I recently posted about my goals for next year and I’m happy to report that I am already making strides (no pun intended) toward reaching them, even though my 2013 season isn’t even over yet!

Next Saturday, I will be running the North Central Rail Trail Marathon as a two-person relay with my friend, Sara. That will be my last race of the 2013 season.

It’s been an interesting year. I started with the injury and didn’t even race until August. I had a good Olympic distance race in August (despite a crash) and completed my first century ride later that month, but I had a bunch of disappointing race results after that, which is part of why I’m super motivated this off-season to reach my goals for next year.

To that end, I’ve really stepped up my game over the last two weeks. I’m back to doing several two-a-days a week, which I haven’t done in months. I’m swimming. A lot. Four times this week, in fact. I’ve been getting up super early for Masters and I have to say I already feel better about my swimming. I think swimming, even more so than the other two sports, requires consistency. And, I’m doing it. Even when my alarm goes off and I have to get out of my warm bed at 4:25 a.m.

I’ve also joined a group ride the last two Saturdays. The ride is a Tri360/Ignite Endurance ride through Arlington. It’s only 21 miles, but it is very hilly – 2000 ft of climbing. I got my butt kicked the first week. I got my butt kicked slightly less yesterday. Small victories!! I’m hoping that over the course of the winter, this ride will get me stronger leading into tri camp in February. I’m definitely out of my league with this group of top age groupers and Kona qualifiers, but that is a good thing for me. I really want to push myself this winter, even if it means I’m trailing behind the pack during group rides week after week. I know that is the only way I will get better.

Speaking of pushing myself, I was galaxies out of my comfort zone during my Thursday treadmill workout this week. One of my goals for next year is to improve my running speed, so Alyssa has me working on my speed on the treadmill.  I haven’t been a treadmill runner since college and I find it very difficult to get into any kind of comfortable groove on the treadmill. When I do, I usually go much slower than my usual outside pace, because that is the only way I can feel comfortable. We’re talking 5.5 mph. Even that is hard for me to maintain for more than ten minutes. My treadmill aversion is that bad. I just can’t get comfortable, no matter what I do.

Well, on Thursday, Alyssa had me doing speed work on the treadmill at 8.8 mph! Yes, that is an 8 (eight), as in, number of legs (arms?) on an octopus. Suffice it to say, going into the workout, I had serious doubts about whether my legs were even capable of moving that fast. The day before, when I told my husband about the workout, he was seriously worried I was going to hurt myself.

Not only did I have the speedwork to do, but also a warm-up and cool-down on the treadmill, which would require me to try to get into a comfortable pace and run more than ten minutes on that damn machine. Anxiety levels were high.

Before I even started, I took several measures in an effort to set myself up for success. I had Jon move the TV, so I could see it while I was running. I opened the window so that I wouldn’t get too hot. I got a huge water bottle full of ice and water to drink. I started off and told myself to just get comfortable and do it. Don’t think about it. It will be over soon.

Much to my surprise – shock even – I made it!! I didn’t go flying off of the back of the treadmill. My legs didn’t give out from under me. It was amazing! I was ecstatic! Granted, I’ve been sore ever since, even just walking, BUT it was totally (totally) worth it to have this victory!

One of the reasons I have fallen in love with running and triathlon over the last couple of years is that there is no better feeling in the world than doing something you thought you couldn’t do. That definitely happened on Thursday. I’m hoping this treadmill run was the first of many barriers I will be breaking through this winter, on my way to an awesome 2014!


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