Job or Fun?

When the head disappears, that means it’s visiting the pain cave

I haven’t blogged in 11 days. I think that’s the longest I’ve ever gone. Believe me friends, I’ve wanted to. I’ve thought up lots of fun subjects, and had many “Ooh I should blog about that” experiences in the last 11 days. However, it seems that between training, recovering from training, and being a mom/wife there has been no time left over. With what little there is, I have chosen not to get on the computer, but instead do other things (like clean my bike chain). I owe many of you email responses, text responses, or twitter replies. I try to occasionally get on twitter and check on all of you, but for the most part I have really had to keep my nose to the grindstone these last 11 days, with yet another 7 in front of me.

PIC is in pink, I’m in green

Tyler asked me this weekend: When does the training cross the line from “fun” to “job”? It was a really hard question to answer and I’m pretty sure I did a pathetic job. Tyler has a way of asking questions that I don’t have very good responses for…at the time. I was in the saddle for almost 7 hours yesterday and my mind wandered a few times back to this question. So I guess I’ll elaborate with a little better answer than I gave him.

I really love this training. I really really really do. I wish I had more natural talent and that I was good enough to be a professional at this stuff. I do. I wish I could call triathlon my “job”, but as you all know, it’s my “hobby”, and I am an “age grouper”. I SO MUCH look forward to the hard days, the days where I don’t quite know what Chuckie is going to throw at me. I like getting done and being tired and hungry, and feeling raw and complete at the same time. I like that I have to eat clean, and I have to wear compression tights to bed, and that I need to swim at the pool just before it closes on most nights to get in my “flop”. I thrive on the singular focus and the dedication that I have put into training for Kona. Again, reiterating what Ray says, I can’t always tell you why I do it, but I can tell you that I am committed when I do.

AND…it’s hard work. There is the black and white thing going on where it’s hard, but it’s rewarding. So when someone asks “When is it like a job” I struggle. It’s like a job that I really love, and it’s nowhere near a job that I don’t like. It really depends on what you consider a “job” or what the word means. If it means you make money at it…well then my training is quite the opposite of a job! If “job” means 8 hours a day of staring at a computer screen under fluorescent lights…it’s never even close to a job, like not even the same continent. If “job” means your willing to doing something challenging 40+hours a week because you love it that much, then this training is very much like a “job”.

Is it fun? Yes, it is, very much so. Again, it’s open to interpretation, but “fun” can mean so many things. Being fit and fast is fun. Lauging with Chuckie about the squirel that tried to play suicide with him this weekend is fun. Laughing so hard coming home from a ride that we almost fell off our bikes is fun. It’s not going to be as funny to you, but we all made a left hand turn somewhat dangerously close in front of a truck right after being told “We can beat the truck” (by someone who shall remain nameless, but who’s name rhymes with Ducky). When we were talking about it later I said “Famous last words” and wha-lah, three very calorically deficient, yet satisfied triahletes were laughing so hard we were crying. It’s the little things that are fun, and it’s the big things that are rewarding.

But for some, “fun” means blanket beach party with a cooler full of Mike’s Hard Lemonade. And don’t you worry, I’ll probably attempt that sort of fun on October 10th, but until then I’m going to have to make do with what I’ve got within the framework that I have committed to. Plus, beach parties don’t really keep you fit, and fun things are a lot more FUN when you are fit.

So, in a nutshell, sometimes life morphs, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t fun. Sometimes it just doesn’t look like what it used to. I have no desire to do anything in life that isn’t fun, but sometimes you have to search harder for the fun aspect. Maybe all out 5 minute efforts on the bike isn’t what most would consider “fun”, but when I am in the moment and Eminem is blaring in my ears and I am going deeper and deeper into the push, and everything around me matters very little, just a bike, a girl, a coach, a stopwatch, and my inability to give up even an inch, that, my friends, to me, is fun.

Having “fun” 5 minutes at a time

A Job? Fun? It’s really all a matter of perspective and attitude.

Zen and the Art of Running

Last Sunday I had my second coached track session with Chuckie. It was quite an experience and I’ve resisted blogging about it because one part of me wanted to keep the experience to myself and another part of me couldn’t quite find the words to portray the event.

Four stellar runs later I have a little more clarity and decided to give it a go.

Last Sunday Chuckie proved why he may be a really good coach via email, but he’s a REALLY fantastic coach in person. The electric version of Chuckie is superb, you know if you read his blog, but the in person Chuckie is frickin’ off the hook.

Ok, so we are at the track and I am doing repeats. Now these repeats are not fast, but there are A LOT of them. I’m not going to share the exact workout because it’s pointless to do so, what I want to explain is the process. So I started them out with a number in mind.

Before I go any further, let me say that I love the track. One strength I have as a runner is that I tend to run smart on the track, I seem to be able to dole out my energy smoothly and keep my splits consistent. I can do math in my head quickly so I tend to stay on pace.

Well, I started the first ones and they were about 9 seconds faster than the number we had in mind. Chuckie was quick to tell me that it was ok, the work was more about a “feeling” and neuromuscular development. So I progressed through them, hitting every one, slowly inching them a little faster by 1-2 seconds.

Half way through the workout is where Chuckie starts getting good. He tells me to close my eyes 90% of the way. Focus on my core, and moving my arms effortlessly. He had me relax everything that wasn’t working. Suddenly this very analytical track workout started to shift.

Before the shift, the view is not too shabby, eh?

Repeat after repeat I found myself loosing more of the technical and delving deeper into myself. And not philosophically, but physically. My focus became more and more dialed into every muscle that was moving, my posture, my footfall. To the point where the scenery coming in through my eyes was being phased out.

Chuckie had me pull down my hat, so it was over my eyes. My vision was obstructed to about 10 feet of the track, my gaze was unfocused and squarely into the underside of the brim of my hat. The track became visible only in the periphery. My focus was within, my core was completely engaged and I could feel myself standing upon my spine. I could feel my vertebrae lift, my jaw go slack. It was all encompassing and required complete focus, but not in a burdensome kind of way. It was easier.

Hat down, completely focused, can you see the difference?

The second to last interval I ran without looking at my watch once, but came in right in line with where I had been running. For the last one Chuckie asked me to not look at my watch, take everything back one notch, and come in 1 beat lower on my HR. I focused within, I pulled things back just a tad, stopped my watch at the line, and saw 10 seconds slower and 1 beat lower. It was the final confirmation.

NEVER have I ever gone through such an experience on the track. Half the work was completely analytical, and the other half was the opposite. It was a Zen experience. I would never have taken the risk on my own to progress through the work in that manner. It was due to the gentle coaching on Chuckies part; the millions of “good jobs”, the little tip here, and the little talk there. When he coaches, he is 100% committed to us, and he is completely in the moment of the workout with us. He must have walked across the center field 50 times that day, talking the whole time.

I came home from that workout a little high. I was on a cloud. He had left me with some great advise too. He said, you can tap into that feeling on all your runs. Even the easy ones, warm up, get into your mode and float through race pace for 1/2 to 1 mile and then pull it back and cool it down. Going to that place inside of your runs only helps to develop and reinforce the neuromuscular effect.

This gave me a lot of food for thought. It opened up new possibilities.

Tuesday I suited up for 90 minutes and wha-lah, 15 minutes in I’m in my zone and I’m conscious of my core and my arms and my cadence and breathing. I found it easier to go to “that place”.

I have a water bottle shoved in the back of my shorts if something looks a little off to you in this picture!

Yesterday, again, boom, I tapped into my Zen place again and cranked out 4 miles at IM race pace with a peace and calm. I have to tell you about this one too.

We did this run off a pretty challenging bike and PIC was with me too. She gets to run in little doses due to her recovering PF, so after a bit her and Chuckie were in the car following me while I was running. This is how great Chuckie is. I had the full escort for my run. I’m cooking along, doing my Ommmm thing and they are at every turn, Chuckie is out taking pictures as I run by, and Michelle is handing me water bottles. They were “there” for me in every way possible and I saw them about 20 times over 4 miles. I feel so spoiled by how well I was treated. I don’t think most pros are as personally coached as I am. And it helps…plain and simple.

Have cooler, will travel! Here’s Chuckie and Michelles view.

So for today’s run I was intrigued. It was 2 hours and I was meeting a friend who was getting in her last IMLou longish run. She had a set pace to run and it seemed like a good pace for me. I kept wondering when all this work was going to start catching up to me, when was I going to start feeling like it was “hard”? We had a great time and when she left me I continued with the pace no problem. I got back to the car and saw that my heart rate was 5-10 lower than normal at that pace. Again, another superb run.

It’s been five days and while my rational brain says that not all runs can feel great, some new piece of me says “Why not?” If you can get into your zone, if you can relax and go Ommm with your body and your mind, maybe a much higher percentage of my runs can be done in a place of peace, calm, and focus. I’ve never thought about running like this, and while it all feels very new, it feels very promising as well.

Chuckie says that this is what getting efficient and having economy of movement feels like. I’m thinking he’s right!

“A” Races

So yesterday I’m driving to Boulder yet again. I really gotta move there. Or at least rent a vacation home there or something. I’m getting familiar with the drive between Greenwood Village and the people’s republic of B-town.

Yea, so, I’m driving there to drop off my bike at Excel Sports. It’s getting a bit transformed and needed to be there by Friday morning. I’m singing in the car, having a blast of a time. Chill, mellow, quite content actually.

I was lazy that morning and slept in, thus missing my window to get in my tempo run. I was planning to drop the bike and then get in the tempo run in Boulder, thus waiting for traffic to die down before driving back home.

I started thinking, where to run? Where to run? I remembered Chuckie had told me about a 1 mile dirt loop he had found, and that was exactly what I was supposed to run my tempo run on, so I shot him an email to ask where the magic loop was.

I get an email back saying “Hey, why don’t you come do the Boulder Stroke and Stride with Angela”.



A race?

Like just impromptu like that?

Oh, and it’s 5:15, I’m 20 minutes outside of Boulder, I still need to drop my bike off, do I even have goggles with me? The race starts at 6:00pm.

Humm, I think I have my ghetto pair of goggles in the bottom of my Saucony workout bag. What the heck? Why not?

So I respond “Hummm, Sure! I’m gonna need to find a swim suit”.

And I put the pedal to the floor. I switch the radio over to Eminem, and I start getting excited.

A race, ohhh goodie, I love races.

I pull into Excel sports at 5:32. I’m back outa there at 5:33. I cruise on over and hit the reservoir promptly at 5:41. Boo Ya.

A quick trip to the registration tent and I’ve got a race number. Angela threw a ton of clothes and swim suits in her bag for me, but I conjured up my old trusty pair of worn out tri shorts and a rather tight sports bra. Come on, only the best for my A races.

I didn’t even have a Trakkers visor with me. I didn’t have a race belt, Chuckie said “Use your heart rate monitor strap” Brilliant!

I found a swim cap, grabbed my googles, sequestered my A game, and got my butt down to the water with 45 seconds to spare.

Angela and I had time to show Chuckie our game faces. You see that? That’s GAME ON baby. That’s what your supposed to look like just before you tow the line to your A race (of the day). I had tapered all of 2.3 hours, but it’s all good. Chuck Norris only tapers for 2.3 hours.

As I got on the line, the water line that is, I could just feel the nerves, I could feel that I was trained well for this, that maybe this was my calling in life. I’m kidding, actually I felt like a girl who decided to race about 45 minutes prior and who was about to get her fanny handed to her in the swim.

But no, focus Sonja, focus. Stroke and Strides don’t come along every day. This is big business. Really, the pressure! Ha!

So the dude said “Ummm Go!” and we were off. I did my best, however I found myself to the far right. Which I guess was good because I lined up on the far right, and I usually end up far left when I do this…getting pummeled along the way. I need to learn how to draft in murky water. How do you all do this? The bubbles are like nonexistent?

After the first buoy we made a right turn and there was Holy Chop Batman. Pull hard Sonja, you were made for chop. You eat chop for breakfast, right along with your Mix1. Pull Pull.

Then another right turn and we were on our way in. I pushed hard, go go go, nothing worse than a crummy swim time that will make you think you are all slow again.

I exit out of the water, and then it dawns on me, I signed up for the 1500 swim, what was I thinking, I could be done right now, and yet, I have to run down the beach and do it all over again for another loop. Rats!

So down the beach I go. Hi Chuckie, this is weird, my coach is watching me race. Skip Skip Skip into the water. DIVE. I love diving now, it’s like my favorite.

The second loop was a little lonely. I swam right again. I found a swimmer but ended up swimming next to him more than behind him. Then I decked him at the turn buoy, total accident, but you know, it was crowded around the buoy….NOT. We were like the only two left out there!

Somehow I made my way back into shore. Oh dear, thank goodness, there is a triathlon God after all.

I run up to my “transition” spot, AKA my Denver Zoo sweatshirt on the ground with my run shoes loosely tied on top of it. Angela was only doing the 1500 swim, no run for her, and she’s waiting there, already dressed, with like her hair done, and blowdried and stuff. Just kidding, she only beat me out of the water by, oh, say, 6 minutes.

This transition was one of the most comedic I’ve ever had. Angela acted as my Ironman volunteer transition person. She put my race belt around my waist while I put my shoes on (race belt = heart rate monitor). She handed me my watch and off I went. It was nothing but first class service.

So Chuckie had told me to not run too hard. Just cruise nice and good. Now I don’t think he actually understands what it’s like to be one of the slower swimmers. You constantly feel insanely behind. I wanted to just cruise, and maybe I did just cruise. But I cruised with and “edge”, as in a “wow, it’s so fun to run fast” edge. I took off.

It’s a 5K, it’s over before it starts for me. And I loved every second of it. I had fun reeling people in and just letting my hair fly in the wind. I felt free and fast, and I had a blast.

I blinked three times and I was back at the finish line. Angela was yelling some sort of gibberish at me and I mumbled some sort of “huh” response. Apparently she wanted me to do a cartwheel or something to try to get a prize. Uhhh, Ummm, Yea, not gonna happen. I was happy to get across that finish line.

About 11 seconds later…I was fine. That’s the thing with Ironman training, your fitness is deep, but you may not be the fastest thing out there. And the fastest I was not! But the funniest I WAS!

So, yea, it was an awesome A race. I’m so glad that we have been training for that one all year. Well worth the fitness loss I will have from the 2.3 hour taper!

You gotta do something wacko every once in awhile. How will you actually know that you are living life unless you change it up, throw caution to the wind, and do something silly on short notice?

Mt Evans, yet another 14er

Yesterday was Wednesday, which means another epic training day is in the books. Longs Peak two weeks ago was so much fun, it seemed like another 14er climb might be equally as exciting. This time it was up Mount Evans, with our bikes. Mt.Evans is one of two of the Colorado 14ers with a road up to the top. You might remember that I ran up it in the middle of winter this past year.

This peak is best by bike. We all met up in Idaho Springs to take off for the summit. Troy took the day off of work so we had him and Annie along for SAG support the whole day. Thank you so much Troy, it was helpful to have the support and fun to have you along for the day. Although, I think I’m the only one who was constantly calling him asking for a new water bottle.

We loaded up the rental car (we just got our car back from the shop late last night) with all sorts of jackets, tires, wheels, pumps, food, bottles. You would think we were heading out for a week long bike trip. Chuckie went through the plan for the day, Troy took a starting photo and we all headed out.

Two minutes down the road we called Troy because we were all freezing and had all underdressed. It was pretty funny, we hadn’t gone one mile and were were back digging into the car for more layers. It’s very shady in the canyon leading up to Echo lake and we hadn’t warmed up yet, so more layers were needed. Troy and I used our new walkie talkies for the first time and I really liked having them. Annie got on a few times that day and talked to me, it was cute.

We wound our way up through the canyon. Michelle was leading the way and I was just hanging onto her wheel. The girl pulled us up 85% of Mount Evans. She was setting good tempo and was keeping her heart rate consistent…thus mine was consistent as well. She just plugged along, up up up. Angela was up for an easy day so she was sitting back most the time with some sort of resting heart rate or something. Chuckie was there too, giving encouragement and keeping our minds busy with conversation.

I have recently been learning about bike gearing. The whole 11-25, or 12-27, and 53-39 stuff just confused me. I am in the process of re-gearing my TT bike and so I needed to learn what all these numbers mean. So, the whole time I’m following up Michelle I’m seeing that she has 2 gears left and I’m in my easiest gear (my 39-25) and she’s spinning faster than me. For the first time I understood that Michelle’s compact was giving her those extra gears. So I sat behind her and coveted her gears. I sang little songs to them in my head, wishing that her gears would jump ship and hop over to my bike.

Um, climbing up 14ers where the air is thin tends to mess with your brain. Oxygen deprivation! I guess the result for me is that I start singing to brainless objects. We wound our way past Echo lake and then through the toll booth. Apparently they have to let you through on a bike if you agree to not use the services. Chuckie is always a wealth of information. Troy in the SAG car paid and we were officially “on the mountain”.

It really is the best way to see Mount Evans, via bike. Each switchback is felt deep in your quads and your lungs feel the air getting thinner and thinner. Michelle was setting good tempo still and we both laughed at the point that she really started to feel the elevation. She said it happens at the same exact point every time. I had been drinking diligently over the last few days in prep for the elevation and I was feeling pretty good. I would say I felt better the last 1000 vertical than the first 1000 vertical.

Plus, it’s just amazing up there. The views were unreal and there was no threat of storms, which you always have to worry about. Annie and Troy had been following along and getting out and playing while they waited for us to bike by. When we would go by Annie would run along side, and would shout “I love you mom”. I’m trying hard to stick these memories firmly in my mind so that I may conjure them up when she is 13 and telling me she hates me.

Winding up those last switchbacks is always brutal. I always seem to remember that the climb is 14 miles, but then you hit the 14 mile marker and there are still more switchbacks to go. I think it’s actually 14.7, and that last 0.7 is brutal! The wind was really fierce up there and we would have to get focused to get across the switchback where it was straight in our face. Then we would turn and we would have a tailwind and all was good and easy. Back and Forth.

We pulled into the parking lot and there was Troy and Annie, waiting patiently. Yea!

And then we got cold. We quickly put on all the layers that we brought but everyone was shivering. We huddled together in front of the cars. I got to show off my superpower. My hands, toes and nose were warm. I think it might be the one time that being a little heavier than everyone in the group, Chuckie included, is a good thing. I stay warmer. I seem to be able to retain my warmth, or maybe it’s my super high heart rate. Either way, I’ll take it.

Eventually we gave up and crawled in the car. It was a funny sight as Chuckie, Michelle, Angela, Annie and I were stuffed into a car packed with stuff, while Troy just sat outside on the hood, happy as pie. He’s so chill, I love it.

After everyones hands were warm we pried ourselves out of the warm car, took 11 seconds to have Troy take a summit shot and we were off. I’m told that every 1000 feet you descend adds 7 degrees to the temperature. It was sure nice to go down and get the effects of this.

We wound around and ran into a family of mountain goats. They still seem like foreign creatures to me. There was a baby goat with them and they were loosing their fur so it was all patchy. It’s amazing that they live up there and find enough to eat, make babies, and stay alive. Plus, they are beautiful creatures.

The descent was so fun this time. Last time I was up on my bike I had taken a fall and injured my wrist and the descent was painful and scary. This time was the opposite. We stayed together and stayed safe, but had fun too. My favorite!

We quickly arrived down at Echo lake, and we pulled in. Troy had followed us down and now it was time for us to run. Off with the bike kits, on with the run shorts and shoes.

We all took off for our various runs and the minute I got into the technical single track I just relaxed and got a huge smile on my face. I love running trail and had so much fun making my way past Echo lake, up to Idaho Springs Reservoir, and onto the Chicago Lakes Trail. It was really really hard to turn around when I was supposed to, but I managed to cajole my feet to make the turn. The only thing more fun than technical single track is running DOWN technical single track.

There is something about needing to tune out, yet needing to focus on the rocks in front of you that I find therapeutic. It’s an odd meditation, taxing all your brain, yet not allowing you to think about anything else. Ahh, it’s like pushing the reset button. Good times!

After the run we broke open the watermelon. Yea, literally, we forgot a knife so Troy broke the watermelon in half, and then Angela got to work on the rest of it. It’s amazing how productive you can be on a watermelon with the cap of your water bottle. Humans were made to use tools!

One watermelon and several peaches later (thanks Michelle) and we got back into our kits and back on our bikes for the final 13 mile descent to Idaho Springs. This was so much fun! It was warm, and the curves were fun. I tried hard to stay with Angela and was mostly successful at that (so glad she was taking it easy). My descending always gets better as the summer wears on.

20 minutes later we were in Idaho Springs. Whew! That’s a fast way to travel! It was quite a successful training day, with a bout of adventure added in. Lots of good work was done, and lots of fun was had along with it. This was a great day, and it was so fun to get up another 14er, just 2 weeks after Longs.

Thanks Troy for driving support, and thanks Annie for being an absolute doll through it all. Another day in the books!

Yes, Michelle and I are nerds!

Mighty Mouse Adoption

Well friends, I need your help now! I got to thinking after that last post, and your wonderful comments (ignore Chuckies, any more chocolate and he won’t be able to keep up with his age groupers on the bike). We just gotta give this a go. Since when has a pro ever been adopted by us age groupers?

We have the power of social media on our side. Let’s adopt Mighty Mouse! Do you think social media and blogging can really get some resources into the hands of this kick ass athlete?

Can we, a bunch of age groupers, get enough backing to score Angela a mouse sized TT bike that we know will take the fastest bike splits on many of the 70.3 courses this year? Can we get her one in time for Clearwater World Championships? I think we can!

So, on the right is a button that has Angela’s picture on it. It links over to the “Adopt a PRO” tab on the top of my blog. Inside that tab is a list of Angela’s current needs.

How to help:
– Donate something to Angela, go shopping for her instead of you!
– Blog about this
– Donate airline miles or a plane ticket
– Adopt her yourself as well
– Tweet about this
– Cheer for Angela when she races
– Put her up if she’s coming your direction (Clearwater, Branson, Timberman, Miami, Longhorn)

Am I crazy?

go Mighty Mouse

Ahh, this last week has been RAD. Lots of rest and relaxation! I got back into things Friday and had a great weekend in Boulder. The highlight of the week was definitely today. I had a long run to do and decided to spectate the Boulder 70.3 and get in my run in the middle. I ran loops of the run course but in the opposite direction so I could stay out of the runners way. Great job to all those out there that braved a hot day. You all looked strong and I applaud you many times over.

The highlight of the entire day (and weekend) was watching Angela Naeth race herself to a second place finish today. Julie Dibens is just a stellar athlete and it was great to watch her dominate the course for the win, including holding up at the finish and “wasting” minutes in order to guarantee that all the ladies in the money behind her retained their paycheck (read up on the 8% rule if you are confused here). So yes, seeing Julie was great, but I tell ya, seeing Angela was SO STINKIN’ AWESOME!

I have had the luxury of training with (in the vicinity of) Angela, AKA Mighty Mouse (that’s what I call her), since I’ve been going up to Boulder and training with Chuckie (he coaches her as well). I think all of us age groupers should think about “adopting a developing pro”. I mean we always complain about how the Ironman brand should support developing PROS, but really, more of us should think about supporting a PRO who has oodles more natural talent than we do, but are working through the “getting going” phases of their PRO career.

“in the vacinity” photo evidence

PROs like Mighty Mouse Angela. Despite having the fastest PRO female bike split this year at Wildflower, California 70.3, Buffalo Springs 70.3, and Boulder Peak (are there more here?) Angela doesn’t have a bike sponsor. And, um, she is in need of a new bike pretty badly (that’s just my opinion as I constantly feel bad for riding around on a bike that is nicer than hers). It’s her second full season as a pro, so she’s still getting her legs under her, but I have no doubt that we will hear about many successful race results from her in the future.

So, with that, a big Congratulations to Angela for her 2nd place pro female finish today. Seeing Mighty Mouse swim great, bike her tail off, and dig deep the entire run I am thoroughly inspired. If you want to adopt Angela her website is here. If you own a company that happens to produce bikes….well, her website is here!

And I mean it, to all my age grouper readers, think about adopting a pro in your community. We should be supporting those that we admire as a way to set a better president in our sport that we value those with talent, heart, and dedication. Thoughts??


On Sunday I remember Chuckie saying “Just get through today and I promise that tomorrow will be rest”. And I did…just get through it. I got it all done, and there was strength and grit in there, but man was I looking forward to the beginning of this week. I knew this week would be lower volume, lower intensity. Rest, recovery, flopping, walking, spinning, air, pillows, bubbles, fluff.

Most triathletes loathe rest. They want to go go go, work work work. We are a type A bunch and I’ll admit, I’m no different. Until now. I worked my fanny off for this rest and I am so happy it’s here. I have done every single workout the last 2 weeks in it’s entirety, with the intent that it was assigned, even adding in several “extra credit” masters sessions (with approval from CV…okay more like urging than approval).

I got an email from Chuckie today saying that I must be tired because there are numerous grammar and spelling mistakes in my last blog post. In a way, that email was like seeing myself from the outside. It made me look within and admit, yes, I’m TIRED. I’ve been trying to not “feel” it, to just let myself recover without fully admitting just how much I needed the recovery. Part of me wishes I was chomping at the bit through this recovery because that might mean that I didn’t need it as much as I really do, maybe it would mean that I’m stronger than everyone thinks. But that email from coach woke me up and reminded me to admit to what I am feeling right this moment. I am strong, and I am tired too. It’s ok Sonja, you can be both.

So, what do I feel like? Well, first off, very aloof. Like my brain is on vacation, sitting on a beach, slightly drunk. For the last day and a half I have floated through the hours, not thought about much or done much. I’ve fixed food, and played with Annie, but I just haven’t been very sharp and I definitely haven’t been productive in any way, shape, or form. We had Annie’s friend Kat over yesterday and I spent most of the day thinking like a 4 year old, and liking it.

Secondly I feel puffy. Like my eyes and my lips feel puffy. It might have something to do with the 11 hours of sleep both Sunday and Monday nights. But yes, there must be some water retention going on. I do feel like my lips are very kissable right now, so that’s a good thing! Bring it on Troy!

Thirdly, heavy. Yup, just full, loaded, and heavy. Not on the scale, but just lacking a pep in my step. We live on the third floor and Annie is beating me up the stairs. I’m not taking them two at a time like usual, it’s more like one…step…at…a…time.

Fourthly, forgetful. If I promised you something this week, I have most likely forgotten. If we were supposed to go to lunch, you might want to call and remind me of that fact. This is part of the aloofness I suppose, but really my brain is on vacation. I forget to switch the laundry, I forget something I put in the microwave, I walk to the bathroom and forget what I went there to do (should be obvious). Just plain spacey.

Although this post may seen a bit down, I don’t see it that way, and I’m not asking for any sympathy. Despite feeling aloof, puffy, heavy, and forgetful I’m actually happy, upbeat, and VERY VERY proud of the way the training is going thus far. My mood is not sad or depressed, I’m just tired, spacey, and in need of rest. But I really wanted to write a blog post on it because I want to show you what this process is like in an honest way. I’m not the kind of blogger that just catalogues the happy fun times. I’ll try to convey to you what it feels like to need rest, and what it feels like to take that rest. I know in a few days I will be back and going strong again. Nothing is injured or hurting too too bad. I know that Chuckie knows all about this stuff. He knew I would feel this way long before I did. And he will know when I’m ready to hit it again as well, so don’t worry about that (if you are).

This is just honest. It is what it is. We’ve all been there I think. We have all denied to ourselves just how tired we are. Well, I’m not. I’ve just said it, and now I can rest and get through it.

Something that surprises me is that despite feeling tired, I’m still oddly motivated. Maybe not “oddly” but I just expected to loose motivation and drive when I’m tired and I haven’t. I look forward to the hard weeks ahead, I look forward to the training, and becoming even more bombproof. It all feels very calculated.

Please excuse all grammar and spelling issues.

Eccentric Loading

Another week passes, another week closer to Kona. This week was an interesting one with a climb up Longs in the middle of the week. Boy was I sore from Longs. The word of the week was “eccentric loading” (A load imposed on a structural member at some point other than the centroid of the section) (AKA walking downhill, and not being able to walk the next day because of it). It was eccentric this and eccentric that. All four of us (well, maybe Mighty Mouse excluded) were pretty humbled by all the eccentric loading we experienced.

A few days of reduced training and it was time to hit it pretty hard this weekend. Saturday Troy came up to Boulder with me. He went hiking with Annie all the way up Sanitas while I got on my swimbikerun, or really swimrunbike as it was that day. Chuckie rode his motorcycle for support…something about eccentric loading issues for him. It sure is nice to have someone there at every turn, handing out bottles and trying to keep us on the right path (like herding cats).

Michelle (PIC) has been quite the little problem child recently (PF in her heel, sprained foot due to racing Tyler in the jumpy castle). Well, for some reason she can’t clip her foot into her pedal. 5 miles later…it’s still not in. Luckily Chuckie was there. He was great help, he said “That sucks”. HaHa!! We stopped and I crammed my foot into her shoe (I’m a 9.5, she’s a 7) and finally got the shoe clipped in. So the rest of the ride she wasn’t allowed to unclip that foot. She had to walk around the quickie mart in her sock. Problem Child PIC. At last we finished up and I met back up with Troy and Annie for some Boulder Thai food and a soak in Boulder Creek.

soaking in the creek

annie stranded

boo and I, happy

Sunday PIC and I carpooled to Boulder together which I always love. We hopped into the Masters at the carpenter pool. This pool is a blast, it’s like 3 feet deep and 50 meters long (apparently 6 inches shy). PIC of course was leading the fastest lane, with Chuckie in her lane too. Angela was one lane up from me, and looking really smooth. I love having 10 people in my lane, it was so much fun…until the breast/fly/breast 150’s. I kinda struggled through those.

After swimming we got into our ride for the day. I had Chuckie with me. Apparently his eccentric loading issues were resolved because while I was doing some all out efforts, getting close to puking up my lung, Chuckie was starting friendly conversations with the people I was passing, completely unfazed by my effort and urging me to push harder. Love it.

Finally, we got to the workout I’ve been dreading all week. I saw this on my schedule on Tuesday and I was worried then. I’ve really been trying not to think about it, but, alas, here we are, Sunday afternoon and it’s time to get it done. I’ve got to transition off the bike and run fast. The fast is fast, but due to it being the end of a hard week, the residual eccentric loading issues and just finishing up a rather hard ride, it makes running fast seem REALLY fast.

Michelle knew I was nervous and she was there on the sidelines (PF = no running yet). I got going into it and went out way too fast. Way too fast. I tried to settle in and finally just mentally got to a place where I was holding on more than I was settling in. I counted down every lap. Then with 4 to go I counted down every 200, then with 500 to go I counted down every 100. I like to count backwards, it keeps my mind busy. Michelle cheered for me along the way which was really nice too.

Having Chuckie coach the workout was cool. Once I ran by and he asked what my heart rate was. I told him (182) and he said “You can run this HR for 2.5 hours”. I laughed about that for an entire lap, because I was feeling like I could run that heart rate for about 14 more minutes. He is the king of positive reinforcement, lots of “nice foot strike” or “great pace”. It was REALLY cool.

When it was all said and done, I was one pooped puppy. We rode our bikes the 7 miles back from the track and I lagged, despite the fact that I drank an entire Izzy soda after the workout. I was the last one to finish and got dropped twice on the cool down. My legs hurt, my arms hurt, my butt hurt, my abs hurt, I think my eyelashes were even a bit sore, but my heart was happy.

This coming week is more of a recovery week with a some reduced volume and then we pick things back up for an extended block of time. This week I am calling the calm before the storm. I plan to use this time to make up some extra meals, get all my laundry caught up, bikes cleaned, tires checked and replaced. It’s time to restock the training pantry, and prepare for the weeks ahead. That way the following weeks will go as smoothly as possible. I find that if your ducks are all in a row, then the training comes pretty easily. It’s when you have to take care of life along the way that training gets effected.