Bye Bye Element

This last month has been a wild wild ride. About 3 weeks ago I was traveling home from an appointment with my accountant. I had pleanty of time to get home, in fact, I was headed home to shoot a commercial for my athlete Mo’s, hubby Jeff. I was excited and intrigued as to what it would entail. He needed someone super cheesy…and the only person he could think of was me. Ha!

I was about a mile from home, when all of the sudden my cars airbag was blowing up in front of  my face. I saw nothing, I was driving and then I was in a crash. It turns out a lady, who was 87, and stopped at a side street, did not see me ambling along and she thought it was clear to pull out into traffic to make a left turn and smack, zero warning….it’s still a blur.

She was okay, I was okay. We both walked away from the accident. My airbag deployed and I hyperventilated for several minutes, then some panic set in, then numbness, then some anger, mixed with a bit of apathy, and then after it had all been dealt with and I was back home in bed, a ton of sadness. Lots and lots of sadness. I’m so thankful for Troy and for Jeff who came to my rescue since we only have one car. I was afraid I would have to uber home.
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About 2 minutes after the accident, when I regained control of my breath, my first thought was “The universe wants me to slow down.”

2015 will forever be in my mind the year I birthed Rising Tide Triathlon Coaching. I worked harder on this business than I did any Ironman ever! We have 4 coaches, and a 5th coming on soon. We have a nutrition world expert coming on soon, and our first camp is coming in March. We are also all women. We coach women and men, but we have firmly embraced the feminine communal approach to coaching and it’s pretty rock solid awesome. I’ve been working a ton on RTTC, sometimes in a million different directions, and that collision of cars was a wake up call.

My daughter wasn’t with me in the car…and neither was Lolli. Troy and I have been so thankful for that so many times. I cried big tears the first time Troy said “At least Annie wasn’t with you.” It’s so true. I’ll take any sort of pain willingly to spare my daughter.

In the weeks following we had to roll with a ton more punches. We had some really lousy service from State Farm, they said my Honda Element wasn’t totaled, then they came back and said it was totaled. Honda Elements have been discontinued. We had a 2010 with about 70k miles on it, we planned to drive it to 250K, we love that thing. Replacement cost is about $16k – $17k for same model, same miles. They are cutting us a check for a little under $13k, that’s how it goes right? I can buy another Element, for $13k…it will have 110K miles and be a 2007. I feel like that 87 year old woman just stole four grand from me. I know it was an accident, but I really feel anger towards her and I am not an angry person in general.

The insurance company lied about requesting the police report, lied about it not being done, lied about saying the other drivers phone number was disconnected, lied that they couldn’t’ get ahold of the witness. It’s been so strange, so I think I’m being taught the lesson of “double check all facts”… or rather… have Troy double check all facts… hahahh!!! Lolli wears her seatbelt now…I’m kidding, she wears it because it makes the rental car stop beeping. I’ve looked at dog seat belts and none of them seem tested… anyone know about this?

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We looked at taking the Element elsewhere to get fixed and to pay for that out of pocket, but it’s not a good idea. It’s title would be salvage, it’s a loss, a loss I gotta let go of.

And really, that’s been a theme of 2016 so far. I had some loss in 2015, and I just pushed on, training, new business, new friends, stay busy, keep your nose down, like a bee, be productive, get stuff done, build things, train, train, cook, cook, mom, mom. Then 2016 happened and I started to feel the loss set in. And I know this year is about getting on the other side of it. Loss sucks.

Life ebbs and flows and the lessons never end. Once you are over one, you might get a reward, a reprieve. Or you might stay busy and ignore, put off, etc. This car crash forced me to slow down, the physical stuff set in the next day (Holy Moly….like I lifted weights for 2 hours in the gym…every single muscle in my body…and oh my goodness on the seatbelt bruising), and the emotional stuff was pretty close behind. My acupuncturist said that sometimes we get in accidents because we need treatment. Well put, eh?

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Troy and I sat down to decide what to do about the car and we couldn’t decide. We are both in the middle of work stress, life stress, training stress, accident stress, and we couldn’t for the life of us figure out what we wanted to do. Buy a better car? Cash out stock. Troy and I have a family rule that we only buy cars for cash, well, we really only buy everything for cash, except the house…we still owe the man on that, but not for long. A car loan isn’t something we are willing to entertain, so the only options on the table were ones that we could afford for cash. State Farm won’t tell us when they are getting us a check for our car, but they have told us our rental car coverage runs out Friday. We also leave for Costa Rica on Friday. We didn’t want to cancel our trip to CR to use the money for a car, but it was an option on the table for awhile.

Sometimes, despite your best intentions, and due to the rules you have for your own life, you find yourself in a corner. It’s not a corner anyone else can understand, because people make all sorts of different rules and decisions for their own lives, but we all still find ourselves in a corner sometimes.

For Troy and I, that corner meant that we now have a car we call “Grandpa Joe” in our life. We took the cash we had in our checking account, took to craigslist and bought Grandpa Joe. The purpose of Grandpa Joe is to get us from where we are now (indecisive, kinda wounded, and with minimal cash on hand), to where we will be in a few months time (more calm, more collected, more able to make long term decisions, more money saved up). Grandpa Joe was born in 2002 and has a lot of miles on him (A LOT), but he’s safe, he can fit a bike box, he was owned by a mechanic who said we can call him anytime, and will probably run for another 100K miles if we want him to. Heck he’s a Volvo, he may run for 200K more. Now that I see the photo, Grandpa Joe doesn’t look so bad. Troy kept calling him our “beater car” so I had to name him so Troy would stop, because no car wants to be called a beater. We bought him in the parking lot of a Dollar Tree, a fact that does not go unnoticed.

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Grandpa Joe was the only decision Troy and I felt we could make in our current situation. And once we brought Grandpa Joe home, we instantly knew it was the right choice for today. His well worn leather seats are the kind you just sink into, and he’s a cruiser. We listen to Sinatra in Grandpa Joe. Grandpa Joe gives us some time and space to think about how we want to move forward without doing something financially drastic in the short term.

As I make my way through this year I’m actually really intrigued. I’ve spent a lot of years knowing what I was in for. Another training block, another go at Kona, do the same as last year, just MORE of it. This year is a total WHO KNOWS? I want to understand more about the loss I am going through, and I continue to work daily on setting stronger boundaries, and asserting myself in business and life. The training is picking back up slowly after the crash, but because of RTTC I don’t think I will ever be able to maintain the volume I once was able too, and I’m feeling some loss over that fact as well. It’s all a big mystery and I think I have some challenging years ahead if I’m to be honest.

One thing I know, okay two things I know. One, I have Troy and Annie and they are part of my soul, our relationships are stronger than ever, and two I really miss writing on my blog. I redesigned it today, with a bit of a fresh look to make me happy, and figured out my login (doh). I know this year, that making a little more time for the little things I love will be really important. Sometimes, if you wait until your life is back in an upswing to blog about it, you take months off. But I think that maybe I will just be okay with moaning a bit here, and keeping it as real as I feel comfortable with.

A New Year….whew

The last few days all I could think about was getting rid of 2015. I just could not wait for it to be over and done with. I didn’t blog much in 2015, there is a whole Ironman I haven’t written up, #15, and a doozy with lots of juicy details.

What went well last year? So much! I launched a business! Rising Tide Triathlon Coaching is going strong! It’s interesting, there really aren’t any entrepreneurs in my family, not a one. I come from a long line of carreer oriented individuals, a strong focus was always put on education. When I wanted to switch my major to anthropology in college there was a swift and resounding “absolutely not” and on to mathematics I went. I was getting Cs in my math classes at the time, but it was better than I was doing in the engineering classes. Ha! My second two years of college I found the As in math and really fell in love with pure mathematics. None of it prepaired me for entrepreneurship though. I would say the best education for that was my triathlon experiences.

Starting a business is about wearing a million different hats and solving a million different problems. One minute you are sitting in a lawyers office, the next you are designing inspirational quotes in Canva. You move from thing to thing seamlessly and quickly after awhile. And most of the progress comes from sitting down and getting busy with work. No time to feel stuck or doddle. You gotta jump in, dive in!

I don’t remember much of the year to be honest. There were countless days where I was up until 2 or 3am trying to finish something huge. I’ve had to learn how to not finish my to do list and often there are 30 little 2 hour tasks left on it for another day. I have struggled with balance more this year than any other and when it came down to it, I just worked longer and harder day in and day out to make it all happen. And I’m a little tired.

So, what did we get done? Well! I went from a team of one, to a team of four. I have three other beautiful souls who are using RTTC to grow and market their personal expertise within the sport. That feels awesome, to be able to create that opportunity for others. We have a group of talented and amazing athletes on board this year. Each of our coaches play a part in each athletes experience so it feels good to watch our athletes get support from so much expertise! I can’t wait to see what other coaches come onboard this year.

I built some super duper robust systems. From our public facing website complete with a full line up of apparel, to our back end members only athlete portal stacked with oodles of resources for the athletes, I’ve spent a lot if time on the computer. Business these days is about online systems and I went full in with CRM software, online accounting, billing, and payment processing. Lots of back-end programming. We systemized the getting started process and made it truly seamless for the athlete.

I did all that so I would have time for athlete communication. Coaches spend a lot of time doing work that the athlete barely sees or notices so I tried to systemize as much of that as I could so that time could be opend up down the line for work with the athletes. I also wanted to create an environment where our coaches can spend their time growing their expertise and working with athletes.

I also did a soft launch and a hard launch of our business model and ran a free 10-day challenge for athletes to be of service and introduce our business in the market. Those tasks each took hundreds of hours to develop and roll out and I spent the better part of September-December knee deep in those tasks. Oh yea, and I ran a 2X a month webinar called IronMind, which will become something bigger in 2016. Whew, typing that made me tired!

All if this requires so much vulnerability. It’s funny, when I was staying small with my coaching, people were constantly trying to get in with me. When I spent my life building a better coaching product then opened that to the world, the dynamic changed. I had to explain my coaching philosophy and process over and over, new for me. So many lessons learned! The fastest way to personal growth is through starting a business!

On the personal front, I did three Ironmans in three months in the middle of all this. I relied deeply on last years strong depth of fitness, as you can tell by some pretty nontypical run times off the bike for me. It was always the plan to step back this year and I really got lucky at Tahoe with a strong block just before the race that got me back to being able to put in a strong one day performance. Norseman was all pneumonia and Los Cabos was the most I have suffered in and ironman other that Norseman. Los Cabos showed me that my past fitness was pretty used up, and reminded me that it’s time to get training harder.

As I write all of this I realize that I want 2015 gone because it was a year where I suffered in so many different ways. The biggest suffering was emotional, losing some relationships that I can’t talk about but are probably the reason why I threw myself so deeply into creating a business, so I wouldn’t be left alone with my thoughts (don’t try this at home). These are always the biggest wounds, aren’t they? I’m still trying to get over this hurdle and one thing I’m learning is that going through life means picking up a lot of wounds and healing them into scars. Some things just never fully heal, and that’s called being human and living.

So what does 2016 hold? Ooh, I’m excited. I went ahead and planned the whole year. The trips are all set in stone which feels really exciting.

January: I’m headed to complete the Dopey Challenge in Disney world (5k, 10k, 13.1, 26.2 all on consecutive days)

February: we are headed to Costa Rica as a family with friends to vacation, learn to surf, meet sloths and go zip lining.

March: We are headed to Moab with tons of RTTC athletes to run the Canyonlands 13.1 and the the following week we host the first RTTC training camp in Denver which is lining up to be awesome (fun to fast is our 2016 motto).

April: I’m headed back to Boston with Mikki and to meet up with many Coeur ladies to run “the marathon” and I CAN NOT WAIT.

May: I’m traveling to Santa Barbara with a group of ladies who do not swim bike or run to do a women’s retreat to keep me sane and moving in a positive direction emotionally. After that I’m off to IM Texas to coach the athletes we have racing the season opener.

June: I’m staying home this month, hunkering down and training.

July: I’m headed to San Jose for training camp and the Vineman 70.3 and then off to Tahoe for more training and the Trans Tahoe relay with the dolphin pod. After that I’m off to IM Whistler to coach our athletes who are racing.

August: I’m cheering and coaching at our local Ironman Boulder and then headed to Timberman to race with Amy Farrell, first time since Kona 2014.

September: I’m excited to head to the mountains to take on the first ever Dillon Half IM and later in the month off to IM Chattanooga to coach our athletes who are racing.

October: the big dance, off for Kona #6 for me and with 4 of our athletes who are already qualified. After Kona, I’m traveling to Greenville to experience the Hincapie Gran Fondo, should be good times!

November: I wouldn’t miss IMAZ for the world, headed there to yell at Mikki and chase her around the course on my scooter.

December: The big plan is to head to Columbia for the Cartegena 70.3. New passport stamp and adventure!

2016 also holds a return to training consistently, and getting outside doing what I love. I’ve missed it and find my computer screen a crapy replacement. I’m hoping for lots of mini-adventures around Colorado this year, along with lots of swimming with my dolphin pod.

Also, 2016 must include better work life separation and harmony, I’ve got some work to do healing my heart this year and that just can’t be done if I don’t give myself some breathing room and thinking time. So that’s a big focus for the year.

I wish you all much success in 2016, hoping that you paused at the end of 2015 to take stalk, celebrate the success of the year and are now looking forward with hope and positivity. My wish for you is a life filled with adventure, whatever that looks like for you, kindness, both towards yourself and others, and a splash of adversity, because it’s our greatest teacher and yields all the good juicy stuff.

Happy New Year!

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Emotional, Smart and Creative

Untitled design (1)This week has been a whirlwind. Lots of leaps of faith taken this week. We launched IronTide and now have 14 (yes I couldn’t figure out how to close at 10 people and watched the registrations flow in as I was figuring out how to close it). It’s closed now, and I think the universe had my back because each of the last 4 people are people I need in my life! Who knew?

Troy is traveling for work this week and I don’t know about you if you are married, but sometimes we have the best conversations on the phone. We chat like we are teenagers. I was telling him about the success we had with launching IronTide and he was telling me about some recent work successes. We were discussing our differences in personality. See, Troy and I started our relationship off in the same room. We were both incoming PhD students in Mathematics at CU..neither of us got PhDs. It’s a really hard long process and neither of us cut it quite frankly! Our first few years we learned a lot about each others learning and working styles as we attended the same graduate classes, shared an office, and TAed calculus together. Troy and I would do mathematical proofs and I would work them from one end, and he would work them from the opposite direction. We literally would come to the same conclusions from opposite directions. It was almost frustrating at the time because we could hardly follow each others logic.

When we got into the job market, Troy soared. He is cool calm collected, professional, smart, creative. I was energetic, emotional, connected, smart and creative. I remember getting an evaluation at one of my jobs and it was one of those 360 degree things where everybody talks about you from their point of view. I remember sitting in the back yard reading that thing with tears streaming down my face as I got chastised and criticized for being too emotional. The smart and the creative, either I wasn’t showing it, or they weren’t seeing it. All they said was emotional, emotional, emotional.

I remember a few months prior to that evaluation sitting in a meeting where one of the bosses was going to town on one of the other individuals in the meeting. It was heated, and heavy, and the tension was thick. The individual getting it handed to her started crying and because she started crying I did too. I’m an empathetic cryer. I knew that was going to come back and bite me.

I never recovered from that evaluation. I left the job not long after to a job I could do easily, got pregnant with Annie and nine months later had Annie and didn’t go back to work, never to return. I definitely felt like I left corporate America looking like a dog with her tail between her legs. Just too emotional.

Why am I telling this story? Well, today when I was discussing what I have built in Rising Tide, the behind the scenes stuff, Troy sat there, listened, and said….you are so smart and creative.

And a lightbulb went off.

Coaching is the one place I have found where first and foremost I must use my emotional strength. Being invested and caring, showing empathy, being in someones corner, being concerned with how athletes are feeling through the process, that’s my superpower. It really is. I love it, and it’s that same power that was shot down and criticized in that consulting position. Yes, I might not have harnessed it the best back then, but this is where a little nurture could have created an asset for my previous employer.

Here’s the kicker though, with the emotional side of me FINALLY at work, I’ve been able to bring out the smart and creative side. It’s like it was only possible when I was fully able to lean into my superpower.

The other Ahh-hah I had was that it was hard for me to know what I was really meant to build and create for my life when I had a lot of people telling me what I should do. I am sensitive to external expectations, VERY sensitive. When I was busy trying to fulfill other peoples agendas, there was no way I could soul search enough to figure out my own agenda. This year has really been all about that. What do I want to build and create, who do I want to share knowledge with, and what needs to happen for me to answer those questions?

I’m thankful to finally feel like I am on my own path. It’s hard, I choose it that way, but it’s worth it and I feel like it’s taking everything I’ve got…in a good way!

Thank you to the amazing, talented athletes that have joined my RTTC family this week, and also to the athletes that have been with me for the RIDE.

From here…we keep truckin’!!

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Ironman Tahoe – A Run I’ll Never Forget

I get out and running on the course and suddenly there is a guy on a bike with me. I asked if he was my lead biker and he said “are you Sonja Weeeek” and I said “yes” and he said, “then yes.” I was pretty excited about this!

The first mile was very twisty-turny as we wound through the village area, past the finish line, around the parking lots and finally onto the bike path headed towards squaw city. It was really strange to have him calling out to people ahead asking them to move aside. I felt bad about it. They were farther into the run than me, I could go around them.

I was running too fast in the beginning, I knew it while I was doing it, but the adrenaline really got to me. And you have a lead biker, which kinda feels like pressure! Going into this race, because it was last minute, Muddy and I talked and I really didn’t want him to support me much out there. He had other athletes who this was their A race, and even though we both have a lot of fun with the coach/athlete relationship during races I knew his focus needed to be on others. I asked if he could sick Doug on me.

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Who’s Doug!? Well, in 2013 I trained a ton with Doug, he’s coached by Muddy, and he’s one of my favs. In 2013 at IM Tahoe he was racing and I was coaching/spectating/yelling at people. Well, Doug was having a great race but I happened upon him walking, at which point I became his worst nightmare. He did not walk another step after I harassed him into running and continued to torment him for the rest of the race. He was coming to Tahoe to unleash his payback on me! I say this in jest because Doug was my saving grace out there. He appeared every few miles with a calm look on his face. He gave me information, splits, and support when I needed it and was the friendly face I hoped to see around every corner. He didn’t yell at me, he just provided that calm collected support.

I was running and looking for Doug. The first time I saw him was just before mile 2 and he told me I had a 13:57 lead. He literally said “thirteen fifty seven lead.” I gave him a confused look. Like 13 minutes? I asked him, he said yes, and told me Annie had won her wave. I had a fist pump for that. I ran the next few miles thinking about 13 minutes and envisioning my daughter winning her wave.

I know that deficits like that get run down, but in the moment I was wondering what I should be thinking about with that information. Do you play it safe? Take some risks? What do I do? I kept running, that was my plan.

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It was hot out. Not a cloud was in the sky and Tahoe is dry dry dry. I tried to keep drinking as much as I could. That was my goal, get the OSMO down in large quantities. At mile four I came across Muddy and he told me Rob was up ahead. YAY Rob! I soon saw him and pulled up beside him. He had the best words for me, and he ran with me for a little while. That was a highlight of my day.

At mile 4-5ish we left the 70.3 course for a 10 mile out and back section. Muddy was there and so was Doug. Muddy told me I needed to take my own split at the out and back because nobody was going to follow me out there. Doug told me I had a 17 minute lead. I got on the out and back and it was desolate. Totally desolate.

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But I had my biker. He had spent most the time after mile 1 behind me. He said something about not going in front of me because I wasn’t allowed to draft and so he stayed behind. I secretly was bummed about this. On the out and back he came up beside me and I told him I really liked that. He said “I don’t think this is pacing so I’ll stay here for a little while.” I was thankful for that. There were sections of this course where I couldn’t see anyone ahead for as far as I could see.

Eventually the lead men started coming back the other way and I got excited for them. They all looked strong. I came across my friend Eric who had passed me on the bike. I knew he wanted a Kona spot so I tried to convince him to run with me. We ran together for a little while and chatted. He’s a big dude and the heat ate him up a little out there. He will get there though, definitely has the talent!

At the turn around at mile 9.25 I looked at my watch so I could take a split and then spent my time looking for the number two woman. Every time I would make it another quarter mile I would look at my watch. I set a secret goal to hit the mile 11 marker before I saw #2 and it was right there that she went by looking quite fierce I might add. I had a 24 minute lead at mile 11. I then spent several miles thinking about how many minutes per mile I could slow down if she was running 7 min pace and still win. Math while racing is hard and I eventually gave up.

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Thinking back, I would have thought that this would have provided me with a lot of comfort, knowing I had a big lead. But it didn’t. I was nervous. I know that anything can happen out there and I’ve watched people go from leading an Ironman to in the ambulance in a matter of miles. I found myself to be super outcome focused (winning) rather than being process focused (doing my best). In retrospect I’m glad for that experience. Glad to know that’s where my head went in this situation, and excited to be able to work on that area of mental skills. Outcome focused is not a place I enjoy racing in, so I have some work to do there.

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I made it back to town around mile 17. I had slowed down quite a bit, and my feet hurt. I was feeling pretty dehydrated, and hot, and yet the crowd in town really lifted me up. The second loop is 8 or 9 miles and started with a few miles of downhill. I loved those miles. The course was mostly all Ironman athletes at this point and I remember hearing Elizabeth (new RTTC athlete) cheering for me which really gave a boost. Doug was still there at every junction giving the smiles and cheers I needed.

Most of that last loop is a blur but I do remember running into my friend Sean who said something to the effect of “Who’s that sexy woman winning an Ironman.” He sure knows how to talk to a girl who is covered in spit, snot, urine, sweat, salt, other peoples spit, other peoples snot….you get my drift!  I was thankful for the hilarity he provided. The final turn around on that loop was heaven. I was so excited to be heading home. The number 2 woman was putting time into me.

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Doug told me at mile 22 or 23 that I had a 21 minute lead. I started doing the math and knew then that something major had to happen to lose. But it was late in the race and I was tired and moving slowly. I made my way and before I knew it I had 1 mile to go.

Suddenly, I had all the energy in the world. I had pretty much ignored my lead biker for 25 miles but suddenly I was telling him my life story, and thanking him for being there for me. I was all jibber jabber and I could hear everyone around me saying “That’s the winner” and “shes in the lead” My biker went in front of me and as we wound through the crowd in town I was overjoyed. Rob (who I ran with earlier) and his wife Trina and their friends were leaning over a balcony that I ran under and seeing them got me really happy. Tony and Jody were there too and I was overjoyed to see them. The biker peeled off and suddenly there I was in the chute and they had a finish banner all held out like I was a PRO or something.

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The guy was announcing just like all the Ironmans I had watched and the crowd was totally there for me. I high fived as many people as I could and I broke the tape (what?) and tried to jump. Then I tried to jump again. It was a finish worthy of two jumps.

 

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The rest was a bit of a blur but I the one moment I remember is looking through the crowd behind the finish line for Muddy and seeing him standing on a little cement wall. We made eye contact and I pointed at him and we just smiled.

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Then the announcer asked if I would be willing to go back into the crowd and answer some questions. I said sure. This is all right away. I remember very little but I do remember him asking me if I ever thought I would win an Ironman.

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And the only reason I tell this story, is honestly, because someone told one of my friends that I didn’t seem very humble in this moment. So, I’m going here. (It’s uncomfortable though)

So I get asked this question by the announcer….did I think I could win?…and I pause. In my excited state I’m thinking “how do I answer this?” Honest or Demure….how does one go here? During the pause I can hear people in the crowd, I think half of them are my fellow Muddy athletes like Jenesse and Alli yelling “YES!!!” and I decided to say “Yes, you have to believe to achieve.”

 

It’s so interesting to me that I got the “not very humble” comments for this, not to my face, but in that lovely “I was taking to so and so and …” kind of way. A few weeks ago I sent out a survey to triathletes, anonymous, asking if I could give them a special magical gift as a coach, what would it be? Do you know the number one answer?

Confidence.

So, I have to, as a coach, bring some light to this issue, not because I’m upset that someone thinks I’m not humble, but because there is a bit of an interesting standard here, and as a coach, I jump at teachable moments. Many athletes, especially women, are out there wishing they had more confidence, says the data. But I ask myself, what does confidence look like? Sometimes, it looks like thinking you can win. Me thinking I could win wasn’t a pie in the sky idea, I have won the amateur race at two Ironmans. If that doesn’t build the confidence for me to think I can win what would? I’ll actually go out on a limb here and say that in order to actually win, thinking you can win is both wanted and necessary. But here comes the kicker, are you allowed to say that? If you speak that truth (the truth that is absolutely necessary) are you now a pompous ass hat? It’s my opinion that we need to celebrate women who show confidence, especially in sport. One of the big reasons why I think women don’t believe in themselves is because they are afraid of being judged as arrogant, or implied that they shouldn’t have said such a statement, like I said. In fact, when I first started working with Muddy he told me the reason I wasn’t reaching my potential was because I didn’t believe in myself. The truth is I was a people pleasing mo-fo, constantly scared of criticism and judgement, and hustling for my worthiness. We worked on that for years. One thing I have learned is that with confidence and success comes criticism….not the possibility of criticism, the certainty of criticism.

And from the always awesome BB:

“If you’re going to show up and be seen, there is only one guarantee, and that is, you will get your ass kicked … That’s the only certainty you have. If you’re going to go in the arena and spend any time in there whatsoever, especially if you’ve committed to creating in your life, you will get your ass kicked …”   –Brene Brown

Okay, rant over!

I waited for 2nd and 3rd to come through the finish and Korbel was there asking us to do a champagne spray. I can definitely check that one off my bucket list. I always wondered if after those champagne spray situations people smelled like booze. The answer is yes, yes you do. My finisher medal STILL smells like champagne. I have to give a huge thank you to the ladies I shared the podium with. I enjoyed getting to know them after the race, great ladies!

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The rest of the evening was awesome. I watched as two of my athletes became Ironman finishers once again. I shared drinks and food and celebration with many friends, and I went to sleep that evening knowing that I had raced an Ironman from start to nearly finish with pure joy in my heart. Okay, there were some dicy moments in that run, but for the most part, I felt very thankful for this awesome adventurous life.

Thank you to my amazing sponsors, you have been awesome this year at letting me explore my boundaries, and infuse more fun into the sport. Thank you Coeur, Tribella, QR, Osmo, LifeBeam, Honey Stinger, Punk Rock Racing, and YAY!

Huge thank you to Muddy for the whole enchilada. There are no words. Thank you Troy and Annie for always being there for me through thick and thin.

Also, big thank you to Doug for the on course support and Anthony for being my travel buddy on this trip (and Mo and Jody, an Mik and Audra and Brian)

And lastly thank you to Audra and Mikki, my fellow Rising Tide coaches. This trip was amazing with the both of you. I’m so grateful you are in my life.

I’m really sad that Ironman Lake Tahoe is now a discontinued race. Ironman did not renew the contract and I understand why. In three years, they got one successful year. That’s a hard business venture. I am so thankful to the communities we visited, the friends I made in the area, and the locals hospitality. Next year, although a race won’t be happening, I’ll still be out there training for Kona on the course, and making more sweet memories.

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Ironman Tahoe – The Bike Course I Have Been Waiting For

So, the Tahoe Bike, I was in 6th and 6 minutes down. We got going and it was cold, but not 2013 cold, just a little bite to the air. As I have said a million times I was really excited to ride the course. It’s 2.5 loops and the first section you will end up riding 3 times before T2. This section was fast, and fun and is punctuated with a little hill they call Dollar Hill. It’s fun because the first loop I was like “yay dollar hill” and then the third loop I was like “YAY DOLLAR HILL”

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My friends Michael and Brandon were on Dollar hill and I knew they would be. I was stoked to see them and had nothing but smiles and joy. They were cheering up a storm with loud booming voices and I felt just like they did! Dollar Hill was the first time I noticed that my rear wheel was rubbing on my frame. This became a fun game for me. If I pedaled really stable and stayed in aero, it wouldn’t rub. If I got out of the saddle or let my core relax, it rubbed. I thought about why it might be happening when it wasn’t the day before and deduced that it was because my tires were at 115psi and that expansion made my wheel rub.

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After Dollar Hill I got back in aero and worked on pushing the next section of the race. There is a lot of flat and downhill on this course and that’s a strong area for me, especially since I haven’t been in the mountains as much this year. One thing I know I’m good at is getting in aero, finding that uncomfortably comfortable place, and just nailing it. Very little movement in my body, glued to my bike in aero, staying squarely in the moment. I almost crave race day for this very opportunity, it’s almost meditative for me, that pure focus on the moment.

The vally between Tahoe City and Truckee was cold. I got cold, my hands got cold, and my feet got cold. Luckily I don’t seem to get aggravated by the cold. Everything for me goes a bit numb and less functional, but it’s not painful for me. I know others experience different reactions, some get the shakes, some get very painful coldness. I just go numb. And sometimes I ride too hard because my legs are numb and I can’t quite tap into them.

I was just happy. Through Truckee it was awesome, lots of cheering and it’s the cutest mountain town. Then we were onto the new out and back section that they added. I loved the edition. On the way out it was road, then we climbed and got onto a bike path. We had a fun descent then it was bike path on the way back and was super fun to race down. There was very little passing in this section. Although I did get passed by Ciaran to which he said “Sonja your wheel is rubbing” to which I said “I know”…hahahah!

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Because of the big week of training my heart rate was nice and behaved. It wasn’t spiking when I got excited, and I didn’t spend a lot of time looking at it, I just checked in every once in awhile. Thank you tame heart rate!

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Then we got to the big daddy climb up Brockway. In years past training on this course and getting ready for Kona I have had some wild experiences on Brockway and I’ll tell you about a few. One time (at training camp) I rode up Brockway at 255 watts, at 5 beats below my Ironman heart rate (what what?!). For those of you in the know, this is really huge wattage for someone my size. It was nothing for me on that day, I could do no wrong, I remember thinking I was the queen of the world that day.

Another day I was kaput and I remember riding up Brockway and my watts were 117 and I was at Ironman heart rate. Quite the opposite situation. This particular day I was about to start crying (my go to reaction when I need rest from the training…took years to figure this out) and I remember riding up Brockway saying to myself “Damn it Sonja, do not cry. Whatever you do…do. not. cry….look at those trees, those are damn beautiful trees…it is gorgeous here…don’t you dare cry, be thankful, your life is great…don’t you dare shed one tear.” I talked to myself this way all the way up Brockway. Coach was at the top and I pulled in, not crying, holding it in, keeping my cool. I was way behind the group and he looked at me and said “you okay kid?”

to which….I lost it….balling. I was good until he asked! I still remember him taking my bike and telling me to get in the truck, then he put my bike in the back, got in the drivers side, and said “kid, just let it out”

So yes, I have MAD CRAZY memories of riding up Brockway Pass. On this day, I smiled. Coach was half way up the pass cheering, he told me I was in 3rd, and 1 minute down to first. And then he told me that Annie was out of the water 2nd in her wave. And I looked at him like “what?” and he was like “Annie, your daughter.”

That floored me. My daughter decided last minute to race a kids tri the day that I raced Tahoe. It gutted me that I couldn’t’ be there to see her race. Gutted me! In fact, the entire dolphin pod knew I was gutted so they all went to the race and cheered for her….for me… (typing that makes me cry). Muddy had talked to Troy and he kept me updated on Annies race the whole time I was racing. I think some of you moms who race triathlon can feel me here when I say this was one of the most special things someone has done for me. Thanks Mud!

That news added to my joy. As far as how I rode up Brockway…easy. On a course with two major climbs you don’t make your moves on the climbs. You make them on the downs and flats, so I rode up like I was out for a social ride, and I took it all in. Because there was no pro field when I passed my way into second woman literally half the spectators screamed “Second Woman, she’s right there.” For a few miles I had to say “yes, thank you, yes thank you, yes, i know, thank you” It was awesome. So many thank yous!

Once down Brockway on the flat again I passed into first with a “rock on” and just kinda thought about that for a second. No pro field I know, but it felt special, I won’t lie.

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When I went up dollar hill the second time, this time leading the women’s race, Brandon and Michael were screaming up a storm. That made me feel awesome. After I saw them it was business time. From then on, for the rest of the race, it was heads down, balls to the wall. I was in the front of the race, and people were very spread out, so I rode for miles without seeing another person on the course. When I stopped into special needs to replace all of my bottles with fresh bottles I let some air out of my tire. That fixed the wheel rub for the most part. Sweet!

When I went by Squaw vally, I was going about 30mph and coach was on the side of the road and all I could hear was him yelling F-bombs. He does that when he gets happy! He’ll yell “F*$& Yea” and it always makes me laugh!

The last loop I put my head down and enjoyed the pain. My body had thawed and I could really TT it out and feel every sensation in my body. That is why I love Ironman, you are stripped down to the feeling of the movement. It was my favorite part of the day. Climbing Brockway a second time I took it all in, absorbed the beauty around me, and pushed a little harder. The third time up dollar hill my friends were gone and that got me excited. I knew all the spectators were making their way up to Squaw to cheer on the runners and I couldn’t’ wait to get there.

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The last 4 miles, and this ALWAYS happens in Ironman…. all the familiar faces from the bike reconvene. It’s so funny but you make friends out there even if you don’t talk. You go back and forth with people and you know them from what they are wearing. Then you drop some people or they drop you, but it always ends up that the last 4 miles everyone comes back together. Like magnets.

Up to squaw I could see there were lots of people on the course doing the 70.3, lots of spectators, lots of fun! All the 70.3 athletes were out on the run and my first thoughts were on Anthony and Jody who raced (they both rocked, Jody got a worlds slot, Anthony was 2nd overall and won his AG). I was excited to get running myself.

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Into T2 I ran into the tent and most the 70.3 racers had transitioned so the tent had 2 athletes in it. The volunteers were standing in there and I could tell they weren’t going to help me at all. They were checking their phones and hanging out, lounging, not concerned with the athletes at all, which is cool, no judging! Haha! I came in yelling “LET’S GO LADIES, I’M THE FIRST WOMAN OFF THE BIKE, I NEED HELP” they all kinda jumped up and sprang to action. I think I scared them. In fact I know I scared them! Transition was really quick and I was off and running. Thank you volunteers!! Sorry for the scare!

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IronTide…and we’re off!

UPDATE!!! Tuesday October 20th! We just closed registration for IronTide as we SOLD OUT of our initial round! We are currently working on getting started with our new athletes, and will open registration again in December! THANK YOU for your interest. If you would like to be on our newsletter list where we release our updates and launches, fill out your email on the RIGHT had side of this blog! 

Hi Friends!

I know you have been waiting on a few race reports from me. They are in the waiting area, ready to get published this week but I had to post really quick today to let you know what I’ve been working on until the wee hours of the morning most nights.

It’s been a doozy! About six weeks ago I launched my first product under Rising Tide Triathlon Coaching. It was a 2X a month webinar on mental skills called IronMind and it’s been going really well. All kinds of athletes are learning, and getting to know themselves better through these webinars, plus they are a lot of fun! It was a big push to get that off the ground and I immediately started working on a bigger project. If you signed up for my newsletter via this blog, I told you that I would let you know when I was ready to launch! (If you are signed up, you will receive an email today with a link to all the information in it – check your promotions folder if you are a gmail user).

That time has come (Happy Dance, and I need sleep)! Today I am rolling out a new format in coaching, called IronTide.

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I have spent the last nine months talking to athletes about the coaching market. Many of you have taken my surveys, and endured one-on-one calls from me asking you a litany of questions. Thank You, this came from that!

Through those surveys and interviews I came to a solid conclusion.

ONE – coaches have inconsistent communication patterns. Athletes get bummed when they used to talk to their coach all the time, and then the coach stops or slows down that communication. Coach communication opportunities need consistency for athletes to stay happy. Like training, it’s less about quantity, and more about consistency. But, volume matters!

TWO – athletes get suspicious about their schedules. They think the coach is slacking and just drag and dropping, or not taking their “special needs” into account. They want custom, and they aren’t sure that their schedule is any more. There is a misunderstanding in the coach/athlete relationship between unique and custom. A schedule can be custom built to the athlete, but the workouts are not unique. Again, more of a communication/education failure on behalf of the coach.

I looked at those two themes over and over again and I knew I could do something about these reactions. I started Rising Tide at the beginning of the year because I wanted to share my knowledge with more athletes. Bottom Line. I saw a million different ways of doing that and as the year progressed I honed in on how I could be of service, which became…how WE could be of service (yes, other coaches wanted to be a part of it…happy dance).

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Then we went about building it. And it took time, and resources, and lots of coffee, and mentors, and a ton of help from all my athletes as well. It was a group effort.

I knew I wanted to build a program that solved the two problems outlined above, created a great community, and allowed the athlete lots of flexibility in coaching fees. I wanted good solid systems of communication, and I wanted attention on the athlete to be front and center. I’m so excited to release my little wonky butterfly into the world.

Intrigued? Fill out the form below and then check your inbox for an email with a link to the program details. If you are a gmail user, check your promotions tab and drag that email into your inbox unless you want RTTC emails to keep going to your promotions folder (no!) We don’t send out much email. We keep it to the super important stuff! Like this!

UPDATE!!! Tuesday October 20th! We just closed registration for IronTide as we SOLD OUT of our initial round! We are currently working on getting started with our new athletes, and will open registration again in December! THANK YOU for your interest. If you would like to be on our newsletter list where we release our updates and launches, fill out your email on the RIGHT had side of this blog!

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Ironman Tahoe – The Swim Where I Actually Swam Straight

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I love starting off Ironman days with a good nights sleep, and the night before Tahoe I slept like a bear. I was down for the count!

On race morning we loaded up the car and headed to Squaw Resort. Mikki, and I were racing the full, Tony and Jody were racing the 70.3. We drove the car to Squaw in the morning so it would be at the finish when we were done, and then we took the bus back to the start. From there we all broke up and did our own thing to get ready for the race. I found my super secret real bathroom and enjoyed every minute of not having to use the port-a-potty. It was still mostly dark when they let us into the water for a warm up swim. I had a really nice warm up swim, the water temp was refreshing. I always feel so warm on race morning because I’m all amped up to race, so the refreshing water helped me get grounded and brought me back to solid earth.

After 10 minutes they pulled us out and we lined up. I lined up right behind the 1:00-1:10 sign and there were my friends Kyle and Eric! It was such a boost to see them all excited and nervous at the same time. The music was amazing and I was dancing and grooving and so pumped up. It’s really funny, the 30 minutes before Ironman used to be what I hated THE MOST out of racing Ironmans. One year before Arizona I remember saying to myself “I should quit the sport”. That’s how nervous I used to get! Now, I don’t feel nervous at all, at least not that sick to your stomach, anxiety that I used to get. But I can still see it on the faces of other people. That’s why looking around in the starting corral is one of my new favorite things to do. It’s like a replay of all the emotional states I have been through in the sport.

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Now a days, I just dance. I dance and groove, and let out a little bit of the energy. That’s my sweet spot!

I got the Iolite thing going on my goggles and shortly after that they blew the cannon. I was across the starting line about 1 minute after the cannon blew. I am not a fan of the new wave start for the Ironman. I hate that there is this gap out there on the race course and that you don’t have to physically pass someone to beat them. But, it is what it is, and I have to adapt, because that’s the format and I can’t moan about it. I have to move past my discomfort! I’m working on it.

I ran out in the water, it’s very shallow for quite awhile and finally you can start swimming. I sighted super straight for some fifteen or so strokes until the Iolite flashed at me that it had a fix and then I swam to that little green light. When it would turn yellow I would self correct and it was so darn fun. I didn’t really swim on any particular feet for that first section, I just swam to the green light in my goggles and tried to focus on swimming like I do in the pool. Once I hit the first turn buoy I tested the turn feature out and sure enough it corrected super quick. I started stretching out my stroke and just thinking long and strong. Also, I smiled. I felt great and the water was cool and refreshing.

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At the second turn buoy I found some feet to swim on. It was crazy because I usually look for feet and then stick to them like glue but with the Iolite when the feet veer off course I kept straight and just found another set of feet up ahead. I forgot how fun swimming with 1000 people is because there are ample feet and bubbles to follow. Lake Tahoe is crystal clear so you can look all around under water, which I did. I would look at people beside me and smile.

Finishing the first lap was fun because you don’t have to exit the water, but you swim in shallow water for 100 meters or so before starting loop two. For some reason I got a big kick out of that. I also had figured out that when you swim straight, and you are honed in on the buoys, you actually run into the buoys. I was running into like every one of them.

On the second loop the sun was coming up off my left shoulder and it was flipping AMAZING. Between staring at the sun, and the green light in my goggles, I just relaxed into the swim and was happy as a clam. Long and strong, long and strong. The last straightaway I found a great set of feet to swim on. It was a woman and she swam so darn straight. I pondered how on earth she was doing that without an Iolite, a serious talent. Some day I’m going to have to learn how it’s done. I stuck on her feet most of the way to the swim exit.

I exited the swim and the clock read low 59. I was stunned and confused. I looked down at my watch and it was 7:39. We had started the swim at 6:40 and I was in disbelief. Now, it seems there were a lot of fast times, including my 58:06 but I also feel that I swam a lot better than I usually do, and I think swimming straight was a major game changer for me. Just thinking back to Santa Cruz, I’m really wasting time out there when I get off course. So, yes the swim was a little short, or maybe it was the fact that we got to run for awhile in the shallow bit before we started swimming. Either way, I felt great about my swim, I was the 10th woman out of the water.

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We ran up this huge sandy hill in T1, grabbed our bags, and then they headed us inside a building to transition. This was an awesome move for Ironman to make. No more crammed cold tent.  It was warm and carpeted in there. I cringe to think about how we must have left that transition area when the race was done. Ew. I was really quick through transition just opting for my shoes, socks, helmet and a set of arm warmers. I stay warm easily, so I wasn’t’ worried. I grabbed my fancy Quintana Roo PRSix and was through transition in 3:46. Muddy was yelling at me at the mount line that I was in 6th place and 6 minutes down on 1st. Game on!

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Lake Tahoe Training Camp

Untitled design (1)IMG_5354After Racing Santa Cruz 70.3, the following day Tony and I dropped Mo at the airport and headed up to Lake Tahoe for a week of training camp with Coach Muddy. There were rumors of very bad air quality and we needed to get up there and check it out. North lake was totally clear, but south lake was all smoke. You couldn’t see across the lake on Monday, and the wind was ripping. We met the greatest couple in the parking lot, Mark and Beth Brooks and chatted with them for a long time. After that we went swimming and it was probably the choppiest water I have ever swam in. There were 4 foot swells and white caps and we just swam and got pushed all around and loved every minute.

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A very strange thing happened when we drove into Tahoe. This was the third year in a row that I was coming up to Tahoe on this very week, and every time I train here, I have a blast. There are sections of road, and climbs, and swims that have happened here that have changed me as an athlete. I have really fond memories. I have spent time on the bike course loop more than 20 times. One time, we rode 3 loops all in one day, another time we rode 2 loops and then climbed up mount Rose (8 mile climb with like 3,500 feet of climbing!). I’ve spent time here with Jim, and with Joaquin, and Ciaran. Lots of Muddy folks through the years as well. One time I was so tired and a bunch of Muddy boys came in to train, and they were riding so fast I yelled at them all to put their “you know whats” back in their shorts. Yea, so I’ve had some rough moments here as well!! Hahahha!

When I pulled in, I had this overwhelming feeling that I wanted to do the full Ironman, not the 70.3. And in my mind I was like “Muddy is going to flip, you shouldn’t even think that” so I just sat with the feeling. I told Audra later that night and she was all for it. For me, my heart was just screaming that the 70.3 miles on the course was not going to be enough to satisfy this serious itch I seemed to have developed. I was fine to use it as a training day, I just knew I wanted to do the full, and I wanted to ride this iconic course! Monday night we went to bed early, but I woke up at midnight from a deep sleep, sat up in bed wide awake and said to myself “I want to do the full.” I got on my computer at midnight and sent an email to Ironman asking what the protocol was for switching, could I even do it, how much would they charge me? The answers were: Yes, and $540.

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Tuesday we woke up and went swimming at the Truckee pool, Audra, Tony and I, and then Muddy rolled into town and we headed out to ride around the lake. Before that I asked him about doing the full. He immediately said I could swim and bike, and I told him it would be near impossible for me to pull out. I raced Norseman with pneumonia, I finish what I start. He thought about it for a little and said “Do it kid.”

Like I’ve said before, coach Muddy really understands me, we are actually a lot alike, similar athletic advantages, and styles. All heart, and all fight! Sometimes I just have to look at him and he knows what I mean. He knew that I felt compelled to do this.

With that decided we hopped on the bikes and rode around the lake, 74 miles. It was WINDY and Audra, Tony and I got blown around quite a bit, but we all stuck together and the smoke was gone from the lake and everything was looking gorgeous. Muddy followed us which I forget how nice that is to have SAG support! It takes all the worry out of the riding. Riding around the lake is one of my favorite all time activities!

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Wednesday was a super fun day as well. We swam at the Truckee pool again with Muddy watching and just kept things long and strong. Tony tried to lap Audra and I multiple times, but it was a great swim. After that it was time to ride the bikes. Audra flatted early in the bike on her disc and had to get a lift home and that left Tony and I together. We rode up Mount Rose, and then up Spooner, and then back up Mount Rose. It was a studly deposit for the day and I think both Tony and I knew it packed a punch into our legs. We also found out that Tony had to double his calories during training camp! You seriously can’t eat enough during these things! Who had two thumbs and needs a PIZZA!

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After the ride I headed to Reno to pickup up Jody and Mikki, which made me really excited, and we all headed to an awesome BBQ at our friend Justin’s house. We ate like kings that evening!

Thursday we woke up and headed to Kings beach for an hour in the lake. That morning Tony and I headed straight out into the deep blue. It was glassy flat and still and I swam on his feet the whole time and we just swam and swam and swam. We ended up way out there and it was so calm and peaceful, I will remember that swim forever. Then we headed out to Squaw Valley for our first post Santa Cruz run. Oof, it was a little brutal. We had some tempo efforts and the legs were there but they didn’t feel too fantastic.

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After our run we went and checked in and I headed to the “special table” to upgrade to the full. Michelle who was working the table was AMAZING. If you ever get the chance to have her fix your problem, she’s top notch. This was the point when we found out my drivers license had run away. I vaguely remembered shoving it in my Coeur bra when we ran to packet pickup at Santa Cruz. And I vaguely remembered finding my USAT card in the bottom of the washing machine at our Santa Cruz house and wondering how it got there. It was all coming together, my drivers license was in the washing machine in Santa Cruz…DOH.

Luckily, Michelle was amazing and Troy texted a photo of my passport and she used that as my ID. She upgraded me to the full and only required that I pay the difference between the 70.3 and full. I thought that was more than fair. AND THEN, she bedazzled my bib number because of course my name wasn’t on it. And this made my day, I felt super special with that bib number, it felt like a MAGIC bib number! The Ironman staff really did help me out, and the minute I knew I was in the full I was about to jump out of my skin. I was so so happy.

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Friday was not the typical 48 hours out of a big race sort of day. We met up at the swim with just about everyone we knew. It was great to see Ron and meet up with lots of Muddy athletes. It was like a party! Coach had us swim for 30 minutes but again we all swam on Tonys feet and he swam straight in the wrong direction on the way back in so we ended up with a 45 minute swim. It was flat and awesome out and I wanted to stay in for much longer! Both Tony and I were like “we would swim every day if we lived here.” The lake truly is a special place, the visibility is unreal and blue color out deep is something you have to see to believe.

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After we swam it was time to get back on the bikes and head out for a big ride. I ended up riding a full loop of the Ironman course (about 55 miles). It was good to see the new out and back section first hand and it made me even more excited because it was an awesome addition. I loved the bike path section as well, and thought it really make the course even cooler. We finished the day with a run off the bike. I was tuckered out! My body was feeling really quite good though, and I have a whole other blog post on some of the things I have learned from racing in the middle of really hard training blocks. I’m excited to share more on that matter soon.

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Saturday the taper came!! It was all about dropping bikes and bags at the various transition areas. This race is a bit of a cluster in that way. You have to drop your bike and your T1 bag at the swim start and then you need to drive 20 miles to Squaw to drop your T2 bag. And then we ended up hanging out at the expo. I bought a new pair of Roka goggles…the F1…I LOVE them. Audra had given me a pair that week and they were sweet so I picked up a lighter tinted pair since the sun would not be up when we started the race. And then….I made a rather big purchase that I had been thinking about for some time.

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I bought the iolite. I have been watching this company since they launched their kickstarter campaign. My dolphin pod refuses to swim on my feet in the open water because I swim so wonky. I have zero straightness. So they keep sending me hints that I should buy something to help me swim straight. I bit the bullet at the expo and bought the Iolite!

So the night before the race, instead of kicking back with my feet up, I’m walking around the neighborhood barefoot with my goggles on, figuring out how the whole thing works. Essentially you have these little lights you can attach to any pair of goggles and it’s connected to a GPS unit on the back of your head. You push start and when you start swimming it figures out the line you are holding. So you want to swim REALLY straight for the first 15 strokes or so. Then it figures out that line and shines a green light if you are on the line. If you veer off it lights up orange and then red to get you back on track. When you hit a turn buoy it knows you made a 90 degree turn and resets onto a new line in about 5 seconds, so it’s important to swim super straight right after you turn around a buoy. As I was walking around the middle of the road in the neighborhood testing it a group of fireman pulled up and asked if I was okay. I told them I was testing some new goggles and they just starred at me. They were like “we thought you were hurt.” I can only imagine what I looked like in the middle of the road barefoot wearing goggles wandering around. Doh!

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I tucked myself in bed Saturday night super ready for whatever the day had to offer. I knew one thing, I was going to have fun, that was the bottom line. I know the course like the back of my hand and I have so many awesome memories attached to the terrain that my plan was to tap into those and enjoy all it had to offer. In my chat with Muddy that night I remember telling him “Look coach, we are in uncharted waters here. We have raced 70.3s with this level of fatigue, but never Ironman. Let’s just see what the day offers, and capitalize on whatever happens. If it’s horrible, we learn something, if it’s awesome, I’ll run with it!”

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One last story. So every time I’m up in Tahoe, I have what I have termed my “MAGIC DAY.” When we are up here training day after day, the fatigue accumulates. If you have ever done a training camp every day you wake up wondering how the day is going to go, and you are judging based on how tired you are, the bags under your eyes, how the stairs feel when you walk up and down them. Well, every camp I have a day that I think “Oh dear, today is not going to go well” and then for some reason, I get out there and I ride better than I ever have, I’m literally on fire, on a day when I should have been just hanging on.

I only get one of these per camp and usually the day after MAGIC DAY, I’m crying from exhaustion and coach ends up wrapping me in bubble wrap and calling it a day. I remember vividly in 2014 after we finished training when I had my magic day, my friend Ciaran looked and me and said “if you race like that in Kona the AG boys should be scared” Hahahha! It was that good. So, when I laid my head on my pillow that evening, the last words I reminded myself of were that I hadn’t had my MAGIC DAY yet. And that got me excited, because I was just tired enough that I though maybe Sunday, the day of the race, would be my MAGIC DAY.

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Santa Cruz 70.3 2015

Six months ago Muddy and I planned this fun epic double for the middle of the summer as good training block for my A race of the year which is Ironman Los Cabos on Oct 25th. He thought it would be awesome if I raced Santa Cruz 70.3 and then we headed up to Tahoe to train for a week and then raced Tahoe 70.3. That sounded epic and awesome and I thought it would be my kind of really good fun. My big Brother Beeson has been training under Muddy since the beginning of the year and I was hoping he would jump on board as well since we are both targeting Cabo for the year. Sure enough he did!

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It was awesome traveling with Tony, he’s super calm and chill and level headed. I seem to surround myself with people with those traits since I tend to be the opposite at times!

We headed out Friday morning, and Mo came along for Santa Cruz as well. We rented a sweet little place in Santa Cruz, a few miles from the race. Audra met us up there later in the afternoon Friday, and Brian her boyfriend came later that evening. Our little group of five had an absolute blast over the weekend. When we rolled out Monday my cheeks hurt from the laughing. It was awesome!

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I knew the race was stacked, it’s close to the bay area, a perfect tune up for those headed to Kona, and well, Hailey was racing…so it was going to be fast!!

Going into the race I was so happy. I LOVE Santa Cruz. It reminds me a lot of where I grew up in Los Osos with the water and the beach and the salty morning air. It feels like home. After a hug from Mo I went off to warm up and noticed there was a little chop. I was excited to test myself on a hard swim course.

In the lineup chute I was just so happy. They were playing the best music, and I was dancing. I really was dancing. I get so excited during the few minutes before a race these days and I was JAZZED. I stood next to Hailey and Christine and tried to soak in some of their last minute speed. It was a repeat of Vineman where I knew Hailey would go for Christines feet and I would not do that so as to not blow up, but would try to limit the time gap back.

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It’s a running start which I loved and I was in the water on the left side before I knew it smiling at Hailey on every breath to the right, then she dropped me. I ended up over on the right…yes I crossed the field and swam like a drunken monkey. That’s my MO…drunken monkey swimming. The first turn buoy I was way right and had to swim back left for 50 meters to get around it. (Sneak peak of the Rising Tide kits!!)

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Then we made our way to the second turn buoy in which I thought about sharks the whole darn time. Don’t think about sharks Sonja…SHARKS. Don’t think about sharks….white sharks, tiger sharks, black tip sharks, bull sharks, leopard sharks. All I could think about was sharks!
I ended up way right of the second turn buoy and again had to turn left and swim all the way back to the darn thing, cussing at myself the whole time. Finally, it was the home stretch and I could just aim for the beach. I found some feet to swim on and stuck to them like glue because I had so far failed at the proper route finding. (KK, Hailey and my bikes all smashed together after the race….the best)

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I exited the swim really stoked! It was technical, and I got a bit lost out there, but I had a blast and I thought it was an amazing course. I wish I could swim it more often!

We had a long run up to T2 and I was very happy that they swept the bike path. I ran it barefoot but luckily my feet were still pretty cold and numb from the swim that I didn’t feel any of the rocks I was stepping on until later that evening.

Onto the bike Muddy was at the top of the first little hill yelling that I was down 3:20. That seemed about right and I got to work seeing what cards I had been dealt for the day. Going into this race the training was interesting. I had to get over the pneumonia from Norseman which was challenging but once I was over it Muddy slammed me. We had several 30+ hour weeks and then race week he backed off everything. I felt rested going in, and sometimes that means my heart rate goes through the roof. Sure enough I get out on the bike and my 70.3 perceived exertion was 171 heart rate. Sigh. I hate resting, it just doesn’t not help me out much.

I keep at it and hoped it would go down but it didn’t. I’ve been in this place before and raced just fine so I took a few deep breaths and kept the pedal to the metal. I thought the course was absolutely stunning and the addition of the hill off of the PCH was fantastic. Somewhere on the hill Jenesse came flying by me and I was cursing Muddy for making her so strong on the bike. She’s one to watch! Mom power! I cought Alli in here as well and again was cursing Muddy because she was riding like a beast as well. I love how Muddy turns everyone into uber bikers! Cycling gluts unite (AKA big butts)!

The descent was definitely sketchy and a few miles after the descent a guy repassed me all bloody. I was feeling for him. At the turn around I saw Hailey and I took a split, 2 minutes. Okay, a little progress. But her head was down and she was in go mode. Oh lordy.

The way back was awesome. We had a tail wind and we were flying along the coast. It was beautiful with the ocean off our right shoulder, some surfers, some whales. It was just stunning. I was really happy and actually found focusing on the race a little challenging at times.

Into T2 I felt good and ready to run. The first hill really packs a punch and Muddy told me I was three minutes down to Hailey again. There was also another awesome athlete that I haven’t raced before KILLING our age group. She was long gone. I got to work running and man I felt heavy. I’m starting to see this trend when I ride at a really high HR, my run pays the price, not so much in speed as in feeling. I just feel doggy. I worked as hard as I could out there. Anthony passed me early on and I told him there was one guy in his AG up ahead, whom had passed me on the bike. Off he went, running so strong and fast!

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I loved the scenery and I thought the course was awesome. You ran along the cliff for a few miles, then cut inland to a bike path along the PCH, then it went on to a dirt trail which was really awesome. At the end of the dirt trail out on the bluff they had this HUGE TIKI carving that acted as the turn around. It was a super cool element and I gave it a kiss as I ran around it.

On the way out Mark, Haileys hubby passed me on my his bike and asked “do you know where Hailey is” I was like “3 minutes up”

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And I was right. I made zero time on her! She is so fit. The entire run back I ran and enjoyed, tried to push as hard as I could, but also enjoyed the moment. The final stretch you run on the sand on the beach, under the pier and through the deep sand up to the finish chute. It was so hard!!! I would try to run on the hard pack, but then the waves would get you and soak your shoes! It felt like an old school tri finish.

I crossed the line 3rd in our AG, and 5th amateur. It was a great day for our house crew. Audra won her AG and ran a 1:30. Tony had a sprint finish and tied for the win in his AG, Mo PRed and broke 6, and Brian finished his first in 5:30 (speedster).

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It was a great day for our little house and we celebrated that evening with….ice cream of course!

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Norseman Final Thoughts

The Norseman Video for 2105 that the race puts on has come out. I’m in it, at the beginning talking, and then also at the end crying with Andrew.

I knew I wanted to write one final post on Norseman, but man, I knew it was going to hurt. Maybe not so much for you, but definitely for me.

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Before I get into that, some gratitude is in order. My sponsors this year have been terrific. Liz and James at Tribella helped me out in such a huge way for this race. James completely overhauled my bike, changing out both cassettes, installing lights, and dealing with new wheel sets, only to change everything back a few weeks after the race. It was a huge amount of work. Also, not a sponsor, but equally as helpful was Mo Zornes. Coeur is still in process for developing true blue cold weather gear but Hincapie has a full line and Mo got me set up with a full set of cold weather gear, and sublimated Coeur logos everywhere so I could rep my beautiful sponsor. Thank you Mo with Hincapie! QR got me a bigger size frame this year which I am so very thankful for! Osmo and Honey Stinger have made nutrition decisions second nature and my gut is happy. Who can ask for more? And lastly, I need to thank YAY, for reminding me constantly why I am in this sport….unbridled enthusiasm!

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My deepest gratitude goes to my husband Troy, daughter Annie, and my good friends Laura and Andrew. They really made this race happen for me. I wouldn’t have a black shirt without all four of them and I am deeply grateful for that black shirt. My whole team deserves that shirt. Also a huge thank you to Muddy and to Andrea who have been there for me this year like no other.

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Okay, the nitty gritty. Lets do this.

People who wade into discomfort and vulnerability and tell the truth about their stories are the real badasses”

— Brene Brown (Rising Strong)

Reading this quote this morning is what made me put my book down, turn on my computer, and begin to crank this post out. It’s been rolling around in my head without the guts to get it out. Hopefully I’ve inserted enough cute pictures…my go to when talking about stuff that scares me.

A few things have been going on in my life the last 9 months. I’ve been in the trenches of life. I’ve lost relationships this last year, and it F*&$%ing hurts every day. I’m an outgoing social girl by nature, and I care deeply for the health and happiness of those around me. The loss of close relationships has beaten the shit out of me.

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And over this year as I tried to work through the changes, I also started Rising Tide Triathlon Coaching. I’m sure it comes as no surprise to know that I love coaching others in the sport. I wanted to use this down year in sport to build a new business, with a new framework, and to move beyond one on one coaching the 12 athletes I have stuck to for the past few years. I needed to bring on help, lots of help, and Audra, Andrea, Mikki, Mo, and KDO, etc have really risen to the occasion, I thank them daily!

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When I look back on the last 9 months, I feel like I have done zero work, and boatloads of work, all at once. I feel like I have little to show, and yet, I know the invisible structures that needed to be built are there. A strong business has a strong foundation, and I’ve worked hard on that this year so that rolling out flashy products over the next few months is now becoming possible. Yay.

As I was building my biz, I was training for this big Norwegian race and I was at odds with myself. I could not for the life of me figure out how to find balance between training and working my business, something I ask every single one of my athletes to do on a daily basis. I could not live what I preached and I was really down on myself over that fact. In recent weeks I have started to see some success on this front, after having tried about 5 different daily plans. I must say, to those of you with family, full time jobs, or your own businesses, and triathlon lifestyles, I am deeply bowing down to you….deep bow.

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Through this time period, everyone was asking me what I was training for and I found myself telling them about Norseman, how hard it was, how much climbing, how cold the water was, etc. I called it the hardest single day Ironman in the world.

As the race got closer and I went to San Jose to train for several weeks, I was a mess. Frankly, I had lost a boatload of fitness, in my mind. Now, coach got me back in a good place for Vineman and I surprised myself there, but I continued to reinforce the feeling that I wasn’t fit enough for Norseman. I didn’t really even know how much fitness I needed for Norseman, it’s not like I had completed the race in the past, but I was still at odds with myself on the fitness front.

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So, with that background laid out, here’s where the shit gets real.

I found out 10 days after Norseman, when I finally was able to make it to the doctor in the states (try finding a doctor in Norway….impossible…we tried) that I had pneumonia and two sinus infections. Now, I didn’t race with the sinus infections, those developed after the race, but I did race Norseman with pneumonia. It took me a month to recover from having done so, and the weeks after the race were pretty rough. I pretty much emotionally lost my marbles in the most gorgeous country in the world.

As I processed what happened, I realized a few pretty shitty things.

One, I spent a lot of time telling people how hard it was going to be. Two, I believed deep in my heart, despite what came out my mouth, that I couldn’t compete at the top.

And a quick aside about that. I had this ahh-hah the other day. Whenever you are placed in a situation of vulnerability you always have deeply held beliefs about your capabilities. You know, in the SOUL, what you feel deep down? And often times, what comes out our mouth is different than those deep beliefs. Example: I can feel confident in my soul and then chose to say “I feel confident” or I can oppose that confidence and do some posturing like “Oh, we’ll see how it goes, it might be ugly.” Right? So sometimes our soul is in alignment with our mouth, and sometimes they are in opposition. Sometimes we use the mouth to try to convince our soul to believe something different.

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I had this going on with Norseman. When people asked me, my words were “I’m going to try to win” but my soul was in the opposite place, it didn’t think I could compete at the top with the training I had done (or failed to do).

So my Ahh-hah the other day was that the SOUL ALWAYS WINS and your words can either help it out, or they can simply represent bullshit. Words in misalignment with the soul are bullshit. Sometimes we call it humble, or sandbagging. Really, it’s misalignment. The soul doesn’t lie, and I’m telling you now, what I deeply believe, is the outcome I seem to get….every darn time.

So, getting back to the main subject here, and the telling of the truth about my story, here’s where I got to in the end.

I’m not this badass (or stupid girl as some have told me) who raced Norseman with pneumonia. It’s not unfortunate, or bad luck, or the way the cookie crumbles sometimes. It’s not something to be commended, or added onto the race with an *.

I got exactly what I believed I deserved. I put into the universe, at a soul level, two things: ONE that it was going to be the hardest single day event of my life, and TWO that I couldn’t compete with those at the top. And low and behold the universe gifted me pneumonia which made the race: ONE the hardest single day event of my life, and TWO rendered me unable to compete with the girls at the top.

I flipping upper limited myself with my thoughts, and the way life works, I got exactly what I put out there. I’m not a girl who got pneumonia and raced anyway. I’m a girl who gave herself pneumonia because she was too scared to surrender to what the experience had to offer her.

And you know, getting down to that nitty gritty…sucked.

To realize that I brought that miserable experience on myself, and that if I had only remained open (in my soul) to many different outcomes, and many different possibilities, maybe the race day and experience would have looked very different, well, I kick myself over that one. Opportunity missed.

Going forward, I learned a big lesson here. I take with me the reminder to be very mindful of my deep beliefs. To guard and nurture those beliefs like my life (and my life experiences) depend on it, because they do. It took a really hard and tough experience to net me that nugget of awesomeness, but I won’t waste it. It was hard fought for.

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And with that huge chunk of vulnerability on a Friday morning…I’m going to go swimming in Lake Tahoe to shake it all off! Peace out friends!