Oh No He Didnt

I’m the first to point out my fo-pahs…you know, loaning out a bike wheel I needed…I fessed up and blogged about that.

Calling Troy to come get me because I was crying on my bike. Yup, I didn’t hide that one.

I was going to fess up about yesterday, but somebody beat me to it.

But we were laughing, and joking, about grasshoppers none the less (they have been prolific this year).

And before you even read it…

yes, I went down

no, I did not get my hands under me

yes, it was sort-of a super man type of endo

no, I did not break the fall with my face

yes, I bounced up and was perfectly fine

My first though: what the heck did I just trip on?
My second thought: it’s going to take a lot more than that to take me out.

Okay, now you can read it….

Here it is.

The Taper

I hate the word “taper”. I hate it. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate the idea of rest. I’m not one of those “must train all the time” athletes. It may seem like that but I’m not, I really value rest, I love my rest days, I don’t get antsy. It’s actually taken me years to learn consistency in training.

No, I hate the vagueness of the “taper”. It always seems like it’s this period of time when athletes know they should be resting and praying to the triathlete gods that they will wake up on race day fresh and with the potential to race their hardest in some euphoric state. I hate that, it seems so chancy. I don’t like the expectations that come along with it.

Chuckie has a fantastic post on the subject and I buy it, hook line and sinker, it makes good solid sense. It’s a must read. Read it here.

I’ve learned oodles of stuff this year from Chuckie that I will never forget. One such training related lesson that will stick with me as long as I am an athlete is the following. Here it is, rocket science it is not: Fitness and Fatigue follow the same line. I’m a math-lovin kind of girl so I like the idea of lines and graphs and stuff. But I have seen it this year. When my fitness is going up, my fatigue tends to follow suit.

In regards to taper time, I like what Chuckie has done with me. He has slowly and judiciously increased the time between hard bouts. Running every day morphs into every other, into every third. It’s the same with hard bikes I see more and more rest between the efforts. But the efforts are still there. The fatigue falls away quicker than the fitness erodes. So the hard is strung out a little more and the fatigue is allowed to slowly recede. I really like this. I don’t feel like I’m over resting. There is work peppered with more and more rest and there is ZERO issues with feeling antsy, or crabby. I’m just slowly feeling a little better and a little better each day.

The exception is the SWIM. I don’t know about you, but I swim better in triathlon when I am spending lots of time in the water. My feel for the water is honed with time in the pool. So we increase the swimming these last weeks instead of reducing it. My swim “fitness” is really in a different place than my run and bike and Chuckie takes that into account.

I like too that these last days and weeks we use our time to train in specifics. I get to ride my trainer in my bathroom with the hot shower turned on.

I do runs in the shoes I’m racing in, in the socks I’m racing in, with everything soaking wet…because my feet/shoes/socks will be wet in Kona.

I dress warm all the time because Colorado is getting chillier, and Kona is not. As miserable as it can be, Punk Rock Racing makes sure I’m dressed with Grrr.

I get to do short rides in my Trakkers uniform to become familiar with it’s pockets, fit, and feel in the saddle.

Chuckie sends me pictures like this to start firing me up.

We use this taper time to hit the specifics. So I’m actually kept pretty busy. I really really like the way Chuckie has advised me through this.

So, while I hate the word “taper”, I do enjoy what it is coming to mean to me this year. It’s taking on a newness that feels right, it feels diligent, and committed. It feels like its going to give me the best chance of racing to my current potential on October 9th.

Team Trakkers 2011

Wanna be a part of Team Trakkers in 2011? We are a group that has a lot of fun! We meet up at Rev3 events, we keep in touch via twitter and each others blogs. We enjoy using our sponsors gear and representing them to the best of our ability. We like that our team has lots of different abilities and different backgrounds. We blog, we laugh, we are kinda techy.

Still interested?

Here’s the application for 2011.

And the direct link: http://trakkersgps.com/2011-sponsorship-application/

Sacrifice

As my training for Kona is winding down, I’m having more and more time to think about the experience thus far. I saw Chrissie Wellington out training yesterday. She was coming down the hill I was about to head up and she gave us a shaka. She was bundled up all warm, just like me, and it suddenly hit me. She and I, we are both training for the biggest race of our lives. She and I will be floating up to the same starting line, looking at the same coral, biking the same road, and running identical stretches of molten hot Kona asphalt. She and I are dressed warm to prepare our bodies for the heat, and she and I both have 16 days to go.

Last year representing Team USA and traveling to Australia to compete in the Olympic Distance World Championships was really awesome, and Clearwater 70.3 World Championships was a spectacular experience for me as well. But this, this has blown that out of the water. Kona really is the big dance of triathlon, and just the experience of training for it in Boulder, amongst lots of professionals who are headed to the same event as their numero uno race of the year has taken on a whole new level of coolness for me. I know Kona comes around once a year, as does every other race, but this year I feel like I am “involved” and “included” in what really is triathlon’s biggest TO DO. It’s the race that defines our sport, and year after year, it’s the race that shows us the depth of the human condition, of man and womans ability to excel and also their ability to simply continue moving forward. And this year, I am a part of that, and I feel so lucky.

Last night Troy and I were talking about the concept of sacrifice and you know, I think the best athletes don’t really have this word in their vocabulary.

sac·ri·fice? ?
[sak-ruh-fahys] noun, verb

the surrender or destruction of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim.

Troy said something very Yoda (as he often does). He said that with everything in his life whether it’s work, family, or personal he tries to not make sacrifices, instead he makes lifestyle changes. To sacrifice something means it’s gone, you are doing away with it, in order to chase something else. I asked him if he thinks things like “Let’s just get through Kona, and then….”. His answer was “no”. He said that he takes every week and tries to get through it in a way that is repeatable.

And I really do agree. It makes me sad to think that Kona will come and go and that it may mean that I don’t get to train like a pro on Wednesdays anymore. I love my Wednesdays, I love the level of work and fun that I put into the sport and the training right now. I’m not “getting through” every day, I’m loving every day, and wishing that every week could be like these last weeks have been.

It’s become my lifestyle and I don’t see the changes that have been made as sacrifices. It’s just been a shift. Like going from a 2 car family to a 1 car family. It’s not like we sacrificed a car. We just decided to do away with it, so life would be better. And that’s “better” in our little view of life, not meant to judge others in any way. Everyone has to find their own “better”.

Troy brought up the example of taking actuary exams (about the same amount of study time is spent studying for an actuary exam as is spent training for Kona, 20-30hrs/wk). He said he knows a couple who sacrificed their communication with each other for the exam studying. She took care of exerything and he studied. And the problem was, after the test was over, the communication was still gone. If you sacrifice important things in the short term for long term success, you might not be able to get those things back…ever.

So, I guess my point here is that being successful at triathlon, or test taking, or whatever, I’ve learned that it’s important to create a life, and to sacrifice nothing that you may want back later. The way I see it, do not put things on the back burner that you aren’t willing to burn. Find a way to have everything you want in your life on the front burners.

To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.
-Pre

As Pre said, don’t sacrifice your gifts in life. Don’t put aside the relationships and financial security that you have built. Create a life that looks how you would like it to and put aside the word “sacrifice”.

Just some thoughts. 16 more days!

Training Steamboat Style

This weekend we headed to Steamboat Springs CO to get away from home and volunteer for the Run Rabbit Run 50 miler. I had free lodging from last year, and at the Torian Plum! I love this place!

I had quite a bit of training to get in today so I left Troy and Annie to volunteer and I headed out to get in my workouts. For my ride I headed up Elk River Road. I was very lucky that all the aspen trees are changing right now and I was treated to a dazzling display of autumn in Colorado.

Chuckie sent me an email outlining my need for heat training. So from here on out until Kona I am to dress like a puritan who lives in Alaska. Yup, warm hats for me, long sleeves, tights. Well, I got the email on the way to Steamboat, so I had to buy a warm hat, and make do with the long sleeves I brought. I also forgot my cycling shorts so I was treated to a padding-free ride in my running capris. I guess that’s kona training too!

I had all sorts of details to my workout and I got busy getting it done. Between the focus and the work I would look around and just marvel at where I was. The wind even picked up. I now consider wind a good luck charm. I want to make sure I train in lots of wind for Kona, but it’s not like you can turn on the Wind Switch. So when the wind picks up, I consider it a blessing.

Along with beautiful scenery comes wildlife and this ride did not disappoint! I caught sight of a poor sheep that seemed to have gotten lost. He/she had tagging on him/her, but was totally in the middle of NOWHERE. He/she seemed a bit disturbed by it as well. I’m just hoping he/she stays out of the road and doesn’t get hit.

I also had to stop for some cows. They were getting herded. The guy was on a 4-wheeler. I guess that’s the new horse. His cows were all over the place and they didn’t seem to be heading the right direction. Maybe he would have been better off with a horse? Note how there is a sign on the right of the road warning people (i think) that there is herding going on…but it’s of a horse…it should be a 4-wheeler, but I bet that would just confuse people even more.

This ride was hard, the work to be done was hard, being solo was hard, being dressed in lots of layers was hard (it was pretty hot today in Steamboat), but I went through the motions and I nailed what I was supposed to. I got it done and I’m glad to put a check mark next to it. Good training is motivated training, and while I really didn’t want to leave my bed this morning I used the scenery to motivate me to get it done. That and Hawaiian music…LOTS of Hawaiian music!

Off the bike I was supposed to run. I had 5 miles at IM race pace, and then another 4 or so at an easier pace. I was worried. It felt hot. Later I found out it was 84, and this was at 6,700 feet in elevation. I could not put my tights on. I just couldn’t’ do it. I switched to shorts but kept on my compression socks, a long shirt, and my warm hat. But the tights I could not do.

I got into the run, and sure enough, just like most of my running has been going recently I slipped into the pace I had been told to run. I knocked out the miles but I was more thirsty than usual. I actually had to stop by a car wash at mile 6.5 and purchase some water and Gatorade. I was really happy when I finished today, like actually HAPPY to have made it all happen.

When I got back to the car there was a little baby snake there to greet me. It was really cute.

I was so glad to be done. I called Troy and he said he was hanging out with our good friends Keith and Nancy. We headed to dinner with them, we all went in our running clothes so I didn’t even shower. Ewww, but who cares! Keith has been to Kona several times so it was great to talk with him. Keith always make me feel great, he just has a way about him that makes me feel ready to race.

Another great day in the books. It was really nice to get out of town for the weekend. Training on different terrain is really nice sometimes. I think Steamboat would be a great place to come back to for some extended swim/bike/run in the future as well.

Congratulations to all of those who raced Run Rabbit Run! I loved meeting many of you Friday night and was very jazzed to hear that so many of you had watched my last years video and that some of you keep up with my blog. I am humbly thankful!

A Rolling Blog Post

Today was a doozy. We had a 5 hour ride in Boulder planned and it was a mellow ride for me, my last recoveryish day after the 1/2 IM this past weekend. There was 30 minutes of strength tempo work to be had, but mostly a time in the seat ride.

Several days ago I wrote this:

I have 26 important days until Kona, and I know that any mistake I make will be punishable by the island gods.

Why oh why don’t I listen to myself?

A little background: We have tubeless clincher tires on all three of Troy and I’s bikes. They are pricey ($60), but for several years (up until the last few months) we have been flat-free. You have to carry a spare “tire” instead of just a tube, but it’s seemed worth it. Three bikes, 6 tires, 3 spares…pricy. Well, I had a super huge flat the other day where I ran over a beer bottle and shredded my tire. When putting on my space I broke the valve stem off and had to call my MIL to pick me up. AND SO because nobody carries these special tires I ended up purchasing two normal tires with tubes for my training wheels on my TT bike at Excel Sports so that I could resume training that evening.

I had a friend ask to borrow a wheel the other day and I gave him my front wheel off my TT bike because it matched the one he wrecked. Totally my choice and I was happy to help my friend out. Little did I know this would be the beginning of a long chain of events.

So I pulled off my front wheel from my road bike and threw that on the TT bike. Now I am in a strange predicament. I have one tubeless tire that requires me to carry a spare TIRE, and one normal tire which requires me to carry a tube. I rode yesterday on it for 1:45, I didn’t flat, but my pockets were full of tubes/tires.

This morning when I’m grabbing my bike from the garage I notice the front wheel is very low on air. Humm, must have a leak, but maybe not much. I am rushed as I just found out this issue and PIC is picking me up any moment so I grab a spare tubeless tire and throw it in.

We get to Boulder and here’s how it goes:

– Discover huge leak in tubeless tire that is on my front wheel
– Change tire to spare tire (so now I have no spare for a front flat)
– Make everyone late to meet a friend we are riding with
– Very flustered
– Get reminder from coach about making good choices for Kona (like not loaning out a wheel that I needed)
– Ride over to Left Hand Canyon
– Reach down to grab water…realize I left without bottles (we are 45 min from Boulder)
– Chuckie gives me one of his bottles, I feel lame
– Get out of the saddle to climb and feel that the front tire is squishy
– Realize front tire is flat
– Try to call friends, no cell coverage
– Leave group, tell them, “I need to fix this, I will be back”
– Descend on flat front tire, ride 45 min to North Boulder bike shop
– Don’t have form of payment on me, so Troy texts me the CC number and expiration
– Purchase new tire to match the back and 2 more tubes…just in case
– Put new tire and tube on, pump up, hear Pshhhhhh sound
– Shop guy comes over, we realize together that there is no RIM TAPE on this wheel. It’s always had the tubeless tires on it, I never realized…whoever I bought it from decided rim tape didn’t need to happen.
– Shop guy put on rim tape
– Change to second tube and attempt pumping up tire
– everything holds and is good.
– Use texted CC # to purchase two new waterbottles, two Luna Bars (my treat for going through he!!), another spare tube, and some hot pink tire helper getter outey thingees (you know what I mean)
– Ride back to Left Hand Canyon
– Start riding up and wonder if I missed Chuckie and PIC and they are on the flats
– Climb climb climb, find Chuckie and PIC
– Get in tempo work
– Ride back wondering what the #$!*$#^@ is wrong with my tire luck.
– Get the “focus” email from Chuckie

Yes, the whole day today I was like “I’m a rolling blog post”. I was making so so so many rookie mistakes. From not taking care of my tire business, to loaning out something I needed, to forgetting my bottles, to not knowing I didn’t have rim tape on my rim, and finally letting myself get flustered.

This is not a “tragic” day, it’s one that I created with the decisions I made. I have to have more focus for the next few weeks and I need to make the right decisions because the wrong ones tend to start chain reactions and like I said, will only be punishable by the island gods.

And with that, I am off to bed.

Harvest Moon Long Course Triathlon

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a race report. I made the decision after IM CDA to train exclusively for Kona and purposefully put zero races on the schedule. As I got into my training Chuckie suggested that I race the Harvest Moon Long Course Triathlon as a Kona tune up race. It’s just a 20 minute drive from my house, it’s on local territory, and it’s affordable.

As the race grew closer I realized that it was the same day as the Rev3 Cedar Point races and I was kicking myself for not going to CP to cheer on my Trakkers teammates who were doing the 140.6 race there. But then, looking at it from the Kona prep side this was the right decision. No airplane (germ exposure), travel trip expense (Kona spending money exposure), days of reduced training (kicking butt in the future exposure). But, I really missed out on Rev3 Cedar Point, and I would like to send out a huge congratulations to all the new 140.6ers!!

I’ll admit, I was a little nervous about racing. This close to Kona (4 weeks) I pondered what would happen if my results were lackluster. Then I would have to do the important job of figuring out what went wrong, and making sure my confidence didn’t take a plunge. Racing can be a little scary sometimes! But the night before the race, I did my normal mental work and I talked to myself about stepping on the line with a clean slate, with ZERO expectations, and just seeing where the race goes. It will be a good indicator as to where I am at, but if I let nerves get in the way, then it won’t be a good indicator. I thought I went to bed with peace, but I had a nightmare that Annie got bit by a spider and died, so maybe not all my issues were resolved. I love being a mom, do the irrational thoughts ever stop?

We arrived early that morning and waited in a long line of cars until 6am when the reservoir opened. Of course Annie had to go pee while we were waiting, and of course when Troy was taking her in the bushes (what few there are out there) the line of cars started moving. Troy was so happy that I didn’t drive off without him, and I was so offended that he thought I would do such a thing. :)

I got a GREAT spot in transition, right close to the bike exit and facing the proper way out. I set up my goods…minimal minimal minimal and got out of there. One of the things I forgot is that racing so close to home you see all your friends, all the triathletes that you miss at travel races. I loved bumping into everyone that I did, especially some of the multisport newbies like Brett, and Ron.

I was in the second wave to go off. In the first wave was the elites and the women 35+. I’ll admit right now that I think I was a little confused about the Elite wave. It said on the website that you had to have a PRO card to win money. And I interpreted that to mean that you had to have a PRO card to enter the Elite wave. So I did not. But I was wrong, someone like me could have entered the Elite wave, but I wouldn’t receive $$ if I won, since I’m an AGer. Live and learn.

So wave #2 it was. I wanted to swim good so I went hard from the start. I got out really well, swam really straight, and found feet. Sweet. They were great for awhile until they started loosing their navigational focus and I went solo from there. I tried to swim hard, pull hard, stay straight. I lost it a bit towards the last 20% of the swim but what I lacked in navigation, I made up for in effort. I exited, checked my watch to see 31:17 and ran UP UP UP to the transition and timing mat. It took 1 minute to run UP UP UP that hill.

I heard Chuckie say something to me on the way up…right as I was pulling off my wetsuit top, so I heard his words as: “Humngh Sonja, your mshyo sjhlli hukrps”. Right, got it coach!

Is it just me or are my legs frighteningly tan? I wear sunscreen, I swear!

Into transition, off with the suit, on with the glasses/helmet and I was out of there. I would like to highlight that I won the overall mens and women’s T1 race. Yes, sir-eee I went 0:48 seconds for an overall race best, Tim Hola’s got NOTHING on me (except swim/bike/run). Tyler would be SO proud!

Ha! Onto the bike. I had ridden the course several days prior with PIC and we had Kona like winds. We were going about 9mph for miles and miles. I felt prepared to have wind on race day and I almost wanted it so I could practice for Kona. When things were rather calm I was a little bummed, but not for too long. I got into my groove and incorporated a few things that Chuckie has been teaching me during training. I was racing without my race wheels, so I had my training PowerTap wheel on the back, and my training American Classic on the front. One thing CV has taught me is to avoid heart rate and power spikes during the race. This was a course with rollers, so I really tried to SIMMER during the hills, and keep the intensity HIGH on the flats and straights, thus keeping power and heart rate consistent. This is called “Being nice to your body and doing it a favor so you can ask it to run fast later”, or “BNTYBADIAFSYCAITRFL”. No really, it’s a technical term, it’s in all the Exercise Physiology books, look it up. So with that in mind I stayed focused during the race and tried to nail the task at hand.

The other CV thing I worked on was to not let my watts drop over the course of the race. This (apparently) happens often to athletes, so I really kept an eye on the watts and steadily rose them throughout the 56 miles. I was expecting total headwind the last 10 miles coming back on Quincy and almost shouted “Hallelujah” when there was none to be had. I pushed the entire way back, keeping the heart rate in check and really pushing hard down the hills to keep watts up.

I love my new gearing! It’s perfection! The compact with the 11-25 is just perfect for me and when Chuckie said the new crank length would make me faster, he wasn’t lying. My bike split came in at 2:26:49 and 22.9mph.

I also wanted to highlight Amber Rydholm. Despite the fact that we have only met once, she cheered me on by name out there. Amber is an Iron-chick and did both Placid and St.George this year. It was great to talk with her, and we got to know each other a bit better after the race. Cool Chick!

Amber and I on the podium with Annie, Um, Amber is really tall, did I mention that?

So I rolled into transition, threw on my socks and run shoes, grabbed my hat/number/nutrition and ran on out. It was cool to see lots of empty racks. I hit my lap button at the timing mats and I looked down at my watch. It said 3:01 for the overall race time. I was really really shocked at this. It all started to come together. Immediately I said to myself, if you can run 1:30 you can race 4:31. My PR from Clearwater last year was a 4:40, and I was pretty jazzed about that time. To know that running under 1:39 was going to result in a PR got me a little excited…but just for a moment.

I had a 1/2 marathon yet to run. I immediately got focused. I was excited to test out all the work we have been doing with my run. Well, not “work” really, but just the things I have learned about awareness and going Zen, and keeping my posture. So, that’s what I did. We had some wind out there and I was lucky to work my way up to a guy running very close to my pace within the first mile. I tucked behind him settled in.

I focused on lowering the heart rate, standing tall, keeping my arms high, shoulders back and “boxing” with the hands. I tried to keep the belly engaged, and the head movement minimal. Focus Focus. And the miles started ripping by. My Garmin would beep at me every mile and tell me my split and they were all in the 7:00 range, some a little under, some a little over.

On one of the aid stations my wind block and the #1 male took all the aid and I wasn’t able to pick anything up. I remember thinking “This is part of the sport”, now what can I do about it? I decided to forgo the wind block in order to come into the next aid station first. He hung super tough with me though. I think he wondered why I was picking it up and passing him. He asked my name, I asked his, and then I told him “I really need aid at the next station”. I think he understood then.

I was able to get aid and keep my pace. I got to mile 6 and I saw the first lady pass me going the other way. I immediately recognized her as Mandy Mclane who I knew recently moved to Boulder (rad). She was one mile ahead of me, and I was actually really happy to be within one mile of her. What I didn’t realize was that she had registered in the Elite wave, so she had started 5 minutes ahead. But I didn’t know that at the time. Near the turn around on the dam I saw the #2 lady, Wendy Mader. I gotta admit, the Team Timex outfits are just plain daunting. Wendy looked like she was HAULING, I didn’t know if I could catch her. I also didn’t know that she started in Wave #1 as well, not as an Elite, but as 35+.

The aid station just shy of the turn around had my friend Brett’s daughter manning it. She recognized me and the aid station went BALLISTIC for me on the way back. LIKE CRAZY BALLISTIC! I loved them so much, I wanted to give them all kisses. It really made me laugh, and I think if I can inspire ONE young female cross county runner to stay healthy, EAT FOOD, and SMILE, then my job is complete. Thanks girls!!

On the way back I struggled a bit with the aid stations. They were on one side of the bike path, so when you were running back in, the people going out were in line for the aid and I didn’t want to have a head on collision with any of the racers. I missed one station, and then two more I just pulled over and took cups myself instead of taking them from the volunteers. I’m trying to have better aid station edict because this is something I’m not great with. It’s a work in progress. On the way back in I also had SO MANY people shout “GoSonja”. I really tried hard to wave at every one of them, another work in progress there. Please know that I hear you, and I value the fact that you are willing to take energy out of your race to shout my name, it means A LOT and it makes me run faster!

I had been watching Wendy HAUL in front of me, and then I came around a corner and she was right there. She soon stopped to stretch out what looked like a calf that was in pain. I FELT for her, as I know that when racing most athletes one goal is to keep moving forward at a steady clip with minimal issues. That’s one goal I think we all share. So I ran by Wendy but hoped that she would be able to stretch it out and get back into her pace.

I ran into Richard, who REALLY made me laugh. Richard is the dad of one of Annies schoolmates last year. We have become really good friends with their family and Richard got into Kona via the lotto (what are the odds…two parents in one preschool class of 12…headed to Kona). Richard was going out when I was coming in and he shouted “I’m coming for ya”, which was funny. But then, he kept shouting it like 5 different times and his voice kept getting fainter and fainter. In the moment it was hilarious and it was the one thing that broke my focus during the whole race. I lost it and just laughed for about 20 seconds.

I knew at that point that I was in second, behind Mandy, and I assumed she started in my same wave since we are usually the same age group. I was pretty jazzed. Heading into the last mile I switched my watch over to race time and noticed that if I ran hard I would be able to break 4:30. I couldn’t even comprehend it. I really couldn’t. In triathlons there are others to “race” but really, we “race” ourselves. I try to use other people for motivation to do my best, but when it comes down to it, it’s about finding the motivation from within and letting the chips fall where they may. Focus on what you can control…which is you…and your best results will shine through.

I ran strong into the finish keeping my form as perfect as I could muster. At the end they have this HUGE slip-n-slide that ROCKS. I took not one, but TWO trips down the slip-n-slide. I really think that this should be mandatory for races, it was really awesome!

I was standing around at the finish talking to Jen who I met at CDA and just love. Her husband Mark came up and said “You won”. I said “No, Mandy Mclane won, she was in front of me”. He dragged me over to the results and sure enough, I saw “Elite” next to her name which meant that she started 5 minutes ahead of me, and with that factored in, I was 13 seconds ahead. I was first overall, and I felt a bit bad that we hadn’t started in the same wave. It’s always hard to race someone who is in a different wave.

Shock, really pure shock. Chuckie says I shouldn’t be shocked, and I’m trying to get over it, but I was shocked. The 4:29:29 was an 11 minute PR over Clearwater. Although my Garmin did have the run course as short, there were a lot of twists and turns and the Garmin tends to underrepresent that. It could have been right. If it was right, then my 1:28:50 was a 2+min half marathon PR.

I learned so much during this race. Besides the fact that I got to practice all this stuff that CV has been teaching me in a race setting, I also learned the value of training. I never thought in years past that all my racing was impacting my racing, but this triathlon, and how I felt during this swim/bike/run really showed me just how much you can gain when you do commit to train for a big race. If you don’t race every little race along the way, then you might just shock yourself (and shocked i was). Racing is fun, it’s gratifying, and it’s a thrill. Training requires focus and diligence. But I never realized what huge rewards it can pay…until Sunday.

I also realized that I have sold myself short in the past. We all derive our identity from different places and I’ve always considered myself as “the hard worker”. I realized today that hard work can take you a long way. Hard work can win you races, and talent is a multifunctional word. It can mean lots of things, including your ability to work hard and capitalize on what genes you have.

Lastly, while this race was a great result for me, I plan to put it in my back pocket and then put my nose down and continue to do what I do best: comit. I have 26 important days until Kona, and I know that any mistake I make will be punishable by the island gods. Several weeks ago on a ride up to Ward I was joined by Cam Widoff. I don’t think I have to explain who that is, but let’s suffice it to say that he has raced as a PRO in Kona more times than….well…pretty much anyone. I asked him his advise and he said that the years he came to Kona humble and just ready to focus on himself and do his best were the years that he raced well. So that is my plan. Do the right thing from here on out. Focus on diligence in sleep, eating, limiting stress, and training. Spend minimal time attached to electronics, and maximal time spent with my legs up against the wall. And finally to arrive on the island humble, happy to be there, and happy to have the opportunity to race well.

Thanks in a very big way to: Trakkers (congrats to Rev3CP finishers), Goal0 (keeping my electronics solar charged), Saucony (my Kinvaras rock), Mix1 (2 for breakfast), Core Concepts (bamboo t-shirts rock), Tri-Massage (keeping my body happy), First Endurance (in my bottles, in my tummy), Justin’s Nut Butter (chocolate almond is heaven on earth), Nathan (just ordered 4 new hand bottles for KONA), NUUN (did you get any in transition?), and TriSwim (do I smell like chlorine…nope).

An especially huge thanks to Troy and Annie who were out there in full force, you guys rock, and I love you tons. I promise to take you on a Hawaiian vacation in 26 days.

And to Chuckie: humble thanks, my coach. Thank you for putting in the hours with me on the bike and writing me schedules that make me laugh and make me fit. You continue to train me in a way that makes me surprise myself. 26 more days until Kona, here we come.

Results can be found here.

Thank You Track Gods

After my midweek meltdown I got back into the swing of things pretty quickly. Throwing up the white flag was the best thing I could do. I headed to Troy parents for some Annie help and some nurturing. I was able to jump back into the workouts for my final big weekend of work.

Saturday brought a great ride with the crew. We visited the town of Ward twice. I love that little town. I wish I counted how many times I’ve ridden my bike up to there this summer. Maybe I’ll consult the training logs.

Sunday was a huge track workout. I was so excited the week before after finishing my track workout because I had nailed 21x 1000 on the track at my ironman race pace. Well I get to the track on Sunday, and I’m feeling a little tapped from the stressful week and the hard ride the day before. I’m wondering when I’m not going to nail a workout, when will the bottom fall out.

Not Sunday!

I love the track. This time, the goal was 25×1000 at 5 seconds faster than the previous week, but as I’ve seen, things can change if my heart rate was unusually high. I got into them and it was just the opposite. I kept tapping my watch, wondering if it was broken. 6 beats lower and 5 seconds faster.

I found my zen place rather quickly and I just cranked them out. It was like clockwork and after #16 Chuckie let me start to get faster. The next 9 I considered my reward. I just let my body run, and I let my heart beat, and my eyes gloss over. The last one was 20 seconds faster than the first and it felt absolutely wonderful.

I’ve learned such different things this Ironman build. I learned how to work the plan at a whole new level. I learned how to settle into the process and to enjoy the moments where I feel great. i’ve learned to “not push” unless told to do so, and when told to, then to push with everything I have in me. I’ve held my body back to stay within a heart rate zone, and I’ve pushed my body forward to blow my own expectations. I’ve found out where my true athletic strengths lie, and what part of myself, and my mind, I can depend on.

After 25×1000 on the track, I was one happy girl. This workout was the “hump” of the training block and finishing it felt amazing. Thank you running gods!

I’ve had 3 days of rest now (just a few easy workouts to keep my body moving) and it’s been nice. My mood has been a bit erratic but I took Chuckies orders and decided to pretend I wasn’t a triathlete for a few days. I’ve had fun!

Tomorrow we get back into the swing of things, and then it’s 100% eye on the prize for the next month. I can’t wait to race at the Ironman World Championships. I’ve never trained this hard for anything in my life and I’m excited to see how it all goes down. So, for you out there, thanks for keeping me company during my training, hang with me just a bit longer, you’ve all been so strong!

I’m very much a Saucony girl, and don’t actually own a single under armor product, but this commercial got my Grrrrr all fired up!

White Flag

Tuesday was a white flag day. You know those days where you try to do it all, you try to get everything in and to keep everyone happy along the way, and then you find yourself crying on the bumper of your car? Yup, I had one of those days. It’s started with great intentions, I was feeling like wonder woman, and I was SO on it. I had a few (4) workouts to get done. Now, none of them are long, and some were meant to be done one after another, but still, four is four.

Also, I was out of gels/blocks/that sort of thing. Also, we ran out of dinner options. Also, I had scheduled a wax appointment….and a masssage (not with the same person)! Now I’m up to 8 things to get done in my day. What was I thinking?

This violated the extremely strict rule of “You can only do one (1) extracurricular thing a day while training for Kona”. I don’t know who made up this rule, but it was probably Newton, or Einstein (not the bagels) or Michelangelo (who names their kid that anyways…poor dude in Kindergarten trying to learn to spell his own name) or someone smart like that.

Well, I clearly violated the rule!

So I got up at 6am and packed my bags. If my day was going to work, Troy was going to need the car and he was going to need to take Annie to school at 9am. So I strapped on my 8 pound backpack full of swim and exercise gear and I ran 2 miles to the gym. This little run wasn’t even one of the 4 workouts, so already I’m wondering if this run counts as my one extracurricular activity.

I get to the gym at 7 and I hop in the pool for workout #1. It goes ok, not great by any means, but I’ve got three more to make up for it, so I get it done and move onto #2.

#2 is a secret so I’ll just leave it there and move along to #3.

#3 goes well and I see a few people I know in the weight room. I give them the “We are lifting so we can’t chat nod” and I continue to do my thing. Time is of the essence, the essence of what I’m not sure.

After workout #3 it’s time to get busy with errands, and I mean busy! Troy has left the car in the gym parking lot after driving Annie to school (and then biked himself to work). I feel sleuthy as I think “if I were Troy, where would I park” while I wander around the lot. I find the car in the lot, then I find the key in the spot he stashed it, the secret spot, verrrry top secret. I felt like I was stealing my own car, but since I go to the same gym as John Elway, and there is a Lexus on one side of me and a BMW on the other side…and my VW is an 01…and missing a piece of the stripping along the side…I figure I’m okay. I get out of there without a visit from the cops.

Off to the waxing appontment where…well…you know…those things are never any fun. I mean, my lady is much nicer than Caroles, so I’ve got that going for me. It dawns on me that I spend 35 minutes every 5 weeks with this lady and I have REALLY good friends that I don’t see that often. Maybe if my friends learned to wax we could kill two birds with one stone? But I digress.

After the wax I swing by Annie’s school with 3 minutes to spare. Boo Ya, mom of the year award. I pick up the munchkin and pat myself on the back for remembering to pack a juice box and snack in her backpack (at 6am I thought of this mind you).

We get home and have lunch. Annie and I work for some time on writing the letters in her last name. She’s doing great with her letters. Michelle drops by to return my race wheels that she used this weekend and we switch the cassette back to her training wheels. Did you know that Michelle won the 40-50 Elite Amateur wave at the Chicago triathlon this weekend? She so totally rocks. Great job Ford!

Out goes Ford, and Annie and I read books and I get her down for a nap. I try to get a nap out of her once every three days or so, and on this day I am successful. Woot.

Troy walks in and I walk out, kiss kiss hug hug. Off to my massage, which is WAY across town, but he’s that good (thank you Brad). So, from 3-4pm my life rocks. His massage rocks. On the way home I realize I have a 5 hour ride the next day and that I’m out of gels and such. So I stop by Runners Roost to grab some. Then I realize we are out of protein for dinner, so I stop by the store to grab that.

I get home and everyone is awake and hungry. I whip up dinner, watching the clock since I still have workout #4 to get done and my palms are starting to itch.

Dinner done, I throw on my cycling kit, and I’m off on my bike. I don’t want to ride, but sometimes you just have to get out the door. It’s 6pm, I’ve been going full boar for 12 hours, but whatever, just get it done, it’s easy. The blog isn’t called goSonja because I sit around all day.

I get going and a switch flips. I don’t feel good, I’m not having fun (this is VERY rare). I’m trying to convince myself how pretty the lake looks, but all I can think about it how horrible the bumps in the road feel (literally, there are evil bumps/cracks in the road). A few more minutes and the tears start rolling. I can’t even say why, I just know that I’m riding my bike, and I’m crying. Cyclists are flying by me, and tears are streaming down my face.

Okay, Sonja, this is okay, it’s probably just an emotional release, maybe it will pass. I reach down to get some water and I realize I forgot my water bottle at home. And that, my friends, does me in. I loose it at that point. The shoulders are shaking and the tears are rolling. I am a 20 minute ride from home and I call Troy. Mostly I just wanted him to say he would bring me a bottle but he says he’ll come get me. I ride around in circles until he and Annie show up, trying to decide if I will just get a bottle from him and ride on. The strong girl would ride on. But something inside tells me this isn’t a matter of will. This is my body and my mind screaming at me to just simmer down for a second.

Troy shows up and he doesn’t know what to think. He thinks I bonked…20 minutes from home right after dinner. Annie is asking why I’m crying and she’s petting my head. I just sat on the rear bumper and cried like my dog just got hit by a car. Eventually, and mind you I haven’t said a word to Troy, he packs me in the car, takes me home and puts me to bed.

A lot of people ask me how I do it all, how I fit it all in, and I think the answer is “Sometimes I don’t”. I try to fit it all in, I try to keep the people in my life as happy as I am able, but sometimes I do too much, I take on too much. Sometimes I do have to throw up the white surrender flag and call for help. I have to tell Troy “I’m done”. I think the fine line is knowing when you are bowing out due to fear, versus stoping so you can live to fight another day.

Either way, I threw up the white flag on that ride…and on the next day as well. I used the one day break to assess what was holding me up and I ended up packing up Annabelle and I and driving to Troys parents house. I’m now under their roof. They are watching Annie (I love you Marla) and I get to train with less distractions. We’ll hang here for 5 days or so.

36 more days!

40 days

I meant to post this yesterday, but i had a bit of a meltdown, so I didn’t get it up. Enjoy it!

In commemoration of Kona being a mere 40 days away and after yesterdays post I thought I would highlight 40 fun things that have transpired over the last few weeks.

1.) Chuckie’s turtle and custard jokes

2.) Michelle not being able to click into her pedal for 90 minutes on a ride

3.) Angela being told to “Run like Sonja” (that one was especially funny since her 1/2 marathon off the bike is faster than my 1/2 marathon PR)

4.) Annie doing fashion shows in the living room

5.) Troy laughing at things that are in no way or shape funny, like the fact that it takes 2 people to get me into my compression tights at night, when all he wants to do is take them OFF

6.) eating BoulderBaked cookies with Troy and Annie

7.) racing Angela up the bleacher stairs and beating her every time…except when she cheats

8.) having “parties” that last 45 minutes and result in getting Michelle’s bike packed into her bike box

9.) The feeling of that first 50 meters in the pool in the am where the water is too cold and you know you are so very alive

10.) contemplating what to put in your pockets for a long ride and wondering if you could sneak anything into Michelle’s pocket on the sly

11.) making new friends at masters and then swimming all out so that you can keep up with them

12.) giving people nicknames

13.) hitting 1000 after 1000 after 1000 on the track within 1 second of your given goal pace….21 times.

14.) listening to Annie’s jokes about turtles…and custard.

15.) running all out 100 yard dashes and keeling over at the end, but internally giggling at the silliness of it all

16.) laughing about the fact that there are new words that are used every day like “chip-seal”, “flop”, “tempo”, “specificity”, “aerobic”, and “glycogen”

17.) listening to Chuckies bands album in the car and having Ah-Hah moments about committing to whatever you do.

18.) eating apples from the neighbors trees at the end of rides and runs

19.) laughing and having great conversations with Troy about our crazy lives and how happy we both are

20.) taking the bus, and then the light rail home from Boulder after a long day of training so Troy could have the car…that was so much fun, and I forgot how much I enjoy public transportation…seriously!

21.) my mom buying a brand new mini cooper after driving the Saturn they got me for college for 11 years.

22.) watching Chuckie eat an entire full sized watermelon over the sink after one of our rides

23.) re-gearing my bike and changing the crank length and seeing instant progress with the changes

24.) spending the night with Tyler and Beth before they raced, and getting ice thrown on me in the shower…payback sucks!

25.) seeing the big name pros out riding their bikes when I am training in Boulder

26.) swimming in the Scott Carpenter pool before they closed it to humans so that dogs can swim in it the last two weeks of summer…only in Boulder

27.) running out of Justin’s Nut Butter and having a big box of it on the doorstep the next day

28.) snuggling with Troy on chilly nights and having my quads heat up the entire bed

29.) Getting to know Punk Rock Runner and finding a new kindred soul

30.) Eminem’s new album

31.) going through an entire tube of NUUN in one track workout

32.) watching Annie learn to snorkel in our swimming pool in preparation for Kona

33.) loving the new necklace that my mom got me about a month back, nobody can figure out what it is, can you? Don’t spoil it if I already told you.

34.) seeing Anthony try on Carole’s new Snuggie, he looks like a monk, a Snuggie Monk

35.) swimming in the outdoor pool when it’s dark outside, sometimes in the morning, sometimes in the evening

36.) seeing Josh at TriMassage, I always have fun when I’m there

37.) riding my bike to Ward, then Nederland, then to Ward, then down to the 36, then back to Ward, then back to Boulder, all the while holding tempo pace

38.) enjoying new climbs, new scenery, and new company this summer training in Boulder

39.) seeing the scale read numbers that I haven’t seen since high school

40.) having my family “get me” and love that I do all this stuff.