the off-season

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Signs you are adrift in the off-season vortex and may possibly need an intervention (or at least 30 minutes on the trainer in Zone 2):

You can't remember what your Zone 2 range is.

You found your Garmin on the floor this morning because it has become a cat toy.

When your friend says she's planning to do a holiday 5K, you respond with "What is running?" And then you stuff your face with another piece of cheese.

Your bike still has its race numbers -- from a race that happened two months ago.

Eggnog (occasionally spiked with bourbon) has replaced sports drink.

You can't remember the last time you bought gels. And honestly, if you never have to eat gels again, you'll probably be OK with that.

Waking up at 7:30 a.m. is just way too early.

Weekend plans involve things like brunch instead of bike routes.

Your most recent "workout" was a surf lesson in Costa Rica two weeks ago.

You eat dinner at 7:30 p.m. instead of 5 p.m.

You took a break from your coach, and you don't know when you'll come back because you have no idea what races you'll be doing next season.

You tell people you feel weird about not having a coach, and by "weird," you mean "fat."

Your go-to wardrobe choice has gone from skinny jeans to dresses with tights. You explain this is because it is the "holidays," which also pretty much means "fat."

The amount of spandex in your laundry basket has dwindled drastically. (And been replaced by dresses and tights.)

You experiment with new activities like "hot Pilates." And find yourself wondering about CrossFit. And adult ballet. And improvisational theater. And fried chicken.

"Triathlon? Huh? What?"

bathroom reading

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

This morning I was looking for my passport because the mister and I are going on a post-Ironman adventure to celebrate my Louisville PR and how he totally demolished Arizona last weekend (10:58 and it was his very first Ironman ever) and the fact it's officially the off-season for both of us so we can eat all the food and drink all the whiskey and attempt to sleep in like normal people.

After scouring the apartment for it, this is where I found it:


Of course.

that only took four years

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Because I am an extraordinarily intelligent human being who respects her body and its need for recovery, I did the New York City Marathon three weeks after Ironman. As you can see from my official race photos, I had an absolute blast.

Walk of shame in an unflattering shirt? Nailed it!

My left hamstring was so excited for this race that in the weeks between Ironman and NYCM, it allowed me to run a whopping total of five miles. And I would've deferred the marathon, except I've been deferring it (or it's been deferring me) since 2011. And I was out of deferments. And since I got in via lottery and the chances of ever getting in again are very slim, I told my hamstring to suck it up. (OK, maybe it was more like: "Let's at least get to the starting line, and if this is really awful, then I promise we can get on the subway and go home and eat pizza.") 

The demeanor of a true champion.

Race morning dawned, and Neveia, Margie and I left the apartment we were staying at on the Upper West Side at 6:45 a.m. and squeezed onto the subway.


Then we stood in a huge crowd waiting to get into the ferry terminal.


My fashion choices for this race were spot on.

Then we stood in another huge crowd waiting to get on the boat.


When we got off the boat (which was so crowded we sat on the floor and I tried not to think things like, "What if a previous passenger got seasick right here and now I'm sitting in it?"), there was a huge line to get on some shuttle buses. 

"Being squished is fun!"

It took us three hours to get to the start area. And then we began running at 11 a.m. (Pro tip: If you ever do this race, bring a portable lunch that you can comfortably eat while your face is pressed against a total stranger's back.)

Anyway, I made it to about Mile 14 and was somehow on track for a PR, but then everything about my left leg started hurting. And then I did the run-walk-shuffle thing until Mile 18. And then I just decided to walk. And for awhile, it was fine because I was walking with a random guy named Jerry who was also having problems with his hamstrings, but then around Mile 21 or so, Jerry barfed, and we all know how I feel about barfing, so I said farewell to Jerry. (For the record, there was a lot of barf in this race. The most horrible thing I saw was a woman jamming her fingers down her throat, making herself puke. I wouldn't be surprised if that sight alone was the whole reason Jerry lost his cookies. Because it was pretty disgusting. And hey, now you can have that mental image forever too! You're welcome!)

Walking those final miles was slow and painful and not very fun at all. I amused myself by taking pictures of my favorite signs.

I would like to adopt these people as my own.

Dear random strangers: I love you.

I finished in 5:41:25, for a brand-spanking-new personal worst marathon time!

And then I got in a huge crowd.


On the plus side, Margie qualified for Boston, so we celebrated afterward with some bubbly.


And I did get to eat a pizza (gluten-free of course).


And now I can cross NYCM off of my life bucket list.


P.S. Those are pirate pajamas. And I may or may not still be wearing them as I type this post.

the new york cat experience

Monday, October 26, 2015

I was in New York the past few days for a big fancy wine event. I tasted a lot of Barolo, ate some great meals (the chicken at Untitled is insane), saw old friends and made new ones.

And witnessed some crazy-ass shit. Case in point:


And it just kept getting more and more bizarre.



You really had to pay attention to what was in your glass.



And on your plate.


And the presentations -- I couldn't look away.


There was even a raffle for a really cool prize.


(Thanks to CatPaint and Cat Bomb for the endless entertainment. Yes, folks, I believe I have found my calling as an artist.)

because more is more

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The other day I noticed my neighbors next door are planting a giant bamboo forest in front of their window. (OK, so it's not exactly a forest yet and is maybe just three bamboos, but I've heard those things spread like bunny rabbits so I'm pretty sure it will be a forest in no time and then I will have to dress the cats like pandas and take photos of them in their natural habitat so they can become internet famous and start paying some bills around here.) I'm going to assume my neighbors are sick of me staring into their house for hours while I'm on the trainer. Or else my sports bra offends them. Either way, now there is bamboo. And it's the end of an era.

Speaking of the end of things, I have no idea what to do with myself now that I'm not working out for eight-hour blocks of time or waking up at the crack of dawn to go to the pool or making chicken (again). It's funny -- when I'm training, I can list all of the things I plan to do once the race is over, but then when the race is actually over, I'm stumped.

Anyway, since I'm not quite ready to let Louisville go just yet, here are more photos from race weekend.

Dear Ryan Gosling: I want these boots for Christmas. Thanks.

Couldn't find a panda outfit that would fit this guy.

The Coeur Team! Have I mentioned how much I love these ladies?

Gear bags on point.

In case you're wondering, I really hate the phrase "on fleek." It's almost as bad as "moist." Or "irregardless" (which for the record, is totally not a word). Like the worst thing anyone could ever say to me would be: "Irregardless of the situation, that moist cake is on fleek." And then puke all over me afterward. And then toss me in a pit of slugs. And then I would officially be in my own personal definition of hell.

Don't get any ideas.

Almost as painful as my personal hell: Going to Louisville and sitting at a bar and staring at a bunch of bourbon but drinking a mocktail because pre-race, good-girl, no-alcohol choices.


(Although in all honesty, I really haven't had much to drink since the race, once again confirming the fact that I am all talk and no action when it comes to off-season plans.)

And this is about as close as I'll ever come to Kona in my life:


I was freezing, and the nice -- and obviously very fast -- man in line let me wear his jacket. Tell me that I look intimidating and bad-ass and not like a child playing dress-up.

Here are some adorable signs from my wonderful friends and family:

Cats, hot dogs, buckets of fries and tattoos -- Amy knows me so well!


Clearly, everyone knew what I really wanted at the finish line.

Can you hear the angels singing?


And about this last photo. Yeah. Don't ask. Just understand and accept that it makes me happy.

IM louisville race report

Saturday, October 17, 2015


True story: After the finish line, after the high-fives and the salty hugs, after I saw my time and did the math and realized I PR'd by an hour and 44 minutes, I went back to the hotel room and drank a Seagrams and Fresca and ate leftover lima beans. And then I cried in the shower because I couldn't believe what I had just done. (And I'm talking about the race, not about the Seagrams and the lima beans. That part I can totally believe. Also, the lima beans were from here and they were really good and you should order them.)

Also a true story: I've spent a good portion of this past season feeling inadequate. 

I know you're not supposed to compare yourself to others. It's the rabbit hole effect -- the second you start, you keep falling, and pretty soon that ugly feeling in the pit of your stomach becomes the only thing you know. But with triathlon, when you are surrounded by so many incredible athletes and your friends are bad-ass and it seems like everyone you know is in the top 10 in their age groups or qualifying for Worlds or shooting for Kona, it is hard not to feel like you don't fit in, like somehow you are a total fake.

And it makes you afraid to talk about goals because you second-guess your abilities. You make excuses and explain that you didn't grow up an athlete, that you never took a swim lesson in your life, that really you only like this sport because there are men in spandex with Australian accents. You sell yourself short. You hide behind humor. You get stuck on past performances that didn't work out the way you wanted them to.

My pre-race exchanges with Coach Mark went something like this:


As race day got closer, all I could think about was last year and how I barely made the bike cutoff. It took all of my strength to remind myself that Louisville was its own beast, that I needed to block out the noise and the doubt and remember this was a new race. And it was my race -- not my teammate's or my parents' or the guy standing behind me at the swim start who talked about how he peed in his wetsuit twice already and we were still on land. (Seriously.)

My race. And that became the mantra for the day. 

The Swim

The toxic algae did not win, so into the Ohio River we went. But this wasn't a mass start. Instead, everyone lined up (a painful process of standing in the pre-dawn cold for a long-ass time) and jumped off of two docks. (This video from 2014 is a pretty good idea of what that looked like.) Because it took awhile for everyone to enter the water, even though the race began at 7:30 a.m. (already 30 minutes later than the typical Ironman 7 a.m. start since we had to wait for sunrise), I didn't actually start my swim until 8 a.m. Which meant that in order to make the midnight cutoff, I had less than 16 hours to finish.

So cold and dark in line that my dad couldn't focus.

Instead of freaking out, I told myself this meant as long as I finished, I would PR. And then I jumped in (OK, so maybe I sat on the dock and pinched my nose and held my goggles and kind of awkwardly slid off) and swam. It was rough out there -- more body contact than last year's mass start at IMAZ. I was constantly being grabbed and had to kick people to avoid being swum over. However, the major positive about Louisville: The current. This was the fastest swim of my entire life: 1:29:51. (I know, right? I still think it's a lie.)

The Bike

The course was pretty much the life I dreamed of when I was 10 years old and mad about anything with four legs and a whinny -- gorgeous green pastures, leaves turning gold and orange with fall color, stately brick homes and so many horses.  

Like a Marguerite Henry novel.

Good thing it was so scenic because it was a challenge -- lots of rollers, constant gear changes, no rest. Granted, this wasn't hilly compared to the terrain here in Washington, but if you went out hard, you could definitely blow up. I told myself all I wanted was to make the bike cutoff (and thankfully my unnaturally fast swim gave me a nice cushion), so I rode conservatively and reminded myself to stay alert. (I used to work with a guy who often said: "Be a lert. The world needs more lerts." He had really cool action figures on his desk.) I also imagined Coach Mark as a miniature elf sitting on my shoulder, giving me a pep talk. And then I imagined him in a cow costume. And also as a jester. This was so amusing that I spent a portion of the bike laughing to myself. 

I had no problem making the cutoff. The only issue I had was nutrition -- around Mile 67 or so, I started to get really shaky and felt like I might pass out. So I pulled over, ate a caffeinated gel and a bar and downed a ton of Skratch, and then I was fine. Problem solved. Bike time: 7:41:18. Slow but steady, and being conservative paid off on the run.

The Run

The course was a pancake flat double loop. My goal was to run the entire marathon, one foot in front of the other, only walking through aid stations and only stopping to use the bathroom (which happened three times, actually). I took a gel every 4-5 miles and alternated between Skratch, water and cola for liquids. (Cola is the best thing ever when you need a caffeine boost.)

Running with my mama for a bit!

I settled into the run and held steady the whole way. I didn't feel spent or sore. I just ran. Chatted with people as I went. Passed a lot of guys who had given their all on the bike and couldn't run anymore. Cheered for my Coeur Sports (side note: meeting these gals in person for the first time was incredible -- this is an amazing bunch of talented, humble, generous, inspiring women) and tn Multisports teammates when I saw them go by. Thanked volunteers. Got a big smooch from the mister as I started the second loop. (I know. I was totally that person.) Ran a few miles with a guy in a huge rainbow Native American headdress and glow sticks. And tried really hard to ignore the people barfing. (There were several. And one of my biggest fears in life is to be randomly vomited on by a total stranger, so I was kind of terrified. Someone please tell me I'm not the only one who feels this way.) Run time: 5:05:24, just 15 minutes slower than my very first marathon ever.

Coming down the chute to the finish line was amazing. I still felt emotional and slightly incredulous, even though this was my second Ironman. I high-fived a ton of spectators, saw my parents (I love how much they enjoy triathlon and Ironman especially -- they get so into it), saw the mister and his parents (who had the world's loudest cowbell -- so loud the spectators next to them told them to stop ringing it) and crossed that line.

And the announcer pronounced my name correctly. And I ended up with a massive PR.


Swim: 1:29:51
T1: 12:41 (one day I will learn to pee in my wetsuit and not use the port-a-potty)
Bike: 7:41:18
T2: 7:33
Run: 5:05:24
Overall: 14:36:47 -- an hour and 44-minute PR

Note to self: Stop bitching. No excuses. You earned this. And no one can take it away. Also, high-five for not getting puked on. (Which could actually be the real definition of winning.)

made it to louisville

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Not going to lie: Packing Minivan for the first time was scary.

Pool noodles are the best bike packing life hack ever.

But we made it safely to Louisville.

With my tn Multisports teammate Char, who's hungry for a Kona qualifier.

And thanks to the incredible Mike at Old Bikes Belong, Minivan is reassembled and ready for a test ride tomorrow. (Louisville will be Mike's first Ironman. And his first triathlon ever. Talk about balls out. Figuratively, of course. We really wouldn't want Mike to race with his balls out because it would probably hurt.)

Mike also took Char and me to the swim start (assuming the swim will actually happen). At night, the Ohio River doesn't look scary. In fact, I'd venture to say it's downright pretty.


And then we went to the transition area, and I found where Minivan will be racked.


Can't believe it's finally race weekend.

tapering

Sunday, October 04, 2015

I love taper. I know some people hate it and feel restless, but I welcome the extra time and use it to get a lot of important life stuff done. Like napping. And baking a quiche.


And teaching the kitten how to walk on a leash.



The best part was when my neighbor came home and found me outside with the cat. My response: "Hi. This is totally normal."

*

Yesterday I had my last brick workout -- two hours on the bike, followed by an hour run. And even though the weather was gorgeous, Coach Mark put me on the trainer. Smart move, considering my recent history of slipping on railroad tracks and riding into walls. Best not to crash one week before race day.


Unfortunately, I made the poor choice of watching "Spring Breakers" during my workout. Pro tip: Do not ever, ever subject yourself to this. Life is better without the horror of James Franco with dreads and a grill leading a trio of bikini-clad, gun-wielding college girls. 

*

So my toxic Ohio River stress dream may actually become reality. Surprisingly, I'm not that worried about it. I'll roll with whatever they decide. Mostly, I just don't want to get sick and end up with explosive diarrhea and projectile vomit on the bike. Or the run. Or pretty much any time ever. (Side note: A good ice-breaker is to ask total strangers: "Would you rather have explosive diarrhea or projectile vomit?" Never fails to result in a passionate reaction. Try it as an interview question some time.)

Ironman Louisville: One week.

in the wee hours of the morning

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

She's lucky she's so damn cute.

I woke up at 5:30 this morning to chase the kitten (who is not really a kitten anymore but still behaves like one so she will always be the kitten in this household) out of my closet (where she enjoys pulling all the clothes off their hangers and turning everything into a giant cat nest) while shaking a jar of pennies and yelling "No!" and "Make better choices!" (I bet if my mom chased me through high school with a jar of pennies that my life would've turned out totally differently and instead of sitting here in a ridiculous robe surrounded by cats, I'd be married to a gazillionnaire and have a diamond-encrusted TT bike -- that would still be extremely lightweight and aerodynamic because I'd be able to pay scientists for that shit -- and a personal chef to create truffle-infused gels and bars for me and Ryan Gosling to personally strip me out of my wetsuit at every single race. Clearly my mom totally failed with my upbringing.)

And when I was done behaving like a complete and total crazy cat lady, I got back in bed and started thinking about Ironman. And how Louisville is less than two weeks away. And how there are so many chores to get done before I leave for Kentucky -- nutrition to re-stock (damn you, non-existent personal chef), a bike to pack, a cat sitter to book (because someone needs to shake the pennies while I am gone), a final chiropractor adjustment to schedule, a pre-race dinner venue to find, etc.

And then I started thinking about this year vs. last year and how everything is so different. The second Ironman definitely doesn't carry the same weight as the first (so if you're reading this and you're about to do your first, enjoy every single moment of it -- that may seem like bizarre advice since the ultimate goal is to finish as quickly as possible, but your first only happens once, and it truly is a special thing that changes the way you understand yourself and your potential).

Louisville almost feels like a job -- granted, a really awesome job -- that I know how to do. Training -- and all the things that accompany it, like no late nights and no drinking and eating a massive and slightly embarrassing amount of chicken breasts -- is normal, a part of my life and who I am. And I'm not waking up in panic and wondering, Holy shit, can I even do this?

That's not to say I haven't had stress dreams. I recently dreamt someone broke into my house and stole Minivan and Muppet and all of the ice cream. And then there was the dream that the Ohio River was completely polluted with cars floating in it -- I am told this is actually a valid fear -- and then my ex -- who is from southern Ohio so this is also totally valid paranoia -- showed up and basically the entire race was toxic. But overall, I feel much calmer than last year, much more mentally prepared.

Physically, I can tell I've grown as an athlete. Using numbers and zones alone, I know I'm in a good place. (Ride Around the Sound -- which I actually did on the correct date this year, thank you very much -- was hilly as eff. And I am not a climber. But I did it. And I was fine. And I recovered quickly. And this was all just a week after doing a 70.3.)

One of the few flat sections on this ride.

I've also made it a priority to do everything I can to stay healthy and avoid getting sick -- trying to sleep as much as possible, not go out late, avoid stress, take my vitamins, etc. Yes, I've gotten incredibly boring to be around (unless you are a cat), but I feel good.


And then there's life. Man, I look back at last year and what a shit show that was. So much pain, so much loss. But life is an endurance sport in and of itself -- you go through the rough patches, you dig deep, you find strength you didn't realize you had, you ask for help when you need it and eventually, one day, you come out on the other side. And you're incredibly grateful for everything you learned and everyone who was there through it all.

So onward to Louisville. And of course, bourbon at the finish line.
 
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