Thursday, November 15, 2018

A Time for Rest


OK—its been almost 3 weeks since XTerra in Maui.  What have I been doing—well—a whole lot of nothing.  You can ask Don—he will tell you that I really am spending significant time not accomplishing anything—which most of you know is very out of character for me.  Tonight at dinner I told Don that I think that I am getting close to the end of this—though not entirely yet.   

OK—XTERRA was hard—I mean REALLY hard.  Those that were there can attest to the conditions and I was also battling my wonderful competitors—in the end 5 mins separated 1st-3rd and the 3 of us went back and forth throughout the race.  I think I dug deeper than I ever have—unfortunately I ended up on the bottom step of the podium, but I learned a ton from this race.  But my recovery after the race is from more than that.  It was the last race of the year—but I think more significantly it was the last big thing in a year of many big things - -and both my mind and body are now in the recovery phase from almost a year of stress and change.  

A quick summary of all that has gone on this year since I have been pretty quiet on the writing front:

In January my boss left the Daimler very abruptly.  I was asked to step in and act as CIO (Chief Information Officer if you are unfamiliar with corporate jargon) until a replacement was found and in place—with a promise that they would not ask me to extend my retirement date (I knew it would turn out to be an empty promise and started preparing plan B)  Taking over a large department (1000+) under these circumstances was not easy-I had to fix things, keep morale up, prepare for the new CIO and essentially learn a new job for the last 6 months of my career.

Part of our retirement plan was to sell our house—so during all of this we were cleaning out our house, listing and selling it.  Since our post retirement plans are pretty drastic—we did not purchase another house, the cleaning out process was pretty dramatic—we have gone from 3700 sq. ft. to a 200 sq. ft. trailer and a 10x15 storage unit.

House sold and we had to be out by the end of May, which would have been perfect for the originally planned retirement date (beginning June)—but of course that was just wishful thinking.  The first extension request was until the end of June (that I knew would not work) and we finally negotiated Aug 3rd and it stuck.  Part of the deal was for the company to provide me with a furnished apartment once we had to be out of our house.  The other small wrinkle was a friend had been living with us (and is really the only reason we were able to get the house ready to sell in a reasonable time-thank you Carmen) and, knowing it was temporary purchased a condo—but it needed a bunch of work-which we (mostly Don) helped with once our house was taken care of.

While all of this was going on I had some pretty big athletic aspirations for this season:  qualify for Kona and make it onto the podium at XTerra Worlds.  I was going to give myself 2 shots at making Kona.  First one was at IM Texas in April.  I had a good race but not quite good enough—taking 5th for my first full Ironman podium finish.  Second shot occurred at IM Mont Tremblant in August—which in the perfect world would have given me a solid 2 months of training while retired—but that was not to be.  I came up a little short and ended up with a 4th place finish after leading the race until the mid-point of the marathon when some GI issues slowed me down.  In the middle of the 2 Ironmans I also had to take care of getting qualified for XTerra Worlds—we headed up to Victoria BC in early July to tick that box—which I easily did but had a nasty crash on the mountain bike and bruised my ribs pretty badly (they are still not 100% today). 

Wow-I’m tired just reading this—and we are not done yet.  After getting back from Canada in late August we had to turn all our focus to my son’s wedding—prep for it and taking care of all the family coming into town.  We are also working on figuring out how to live when you don’t actually have your own house/apt.  The trailer is great but handy locations to park it are really scarce close in to Portland—this is still a work in progress-hopefully solved before we wear out our welcome at friends and family’s houses!. 

 After the wedding it was time to get serious about getting back on the mountain bike to get ready for XTerra Worlds and we had a great trip through Moab/Sedona/Phoenix to prep—I did get a mental break on this trip but the training was really heavy and we were also trying out taking the dogs in the trailer for the first time.  We got back from this trip in time to pack and get ourselves over to Maui to prep for the race.

So now I’ve written it out—I think once the race was over both my body and mind said—BREAK TIME not just from the race but from the whole year—and I have been listening to them.  We did do a couple of hikes, took 1 surf lesson while still in Hawaii but there was also a ton of sitting on the couch, sitting by the pool, wandering around catching Pokemon, reading books and playing mindless word games.  I thought about writing this blog several times and just didn’t have the desire.  We’ve been in Mexico since Sunday and haven’t done a single thing—so I still can’t tell you what Cabo is like other than our deck and the pool lounge—that should start to change in the next few days.

I think we all have to take some time to decompress—and know that it can take more or less time depending on what’s been going on.  Circumstances this year caused me to push things too far and that is why it’s taking me so long to recover—I am glad I now have the luxury to take the time needed—the fire is still there and I have big aspirations and stupid plans for 2019—that I will need to be well rested for.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Ironman Texas Race Report

First big race of the year is done!  It was a great time.  We have several friends in Houston and from around the country that were there so it was a great opportunity to catch up with some that we have not seen in a long time.  We were also testing out our new ‘home’ for the first time.  Don left early and drove the trailer down-stopping to win an XTerra race on the way!-so when I flew in on Wednesday our little home was already all set up in a very nice RV park.
Race prep for an Ironman always takes longer than you think it should—with 2 full days before the race—it was pretty much all getting ready:  eating, packet pickup, eating, checking out the bike, eating, race briefings, eating, getting the gear ready, eating, checking gear in the day before and more eating.  Do you see a trend here---lots of food—my coach lays out a pretty detailed eating plan for the 2 days leading up to the race and it feels like all you do is eat!—but it seems to work so I just stick to the plan—including my favorite part:  BIG breakfast!  Met up with a few friends to do the traditional BIG breakfast and had a great time catching up.  Friday afternoon was quiet time after getting the bike and gear all checked in—then off to bed by 9.
4:15 was wake up time race morning.  First up—breakfast of champions—applesauce and a banana!   We were pretty close to the race site so it was only about a 10 min drive—Don dropped me off and went to park the car while I put my nutrition on my bike and pump my tires.  We easily found each other and then walked over to the swim start-close to a mile away.  The weather brought the swim conditions I most didn’t want—it hadn’t warmed up enough to make it a no wetsuit swim (my wish) but enough to make the water warmer than I like for a wetsuit (73F)—I was going to have to be very aware of overheating. 

The rolling swim start was very uneventful—I seeded myself in the 1:00-1:10 group and just shuffled forward until it was our turn.  There were definitely people that did not seed themselves correctly as I spent a lot of time at the beginning passing people and I always start off quite slowly to make sure I don’t trigger any asthma issues.  Anyhow, after the normal ‘this sucks’ 400m I typically have at the beginning of a race where no in the water warm up is allowed I settled in and everything was going fine---until the first turn buoy—and I feel my swimcap slide off my head.  Most women know that no swim cap is a disaster---you can’t sight anymore—or at least you can’t see anything other than your hair over your goggles when you try to sight.  Adapt and overcome—sight a bit less and hope you are swimming sort of straight, lose a ton of time every time you do sight getting a view through the hair.  Once we got into the narrow canal it was a little better because I could get a glimpse of the side of the canal on some breaths.  Boy that water was gross!   Happy to get to the end just so I could see where I was going again.  Swim time 1:09:43
The bike plan was pretty simple—get on the bike and ride to a certain power—with it being a flat course the goal was to stick as close to that as possible, building slightly throughout the ride.  The beginning of the bike has a ton of turns but I seemed to be moving along quite well and it was a pleasant morning.  The majority of the ride is on the Hardy Toll road – a big highway that they shut down in one direction for us—2 out and backs for about 80 miles—not very scenic but closed to traffic.  Heads down and just stick to the power numbers – worked fine until about 2/3 through the first lap---then the packs started coming---you could either get sucked up and cheat or slow and let them go by and continue on riding your clean race—which was my choice.  There were no draft marshalls on the course—which should not make it ok to draft—apparently the DOT would not let them on the course because it would interfere with the emergency vehicles.  Still no excuse—people were not even trying to not draft.  What it actually let to is the most accidents I have ever seen on an IM bike course.  Many triathletes do not know how to ride in a pack and in a race it just spells disaster.  I know I rode and honest 5:21—an IM PR bike ride for me.  Many others set a PR—but did they really?  I could not live with myself.  Can you tell this bugs me??  Anyhow—legs were feeling really good at the end of the ride.

Off the bike to the hard part of the race—I know it was not a super hot day in Texas standards but any time you have to run a marathon when the temp is 85 its no fun—getting off the bike just before 2 pm means that my entire marathon is right through the heat of the day.  Due to the heat the run plan required a little more thinking – I know what my target HR is for a cool Portland day but with the swim and bike behind me and the heat—how much HR drift was ok? - -Chris gave me 7-8 bpm.  After the first 2 miles I settled in to a pace at a HR I thought would be ok—though knew it was definitely on the high end, turned my watch to HR only and went.  This run is a 3 lap run—quite pretty and amazing crowd support on the entire loop.  Things went reasonably well for the first loop.  On the second loop things were not as great—started not wanting to take in Gatorade anymore—switched to water and salt tabs.  Got into a pretty dark place between miles 15 and 18 but just kept putting one foot in front of the other.  At mile 18 I pulled out the big guns---started into the Coke—I’ve found in the past that coke really helps perk me up but it also seems to have a limited span for me—and this day was no different—it perked me up from mile 18-22—then I just had to dig deeper and gut it out the last 4 miles—since these are along the canal there are tons of very rowdy spectators which is always helpful.  I tried to vow not to stop for any walk breaks after mile 24 but couldn’t quite make it—short break on a stretch along the canal and then one last one as I went through the last aid station at just over 25 miles.
Ironman finish line is awesome—lots of cheering—I always make sure I enjoy the whole thing and celebrate for the last 100m.  I crossed the line at 11:23:52.  Not quite as fast as I wanted to be—but I was happy that I executed the race that my body had in it.  Good enough to get me onto the podium for the first time at the Ironman distance.  Not good enough to get to Kona.  Am I disappointed—a little—but I took a care of what I could control and raced to my ability on the day. 

As many of you know, my winter/spring has not been without a lot of stress---stepping into the role of CIO at DTNA, selling my house in prep for retirement and having to push my retirement date out twice.  None are excuses—just things adding to why I am happy with the result I had on Saturday.
It really takes a team to put together a good Ironman performance.  I have to thank my amazing coach Chris Bagg—he definitely had to put up with a lot since I got my surprise new job in late January.  Brad Farra at Evolution Healthcare and Fitness kept my body together every time something hurt (we dealt with foot, adductor and shoulder over the last few months).  DJ DeAustria for kept all the kinks out of my muscles and Stephen Merz for the most amazing bike fit in the world.  On the home front my room-mate Carmen was a life saver in getting the house ready for sale and not letting me forget how to prioritize.  The biggest thanks goes to Don for being the best friend, Sherpa, bike mechanic, and every other role that I need to chase my dreams.

Heading to Mont Tremblant in  August to take one more crack at this Kona thing.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Dreams and Accountability

It’s a week before race day.  This coming week I have to do some of my most difficult training – the part between the ears.  Last Thursday I had my regular call with my coach.  We actually never talked about how the workouts were going.  We did spend the entire time working on what’s going on in my head.  We started out with an exercise on accountability based on me making the comment that the previous night I didn’t get to bed when I wanted to and thus didn’t quite get the amount of sleep I was planning on (9 hrs).  We played out an exercise on what the consequences could be of that decision—basically not achieving the dream/goal I have had for many months.  Then we flipped to the other side—what was so important that I was willing to potentially sacrifice my dreams for?  Obviously you see where this is going.  Those little decisions that we make every day because of –well whatever—sometimes it’s a good reason, most of the time it’s not.  I’ve now made a promise to be accountable—just until next Saturday at this point—for 6 more days, my dream is my priority.

This of course gets you thinking about a whole lot of other things.  We all will not hesitate to tell others—follow your dreams—if you focus and work hard you can achieve them.   So now I find myself with a dream—I have focused and worked hard—but in my head you have that little voice saying – how important is that dream compared to some other things that are happening around us?  Do you put that dream at risk to help a friend without realizing it?  Did you discount the importance/priority of that dream?  That it can happen even if you don’t give it your all?  At the same time—it is still the dream.
6 days of accountability to that dream…….
So now the work I have to do is between the ears from now until Saturday.  The training has gone really well (thanks Chris for doing a great job of getting me into the best shape of my life).  On paper it says my body is capable of putting in a performance that gets me where I want to be (OK—here it is in writing—I want to win my AG and get that slot to Kona).  Now my head needs to believe it and continue to believe it through about 11 hours next Saturday.  I struggle-I see amazing ladies that put in those incredible performances—do I belong in that group?  Do I deserve to be part of that group?  My friends can believe, my husband can believe, my coach can believe – now I (need to) believe.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

A Few Seconds to Breathe

Well—haven’t been able to write anything for a long time.  And this is not going to be a race report.  I had visions before Christmas of getting my act together to start blogging regularly to document and share what we are going through as I approach retirement.  I figured this stage is probably as interesting as the adventures that I will definitely be writing about once I get out the door.

But life threw me for a curveball and many of you know that the last week of January that gradual fade into retirement became a whistful dream and I have found myself thrust into a C-level job until the day I walk out the door (which is also floating around now as I wait to find out when my replacement arrives and how much overlap we need).  I thought I was a busy person before but the last 6 weeks have really been over the top.  I am still drinking from the firehose and figure that I just need to get used to it because it’s not going to change.  

In the midst of this we have been getting the house ready to sell.  Thankfully it went on the market this week—which is really the only reason I am finding some time to write—I can’t touch anything in my house anymore in case I make a mess.  We have been living in this house for 19 years and discovered that you really accumulate a ton of not all the useful or important junk.  When we started cleaning the house out before Christmas, many things seemed like they were important to keep.  One thing you need to know—we aren’t downsizing a little bit—we are going from 3800 sq. ft. to 200 sq.ft (yes that’s right there are only 2 zeros on there) so basically, anything that doesn’t come with us in the trailer, we will be paying to store.  As time went on and I got my head wrapped around “Is it important enough to pay to keep it’ it was amazing how my perspective changed.  Don and I have looked at each other many times in the last few months and said ‘its just stuff’ and tossed it into the garbage/donate pile.  I know that when we are actually moving out of here a whole lot more stuff is going to go.

Some of the things I learned: 

  1. When you go through all your old photos—all those pictures of trees, mountains, sunsets—very few were kept-the quality had to be exceptionally high.  Pretty much every picture of the kids made the keep pile.  Now in the digital age we take so many more photos—I wonder how that’s going to be to clean out?
  2. Things you think you should be able to sell for a decent amount often you can’t
  3.  Things you think nobody will pay very much for sometimes are worth more than you think  
  4. Offering stuff on Craig’s list for $10 won’t get it gone most of the time.  Offer it for Free and your phone explodes with people who want it.  We just gave up on all of that kind of stuff and offered it for free—it was more valuable to us to get it gone than have the $10.  Some things we only had posted for 10 minutes—Don’s phone exploded with people wanting the stuff.
  5. Pokemon cards still make young boys happy
  6. I still can’t bring myself to get rid of my Steiff stuffed animal collection (see number 2)

Unrelated to cleaning out the house – I have learned that becoming CIO, getting your house ready for selling and training for an Ironman are definitely a recipe for getting sick and I would not recommend this combination to anyone.  I am very happy to get to remove one of them and I hope my body and mind will have an easier time of it since raceday is in 6 weeks and I have the hardest training coming up the next few weeks.

There are a whole lot more things we need to figure out for this retirement thing and get our minds adjusted to—I hope to be able to tackle some of them over the next couple months so we have some of this figured out before –but if not—oh well, I’ll have lots of time on my hands.