What’s Up?! – May 2016

Wahoo!! I made it to the end of the school year and am looking forward to having my summer off!! This is what I’ve been up to throughout the month of May:

Focus: Mental Gains

#courageovercomfort has gotten me through some really tough workouts this month, but self confidence and believing more in myself has definitely helped with this also! Some of these tough workouts wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t start believing in myself more. I had a great 10K run off of a 56 mile bike where I saw negative splits (where I ran down into the 7 minutes for the last few splits…gains), I had a long 15 mile run the next day with an average pace of 8:30/mile (I was hoping to run a 9:00/mile pace…gains), I put up fantastic times at the Market to Market Relay and Hickory Grove Duathlon…gains (see below). None of this would have happened without gaining self confidence and believing in myself.

Finish: School Year

The students had their last day of school on Friday, May 27. I have two additional days as professional development days on today and tomorrow, but then I will be free to do whatever I want for the whole summer. I’m definitely looking forward to this!

Firsts: Market to Market Relay Iowa and Hickory Grove Duathlon

Market to Market Relay: This was my first relay that I’ve ever participated in and boy was it SUPER fun!! I was really nervous going into it about what the day would be like, if I would enjoy myself, and how well my legs would hold up. I think being an Ironman athlete helped me both mentally and physically today as I ran 3 different times throughout the day. We woke up at 4 am, met the rest of Team #KissOurAsphalt at the middle school at 5:15 for a departure to Jefferson where we would start our 75 mile running relay to Des Moines, and our first runner started running at 7:15 am. I was the third runner, so I had some time before I started running. My first leg was 5.4 miles at an average pace of 7:56/mile. I didn’t feel too taxed with this leg, but boy could I smell and see the smoke that had drifted down from a Minnesota wildfire. My throat was very scratchy, but all I could think was “I hope everyone up north is safe!” as I ran. My second leg was 5.1 miles at an average pace of 8:07/mile. I didn’t smell the smoke as bad on this leg, but we were farther south…I don’t know if that matters or not. I did slow my pace a bit on this leg for just a short time to run with a friend for about 0.3 miles that I caught up to on the trail. It was good to chat with a friendly face, even if it meant running a bit slower than I had been! I was the final runner for our team, which meant running about 3.7 miles and then meeting my team for the last 0.3 miles as we crossed the finish line. I was nervous about this leg because everyone kept telling me how tired and sore my legs would be and that they wouldn’t want to cooperate. I was pleasantly surprised…as a triathlete, I am used to running on tired legs. It felt just like running off the bike after a long/tough workout. My last run totaled 3.95 miles at an average pace of 8:18/mile. This part of the run I was VERY familiar with (having run this part of the trail during MANY other local races) and I usually break down mentally in this area. Thankfully I had a pep talk with myself before I started this leg and I didn’t break down too badly today! Overall, I ran 14.42 miles at an average pace of 8:07/mile. Since I thought I would be running closer to 9:00 miles, I was SUPER happy with my performance on the day!

#courageovercomfort definitely helped me push past some mental barriers today! We arrived back home at about 8 pm, unloaded the car, showered, relaxed for a bit, and then hit the pillow by 9 pm. It was a really long day, but super fun!! Overall, our team finished in 10:26:45 with an average pace of 8:20/mile over the 75.1 miles. We had a LOT of fun and were VERY happy with our overall time and pace!

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Hickory Grove Duathlon: This was my first duathlon I’ve ever participated in and it was SO MUCH FUN!!

In training I have done some run/bike/run training, but had never raced in this format before. Since it was a 0.9 mile run/15.5 mile bike/3.1 mile run, I wanted to go hard and see what I could do. I am pretty pleased with my performance! I raced to 1st in my age group, 2nd overall female, and finished 11th overall. You can find the full race recap here.

#solesistersweat and a podium finish at my first ever duathlon
#solesistersweat and a podium finish at my first ever duathlon

Finding Faster:

As you know, I have been working on my swim. Thanks to the recommendation of my Coeur Teammate Erin, I purchased the Finis Forearm Fulcrums and have just started to use them. I am hoping these help me find my catch again…sooner rather than later 😉

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Fun Reads:

The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins kept me reading. I really wanted to know who “did it.” I was so captivated that I read the whole book in less than a week. I couldn’t put it down!! “Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost. And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?”

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Elite Minds: Creating the Competitive Advantage by Stan Beecham is a must read for those people trying to change their mindset to develop a world-class mind in business or sport. “Most people don’t reach their full potential because of their body, training, or physical talent. It is their mind that is the deterrent. They may or may not consider how their thoughts and beliefs are actually hindering performance. “Elite Minds” gives insight into the process of developing a world-class mind in both business and sport, where the principles of performance are the same, despite the activity. With “Elite Minds,” Dr. Stan Beecham will: Explain that what you believe is the most important thing in the world to you; Show you how fear is keeping you from reaching your goals; Teach you that there is no such thing as individual performance; Demonstrate how successful people value their time more, making them more efficient; Take you through the minds of the elite, who have reached their full potential by tapping into their consciousness and answering the question: Who Am I?”

Stop Using Qualifiers: How to Own Your Strengths by Carrie Cheadle really got me thinking about how I discount my strengths by adding qualifiers to them. She stresses how important it is to be confident (not cocky) when owning your strengths and not undersell them. Own your strengths, be proud of them, and don’t over shadow them by always setting the bar higher and higher. Accept your strengths and successes as being “enough.”

Stop Saying Just! by Janine Kaye, a Witsup.com contributor, had me really thinking about downplaying our accomplishments no matter how big or small by putting the word “just” in front of it. I just ran a 5K. I just raced the bike leg of the triathlon for my team. I just swam in open water for only 20 minutes. We are awesome and we should own it! “Don’t belittle your achievement or success.”

I am currently reading Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth. As an educator and endurance athlete, I am always trying to gain insight on how to intrinsically motivate individuals. “Pioneering psychologist Angela Duckworth shows anyone striving to succeed—be it parents, students, educators, athletes, or business people—that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence she calls “grit.” Among Grit’s most valuable insights:

*Why any effort you make ultimately counts twice toward your goal
*How grit can be learned, regardless of I.Q. or circumstances
*How lifelong interest is triggered
*How much of optimal practice is suffering and how much ecstasy
*Which is better for your child—a warm embrace or high standards
*The magic of the Hard Thing Rule

Winningly personal, insightful, and even life-changing, Grit is a book about what goes through your head when you fall down, and how that—not talent or luck—makes all the difference.”

How was your month of May? Have you tried anything new lately? If so, what was your overall impression of this new endeavor? What new reads have you enjoyed lately?

15 weeks ’til #IMWI: Grit

The theme from last week: GRIT! Grit to push through the last week of school with kids. Grit to get up in the morning and work for my dreams. Grit to push through tough workouts and do my best.

I only have two more days of school to wrap up this school year, but the kids are already done. I will be spending those days cleaning my room, sitting through a few meetings, and then the sweet sound of freedom for 11 weeks.

Monday:

When I woke up at 4 am, I REALLY wanted to roll over and go back to sleep, but dreams don’t come true with my head on the pillow! Grit won! I planted my feet on the floor and went to the gym for an hour strength training session. It ended up being a great way to start the day!

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After work, I met a client for personal training and followed this up with some #bikelove intervals. We are so blessed to have some AMAZING neighbors. During the middle of our intervals, we had a fresh baked loaf of sourdough bread delivered to us. That meant homemade tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner. It was so DELISH!! The perfect meal post #bikelove intervals!!

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Tuesday:

When I woke up at 4 am, it was raining. We had speed work to do while running, so we decided to go to the gym and do this work on the treadmill. This ended up being the perfect decision for this workout! I’m not sure I would have successfully hit the target paces that I did if I were outside on the open roads. Minute ladders for 55 minutes looks like this:

  • 15 minute warm up
  • 1 minute Zone 5/1 minute Zone 2
  • 2 minutes Zone 5/2 minutes Zone 2
  • 3 minutes Zone 5/3 minutes Zone 2
  • 4 minutes Zone 5/4 minutes Zone 2
  • 3 minutes Zone 5/3 minutes Zone 2
  • 2 minutes Zone 5/2 minutes Zone 2
  • 1 minute Zone 5/1 minute Zone 2
  • 8 minute cool down

For the zone 5 intervals, I set the treadmill to a 7:03/mile pace (8.5 speed) and for the zone 2 recovery portions, I set the treadmill to an 8:57/mile pace (6.7 speed). Looking back on this, I think I could have run my zone 5 intervals one or two clicks faster, but I didn’t want to be overzealous and not be able to maintain this pace for every interval of the workout. This was a very challenging workout…much more so mentally than physically. #courageovercomfort

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After a CRAZY day with students, I went to the pool for a 2400 yard swim. I needed to wash away the negativity from the day. Once I got moving, I could definitely tell I was tired from the morning run. I am working to find my catch in the water, so this means lots of #heartandcourage while I #findfaster. After my swim, I had a VERY productive evening…prepping for Wednesday, cleaning produce from our CSA, preparing lunches for the rest of the week, doing laundry, and dishes before bed.

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Wednesday:

When I woke up at 4 am, I really, Really, REALLY wanted to roll over and go back to sleep, but grit won this morning. It took me a bit longer than usual to warm up on the bike and not feel like my head should be on my pillow. Once I got into the working set, I finally felt wide awake…the incredibly loud thunder and bright sky from the lightening could have had something to do with it as well. With storms in the area capable of producing hail, we left the car in the garage, which meant cramped quarters while riding. I’m so glad I got up and worked to make my dreams become a reality instead of allowing myself to stay with my dreams while my head was on the pillow. #workforitwednesday

I did some more laundry and vacuumed the house before heading out the door to work.

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After another CRAZY day with students, I went back to the pool for 2300 yards of #swimlove. I was tired, but thankfully I had a much better swim than Tuesday. I’m not sure my form was any better, but I did #findfaster in the water!! I had fun in the water, while washing away the negativity from the week.

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Thursday:

Thursday’s we typically sleep in and this week was one of those days. It felt really good to sleep in and rest…10 hours of sleep = happy body. After a full day of work, I ran an errand on my home. Our evening consisted of a 1 hour trainer ride in the driveway on a very warm day, 45 minutes of TRX class, and gearing up for my last day of school with students.

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Friday:

We slept in again this morning!! The last day of school is always a fun day for the students and we did our best to make it a fun day for the teachers as well. I challenged our principal to a race through the obstacle course inflatable. We had fun, but both got hurt in the process. Thankfully nothing too serious.

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Cue song: “School’s Out For Summer”…well, not quite. I still have 2 professional development days, but no more students until August! After work, I went to the pool to swim and wash away all of the stress from the school year. This was definitely my best swim of the week. I’m certain my form wasn’t much better, but my stroke felt more effortless than it has felt all week. I followed this up with a massage, grocery shopping for the coming week on my way home, and trying to help the Iron Hippie figure out how to get our hot water heater working. Unfortunately the hot water heater went kaput and we can’t get it replaced until Tuesday. I guess that means boiling water to wash dishes and driving to the gym to shower this weekend.

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Saturday:

With the rainy early morning forecast, we decided to start our long run at 8 am. This meant we could sleep in! As we set out on our run, I knew it was going to be a challenging run…Holy Humidity Batman! With only one mile under our feet, I already had massive amounts of sweat running off of me! My goal was to start off easy, eventually pick up the pace, and finish with an overall average pace of 9:00/mile for 2 hours of run time. By the end of the run, I had sweat enough to look as though I had gone swimming instead of running. I had completely saturated my shoes…to the point that with every footfall, I could feel and hear the sweat squish in them. Gross 😉 I was grateful that my body held up during this humid run and was able to maintain an average pace of 8:55/mile for the entire 2 hours.

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After refueling and changing clothes, we went to the gym for 30 minutes of core work and a hot shower. Since we don’t have a working hot water heater, and we had sweat enough to fill a kiddy pool, it was essential we take a hot shower! After spending about an hour at the gym, we came home, vacuumed the house, did some laundry, washed dishes (heating water on the stove to do dishes makes me feel like I live in the caveman era), got ourselves and bikes ready for a long brick tomorrow, and had a snack.

"Mom, I just want to try a piece, or all of the pieces, of your pineapple." ~Basil
“Mom, I just want to try a piece, or all of the pieces, of your pineapple.” ~Basil

I spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening relaxing in my compression gear while I blogged, planned out the coming week, and reflected on last week.

Sunday:

We woke up at 6 am so that we could be wheels on by 7:15 am for our long brick. We had a hilly century ride planned with a 30 minute run off the bike. We got through the first 2 hours on our own and then Allen got a ride out to met up with us and ride with us for the next 40 miles. The last 30 miles were again on our own with the open roads. I was pleasantly surprised with the traffic. Almost everyone who passed us did so by going into the left lane, most waited until they were win a passing zone (although some didn’t), and some even honked from a long ways back letting us know they were approaching. If any of you who passed us are reading this, THANK YOU for safely passing us, respecting our choice to be on the open roads, and “passing us like you love us.” We ended up with 103 miles as we rolled into the driveway on a great day! We transitioned into running gear and set out for our 30 minute run. The first 0.5 miles my legs were screaming at me…”What the hell are you doing to me?!” But then I got into a great groove and found myself cruising. The last 4 minutes of the run, I had to really convince myself that I wasn’t as hungry as my belly and body were telling me I was.

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103 miles of #bikelove on a BEAUTIFUL day!
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30 minute run at an 8:39/mile average pace off of a century ride…I’ll take that!!

We devoured all the food we could find, went to the gym to shower, cleaned and sliced 8 pounds of fresh strawberries (I probably ate a whole pound by myself while I was cleaning them), and then went to our friends’ house for dinner. Great company + awesome grilled food = PERFECT!! We capped off the night with some homemade dessert and blood donating (the mosquitoes were obnoxious) in our neighbors’ back patio.

Weekly Totals: 18 hours & 24 minutes

Swim: 6800 yards
Bike: 157 miles
Run: 23.5 miles
Strength Training: 2 hours & 15 minutes

Quote of the Week:

“Your dreams are on the other side of your grit!” ~Unknown

Sole Sisters Rock the Du

Sunday morning I was blessed and lucky to get to race our first ever duathlon along side my sole sister! She inspires me, believes in me, and encourages me to be the best version of myself everyday! I am forever grateful that our paths crossed and can’t imagine my life without her in it!

A 4 am wake up allowed me plenty of time to make the breakfast of champions (cream of rice with raspberries and Pure Clean Beet Powder and a Karma Kombucha), pack up the last of my race day essentials, load up the car, and be ready to leave by 5 am. The Iron Hippie was volunteering, so he rode with us to the race venue.

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Breakfast of Champions!

Once we arrived to the race, I could tell Tonja’s nerves were really starting to kick in. While she has participated in every running distance from 5K to Marathon, she has never participated in a duathlon or triathlon and had no idea what to expect. Heck, she has only been on her bike once this year, and it was last Wednesday morning before our race. I kept reminding her that there was nothing to be nervous about…we were there to have fun! We unloaded the car, got her race packet, set up transition and then relaxed in the car to warm our toes until race start.

Matching tats and socks...T must be my #solesista
Matching tats and socks…Tonja must be my #solesista
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Bikes are racked and we are ready to race!

At about 7:30, we decided to check our transition one more time, hit the kybos, and ventured to the start for the pre-race announcements. Tonja was REALLY nervous by this point, but I knew once we got going the nerves would subside. We decided we were going to run the first 0.9 miles together and exit transition together. My role was to prevent her from going out too fast on the first run. She was going to try to keep me in view on the bike, but we both decided to race our own race once out on the bike. As we lined up at the start, we gave each other a hug, a few encouraging words, and we were off.

Lined up and ready to start! Thanks to the Iron Hippie for all of the photos throughout the day!
Lined up and ready to start! Thanks to the Iron Hippie for all of the photos throughout the day!

The first 0.9 miles were on cinder trail, grass, and dirt. Not ideal footing, but we ran side by side and I occasionally reminded T to hold back on this run to set ourselves up for a solid bike and another run. We ran out about 0.45 miles, ran around a cone, and then ran back to transition. Run time = 7:47 (8:39/mile average pace)

T1 time = 1:42

The bike course is 15.5 miles that consists of 3 loops of just over 5 miles each. Once we passed the mount line, we took off! Tonja and I separated pretty quickly, but that is only because I have a LOT more experience on the bike. During the first loop, I went hard, but my main focus was to figure out the bike loop. I learned where the hills were, where the Iron Hippie was cheering/volunteering, where the out and back was (cheering Tonja on as we passed each other…she was doing great!), where we go onto the 2nd/3rd loops or return to transition, where I could drink, where I had to be careful on a turn, etc. On lap 1 at the out and back section, I counted the ladies doing the duathlon that were in front of me (there was also a triathlon and aqua/bike race going on at the same time)…there were only 2 ladies in front of me! #courageovercomfort The 2nd and 3rd loops were so much more fun and I pushed myself even harder on these loops. Now that I knew what to expect, it was time to put the hammer down. #courageovercomfort #courageovercomfort #courageovercomfort was repeated over and over and over in my head while I raced. By lap 2, I could see the 2nd place lady in front of me. #courageovercomfort As we started the 3rd lap, I passed the 2nd place lady and made my way comfortably into 2nd place. Thankfully there wasn’t much wind on the ride, but I knew that wouldn’t be good on the run since the sun was out and the day was heating up rather nicely. Bike time = 50:19 (18.5 mph average speed)

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Thanks to the Iron Hippie for taking pics while I was riding!!

T2 time = 54 seconds

As I exited T2, the 3rd place lady (the one that I had just passed) had just come into transition. I told that she had a nice bike leg and thanked her for pushing me to work really hard on the bike. The last run was a 5K run (3.1 miles) and I was right…it had heated up quite nicely. The first mile was mostly on cinder trail, grass and dirt and went the same direction as the first run that we started the duathlon with. There was an aid station at mile 1, which is where we exited the grassy area and started running on the roads…straight up hill. It was at this point that I was passed by another lady participating in the duathlon. I told her she was doing awesome and to keep working hard as she passed. I knew I was now in 3rd place, but this only made me work harder. #courageovercomfort I could see the first place duathlon lady and knew that I could catch her. My goal was to catch her by mile 2, which is where the Iron Hippie was volunteering. I ended up catching her at about mile 1.5. I told her she was doing great and that it was super hard to catch her! I encouraged her to keep going hard and finish strong! When I saw the Iron Hippie just past the 2 mile mark, he told me I was 40 seconds behind the 1st place female and to give it all I had. Little did he know I was already pushing as hard as I could. At this point, we were back in a grassy area with some cinder trails all the way to the finish line. There was VERY LITTLE shade, it was hot, and I was giving it EVERYTHING I had. #courageovercomfort I was so happy to finally see the finish line!! Run time = 26:48 (8:39/mile average pace)…I guess you can say that I was consistent 😉

Overall Finish: 1:27:29
1st Place Age Group
2nd Place Female Overall
11th Place Overall

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These lovely ladies made me work for this AG win!!
#solesistersweat and a podium finish at my first ever duathlon
Tonja got 2nd place in her age group at her first ever duathlon!! So proud of her!!

This race challenged me in many ways, but was also very fun!! I consider anytime I get to run and bike while racing and encouraging others a win!!

17 weeks ’til #IMWI: vacation day + race simulation weekend

The highlights of this week included using a vacation day on Friday + 70.3 race simulation weekend. We are currently 5 weeks out from Milkman Triathlon, which is our 70.3 race this year, so we threw a race simulation weekend in the mix this week to test our current fitness.

Monday:

When the alarm clock went off at 4 am, I planted my feet on the floor and went to the gym for 1 hour of strength training. I followed this up with a full day of work, meeting a personal training client for an hour after work, and then getting on the bike for 75 minutes of sweaty ladder intervals.

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Tuesday:

Today was a rest day, so we slept in until 6 am! After a full day of work, I was exhausted! I didn’t want to talk to anyone, or be around anyone, so I came home and isolated myself to the bedroom with my book. It was lights out at 7 pm, which was exactly what I needed.

Wednesday:

Another 4 am alarm meant hopping on the saddle at 4:30 am for 90 minutes of sweaty high speed/high power intervals. It was the perfect start to my day! After a full day of work, I went straight to the pool for 2500 yards of swimming. I was SO excited to see our friend Leisa at the pool. She is such an inspiration!! She is paralyzed from the waist down, but swims religiously. She used to do triathlons before she became paralyzed, so I asked her if she was interested in doing a sprint triathlon this summer as a team with the Iron Hippie and me. She would be the swim leg and we would decide who will bike and who will run. She was SO excited!! I can’t wait to make this happen 🙂

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Thursday:

Hello 4 am!! I LOVE running hill repeats…I LOVE them even more on a beautiful morning when I get to see the sun come up during my run!! It was such a BEAUTIFUL morning for some serious #runlove!! Today’s work schedule was a bit different…I didn’t have kids, but instead had a teacher work day. It was nice to get some grading done, lessons planned for the last 10 days of school (yes…I’m almost down to single digits with students for the year), and lab equipment put away. After work, I met a personal training client for an hour, hopped on the saddle for an easy hour to spin out the legs, and then went to teach TRX. Thursdays are always my busy day, but with only one more day in the week, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel 😉 I was a VERY lucky girl to have my new Coeur Sports Graffiti Kit arrive in the mail today!! This is by far my favorite design from them yet!!

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Friday:

I had a vacation day to use, or I would lose it, so I took the day off today. I left home at 7 am and went to Ankeny (~30 minutes south) for the morning. With a 4700 yard swim, I decided to swim somewhere new, so I went to the Ankeny YMCA. It is such a great facility…MUCH better than the fitness center we have in Ames. I really wish we had a YMCA or other option in Ames for swimming, but it just isn’t the case right now. Only 2 more weeks and the outdoor pool will be open for the summer…I can’t wait to swim in the 50 meter pool all summer long! I had a really good swim, although I’m sure my form was probably still a mess. I only focused on keeping my nose to the bottom of the pool and didn’t worry about any of the other form issues I am to be working on. This made the swim so much more enjoyable!! After my swim, I went to Kyle’s Bikes for some minor adjustments to my saddle, a new chain, new handle bar tape…thank you Coeur Sports for the AWESOME tape, and a new bracket on my X-Lab. After I arrived back home, I did a few house chores, took an Epsom salt bath, and then got a massage. Nick spent the whole hour just on my legs…he wasn’t very nice, but that’s why I pay him 😉 I was lucky to have a visit from our former neighbors after my massage. The kids miss our dogs and came over for about an hour to play. It was great to see them and catch up!! It was an early to bed to recover with sleep as much as possible.

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Saturday:

I was really excited to see how my body would hold up with today’s workout. Lucky for us (insert sarcasm), Mother Nature decided that we should experience wind chills of 32F this morning, so our 56 mile bike ride was done on the trainer. With the amount of time we were on the saddle, this was probably closer to 65 outdoor miles, but we knocked out the 56 miles and then went for a 10K run off the bike. This brick was to be a race day simulation workout, but that is hard to really do on the trainer. I was very happy with my time for my 56 mile ride, but I was SUPER pumped about my run performance!! My run was AWESOME!! Negative splits 🙂

Mile 1 = 9:25/mile
Mile 2 = 9:01/mile
Mile 3 = 8:36/mile
Mile 4 = 8:26/mile
Mile 5 = 8:01/mile
Mile 6 = 7:46/mile
Last 0.2 = 7:20/mile

It has been a LONG time since I’ve been able to maintain a 7:46/mile pace at the end of 6 miles. The best part…I felt that I could have kept going and gotten a bit faster yet!! I tapped into a LOT of #heartandcourage on this workout and thought of all those AMAZING and INSPIRING athletes racing Ironman Texas in very wild conditions!! After eating everything in sight, taking an Epsom salt bath/shower, and regrouping, it was time to take the dogs to the doggie wash for a bath. After their bath, I did lots of laundry, cleaned house, and did some yard work before relaxing for the evening.

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Sunday:

Time to test the legs and see what is left…a 15 mile run at race pace was on the calendar. After yesterday’s near perfect execution, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about how my legs would hold up for this workout. I was hoping to have an average pace of 9:00/mile. Considering I’ve been running slower the last few years, I thought this pace for 15 miles would really challenge me. As we started, I could feel the fatigue in my legs and got most of the bugs worked out of them within the first couple of miles. I just ran on feel and tried not to look at my Garmin too much along the way. We did an 11 mile loop with Basil…that girl LOVES to run! We ran back to the house and left her at home for the last 4 miles since it was starting to warm up a bit with the sun shining on us and very little wind. Basil wasn’t happy about it, but sometimes we have to do what is best for our fur kids 🙂 Getting started again after was a bit of a struggle, but we eased back into it and soon found our groove. We were really working hard this entire run and I kept thinking #courageovercomfort to myself!! It also helped that I was wearing my new Coeur Sports Graffiti design kit that was covered with #heartandcourage all over it!! was SO pleased to see that I had underestimated myself by setting that 9:00/mile average pace! After eating all the food we could find/make, we went to the pool for an EASY 2100 yard swim. It felt so good to stretch out and swim easy…not focusing on the clock or my form…just having fun!! It was time for my Epsom salt bath (#3 for the week), more laundry (I swear this is NEVER ending at our house!), dinner, getting ready for the coming week, and time to write this blog post.

My average pace for 15 miles was 8:30/mile...THANK YOU LEGS!!
My average pace for 15 miles was 8:30/mile…THANK YOU LEGS!!
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Nap time!! We could learn a LOT from our dogs about having fun, playing hard, and recovering harder!!
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Keeping things fun in the pool after our recovery swim.

Thoughts on the race simulation weekend:

  • The 4700 yard swim was a LONG swim, but I felt like I had a pretty decent pace (especially without having improved my form much).
  • I am bummed I had to ride the 56 miles on the trainer, but it helped me build mental strength!!
  • I am elated with the negative split 10K run off the bike on Saturday!!
  • I am SUPER pumped to see that my legs can hold onto a faster pace than I though possible on the 15 mile run!!

Weekly Totals: 17 hours & 27 minutes

Swim: 9300 yards
Bike: 110 miles
Run: 30.9 miles
Strength Training: 2 hours & 15 minutes

Quote of the Week:

“You can choose courage or you can choose comfort, but you cannot have both.” ~Brene Brown

18 weeks ’til #IMWI: Trying New Things

The theme of this week is definitely trying new things…working on a new swim stroke and running my first relay (75 miles). The new swim stroke is going to take lots and lots of practice to get ingrained in me, but the relay was super fun!

Monday:

At 4 am my feet hit the floor and I was ready to rock-and-roll! I was off to the gym for a 60 minute full body strength training session. Monday morning strength training sessions are a great way to start my day and my week! I always feel so much more invigorated afterwards! After a full day of work, I met with a personal training client before heading home for 75 minutes of #bikelove intervals. I capped this off with dinner, a shower, and prepping for Tuesday.

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Tuesday:

We intentionally slept in this morning because I new I had an early morning work commitment. I was actually upset to find out that the meeting I was supposed to have got cancelled, so we could have gotten up for a morning workout after all…SIGH. After a full day of work, I went to the pool for 2800 yards of swimming. I was REALLY trying to work on my new swimming form (if you missed my update on correcting my swim stroke, you can read more about it here), but I’m not sure that I was really making progress. After swimming, I ran a couple of errands before heading home to meet my sister. She visited us for the night since she had a conference nearby Wednesday morning. We ate dinner, went for a walk, prepped the vegetables from our CSA that I picked up, and prepared for Wednesday before bedtime.

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Wednesday:

The 4 am alarm clock came sooner than usual since I was up later than usual with my sister last night. I hopped on the trainer and after the first 30 minutes it was time to climb some hills. This is where I began to sweat puddles…EVERYWHERE! I was definitely awake now…just in time for a full day of work 🙂 After work, I headed back to the pool to work on my swim stroke some more. I figured out a way to get my fingertips down toward the bottom of the pool, but I still have work to do with the catch and my head position. After swimming, I ran a couple of errands and then went home to clean house and start preparing for the coming weekend…did I mention we are running our first relay on Saturday?! This requires some planning as we will need food and hydration for the day, as well as change of clothes and different running apparel options. Since there is a chance of storms on Saturday, that requires even more clothing options! Lots of things to think about and prepare for!

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Thursday:

Another 4 am alarm clock to get us up and running! We met a friend on campus and had a really good run. It was a beautiful morning, with lots of rabbits, birds, squirrels, and raccoons for Basil to chase. She was in doggie heaven 😉 After a full day of work, I met with a personal training client, rode an easy 60 minutes on the trainer, and then taught TRX before I was able to eat dinner, shower, and continue to prepare for this weekend’s relay.

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Friday:

Today was a rest day, and after many nights of less than 8 hours of sleep this week (have I mentioned I don’t function well on less than 8 hours of sleep?!), it felt really good to sleep in!! After a full day of work, I had an EXTREMELY busy evening. I went straight home, met the Iron Hippie and caravanned to downtown Des Moines (~45 miles) to drop a car off at the finish area of our relay. We drove back just in time to encounter rush hour traffic…grrr. I dropped the Iron Hippie off at home, quickly changed clothes and went back to school to chaperone the 8th grade dance. When I got home at 8:15, I finished getting my gear and food together for tomorrow before letting my head hit the pillow.

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Saturday:

Hello 4 am! You have been popular this week! We met the rest of Team #KissOurAsphalt at the middle school at 5:15 for a departure to Jefferson where we would start our 75 mile running relay to Des Moines. This was my first relay that I’ve ever participated in and boy was it SUPER fun!! I was really nervous going into it about what the day would be like, if I would enjoy myself, and how well my legs would hold up. I think being an Ironman athlete helped me both mentally and physically today as I ran 3 different times throughout the day. My first leg was 5.4 miles at an average pace of 7:56/mile. I didn’t feel too taxed with this leg, but boy could I smell and see the smoke that had drifted down from a Minnesota wildfire. My throat was very scratchy, but all I could think was “I hope everyone up north is safe!” as I ran. My second leg was 5.1 miles at an average pace of 8:07/mile. I didn’t smell the smoke as bad on this leg, but we were farther south…I don’t know if that matters or not. I did slow my pace a bit on this leg for just a short time to run with a friend for about 0.3 miles that I caught up to on the trail. It was good to chat with a friendly face, even if it meant running a bit slower than I had been! I was the final runner for our team, which meant running about 3.7 miles and then meeting my team for the last 0.3 miles as we crossed the finish line. I was nervous about this leg because everyone kept telling me how tired and sore my legs would be and that they wouldn’t want to cooperate. I was pleasantly surprised…as a triathlete, I am used to running on tired legs. It felt just like running off the bike after a long/tough workout. My last run totaled 3.95 miles at an average pace of 8:18/mile. This part of the run I was VERY familiar with (having run this part of the trail during MANY other local races) and I usually break down mentally in this area. Thankfully I had a pep talk with myself before I started this leg and I didn’t break down too badly today! Overall, I ran 14.42 miles at an average pace of 8:07/mile. Since I thought I would be running closer to 9:00 miles, I was SUPER happy with my performance on the day! #courageovercomfort definitely helped me push past some mental barriers today! We arrived back home at about 8 pm, unloaded the car, showered, relaxed for a bit, and then hit the pillow by 9 pm.

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Car decorating at o’dark 30!
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Who’s ready to run?! Team #KissOurAsphalt is!!
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The women of our team!
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Smoke alert from the wildfires up north.
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Hand off #1 for me to Robin!
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Hand off #2 to Robin…I didn’t kiss it, but I slapped it 😉
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We finished in 10:26:45 with an 8:20 average pace on the day! Pretty pumped about that 🙂

Sunday:

After sleeping in on Sunday morning and eating a big breakfast, I ran to the grocery store while the Iron Hippie went to a friend’s house and cut rhubarb for us. After getting all of the groceries put away, I wanted to ride my bike. I was too lazy to change the tire since I have a trainer tire on and knew I would be putting it back on for riding this week, so I rode the trainer in the backyard for 3 hours. The dogs chewed on their bones and sticks from the wood pile while I rode. They had a blast! FroYo was the perfect evening treat before bed 🙂

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Weekly Totals: 13 hours & 47 minutes

Swim: 5600 yards
Bike: 98.6 miles
Run: 21.7 miles
Strength Training: 1 hour & 45 minutes

Quote of the Week:

“Don’t run away from a challenge. Instead run toward it cause the only way to escape fear is to trample it beneath your feet.” ~Nadia Comaneci

“It is time to make you a swimmer”

Sunday, April 10 I had a swim analysis with Coach Hansen. I learned that I had lost my “catch” and I wasn’t pushing water to the back wall, I was instead pushing it to the bottom of the pool. I was creating more resistance and making it more challenging for myself to move forward, but was doing a great job of moving myself up toward the water’s surface…GRRR!!

Swim Analysis

After changing up some things and seeing some slight improvements in my time per 50 yards, I made the comment, “I’ve never been a fast swimmer; just consistent. No matter how hard I try, I almost always swim 1:50/100 yards.” BAD MISTAKE!!

Coach Hansen immediately responded with, “Well, then it is time to make you a swimmer.” What does that mean?! It means there are no more “easy” swim workouts. It means that every swim I do, I should be pushing my limits and trying to get faster and more efficient at the same time. It means that I’m dying at the end of my 25s, 50s, 100s, and 200s. It means that I’m working REALLY hard. It means that it is tough. It means it is uncomfortable.

It means I need to overcome a mental hurdle and start believing in myself in the pool. I CAN get faster in the water. I WILL get faster in the water. It will be uncomfortable and it may hurt, but it will be worth it! After all, I GET to go swim! I GET to do what I LOVE! I GET to race triathlon!

Fast forward to my swim on Wednesday, April 13th…

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After finishing the 8x50s on the minute, I was so hungry! I got out of the pool, grabbed my Barnanas and sat on the edge of the pool eating and crying in my goggles. After consuming some calories, I got back in the pool and finished my workout. It was TOUGH! It was CHALLENGING! I was working SO HARD! I was supposed to see faster times…I didn’t. I was supposed to feel like I wasn’t working as hard…I didn’t. I was supposed to be working on my form…I forgot about it.

My arms were SO tired on Thursday! I was so frustrated that I spent all of my free time (which wasn’t much) watching videos of Michael Phelps and hoping for osmosis to allow his swim form to seep into my body.

Friday morning I decided to give myself a break and not focus on times while swimming. It was the perfect decision! This swim still wasn’t easy (my arms were still tired from Wednesday), but I felt much more relaxed in the pool and actually enjoyed my swim!

Fast forward again to Tuesday, April 19th…

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I repeated the 2800 yard swim of 150s, 50s, and 25s at 5 am and talked to myself. I said, “I am Michael Phelps” over and over and over again throughout this swim. I did see slightly faster times, and didn’t feel like I was working nearly as hard as I did last week on this swim, but I still am not seeing the times that I was hoping for, and I’m sure my form was not getting better. The good thing about this swim…I didn’t cry in my goggles this time 🙂

My swimming continued to be on and off for the next week. Some days were better than others, but I always focused on #courageovercomfort because eventually this uncomfortableness in the water has to become comfortable and eventually I will #findfaster!

Fast forward to Sunday, May 1…

We had another swim analysis with Coach Hansen. This time, he took underwater video of our swim form, analyzed it and gave us specific things to focus on for the next week or two before we meet again. Things for me to focus on include:

  • Push my nose to the floor of the pool to bring my butt up/bring my chin toward my chest
  • Fingertips down and elbow bent throughout the catch and pull (do not let elbow drop and fingertips point to the ceiling…grrr)
  • Push water to the back wall, not my hip
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I have no catch, my hand is higher than my elbow, and my chin needs to be closer to my chest.

Fast forward to Wednesday, May 4…

I found a trick to get my fingertips pointing down toward the bottom of the pool, but I still have to get my elbow high, reach forward, and get my chin tucked back toward my chest. I looped a hair tie around my wrist and middle finger on each hand to pull my fingertips toward my wrists. It seemed to work based on the videos and pictures we took. As for the reach, I feel like when I reach my arm forward this is when my elbow drops and my fingertips point up (as shown above). This may not be the case, but that is how it feels. I also found a way to get my chin closer to my chest, but didn’t seem to be doing it here:

REACH!! LOOK DOWN!!!
REACH!!! LOOK DOWN/BACK!!! ELBOW UP!!!

Changing up my swim stroke is hard. It is tough. It is uncomfortable. It is difficult to know if the changes that I feel I am making are actually changing anything at all. I guess I’ll have to wait until we meet with Coach Hansen again next week! Until then, it is time to get comfortable with the uncomfortable and focus on #courageovercomfort in the water to #findfaster!

What tips do you have for me to remember to keep my nose to the floor, keep my arm in the “catch” position (elbow high/fingertips down), and push the water to the back wall?

20 weeks ’til #IMWI: Bouncing Back

This week’s theme is Bouncing Back…just like Tigger! I finally feel like I have my mojo back and am on cruise control in the right direction. The warmer temperatures and sunshine are definitely helping 🙂

Monday:

The 4 am alarm clock went off, feet planted to the floor, and off we went to the gym for 1 hour of strength training. With it being Boston Marathon Monday, I was very motivated to get out the door and workout while reminiscing my 2010 Boston Marathon experience! After a full day of work, I met with a personal training client, and then had an easy hour recovery ride before getting ready for the rest of my week. When I arrived home today, we had the *joy* of having our street torn up, so we have to park a block away and *commute* to our vehicles this week.

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Tuesday:

The day started with a 4:30 am alarm clock followed by the 2800 yard swim workout from last week that had me crying in my goggles. This week it went SO much better! I kept telling myself “I am Michael Phelps” over and over again. I’m not sure my form was ANYWHERE close to Michael Phelps, but it sure felt much better than last week! #courageovercomfort After work, I went and picked up our CSA from a local producer and then we went out for an evening run. I really struggled with this run for the first 15 minutes. Once I started to do the interval work, I immediately started to think of all those people I know who can’t run and reminded myself that I *get* to run. I started running for them. This run ended up being one of the best runs I’ve had in a long time!

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“I am Michael Phelps!”
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CSA produce is a sure sign of spring!
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#heartandcourage

Wednesday:

After a 4 am alarm clock, we hopped on the bikes in the garage for a 90 minute sweat session before work. I looked like the bag lady carrying All. The. Bags. Down the block to my car. I had my purse, lunch pail, backpack, shower caddy, and swim bag. After work, it was back to the pool for 2600 yards of more #swimlove in a cold pool! Loved the temperature, even though most of the kids in swim lessons had blue lips!

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Thursday:

6 am alarm clock meant 10 hours of sleep! It felt GLORIOUS! After a full day of work, I had an eye brow wax and then we rode for an easy hour on the bike before teaching TRX at 6:15 pm.

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Friday:

Another sleep in day, which meant 9 more hours of sleep! YIPPEE!! After work, it was an easy recovery swim, followed by running a couple of errands and doing our grocery shopping for the week…NEVER go to the grocery store right after swimming without a grocery list! While everything I purchased was healthy, it was not good on the budget 😉 We had some down time and dog snuggles before an early bedtime to cap of the evening.

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I was told by another swimmer that I looked “like candy” in my suit. I told her I’d be much sweeter after swimming and washing away the stress and drama from the week. It worked!
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Reading + dog snuggles = LOVE

Saturday:

We woke up at 6 am so we could go on a long ride, but unfortunately it was very foggy and was only in the mid 40sF. We decided we weren’t going to start our ride until after 10 am to let the fog burn off and the temperatures rise; this gave me time to do some core work, make cream of rice with fresh strawberries and beet powder for breakfast, clean up the kitchen, and do some laundry. We ended up rolling out of our driveway (they opened up our street at about 9 am this morning) at about 10:30 am for a long ride. We didn’t really know how far we would ride, but did know that we wanted to get in at least 3 hours in the saddle. The first 41 miles were all head and cross wind at ~20 mph…It. Was. Tough. More mentally, than physically. At mile 47, we had a decision to make…go straight home with the wind at our backs for a total of 70 miles, or endure more cross wind to add on some mileage and get to the trail system. We opted for the cross wind and trail. When we got to mile 61, we had another decision to make…go straight home for a total of 77 miles, or endure more cross winds and add on some mileage so we could end up with 100 miles for the day. We opted for the cross wind and 100 mile day. It didn’t set any speed records for this century ride, but we did set a record for the earliest century ride in the calendar year. Memorial Day weekend was our earliest century ride before today. When we got home, we refueled, cleaned up, and relaxed.

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Still smilin’ at mile 89 = serious #bikelove
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Our shadows were growing longer as we got closer to home.
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No speed records here, but 100 miles in the saddle on April 23 in central Iowa…we’ll take it!!

Sunday:

We woke up at 5:30 am to get our long run done. We finished just shy of 10 miles and it is always so much fun with friends! After our run, we refueled, cleaned house, did laundry, and got ready for the week before having breakfast for lunch with our neighbors at 1 pm. Shortly before 2 pm, we walked downtown with the dogs for Healthy Streets Ames. The dogs had a blast! There were so many kids downtown and lots of them wanted to pet the girls, which meant dog kisses! We got home shortly before 4 pm and relaxed for a bit while the dogs napped. Then it was time for pizza and fro-yo before an early bedtime!

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#runlove with Robin!
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Breakfast burritos for lunch!
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Healthy Streets Ames has some new mascots!
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Walking with our dog friends!

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Weekly Totals: 17 hours & 47 minutes

Swim: 7500 yards
Bike: 150 miles
Run: 17.3 miles
Strength Training: 2 hours & 15 minutes

Quote of the Week:

“Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.” ~Willie Nelson

25 Weeks ’til IMWI 2016: Spring Break!

Where has time gone?!?! It is hard to believe we are only 25 weeks out from Ironman Wisconsin 2016!! This will be Ironman #4 for me, and I am so excited to revisit one of my all time favorite races and enjoy the journey to IMWI finish line #3. For my past Ironman races, I have documented my journey in weekly posts. This has helped keep me accountable for completing my workouts, given me a place to reflect on every week…both the ups and downs, helped motivate and inspire others, and hopefully encouraged even one person (more would be awesome) to work hard to achieve their dreams. For these reasons (and maybe others I’m forgetting), I am going to include weekly posts starting today!

Last week I was on spring break, so I had plenty of time to complete workouts, clean house, grocery shop, do some work, relax and enjoy time with my faves, do some course work for my “Living Brave” class, and get a taste of what my summer break is like. Only 10 weeks until summer break BTW 😉

Monday:

Despite being on spring break, I woke up at 4 am for 1 hour of strength training, which I followed up with balancing the check book, paying bills, and heading to Kyle’s Bikes in Ankeny with Mojo for a bike fit and getting a new helmet with my birthday money. After getting my new Cobb V-Flow saddle in December, it was time to double check that my fit was keeping everything happy. Lucky for me, everything is happy and no adjustments were needed! After returning home, I took the dogs for a walk and decided to indulge and celebrate “National Napping Day” with some time for my head and pillow to reacquaint themselves with each other 😉 I finished out the day with an easy 1 hour recovery ride with the crew in the courage cave.

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Basil approves of my new helmet!!
Basil approves of my new helmet!!
Basil and Mya are dreaming of chasing the geese and swimming!
Basil and Mya are dreaming of chasing the geese and swimming!

Tuesday:

I was going to get up early and swim this morning, but decided to sleep in instead. This was just what the body needed!! I got my lists together for all of the purchases I was about to make and set off…3 hours later, the house was restocked and it was time for my workouts! I had a great 2800 yard swim and followed this up with the “Lucky 7s” run. Forty-two minutes of hill climbing at varying inclines is no joke…especially by the end!

This isn't even all of it!!
This isn’t even all of it!!
Swim time!
Swim time!
"Lucky 7s" includes 42 minutes of hill climbing at various inclines.
“Lucky 7s” includes 42 minutes of hill climbing at various inclines.

Wednesday:

I started the day with a 4 am wake-up call and a 90 minute sweatfest ride…hill repeats was on the docket! Yes, I know I ran hills yesterday, but there were more hills for today…this time on the bike. Later that morning, I had one of the best swims I’ve had in a LONG time!! It was only 2000 yards, but it was full of 100s on the 2:00 and 50s on the 1:00. By changing up my swim stroke over the last month + focusing on #courageovercomfort during this swim, I saw paces I’ve never seen before!! Hello progress!! I was on such a high from this workout, that when I got home I took the dogs for a walk before starting to deep cleaning the house 🙂

Hill repeats!!
Hill repeats!!
Our neighbors dinosaur yard ornament has laid eggs just in time for Easter!
While walking the dogs, we spotted our neighbor’s dinosaur yard ornament laid eggs just in time for Easter!

Thursday:

I spent most of my day finishing my #deepcleanthehouse project today. We’ll see how long this lasts…unfortunately never long enough 😉 After the Iron Hippie returned home from work, we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with a nice and easy recovery ride for one hour and then spent about 45 minutes doing some functional strength training. Typically I teach TRX on Thursday’s but because of spring break, there was no class this week, so I mixed it up by using the Bosu, stability ball, and hand weights today. It was fun to do something different for a change!

Recovery ride in my lucky Coeur Sports shorts!!
Recovery ride in my lucky Coeur Sports shorts!!

Friday:

After spending the last two days cleaning, cleaning, cleaning, today’s focus was relaxation…doing some work with my feet up!! I started the day with some “Living Brave” coursework, went to the pool for my recovery swim, followed all of this up with some more grocery/supply stock piling, and finished out the day with some work in preparation for going back to school on Monday.

Recovery swim, but I had more fun playing with my new GoPro after my swim!!
Recovery swim, but I had more fun playing with my new GoPro after my swim!!

Saturday:

After 30 minutes of core work, we hopped on the trainer for our nearly 3 hour ride, which we followed up with a 40 minute run off the bike. I sweat SO much on the bike, that changing into my run gear was incredibly difficult…SO MUCH STICKING!! Old Man Winter held on and “blessed” us with more snow on this last day of winter. After refueling, napping and prepping food for the week, we went to visit friends and watch the ISU Cyclones win and make it to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA tournament.

2 hours & 45 minutes in the saddle = LOTS of sweat!!
2 hours & 45 minutes in the saddle = LOTS of sweat!!
Family run off the bike!
Family run off the bike as the snow starts to fly!

Sunday:

We started the morning with 75 minutes of intervals on the bike and transitioned to an 80 minute run. There were more times than not that I wanted to walk on this run, but I did not surrender. I held strong and pushed forward. One foot in front of the other. My legs were trashed by the end; legs up a wall and an epsom salt bath were just what was needed to promote recovery. After an early afternoon nap, we relaxed for a bit, watching some of the NCAA tournament and gearing up for the coming week.

75 minutes of tough intervals before the long run.
75 minutes of tough intervals before the long run.
Legs up the wall post long run is the best recovery!!
Legs up the wall post long run is the best recovery!!

Weekly Totals:

Swim: 6,900 yards
Bike: 103 miles
Run: 19.2 miles
Strength Training: 2:15:00

Total: 15:20:00

Weekly Quote: 

“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”  ~Arnold Schwarzenegger

How was your week of training? Do you get time off for “spring break?” If so, what did you do?

Courage over Comfort

“We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both. Not at the same time.” ~Brene Brown

At the beginning of 2016, I thought “believe” would be my 2016 word. As 2016 has gotten underway, my 2016 word has evolved into the word “Courage,” which is the ability to do something that you know is difficult or dangerous. Believe is still an underlying theme of courage for me, but there are so many other areas of my life that require courage as well. Over the last couple of months, the word courage has evolved into the phrase “Courage Over Comfort,” which has gotten me through multiple challenges in all aspects of life so far in 2016.

Courage over Comfort in my relationships

The Iron Hippie and I have a great relationship, but like any couple, we do have our differences and disagreements. Being vulnerable by sharing my thoughts and feelings in a new and different way is hard and takes a lot of courage, but it will be worth it when this uncomfortable method becomes “comfortable” and less difficult one day. “Courage over comfort” is where the magic happens!!

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Courage over Comfort at work

I am not an emotional person, so incorporating more Developmental Designs (a social-emotional approach to learning) into my lessons and classroom is uncomfortable and has definitely taken courage. I keep waiting for the day when this style of learning into my lessons and classrooms becomes more comfortable, but so far it just hasn’t happened…so…I guess I’ll just living the “courage over comfort” theme at work also.

Courage over Comfort in training

Leap day was full of “Courage over Comfort” in my training. An FTP test on the bike was staring me in the face from my Training Peaks calendar, and I was intimidated. I have done these many times, but have never had everything fall together so I could experience a “successful” test, and this was precisely why I was intimidated. Sure I’ve seen improvements with them, but there has always been something that has happened for me to think “it could have been better if…” when I was done. This time around, I was determined it would be different. I would conquer this FTP test and not let it conquer me! #believe

I picked a gear and cadence and was determined to stick with it! 5 minutes in, I felt good and was questioning if I should be going a little harder. I decided to stick with my plan and reevaluate later in the test. 10 minutes in, things were getting tougher, but it was still doable. 15 minutes in, I just wanted to take a break. This is when I started mentally telling myself “Courage over Comfort” over and over and over. I pushed through the last 5 minutes and walla…I had the most successful FTP test I’ve ever had!! Why was this test so “successful?” It wasn’t about the 12 watt increase in power output, although I am incredibly happy and proud of my improvements. It was about my execution of the FTP test. This was the first test that I put it all together…physically, mentally, emotionally, and nutritionally. I didn’t have any lingering “it could have been better if…” when I finished this FTP test, and it felt better than AWESOME!!

FTP test results...My normalized power was 189 watts...this was 12 watts higher than peak Ironman Boulder training in 2015!!
FTP test results…My normalized power was 189 watts…this was 12 watts higher than peak Ironman Boulder training in 2015!!

My run on March 1 was also FULL of “courage over comfort!” I had a 4×1 mile progressive repeats run staring at me from Training Peaks all day long!! I knew this would be a tough run, since my legs were exhausted from my FTP test on the bike the day before. It was a cold day with ice on the roads (thanks to an early morning freezing rain, snow mix…gotta love Iowa winters), so I opted to run on the treadmill at the gym after work. When I got to the gym, there was no cardio equipment!! What?! They got all new cardio equipment in that morning and were in the process of putting all of the machines together, but so far, no treadmills had been assembled. So it was time for plan B…back to school I went to run on OLD treadmills with no televisions, no people, nothing to distract me from my own potentially negative thoughts. Thankfully I did have music on my phone to jam to as I ran. After my 2 mile warm-up, I set the treadmill to just under a 9 minute/mile pace, which I estimated to be my current 1/2 marathon pace (although I haven’t been running consistently for long, so I had no idea how accurate this was). With each mile, I dropped ~15 seconds off per mile. The first couple of miles weren’t bad, but by the 4th mile repeat, I was running at an 8:13 minute/mile pace and thought I was going to die! Hello “courage over comfort” and goodbye negative thoughts!! I was so proud of myself for not quitting when it got tough…boy did I think REALLY hard about making the pace on the treadmill easier so I didn’t have to work so hard, but I just kept telling myself “courage over comfort” as I pushed on through that final mile. As I ran my cool down mile, mentally I was super strong and on cloud nine, but physically, my legs were TRASHED!! So this is what it feels like to REALLY push myself out of my comfort zone…

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Change is uncomfortable, but that is why I have been embracing #courageovercomfort as my theme and mantra in all aspects of my life in 2016. Strength doesn’t come from what we can do, it comes from overcoming the things we once thought we couldn’t do. If dreams come true when we step out of our comfort zone, then you can bet I will be tapping into a lot more courage and a lot less comfort this year!!

Do you stick with what is comfortable in your life, or do you rise to the challenge of trying to make the uncomfortable more comfortable? Where are you courageous in your life? What is your word/phrase for 2016?