Getting my $h!t Together

I haven’t blogged in many months and it’s reflective of where I’ve been with my triathlon training this year.

A few weeks ago, my husband’s business sponsored a local charity race, and a lot of ladies from my running group were there. I haven’t seen them in awhile because my schedule has been so different since I switched jobs last November. It was awesome to catch-up with everyone after so many months apart, but inevitably one by one, they would ask me what I was training for. For the first time in 8 years, I didn’t have an answer.

I was planning to race Tupper Lake Tinman (which I raced in 2016) at the end of June, but after doing about a third (that may be generous) of the training I would need to truly race a half Ironman, I decided to volunteer at the race instead. I thought about racing the Olympic, but I haven’t really done the speedwork that I would need to race an Olympic, either. Since I had already requested the time off from work and we already had our hotel booked, I ended up using the time to take a relaxing vacation with my mom in the Adirondacks. We had a great time – drank wine, finished a 1,000-piece puzzle, sat by the lake, and watched movies. And I got in one very cool trail run.

 

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Volunteering at Tinman was fun, but of course, not the same as racing, and I think it helped me refocus my priorities a bit. It was actually a wake-up call for me. It reminded me that I feel my best when I am training, eating right, racing, and socializing with like-minded people.

In addition to volunteering, I also happened to listen to a podcast interview with one my former Team-HPB teammates, Mary Knott, on the drive to New York, and I think both of these things combined made me really appreciate how much I miss all aspects of my triathlon life – being in shape, training with friends, and coaching.

I decided to register for next year’s Tinman and I recruited a friend to race with me, as well. That gives me something to look forward to for next year at least, but I knew I would need something to focus on more immediately. I had registered for an October 50k many months ago, but I think part of me doubted whether I would really be able to get in the shape to get it done, especially without a coach. I have been thinking about the race, but not really focusing on it as a goal, since it feels so out of reach at my current fitness level.

Yesterday morning, I tagged along with my sort-of boss for a small group ride that reminded me how much fun it is to train with people. We only rode about 40 miles, but I love social rides in new places with great people and it was just what the doctor ordered to light the fire in me to get serious about training again.

And, then, on top of that, today was day one for the new Machine M3 women’s-only beginner triathlete training group. I’ll be coaching four ladies to finish their first triathlons at the Patriots Sprint Triathlon this fall. Chatting with these ladies at masters swim this morning totally brought me back to 2010, when I thought I might “someday” want to try a tri. It really reminded me how transformative and empowering this sport can be.

So, I sat down and wrote out my training plan for the next three months to get me race ready for the 50k – and I mean really race ready. Not “am I possibly in shape to finish this race?” ready. That’s a tall order because this race is no joke:

The Cloudsplitter 100 will take place on High Knob, deep in the heart of Central Appalachia, during the weekend of October 7-8, 2017. High Knob is located at the highest point in the Cumberland Mountains at an elevation of 4,223 feet above sea level. The 100 mile course, as well as the accompanying 100k, 50k and 25k distances, will wind along rugged, rocky and remote trails within Jefferson National Forest. Although parts of this region have been developed, strip mined or heavily logged, High Knob remains relatively untouched, and it is home to some of the greatest diversity of plant life in the Commonwealth of Virginia, making it a true ecological treasure. The unique trails on High Knob pass through dense forestland dotted with cliffs, water crossings, waterfalls, rock shelters, rhododendron thickets, caves and enormous sandstone boulders. This is one of the more physically demanding trails in the East, and it remains a significant unprotected wilderness area. On a clear day, four other states can be seen from the High Knob summit: West Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky and North Carolina.

This morning, after my workout, I texted my friend (I’m not using her name in case she hasn’t put it “out there” that she is doing this yet) to check-in. I think being virtual training buddies (for the race we will actually do together) is going to help me immensely on the motivation front (I hope she doesn’t mind getting texts from me every weekend, because that is totally happening!). She replied back about her training, and I immediately felt that training camaraderie I have been craving. 

So, my focus for the next three months will be the Cloudsplitter 50k. I plan to do a mix of trail runs, hikes, and strength work in preparation for the race. I also hope to incorporate some TRX training back into the mix. It’s not going to be easy – but nothing worth doing ever is.

Coaching

It’s been over one month since the Ironman and my life still hasn’t returned to “normal.” I don’t mean that in a bad way, or even a good way, but in the BEST way! Lots of exciting things are happening and I’m looking forward to sharing them on the blog over the coming weeks and months.

One of the biggest pieces of news I have to share is that I’m joining the fabulous, talented team of coaches at Machine M3 to help out with their Youth Triathlon Team!

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As you may remember, last winter, I decided one of my big goals leading into the 2015 season was to work on my strength. A few people had recommended TRX to me and I was intrigued, but a little intimidated. My friend Cassie teaches TRX at Machine M3 in Vienna, VA and she encouraged me to try a class there. I’m so glad she did because I tried my first TRX class at Machine M3 in February and haven’t looked back! TRX is now a regular part of my training routine. Not only has it helped me improve my swim, bike, and run, but it’s something I look forward to each week because the classes are fun and social, too. M3 recently added yoga to their scheduled as well, and I’m looking forward to mixing some yoga into my routine in the coming months.

While up until now, I’ve been a “student” a M3, that is all about to change. Starting next week, I will be helping Andrew, the head triathlon and masters swim coach at M3, with their elite group of youth triathletes. I’m so thrilled about this opportunity. I have a lot of knowledge and enthusiasm to share with the athletes and a lot to learn from Andrew and the other coaches. I can’t wait to get started!

The great thing about the youth team at M3 is that the athletes have the opportunity to come together for in-person, coached, group workouts several times a week. So, even though triathlon is an individual sport, M3 athletes get all the benefits of being on a team – the camaraderie and support of teammates during training and racing, and the motivation that comes from pushing each other to improve and succeed. I wish I could have joined a team like this when I was growing up!

I’m so excited to start working with the athletes and to follow their progress throughout the 2016 season. If you live in the area and want to learn more about any of the M3 programs I’ve mentioned, visit the M3 website at www.machinem3.com or like M3 on Facebook.