Week 32: The System

By bike, it is eight minutes from our house to the light at the first main intersection. After you turn onto the valley road there, you can ride for hours without ever hitting another light. Seven hours is the longest I’ve ever tried, but you could probably do more. You can go back and forth in the valley for countless short intervals, or you can reach the end, head up and over the hill, and have miles around the reservoir for tempo efforts. Any weekday mid-morning, you’ll basically find every pro in Marin looping the reservoir hard.

I do not generally drive to ride my bike. I do not ride junk miles (mostly). If I don’t do short runs from my house around the neighborhood or up and over the trailhead, then I typically drive the six minutes to the ponds or the eight minutes to the state park — on the way I pass my pool at the JCC. [The best place in the world to run is a 20-minute drive away, which is mostly for weekends, fun, and when I’m already headed that way.]

My point is: I have a system. And I don’t think I could actually work as much as I do (contrary to popular belief) and train as much as I do and still sleep as much as I do if I had to factor in things like other people or logistics or wasting my time. Choices and figuring things out take energy; I don’t make choices in these things, I just zone out and do whatever fits into the system.

We’re getting close to the end of the year. You can smell the toasting. You can feel in the air how done things are. How little patience there is left. If you try to waste my time right now, I might punch you in the face with whatever tiny bit of energy I have.

I’m not sure this system is sustainable forever. Both of us are less than three weeks out from Ironman and you can tell by looking at our house. Eventually it may be necessary to move somewhere we can both work from home without having to shove things off the couch. Eventually I may have to write an actual book or work a job at an actual office (unlikely, however, given that I haven’t applied for any). Eventually the system may come apart at the seams. But eventually also my upper back is going to completely seize up and my foot is going to give out and my jaw is going to grind down so hard that I bite right through my already-fake teeth. Eventually. Right now, we’re holding everything together with duct tape and glue and momentum. If you just start running the same route out the house that you always run, then you’ll be halfway around the loop before you realize you’re going.

Week 31: And Then It All Hit Me

Friday I had a meltdown. It was coming. People keep asking, ‘What’s wrong?’ Dude, what’s wrong is I did an Ironman and bounced back pretty well and then I did a really hard half-Ironman and buried myself and did not bounce back well.

I kept thinking I’d come around all week. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, oh, it’ll pass. Thursday I was exhausted still, without doing very much. It’s fine; it’ll pass. But Friday I could not hit my swim workout times, was failing everything, got out of the pool halfway, and went home to sleep for 3-4 hours. I don’t do that, generally. I cut things short sometimes — a 3:30 ride is sort of like a 4:00 ride — and I have a tendency to space out during recovery weeks or mini-breaks. But abandoning a specific workout mid-way through the intervals? Nope. Usually I just suck it up and sprint until I hit the times, or ultimately fail on one and then I take 10 seconds and try again.

I slept and ate and ate and laid on the couch dicking around on my phone, mostly texting and watching bad TV. Then I slept more. And Saturday I got up and rode over seven hours (which actually took eight hours with stops, which is basically an entire work day). And I bounced back. More or less.

While I was laying in bed Friday afternoon freezing and whining to Steve to bring me more blankets, I thought, ‘Well, if I can’t rebound in time for Louisville, I’ve had an OK year anyway, that’s fine.’ I may have been slightly melodramatic, because of course I’ll rebound in time for Louisville. Nothing about this is unexpected. Including the fact that I’m done, ready for the end of the season. Just under four more weeks, guys, and then you won’t even believe how much I don’t plan to get out of bed.


Week 30: Santa Cruz is pretty too I guess

Warning: There is a gross picture at the bottom of what my screwed up feet look like after all this racing. I was just going to post it at the top here because #realtalk, but trigger warning, you guys.

I raced Santa Cruz 70.3 (formerly Big Kahuna) yesterday, mostly because Steve was racing it and I’d already be there and I needed to get a big weekend in for Louisville in five weeks. But holy shit I wasn’t excited about it.

Continue reading “Week 30: Santa Cruz is pretty too I guess”

Week 29: Have you never been miserable before?

We keep moving on and weeks pass. You can read all my weekly recaps here.

San Francisco hit a record high temperature on Friday. Not, like, for Sept. 1. For ever. It has never been that hot in the city. Then it was hotter on Saturday.

It was bad, and part of the problem was a bunch of smoke had blown in from the massive fires up north and then the weird pressure system that was making it so hot also trapped the smoke. It was really not good, particularly since the weather was super weird and it didn’t cool down overnight or on the coast or in any of the ways and places it’s supposed to. And the smoke is actually really unhealthy and dangerous; you had to just wait for it to clear some, no point in trying to train through. It was all bad, but, still, it wasn’t that bad.

I get that heat is the #1 weather-related killer. And plenty of people have illnesses or are elderly or physically have problems with that kind of heat.

But, if you don’t, then seriously, go outside sometimes, train not just when the weather is perfect, stop telling me there are no seasons in the Bay Area — when I spent half the winter getting flooded out on my bike and hypothermic. It might have never been this hot in the city before, but it gets this hot at my house almost every year. I’ve already gotten stuck melting on the side of the road at least once this summer. So, yes, riding and running this weekend sucked. Of course it sucked, no kidding. Have you never been miserable before?

This weekend I’m racing Santa Cruz. Not really sure how that’s going to go. Recovery’s been coming along, up and down. Some days I’m nailing it, some days I’m not. Either way, Sunday is going to be miserable. Like it has been before. Of course.

Week 28: Back to Work

Leslie was right. Sometimes you just have to get back to work and it becomes normal day-in/day-out and what once seemed crazy no longer seems crazy.

The day after Ironman, I went for a short ride and swim, without even being told. That’s crazy. In seven weeks I’m racing another Ironman. That’s crazy too. But it really doesn’t seem crazy anymore.

I actually feel OK, minus the five toenails I’m in the process of losing. I did some slow jogging/shuffling around New York (city of, just for clarity’s sake). I swam a couple times at the Prospect Park YMCA. I biked around Central Park on a terrible rent-a-bike and tried to avoid being killed by the swarms of tourists. I walked a lot, like a lot, like all around Montreal and then all around Manhattan. At Steve’s half-marathon yesterday I had to bike kind of hard to get to a spot to watch him. It was the hardest I’ve gone in a week, and I maybe wasn’t gaining on the casual large man cycling in front of me.

But I feel OK enough I decided to race Santa Cruz in two weeks. Which also seems crazy. (I rarely make specific promises to myself during races, and I always keep the very detailed ones I do make, but the actual thing I promised myself while I was running in Mont Tremblant was that if I went under 10 hours I wouldn’t have to race Santa Cruz. And, well, that didn’t happen anyway.) Except maybe it’s not crazy. Maybe it’s just all part of redefining normal.

It was a good week of doing nothing. I toured Montreal with my mom and uncle, then I went to New York to visit a friend — which I haven’t been to since high school. I tried not to focus too much, while pushing through throngs of people, on what might happen if everyone also came out of all the tall buildings at the exact same time. Of course, then that was all I kept thinking about. *THINK ABOUT IT*

I have no real idea what’s going on in the world, besides vague outlines and general headlines. It’s not that I wasn’t online; it’s just that most of my internet was overrun with triathlon-related congrats or Google Maps. And the week-old magazines in my bag were interesting, but let’s be real: news that’s a week old might as well be months old in our current reality. I imagine this is what it’s like for most people usually.

Now it’s back to work.

Week 27: Ironman Mont Tremblant 

I’m currently sitting in the Air Canada lounge in Montreal, because when I changed my flight to go to New York after the race it was cheaper to end up with a business class ticket than to pay the change fee. Turns out the thing the rich people never told us is with all the free food and drinks you basically end up ahead. Money makes more money and all that.

Ironman Mont Tremblant happened on Sunday. I finished in 10:02:something, and that’s totally good and fine. It’s a PR and I’m proud of how I rallied on the day.

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Week 26: What We Have In Us

It’s time to race Ironman Mont Tremblant and I’m in taper mode, so I probably have argued with you about some tedious fact, because goddamnit I was right. I also feel terrible. You can read all the weekly recaps of how we got here.

When I signed on with Hillary in June 2015 my goal for IM Wisconsin was a solid race under 11 hours. At some point, while training, I realized I could maybe hit 10:45, and if things went really really well I might slip in around 10:30 and be in the top 4 or 5 girls.

I ended up finishing 2nd in 10:21 and I’m pretty sure if you had seen me in the last two miles, while I was high-fiving every person there, you’d have known exactly how surprised I was about it.

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Week 25: So Done

Last Sunday, I ordered a new phone on the T-Mobile website, since I had neither the time nor the energy to go to a store. But it never came. That meant I was going to have to deal with this today, spend time on the phone, explain and re-explain and explain again what my problem was even though it wasn’t really my problem. I had paid my money for an order I needed. I just wanted there to be a person I could call and ask, “Where the fuck is my phone.”

But of course that’s not how things work in life.

Two hours and six transfers later, and one bout of crying, they’re now sending me my original order. Theoretically.

Two weeks until Ironman. It appears I consistently reach a point about two weeks to go where I am just done. Completely done. More excited about going to New York for five days after Ironman and having NO REAL WORKOUTS than actually doing the race. It’s usually around this point that I also start cutting corners and struggling with basic human functions. I think I took a two-hour nap yesterday and then slept over nine hours last night. After my last long hard run and my last long hard ride and just my last everything.


Week 24: Then I Got Hit By A Car

There are three weeks left until Ironman Mont Tremblant. As of today. It’ll be my first pro Ironman, which is basically the same as other Ironmans (I think) but completely different. You can read all my weekly recaps of being a pro triathlete here.

Yesterday I got hit by a car. Or I hit a car, technically. After biking up to Ironman Santa Rosa, I was riding near the course when an overwhelmed (by the road closures) and confused driver made a right turn suddenly in front of me. I slammed the brakes on, turned and skidded, almost made it — for a second I thought I’d avoid the impact — and then hit on my side and went down.

Turns out my gut instinct, before you even consciously think about what you’re doing, is to jump right up from the ground and start screaming swear words. So that was interesting.

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