...and PR's. (After All, There's Still a Triathlete Stuck In Here)

It's no secret that I've had some new physical challenges recentlyI haven't felt great and I've put on a few pounds.  Work's been stressful, although in a good way, and I've been working overtime every week for....well....a while.

But there's still a triathlete stuck in here somewhere. And, despite the lack of SBR-ness in my last update, I'm over here trainin' like a mofo*.
*If a mofo had a hard time getting out of bed most days

I finally (FINALLY) learned that the best way to deal with all of the challenges - new and old - was to simplify.  I keep working on my finances, getting rest when I need it and just making peace with my body's need for time off.  I do maybe 2-3 races when the money and my body allow.  I work on ways to keep myself involved and active and build back up to my usual level of activity.  I've identified my loves and goals and I removed just about any barrier to them. I found new routes for commuting, cheap gyms near the office, inexpensive coached cycling classes.  Finding new ways to make the finances and long commute work just added to my creativity.  As it turns out, the cycling classes even afforded me the luxury me to train using a power meter for the first time in my life - something previously regarded as an unnecessary expense.

Now I am starting to come into a recovery period in many ways. I'm focused on doing as much as I can and being realistic about what I can't. I still have no grand ideas about Ironman, but I consistently swim, bike and run every week, and I'm back up to Olympic volume. I LOVE strength training and have started working that back in. I've raised my watts (have no clue what they used to be, but I'm slower now, so I assume they were higher.)  I'm much more accepting of my limitations, but oddly enough, that encourages me to challenge them more.  

I mean, "challenging limits" has become my MO, but you have to be realistic. I love the idea that anyone can do anything if they just try, but you have to work with what you've got.  The more I know what boundaries are and aren't possible for me to exceed, the more I can focus on reaching for the possible but difficult.  Like (in the near future) qualifying for Nationals a third time and actually having the cash to go. Or (in the far future) qualifying for Boston some day. (Notice how I am not trying to become world champion of anything, or complete 27 Ironman races in the next year?)

Running was always the simplest sport to me, so even when I felt the worst, I ran a little.  That's helped me move my run from my 2nd weakness to my 2nd strength.  In fact, with the speed I've lost on the bike, running may BE my strength right now.   In January, I had a PR at the 5k distance - not a humongous time difference, but a milestone nonetheless: I finally ran a timed 5k in the high 8s.  I've done this before at a sprint tri, but never a standalone 5k.  I even saw a period of time during that race where my pace hit high 6s.  Then, this month, I had a huge PR at the 10k distance. The last time I did a 10k was years ago, so it's not a fair comparison, but I went from around 1:10 or 1:12 down to 59:24.  This was my first-ever sub-one-hour 10k.

Swimming is another story - that will always be my weakness - but I've also made some improvements there. Even with sporadic swim practice, I managed to knock my fast 100's down into the 1:45 range.  My overall pace over the past 7-8 years has fallen from close to 3 minutes per 100 average to 1:55-2:05 averages. I used to think a 2:30 100 was fast and now I'm shooting for a 1:30.  

So, with all of this calm consistency going on, I haven't had much time to write, but I have had time to sign up for my first Olympic tri in years.  My last one of those took 3:14, so maybe I can do one in just under 3 this time.  I decided I wanted to try to qualify for nationals again since I managed to nail down some consistency, some good training groups and some local resources like inexpensive coached cycling classes, affordable gym fees, and multiple pool options. I'm also in the lottery for the Chicago Marathon (this will be number eight - can you believe it?!)

I'm still struggling to lose the weight I gained, but I'm down around five pounds or so. The endocrinologist turned my medication up a bit when it had previously been turned down, and that always makes a difference. I've been making an effort to track my food and cut some calories here and there. I'm working on some career development items as well.

And, I'm working on something else very special for Chicago - Marathon #8, or, as I am calling it, "The Ocho."

Stay tuned.

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