future. Thinking about doing another Ironman before Tahoe this summer…going to talk to my coach and see what he thinks! If qualifying for Kona were easy, nobody would want it.

Thanks again lovely fans! I’ll be back in the saddle again soon!