Monday, April 25, 2011

They aren't moving the date for anyone

I was determined to start Saturday in a relaxed manner. I really really didn't want to set my alarm. I wanted to wake up on my own, enjoy the feeling of laying there for a little while before I jumped up, and then just relax around the house in my sweats drinking coffee before the urgency of workouts and general productivity took over.
After all, we hurry all week. Sunday was Easter which
meant an early rise in a home full of Easter-bunny believers on a mad hunt for candy. Yes, I give them candy on Easter. Too much of it. Way too much of it. That's another issue and it doesn't really matter on this post.

Back to Saturday. It was my day to chill. Come hell or...
high water.
Or frozen rain.
Or snow.
Or wind.
Or a mix of all three.

I met goal #1 and didn't set the alarm. I was leisurely in my bed and felt great when I strolled down for my coffee at 8 a.m.! That's a good 3 1/2 hours later than most of my weekday mornings. So there! Good for me. I'm so smart. I slept in and that was worth it. Or, was it?

I turned on the news. I looked out the window. I looked at online radar maps.
It was in the 30s. I knew rain was in the forecast, but I thougth I had more time. Didn't he say I had until noon? Plenty of time for my two hour rride before it started. Right?

Within 15-20 minutes of coming downstairs, I decided I needed to get MY BUTT MOVING!!! The rain was on my doorstep...and I was going out to ride even if it killed me. Ha!

I spent the next 30 minutes running around the house getting ready. I was inhaling oatmeal, chugging coffee and tossing around laundry. This shirt or that fleece? How many layers? Where are my socks? I need two gels. Mark- fill my tires? Ok- WHY does it take me SO long every time to get ready for a Ride??
and WHAT happened to my relaxing Saturday morning??

It was over. I paid for my leisure.

9:00 and I was out the door.
It was Pouring and it was 39 degrees.

In my thick socks and double layers of shoe covers, pants, thin underarmour, warm bike shirt, bike jacket, rain jacket, hat under the helmet, and two layers of gloves, I might not be able to move easily on the bike but I thought I might be Warm!!

Ya right.

At first, it was just messy. My glasses were speckled with water and I wished someone would invent mini wipers. I'd pay a lot of money for some of those! My bright yellow rain jacket would keep me safe. At first, I felt like a bad ass. Not stupid at all! I just felt tough. That's right.. I'm riding in the rain! Nothing can stop me!

I think it was around mile 4 when I had the sensation of having soaked my left foot in a puddle. Not the right foot, just the left. What's up with that? it was squishing and felt like a pool of water was in my shoe. By now, I was riding by Norway Lake. Which, by the way, is still Frozen. It felt super cold with the wind off the icy lake. It was pouring harder.
Still, I felt like a mean riding machine!

I was heading further away from town. I climbed a hill and made a right out onto a less populated road. By now, I'm 100% soaked. My pants were drenched, my feet starting to hurt from the cold, my hands were ....oh you get the point. I was WET and while my torso was dry-ish because of my cool yellow biking raincoat, I was frozen down to my insides. Nothing felt good anymore. I've ridden many many miles ( read: 2009 Ironman training) in the pouring rain. The problem on Saturday is that it was Freezing! It ws very very cold. Rain in the 50s is one thing. Rain in the 30s is a whole other story.

However, there I was. Out on my workout. Time to make it 'worth' it. I wasn't out there for nothing.

I clicked Lap and began my workset.

Except, I was wimpy on hills because I couldn't see in front of me. And, my glasses were either fogged up or covered in water. And, now, the rain wasn't really rain anymore. It was freezing rain.

Just keep telling yourself what a badass you are Ange.

Inside, I was starting to feel a wimper. I fought it. I stayed strong.
By now, it was snowing.
I swore out loud. Not because I was riding in the snow, but because it was SNOWING!!!

I know I know. I'm the one who loves snow. We love to ski. In truth, I'm the one who loves the 4 seasons. I love it all. Winter's time is done and now it's time for spring.

So, I swore.

I made my turn and headed home. I had an hour to go. At least this wasn't a 4 hour ride! My friends Mike and Tim were out on their 4 hr ride. I wondered how they were. I wish we could somehow buzz each other support from afar. I didn't know my best bud Mary was out there too. I might have stopped and tried to Call her.

During the next 5 minutes, I saw a familiar sight. My car. Mark and the boys were driving out to see me. I was so happy. I felt such love and support that they were concerned enough to check on me. My misery and aloneness out on the roads were making me sappy.
They gave me more drive inside. Seeing them there reminded me of the 'real world' and that the end would arrive. I didn't even stop. I just rode slower and waved a comical Hi like I was having a fun time! Mark said, "Are your feet at least warm? " I'm not sure what made him think they'd be warm. "NO! Not a single part of me is warm!!" He then told me it was 34 degrees and told me I was so strong. Ok...I'm strong. I'll keep being strong.
I told him I'd see him in an hour.. all was good.

It wasn't. But I wasn't about to stop. I felt fine. I was just miserable. If the two are possible together.

The last 20 minutes or so were the worst. I started to shake. My hands and feet Hurt so so much. I worried my feet might be truly 'cold injured' and then cause me problems. An obnoxious pick up truck rode So close to me forcing me into a deep pothole. I don't know how I avoided flipping. He had the whole road. There were no other cars and we were on a quiet back street. Remember, this is rural Maine. There's Room to move over. What was his point? Make the crazy lady pay for being stupid enough to ride in this shit? If he had stopped, HE would have been So Sorry he'd ever gotten close to me. Angry Ange took over for a few minutes.

I just kept telling myself with every passing house, "you will get there you will get there this will end you will be home soon keep going keep going keep going."

I pulled into my driveway and instantly cried. Alright, I didn't sob. But there were tears and big I feel sorry for myself wimpers. My guys weren't home! HOW could they not be there??? I was counting on them to hold my feet and make them warm so I could run!! Didn't they Know they had to come hold my feet??

Ok. They pulled in AS I did. They were behind me and opened the garage door for me. Phew. But it was too late. I was already mush.

I hobbled into the basement. I shook. I felt dizzy and slightly disoriented. Mark and Tommy worked together to take my clothes off. Tommy's eyes grew wide and he got this look of horror on his face when he realized I was going back out to run.
"You're going back OUT?" Then he smiled.

I gathered myself. Put on my clothes. My dry run shirt felt so gooooooood! oh so so good. I sat on the stairs and they held my feet in their hands to warm them. It didn't seem to help.

Out the door.

You know what? I felt awesome. My run felt SO great. I didn't want to stop. It was snowing hard now. And it was sticking to the ground. It was absurd. I was angry at nature for doing this to us. But so happy because, I was done. And in the end, I felt great.

I ran home and all the nastiness of the ride went away because my run legs were super and I had braved the storm.

The thing about Ironman training is this. There isn't a lot of wiggle room. You either train. Or you don't. A wise coach once made the point that the date of the race isn't changing. You will either be ready. Or you won't. It's just not worth looking at the weather until that day, when it's time to choose which clothes to wear.

July 24th is when it is. And the weather in Maine is what it is. It unpredicitable and often unfriendly. But I am a Maine girl and on July 24th, I will be at the starting line.

and at least I'm teaching these guys how to 'tough it out.'

Thursday, April 21, 2011

This is how I handled it.

I love the picture of Nick on my blog header. It screams, VICTORY to me. And yet, I am craving a photo that screams warm, sunny, springtime fun. I can't post one of those however. Because it's not spring yet. We're still freezing here in Maine. Literally, below freezing. I had snow on my long run today. Boo hiss. It didn't effect me at all other than to make me a bit grouchy and irritable.
That's not what this post is about.


My long ride + run was scheduled for Wednesday this week. Just like Last week, the forecast was horrendous for Wednesday. All week, the weatherman kept stressing, "wind driven rain. Possible snow/ sleet /freezing rain. Temps in the upper 30s, low 40s."

I am not going to let anyone tell me I am a wimp. Because I am not. I can tough out nearly anything. However, there are times when I need to be wise and safe. I honestly believed that if I sucked it up and went out in that nastiness, that it would be dangerous. That's not worth it to me. Because despite the fact that it seems like my kids don't listen to me 90% of the time, I do know they need their Mommy.
That, and my workout would have been junk. It would have been survival instead of quality work.

Thankfully, my workout was moved to Tuesday afternoon. I was extra lucky because this is vacation week and I had babysitting planned for each day. It's not easy to move a 4 hr event from one day to another. My husband was eager for me NOT to ride in the forecasted nastiness so he was more than willing to help me. He came home a few hrs early on Tuesday so I could start my workout by 3:30.
I realize Many many people train in the evening hours after a hard day at work. I am spoiled with my schedule and am able to do most things in the wee hours of the day or mid-morning. I am not a late day person. In fact, I admit I've become one of those wives. You know, the ones who try to stay dressed in regular clothes until her husband comes home. I hang in there until he comes in the door. "Hi! How was your day? {insert a kiss and some small talk}" It's only minutes before I scurry off to change into my sweats for the night.

Not that day! I pushed off before 3:30 and was ready for a quality workout.
Not much to note at first. I rode and rode. I was smiling a lot because it was sunny. I was a bit too warm. That felt good.
5:30 rolled around and I wished I was home.
6:00 came and went and I realized how HUNGRY I was. It was dinner time. I had my gels at 1 hr, 2hrs, 3 hrs. I drank some water. I gulped on my bottle of EFS, a few times. Each time, I took quite a bit in.
As hungry as I was, I wasn't too thirsty. My energy was fine. I had timed my meals well during the day and knew I was adequately fueled and yet, I also had avoided eating a bunch right before I headed out.
At times, I worried that I wasn't getting enough sports drink so, I took in big sips. Throughout the ride, I only had 1 bottle.
It was cool and my body said that was enough. I think it was.

Then the fun began. I got to the 2:45-3 hrs point of the ride. My back ached. My neck was sore. My shoulders were stiff.
I am not used to riding aero outside yet. I have been working on staying in that position for most of my rides. It just takes time. At one point, I stopped and just arched myself backwards to open things up. It helped.

And yet, as the clocked ticked on, things got worse. My stomach got invovled in the fun. It was tense and tight and sore. My whole upper body felt like a knot. It hurt. It made me slow and unhappy. I was upright in the wind too much. This has happened before. Quite a bit in fact. I end up with a very sore stomach. It gets painful.

Finally, I rolled into the yard after 3 1/2 hours. I could barely stand upright. I had 5 min to change and get out for the run. It would loosen up once I did that. I was sure. I greeted my gang. They were in their pjs and running around. Oh how I craved to join them.

Only 30 more minutes of running.
Out the door...
and that was it. I stopped in the driveway to gather myself. I could barely take a step. Running was Not happening. I was in agony. So much pain.
I just walked up the hill instead and hoped it would dissipate.
After 3 minutes, I turned off my watch. Reset.
I laid on the ground. That might help.
I clicked STart and tried again. I couldn't run. The pain was up into my shoulders, my arm. It kind of scared me to be honest. It was that bad.
This went on for the next 30 minutes. I was Determined to do that run. My Legs felt light! Fresh! They wanted to run!!
I walked/ ran (well, trotted) on and off and never even got around the 1 mile loop I had planned to do x 4.
I went home and slammed my hat on the table.

Failed. I had failed that run. Mark was concerned and offered me chicken. I read that now and laugh. CHicken? Are you kidding? I can't even walk! I just blew a run off the bike! If this happens during Ironman, I'm Screwed! Chicken?
poor guy. Just bad timing.

I went upstairs and laid on the floor of my living room. My son bopped around me asking me questions about how to spell Cube. What?
After about 5 minutes, I thought I felt a bit better! Really??? NOW I feel better???
I was so mad.
It was 7:30 p.m. Bedtime for the kids! Time for Mommy to Re-LAX on the couch for a bit before bed.
Not this time.
I grabbed some clean socks, told Mark I'd be right back, again, and I left.

I could run. I felt FINE! Yay! My legs were good to go. I ran and ran. After about 10 min, a slight pain came back, but this time I could push through it.
Finally, it grew dark and I was done.
It was not the 'within 5 minutes' ideal Transition run time, but it was close.

While I have no idea what happened, the theory is gas. Now, that's sort of embarrassing. Not very lady-like. But here's the thing. Why??? I hadn't just eaten. I was not over stuffed. I have lost 7lbs recently and am being Very careful with my food.
This has happened before. (not as bad---always able to 'run it out.' ) I have tried a variety of products. It doesn't matter.
After looking a few things up. I think it's this. I think I am swallowing air when I drink from my bottles when riding. A few hrs into it, the pain starts. I could feel the big bubble when I laid down. I read that drinking quickly from narrow mouthed bottles or straws can cause this.
Has anyone else had this experience? Heard of it? Know of magic bottles that prevent this issue? Thoughts?? Am I crazy? Wait, don't answer that.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Time to get Tough

I was scheduled to do a long ride with a quick transition run tomorrow. However, the forecast is for 'wind driven rain with a possible mix of snow in the mountains (that's us) and highs in upper 30s/low 40s.'

I trained for IMLP '09 in LOTS of rain. Lots and lots and lots of rain. I honestly remember Most of my 5-6 hr rides were done in the pouring rain. I can hack it. Honestly, I can. But in April, with possible snow and temps like that? I don't think it would be a very productive workout.

Thankfully, my coach agreed. So today is the day! The forecast is great! Nice warm temps and sun. And, it might be breezy.

Um, HELLO! The flags and trees are swirling! THe kids and I decided that this is Not our definition of breezy. It's actually hurricane-like.

I am having major talks with myself.
"STOP whining. Where is your toughness? GET over it! It's just wind! and Cold! Big deal! "

walk through hall, kick feet on floor, growl

Ironman racing is hard. Ironman training is hard. It soaks into every aspect of your life. You are forced to be more aware of your daily nutrtion, your sleep, your activities when you're not training and your attitude!

This is huge. I will write a separate blog on this one later. If you let all the tough moments of training get the best of you, you'll fall apart. The hardest conditions make us tougher. The hardest workouts aren't always the ones that challenge our bodies the most. The hardest workouts might be something as simple as a run on a day that you feel tired. It might be a swim in the lake when the water is rough. It might be a ride over two mountain roads with wind that makes you stand still. If we could all write the perfect race day forecast, we would. Let me tell you, those ideal days are rare.

Instead of focusing on how disappointing it is that it's 55+ degrees only one hour from here and my temps are dropping, I am going to smile instead. Because my ride will be harder. And that gives me an edge. I will have to fight through the elements today in order to stay positive. If there's one thing that fights my spirit the most, it's wind.
I don't love the heat, nor the freezing cold, rain is a bummer and humidity is brutal. But for some reason, it's the wind that wakes my demons.
The wind seems to have it's own spirit. And it often feels stronger than mine.
So today, once again I'll don 3 layers of clothing and head down the road. I won't log as many miles as I would if it was calm and warm. But I will fight for control in my head. I will find the place in my self that allows me to be strong and resilient against the weather that wants to push me backwards.
These are the days that make you better. They make you tough.
They get you to the finish line.

Monday, April 11, 2011

On my Mind....

Warning: This will jump from topic to topic. That's just where I am in life right now.

Children. They are such gifts. And yet, it's TOUGH to be Mom. I'm sure it's tough to be Dad too but, I'm Mom and that's all I can speak about. The extreme range of emotion I feel with my children is rather overwhelming at times. All in a day, I can feel enormous pride and excrutiating anger. Throw in frustration, humor, adoration, disgust. You name it, the kids can bring it out. I mean that in the best way of course. When they bicker with each other,my skin crawls. It truly turns me inside out. Almost daily, my littlest jumps out of nowhere and grabs me for a hug. If I collapse onto the couch with him for a full blown snuggle, he is more than happy to oblige. Does it get any better? Is there any better way to make everything else seem trite? I think not.
There are so many things we need to teach our kids. It's our responsibility. We chose to become parents, so now it's time to own up to the tasks that come with it. Of all the things, all the hard lessons we need to show them, why on Earth is it SO hard for people to teach their kids to say THANK YOU! It seems like the basic stuff is forgotten these days. It drives me nuts.


Back to Triathlon!!!

I'm feeling really good. I am appalled with the calendar and how quickly it feels the need to move, but other than that, all is good. Ironman training is in full force. The next few months are laid out in front of me and I am on a mission. I know what to expect, when to expect it and I know just what I need to do. I have lots of excitement and a lot of nerves. These aren't the nerves you feel as you don your wetsuit to start the race. These are nerves that build slowly and keep the wheels churing. I have gripped that feeling that makes we want to knock out each workout with perfection. The winter cobwebs are completely wiped away and I'm ready for business. Don't get me wrong, I've been working hard for months now. But Now, the razor sharp focus is on. I strive to make the runs at just the right effort level, I swim with power and purpose for each set, and I am learning to bike with more efficiency. IT's fun. I really am having a lot of fun as I prep for this big day.


Finally, on saying No.
It is HARD to say no to things. You are basically disappointing someone or making them unhappy by doing so. It's not the easy way to go. I had to say no yesterday. I surprised myself though. I did so, Immediately. I didn't waiver or say I'd think about it. I didn't allow myself to worry that I'd be disrespected or unliked. Yes, those insecure thoughts are things I may have allowed myself to become bogged down with in the past. I wonder if, my new over 40 self is going to be even Stronger. Our family has been on-the-go all winter. We have had a blast and made the absolute most of a rockin' snowy Maine winter. Starting at before Christmas, I feel like its' been non-stop every single weekend. I hosted a major Christmas family event for the first time, planned our family's holiday, and continued to train for a January Marathon. I travelled to said marathon, got home, and skied two days later. We've had weekends out of town, weekends with guests and every single other Sat and Sun was "get up early, get the training done, and get to the mountain asap."
I am tired. I'm mentally tired of the Fun! Does that make sense? OF course, fun is FUN! And I am all for a good time.
That said, in this home, we have two mini-off seasons. Totally apart from my training! This is family-event off season time. We have some of April and May and then a little bit in November. That's it.
It's my off season now. Even this weekend, my boys still skied. But just a little. I have two more left. I'd say 3 but Easter is in the middle there. After that, there are races, family events, and then... we open Camp! Yay! But... phew. no more weekned at home!
Not to mention, I am training for this little race called Ironman!
In this situation to which I am referring, I had to be good to myself. Hosting a big neighborhhod party in two weeks is too much for me right now. I feel slack for saying no. I feel embarrassed that I Can't do it. And yet, it is my truth. It would stress me out and take away energy from my family and from myself. I know it's smart to say No when it's the best thing, but it's not easy!!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A New Beginning

I need to write this blog post but I have composed and then rewritten it in my head too many times. Now, I don't know where to begin. But here goes...

Today marks the beginning and an end for me. At the risk of sounding cliche and predictable, here's what's going on.

Change can be hard and yet, it is also exciting. The process of deciding to change something is absolutely excrutiating for me. At least when it is this important. We all make decisions every day of our lives but they don't alway knaw at our insides for weeks or even longer before the moment of truth. Before you finally make your move.

It's not that I dislike change. But change is scary. You take away your comfort zone and your safety net. You take away what is stable and familar. You take risks.

The time has come for me to say good bye to my fantastic Coach, Jen Harrison. I love Jen. I love her as a person and as a Coach. I observed Jen for a while before I hired her back in 2008. I knew she would be a perfect fit for me. I was right. She believed in my skills and potential as a triathlete. She never doubted how far I could take things. She gave me an incredible amount of attention and clearly put her heart into my personalized training plans. She talked to me nearly every day about how I was doing on my workouts. The good, the bad, and the ugly. She was honest and straightforward. I worked Hard with Jen. I will work hard no matter what and always have, but Jen's workouts were particularly challenging and new to me. This made me fast. And strong. And very confident. She led me to my first Ironman. I started that race wondering if I could finish and instead, with her coaching and my own hard work, I was the 6th amateur woman to cross the line and 2nd in my age group. I earned a spot in Kona and lived that incredible experience in the fall of 2009. Jen, thank you. You got me there. The next season was filled with successsful short course wins and then topped off with a massive PR in my Marathon run this past January.
Jen and I worked very well together. She understood me as an athlete. She understood how my brain worked during training and racing. She gave me 100% of herself and I gave her 100% back.


Despite all that goodness we achieved together, I have had to do deep soul searching and come to the realization that it's time for something new. It's time for me to be guided with fresh eyes and a different approach. In order to make the gains I feel I can make, I need to do things a bit differently. I know that I can take what I've learned from Jen and move on and grow even more.

I have hired Coach Kurt Perham of Personal Best Multisport Coaching. I have known Kurt since I began racing in Triathlon and he lives only one hour from me. Kurt has watched me race. He has seen me race sprints, Olympic distances during which I crashed hard on my bike and went on finish in the top 5, he has guided me at a training camp and he has shouted advice along the Lake Placid Ironman course. He knows me quite well already. I am not starting from scratch that way. He is intimitely familiar with the race courses I compete on and he is also knows all the people I still need to beat. Kurt will design my training program differently and offer me new advice. He will help me with the pieces to the puzzle that are still missing for me. I am extremely excited to learn from him and to combine all that I know into one solid package.

Saying goodbye to Jen was very very tough for me. I admire her and I will continue to recommend her when asked for advice on coaches. I am very grateful for what she did for me over the past few years. I miss her already as she was part of my life every day since late 2008.

But a new door has opened. The sadness I have in my goodbye to her is squelched a bit by the excitement I have for my new start. At the end of the day, I need to do what is best for myself. At this time, this is the best thing for am secure in this decision and I am fired up to move forward.

I'm walking out the door now for my first workout under Kurt's guidance. Training has taken on a new feel for me and that is exactly what I need as I enter this specific training period for my third Ironman race.