I’m actually really great at off-seasoning.

So, I’m two weeks into off season, and I have to say–it’s not so bad.  I wiped off my white board that listed daily workouts each week.  I left it blank.  The first week I only worked out 4 times, and this week I’m back to a more regular 5 times a week.  I have only a few rules at the moment:  don’t pay attention to miles/speed, don’t workout for more than an hour a day, and no hill work.  My body is pretty at great at determining what is or is NOT ok.  I had big dreams of endless trail runs in off-season, but my last week of racing–my right knee was feeling it.  I’ve had knee pain before & thought it was the end of my running.  I’m so dramatic.  Turns out, it’s always a result of an increase of hill work and/or tight quads that goes away when I take out hills & foam roll regularly.  So, no trails for the moment.  Instead, I’m sticking to mostly biking and swimming & some strength work.  The knee doesn’t actually hurt while running–only when doing deep lunges or on stairs, but I’m starting to learn that taking care of injuries early on saves loads of recovery time.

You would think the more you train/race, the more oblivious you are to things like balance or rest or fun.  But in my experience, it’s been so much the opposite.  Especially with triathlon, it has helped me to see how you can’t always be at 100%…that rest is just as important as training.  I used to find one race after another to run throughout the year–sure, they were different lengths & therefore my training looked different, but I don’t remember ever giving myself much of a break.  Or thinking “these next few months, it’s ok to be slow.”  And when January comes around again, the white board can fill up again & who knows–hopefully next year I can make even more improvements.

Today was very exciting because I didn’t get out of bed until 9am.  And instead of hopping on the bike, I had a cup of coffee.  Since my ride won’t be 2 hours long, I can still fit it in this afternoon & take it easy this morning.  It is a good feeling.  Sure, there is no high quite like those 2 1/2 workouts at UCLA this August, but this is nice, too.

I have begun to have a bit of a social life.  I did some pumpkin carving, went on a date or two, going out for Halloween tonight–and Clippers/Spurs game on Monday (not quite as cool as my dad and my brother seeing a WORLD SERIES game on Sunday).  It’s funny how out of practice I am, though.  There were several months of teaching and coming home to training and back again, so all of my communication was with a coach/trainer or with 5-12 yr olds.  I need some lessons on conversational skills.

I’m still working on the new business, and it’s moving along slowly but surely.  It’s all about finding pockets of time where I can get things done.  It’s a challenge, but it’s one that needs to happen.  I have a cool new logo (thanks Mike) now, so I will be promoting it like crazy in January.  Happiness!

Ahhh, November is on its way & with it one of my favorite holidays–Thanksgiving.  It’s one of the only holidays I actually understand and believe in (eating, giving thanks, yes–I can do that).  I’m going back to Texas, doing a turkey day run with my sister-in-law, seeing my nephew, niece, brothers & parents.  Hello!  I’m brainstorming strange trips for Christmas break (the Grand Canyon perhaps?).  I love the holidays.  HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!

Race Report (Playa Del Rey) and end of my 2010 Season!

Quite a way to end a season: a rainy cold morning in L.A.  It was kind of cool, though.  By the end, I was soaked, covered in mud & cold.  It certainly makes you feel like you really DID something.  But my general reflection on this race is: why did I do ANOTHER race?  I counted back & realized I have raced 4 races in the past 6 weeks.  Fun, yes, but I’m discovering I can’t just show up on race day–say “get into race mode” & then go.  I’m a moody racer.  The ocean was mean to me; it hurt my feelings by picking me up and hurling me around a few times before it sent me to shore.  I yelled at it.  I think the lifeguard thought I was yelling at him.  So already, after the first event, I’m a little beaten down.

Once I was on my bike, I was definitely back in the zone.  I know this course so well (I train there at least once a week), & I finished the 12 miles in 40 minutes.  Not bad for a wet course.  And then I started the run, which is the most boring run that could exist.  It’s an out and back on a sidewalk.  Yes, there is an ocean view, but it is overrated–especially when it’s dark and cloudy & also it’s the ONLY view for 3 miles.  I ran the first mile trying to think of a song in my head that would entertain me at least for a mile.  I would start to think of a song (Eminem’s “I’m not Afraid”) & then mid-way through the first lyric, I was suddenly thinking of another song (Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb”).  If my focus in day to day life lasts about 8 minutes at a time, my focus on a run is about 15 seconds.  I was too frustrated with the songs, so I just looked at the cars on the right side of the way (I would have the entire way back to stare at the ocean).  I prayed for the turn-around (which meant a tiny cup of water from the volunteers).  Once I hit the turn-around, I sped up (my feet felt so heave earlier) & passed a few people.  Luckily, I caught up with one girl with about .10 miles to go & was totally able to sprint finish at the end to beat her.  I’m really good at appearing really really fast in the last 5 seconds of the race.

I placed 5th in my division, 15th overall.  I was bummed I didn’t end the season with a medal.  Yes, I’m spoiled.  But I knew my race was actually OK…the swim was longer than last year, which always kills me.   But I loved the feeling of being able to leave the race right away (sticking around for medals is always another hour at least) in the rain, drive to 7-11 & happily order a VERY unhealthy bacon and egg burrito that falsely claims a calorie count of 280.  The great thing about these races–even if you don’t meet your expectations, you still get an AMAZING workout in–in the outdoors, which is awesome–even in the rain.  And the feeling of hopping into bed after the race & passing out for my post-race nap—ahhhh.  The cold and the clouds were perfect for this day.

I am very happy about the season being over.  I realize that running a marathon in my off-season last year actually gave me NO off season.  I went from a marathon in March–to racing in April, May, June, July, September, and October–a total of 9 races (8 triathlons+1 duathlon).  It somehow didn’t seem like that much when I was planning it last January.  I actually remember thinking, “I’m going to race more selectively this year.”   So, I’m definitely happy that I won’t be putting my gear and bike into my Mustang anytime soon to shuttle off to another event at 4:30am.  Don’t get me wrong, the races are awesome–but because they don’t HURT physically like a marathon, I somehow think it doesn’t take anything out of me.

I had no problem taking today off (of course, there were a few “i need to get in the pool right away, so I can seek revenge on the ocean next year” thoughts).  I am no good without any plan, though.  Mindless working out never worked will for me.  I’ve been working out and racing for over 10 years, and I can’t imagine doing it without a goal.  So, this week is about finding my *off season* goals.  I thought I would just go into the trail-running scene & run long distances, but then I thought, “ummm, exhausting!” and “hard on my legs!”  So I’m going to keep variety in the off-season.  I want to focus more on technique in swimming (and just more swimming in general), more speed work on the runs (with some 5k/10ks thrown in for fun), & some indoor workouts on my bike (just bid on a ‘bike trainer’ on ebay, so i can ride in the comfort of my own room…if no one outbids me).  Now, you’re probably thinking, “That doesn’t sound like much of an off-season.”  But all of these goals will just be driven by impulse and opportunity.  I’m a member of the LA triathlon club, and through that club–I’ve been introduced so far to some great coaches, cool gyms, awesome lectures, etc–and so I will be taking advantage of classes and things that come along…it’s often hard to randomly fit these things into your ‘workout plan,’ but since I don’t have a ‘written in stone’  plan–shouldn’t be so bad.   I may try out some kind of yoga class (I need some flexibility please!), & I really really wanna try paddle-boarding (make yourself ONE with the ocean, Kristy…stop fighting it).

I love the community I live in, where this world of race reports and training is normal…and yet it will be fun to get back to my other friends who I probably haven’t hung out with in a long time.  And I can focus on finalizing my costume for Halloween!  And stay up late even!  So, thanks for reading these ridiculous triathlon details that are most likely only interesting to me.  I will have other stories to tell soon, I hope.

Race Report: L.A. Triathlon 2010

Full circle–I just looked at previous posts & noticed one of my first on my ‘new’ site was a race report of this race last year.  I hopefully won’t be reporting the exact same information.

For whatever reason, I always get most pumped up about this race.  It’s probably because it’s an “urban” race, which is different from every other race I do (which primarily take place at and around a beach or lake).  It has a big fancy finish at L.A. Live downtown, which sort of overshadows my last duathlon–where they had hot dogs on the grill (but no ketchup or mustard) & a winner’s circle sweatshirt for me.  I love them both, but sometimes it’s fun to race a race that the pro athletes compete in.

Race morning:  my wave doesn’t start until 9am, but we are told to get our bikes into transition by 7am.  I’ve noticed in the past that people show up way later than 7, and that’s my goal for  the morning.  I hate waiting around for hours.  So, I hopped on my bike around 7:15am & rode the 5 miles to the beach.  Sure enough, I got in with no problem.  Unfortunately, all the bike racks were full, but I just leaned mine up against one & got my stuff all ready.  By the time I made it out to the ocean, it was around 8:15…perfect…time to jump in the water, watch some folks at the start, and then get ready to go!

The waves were calmer this year (I would say 4 ft), but it was still rough water.  Running into it is still slightly scary, but I’ve actually come to appreciate the waves.  They break up the monotony of the swim & keep you on your toes.  So, I started right in the front of the group, not because I’m a fast swimmer–but because I thought if I sprinted into the water, I could get a head start & eliminate all the kicking and hitting that happens early on in the swim.  It worked for me this time.  I dove under several waves & then eventually got past them.  There were swimmers around me but luckily no one in my space.  I focused on keeping my stroke speedy (I sometimes get into this slow & steady kind of pace) & before I knew it, I was heading back towards the finish.  The waves kept coming on the way in, & one massive one brought us all down.  It kind of sucked because up to that point, I had remained relatively calm & salt-water free…but I made my way to shore & onto the bike.

I hardly saw anyone on the bike.  There was one girl in front of me who I was slowly catching up to, so I eventually decide I should pass her.  Now, in a USAT sanctioned race there are certain rules–you can’t draft off of one another, once you decide to pass–you must complete the pass (and the other person must let you…and then they can pass you later).  So I pull up beside her & she SPEEDS UP.  It’s the same feeling you get when someone does that in a car.  You’re like “what? are you kidding?”  I eventually back down & am back behind her again.  But she slows a little, and I approach her again.  I attempt to pass–and she does the same thing!!!  I look at her, laughing, and say “REALLY??”  She laughs back, not meaning any harm (I want to shout “ILLEGAL MOVE!”) & I say “OK, go ahead, keep doing it.  It keeps me going faster!”  I stay behind her the rest of the race.  She kept turning back to see me there, so I knew I was actually helping HER more than she was helping me.  But we basically entered our next transition place at the same time, so I told her “Great job! Thanks for keeping up the pace!” & went to grab my running gear.  I never saw her again after that, so I’m proud to say she couldn’t catch me on the run!

Oh–so in this transition spot, I put on my running shoes, grab my baseball hat, & my race bib number & I’m off to the run.  One problem= I left my bike helmet on!  HILARIOUS!  In a moment where I thought I couldn’t be more of a SERIOUS athlete, I am running with a bike helmet!!!  I attempt to put my cap on, and then I make the realization & instead of running back to my spot, I just throw the helmet in the transition area thinking I would find it later.

The run is painful.  My dream is that someone has a triathlon course where the run is not a simple out and back…it’s incredibly boring, especially with no music.  I would do so much better on a one loop course, a course with lots of turns, a trail, anything…this one does have one unique thing going for it–a gigantic hill.  I used the hill to my advantage, though, and walked part of it as I caught my breath from getting off the bike & used it on the way down to get a little rest (instead of pounding my way down it) before pushing it at the end.  My stomach is bothering me some (cramping)–but nothing like last year’s pain…it just keeps me from going as fast as I’d like.  I have to walk a total of 3 minutes or so, which isn’t bad.  I was feeling like crap, but I just kept going & found a girl in my age group who was running pretty strong.  I ran beside her, hoping to find a pacing partner for the final 1.5 miles, but she pulled ahead! How dare she!?  So then I pulled ahead & somehow managed to stay there until taking a drink of water from one of the aid stations…she went right past me.  I had some finishing speed, though, so I picked up the pace, passed her & down the final stretch passed another girl & sprinted home.

I felt completely dead.  I really focused this race on giving my all in every sport.  Sprint races are so short (.65k swim, 14 mile bike, 3.1 mile run) that I don’t need to think much about ‘pacing’ myself.  I am just learning how to really push it through the whole race, and I felt like I did it.  And it was SO much fun to have other ladies alongside of me.  It’s amazing how much more you can do with your competition so close.  Normally we’re so spread out through the race, so I have no idea where my competition even is.

Even though I felt dead, I felt completely awesome.  I raced a great race, regardless of what the finish board says.  I wandered over to the finish times & saw that I was 2nd in my age group! WOO HOO!  I had a big grin plastered across my face.  It means so much when you put time and effort into something & you actually get to see it pay off in front of you.  And you have a great time while doing it!   My prize this year= a $15 visor.  (not to mention a finisher’s medal & a second place medal).  These prize packages are becoming so large; it’s probably safe to say I could quit my full-time job now & just coast on prize money.

So, there you go–looking at my race times, I found a couple of interesting things: 1) I was 6th out of the swim–which was really great for me…could it be I’m improving? 2) my bike time was almost EXACTLY the same as last year (goal for next year=spend more time riding hilly courses…it’s the only way I can improve) 3) my transition times were faster than anyone’s & won me my 2nd place position (which means I’m really great at getting out of a wetsuit & running with a bike helmet on).

I have one more race this season–in two weeks–and of course I’m excited to compete one more time & also excited to work on some off-season goals.  Oh, and this race qualified me for the Nationals again next year–they are in Vermont, which sounds beautiful.  Maybe I’ll actually make it out there this time around!