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.

Continue reading “Week 26: What We Have In Us”

The Real Problems with a Taper

So many athletes complain about tapering before a race, that they get all antsy and can’t sit still and MUST. GYM. GO. This makes no sense. Do you people not own a TV? Or a computer? Or a library card? Come on, learn to lounge like a professional.

The real problem with the taper is that you can only screw it up.

The last week or two before a race, there’s no workout you can do that’s going to win it, there’s no fitness you can really gain, nothing magic that’s going to happen. The work is done. All you can do in the last week or two before a race is screw it all up. You can only get hurt or sick or not sleep enough or not eat enough. You can’t win the race in the taper, but you can definitely lose it.

Welcome to my super cheerful thought process and why I generally try not to think too hard.

CIM is on Sunday. At this point, I probably haven’t screwed it up. (Ahh, jinx, jinx!) But, I’m also not 100% sure about that. My goal is under 3:10, which is like sub-7:10 pace, which feels significantly not easy in workouts. Two months ago I would have said my goal was more like 3:04, but then my stupid toe started hurting and I had to not run for a week and the world ended. On the other hand, I’m still in significantly better shape than I was at Chicago last year when I ran a 3:17 off of like two tempo runs that whole training cycle. So, as long as my toe/bone spur/messed-up foot stays in in the dull ache category and doesn’t move into the sharp knives kind of pain, I should run somewhere between a 3:04 and 3:17. Maybe.

And, in the vein of ‘things you should be doing during your taper,’ yesterday when I was looking for the gif I wanted of a kid failing at swimming, instead I found lots and lots of gifs of animals swimming — because what do I have to do besides spend an hour looking at cat gifs. I’m pretty sure I can teach Tupac the Cat how to do this, right after I teach him to stop running out the door and into the bushes every time someone comes home:

The Making of Champions

The pennant.
The pennant.

Yesterday, my high school boys won the conference championship race. It was very exciting and I yelled a bunch at them during the race, things like “you need to pass him” and “come up, close that gap” — all very original and brilliant coaching. (I also am hoping none of their parents get mad that there’s a picture of them on the internet here, since there are also pictures of them on the local newspaper’s website.)

The day before the race the newspaper wrote a preview of it. In it they said the boys’ title was locked up, guaranteed, no surprises, it was going to be won by a school that wasn’t us. Which was weird, because the rest of us thought it was up in the air between three teams. I’m pretty sure that article did nothing except motivate our boys to show everyone.

But, it made me think about how we respond to obstacles and expectations. Why do we decide sometimes to say ‘screw you, I’ll show you’ and sometimes ‘oh well, I guess I’m not that good?’ Why do some people fall apart under expectations and some people rise to them?

As soon as I figure this out, I’ll let you know.

Training Week: Nov. 4-10

Last week was weird. I wanted to recover from the half marathon and then get back into serious CIM training. But, then I was not recovering well and then I hurt my foot. What I planned to do and what I actually did were very different. So, we’ll just call it a very rest week…


Swam 2,000y easy. Recovery.


Ran 2.5 miles easy with high school kids. Planned to run a few miles easy and then swim easy, but I felt shitty and we all know there are plenty of reasons not to swim.


Ran 5.5 miles out at Bear Valley. The plan was to do drills and then do core work and possibly swim. But, I had to make quite a few bathroom stops. It turns out you shouldn’t have a hamburger about an hour before running. I did not feel good.


planned to ride 1:45 or so and then run 8 miles as two easy, two up tempo and four at marathon pace. The ride was ok/as planned, but I only got three miles into the run (7:23, 7:36, 7:05) and was struggling so hard. I couldn’t hold the pace. Or maybe I could, but mentally I couldn’t. I was also 99% sure I needed to nail the workout to feel back on track, but I couldn’t. I stopped, walked a bit and then jogged home. My stomach still hurt.


Rest. In LA.


Ran 7 miles easy with Natalie. My toe started hurting the last few miles. This was not concerning at the time. It is concerning now.


planned  to do my long 20 mile run. I made it 2.2 miles and it was pretty clear my toe was not going to last 20 miles. 2.2 miles may have actually been too much. I had to walk part of the way back.

TOTAL: 6:00ish

My only goal now is to try and get my toe to stop hurting, which means days off of running. And lots of hoping. Hope, hope, hope.

Doubt, Expectations and Triathlon

Tomorrow I’m racing Pacific Grove. I haven’t done this race since 2010. But, I love it. Love/hate it. Describing the race to people — you swim in giant kelp that wraps itself around your neck, the water is the coldest I’ve ever been in, it was so cold I broke my toe and didn’t notice, the whole race is tons and tons of loops, everyone’s on the bike course in those loops at the same time, it’s a mess, and probably raining — it sounds terrible. But, it’s also a lot of fun.

I set an age group course record there in 2008 (for which there is no report on the internets, because pre-2010 I had a .mac blog and it has since been disappeared, except really it’s still stored on the hard drive of my super old Mac laptop, but not really the same thing). I raced 6′ slower in 2009 for no real reason and cried and cried. And then another 3′ slower than that in 2010 when I did the draft-legal pro race. I don’t think I cried that time. Too tired.

So, what are my expectations for tomorrow?

Somewhere in between my 2008 and my 2010 time. More or less. Maybe. I don’t know. It’s really hard to tell when you’re going to go fast, medium fast or slow. They all feel very similar. See:

Actually the year I went the slowest, but don't I look fast-ish.
Actually the year I went the slowest, but don’t I look fast-ish.
This was the year I went a medium speed.
This was the year I went a medium speed.
And, this was the year I went the fastest.
And, this was the year I went the fastest. Would you have guessed that from the pictures? Probably not. Maybe. Who knows.

It turns out in the year-and-half since I’ve done a triathlon (ok, yes, Tri for Fun like three weeks ago in prep, but it is Tri for FUN), two years since I trained for triathlon and three years since I’ve done this race, I may have forgotten how to do triathlon. Because of a whole mess where Steve is taking the car Saturday, I’m staying at Ilyce’s tonight, we’re driving down Saturday morning, and I’m working at KQED this afternoon, I had to get all my stuff ready last night. It pretty much went like this:

What wheels should I use? I guess I have to change my brake pads for those wheels. Where are the brake pads? But, I don’t have a Power Tap hooked up to my TT bike (I took it off when I thought I was going to sell the bike), so riding a Power Tap wheels is sort of stupid, right? How do I own so many pair of shoes and no triathlon race shoes? Oh, right, because I threw out my K-Swiss ones last year when I decided they were trashed. I guess I could run in my Nike Lunaracers, but I need to change the laces to E-Z-laces so I can slip them on and I don’t have any E-Z-laces. Maybe I can go to the store tomorrow. I guess I need to go to the store to buy some goggles too. My goggles broke. What should I wear to race in anyway? My old race kit is pretty much see-through and dead. Do I need extra swim caps? I forgot a towel. How am I going to fit my clothes for tonight and tomorrow morning in the same small bag? Am I forgetting something?

Clearly, the doubts are growing.

Most of the time, I have a pretty good idea how a race is going to go — unless it’s a distance or an event I’ve never done or I’m winging it (and, also, sometimes crazy shit just happens). But, usually I know where I’m at and I know where the competition is at. I look at courses, past results. I pour over past results, because I want a good understanding of what to expect. Fast? Slow? Long bike? Etc. I know lots of people don’t do this. I know lots of people think it’s bad to put those kinds of expectations on yourself. Lots of people talk about how they just go by feel and only worry about themselves and don’t focus on other’s results. But, I just don’t understand that. How can you ignore the hundreds or thousands of other people? How can you not think about the race before the race? I couldn’t do it. Sure, sometimes, it doesn’t work so well for me. It didn’t work well in the pro fields, my expectations were always too low or off. And, you have to be prepared to adjust mid-race, have different goals, process goals and all that crap. But, sometimes, knowing exactly what I’m going to do works great for me: I WILL run xx time; I WILL beat xx number of people; I WILL put out xx power. I don’t really know how else to do it.

So, I looked at everything last night. And, I still don’t know. I don’t know what to expect tomorrow. I think I know. I’m pretty sure I could guess within 5′ what my time will be. But, I’m still not sure. I’m not sure I remember how to do this. And, the difference in those 5′ is a big difference, all the difference. I’m hoping the body remembers, that two months of triathlon training will have reminded it. I’m hoping the doubts and the expectations will even out . I know what I plan to swim and bike and run. Now, I just hope I can do it.

My goal is to win. It probably won’t happen. But, it could. That’s why we race.

The clock is not actually really my time, just fyi. But, yay! Break the tape!
The clock is not actually really my time, just fyi. But, yay! Break the tape!