2015 and 2016

Most years I generally do some kind of recap of my training and what I did over the previous 365 days. (Here is 2013 and 2014.)

But this last 365 days (or really 367, since it’s already Jan. 2) were a bit much — Steve jokes that if we wrote a Christmas newsletter it’d end with “oh, and Kelly also got her Masters” — and I didn’t really keep a detailed log of my training the whole time, so I can’t tell you how many miles I biked or how many yards I swam. I kept an approximate log in the spring, but it got a little loose after the L.A. Marathon fiasco. And after I handed the reins over to Hillary, I stopped thinking completely (I mean, for me). This, by the way, is my secret, if I have one. Stop thinking, be boring, get faster.

So I don’t really have a lot to say about this year. Or I don’t want to say anything, rather. I’m just going to keep doing what I do.

 

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Instead, here is a list of the books I read this year:

  • The Ten-Year Nap – Meg Wolitzer
  • *Fate and Furies – Lauren Groff
  • *Two Hours: The Quest to Run the Impossible Marathon – Ed Caesar
  • Atonement – Ian McEwan
  • Leaving Before the Rains Come – Alexandra Fuller
  • Funny Girl – Nick Hornby
  • Reamde – Neal Stephenson
  • *The Oyster War – Summer Brennan
  • *Us – David Nicholls
  • Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore – Robin Sloan
  • The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.  – Adelle Waldman
  • One More Thing  – B.J. Novak
  • The Financial Lives of Poets – Jess Walter
  • When to Rob a Bank – Steven Levitt
  • Seige and Storm – Leigh Bardugo
  • Shadow and Bone – Leigh Bardugo
  • *Off Course: Inside the Mad, Muddy World of Obstacle Course Racing – Erin Beresini
  • Man of My Dreams – Curtis Sittenfield
  • *Run – Ann Patchett
  • The Best American Sports Writing 2014

* means I’d definitely recommend it; some of the others I’d also recommend depending on who you are

And I re-read The Hunger Games (because, obvs) and I’m pretty sure some other books, but I don’t remember what. And now I sort of want to re-read all the Harry Potter series (because, why not).

I also wrote stuff, since that’s what I do. Some of it I liked; plenty I didn’t. Here are my favorite things I wrote this year, in case you want to read about sports that aren’t football or baseball:

I also liked a few of my blog posts this year (most of which are about triathlon, hah):

We’re in Tahoe right now, which I find slightly funny (and picturesque, etc), because I’m pretty sure four or five years ago I told Steve, “Of course, I don’t ski. Skiing’s for rich people.” And now I’m the proud owner of hundreds of dollars of ski clothes. (Not that I downhill ski more than once every four years. I am not the biggest fan. But after the last time we were up here and I was wearing Vans with holes in them and multiple sweatshirts as a coat, I insisted that I needed some actual winter clothes.)

This past year involved a lot of traveling places — living in L.A. for part of the year; racing in San Diego and San Luis Obispo and Clemson, South Carolina and Wisconsin; going to Ireland and Vancouver and Seattle and Eugene and pretty much everywhere in Northern California; Ragnar in Utah and family reunion in Florida; and weddings in Phoenix and Boise and L.A. (again) — so you’d think 2016 would be less hectic. But you’re wrong. Plans are already overwhelming. That’s OK, though. I’m just staying the course. The only thing I’m hoping to do differently in the next 363 days is ‘be more me,’ which sounds stupid, but basically means that I want to actually say the things I want to say and do the things I want to do. Which you probably thought I was already doing. So, hah.

‘He Can Be Gotten’: Our Ireland Trip

We got back from our 9 days (10 days? who knows with the time zones, it is not knowable) in Ireland. And I’ve basically spent all week since then trying to rally.

The trip was sort of a blur, but after way too much drinking and not enough training I got really worried about Escape from Alcatraz this upcoming weekend. (I mean, literally, I did not have a day while we were on vacation that I didn’t have at least two drinks and I averaged four or five per day. While in Ireland…) So, last weekend, while we were in Belfast, I got very concerned about this and decided I needed to do something to snap back into gear.

Time for a local 5K with Steve’s cousin!

The 5K was ugly and the super-fatty lamb belly I had the night before, at a hip/trendy Belfast restaurant, btw, where we saw the girl who played Ygritte in Game of Thrones eating next to us, did not sit well while running. But I did not stop for a bathroom break until after I finished and I managed to do the two loops around the park in 20:03ish. We’ll call that a success.

While I was running, spectators kept yelling things and it turns out Ireland is, like, a totally different country and they yell different things than we do. Instead of “You can catch him,” people yelled, “He can be gotten.” Which is, really, just so much more theoretical. Like, they’re not saying you can do it, just that it can be done. And then, since I was pretty far in the lead of the women’s race, someone yelled, “Now, make it a good one!” I like that.

That’s the goal for this weekend now. That, hopefully, when I jump off the boat it’ll all come back to me and I’ll make it a good one.

First, we had an 8-hour layover in London, during which we saw Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, and had Indian food and a beer with Ming. Much better than hanging out in an airport:

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In Dublin, we got a little lost trying to find the visitor’s part of the Guinness factory, but the actual factory was so much more interesting:

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And I learned the right way to pour the beer, even though I don’t even like Guinness:

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Then we caught the train to Galway and a bus to the ferry terminal and a ferry to the Aran Islands off the west coast, which have a total of about 1,000 people on the three islands. But a drunk guy on the bus let us know that, “The big island’s gotten so commercialized. The have a police officer now.”

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As you can tell, it rained a little bit. But when we got up to Belfast I really wanted to see the Giant’s Causeway, which is super crazy. You can’t tell that well in pictures (especially the picture where Kelley and I are doing some kind of candid photo imitation), but those hexagonal rocks are not man-made. Which is insane.

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Don’t you really feel like instead of using this rope bridge for 300 years to harvest salmon, they could have just eaten all the sheep everywhere?

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We also saw the Peace Wall in Belfast, which is very, very much still there and more walls are being built even now. And, Steve’s cousin showed us all the murals, for both sides of the Troubles. Belfast is definitely a safe and up-and-coming city, but the amount of conflict still there is insane.

ireland-13 ireland-14And then we had a 6-hour layover in Philly, which also has a lot of monuments dedicated to fighting the British and gaining independence, but they have a very different tone to them. Almost like the dominant narrative has been established and isn’t still up in the air.

Now, I’m home for about two weeks? Sigh.

Spartan Race Discount, People Are Wrong, and Ireland

1. If you would like to do a Spartan Race, and of course you would, then you can use the code MEMORIAL for $40 off. I’m already signed up for the AT&T Park Stadium Race in San Francisco in July, so I didn’t even get to use the discount code.

2. People often think I’m more worried or stressed than I am about little things, which is really just because I train alone and have a lot of time to think. After you think for a few days too, you’ll just realize I’m right, not worries. People also tend to think I’m angrier than I am. No, I just swear a lot. And it’s not uncommon for people to think I’m not working as hard as I actually am, like oops I just fell into this in between my worried swearing apparently. Basically.

3. We are on our way to Ireland. I do not even have a computer with me. (I am writing this on my phone on the way to the airport.) I’m mostly excited about that part.

4. When people ask what I’m doing now, I just say, “Living my best life.”

Maybe Skiing is My Thing

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This is me looking super serious cross-country skiing. (Actually, it’s after we skied from the trailhead to the downhill resort and were taking a break while we tried to decide where to go.)

I am not bad at cross-country skiing. I am surprisingly good. It may be the first thing in a long time that I’ve been good at and liked right away—probably since I was unexpectedly fast at running my freshman year of high school. This isn’t to say I’m good. I’m just good for having done it only three times now. And, given that we have a lot of cycling and running clothes and aren’t unfit, Steve and I tend to look like we must know what we’re doing—until one of us wipes out. Also, cross-country skiing fun.

If I lived somewhere with snow and trails and could just go every day, I might get actually good. Or, not. The list of things that I’m pretty good at, but then never get much better, is a long list.

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This is basically a Clif bar ad.

I am always fascinated, though, by what we could or might be good at. How do you know what you would be best at? What if you never find it? What if what you think you’re good at is simply a dictate of convenience and circumstance? I grew up without a lot of money in Chicago. Skiing was something rich people did, which is also what I told Steve the first time he wanted to go skiing. From Chicago, you pretty much have to fly to Colorado to be a skier. It was not something I would have ever known I was any good at.

The Australian Institute of Sport developed this series of tests a few years ago to find talent and most accurately direct that talent to the most appropriate sport for them, so that Australia could continue winning lots of medals and stuff. Man, I wish I could take those tests. I wish they had those tests for life too. And, then, that you also could still be like, “Nope, sorry, don’t feel like listening to your test. Just wanted to know. Still going to do this my own way. K, thanks.”

My way better picture of Steve.
My way better picture of Steve.

Something Steve always tells me. And, it’s true. Tonight, I went to swim practice with The Kids, because it was on campus and I was on campus, and we did silly relays for 45 minutes at the end. It was convenient and fun, but ideal training? Yesterday, I ran my hard tempo workout on a treadmill because it was convenient (ugh, rain) and important for my training, but it was incredibly not fun. And, when Justin will ride with me or Ilyce will do hard runs with me, I’m totally willing to drive to get a good workout in. Always two of the three.

Workouts can be convenient, social, or good for your training. Never all three. Pick two.

How Do You Know You Can Finish Ironman?

Yesterday, after being gone for work all day Thursday and Friday and somehow ending up at a beer fest Saturday and being completely painfully exhausted from how much work I’ve been trying to cram in before I disappear on my wedding-Ironman-grad school extravaganza, yesterday, I did my last big hard key workout for IM Canada. (Lots of people keep acting all shocked that my biggest key workout would be four weeks before the race. Um, well, I am going to still work out. This was just the last big 6+ hours put in the bank.)

Steve promised to ride five hours with me, which is sort of a way for me to guarantee that it’ll be hard. Not that I don’t ride hard on my own, but trying to keep up with Steve is another kind of hard. Only he doesn’t have cranks or a chain ring or, I dunno, stuff on his road bike, so he decided to ride the mountain bike while I rode my TT. This is fine. Obviously, he’s faster than me and it sort of just equalizes things by giving him a handicap, so he isn’t constantly asking me if it’s too easy while I’m trying not to throw up. Except, with the wind, it equalized it more than he expected. I was all aerodynamic and tucked and he was sitting up on a mountain bike on Highway 1 out in Tomales. So, it sort of became a contest to see if I could keep the foot on the pedal and make it hurt him.

I was dying the last hour. It was exhausting. But, we finish home on a long false flat downhill through the valley. If you’re tucked and aero, you can really hammer. I put an effort out there just to see if I could drop him. (Which he totally knew I was going to do, btw, because he took the winding downhill into the valley really aggressive just to gap me at the start.)

Basically, we got home after 5:05 and 2350 kilojoules and I just wanted to lay down.

But, it was time to run. I jogged the 17′ over the hill/trail to the valley. And, then did 10 x 1 mile back and forth. It was just supposed to be slightly faster than goal IM pace, which is 8:00. Actually, my real IM goal is just to keep it in the 8’s (sub-9:00 miles) after whenever the blow-up comes. But, 8:00 is the “goal.” So, I was going to do the miles at 7:40-45. This felt really slow and I tried to keep it easy. But, I did them too fast, the first 5-6 in 7:30s, high-7:20. One direction is a false flat downhill, about 140 feet change over the 1.5 miles; the other direction was into the wind and shitty. I was dying. In the middle of the 7th mile, I had a meltdown. I walked. The only reason I started jogging again was to get back to the car and then, when I realized my jogging pace wasn’t that much slower than my goal pace, I slowly picked it back up and ended up doing about 3/4 of a mile in 7:55 pace. I told Steve I was done. (I had convinced him to drive over to the valley to bring me water and gels.) He said instead of doing one mile out and then one back, which was killing me on the shitty back direction, just to go a half-mile out and then come back, get some water at the car, and see how many more I could do.

I did two more in 7:37, 7:48. And, then I laid down by the car and told Steve I was really done. I was so thirsty and tired and done.

Done.
Done.

He said I wasn’t really that far off my goal pace, so I should probably just do the last one. I did. I ran 7:34 in the down direction and then Steve drove me home.

Everything hurt. My arms and legs literally hurt to the touch. Taking a shower hurt. I couldn’t even sleep well last night, because it hurt.

Craig had told me, back at the start of all this, that if I could do this workout 4-6 weeks before Ironman, then I could do Ironman. I clung to that a bit as a guide in this blind training process. And, I did it. Sort of. Which is probably a good summary of how Ironman will go — as in I’m still not 100% sure. And, it actually was all very metaphorical of things we learned about how this race will likely go:

1. Don’t start out too fast at the beginning, even if it feels stupid slow.
2. I will almost definitely have a meltdown (or two) at some point. That doesn’t mean I can’t keep going.
3. When I decide I’m done, I’ll probably need someone to tell me I’m not really done. Maybe multiple times.

Biking in the Wind

That’s not a metaphor. Yesterday, I actually biked 4:40 in really, really strong wind with Steve. Lots of people biked yesterday because it was a weekend in May. And, all these people were talking about the wind on the social medias and in person today. The wind was epic-ly bad.

But, I needed to ride 5 hours hard and I needed to ride long on my TT bike, so we did it anyway.

Biking in really, really strong wind is an interesting experience. If you have a power meter, then you could just go the effort you want to go. It doesn’t have to be harder; just go as hard as you were planning. There’s no reason biking in the wind has to be worse. But it is. It is miserable. You spend so much energy just staying upright and focusing on not crashing and remembering to eat and drink, even though that means you have to let go of your bike with one hand to grab the water bottle and you might get blown over when you do. A lot of work is spent worrying about getting blown over.

I couldn’t even hear Steve as we went through Chileno Valley. The wind was ripping. I rode in the middle of the road — since there were no cars out there — and got blown back and forth. My bike would suddenly jump two feet to the left and then come back. I’d bike at a slant against the wind, and then it’d suddenly change for a second. And, when we crested one of the big hill coming back into the wind, I swear my whole bike came to a stop.

But, we kept going.

And, 4 hours in, Steve decided to take my Garmin computer so he could see how I was doing. And, he decided I should ride “hard’ for 15′ because of the aerobic adaption, etc. It was rough. But, we kept going. Eventually, you get home. Eventually. And, then, I laid down on the couch and didn’t get up.

Biking in the wind.

Cycling is Fun

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Yesterday, I was supposed to ride to Santa Cruz with a bunch of girls, but Friday night I didn’t get home until close to midnight and the hassle of getting up early, getting to the city to meet people, biking down the coast, getting a ride back, probably be annoyed the whole time, just didn’t sound worth it. So, instead, I slept until 10 a.m. (yay!) and rode with Steve. It was definitely not easier.

I possibly made the mistake of telling Steve that I planned to do a 4.5-5 hour “hard” ride, so he wanted to make sure it was hard enough. I tried to emphasize that I really wasn’t worried about him not riding hard enough. But still. The first two hours were not fun. I saw over 200 watts way too many times and was feeling pretty done by the time we got to Chileno Valley, which is only halfway and where the tourists start to just disappear. But, I kept it together. Ish. Togetherish. The last 20-30 minutes were rough for me. Yet, I made it up and over the hill and home. And, then didn’t move much for a long, long time.

Cycling is fun.