When we signed up for Ironman Boulder, we knew we wanted to take a few weeks vacation before the race to acclimate to the altitude and arid climate. Thankfully we were lucky to get to spend 3 weeks in Colorado acclimating and catching up with family and friends. The first part of our trication (vacation with a triathlon) is at Red Feather Lakes, Colorado (elevation 8,600 feet).
We loaded our Rav4 on Friday evening so we could leave bright and early Saturday morning.
We rolled out of Ames and onto the interstate at 5:15 am Saturday morning in the pouring down rain. Thankfully it only rained on us for the first 3 hours of the trip, but visibility wasn’t great during that those first three hours and my co-pilot and navigator were both sound asleep…
We eventually made our way to Cheyenne, Wyoming after traveling through Nebraska (AKA…The. Most. Boring. State. EVER!), where we loaded up on groceries and gas before making the final 2 hour trek up into the mountains. As we crossed the border into Colorado, it started to rain on us again, but thankfully it didn’t last.
We arrived at our friend’s home in Red Feather Lakes at about 4:15 pm (mountain time), unloaded our vehicle, had great conversations with Kuby (our friend whom we stayed with), went for a walk down to the lake and enjoyed some amazing homemade Bolivian cuisine.
I woke up at 3:40 am (mountain time) and made myself go back to bed before getting up at 5:30 am and spending some quiet time on outdoor deck in the sun. It was 49F and ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL!!
We made some breakfast and then I went back to bed for a 2 hour nap. These first few days at altitude are all about resting and acclimating to altitude without getting altitude sickness. I spent some time working on my blog posts, catching up on other blogs that I follow and playing cribbage with the Iron Hippie in the afternoon.
Before dinner, we prepped the boat to take out in the morning on Monday, while Darwin (the Golden Retriever) played with sticks in the “yard.”
Kuby is an AMAZING cook!! We were able to enjoy another AMAZING meal…this time Turkish cuisine.
After breakfast, the Iron Hippie, Allen and I loaded into the boat and cruised around the lake before the winds really started to pick up.
After being chilled on our boat ride, we decided it was time to get in the hot tub.
I followed this up with my first “workout” at altitude…strength training 🙂
After lunch, I went down to the lake and read by the dam. It was so peaceful and I actually got a bit warm sitting in the sun.
It was our night to cook…Thai food, here we come!! Most of our late afternoon was spent prepping food for the meal.
After dinner, we took the dogs for a walk and saw the most spectacular sunset with a double rainbow off in the distance. It was more beautiful than this photo shows…
I started my day with some pre race planning and mental training, while sitting in the sun on the deck. What a beautiful morning and the perfect way to start the day!!
After breakfast, I continued to bask in the sun and read books until lunch. I finished On Top of Your Game by Carrie Cheadle and started reading The Champion’s Mind by Jim Afremow.
We prepped food for dinner…nothing to extravagant tonight…roast, potatoes, carrots and onion. Simple and tasty.
My afternoon was spent doing some laundry and repacking my bag and our cosmetics so I was prepared to head to Estes Park on Wednesday morning.
After dinner, we went for one final walk around the Red Feather Lakes area before hitting the sack.
We got up bright and early, enjoyed some breakfast and then loaded the vehicle for our travels to Estes Park. On our way to Estes Park, we stopped in Fort Collins for a swim and an amazing sushi lunch. I was a little nervous about swimming at altitude, but was VERY pleasantly surprised…the swim went much better than I had anticipated and I had some serious #swimlove 🙂
We then headed to the Ironman Boulder bike course and drove the route to get an idea of the course as well as the turns we would be making for some pre-race riding we had planned later in the week.
After finally arriving in Estes Park, we unloaded the car and I spent some time organizing my room before finding a nice place for dinner and settling in for the evening.
Have you ever been on a trication/racecation? If so, where did you go? How did you get your training in while traveling?
A lot of my blog posts lately have been centered around my training, which is a huge part of my life, but there are other things going on in my life as well. I love Erin’s “Currently” posts that Abby and Kristin have jumped on board with, so I decided to step away from the training posts for a minute and catch you up on the rest of my life with my rendition of “Currently.”
Balance…trying to balance a 40 hour work week with ~20 hours of training and still find time for friends, house chores, dog snuggles and the little things in life is a challenge, but it is all worth it!! I’ve noticed that I am so much more efficient and productive during these busy weeks. I also eat healthier and sleep better. During recovery weeks, I tend to skip more workouts; the pressure isn’t high enough during recovery weeks, so I am not as efficient and productive elsewhere in my life.
With my Sole Sister…we do work together and see each other everyday, but we haven’t had a workout together in a LONG time and we haven’t had a conversation that wasn’t work related in even longer. I miss her and am in need of some #solesistalove and #solesistasweat REALLY soon!!
Warmer weather, fresh air and sunshine…I am definitely loving outdoor workouts and am getting excited to do some landscaping in the backyard. With 20+ hours of training in each of the next couple of weeks, I’m hoping for less rain and more sun to get out and soak up even more vitamin D!!
The days to the end of the school year…only 9 more days with students. I don’t think there is anything more to say. #bringonsummervaca 🙂
Looking forward to:
The start of our triathlon season is less than 4 weeks away…Legend 100 will be the first triathlon of the 2015 season and I. Can’t. Wait!! I’m definitely ready to play 🙂
Meet my new niece…I was blessed to have niece #5 born on April 23. That makes 3 nieces in Walnut Creek, CA and the twins are in Okoboji, IA. I definitely don’t get to see them often enough!! My sister and I have worked out some dates that will work for my trip out west…now I just have to find a cheap flight 🙂
On Top of Your Game: Mental Skills to Maximize Your Athletic Performance by Carrie Cheadle…I just can’t get enough on mental training! LOVE IT! This book will help you learn how to:
Many people start the new year with “New Year’s Resolutions” and most of those people quit trying to keep these resolutions within the first month of the new year. According to the Huffington Post, only about 13% (1 in 8) of people who set New Year Resolutions successfully keep their resolutions for one year. This is why I don’t set New Year’s Resolutions…instead, I set S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-based) goals.
I evaluated my 2014 journey, which allowed me to reflect on successes and failures throughout the year. Being truthful with myself and my 2014 journey, has helped me set S.M.A.R.T. goals for my 2015 training and racing season.
When setting S.M.A.R.T. goals, it is important that they are:
Specific…having precise goals stated in terms of performance.
Measurable…being able to determine if the goal has been accomplished.
Attainable…setting high, but realistic and achievable goals.
Relevant…setting a goal that is important to YOU and NOT because a friend or family member has a similar goal.
Timely…having a specific time frame for completing the goal.
My “A” race for 2015 is Ironman Boulder on August 2. My time goal for this race is sub 14 hours…
What does this mean for a time goal for each discipline of the race? Swim = 1:15-1:20 (I swam 1:21:52 in 2014 at Ironman Wisconsin); Bike = 7:00:00…or less (I biked 8:15:12 in 2014 and 7:56:58 in 2011 at Ironman Wisconsin); Run = 4:30:00-4:45:00 (I ran 5:15:32 in 2014 at Ironman Wisconsin)
Why do I have a sub 14 hour goal? While it would be awesome to set a new PR (and sub 14 hours would be a PR by over an hour), I really want to push my limits and see what I can actually do, even if it is at a higher altitude. I have BIG DREAMS and a sub 14 hour Ironman would get me one step closer to fulfilling these #BigDreams.
What steps am I going to take to get there? I am going to focus most of my efforts on the bike to improve my bike strength. Incorporating more power focused workouts on the bike into my training plan will definitely help me build the bike strength I am seeking. I am also going to incorporate more brick runs off the bike to teach my legs to run strong when they are tired. I am going to follow a well laid out training plan making sure it includes proper recovery. I am going to continue to incorporate strength training into my training plan to prevent injuries. I am going to continue to incorporate mental training into my training plan so that I continue to teach myself to #believe in me, my abilities and my training.
I am expecting some challenges along the way…after all, it wouldn’t be an Ironman if there weren’t challenges. One of the biggest challenges we will encounter is going from an altitude of 956 feet in central Iowa to an altitude of 5430 feet in Boulder, Colorado. Thankfully, we have a plan to help diminish the effects such a drastic change in altitude can have on a person…we are going to arrive in Colorado on Saturday, July 11 and start at an altitude of just over 8,000 feet to acclimate for a few weeks. This will give us 3 full weeks to acclimate (as best we can) to the higher altitude before race day…who doesn’t love a 3 week vacation leading up to a big race?!?!?!?!
What is your “A” goal for 2015? Have you made this goal a S.M.A.R.T. goal?
I met with Coach Julie in early November to discuss my 2014 racing calendar. We discussed many topics, but I am putting some of the highlights out for the public to help hold me accountable during 2014.
I was inspired by Carrie Cheadle’s Facebook Post about giving yourself something to make you feel amazing for the 12 days of Christmas this year. I decided to give myself a “gift” everyday during the 12 days of Christmas….some of these gifts were what Carrie suggested, while others where ones that I came up with on my own. Each of these gifts is special to me…some of these gifts are very simple and most of them don’t cost even a penny, but they are all gifts we should consider giving ourselves everyday to remind ourselves just how special we truly are.
Day #1: Write a mini love note to myself
Day #2: Gift of Time…30 minutes for just me 🙂
Day #3: Gift of Motivation…I decided to make a motivational collage and post it where I can see it daily.
Day #4: Give myself a pat on the back…I don’t give myself enough credit most of the time for all that I do and how amazing I am. I decided a good pat on the back was in order.
Day #5: I gave myself a treat. Something I didn’t have to share with anyone else…
Day #6: I gave myself an award. Since I ended my 2013 triathlon season with a DNF, I decided with the New Year just around the corner that it is time to start mental training for 2014.
Day #7: I gave myself a party…not the typical party with lots of people, food and drink, etc. I gave myself a party with just me and my girls (Mya and Basil…our two black labs). I played the song “Celebration” by Kool & The Gang, we danced, celebrated (both feeling better and the beginning of a 2 week winter break), smiled and had lots of fun!!
Day #8: Gift of Knowledge…I purchased a book to help me learn how to perform better under pressure, tame the butterflies and overcome setbacks. I am hoping to use these mental skills to help me perform consistently, remain confident when faced with challenges and successfully accomplish my goals both during training and on race day.
Day #9: Gift of Perspective…a list of gratitude. I make a list of things I am thankful for every night before bed, but I decided to put a twist on this list…growth is a must for everything on this list.
Day #10: Gift of Encouragement…I wrote out 4 powerful and affirming statements and posted them where I will read them everyday between now and January 1, 2014. The power of being who I want to be lies in my own thoughts. Only I can change negative thoughts into positive beliefs.
Day #11: Gift of a Toast to Celebrate ME…”I proposed a toast to my strengths, my PRs in 2013, my commitments and dedication.” I also “proposed a toast to the most relaxing Christmas ever” with the Iron Hippie.
Day #12: Gift of Relaxation…I started Christmas morning with 1 hour of hot yoga. While this is typically in my weekly workout routine, I haven’t been able to workout for the last two weeks due to illness. I decided that this would be a perfect gift for Christmas Day.
I have read some really inspiring and motivational books this summer and want to share them with you…
“A Life Without Limits” by Chrissie Wellington…I have actually read this book twice. I love that Chrissie does not just tell us about her life as a professional triathlete, but also tells us about her life growing up, her family, her friends, her education, her life experiences, how she overcame challenges with eating disorders, her career evolution, vacations she ventured on and the route she took to become a professional triathlete and the Queen of Ironman.
“…with a positive frame of mind and a willingness to work, anything is possible.” ~Chrissie Wellington
“Can’t Swim, Ride, Run: From Common Man to Ironman” by Andy Holgate…One of Andy’s colleagues challenged Andy to complete a triathlon. This challenge would change his life!! He not only had to learn to swim and bike, but he was also engaged and accidentally signed up to participate in his first Ironman seven days before his wedding. This book is about Andy’s journey to his first Ironman, with a little emphasis on preparing for his wedding day.
“One of the things that this journey has taught me is that you have to have a positive attitude to get anywhere in this life. You first have to believe in yourself, then others will listen to you, and if you treat them correctly they will respect you.” ~Andy Holgate
“Magical Running: A Unique Path to Running Fulfillment” by Bobby McGee…When I first saw this book, I thought it would be about running, running form, etc. Boy was I wrong!! This book is great for ANY athlete in ANY discipline because it’s focus is Mental Training…affirmations, visualization, setting targets and goals, self evaluation, relaxation, positive self-talk, mantras, key words/phrases, proactive (not reactive) training and racing…
“To run as I want to, I require of myself to exhibit the following characteristics in training, races and in my daily life:
believing in myself and my abilities
believing I am a successful runner
enjoying my running and participation in races
staying calm and relaxed
knowing I have choices in any given situation”
“17 Hours to Glory: Extraordinary Stories from the Heart of Triathlon” by Mathias Muller with Timothy Carlson…This book is a compilation of a variety of different triathlete’s journeys to and through Ironman competitions. These journeys include those of professionals, age group athletes, wheelchair athletes and physically challenged athletes. Each chapter is dedicated to an individual that has their own story to tell, which is told in their own, unique voice.
“Trust in yourself and never give up!” ~Mark Allen
“You can idealize it or condemn it, depending on your mood. Or accept it for what it is. But what is it? This Ironman is an exhibit of physical endurance, either designed by fools for heros, or designed by heros for fools.” ~Sister Madonna Buder
“Be tougher than the rest.” ~Sarah Reinertsen
“Believe in yourself, never give up, and enjoy life. Nothing is impossible!” ~Marc Herremans
A: When I sign up for each race, I am at the beginning of a new journey.
I am currently on a long-term journey to Ironman Wisconsin 2014 that will include a few short-term journeys along the way. While I have finished Ironman Wisconsin before, I started it with the goal of “just to finish”…and finish I did…though I was hyponatremic and don’t actually remember the last 8 hours of the event. For this reason, it is time to go back and do what I am capable of with proper race execution!!
I sign up for races to take me on another journey. My Ironman journey will include multiple journeys (races) between now and September 7, 2014. The first of which is coming up in just 2 weeks…Ironman Kansas 70.3 on June 9, 2013. I have been mentally focused and my training has probably been the best it has ever been!! I have been VERY happy with both my physical and mental training lately!! I am going to do everything in my power to make sure that my current momentum will continue to carry me forward through Ironman Wisconsin 2014!! With Ironman Kansas 70.3 only 2 weeks away, this short-term journey is nearing the taper. I have created many posts about various workouts I have completed on this journey that you can find at pushmylimits.wordpress.com. With only a few more “big” workouts left before the taper, I am finding myself more ready than ever to properly execute my race and PR!! I am in the best shape, both physically and mentally, that I have ever been before…Let’s do this thing!!
I decided to ask Coach Julie where she thinks I can and should be for Ironman Kansas 70.3 in 2 weeks…Here is her response:
“Swim: You had a great swim at Chisago last year – that time would really please me again, maybe a minute or two faster (if the races have properly measured swim courses). GOAL: 42-43 min.
“Bike: Kansas and Chisago have different bike courses, and I think the times you put up there were great for where you were then. We’ve worked a lot on cycling this season, and you’ve really improved. With the right mental approach (and staying focused throughout the bike leg – plus nutrition, etc), you should be able to average 16.5-16.7mph for the Kansas bike and closer to 17+ on a less challenging course. GOAL: 3:20-3:25 (for Kansas). 3:12-3:20 for other courses.
“Run: There is no reason that you can’t run a 2 hour run split. You’ve become a much more mentally strong runner in the past two years (all that experience is starting to pay off!). If you can keep that mental focus going throughout the bike AND through the run, you’ll be golden. GOAL: 2 hours
“If you do the math, that will set you up for that elusive sub-6 hour half IM – I know you’ve been shooting for that, and I’ve been shooting for that for you. Kansas may/may not be where it happens, BUT the mental training from that tough of a half is going to be what sets you up to make it happen this year. You’ve already overcome some hurdles in your training (many of them mental), but you’re finally on the right track. Let’s keep that going for the next three weeks!”
I am focusing my training (both physically and mentally) on doing my absolute best and pushing myself to a PR!! I am very excited to see the results of the journey I am on and shattering my previous PR (6:32:44)!! I am anxiously awaiting my new PR of 5:59:59…or faster!!
We had perfect race conditions…53 degrees, sunny skies, winds SSW at 12 mph…where did this April weather come from?!?!?! In years past the Drake 1/2 Marathon has been known for cold, rain and wind…definitely not like this morning!! I don’t want to speak too soon and jinx it…the weather forecast for the next couple of days has rain, sleet and SNOW in the forecast. UGH!!! SNOW in May?!?!?!? I’m ready for Mother Nature to get an attitude adjustment…Mother Nature, it’s time for a POSITIVE attitude!!
Back to my race report…My typical race strategy is to hold back for the first half of a race and then pick up the pace to finish strong. Sunday I decided to take an unusual approach to my race: start out fast and see how long I can hold on. While most coaches and athletes don’t recommend this, I wanted to see just how hard I could push myself and see just how long I could maintain it.
In looking at the race profile, I knew the last couple of miles would be a challenge, so I decided to lay it out on the line and see what I could do from the start. I strategically placed myself a little bit behind the 1:45 pacer, with the hopes that I would finish between 1:45 and 1:48. I ran my first mile at an 8:17 pace and I was feeling really good about starting easy…well easier than I had planned 🙂
I kept my sites on the 1:45 pacer and ran my second mile at an 8:06 pace. This was getting closer to the pace I was hoping to maintain for the entire race. I was feeling GREAT, but I was still going downhill. Miles 3 and 4 continued to be successful…my pace for mile 3 was a 7:57 and for mile 4 was 8:07…I still had the 1:45 pacer in my sites!! At mile 5 my brain started to wander…I began to realize just how much I disliked the new course. In years past, the route went through scenic residential neighborhoods, but this new route was very industrialized and definitely not the beauty I remembered. I was still on track though as my pace was holding strong at 8:11. The true test was just ahead…the hills around capital square.
Mentally I was strong and knew I could maintain a good strong pace. Mile 6 was an 8:22 pace followed by a relatively flat boring section as we went past Principal Park (Iowa Cubs stadium) and ventured out to Gray’s Lake. Again my mind started to wander and tell my body to quit pushing so hard, but I quickly overcame these thoughts and maintained an 8:07 pace for mile 7 and an 8:17 pace for mile 8. My race changed during mile 9…I ran upon a friend who was walking and this is where “My Race of Good Karma” began.
Kelly was struggling. My brain was going a mile a minute…should I help her finish, or push on to see what I could do with this race…if I help her, I will give up a PR…if I don’t help her, will I regret it…what do I do?!?!? The good samaritan in me won out. I slowed my pace to help Kelly finish. My mile 9 split was an 8:31 pace, followed by an 8:29 pace for mile 10 and a 9:02 pace for mile 11. This is where some of those climbs began. Kelly continued to struggle, but I reminded her to shorten her stride, lean into the hills and breathe as we climbed. Our mile 12 split was a 9:24 pace followed by an 8:49 pace for mile 13. The course was a little long, so the last 0.31 of a mile had an average pace of 7:32 as we sprinted around the Blue Oval to the finish line in 1:52:05…not the PR I was hoping for, but Good Karma in the bank!!
Looking back I am very happy that I helped another runner finish. I am questioning how much of her struggles were physical and how much were mental as she was able to finish really strong. Mental training is a component that many athletes overlook, yet it is just as important as the physical training and nutritional training that comes with race preparation. Mental training will be a topic for another day…
I am hopeful that “My Race of Good Karma” will come back to bite me when I need it most!!
This begins one of my favorite times of the year…Coaching Team 12.4 runners…the spring weather is an added bonus!! Almost every Saturday, I show up early and run on my own as a warm-up before running the scheduled distance for the Team 12.4 runners. This last Saturday morning, Team 12.4 met at Lloyd Kurtz Park for their first 4 mile run. During my warm-up, I decided to run from Lloyd Kurtz Park to Ada Hayden, run the figure 8 through the park and run back to the park. This gave me about 5 miles prior to meeting up with the rest of the group. During this portion of my run, I was in my own head and really able to focus on the purpose of this run. Despite the light drizzle and the 40 degree temperatures, this was sure to be an amazing run!!
Mental training became a key focus during the first 5 miles of my run. Affirmations…I can/will handle any obstacle that comes my way…I eat hills for breakfast…I am strong…I am tough…I experience great joy when I run…I am at peace when I run. Mantra…Think strong, be strong, finish strong. Visualization…I see myself focused on my goal while running…I see myself finishing pain free, strong, and confident. This got me thinking about “Pride” from the movie Cool Runnings:
While running in solitude, I reconnected with nature and encountered lots of wildlife…red-winged black birds, robins, deer (right on the path and they didn’t move when I ran past them), geese, mallards, trout (there was a man fishing under the bridge I ran over who caught one just as I was passing overhead), a stray cat, squirrels, rabbits…so peaceful…
What will I encounter tomorrow morning while running in solitude??? Nature…peace…focus…time for mental training…the possibilities are endless!!