Thursday, January 29, 2015

Find your inner champion

Saturday night I attended a season kick off party for the Salt Lake Tri Club.  I was not a member, at the time, but they were having Julie Moss and Kathleen McCartney come and speak, and I wanted to go.  Trying to talk the IronSherpa into coming wasn't happening, so I took Joshua, my 11 year old, with me. 

They were so good, I don't know where to begin!  I really loved how they both stressed that success comes from within and everyone has an inner champion, regardless of how you finish a race.  A few things they said stood out...

"It was never a question in my mind IF I would finish.  I just knew I would, no doubt." 

"When I crossed that finish line, even though I crawled, I found an inner strength that wasn't there before.  A life changing inner strength."

These are amazing to me and exactly what I needed to hear while training for my first IM.  I have wondered at times, "What if I can't finish?"  " What if I don't have enough?"  Now I know I just need to change that mindset to not IF, but HOW and WHEN.

Joshua honestly went along for the food initially, but he ended up enjoying it.  I was surprised that he paid attention the whole time and was glad he went.  I asked him what he got out of it and he said, "That you have to work hard to make good things happen."  Exactly!

I ended up joining SLTC.  The discounts alone will more than pay for the membership of $25 for the year.  Plus, I got a cool swag bag with a t-shirt, water bottle and swim cap.  It still doesn't cease to amaze me what us athletes will do for a t-shirt :)

This was a great way to start Week 7 of training.  Crap is getting real!  Happy training and racing!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

RETUL Bike Fit

I have had my bike for 3 years now and have never had a decent bike fit.  When I got it initially, the guy at the shop watched me on a trainer for about 15 minutes and said, "Looks good".  That was it.

I, being new to cycling at the time, had no idea what to really expect or know what a bike fit really was.  Now fast forward 3 years, and entering my 4th triathlon season and IMTX training, and I figured it was about time to get one done.  The main motivator for this is the ongoing pain I have in my right shoulder from riding for long periods of time.  I also am constantly shifting my position on the bike - either in the saddle or my hand position.  I can never stay in one position for a long time and be really comfortable. 

I have also upgraded and changed a ton to my bike over the past 3 years.  I changed the saddle, raised/lowered the seat post, added two different sets of aerobars, etc.  All things that effect fit.  So, yeah, about time I get that all checked out.  Also, I want to make sure that I am riding in the most efficient and comfortable way possible.

Enter the RETUL bike fit.  I decided to go with this over Biker's Edge's regular fit because I just wanted to the best I could get.  Kinda an all or nothing kind of approach (I am really good at that:) I walk in and meet with Adam, who will do the fit.  He tells me to plan on a couple of hours (it actually took 3.5).  He does a physical assessment, looking at how I walk, do push ups, how long I can hold a plank, do squats etc.  All of this is to assess any muscle imbalances, core strength or lack thereof, and how all of this could effect cycling and/or position.  He then gets me on my bike, puts several electrodes on and watches me ride with cameras and in real time on the screen with the system taking measurements, detecting imbalances etc, then you go through an exhaustive amount of adjustments to get the numbers to not be red on his screen.  If they show up as red, there is an imbalance and more adjusting is needed.  Talk about thorough!

Long story short, we moved the seat WAY up, both height wise and moved the saddle forward, all in an attempt to make it as triathlon friendly as possible on my road bike.  We also adjusted the cleat position on my cycling shoes.  We adjusted the aerobar length.  By the time he was done, it felt like a completely different bike, but in a good way.  By the end of the fit, I was generating more power on the bike without any additional effort from when I came in.  Pretty sweet!  I am excited to see how this all translates over to performance on the road.  We tried to find that fine balance of making it a great and aggressive triathlon fit, but also still suitable for road biking as well, like on riding such as climbing or what I did in the Triple Bypass.  With out having a separate tri bike, this was the next best option. 

So, I am extremely impressed.  I am excited to see how this translates into performance and overall comfort.  I think that it will help my shoulder situation, he could see how some imbalances on my right side could be leading to some compensating on that side and leading to the pain.  He recommended some position advice as well as some exercised to help with that, but at least now I know what the issue is.  The fit should also help with that.  Thank heaven!  These long rides are only getting longer and I can't deal with the pain I have in the past!

The training seems to be steadily ramping up and it is getting more and more real.  Gulp.  I am right now enjoying a recovery week, still training but dialed back some.  It's a nice mental break!

Happy Training/Racing all!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Just gonna say it....

When 98% of people hear you are training for an Ironman, they have one or two responses.  Either "That is awesome!  Good for you!" or "I could never do that.  You're crazy." Or the response is some combination of the two.  Then there's the 2%.

Over the years I haven't had to deal with this 2% a ton with my training.  Thank Heaven for that.  But they are there and I usually  hear about their comments in a round about way. They come from family, friends, neighbors, strangers, coworkers, whatever.  They are usually have something to do with I have no business doing this, I am taking time away from my family, I am being selfish, yada, yada, yada.

One incident was actually from someone who himself is an Ironman and bike racer!  His comment once he heard I was training for (at the time) a 70.3 said, "Well, that's nice.  Just make sure you are still there for your family." 

Another incident was when it got back to me that other people were saying how selfish this was of me and I was "obsessed".  They also felt that I was neglecting my family and husband.

Yet another comment was made to Ken at a social he attended, and I wasn't present.  Another guy told Ken, "That's nice of you to let Katie do all of those races."

Now first off, I understand that sometimes people mean things well, they are not looking to offend, as is probably the case with the third incident, and maybe even the first one.  I get it. However, if they really thought about what they were saying, they would realize how stupid/hypocritical/sexist they sound.

With the man that himself is an Ironman, why is it okay for him to train and take time away from his family and complete one but not for a female? 

For the people talking behind my back and implying that I am obsessed and selfish...really?

And for the person who thinks Ken is so nice to let me do these races, Ken is not my parent nor am I his.  We are in a partnership.  The decisions that we make we make together and we support each other in whatever we choose to do together or separately.  Ken went to grad school and I supported him for 3 years in that decision even though he was almost never home during that time.  I knew that is was better for us and for him that he go.  I got into running and racing and I truly believe that I am better and therefore my family is better because of it.  He supports me in it, whole heartedly.  He rarely misses my races.  He talks about my training with me.  He's my rock in all of the craziness of life, with or without my training.

A funny thing is, when an Olympic medalist like Noelle Pikus-Pace chooses to pursue her dreams while having a family, no one questions that (maybe they do, but no one in the media I saw). 

No one questions men's intentions when they choose to spend countless hours and time away from home to train for whatever they are doing.

No one would probably question this if I spent the same amount of time on Facebook, scrapbooking or watching TV.

We all have 24 hours in a day.  I choose to spend mine differently.  The only TV I watch is while I am on my trainer, and even that is not much TV.  I check Facebook a couple of times a day, but don't spend hours on it. 

I have gone to great lengths to be the invisible athlete to my family, because they do and always will come first.  I train during hours that they won't miss me anyhow - often right after school before I pick up the kids, super early in the morning, after they are in bed, or early Saturday morning when they are all sleeping in anyhow.  It is not easy, it requires a great deal of sacrifice and juggling, but I think that 90% of the time I make it work.

Selfish?  Yes, it is a selfish sport if you allow it to be, but like I stated in the paragraph above, I have gone to great lengths to keep it from being so. I specifically chose a training plan that doesn't have me training 18-22 hours a week so I can still be wife/mom/teacher.  I have found the fine line between how much I can race/train and still keep a happy family.  I can't race every weekend, or even once a month and keep a happy home.  I have found that by doing 5-7 races a year, I can still have a happy home life.

Another thing I have found is, that by taking care of myself, I can then better take care of people around me.  By taking the time to swim/bike/run, and having that outlet for myself to de-stress and think about things, I am a better wife and mom.  Physically it has made me able to keep up with my kids and the demanding schedule we have.  So maybe being selfish isn't all that bad, huh?

I also like to think that I am a better parent.  I have taught my kids that they can do whatever they want to do. I have taught them about setting goals and reaching them.  I am teaching my son that he has to work for things and work hard, but it pays off in the end.  I am teaching my daughter about confidence and self esteem that come from exercise and physical activity as she lifts my hand weights next to me as I ride my trainer.  I am teaching her that strong is beautiful and to appreciate  and care for her body for the amazing things it is capable of instead of it being an object to be used or not appreciated by others.

So there.  I said it.  I feel better for saying it. I know that for the handful of people that actually read this blog, you are probably athletic/triathletes yourself so you "get" it.  But no one has to "get" why I do these things, because I don't do it for them or anyone else.  Heck, there are days I still don't "get" why I signed up for 140.6. I am just asking people not to judge, and think before they say something.

Hopefully I am in my own little bubble on this, have any of you experienced such a thing?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Casualties of Ironman Training

I now have 4 very solid weeks of Ironman training under my belt.  I have to toot my own horn here, it has been awesome and I have only missed one work out in 4 weeks.  When I say that, I am meaning I have only missed one workout that is on my training plan. I have added in on my own 3 strength trainings a week, and couple of transition runs after the bike, that are not actually on the Matt Fitzgerald plan I am following. Even with those add ons, I have missed very few.

I am averaging 8-10 hours a week right now.  I know that will build, but I have never had this kind of volume consistently.  I am finding that I really like it!  I look forward to my training time!  My body is handling it as well.  However, there are things that have changed in my life while training for an Ironman.  I will call them "Casualties of Ironman Training".

1) A Normal Diet.  HA!  This is out the door.  While I am eating pretty clean, I am eating a ton. Or what seems like to me a ton. I find I am hungry All.  The.  Time.  I wake up at 2:45 am with a growling stomach.  I have to constantly keep snacks with me.  It's insane!  Now, all this being said, for me I am still taking in around 2200 calories a day.  Normal for me would be around 1600-1700.  Yeah, not anymore.  As long as I am eating healthy, which I am 90% of the time, I am not worried about it. I have to fuel my body for the added training load.

2)  My insomnia.  Gone.  I think I am wearing myself out with the training because once my  head hits the pillow, I'm out.  It's quite nice actually.  I only wake up when I am hungry :)

3)  Straight hair.  My hair is naturally curly.  I have spent a lifetime straightening it.  Not anymore!  Ain't nobody got time for that!  And with me showering often 2x a day with workouts, I really don't have time for that!

4)  Excuses.  I find that I am making them less than ever.  It doesn't even occur to me to skip a work out.  Which, for me, is hard to believe.  I used to talk myself out of doing many work outs due to lack of motivation, weather conditions, whatever.  Now I tell myself, "Suck it up, Ironman" and just do it.  Now, I have made some adjustments to the work outs, like maybe do it on a treadmill instead of outside, but I get it done!

5) Anything social on Friday nights.  My training plan calls for my long rides to be on Fridays.  Long runs Saturday.  I still have to work during the day, which means the trainer ride comes after work.  I told Ken, my IronSherpa, to make any and all plans he wants to for Fridays, but don't make me part of them until after May 16 :)

6) Training without a purpose.  My approach to training in the past has always been to just put in the miles/time.  My training plan NOW has a specific purpose to each workout.  They may be intervals, or speedwork, hill training, or "just stay in this Zone" instructions, but I have liked having this.  It makes me feel quite accomplished when I nail whatever it is it calls for.  In fact, only two work outs a week (the long ride and long run) are actual "just do the miles" work outs.  Every other work out is broken down for me.  Pretty cool!  It has completely changed my outlook on training.

7)  Stress.  As weird as it sounds, I am pretty happy these days.  I think that some people need therapy.  Some people need medication.  I need to train.  It is seriously my sanity and having daily doses and the consistency I have had, I haven't stressed much lately.  I have been less moody and grumpy.  Even though there is a lot on my plate with being a full time wife, mom, teacher, etc AND training for an Ironman, I have been shocked by how smooth it is going.  I think my positive mood and outlook has a lot to do with that. I have noticed during training lulls in the past, I get more moody, grumpy, etc.

8) My hate of treadmills.  I have always loathed them.  I had one for awhile and actually sold it because it never got used.  Now I am finding that with most of my work outs calling for intervals or hills, this is the easiest way to do them, is on the 'mill. When I have a set work out to do it goes quicker anyhow.  And it is awfully convenient too! 

I can honestly say I am loving this.  I love the training.  I see more and more why people say that the actual Ironman race is just a celebration of the training and journey it took to get there.  I know that I still have 18 weeks to go, but so far this is one of the most amazing things I have taken part in.  It is one heck of a journey!  That is not saying it is easy, because it is dang hard juggling everything, but it has been pretty incredible so far. 

Happy Training All!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year! Here's to Celebrating Progression!

I knew I would be doing a New Year's post as there have been many thoughts going through my mind as I have looked at 2014, and look forward to 2015, but this morning I decided to take a slightly different approach to this post.  Here's why.

I use the TimeHop app.  It is really fun.  Every day it pulls up your Facebook posts from 1 year ago, 2 years, 3 years, on up to 5 years.  When I looked at it this morning this is what it said for 5 years ago today, January 1, 2010:

"Just picked a training plan for my first ever half marathon.  Next I will pick my race.  Here's to stretching and challenging myself in a new way this year".

Wow!  5 years ago today I made a resolution that I not only kept (let's be honest, most of us don't do that) but one that would change my life more than I could have ever imagined.  Previous to that I had only barely started exercising with with Slim in 6, an infomercial series of work out DVD's , because I was sick and tired of gaining weight and feeling like crap.

I finished that series of DVD's and needed something else, so I decided to take up running and long story short, that is how that resolution came to be.

I honestly didn't have any great expectations of myself other than wanting to hit another goal and try something new.  I did that first race, the Bear Lake Half Marathon that was June 12, 2010, and then decided to try a full just a few months later with the Top of Utah Full in September.  I was hooked.  I then got somewhat bored with just running, so I bought a bike and did my first sprint triathlon in May of 2012.  Hence, I was REALLY hooked.

So here I am 5 years later on New Year's Day, 3 weeks and 4 days into an IRONMAN training plan.  Five years ago I was completely scared crapless of a half marathon, and now I am still scared crapless of this new endeavor of Ironman Texas on May 16.  It will be just a month shy of the 5 year mark of starting racing.  I don't toot my own horn very often, but I must say that I am proud of that! (Not the being scared crapless part, but the progression of setting and reaching new goals part :)

What has that resolution done for me? More than I could have ever imagined.  I am healthier than I have ever been.  I can physically keep up with my kids and a demanding lifestyle.  I can say it has provided me an outlet.  I am not a creative person at all, but it has given me a way of expressing myself, challenging myself, and it has been great for mental health and keeping my sanity!  I am honestly happier.  I know this may sound cliche, but it really taught me that I can do anything. It may not be easy, it make take patience, hard work, and sacrifice, but I really CAN do anything!  When you realize that, it is a game changer.  This gave me the confidence to not only do more things in endurance sports, but it gave me the confidence to go back to school, change careers, and start teaching after years of doing social work, and many other changes and things in my life.

So what are my goals today?  My resolutions for 2015?  I have thought a lot about it and let's look at some of 2014 first.  Here are my totals for S/B/R for the year:

2014 Totals:
Swim - 36,928 meters, or 23.08 miles
Bike - 1824.92 miles
Run - 458.4

Total Mileage = 2289

I would like to obviously build on that, but also maintain a balance.  However, 2014 was not my most consistent year, so the volume is not what I want it to be and it won' be too hard to blow those numbers out of the water this year.  However, I want to be realistic as well.  Here are my mileage goals for 2015:

2015 Goals:
Swim - 36 miles (4000 meters a week)
Bike - 3360 (70 miles a week)
Run - 1200 (25 miles a week)

If I do this I will have over 4500 total miles for the year.  And, these are reasonable goals.  They push me beyond what I have been doing, but also are totally doable if I remain consistent.

Other goals for the year, not necessarily triathlon related:

1) Make my bed every day.  I think I only made it a few times last year, not counting when I changed the sheets.

2)  Be consistent.  Unless I am injured or sick, or it truly is the Day from Hell, I want to do something daily, with the exception of my set day off of Sunday.

3)  Finish my first Ironman.  Duh!  That's already on track :)

4) Eat healthier and dial in nutrition, but also allow myself indulgences in moderation.

So maybe resolutions aren't so worthless after all!  Obviously that is one that I stuck with and it had good results.  That is why I haven't given up hope and continue to set them, but in a way that makes them doable.

Happy New Year All!  And Happy Training and Racing!