THE BLOG’S 4TH BIRTHDAY

Four years have past since I started this blog with a post about a lost iPod shuffle.

With no original strategy or intent, it found it’s place as my little outlet. An outlet where I often share too many details, and at other times, have gone silent as I really didn’t have anything valuable to share.

But either way, it’s just a little piece of me to put out into the world, hoping others can share a little bit along the way…typos and all.

This blog isn’t a money-maker, or a full-time career, but rather a place to share my two cents on life through the lens of a digitally obsessed, runner/triathlete.

So while it all never seems to be clear and sometimes I question what it is that I’m doing with this blog, or even life, I know one thing is for sure: this little piece of the Internet has helped me realize what truly makes me happy and that all of us, newbies and experienced athletes alike, are all in it together.

Thanks for reading and happy fourth birthday, TSATS.

   
38 Comments | Posted in Blogging

MAF Training & How Long Does A Heart Rate Monitor Last?

By now, I think it’s safe to say that we are deep into the Lake Stevens 70.3 training. Week 7? Week 16?

Honestly, I’ve lost track as it’s been a blur of trying to balance work, training, traveling back and forth between Oregon and California to see my husband, and you know…life (and I’m just too lazy to go back and count the weeks).

From the library of…”Selfies to communicate with my husband and this ridiculous long distance relationship we have.”

What I can tell you is that the past few weeks have been a steady build of me trying to get all of my Training Peak boxes to turn green and 9, 13, 15 and now 18 hour training weeks.

But it hasn’t been without a fair share of hiccups.

This training cycle has been much different than the past as I am working with Sonja and focused on MAF training. MAF training is “Maximum Aerobic Function” training and focuses on developing your aerobic foundation, which is especially important in endurance events.

You do this by a variety of ways, but the first is by using the 180 formula to find your MAF number. Training and various workouts are then developed around your individual MAF number and let me tell you…it is frustrating.

In order to hit your MAF you have to slow down…I mean really slow down. According to Sonja, I was running around town with an extremely high heart-rate, and not taking the time to build a machine that would last.

Over the past three months, MAF has caused me a good share of self-imposed distress. Why weren’t my MAF times improving? Why do I feel like I’m getting slower? Why does it spike past the 200s and then back down? What the hell is wrong? Sonja maaaay have even received an email, complete with multiple F-bombs and me ready to throw MAF out the window.

Her response? I’ve been building a tall house, with a little foundation in San Francisco, but what I really need to do is build a one-story house, with a wide foundation in Texas.  Check. Got it. But why are my heart-rate numbers still not making sense?

Then Sonja finally asked me one overlooked question, “How old is your heart-rate monitor?”

“Uhhh, probably 5 or 6 years old. I got it with my 305,” I replied.

I can imagine Sonja’s jaw was either on the ground or her head was just shaking in her hands. Apparently, heart-rate monitors only last 1-2 years!

Why hasn’t anyone told me this?! It’s like the covert technology hardware industry secret that along with your computers, Blue-Ray players and cell phones, your heart-rate monitor kicks the bucket after a couple years.

Sure you can change the battery and do some of the maintenance tricks of the trade, but it was time to upgrade. So I headed over to Amazon and I bought the Garmin premium heart rate monitor (soft strap).

Waiting two days for Amazon Prime felt like an eternity (#firstworldproblems), but as soon as I got it and was able to head out for a run, it was like a heavy burden had been lifted off of my shoulders.

Finally, my numbers are starting to make sense. Not only were the spikes gone, but my perceived effort matched and my sanity is starting to come back. I still have much more hard work ahead of me, but at least I can take the worry and confusion off of my plate around the outlandish numbers. Control what you can, let go of the rest. I’m working on it…

So it’s time for another friendly PSA: fitness technology isn’t indestructible and sometimes, it isn’t you. Make sure you’ve updated the technology, replaced the batteries and taken care of your toys.

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Oh and another PSA: make sure your fix-a-flat kit actually has some tubes.

Happy Running!

   
24 Comments | Posted in Training

6 TRUTHS FROM A NEWBIE SWIMMER

Oh swimming, you’re my favorite in-water sport out of all three triathlon sports. Kind of the same way that my dad used to tell me, “You’re my favorite 12-year-old daughter.”

I have two sisters.

As I’m trying horribly learning to like swimming, some fundamental truths have emerged that I feel obligated to share with any runner coming to the dark side…that is, triathlon. Shall we?

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  1. Chose A Lane With Similarly Paced Swimmers

You arrive at the pool full of mojo (or not) and are ready to get your swim on, only to find the lanes spattered with the few guys whose shoulder width is as large as you are tall, the girl in the beach bikini who looks like she could be doing the whole “monkey-tree-rocketship” thing, or is she just floating with a noodle (?), the 20-something guy who just came from getting “totally swoll” and then the average folks just moseying along.

I’m absolutely ok with sharing the pool with anyone who would like to use it, but the problem is, they’re all mixed together like they a SwimOutlet grab bag.

My friendly PSA: if the pool is full, please identify similarly paced lanes and enjoy your time in them. Even if a spot is open with the Olympic-paced-freaksofnature lane, save it for Mr. Phelps. The pools I saw in Europe had signs with these very instructions and I believe that these, and the metric system, may help with American swimming woes.

  1. No One Likes Circle Swimming, But Deal With It

“Hi ma’am, I hate to be the one to ask you this, but would you mind circle swimming?” I ask.

“ABSOLUTELY NOT!” she barks back.

Shocked and taken back by here blatant rudeness, the only thing I could conjure up was, “Ok, thank you for your honesty.” (Seriously, Page?)

People, there is not one person on this planet who enjoys circle swimming. But unfortunately it’s one of those things you just have to do occasionally. Please be kind to your other swimmers and welcome them in because if they are following item number one from above, all will go swimmingly (pun intended).

  1. Don’t Wear Perfume Before You Swim

Somehow the pool exaggerates every foul note of a sprayed-on scent. I do not enjoy accidentally tasting your perfume, let alone smelling it. So let’s save everyone the trouble and just rinse off before you swim. Kapeesh?

  1. Raccoon Eyes, Goggles Marks & Broken Hairs Are Standard

If I look like I just got two black eyes evening, it’s because I didn’t take my mascara off before swimming.

If I look like I’ve been snorkeling for a week in Hawaii, it’s because I’ve been trying to learn to like swimming.

If I look like I have a permanent halo of broken hairs circling my head, it’s because my noggin’ is rather large and swim caps feel like the equivalent of a brain sucking torture device.

Swimming isn’t a beauty competition, but that’s also what I like about it. Just go with it.

  1. Watch The Schedule

This one is a note to myself as even though it was 6 p.m. on a Tuesday, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the pool won’t be completely taken over and your swim will be cut short thanks to aqua aerobics.

I felt confident that such classes were only held in the mornings or mid-day, but then again, we all know what assuming does.

No time is safe and in the words of Sonja, “Keep a pool schedule in your bag.” (I don’t think she was happy that I failed to plan that one.)

  1. We All Start Somewhere

And most importantly, just know that swimming isn’t easy, but you have to start somewhere. I remember the first time I swam laps, I finished the workout and hopped out feeling like the king of the world.

Actually, I have a blog post about that very day.

Looking back on my almost two years of swimming, I know that I am trying to dedicate a stronger practice to this sport so I can grow to love it. If I keep saying, “I’m a horrible swimmer,” then yes, I am going to be a horrible swimmer. But If I can change my frame of mind and realize that this is a practice to work at and grow, anything is possible. It’s a process, but one that I’m working on.

Any other fundamental newbie swimming truths to add to the list?

Happy running (and swimming)!

   
19 Comments | Posted in Swimming

Aiming to Beam

Oh heeeeeeey.

I think I’ve lost track of what week of training I’m on as you know…life…has been a little bit chaotic.

Chaotic in the good way, chaotic in the “I just want to take a nap” way, but chaotic in the “I know I am so blessed to have this chaotic life” way.

Rather than trying to recap the multiple weeks of training that I’ve missed posting, I thought I’d share a bit about a redefined perspective, without divulging my inner soul.

This week in Portland, the sun came out. But in a blazing, 90 degree, record-breaking fashion that makes you yearn for AC and wonder if this is the antithesis of the crazy winter and that summer only holds more hilarious plot twists for us.

Regardless of the how hot it was and how truly unusual it is for Portland to see those temps in April, I noticed a dramatic shift. I felt like someone had turned on a light switch and all of a sudden I was beaming.

This pale skin, I burn just looking at the sun, gal’s attitude went from drudging along to literally clapping as I walked into the office shouting, “LET’S DO THIS PEOPLE.”

Maybe it was the surge of vitamin D.
Maybe it was my increased intake of iron-rich goodness after finding out I’m severely deficient.
Or maybe it’s because I’m trying to shift, reprioritize and little inner thinking.

Despite the strange stares, I rode this deep happiness high and took notice of just how much the dismal days of Portland’s winter had affected me (and they say it wasn’t even that bad of a winter).

Taking notice in your true inner self may sound like a line straight out of a pre-teen self-help book, but it had gone unnoticed for so long that I didn’t see what was, and is now, staring me in the face.

As I look back over the past weeks at all of the little things that make me beam, it’s easy to see the path ahead. Savoring the little moments, focusing on positivity, cherishing the time spent with loved ones, and appreciating any moment spent in the pool, in the saddle or on the road, despite the outcome of that workout.

It’s a long road ahead but I’m willing to put in the work. Here’s to a few of the things that made me smile and I hope you’re beaming as well.

   
9 Comments | Posted in Life

Running and Swimming in London

I planned on posting this earlier, but then my body completely melted down and gave me two big middle fingers for running it into the ground. Needless to say, I couldn’t do more than hit play on episodes of “New Girl,” which isn’t half bad considering I have finally found  a TV character that most resembles my true self. No, not Schmidt. But better late than never…

As I mentioned in my earlier post, London surprised me.

UntitledIt’s not just a major urban metro filled with history, but it’s focus on expansive green spaces and parks puts New York City, Los Angeles and many of the major U.S. cities that I’ve visited to shame.

Sure New York has Central Park, but that’s pretty much the extent of large parks within the city to run in and around. I didn’t get a chance to visit even the top five, but the few that I did run in left me wondering, “Whoa, when is this park going to end?”

From zoos to open water swimming, fountains and spectacular sunrises, every turn I took led to the discovery of something new. Listed below are a few of the parks and pools that I visited and hopefully they’re helpful if you are ever across the pond.

UntitledSt. James’ Park: The first and smallest of the parks I ran through, but I’m leaving it on the list because of one specific spot, in the middle of the bridge, where you can watch the sun rise over the London eye and it was simply beautiful.

UntitledLondon 2012 Aquatics Centre: London recently reopened the Queen Elizabeth’s Park and all of the buildings that athletes competed in for the London 2012 Olympics and made them accessible to the public. It’s a 30 minute or so ride on the tube from central London, but it well worth it when you get to swim in the 50m beauty.

UntitledVictoria Park: Just a short jog away for the London 2012 Aquatics Center is Victoria Park, which seemed to go on, and on, and on. From football games, to super hero themed cycling groups, this park was perfection for flat running with great people watching.

UntitledMarshall Street Leisure Centre: Don’t expect luxury when you stumble upon this place in Soho, but the 1930’s, full marble, 30m pool was recently refurbished and is worth the drop-in fee for the unique experience. (Oh and don’t try to take a photo, you will promptly be whistled at and told, “NO PHOTOS!”)

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UntitledThe Regent’s Park: One of the smaller parks on the list, yet still large enough to have the world’s first zoo in it. No need to purchase a zoo pass, because you’re run will take you by the giraffes (who just happened to be out and eating when I ran by). It also has a dirt track in case you’re that dedicated.

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UntitledHyde Park: One word: huge. No, no, another word: amazing. This is what I would equate to a Central Park. It’s one of the largest parks in London and has everything from open water swimming, boating, cycling, tennis, horse riding, and more. I knew I was in London when I was running on the flat paved path, right next to an large dirt path for horses and their oh-so-proper looking riders (I have no idea what the correct language is for that sport). Go when it’s sunny to relax, but go during sunrise for spectacular views.

Untitled Untitled Untitled UntitledHampstead Heath: A bit further from central London, but still a runnable distance. I ran to the park when I was physically feeling the worst, but it brought so much discovery and joy. I couldn’t believe I was in London as the greenery made me feel like I was in Portland.  There’s trail running, art, historic homes, an all-weather track, and so much more. Definitely a must visit.

I also kept hearing about Richmond Park being one of the best, but the hour plus journey didn’t work with my schedule. I hope this helps anyone else who is thinking about a trip to London.

Any other recommendations for other travelers or locals?

Enjoy and happy running!

   
26 Comments | Posted in running, Swimming

With love from London

What started as, “You’ll be going for a week,” then “you’re not going,” then “we need you for almost three weeks and you’ll be living out of a hotel room the entire time,” has resulted in an eye-opening experience that I am beyond grateful for.

At the end of March, I hopped on a plane to London for work and I am now sitting in the airport now on my way home, writing my, “Hello! I’m still alive!” post.

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If you looked at my Instagram feed, one would perceive that it was full of nothing but frolicking around a city that has grown to share a special place in my heart. But the reality of it all was that I would try to get in some version of training done in the mornings, then it was non-stop work, resulting in severe sleep deprivation, but a new sense of camaraderie with my team.

Overall, the event went off successfully and the team managed to pull off some of the best work I’ve seen, but this is a triathlon blog, not a “Page’s career blog” so allow me to shift topics: training was tough.

In the beginning, I was able to explore and discover new places to swim and run, but cycling was officially put on hold and the 20 meter pools left vague distance estimates. I’m going to leave the location recommendations for another post, but it has since been confirmed: the best way to see a city is by running it’s streets, it’s parks and discovering their historic pools. And I am officially in love with all of London’s parks.

Sorry NYC, you lose.

Aside from exploring, stress was high and I could feel it everywhere. My legs felt like lead, my heart rate was off the charts and sleep was minimal at best. But when I could, I dragged myself up and out, and kept things easy and device-less. London’s expansive parks were just what I needed to melt the stress — I even had one of those “moments.”

You know, when you’re running and despite your speed or how you physically feel, all of a sudden things just become overwhelmingly emotional. You’re happy because you love what it is that you’re body is capable of doing, you love your husband, love your family —  just overwhelming love brought to you by running and recognizing how happy it truly makes you. The cheese is overwhelming, but if you’ve experienced this, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

From the usual London sights and sounds, to swimming in the official London 2012 Olympics pool and eating my way through the city, it was an experience I’ll never forget. I’m anxious to get back home, see my husband and Lola, and focus on training — I have some new possible goals and ideas on the horizon (email coming at you soon, Sonja). But I’m also a little sad to leave a city that will leave your wallets empty, but your face with a stupid smile smeared across it the entire time. Oh, and did I mention the FOOD!?!

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More to come soon…happy running!

   
10 Comments | Posted in Life

LAKE STEVENS 70.3: WEEK 6

Baby Hoppin’ [bey-bee-hop-in]; verb: the act of D.I.N.K.S spending an entire weekend in their hometown, bouncing back and forth between new nephews and nieces, while fending off prying questions from elders regarding the state of one’s ovaries.

That about sums up week six.

It’s evident that adult life is full of phases. There was the college graduation phase, the engagement phase, the wedding phase and now we’re officially in a “everyone I know is either pregnant, just had a baby or is currently tracking their ovulation” phase. And it’s spreading like wildfire.

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE all of these little new bundles of joy and I think I have it even better than their parents. Love ‘em, spoil ‘em and do all the fun stuff.  But I think I’m just still struggling to accept that we’ve come to that phase in our lives; I’m supposed to still sit at the kid table, not have kids at the kid table, dammit!

UntitledWait, wait, I do have a kid.
See, she likes Sunday morning brunch as much as the rest of us (minus the mimosas).

As juvenile as this entire post is making me sound, I was beyond excited to see my (now extended) family over week six and get in training in vastly different conditions. From not being able to feel my fingers after running mile repeats at elevation and in the cold, to a long run in my first heat wave of the season (80+ degrees), I felt like I was checking off my training extremes list.

The more I face these challenges during training, the more I know I’ll be mentally prepared should they occur come race day. Extreme cold? Been there. Extreme heat? Yes, I can handle it. Mental training at its finest and one of the most undervalued strengths…that is, until I have to run in 80 degrees again.

I closed out week 6 with:
7:38 hours training:
7,900 yards swimming
15.3 miles cycling
26.2 miles running
15 minutes core/rolling

Happy Running!

   
17 Comments | Posted in Training

LAKE STEVENS 70.3: WEEK 5

Things that come in threes:

  • Sports in a triathlon, duh.
  • The quantity of sisters in my family.
  • The number of times I cursed during my long ride, times 27.
  • The number of scary ER trips my friends and family have now in the past month.
  • The number of nieces and nephews I now have.

Week five was a bit of an experiment: both emotionally and physically.

When I saw the total volume my coach had planned, I reacted audibly as I haven’t seen those hours since Ironman training. But Sonja assured me that it was all part of my MAF testing and seeing what kind of volume my body can handle as I get back into it.  The great thing about having a coach is that I don’t overanalyze, just do what they say, and provide my feedback along the way. It’s magical.

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Post-workout selfie. Guilty as charged, but I was so excited with the MAF results!

The good news includes not only finishing an almost 15 hour week, but my MAF (maximum aerobic fitness) mile tests showed considerable improvement after only four weeks. Well would you look at that…working on being aerobically efficient and not just anaerobically efficient can actually work!

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And any time you can eat copious amount of the best peanut butter ever while on a long trainer ride and watching movies is a good day.

In addition to some confidence boosting MAF results, a coach pep-talk and my chicken arms getting schooled in the pool, we also welcomed a brand new nephew into the family. I’m on my way to meet him for the first time as we speak – I can’t wait to gush over other babies and then hand them back when they poop!

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The first-world/idiotic bad news is that my inability to follow turn-by-turn directions in new places is still limited. I took Rocko out for my first outdoor, Portland long ride and proceeded to get lost on a new loop and battle the ever-present rain and wind. I was my usual happy-go-lucky self at first, but after hours of being covered in mud and being unable to help some poor kids who fell off their bike (that’s another story) I was over it.  I don’t have a garage or a patio, so there was only one way to get Rocko clean (don’t worry, I didn’t turn on the shower head).

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And in the real-world scary news department, another family member ended up in ER and thankfully they too are ok, but seriously people. Can we catch a break for a hot minute?

In the end, week five was challenging while still giving me the courage to charge forward. And I also learned that I can eat an entire head of cauliflower, in one sitting, by myself. I know, I know, you’re impressed. (Don’t worry, the aftermath wasn’t that scary).

I closed out week 5 with:
14:40 hours training:
8,300 yards swimming
116 miles cycling
24 miles running
60 minutes core/rolling

 Happy Running!

   
13 Comments | Posted in Training

LAKE STEVENS 70.3: WEEK 4

Week four bled together with week three.

Full of life stressors and the unfortunate accident (thankfully everyone is ok and healing well — thank you for your kind words), it’s more prevalent than ever that training isn’t just physical.

In fact, I’ve been reading one of the best training books I’ve ever read, The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing. While I’m still in the early pages of the book, Dr. Philip Maffetone paints one of the clearest pictures I’ve encountered regarding endurance training.

The true holistic approach to developing endurance is one in which all aspects of the athlete are considered — these are the triad of structural, chemical and mental fitness and health.

Dr. Maffetone goes on to explain that this approach to holistic training can be represented as an equilateral triangle. The two obvious sides of the triangle are the structural (physical and mechanical aspects, e.g. muscles, joints, etc.) and chemistry (bio0chemical reactions, hormones, food, etc.).

But the one side of the triangle that is gaining increased awareness in my life is the “mental and emotional” side. This is the side that “incorporates our behavior through the activities of the physical and chemical brain.” Among other things, we’re talking about moods, anxiety and stress. It’s not about fitness, but health, which are two very different things.

While I’ve only scratched the surface of the book (and I’ll leave it to Dr. M to further elaborate), it made me realize that I need to stop neglecting this part of my endurance triangle as it is just as important. Being cognizant of the stressors and mental well-being in my life are critical and directly effect my athletic performance. It’s not just the hours I put in, but how I take care of the other two triangles.

The proof was in the pudding when I tried to run shortly thereafter Chicken Face’s accident and my heart rate was through the roof and I simply couldn’t get it down. Week four’s workouts tended to follow this pattern, but they are also what bring me the biggest stress relief.

UntitledWhen Cate & I gave the wind and it’s attitude a big middle finger.

So as I look down the path of the rest of my training cycle for the season, it will still be about quality over quantity and getting the workouts in, but it will also be about taking care of the entire triangle and making changes in my life to do so, even if they do make people raise their eyebrows and ask, “Why?”

Then I’ll just smile.

UntitledP.S. It was dark and cloudy when I started this ride…thus the clear lenses. And I still don’t have the heart to rip my Ironman sticker off my helmet just yet.

I closed out week 4 with:

10.45 hours training:
4,750 yards swimming
66.1 miles cycling 
18.7 miles running
15 minutes core and rolling

Happy Running.

   
15 Comments | Posted in Uncategorized

LAKE STEVENS 70.3: WEEK 3

What’s that saying?
God doesn’t give you what you can’t handle.

Well, the big man upstairs (or whoever you believe in…just be a good person) is pushing the limits with two trips to the ER for my friend who was in a running accident and for my husband who was in a car accident. Details aside, I’m thankful everyone is ok from situations that could have been much worse.

A few lessons learned:

  • If you get a deep gash in your face and are rushed to ER, ask for a plastic surgeon to stitch you back up. It’s your FACE.
  • When it’s raining outside, hydroplaning is real. Fail to understand the risk involved and staples won’t just be office supplies — they’ll be in your head.
  • The best remedy is always laughter. ALWAYS.

Needless to say, training happened, then it didn’t happen and I can feel my heart literally aching with stress. Thankfully, getting out and training is the one thing that calms me back down and helps get my mind back on track.

I can’t even recall what it is that I did over the past week as all I’m focusing on is making sure that work projects are launched without a hitch and that residual concussions don’t suddenly appear.

But I will tell you this: go tell your family you love them. Go tell your friends you care for them. Go for a run and be thankful that you’re healthy and alive, because there’s nothing better than that.

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I closed out week 3 with:

10 hours training:
5,500 yards swimming
66.1 miles cycling 
~23 miles running
30 minutes core and rolling

 Happy Running.

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16 Comments | Posted in Life, Training