Year 2, Week 1: Just Don’t Ask What’s Next

This came in the mail a few weeks ago and I was going to call that week one of year two of being a professional triathlete, but I still wasn’t training and was just doing the waiting to see if I got better thing, which meant sometimes instead of swimming I would end up drinking margaritas and feeling bad about myself, so it didn’t exactly feel like week one of anything.

Only now it’s 2018 and yesterday everyone posted their inspirational well-filtered photo declarations of how this year will be different and better and more. AND. I’m back on an actual training schedule now, albeit a light one. So let’s go ahead and call this week one.

Did you know I trained 640 hours this past year? Even with the fact that the last two months have been minimal at best. That’s a lot of hours.

Generally, I’ve done year in review posts about what I achieved, what I raced, where I went, what I did good and what I did bad. But Dec. 31 is sort of arbitrary. It feels delayed, behind the actual race season we care about. I already looked back at my first year as a pro. It happened. There were some things learned, some successes. The best thing about the year? And this will sound hokey as fuck, but still. I made a lot of friends. I think I only paid for a hotel at one race, because friends put me up and homestays let me crash and teammates gave me their extra bedrooms. I saw the same people over and over, and we went through the same things, and then we saw each other again at the next race. Who knew there really is a community in pro triathlon? At least a little bit. And thank you to Smashfest Queen and Dimond Bikes and Freeplay. This year was the first time I felt like a real sponsored athlete and actually knew the individual people who were behind the companies. It was like they were invested in me as much I was invested in them.

I went to L.A. and San Diego and Arizona and Seattle. Canada, of course, but Victoria and Mont-Tremblant/Montreal this year. I got to go to Costa Rica and visit New York for the first time in well over a decade. I don’t know how much traveling all over Northern California counts, Tahoe and Santa Cruz and Monterey, and wine country is basically every one of my long rides. Then there were a couple weeks in Chicago and Kentucky. Things happened.

My best race: Santa Cruz 70.3
My favorite race: IM Mont-Tremblant
My nuttiest race: Costa Rica 70.3 or maybe the Dipsea
My race I’m pretending didn’t happen: IM Louisville

I made a concerted effort this year to focus on triathlon, which meant a lot of the time I felt like I wasn’t doing as good a job in the other half of my career. Freelancing is defined by cycles of crises, and the cycles came so frequently this year I almost learned to just let them wash over me. But in between, I actually did some work I liked. And a lot of that had to do with finally doing more work in and about triathlon, almost as if I have some sort of expertise in the sport and industry.

People keep asking what my plans are for this upcoming year, what races I’m signed up for, where am I going, what am I doing?

I don’t know. I don’t know because four weeks ago I didn’t even know if I’d be racing at all. I don’t know because even though I’m back to training and starting to half-form plans, I still need to take it day by day. I don’t know because I’m really not *that* Type A.

I’ve gone a month now with no heart issues. I’m back on a training plan. Three weeks ago, it felt like I was exercising and working overtime just to go backwards, to still lose fitness. Now I’m actually starting to see efforts and times I sometimes normally see. I’m signed up for Way Too Cool 50K in March. I’m planning to do it, if everything goes according to plan. It’ll be my first 50K. My first real race back will be Wildflower, though. Everyone is doing Wildflower. It’ll be awesome and the start of my triathlon season. After that? Who knows. I’ll probably do Santa Rosa, possibly some other random stuff in there. I have a vague idea I’m going to race later into December after such a late start to the season, do a half or two down in S. America. I want to do Swimrun, and one of the races that sounds crazy and fun, maybe IM Wales, maybe Challenge Roth, maybe Super League, maybe something else.

No one really knows what’ll happen in the next 365 days, even if they say they do. I’m just being honest about it.

Year 1: What we learned and what we didn’t


So that happened. The first year is over. If you follow any of my social media accounts (or all of them), then you know I DNF’d IM Louisville. If you subscribe to our new triathlon-ish newsletter, then you kind of already read about my thoughts. I don’t know that I have a ton more to say. BTW, I’m doing a weekly triathlon-ish newsletter about triathlon (duh) and endurance sports and whatever I want it to be about. You should subscribe.

I’ve thought a lot about it. I’ve thought so much about it I have nothing left to say about it.

Continue reading “Year 1: What we learned and what we didn’t”

Week 33: See you in a few weeks

I’m not a breaking news reporter. It’s not my thing; I’m not great at it, although I can write fast. So because I haven’t been down in the grit of covering the increasing inundation of tragedies and shootings, I haven’t become as inured to it as some of my friends. But I have worked enough to see it happen more and more, the routine of tragedy become routine.

One of the jobs I do do is I manage a lot of online publishing and social media for different places. There’s this thing you have to do in the wake of a disaster or mass casualty event where you stop and take a “temperature check.” What’s the right tone right now? How bad is this? Should we pause scheduled coverage or change plans, because it’d be insensitive or inappropriate? It’s messed up, but it’s a thing you have to do. And I can tell you the amount of time before things go back to normal has gotten smaller and smaller. There’s even times now where you stop, do a check, and say, ‘Well, this tragedy doesn’t seem to be resonating as much with people.’ Horrific, but true.

I joked earlier this week that my off-season activity was going to be arguing with everyone who’s wrong online. People said all the things they always say in response to this. “Don’t feed the trolls.” “Just ignore it.” “Don’t read the comments.” “It’s not worth it.”

This advice is quaint and nonsensical, as if ignoring terrible ideas makes them disappear or absolves you of the consequences of them. I don’t know if you’ve looked around lately, but all the polite conversation, all the not engaging, all the ‘now isn’t the time’ DOESN’T SEEM TO BE GOING GREAT.

I fundamentally believe we have to talk to each other, even when it’s shitty or uncomfortable. I spend half of my life talking to lots of different people in lots of different places. And then I spend the other half of my time mostly inside my head, training alone. So I’ve had a good amount of time to think about things. And I think part of the problem right now is no one said earlier ‘hey, that’s not a good idea,’ or ‘why don’t we talk about it.’ We ignored and didn’t engage and now everyone’s just screaming at each other or plugging their ears.

I was on Facebook some weeks ago and an acquaintance from college had posted that she was in the car with a friend the other day and the friend had started yelling out the window at a cyclist to get off the road, but thought it was OK since it was a busy road and the cyclist shouldn’t be on it. And, until I said something, everyone on this Facebook thread agreed: cyclists shouldn’t be on the road anyway, it’s for their own safety, why don’t they stick to bike paths. But once I was like, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, that’s a really bad idea,’ all of a sudden all these new people agreed with me and other people actually stopped and thought about it. If I hadn’t said anything, then everyone who saw that thread would have gone away with the belief that screaming out windows at cyclists has unanimous support.

I fundamentally believe this is actually important. That we actually have to stand up for what we think and our experiences and beliefs. That our perception of the world is getting distorted by too many people ignoring the trolls. We start to think there are more trolls than people. But it’s also exhausting. Which is why it was going to be my off-season activity.

And I’m exhausted right now. And I’m still in season. One more big race. Next weekend.

So I’m out until after that. I’m taking a mini-internet break (except minus work, which will be interesting and a bit challenging). But I’m going to be pseudo off the social medias through IM Louisville + hanging out in Kentucky, which I haven’t done since Christmas a few years ago + visiting Chicago.

See you all in a few weeks.

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.

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”