Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Laughing, Hurting, and Loving Cyclocross

Summer is gone, but I'm not pouting about it much anymore because there has been a whole lot of good stuff to laugh and smile about, and push until it hurts lately …….. just some of which includes: 

1. Jack's cast is off and he will be able to resume sports next week, and I won't have to squeeze in a every other week Dr. visit.  Jack has continued to participate in as much football conditioning as he can practice as he can with hopes he can get some playing time in the last 
1 -2 games
KYFL was announced at Varsity game

2. Even though its cooled off quicker than most falls, I have my Betty Designs Capri tights to keep me warm and motivate me to get out the door when its barely light outside! on some mondays I can barely run thanks to a great weekend of CX racing, later in the week I am running faster than I would have ever imagined.  I need to squeeze in a running race!  Some in the CX world would say don't run, those in the running world would say, too much biking will slow you down, right now in my world of both its working!
Betty on early morning runs!

3. So many fun girls nights out with my amazing friends!   random drinks on the patio, when timing is everything, or big nights out to Zac Brown Band at Wrigley Field.  
Zac Brown Band at Wrigley Field with my BFFS
Random reunion with my Nashville besties!

3. Cyclocross every weekend!

I didn't race much this summer and it was really quite awesome.  I think I left some of my best efforts this summer out on my training workouts. But thats ok, because now cyclocross is here and its been a whole lot of painful, fun, sweaty,  and dirty fun !  

 I started the true CX season with nothing other than probably one of the biggest locally, TREK CUP! Why not jump in to the first race I do all season against some of the best in the world. Its humbling nerve racking, and a complete rush to start on the line (but way far back) with the top girls on the US pro circuit. It was an amazing 2 days of racing to start the season. I walked away sore tired and smiling. 
starting in the back of women's' Pro race
photo credit: Kevin Sparrow

CCC#1 Caldwell Woods
 The first race of our super competitive local Chicago Cross Cup (CCC) was at a new venue Caldwell woods. It was 80 degrees,  and I loved it because there was a tough run up and a few hills. My fast PSIMET team rocked the first race, I believe we had 5 or so  in the top 10 overall women's 1,2, 3's to include Kelli, the overall winner!!! 

CCC#2  Hopkins Park
 I loved this race this year for a number of reasons, but partly because I finally had a good race here. In the past I have had some bad luck with either getting a flat, and last year being taken out at the start and basically starting the race in last place. This year, I had a good start ( for me), and a good race. It was so much cooler than the week before, I finally broke out my new PSIMET cross suit and it was perfect!  
i've been practicing my starts
photo (Jason L. Ward)
this either helps or hurts my running

After 2 CCC races I am in 8th place. But unlike every other year where I race in the CCC as much as possible to fight and claw my way as high as I can in the series, I am not focusing on that this year and going to step out and do some other big races with other competition and other courses.  Kind of crazy because this is the best start to the CCC  I've had since I kissed triathlon goodbye,  but I'm so excited to try some other races like Gateway Cup, Jingle Cross and this coming weekend very excited to being trying CX Colorado style at Cross of the North! #smiling

Monday, September 1, 2014

So Long Summer... its been real!

Summer is slipping away although I'm not sure it exactly ever showed up in Chicago until recently it made an appearance giving us our first "heat index" days at the end of August when school is back in session.  I have to turn the lights on sooner, push the envelope of time just a little bit longer when heading out early in the morning because I'd rather see the sunrise rather than navigate the dark.  Ive been seeing some leaves on the ground and even turning colors when I'm out on my early morning rides or runs. 
Hello Fall!

 I do love fall and so much that comes with it: football, cyclocross, Octoberfests, pumpkins and pumpkin spice, fire pits…..and less humidity with good hair days and less frizz or pony tails. But I have a love hate relationship with fall just like I do with track workouts, Vo2max intervals, or getting my hair highlighted. I love to do get on the track or push the pedals as hard as I can because it makes you faster, but sometimes dread it because it hurts, its painful and its scary to fail if you can't hit your goal watts or splits.   I love to get my hair highlighted but I have a hard time sitting still in the chair for that long.  I love fall but don't always love whats coming after it. Winter.

Betty off road

With the end of summer comes football season!  My Dad coached, all my brothers played and I grew up watching it. I love it and still feel like I need to go to high school football games on Friday night.   Jack was so excited for 11U Black. He started 6th grade and middle school then came home after a successful first day,  and wiped out on his ripstick,  broke his arm in 2 places at the growth plate that required surgery to put it back in place. You never know whats just around the bend in your day, but post polar vortex pretty much nothing phases me anymore.  Football for Jack will mostly be from the sidelines this year with his arm in a cast, but it was his idea to keep going to practice and games to help and watch and participate in what he can.  I've been trying to use this setback for him as a chance to teach him that going through hard times can only make you stronger.
2 good arms/ Elburn Days parade

I didn't race much this summer, but fall brings cyclocross season and a lot of racing.   Relay Cross kicks off the cyclocross season locally and recently I had so much fun remembering what painful fun racing hard on the CX bike feels like. The skills are a little rusty, and the high end efforts need some work. I raced with my PSIMET teammate Sarah Szefi and we landed on the podium in second! 
Awesome way to start cross season!
 Sadly I was sore for a few days after this and am always amazed at the mark such a short race can leave.  When I try to run 1 or 2 days after a CX race I sometimes feel like I've never run in my life before. I went from relay cross race to tapering for the Magnificent Mile Women's 1/2 marathon. Truthfully I did way more than taper! It was such a crazy 10 days with Jack's arm and extra doctors appointments, extra continuing education classes that I hardly fit in workouts. Jenny even sent me a nice little message …Helllooooo ! :) making sure I was ok!  She has been such an awesome coach writing giving great workouts and feedback even though I have been all over the board with what I'm doing!  I've been that athlete, coaches want to pull their hair out with.
Pre race at the fountain

  I'm not a city girl, but running downtown on the MagMile across the bridge and past the Wrigley building was amazing and I loved this course. My running has been going better than really...ever… in a long, long time.  It was so hot and humid though that it didn't make for a fast time. I finished 2nd in my age group in a huge field which I feel good about. There was a lot of estrogen at this race, several thousand women, but I did see some men with bib numbers racing which I thought was a little odd. I am fine with it and actually like races where there are men in the mix but I just thought they might have felt a little awkward.  And if men wanted to have an all men's race I might volunteer to hand out the medals at the finish line. 

My summers (and springs for that matter)  for the past like forever have been set up around races to qualify for other races, training camps to help for those races and traveling to those races.  This was the first summer where I had no goals no big races or training camps, no agenda and I admit I was a little unsure of how it would go.  But now that it is ending I have to say it was an amazing summer with so many fun adventures  and I pretty much accomplished almost everything I wanted to as far as summer fun goes. I even fit in some SUP. This is something I wanted to do more of and still hope to fit in 1 or 2 more times before it gets too cold. 

Cheers to the start of fall! 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Nashville is fun Ya'll, and Beautiful Oregon

Summer Vacay!

I put the running shoes, bikes and swim gear aside for a weekend in the dead middle of summer for the first time in forever a few weeks ago when I traveled with some friends to Nashville. No training allowed, and no workout clothes were to be packed on this trip! I did sneak my running shoes along, no one knew. I am a very early riser compared to this crowd so I thought I could quietly fit in a run early one morning, but ended up having too much fun to get up and go run.  Plus the goal for this trip was to have fun first, then fit in workouts, vs. workout, then fit in the fun.!  This girls weekend had been planned for quite some time.  Just a short weekend away to be girls and have fun.  5 of us loaded up in my Forerunner and headed out very early Friday morning to get to NashVegas in time to chill have dinner and then head out on the town.  But 5 girls, chatting sleeping, looking at phones, and no one paying attention, we found ourselves here:


Eventually we did make it to Nashville by way of Cincinnati ……and a whole lot of construction, pit stops , laughing, swearing and several extra hours of drive time. It just made getting to Tennessee that much better! 
Tennessee never looked so good

Once we checked in to the hotel, the fun never stopped. What a fun city!  We shopped listened to music danced laughed, stayed up late and had a blast. Everyone is friendly in Nashville, ya'll.  We made all the correct states on the return trip home and arrived back in about 1/2 the time and I was even  able to fit in a run with the sun going down. 

2 days later Jack and I were on a plane home to Oregon. 
11 yr old with Beats and a phone

Beautiful Mt Hood
Some of my old Wattie friends have been wonderful and kept in touch over the past year and Robert Flannigan invited me to come join in their  Bend training camp. Bend is very hard for me to resist.  It happened to fall on a week when there was not much going on and I wanted some serious time off in the middle of summer.  I spent several days at home, then drove over to Bend and stayed with my wonderful friends Peter and Tina Leavitt. I played some trained some and mostly just loved it up in Bend. I could live there in a second you know. I fell in love with Bend in undergrad days of driving over from college to fraternity parties and skiing on Mt. Bachelor.     I did some amazing rides with incredible views,  one killer trail run that was so beautiful I wanted to look around in awe at every turn but had to keep eyes on the trail or I would have tripped and face planted. 

Post run ice bath
I spent my last morning in Bend Mtn biking on some fun trails. This was a random addition that absolutely loved. Next time I'll be faster with mtn bike shoes!  I was privileged enough to ride with Peter  post surgery on his first ride bike since his epic crash in California. What I learned is I need to ride more trails!

I had entertained thoughts of racing at AG nationals since it is in Milwaukee and so close to home.   I even trained for it a little.  But my goal this summer has always been to have fun first and enjoy some of what summer has to offer that you miss out on when you are staring at a lane line, or your head is down in aero position for hours. Its been a nice change to  go on different adventures,  break away from my old normal and not have my life revolve around triathlon, races and training.   So the minute I have felt stressed about having to pack a bike get up early to race, or train and it feels like work, I'm out. What I've noticed is that I haven't missed triathlon this year, and I have managed to stay in shape and still work out hard, but I do miss competing. I have a 1/2 marathon coming up  and soon lots of CX races to get my fill of that.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

More, Randomness

I have been debating whether it was worth keeping this blog going. I am busy, I don't race or train like my old normal, so there are no fancy race reports. It takes time to write and most of the time I think who really cares.  But just when I think about shutting it down, I get a message from someone about what they've read and it helps them or motivates them and weirdly enough that has happened twice just this week. Its also a nice distraction from what I really should  be doing like setting up online bill pay to make my life easier, or stretching and foam rolling like I preach a million times a day.  I started this blog years ago for the athletes I coached, the injured athletes I work with or any mom or person trying to balance  family, work,  training and racing (pick your order of importance).   A lot of the posts turned into actual stories that became part of a book I was so lucky to be a part of contributing to. And,  we still get messages from people across the country who have read the book.  Maybe some of this lately will turn into another book down the road. There's definite potential for a sequel. 

So here goes for now, complete randomness!

I have been so busy at work, and am smiling because have helped lots of runners/ athletes get back on the road; I have a very full schedule and am "being efficient" at work,  but at same time managed to send Jack off to the wrong week of a summer camp. Whoops I swear I changed that registration. 

I can change the propane on the grill without blowing up the house, add salt to the water softener, ( I count this as a workout these days), and fix the garage door opener
but have driven past the turn to my subdivision more than once lately, and most days forget at least 1 thing I am supposed to take with me when i leave the house.

I think there is a birds nest at the top of my chimney. Need to do some investigating on this one.

I can get up get my workout in, and get out the door looking sort of professional, but haven't  sat still long enough to see  ANY of the Tour yet, and even though we were able to see the World Cup action at work thanks to Telemundo, they aren't showing the Tour.
I must try to catch some,  because fit cyclists on their bike in spandex leaves you with a good visual for the day.

My work schedule changed again at the start of summer, to be ……"more efficient" (i'll keep my comments about healthcare these days to myself). If I am not up working out by 5:30 or 6 in the morning it won't happen. There is NO time after work, M-Th. If there is,  I'm fairly worthless.   I still like to train and race so, I get up and do it. The good part about this is I have seen some amazing sunrises and there is no traffic on the roads when I'm out biking!  Lately, I am trying to get to the pool more than 1 x month.  My new team Betty suits and the outdoor pool make it so much more fun. 

My randomness must be driving Jenny crazy when it comes to writing workouts. But have stressed I have no big triathlon agenda.  I have more than once signed up for races last minute to include attempting an xterra that was epic failure because I crashed so hard descending the bars jarred loose and i looked like I was run over by a car. But I loved it and want to do it again.

For the 4th I ran a 5k in the morning and hung out with JH. She crushed the 10k and I raced some young teenagers in the 5k. My PR for the week was on the track, though. Despite all my randomness I ran as good as I almost just about ever have on the track at my 40-something age! But,  because of my 40 somethingness  2 days later I felt like a locomotive at the 5k. It was hilly which added to the joy, but it was a start to an amazingly fun and random weekend.  

I found myself on a boat the next day in Lake Michigan with the city in the background and a group of very fun friends.  The water was way to cold to swim, but I did jump in, and afterward dancing in the streets to 90s rap music at a street festival. 

I miss the mountains from home, but this was a very fun day in the city.

I'm finding randomness is ok. I am still working out, but having a lot of fun too. Not having my summer focus on getting myself ready for Vegas or a World Champs leaves more time for fun. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Some Training, Some Racing and ....Summer is Fun!!

The official start to summer isn't for a couple more days, but I have already been enjoying all fun that comes with summertime.  A little training, a little racing, and a little more summer fun than what was normal. Winter/summer ratio in Chicago isn't equal.  We had what seems like 8 months of winter hell, and summer is so short in Chicago that I plan to make the most of it this year.  I have already spent more time in my back yard and patio than past summers and I must say it is looking pretty amazing (well, Jose and his crew along with Mr. TruGreen help me a ton).  
This happened

 Although as of writing this the plants might be drowning because more of this rolled in. 
Weird Sky

There have already been multiple fire pit parties, including 1 in particular that really helped put say good bye to the polar vortex, and kick off summer. 

Just some of the fun  at the fire pit party

I am managing to train some but compared to other years it is practically nothing. I could almost, (not quite....but its close) fall into the weekend warrior category!  Thanks to Jenny she writes a great week of workouts and I manage to get most of it done. I even did a threshold test on my bike a couple weeks ago and wasn't too disappointed with the results. The other day I was out riding, and was short on time so i just rode harder to get the most out of it.   I have been on my TT bike but really only because its the one with power. I have been on my cross bike on the trails for recovery which gets me VERY excited for cross season. Running is probably going the best. I have been on the track, the trails and lots of miles from the house. The only big race on the schedule is still the Portland Marathon in October, so I have a feeling the run miles will start to increase. I still go to Mark my strength guy who kicks my rear and keeps me strong. I love this workout each week it makes me strong inside and out! Last week I pushed the sled with 165# on it back and forth across the gym a bunch of times! It was so hard, I tasted blood!

Since solider field, I have only raced our very local little Batavia Triathlon. It is in my back yard, I have never done this local race. I was mad and pouting that I couldn't go do the Tour of Galena bike race weekend thanks to an extended lacrosse season, so I signed up.  Its pretty much a sprint, and since thats the about my equivalent of training it was perfect, LOL. I was digging stuff out of my transition bag that hadn't been touched since Vegas 70.3 and trying to put easy laces in my shoes last minute and …put on the race wheels but forgot the Trek needs the brakes adjusted so the race wheels can roll smooth and fast!  I don't know how to do this.  Ooops.   So I raced anyway with the training wheels, who cares its Batavia Tri.  It was a fun race and very well organized and it was fun to go race hard and I was happy to see that some fitness is coming back.   My friend Kristen Wade kicked all our butts including the young children who are fast!
Betty on the Run
AG win

I plan to race more this summer, just not sure what else. Im having fun being random!  Oh yea, except I did sign up for my first  Xterra! and can't wait to give this a try. It should be a blast as long as I don't kill myself trying to go fast on crazy terrain!

There has already many grill-fests and eating dinner out on the patio, 

falling asleep in the sun on my lawn chair, and sleeping with the windows open.  I love summer when I can wear fun, sassy sandles,  tank tops and not need a coat, layers or freeze. I have been out on many very fun girls nights with my amazing friends. 

 I also spent a very fun random Sunday afternoon hanging out here. Fun!

And, Summer is just getting started!  I  have some very fun trips and adventures planned….some involve training, some racing and some just fun!  

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Strength > And Finishing on the 50

My schedule at work is filling up again with injured runners. Its a little early in the season to be breaking down. Races are just getting going and there is a long season still to go. Don't get me wrong, rehabbing a stubborn injured runner (yes I've been there myself as an athlete)  and bringing them back to running is one of my greatest challenges. I love it when I can high five them out the door and say I hope I never see you again unless its at a starting line!   Recently I have been repeating myself at work as to how appropriate strength of the correct muscles is important for running strong, efficiently, maintain form and to prevent injury.  To be hurt and on the sidelines at this point in the season can be caused by one or a combination: 

1. obvious trauma like stepping in one of the crater like pot holes left behind from winter
2. coming back from injury the wrong way:  as in too fast 
2. training error; doing to much to soon, more than you are truly ready capable of, or following your friends/ training partners workouts
3. poor strength; you might get away with it for awhile but eventually, overuse and soft tissue trauma will come find you

any combination of the above can lead to an entire season of pain and dysfunction

So it takes strength to:  
1 complete the steps appropriate to recover properly from injury or prevent it in the first place
2. hold back, do the correct strength exercises and have someone check out your form
3. stick to your training plan, which should be appropriate for your level of fitness
4. not give up, with the correct therapy and intervention you can overcome it and you'll be back running again 

I recently ran out of some strength in the last few miles of my first real race of 2014; Soilder Field 10 miler. The day was perfect and I was so excited to finally be on a starting line!  Wow that race is HUGE, but I had so much fun. My time was the second fastest I have ever raced a 10 miler/ and considering I've been climbing out of the muddy polar vortex pit, I'll consider it a victory knowing how my training has gone this winter and spring. The first 8 miles were perfect and I was holding a pace very close to my PR, but my calves said you haven't done enough strength work to run that pace for the entire 10 and cramped up. I had to slow some/ walk about like a granny to shake them off a couple times during the last 2 miles. In the end I finished on the 50 feeling accomplished!  I wore my BETTY tri shorts to race in.  Quite honestly they are amazing to run in.  They are so comfortable, don't ride up, stay put, and of course looking best you can can help you feel better when you are suffering. 

Smiling at Soilder Field

perfect day to race

When I think of strength, I mostly think of physical qualities, 
but lately I realize how much strength is also mental and moral qualities.

Strength is also:

1. saying no, when you always say yes
2  being nice and smiling when you want to be mean and say naughty words
3. standing tall and firm when you want to fall and crumble
4. going to work the next day after an amazing  "Ferris Beuller Day Off" 
5. doing whats right and what your conscience tells you, instead of giving in 

3rd row behind Cubs dugout!!
Ferris Day Off!

I took a day off mid week for my own "Ferris Beuller" day.  A planned day off mid week to head to the city to a Cubs game with 2 of my amazing girlfriends made for an epic day and fun start towards a new chapter in my world.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Rise Above

I always love to see athletes or teams rise to the occasion in competition and step up, when it really counts, when the chips are down, when its tough, and hard and yes…. painful. They rise to the occasion and rise above the unfavorable odds or circumstances. It is so admirable and motivating to see athletes face it and not crumble when it gets hard.

Its happened recently in sport with Meb wining the Boston Marathon. I was  putting together injured people that Monday when the historic race was taking place and could only read about later many of my friends watching in tears as an American won the Boston marathon for the first time in like 31years.  So inspiring, motivating and …..timely.  I went for a run that night!

The Blackhawks stepped it up, pulled through  and won the series after coming from behind to move on in the quest for another Stanley Cup. I confess I'm not a true hockey fan, I love football. However I have no problem admitting I've jumped on the BlackHawk bandwagon the last 2 seasons because they are Hot,  they fight for it, and they rock. It can't be that bad of a bandwagon to be cruising around on.

Last weekend I watched 10 year olds on the lacrosse field step up and come from a 5-1 deficit, not collapse or give up,  but fight  back to battle it out for a hard fought……. tie. Sure it was a tie, but the lesson to 10 yr olds was not to give up when behind 5-1, but to fight back with all you have.
Jack, staring it down

Rising above is facing head on your weaknesses, limitations and going for it. Its scary,  uncomfortable and often painful, but when you challenge yourself to deal with it, you are in the end stronger.  I've been faced with all kinds of opportunities this spring to rise above, look it square in the eye and keep moving forward.  

My Psimet team had a group team ride recently.   I had been planing on doing this for some time but, gulp had no idea it would be an 80 mile ride around Lake Geneva.  I haven't done a work out longer than a whopping  2 hours since …..well before Vegas World Champs 70.3, so maybe early August. Yet I really wanted to go ride with this very amazing group of women bike racers who the next week went to race the Joe Martin Stage Race and kicked butt. Coming out of the polar vortex of which I had barely gotten on a bike or ridden, I sucked it up, showed up, put my head down and rode. I suffered some at the end, due to lack of miles, but it in the end it was a win for me and am feeling stronger riding already.
PSIMET ladies  @ worlds largest Starbucks!

Anyone who knows me well recently, knows I haven't been swimming either, since yes, Vegas. I believe I swam 1 x in 2014, but recently decided to find some swim arms again and showed up to masters, and faced it head on. It might have been easier to go swim solo, a few times to get a little feel for the water again, test it out, but swimming solo is …….so boring. I went to masters jumped right  in and swam. I felt like I need to rest every 150, (and did hang on the wall a bunch) , but got through it with a smile on my face.

Yesterday, I found myself looking at a track workout to be done on a cold,  windy,  rainy day. I procrastinated getting ready to go drive to the track in the late afternoon, my only chance when Jack was off at lacrosse practice. If I have to wait to workout, it gets tough I can think of a million reasons not to do it, but I faced it,in the cold the wind and damp, stressing about my splits in the wind and  drove to the track faced that horrible feeling of trying to run fast on the track for the first time in cold wind, and in the end, I surprised myself! 
A cold windy Betty

Spring is here, (kind of )  things are green and growing in my back yard. I love seeing the things I planted a few years ago, take root, come back and eventually bloom into amazing flowers.  As a single mom now, I am facing a lot of new things that are sometimes scary. But every little opportunity I have to look scary things square in the eye, I give it my best to stare it down, and not walk away. It shapes you into something stronger and beautiful.
Last year's Lilacs