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.

Continue reading “Week 27: Ironman Mont Tremblant “

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”

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.

Done.

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.

Continue reading “Week 24: Then I Got Hit By A Car”

Week 22: Making Luck

You can read all the weekly recaps of living the #prolife.

We all know that almost anything worthwhile, sports, not sports, whatever, can only be achieved through of combination of luck, hard work, and talent. What combination and in what mix is up for debate. (For our purposes here, let’s put ‘systemic inequities that make certain opportunities far less accessible to some people’ under “luck.”)

You can’t really do much worth doing without those three all coming together. And you can’t always control if they do. So you do what you can about the parts you can control. You work hard, you plan and prepare so the odds of an unlucky break go down, and you hope.

Continue reading “Week 22: Making Luck”

Week 20 & 21: Three Stories

I was going to write this amazing essay about California and America and training and balancing injury with always being on the edge of injury anyway. I’ve been writing it in my head the last two weeks while biking and I’ve been spending a lot of time biking, so it was pretty good in my head. But, well, I’ve been spending a lot of time biking. And working. And eventually the math just isn’t there on the number of hours left. So instead, here are three things that happened in the last two weeks:

1. On 4th of July I went for my second long ride in four days. I was exhausted and the ride sucked. Then, as I was almost done, descending back into town and had to be home for an interview in 27 minutes, my back brake caliper came off. God, I was so pissed. I almost started throwing stuff over the side of the bridge I was on: water bottles, phones, keys. But the fastest way to deal with it was to pull myself together and fix it (temporarily), so that’s what I did. And, then, totally true story, as I was rolling home from there, soft-pedaling through town, a bird shit on my arm.

2. Wednesday night I was supposed to be at a show from 8-11:30 p.m. But Tupac the Cat has recently decided his new trick is to go out and refuse to come home for many, many hours. We ended up rescheduling the show for this week and, so, I ended up with three free hours where I had nothing I had to do. Theoretically. Yet, somehow those hours got filled with work due the next day, with fixing up my back-up bike while the Dimond was getting worked on (not as nice as the Dimond but got to make do), and getting things done so I could ride first thing in the morning before we had to leave immediately after I was done. Basically all stuff that had to happen that night. Which raises the question: What was my plan originally? Did I have one?

3. Friday, it was 107 degrees up in Sonoma. I know this because I rode the 60 miles back from Healdsburg. Usually, heat isn’t too bad on the bike and I deal OK with it at this point (though I still hate it), but Friday was a furnace. The wind blowing in your face felt like an oven. I couldn’t literally drink enough water. And then I started to get nauseous and have a bad headache—things that happen when you’re getting heat messed up. Add to that, I was barely turning the pedals over. About 25 minutes from home, struggle slogging through the miserableness, I saw my front tire roll over a rock and go flat. And for maybe five minutes I stood there, in the 3 p.m. heat, trying to decide if I should call someone to come get me, if I was going to die on the side of this road. Then, I got on with fixing the flat, one slow step at a time, and then I got back on the bike, and then I rode home.

This week sucked. It was ugly and rough, and when I can’t physically cram everything in, I get angry. It goes something like: This is stupid, what the hell are we doing, why the fuck am I trying to make this all fit when it won’t fit, am I some kind of goddamn idiot. It sucked.

But I think there’s something Ironman training teaches you—for better and definitely for worse—where you just keep going one step at a time, and there is no plan, because for the love of God you can’t think beyond this immediate step you’re on right now, all you can do is the next thing you need to do and then the next and hopefully eventually it all works out. I mean, if that’s not the underlying principle of Ironman, then I haven’t learned shit in the last two years.

What I Learned Spectating Ironman Arizona

I was going to share a whole list of things I learned while spectating Ironman Arizona — which was actually the first Ironman I’ve ever watched that I wasn’t doing — but there really wasn’t a whole list of things to share.

Spectating is exhausting. The cost-benefit analysis of just doing the damn thing suggests you should just do the damn thing. You’re already awake and there. Continue reading “What I Learned Spectating Ironman Arizona”

8 Weeks to Kona: A Running Diary

UPDATED: Original post – Aug. 12

Tomorrow is 8 weeks to Kona. I know this because 1. people on Facebook keep saying it and 2. it’s a Saturday, so that sort of makes sense.

People ask me a lot of questions about Kona training. Am I ready? (No, duh, I have 8 weeks still.) What’s training with Hillary like? (Hard.) How much do I train? (A normal amount for someone going to Kona.) I must train so much. (Not really.) What is that like? (Hard. Normal.) Am I excited? (Sure. And tired.)

I was reading this amazingly hilarious running diary of the opening Olympics weekend in Rio by a Sports Illustrated writer, and I thought that’s perfect for capturing the flavor of it all. I should do that. I should just do a running diary of these last 8 weeks and it will answer all these questions, which really all come down to one question: No, really, what’s it like?

So, this post will just be a running post from here until Oct. 8. (Just had to look up that date; blissful ignorance is my secret sauce.) I’ll add short notes and thoughts to the top, below this intro, maybe every day, maybe every few days. We’ll see. Maybe I’ll be so tired, it’ll just be a weird jumble of words. Welcome to the journey.

Friday, Oct. 7

2:10 p.m.

It’s time to go, I suppose. I’ve improvised a way to get my number on my bike, packed up all my bags — so many bags — and put the stuff that I need in the places that it needs to be. And, at this point, I guess if it’s not there, then I’ll make do without it.

I don’t know how tomorrow is going to go. I’m not just saying that. I really don’t know. When I do the math on what I can expect, my rough range for a good day is about a 50-minute window. That’s a wide range. And that doesn’t even count if it’s not a good day or if it’s a really really bad day. It’s just really hard to know. You can’t know. I’m alternating wildly between feeling fit and confident, and feeling very worried. There’s so many little things you could fuck up and any one of those little things could be un-recoverable from. I’ve managed to forget all the bad parts from IM Wisconsin, so all I remember now is how it just smoothly floated by. But that’s not really what it was like or what tomorrow will be like.

Last night, at the welcome banquet, Mark Allen was talking about embracing the island. He got all poetic on the topic. Instead of just hoping it’ll be 72 and overcast, with a tailwind all day, he said, you have to lean into the heat and the humidity and the wind and the miserableness. So that’s my goal.

I’m #2126, but you can track by last name too (if you know my last name). And I’ll be handing my twitter over to Steve, though who knows what he’ll tweet.

No matter what, I’m probably going to end up crying, and definitely going to end up drinking. Either way, it’s done tomorrow.

Thursday, Oct. 6

7:10 p.m.

I might be a little emotionally strung out. We’re at the welcome banquet and, literally, everything is making me start to choke up. The odds of me reaching the finish line without sobbing are basically .05%.

9:05 a.m.

Also, I think it’s probably better I missed that.

8:33 a.m.

I slept through the Underpants Run. I needed to get better quickly, obviously. And I do feel somewhat better, but now I just want to sleep all day.

Wednesday, Oct. 5

11:10 p.m.

God, I still feel terrible.

6:43 p.m.

I don’t think throwing up over the side of a boat is good prep for Kona. But that is what I am doing.

I don’t care how cool the lava flowing out of the volcano and into the water is, clearly my body does not like small boats and planes. This, uh, finely tuned machine is finely tuned.

Tuesday, Oct. 4

9:35 p.m.

‘Well, I’m racing on Saturday’ is the universally accepted excuse for why I can’t do shots with you, Mr. Triathlon Legend, even though it’s your birthday. He told me I better do good on Saturday then.

Man, I hope so. I did not not party to suck.

9:05 p.m.

OK, I will go with you to the bar, but I’m just having one more beer. A Bud Light is basically water.

8:44 p.m.

I’m just having one beer with dinner. That’s fine.

8:15 p.m.

Alyssa and Lauren are very concerned that I should be home sleeping.

7:25 p.m.

I’m driving to meet some friends and the DJ on the radio station I’ve been listening to for the last month is telling everyone, “Look, I know it can be frustrating, but we got to show these triathletes the Aloha Spirit. Even if we don’t feel it, they came to our Big Island, so let’s show them what it’s all about.”

So there you go.

5:33 p.m.

The one thing I’ve been stressing about a bunch is heatstroke. And one of the factors in that is the sunburn factor. (As someone who has had heatstroke, I know there’s not much you can really do to stop your body from overheating — other than not going so hard — but you can not do things to make it worse.)

I’ve been going back and forth all week about whether I wanted to buy this skinsuit for the bike, which would cover my back, helping prevent sunburn too early, and ideally be fast. The problems were 1. I had not raced in it, which stresses me out, because you’re not supposed to do too much stuff you haven’t done before, 2. I had never run a whole marathon in a skinsuit, so would probably end up wanting to change in T2 in some capacity, which I have also never done, and 3. I want to be sure to wear some of my team’s stuff (Team Freeplay, yo) during the race, because they’ve been supportive all year.

This has basically been my thing I’ve been angsting about all week, because everyone has something. And then this afternoon I took the plunge. I got the speedsuit. And I’m just going to change in T2. Not 100% sure into what combination of stuff yet. So, you know, I have something left to worry about — which is what I’m doing now.

1:05 p.m.

I decided to go ahead and check-in today, do a walk-through of the expo, and then be done. That way I won’t have to go back there until I drop off my bike on Friday. It was a good choice I think, but I walk in to the ballroom, am directed to a table, and the volunteer asks me, “What’s your bib number?”

Uh, I dunno. Don’t you guys have a list of that?

Solid start.

3:00 a.m.

I keep alternating between being pretty confident about all this — at least in the sense that I’m ready and I can do what I know how to do — and pretty freaked out that I’m going to screw up something stupid and end up with heatstroke. I have had heatstroke. It’s not fun.

Monday, Oct. 3

7:55 a.m.

In a week, I will be on my way home. First time since Aug. 25 or whatever. I had a crazy dream last night that involved me trying to get home with 20 different rental cars and then I got there and Tupac the Cat was like: Fuck you.

Sunday, Oct. 2

4:17 p.m.

Alyssa and Lauren got back to the condo and told me my car had been semi-vandalized and someone had written on the windshield: “Move your fucking car.”

I am now having a very awkward conversation with a very drunk and stoned guy, which primarily consists of me saying, “I’m sorry, I thought this was a public beach” and him saying, “Don’t fucking do that again. You’ve been warned. You’ve overstayed your welcome, fucking move along. Don’t fucking do that shit.”

As far as I can tell, the primary problem seems to be that other people want my parking spot so they can also get very drunk and stoned.

12:43 p.m.

Here’s a secret about Kona: no one is actually doing anything cooler than you are.

8:24 a.m.

Oh my god, my back hurts so bad. And my hip flexors. How am I possibly going to do the rest of an Ironman after swimming this? It is impossible. Everything is impossible.

8:16 a.m.

OK, it’s fine. Fine. Super easy, smooth, except my back hurts.

8:02 a.m.

I take it back. This is the longest swim ever.

7:52 a.m.

This isn’t a bad swim. Maybe the first time I haven’t felt terrible since Wednesday. We’re flopping along looking at fish.

7:16 a.m.

I don’t like getting up early if I don’t have to, but evidently every other person in Kona doesn’t have this problem. We’re meeting teammates at the pier to swim the course (and my condo-mates already went running at 5 a.m.) and it is already swarming with triathletes.

All of whom I’m sure will post photos online.

ONE WEEK TO GO

Continue reading “8 Weeks to Kona: A Running Diary”