Friday, April 18, 2014

Day 3- Madiera Canyon Climb or where I remembered how to be tough

Once again, my day started here. Perfect. I actually loved my early mornings that week. It was very easy for me to get up to my 5 a.m. alarm since 1) I'm used to an even earlier 4 a.m. call for my swims at home and 2) I probably never fully switched my body's clock to AZ time. 



To make it easier, this was the view out my window. So, I could set my alarm for 5, look at this, grab a cup of coffee, get back in bed and call home ( 8 a.m. there ) and catch two of the boys before they went off to school. ahhh... 
Then, I'd just get dressed and have a short, quiet walk down to the pool.  One morning I even saw a little bunny hop in front of me as I walked across the lawn. All this made me smile and enjoy the time on my "vacation."  
The day before, at the very very end of the Mt. Lemmon climb to the ski area, I was alternating between, " pedal pedal pedal & @#%^^%!!!! " as I climbed what I was told  was only a portion of a mile but it actually was a LOT more. ( I honestly don't know how far it was... but it was way more than I thought, and after 25 miles UP and 103 miles the day before, I wanted OFF that bike for a few minutes. ) So..as I made my way up I thought about the next day and had it in my head that it was going to be 'easier.'  But then, some guy came up next to me on his bike, looking like a fresh little mountain goat and tried to have a  big ole' conversation with me ( as I tried to breath) about how I should go FURTHER beyond the ski area because it's... ?? I can't remember why he said I should. Because honestly, there wasn't a chance in hell I was going Beyond where the group was. Nope! I was done. 
But when I told him we were riding Madeira the following day, he made this noise. And then said something about the road going on and on and then UP. Yeah, whatever... I was so focused on the present moment that I didn't pay that much attention to him... 
ooops. 
He knew what he was talking about.... I should have begun my mental prep Right then. I needed it. 


Later that night, a few of us looked up the profile for the ride the next day. Hmm... that has a sharp little curve to it. Ok... but really. They were all starting to look like that. Plus, the total ride was only going to be 60 or so miles instead of 80+. Again, Easy day! Right??
Ahem.

We drove a ways to a safe starting point and started the re-assemble bikes, get ready process. When I headed to pump the tires, I discovered a flat. And then I pulled out a small tack. Someone had actually thrown tacks on the Mt. Lemon road --- nice. Several of us were lucky enough to pick them up. I'm just lucky the flat didn't appear while I was trying to escape the bees the day before. 
Finally, we all headed out. 
The first 15 or so miles were  basically flat. I felt good! Miraculously I wasn't screaming to sit on the bike and the legs were responding well. Alright! I had a few strong segments along the way, sometimes alone and sometimes with some guys for a few miles. Our awesome support crew of Josh & Jenny { fellow camper who got sick while we were there :( } were at a corner letting us restock our bottles and make sure the bikes were ready to roll. We didn't stop much on these rides & since I rode alone most of the time I appreciated being able to talk to folks for a few minutes and gather some needed moral support. 

I think my bike read 15 miles at that point. One of the guys told me we were heading up to about the 30-31 mile mark. Ok... that is what Stuck in my head. Call it 31 miles... 

And with that, off we went. 

The sun was shining and the mountain was off in the distance. But I had no idea what we were heading towards. This is the view we were looking at: 


I knew we weren't going ALL the way to the top of that. So, what were we climbing? Where was that spike? Maybe it really didn't get like that? 
By now, I was alone. I had been riding strong and fairly fast. 
And, I wasn't all that concerned about what was left.  If we were only going to 30 or so miles, how bad could it be? I still couldn't see any steep grade so it must not really be that big of a deal... right? 

So I rode and I rode and slowly but surely became very frustrated. I think I looked behind myself a good 10-15 times. What the heck? I am NOT moving!!! What's wrong with this bike? I'm not climbing... am I? { look behind} -- Repeat that self- talk over and over and over. 
I was sure I sucked. I had officially run out of gas and was just crashing. look behind..
I kept waiting for the other campers that had been back from me a bit to catch up. Surely, everyone was about to ride up next to me and say, "What's wrong Ange??"  I think there was wind, I can't seem to remember that part but I do remember talking about it. 
All I know is, just like that fresh mountain goat rider on Lemon had said, "the road goes on Foreevvvvver." It did. He was right. The words he had said to me, the ones I was ignoring at the time, seeped back into my head.  I could see miles and miles in front of me it seemed. And, while it didn't LOOK like a hill, oh believe me it was. We were climbing 10 miles of relentless, demoralizing grades. I realized this on the way back DOWN when I FLEW without pedaling for miles and miles. 
I lost myself during that part. I was lonely and bored. I was SICK Of it. I really really wanted someone to talk to. Someone to commiserate with me and assure me yes, you ARE in fact going nowhere but so am I. (I did have to stop at one point for some cows to cross. :) Yup, there were 3 big cows wandering in the road and I really didn't know what they would think of me. And since I was moving like a turtle, I decided to let them move along before I went their way. ) Truly, I think I was moving about 6 mph along a road that didn't Look like a hill. As I said, demoralizing. I was in a bad place. I kind of pride myself in being able to stay OUT of those bad places during my training and racing so the fact that I had slipped there was discouraging too. 

The Good news was, I was nearing mile 30 on my clock!!! The signs said, "MADEIRA CANYON " so... I was almost There!!! Yay!  Not sure that that peak was all about because we were almost there and the road did NOT spike. IT was a nasty long climb, but no peak. yay! 
fake picture in my head at this time on the ride 

insert maniacal laughter right here.

The scenery changed now. It looked less like a desert and more like home. Madeira Canyon is surrounded by the Coronado National Forest so the hills are tree covered, there are streams and apparently it's filled with many bird species and a favorite area for those who enjoy watching birds! 
There's a Very cute B&B up there ( stopping to snap a photo would have resulted in me falling OFF the bike so you'll just have to believe me) and the view from there is: 
It was definitely nice to see the landscape change from barren  desert to lush forest on all climbs. 
Back to business. 

There was an evil laugh echoing in my head as I made a turn and realized the last 10 miles of "climbing" were just a little warm up.
AT this point, I am Expecting to see my group any second since I thought were finishing around mile 30. 

I saw no one. No one with a bike that is. 
All I saw was the road, tourists enjoying beautiful little picnic areas with food and shops and then my hands....clenching the bars. For dear life. And, to stay UPright! 
why?? 
because the road, without warning went STRAIGHT UP! 
At least that's what it felt like since I was on a Bike! You can't just push the gas pedal wait for the engine to shift gears, you must NOT hesitate or pause because you will FAll over to the side and crash. And then you'll never be able to get going again.     :) :) 
seriously, it was that steep. 

I started to swear again. I was SURE that every time I went around a corner I'd see the van and the 6 or so people that were ahead of me. 
WHERE WERE THEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!  
I was sort of losing it. I mean, at least I Knew I was on a hill now so I didn't have to wonder why I wasn't moving. That helped. A little. 
It was survival...each leg stroke was just to hold on. 
I saw so many of these: 



Seemingly Perfect rest areas to stop and rest. Or eat. Or just STOP RIDING UP! 
Yeah... I wasn't in my happy I love this sport place. 

I passed a few people walking Down the cliff. I was starting to wonder if I was going the wrong way! What if I had gone BY Them!!! NO!!!!  So I spoke up: 

 "I'm looking for some other bikers. Have you seen them?" 
"OH! yes!!"
"Are they close??"
insert laugh... "No." 

@#$^$$%#@&&**@~!$!!!!!! 

What is going on??? 
AT that point, I was done. Done with the bad place. That wasn't me.  I was sick of my tantrum and little pity party. After all, as I had been saying all week, I WAS there to work. Suck it up babe and get up the damn mountain!!  I put my head down and just kept going. AT some point, I knew I would have to get there. 
33 miles now... 
ugh! 
Crazy crazy how LONG those 3 miles had taken!!! 
I got to a corner and saw some kids at yet Another perfectly good rest area...
I asked the same question I asked the last group. 
But this time I got: "Oh yeah, they're right over there!" And he pointed UP. 
YES!!!!!!!!! See.. I knew I'd make it if I just stopped all the bitching in my head! 

I rounded that corner and heard them first. I gave it all I had left and finally, finally, reached the very TOP of that road with my friends, in their typical Awesome fashion, Cheering me up and then high fiving me upon completion. I think I maybe dropped the bike as I dove for a bench. It was like a race-- someone grabbed it from me. I have no memory.. so if you're reading this and you were the one ( Bob? Rick? John? ) Thank you! 

I smiled. And then,I sat there and shook from exhaustion for a few minutes. It was that hard. 

The next guy finishing and getting the same awesome welcome and GOOD JOB at the top. What a Great,  great group. 


I was happy to be there with others for a few minutes. Again, the camaraderie is everything. Everything. It made me happy to see how wiped everyone else was too and that even those kick-axx rider friends of mine  who crushed that climb thought they had flat tires etc on that long long nasty non- hill climb on the way to steep crazy peak.  We took off and FLEW back down. Ahh.. much better! 
I was almost to the bottom where we made the turn back to the regular road home when I felt some things hit my leg. I brushed them off and then felt the sharp sting. Huh?
I had to stop. Unreal. I had a stinger in my leg! I got stung by a bee. What was UP with me and the bees!?  I rode on and wondered if  actually was a bee or something else. I didn't really see what hit me. But the leg started to HURT. Great... This might not be good. 
And then as quickly as it had come on, it went away. The pain just disappeared. 
I was fine for the rest of the but later on, it swelled, turned red and hurt a Lot. Oh well.. I can handle 1 bee. The swarm turned away from me so I was just thankful for that one little bite. 

Just like the day before... we drove home, changed up, and then hit the road for a little run. 

Big mental toughness gained that day!!!  
In the bank. 



Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Mt.Lemmon





If you go to Tucson, Arizona to train for triathlon, chances are a ride up Mt.Lemmon is on the agenda. I attended a training camp back in 2010 with Coach Jen Harrison and we did this ride. I was looking forward to doing it again after a few more years of experience. 

My legs were no longer fresh and sitting on the bike for another 4+ hrs was definitely going be a challenge after the big ride and climb on day one. But hey, that's why I traveled across the country! Hard work was part of the plan! 

Our coaches changed our original plan and decided to load the bikes into the car and drive to the base  ( 5 miles away ) of the Mountain rather than ride over. GOOD CALL! The roads on the way there were horribly rough & very busy with city traffic and construction. It was a 45- 50 min ride in addition so it would have been a very long day with that too. I consider myself to be pretty organized. I am also very rarely late. I packed my bag the night before and had everything ready to go so I could swim, eat, get dressed and be at the van ready to depart without any issues. yeah... I did do just that but I am embarrassed to say that after driving about 30 minute in the car with 3 of my friends ( multiple vehicles drove) I had a sinking feeling and shouted out, " OH NO!!!!!" 
Ugh. My helmet was not in the car. @^%$^$$^#$&&**!!!!
I was horrified. And a little stressed. Now what? 

Well, I'll tell you what happened. 
On that same ride, just a few minutes before, my friend that was driving, Pat Kelley, said, " You know what one of the best things about this sport is? The camaraderie." We all agreed and chatted a bit about how great all our friends in the sport are and how everyone looks out for one another. 
Well.. I Insisted we drive to the meeting spot without any stops. I knew the stores weren't open yet and I had to own this one. I thought I would drop them off and either go back for my helmet or get to a bike shop once they opened. I would have to do the ride alone and catch up later, somehow. 
My three friends in the car with me, Dave, Pat and Jenny wouldn't hear of it. They started searching shops on their smart phones and before I knew it, Pat and I were running through a super Walmart in our bike shoes for a new helmet for me. I think we lost about 10-15 min. I took a little ribbing from the other groups, but not much. My friends totally rallied for me and made sure I got on the road for that ride. It was really really cool of them. Sadly, we couldn't find a Dora or Spongebob helmet to don instead of a boring Bell. We had laughed that that would have been a much more memorable way to remember my slackness. 

I decided to cut off the giant tag in the end. 

 With that taken care of.. it was time to climb. 





 Mt. Lemmon is about 25 miles up! I must say, I did enjoy this ride. I started out alone, then hooked up with my friends Bob and John for a few miles and pushed just a wee bit harder than I would have alone, and then I let them go. As I said on the post about day 1, I rode alone for most of this camp. I was fine by myself this day. I knew some were ahead and some were behind but we were essentially all out there together challenging ourselves up a long long relentless climb. I worked hard this day but stayed at a steady state. I didn't stop once. I was proud of that. The temps were great... warm and sunny. Towards the top, as you can see on the chart, the road dips down and it gets cold!! I did quickly pull over to pull the arm warmers back on for that part. Finally... I was at the corner to turn Right for the final ascent. Bob was there to alert us of the turn so we wouldn't miss it. Let's see..what did he say? " Less than a mile!"  I think that was what he said. HA! It was Much longer than that! That final climb was Brutal! Steep and never ending. Little did I know.... Madiera was the next day. 

Some shots taken on the way down... 







I stole this from my friend, Pat, who watched these crazy kids on Longboard Skateboards descend the Mountain!!!!!????




I made my way back down in slow careful fashion. I was very very bundled after nearly freezing on my way down Kitt Peak the day before. I had too much on for Lemmon. It wasn't that cold. After getting off the hill, I stopped to take off all the layers. I had a 5 mile ride back to the van. My feet hurt too, so I took the shoes off while I peeled off the jackets etc. Why does that matter? 
Well... I thought I heard some more bikers coming. I heard a low frequency strange humming-like noise behind me. 
I turned-- straddling my bike, shoes on the road, layers 1/2 way off 1/2 on..NOT ready to go anywhere fast and I saw this: 



BEES!!!!!!!  
I was SCARED!  I have never seen anything like it. A HUGE HUGE swarm was behind me and the buzz went RIght into my gut. Thoughts of the swarm engulfing me and stinging me to death freaked me out and while I panicked, I did react. 
I grabbed my shoes in my hand, left my clothes and started to just ride off with my sock feet on the pedals. But in a moment, the fear turned to oh PHEW as the swarm 'took a left and headed off towards the desert. The sound of that loud buzz was very very unnerving. Very quickly I put my shoes on and grabbed my shirts around my waist and BOLTED back to that van. I had a cold sweat with a high HR for a while.... 
But I was fine. 

The group all came together, we gobbled some calories, put the vans in the car and made the long drive back. 

Once again, it was time to run. 

Ouch. We were staying on a hill so the runs were all up up up, down down down. My legs were trashed, I was tired and it was hard. But, a few miles were in the book and another great day was logged. 




Friday, April 11, 2014

Camp!!!

Last fall, my friend  Bob invited me to join his group in Tucson, Arizona for their annual training camp.He's a coach with E3Training Systems. I'm not an E3 Athlete, but they were allowing non-E3'ers into the camp.  While the invitation was much appreciated, I admit I wasn't sure it was what I wanted to do. 
Why was I so unsure? It's a lot of work to go away without the family! Getting things all organized to continue on while I'm gone really takes some time and prep. And, it requires a lot of time off for my husband &  of course, there's the big expense of travelling across the country with a bike to boot. I went to TX for a training camp last year and really wasn't sure I wanted to take the time away to do that type of thing again. 
I waited until after Ironman Cozumel so I would at least know what my 2014 season would be focused on. After securing my spot in Kona, I knew it was probably  a good choice to kick off the season with some strong training out west. Maine is unpredictable this time of year and as it turns out, our winter was very snowy and even though it's mid-April, I'm still not able to ride outside safely here in Western Maine. 
Taken a few days before I left! :) And, we'll be back there again tomorrow! {that's Mark, my husband..}

I'm home from the AZ camp now. And wow, I am So so happy I went!!! I worked my tail off everyday, I spent some much needed time by myself &  away from the daily grind, and, I had a Blast. Seriously.... so much fun. I laughed to the point of almost tears almost every day I was there. Perfect. 

Day 1-- 3 a.m. wake up call and out the door by 3:30 en route to the airport. My 6:15 flight was delayed 2 hrs so that messed up the entire itinerary. Great start! But, lucky for me, the lady working the counter was quick and rerouted me on another airline with the same schedule! Bam! I had to hurry and haul a lot of gear by myself ( bike, suitcase, carry-on, purse) but I made it happen and was on my way by 6 a.m. Three flights later, 4 hrs next to a guy I think was on his way to rehab somewhere {yikes... what an interesting flight that was.. }, a  shorter trip with a young guy who believes in aliens and was sure the crop circles we were looking at were put there by them and I landed in Tucson HAPPY to see a familiar face! Our on site bike mechanic, sag vehicle driver  Josh Freeman, picked me up and shuttled me over to the group at our great resort in Tucson. I was really happy to visit with Josh & then arrive at the hotel with the rest of the crew. By 4:30 p.m. ( 7:30 Maine time...getting to be a long day since I started at 3:00!), we were off on our 1st little run to kick off camp. I can't say the legs felt good. But I didn't expect them to after the long trip. Heavy and tired. No big deal.... shake it out and get to bed. 

Day 2-- My 5:00 alarm didn't seem too bad even though the day before was nearly 21 hrs long. I was pretty excited.After all-- this is what we were doing by 6:00: 




Swimming outside!!!  Yes! The air was cool but the water was warm and the sun rose over the mountains off in the distance as we worked out. You can't beat that!!! 

Seriously!!! That was our view!



After the swim, we hustled back to our rooms to eat and prep for the long ride. A few of the groups made breakfasts in their rooms for the group or we could just eat what we had on our own. I did a bit of both. Borrowed some peanut butter, grabbed a few bites of pancakes, and took care of myself with a bagel & coffee each day. 



8:30 a.m. and the group gathered for the first ride of camp and MY first ride outside since that 112 spin around the Island of Cozumel on 12/1. I was a little nervous....we had a 100 miles ahead of us. Not only was it my first ride outside ( was for most of us ) but it was a LOT longer than I have been riding so far this spring.  
We headed off together but we all split up into small groups or on our own pretty quickly. When there are 17 people, there's a good chance you have a lot of different ability levels. I was with some people for a while, but then they went ahead. Some were behind me. After a while, I was by myself. And  honestly, I spent a large part of camp riding by myself. I was fine with that. I knew my friends were around me. Some of the guys were just too darn fast  & I rode ahead of some others. It gave me a lot of time to take things in and concentrate on my own riding. After about 50 miles, we came to the turn for Kitt's Peak. All I knew at that point was it was about a 12 mile climb. As we got closer, this is the view we saw: 




I wasn't sure where on that mountain  we were headed but the peak was clearly significant.  Game on! 

I liked this climb. It was steep, but not too steep. I felt strong. It was day 1 so the legs weren't trashed yet. I found a few friends to say Hi to on my way and that broke things up. E3 Coach Jorge rode by us at the top blasting: 

Seriously!!! How great is that? I had about 2 miles left to climb and one of the most kick ass songs from the 80s is being played next to me as I pedaled! haha.. totally made me smile. 

 Alright, That is the pretty elevation profile of this day 1 climb. Nice huh!!  The ride up wasn't horrible really. It was hard, dont' get me wrong. I was just still fresh at that point. As I neared the top, it got COLD! The temps dropped dramatically as we were blocked by big  cliffs. Snow was even  seen in small piles along the road. Brrr.  It was fun to reach the top, high 5 with a few others who were already up, eat some boiled potatoes ( new thing this week for me ), get some encouragement and a warm coat ( only one? !) and then head down. 
Kitt's Peak Obervatory-- this is where we met at the top. You can see the road we were on leading up to the peak.


The ride down this peak, while only 12 miles, was possibly one of my hardest parts ( just one ) of the week and certainly the least enjoyable. ( well....maybe...more to come on the week  ) It was FREEZING!!!!!  It was scary with tight turns, steep sides, and because I was so cold, it was hard to brake. I stopped a couple times just to shake my hands out and regroup. I went so so slowly but was miserable from the hard cold descent. At the bottom, Jana and I actually got into Jorge's car to warm up for about 10 minutes. I was really happy to be done with that part. 

From there... we rode about 35-40 miles back to the resort. Only a handful of us made that final trip back. It was long, but my legs were fine. The biggest issue were the road conditions. Who would ever think that Maine roads would be in better shape than AZ roads? It was horrendous through a few sections. Just extremely rough and beat up.  
103 miles later...... I climbed off the bike. Finally. Hot, tired, and Happy to be done. 
Almost- time to do what we triathletes do next! 
Run!
It was actually a little pathetic. The road around our place was just up or down so that hurt. And made it even harder. It's one thing to ride 103 miles after a long winter on the trainer but it's another to ride 103 then run uphill in the desert. Ouch. There were a few little walk breaks to catch my breath. There were a few little breaks to bend down and stretch out the legs, or at least that's what I was telling myself I was doing. :) It was just hard. 
But, I did it! 
After that-- recovery time! The treat about that? It was truly my recovery time. Most days, my long workouts end with a rushed shower while gulping down whatever my post-wko food is IN that shower or at least in the bathroom then off to get the kids and move along to whatever that afternoon activity is. This post-wko chill time is part of what made this training trip a vacation for me. In addition-- the guys next door made us dinner!!! BONUS! I got to relax AND someone else made dinner. Voila-- a perfect day 1. 

That's enough for one post. I accidentally deleted all the photos I uploaded to use so I'm giving up for today. 


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Goal-> Make THIS year the year to remember

I'm a few months into my 9th year in Triathlon. The race calendar is starting to fill, the family calendar is Full, and my Training Calendar is now back to the way it should be.... full of lots of interesting swim, bike and run workouts that are now pushing me harder than ever before.

Last year ended late... a  December Ironman down in Mexico was a late season race but thankfully, it ended with my goal achieved. When I missed qualifying for Kona by a few short minutes & only 1 place at Ironman Texas, the ache grew deep. It was at that moment that I knew I wanted and needed to go back. At least one more time.

Why? Many reasons... and I  have said before when it comes to my 'why', it's personal.

I worked long and hard all fall and secured my spot at Cozumel. Then it was time for a much needed break. I put aside the gear and enjoyed Christmas, birthdays,  New years, more birthdays, lots of skiing and other things that just needed to be attended to. I did a little of this and a little of that but it was relaxed and mellow. I needed that 'time off.'

My plan for 2014 at that point was to coach myself. After all, I coach others successfully. Why not myself? I am completely disciplined. I have no trouble with motivation. I know what needs to be done. So I tried it.
In all honesty, it was a disaster. I floundered. I doubted myself, I cut workouts short because there are always 100 other things that I need to do, and I never felt pushed. There was nobody watching. I didn't have anyone on the other end who cared what I was doing. I felt alone.

I did not expect that. I've been at this a while and truly thought I could just get the work done and be prepared.
I was wrong.
The value in having knowledgeable and objective 'eyes' on your training is huge.  And,there are always going to be days that are harder than others to get UP and OUT the door for a run or a ride. Or days when hitting the alarm OFF at 4:03 a.m. without Throwing it out the window and punching something is a challenge, but if it is in my training log, I will do it. I do not miss workouts unless I'm sick with a fever.

I knew I needed that support again. I knew I needed the experience of someone else to look over me objectively, examine what I have done in the past and help determine what I need to do now to achieve the big goals I have for 2014.

I may be a little older, but I am still me. I can still do what I did a few years ago. I know this. I don't feel any differently and I am absolutely not viewing myself as past that point of finding my best. I don't give up very easily. In fact, I'm a little stubborn about these things.
It didn't take me very long to figure out who would also believe in me. And perhaps even believe in me more than I believe in myself.

I reached out to my friend Jeff Capobianco at Breakthrough Performance Coaching . We talked and he said Yes to coaching me and I've been on a new training 'high' ever since. THANK YOU Jeff!!!!!

I have known Jeff for several years as an athlete, friend, and as fellow Coach. I have watched not only the incredible success he has had as an athlete, but the successes of many of his athletes. I'm thrilled to be a new team member of BPC!!!!

Since starting with Jeff at BPC I have had excellent feedback and support and I am reaching new levels in some of my workouts. I am finding a new 'gear' that I hadn't even attempted before.

This is a big year for me. It's my last year in this age group. It's a year that will close out with a trip back to the Big Island for the Ironman World Championships. It'll be my 3rd time attacking that race.  I am lucky to have the ability to go to this again and I am not going to waste this opportunity. If I am going to reach the goals I have set for myself, the ones I think are achievable, I need to stay focused and driven. I need to pay attention to details like I never have before.

I am in very good hands now and feeling 100% confident in the plan that's being laid out for me. I am so lucky to have Jeff's support and expertise for this!!!

At the request of our kids, we sometimes plug in the old videos of the kids when they were smaller. One of our favorite quotes is from  Tommy, my middle boy, when he was about 3 yrs old. It was Easter and we were getting ready to hunt for the eggs. He was in his blue flannel pjs, bouncing around the room and throwing his little body on his bed over and over saying, "Can you SEE all my Excitment??!!!"   He was fired up!!

I feel like Tommy did that day. Fired up and excited.






Tuesday, March 4, 2014

My head is swirling with so many different topics to talk about these days that I seem unable to write at all. I have started and even posted a few blogs, only to take them down because they sound pathetic. 

A few of the sources of my distraction are about things that have caused me to have hurt feelings and be sad and in the end, have Nothing to do with triathlon, so I am going to skip it for now and just throw out a few quick comments and observations I've been making and maybe an opinion or two. 

You know what? Today's blog is going to be a list--- that'll help me get things on paper a little faster.  


  • It's very cold here in Maine. It IS still winter. And I Love winter. We have a lot of fun doing a lot of things in the snow. It's our climate and we've embraced it. However...... I am getting tired of running in it.  I headed outside for a 14 mile run last week. It was between 12-18 degrees...I don't remember. I had checked all a.m. and it never was more than that. What did I wear?  ha- A headband AND hat, two pairs of gloves, 3 shirts and 2 coats ( yes, this is true), a neck warmer, TWO pair of running pants... add the HR monitor, the garmin, the shoes and socks, the three gels, the water bottle, the tissue paper, the extra headband ( not sure why ) and.... I had TOO much on my body. My elbows wouldn't bend. I was really uncomfortable. But.. I Was warm! Well, I was warm enough. And I ran all 14 miles. In fact, it was 14.19 I believe. 
  • I ran on Saturday-- only 7 miles this time. But when I left the house it was 5. Yep, 5 degrees. I wasn't at my house either so I didn't have as many clothes packed with me. My feet and legs Froze. My eyelashes froze. But, I had a great run!  I worked a little harder to get the miles done faster and I did survive. When I got back to the place I was staying, there was a plumber laying on the floor of the bathroom trying to fix the sink. The shower was unavailable to me. I showered in a locker room with water that never got hot. My legs were RED and splotchy from the cold. Brrr. But I lived. And after that, I went outside and went skiing. 
  • Yesterday I ran too. It was 19! Awesome! It'll feel "warm." ha. I bundled big time and headed out. WIND! Argh.... wind. I never ever felt ok. I was frozen to my core. My neck warmer got wet and iced over. I pulled it up over my face to breath in and try to keep my face from getting frostbite. My glasses fogged up and froze. Fun.
  • So.... when people tell me it's too cold to run outside, I chuckle. Ok... 
  • Someday, I will be racing and the weather will Not be good. It may be raining or may be very windy. It may be 99 degrees. Hard stuff. But, I will think back to some freezing miserable cold runs on icy roads and know that I have the  tough stuff inside to deal with any of it. That's just how I train. Train to be tough. Racing is tough. Train for it. 
  • Facebook-- what a curse. I am on FB... but wow... there sure are a lot of things that go down on that media site that can be hurtful and annoying and mind boggling. The psychological discussions and observations I feel like talking about with relation to the way people handle themselves on this site are overwhelming me. That's all I'm going to say about that. 
  • Raising 3 boys who are close in age-- wow. Manual? Anyone? My role as a Mom is ever-changing and it sometimes throws me for a Loop!!! My baby turns 10 next week. WHAT??? Sigh... All I know is I mess up a Lot and usually do not know the right thing to do or say, but I am trying and really really hoping I am doing ok. 
  • Kids and sports-- there's a loaded topic I would love to sit in a room and talk about with people. Chime in! I want to hear what people think.....I'll get specific next time. But if you have thoughts... go for it! please!! I want to hear.... and discuss. This is a big one for me. 
  • that's all I have time for today... scattered. I told you. Looks like my thoughts on running in the cold took over.  I didn't mean to go off on that so much.... 
  • But really...get out there & try it. Bundle up. You'll be ok. And, you'll feel so tough after!  

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Out of my Comfort Zone!


I have kept this blog for years now and while it's fun to get to know others through these forums and hear people's comments  about my adventures, it's also a "diary" for myself. I have raced Triathlon from Mexico, to Canada, to Hawaii to Florida. And yet, this "little" race in Bethel, Maine will be etched in my memory as one of my toughest days.  And it wasn't a triathlon. 

While I do spent hours and hours each week swimming and biking and running during most of the year, my winters are also absorbed with many hours on snow. I'm one of those people LOVES to hear the weatherman "warn" us of an impending snowstorm. We live in Western Maine, just a short little ride to the ski mountains, and we get all we can out of it.  After all, we live here! Winters could be long and hard if we didn't get out and play in the white stuff. So, we do. My husband was strapped into skis as a small toddler. He grew up at the mountain and grew into one heck of a skier. He raced alpine and nordic and won the ski meister competition as a Sr. in High school. {top scores for the two events combined} He won that meet while his parents were in Calgary cheering on his sister in the 1988 Olympics. She raced in '80 and '88 on the Olympic teams in Nordic skiing. ( How awesome is that!! ) Skiing is  in the Bancroft blood..... 

Meanwhile, I grew up in water.  I was on swim teams all my life and while I did ski some, it was gently and with the understanding that I wouldn't show up to practice Monday morning with a busted knee from messing around on skis over the weekend. that would have been very very very bad.

I never really went XC skiing.  Maybe once or twice. With friends, through the woods, while singing and laughing and really not working very hard. It was just like a walk in the woods....  

My three boys were all on skis by age two. Now, at ages 14, 12 and 9 they out ski their mother without a thought. I'm not sure how / when it happened... seems like yesterday when I was next to them yelling, "Turn! Slow down!" and now... they are gone. In a flash. 

Ok.. that's the downhill stuff. They have also picked up the nordic skis and are getting better and better at that. Cameron races on the Middle School teams and is in the running for Ski Meister. He's the only one in his school on both teams and he's working his tail off to make it all work. 

Watching him race on the Nordic skis and being more and more involved with it, has made me hungry for it. Years ago, our family got some new XC skis. I got the Classic kind. We went out a few times with the boys on some nearby trails. The kids were Very small and it was a long trek.  Two years ago, I got some Skate skis. I went out on them a few times last year. And, I have been out on them a few times this year. I even had a short lesson with my aforementioned sister-in-law!!  The first time I went out, I fell a lot. And, I couldn't get up. I pulled myself back up by grabbing a little bush and yanking with all my might. But I LOVE it so much. It's fun and it's an amazing amazing workout. I feel muscles I didn't know I had. I work up a hot sweat and feel like a rockstar (albeit a clumsy one ) every time I go out. 
I am way off track here.... 

The point is, I haven't been on the Classic skis in over two years. I've been out 4-5x this winter on my skate skis but I still have Terrible form and even a 30 min jaunt exhausts me. I have no easy gear because my form is so bad. 

I decided last winter that I wanted to enter a few nordic races. Why not! It's Great exercise, fun outside in the snow and something different for me! No matter what, I love a good race. 

The problem, however, is that Cam's ski meets are every Saturday. And, I wouldn't Dare take away our Sunday from downhill skiing since the other two kids are just watching their brother. My opportunities were few. 

And then... last weekend he had a Classic XC race scheduled at Gould Academy ( right near the mountain we downhill ski at ) &  it was part of a race event that ALL of us could enter! Nick and Tommy were IN for the 2.25K race.  Cameron was in of course. The big question was whether or not I should enter. Mark didn't want to...his Classic skis aren't race skis so he never really considered it. 

Let's see.... It was Wed before the race and I had to decide. 

Cons:
 I haven't been ON my Classic skis in two years. 
Even when I did ski on them, I didn't really know how to do it.
My race would take a bit longer than the kid's races and I'd delay us getting back to Sunday River for the rest of the day on downhill skis.
That's it! 

Pros: 
A race! 
A race "with" my kids. 
Outside fun in the winter on a nice day. 
Amazing exercise--.> a good way to get a "run" in on what's typically just a ski day. 
I would be challenging myself with something new and hard and that can't ever be a bad thing. 
Make new friends? Maybe!! 
A chance to hang out with my friend Mary Lou.
Potentially show the kids that it's OK to do hard things that are a little scary and way way outside one's comfort zone. I hope they got a little of that.... {Please! It hurt a lot so I HOPE that came out of  it!! :) }

As you can see the PRO list far outweighed the cons!! So what if my husband ( you know, the X- awesome nordic skier guy ) was giving me  the wide-eyed you really are crazy look!!!  You see, I had an option. I could enter the 7.5K OR the 22K. Of course, I was only really considering the 22K. I figured if I did the 7.5K it would be like a sprint race and I would feel the need to really go crazy hard and that would be too much.  And I'm more of a long-distance person now. My endurance is my strength now. That would help me. Right? And, Mark's doubt actually pushed me more towards registering than not.  I'm a little stubborn and pigheaded that way. Don't tell me or suggest I can't do something. That's about it all it takes. And I asked MaryLou too... she knows me as a triathlete  and she is a very experienced and great nordic skier. She said Go for it without a single bit of  hesitation. 
I was in. 

22K race on Classic Skis.... Here I come. 

Still Happy! Totally Naive. Clueless. Totally clueless about what I was about to do. 
I wish Cam was around for these shots...but he was with his team. (Nick, Mark, Tommy #82 ) 





Yay for us! This will be fun guys!! good luck! ( that's what I was saying. at this point.. haha.... )




It was time to line up on the tracks and I put myself in the back. There was a fairly diverse crowd racing. I saw High School kids that looked seriously tough, I saw people who looked like me, people younger, & people older. I really had No idea what meant what. There was one woman I know from Triathlon racing that I was excited to "see" race. She grew up racing XC and knew Mark from those days in HS. I knew she was good.  And of course, my friend MaryLou was there too. She had been helping me and calming me all morning. I was so grateful she was there. She listened to me stuggle with what to wear. She assured me I could do the race. She was just simply, a good friend. And she made me happy to be there.  I hope I am like Mary Lou over the next 20 years... she truly inspires me. Back to my race.  :)  My plan was to try to copy the people around me. I was going to watch MaryLou's form, and anyone else I could see that looked like they knew what they were doing. ( ahem, turned out Everyone else except me appeared to know what they were doing.) 

Oh yes, one more thing. I was chatting with Sarah, the woman I know from Tri racing before it started.  I asked her about the course. She said, "OH you know it! It's the old run course from the Bethel tri years ago." 
what? 
Are you KIDDING Me??? 
um...... oh no no no. 
Hills, hills, curves and turns and climbs and.... 
"yeah...it's a pretty technical course."
 oh no no no.... what have I done? 
It was 3 times around that little gem of a trail too..... 

The buzzer started and we began our two loops around the Gould Field before heading off.  

I know.. .Double pole!!! I have been watching. That's what you do on CL skis when it's flat. I can do that!!!! 
And... I almost fell. Good save Ange... 
Don't fall now... people are watching. 
Ok.. keep poling. No... now people are starting to ski. Ok.. ski! I can do this!
Phew.. I'm tired! 
Now down the hill..... I can ski down... be strong be strong watch the tracks.. just like skiing on alpine...sort of.  Pretty wobbly! Balance balance be strong.  Phew. I made it. Ok.. GO! 

I can do this! Wow... people are really far ahead of me already! How is everyone up there? Wait. Is Anyone behind me? 

Bueller? Bueller ? 

whatever. .. just race! 


Go go go ... I was working SO HARD! I was pushing and pulling and gliding ( sort of ) and finally, I dared look at my garmin to see how much I had already logged. Time to start tickin' off the miles!!! Yes!! Let's do this! I'm racing Nordic! woohooo!!!!! It's only 13.6 miles and it Must be faster than running!! Right??

Ok... look at the watch.. let's see... 

.6
Not Six. POINT SIX! 
POINT six?????? 

Oh
my
gosh. 

I was in trouble. My heart rate? 176.

I kept going.. ( of course ) and assumed I would get into a groove, my HR would settle and all would be fine. 

That never happened. But I did keep going..... I pushed & pushed and worked SO hard. I imagined in my head how I should look, I remembered the techniques I learned on the youtube videos. I thought of tips Mark and Cameron have given me. In my head, I thought I was doing ok. But wow... I was really all by myself out there in the woods. 

I laughed a few times. Before the race started I reviewed a couple rules with MaryLou and others. One of them, "If I have to pass someone, or someone is trying to pass me, I yell "tracks!" Right?"
Yes. 
Ha... that actually never became an issue!!! 
Except...when I got Lapped!!! The loops were each about 3+ miles remember... and I got lapped. 
woohooo!!!! 
But I was racing nordic skiing! Or.. at least pretending to race in my head. 

The 'race' got lonelier and lonelier. It took forever and a day to get around that first loop. And I had two more to go. I was dead. And I had only gone about 4 miles. Nordic skiers talk in kilometers. So I had gone 6.4K. That was not encouraging. I had over 15K to go.   My Heart rate was in the 180s. oh my gosh. The 180s. That's basically my threshold. 

I started the self - talk. The internal motivation. I reminded myself what a kick butt workout I was getting if nothing else. I was proud of myself! And also, a little irritated that I thought it wouldn't be this hard. I think part of it was the hills. It was really reallllllllllly hilly. I was lucky to have waxless skis so I didn't have to deal with it pre-race or worry about it wearing off. But, it also made me really slow going Down the hills. I guess if it hadn't I would have wiped out even more but still... I had to pole going Down a lot and it felt like I had brakes on so that was annoying.  

I tried to distract myself by watching some other skiers through the woods every now and then, and by thinking about what a beautiful day it was and remember good times at that Bethel Tri years ago. And then I started wishing I could just kick off the skis and just RUN up the hills... I realized that would be easier. 

This is getting so long. Sorry. 22K ended up being really really long. 

Oh.. it was so hard. My hip flexors were on FIRE. I was using muscles that have been dormant apparently. I was trying to wake them up in a Big huge way and they were rebelling.  I know I'm in decent shape... by no means am I near my best fitness right now. AT All! But I have a good strong base and I do workout most days of the week. But wow... I felt like I had just jumped off a 3 years couch sit and into something I was NOT cut out for. I do realize technique is huge in nordic skiing. I get that. I think it's a lot like swimming that way. However, aerobically, this sport is intense. It is intense. 

I went around and around and like in an Ironman, I said to myself, "IF you just keep moving forward, you will get there eventually."   




I guess it was around mile 9 when my garmin died. My HR was averaging in the upper 170s.  I just stopped too and told myself to breath. Relax. Time to just ski. I was done trying to go faster than I could manage. I was way way way wayyyyyyyy behind almost everyone and it was ok. I was already proud of what I had done and decided to just get through it the best I could. 

The final stretch was out of the woods and across the street and back up the hill to the field house. THere were about 6-7 volunteers shoveling snow on the road for us to cross. I smiled and said something, and then FLOP! I fell FACE first into the snow. Flat on the road. Right in front of the group. The first batch of people I'd seen in a while and I wiped out. Lovely. I am so graceful it's not even funny. 

I got up, laughed and hammered on to the finish which they announced was 1 mile away. The guy next to me, who actually seemed even MORE trashed than I was, if that was possible, said, "Can it please NOT be a whole mile?!" 
I chuckled. I felt the same way dude. 

WHen I fell, my little running gloves got soaked. I hit the wind on the trails back and my wet gloves froze. Insult to injury.  

I worked hard up the long last hill to the finish loop. 

And then, it was the Most anti climactic finish. Everyone was gone. I was 'that person.' The one "still out there so we have to stay a bit longer."   :) But wait! Mark, Tommy, Nick and Mary Lou were over there cheering my name! Yes! I love my family and friends and wow, was I ever happy to sliddde across that finish. 

2:08! beatiful! My new PR for the 22K!  

And with that, I  clicked off those skis, grabbed the free baguette they gave out, and headed for a few ours of alpine skiing. 

ouch.


more on that & a few deep thoughts later. 
Watch out Kikkan! ha.... 





Why yes, I will Stop and talk and have a little drink.  :) 




Friday, January 31, 2014

Should I just shower?

This has been a lost week. I had great plans for myself. I wrote a great training schedule with several key rides, a nice long run ( AND It's even warm today -- at least in the 20s!), and of course a handful of swims. I was looking forward to a full M-F with the kids in school and lots of time to be productive and thorough with everything.

Ha!

Instead.... I have the Flu. Or I had the flu. I'm on the tail end of it. Today I am at least living my life. Mostly. The past few days I've been basically nonexistent. With an asterix. (I'll get to that.. )

I knew today was going to be better as soon as the alarm went off. For one, my bed sheets weren't soaked with sweat {I know, gross, yeah fevers }  or wet from the cold cloths I had to drape over my head all night. I hadn't been up thrashing and coughing all night. I wasn't absurdly freezing despite lots of sweats. I actually Wanted to get up and help make the lunch boxes and get the kids off. I could stand touching my own skin.

The fever is gone and the body aches are much much better. Pretty much gone as of now I'd say. My lungs don't burn when I breath in, but this cough.Eek.  I actually had to pull off to the side of the road as I was driving away from the kid's school. All this stuff starts rattling around in there and things escalate and I choke and have a hard time catching my breath. It's fun.

And, for the first time since Tuesday when I called it quits on a run when I was working my tail off to run a pace/ mile about 45-60 sec slower than normal and my legs felt like Lead, I actually have thought about my training. I opened training peaks, deleted some great workouts and replaced it with "OFF- FLU". My qquestion for today has been, "should I exercise?" I'm calling it that because I KNOW it wouldn't be much of a training session. Hmm..
This is where coaching myself becomes a little tricky.
But, after the last coughing spell and a wee bit of lightheadedness as I got up from folding laundry, I decided, no, just take a shower. One more day to take it easy / recover is NOT going to change your race outcome in June. Or October. Ha! Of course not. Tomorrow is a busy ski meet day & Sunday hopefully I can ski with the family myself. And that's my decision.

Speaking of having the flu... I honestly don't remember the last time I had this. I know the last time I was sick was Oct 2011. I came down with that bug Saturday ....exactly One week before Kona. Yikes. I flew out on Monday-- fever, nasty cough, and fear. Long story short-- some luck, some meds, and some rest and I was good to go on race day.
I'm off the point.
It's Never fun to be sick. Not when you're 5, 13, 28 or 44. Never. But geez, when you're Mom, you basically have to just "fake it." Now, I work from home so I am lucky that way. The past few days I 'survived' {that's what it felt like} the morning rush from 6-9 and then DROPPED to the couch and stayed there until the last possible second when I had to put on the game face and go. It took all my energy to take my sweats off and clothes on. I think I brushed my hair. I hope so. I was miserable and freezing. I couldn't put enough on. The fever made me shake foolishly or gasp for air because I was so hot. My body hurt. It took so much effort just to be. But, I got through a ski meet, went to a p.m. meeting that wasn't happening that day, (yeah, you read that right.I know.. ), made dinners, helped with homework, drove back and forth to practices and school and cheering ( silently ) at a spelling bee, went back to that meeting on the right day ( heehee), and so on. My husband was out at meetings for two of my sick nights so it was all suck it up Mom for me. I had little pity parties and wanted someone to come to me and put a cold cloth on my head and give me ginger ale. It didn't happen. sigh....
Now, I am on re-entry mode and while I'm not 100%, I am alive enough to see what has happened around here. Or rather, what hasn't happened. Yikes. I need myself back, now!
Good thing this only happens every few years or so!
My suggestion? GET your FLU shot!!!!

Time for that shower. Maybe I'll train tomorrow.