Sunday, August 28, 2016

Countdown to Worlds 70.3: Week 2

Coolum Beach, Queensland, Australia
Today, Bryan and I touched down in a new country, in fact, a new continent. I am happy to say that despite enduring an 18+ hour travel excursion, we both enjoyed the waters of the Coral Sea underfoot this evening. In addition, every bag of luggage made it. Regardless of the way TSA violated my bike and the contents of my bike box, my efforts to protect everything with pipe insulation and styrofoam apparently succeeded.

The first few days of this week mimicked those of the previous four. However, I remember telling my girls on Monday that indeed, this would be the last 45 minutes of hell that involved running at such a speed that no one, upon awaking on a Monday, would ever like to see before 5 o'clock in the morning. On Wednesday, I informed them that having to endure the boredom of watching their owner run up and down a hill would finally come to an end. What I don't think they had quite prepared themselves for, however, was mom leaving on Friday for a race they had no idea they helped prepare her for.

Our 14 hours on a Qantas flight from LA to Brisbane felt tight. Bryan likened our situation to what cattle must feel like when shoved into semis for slaughter. A twinge of sadness overcame me when he said that, and I reminded myself that in an hour, the powers of Ambien would guide me into what I hoped to be a deep sleep. It seemed 5mg bought me about 3 hours, so after a total of 15mg, I let myself remain awake for the remaining two hours to Brisbane. What Qantas lacked in leg room, they fairly made up for with food. My breakfast hardly compared to the pretzels and ice water I've grown accustomed to on flights these days.

A little delayed, Brisbane welcomed us with temperate weather and sunny skies. After just one wrong turn onto the motorway, we found ourselves heading to the north toward Coolum Beach, where the AirBnB we'd reserved awaited us. Driving on the left side of the road made for some serious entertainment, primarily from the passenger's point of view. Bryan, on the other hand, struggled with his turn signals so that we both understood our windshield wipers worked, one too many times. All I could think was how fortunate we were the gas and brake pedals weren't on opposite sides, too.

Friendly people awaited us in Coolum Beach. Our host welcomed us openly and even offered to assist us with our first grocery shopping excursion. We declined her hospitality so we could take showers we longed for desperately. Later in the afternoon, we did venture into the heart of town before coming home so Bryan could rest and I could go for a short run and explore the area. I marveled at how wonderful I felt running across the sand, overlooking the ocean whose waters lapped the shores of Australia! I feel blessed to visit this area, and I long for a memorable race this upcoming weekend.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Countdown to Worlds 70.3: Week 3

We observed from the sidelines our friends and fellow triathletes braving, what had evolved into, a windy afternoon in Coeur d'Alene for today's Ironman event. Even as I contemplate another full distance triathlon sometime in the future, I couldn't help but admit that I enjoyed spectating instead of racing today. For these last 4 weeks, training hard for a half Ironman has stretched me considerably. Yet this week, I seemed to have surpassed my fears of breaking down and actually experienced some of my strongest workouts, to date.

My coach has structured my training pretty consistently from week to week. This has allowed me to better (especially with each passing week) mentally prepare for the upcoming training session. Where once I felt nervous for a hard tempo run the day following a track session, I now feel ambitious and eager to nail it. I've only failed to do it once. I figure my odds have improved each week. Thankfully, my dogs have grown accustomed to ushering me through the woods, even in the dark morning hours. They have proven to serve as my greatest assets for these runs.

If anything, I've also learned more about the importance of recovery. Not just what it looks like, but how to embrace it. For me, I've benefited significantly from self massage. Ruby's Lube Antichafe balm has served me well. My feet, shins, and calves have stayed relatively healthy despite the increased miles and harder efforts.

We recently celebrated my mom's birthday. I didn't feel nearly as good
with my water pitcher as everyone else did with their margaritas. 
Finally, drinking water and eating raw, whole foods seems more the norm than the oddity. I'm
mentally succeeding at accepting what multiple trips to the bathroom feels like because my bladder now works overtime. PhD Nutrition has made drinking fluids more enjoyable, and with the added electrolytes and recovery protein I get from a daily smoothie, I'm better able to approach the next day's endeavors with a little more confidence than I remember feeling when I originally set out on this challenge.

This next week serves as the final push before we depart for Australia at the end of this week. My final pre-race massage with Jennette at Elements Massage will hurt, as her hands always take my knotted, tangled muscles and knead them into long, nimble strands. Again, I pray for continued health and strength to keep me on this path to the start line. I thank everyone who has and continues to support me. Please keep in touch, as your words of encouragement mean so very much.

Bryan, showing me what recovery should look like.
Unfortunately, mine never includes the bowl of ice cream. 
Much thanks to Grafton for tuning up our bikes.
His rig always looks better when it's sitting in our driveway.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Countdown to Worlds 70.3: Week 4

No words can possibly describe what I feel. I hope for confidence; I exude fatigue. If I thought last week felt hard, this week brought me to my knees. The Coach says it's supposed to feel that way, and I'm to, "please stay healthy." Believe me, I'm doing all I can to keep my body from breaking down. Massages with Elements at Wandermere, foam rolling that makes me wonder what hurts worst, the recovery or the workout, and praying. I do a lot of talking with God these days. Perhaps I'm not quite in denial, but there may exist a mild amount of bargaining.

Bryan sent me to bed earlier this week because I had the personality of a "wet dish rag." I never thought I'd take him up on the idea when the clock barely read 7 o'clock in the evening. Yet I did. Since my generally jovial self has taken a turn for the toilet, I suppose at least my training had better stay sharp. Derek has outlined a week that looks much like last week. What I learned this go-around, however, is that it certainly won't feel anything like last week did.

Thank goodness for the Olympics. If we didn't have such phenomenal athletes and moments to keep us motivated, Bryan would have to do a whole heck of a lot more work. Quite frankly, I can't rely on him much because he, too, finds himself cheering on our Olympians. For now, I'll rely on my God, my support crew, and my crock pot. Lord knows we'd having nothing to eat each night if it weren't for the work that puppy does while we're at work and lately, more often than not, training.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Countdown to Worlds 70.3: Week 5

I nearly choked last Saturday when I pulled up my training plan Derek had posted for the upcoming week. It seems he understood my second goal in this countdown to Worlds: focus on my run. It was with great pleasure that I've embraced what that means, as he'd scheduled a total of 6 runs for me to pursue. My Clifton 2's by Hoka One One and I have never had so much time together. After one week in this budding relationship, I have never felt so comfortable with any pair of running shoes. (Bryan feels no jealousy. Believe me.)

I hit Riverside's newly paved trail section, just a five minute run from my home, early Monday morning with my two best running partners, Maci and Ryder. (Again, Bryan doesn't loathe this at all.) Not quite light yet, I felt grateful for smooth asphalt because after just a 10 minute warm up, we embarked on a 30 minute interval at my 10k race pace. Initially, the only thoughts running through my head were that just 30 minutes ago, I remember how it felt to have just woke up. This seemed like one heck of a way to start a Monday morning.
Ryder and Maci, my pacers and protectors. 

My girls didn't seem to mind, though. In fact, they relished the opportunity to shuttle me through the
woods, each taking their turns in front and behind. They had no plans on letting me cupcake my way out of this run.

This run hurt. Each subsequent run and workout this past week has built upon the other. Yet I marvel at how I feel and hope I've found new strength. Not just physical strength, but mental confidence, also. I had several mind-numbing workouts, especially in the pool, that left me so dazed I felt I'd better find a quiet place for a nap at just 2 o'clock in the afternoon. I apologized several times to coworkers and patients alike for yawning like we'd already watched the clock eclipse upon evening hours. When concerned patients asked if I slept enough at night, I assured them I did and that it had more to do with my fitness goals. The looks on their faces, combined with the exclamations of disbelief (the Oh dear Lords and You are nuts), started to serve as interesting entertainment. In fact, I much preferred to hear patients call me crazy instead of characterize me as a physical torturer, vulture, and as one woman confidently called me on Wednesday, a Butt. 

One thousand yard intervals and 200 yard intervals, hill repeats, a two hour bike ride, and then another day like Monday, but this time, on Friday. Today, Bryan and I made the emphasis of our 4 hour ride about finding any and every hill on the north side of Spokane. Heading out on highway 291 this morning, we had scaled three large hills before 45 minutes. By the end of the ride, we'd found about 15 significant beauties that left our legs fried. After our quick transition run, I'd say the rest of the afternoon will have to serve as recovery time because tomorrow, a track workout filled with 400s and another 30 minute interval at race pace awaits us.

This 131 pound (yes, I continue to embrace raw foods and subsequently shed weight) frame looks
forward to another challenge. Sometimes I wonder if the effort is completely physical because I have picked up a psychological game that involves determining whether or not I really need more food. It turns out, water does the trick. When it doesn't, I excitedly slice a beet and eat it with almonds. My garden has started to put out summer squash, zucchini, and cucumber, too. Have caution, though. Bryan and I learned the hard way about the substance in the skins of cucumber, called cucurcamin, that causes significant havoc upon the digestion system of certain humans (ahem, taking ownership here). Thursday night, I loved Simethicone. From Friday onward, I peel cucumbers. Trust me. You'll never fall asleep when gawd awful smells trickle out from underneathe the covers.

I'm sorry, but this is highly overrated.

 Let's move on to Week 4, shall we?