12 Things That Keep This Runner Happy and Sane

I’m sorry my blog has been silent for so long. I wish I could say it’s because I’ve been off on some far-flung adventure, but the truth is I’ve been in a funk. I don’t want to get political, but the madness that has enveloped our country has left me frustrated beyond belief and struggling to weave together sentences I’ve felt worthy of sharing, knowing what readers want most is to be inspired.

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While my head and heart still continue to wrestle with a tangle of emotions, the one thing that consistently unravels all the BS and brings me back to my usual happy center is my fitness.

I’m sure you know what I mean when I say pure joy washes over me in the simple act of moving my body, breathing hard and sweating it out. It’s the perfect reminder that no matter what’s going on in the world, there will always be remarkable moments of aaaaaaaah that fill me with gratitude and remind me that life is freaking great.

Here’s what else is keeping me happy and sane….

1) Breathing in crisp, fresh air and reveling in the beauty around me, and exhaling all traces of the day’s latest toxic news. Being a speck in the universe always has a way of keeping things in perspective.

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2) Setting goals–especially ones that make me stretch beyond my perceived boundaries. One in particular has me fired up right now–trying to qualify for Boston, and I’m happy to report I’ve got Matthew Tague in my corner again coaching me for a late spring marathon. My gut tells me this is the year to finally make this Boston thing happen, and I’m happily working my butt off to get my feet moving faster again after a year of Ironman endurance training. I think I can. I think I can. Bring. It. On.

3) Celebrating tiny victories like choosing a healthy kale, raspberry smoothie with protein over a vanilla latte, or a platter full of veggies during the Super Bowl instead of a pizza; or dumping Facebook off my phone to distance yourself from the craziness; or getting in bed early to immerse myself in a phenomenal book instead of watching mind-numbing television, knowing I’ll be far more inspired and also sleep better.

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4) Coaching young runners and being surrounded by unrelenting joy and pint-size goodness. Kids always have a way of showing you how to be in the moment and enjoy what you’re doing while you’re doing it. There’s no overthink anything. There’s just unbridled energy and enthusiasm as they take on new challenges, and a huge sense of accomplishment afterward when they realize they can do hard things.

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5) Acting like my shoe size, having a blast running in the pouring rain and reconnecting with my Oregon roots.

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My poor dog wasn’t born with webbed feet like me, so although he’s a good sport, he still usually gives me “the look” on days like this.

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6) Racing! While I always know it’s going to be a sufferfest, racing gives me a chance to push it hard, see where I’m at with my fitness and also celebrate our running community. There’s no happier place to be than the end of a race when everyone is flooded with endorphins and reveling in camaraderie while celebrating a sense of accomplishment, knowing they’ve started the day off in all the best ways.

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7) Surrounding myself with a multitude of badass athletes in our local running community and being inspired by their energy and unstoppable attitudes. There’s no better way to keep you focused on being the best version of yourself than Continue reading

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Things I Know For Sure About Doing Your First Ironman

finishtimeWhen I turned 50 earlier this year, I decided to finally give myself the gift of chasing after my Ironman dream — something I’d been carrying with me since I was a teenager. I knew I wanted to be an Ironman in 1982 after watching Wide World of Sports on a Saturday afternoon and being bowled over by Julie Moss’ awe-inspiring race in Kona and her legendary crawl across the finish line.

It took me 34 years to build up my nerve, carve out the time, and mentally prepare for a year of training in my single-minded pursuit of becoming an Ironman, but it’s truly one of the best things I’ve ever done.

My way of showing gratitude for the gift of this journey and all the people who helped me along the way is not only to thank each of them, but to pay it forward and share what I’ve learned with others who might be contemplating their first Ironman.

Because you learn A LOT in the course of a year of training, I’m going to break it down into a series of blog posts covering the journey, the swim, the bike, run, nutrition and recovery, mental toughness, race day and the afterglow.

First of all, if you’re reading this, most likely you’ve taken the most difficult step of this entire journey — believing in yourself enough to hit the registration button. Even if you nearly peed yourself in the process, screamed, “Holy Crap, what have I done?” and laughed uncontrollably as you headed for a massive glass of wine and a box of chocolates, YOU DID IT!!! My hat is off to you. You are on your way!!!

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If you’re still building up your nerve, but have a burning desire to become an Ironman, don’t ignore it. It’s something you’ll never regret. And if you’ve been putting it on the back burner, waiting for the perfect time to do it, please know there is no perfect time. There never will be. Life always throws challenges our way. That’s one of the many reasons crossing the finish line is so freaking exhilarating and empowering.

Here’s what else I learned while doing my first Ironman…

The Journey

• It may sound cliche, but Ironman truly is a journey in every sense of the word, as you will travel to the farthest reaches physically, emotionally and spiritually, learning more about yourself than you ever imagined as you train for one of the most demanding endurance events of your life.

• It’s important to surround yourself with people who believe in your dream as much as you do.

• Do your “Ironman thing,” and do it with the passion that fills your heart. Life is short and this is a huge, life-affirming goal, so wear it on your sleeve and enjoy every second.

• Start where you’re at, not where you want to be. Slowly, steadily build and you will get there faster than if you jump in beyond your fitness level and get injured. Remember your number one goal is to get to the starting line healthy.

• Be patient. It may feel like it’s taking forever, but you will suddenly start cranking out mileage you never imagined.

• When you first start, you will likely be exhausted (All. The. Time.), and you will wonder how the hell you will ever do this thing called Ironman. It will pass after a few weeks though, as your body adjusts to the demands you are placing on it. In no time you will forget all about it because you’ll suddenly be on fire, getting stronger with each workout.

• Focus on the journey and not the race. The race itself is just one day, but the journey is made up of hundreds of days and likely thousands of hours. After all, if you’re not enjoying the journey, what’s the point?

• Don’t be afraid to share what you are doing. You never know who you might inspire, and the support and encouragement you receive along the way is immeasurable.

• You will find extraordinary beauty in your pursuit of becoming an Ironman — whether it’s in nature or people, or in simple moments that take your breath away. Don’t forget to stop and appreciate it. These are the moments that make your journey worth it all.

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• You do not have to be a certain shape or size to become an Ironman. You will see every kind of person imaginable on race day. Big, small, old, young, ones with naturally functioning legs and arms, some with prosthetics. Some of the biggest people on the race course have some of the strongest glutes and the fiercest hearts.

• Even if you stink at one of the disciplines at first, you WILL get it, and you will never regret the time you spent getting better at it while chasing after your dream.

• There will be days when you simply do not want to train, when you’d give anything to sleep in, then lounge around sipping coffee instead of dragging yourself to a cold pool or spending hours on your bike. Learn this mantra early in your training: “Don’t think. Just Go. Don’t think. Just Go.”

• The other mantra that will help you is “One day, one workout at a time.” Simply focus on what you are doing while you are doing it. If you start thinking too far ahead, you will get overwhelmed by the shear magnitude of what Ironman training requires. When you break it down to one single workout, it’s absolutely doable.

• Ironman does not happen without the help of others. Somebody along the way will give you advice, motivate you, perhaps even train with you. Many people went out of their way to help me reach my goal–from family and friends to my coach and teammates to employees at our local bike shop and running store to complete strangers. You will be floored by others’ enthusiasm for what you are doing–especially those who could never imagine attempting an Ironman.

• Never, I repeat NEVER forget the people around you who are helping you reach your goal. Be grateful. Show your appreciation. Do what you can to keep your family’s life in balance while you train. Your support crew will most likely be pulling yeoman’s duty during your Ironman journey, so it’s important to let them know how much you appreciate them.

• A coach makes a huge difference. Having somebody in your corner who pushes you, inspires you, reels you in when you’re on the verge of overdoing it, who answers every dumb newbie question (there are no dumb questions), and who prepares you mentally, physically and emotionally for the biggest athletic event of your life is worth every penny. If you’re thinking of going it alone, you can, but think again. You won’t regret it, even if you have to skimp somewhere else to pull together the funds to make it happen.

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• Finding the RIGHT coach is crucial. Make sure you are on the same page with your expectations, personalities, and styles. If you need a lot of hand-holding and cheerleading, be up front. Most newbies do. I know I did. Find a coach who is accessible and excited to hear from you. Once a week emails may not be enough to stir your motivation when the going gets tough. Being accountable to somebody who’s rooting for you all the way makes you want to get the work done no matter what.

• There will be high “highs” and low “lows” mixed in with a whole slew of ordinary training days during this long journey to the starting line. The lows are what make the highs all the more exhilarating, so keep that in mind as you work your way through them. Look at the lows as a gift because finding the grit to power on in the face of these challenges is also what’s going to make you unstoppable on race day.

• Don’t shy away from “bad weather.” There is no such thing. Wind, rain, cold, heat, humidity…they’re all your friends during training as they will make you stronger and prepare you for the worst. You will know you’ve faced these elements during training so you’ll be able to handle them again if they rear their heads on race day.

• Don’t ignore your core. It’s what will carry you through to the finish line. Strengthen it and the rest of your body will stay healthier and also become more powerful.

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• Recovery is king and makes all the difference in staying healthy. Train hard, but recover even harder. That means focusing on the essentials: rest, hydration, nutrition, and restorative stretching, foam rolling, and whatever else makes you feel balanced and whole.

• Documenting your journey lets you appreciate it on a whole other level and live it more than once. Whether it’s simply writing in a journal, snapping photos along the way, or full-on blogging like I did every week, you will always be able to remember the highs and lows and the multitude of memorable moments, even when your rides, runs and swims all start to blur together.

• Your skin will take a beating. Between the sun, sweat, chlorine, wind, salt water and other daily factors, you will look in the mirror and wonder, “Whaahappen?” Take care of your skin, but also recognize that what you are working toward is far greater than any new line on your face. You will also have a beautiful glow that radiates from within because you are so fired up about what you are doing.

• Brace yourself for the laundry. It’s epic. Your shower curtain rod will become a perpetual drying rack as it holds multiple pieces of of tri-related items…kits, swimsuits, sports bras, bike and running shorts…the list goes on. It’s all part of it. Accept it.

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• The logistics of training can be time-consuming, especially if you’re disorganized. Most triathletes are Type A, but if you’re not, this might be the time to ramp up your organization and planning skills. Keep your gear in one place, know your pool schedules, have your nutrition and water bottles prepped, make sure your Garmin is charged and your clothes ready. Prepare as much as possible the night before so you don’t waste precious time in the morning digging around for essential items. Training takes enough time in itself. You don’t want to pile on additional hours each week because you’re disorganized.

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• You will miss a workout every once in awhile. DON’T FREAK OUT. The journey to Ironman is long. If you’re sick, on the verge of injury, have an important family commitment or an intense day at work that leaves you walloped, it’s okay to skip it once in awhile. Don’t make it a habit, but don’t beat yourself up either. Sometimes the stress of trying to squeeze it in in the midst of chaos makes it worse, and sets your body back. This is another reason a coach is so helpful, especially one who understands your life outside of training.

• Joining a charity team for your first Ironman will make your experience all the more powerful because not only will you be changing your life during your journey, but the lives of others. That, my friends, is an extraordinary feeling. The support and camaraderie of your team will also boost you tenfold on race day. I chose to raise funds for Smile Train, a phenomenal organization providing free cleft surgeries for kids around the world. I can’t recommend Smile Train enough for what they do for children, and also what they do for the team.

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• Flexibility will keep you sane. Things come up, and you’ll likely need to switch your training schedule around once in awhile. Being rigid and stressing about it is not only counterproductive, but often unnecessary as you’ll most likely still get in all the work, perhaps just in a different order. Bend like a willow so you don’t break like an oak.

• You will have doubts and fears on occasion, questioning your ability and/or your sanity in training for an Ironman. That’s totally normal. Fear is a fantastic motivator. Use it to fuel your training instead of letting it paralyze you. Remember, as you push beyond your comfort zone, “Don’t think. Just Go.”

• Never forget that it’s pretty freaking awesome that you GET to do this. When you hear yourself say, “Ugh, I HAVE to go for a run or swim,” remind yourself that you are one lucky chica to be able to do this. Changing that one simple word is a powerful way to shift your entire mindset.

• Learn to laugh at yourself. You will undoubtedly make a few rookie mistakes during this long road to the starting line, and when you do, it’s best to find humor in the moment and be grateful you were able to get it out of the way before race day. Also, remember everyone was a rookie once and everyone has a “Rookie Mistake” story.

• Treat this journey as if it’s the only one you will ever be able to do in your lifetime. You will appreciate it all the more. You may fall in love with IM and go on to do twenty more, but for your first one, relish every second, even if it’s a sucky training day, even if you’re cursing at a flat tire, even if your muscles are screaming at you. Remember this is a once-in-a-lifetime, mind-blowing gift you are giving yourself.

As you begin (or continue on) your first Ironman journey, know that I am cheering for you every step of the way, and so are all the others who have come before you. You will never regret your decision to push yourself beyond your perceived boundaries. When you do finally go the distance and cross the finish line, every limitation you ever placed on yourself will suddenly be shattered and you will know deep inside that anything is possible.

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Tri on, my friends…

xoBecky

PS: In my next post I will be sharing what I learned about the swim during my first Ironman. For all of you swimmers who are self-described non-swimmers or still “works-in-progress,” know that if I can do it, you absolutely can do it. There’s hope for everyone. 🙂

Fellow Ironmen, what would you add to this list? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Week 43 of Ironman Training: The Joys of Joy and Peak Week

Many of you know one of my greatest joys is coaching kids running teams and sharing my passion for the sport with the next generation. I love paying it forward, empowering young runners and motivating them to see themselves in new ways.

I’ve been doing this for over four years now with a program I created consisting of about 1/3 running and fitness, 1/3 motivation and inspiration, and 1/3 sportsmanship, team building and “life.”

I’ll admit it has been a little tricky pulling it all together this season in the midst of training, but it has always been worth the effort. Last week I zoomed into practice with just a few minutes to spare after riding nearly 50 miles and doing a half hour transition run. Fortunately, since I know I have to be hyper-organized this season to pull it off, it all magically came together. They had a blast and so did I. This little band of happy feet inspires me to no end and lifts my tired dogs ten feet off the ground.

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One of the things we talked about was our Word of the Week: JOY. I typically choose words like determination, courage, goals etc., but JOY is something I’ve been thinking about a lot while I’ve been training, so I wanted to share it with my kids.

I try to find joy in every workout I do, not matter how hard it is or how challenging the day is in terms of terrain, weather, timing, fatigue, logistics. etc. Sometimes I just find joy in the fact that I “get” to do what I’m doing or that the blasting wind is helping me get stronger, or I find joy in the fact that I’m doing something really hard that a lot of people would never attempt.

I wanted to remind my athletes to always try to find JOY in what they’re doing while they’re doing it, even if it’s hard or monotonous. I gave them several ideas of how they can do that with running, school work and even chores around the house, and they also came of with several of their own, which as you can imagine, gave me tremendous JOY. 🙂

The other thing that gave me tremendous joy last week was knowing that I’ve reached the highest point of my training for the entire year. HOLY PEAK WEEK BATMAN!!! I’ve made it in one piece!!! So freaking exciting!!! Now it’s time to taper, recharge, and fine-tune everything for race day. Booyah!

Here’s what my schedule looked like for the week of October 24th-30th…

Monday: Yoga/Pilates, Swim 5000 y (2.8 miles), core
Tuesday: Run 6.25 miles, core
Wednesday: Bike 3 hours, Run 30 minutes (transition run), core, run with my kids team
Thursday: Swim 1750 y with a 1000 TT, Run 8 miles, core
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Bike 1 hour, core
Sunday: Swim 1.5 miles, Bike 70 miles, Run 16 miles (metric Ironman distance) postponed a day due to rain :-(. I’ll be writing about this whopper of a workout soon though! Instead: 1 hour stretch class and 700 y swim.

Here are a few snaps from the week:

Tuesday I ventured to the track for the first time in ages. I wasn’t doing speedwork, but I wanted to run a couple of miles on a soft surface before hitting the road for the remainder of my run. It reminded me how much I love/hate the track, and how I’m looking forward to getting back to it after IMAZ.

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Not a bad place to cool down and stretch…
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And then more core work…bridges…
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Wednesday’s 3 hour ride was gray and brrrrrrr, making it a little hard to get excited about it.

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Here I’m finding some joy in the fact that I had to stop and dig out my sunglasses because the sun finally came out.
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I also found joy in the fact that I got my transition run done in time to get to my kids running club in time.

Thursday I was a little (ok, a lot) whooped from six days in a row of working hard, so I had to dig for some motivation to get my butt out the door for my 8-mile run. As I’ve mentioned before, whenever I’m dragging, the first thing I do is head to my workout wall and remind myself that I’ve done all these workouts in the past so doing one more won’t kill me.
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Then I get silly. I think I need more spinach!
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Then I don lots of compression items and make sure I wear bright colors to make myself feel cheery (even if I’m not, and even if I look ridiculous).
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Yeah, I was definitely fried at the end, but I got it done by practicing some of my mental tricks (mantras, visualization, etc.) and also reminding myself that the next day I had off to rest. It also brightened my run when my friends, Tami and John, happened to drive by and stop to cheer me on. So unexpected on this sleepy back road!
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Friday’s rest day was AWESOME, especially because it rained!!! So refreshing. Loved it. Mother Nature timed things perfectly too, so it cleared up on Saturday for my ride. I thought I was going to luck out on Sunday for my Epic Day, but when I woke up at 5:30 and saw pouring rain, I decided to postpone it a day and go back to bed to get some much-needed rest. I did my Epic Day yesterday, and Epic doesn’t even come close to describing it. More on that one soon.

In the meantime, the countdown is on…only 19 days to go until I’ll be swim-bike-running through Tempe! And only 12 days left to raise more funds for Smile Train. If you’ve been thinking about donating, but haven’t pushed the button yet, today is the day to do it! You have the power to change someone’s life for the better, and there’s nothing more exciting or gratifying (at least in my book).

Here’s the link to donate: BECKY’S SMILE TRAIN PAGE. Thank you Bartholomew Family for your recent generous contribution!!

Until next time, awesome peeps. I hope you find JOY in all you do. Happy November!
xo B

 

PS: As always, if you missed any of my previous posts about Ironman training, you can click on the links below:

Kicking off My Journey to Ironman Arizona
Week One of Ironman Training: Believe
Week Two of Ironman Training: The Power of Friends
Week Three of Ironman Training: I Think I Can
Week Four of Ironman Training: Progress
Week Five of Ironman Training: Wind at my Back (and Front) and Peeps by My Side
Week Six of Ironman Training: Baking a Cake
Week Seven of Ironman Training: Courage
Week Eight of Ironman Training: It’s All About the Base
OMG, You did WHAT?! (AKA Sleep Deprivation + Training = Embarrassing Moments)
Week Nine of Ironman Training: Growing Pains
Week Ten of Ironman Training: Trust
Week 11 of Ironman Training: Speedbumps and Breakthroughs
Week 12 of Ironman Training: A Bundle of Sticks Can’t Be Broken
Week 13 of Ironman Training: Spring!

Week 14 of Ironman Training: Rollercoaster
Week 15 and 16 of Ironman Training: Staying Happy and Healthy

Week 17 and 18 Ironman Training: Inspiration and Purple Rain
Weeks 19 through 21 of Ironman Training: Transitions

Week 22 and 23 of Ironman Training: Holy Epicness…Julie Moss
Week 24 of Ironman Training: Consistency is the Key
Week 25 of Ironman Training: Embracing New Challenges
Week 26 of Ironman Training: Hills, They’re What’s for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
Week 27 of Ironman Training: Taking This Show on the Road (Tri-cation!)
Week 27 of Ironman Training: High Altitude Tri-cation
Week 27 of Ironman Training: High Altitude Fun Continues
Week 28 of Ironman Training: Rocky Mountain High
Week 28 of Ironman Training: Finishing Aspen Strong
Week 29 and 30 of Ironman Training: Rollercoasters, Crazies, and Comebacks
Week 31 of Ironman Training: New Heights
Week 32 of Ironman Training: 100 Days to Go
Week 33 of Ironman Training: The Art of Recovery and Balance
Week 34 of Ironman Training: The Magic of Firsts
Week 35 of Ironman Training:Chasing the M-Dot with Toughness Training
Week 36 of Ironman Training: Miles of Opportunities
Week 37 of Ironman Training: IMAZ Training Camp and Tempe Tri Race Report
Week 38 of Ironman Training: Much to Celebrate and Carpinteria Race Report
Week 39 of Ironman Training: Why I Tri and Try
Week 40 and 41 of Ironman Training: Think Like a Dog and Train Like a Mouse
Week 41 of Ironman Training: Mind over Muscle
Week 42 of Ironman Training: #533 is Savoring the Last 23 Days Until IMAZ

Week 22 and 23 of Ironman Training: Holy Epicness…Julie Moss

It has been an epic couple weeks around here, both in training and on the home front. It’s enough to lift a girl ten feet off the ground then lay her out flat, exhausted. That’s the life of Ironman training, it seems. Highs and lows. The trick is to try your damnedest to stay consistent in the midst of life’s rollercoaster. And that, my friends, is where I’m at right now. Blurry eyed, but keeping on track and still having fun, thanks to the huge support of my family and coach.

Epic Inspiration: Last night I had the honor of meeting Ironman legend, Julie Moss. Listening to her inspiring talk, which she presented to the SB Tri Club meeting, was one of the big “highs” of this week. You see, Julie Moss is the very reason I am doing an Ironman.

For those of you who do not immediately recognize her name, let me take you back…

It’s 1982 and ABC’s Wide World of Sports is broadcasting the Ironman World Championships in Kona. In the women’s division, a 23-year old unknown college student is leading the race much of the way. It’s the ultimate underdog story. That is until her legs give out with just a couple miles to go. Severely dehydrated, she falls down, gets up, falls down, gets up, and falls down while viewers around the world are on the edge of their seats cheering for her, fighting back tears. I’m 16 years old and completely riveted, yelling at the TV, “Get up, Julie! You can do it! Come on, you can do it! You’re almost there!” Her grit is awe-inspiring. She gets up again, staggering, then with just a few yards to go, she falls one last time. Our hearts collectively sink as the 2nd place woman, Kathleen McCartney, passes her. What never ever leaves us though, is the image of this warrior, Julie Moss, crawling across the finish line in the most dramatic Ironman finish ever. Pure epic-ness! I still get goosebumps when I see the clips. (click HERE if you want to watch it).

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After witnessing that moment on television, I knew one day I HAD to attempt an Ironman myself. I never thought it would take me 34 years to get to this point, but the point is that I never gave up on that dream, or pushed it aside thinking it was too late. Hopefully I won’t be crawling across the finish line, but whatever race day brings, I’ll be happy because I let that seed up inspiration grow inside until it blossomed into something I could no longer “not do.”

As you can imagine, it gave me tremendous joy last night to be able to pay homage to Julie and tell her what an impact she made on me, along with so many others. #fangirlforlife

Epic swim: If you’ve been following along on my Ironman journey, you know that swimming has always been a challenge for me. When I started training back in January 500 y was agonizingly hard. I had to stop every 50-100 y to catch my breath and I loathed the process. Well, I’m here to tell you that anything is possible with enough hard work. Just a few days ago I swam 2.5 miles (4400 y) without stopping, and I didn’t even feel like I was going to die! This was HUGE for me because it finally got me over the mental hurdle of knowing I can get through this part of the race. Woot! Now it’s time to take it to the ocean where I’ll be practicing swimming in the mix of others and working on my speed.

Epic ride: Sunday I completed a solid 65-mile ride with a some hills and intervals mixed in along the way. This is the longest ride I’ve done to date (with the exception of my accidental century back in March–click HERE if you missed it). I won’t lie, the last 5-10 miles weren’t easy, mostly on my cranky knee, but after focusing on my recovery–icing, foam rolling, stretching, good nutrition and rest–I’m back in business and heading out the door for another ride this morning.

Here’s what my training schedule looked like these past couple week:

May 30-June 5
Monday: Bike 45 minutes
Tuesday: Run 60 minutes, Swim 60 minutes, Pilates
Wednesday: Bike 90 minutes with hills, yoga
Thursday: Swim 3100y, Run 60 minutes, Pilates
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Bike the SB Tri course (34 miles with hills), run 15 minutes off the bike
Sunday: State Street Mile with our Coyotes (jog the course–2 miles), 50 minute trail run, stretch class

June 6-12
Monday: Swim 2450y, Bike 60 minutes, Killer Kate’s strength class
Tuesday: Off (family day)
Wednesday: Run 60 minutes
Thursday: Bike 90 minutes on a hilly course, Run 40 minutes
Friday: Swim 4400 y
Saturday: Run 60 minutes on trails
Sunday: Bike 4+ hours (65 miles) with intervals

A few epic snaps from the past couple weeks…

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More inspiration from Julie Moss.

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Bike hill repeats and a view from a ride on Mountain Drive

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Trail run at Lake Los Carneros

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Runshine along Chase Palm Park! And a little rehydration after a brick workout.

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Trail run on Jesusita Trail…aaaah nature always reinvigorates the soul.

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Sushi lunch! And granola balls my daughter made for my training. Seriously delish!

Epic moments: Continue reading

Weeks 17 and 18 of Ironman Training: Inspiration and Purple Rain

It has been a busy, busy few weeks. That’s why you haven’t heard from me here on my blog. Thanks to all of you who’ve checked in on me, worried that something was wrong. I assure you, all is well. Something just had to give in the midst of training, coaching my kids’ running teams, and juggling a jam-packed family schedule. Sadly, writing has become a bit of a luxury these days (at least for the moment).

As I think back over the past few weeks, the word that comes to mind most is “inspiration.” I’ve been inspired by so many awesome people and moments of kindness and creativity, it makes my heart swell.

One highlight was having the privilege of volunteering at the Special Olympics School Games with my husband Jeffrey. The spirit that surrounds these games is phenomenal, and the joy that each of these athletes exudes is contagious, especially during the opening ceremonies. Pure awesomeness in motion, bringing out the best in everybody.

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The best part was sharing this fantastic morning with my husband.

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I’ve mentioned Kate Elliot (aka–Killer Kate) several times here before on my blog. This chiquita brings such joy to fitness, she makes working out at 7 am palatable, even before I’ve had my morning coffee. Last week she kicked my butt in her class at The Lab, then joined me for a run along Chase Palm Park. So much fun!

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Kate’s chirpy attitude inspires me so much that I asked her to come talk to my Roosevelt Running Club. I often ask mentors in our running community to share their passion for running with our kids to help get them fired up about a lifetime of health and fitness. Needless to say, the team loved her as much as I do. Here they’re gathering around her and sporting some of her race medals.

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Another person who inspires me is my running hero, Patty Bryant. She’s an extraordinary ultra-marathoner and Iron(wo)man who takes on some of the world’s most challenging races (Hard Rock 100, Western States, Leadville 100, Mont Blanc, to name a few), and more importantly, she’s one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Some of you may remember that I wrote about her last summer when I had the joy of running small portions of  the Aspen Backcountry Marathon with her (click HERE if you missed it). This week I asked Patty if she’d come speak to our Roosevelt Running Club, and she gladly agreed, even in the midst of her busy training schedule. The kids were mesmerized by her adventures and full of all sorts of questions, which was fun to see.

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I know both she and Kate planted tiny seeds in many of these young runners to dream big and chase after life. Best wishes to Patty as she takes on The Canyons 100k race this weekend in the Sierras, along with several other Santa Barbara friends (Monica & Joe DeVreese and Dave & DeAnna O’Dell), and good luck to Kate who is taking on the Born to Run 30 Mile Endurance Run next weekend! Woohoo! Go girl!

Favorite New Gear: New bike shoes! The week before last, just as I was about to head out on a ride, the buckle broke off on one of my “well-loved” bike shoes. Argh. I could no longer clasp it shut, meaning my heel would come out each time I pedaled. My first instinct was to duct tape it (duct tape is God, as we often espoused in college), but none could be found in the short window I had to ride, sooooo….my Plan A schedule quickly went to Plan B…a little shuffling around of my workouts and an added spin class the next day. Fortunately, I was able to get new shoes for my ride a couple days later.

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Riding in my sparkly new cycling shoes (it’s the little things), this girl was flying high–especially on such a gorgeous day! Can you say blue sky?

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Here’s what my training schedule looked like the week of April 18-24:

Monday: Swim 2900 y, Bike 1 hour
Tuesday: Bike 90 minutes (bike shoe broke), worked on strength instead
Wednesday: Rest
Thursday: Swim 1800y, Killer Kate’s strength & stretch class, Spin Class
Friday: Swim 1000y, Bike 2.5 hours
Saturday: Run 45 minutes
Sunday: Rest

Seeing purple…I don’t know about you, but Prince’s death hit me hard. I’m not even sure why. It’s not like I was an insane “Super Fan,” or anything, but I did like his music, and whenever I heard it, it tickled great memories–mostly from my freshman year in college. Purple Rain, 1999, Raspberry Sorbet…all songs that remind me of college friends and raucous Friday afternoon shenanigans.

As the tributes started pouring in for Prince last week, his level of creative brilliance revealed itself in ways I’d never fully appreciated–especially his collaborations with other artists. If you haven’t seen his performance at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame paying tribute to George Harrison (While My Guitar Gently Weeps), you might want to take a peek. Holy epic-ness!

Powering through my training days following Prince’s death, his music popped up on my playlist many times, and each time it made me both happy and melancholy…and a tad bit nutty. Okay, okay, I gotta admit it, I was the lunatic Continue reading

Week 15 and 16 of Ironman Training: Staying Healthy (and Happy)

I’m often asked how my training is going, which is incredibly sweet. I’m humbled that so many of you are interested! Overall, I feel like it’s going well. Actually, better than “well.” It’s going REALLY well. Here’s the thing…when you’re training so many hours a day/week/month, something is bound to hurt. There usually isn’t a day in which something isn’t creaky or cranky or just plain sore. And that’s okay. I’m asking a lot of my body and it’s allowed to complain when it’s pushed beyond what it has ever done.

What I’m trying to do though, is keep from letting those “cranky joints or muscles” turn into injuries. Some days it feels like it is coming close to crossing that line. That’s when I spend more time foam rolling, stretching, icing, and strengthening. If an ache gets a little too grumpy, I let Coach Mike know. Over the last week or so, my knee crossed that line so Mike scaled back my schedule. I didn’t do my usual “Epic Day” on Friday, but rather replaced it with an easy swim, a rest day and an easy bike ride the next.

This week is much the same, focusing more on the swim and bike, and testing the waters with the run on Saturday. Ironman Arizona is still seven months away so it’s important to stay healthy and happy and not get stressed about the ups and downs. Here’s this week’s schedule…

Monday: Swim 2900 y (1.65 miles), Bike 1 hour
Tuesday: Off
Wednesday: Bike 90 minutes
Thursday: Killer Kate’s strength & stretch class, Swim 1800 y
Friday: Swim 1000y, Bike 2.5 hours
Saturday: Run 45 minutes
Sunday: Rest

This was last week’s modified schedule:
Monday: I was supposed to rest, but missed Mikes’ message and did a 2550y swim anyway (oops)
Tuesday: Run 60 minute tempo, Swim 2100y
Wednesday: Bike 90 minutes (with 20 minutes of climbing up Gibraltar)
Thursday: Killer Kate’s strength & stretch class, Swim 1600y
Friday: Rest day (busy celebrating my hubby’s birthday)
Saturday: Swim 1000y, Bike 4 hours, Run 30 min   Swim 1500Y
Sunday: Run 1 hr. 45 min    Bike 60 minutes

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Last Thursday I had the pleasure of going to our monthly SB Tri Club meeting, where Coach Mike was our guest speaker. As many of you know, Mike is a PT extraordinaire and owner of Elite Performance & Rehab, where he works with many top athletes. He talked about injury prevention and answered people’s questions about their aches. The thing that hit home most is when he said one-half to three-quarters of all injuries occur because of weakness in the core/trunk (hips/glutes/back/abs). It was the perfect reminder for me to re-double my efforts and focus on my core. How about you? Is your core as strong as it could be?

Doing the work…

Working on my core will help my swimming too, and man oh man, swimming….sigh…it’s still such a work in progress. My husband was really sweet and videotaped my swim last Saturday. Talk about eye-opening! I still have A LOT to work on, but I’ll get there (or at least closer to “there” than I am now). Now I just have to figure out how to keep improving my stroke. I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.

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One thing that has given me solace is this pace chart I found. My greatest fear has always been making the 2 hours and 20 minute cut-off time for IMAZ. When I see this chart though, I realize that even if I swim significantly slower than I normally do, I will make it, especially if I keep working my ass off.

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I didn’t take a lot of pictures over the last week or so, but here’s one as I was heading out for another ride…love our blue skies!

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Favorite new gear: I am loving my new rabbit running duds, which arrived last week!! rabbit was recently launched by two of my running friends, Monica DeVreese and Jill Deering. Aren’t these fierce, fit women adorable?

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I’m proud to say that I’m part of the Founder’s Club of this awesome running apparel company (along with lots of other rad runners). If you like super comfy, non-fussy running clothes, I think you’ll like what they’ve designed. What’s especially great is that it’s all made right here in the USA. Here’s a peek at the women’s line.

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I opted for the bunny hop tank in snorkel blue and cherry tomato and the hopper shorts in black. I’m picky about my running shorts, and in fact have a hard time finding ones that don’t drive me nuts. When you have a small(er) waist and bigger caboose and quads, it makes it challenging to find shorts that fit. Jill and Monica did a great job of getting the Hopper shorts just right.

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In case you want to check it out yourself, here’s the website. http://www.runinrabbit.com. They also have a men’s line.

Skratch Labs energy chews. The other thing I’m glad I discovered is Skratch Labs’ chews, which are great on a long ride (thanks Kate for the recommendation!). What I like about these is that they’re tasty and natural and they don’t have a waxy, sticky feel to them. They’re more like gum drops in texture. Did I mention the yum factor?

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Smile Train Update: I’m over the moon…we have funded our 18th child for cleft surgery!! Thank you Janet Cook, Mark & LeAnn Green and Artaz Heating-Plumbing for your generous donations this week! We only have 2 more kiddos to go until we reach goal of changing the lives of 20 children. If you’d like to make a donation, please click on this link to contribute: http://support.smiletrain.org/site/TR/AthleticsEvent/General?px=3630403&pg=personal&fr_id=1701. As you know, no amount is too small. And remember anybody who donates $250 will entered into a drawing for a $100 Amazon gift card, and those who donate $100-$249 will entered to win a $25 gift card.

Smile Train Ironman Arizona

I hope you’re all getting out and making your day great! I’m continually inspired by all the creative, healthy and philanthropic things I know you are up to. And OMG….HUGE CONGRATS to my friend Jenni Miller who ROCKED the Boston Marathon yesterday, finishing in 3:28 (an 18 minute course PR). Talk about BostonStrong and IronStrong! Yay, Jenni! I’m so proud of you!

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xo Becky

As always, if you missed any of my previous posts, you can click on the links below…

Kicking off My Journey to Ironman Arizona
Week One of Ironman Training: Believe
Week Two of Ironman Training: The Power of Friends
Week Three of Ironman Training: I Think I Can
Week Four of Ironman Training: Progress
Week Five of Ironman Training: Wind at my Back (and Front) and Peeps by My Side
Week Six of Ironman Training: Baking a Cake
Week Seven of Ironman Training: Courage
Week Eight of Ironman Training: It’s All About the Base
OMG, You did WHAT?! (AKA Sleep Deprivation + Training = Embarrassing Moments)
Week Nine of Ironman Training: Growing Pains
Week Ten of Ironman Training: Trust
Week Eleven: Speedbumps and Breakthroughs
Week Twelve: A Bundle of Sticks Can’t Be Broken
Week Thirteen: Spring!

Week Fourteen: Rollercoaster

Week Fourteen of Ironman Training: Rollercoaster

This week has whizzed by so quickly and has been such a rollercoaster, my head still feels like it’s spun around backward. Today is my rest day though, so I finally have a chance to slow down and chill. When weeks spill over with activities, commitments and appointments, it reminds me that often the hardest part of Ironman training is simply chiseling out the time to do the workouts, then of course finding the energy to complete them.

This week, after regrouping from spring break, I was up until the wee hours several nights working on taxes and getting our beloved Roosevelt Running Club organized for its kickoff. Needless to say, when my alarm went off early Monday morning, I felt like I needed a caffeine IV drip to drag myself to the pool. Settling for a mongo cup of coffee, I piled into my car and gave myself a pep talk the whole way (“Don’t think, just go. Don’t think, just go. You got this.”)…only to arrive to this…

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Argh. Clearly, it was time to dig even deeper. Fortunately, when I posted this on Facebook several friends immediately offered back-up solutions. It was like there was no way they were going to let me fail at training. Thank you friends! Especially Greg, who offered a guest pass to the tennis club near our house. He even swam laps in the lane next to me. So, so nice.

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My beautiful “back-up” swim location at the Tennis Club.

This workout reinforced mightily though, that sleep deprivation has no place in Ironman training. Every lap felt ten times harder than normal, and with my fuzzy brain, I kept hitting the wrong buttons on my Garmin. I also realized I mixed up my swim workouts so I did Wednesday’s instead of Monday’s. Not the best way to start the week, especially since my ride afterward wasn’t much better. But I got it done, and that’s all that matters.

Here’s what this week’s schedule looked like:

Monday: Swim 1800y, Bike 90 min.
Tuesday: Run 60 min., Bike 75 min including 20 minutes of hill climbing
Wednesday: Swim 2300y
Thursday: Killer Kate’s strength & stretch class, Bike 60 min.
Friday: Swim 1000y, Bike 4 hours, Run 20 min. off the bike
Saturday: Run 90 min with 2 x 10 min pick-ups
Sunday: Rest

Tuesday’s run and ride weren’t much better than Monday’s after being up late again, but what made them better was bumping into several old neighbor friends along the way. On Jesusita trail I ran into Kathy who was hiking with a friend, and although we only talked for a minute, her sweet words of encouragement helped lift my feet a little higher.

Then in the evening after slogging through my ride, especially up Gibraltar, I rode down the street where we used to live and bumped into several old neighbors. Chatting with Ruth for a few minutes put everything into perspective. She never has anything but kind, encouraging words, and her strength and positive energy are palpable. Many of you who live in Santa Barbara may have heard the recent devastating news of the murder of Dr. Henry Han, his wife and 5-year old daughter. Well, Dr. Han was the lovely human being who was helping Ruth kick liver cancer’s ass. Now she’s not only grieving with so many others, but starting all over again with her treatments. My “tough training problems?” Clearly laughable. Ruth is an Ironwoman every day whose fortitude is no match for cancer or any other challenge.

After chatting with Ruth the evening before, my rollercoaster of a week started on the upswing. Continue reading