Thursday, January 24, 2013

Back in the Air

So it seems that flying time is a perfect time to update my blog.  Thank goodness for wifi on Delta.  One of the many reasons it is my airline of choice.

So the days at home between my last trip and this one were definitely a whirlwind.  After some dreadful rain and snow, Richmond was blessed with a few warmer sunny afternoons and I definitely took advantage of getting my workouts in outside with friends.   So grateful because the last few days have been frigid and I woke up to snow this morning.  With all of the travel, home days are particularly critical.   I can't miss workouts and I need to make them count, not just go through the motions.  

My coach Jenny blogged this week about the "SWITCH" and the need to focus, be in the moment and block out all other distractions when its time to get the work done.  I think I have that switch, particularly when it comes to racing, doing a power test or a hard interval workout, but I'm not quite as focused as I probably should be when it comes to the more "routine" or base building workouts. 

This past weekend was a good combination of focus and good hard workout fun.  On Friday, excited to try out my new cleats for indoor spinning (so I can ride more while I'm on the road), I convinced some co-workers to join me at the YMCA for a lunchtime spin workout.   This was probably my 3rd indoor spin class ever and the workout left me a total sweaty mess by the end of it. (and the cleats worked great!)

Saturday was one of those days to focus and find my switch.  Ironically, when I went to go run I realized that all of my gadgets that I normally rely on during a run like this --my iPod and my Garmin --were dead.  I found a substitute for the iPod with my phone but I wasn't waiting around for my Garmin to recharge.  Music on these runs helps me discharge my brain from the normal constant dialog of work, stress and other things on my to do list.  Sometimes it acts like white noise, other times the songs and lyrics really reach my soul and help me be in the moment and work harder.  Saturday was definitely a white noise day.   Without the Garmin, I was left to run by feel, something I think I don't do often enough.  The task was an hour and 20 min run on an out and back course.  Out controlled and easy, back hard and pushing it.  I loved it.  The way out felt so relaxed, time to focus on form, easy breathing and staying relaxed.  The way back hurt.  Hurt in the lungs burning, mental toughness fight, borderline throw up kind of way.   It was a challenge, and I love a good challenge.  How many minutes, not seconds, can I be faster on the way back than the way out?  I pushed to a good 3:30 negative split.  It hurt, but a had a huge smile on my face at the end.

Sunday I spent some more time in the pain cave, but this time outside on a group ride with friends in celebration of my friend Meredith's 32nd birthday!  Knowing I was missing hard intervals Jen had planned for me that day (I get them this weekend), I worked my *#* off to stay with the big dogs at the front.  I got dropped a few times and was toast for the last 4 miles straight into the wind but I know the effort will pay dividends later this Spring.  And, yes, I even did my T-run afterwards.

Monday was a firm holiday.  YIPPEE! And so, after a mid-day swim, I took myself completely out of my comfort zone and went mountain biking.   The hubby would rather be on his mountain bike any day than his TT bike.  I on the other hand came to a revelation over a year ago that I could never ride a mountain bike again and be completely happy.  But, enticed by friends and stories of flat, non-rooty new trails (I say stories because the actual trails didn't exactly match up), I thought I'd give it another try.  Yep.  Still not a fan.  Mountain biking for me equals fear, nausea and frustration.  The whole time I feel like I'm going to throw up or explode into tears.  I'm not sure which is worse -- the fear of breaking something and crashing or the frustration of not being able to clip into my damn pedals quickly.  I swear, my bike knows the frustration though.  The minute I'm about ready to fling it on the side of the trail because I can't clip in after 45 tries, I clip in on the 46th.  BUT I did survive and I have dear patient friends (and hubby) who waited for me and helped guide me along AND as coach reminded me I was outside and not in the office!

My final random thought for the flight is about fighting through it and mental toughness.  This week's tennis at the Australian Open has been AMAZING!  Serena Williams is my current favorite women's player.  I love to see her mind work on the court and the way she fights.  Tuesday night's match was a nail biter against fellow US player Sloane Stephens.  After a very focused first set, Serena's back started to spasm and the second set turned against her.  It was evident that her serve was gone, and her movement particularly to the backhand side hampered.  Most pros I think would have called it quits or called for another injury time out.  Not Serena.  Her determination, pain and grit was evident through the rest of the second set and through the end of the match.  I loved cheering for her and watching her fight her demons and her limits.  She played every point like it mattered, giving it her all, whatever that was, and fighting hard.  She knew her body well enough and her own mental toughness to keep playing and fighting, even if it meant an outcome I know she isn't satisfied by.  Watching her fight and push through reminded me of what I love about triathlons and one of the reason I compete.  I love each year to push myself beyond where I thought my boundaries previously were, to learn something about myself and to compete.   Nothing brings out the best in me than a little competition.  Serena has had some tough life experiences, matches, and injuries that I know she must draw on when she runs into a mid-match injury like she did this week.  When I go all in to my workouts, push past bad days or feel the pain of a tough workout, like the second half of this past Saturday's run, those are the cornerstones to competing in the future.  Those are the memories I can remind myself of when I am in the moment of my next race or group ride, pushing my limits and perhaps questioning the outcome.   So thanks Serena this week for the reminder to stay tough and fight hard.