Category: goals

Sports injuries suck, but opportunity knocks

witchcraft, spells, and potionsI was laying on an exam table for physical therapy, yesterday – not my favorite place to be. I trashed my left hip flexor on Saturday,  practicing bike remounts. (the kind when you just know it’s not good.) It was like being on a torture table because I knew the first step was going to be “rest”.  I hate rest.

(Note: This is not a cyclocross injury.  I’ve been “managing” it all tri season and hoping things would resolve on their own. My tri coach tactfully suggested that dealing with it would make a great off-season project. XC may not be the best rehab option for hip flexors.)

As an FYI, I get a little pissy when I’m injured and this sucked. I was riding my 1st race/ DFL high and looking forward to trying Gloucester with friends.
After the pissy phase, I entered the little crazy/desperate phase. I threw down 800 mg of ibuprofen, smeared on the biofreeze, and attacked the foam roller. After an hour without improvement, I made a desperate run to the pharmacy to buy Kinisio tape. After a bunch “How to Tape a Hip Flexor” videos on YouTube, my left hip was covered in black tape and I was hopeful. Specifically hoping for an overnight miracle cure.

I woke up on Sunday – no miracle. Crap. Maybe a pre-ride lap at Gloucester would loosen things up. It didn’t. It merely confirmed the absence of an overnight miracle. Crap. I went back to pissy.

Back into spectator uniform
Me, pissy @rsgloucester

Somehow, while I was trying to rationalize something pretty stupid, I remembered to eat my own dog food.  I checked my activity against my goals – I felt frenetic, so I knew something fundamental was off. My goals for all of this athletic stuff is to 1.have fun; 2. appreciate what my body is capable of; and 3. be healthy & smart so the fun and the body last as long as possible. I could push through this race, but I was stressed and it was unlikely to be very fun. It could also lead to a longer period of rest for recovery and could even mean no more races this fall and/or no hard training for a while.  None of these were acceptable to me. I unwilling to accept the downside of racing today. Since I wasn’t favored to win and wasn’t taking home any prize money to feed my family – I made the choice that was best for my long-term / overall goals. And remained pretty pissy about the whole situation.

On Monday I got my PT prescription and my initial exam was set for the next day. My hip flexor was definitely healing and feeling much better – almost enough improvement to rethink PT. If I hadn’t said something out loud to Jason, I might have “waited”, but I promised I was taking care of this. I really didn’t want another DNS.

Tuesday morning, the pissiness finally started to fade. I resigned to my situation. I do believe that every injury is a message from my body which I’m usually too dense to hear the first few times.  My ever-so-helpful body elevates the warnings until I finally pay attention.  The simple message here was that I needed to invest in my hip flexors if I wanted to continue to push faster cycling and run times. It wasn’t going to happen without a new strategy. I want to be active until I’m ~100+, so I “choose” to participate in a healthy sustainable way. Sigh.

Once I accepted my injury, I felt less crazed and could see how modifying short term plans actually better supported my long-term goals.  I relax ed a bit. This was when the new opportunity represented itself.  This injury actually gave me a restart on cyclocross.

As an enthusiastic human, I frequently start things in the middle. (I was the kid who spent more time thinking of a band name than learning how to actually play guitar, when starting a rock band.)  We had skin suits designed and delivered before I even had a CX bike, let alone ever rode on grass, dirt, or gravel (forget sand, mud, or wood chips). In my usual enthusiasm, I got my cross bike and jumped into skills classes without learning how to ride off asphalt! These details may have occurred to someone else a little sooner, but I get so darn excited.

Opportunity in InjuryIn that moment it occurred to me that this could be a better (probably more fun) approach to CX. And it works with PT and modified training – no mounts or dismounts or big hills for a while, but I can ride flat on a variety of terrain, do turning drills, and get comfortable on my bike – learn how it works and return to drills when I have a better foundation. Brilliant.

Sometimes my body is much smarter than my brain. Without an intermission – I guarantee you I would have continued to slam through drills and be the slowest human between features – ever.

Stubborn Goals

Be stubborn about your goals, and flexible about your methodsOk, here it is, as clearly as I can say it…
Nationals is in 2 weeks and I’m not going. I committed to a goal back in October, when I registered for the 2014 USA Triathlon National Championships – Olympic Distance. – and I’m not going. Ugh.

I delayed and languished over this decision for weeks and finally made it about a month ago. I just haven’t been able to declare it, clearly enough for anyone to know.

I’ve been very busy torturing myself with doubt and second guessing.   “Am I just scared?” “Would I ever go?” “Should I just suck it up and go?” “Who did I think I was sharing this crazy goal?” “Am I wimping out?” “Why did I ever share this with anyone?” Ugh. “What was I thinking?” “This is why I never share my real goals out loud.” (This feels an awful lot like failure.)

Trying to avoid going back on my goal and feeling all this, I reconsider sucking it up, going, and making the best of it. I could do that. But that feels worse. I want to stay close to home now. The stress of going is definitely bigger than the stress of accepting a decision to withdraw. I know it’s the right decision for me. and my triathalife.  Again, ugh.

Nationals is in 2 weeks and I’m not going…..this year…

I’m actually still very attached to my goal of competing in Nationals and wearing a Team USA uniform to World’s. I’m no less passionate about this vision than I was the first day I saw a picture of my coach in her Team USA kit, competing in London. This is a real, stubborn goal and I’m not letting go of it. I’m only letting go of my timeline.

My training over the past year has been an excellent investment.  I’ve learned a ton. I ave a ton still to learn. (This is possibly the most exciting part of triathlon for me, btw.) I’m an age-grouper and I do this for fun. How I arrive at nationals, whenever that may be, is just as important to me as getting there. I want to be free of worry, fully present, and able to enjoy the experience – even more than I want the Team USA kit.

I still feel disappointed that I’m not going this year. I hope I can qualify for next year. If I don’t, I know I’ll get there someday . If nothing else I’m persistent. Some might say stubborn.

Breaking Good

Breaking GoodRest day = Time to reflect on my first week with my new coach.

Right now, what I’m most aware of is the impact of change on my routine.  My training volume hasn’t really increased, but the amount of time it takes me to complete a training has increased, noticeably.

On the busy days when there was juggling of work and family schedules, it was actually a mental challenge to stay committed to the new plan and not fall back into habit. And it’s not like I have a ton of bad habits that I have to break. I was sort of successful in my first full triathlon season.  I got to stand on the podium after a few local races.  So, I’m actually breaking good habits…? Um, why?

More reflection. Let’s see…
  • What I’ve done in the past has been effective and has earned me what I have.
  • I have new goals.
  • They’re more ambitious than what I achieved last year.
  • If I use my same ways on my new goal, I’m likely to keep getting what I already got. I’d keep myself from achieving my new goals.  (I know I’m shooting for a crazy leap forward, not just improvement.)
  • And my coach is awesome. She’s competed so well at Nationals that she went to Worlds. Updated: she just won Rev3Venice Olympic – she’s crazy awesome!
  • And lucky for me, she doesn’t care so much about my fabulous history. She’s coaching me to get what I want, next. Everything she’s suggesting is focused forward.
  • Interesting stuff.

I’m like working with my new coach and I’m sure the workouts will feel more natural Soon. Right now I feel like I’m spending a lot of time trying to figure out what my new exercises are:”dead bug“, “bird dog“, and “vertical swimming“.  (I had no idea.) I’m also working on (finding) muscles that I had no idea were involved in swimming, biking, or running.  It’s awkward. I’m awkward.

Battling the frustration/change tests my resolve.  If I was to put a positive spin on this, I suppose that this internal dialog is confirming my desire to get to nationals and my willingness to adapt.  Darwin would be proud.

End: reflection.

Swim – Cruise Finder #1

U R Here

The 1st step in any good planning is to figure out where you are.

My coach, being a really good planner, needs to know where I am with my swimming.  So today’s swim workout was geared to finding my baseline.  Kelsey tells me that this will be my “cruise time”.

Today’s cruise-finder workout:
  • warm-up (my choice – as long as it includes a include 4 x 25 build @ :15 rest (which means I start out easy and increase my speed so I’m sprinting by wall touch.)
  • Cruise-finder: 5 x 100 fast with 2 seconds rest after each 100.
  • cool down (my choice)

My cruise time is: my total time, minus 8 seconds, divided by 5.    8:35/5 = 01:43 /100y

The high school swim coach was nice enough to time me this morning.  He commented that I was exactly at 4:00 at 250y, then I slowed, and then picked my pace back up.  His observations coincided perfectly with how I was thinking.   Just after the half way point, I started to worry that I might not have enough in the tank to finish.  Then that thought led to a bunch of other concerning thoughts.  When I touched the wall with 75 yards to go, I noticed that I wasn’t focused and put my attention back to the task at hand.

My thoughts on today’s workout:
  1. I always feel like I’m swimming so much faster than I really am. 🙂
  2. I really don’t know what I am capable of for the swim.  I know what “all-out” is for running, but no idea for swimming.  I don’t think I’ve ever gone all-out.
  3. Focus and positive thinking is really important under water.
  4.  I wish I could do flip-turns.
  5. I wonder how fast I can get?

My coach – preview

whistle“There is hardly anything you can’t do if you have, and you nurture, the proper support systems.  Don’t lower the goal, increase your support.” ~Jim Hayhurst Sr

I have my new, big goal – competing strongly at the 2014 USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships – Olympic Distance. Now I need to increase my support and hire the right coach to help me achieve my goal. I’ve connected with Kelsey Abbot and finally returned my Athlete History form to her (after stalling for weeks). I sent her my goals, yesterday, and here’s her awesome response:

“I think top 25/worlds’ qualifier at nationals is awesomely outrageous–a challenge obviously, but if a human being can go from a couple cells to a human-like clump of cells to cells that function to cells that function on their own in 9 months and 1 week, then dammit, you can drop a chunk of time for an olympic in the same amount of time. I can work with you if you can accept the following: 1.) every race is different so times may or may not be comparable and 2) we can’t control where you end up placing because we can’t control how other people do, but we can turn you into a superhero.”

“1.) every race is different so times may or may not be comparable” – Yes, I’m flexible in my mindset to allow for the surprise uphill swim, random summer blizzard, or sneaky ninja ambushes. These races may not give me a PR, but they certainly make for great stories.
“2) we can’t control where you end up placing because we can’t control how other people do, but we can turn you into a superhero.”- YES!  This is a VERY important to me – because I’m not really motivated by besting other people. I am VERY good at focusing on my own goals and running my own race. It makes me feel smarter on race day to follow my plan. If I meet my time goal and don’t wind up placing well, I rarely care. (OK, If it’s close, then I do replay the day over & over and second guess everything for a few days.)

I don’t know if you watched the World Series, but here’s my analogy…In game 1, David Ortiz hit a grand slam home run.  Carlos Beltran reached over the wall and into the bullpen and caught the ball outside of the park. So, the result wasn’t a home run and David Ortiz still hit a home run.  My goal is to hit the home run.

Yup, I found the right coach for me.

updated: my coach is this awesome! Click here to see a picture of Kelsey winning 2013 Rev3 Venice Olympic Distance.

Unexpected Joys of Running

Monster Inc.
image courtesy of Pixar

Sully and Mike Wizowski were right.  There’s more energy in laughter.

This past Sunday, I ran the Ashland Half Marathon.  The plan was to leave the garmin at home and run in a tutu and fairy wings,  1. It was so close to Halloween and 2. To remind myself that I was doing this one for fun.  Somewhere, maybe 15 yards past the start line, I started making plans to ditch the wings which were flapping all around.

And then I ran past a group of spectators.  The youngest were toddlers.  I was unprepared for their un-containable excitement.  There were squeals and smiles and exclamations – “mom, look there’s a fairy!”  Wow!  You can’t get that from from two cups of coffee!  And it was contagious – I smiled.  All the runners around me smiled – and we kept running.

13.1 (hilly) miles.  It never stopped.  The squeals, the excitement, the smiles.  They came from toddlers most readily, but there were no shortages from parents and grandparents. Each and every time it happened – I smiled wider and felt a surge of energy.  The wings kept flapping and bumping my arms, but there was no way I could ditch them, anymore.  I was hooked on this and I was actually having a blast  – running a half marathon.

When the race was done, I waited in line for my complimentary massage. It was such a hilly course, my quads were burning and my hamstrings were tight, as expected.  But for the first time, I was aware of sore muscles where I’ve never felt sore.  My cheeks.  The muscles in my cheeks were actually tight and ached from smiling for 13.1 miles.

I accomplished my race goal for Sunday – “have fun.”  And as an added bonus, powered by laughter and joy, I also set a new half marathon PR.  Go figure.

I may re-examine my perspective on endurance and trying hard.

Alex running in a tutu
this is why my cheek muscles ached.