Choo-Choo, Baby

This may come as a shock, but we are actually returning this blog to training for a bit.

While I have been wallowing in my pity party and shaking my funk and getting the fuck over it, I was also working through my training plan for 2015-2016.

I had a couple things I had to reconcile within my training plan, which typically goes like this: go short in the spring, do a marathon in the fall.

The truth is, I LOVE marathons, but they don't always GO with sprint training. No matter how mentally and physically tired I get while training for a marathon, I love having part of the year to just run, and I love the spiritual transformation I experience only when I run 26.2 miles. I need to make sure my year ALWAYS includes a marathon as long as I'm physically capable (according to the experts, some day my body may not go that far any more).

I also realized that my goal of qualifying for nationals a third time - and going this time - is only going to happen when the sprint distance once again becomes something I totally own. Not just something I do a few times because it helps me to stay training. And, for me, totally owning one distance means it has to feel EASY most of the time. Which means I need to be doing something that feels HARD part of time, so that I can really own that Sprint in the face.

The truth is I can usually only afford to do a few BIG races a year, as well. So I have to choose carefully and focus myself.

So. I was thinking about how I can blend these things together.

And this was the result.

In May 2016, I will return to the 70.3 distance.

This is one of the most momentous announcements I've ever made, training-wise.  Not I'd like to BQ some day, not I am signing up for my first 70.3, not I want to qualify for Nats a third time.

Nope. Not even close.

7 years ago, I attempted my first half iron triathlon.  I did not finish it.  I made it all the way to the last loop and I did not make the time cutoff on the run. The truth was that I did not really respect or understand how much it took to train for IM, even IM 70.3, and I had been pretty sick for a while and somehow always managed to pull races out of my ass despite my training being spotty, so I just assumed IM 70.3 was going to be the same way.

I was MAD.

You see, I thought the culmination of all efforts of all triathlon training were Ironman. I thought everyone was supposed to go longer and longer and longer until they were at the 140.6

And that is just not true.

I took some time off from multi-sport, I got sick, I got well.  I did some bike racing, some long-distance swimming, and even went on a full Ironman plan.  I did more than someone would need to do in order to be mentally and physically prepared for 70.3 - in fact, I was so trained at long distances that my friends started to ask me The Question.

You know The Question: When are you going to do a 140.6?!!?  You're pretty much trained for it anyway.

My training volume was high, and strong, and I was comfortable, and well, and uninjured. At any point back then, I could have signed up for a 70.3.  I was so well-trained at long distance that, to this day, I still feel like I deserve to say I am an iron-distance athlete, despite that pesky 70.3 DNF. 

And throughout this I said to myself - several times - one day, just for my own mental clarity, I am going to sign up for another 70.3 and add the legitimate hardware and finish to the books so that I can feel like I did not let a race distance beat me.

And I think I am ready.

I am not ready because I have something to prove. I am not ready because I think I'm a Bad Bitch. I am not ready because I think that you have to go 70.3 or 140.6 to be a "real" athlete.

I'm ready because It Makes Sense. 

For one thing, some of the Oly tri's I considered for off- and early-season races cost almost as much. For another, this allows me to blend what I'm doing now back into multisport. I'm already training for the run and I have almost a year to enjoy a small off season and add the swim and the bike back in. I will have unlimited opportunities to train with others who share the goal. Also, when I'm sick or tired, I can ALWAYS find one of the 3 sports I can tolerate. I feel better than I ever did when I first tried this distance, and I'm way better conditioned.

I'm also ready because I have good support around me from the tri club and my friends and family. My parents live close enough to come to either see Choo or meet me afterwards. The club will have a HUGE presence at the race.

It Makes Sense, and I am BEYOND excited.

Choo-choo, baby.

When Keepin' it Real Goes Right aka The Snuggle is Real (Uncensored)

I made a promise when I started this blog that I was going to keep it real.

The problem is that for the past few weeks, I haven't been keeping it real with myself . . . at all. 

If you've never seen it, there was a skit on the Dave Chappelle show called When "Keeping it Real" Goes Wrong.   The skit always ended with an exaggerated version of what would happen if we really did say exactly what we were thinking.  Think: getting thrown in federal prison, receiving a violent ass-whooping and then losing your home because you couldn't pay the medical bills, etc.

TL;DR: we aren't free from the consequences of our actions (or statements).

But this is about when keeping it real goes right.

Not this kind of funk.
This is the GOOD kind.
Lately I have caught myself doing exactly what I said I wasn't going to do . . . letting my diseases become who I am.

I sat down several times over the last few weeks to write a blog to correct this. I struggled to feel more happy and positive and content with where I physically am right now.  I searched for perspective.  I tried to come up with my reasons to celebrate every day.  And I was failing a lot of days.  I was letting myself get sucked into a bitter/petty Pity Party.  

I was in a major Funk.  

Lately, I don't feel good most of the time.  I don't sleep most of the time.  Many days are a struggle to get through whatever tasks are ahead of me. (This includes my training.)  But, as anyone who has battled chronic illness most of their life knows, life with chronic illness can be a roller coaster.  

Which really means that being chronically ill is not terribly different than just living life in general.  Life is a roller coaster: sometimes we're up, sometimes we're down, and everyone deals with shit.  (How can I forget this when I myself talk about it ALL THE TIME?)

Today, while going for coffee and bagels, while preparing (despite not sleeping much for the last 3 days straight) for another "bunched run" where I'll run 10-12 miles this afternoon and another 10-12 in the morning, I found myself frustrated that my Fitbit battery was low.  

I realized that my only real problems in life are coffee, sleep, and my Fitbit battery.

Of course, I know these are not really problems.

So then this hit me: my REAL problem (the FUNK, that is) was just as much mental as it was physical.

What I needed was not inspiration, motivation, or laughter. What I needed was a big ol' dose of Get the Fuck Over It.

EVERY athlete, even the healthiest of athletes, will come to the point of their training plan where they start to mentally and/or physically become fatigued.  I especially feel this when I get tired of marathon training: all I do is run, run, run, do yoga and lift weights (with one ride a week thrown in for cross-training). Sometimes I'm just DYING for the days when, if I miss a workout or don't feel so great, I can swap one sport for another sport.

This is not something unique to ME.  I am not special. I am not a precious flower.  I am just a person who physically does a LOT.   People who do a LOT get tired.

One of my favorite expressions for snapping out of those moments when we get too sucked into our own pity parties is the struggle is real.  After seeing my cats all pile on top of the couch one Saturday morning for snuggles, I decided to swap out the "TR" for an "N." 

So, whenever I need a reality check, I tell myself this:

Swap out a few letters . . . see how any expression changes from negative to positive or neutral. Sounds like a silly exercise, but it works.

Every morning, I see a gentlemen practicing tai chi in our neighborhood park.  He walks to the park with purpose and flow and rhythm.  And when he gets there, he tunes out everyone and everything and is completely peaceful in his practice.

For all I know, this dude has all kinds of internal demons.  He may hate himself. His kids may have disowned him. He may be flat broke, or have some life-altering, crippling illness from which tai chi is his only refuge/exercise.  Or he may be just as peaceful and purposeful as his practice suggests.  Only he knows the truth.  

It reminds me that we all have something going on.  Some of us just choose to make it public, or to let it disturb our inner/outer peace.

Lately, I have needed a reminder that this is a choice.

And that, ladies and gentleman, is when keeping it real goes right.
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