Saturday, June 23, 2018

Be Stronger Not Faster

There has been a shift in my thinking when it comes to my workouts.  It started a few months ago.

I was doing a swim workout and Bri and been talking to me about doing better with my pull.  Basically when my hand goes in the water I need to do a better job of using my hand like a paddle so I propel myself through the water better.  I wasn't surprised that she mentioned this because Jon had also mentioned it before a time or two.

I am swimming and working on getting my hand to be placed right and really feeling it pull.  With me and swimming I often find that when I focus on something I forget to do other things.  This means things can fall apart.  A lot of times when I'm learning a new thing in the pool my swim times go down for awhile.  Once I get the new thing dialed in better my times get faster again as I am able to do all parts and pieces together better.

Not long after this I had a day where I was really tired.  More tired than usual which is always a bit daunting since I'm pretty tired most of the time.

I was supposed to do eight 100's at my best pace.  There wasn't an expectation of a particular time, just that I would give it my all for each 100.  Usually my best effort on the first one is faster than my best effort on the last one.

Not always fun to have a series of intervals that are supposed to be your best effort when you are tired and don't even want to do the workout at all.

I decided to not focus on being fast.

I was going to focus on being strong.

I was going to work on reaching really well and pulling hard and keeping my body lined up and keeping my kicking strong.

Did my warm up.  Did my drills.  Did my builds.

Now it was time for the first 100.

Strong not fast.

I felt good.  I felt streamlined.  I was working hard.  I was working at staying relaxed and breathing well.  Bri always tells me to absolutely give the last 25 yards my all, I can breathe when I'm done.  lol

I got done and looked at my watch.

I had done a 100 in 1:52!!

I have been trying to do a 100 in less than two minutes since last summer.

I stood up, threw my hands up in the air and gave a big WOO HOO!  I'm pretty sure that I freaked out some of the 5:00 a.m. swimmers.  lol  I looked at Bri who was the lifeguard that morning and she had a big smile on her face.

If it worked to swim strong not fast once and get that result, maybe I should keep doing it and see what happens.

Every single 100 was under two minutes.

What the heck?

Bri told me when I was done that the other lifeguard had commented that I was looking really good during my builds.  Bri agreed and was pretty sure I would do a 100 under two minutes.  She loved that I did ALL the 100's under two minutes.  😊  I have to say, it is a seriously cool feeling to have your kiddo be proud of you.  Love my girl.

Coach asked me later what was different.

At first I wasn't sure.  I thought maybe that my form was more dialed in, or my pull was finally getting better.

But some other things have happened in other areas of my workouts that made me rethink that.

Coach has also been working on my bike skills.

Not too long ago I had to do hill repeats.  I rode out to a road that has several hills and picked the one that was long enough for me to be going up for the time that Coach wanted.  I would turn around, zip down the hill, turn around again and go up again.

I found myself working on the uphill part and thinking about just going up the hill strong.  I'm not going to go flying up a hill.  Even fast riders go slower uphill than they do downhill.  I decided that if I wasn't going to go fast up the hill I would do it like my swim and just work at going up the hill strong.  I had pretty solid results on that ride.

I don't think it was a big aha moment.  Just a general awareness that has been growing over the last few months.  A big change in my own mind set.

My focus has slowly been changing from wanting to be faster to wanting to be stronger.

When I reflect on my Oregon Dunes Triathlon I realize that I had been thinking that way during that race.  I wanted to have a strong race.  Boy did I!!  It's been almost two months since that race and I'm still smiling.  😁

I have spent a lot of time being very bothered by being slow.  I want to be as fast as all my teammates.  I want to keep up.  I hate being slow.

I still want those things but I am realizing that I will be much more successful in the long run if I stay focused on getting stronger.

In my head I've had it backwards.  I wanted to get faster and that would make me stronger.  Now I know it is really the other way around.

Being stronger will eventually help me get faster.

Maybe this is something that is really obvious to others.  You might be reading this and thinking Duh!  lol  I know that my husband and my coach have both talked about this in many different ways.  Evidently I didn't realize that my thinking was backwards and what they were saying didn't really compute.  I was getting in my own way.

Seems like a small thing.  I'm not really changing my workouts.  I've always worked hard and tried to do all the parts and pieces the way Coach asks me to.

But I know as a teacher that sometimes the way a student approaches a hard task can make a difference on how the task comes out.  Perfectly capable and very smart students can struggle with something because they are so busy thinking about it one way they don't hear me explaining what they need to do in order to be successful.  When they finally are ready to really hear me and have that aha moment things get easier quickly.  They are so excited that it all makes sense and love being able to say, "I get it now!"  Best part of being a teacher!

From now on I'm working on focusing on being stronger.  Maybe the improvements that I have made the last few months are just because that is the normal course of where my training was going to bring me.  But I'm convinced the change in my focus is a big part of why I am seeing a sudden upswing on my improvements.  I have improved steadily since I started this journey but recently it has seemed more dramatic.

So now I have a new motto to add to the list of things I repeat to myself often as I'm working out.

Breathe, smile, have fun, repeat.

And now:

Be stronger not faster.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Pure Endurance Training Camp 2018

This was our second year to do the Pure Endurance Training Camp.  It's actually the second year of the camp so Joe and I have 100% participation so far.  😁

Camp started on Friday evening June 8th and went through Monday June 11th and we stayed at a huge house in Sunriver, OR.  It's about a 2.5-3 hour drive and normally we would have left as soon as I got off of work and been there by early evening.

This year our oldest daughter had a concert with her community college that didn't start until 7:30 p.m.  It was going to be her last concert in Oregon since she will be moving to Boston this summer to finish her college degree there.  Not only was it her last concert here but she also had a solo.  There was no way we were going to miss it!!  It was totally worth it.  Her acapella group was awesome as always and her solo was so beautiful. 
Joe's mom, my beautiful daughter Bri (who is also my swim instructor!) and me. 
While there was no question about staying to see our kiddo's concert, it did make for a long drive in the dark.  The weather had gotten rainy and there was a bit of fog on the road up towards the top of the pass on the highway we took.  It made for some white knuckle moments on the trip.  We got to the house at about 11:00 p.m.  Jon had arranged for us to have the bedroom right by the front door so we were able to grab the essential stuff and get into the house quietly since everyone was asleep.  Neither of us had any trouble falling asleep ourselves. 

We got up in the morning and got to see many of our teammates and meet a few more that live in Idaho and one that is new to the group which was fun.  The house was full of a lot of really great people.  Jon was there (we missed his wife!) and the new Pure Endurance Coach Kristen.  Kristen's husband Ryan and their toddler Trevor were there.  It was fun to get to know them better.  Rebecca, Mike and Chad were there.  Tonya and Kathryn were the new friends from Idaho.  Oh my!  We hit it off right away.  Love people that you just connect with immediately.  There was also a young lady named Stephanie who has started training with Kristen.  She was also very sweet.  She was finishing up some college papers so she had to spend some of her down time working on that. 

Last year it was gorgeous the week before and the week after Training Camp.  We actually had snow when we were getting ready to do our open water swim and had to adjust our bike ride because it was going to be too slick on the Cascade Lakes Hwy that goes around Mt. Bachelor. 

For the second year in a row the weather was gorgeous leading up to camp and the forecast looked like it would be that way after camp.  During camp, not so much.

The agenda for Saturday morning was to head to Wickiup Reservoir to do an open water swim and then head out for a bike ride after.  It was cold when we were getting ready to get in the lake for our swim but it was bearable and it didn't take long to get used to the water.  I did have one small malfunction. lol  I had gotten Joe and I swim buoys.  These are bright colored floaties that have a tether that attaches to a belt that clips around your waist.  I put mine on and everything seemed fine.  But once I got going it just went whoosh and slid down past my butt and off my legs.  Not a problem I expected.  Good thing coach was in his kayak and keeping track of all our little floaties.  He came over and helped me adjust it so it wouldn't fall off. 
Don't we look warm and cozy?  lol
By the time we got that figured out I was far behind everyone.  I wasn't too worried since most of the time I'm behind everyone no matter what.  I decided that I would swim their direction until I met them coming back and then I would turn around and work my way back too.  Going out went pretty well.  I wasn't trying to go fast but really work at my form and my stroke pulling the water better.  Doing it in a wet suit in a lake feels very different from the pool. 

When I turned around the wind began to pick up which was causing some face water to happen on my left side.  Since I usually alternate my breathing when I swim I am very comfortable breathing on either side.  This is an advantage when you need to avoid the face full of water while also trying to suck in air.  This tends to lead to sucking in water instead and then choking and sputtering.  Hard to swim fast or well when all that is going on.  I began just taking breaths from my right side.  No big deal except I realized something right away.  I generally swim a pretty straight line during an open water swim, which is a good thing because sometimes I beat people out of the water at a race that are faster than me because they swam farther than I did.  They either zig zag a lot or they go way wide and then have to work their way back.  But when I was breathing on just the right side I stopped going straight.  I basically was going way to the right and was doing the beginning of a very large circle.  lol  I had to think about ways to compensate for this, still breath on one side and also sight so I could keep an eye on where I needed to go.  I decided to reach my left arm way to the left when I took my stroke.  It felt very exaggerated but it seemed to compensate. 

I wasn't going fast while I was figuring it all out but it was good to have the experience.  I would rather have a slow practice swim where I can figure out what works and what doesn't than be trying to do it during a race.  Kind of the point of practicing!  I hear so many people say they only swim in pools except for on race day.  I just don't get that.  I would rather practice in the real setting as often as possible. 

When we got out of the water we all took the time to change out of our wet things completely and put on dry clothes.  We had to put on several layers because it was cloudy and cold and there was possible rain coming our way.  Kind of a bummer to have to bring along all the winter riding gear when we have had several weeks of shorts and sleeveless top rides.
Last instructions from Coach
Good looking group of crazy people.  ;-)

The plan was to do the long course route for the Pacific Crest 70.3 that would be happening later in the month.  Those of us that didn't want to go that far, Kristin was going to be at Elk Lake to pick us up or see if we wanted to keep going for awhile longer.  That would be a ride of approximately 27 miles, mostly uphill the entire time.  We started out as one big group until we were on Hwy 42 which would bring us to Cascade Lakes Hwy.  The faster group got moving but usually it isn't very long before they are out of sight.  This time I didn't lose sight of them until just a little bit before we turned.  I got a kick out of that. 

I wasn't too sure about this ride since it was mostly up hill the entire time.  There were some rollers but for the most part it is just a steady climb that starts getting steeper the closer to the mountain we got.  I had just decided, much like the swim, to just work on the skills that Jon has been teaching me about riding on hills and using my gears more efficiently.  I was going to have lots of practice! 

I was feeling really solid and just moving along at a nice steady pace.  I didn't feel winded or like my legs hurt so much from the grind that I couldn't do it.  Until about mile 14.  A spot on my lower left back started to get tight and I couldn't adjust my position and get any relief. Then I could start to cause problems all the way down my left leg to my knee.  I saw Jon up ahead and decided to stop and see if I could stretch it out.  I didn't want to cause an injury by trying to push through it but I really did want to get farther than 15 miles.  When I stopped and told Jon what was going on he told me to stretch for five minutes and then we would see how it felt and decide if I should keep going or call it a day.  I didn't realize that Stephanie was right behind me!  She was super quiet and didn't say anything.  When I stopped and she was suddenly there it startled me.  lol  I encouraged her to keep on going, no need for her to wait for me.  It didn't take long and the tightness went away and I was much more comfortable.  By the time I was feeling ready to head out again Tonya had caught up and stopped as well.  She had taken a bit of a hiatus on workouts for awhile and so she was working hard and doing awesome.  She talked about being done but Jon suggested that we stick together so that if my back started hurting again or Tonya was struggling too much we would be together.  Sounded like a great plan and Tonya agreed. 

I'm in the yellow jacket.  We did get some blue sky for the first half of the ride.  
We took off again and things started getting steeper so I knew it was a good thing I had taken the time to stretch before we started up bigger hills. About five miles later Tonya decided she was good with her efforts for the day considering how little she had been working out.  Jon and Tonya cruised by me in the truck and wanted to know if I wanted to be picked up or checked on again.  There was seven miles left for Elk Lake and I really wanted to make it there so I told them to go ahead and I would meet them at the rendezvous.    

About a mile later my back started getting tight again.  Dang it.  But since I had told Jon to meet me at Elk Lake I knew I needed to just keep going.  No big deal.  I could handle it. It had also started raining and getting colder but it was still very doable.

Then it began to snow!  And I mean big huge fat snowflakes.  This wasn't just a quick flurry, it just kept snowing.  I had to laugh.  It was all a bit ridiculous.  There were a few cars that would pass me and that made me laugh more.  Not that long ago I would have seen someone biking on that road in the snow and thought they were absolutely crazy.  Now I was actually the crazy person doing it.  What the heck?
Pretty good little hill ride.  😋
I came around a corner and could see Jon's black pickup with the bright red kayak on top sitting there waiting for me.  While I was bummed that I didn't make my goal of 27+ miles I was very happy to see his truck.  Jon didn't have to do much talking to get me to call it a day.  Stephanie and Tonya were already in the truck.  We loaded up my bike and continued on to find the next rider.  Jon had decided the snow wasn't going to be stopping and he was going to pull everyone off the ride.  Katherine was next, she didn't argue either.  Then we let Kristin know the plan and got up ahead of Chad and Rebecca and let them know what was up and load their bikes on the Yukon.  Now we had to find Joe, Mike and Ryan.  We got up ahead of them, found a spot to pull over and wait for them.  We didn't have to wait long.  '

While we were sitting in the truck, Kristin, Jon and Joe were standing outside talking and suddenly Tonya says to me, "You know, Joe looks just like Bono!"  We all look at him and he is standing where we are looking at his profile.  With his bike glasses on and the hair he really did!  So funny.  Tonya called him Bono the rest of the weekend. 

Chad and Rebecca finishing their ride.
Everyone was pretty great about having to finish early.  We all figured it made for a great story.  Not only did we ride the Cascade Lakes Highway, we did it in the snow for some of the ride.  lol 

We headed back to the house to grab food and relax.  Jon decided that since we had gotten done early he would give his Coach Talk instead of waiting until after dinner.  Basically he talked about his experience at the Hawaii 70.3.  He shared what went great, what went crappy and how he dealt with it all.  All those lessons we all have had at one point or another and ways to deal when things don't go the way we planned or trained for.

It was a very good reminder that no matter how fast or slow you are, everyone has workouts and events that don't go like we want.  It's important to know how to mentally deal with it at the time and then take the time to process and be okay with being disappointed. 

After that it was time for some relaxing time.  Well, for some of us.  Mike went for a run and Rebecca decided to ride one of the cruiser bikes that was in the garage, ring a cowbell and cheer for Mike as he ran.  Oh my goodness it was funny!!  Mike said he kept telling people he didn't know the crazy woman with the bell. 

Joe and Chad were going to do a 13.1 mile run.  They were doing loops through Sunriver and coming back to the house to refill water bottles and get fuel.  On their last loop Rebecca was waiting for them near the trail and jumped out ringing her cowbell.  From the way I understand it, both Joe and Chad took a big jump sideways and yelled out.  I thought Rebecca was going to lose it when she got to the house she was laughing so hard. 
While this was going on Tonya and I went to the hot tub and Kristin sat by it and let her son put his feet in.  (By the end he was totally sitting in it, but it took him awhile to get there.  lol)  We had a lot of fun just chatting about funny things, working out things and serious things.  One of the things I love about a bunch of people staying in a big house doing fun things is the way you can get to know people because you have time between all the activities to just hang out and talk. 

Soon it was dinner.  Everyone was helping set the table and get things ready.  I loved all of us sitting around talking and laughing.  Joe started giving Rebecca a hard time about scaring the crap out of him and Chad and all Rebecca could do was giggle.  She just kept giggling which then got everyone else laughing.  It was so funny. 

After dinner Coach Kristin shared about different aspects of the mental side of being an athlete.  She had several books as resources.  One I have read and I'm looking forward to checking out the other ones.  Next Rebecca shared about something she learned at another Triathlon Camp she went to that was about the importance of having strong toes.  lol Sounds funny but it makes sense.  By having your toes stronger it helps with stability and also strengthens other small muscles in your legs which all connects to being strong overall.  Strong toes.  Who knew?  😉

Unfortunately some of our merry crew had to leave Sunday.  Rebecca took off around 5:00 a.m.  I don't think any of us were awake then.  lol  Sorry Rebecca!  I waved in my sleep.  😍  Chad was had to take off after we finished our swim. 

The plan the next morning was to get up and go to the Sunriver pool called SHARC and do some lap swimming.  Jon was going to video us swimming underwater and then he could go over what he sees with us later.  Pretty cool stuff.  About half of us were in the outside pool.  It was cold outside but the water was about 84 degrees so once we got in and moving it was very comfortable.  For some reason I was struggling a lot with my breathing and couldn't seem to get things going well.  Decided not to fight it and just do what I was comfortable with.  I had woken up with a headache, I had taken medicine for it so it wasn't terrible at that point but I'm sure it didn't help. 

After the swim it was time to head out for a trail run along the Deschutes River.  We eventually found the road to get us to the trail head after a bit of adventuring and got set up to head out.  Everyone kind of did their own thing.  I was struggling, my headache had come back in a fierce way so every time I ran it was not fun.  I ended up just hiking.  Joe was struggling with tight hip and when he had turned around and met up with me I decided to go back to the car with him. 

My new friend Tonya!  
Once everyone was back at the cars Jon set up his video camera and had us run past it a few times so he could show us our form later.  There was a lot of joking around and giving each other crap while this was going on. 
Next up was lunch.  We took care of our own breakfast and fueling during workouts.  Jon provided lunch and dinner each day.  We ate very well!  Yum. 😊 Stephanie had to head out, between homework and family visiting she needed to get back home.

Later in the afternoon there was an optional group ride.  Jon, Kristin, Joe and Mike were going and I decided to go along too.  It was fun and a little frustrating all at the same time.  I forgot that even though I'm a much better rider than I used to be I am still not even close to being as fast as those four when they are just on a casual ride.  I was good until we got to a big traffic circle that is where everyone comes into Sunriver.  I was at the back of the group and when everyone stopped I ended up being at the bottom of a small hill.  When a very nice car stopped to let us go by the time I got up the hill and my shoes clipped traffic had started again because I was so far behind.  I had to wait a bit for a break so I could get across the crosswalk too.  Everyone took off.  Fortunately Mike noticed that I wasn't with everyone and waited for me.  Good thing too because I would not have known were everyone went.  Joe had told me were going to head out Spring River Rd.  When I got on that road we couldn't see anyone.  Mike told me that we were turning left up ahead.  I probably would have seen them but probably not until I was already too far to turn.  Anyway, I got frustrated with it all.  Reminded me that when a bunch of people say they are going to go on a casual ride I need to look at who they are before I decide if I want to go along.  I was going to peel off and just do my own ride around Sunriver but everyone took off at the traffic circle so fast I didn't get a chance to tell them my plan and I didn't want to freak people out that I was lost.  Mike stayed with me until everyone up ahead stopped and we caught up.  He didn't have to do that but it was very sweet of him.

That night there wasn't any set plan for any presentations so we sat around and talked and laughed while Jon talked to different people about their workouts, plans and goals for future events.  I loved the camaraderie that was in the house all weekend.  I had so much fun getting to know some really great people and getting to know others even better. 

One of the big perks of becoming an athlete is the amazing people that have come into my life.  Some have been there from the start and we have just gotten closer.  Others were my friends for a shorter time but I still love the memories of the fun we had during that time.  And still more have become my friends and have let me keep them.  I am a richer person for all the experiences I have had, the memories I have and the friendships I have made. 

We were supposed to go ride the Makenzie Pass on Monday.  This pass is a narrow, winding road and is closed in the winter.  Each spring when the road has cleared of snow they open it to foot and bike traffic only for a few weeks before allowing cars to go on it.  Unfortunately because of forest fires last summer there was a lot of downed trees and rocks in the road.  The road was closed Monday through Thursday for crews to work on clean up and only open to bikes on Friday through Sunday.  Darn it.  I was really looking forward to seeing how far up I could get before the guys came barreling back down the hill.  lol

Instead we did one last lap swim at the SHARC.  Breathing went much better this time and I felt like it was a good swim.  We also all went and spent one last time hanging out in the hot tub. 

All too soon it was time to start packing up our gear, finding all our stuff that was spread out all over the house, help clean up the kitchen and get the party wrapped up.  Lots of hugs and laughs as we said our goodbyes. 

My students couldn't believe I would take a day off work, spend money to go do hard workouts all weekend and have a blast doing it.


I'm already looking forward to next year!

Thanks Coach for all your hard work, pushing us out of our comfort zones and putting together a fun weekend for all of us.  Oh, and for letting me steal your pictures for my blog.  Notice I didn't even ask this time?  lol 

ps.  I have about three other blogs started.  Some adventures, some deep thoughts.  Will probably have a bunch in a row.  I know you are excited.  😆

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Oregon Dunes Triathlon 2018

Spring is a hard time for teachers.  April and May are long months where there is a mad scramble to try and cram as much last minute learning as we can before state testing starts.  Then managing state testing which is a week or more of torture for both teacher and student for just one subject.  Poor kids did my Language Arts test and now will be going straight into Math testing.  Then managing kids that are so over school they can hardly manage to keep still or quiet for more than two minutes at a stretch.  And while all this craziness is going on teachers are supposed to manage behavior, inspire learning at high levels and basically keep a positive attitude until the last moment.
It's exhausting!!!  I love my job!  I mean I really really love what I do.  I love my students and I love getting them excited about what I'm teaching.  I love light bulb moments, class jokes and the day to day fun of being a part of a student growing up.  But just like parenting, when kids trust you they are going to test you and the worst of that testing of teachers happens at the end of the school year.

Will you still care about me if I'm a jerk?  Will you still hold me accountable and make me do my best?  Prove that you care!  Prove it every day!  Exhausting!

Then you add to the mix a teacher that deals with being more tired than the average teacher on a good day and trying to keep up with a training schedule that has workouts almost every day after school and often one before school as well.  Yep, I'm pretty much pooped.
All that being said, it makes getting ready for the Oregon Dunes Triathlon a bit of a challenge.  The Dunes Tri is usually on the Saturday before Mother's Day.  The second weekend in May.  I have survived April and am working my way through May.  The challenge comes from the fact that I really don't feel like working out most days after work.  I'm just done when I get home.  Often I come home and go straight into the bedroom and change into my workout clothes.  That way I'm at least started in the right direction.  I can then mentally tell myself that I'm dressed for working out so I might as well get started.  I usually tell myself that I won't do the entire planned workout since I'm so tired, but something is better than nothing.  Most of the time, once I get going, I do the entire workout.  😜

This year was my third time doing the Oregon Dunes Sprint Triathlon.  Way back when, it was my very first open water swim event.  I remember being SO nervous!  I finished with a time of 2:14.  Last year the weather was awful!  So bad that it was a bit on the ridiculous side.  I still managed to get a PR of 2:07.  Improvement in spite of the weather is awesome.  Although I really do think the biggest part of that improvement was the new lighter, faster bike.

That brings us to this years event.

Joe and I had made reservations at Honeyman State Park, as usual, for this race.  This year we got to stay in our travel trailer.  This was our first event where we packed up the trailer with racing in mind.  It was fun to see how it all packed up and worked as our home base for racing.  We got a hitch adapter for the bumper of the trailer so that the bike rack could go on the trailer.  This worked pretty slick and then on race day it was easy to move the bike rack to the truck to head to the transition area.

I loved having all our food, snacks, fueling and drinks in the trailer.  It made it easier to put things together the morning of the race.

In the past we have traditionally had dinner at Abby's Pizza in Florence the night before the race.  This year there wasn't as many friends and teammates racing and that plan kind of fizzled.  So Joe and I ate at the trailer.  I had brought dinner to make for Friday night, just in case.  Rebecca joined us for dinner, which was awesome and then Mike and Jon came later to have S'mores with us.  It was fun just visiting and hanging out with such fun people!

Saturday morning we got up early.  I'm not a huge fan of getting up early but I do like it when I don't feel rushed.  We had plenty of time to eat breakfast, get dressed, get our gear organized and loaded in the truck and take care of the dog.  Soon enough it was time to head to the lake.

Joe was doing the Olympic triathlon and I was doing the Sprint.  Which meant that Joe started a little after 8:00 a.m. and I didn't start until 9:03 a.m.  We got there about 6:30 a.m.  That seems like a long time between arriving and start time, for either race.  But the truth is, by the time we get numbers put on our arm and legs, find a spot in transition, get things organized and make sure we have everything it goes really fast!  Add in talking to people, helping people out, and taking pictures, it goes even faster!
Obligitory Pre-Race selfie with my bestie.  He humors me!  lol

Looks all neat and organized now.  After the race it looks like a yard sale. 

Woahink Lake.  A balmy 60 degrees.  Cold but quite a bit warmer than what we have practiced in.
Rebecca and me before the race.  Best smiles on the course, I'm pretty sure!
Rebecca puts her gloves on her arrowbars.  lol  It looks like her gloves are giving her the bird.  😂
Loved that our teammate Mike came along to cheer us on!  Team Pure Endurance!!!
It wasn't long before it was time for Joe and Chad to start their swim for the Olympic Tri.  I walked over and was able to spot them both and watch them get started.  Now it was time for me to get my wet suit on and then get in the water to warm up.

I decided that the water was warm enough (barely) to not wear my booties and my neoprene cap.  I got my wet suit on much easier than I did at the end of last season which was a pleasant surprise.  (Look for a follow up blog that talks about that!)  I headed down for the water to make sure I didn't want to change my mind about the cap and booties.  Coach pulled me over to scope out the situation with a larger than normal sandbar in the way at the start of the race.  He told me the game plan on how to avoid the sandbar and keep moving better.

Once I got in the water it took a few tries to get my face to stop being mad that I wanted to put it in such cold water.  But I kept at it and it didn't take long to be swimming like normal.  I warmed up for about 10 minutes and then headed back to shore to watch the men of the Sprint race start.  Three minutes later the ladies were off.

My swim felt really good.  The last three weeks or so my swimming has taken a sudden notch up to a faster level.  It's hard to explain but it was like a lot of things all clicked into place and I just bumped up to another level.  However, this meant that I was actually swimming with people the entire race.  So there was more manuevering than I'm used to.  I ended up swimming next to someone I know who is a very athletic person and usually dominates in anything he does.  But I was keeping up with this person because they didn't know how to sight while swimming and had to keep stopping to see where to go.  That really made me appreciate being able to sight and keep in a pretty straight line while keeping my speed.  My Garmin said I went 879 yards.  The swim was supposed to be 750 meters.  When converted to yards that works out to be 803 yards.  So I was a bit off but not too much.
750 meters of open water swimming.
Done with the swim.
I was really pleased with how my swim felt and was smiling when I got out of the water.  I headed up to transition and to my surprise, Rebecca was there.  She had gotten out of the water just a few minutes before me.  Usually she is long gone by the time I hit transition so that made me smile to be able to see her taking off on the bike.  I knew I wouldn't see her again until the finish but I still got a kick out of making it out of the water fast enough to see her before she left on the bike.

Transition went well.  Although I couldn't decide if I should wear my jacket or not.  It was on the cool side but I ended up not wearing it and was glad later that I made that choice.  It was fun having Mike there cheering me on while I got ready to head out on the bike.  I got out to where I could get on my bike and Jon was there cheering me on too.  I got clipped in and took off.
Here I go!!
The fun part was that the bike ride felt really solid right from the start.  There is a small hill getting out of the parking lot and then when we get on the road there is a big hill to start things off.  This whole route is basically either going uphill or downhill.  There are no flat parts.

Starting my ride and already having so much fun!
The downhills are a blast. The uphills are work.  I worked hard at biking smart and using a lot of the skills that Jon and I have been working on the last year.  Here are some of the things I focused on during the ride:

  • Not burning all my matches trying to go super fast up the hills.  As in wasting a bunch of energy going up that could be better used on the downhill side. 
  • Starting to change my gears near the top so I didn't lose momentum, I actually gained it even before I was heading downhill.
  • Changing into the big ring on the front gear so that I could use my pedaling more effectively on the downhill side.  This was awesome!  I passed quite a few people going downhill that had passed me going uphill.  And then they never caught me again.  ;-)  
  • Having more confidence in my bike handling skills so that I didn't brake going downhill.  The fastest speed I had on this race in the previous two years was 31 mph.  This year I hit 35 mph!!  Woo hoo!  
  • Best of all, even though it was a race, I just had fun playing on my bike!!  I have come so far in the bike section of a triathlon.  I was all smiles on the bike from start to finish!!
One aspect of the bike ride made me chuckle.  There is a steep little section where we do a little lollipop and then start heading back the way we came out.  I mean really steep.  The first year I had to walk up about half of it, and then stop and use my inhaler at the top before I could get going again.  This year I noticed that there was an ambulance sitting on the side of the road at the top of that hill.  This made me laugh because I wondered if they were worried someone was going to have a heart attack trying to make it up that hill.  So I was grinding my way up this hill, determined to get to the top without stopping or having a heart attack.  I got to the top and there was a volunteer standing on the corner cheering everyone on.  I looked over and said, "That hill is a bitch!"  The volunteer laughed and said that a lot of people had stopped and walked up it.  I just grinned and said, "Not me!  Not this time!"  
The last part of the ride is a downhill on the main road to the park entrance.  When I rode this route during our Spring Break trip I was cautious about traffic and tried to stay on the side of the road as best I could.  During the race I knew that the volunteers were stopping traffic and when the traffic was coming by they knew it was a race and were very patient about staying behind us and letting us do our thing.  This made me more confident and able to just go for it down that hill.  It was so much fun! 
Last part of the bike ride and I'm still smiling!
 I try really hard to not look at my watch except for when I'm hitting the button for transitions.  That way I don't beat myself up or stress out for doing what I think I should be doing.  It also makes it so that by the time I see the time, it is what it is and there isn't anything I can do about it but move on to the next part.  When I looked at my watch to hit the button for the finish of the ride it said 49:21!!  I had done a really hilly ride in under 50 minutes and more than 5 minutes faster than last year.  I was so stoked!!  Jon was there cheering for me at the bike dismount.  

I headed into transition and got ready for the run.  Having to change shoes is a new thing since this is the first season that I am wearing clip in shoes for the bike ride.  Even with that extra step my transition was not too shabby.  Mike was by me again at transition, giving encouraging words as I was heading out.  I love my peeps!  So fun to hear encouragement from people I know!  

I took off on the run.  The run is a trail run for a large portion of the run.  So small hills, roots, rocks and other obstacles that slow me down.  I was feeling pretty solid though.  I had something in my shoe which was a bit of a distraction at the start.  I was trying to decide if I should stop and get it out or just keep going.  I just kept going.  
I was almost a mile into the run when I could tell someone was coming up next to me but they didn't go zipping by like most people do.  I look over and it's my hubby!  He gave me a slap on the ass, asked me how I was doing, told me he loved me and kept on going.  I kept him in sight for a little while though.  He was just starting his 10k and I wouldn't see him again until the finish line.  He told me he had a muscle that was threatening to act up so he was going to not push too hard in order to keep it from becoming a real injury.  

There is a hill that takes us up to the bridge that goes over the freeway so that we can get into Honeyman State Park.  I was trying to keep running and then I realized that I could probably walk at the same pace and probably not burn as many matches.  So I did walk and just tried to keep the pace a very fast walk.  When I got to the bridge I started running again and worked at amping the speed so that I could make up for the walking bit.  

Again, I was feeling pretty solid.  I was wishing I could get a little more speed but I knew I was doing so much better than last year that I wasn't going to let myself get all worked up about it.  I was able to keep a pretty steady pace going for the entire run.  

Then came the dune at the finish.  

It seems so much longer and steeper on race day than it does other times when I have visited the park.  I put my head down and started up the sand.  

Running in the sand is not easy.  

Actually, I'm pretty sure I wasn't really running.  More like trudging.  

I kept at it.  

I was not going to add one second of time to my overall time because I didn't give 100%.  

Towards the very top my legs were burning and I just wanted to stop but I still had about 10 feet to go.  

I made it over the finish line and hit the button on my watch.  


I had such a good race!  I knew that I had done well and was excited about it because all the different parts and pieces felt really good from start to finish.  

Jon was there cheering for me.  He said to me, "Look at your watch!  What was your final time?"  (He said this knowing that it was really good. lol)

I looked down at my watch and couldn't believe it!

What the heck?!!

My watch said 1:55:13!  

That's like a 12 minute PR.  

On a hilly course!! 

That's ridiculous

I hoped to PR over last years time.  I never thought I could do that much better!  


I don't think I can give all the credit to my improvement on the bike since this is my second season using it.  Must mean I've made some improvements along the way too.  
Joe looked at this picture and said that this is my typical "I can't believe I just did that" pose.  I smile and scrunch up my shoulders evidently. lol  I'm okay with that! 

Jon said he almost missed me finishing because he thought it would be another five minutes before I finished and suddenly I was coming up the dune already.  ;-)  Gotta love it when you not only surprise yourself but you surprise your coach.  
One of my favorite pictures of the day. 💜
I am very blessed to have a fabulous coach that pushes me to do more than I think I can in the day to day workouts and then is just as excited as I am when it pays off on race day!  
Two best smiles at the race I'm pretty sure! 😁
Next I get a big hug from Rebecca!  She got a PR too and 3rd in her age group!  Rock star!!
Mike was great about making sure we were all taken care off at the finish line.  He went and got my bag so I didn't have to go down and then back up the dune to watch for Joe to finish.  He made sure we had snacks and water if we needed it.  He was a great support person to have around!!  Another awesome teammate!!  (Even if we do call him "The Little Shit".  He is just so stinking fast! lol)  

It wasn't long before Joe was finishing his race.  He had a great swim and bike but the run wasn't what he was hoping for.  He got third in his age group but didn't do as well as he had hoped he would.  On the plus side, because he was smart and didn't push the run when things started complaining, he also didn't finish with an injury that would have made Ironman training more difficult.  I'm glad he was a smart athlete in this case, even if the results weren't what he was hoping for.  By holding back a bit this time it will make him stay healthy for the big goal of Ironman Canada in July.  
That's my guy!! 
I love this picture!  WE do triathlons!  (Still can't believe it sometimes!)
We watched our friend Chad finish his Olympic race and then started working our way down the hill.  I got a picture of my race results which made it really official and even more real!
Looks like my watch and the official time were pretty darn close!! 
Turns out I got 5th in my age group.  Which is funny because last year (the rainy year) I got 2nd in my age group (out of two).   This time I was 5th out of 8, with a 12 minute improvement.  This is why you have to race yourself.  The age group and final results depend on who shows up on race day, and that is different from year to year.  I can only compare to myself.  And I kicked my own butt so I am totally stoked about my results!  

Last year I was 93rd out of 111 sprint triathletes.  So 18 spots from the bottom.  This year there were fewer participants, which is weird since the weather was so much better.  I would have thought there would have been way more people doing the race this year.  This year I was 63rd out of 85, 22 spots from the bottom.  A little improvement there too.  

Last year's results:
This year's results:
Pretty fun to compare and see improvement in all areas.  T2 was a tiny bit slower but this time I had to change shoes and last year I didn't so I'm okay with that.  

Another thing that I realized when looking at the times from my age group ladies.  I beat 3rd and 4th place in my swim and T1.  Was right there with them at the finish of the bike and T2.  They both kicked my ass on the run.  Even though my run was WAY better than the year before.  

I'm making improvements in all parts of my triathon but there are still SO many things to work on. 

There are some really cool things that I took away from this race:
  • I kicked my own butt!  My PR was amazing and I'm still smiling about it.  Mostly because I surprised myself AND my coach on just how well I did.  ;-)  
  • I had so much fun!!  That is so important.  I felt good.  I didn't get in my own head about things and I really just enjoyed the day.  
  • While I am able to look at the numbers and compare to other racers and see where I can make improvements, it has not taken one bit of the shine off of what I accomplished.  I didn't get all mental and go down the comparison road thinking I suck because I didn't do as well as others.  This is a HUGE aspect to my feeling successful in this race.  I am just as pleased with my results today as I was at the finish of the race.  I didn't let anything bring down how I feel about my race.  Not only did I improve on my physical race, I also improved on the mental side of things as well.  
  • I felt strong and enjoyed every single moment of this race!  When people ask me when I'm going to do a half Ironman distance or an Ironman distance race I really don't know that I ever will.  I am having so much fun doing sprints and olympics.  I love the challenge and the fact that I can see the improvements over the last three years.  Maybe someday but right now I'm having a blast with what I'm doing. 
  • And the best part!  The weather was perfect.  A bit overcast during the swim and the bike but no wind and the temperatures were in the mid 50's which is perfect for me.  The sun came out during the run but it didn't get hot so I didn't feel like I was fighting the heat while running.  Gotta love finish up a race at the beach with blue skies!  That right there will put a smile on your face!  
I still have so much to learn and improve on.  Welcome to life.  We should always be learning and growing!  However, it sure is nice to celebrate the milestones where the learning and growing show up strong and obvious.  

I know that not every race I do will have a PR, let alone a PR as big as this one.  This makes me really want to soak up every moment of being proud of this one because I know it's special.  

Originally the plan was for the next race to be a new adventure by doing the Olympic Triathlon at Pacific Crest in June.  Unfortunately, I have to be out of town doing some work in order to be able to get my school counselor license.  I either had to give up the first 10 days of my summer vacation and one race or leave the morning after Joe's Ironman in July.  That was a no brainer.  

This has caused some readjustments in my goals for the next to races I have planned, Tri at the Grove and Best in the West.  Because I will be gone for 10 days with this school counselor training I am not sure if I will be able to get many workouts done while I'm gone.  So Tri at the Grove is going to be what it is.  I am just going to go and have fun and do my best where I am at in that moment.  I do, however, plan to work hard in July and August so that I can try and have fun and kick my own ass at Best in the West in September.  

It's good to have goals and be proud of PRs.  It's also good to understand that life happens that affects how we do on race day.  
Saturday was a very good day.  I'm going to be smiling about this one for awhile.  

  • Thank you Mike for coming and cheering us on even though you weren't racing!!  It was so fun having you there!
  • Thank you Rebecca, Jon and Best in the West Events for sharing your pictures with me.  I love them, even the ones I don't like.  lol  
  • Thank you Rebecca for being such a great friend and always having a smile and a huge hug for me.  Hard to let the butterflies get too strong when you are keeping me smiling and positive!
  • Thank you Coach for being the perfect coach for me!  You see me as a whole person and get that life happens.  You never make me feel guilty for life getting in the way of training.  You also push me to keep working and do more than I think I can.  I have had improvements all along this journey with you as my coach but it seems like this year things are really clicking into place on many levels.  Exciting stuff!  
  • Big shout out to Best in the West Events for putting together another fun event.  I love how smoothly everything seems to run.  (I have run big events, not triathlons but still, and know that not everything always goes as smoothly as it appears from the outside.)  Thank you for making it such a fun day for everyone participating.  And thank you for the free pictures!  That is so cool that we can just snag the pictures and share them without an additional cost.  Your volunteers, photographers and Posse are all amazing at every single event we go to.  You guys rock!!! Check out their many events here:
  • Best of all my husband, best friend and biggest fan, Joe.  You just quietly encourage me and know that I can do hard things.  When you know I can do hard things without seeming to question it, it makes me believe it more and I want to have your belief in me be proven right.  You encourage me to work harder in so many ways and never, ever make me feel like I can't do all these crazy things I decide to try.  Or make me feel guilty for taking the time to train instead of doing a thousand other mom/wife things that I could be doing instead.  
There have been a lot of frustrating workouts and times where I totally wanted to forget about doing these crazy triathlons.  Races like this one remind me that all the hard work pays off.  Looking forward to seeing what the rest of the season brings.  Both in improvements in the day to day workouts and what I can do on race day.  

Joe and I stayed one more night at the park, which was nice to be able to just hang out and relax.  A long hot shower followed by a solid two hour nap was awesome.  Steaks on the grill and hanging out in the trailer was a great way to end a fun day.  Sunday morning Joe went for a long bike ride, he's training for an Ironman so he has to keep it moving!  I just had to go for a walk/hike so Finn and I went back to the dunes where the race had finished and wandered around different parts of the park.  What a gorgeous morning!  
On the trial heading to the dunes. 
This is the dune the race finishes on.  Doesn't look as bad when it's not race day.
Finn trying to decide if he should go swimming. 
Trudging up a dune is hard work.  Glad I didn't have to run up this one!
The Rhoddies were in bloom all over the park.

The best part of my hike was realizing I wasn't really sore from the race the day before.  Tired for sure but not sore and aching. That's another cool aspect of my training that I didn't realize would happen.  I put in my best effort during the race, raced as smart as I could, came away with a PR and still didn't have a wrecked body as a result.  Gotta love that.  

We will see what July brings.  There's a lot of adventures to be had between now and then.  Will be interesting to see how it all ends up being.  

Thanks for reading my rather long account of my Oregon Dunes Triathlon.  My 4 and a half readers are the best. lol  

Monday, April 23, 2018

When Is It Okay to Quit? Trick Question!

I did my first open water swim of the season this last Saturday.  It was in a small lake that was a rock quarry.  We can only swim in it for a couple of months in the spring because after that it starts to have algae.  It's about 300 yards to the opposite shore so it's a decent stretch and we can get a long workout without too many laps.

While the water is warmer than some of the local lakes, it isn't warmer by much.  I had on my wet suit, booties and neoprene cap.  All to help keep me as warm as possible.  
So nice to have sunshine after so much rain!!  It was a beautiful morning!!  Not as warm as it looks though. 😉
Getting into the water isn't too bad at first.  Until that first bit of water goes down the neck of the wet suit.  

Mike and I getting ready to start swimming.  (I am on the left)
My coach and his son were in kayaks.  The plan was for them to be hanging out with us while we swam.  My teammate Mike was the other crazy person swimming.  Another gentleman that works with Jon was going to be there too.  He is signed up for the swim portion of a relay team at the Oregon Dunes triathlon next month but wasn't too excited about swimming in a lake.  So this was a good chance for him to practice with other people and try and get more comfortable.  

When we got started I was struggling.  Everything felt fine until I put my face in the water.  It feels like pins are sticking me all over my face when the water is so cold.  It just hurts.  

I would put my face down and try and take a stroke and have to stop almost immediately.  

I tried a couple more times and was getting frustrated because it wasn't getting any better.  All I could think was that it was going to be a long swim and that I would be lucky to make it one time to the other side and back.  

Jon was in the kayak next to me and he just kept encouraging to keep trying, it would get better.  

I think it was about the sixth time that I put my face down I was finally able to start actually swimming and have it be tolerable.  

My face wasn't hurting from the cold and I was able to get into a good rhythm.  I got to the other side and stopped to talk with Jon about things to work on.  That's when I realized that I hadn't hit the right button to start my watch.  Dang it!  Missed out on over 300 yards of my swimming showing on my workout.  I know it shouldn't matter but, well, it does. lol  

I ended up going across the lake three times and back.  I felt good.  I was focusing on my form and some things that Jon was seeing that he wanted me to work on.  It wasn't about going fast but about getting used to the cold water and the wet suit again.  Especially since our first open water swim during a race is less than a month away.  

I had fun once I was able to get past the initial frustration.  

That got me thinking.  

When I first started and I had tried about three different times to get going and struggled with the pain I wanted to quit.  

I wanted to say it was just too cold and that I would try again another day.  

I wanted to say that I had given it a good go but it wasn't going to work.  

I wanted to say I had tried and sometimes it just doesn't work.  

But my coach said to keep trying.  

He said it would get better.  

I kept trying.  

It did get better.  

Three tries is good.  

But on Saturday, three tries was not good enough.  

I had to keep trying for a while longer before I could make it work.  

It made me wonder how many times we give something a good try and then give up. 

We give up when it seems reasonable.  We didn't give up after one try.  We tried several times.  Most people would say good job.  You gave it a good shot and it is reasonable to say enough is enough.  

But how often would we have been able to make something work if we had just tried a little longer?  

Or tried a few more times?  

I know that there are many times where I want to give up.   Where I can justify stopping because I did give it a pretty good shot.  

But what if was just on the edge of making it work?  

What if success was just one more try away?  

A lot of things about working with a coach correlate for me with my teaching.  As a teacher I know that there are times where a student is right on the edge of understanding some concept that we have been working on.  I am their cheerleader and encourager.  Pushing them to keep at it just a little bit longer.  Then we get to do a big happy dance together because it feels so good to have that light bulb go off!  It is my favorite part of being a teacher!  As the year goes by and the students learn to trust me, they are willing to keep going at something because they know I won't push them to do something I didn't 100% believe they could do if they just keep working at it. 

I appreciate the same concept from the learning end as well.  Having my coach there to keep pushing me and encouraging me because he knows that if I stick with it I can make it work. Then when I do we both do a happy dance that I overcame an obstacle.  

This translates into pushing a little harder when I'm on my own.  I can hear my coach's voice in my head telling me to keep at it, I can do it, don't quit.  (I hope that my students hear my voice telling them to keep at it long after I am not their teacher anymore.  😍)

So I keep at it, and I do it and I don't quit.  

Sometimes it's not about the pace or the time.

Sometimes it is about just getting it done and not giving up.  

Sometimes it is small things like putting my face in really cold water.  

Sometimes it is something that seems small to others but can be a huge thing in my mind.  Like using on clip on shoes with my bike.  I had to really work at not freaking out about that one this winter.  lol

This is my third season working with my coach.  There is a great deal of trust at this point.  I know that Jon is going to push me harder than I would push myself.  But I trust him.  So when he says I can do something, I take a deep breath and give it my best shot.  

When I am told to keep putting my face in the water, it will get better, I believe it.  

Lesson learned:  When someone who is helping you says that you need to keep trying just a little longer, listen to them.  It's worth some frustration and some discomfort in the long run.

This can be applied to so many things in life.

So apply where it seems appropriate for you and try just a little bit longer.  You might surprise yourself.  

**Mike checked the water temperature after we were done with the swim.  It was 56 degrees.  I have done colder but it still was a challenge.  😁🏊 

***Thank you Jon for letting me steal your pictures from Saturday.