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.  😆