So, it’s really hot out.

L.A. didn’t have a hot summer.  I was fine with that.  I love consistently mild weather–I never get sick of it!  It is perfect for working out, perfect for getting me in a good mood, perfect for napping, etc.  I have never been one to complain about lack of seasons.  But all of a sudden, it’s 113 degrees at work today.  Excuse me?  Really, L.A.?  Yes, Texas gets this hot in the summer.  But everywhere in Texas is over-air-conditioned, so you still have to take a sweater around.  Here, I have a modest room-sized A.C. that is saving my life right now.  I won’t be leaving my room tonight.  Because I’m a super wimp when it comes to heat (or freezing temps).

It’s not lasting much longer (this week anyways), so I’m not too terribly upset.  But I hate when I attempt a nap–I actually have time for it in my schedule–and it can’t happen.  I’m a terrible sleeper, so mess up one variable (temperature)–and it’s no use.  So today, though not a hard day in any way, has completely exhausted me.

So I figured I would take this time to say: I don’t always love working out (because I didn’t love it today).  These are the several kinds of workouts I have throughout the week

1) “I can’t wait to get outside and workout! (or get to the gym! or go to the pool!)”:  These aren’t completely rare, but I would guess I have no more than one workout a week where I’m jumping for joy to get it started.  The funny thing is, it’s rare that my mood sustains itself during a workout–no matter what the mood is.  So, I’ve discovered if I start out too strong, eager, excited–there is bound to be some disappointment around the corner somewhere.

2)  “I’m not really pumped about this workout, but I know I will be 15 minutes into it”:  This is the majority of my workouts.  Well, sometimes it takes a good half hour to get really into it, but knowing that I can feel crappy at the beginning of the workout & finish feeling so much better–it’s what gets me over the ‘workout hump.’

3)  “I feel like throwing up.  or I’m so tired right now.  Why am I working out?”:  This will also happen at least once a week.  It’s usually because of lack of rest or the wrong nutrition, but I feel like a zombie.  Or I just feel like lying down and taking a long nap.  Or I feel like “maybe I can skip this ONE workout & still be OK.”  Now, these workouts themselves aren’t usually the fastest or most efficient, but my mood often soars after completing one–simply because I forced myself out there & just did it.  Nothing makes you feel tougher.  But I must say that on these days, about 75% of the time–I rest.

4)  “Haven’t I done this workout before?”:  This is the kind of workout where you are strictly going through the motions.  It’s not emotional in any kind of way, or too physically challenging.  The whole thing is done in a daze–not because you’re tired or not ‘in tune’—but just because you have chosen to completely zone out.  This mostly takes place when I go on one of my favorite routes that I know inside and out.  I finish the workout with not much recollection of what just went on–it was all so typical.

5)  “I’ll just do 15 minutes during this workout”: the idea is that once you’re out there and working out, you will want to go much longer than 15 minutes.  It doesn’t really work with me.  Once I get past that point, I say, “Um, Kristy, you said we only had to go 15 minutes.  Why are we still running?”  I’ll make it to about 25 minutes & feel like I’m a super-star for that long endurance workout.  So I don’t often tell myself lies like this.

6)  “I didn’t know I could do this workout!”:  I love when I try a workout that seems to challenging for me, but I get through it anyway.  This happened throughout the summer with the long UCLA workouts.  It happens with my trainer at the gym, when I’m lunging more than half my weight. Or during my intervals on the track.  In the moment, it’s usually very very challenging.  It’s not “fun.”  But WOW, I feel so awesome at the end–depleted and strong all at the same time.  I love these workouts, but not everyday.

If you have a workout plan–or are starting one, or are thinking about starting one…I would just like to say that after 11 years of very consistent workouts, that it is never “easy.”  Or rarely “easy.”  Just because you post triathlon pictures, or write race reports, or talk about working out all the time–or even because you really really love it…I still have to motivate myself.  I sort of mopingly put on my workout gear, have a sip of coffee, and say *let’s do this*.  I have to constantly remind myself that I’m LUCKY to be doing any of these sports.

I woke up this morning feeling like crap.  I had some great workouts this weekend–a beautiful trail run on Saturday & crazy hard hill repeats on the bike Sunday.  But I couldn’t sleep last night & woke up with a killer headache.  My new schedule allows for going to work late on Monday, so I scheduled a session with my trainer in the morning.  When I got there, I hopped on the treadmill to warm up & I’m usually running a very fast pace mile to get me going–but it was SLOW moving.  My trainer was late, I wondered at what point I could just wander back home & come back when I felt better.  But he showed, I complained a little bit as we started some Olympic lifts (really, these again??  We always are using this bar!!…and the trainer answers, “Umm, usually weightlifting involves lifting some kind of weight”).  I nearly had a meltdown when he took me over to the squat rack.  “SQUATS!?!  We did these Friday!!!”  But at some point, I just shut my mouth, focus & I do the work.  I focus on using my muscles & they almost always surprise me with their capabilities.  I forget to complain.

I walked out of the gym–glad to have my workout over but still not feeling amazing.  The heat took the wind out of my sails, and I have been laying around all evening–wondering what I’m supposed to be doing…I mean, I’m sure there’s something productive for me to do…but I can’t quite think of it (quick solution: do a load of laundry).  I just wanted to write a post to say although I couldn’t imagine spending my free time any other way (running, biking, swimming, building muscle), it has its moments where it–combined with the rest of your life–just wears you out.

Half-lete: Triathlon Race Report, Long Beach Triathlon

I was reading an article recently offering advice to readers about how to become an elite triathlete.  Above all else, the answer was “consistent training.”  Soooo easy to say…in my dreams, I’m a crazy good athlete.  I eat clean, I get enough sleep, I stretch+foam roll, I make all my training sessions, I have coaches that push me/encourage me, I am PERFECT.  Oh, and also, I have the fastest bike on the market.  In reality, I’m not even close.  I don’t even have a great excuse–it’s not like I have 3 jobs or 2 kids at home to feed–or whatever else takes up so much time in life.  But I’ve always been one for balance.  Moderation.  Great in many aspects of life, but most athletes aren’t terribly balanced.  I love and admire them, but their life is their sport.  That’s part of the reason they are great at it.

So, I’m a half-lete.  Half of the time, I’m awesome at training.  I impress myself with my ability to push myself.  I have come really far in 3 years’ time.  (3 years since my first tri!  I still feel so new!)  I had never been on a speedy road bike until 2 years ago.  I had never really learned to freestyle swim until a year and 1/2 ago.  And now I’m at the point where I consistently finish in the top 10 in my age group.  But as I talked to the winner of this weekend’s triathlon–her gear set up right next to mine, I was a little jealous.  She of course had a ridiculous bike (race wheels! aerodynamic water bottle!), which she said “makes all the difference.”  But she also mentioned her consistent training this past year, a year with no injuries & how she cut 10 MINUTES off her time from last year.  10 minutes in an hour and 20 min race (how long it took me anyway) would’ve had ME in first–it’s huge.  I was starting to think I had gotten as good as I was going to get (5th place in my age group), and then she had me thinking–could I take 10 minutes off of my time?  What part of the race would those 10 minutes come from?  At least 3 could be shaved off my bike if I somehow came across $5,000 to buy a really speedy one.  An easy 3 minutes off my swim if I actually liked swimming enough to train for it–or spent any time in the ocean.

And then the “half” part of the half-lete kicks in: really, Kristy, $5,000 for 3 minutes?  And you know there’s no decent pool nearby to swim in.  And let’s not even start on the running I’d have to do to shave even a minute off my time.  Ugh, let’s just stop all this thinking about training & take a nap.  And then have a beer.  And a cookie.  And watch a movie.

But I got up this morning (after an amazing post-race night’s sleep), the morning AFTER a triathlon–and wanted to run.  I NEVER want to run at 6:00am.  I checked my newly posted race stats online shortly after & realized, after comparing my times with similar distances over the past three years–I clocked my fastest bike and run times ever!  My run was a full minute faster than anything I’d run before (maybe 3 minutes faster than my average), which–in a 3 mile run–is huge!  I came home from the race mildly pleased with my performance only to be totally overjoyed by it a day after.  I hit the gym for a quick swim after my work day.  Normally  I would take post-race day off, but I was too excited.  This is when the athlete comes out.

It may always be a bit back and forth with me, or maybe, one of these days–everything will align just right & the motivation will be there to really reach my potential.  I’m on my second week of eating (mostly) clean, shoving vegetables down my throat & sprinkling flax seed on pretty much any food that can be sprinkled upon.  It’s pretty interesting what your eating habits are when you genuinely focus on food as fuel for your body.  I’m not focused at all on calories.  I’m focusing on eating non-processed, whole foods…the fewer ingredients on the package, the better.  I literally picked 10 of the highest rated nutritional items in my Nutrition for Endurance Athletes book & bought them & ate them (and then rotated these out for other ones the next week).  Confession:  I have no interest in cooking at this point in my life (unless it’s for a party or something).  I don’t need or want recipes (so complicated).  I just chop the vegetables, grill the meet, cook the grains on the stove, pour on some seasonings high in antioxidants & eat it all.  I wouldn’t even season it if it wasn’t for the book telling me to.  I want to really make the connection between what I eat and how my training sessions go–my energy levels, my ability to recover quickly, etc.  So I hope this is a long term habit I’m building.  Quinoa is so much easier to cook than I imagined.  I always thought people cooked that stuff for hours.  Ready in 12 minutes?  OK, maybe I can become a whole food nut…who drinks Miller Lite on occasion, of course.

So, two more races on the calendar & I LOVE both of them.  The L.A. triathlon is coming up in two weeks, and it’s my favorite.  Nothing about it is easy (the rough water swim, the long bike, and the uphill run that KILLS)–but it’s so cool to ride through the streets of L.A. without any cars!  And it’s super awesome because so many of the pros compete–you get to see the best in the world!  Tonight, I sound very much like an athlete.  Talk to me again on Thursday when happy hour sounds more appealing than the thought of jumping in that dirty Bally’s pool one more time & fighting for a lane.

Back to School Shopping.

This was always my favorite part of the school year.  I of course thought that a few shirts and pants could redefine my status at school and at life.  If I had a real Coca-Cola logo polo shirt, maybe I would be a little less weird.  If I had those Guess jeans, perhaps I would finally stop wearing my reversible pants.  Keds, even!  Who KNEW the possibilities?  I was such an awkward kid, unfortunately, that nothing could really be done to cover up my “unique” self.  Luckily, my mom didn’t spoil me too bad– the majority of purchases were from Mervyn’s (could clothes be more BLAND?)  So, through no choice of my own, I never grew up being defined by a logo (unless you count Cherokee).  But I never gave up on the idea of September as a fresh start, a potential new identity.  Who needs New Year’s when you can have new school supplies?  Who needs a silly resolution when you can have real life goals?

School started this week in L.A., but I didn’t go school shopping.  I’m pretty much broke (but thanks for those designer jeans at the outlet, Mom!), so I went school shopping into the back of my closet, found things I haven’t worn in forever & brought those clothes out front.  Stick with me because this is about to become an amazing life metaphor.  I’ve got some new goals this September, and they don’t require me acquiring many new skills–just a re-arranging & molding them together in new ways.  Do you GET IT?  It’s just like my closet!!!

I’ve been thinking about “starting my own business” ideas for the past couple of years–only the past year semi-seriously, and now I’m ready to buckle down and move ahead with one particular idea.  I ordered business cards, so you know it is legit!  (Or at least I’ll be able to put it in that Chipotle business card drawing for a free burrito).  This is a side-business, so I don’t plan on leaving my current job or anything (bosses, that’s for you, if you’re reading this).  Many of you have heard my plan before, but I’m starting up a birthday party business (starting with kids but expanding to adults and corporate events).  It’s going to incorporate pretty much everything I love about life & also everything I’ve ever learned about working with kids.  It is my dream job if I had to define a dream job, so I figure 32 is a good time as any to start pursuing a dream.  I spent about a year finding ways to NOT focus on this idea, but that can kind of make you miserable (although you do get to watch endless episodes of The Real Housewives while you procrastinate)-so here we go!  I will keep you updated as more information is available, but I’m super excited about it.

That’s the main thing, though of course I like to shake everything up.  Triathlon season is coming to an end, so I like to challenge myself in different ways during “off season.”  Last time that meant running the L.A. Marathon.  This time around, I want to focus on trail running.  It’s always my favorite kind of running, but because I’m lazy–I tend to just run the same route outdoors–or run around a track, or a treadmill (yawn).  But I love being totally surrounded by quiet and nature and did I mention quiet?  It’s good for my brain.  And wakes your body up, too.  There are a few long trail races that I’ll do–not for speed, but just for the support that an organized race provides (safety, food/water, well-marked trails, etc).  I may even venture into mountain biking one of these days, but the idea right now terrifies me.  Anyway, there are so many great trails in Southern California, and I want to find them all!

And of course, no back to school would be complete without a fresh hair cut.  I messed this one up by attempting to trim my own hair the other day, and now have to go back to my hairdresser & show her the horror.  Maybe she will forgive me with a totally cute long, layered bob.

One of my friends said we’re always kind of defined by what we were like at 15.  That’s why I’ll probably always think of myself as an awkward geek who has memorized the lyrics to way too many musicals & wears $5 Old Navy short-sleeve plaid shirts with pride.  But the awkward geek as a grown up tends to win points for originality and quirkiness.  Where are those reversible pants when I need them?  Hipsters would probably swoooon!  Anyways, I’m looking forward to some fresh starts & positive change in the next few months.  I hope you are, too.

Race Report: Camarillo Duathlon Series

This past Sunday I raced my first duathlon.  Well, technically one of the triathlons last year had to cancel the swim due to dangerous waters–but this is my first EXPECTED duathlon.  The course was: 1.5 mile run/10 mile bike (which turned out to be 11.5)/1.5 mile run.  I have 3 more triathlons coming up to finish the season, and all of them are “sprint” distance–so this short race turned out to be great for training.

Camarillo, CA is about an hour away from L.A.–and I’m fine with driving that far because there is never any traffic this early on a Sunday.  Fog set in as I got closer–and drizzling–which bothered me a little since I couldn’t see very far in front of me & was worried about getting lost on the bike course.  There were only 150 people or so racing, and it reminded me of my old school Texas 5k/10ks I did.  You can sort of look around & guess that you will probably get a medal by default.  It’s harder to tell in these crowds, though, because you are usually semi-serious if you are willing to pack your bike & gear up & drive out here.  But my fears of getting lost on the course were growing at the sight of the small crowd of racers.  This crowd would disperse fairly quickly & I would be left on my own–not knowing the roads & probably going 10 miles off course.  So I spent my pre-race time warming up & studying the race map.

As soon as the race started (with a 10yr old at the start line next to me, awesome!), I knew I would do fairly well in the pack.  One woman charged ahead, and I knew it was a lost cause chasing her down.  One other woman was in front of me, but I’m fairly confident in my bike skills (especially on flat courses), so I wasn’t too concerned.  As the first run ended & I was putting on my bike shoes, though, another woman came out of nowhere & ran off with her bike much faster than me.  Oops.  But within a few miles on the bike, I had passed both of those girls & knew I was in second.  My hope now was to get enough distance on the bike that they couldn’t catch me on the second run.

And from this point on, I was pretty much racing all by myself.  I could see no one in front of me, so I’m glad I studied the map.  Also, I was prepared for 10 miles on the bike–and I’m very conscious of my pacing, nutrition, etc–so when 10 miles came and left–I was a bit annoyed to still be racing.  Sure, it was only 1.5 miles more on the bike…but at that point, I’m just ready to hop off and run again.   But I also had no idea what I would have left for this run.

The sun started to come out on the run.  It’s good because it made it a little less dreary, but it’s bad because the sun is hot.  Amazingly, though, the run felt pretty great.  I bounced right off my bike and into my running stride, and it felt almost effortless.  Again, I was running pretty much by myself, so it’s a little hard to RACE when there’s no one around–but I did my best to keep the pace up.  My last run was actually faster than my first, and no one caught up to me–so a nice 2nd place finish!  Yes, I got a Winner’s Circle sweatshirt that is 3 sizes too large for me.  I’ve already worn it to bed once.

What I loved about the race:  the small-town vibe, the flat fast course, the people racing, the laid back feeling the whole event had.  Although it felt great to have a really smooth race, it also made me think about how finishing times don’t mean much of anything in this sport (to me, anyway).  Every course is so different, so it is always about “What is the best I can do on this course today?”–not compared to last month or last year.  One of my worst finishing times was the triathlon in San Francisco–but it was one of my favorite races.  The hills killed me (but challenged me!), the views were AMAZING, & the run was mostly on beautiful trails.  I love this about multi-sport events.  Each one has its own personality, and as long as you’re not stuck too much on the outcome–they all have something to offer.

My next race is in another week or so.  It’s the Long Beach Triathlon, which should be pretty big & I’m excited to jump back into the ocean (terrified, as usual) & race a way more competitive (but equally as nice) crowd.  September/October is my favorite triathlon kind of year–my season is coming to a close, so you soak up all the race fun because it won’t be back until April/May.