Sunday, February 25, 2018

What's Your Heart Race?

So, it's official.  I am done with base training and after a recovery week, start the "official" 20 week Ironman plan.  I know, what the hell have I been doing so far?  Adaptation, my friends.  Greg and I have been slowly ramping up our distance and time, throwing in a few speed bursts, but getting to a spot where we can swim 2 miles comfortably, ride 60-70, and run 12-15.

Now begins the work.  The T runs.  The repeats.  The 5-6 hour rides.  The nutrition.  The recovery.  All of it.  And like most of life, when it's time to buckle down and get it DONE, something screws up.

In this case it was twofold.  First, it was me.  Oddly enough, not even my physical body - other than a few sore moments, my body has been doing really well with training.  Almost too well, dare I say?  (No, I didn't say that.  Forget it).  Here's where it gets weird though - this time, it was my mind.  For the last month, I have been really debating deferring my Ironman until 2019.  I just have not been into it.  Almost ever workout goes well, and I hit my marks....but that's it.  I no longer felt a rush after a hard run.  A sense of peace after a swim or a recovery run.  And some days...when the alarm went off, I just did not WANT to do it.  I couldn't get excited.  And that, to me, is a huge warning sign.  I mean, if you're gonna drop $700 on a race and 10-20 hours of your life for 6 months, you better damn well mean it.

So I soul searched.  What was my deal?  Quite honestly, I felt that old "You can't have it all" feeling creeping up on me that I talked about last fall when I turned down my promotion.  Life boils down to seven things for me - mom, wife, daughter, family member, friend, athlete, and self.  Add in the
My world
"concrete" roles of employee, money manager, and house master, and you get ten.  YOU CANNOT DO ALL TEN WELL.  You just can't.  Lately, I feel like the most constant ones were slipping - mom, wife, and self.  I felt like I was pinging from one to another and never got a chance to just "be" with my kids, devote myself fully to my husband, or sit down and just be with myself.  So I started to look for a let go.  Was it Ironman?  Seems really selfish to do all this training (oh wait, make that 10-20 hours a week double, because Greg and I are BOTH doing it) right now, when I have two little kids that WANT to be with me, and a marriage that only extends itself to so many shitty moods brought on by both Greg and I "doing it all".

What's the answer?  I don't know.  Right now it's communication and one week at a time.  I know there was a good reason to sign up this year, but hell, there's always a good reason, right? One week at a time.  One day at a time.  And probably a good dose of giving up any sense of perfection for anything.

Just to mess with my sense of order even more, a few days ago, my garmin died.  My activity counter.  My data storage.  And for every run or swim, my mind - allowing me to let go and have it do the "counting" for me - the route planning, the lap counting, and all the "numbers" that go into this training.  And my calorie keeper to make sure I eat enough to go with it!  So, after throwing a mini fit, I put on my old timex - the $30 watch that I did my first Ironman, ultra, and wore to the hospital when Biz was born.  With no data.  Or calorie counters.  Or HR monitors.  Which, ironically, Rob, when he plays with my watch, calls my "heart race".  Mommy, what's your heart race?  53, buddy.  Oh...when will it be zero?  I hope not for awhile buddy!
If you didn't record it, did it happen?  YES!
Rob grabbed my old timex yesterday and asked me about my heart race, so I walked him through this history of the watch - the little gouge from when I crashed my bike on it.  The Black streak at the top from my first ultra where god knows what got on it and won't go away.  And the chew marks on the strap from when Biz used to grab at it when she was teething.  I told him that was my "heart race"- the little pieces of this low tech machine that really fed into the life of why mommy does what she does.  Then I went for a run.  An 8 mile run which told me a few things....that I have no clue what my RPE is any more in terms of data.  That I really suck at executing a tempo run without a pinging mile time.  But that even if you don't record it, It happened.  At least the important parts.  The sunshine through the trees.  The wind in my face.  The mud splatter on my left leg.  And the feeling that even when we question if it's worth is.  And in that moment, post workout, I realized that I might just in fact be teaching my son some life lessons with this "selfish goal" of mine.  Or maybe that was just good enough for me today.  Either way, I'll take it.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Adapt This

Welcome to the jungle!

No, not really.  Seriously, is this the longest f'ing winter ever, or what?  I feel like I have a major case of the SAD's lately (that's seasonal affective disorder in case you didn't know) but Greg assures me that basically everyone decided winter 2018 was the season to veg on the couch with Doritos and have no ambition whatsoever.  Which is cool if you...didn't drop $700 on an Ironman.  Yikes.  HTFU, Rae.

All jokes aside (what jokes, I really just want to wear my jammies and eat goldfishies, as Biz calls em), training is going relatively well.  I've bailed on about half my swims (who swims at 5am when you have to get to the pool at 5am??) but my pace and effort are...surprisingly decent (for me).

Run is going well, until the treadmill broke (busted board..thank god we got the warranty but still).  Bike was going well until...the computrainer broke (I have no clue here).  PEOPLE.  As luck would have it, my pal Mary asked a "Question of the Day" on facebook a few days ago (right before this campaign of breaking technology happened) define an ultra.  In one word.

One word.  Well.  Wow.  As luck would have it, I was out the door for a run that day (see above regarding treadmill) the biting cold.  This was day two of my runneth outside in shitty weather.  I was supposed to bike (see above).  After I threw a well deserved thirty second tantrum at the computrainer, I went for my run tights to shift my Thursday run to Wednesday. tights were in the washer.  Being washed, as we spoke.  With my fleece headband.  Greg...."borrowed" my gloves.  So there was that.

Come. On.  I grabbed capris.  And compression socks.  Same thing.  Cut a hole for my ponytail in an old skull hat.  And dubiously looked at Robs gloves, which featured characters from "Inside Out".  Which...oddly fit, though they might not make a
Run Fashion.
fashion statement.  Five minutes after bitching at my bike, I was out the door.  I spent the first mile letting off steam and warming up (talk about a catch 22)...and then my MP3 player died.


Know what happened next?  I ran the best hill workout I have in 6 years.  And it occurred to me.  All of the words that Mary had collected made sense.  What defines an ultra?  Long.  Hard. (shut it, you).  Crazy.  Tenacity.

All good.  But you know what defines it for me?  Adaptability.  Yep.  You got it.  In my opinion, its what makes race day.  Ultras (in this case Ironman) is such a long day.  Its not a question of if something will go wrong, its when.  Goggles kicked off in the swim, stung by a jellyfish, bike crash, throwing up on the run course....all could happen (and have to me in in my Ironmans).  You have to learn how to adapt to your present situation and turn it into something to your benefit, whether its swapping a workout based on how you feel, the tools at your disposal, or life (includes kids, job, etc.).  You have to learn how to adapt your race fuel and your diet.  You have to deal with equipment malfunction.

And then you turn it around to make it your benefit.  In this case, an awesome run workout.  With everything on the planet going wrong.

And there's your lesson for the day.

Of course....on Thursday....the computrainer broke again.  And our tacx software wouldn't update.  So I did what any wife would do.  I zwifted as Greg.  And got one hell of a hill workout as I rode on a setting that pretended I weighed 90 pounds more than I do.  O.M.G.

Of course, I am happy to report that this morning for my swim - the pool had water, my swimsuit had no holes, and my goggles had no leaks.  And really, that's all anyone can ask for, right?

Also, regarding that one word, if you want word #2 to define an Ultra....humor is definitely it.  :-D

Saturday, January 13, 2018

I Got You Babe

Well, why not invite Sonny and Cher along for the ride?  Am I showing my age?  Probably.  Of course, in a week that included mucis references to Hanson, Elvis, and Rick Astley (am I the only one that had never heard of Rick Rolling?  Seriously?) I have decided that all bets are off.

Except with 2018.  Still on.  Game on.  Do it.

As I mentioned before, I have some big plans for 2018.  As Biz would say "Da Big A One".  Yeah.  It's the year, baby.  I'm serious about this.  Time to go for my dreams.  I even got myself a planner for the first time since 2012:
Clearly, I'm serious about this, can you tell?  HAH.  Well, the year is shaping up just fine on this side of the world - Ironman base training in full effect, and coming along swimmingly (well, TBH, not so much there - it's hard to get into a pool in January!).  Long bikes are getting longer, long runs are getting longer, and it feels GREAT.  I never expected to get back into the Ironman game this year, but it just feels right.  Which is awesome.

One of my other 2018 goals involves more of what matters.  In 2017, I focused way the hell too much on little things that honestly, had no real end consequence.  It makes sense, looking back - I was so overwhelmed with so many areas of my life, that it seemed like taking some kind of control over something, even if it was a fifty cent coupon or an hour coverage at work, mattered.

It didn't.

As a result of that, I missed out on some pretty big things, and also worked myself into a needless tizzy over things and people that weren't worth my time.  As I read through one of my parenting magazines (which are excellent bubble bath fodder, but not usually worthwhile beyond that) I actually found an article more worthwhile than how to treat a vomit stain on your favorite sweater (the answer there is Dawn dish soap, in case you actually needed to know that).  It was called the "I Got You" plan.  The article basically outlined a 12 month set - in the areas of finance, career, health and wellness, family, social/charity, and relationships (we added that last one.  Why they didn't include it, I'll never know).  The idea is to sit down with your significant other and create a road map - not a "to do" list, but a frank discussion about your dreams in these five areas, what you want to accomplish, and how you can support each other.

The article suggested getting out of the house to do this - to go to a coffee shop, library, or somewhere where you won't get distracted.  So, last weekend, we got a sitter and headed out to a family diner to sit down and talk dreams.

Enjoying the little moments
It was awesome.  Greg and I ended up working through most of of the areas - us, finance, career, family and health and wellness.  We shared our hopes as a couple and how we hope to better connect in 2018.  We talked about our family time and how we felt like we had been running off of a "to do" list for much of 2017, and how to step back and really enjoy our kids while they are still little.  We both talked about our career goals - Greg's were pretty obvious, mine were actually not.  We talked about a project that I have been batting around for years and now plan to bring to fruition later this year (more on that as it progresses!) .  We walked through our goals for Ironman and how we planned to train for it without breaking any of the other areas of life - we are both super amped about it but realistic with how much time we have to train.

Then we ordered two burgers that sounded delicious and split them like two teenagers on a date.  I refrained from stealing fries off of Greg's plate, and I promise we ordered two beverages with our own straws and no one threw up watching us.

For most of the goals, we outlined a general plan and a few specific action steps to take.  Though this part can sound boring, it really helps with SMART goal planning and we were both super amped with what we want to accomplish, as well as feeling much closer to each other as a result of talking about our dreams and hopes for this year and beyond.  We decided to bring out the "plan" again in 3 months and see where we stand with some of these things and refine and revise as needed.  Perfect.  If you'd like to see more about how to do the Twelve Month Set, check it out.*

We got home, ready to kick ass at parenting and being fabulous human beings in general.....and within 30 minutes Rob dumped out a carton of milk, the cats knocked over a vase running through our house like crazy animals, and Biz threw up on my white sweater.  We looked at each other and laughed and I.....grabbed a bottle of Dawn.

So I guess those magazines are good for something after all.  Duly noted.

*Yeah, you've been Rick Rolled!  I'm an ass and ok with that.  Here's the real link.*  Enjoy!!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Pump Up The Volume

Happy 2018!  I hope everyone had a wonderful New Year's and is ready for a year of fantastic.  We kept it low key with the shit weather and had a small apps party with some board games, and yes, admittedly, passed out by 10:30.  Damn, I'm old.  I got up on New Year's Day and rocked out an epic 8 miles in honor of 2018 (not ready for 18, so I compromised!) and had a nice quiet set up day with Greg and some friends.

I've been pulling together my arsenal for 2018 - Ironman Training plan in progress, goals set - super scary ones, as the best ones always are.  Greg set up some awesome decals to rock out our workout inspo, check it out!
11:59, baby.  11:59.  It's such a crazy goal for me that it awes me to say aloud, but hey, moonshots happen.  This month is all about the set up to make it work - crafting workout schedules, races, and setting up the crock pot freezer meals and energy bars (Santa brought us a crap ton of gatorade, gum, Epsom salts and clif bars.  We are ridiculous.)

In terms of training, Greg and I are working in 4 week blocks and right now it's all about pumping up the volume.  I've got a solid run base, but my bike kinda sucks, which is *slightly* important in a race where 60% of the race is riding - so, we bike.  Right now my long bike is 3 hours, and I am so damn thankful for the return of crap TV, as my soap has run out of back episodes (no judging, folks.  You all know I love Y & R.  Lalalalalala I can't even hear you).

And to further channel my inner MARRS, I have been absolutely rocking my new workout playlist, which works equally well in the pool, bike or run.  I should note that my music taste is only slightly less questionable than my TV taste, but here goes - a sample of my tunage:

Marshmello - You and Me
Portugal the Man - Feel it Still
Imagine Dragons - Whatever it Takes
Britney Spears - Work B*tch (this never gets old)
Charlie Puth - How Long
Coldplay - Hymn for the Weekend
Calvin Harris - Feels
Antiserum and Mayhem - Hustle
Justin Timberlake - Hair Up
Papa Roch - born for Greatness

I told you.  It's a hot mess.  Are you shocked??

What songs are you loving lately?

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Tabula Rasa

Well, guys, I think I did it.  As I set out for my last run of 2017 - 7 miles of complete perfection for a total of 1558 miles in 2017 - I formulated a blog post.  Ready to rock.  Here I sit, post run, post shower, taking my 2018 intentions into play and taking my damn 10 minutes.  For me.  Yes, I showered.  You're welcome.

I also think, that for the first time in 7 years (how is my blog this old?!?) I actually repeated a title of a post.  Back in the day, when I blogged 4-5 times a week ( I swear this happened and have no idea how) I would wrack my brain for new title ideas and vigilantly check to make sure I didn't duplicate.

I'm over it.  The title is too appropriate and something I have always thought was such a neat concept - a blank slate.  Although most people talk about it in the new school year, as adults, the new year is such a great time to just.....start over.  Just friggin do it.  And while I am not a huge fan of resolutions, just like I don't believe in "diets" (don't get me started there) the concept of leaving 2017's garbage back in 2017 is just too damn appealing. 

Don't get me wrong.  While I have enjoyed the hell out of crapping on 2017, I do need to give it some credit (written for posterity!)  2017 was so. damn. hard.  Honestly, probably one of the worst years of my life.  But it taught me a few really important things that have paved the way for what I KNOW will be a successful 2018.  Know why?  Because I'm ready to face it that way.  To truly leave 2017 in 2017 and to walk into 2018 with the way I want it to be to the best of my ability.

2017 are there.  You taught me...

Hard work is hard.  It's friggin hard.  2017 was a goal setting year.  To pave the way for dreams.  A penny pinching, living each day with intention of an all consuming goal.  What was it?  Honestly, I was afraid to say it.  I'm not afraid any more.  I am proud.  As of 12/26, Greg and I paid off our mortgage.  WE OWN OUR OWN HOME.  We bought this house in 2009 and have faithfully paid the bills every month, staring at that big, scary number.  Well, 2018 brings with it some big dreams we have and that number...needed to be gone.  So we did it.  In more ways that I can explain in one post, we managed to pay off over a third of our home's value in one year.  I promise, I will share what worked for us.  But it was hard.  So very hard.  Worth it?  Right now I would say yes!

I also learned that hard work isn't always appreciated.  Honestly, if I took away one thing from this year....I felt taken advantage of.  A lot.  At home, at work, and in a few other areas of life.  I was told many times that I might have unrealistic expectations, and maybe I do.  Maybe my concept of being a "nice guy" is really a projection of how I want to be treated.  Maybe many things.  But I intend not not be an asshole in 2018, not always say yes.  To not always step in and be the "hub".  It's not fair.  I surround myself with grown, competent adults who don't need to be mommied, and two toddlers that do.  It's time to step back and realize that perhaps my ideas of what needs to happen aren't always necessary and that I might be putting quite a bit of effort into things that don't even matter.

2017 also taught me that there is love in so many unexpected places.  I fell apart spectacularly a few times and the people that picked me up were not who I thought they might have been.  Which brings me to 2018 with hope in my heart and love and openness for the kindness of not exactly strangers (Thank you Blanche DuBois) but for those angels in my life who really have a place in 2018 for my love an attention.  Really, you know who you are.  You may have saved me this year, even if you don't realize it.

So, 2017.  There you go.  You sucked.  But like most sucky things, you taught me some really important things.  That some things are worth it, some aren't.  That some people are worth it, and some are best left to their own devices.

And I walk into 2018 unencumbered and ready to pursue my dreams.  Am I afraid of hard work?  Not in the slightest.  I live it.  It's time to start living with that beautiful, blank slate (with the crib notes from the life lessons, not the garbage, tucked safely away in my back pocket).

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

But did you die?

Much like the elusive meme (that honestly, really isn't all that funny) that somehow still is on the interwebs, I feel the need to explain, yet again, that no, I didn't die.  Didn't fall off of a cliff during my week off in November (SIX FREAKING WEEKS AGO), didn't quit my job, didn't run off the with pool boy  to Tahiti (we don't even have a pool, so there's that) , didn't join a cult and live out my days drinking cherry koolaid (blech).
I am here.  And I am lazy.  Nah, that's not true.  I'm still the same crazy me, but with tons of bloggo thoughts stored up that spit themselves out into thoughtful, introspective posts while I am banging out 8 mile tempo runs on the treadmill (started out TWSS, then I fooled you, didn't I?) but somehow, when I shower (I do that) and get back to my computer, either a toddler jams a green marker into my mouse (that happened) or lunch "break" is over and they actually expect me to work sometimes at my job (no lie).  And the post, with all of my infinite nuggets of wisdom, just disappears.  Poof. 

I often wonder if Martin Luther King Jr would have actually penned his "I Had a Dream" speech if he had kids.  Oh wait.  He had 4.  I AM A SLACKER!!

Regardless, it's that time.  Time for 2018.  2017, you sucked.  See ya.  Don't let the door hit you on the way out (wait, do.  You suck).  And, even though those that know and love me are aware of my resolution thoughts....

Yeah, I'm not making them.  But I do plan to try to bring 2018 into a year to remember fondly.  And that starts with a nice little nugget that oddly enough sprang from my work performance appraisal.  To chill.  Yep, you got it. (I'm not kidding.  That was one of my things to work on.) To realize that in fact, not all of the monkeys or circuses are mine.  Nope.  To realize that there are things I can control, things I can't, and enough wine to know the difference (see what I did there?).  You got it right. 

And it all starts with ten minutes.   Ten minutes to stretch.  To actually dry my hair ( the last month I have done this more that in all of 2017.  And it's blowing people's minds, which must mean I look like a hot damn mess 99% of the time.  Yech).  To watch a podcast (slightly obsessed with TED talks).  To...write a blog post.  Wait, what?  Yeah.  I know.  Pics or it didn't happen.  Moral of the story, I deserve ten.  Ten a day, or ten a few times a day. 

So here's to ten.  And hopefully not ten days...weeks...or months....until I show some blog love.  Cause really, I do.  Promise.

Happy end of 2017 - Have a wonderful New Years and let's make 2018 .....fabulous!  Crap....I almost said great again.  (Excuse me while I go jump off a bridge).  We're just gonna make it awesome.  AWESOME.  I SAID AWESOME. 

Monday, November 6, 2017

If you don't know where you are going, how will you know when you get there??

See, here's the thing.  We all know I've had my whiny little episodes about 2017.  In general, I've pretty much been that annoying person that seems to have nothing to bitch about but seems to always be grumpy - at least in my estimation. How annoying.

  I know life is never perfect.  And when one piece seems to fall into place, at least one other goes to hell.  Welcome to living, right??

But there's been a lot this year.  A lot of areas that seem to be either making no sense, going to hell, or are day by day changing so fast that I can't keep track and I throw up my hands in frustration trying to.  Take a deep breath, buttercup, and hop on.  It's life.

So I've been doing what I do best - taking it day by day, running my ass off, and hanging on.  Talking to close family and friends - god bless you people that listen to my endless ranting about the same. damn. things. And living my life as it comes to me.

Last night, I was playing around on Pinterest, trying to figure something out - admittedly - decor wise in the house.  I was looking at pithy signs to redecorate our living room, when I came across a print that said "If you don't know where you are going, how will you know when you get there?"

Wait, stop.  Stop for a second.  I know it may sound trite, but this one little sentence was a total truth bomb for me. And it started to make some sense.

In terms of the literal day by day, I am awesome at knowing where I am going.  For a run.  To a meeting.  Grocery shopping.  A coffee date. Giving the kids a bath.  Bam.  Wherever you go, there you are.

I also know where I am going in terms of race goals.  I rock at those.  3rd Ironman - can we PR?  YES!  2020 - let's Boston Qualify!

Finances?  Yep.  On it. We have a solid plan for what we need to do to live now, 5 years from now, and retirement.

The rest?  Oh hell no.  I used to do this.  I had a vision board.  I saw myself as a bride, buying a house, having kids, and kicking butt in the workplace.

But what do you do when those obvious things are all crossed off? What's next?

I took out my old board, created in 2007.  I saw the white dress.  The picket fence.  The corporate ladder.  The two kids (no lie).  The 140.6 sticker.  And, admittedly from the chubby teenager insecurites, the picture of someone rockin' a two piece on the beach.

Do we see an issue here?  I do.  I am, to put it bluntly, stuck.  I got to a place in my life where my vision board has been realized, and I haven't evolved beyond it, in terms of growing.  I've contented myself with the day to day living, which certainly has it's place, but nowhere does it inspire dreams, risk, and the vivaciousness that I miss about life.  It's certainly understandable, with two toddlers, a full time job, and a husband that works 80 hours a week.  But it's never going to move me beyond being "stuck".

Sometimes diagnosing the damn problem is truly the first part to fixing it.

So I' taking some time this week.  Time for myself.  I pulled out my old magazines, and went to the dollar store and bought a poster board and art supplies.

It's time to create.  And reinvent.  To visit my old dreams, look at my bucket list, and figure out what in the hell really makes me tick.

And then you know me.  I'm gonna go the hell after it.