Norseman 2015 The Cold Swim

It’s HERE! The Norseman Blog!! I’ve finally put down all the juicy details about this epic race, along with some really good insights I got from the experience. This post was delayed for a few reasons. ONE, I’ve been working hard on the back end of Rising Tide Triathlon Coaching which has been amazing (if you reached out to me for coaching recently, I’m so jazzed! Thank you!).

TWO, this race took some serious reflection before I could extract the good insight out of it. It actually happened on a ride just this week and I had to pull over and record a voice memo to myself so I wouldn’t lose the AHHH-HAH!! Look for that blog in a few days.

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Before I launch into it… I’ve been talking to LOTS of athletes these days. I keep asking and asking and asking what they are looking for in coaching, what they want me to put out there, and what is missing in the industry. It’s been really neat, and if I haven’t talked to you yet and you have something to tell me on this topic, feel free to comment below. So, one thing that kept coming up when I asked what people wanted from me was more “triathlon hacks.” The little mental tricks, or the efficiently tricks that I seem to always be looking for, sharing, blogging, etc. Well, people want more of that! Okay, I say, I see where that would make a lot of sense. So, as a tester, I’m going to do it.

Monday, August 31st, 7pm (Denver time…you know, Mountain time) I’m going to host a webinar on my #trihacks. It’s going to be around 60 minutes long, but I’ll stay longer if people need me to. I’m planning on talking a little about WILLPOWER because that’s what I’ve been delving into personally over the last few months, and then we can free form it from there.

It’s free so we can see if I suck at it, or if you all like it. 

SIGN UP HERE

Okay, enough is enough….. What’s it’s like to swim in 50 degree water? …let’s do this.
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The lead up to Norseman wasn’t exactly smooth sailing for me. A week before the race I started to cough a bit. My first reaction was “no big deal”, the race is a week away. It’s not exactly ideal to travel sick, but I had a week to get better and MANY of you assured me I would be fine. As the days before the race went by I got worse, but I expected that. On Wednesday I had a really bad day and just could barely function. My cough was deep in my chest and not very productive. I wasn’t coughing up green goo, it was lots of clear and really painful. I posted FB videos every day and tried to keep my chin up, I was in Norway, it really wasn’t that hard!

On Thursday we traveled to Eidfjord (swim start town) and I swam in the fjord. I felt it was really important to do a test swim since the water was “the coldest this time of year since 1963” as we got told over and over again. I traveled to Norway with my wetsuit, earplugs, neoprene cap (with the little strap under the chin) and spare swim caps. But after a scary email from the race director on Tuesday Troy scoped out a surf shop and then I dragged myself there to purchase a neoprene vest, booties, and a full hood that went down your entire neck and into your wetsuit.

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So, I felt prepared for the test swim. Except the bad cough part.

Boy was I wrong. I actually had no idea how I was going to swim 2.4 miles after just a 20 minute test swim. I’m a really hearty girl, but DANG that was FREEZING…put an F-word in front of freezing, that’s how cold it was. I still get cold thinking about it. Turns out I was a bit clueless and swam very near where a river feeds into the fjord and so I actually swam in 47 degree water. The swim TANKED me, I ended up walking out of the restaurant we went to afterwards and falling asleep in the car for 4 hours.

Click on the Facebook Link below if you didn’t see my test swim video.

https://www.facebook.com/sonja.wieck/videos/10206169967461612/?l=278620508603185535

Because I was so under the weather, Troy did everything. Every single thing. He put my bike together (a first) and got everything ready for the race. I slept, and tried to enjoy the hours I was awake. Norway is the most gorgeous place I have ever visited in my life, hands down!

Friday I did an 18 mile test ride from our hotel to the race meeting. I coughed and spit my way through it, but did convince myself that it was possible to ride a bike in this condition. The pre-race meeting was crazy. The whole thing was dark. We were all in this auditorium and they started it off with some traditional music and then played last years video, which we all had watched….ohhhh….300 times by then. I have that thing memorized! They told us billion times to be nice to our crew and to follow the rules. There are a lot of rules for the athlete and the crew since this race is totally self supported. The roads are not closed, you must obey all traffic laws, and your crew must not endanger ANY racers by making sketchy Tour de France driving moves. If your crew gets a penalty, the athlete serves it. Norwegians are brutal…this race is legit.

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Friday night we had a race meeting with Laura and Andrew, my crew from London, and they headed to bed with their two little ones. Troy and I went on a walk and sat down and had a big heart to heart. I hadn’t eaten much of anything the last two days because the cough had stollen my appetite. A few potatoes and some toast were pretty much all I could get down.

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Should I race? I was still just as sick, if not more sick than I was days prior. My dilemma was really HEALTH versus I CAME ALL THIS WAY. We chatted and I really felt in my heart that I wanted to start the race. They had changed the swim to 1.2 miles instead of the typical 2.4 miles because they didn’t want anyone in the water after 75 minutes. The recorded temp was 10C or 50.6F I believe.

https://www.facebook.com/sonja.wieck/videos/10206175735525810/?l=3143766673361902510

I went to bed that night knowing I would start the race. It was the crummiest packing job. At midnight I was wide awake, and worried. I couldn’t sleep and I got tired of rolling around so I sat up and I got into my meditation position. I set my alarm for 15 minutes. I figured if I was really tired, then mediation would put me to sleep. 15 minutes later…”gong..” still awake, but feeling better. So I went another 15 minutes, and another, and another….75 minutes later my phone gonged again and I got up ready to get on that start line. I applied my race tattoos, lucky number 7, and put my kit on. I fumbled around in the bathroom for a bit until Troy woke up around 2am and we started getting ready. YAY Sponsors! Coeur, YAY, Osmo, QR and Tribella! My homies, my tri-family!!

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Laura was taking Annie for the day and driving to the finish with her two kids, and Troy and Andrew were my crew for the day. We dropped Annie at their hotel room in exchange for Andrew and got in the car. I was in a FANTASTIC MOOD. For some reason, that meditation had me rarin’ to go. I knew I was still sick, but I had energy. Andrew was like “You are like a whole different person” and we (I) cranked up the tunes in the car and sang the whole way to the race site at the top of my lungs.

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We arrive in Eidfjord 25 minutes later and it’s the strangest situation. Because the race is self supported, Troy came into transition with me. They check that you have front an back lights installed and that they are on and blinking. Walking through transition I was excited and was saying HI and THANK YOU to all the volunteers and people working for the race. They just looked at me. Norwegians and not socially outgoing and they had no idea what to make of me. They literally would look at me with a “Are you talking to me” face. It was crazy. No good lucks, or anything like that. It was very serious. If you are a massive introvert….Norseman is the race for you!! hahahha!

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Everything went like absolute clockwork with the race. They were unbelievably organized and their concern for the athletes was amazing. They wanted us safe in that water. I said my goodbyes to Troy and boarded the ferry.

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The ferry is a car ferry and there is a nice section up top with couches and tables where all the athletes sit and get ready. I found two guys to chat with, one friendly talkative Norwegian (kinda rare) and a German man who had done kona 4 of the 5 years I had! The time passed quickly. Soon enough we were suiting up with all the layers. I had booties, neoprene vest, Roka, full hood, ear plugs, swim cap, and then I covered my face and hands in Vaseline.

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The 20 minutes before the start of Norseman were my favorite 20 minutes of ANY “before an IM” time in my life. All 260 of us were down on the part of the ferry where cars would usually park, you’ve seen it in the videos and we were all in our wetsuits. They had big hoses and were spraying us down with fjord water so we had time to get used to it before the big leap. This is a safety matter so you have time to warm up the water in your wetsuit before jumping in, very smart! We walked around waiting for them to tell us we could get in and I made eye contact with like 20 or 30 people. I actually hugged 6 people I did not know. It was a really intense and intimate moment that all 260 of us shared. Really special and I will never forget it.

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They made the call to jump in and I was one of the first 10. It was an AWESOME jump. I haven’t seen a picture but I went for it, and I screamed ALOHAAAAAAAAA on the way down. I think I threw a double shaka and a big smile! I was expecting massive pain upon hitting the water like my test swim, but it was okay. Cold, yes….as cold as my test swim….no, not even. So I was pretty jazzed about that. I positioned myself in the middle, in the front-ish and I looked around. I looked into peoples eyes and looked at their body language. Some were fearful, some excited, some just ready to get going.

The ferry blew it’s horn and we were off. My whole goal was to swim at a rate that did not get my cough in a tizzy. So I started under control. A few minutes in I felt like the cough was good so I looked to the group ahead and made my way up to them. Then I passed them and picked the next group ahead. It was the first time in a swim where I swam people down. I felt good and steady and I think I only coughed 3 or 4 times in the whole swim, which was probably the longest period I had gone in the last week without a cough.

I made sure to look at the view as the light started to brighten. It was gorgeous, just as gorgeous as the movies make it seem. I even had the thought that if I made it no further, I was so glad to have the swim experience. Towards the end there is a huge bonfire on the shore line and I could literally feel the heat of that bonfire on my face. It was amazing. Shortly after we went through several cold patches that were similar to my test swim and I was reminded how bone chilling it was. Soon enough I saw the exit, grabbed a helping hand an stumbled my way onto land.

Running to transition the coughs were immediate. I coughed my way to transition and then suddenly Troy was running next to me. He was saying “you swam so well” and I was thinking…I was powered by beauty. Swim: 32:23! and 2nd woman out of the water. Dolphin Pod Power!!

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We got to my transition spot and the male with #1 on his shoulder was exiting. I was feeling very accomplished to actually be in transition with the prior years race winner.

The transition at Norseman does not have change tents. I’m not a modest person, but I did not want to change out of my wet tri shorts. READ: I was unwilling to get nude in front of several hundred Norwegians. Oh, give me a few more hours…. My plan was to put on booties, knee warmers, arm warmers, jacket, hat and gloves, and leave my tri kit on. I did all of that and before I knew it I was yelling thank you to Troy and headed to the mount line.

Whew, okay, things are about to get real…tomorrow…

One more reminder, Monday, August 31st, 7pm (Denver time)

#trihacks webinar.

SIGN UP HERE

In the comments….Norseman reactions? Anyone ever experience water that cold? Or do you just want to share what you are looking for the tri coaching industry that you think I should provide? I’ll be responding to comments tonight and tomorrow morning. 

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Vineman 70.3 2015

I raced Vineman 70.3 in 2009. It was one of the first 70.3 races I ever raced and I had a rough go at it. I remember a few things. One, a tree fell on the course at mile 7. It fell on three competitors and one of them broke their back. The race was stopped and we all piled up, and when they cleared the way and we got to go it was a crazy large pack draft fest. Two, I met Audra Adair on the course during said tree incident, and we remain friends to this day. I went on that day to melt on the run, and she went on to run her butt off and qualify for Clearwater 70.3 champs. Ahhh, back in “the day.”

This go around, 6 years later, I was excited to be racing this iconic course again. We drove down in Muddys truck, traffic was smooth, and we did the expo business dropping our run shoes off, attending the meeting, picking up odds and ends, and making friends!

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Two highlights here, you know, besides the Mark Allen one of course! First off kudos to Jasmine, who is a mama to 5 beautiful kiddos and was racing her first 70.3! I met her in line at packet pickup and she was just such a bright light! I had a bit of a girl crush on her! She finished in flying colors! I made her and the kids do jumping photos at the finish line, and then I made everyone else standing around get in on it too!!

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And also Shannon, who I have vaguely known electronically, but now know personally…I love that! Great Job Shannon finding that finish line Sunday! Rockstar!

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We ate at the Black Bear Diner and stayed at Motel 6. It was all very ghetto fabulous, but because we had met up with Ron (AKA Punky) life was good. He may see me as his annoying coach (or bratty little sister) who makes him wear a HRM and never lets him train as much as he wants to, but to me he is family and I always feel more happy and silly and at ease around him. We happened to find ourself at the Walgreens late at night buying snacks…no ice cream…sad.

Race morning arrived, 4:40 alarm went ding, and I was up and excited. Calm, and tired…but excited. We loaded Ron, Joaquin, and I’s stuff into the truck and Muddy drove us to the start and dropped us off.

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My wave was really late in the day so we got to stand around and watch the PROs start…and finish the swim leg. I had a very sweet conversation with Magali Tisseyre’s mom during the PRO womens swim, beautiful woman, wonderful mom. Finally it was time to mosey on over. I met up with Christine, and Hailey, and I met my Coeur teammate Lindsey for the first time. We got ourselves into the water and I got in a short warm up before it was go time.

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I never really stopped to think “wait how do i do this again?” I just got up to the front line and when the horn sounded, I started swimming. Pretty hard. I wanted to snag some feet. I always want to snag some feet. I watched Christine and Hailey disappear quickly into the distance, I knew it was them, just knew. I was rusty! I really banged into quite a few girls, not because I was being overly aggressive, but because I was being dumb. A few times I ran into someone and was like “Oh that was rude” in my head and then 15 seconds later “oh crap, I did it again”. I really DO NOT swim straight when I am trying to swim hard and after brutalizing this poor woman about 10 times I finally clued in and just got on her perfect feet and followed them. If you are in Womens 35-39 and you had to roll over a douchebag woman about 8 times out there….I apologize, that was me, and I think I owe you a bottle of wine.

Vineman is special in that it is VERY shallow. You can stand up pretty much the entire swim. At the turn buoy you can actually walk. I remember people walking in 2009 and this year, I decided to give it a go. I always like to try at least SOMETHING new each time I race, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. So I stood up and I walked and I waded and I made a few friends, and we laughed and I looked around at the view, which is STUNNING, and I stretched my arms a bit and then when it wasn’t walkable any more I dove back in and kept swimming. The lady that I brutalized and then was drafting off of was swimming this whole section right next to us walkers and by walking I lost about 1-2 feet on her. When I dove back in I jumped out a little bit and was right back on her feet. She took the most amazing line towards the right hand shore all the way back and delivered us right onto the shore with perfect accuracy!

In fact…there she is…right there behind me in the photo, I think…. If you know this girl, hook me up so I can send her a care package!! Also, I look really sad here…and tired, and old. Triathlon is glamorous. Go Roka!

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I ran to my bike and right as I got to it I saw Hailey running out of transition along the outer path. I felt good about that because I knew that she had probably stuck on Christine (super swimmers) feet and would have swam fast. Being one transition behind her I felt was pretty good.

I was sure to step right in a big puddle of mud before I got to the mount line, you know, just to make sure the interior of my shoes were coated in mud the entire ride. Winning!

There is a steep little hill right out of transition. I had my shoes clipped into my pedals. I was rusty, there was some fumbling, and muddy feet, but I did tell myself to keep calm and just get my feet on my shoes as efficiently as possible. If you ever go to a triathlon to watch, go to the mount line, it really is the most hilarious part of the race. People, myself included, do all sorts of silly stuff. You will be laughing for days! Go Quintana Roo! Love my PRSix!

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And…finally I’m on my bike and rolling, whew. Heart rate check in…174. Genius. Okay, that’s probably not maintainable. But the bigger problem. My legs. Oh my legs. How can I accurately describe my legs. Well, they were a sort of mixture between the feeling you get when you are walking down the stairs the day after a marathon, and the pain you are in when your favorite PT gets out that metal tongue depressor thing to do “graston.” I remember thinking at one point, “I might actually be breaking them” Soreness, pain, sharp pain, resistance, anger, not happy, my legs were NOT happy.

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From mile 0 to mile 56 I managed the angry legs. Because I like to be honest, and because it’s kinda funny looking back, I will share with you some of the thoughts that my brain decided to come up with while I was out there.

  • Oh lordy, they are broken
  • this is not any fun
  • this is sub-fun
  • why do I do this shit?
  • you are screwed for norseman
  • you are never taking time off again
  • screw muddy
  • F$%k muddy
  • damn you muddy
  • god this hurts
  • maybe i should quit
  • this can’t be good for me
  • sheesh this course has a lot of shifting
  • why did I ride so hard on wednesday night?
  • can’t we just ride straight for a little bit, preferably down hill?
  • is that wind?
  • it doesn’t even matter
  • oh my gosh they hurt worse
  • how is that possible?
  • is it my bike fit?
  • why did I let muddy convince me this was a good idea?
  • you are so screwed
  • how are you going to run?
  • there is no way you are going to be able to run
  • you are never taking time off again
  • muddy lied to you

Yea, that’s some of the fun stuff the brain likes to bring up. BUT, luckily, I have tools and adversity is what the tools are built to withstand, so every time these thoughts came, these are some of the other thoughts that came behind them. Granted, these new thoughts are choices.

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Choices to NOT go down the rabbit hole. And choices I can only make because I meditate and I practice recognizing when I’m thinking unproductive thoughts. I’m actually getting really fast at identifying “not helpful” and reshifting. But the whole darn bike was like one long painful meditation session of refocus, refocus, refocus. Over and over and over, AKA, fighting the good fight.

  • getting in shape hurts Sonja
  • you won’t die sonja
  • push pull push pull
  • doing your best isn’t always fun in the moment
  • remember what Kona felt like
  • Muddy knows best
  • push pull push pull
  • 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 – 7 – 8
  • trust your coach
  • hard work always pays eventually
  • relax your shoulders
  • today is not Norseman
  • point your toes
  • engage your butt
  • is this the best you have right now?
  • what doesn’t hurt?
  • push pull push pull
  • my nose doesn’t hurt
  • my toes don’t hurt
  • dang my shoes are full of mud
  • push pull push pull
  • head down chin up
  • lean into the pain
  • relax your jaw
  • trust your coach, trust your coach, trust your coach
  • race your race, push pull

At that was how it went. I didn’t pass anyone in my AG and only a few men passed me. It was kinda lonely. Towards the end I was passed by two women in my AG and that was helpful because it gave me a nice little dose of adrenaline and competitive spirit rather than brain/thought/leg/pain management. I was able to use that pass to REINGAGE! hahaha! Joaquin would be proud.

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Coming into T2 I spotted Muddy from a mile away on the side of the road. It was so good to have him out there screaming up storm like he likes to do. He gave me some good splits and I was happy to hear I was actually IN THE GAME, in the HUNT, in a podium position. Coolio.

There was a really long narrow run into T2 and it was slow going as many of the waves were mixed up so some people were walking that section and we had to weave our way around them, which is totally cool, just takes a little maneuvering. I ran to rack 9 where I put my shoes and a few of the ladies in my AG couldn’t find their shoes. Apparently someone had moved their shoes overnight! They were screaming and freaking out big time. Can you imagine being in the hunt, podium position and then your shoes aren’t there. I remember having no T1 bag in Kona that one year, your brain is already in fight or flight and something like that really illuminates how you handle adversity. Most freak out! It’s the normal human reaction.

But I knew that I couldn’t get wrapped up in their drama, my shoes were right where I had put them, so I immediately encapsulated myself in a big Glenda the Good Witch Bubble…you know what I’m talking about, the pink glittery one, and I sat down, put my socks, shoes and race belt on, grabbed my stuff and got the heck out of there.

Running the first mile is always a joke. Usually too fast, sometimes too slow, feeling wonky, it’s never an indicator of the day. But I know one thing, my legs did not hurt like they did on the bike, not even close. So that was good news. Around mile 1 I saw Muddy and he said I was in 3rd. I knew that 1st and second had to be Hailey and Christine, two of my closest friends in Cali. I got this big smile on my face, because it was the three of us, and that felt special! Already a win win!

I caught Punky somewhere in here and asked how his knee was holding up. He said it was okay, but I could tell he was battling with it. We haven’t been able to run him in two weeks, so this was a big wait and see. He said there were two girls ahead, both in pink. I asked if one was in the same kit as me and he didn’t say yes. So that confused me a little.

It wasn’t until several more miles when I caught up to Christine. She was running really strong and smooth and in control, she looked great. We ran together a few seconds, exchanged “I love yous” and “your ass looks HAWT” and then I pulled ahead and kept charging. I didn’t look at my watch the entire run for some reason. By mile three I was feeling really strong and steady and beast-like and I didn’t want to look down and see a split that was slow, so I just decided not to look and to continue feeling good about myself! Haha! Matt Dixon even said I looked good, and in my head I was like “RIGGGGHHHHTTT OOOONNNN.”

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Mark, Hailey’s hubby (the guy who thought Princess Kitty was a bear….skoff) was out on his bike. And of course he’s in his Dodo Case kit! See, on the Coast Ride in January, Mark is my favorite wheel to ride. Yes, I love Hailey’s husbands wheel. I know that 95% of the time that’s her wheel to ride, but sometimes they ride side by side, in which case I can be found on Marks wheel. So, the Dodo Case kit to me is a symbol of comfort: steady, strong, ease for me, and he was in THAT KIT. BAM, loving the symbolism!

Hailey was up the road, beyond sight and Mark was there on the side when I went by. Possibly to get a split for Hailey, but I just pretended he was there to help me. Again, I could have gone either way in my brain, but I was into optimism. I asked how Hailey was doing, and he said “good, she’s a little over 4 minutes up.” I got a big smile. Four minutes is legit, she was racing great, I was happy for her.

Then he told me I was in second, but I just felt I was in third, so I told Mark “people are telling me I’m in third” and he asked about the number ranges. I had noticed at check in that some of us had numbers in the 200s and others had numbers in like the 1200s or something. So I told him that and asked if he would investigate. Sure enough a few miles later he told me that Jen was about 1 minute up the road in pink.

For some reason, that information combined with how strong and steady I felt just lit the fire under me. I had been running with a guy named Alex (I think) and chatting and the chatting ended. I had no fear, it was just “what can I do to try to close that gap?” I looked down the road and knew exactly who it was because we she was who passed me at the end of the bike and we had introduced ourselves to each other out there. I had no idea she got out of T2 ahead of me and she was running fierce!

Into the Vineyard I ran as hard as I possibly could and whenever I could see her pass a pole or a tree I would take a split on my watch to see if I could run that section faster to close the gap. Then another split and another attempt to put just a little more into each turn, cut each tangent a little tighter, stand a little taller, move the legs a little faster. Out of the Vineyard Mark was there again and told me I was 30 sec back. I clocked it at 28.

We were getting to the turn around around mile 8ish and we are close to the turn and I see Hailey! I did not expect to see Hailey at all. I assumed she was past the out and back before I even got on it. And right behind her is Jen. Now all of us are within about 40 seconds with about 4.5 miles left to race.

And honestly, I think because it was my first race back and I had nothing to lose and nothing riding on it, I got super giddy. It was all just so much fun that were were all out there racing our butts off, and that we were strong women, friendly on and off the course, but getting the best out of each other. I usually would be a little nervous with things close like that, but I wasn’t, it felt like girl power. I tell ya, we ladies provide some entertaining racing!

Jen put the hammer down to pass Hailey and then she ran like a boss! I caught up to Hailey and we ran side by side for some time. I had it in my head that when I got to Hailey she would magically just run side by side with me and we would run down Jen and it would be a sprint finish and we would all end up falling over at the finish line from exhaustion and racing and awesomeness.

But no. Eventually I pulled away from Hailey and set my sights on running the remaining hills on the course to the best of my ability. Jen continued to gap me and increase her lead more and more. I was running as hard as I could and my form was as good as I could get it. At mile 11 Muddy was there on the side screaming at me how proud he was to which I screamed 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8…which means…engage! Then he said “I told you so kid” to which I yelled the F word and the YOU word. Not my finest choice of words, but it was more of a “damn you were right.” Then I told him about my legs on the bike and how horrible they felt which felt good to get off my chest.

The last two miles are mostly downhill and I could see Jen up there, but she was UP there. I tired to run with all I had, but I wasn’t able to pull her back at all. I fought, but she was the better woman on the day, and that was 100% A-Okay! Hailey came in just a tiny bit behind me. All three of us, pretty darn close, some awesome racing out there. It was an honor to be a part of it!

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All in all, for me it was a great day out there. I was floored with how good my legs could feel running after they felt so bad on the bike. Joaquin had the same exact experience, to a T. So that was interesting as well. It was a good confidence boost for me going into the next few months and it feels fantastic to have that SPARK back in me. Motivation is high! Okay, one more time, cuz I bought the silly photos!

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Huge thanks to the ladies I raced against for your great sportsmanship, you all are class act. Thank you big time to Coach Muddy, Coach Barbara, and to Joaquin for being my family the last three weeks and also to Troy and Annie for letting me get away to work on my hobby. Also, Thank you to YAY (you have to have a good attitude when your kit says YAY on it), Quintana Roo (PRSix rode so great), Tribella (thank you for the constant help and advise), Coeur (for the sisters, the teamies, the kits, the training clothing, and for Hailey/Kebby/Reg), OSMO (I could not have gotten through 3 weeks and this race with out PreLoad, Active, Recovery, and Stacys advise through the years), Smith glasses (my new fav sunnies), and Punk Rock Racing (where I get my spunk).

Swim: 29:07, T1: 1:36, Bike: 2:39:25, T2: 3:19, Run: 1:34:46, Total: 4:48:13, 2nd in W35-39, 4th Amateur.

Next up, August 1st….Norseman!!! Bring it on!

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Also the Facebook Page is picking up lots of steam since I post fun photos and ti-bits of knowledge every day! Liking the Rising Tide Triathlon Coaching Facebook Page would make my heart sing! 

Training Camp with Joaquin

This past weekend I raced my first triathlon since Kona last year, Vineman 70.3 (race report up next). It’s been nine long months! After Kona last year Muddy and I had a long chat about where we were headed from there. The Elite card issue came up and we put that to bed for the final time. I will say the current climate over at WTC and the women’s inequality issues helped make the decision pretty easy…yea…I want no part in batteling “the man” while trying to push my body to new limits. I’m very much feeling for the women PROs these days. Also, after Kona, I was really tapped out.

Muddy and I agreed that I would take a big big long long break. The longest break since I started the sport. It sounded great in theory, but it was hard in practice. It wasn’t hard to not train, that was actually really easy for me. More it was hard to hold on to my self esteem. To watch the fitness and the speed and the strength fade into the distance, to struggle through workouts at paces and speeds that were once easy was rough. I thought I would handle it like a champ, but the hard reality is that it was like someone tore away my security blanket.

When it was finally time to get going again, that was also incredibly hard. Two sports is fun, swimming and running. You can have a life, but throw that third sport back in and ouch, back to being all consumed by triathlon again. I stopped and started multiple times. Having one solid week or 5 solid days then taking 2 days off or sleeping for two days. It was fits and spurts, fits and spurts.

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Muddy and I had planned for me to come out to see him for three weeks in late June because my dear friend Joaquin was coming for that time period as well. The first 5 workouts in San Jose were not pretty. I was so slow and it was so painful. There was all this speed work and I had done NONE of that. I cried after the first 5 workouts in San Jose and Joaquin had to talk me off the ledge….5 times. The swims were okay, I was feeling solid there but the bike, oh the bike. Day One – Workout One. Thumbs up!

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The first day I was in San Jose I rode the Wednesday night ride. I got dropped by every single person, and I was going all out, my heart rate was 178 for most of the ride. I won’t admit how many times I repeated “Oh how far you have fallen.” I pulled in dead last, and went out for my run off the bike with tears in my eyes. I came back from my run off the bike with tears rolling down my cheeks. Coach looked at me, he always cares, and he knows me so well, and said “Don’t read into it, I know how to fix this.” Joaquin and I dragged ourself back to Rob and Trinas (thank you R&T xoxox) licking our wounds only to have a double run day the next day with 18 miles of running in 100 degree temps, much of it faster than I felt prepared to run. Still thumbs up, but the smile is forced!

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It was a dicey few days. Over the weekend when coach went to CDA to be on course for Stephen (he got 3rd in the PRO race!!) Joaquin and I joined up with Kayla and Hailey to ride the first two days of the Coast Ride. Joaquin gave me another pep talk and I got myself together, put on a smile, and went to do what I love. We went without SAG support, just mailed a box to Monterey, and bought new outfits in Morro Bay. It was a sobering few days. I got dropped on every climb. I could hold okay on flats, but the climbs I was off the back. It was good for me though, and I definitely got to see from behind just how flipping strong Hailey and KK have become. Kinda felt like that stark, in my face, reality that I have to rebuild the engine. It’s not personal, it’s just from taking time off. My attitude changed out there on the coast. Thank you Hailey and KK and Joaquin. Mark^2 too!

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Oh and all along I have Princess Kitty sticking out of my pocket and Mark Manning says “You have a bear in your pocket.” I was appalled! I said “It’s a cat, not a bear, that would be ridiculous” Haha! PK did have a great time on the coast logging some serious pocket time!

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When we landed in Monterey I felt more alive. The ocean gives me strength and boy did I need it. Riding through the strawberry fields is usually the worst part of Coast Ride Day 1 in January because it’s dry and dusty. But in July it’s ALL STRAWBERRIES EVERYWHERE! It smelled amazing! Joaquin and I needed to procure some flip flops in Montery so we hit up the mall in our kits, with our bikes to buy some at Macys. We got A LOT of looks and I don’t think we smelled too good.

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We had a nice meal out with the girls, which resulted in KK getting food poisoning and having to call her hubby to come take her home the next morning. Stupid shrimp. I slept like a bear, and the next day we headed out as a little group of three to tackle the Big Sur hills.

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I gotta say, sharing all of this with Joaquin, who was just so thrilled to have a month off work to train like a PRO, well he deserved the happy Sonja. So pedal stroke by pedal stroke I got over my bad self. As I like to say HEAD DOWN (do the work), CHIN UP (keep it positive). Rolling into Morro Bay, after throwing a tiny fit after Ragged Point when Hailey and Joaquin were dropping me every time they took a pull (sad legs), I was happy. I love that darn rock. I love that blue coastline. I love where I was lucky enough to spend ages 10-15. Like home, but more special.

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We got Hailey set with a shower, a little black dress, and packed her into the car of a sweet Uber driver who came to get her and take her to the SLO airport so she could drive back home Sunday night. Joaquin and I stayed in Morro Bay. We went to Wavelengths Surf Shop and bought board shorts, shirts and sweatshirts. We had roast beef sandwiches at Hofbrau house and waked to the beach for sunset.  It is a sunset I will not, for the rest of my life, every forget. It was stunning.

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The next day we rode 19 miles to the SLO airport to pick up a car. We had our new outfits shoved down our shorts, in our sweatshirt pockets, we looked like Hobos (Joaquin’s word). The entire ride we discussed words in the English language that have two meanings. Like a bear goes RAR, and you bear a burden. Joaquin has excellent English (he’s from Mexico City) and we had fun laughing the whole way there with like 60 PSI in our tires.

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The drive back was quick and we were in San Jose before we knew it, and in the pool as well, since it was now GO time. I spent three more days with Muddy and Joaquin getting my ass handed to me in most every session before it was time for me to fly home for my anniversary with Troy. We had booked tickets to go to Wanderlust (I’ll blog about that this week). After Wanderlust, I felt complete reset and came back to San Jose for another week of training and to race Vineman.

This was when the magic started to happen. The reset at Wandelust really was huge for me. I did some big runs out there, and when I came back my legs were tired from running but my heart was more clear and my brain was on board.

We had the best week of training before Vineman. It was hard. Lots of training hours. We also fixed some saddle issues I had been having on the bike that I think were contributing to some of my issues. I hit the ground running last week and didn’t look back. On the Wednesday night ride that week I rode with the front pack. I had some great track sessions, some promising mile times and I was starting to feel like myself for the first time in nine months.

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It’s quite amazing what Muddy was able to do with me in such a short amount of time. He knew what to do, and we just got to work. We took it day by day, but we implemented the plan. As the boys would say “It’s time to ENGAGE.” Omg this photo makes me laugh so hard core!!! Coach was making us tri-tip while coaching our workout on the trainers, but I title this one “IT’S TIME TO ENGAGE”

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Joaquin and I became attached at the hip, oh and we ate ICE CREAM every single night of camp. We found this place called CREAM that makes ice cream sandwiches and we ate there every night. We sang lots of songs out loud, took Princess Kitty on adventures, ate food, ate food, ate food, drank coffee, drank coffee, drank coffee, and SWAM BIKE RAN our tails off. It was good stuff.

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Going into Vineman we were both feeling the hurt of the week. If you have never had the experience of training straight through a race, I really urge you to try it. There is nothing like stepping on the line extremely compromised and having NO IDEA how it’s all going to play out. It’s good for your brain. At one point earlier in the week Muddy said “I don’t want any meltdowns out there” and it made me realize he was a little nervous I might not be able to hold myself together. His concern was valid.

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I’ve raced tired before, but not tired and undertrained. Hearing that really made me think, and I told him “Look, I will step on that line as a blank slate, that’s the only way that we will know what we need to change going forward” This really is the goal at every race, to let whatever training and fitness you have in you ooze out. It may be lots, it may be little, but you have to get out of your own way. You have to let what’s in there out, so that the coachycoach has good information to make future decisions with. If you meltdown, how’s he going to do his job? How are you going to get better. It’s not personal, help him help you. That was where my brain was at.

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On Saturday we packed up and headed to Santa Rosa to train. Looking back, the highlight was definitely riding the run course with Muddy and Joaquin and seeing coach analyze the course, tell us where to run on the road, where to push, where the aid was. He was like a kid in a candy store. That got me laughing.

Vineman report up next! Whoop!

I’m sitting in the airport now, heading back to Denver to rejoin my home life. I cried when I had to say goodbye to Joaquin and then when I had to say goodbye to coach. We really put down some great training but more than that we strengthened the bonds we had with each other and we had a lot of fun together. Last – Day, Second to last workout!

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It really is about the journey, regardless of the payoff and I’ve had a great journey out here. Going into Norseman in less than three weeks my head is finally screwed on straight. It’s an adventure. It’s Norway for Petes sake. I’m there to do my best, to be relentless, to persevere through the tough bits, but I’m also there for the journey, for the small contrition that Norseman will have to my overarching story, to my life of adventure.

Clutching the Compass

This week I was reminded of a major tenant I have in life which is:

Don’t Clutch the Compass.

Until recently I didn’t have a name for this, but thanks to the eloquent Katie Den Ouden I now have a handy phrase.

I find myself doing this and I see it in my athletes all the time, so I thought I would share.

We all know the value of having a large goal out there in the future, the BHAG! The goal, the destination, the point of arrival, it matters. We all have them whether we say them out loud or not. I’m talking about the: win my age group, qualify for kona, win kona, make partner, land a big client, finish a memoir, make a million dollars, coach 200 athletes, kind of goals. Having that destination gives purpose and motivation to the daily tasks. It’s exciting, and challenging!

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Thank you Scrivle for that gem!

But there is a double edge sword here. On one hand, I love watching my athletes set a huge goal like nabbing a PR in a race, or qualifying for the big dance in Kona and then attaining that goal! So sweet! On the other hand I have watched people not hit their goals and get frustrated and down on themselves when they were actually making great progress. Goals are a double edge sword.

The way to ride the edge of the sword when it comes to Big Hairy Audacious Goals is to remember: “Don’t Clutch the Compass.” What this means is that you want to put your goal in your minds eye, and you want to keep the awareness that this is where you want to land.

Then you want to let go of how you are going to get there.

You want to remove dependence on the WAY and PROCESS that you take to get there, I also suggest putting yourself in the hands of a capable coach to craft the program, if it’s athletic!  Every once in awhile you want to dig out the compass and take a bearing and check in to make sure you are still heading in the right direction towards your goal. But what you want to stay away from is obsessively checking the compass every step of the way to make sure you never head a single inch off path.

I see this happen all the time with athletes. They are so fixated on the end point, the perfect path to take, the power, the heart rate, the aligning every one of life’s details to add up to the ultimate personal success where rainbows abound, puppies are everywhere, and the Sound Of Music theme song is playing.

They clutch the compass in their hand, tapping on it every so often, and all the while, life and scenery, and the big picture is flying on by.

I see this in a few different ways:

  • Many athletes constantly look at every training session as a litmus test to prove to themselves that they are on track towards their goals. When a session went poorly, they see it as being off path. This is clutching the compass. 
  • Many athletes refuse to diverge in any way shape or form from the most direct path to the goal. Sometimes going around a mountain is better than the direct path that leads up and over. This is clutching the compass.
  • Most athletes who are chasing a BHAG utterly refuse to take a purposeful diversion off path just for the joy of it. They walk right past something amazing that would add to their life story because they are too focused on arriving. This is clutching the compass.

I have so been here. I see it in my training, and I see it in the ways I’ve chosen to grow my business. Sometimes I get so overwhelmed in the details…ahhh the about me page of the website is all messed up…when in reality, I’m here to help people cross the Ironman finish lines. The about me page is small beans, don’t clutch the compass Sonja.

What I’ve learned through Ironman racing is that attaining the BHAG is really pretty cool, for about 48 hours. But what you will look back on in life and smile about, are the times that you put the compass in your pocket. The times where you took a bearing and headed off west, in search of yourself, and experiences that would take you one step closer to learning valuable lessons. Keeping a relaxed attitude and checking the compass only every so often feels really scary at first if you have any of the TypeA blood in you, but I promise that after a few dances with success you will start to feel more comfortable. If you don’t put down the compass, and look around, you won’t get any practice, and you’ll just hang onto that thing like Tom Cruise in Castaway with Wilson.

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Don’t Clutch the Compass!

Or better yet, hire a travel guide, and enjoy the scenery!

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How do you bake your cake?

You know when you hear a reference or a certain quote twice in a short period of time? Oh, coincidence. Ha! I think not…the universe speaking up is what I say.

Yesterday I was in Book Club and we are reading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown which I read a few years back. It’s interesting to pick up a book like this again, I’m reading it with a completely different lens. At the beginning of book club we do a clearing. It’s a time where we go around the circle and give everyone the chance to spew about what’s impacting them on that day so that we can discuss the books content with a clear mind.

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I was 15 minutes late to book club that day. I hate being late. My inner perfectionist has an absolute conniption fit when I’m late. If I know I’m going to be late and I’m driving somewhere, I will stress and have anxiety the entire drive. I’m constantly worried while driving that I’m going to be late, even when I’m early. It’s not unlike me to call someone I’m meeting to let them know I’m going to be late, only to arrive right on time.

Well, I was late, so I was feeling very rushed and behind. When it came to my time for clearing, I just offloaded how overwhelmed I feel these days. I’m used to training for big races, I’ve done that for years. And I’m used to coaching my monthly one-on-one athletes. At times those two things, plus being wife and mom, really fill up my life. Well, throwing in my new coaching company RTTC has really taken things to a new level. I’m delivering much more content to my athletes these days and really stepping up the communication factor with them. At the same time I’m developing a new coaching product called IronTide which I’m totally jazzed about, but holy moly, it’s so much work.

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The nice thing about book club is that we are all trained to hold space for each other. This means nobody jumps in to solve my problems, they just listen, nod, and ask questions that might help me get to the bottom of what I’m experiencing and how I feel about it. It’s a really safe place to open up. Their questions and dialogue helped me to really drill down further.

” One of the most universal numbing strategies is what I call crazy-busy. I often say that when they start having twelve-step meetings for busy-aholics, they’ll need to rent out football stadiums. We are a culture of people who’ve bought into the idea that if we stay busy enough, the truth of our lives won’t catch up with us”          —Brene Brown

My entire clearing could be summed up as crazy-busy but my next question is “what if you are crazy-busy because your life is so full of everything you want in it?” I’m not numbing, I’m trying to SLAY LIFE. Is filling my life with what I want in there helping me to not deal with some of the hard bits? I guess, yes, but I often tell Troy “I’m overwhelmed by the awesomeness of my life.”

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Discussing that with book club and bouncing these ideas back and forth I came up with this: I think this stuff is like a recipe. Baking a cake shall we say. I have the right ingredients sitting on my counter. I’ve worked really hard to realize that I don’t need hot peppers or spinach in my cake. I put those back in the fridge. I’m looking at all the right stuff in front of me. But, I don’t have the ratios right yet. My cake still has a bit too much flour, it’s missing an egg, and I don’t quite have the baking soda, baking powder thing down because it’s either flat, or over-puffed.

This was such an ahh-hah. You can have the right stuff in your life and still feel out of alignment, out of whack, overwhelmed, anxious, and ready to throw in the towel. At times I just want to clear all the ingredients off the counter with one swift act of aggression.

 

Today I saw this tweet from Mary Beth Ellis that made me realize I had to post this blog because it adds another layer (pun intended) to the situation.

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Ahhhh, another cake analogy!

As I seek to get the ratios correct in my life recipe, I’m still looking at yet another obstacle, and that’s temperature and time. I can get all the right ingredients, and get them all in the right amounts and then the oven is too high, or too low, and I can leave that cake in for too long, to take it out too early, thus rushing or stalling the process. The possible pitfalls are endless, but thinking about things this way I started to get a little clarity.

This is life. LIFE IS NOW. It takes constant evaluation. If you wake up every day and endeavor to make the best cake you can, after some fixed amount of time you will probobly have a darn nice cake on your hands. If you however wake up every day, go into the kitchen, throw some ingredients in a pan, with little regard to what you intend, then the likelihood that you will end up with a cake in the end is slim, much less a tasty cake.

It comes down to knowing what kind of cake you want to bake, and waking up every day with that goal in mind. But then backing up enough to know that there are a lot of moving parts to success and it’s a constant experiment. It’s also about trying something, and then looking back and writing down the lessons learned and tweaking from there the next day.

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I realized I’m frustrated and overwhelmed because I wake up in the morning, get out all the right ingredients, put them together in ratios that I think is right, pop it in an oven that I think is the right temp, and my cake comes out a mess most the time. That piece of reflection from day to day is missing for me. I’m waking up the next day, and trying a different mix of ingredients, a different oven temp, and getting a different type of crappy cake. Where I am missing the mark is getting deliberate with what ingredients are too much, what are too little, and incorporating MINOR tweaks so that I can really see the outcome of those tweaks.

This requires a deliberate assessment of the now. What’s in, what’s out? What is the current ratio? Getting real with now is the first step before I can start experimenting in a deliberate and calculated way. And we aren’t talking about a cake, we are talking about life, and the difference between thriving and spinning my wheels. It’s not an easy assessment, but I think having my newly developed cake analogy is going to help me put some processes into action.

I’m wondering if this resonates with any other athletes who are balancing jobs, training, families, etc? What happens when you toss in an extra ingredient? Does your cake get all gross for awhile?

Adventures with IronCowboy

Interrupting previous scheduled blog posts to post about my Sunday Funday with Iron Cowboy!

James Lawrence, or as he calls himself the Iron Cowboy is a man on a mission! He has set a pretty huge goal. He’s doing 50 Ironmans in 50 days in 50 states. He calls it 50/50/50 and most of you who are reading this have either heard about him and his huge goal, or your jaw is on the ground. Yes, 95% of people think he can’t do it (he told me this) but he set the goal, put everything in order, and a week ago last Saturday got started in Hawaii!

Hawaii – Alaska – Washington – Oregon – California – Nevada – Arizona – New Mexico – Colorado

#9 was Colorado. James told me the date about 4 months ago. A million things have attempted to take over that date in my calendar but I held strong that I was going to be there for him when he came through Pueblo, CO on Sunday.

Saturday was the Boulder 70.3 and I spent most the day out on the coarse coaching and cheering. I got a good nights sleep that evening and headed to Pueblo at 7:30am. I originally intended to start the swim with him, but had heard he was starting at 6am and with the drive to Pueblo and staying up to finish my athletes schedules, I decided to leave Denver at 7:30am and see if I could start the bike with him. I saw on Periscope that he was just hopping in the pool at 7:30am, and was relieved knowing that the timing would be perfect.

It was easy to find him! He has a wrapped RV, van, and car. I knew I was in the right place.

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I got my bike ready with lots of fluids and food and waited for him by his bike. I was a bit sad that we didn’t have like 20 cyclists waiting to join him in Colorado. It really was just me. We did have lots of people happy to drive the bike course with us and point us in the right direction and keep us making the correct turns. The support was fantastic, I think people just weren’t sure how much they could bike with him, what time he would start, etc. The course was supposed to be 2 loops. I was in for both loops, just there to do whatever needed. If you join him in a future state keep an eye on social media to get better time estimates. They try to keep a schedule, but honestly, it’s all changeable if he needs changes.

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James came out and off we went. At first he was talking very softly. It was nice to have him all to myself to hear about some of the adventures thus far and be able to ask questions about what was working, what wasn’t working, how his family was holding up, etc. He had finished the marathon at 1am the night before and then drove to Colorado from New Mexico after that. He only had 3 hours of sleep the night before (he slept in the back seat of the Subaru because the RV would wake him up when it turned) and he had not gotten more than 3.5 hours of sleep since he began the 50/50/50. In my head I was like “SLEEP is going to be the limiter” here. He has so many nutrition products, recovery modalities, IVs, medical help, but what the man really needs is sleep. The problem is that he is finishing so late, and having such a huge drive that sleep is getting chopped. I’m really hoping he gets this figured out!

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After some chatting we got on this great road that went straight for like 20 miles. James said he would just sit in and draft and I told him to tell me if the effort level is off. He asked me to remind him to drink every 20 minutes. We did this for awhile and at one point I sat up and told him to drink and I woke him up! I shocked him! The whirl of sitting on my wheel had zoned him into near sleep zone! Yikes! Swimming makes me sleepy too! At that point I knew from ultra running that I needed to keep him talking more and engaged more. So I tried to do that.

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We had a little bit of company on the way back from some of the local Pueblo triathletes. That was really nice. Dallas, his chiropractor also hopped on a bike to talk to him about what he was doing, what was hurting, etc. Also, at one point his Colorado point person hopped out and rode next to us on a tandem, with huge wigs. I thought I was going to pee my bike shorts. It was SO hilarious, especially Eriks pink flip flops!

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James decided that after loop 1 he would take a little short nap in the RV, get an IV, sit in the Normatec boots, and then we would head back out for loop number two. We were making good time, so he felt he could get away with it. We finished 54 miles in just over 3 hours. He was happy about the time!

After his break we were back on the bike, again just the two of us out for the second loop. We headed out the same way and 8 miles into that second loop Colorado did it’s typical thing and downpoured on us. I was really sad because I had all this new rain gear in the car for Norseman and I didn’t have any of it on me. I was actually afraid when we left for loop two that it was going to be really hot. Welcome to Colorado! You just never know what you are going to get!

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We rode through the wind, and rain, and splash. Matt, who had been helping us know where to go all day in his truck hopped out and had a raincoat that we put on James. James was concerned his body temp would drop in the rain, as were we, so that was awesome that Matt had a coat that fit him. It stopped raining hard shortly after but James wore it for the rest of the bike. We got some good riding in through miles 60/70/80 in aero, with some rain on and off.

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Of course when it started to rain and get nasty the camera crew turned up! James is filming a documentary so there is a camera crew around all the time too! I gotta say it was a highlight riding in the rain with James, in the gorgeous plains of Pueblo, all green with grass and sunflowers, and then seeing the camera drone come whizzing by over our heads. I felt awesome in that moment, and so did James. Just thinking about the footage they got makes me pretty excited! Rudy Project was also out getting some footage of James, they are based in Colorado, so it worked well for them! I love this picture of the Iron Cowboy car with the kayak, the bikes, and everyone hanging out the window. What a crazy experience!

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When we turned around to come back into Pueblo we had about 30 miles left to ride. The storm was directly in our path, with a huge amount of lightening so the crew loaded us up in a truck and skirted us around the storm. I rode in the back of the truck while we drove through that storm and it was awesome. I didn’t get too wet, but I did take a little cat nap! We then met up with a road that had a tailwind and we rode that bad boy like we stole something! 30-32mph for the last 22 miles or so! It was awesome! I’m really glad his crew is there keeping him safe. Lightning is no joke here in Colorado and kills people every year here.

James wanted to ride to 112.1 miles so we stopped right on the side of the road when we hit that mark and the crew van scooped up James and drove him over to the start of the marathon spot. Matt gave me a ride back to my car and I packed up and drove over to the marathon starting location. This is us just after finishing the 112.1 with Erik and his son. Erik was the Colorado liaison and did a fantastic job!

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There was a good little crowd over at the marathon start! I got a real taste of what James is going through from an energy standpoint. I was a little tired after biking 112 (we clocked a 5:55 ride…thank you tailwind!), my energy was a tad low, and then there were 30 really happy, really excited people who all couldn’t wait to see James. He changed and came out to join everyone and I’ll tell you, he had more energy than I did! SO many people were there to share their story and James told me that in each state SOMEONE has run their FIRST marathon with him. What a cool thing. If you see the man on the left in the below picture, holding his daughter, well he ran his first marathon that night! His inspiration is Dick and Rick Hoyt, because his daughter has a genetic abnormality and he runs with her all the time! Oh, the stories, I’m so thankful for the community that running and endurance sport creates!

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After some photos we all got going in the marathon. We ran 4 miles over to a loop that we were going to run, all the while with James Periscope live streaming. If you don’t know about Periscope check it out! It’s twitters new live streaming and it’s a TON of fun, perfect for what James is doing!  We made it out to the loop we intended to run, but a section of it had been overtaken by the river! James got a short little ride through it! haha! We decided to change the course and ran a different loop, and by the end of the night, we were running 1 mile laps around Pueblo River Walk. That was entertainment in and of itself!

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The marathon was really cool and I was glad I got to walk/jog/run the whole thing with him. I think there were 10 of us that did the whole thing with him, and another 30 or so that did parts! He does a “5K” everyday where lots of people come out and join for that. Most of his kids run the 5K, he has 5 children, all who are on the trip! His wife Sunny Joe is a really wonderful woman. The two of them are beautiful to watch together. What’s really cool is his wife takes the kids to go do something fun in each state and then when the 5K rolls around the kids run with him and tell him all about the fun they had that day. I LOVE this, and you can tell it totally gives James energy to have this little routine with them. At one point I watched him pick up his son and spin him around in circles. I was like “eek…how are you doing that after 9 ironmans in 9 days?” The kids are having MUCH more fun than James is! haha!

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I had a blast meeting the two older girls, and then meeting many of the other people doing the run along with him. Two people came all the way from Aspen to run with him and one guy had completed 30 Ironmans in 30 days in Italy! It was so cool for James to run with him, they had lots to talk about. That guy was probably one of the only people on the planet that could even remotely relate.

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I felt like I was the insider a little bit because I had been with him all day. It made me a little sad to think that I couldn’t go on the next day and just do it all again with him. I really wanted to. I think if I could do the bike and 10 miles of the run every day with him that would make me a very happy girl. I’m hoping I can meet him in Nebraska in July and spend a few days doing just that! James and I have always clicked personality wise and at one point in the marathon his quad started giving him trouble. He stopped and stretched, and he used a can of sunscreen to try to roll it out a bit. When it didn’t let up much after that he texted Sunny Joe, his wife, and asked her what to do.

This was by far my favorite part of the day because it’s SO UP MY ALLY. Sunny Joe does energy work. Our emotional body has a mirror in our physical body. If you get all squiffy about this sort of stuff then move to the next paragraph but James asked her what the right quad means emotionally and she replied with “worry of behind the scene details.” We both looked at each other with wide eyes. She then gave him like 5 mantras to repeat to ease his worry of the behind the scenes details and we ran a mile repeating those and talking about how great the crew is, and how the details are handled, and how he just needs to focus on swim/bike/run. Two miles later that quad pain was GONE, but we had to really repeat those mantras and get that emotional worry to subside. It wasn’t just about repeating words, it was about convincing him that the details were handled. Once he believed and knew that in his heart, his quad was back to it’s normal tired heavy overtrained self. The more years I spend in the sport, the more that kind of work is something I really lean into and believe. It may sound like Hocus-Pocus, but I have so many examples of things like this in my own life, and that of my friends. It was cool to see James using the medical side, the physiology side, and then pulling in the emotional side. Mmmm Juicy!

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We finished the marathon at 11:55pm and I felt proud about that because I knew he was going to get a solid 6 hours of sleep, and I felt a little responsible for that. It truly takes a village to get him through each and every day, but I was glad to do my little part on one little day! 95% of people may feel that he isn’t going to make it, but I’m in the 5%. I know quite a bit about the determination in this guy, and we shared a lot of words out there. If he stays on top of his bike, and the crew keeps doing their job, then James will do his job! Childhood obesity is a cause close to his heart and it keeps him going when it gets tough.

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If you have any questions, leave them in the comments and I will try to answer them with what I know. If he has yet to come to your state, PLEASE go join him! Especially on the bike where drafting is super helpful! The running crew is fun, but he could sure use bike supporters too. Oh and no speed is too slow, especially for the run! We were logging lots of 13 14 and 15 minute miles! It’s very inclusive! We had some 4 year olds running with us at one point!

Perception and perspective is something we develop through our life experiences. I know in my heart that I have perceptions that just aren’t true, and James is great at challenging those in me. For as long as I’ve known him, he’s pushed the limits of his own capacity and has broadened my horizons in doing so. Just making it through the 10 that he has thus far in 10 different states challenges what I think is possible. Deep bow to him!

If you live in Colorado….he’s in Nebraska on July 19th, and Wyoming on July 23rd. His last day is July 25th in Utah!

Keep it up Cowboy!

Aspen Adventure Day 2

Oh man I slept like a baby! Thank you again Jen for the awesome lodging! Saturday morning Jeff drove up and dropped Mo off in Vail to ride for two days with us. The Beesons also drove on up for the weekends adventure. After breakfast we packed all the kids into the Honda Element with Troy running SAG, and Jen and Mark both got to ride a bit on Saturday. Annie was so incredibly happy to have friends to play with along the way!

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Bright and early we left from Eagle/Vail. The skies were deep blue and cloudless, the wind was nonexistent, and it was gorgeous! I rode a little bit to start off with Michele and Mo, just to make sure everyone was clear on where they were going, and all was good. They were great riding buddies and it was so cool to bring two new people together who ended up having a great time riding together!

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Then Jen and I rode the rest of the way up to Tennessee Pass together while Mark and Tony rode together. Jen and I chatted and were happy, and just having a really nice time! This section of road, over Battle Mountain and up the pass were just gorgeous. Green trees, clear blue lakes. I was a very happy girl!

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At the top of Tennessee Pass Jen turned around and rode back to Eagle/Vail to pick up their car where she would meet Troy at Twin Lakes.

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After parting ways with Jen I got some solo riding time all the way to Twin Lakes. I had a weird situation happen with a guy following me in his car. He would stop on the opposite side of the road and then I would pass then I would see him a few miles later do the same thing again. By the 4th time my intuition was heightened. When I got to Leadville I pulled into a quickie mart for water and he pulled in too. It was very strange. So I called Troy and asked him to come find me and just stay close for a little bit. Nothing more came of it.

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After Leadville I made my way to Twin Lakes. This is a major aid station for the Leadville 100 run and I always think about that when I’m here. It reminds me of pacing Erick, crewing for Emily, and just the buzz and excitement of Leadville. Rolling in here Mark and Tony were snacking and the kids were playing. Everyone was happy and life was good.

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I refueled and took off with the boys to climb Independence Pass. Mark was off like a rocket and Tony and I took our sweet time! It’s a lot of climbing and I was feeling less than spry!

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As we got closer we could see there was an avalanche blocking the road and people had gotten out of their cars to start shoveling. We could see snow flying off the edge of the cliff as they dug it out. By the time we made it up there one lane was sorta open. We eeked our way through and kept climbing.

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This pass is amazing! I could climb it every day. It’s hard and I struggled a bit but the views made the struggle that much easier. Because of the avalanche we really didn’t have much traffic, they were all stuck down below. It was some nice solitude time.

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Tony and I met back up and snapped a picture at the top and then enjoyed the 20 miles of screaming descent. You actually get tired of descending, it’s so much!

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We pulled into the hotel. Troy arrived at the same time with Mo and Michelle and Jen. Everyone got checked into their rooms and I headed out and ran 3 miles up Aspen mountain, and then three miles back down. I had to get a feeling of what was to come in Norway, and well, it’s legit. The end of that race is going to be something I’ve never experienced before!

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After that we enjoyed great dinner out together and we topped off the night with an ice cream sandwich. I slept like the dead!

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Aspen Adventure Day 1

I got this crazy idea a few weeks ago to ride my bike to Aspen and back from my house. I sat on it a few days, checked my schedule and then just decided to go for it. I put it out on Facebook and got some great responses from people who agreed to join me, and thus an adventure was born! We’ve had a really wet spring, and with a nice winter snow base I didn’t really know what we were going to get into, but as is typical me, I said “Adventure! Let’s do it.”

We made reservations in Aspen, and my friend Jen was sweet enough to open up her vacation home in Vail to us! Troy agreed to come up to Vail Friday night after Annie got out of school and run SAG for Satuday/Sunday and then drive home Monday morning early. That left me without SAG on Friday and Monday, but all the details seemed fairly covered!

On Friday I got a lift over to Jodys house off Ken Carl and we took off. Up through Bear Lake Park, along past Red Rocks and then up the I-70 frontage road to meet up with Jen. Then it was the three of us for the rest of the day.

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We had a short 1 mile stint on I-70, down Floyd Hill, along a cute bike path to Idaho Springs, and then were on the frontage road along the highway. I’ve traveled this route many times and I really like it. From Idaho Springs to the top of Loveland Pass is about 30 miles of straight climbing. That’s legit and similar to what I will do the first 30 miles of Norseman.

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We had a very lovely headwind the entire way that broke us up. We rode some solo miles but never too far apart. When you hit the Bakerville exit off I70 at that point you hop on the bike path. There is a 7-ish mile BEAUTIFUL bike path that leads to the base of Loveland ski resort. I love this bike path.

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We get a few miles down the bike path and theres a little patch of snow. No bigee, we walk on through. Then a little bit later, another patch, we navigate that. Then a bit later a big long patch. Jody is sitting there looking at us with a “what now?” face and of course I’m like “Welcome to the adventure!!” We hike-a-bike through that patch and then keep riding on the other side.

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Well, we got wooed…. a few more hike a bike patches later we don’t know whether to keep progressing forward, or turn back, rehike through what we already hiked through, and then ride on I-70 for 7 miles? We soldier on. This may not have quite been a team decision. Every 100 yard hike-a-bike section ended to reveal yet another 100 yard hike-a-bike section. On our 20th one of those we were tired!
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We took some stop breaks, did a little conscious complaining, and motored on. 2 miles of hike a bike later we dumped out at the bottom of Loveland ski resort and the base of Loveland pass. Oddly there were two cyclists standing there wondering whether they should take our route in reverse, to which I said “I forbid you.”

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Now, I must say how proud of Jody and Jen I am. This hike-a-biking was not for the faint of heart. We each potholed dozens of times down to our upper thigh or waste in snow, all the while toting a bike along with us. I tend to just put my nose down and motor through adversity like this, and this was a really big test of friendship. I was pretty pleased that nobody lost their marbles, everyone handled themselves like champs, and I feel we are all a bit closer now because of it. You can’t take that bonding experience from us!

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I lost my toe warmers in the process and all three of us had soaking wet feet, Jody being the worse because he didn’t wear socks. We were so happy to be back on our bikes riding and proceeded up Loveland Pass. The top was beautiful and we found Jody hunkered down behind a wall, rubbing his toes trying to bring the life back to them before the long descent. Jen and I were in good spirits, happy to have made it to the top of the pass!

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On the way down we stopped at Arapahoe Basin to refill bottles and all three of us decided that new, warm, cozy, fuzzy ski socks from the gift shop were in order. Those socks felt so darn good. I’m still missing one of them, Jen, any ideas?

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From A-Basin we descended, quite cold, down to Keystone and into Dillon. We hit up the bike path, knowing it would get us to Frisco, but took a wrong turn and ended up in Silverthorn. Back up the hill, and onto the right path we somehow found our way to Frisco and onto the bike path towards Copper Mountain. Along the way Jody saw two beavers in the beaver pond, Jen and I saw neither, and all of us were getting pretty tired.

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At Copper mountain we stopped to get junk food. I can’t really put it any other way. Chips, soda, crap, more crap, oh it all tasted so good. We were debating whether we should wait for Troy and have him take us the rest of the way. In my mind I knew it would be very tight to fit 3 bikes, 3 cyclists, Annie, Troy, and all the bags in the Honda Element. I told the crew I would ride up and over Vail pass. Well then Jen and Jody weren’t going to let me do that without them, so everyone started suiting up to ride over Vail Pass. As we were about to step outside the heavens unleashed a torrent of hail. We sat back down and called Troy.

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Much maneuvering later we were indeed able to fit 3 bikes, 3 cyclists, Troy, Annie and all the bags in the Honda Element. I love that car! For the day, we totaled 92 miles, and 11,000 feet of climbing! Not too shabby! A warm shower never felt so good! We enjoyed a great night out eating before tucking into bed, ready for the next days adventure!

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The Adventures of Princess Kitty

I just have to blog about this today. I’m staying up late doing so, but it’s so worth it!

Do you guys remember Princess Kitty?  I’m not sure if she’s made huge appearances on my blog, but I know a few times I’ve mentioned her, or posted a picture?

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I travel a lot for racing and training. My daughter has grown up with this, and she considers it pretty normal, but in the last few years, especially as travel has increased, she started to express some of her concerns. Being a mom and chasing the goals that I had often times felt in opposition. I knew if I was going to find harmony in this situation, it was going to come from listening to my daughters concerns, asking lots of questions to really understand the root of them, and seeking unique solutions that met her needs. I knew that for me, this did not mean setting my dreams aside and just staying home all the time.

One of the many unique solutions we have come up with is the Adventures of Princess Kitty. When I travel, I take Princess Kitty with me most of the time. I take photos of her on my rides and runs, or with pretty backdrops, and I text them to Annie. Sometimes we get on FaceTime so Princess Kitty can talk to Prince Puppy. It’s just become a way between the two of us for me to have a piece of her with me, and for her to feel like she’s in on my experiences/adventures.

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And then we got to the point where Princess Kitty started coming on all our family adventures. And last weekend, we went to Washington DC for the first time (more on that soon). Annie brought her blankie, because that goes everywhere and doubles as a coat, and she also brought Princess Kitty.

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Well, on the way home on Monday, we had a tragedy. We were all tired, we had woken up at 3:15am to catch our flight (1:15am Denver time) and we were a little zombie like traveling through the airport in Denver. We exited the tram and headed to baggage claim when Annie said with panic in her voice “Princess Kitty!” We were out of the secure area and couldn’t go back. Annie said she left her on the tram and started to cry.

I must admit, I was super sad too. I lost an entire bag of my favorite clothes coming home from Kona last year, so I knew the feeling of “oh no, my prized possessions are GONE” plus I really love Princess Kitty too. I’ve toted that cat on some serious training days where didn’t have much extra pocket space!

It’s really important to me as a parent to honor my daughters feelings and refrain from shaming her. So we cried, we did not do any of the “see what happens when you….” or “why did you…” Nope. We felt the sad emotions for having left behind Princess Kitty. After some tears, we launched into “What can we do about it?” I find this is a good place to go as a parent. I start with one idea, then I ask Annie for the next one. We make a list. Here’s what we came up with:

1.) File a report with DIA for missing Princess Kitty

2.) File a report with Southwest

3.) Use social media

4.) buy Princess Kitty 2.0.

We decided against #2 since Annie was SURE that Princess Kitty made it off the airplane. On the way home, even though we had solutions in place, there were many more tears and a lot of whys? and what if’s?

“What if another kid takes Princess Kitty?”

“What if they never find Princess Kitty?”

“Why do I always lose things?” (that one made me sad, it’s hard being nine)

I remember at one point saying “Maybe she’s just off on a fun adventure and she will make her way back when she’s ready” It didn’t really help Annie, but made me feel better.

Upon arriving home, for the first time in Annies entire life she did not want to go to school. She said “Mom, I’m too sad to go to school” so I said “okay” and we did crafts and read books.

We filed the report with DIA, and I put a tweet out to @DENAirport (DIA has THE BEST twitter account, I have been following them for years).

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Two hours later I got an email from DIA saying they were looking for our lost item but hadn’t found it. That night I went online, googled my pants off and found a replica of Princes Kitty and ordered it…with 2-day shipping.

This morning another email came from DIA saying they still hadn’t found it, but weren’t giving up.

Then, later this afternoon, I got a text from my good friend Jen telling me to look at twitter.

And this is when I lost my bananas.

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This is the photo they posted:

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And then another:

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And look what they did with Princess Kitty:

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At this point I am crying. Can you believe how precious those photos are. I called Annie right away and told her they found Princess Kitty and to go look at Twitter to see the adventure that she got to go on. Annie flipped out! The sweet ladies at lost and found called me and I said I would bring Annie to come pick her up. We brought flowers and chocolate to say thank you!

Annie gets reunited with Princess Kitty.

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I can not say enough nice things about this whole experience. For someone to take the time to treat this experiences in this way literally melts my heart. Princess Kitty was sitting right up high on the window in lost and found, not on the shelves with the coats and umbrellas. She had a tag around her neck, and had been loved and cared for. The ladies at lost and found asked us to come back by on our next trip and say hi. They too fell in love with Princess Kitty.

I can’t help but think about the amazing things that continue to happen in my life when I embrace what comes my way and don’t judge, shame others, have unrealistic expectations, or a bad attitude. Being able to parent in a way that feels authentic to Annies feelings felt really good, and then to see that Princess Kitty did indeed go on an adventure, and came back when she was ready, well, I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

I can’t thank DIA Airport enough, they are truly the best airport on the planet. I was told that the story of Princess Kitty went all the way up the chain, and for that, my heart smiles. I have so much gratitude!

Princess Kitty now has a twitter page. If you would like to follow along on her adventures, she’s @PrincessKittyCO

Also, I would suggest following @DENAirport they are a wealth of knowledge, with lots of humor, and kindness too!

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Cobwebs… and Rising Tide Triathlon Coaching

Wow, I had to dust off some serious cobwebs to get this blog updated. I didn’t even remember my password, had to do the whole password reset thing.

This blog looks like the floor underneath my couch, dust bunnies galore, but also some loose change, a few cat toys, oh and my favorite sunglasses that I thought I lost. I always shake my head when people return to their blog and do the whole apology for not posting anything. I know as much as anyone that nobody has been on pins and needles, nobody really remembers if this blog disappears into oblivion and there are a million other options for online entertainment. I used to tell my story fairly frequently, and then I stopped.

I can’t issue an apology, because I’m not sorry. Over the last year, blogging has not been a gift in my life. I started this thing to talk about being a mommy to Annie and to share the fun stuff with some of my thoughts around it. Then I got into triathlon, which made a good story, and then I had some success in the sport, which made for an even better story, and then I had a great race in Kona, which felt like the end of a story. I don’t know when I swapped over from talking about my experiences to telling a story, but somewhere in there I got a sense that people only wanted to read certain things, and I started talking about those things.

But this is my life. And it’s messy. And to even touch on the mess pisses off other people like no tomorrow. So most of what I had to say just felt like dancing around a huge elephant. I hated that, so I stopped. I tried to get up the race reports, but even those have fallen by the wayside.

So I took a break. And I’m glad I did, because I got to missing it a bit more, and wishing I could write about this and that, and now I’m back here to do so. I think it’s important to go with the ebbs and flows of life, and to ask questions when you are feeling “duty” or “responsibility” calling. Sometimes the best action is no action, to just let things rest for awhile to see if you can get some clarity!

So, a quick little catch up, so I feel like I’ve dotted my Is and crossed my Ts. Oh and a kinda big announcement at the end!

I got second in Kona (can I just say that a few more times). I thought my life would be better after. It wasn’t better. It was the same awesome that it was before (and the same not awesome too). I took a break, because I was burned out. Well, not really burned out, but more just wanted to sit and soak in the pseudo completion of a goal. Yea, yea, I wasn’t first, but second is close, and Amy Farrell is a total bad ass! So, it was close enough to celebrate for awhile.

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It’s strange because I love riding my bike, but suddenly I did not want to ride my bike. And I didn’t. In fact, I did the Coast Ride on several hours of biking (like 11 total…ouch…not recommended) and then I didn’t ride my bike after the Coast Ride for another few months. I started riding a few weeks ago. I essentially took 6 months away from my bike. And it felt good. I fell in love with my dolphin pod (we have matching dolphin suits), got a knee injury running in Hokas in the trails (too squirrely for me), recovered from that, and put in 8 weeks of training for Boston. Honestly, I was happy to be on the line, but aren’t I always?

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I went skydiving at Mile High Skydiving and I absolutely loved it. A small part of me wanted to quit triathlon, sell my bikes, and start taking the fast track classes so that I can jump on my own. I decided against quitting, but, I am going to take the Level 1 class as soon as I can get a free Saturday to do so. I was in love, and I will at some point be jumping on my own. It’s for sure!

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I ALSO, found a really great new book club group here in Denver called Real Life Book Club (they are on facebook, newer company, many different groups around town). Through this I met some new amazing women that have lead me to other amazing women, and I’ve actually had a social life. That’s been a really nice and needed change for me. Also, I feel like I have gained this expansive wealth of resources by connecting with women in many different vocations. It’s been really cool! I’m speaking at the next Real Life Book Club social and if you are in the Denver area, you should check it out (ladies only).

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Book Club has lead to a lot of reading and self introspection over the last six months. It’s been really hard at times, and really good at times. I entered a fun 10 week course called Skinny Dip Society that has been such a blast…okay, and sometimes a lot of tears. But for the first time in my life I feel like I’m digging to the bottom of some deep muck, and really gaining valuable insight on how I plan to live the rest of my life. As much as I would recommend this sort of work, I would suggest all new bedding and a calm bedroom, because I spent a lot of time in bed, licking my wounds.

And, the most wonderful thing has been born out of the last six months. Taking a break, and looking inwards really helped me to hone in on “what’s next?” The clarity always seems obvious once it’s revealed and this has been no different. So, without further rambling, the other huge thing that I’ve been up to, to which a real time commitment has been dedicated, has been creating a new coaching business. Cue: Applause!

Drum-Roll-Please: Rising Tide Triathlon Coaching

Facebook Link to Rising Tide where you can sign up for the newsletter (infused with fun and helpful mental skills tricks)

Website in development at RisingTideTri.com (but hey, there’s a pretty landing page).

Twitter is up and going too @RisingTideTri

I have been coaching for 4.5 years now, ever since ChuckieV really urged me to do so. He was genius, because it’s what I was made to do. How nice to have someone else reveal to you what you were put here to do! I take it very seriously (okay, most the time) and I feel honored to be able to work with such amazing individuals. I still have 3 of my original 6 athletes in my stable (Errrr my regatta…haha).

In the past I have always stayed small, many people have said “I didn’t know you coached” because I just took the number of people I knew I could individually help while still running the business, and training. Sometimes I overextended myself and sometimes I found the balance. In my heart though, I’ve always wanted to expand and have the ability to guide more athletes. I’ve had several women through the years want to coach underneath me or be mentored by me, but I never had the structure in place to do so. I’ve always loved teaching and mentoring, especially other women who want to help others find greater health. When I set up Rising Tide, it was important to me to set up a structure where I had the capacity to do that in a formal manner.

I’ve always loved the mental side of sport. Can you tell? I know that my deeper calling is in this area, and I wanted a company that will allow me to put some unique products out into the world in this capacity. I’m still knee deep in what that looks like, but so far it’s looking really exciting/fun/productive.

As I formed my new business I got a lot of insight by project mapping my current coaching business and assessing where I rock and where I need support. Then I went about finding support for most of those areas. This, to me, is the most exciting process because when you start pulling in people to do what they are great at, things start to get really fun and I saw my time open up, which means I can be available to more athletes! It’s a symbiotic system! Most excellent, and tons of FUN!

So, there you go! Rising Tide Triathlon Coaching is open for business and I’m having a total blast at it!

As for the blogging. Well, I’m turning a new leaf, beginning a new story of sorts and I would like to share it along the way. Stay tuned….

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