Racing with patience

We take a break from the Ironman Lake Placid training for a 1/2 marathon race report…

Saturday was my 7th time running the Drake 1/2 marathon. It is typically cold and rainy, which only adds to the “fun” of the nearly 2000 feet of climbing across the 13.1 miles. This year was different, VERY different!! We had sun, little wind, and perfect running conditions!! IT WAS BEAUTIFUL!!

Before the race, I met up with two of my Coeur sisters. Hugs were the perfect way to start the day!! ❤️

Pre race hugs with my Coeur sisters!!
Coeur sisters and our amazing cheer squad!!

I lined up before the 2:00 pacer and behind the 1:45 pacer. I was hoping to finish around 1:50. Coach Kelly gave me the following race strategy, “Miles 1-4 settle in to the right effort. Miles 5-8 is about patience. Miles 9-10 is about extreme mental toughness. Miles 11-13 final chance to RUN hard! Last 0.1 celebrate!”

Trying to smile through the grit.

During the first 3 miles, I was trying to hold back and not push too hard because I knew that miles 3.5-7 are generally all uphill. I continually reminded myself to be patient through about mile 8. “Be patient. Be patient. Be patient.”

Be patient. Keep your focus. Be patient.

The hills. GAH!! They are relentless. At mile 9, I knew I had another decent size hill to climb, so I put my head down and climbed my way to the top. Stay mentally strong!

Just keep climbing!!

It was at the top of the hill at mile 9, that a spectator said, “No more hills to climb!” I mumbled under my breath, “Yeah right! I know better.” One of the other participants heard me and asked if we were really done with hills…nope…not even close. There are lots of rollers during the last 4 miles of the race.

Just put one foot in front of the other…

At about mile 11 a friend passed me and I was determined to keep her in my view for the last 2 miles. It was a challenge, but she was a good carrot to have. Run hard!!

Keep the focus and finish STRONG!! Last 0.1 mile sprint…errr… celebrate!!

Official finish time: 1:53:13 (8:39 min/mile average pace), 13 of 66 F40-44, 100 of 606 women, and 405 of 1292 overall

Overall, I am happy with my performance for this day. Sure I wish my finish time would have been faster, but I feel I did a much better job of executing this race than my 1/2 marathon a few weeks ago. I was able to generally negative split this run, keep my mental focus, and not walk up the hills (I struggled with that last year). I am pleased with the outcome and my fitness level.

Photo bomb!!
3 cheers for 3 Drake 1/2 marathon finishers!!
Celebrating by riding the Drake Bulldog!!

Let the Ironman Lake Placid training continue…

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Progress, NOT perfection

“Perfection is how you deal with imperfections perfectly.” ~Chrissie Wellington

We have been hammering “progress, not perfection” at home as the Iron Hippie rehabs and we continue to train for Ironman Lake Placid. Life, training, and racing are all learning experiences. They are not something that has to go “perfectly,” so making progress within the process and learning how to deal with imperfections is truly what is important. Focus on the process, not the outcome!

Recently I had a power test on the bike. I am very pleased with my performance. This didn’t happen overnight. It has taken lots of hard work, consistency, determination, grit, and so much more over the years to get to this point.

While the numbers are great and my power + heart rate graphs are pretty, Coach Kelly reminded me how far I’ve come since we started to work together in December of 2016.

“Since Kecia shared this, so will I. This athlete has been making progress each year. When we first started working together in 2016 she was already an experienced Ironman triathlete having had coaches and also having been self coached. However, here’s something I think is notable: Our first power test after a few weeks together (using 5 min/20 min) had her at 181 w 5 min, 161 w 20 min. Now, look at those mid & high 200s. Each year has been consistent with progress in an upward trajectory. Of course there are the normal high and low times along the way. Proof, even with experience you CAN get to levels much higher than you had imagined with dedication, commitment and knowing what it takes. Many will say jumps and breakthroughs are not possible once you’ve been in the sport for a number of years, but that’s simply not exactly true!” ~Coach Kelly

This was exactly the reminder that I needed to keep focusing on progress and don’t worry about perfection! There are ups and downs + twists and turns along any journey. The consistency day in and day out pays off. #showupandempoweryourself

I remember when I was self coaching how excited I was when I achieved an FTP of 177 watts for the first time. I have grown + learned a lot since then, and look forward to growing + learning even more in the coming years!!

“Growth comes at a point of resistance; we learn by pushing ourselves to the outer reaches of our abilities.” ~Josh Waitzkin

What do you do when you are faced with resistance? Do you succumb to the resistance or push yourself to the outer reaches of your abilities? Do you focus on progress or perfection?

Eliminate “just”

Me: “I just have an easy spin for 75 minutes.”
The Iron Hippie: “Don’t say ‘just’.”
Me: “Thanks for the reminder.”

“Just” is a word I want to eliminate from my vocabulary. When using the word “just,” it often sounds as though whatever I’m referring to is unimportant and trivial. While I might “just” have an easy spin on the schedule, this easy spin has a purpose. It is a great way to flush out the legs from a tough session and keep the legs fresh for the next session. It shouldn’t be diminished or belittled.

Sometimes we forget about how far we’ve come and diminish or belittle our successes. Thinking back to when I first started endurance sport, I would head out on an hour ride and work SO HARD to ride 12-14 mph. Now that is an easy ride for me. I struggled to run my first 20K race at a 12:00 min/mile average pace and now I struggle to run that pace for an easy run. I’m SO grateful for this progress!! That progress has happened because of a combination of tough + easy workouts, experience, hard work, determination, guidance from Coach Kelly, support from my tribe, believing in myself, self confidence, and so much more!!

Prefacing my workout with “just” doesn’t set a positive tone and can make others feel as though I am being less supportive of them and where they are in their journey. What might be something simple for one athlete might be a serious challenge for another athlete. What might be a short workout for one athlete might be a long workout for another athlete. What might be a slow pace one athlete might be a fast pace for another athlete. What might be a daunting workout for one athlete might be something another athlete would give anything to do (especially if they are recovering from an injury).

Whether it is “just” an easy spin, “just” a 10 minute run off the bike, “just” one cookie, “just” a short nap, “just, just, just”…”just” has no positive place in my vocabulary and I am going to continue to work really hard to eliminate it permanently from my vocabulary.

What’s up?! – March 2019

March was a turning point. Spring FINALLY showed up, the snow is nearly all melted, a sh!t ton of dog poop has been picked up, I finished my last parent teacher conferences EVER, and I am now just over 2 months away from the end of my last school year teaching. With the end of the school year comes the building excitement of starting my new career and nerves (in a good way) of doing something different for the first time in 16 years. Meanwhile, these are some of the highlights of March…

Training:

I had another SOLID month of training!! I completed 10 minutes of core strength daily + I’m still on the green streak in Training Peaks!! I have not missed one workout so far this year…13 weeks and counting!! BOOM!!

Love you more and SO glad you’re back in the water!!
My graph from my bike ramp test is so pretty!! Thanks Coach Kelly for helping me realize the strength I had didn’t disappear!!
So grateful for spring weather so I could wear the same Coeur Sports “Not Today Cancer” kit for my bike + run! Oh…and super grateful for my favorite girl who loves to run!! #basillovesrunning

Swim: 26,500 yards (15 miles)
Bike: 227 miles
Run: 79.2 miles
Strength: 10 minutes of core daily + various full body strength
Monthly Totals: 42 hours & 32 minutes

#explore:

Explore is my focus word in 2019 and I’m happy to be incorporating it into all areas of my life…including racing!! I ran the St. Paddy’s 1/2 Marathon with the goal of averaging an 8:30 min/mile pace and I am pleased as a Leprechaun finding a pot of gold with my performance!! I had an overall finish time of 1:51:44 (8:32 min/mile average pace)! I finished 2nd out of 20 in F40-44 and 89th out of 341 overall. I am super excited about where 2019 might take me as I continue to #explore and push my limits!!

Double medal race day at the St. Paddy’s 1/2 Marathon where I got 2nd place in my age group!

Listening to:

KonaKamps had me inspired by two AMAZING women!! Maggie Walsh won Ironman Maryland 2018 at her FIRST EVER triathlon!! She didn’t just win her age group, she was the first female to cross the finish line and break the tape!! Reiko Donato won Ironman Chattanooga 2018 for women 60-64 on a VERY special day…her birthday!! That’s right!! She turned 60 years old and won!! Jana Richtrova won Ironman Cozumel 2018 for women 35-39. This will be her 7th time at Kona!! Congratulations to all of these amazing ladies!!

Rich Roll Podcast with Todd Herman On the Alter Ego Effect: Unlocking the Hero Within is a long listen, but has so many useful nuggets in it! Wow! “There’s a big difference between interested and committed.” ~Todd Herman

Find Your Awesome Podcast with Kelsey Abbott had Jessica Broderick on to talk about grief and what one goes through when they lose a part of their identity. Jessica was a pro triathlete who recently retired and explains the grieving process she went through when this part of her identity was removed. “You can be healthy and fit. They are two very different things.” ~Jessica Broderick

Reading:

I strive to have an attitude of gratitude daily, so when I saw the recent blog post by Carrie Cheadle titled How an Attitude-Of-Gratitude Can Also Lead to Better Performance, I knew I had to read it! Gratitude has so many amazing benefits, why wouldn’t people try to be more grateful?!?!

  • “Greater feeling of happiness
  • Improved sleep
  • Boost your immune system
  • Feeling more optimistic
  • Better at handling adversity
  • Increased amount of exercise
  • Experiencing more positive emotions
  • Raises self-confidence
  • Less physical pain
  • More resiliency”

She has some great tips for how to start your own gratitude practice! She recommends “bedtime reflection, a happy jar, and a gratitude journal.” Every night before I go to bed, I write down as many things as I can think of that I’m grateful for from the day. I don’t limit myself to only 3 things and I try to make sure I am not writing down the same things everyday. I also try to take pictures of things that I am grateful for and I look back at these pictures at the end of each month as I compose my “What’s Up?!” monthly blog post. Compiling the “Attitude of Gratitude” section of my blog post each month is a great way to remind myself of all of the amazing things that I have in my life to be thankful for. Taking the pictures also keeps me focused on gratitude daily.

Celebrating:

42!! My birthday fell on a very LONG work day (teach all day + parent teacher conferences all evening), but this being my last parent teacher conferences ever was one of the best birthday presents I could give myself!! I did get to celebrate over the weekend as I consumed loads of sushi + raced the St. Paddy’s 1/2 Marathon!!

Love me some sushi…SO YUMMY!!

Attitude of Gratitude:

So grateful I got to see these two beautiful faces…even if it wasn’t for the happiest reason.
So grateful for girl’s night out playing board games with these beauties!! #needtodothismoreoften
The first time in my 16 years of teaching that I was given flowers from a student.
Love my mama! She’s still the boss even after 42 years!! 🙂
So grateful, blessed, and lucky to have my fave supporting me, encouraging me, and cheering me on in races and life!!
I am so grateful for the sun, bluebird skies, and warm temps for a tank top + shorts while running outside!!
I am grateful for noticing the little things in life…the random heart that the cord of our fan made on the floor by my bike trainer.
I am grateful that the weather is nice enough to rake up all the leaves and play in them with my favorite girl!!
SO grateful my legs and mind were strong allowing me to put together a solid 7 mile run with 1100 feet of climbing!! 🙂
After a tough run (1100 feet of climbing over 7 miles), I was so grateful to find a way to use my Normatec Recovery boots in the car since I had to be there for a few hours post run.
Grateful to meet the Iron Hippie’s parents for lunch!
So grateful that my body and mind are strong and they allow me to run 15 miles after a busy day at work!
So grateful that I got some run love with Robin in the sunshine (even if the temps were cold)! I’ve missed my girl time!

How was your month of March?! What were you grateful for last month?! How can you document them in a meaningful way for you?!

Knowledge is Power

Sorry men, this post is more beneficial for women. While there is some useful information for men, please feel free to skim and share with the female athletes in your life.

As an active woman, it is important to understand how your cycle can both positively and negatively impact your training and race performance. In April of 2018, I decided to use my flexible benefits money and have Inside Tracker analyze my blood and help me optimize my health and performance.

#blooddontlie

The following were areas of concern that needed to be addressed:

  • Cortisol level was in the “High At Risk” category
  • Inflammation Group was in the “High At Risk” category
  • hsCRP Inflammation indicator was in the “High At Risk” category
  • Testosterone Group was in the “Low At Risk” category

Women are NOT small men! We have completely different physiologies. We have a cycle. We were engineered to store fat and birth children. Our hormones impact our mood, training, and life, but are not consistent from day to day. Stacy Sims has done a lot of research on active women and how their cycle impacts health, training, and recovery. I have followed her work for a couple of years now. Ladies, if you haven’t read Roar: How to Match Your Food and Fitness to Your Unique Female Physiology for Optimum Performance, Great Health, and a Strong, Lean Body for Life, you DEFINITELY should!! It is FULL of useful information for women in all stages of your monthly cycle and life. The knowledge within it is so empowering!! After getting my test results back from Inside Tracker in April and reading up on Stacy’s research and advice, I knew I wanted to go off of birth control. Birth control causes high levels of cortisol (stress hormone) in the body, which negatively impacts your health, training, and recovery. The only reason I was on it was to ensure regularity with my cycle because of all of the training I do. So why wait?! Well, I didn’t want to change things up right before racing season last year. With the Kansas City Triathlon in May, a 70.3 in June, Ironman Ohio 70.3 in July, and Ironman Louisville in October, I wanted to wait until after my race in October before making the change.

Two weeks after going off of birth control, I had my blood tested again.

Getting blood work done to learn more about what I can do to improve as an endurance athlete.

These are the results:

  • Cortisol level is in the “OPTIMIZED” range
  • Inflammation Group is in the “Needs Work” category
  • hsCRP Inflammation indicator was in the “Needs Work” category
  • Testosterone Group is in the “Needs Work” category

While I still have areas to improve upon, these are HUGE improvements and I am looking forward to my next test at the end of April to see if further change has occurred. I am no longer in the “At Risk” category for any of the areas tested. Bonus…I haven’t been sick at all since going off of birth control. Not even a hint of the common cold. I am so grateful that I took my health into my own hands, decided to get my blood tested, and made these changes to improve my training, recovery, and overall health.

Knowledge is power! How does knowledge empower you?!

***If you are interested in getting your blood tested with Inside Tracker, save 15% off any test by using this link:
http://insidetracker.refr.cc/keciap

#ShowUpAndEmpowerMyself

“If you choose not to act, you have little chance of success. What’s more, when you choose to act, you’re able to succeed more frequently than you think. How often in life do we avoid doing something because we think we’ll fail? Is failure really worse than doing nothing? And how often might we actually have triumphed if we had just decided to give it a try?” ~Katty Kay and Claire Shipman

2019 has had me on the podium twice so far! Considering I’ve raced twice, I am on a roll! Action = Success! Part of my success stems from belief in myself, my training, and Coach Kelly who has successfully supported and guided me for over 2 years now. Another part comes from consciously making the decision to consistently show up to complete my workouts. When I show up, I empower myself! My crazy dreams aren’t going to make themselves happen. I have to show up and put in the work to get closer to achieving them. I am the only one who can turn my dreams into a reality!

Podium finish is a great way to start 2019!!

While I HAVE been upset with myself for skipping a workout, I’ve NEVER been upset with myself for showing up and completing a workout. It isn’t always easy, but it is always worth it! Since January 1 (really since December 26), I haven’t missed a workout. Things have been adjusted by Coach Kelly as life changes to ensure success, but I’ve only seen green in Training Peaks since the first of the year. Sure, my workouts don’t always go according to the plan, but that doesn’t mean I regret doing them. I learn and grow from them. I become a better athlete and a better person.

By showing up and completing my workouts, I am empowering myself! I am choosing action! I am choosing success!

Double medal race day at the St. Paddy’s 1/2 Marathon where I got 2nd place in my age group!

Keep showing up and empowering yourself!!

Oh Lucky Day!

Saturday I ran the St. Paddy’s 1/2 marathon with the goal of averaging an 8:30 min/mile pace over the course of 13.1 miles. When I hit mile 1, I noticed I was running a bit faster than planned, but I was feeling good and decided to go with it. Sure, I was working hard, but my goal for this year is to #explore and see what I can do, so that is exactly what I did. I knew the later part of the race would be more challenging with fatigue and that gradual climb back to the Capitol building, so I was going to ride the good feeling wave as long as I could. I didn’t negative split my run, but I am very happy with how I performed! This has me super excited for what 2019 has in store for me as I continue to #explore!

1:51:44 Official Finish time (8:32 min/mile average pace)

2nd place out of 20 in F40-44
25th place out of 50 Females
89th place out of 341 total finishers

Let’s get this party started!
2 blocks into the race…
2 blocks into the race…
Coming into the finish
That grimace coming into the finish says it all!
Not my best finisher photo, but you win some and lose some. 😉
I finished strong
So grateful to have my fave supporting me and cheering me on!!
Double medal race day at the St. Paddy’s 1/2 Marathon where I got 2nd place in my age group!