Week Seven of Ironman Training: Courage

Late last December my family and I shared a fabulous evening with our dear friends, the Reeder-Riechels. As we were leaving, I noticed a colorful flyer taped to their kitchen wall. The message at the top simply said, “Take what you need in the new year,” and at the bottom it had strips of paper to rip off, like you’d normally see for a lost cat or an item for sale. Instead of a phone number to call, however, it had words like Patience, Determination, Creativity, and Compassion.

I chose Courage.

I knew courage is what I would need most as I took on my Ironman journey this year.

CourageTab

This word has been taped to my mirror since I started training, and I look at it every morning when I wake up.

I snapped this picture on a particularly tough morning to remind myself what it was going to take to get my long run completed when every ounce of my tired being wanted to go back to bed. I just have to laugh at what a train wreck I look like. That’s life, baby!

 

Before I even launched my official Ironman training I had to dig for some courage to believe that I could, and should, chase after this dream; then even more to take the next step and hit the registration button for Arizona. In fact, I hovered over that button for a good long time before I finally took a deep breath and hit SUBMIT. You’ve all been there too, I’m sure, so you’ll understand the tingles of excitement that flooded my body while simultaneous waves of disbelief washed over me: “Holy #&%! did I really just do that? Ok, I guess I’m really doing this. Here we go!”

“What you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, magic and power in it.” ~Goethe

I also had to build up my courage to ask Mike Swan if he’d coach me. He coaches many top-notch athletes in our town so I had visions of him telling me I wasn’t ready for an Ironman. Instead, he was more than positive and said, “I think Ironman is absolutely doable for you.”

CourageAli

The other thing I knew would take courage is to ask people to donate to my Smile Train fundraising, as asking people for moolah is one of my least favorite things. Even though it has gotten off to a good start, I still find this challenging. Knowing that I’m helping vulnerable kiddos who have very few resources though, gives me the courage to keep asking, even if it’s uncomfortable. I can’t even begin to tell you how grateful I am to those of you who have already donated! You are making a big difference!

Of course, every person has his or her own idea of what courage means, as it comes in all shapes and forms. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of believing in yourself. Sometimes it’s being open to possibility and making the decision to say yes to new things when the easier thing is to say no. Other times it’s believing in the work and the process so there’s no room for fear or “what ifs.” And of course, it’s being afraid and taking the plunge anyway.

“Courage is more exhilarating than fear and in the long run it is easier. We do not have to become heroes overnight. Just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it is not as dreadful as it appeared, discovering we have the strength to stare it down.”  ~Eleanor Roosevelt

That’s what I’m going to keep in mind as I shake off last week’s fatigue and start afresh with this week’s schedule. Here’s what’s on tap:
Continue reading

Week Six of Ironman Training: Baking a Cake

I recently read somewhere that when training for an Ironman, “Intervals are icing on the cake.” This really hit home as I’ve been missing doing track workouts with Coach Nash and my friends on the B Team. They’re so fit and fast, strong and HILARIOUS.

Coach Nash recently took 2nd Place in the USA Cross-Country Championships in Bend, OR and also coached a women’s masters team (Cindy, Desa and Lynelle) to a 1st Place finish. Jen just won 1st Place overall female in the Super Bowl 4-miler here in Santa Barbara and Ashlee won her age group. Then there’s Vanessa who just completed Ironman Panama 70.3. That’s some serious awesomeness floating around this group! I’m so proud of each of them!

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Before I pulled a hamstring about ten months ago, I used to love (and dread) the crazy sufferfests Coach Nash orchestrated with these speedy chiquitas on Thursday mornings. This crew always made me laugh, and they always made me a better runner. Since then, I’ve only popped in and out of practices with them a handful of times, thinking it would be fine, but leaving feeling down and frustrated after running like a turtle and realizing I still had a long way to go to get back to 100%. Nope, still not ready for intervals. Damn.

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Last summer with the B Team: Jane (left), Coach Nash, Vanessa (back), and Jen (right). Ashlee was off winning some race in Utah.

As I train for Arizona though, it helps to remind myself that before I can put icing on a cake, I first have to have a cake. That’s what I’m working on right now: baking a big, beautiful cake, focusing on all the important ingredients like strength, endurance, flexibility, stamina, balance, core power, technique, overall fitness, and most of all PATIENCE. Then hopefully I’ll be icing that fabulous, multi-layer cake in the summer with some heart-pumping intervals with the B Team.

In the meantime, here’s what Week Six of Ironman training looks like:

Monday: Swim 1000 y, core & stretching pm

Tuesday: Run 60 minutes, Kate’s strength & stretching class, swim 1400y, core & stretching pm

Wednesday: Swim 2200 y, then 1-hour indoor cycling spin class, core & stretching pm

Thursday: Bike 3.5 hours (probably about 50 miles), then a 20 minute run, core & stretching pm

Friday: Swim 2100 y, core & stretching pm

Saturday: Run 90 minutes, core & stretching pm

Sunday: Rest, core & stretching pm

Favorite Gear this Week: My new Garmin 920xt with a heart rate monitor has been a game-changer for me. Not only am I no longer guessing what heart rate and training zone I’m working in, I’m able to break down the data so I can see what I need to work on (clearly speed on the bike!!)…Also, being able to track my splits in the pool and see my cadence and heart rate on my run is helpful and motivating. This watch also has an activity tracker similar to a FitBit. I was feeling dog tired last night as I tucked my daughter into bed. When I saw that I had gone 21,400 steps yesterday, somehow it validated my fatigue. It’s ridiculous, I know, but sometimes it’s the dumbest stuff that keeps you going!

Garmin1Garmin2

My other favorite gear this week is my new kicks. I love this pair of Nike Air Zoom Pegasus. They’re super cushy neutral shoes, which are just right for my high arches and narrow feet. Zoom Zoom Zoom! Thank you Santa Barbara Running once again! Happy Soles = Happy Soul. #shoplocal

Nikes

FYI: If anybody ever tells you that being a triathlete is not that expensive, don’t believe them. Obviously, they drank the Kool-Aid.

Friends have been asking: “How’s your training going?” First of all, that’s so nice you care! Thank you. My first response is usually, “It’s going well. I’m having fun and enjoying the process.” When pressed for more details, I explain that I’m simply taking one day and workout at time and somehow that approach is making the volume do-able. Suddenly I’m swimming over a mile each session, my short run is now more than 6 miles and my long run will be a little over 9, and I’m already up to riding about 50 miles with a run afterward. Anybody who has run a marathon or half marathon will know exactly what I mean when I say it’s like when you reach double-digits for the first time. You never thought you could run 10 miles, then suddenly you are, and then it becomes normal, and then you never look back. I feel like I’m still just getting started, but it’s already feeling normal and I’m not looking back.

Gratitude: The other day I was swimming at the Y, trying to work on my stroke technique, and out of the blue, Continue reading

Week Four of Ironman Training: Progress

It’s hard to believe we’re already into Week Four of Ironman Training! After having a lighter “recovery week” last week, we’re ramping up the volume again this week, and I’m buckling up, both mentally and physically, for more challenging distances and additional strength work. Every time I complete a workout though, it adds another drop of confidence into my Iron bucket. With the help of Coach Mike and the support of my friends and family, I will get to Arizona one day, one workout at a time. #ithinkican.

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

Monday: Rest day, core & stretching pm

RestDay
Tuesday: Run 50 minutes followed by Kate’s strength & stretching class, core & stretching pm
Wednesday: Swim 2200y (1.25 miles) followed by bike for 2 hours, core & stretching pm
Thursday: Run 30 minutes followed by Kate’s strength & stretching class (or yoga), core & stretching pm
Friday: Swim 2400y, core & stretching pm
Saturday: Run 70 minutes, core & stretching pm
Sunday: Bike 3 hours followed by a 20 minute run, core & stretching pm

Gratitude: I feel incredibly lucky to live in Santa Barbara where we’re able train year around. While our badass friends on the East Coast and other parts of the US are digging out and/or suffering through endless workouts on “dreadmills” and indoor trainers, we’re flitting around in shorts and tank tops, cranking out miles without having to give it too much thought. Believe me, I don’t take that for granted. I count my blessings every day…especially when I’m greeted with a morning like today.

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My morning run along Shoreline Park

Highlights: Last Friday I had the pleasure of hearing six-time Ironman World Champion, Mark Allen, speak to our Santa Barbara community, which was both inspiring and enlightening. It was interesting to listen to his philosophy, relive the epic 1990s showdowns between Mark Allen and Dave Scott, and see what goes into being an Ironman Champion. The timing of this presentation was perfect for this Iron hopeful, especially while being surrounded by the incredibly positive energy of our Santa Barbara running community.

Breakthroughs: During last Sunday’s medium’ish-long 2-hour bike ride, I think maybe a tiny bit of “Iron” mentality started to kick in. I felt strong on a hilly course, and was super happy when I was blasted by headwinds both ways so I could practice riding in the wind. Sick, I know. The 3+ mile run afterward felt effortless too, which was a good confidence booster while I get my running legs back.

Challenges: Balancing training and “life” while getting enough sleep. Time seems to evaporate so I’m focusing on getting more efficient with dumb stuff like having gear organized, routes mapped out, and fuel and post-workout snacks ready so I have more time for everyday stuff like making lunches, doing laundry, getting work done and spending time with my family. I can already tell this is going to be important as we start adding more and more training hours into the program. Sleep is still marginal, but fortunately, I’m quickly learning the art of the nap.

Favorite Gear this Week: My Zensah compression calf sleeves. I wear them often, especially during a long ride and after a run. Aaaah.

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Zensah Compression Calf Sleeves

Fun Tidbit: On Saturday mornings I help coach our SB Running/Kids Corner Coyotes youth running team with Nash Jimenez and Monica DeVreese. Last Saturday we had the privilege of participating in a fun event at Westmont College, put on by the Santa Barbara Track Club. Super star decathlete, Tom FitzSimons, broke the Guinness World Record for the most high-fives in 60 seconds as he blazed around the track, high-fiving 385 people, smashing the old record of 240. It was a fun to see so much community support.

TomFitzSimons

One For the Road: By now, I’m sure most of you have heard about Ludivine, the 2 1/2 year old bloodhound who came in 7th Place during an Alabama half marathon, but if not, it’s worth a peek. It will make you smile. Here’s a link to Runner’s World.

Ludivine

Finally…exciting news…we’re 23% of the way to reaching our goal of funding 20 kiddos to have life-changing cleft palate/lip surgery from Smile Train. Thank you Seana for your recent contribution, and to many others of you who have verbally pledged your support! I can hardly wait to announce when we fund our next kiddo (we’re only $125 away right now). If you’d like to help support me as I raise funds for this awesome organization during my Ironman adventure, please click HERE to donate.

Once again, thanks for coming along on this journey with me. I hope you know how much I appreciate you!

If you missed any of my previous posts about how this big adventure started, 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

xo
Becky

Week Three of Ironman Training: I think I can

It’s my third week of Ironman training, and for some reason I’m dragging, even though it’s a moderate week. I’m chalking it up to sleep deprivation and less-than-stellar nutrition, and I’m determined to turn those things around and get my energy back up where it needs to be. #ithinkican

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My sweet girl made me this cake! It took her 5 hours. Talk about perseverance!

Champagne

(Lots of) Tiny bubbles

Now that my never-ending birthday is over and I’m no longer sweating champagne and sugar, I’m re-focusing on power foods like spinach, kale, sweet potatoes, avocados, and almonds, and adding protein “recovery” powder into my green smoothies. Time to resist all that “sweet” love that was showered upon me and get back on track. #iknowican

And then I’ll be mastering the art of the nap. Does one ever get over feeling like a total slacker when napping in the middle of the day? It’s so not my style to take a load off, but I think I may just have to start embracing it. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. #yeahbabyican

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

Monday: rest, core & stretching pm
Tuesday: Run 40 minutes, Kate’s strength class, core & stretching pm
Wednesday: Swim 1600 y, 2 hours indoor cycling (spin class), core & stretching pm
Thursday: Run 30 minutes, strength, core & stretching pm
Friday: Swim 1700 y, core & stretching pm
Saturday: Run 60 minutes, core & stretching pm
Sunday: Bike 2 hours with hills, then run 30 minutes, core & stretching pm

My favorite piece of equipment right now: My big blue foam roller. I think I need to name it (besides #%!#) as we’ve become BFFs–especially after Killer Kate’s leg workouts.

FoamRoller

My other favorite piece of equipment: My AudioFlood waterproof iPod. Adding music to my swim workouts has added more joy than I could have possibly imagined. Listening to David Bowie’s hypnotic Under Pressure got me through a tough morning in the pool yesterday. It’s the little things.

Ipod

Gratitude: My peeps are so freaking awesome (sorry, don’t mean to brag, but I can’t help it). Endurance athletes know that training can often feel selfish as it affects the entire family, upending schedules, putting a heavier workload on loved ones, but my husband and daughter have been nothing but supportive. Jeffrey is always cooking good stuff for me like oatmeal with fresh fruit and almonds or killer homemade chicken soup on a cold, rainy day. He’s also being uber supportive when I need to be gone for hours and he’s left to manage our constantly in motion household. And my daughter is my biggest cheerleader, even when it means sometimes she has to make her own lunch in the morning or I can barely keep my eyes open when I read to her at night (yes, I still do that!).

Peeps

I love these two rock stars to the moon and back.

Highlights: Having a great 3-hour ride last Sunday in the cool misty morning, getting comfortable with my aerobars, enjoying the journey, knowing it’s really only getting started. Also feeling strong during this week’s Tuesday morning run after having a day of rest. Recovery days are the bomb.

Challenges: Swimming. Don’t get me wrong, I can swim, but I’ve never been super fast and it has never been easy or terribly enjoyable for me. In fact, I often chuckle when people gush on about how relaxing it is, and think, “What are they on?” BUT, with the help of Coach Whitney, the knowledge I’m gaining from watching tons of YouTube videos and the book I’m reading, Total Immersion, I’m slowly making progress. I’ve discovered that I’ve been swimming the hard way my whole life–trying to use mostly my arms to get me where I’m going, when in fact our power comes from our core, especially our hips and glutes. No wonder my shoulders often ache! I have many, many more hours ahead of me in the pool, but hopefully come November, I’ll be swimming like a fish and enjoying it!

My favorite quote: “Progress is the audacity to think big and the discipline to start small.”

Resources to share with you:

Books I’m reading: Triathlete’s Bible, Total Immersion, Nutrition for Endurance Athletes.

Books

YouTube videos I’m watching (too many to list, but here are a few): GoSwim, Speedo technique, iSport.

Facebook group I’m thoroughly enjoying and probably spending way too much time enjoying: Women Who Tri (Thank you Jenni Miller for this recommendation!!).

Looking forward to:  Hearing legendary, six-time Ironman World Champion, Mark Allen, speak tomorrow night at the New Vic in Santa Barbara. If you’re in town, join the fun… Here’s the link for tix and more info: MARK ALLEN.

Mark Allen

Thanks for coming along on this journey with me. Your support and enthusiasm are like the chocolate chips in my cookie (wait, I mean the protein powder in my healthy smoothie). So awesome and very much appreciated!

If you missed any of my previous posts about how this big adventure started, 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

Finally…exciting news…we’re 23% of the way to reaching our goal of funding 20 kiddos to have life-changing cleft palate/lip surgery from Smile Train. Thank you Christina and Krista for your recent contributions! If you’d like to help support me as I raise funds for this awesome organization during my Ironman adventure, please click HERE to donate.

Week One of Ironman Training: Believe

IMAZLogoIronman training is officially underway! I say “officially” because I’ve been quietly plugging away at building up my base since early November (inspired by the Oiselle Chase the Bird Challenge), but now I have a coach and a focused training schedule, so it suddenly feels real.

Originally I had planned to do this completely under the radar–not telling anybody about it, and just doing my thing, but then I joined Team Empower to raise funds for Smile Train, an awesome organization that gives free surgeries to kiddos with cleft lip/palate. As you can imagine, you can’t really fundraise without telling people about it, so I took a leap of faith, shared my big adventure with all of you and others (click HERE if you missed it), and believed it was going to be all right.

And guess what? The support has been overwhelming!

I have goosebumps just thinking about it. So much enthusiasm, so many kind words of support, advice, donations, high-fives, hugs (virtual and in person). It’s incredible. It seems everybody believes I can do this.

I too, believe I can do this, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that every once in awhile a tiny doubt or “what if” visits from a dark corner of my mind, spurred mainly from creaky parts of my body or memories of previous injuries. Each day I train though, I believe more and more that I can, and WILL do this.

BelieveI bought this BELIEVE training journal more than a year ago, but for some reason I felt like I needed to save it for something special. I can’t quite explain it, but last year it didn’t feel like the right time to use it. As it turned out, it ended up being one of the crappiest years of running I can remember (injuries–won’t bore you). After many months of storing it in the bottom drawer of my nightstand, I brought it back out and set it on top. There, it sat for many more months, prodding me, almost daring me to BELIEVE in myself again as my hamstring slowly healed.

Well, guess what training journal I’ll be using during this Ironman journey? Yep, you got it. The time is finally right!

As many of you may already know, this journal was created by two phenomenal professional runners, Lauren Fleshman and Roisin McGettigan-Dumas, and it’s not only well-designed, but creative and inspiring. I love it and would encourage any runner to buy one. I purchased mine at Santa Barbara Running.

As we ease into the long road ahead, this is what training looks like this week:

Monday: Swim 2000 y, core & stretching at night.
Tuesday: Run 35 minutes, Killer Kate’s pilates strength & stretch class at The Lab, and additional core & stretching at night.
Wednesday: Bike — two back-to-back spinning classes (unless the rain stops, in which case I’ll be on the road for 1 h 40 min), core & stretching at night.
Thursday: Run 35 minutes, Kate’s awesome pilates strength & stretch class, and additional core & stretching at night.
Friday: Swim 1900 y, core & stretching.
Saturday: Run 50-55 minutes easy, core & stretching.
Sunday: Bike 2:30-2:45 hours, core & stretching. Continue reading

The Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with a Single Step…Kicking off My Journey to Ironman Arizona

It is with a blaze of excitement that I share my next big adventure with you. It’s something I’ve been dreaming of doing since I was a teenager, and after more than three decades, I’ve finally decided to go for it…my first IRONMAN TRIATHLON!

For those of you who may only be vaguely familiar with IRONMAN, it’s considered one of the more challenging multi-sport endurance events in the world, comprising a total of 140.6 miles:  2.4 mile swim, 112 bike ride, and 26.2 mile run. Competitors must finish the race in under 17 hours. The event I’m participating in will take place in Tempe, AZ on November 20, 2016.

One of many long rides I'll be enjoying during the year ahead as I train for my first Ironman.

One of many long rides I’ll be enjoying during the year ahead as I train for Ironman Arizona.

To be quite honest, I’m still pinching myself that I finally hit the registration button after thinking about doing this for 34 years (when I first watched Julie Moss crawl across the finish line on Wide World of Sports in 1982), and I’m slightly terrified that I’ll fail , but I’m far more excited about the epic journey ahead! Woot! Woot! This is a whopper of a birthday present to myself on the 21st anniversary of my 29th year…a gift of time and resources to chase after my dream.

My mantra is one day and one workout at at time. Train smart. Have fun. Enjoy the journey.

On another note, most of you know philanthropy is an important part of my life–on my very “regular person, non-Rockefeller or Bill Gates” level. Like you, I try to do what I can, when I can, and hope it makes a small difference in the world. While I normally raise funds for cancer research, for this race I’ve branched out and joined TEAM EMPOWER, which is affiliated with the race, raising funds for a very inspiring organization called SMILE TRAIN.

Smile Train is an international children’s charity providing free surgery for children suffering from cleft lip and cleft palate. Children born with cleft cannot eat or speak properly, aren’t allowed to attend school or hold a job and face very difficult lives of shame and isolation, pain and heartache. Some children are even abandoned or killed—all because of the way they look. Their clefts usually go untreated because they can’t afford the simple repair surgery that takes as little as 45 minutes and costs as little as $250 dollars.

My goal is to raise $5,000 during IM AZ, which will change the lives of 20 kiddos. This completely tangible goal makes me smile just thinking about it!

I would be honored and grateful if you would consider contributing to my Smile Train fund as I take on one of the toughest athletic challenges of my life. And because I love celebrating your support and generosity…

The first 15 people to contribute $250 will be entered into a raffle for a $100 Amazon gift card. That’s a 1 in 15 chance, and the best part is that you will personally be changing the life of one child and his or her entire family! How cool is that?!?

The first 15 people to contribute $100 will be entered into a raffle for a $25 Amazon gift card. And of course, any amount you are able to donate is appreciated–even if it’s equivalent to a cup of coffee. It all adds up!

HERE IS THE LINK TO MY SMILE TRAIN FUNDRAISING PAGE: http://support.smiletrain.org/goto/beckyaaronson. All donations are 100% tax deductible.

Thanks for considering, and thanks for being part of this epic year ahead!! Your good thoughts will make all the difference in getting me to the starting line!!!

Let the adventure begin!

xo Becky