Big Ideas: Part 2

As promised, here is part 2 of my Big Ideas blog. The business is up and running and let me tell you, it is a lot of work! There is something slightly unsettling about working long hours 7-days a week without a paycheck, but that is the risk you take when starting up a business. For those of you that are interested, the company name is Modern Approach and we are boutique customer company that uses data science and advanced analytics to help companies create an awesome customer experience…if you want, you can check us out at www.modernapproach.com !

Okay, so with all of the craziness that comes with plugging your nose and plunging into entrepreneurship, Peter and I thought that we might as well pile on a bunch of other life changes all at once, I mean why not? And that brings me to big change number 2 – Peter’s Voluntary Separation Program application was approved and he will be separating from the military on September 29th of this year! This is a huge answer to a long-time prayer and we are so very thankful to be moving on from our military past. We have had some amazing experiences and opportunities but we are both whole-heartedly ready to experience the normalcy of a more settled life outside of the constant moving and change in the military. I am thankful for the sacrifice and service Peter gave to our country, flying all over the world in the C-17. But now it is his chance to get out there and try something new and we are ready for the adventure!

But, it wouldn’t really be an adventure if we didn’t take advantage of the fact that the military is no longer in charge of where we live. Keeping true to our constant itch for adventure, we both have not only quit our jobs but we are selling our house and moving out to the land of opportunity…California. Okay, hold on all you non-californians who are going to get totally offended here. The Silicon Valley is the center of high-tech development and innovation. So, although we realize it is expensive and that there are lots of other nice inexpensive places to live in the US, there are not many places outside of San Francisco that are more intriguing for a business owner in the advanced analytics industry (me) and a program manager interested in software development (Peter). And, now we have the amazing opportunity to be close to family, something that was never possible before! Oh, and the ocean…and the mountains…and the sunshine…and a hop-skip-and-a-jump away from Hawaii. Colorado, I will not miss your frigid winters and your summers of daily thunderstorms. Peter and I recently took a trip out to Lake Tahoe in Northern California to visit my parents and it was exactly the rejuvenating training experience I needed. Long bike rides in the warm sunshine are the cure to any ailment and with the beautiful weather and long undulating roads, I re-kindled my passion for biking. Our 90-mile excursion around Lake Tahoe made into my top-10 all time bike-rides list.

Beautiful Lake Tahoe

Beautiful Lake Tahoe

And the roads around San Francisco are amazing too: up and down the coast, through Napa Valley, the hills of Santa Cruz…I seriously can’t wait.

With all of the crazy life changes we have going on at the moment, training has remained a constant yet challenging force in my daily life. I am somehow still getting in around 20 hours of training per week chasing after this passion for triathlon.

please don't take me on another run...you run too much!

please don’t take me on another run…you run too much!

Ironman 70.3 Boulder was back in June and since it was a local race for me, it definitely made the experience much less hectic and not so much of a production. That was a nice change. And I made a HUGE breakthrough at this race! I am still in shock, but I swam the 1.2 miles in 30:39…I was 2nd out of the water in my age group and the 21st overall female out of the water! To give you some perspective…last year I was usually around 20th out of the water in my age group and somewhere around 100th overall female. I can’t believe I actually learned how to swim! I was able to keep on the feet of the same girl the entire swim and I am definitely sure that staying in her draft helped me get such a great time. So, thank you whoever you are!! And, my level of fitness out of the water has drastically improved so I did not feel nearly as tired when I got on the bike. I was happy with my strong bike effort, but I did try to hold back a little bit so that I would not blow up on the run like I did in Texas. I completed the 56 miles in 2:31:16, which is good, not great. But then I was still unable to perform on the run. I was pretty disappointed with my 13.1 mile split of 1:38…it seems where I have made gains in my swim I have made losses in my run. IMG_1746 Although, a lot of the run was on a gravely-dirt path and that was NO FUN, making it more difficult to keep a fast pace. If I wanted to run in off-road races, I would sign up for them! But I guess that is part of the challenge…as if the race itself isn’t a challenge enough. The absolute best part of the race though was having my Tribella teammates there cheering me on! It is so fun to race when the people there know you and are supporting you! And when you get to race with your teammates, it is definitely more rewarding. There is comfort in knowing they are out there with you, experiencing the same thing. In the end, I won my age group and was 5th overall amateur female. My first age group win ever!!! IMG_1569

Recovery fuel

..and recovery fuel

Even though I claim to hate biking in Colorado, I have to say that this past month has been quite amazing. This is partly due to my incredible new Ride Blue Triad SL di2 bike. I honestly cannot thank Tribella enough for helping me to get this crazy awesome bike that I hardly feel like I deserve. No really, I am actually quite embarrassed to say that my bike has electronic shifting…but then all of that embarrassment goes away quite quickly once I get on it!! This bike is a lot smaller than my previous one and it fits me much better. And, after getting a professional fit from the Denver Fit Loft, I am finally riding in the correct position on a bike for the first time in my life. The difference is quite amazing. And it could not have been more perfect timing as I am preparing for the full Ironman in Boulder that is now only a week away.

Peter, my fearless photographer

Peter, my fearless photographer

I am actually thinking the 112 miles will not be bad, that is how comfortable this bike is! This race is going to be a wild experience, but I have been training for it for about a year now and I think I am ready to do some damage. I can’t wait to finish up an easy 2.4 miles of swimming, a casual 112 miles of biking and then slip on my running shoes to go and run a marathon, it’s going to be epic!

Learning the importance of nutrition

Right after the marathon…and where I stayed for the next 7 hours…miserable

When I started training for the Honolulu Marathon last September it was my first introduction to “eating” something during a workout. Even though this food is actually gel that you suck out of a packet (kind of yucky), it was still very stressful for me. I remember my first 12 mile run where I attempted to take a gel at mile 8 and it was very difficult for me to swallow it, while still breathing, still running, and not gagging. In order to get the thing down and breathe in the process, I ended up slowing down significantly and since my body was not used to digesting anything while doing physical activity I almost immediately had a stomach ache. With a little bit of practice (and some water to wash it down) I learned to take gel during my training. I still didn’t like the feeling of the gel in my stomach though so I limited my intake and only took half a packet at a time. I ended up finishing the Honolulu Marathon eating less than 2 gels during the entire race which means I consumed less than 200 calories for 3 ½ hours of running! No wonder I felt so terrible! I had zero energy towards the end of the race, my pace significantly decreased, and when the race was over I was miserable the rest of the day with the worst stomach problems ever.

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HACC stop at Surfer’s Coffee Bar on the North Shore

On my long bike rides, I usually followed the same pattern. Since it is somewhat easier to chew something while riding a bike, I like to eat Clif shot block chews and Clif bars so that I don’t have to suffer through a gel. For a 60-mile bike ride I used to only eat a banana, half of a Clif bar and half a package of shot blocks, which is still not very much considering the number of calories I burn on a long ride. Okay, I can’t forget the espresso and occasional muffin from our HACC coffee stops!  But, to compensate for our lack of nutrition on the ride, Peter and I would get home and chow-down on everything in sight. We were always starving after a bike ride, and a little grumpy.

I recently started working with a coach, which has been awesome, and my first workout was an 80 mile bike ride followed by a 3.5 mile run. For me the most challenging part of this workout was not the miles, it was consuming the 1000 calories I was told to eat while on the ride. That was a lot of work! At some points I didn’t even feel hungry but I was force-feeding bars and chews and drinking calorie packed drinks (by the way, if you need a good recipe for homemade energy bars check out the ones Peter and I really like here). Aside from working hard to continue eating, getting a flat tire on the side of the busiest part of the road, and hitting a large but empty rubber trash can (someone put their trash can in the bike lane and Peter slammed on his brakes in perfect timing with a car coming right up next to us so that I had no room to get over or any time to react), I really enjoyed the ride! The weather was beautiful, riding right along the coastline up the east coast of Oahu from Kailua to the North Shore was very peaceful, and my body felt amazing even at mile 75 which is the point I usually get really grumpy and ravenous. I got home, hopped off the bike and had a great and almost effortless 3.5 mile recovery run.

So what did I learn? I LOVE stuffing my face on the bike!! Okay, I can’t exactly stuff my face with anything – I tried a spelt bagel with Justin’s chocolate almond butter on a recent ride and this did not go over so well. But, I was excited to feel so fresh off of the bike, something I have never felt before. I feel like I made a huge break-through in my training. Getting more nutrition in during this ride not only improved my physical performance off the bike, but it gave me a huge boost of confidence and improved my mental toughness. Now I know it is possible to run my goal pace after the bike and I am no longer worried about the bike destroying me. I learned what I can do when I am properly fueled, and I think this will benefit me more than any other type of training I could do.

Fitting it all in

Three years ago I had a hard time fitting in a workout more than three times a week.  I was in grad school busy studying and traveling to Mississippi to see Peter, and I felt that putting in a workout on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday was good enough to keep me healthy.  Shortly after I moved to Hawaii, I increased my workouts to 4-5 times a week, still keeping the weekends free.  I was prepping for another volleyball season and I was heavy into plyometrics, weight lifting, and sprint training.  But, I never felt too pressured to keep a strict program and if I was busy at work, felt tired, had visitors in town, or wanted to go to the beach I would skip a workout.  After I decided to stop playing volleyball competitively (see my About page), I felt a little lost without a goal to work towards.  I have always loved weight lifting, something that I especially love doing with my Dad, and I found myself turning into a gym rat.  I cringe when I think about it now, but for a little while I started body building…what can I say, I am a very competitive and driven person and when I noticed results in the gym I kept going!

A side note: If you want a really great cardio-weight lifting workout, you should try my personal favorite: the classic Spartacus Workout from Men’s Health.  This will absolutely kick your butt in less than an hour and leave you sore for a few days.  My Dad is the king of this workout and we always do this one when he comes to visit!  It is still my go-to total body workout when I have limited time for the gym but I need to get a good weight lifting session in.

Look how fit he is...not bad for 55!

Look how fit my Dad is…not bad for 55!

Then I signed up for my first triathlon and my regimen turned into training 6 times a week.  But, just because you have a new and exciting goal to work towards, it doesn’t mean you automatically flip a switch and feel super motivated to train every day.  I still didn’t do every single workout in my training plan.  Some days I would tell myself: “you are tired – and you worked hard this week…it’s okay if you don’t do this workout.” And many times I gave in.  Don’t get me wrong, I was new to the sport and swimming, biking, AND running is hard on your body when it is not used to meeting those demands.  A lot of times my body did need that rest.  The key was recognizing whether it was my mind telling me to stop or my body.

I made it through that first hurdle of training where my body adapted and learned to overcome the new stress I was putting it through, and then I started to improve – really fast.  Improvement is addicting.  It feels so good to get to that next level and when you reach it, you want to do everything you can to get even better.  Training started to become a way of life and taking a day off began to feel un-natural.   It’s not that I felt guilty when I took a day off, but I felt like I was missing out on an opportunity to get better.  Now I am in a new phase: recognizing when my body is telling me to stop and forcing my mind to listen.  The hardest part is understanding that you will never see any of your gains from training if you do not allow your body to rest and recover.  I am still learning when to push through and when take it easy.
My new challenge is learning to creatively fit all of my workouts in.  I am no longer striving to train every day – that is just a given.  I am now training twice a day putting close to 15 hours of training in per week.  My car has turned into a bike shop/ locker room with all of my gear and Peter’s gear ready to go whenever we can find time.

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Slightly ridiculous but believe me, it took a while to figure this combination out!

I wake up in the morning and look at my day thinking, okay, if I swim an hour here then I can get my hour run in there.  I train 7 days a week and my “rest” days are when I only do one workout and it is an easy recovery swim or recovery bike ride.  But the cool thing is, I am not complaining!  You know when you find that one thing you love to do, it may be cooking in the kitchen, or working on your car, or taking care of animals, or painting, or working with kids (or anything!) and you wish you could just spend all day doing it?  That is how I feel about triathlon training.  Obviously it is not feasible to just train all day, but I always want to read about nutrition, research new workouts from the experts, keep up on the latest triathlon race news, read blogs from pro triathletes to get advice, and I love to take the time to talk with others about training.  I think it is times like this in life where you choose to make the mental switch from trying to fit in time for the things you love to fitting everything else around the things you love.

The best part of this whole experience has been the support from my family and friends.  I cannot say all of this training would be easy to do if they were not there to cheer me on.  And, I am even more blessed that I have Peter right there by my side doing most of the workouts with me.  He is my biggest fan and a huge motivator.