Tuesday, December 31, 2013

“Everything you can imagine is real.”

“Everything you can imagine is real.” 
 Pablo Picasso

One of my favorite things about keeping a blog and the fact I've had it for as long as I've been doing Ironman is that I get to go back and see myself over the years.  I giggle when I look back at my posts from 2007, while training for my first big race.

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go...” 
 Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You'll Go!

Oh how that quote could not be any more perfect.  This year I chose to push harder, dream bigger and have no regrets.  It paid off in so many ways, not just in results but in where I see myself going and what I see myself doing.

Last year, I looked back at my two New Years posts.  The first one, I shared how my year that started out in tragedy pushed me to go after new goals, to reach for the stars.   Boy did I continue to reach for the stars this year.  I put my head down, I did the work, I held nothing back.  This is something that it has taken me years of practicing and getting the confidence to do.  I feel like it made me such a stronger person and athlete being about to put it out there and go for it....


My second post was a few weeks into the New Year.  I was unemployed, bored and confused on what to do with myself.  Thankfully the stars aligned and I found myself with a good job, and still the flexibility of working from home!  But what hits home the most about this post (which I didn't even remember writing!) is the last section.....teaser***

2014 is going to be the most exciting one yet.  I have big dreams, big goals of my own, but the most exciting part is that I hope to be able to help others find, build and reach their's as well.


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

birthday cheer

Having your birthday on a holiday where basically everyone you know is busy celebrating with their family, isn't always fun.  But, what can you do, just like many things we can't choose, we most certainly didn't choose the day we were born.

Thankfully I have some pretty awesome friends to join me on (some) of my crazy adventures, so the celebration started early with a birthday swim of 36x100.  This is the biggest group I've had join me for my bday swim, and we had a blast!



I have to say, as much as some of us make fun of Facebook, it sure does make having a birthday pretty awesome.  Who doesn't like getting ~100 Happy Birthday wishes!?  Two of my favorite little notes came from my sister and my mom's best friend.

"Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday dear Sister, Happy Birthday to you! 

I am so happy you were born & I hope your day is filled with all the finest of Mexico, Hornitos, Jell-O shots, mas cervesas, dolphins, sunshine, doggy kisses, laughter & great memories! Happy Birthday!"

"HAPPY Birthday Krista! I so remember the day you were born and your mom and dad bringing you home in a Christmas Stocking. Enjoy your day."

My sister clearly knows what my day would be filled with, but the note from my mom's BFF made me smile.  I had actually never heard that story before...

Anyway, since we bought our house in Mexico about 10 years ago, we've pretty much spent every holiday (and birthday) here.  We've made it our own little tradition and I wouldn't change a thing about it.

We were blessed this year with stunning weather (so far) and while the nights get chilly, the days have been sunny and warm.  Yesterday for my birthday, I wanted to start the day off right so I added on to last year's birthday run with one more interval.  I have to say I was a bit intimidated by the thought of a ~10mile run doing 36 hard 1 minute intervals, since I haven't been running much, but it was a nice little kick in the pants and got me excited to start training again!  Shane was a good rabbit for me to chase, and kept me working hard to not get dropped!


The rest of my afternoon was spent just like this.... enjoying the perfect weather, view and a little gossip!


We headed into town pretty early to buy our shrimp and clams for Christmas Day Dinner, and had a couple of cervesas.  As we were listening to one of the Mariachi groups serenade a small group of people, they ended with a "happy birthday tune."  I couldn't help but laugh, that what were the odds?  There were 3 groups of people in this little bar overlooking the sea, and there were 2 Christmas babies. I asked Shane to sneak downstairs and buy the birthday girl a drink... 5 minutes later the gesture was returned and I was saying cheers with a nice little birthday shot.  The third group in the bar/restaurant was a woman with two adorable children.  After they finished their food, both littles came over to wish me a happy birthday.  It was so cute!


The birthday celebrations ended having dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant.  As much as I would love to order the yummy meal below, I'm afraid all the cream and cheese would throw me over the edge, but I did get a little taste of Shane's favorite, molcajete de camarones.  I got my usual, burn your insides, but tastes oh so good, camarones ala diabla (devil shrimp).


It was a perfect day, and perfect ending to my 35th year... ready for bigger, brighter and new adventures in the year to come!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Sole Hope

It's amazing the amount of time I can waste when I'm not training 20 hrs a week.  So after the Ironman fog lifted, I had way way way too much time on my hands.  I was determined to take it really easy for 3 weeks, just light activity, one workout a day.  Let me my body fully heal and recover.  My bank account took the biggest hit, when it just happened to be black Friday MONTH and I had some fun spending some money on a few other things than swim, bike, run, race, eat.....

Work had been pretty slow, year end stuff, not a whole lot of marketing campaigns starting around the holidays for a pharmaceutical company. Again, too much time and an endless supply of internet (although sometimes I could swear that I've reached the end of it)...

Then something caught my eye on Facebook.  Someone had posted a link about shoes.  Most everyone who knows me, knows I LOVE shoes!  Red ones, sparkly ones, HIGH ones.... And while they rarely come out to play these days (except a good 2 weeks of holiday festivities) I still love them!  Well, this link wasn't about your typical Steve Madden, Donald Pliner, Cole Hahn... It was something totally different, totally BETTER.

The link was a blog post about getting together with friends, family, whichever you choose and building shoe kits for littles in Uganda who have a something called Jiggers on their feet.

wikipedia excerpt: "The chigoe flea or jigger is a parasitic arthropod found in most tropical and sub-tropical climates, not to be confused with the larval form of Trombiculidae found in more temperate climates"

While the link I found was a personal blog story about putting on a "shoe party" building patters that will be sent off to fair wage workers to actually sew the shoes together, the organization behind the idea is Sole Hope.  You can read their mission and story here.

To be honest I didn't really read a whole lot about this idea, I just sent a quick note out to some girlfriends wanting to know if anyone would be up for a little party where we make shoes for kids in Africa.  Basically a book wine club evening with friends, only actually doing something good, something productive.

The response was amazing, and within a couple of hours we had a group of 10 girls asking what they could bring, do and even someone to host it at their home!


Of course somehow, the least artsy/crafty person chose to plan this event (ME!), but I have to say.. in the end, everything turned out beautifully.


It was an absolutely wonderful night, with these ladies.  Great food, great conversation, laughs, and wine of course.  Melisa's house was the perfect location for this, and I even got to catch up with her not so littles that I haven't seen in WAY too long.



After several hours, several bottles of wine - we had traced, cut and safety pinned together 25 patterns for shoes.

What we did in the above picture, will end up looking something like this...


This was one of the absolute coolest things I've ever done, especially around the holidays.  Thursday morning I was able to pack and stuff our shoe patterns, donated medical supplies and a check for $100 to the organization that will help pay for the shoes to be sewn together.  Thank you to all the wonderful ladies who took part in this!  I hope we can find another fun and great cause to help out next year!  

#payitforward





Thursday, December 19, 2013

Consistency

This year has been my most enjoyable, hard earned and successful racing season yet.  There are so many things and people that have contributed to every PR, podium and even training success.

First and foremost my coach, Michelle.  This was our third year of working together, and she has continued to push, motivate and find the best in me.  I think one of the reasons I've always respected her as a friend and my coach is that I can relate to her.  Michelle works her ass off for all of her achievements, and while she may not have won the genetic lottery, she puts so much into her training, racing as well as her athletes.  I'm super excited (and always a little bit scared) to see what she has in store for me starting back in January!

Second, my mindset.  This was probably the hardest thing for me to build, grow and change.  I think this is probably one of the hardest thing for a (not naturally talented) athlete to perfect.  Having the confidence in your abilities to show up when it counts, to push your limits and to flip the switch when the going gets tough (and it ALWAYS does).  Instead of looking at my training schedule and completely freaking out, I started to take it day by day, workout by workout.  I shut my brain off, and just did the work.  This paid off ten fold during my Ironman and instead of having doubts and listening to the pain, I trusted my body and all the hard work I had done and just kept moving, all with a smile on my face.

This post wasn't meant to talk about my amazing coach or my hard work, but more to point out that what I did differently in the past couple of years wasn't just the type of training, it was the SMART training.  The consistent training.  I know that we all work differently, but one thing that I have found is my body needs to do things over and over and without long breaks.

Each year I keep a training log, and look at my year end totals.  Sometimes I get excited when I see new peaks of total miles, but this year I was actually surprised to see that some of my total numbers were actually lower, particularly on the bike.  But what was different is I biked often, and I biked with purpose.  I biked through my marathon training (not very willingly, but I did it!), and then increased my bike days after the race.  I never had more than 4-5 days off of the bike at a time (exception of travel).  And, while my tri bike is still sitting with the (flat) race wheels, race stickers and even a (gross) water bottle still on the frame..... I was back on my road bike after a week of rest from Ironman.

Consistency...

The same goes for my swim and my run.  The first time I ran after Ironman my legs were SORE.  It had been 12 days since the race and a slow 5k run hurt me.  I've done several shorter runs and finally started putting in a bit more mileage over the past couple of weeks, and my legs feel better and no more soreness.  What has really surprised me is my speed and effort isn't far off from where it was before the race.  I've had a steady year of running, again without any long breaks, and it pays off!

With swimming, which I love, I have to be swimming consistently 3 days per week, and not just easy flop swims to keep strong.  I've been back to my masters group for 3 weeks now,  and it's taken 3 weeks of swimming 3k+ to feel good again after 2 weeks off.  Swimming once or even twice a week just doesn't cut it for me, and as much as I know this is everyone's first thing to drop off when they don't have a race goal.... it can be the hardest thing to get back.

So, I challenge you to give it a try.  Start logging your time and track what happens when you keep plugging away and don't lose your goggles, or let your bike tires go flat.

Keep moving, stay consistent!  Then, enjoy the benefits of your hard work!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Ironman Recovery and Nostalgia

A few months before Ironman, while trying to figure out plans for next year, Michelle mentioned something about me being cut off, or needing some complete time off after the race.  At first the thought stressed me out.  I hate resting.  While I listen to my body 95% of the time, and shut down when needed, I've had such consistent training and am like an aerobic engine I recover really quickly.

My tune quickly changed after I had my near perfect day on November 17th.  I think about that Sunday all the time.  The pure joy I felt for 10.5 hours is still so fresh in my mind.  It almost scares me to think about trying to top it.  

I left it all out there with no regrets and for the first time in a long time I allowed my body to completely rest and unwind.  The first couple days I didn't sleep a wink.  My brain was fried, and my body ached.  I lost my appetite until day 3, which just happened to be when we were in Mexico with fresh seafood, spicy salsa and fresh (fried) tortilla chips loaded in salt.  

On Wednesday I took my beach chair, the dogs and a cocktail down to the beach and decided to take the dogs for a walk.  It felt good to move my legs about, but about 15mins into our walk I started to just feel tired, so we turned around and I plopped myself back on the chair and didn't move for another 2 hours.

The rest of the extended week(end) was pretty similar, sitting with my feet up staring at the water. 


Then ending the day staring at gorgeous sunsets like this....


I spent a complete week recovering, doing absolutely no training.  After about 10 days my body started to ache to move, so I did starting with swimming then easy spinning.  I did do a 3 mile post turkey day run within 2 weeks, but other than that no running for about 15 days.

Finally, by this weekend after almost 3 weeks of staying up late, happy hours, sleeping in and eating way too much chocolate, I feel ready to be back at it.  I'm taking the rest of the month/year to just train as I feel, no obligations.  While I'm still on cloud 9, my mind can't help but be excited for next year.

I'm in my 13th year of triathlon, and 8th year racing Ironman.  I've worked for every single minute of progress, and knowledge I've gained over the years, and can't help but be a bit nostalgic thinking about where I started, where I am now and where I'm going.  Some people are born natural athletes.  Some people grew up dedicated to a sport and will forever be an athlete.  I wouldn't call myself either of those, but I am damn proud of the athlete I am now.

When I started working with my coach, Michelle 3 years ago I had no idea what was in store for me.  I have fallen completely in love with endurance racing and the sport or Ironman.  I've learned so much from her and believe not only in what she teaches me, but what I am capeable of.  2014 is going to be one of the most fun, exciting and adventurous years and I can't wait to share it with you all..

Thanks for reading!

Here's my history of with Ironman.  Dream big, reach for the stars.

Ironman CDA 2007

Ironman CDA 2008

Ironman Canada 2010

Ironman CDA 2011

Ironman Canada 2012

Ironman Arizona 2013