One Thing – 2019 edition

If 2018 could be summed up in one word, that word would be CHANGE.

Some of it deliberate, some of it imposed. Some of it easy, some of it challenging to handle…yet when all was said and done, all of it for the better.

I am in a very good place…happy with my life and the people that are part of it in any way.

I’ve done the work, made the hard decisions and at long freakin last, righted the ship.

So in 2019, I commit to only one thing: POSSIBILITY.

No expectations…just openness and willingness to make the most of the opportunities that present themselves to me and then create something of them.

That is all.

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Into the Build We Go

…with a spring in my step. Not that Spring is showing any interest in joining the party but whatever. Won’t let that rain (or sleet) on my parade.

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There’s a theory that six months of consistent work can put you two years ahead. I’m not entirely sure where that came from or if it’s even been proven or studied but I believe in the premise of consistency…and investing my time wisely; which has translated in a quicker “bounce back” than even I had hoped for.

Okay, first let’s get something straight. I am, for the most part, only writing about training on this blog (with the exception of maybe the December 2016 blogging streak). My personal life is that. Personal. And for the most part, private. And it is not because I only blog about triathlon that this is my only interest or “thing” in life. There’s a whole lot more to me than this, it’s just the part I choose to share.
Being unidimensional would be boring. AF. And I’m anything but boring. End of disclosure.

You might remember this IG post from November. Yup, that’s the look of losing 50 watts of power on the bike for you. I never did print or frame this one BUT I did promise myself that I would never be this piss poor again. And so began the rebuild.

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Last week was the last  of 12 weeks of Base Building which consisted of testing in all three disciplines with the rest of the workouts being in the easy range.
Monday = Swim CSS Test
Tuesday = Lactate Threshold Run Test
Sunday = FTP Bike Test

In my last post I talked about changes I had made … and the changes I subsequently had to make; especially with running. That wasn’t easy, yo. When I initially met with Phaedra in the Fall, I told her that the hardest workouts for me to get out the door for were the easy ones. Little did I know what laid ahead for me in January. Holding me back has probably been her hardest job. Early on, she did allow me a “just run” run once. I didn’t run hard but yeah, that still came back to bite me in the ass two days later when I couldn’t hit a single one of my intervals. And that’s all the proof I needed to realize that I had been training colouring outside the lines for a really long time. One failed (amber in TP) workout is all it took. And so I committed to “the plan” right there. It has paid off.

Monday, I took 12 seconds off my 400m all-time best time in the pool.
Tuesday, I ran my best run test ever. Little movement in the HR department but my threshold pace improved by 17 seconds.
And Sunday?….Sunday I not only closed in on all those bike watts I had lost, I closed the loop on gaining them all back…and then some.

So I’m sitting here with my best numbers since I started testing 5 years ago. I’m still a bit giddy and somewhat shocked. Not that I think those numbers are wrong, hell, I worked my ass off during those tests; but because I didn’t expect to be there NOW and at the same time, feel as good as I feel.

When I was close to these numbers in the past, I pretty much felt like I was on the edge of overtraining (and in some cases, definitely was). I would test and do well only to crash hard shortly after and it became a matter of trying to salvage a season or a race. I feel none of this as I sit here today. I feel strong and ready to tackle the next phase, conservatively so, because that’s what past experience has taught me; but I’m willing to bet on me breaking that cycle. Hell yes. No flashy stuff, just consistent work. I have found a good rhythm again and more importantly, my confidence is back. I cannot tell you how much I had missed that part of me. I felt like a shell of myself for far too long.

I am approaching the next phase the same way I approached test week. Calm, focused and hungry. How did I get there? Simple. I set myself up differently training wise…and made adjustments to invest my time wisely. Not only in training but in other areas as well.

SLEEP has been the biggest change. I have slept no fewer than 7 hours a night in the past three months. And I do take the occasional nap or rest pause between workouts. Guilt free. I earned it and I set myself up to afford it.
SOCIAL MEDIA time has been significantly reduced. I turned off all Twitter and Facebook notifications and check once or twice a day…but never in the evening. It is amazing the perspective you gain when you step away.
TIME OFF. One full training day off every week. My body needs it. I come back refreshed and perform better.
EXECUTION is my one job. And the more precise I am, the more rewarding it is to me. This means I let loose in other areas…
PRESENCE. Staying in the moment…not thinking about the last workout or the next workout or the last interval or the next interval. Or the laundry list of things to do. When I train, I train. I’m dialled in. I do it..I give my very best and then I let it go. And when my workout is done, I give feedback and move on to something else and/or other interests. When you have an “all-in” personality, this avoids being sucked into the vortex. Aiming to be multi-dimentional, remember…as opposed to a one trick pony. It does not shrink or cut the connection to your goals, I swear. Ultimately, it all ties in together.
SAYING NO to things I had wanted to do. That was tough at times but honestly it was for the best. I scratched two spring half-marathons..one of which I know would have been a blast socially but I was nowhere near ready for at the time. We talked about it and I didn’t want to do yet another race that was just going to be going through the motions or be less than prepared for. I’ve done enough of those, thanks. I traded those NOs for YESes to putting more bricks in the foundation. I’ll race when I’m ready to race. In the meantime, we keep sharpening the pencil.
SAYING NO to people these past two months. Some of whom I cared deeply about but when relationships became too low of a ROI rate, too one-sided or caused me to distrust, I walked away.
Very much self-aware of my boundaries and where my time investment goes.

And speaking of time, it’s T minus 10 weeks until the Welland Long Distance triathlon which will be my season opener with many friends…yes!! I’ve got work to do but I’m starting from a good place, I’m loving where this is taking me as well as the pace I’m in but even more so, I have found my drive to strive again. Giddy up!!

 

 

The Power of Patience, Discipline and the Pull of the Chase.

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Here’s hoping this 4th draft of this post will actually be the last one. Lucky #4, right?

Oh uhm, it’s been a while…but hey, I’ve been busy. Suddenly here we are, middle of March and it’s been over two months since I last updated this blog. As well intentioned as I was, meh, I just wasn’t into writing much. I’ve become quite good at only committing to the things that elicit a major “Hell Yes” in my life.

As in, if it’s not a hell, yes…it’s a no. Not talking myself into maybes that don’t excite me or out of hell yeses that scare me a little has become my modus operandi. Black Or White. Elective life endeavours are either a full-commit or a non-starter because sitting on the fence is just not my thing.

In my last post I said that the truth always comes out no matter how much we try to hide, repress, deny or avoid it. The picture for this post was taken back in September when there was a lot of uncertainty about my heart health and whether or not I would race again. One of the things that kept the fickle balance between being active and not training was taking my bike for a daily short ride to my favourite spot on the water and just think (or not) for a while. I usually just sat there with my old road bike and enjoyed the scenery…bartered with life…bribed the Universe, and so on…and dared to feel the “unwilling to die” yet unfulfilled dream inside me. One day, I also fell off a rock in the process because well, that’s just how klutzy I can be and in the spirit of keeping things real, that’s my full disclosure moment. The truth, people…the truth.

I was trying so hard to get my ducks lined up, keeping a tight grip on something I had next to no control over, it was ridiculous. And one day, in a very uncharacteristic move, I got fed up and I just decided to let go. Let it all go…and see what washed up. Now there’s probably a great “message in a bottle” analogy to be made here but I’ll abstain and let the romcom movies keep the theme for themselves.

While all this was going on during the summer, I had a lot of friends ask me with everything I have accomplished (which is arguably very relative depending on who you are talking to) why I still wanted to race..why I was doing this sport..why I was pushing my body so hard..where did that stem from…what was in it for me, etc. Truth be told, I was asking myself those questions as well. But I was too burnt out to come up with an answer. Plus, did it even matter, really? Mentally, physically and emotionally, I was fried. To a crisp. And I’m not ashamed to admit it either.

When I look back on the post Mont Tremblant 2015 period, I realize that I did not take the time necessary to figure out the “what now?”. I may not have experienced the post-IM blues that most people do (I was actually on a mighty high) but I also didn’t take the time away that I should have. I got swept into something new on the personal level and dove right back into IM training. Those two cogs eventually chewed me up and spat me out. And my resolve to not let it break me eventually broke me in another way. Lesson learned. And eventually the unescapable “what now?” surfaced again.

What those moments of quiet stillness by the water gave me (besides the occasional wet socks) was clarity. What washed up was the answer that would set the stage for the next few months.
I have not yet had the perfect Ironman race. And I want that. Badly.
That’s what I’m going after. I do not want to walk away from this sport with an unfinished business feeling which is what I feel. Because, yes, my last one (2016) still tastes fucking bitter. That DNF (my one and only) was pretty much like trying to swallow a peach pit at the time. I am many things but a quitter is not one of those. Now with hindsight, there are much worse things to deal with in life but I digress.

So what exactly would be a perfect Ironman race to me; that the clincher. I am not so much talking quantifiable results here…although I ain’t gonna lie, that’s always in some way part of the equation when you involve a clock, a finish line and me. There’s a #truthbomb that surprises no-one, I’m sure. But the primary aim is personal satisfaction which I break down as follows:
1. Do everything I can to prepare well.
2. Show up ready to race.
3. Stay calm but focused.
4. Execute the plan (and its contingencies) and cross the finish line happy.
THAT is what I am chasing. That is MY chase. That’s what I’m going after.
I have a “time” goal as well but it is not my primary one.

I was close to that in 2015. I didn’t let the nerves, the circus that is Ironman weekend get to me. I was happy in my bubble and I executed the plan perfectly…until the race had a plan of its own for me. I am still proud I finished that race when I could have quit but it is in what I feel escaped me that my quest for more rests. What if I didn’t sprain my back on that bike pass? What would the race have looked like then for me? That’s how I know there is more and that is what keeps washing up. I want that. I have experienced that at other distances but it has eluded me at the IM distance. Yes, I am well aware that Ironman races hurt like hell and rarely go to plan but that is not going to stop me from chasing that goal.

So from October to February (when I was to meet with my cardiologist again), it was back to basics for me. I took some time to do the “boring” stuff nobody ever wants to do. Especially with swimming. Oh my god, the swimming. Drills, and video anyone?!

I did something most would highly disapprove of…I spent a LOT of time with fins, form paddles and snorkel (because it was easy cardio-vascularly) just swimming lap after lap after lap working on my stroke (or lack thereof) and body position. Like, a lot of time…then I gradually weaned myself off all the “aids” and came out the other side with a way better feel of my body in the water and a half-decent stroke compared to the flailing ostrich careening down the lane I had before. There’s a visual for ya!

You might remember that I tested on the bike in the fall. Yeah, that was dismal. Lowest numbers ever. So I chipped away at my FTP while staying within was I was allowed to push heart rate wise. And the run, well, I just ran at what I felt was easy…turns out I was way off on that one.

Then I squeezed in a few more weeks of training before it was time for my follow-up appointment with my cardiologist in Toronto and that’s where the rubber met the road.

Up to this point, I had felt like I was almost a waste of his time. I know it wasn’t the case but let’s be honest, every time I went to see him, it was clear to pretty much everyone that I was the “healthiest” patient on the docket that day. Combined with the fact that he does some pretty intricate and delicate surgeries, my case is pretty much a walk in the park for him. In one way, it was reassuring to have him talk about what was going on with me so casually and in such a manner-of-fact tone; like it was no big deal…on the other hand, my perception of this was that it wasn’t serious and/or I was an inconvenience in the lot. I couldn’t have been further from the truth. If he seemed aloof back in September, this time he came prepared to meet with me and my lifestyle…and he meant business.

The required fitness and medical tests were done before my consult with him and we went over them pretty quickly. Everything checked out and was pretty straight forward. THEN came the serious discussion. If you guessed that my first question to him was whether or not I could resume training/racing (remember the vision, people?), you would be right. He took a deep breath and said: Yes. But.

This was followed by a long and winded statement  lecture about how it would be in my best long term interest and health to work on lowering my base heart rate and how to go about it which was exactly in line with what I had been doing since January. Yes, I could do and increase intensity work…just balance that out with some easy stuff. Bluntly put, his exact words were: “The tests don’t lie. It is clear to me that you don’t know when to quit and you can push and sustain the effort when most would have long stopped because of discomfort/pressure issues and you have been doing this for a while. That may serve you well in certain occasions but it is not something you should be doing all the time. You are tiring your heart out. Ultimately, too much of this hinders performance because it affects output. You’ve been building a house on an egg for too long and you are smart enough to know that’s not the most solid foundation out there. The heart is a muscle that can be trained just as easily as it can be fatigued if you stress it too much and I don’t mean just physical stress.  It’s up to you. You can be smart about this or we can see each other again in the Operating Room. Your choice. What you’ve been doing got you here. If you want different you are going to have to make changes.”
G.U.L.P.

And so, just like that, I was suddenly staring down the barrel at a very different landscape than I had imagined. However, the fact that I was given the all-clear (encouraged, even) to remain active (in a smart way), was a huge relief. It also meant that I would have to flip my mindset on its head. What I did not know was how challenging this would prove to be for me. Hard comes in many different shapes.

Having had to take the summer and most of the fall off training wise, I thought I had become pretty chill about that aspect of my life. Yeah, you can tell yourself all kinds of stories but when it comes down to it, your personality eventually comes through. At least for me it did. Here’s that unavoidable truth again. I have always been, and I suspect always be, competitive at the core. So when we got the new numbers from a run test (because that is where I was knocked down on my ass), it was a pretty rude awakening.

Although the swim and bike are pretty straight forward, running wise I have to use a combination of pace and HR based training. For the base work, I go by Heart Rate and for speed work, I go by pace – which is a real treat, let me tell you. It’s like taking the chains off! Running in Z2 HR, translates into high Z1 pace. For now. That was a HUGE blow. I mean I knew my fitness had taken a hit but this was disheartening (pun intended). The first few runs, I was running frustrated. I angry cried…more than once. During…and after runs. Damn it, didn’t I have the bartering conversation with the Universe? Should I have offered more as a bribe?

Turns out I had been running in no-man’s land for way too long so with these newly adjusted paces, the easy runs felt like slogs. The speed work was hit and miss. I could do the shorter (400m) intervals (because I could gut them out mentally) but with the 800s, I couldn’t hit the pace. For like, NONE of them in a given workout no matter how much I willed myself to…because I just don’t have the endurance. Yet. Key word, here.

Then I gave myself the real talk: “CHILL THE FUCK OUT.  This is temporary.”
1. You took an extended break from running (for health reasons).
2. Your fitness starting line is not the same it was in previous years at the same time. (Meaning I am about 3 months “behind”…calendar wise) so of course you’re not going to run the times you did (or equivalent) in March.
3. That’s why your “A” race  (half-Ironman) for this year is not until September (vs June).

Those are not excuses, they are reality checks.

And then I remembered how this working on the basics has worked so well in the pool for me going into this year. Doing the boring stuff paid off. My most recent CSS test was the best I have ever had and last week I swam my fastest 100 ever at 1:20. Not 15 of them…just one. I know this is not “out of this world fast” but this is my fast since I have never gone under 1:25 for a single all-out 100 so I’ll take it.

Now I need to put pride aside and apply the same to my run…easier said then done, let me tell you; which means reframing my perception of a successful run. To me. At this time.
In the past, I would have worked at the very edge of my pace/HR limits. Always at the limits (bordering on a little further) even on easy runs…that was kind of my go-to mindset.

Now instead of thinking “how fast can I run this at my top HR?”, I go with “how low a HR can I average for this run/pace?”.  Taking my eyes off the overall pace has given my brain a break. Different angle on the challenge, same goal. In a little over a month of this, I am going into my runs more relaxed and it turns out the pace has gotten faster too. So we’re on the right track. It might take me a while but I will get there. Because I am stubborn and determined AF to get myself where I want to go. The goal is clear and each day I get one (or two) workout(s) closer to it.

On a side note, I would be remiss not to thank you, Phaedra, for keeping me honest and accountable on a daily basis about this. Knowing you will be checking those metrics is the only reminder I need when I get tempted to “colour outside the lines”.

Is this mindset change easy to do? No.
Is it worth it? Hell, Yes.
(btw, not all difficult things come with sweat and snot…sometimes it is beyond that. It’s not sexy, doesn’t make for catchy IG posts but it is real.)

So there you have it. That’s where I’m at. I’ve taken stock of the past 18 years of racing and when all is said and done, there is still something I want to chase. And starting from where I’m at is “almost” like a new beginning. Some would see it as discouraging…I see it as fucking exciting. It’s all about perception and mindset; how you choose to see a situation. It’s not as easy as flipping a switch (trust me) but it does have a similar effect. And it feels good (or hurts less) when you are doing it for the right reason/cause/goal.

There’s a lot more to my life than this triathlon thing but this part is what I choose to share of online. Don’t forget the big picture…your loved ones will want more than shoe boxes of medals and pages of Strava records one day which me and the kids joked about over the Holidays.

Now, this was a VERY lengthy post about something that is relatively unimportant with everything going on in the world.  And in one where the average attention span is 140 characters or less, if you’ve made it to this point of the post, I feel I should probably hand you a medal or something. However, you’ll just have to settle for my virtual gratitude. Sorry…but nonetheless, heartfelt thank you for making it this far.

Dream Big.
Challenge yourself.
Set yourself up for success. (that will be my next post)
Give your best effort at any given time.
And when life tells you to chill out, it’s probably a good idea to do just that.

N~

 

The Truth & Game ON

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“Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth.”
Although this quote in its entirety can be traced back to Buddha, the version commonly used today still does ring (pardon the pun) true; in particular to me at this time. It’s time to live it and speak it.

2017 has come and gone and though I do not ever want to wish away time, I can’t say I am sad that it is over. Of course there have been some great moments for which I am grateful but the underlying current was not. Again.

And maybe I would be keener to embrace the good that shun through the year IF the truth had been out there but it hasn’t been and this alone has caused me a fair amount of distress.  It has overshadowed the good times because it has just sat and festered inside me, un-dealt with in order to protect someone else. And although I am not going to go out of my way to expose that person – I am many things but vile is not one of them, I am choosing to be open about the subject from here on out. If asked about it, directly or indirectly, I will tell the truth even if that starts a fireball. No lies of omission or fucks given anymore. I have carried the load for too long and at far too great a cost. Weeks ago, I decided that enough was enough. Things are now officially in motion to gain the closure I need. Checkmate.

As far as my 2017 recap goes, there was no “best nine pictures”, no “mileage totals”, no “FB generated movie snippet”; not because I deemed them to be average or unworthy but because for every notice of those I received and checked, I knew it wasn’t the whole picture and sure as hell didn’t tell the whole story. And I hated it. Last December I was very open about many topics in my blog streak, this year I chose to share absolutely nothing so here’s a very crude but very real Cliff Notes version:

I had a decent start to the training year. I buckled under the weight of carrying 2016 over and crashed again in March. I developed stress induced heart problems and dealt with that through the summer. I took six months off of structured training. I was forced to. Got the heart problem sorted out in September.
It is when I was in that hospital room in Toronto that I decided that if things checked out after, I would make myself a priority and go back to what worked for me before all this chaos and what made me happy. And that’s how the past three months have gone…quietly doing small things every day to get myself to the 2018 start line. And it has been great.
The End.

So there you have it. I don’t even want to dwell any further. The new year came and I turned the page on 2017 with a happy slam without looking back. I did the very best I could with a certain situation…and now it is time to move forward without much of a care. Because being kind and doing what was best for someone else nearly killed me. And for what? Absolutely nothing.

There are some great changes coming for me in 2018 and I’m stoked about all of them. There’s new energy and a whole lot of excitement. And general happiness. Dare I say it, a bit of giddy too. Time to build something new. Woohoo!!
It will be a year of change but I’m chopping things in small(ish) and manageable bites and doing it my way.

As far as training goes, there’s great change there too. I have just completed my first week of structured training for 2018 and I feel really good about the way things are headed. Nine hours in the bank is something I haven’t seen in a while. And I don’t even feel tapped out. I finished the last session of the week feeling like I could have done more. Hell Yes.

Another change I made was to leave Strava and go back to logging and keeping track of my training on a very buttoned up platform (this time, Training Peaks) when I started being active again at the beginning of October. I went back to flying under the radar because that’s what I like best and where I’m happiest. So far I can say it is a more useful way of keeping track  and I’m sure I am not maximizing the TP potential yet but I will learn to, no doubt. Small steps…

Once I get into the groove, I might update on here occasionally if the mood strikes me. The good, the bad and the ugly. Otherwise, what’s the point? You are all smart people and I wouldn’t be fooling any of you with a glossed up story. Although this week went really well, I am sure I will not always smooth sail through the training weeks…I never have in the past, why should this year be different? That’s just the way it goes when you push yourself hard enough to become more. I just don’t have the desire to share the play-by-play anymore – that’s just not me; I am content work behind the social media scene. Keeping to myself and doing the work is “my” magic formula. That’s what made 2015 one of my best racing year and that’s what I’m going back to.

After much pondering during the fall, I made the decision not to do a full Ironman in 2018. I had hoped to but rationally thinking, even if going for a late season race, it just didn’t make a whole lot of sense. I really want to give my heart a chance to recover fully and putting it through the rigours of Ironman training would have counteracted this. Yeah, this stings (more than) a bit but because it does, I know that I am not done with this distance, I’m just taking a better road to the start line of the next one. All this means is letting the fire burn a bit longer than I would have liked in order to be back with a better engine. And a better frame. You don’t toe the F1 circuit starting line in a subpar vehicle. At least I choose not to. No judgment here either, that’s just my take on the matter.

In short, I am scaling WAY back and rebuilding from the ground up. Or so it feels like. Let me tell you, the three strength training sessions I did this week (because yeah, I am lifting now) were humbling but they also made me curious about what transformation I can achieve. This going back to the drawing board thing is fun and I’m excited to see how my body will respond to the change.

In what feels like a triathlon “lap year”, I am going to focus on the Multisport Canada Long Course points Series which consists of three long course races from June until September – Rose City Triathlon in Welland, K-Town Triathlon in Kingston and Barrelman in Niagara Falls.

I may also add the WTC Muskoka 70.3 in the mix because this would hit all four Triathlon Ontario provincial championship races. Yeah, my competitive spirit hasn’t died…but first, let’s just see how things go over the next few weeks because they would only use my best two races anyway. I’m just very grateful I haven’t had any arrhythmia or tachycardia since September and I aim to keep it that way..the rest is all gravy.

No major “new year resolution”. In what feels incredibly selfish to me, I’m just going to keep putting myself first and implementing change the way I have since October; it’s the best way not to get down on yourself really.
Being HAPPY is number ONE. And TRUTH in all its forms, always.
It’s a back to basics kind of thing….speaking my mind, meaning what I say and doing what I said I was going to do. Total decluttering of the rest. Those who have time for me will have my time. I am going to meet people where they’re at for a change rather than always trying to go the extra distance in anticipating their needs/wants. Simple as that. And have a lot of fun in the process!

Social media will continue to get cleaned up in a big way in the next couple weeks. My interest is just not there as much anymore…or maybe it’s a time availability or priority shift thing (I haven’t thought about the root cause that much) because in truth, when it comes down to it, when something/someone is important and/or a priority, there is always time; you make it so. And I haven’t with this so that’s saying something.

Instagram will stay for now but might change a bit…stories on there have basically replaced my Twitter which I have more or less abandoned. And let’s be honest IG, I am not a business owner, a brand ambassador, a social media influencer or a cause advocate (those things were not for me and I don’t have the emotional bandwidth to undertake the latter at this time) so I’m not even sure how I will move forward there. I’m just a girl having fun doing my thing, that’s all. All I do is share a bit of that; nothing serious.

Other than that, less screen time…more real time…and who knows what that will lead to?!  The very simple plan is to keep enjoying my life and being more present to those who choose to be in it…which doesn’t sound like a bad trade-off at all.

So, 2018…it is officially GAME ON.
Hell. Yes.

 

A Betty No More

Warning: What I am about to write will probably not be popular with many or may hit a nerve (or a few) with some. If it does, I ask that you question why that is so before you jump down my throat with comments. Sometimes, the truth hurts..and this post is about my perspective and MY truth. Authenticity matters to me. Above all else.

Well, it has taken me much longer than I thought it would to sort through the chaos and come up with the right words for this post. It is not until the team’s Facebook page was taken down and me subsequently leaving the Reunion page that I could finally see through the fog.

So we have hit the season of the “honoured, proud, blessed, humbled, etc” social media posts about making it onto a “team” of some sort. The time of year where brands select and announce their, let’s be honest here, ambassadorship rosters which is a totally different concept than a racing team. Blurred line, I know, but a line nonetheless. For us triathletes, this usually hits right after Kona. Emotions are as high as the hopes of many to represent their brand of choice.

I have been fortunate enough to have been selected for the Betty Designs program (because it has been a rather coveted brand) for two consecutive years so let me share with you my experience about this. Please note that this is about MY experience and relative to ONE brand which I consider to be of high quality and I do realize that they are all different on their criteria and the way they run their program so I will stick to what I know for sure and not speculate about how it’s done in other brands because I haven’t got the firsthand knowledge.

It is absolutely NOT my intention to bash either the brand or the concept on a greater scale; not in the least…it generally works for both parties for a reason. But just because it works as a whole, it doesn’t mean that it works for me.

Make no mistake, I was over the moon when I got the acceptance email in 2015 and just like everyone else, I announced it across various social media platforms because well, that’s the grateful thing to do when you get selected. What I failed to recognize was how this first step would be one of many that would chip away at my identity as an athlete. Let that sink in for a moment.

I had been careful about picking a brand whose manifesto resonated with me and I jumped in with both feet…as I do all things. This wading in the shallow end approach is not really my style (in pretty much anything) which is the main reason Betty got my attention in the first place; and why I thought I was a good fit for them as well. The premise that yeah, sometimes chasing your dream is a scary thing but you face that fear, show up and do it any way. And like a badass, you handle it.

However, it wasn’t long before I started feeling some degree of unease. I chucked that up to adapting from doing my own thing to being part of a group of pretty rad women with different personalities…and motives (but let’s not open that one up, okay?) but it turns out, this was not the root cause of the internal turbulence.

You see, under this seemingly calm and occasionally poised appearance, I am a pretty strong willed, stubborn AF, and wild (lead from the heart) woman. This initial “quiet” demeanour is my way of sizing up the crowd/situation and handling the energy around me; the Yin to my Yan…or whatever that is. Once I am comfortable with the people around me (which, btw, requires both time and trust..sure as hell isn’t a given) then you get the full meal deal.

I don’t have the need or desire to be the centre of attention and I’m rather self-sufficient. More than anything, I abhor drama..especially when it comes to an extra-curricular activity. In my books, either you do or you don’t want to do this sport…have time and energy for it or not. Everyone comes across speed bumps, that’s part of the game. Motivation fluctuates for everyone, I get it…I experience it as well. And I always try to help close the gap when needed.

My personality is such that I tend to absorb a group’s energy so once the unease set in, I went about finding a circle within the circle; people I felt were more in line with my philosophy and work ethics. Again, there is nothing wrong with one way or the other, everybody marches to the beat of their own drum…you just gotta know your own and find whose drum matches yours most and gravitate there. And that worked with a relative degree of success for a while. For the first year at least. I found a groove I was comfortable enough with to re-apply for another year.

And then year two rolled around and by June, things unravelled at the seams, the drums had gone and all I could hear were cymbals…as in ” those damn things are being  incessantly clanged on both sides of my head” and the wheels came right off for me. Total disconnect.

I could relate to very little of the internal chatter. I came to realize that I’m just not a “girl squad” type. I don’t get jived by conversations that revolve around finding the perfect “insert item of choice here” to match this year’s  team or the latest kit. Or how it fits half an inch smaller than it did last year. Or what kit should I wear for X race because I wore this one for last week’s? Or look what I ordered this week with accompanying selfie. I give zero fucks. Not to say that these were the only topics of conversation but let’s just say they made up the bulk of it. And if you are pissed that I wrote about this, ask better of yourself and your teammates moving forward so that you can grow a better culture with a bit more substance in the middle because frankly, it is ridiculous. There. This is me telling it like it is.

On the external front, I fared no better. By contract, I had to promote the brand on social media twice a month which really isn’t that much considering the amount of training we do in those kits every week. But truth be told, I’m not big into the gratuitous show-and-tell (you know the dewy eyes, suggestive or superhero pose type) and it doesn’t take long before things get stale and repetitive anyway.  Bring on the group rides/run with general good times shots to mix it up a bit.

Because seriously, how many selfies of me tying my shoes heading out for a run, shots of legs on the trainer (fuck, I hate those) or my feet with my swimming training gear and obligatory team sponsors’ goodies…or better yet, me getting out of the pool like an athletic Kim Kardashian do people really want to see? A lot, apparently. I’m not that girl. So that wasn’t a good fit. But that’s what gains a lot of followers and therefore is good for a brand. And here’s the kicker, what brands are looking for, in great part, is social media influencers. Yes, you need (ideally) the athletic results but the money shot is the influence factor most of the time. That’s what sells merchandise, folks. Only a very slim number get in without a strong social media presence and/or community involvement.

Also for the love of all things holy, enough with the brand reposts. It is lame and lazy. If your followers are into that brand, they already follow it. Be creative, direct them to their page somehow. Maybe create a standard announcement image template for yourself and add your own words so that your followers recognize this as an alert in your feed without cluttering everybody else’s. It has been proven that seeing the same image numerous times reduces its impact and can actually produce a negative impact.

And please, if you did not get selected for your team of choice this year, don’t let all the Instagram/FB announcements get to you or take this rejection personally. It’s business. Plain and simple business. And in no way is this reflective of your worth as a human being or athlete. I know a hell of a lot of women that are plenty worthy that did not get selected.

As for me, I am very much at peace with my decision not to re-apply for the 2018 season with Betty..or apply for any other brand, for that matter. I felt internally torn there for a while by trying to stay true to who I am while simultaneously fulfilling my contract and ultimately it affected my performance by way of how I viewed myself (chipped away identity much, you think?). When I held true to one entity (myself or the brand), I inevitably fell short towards the other and THAT is what the inner turbulence was about. The culture changed (and that’s perfectly okay) but I did not; and I am very proud of this. THAT is what being badass is about.

I’m not a pro athlete…neither are most of us. I’m not going to clutter your time with what I wear, drink, eat…how fast/slow/far I went. Who gives a fuck?! Or should. I did not conquer some kind of terminal disease, I am not championing for a cause, I’m just a woman who enjoys chasing her dreams. I am quite content to work my ass off under the radar, show up and not draw too much attention to myself, race the hell out of the course and go home…the way I have always done. That’s my jam. A warrior’s worth, you see, is not measured by its armour.

I am super grateful for the true connections to a select group of people that being a part of this team for two years has provided me with. I plan on continuing to foster those relationships in the future as long as it is mutually conducive and I still think that Betty Designs is one of the top brands out there and certainly THE top brand in women’s gear but this girl is now flying solo. Stay tuned for more on this….I’m working on a little something…

So when I was out shopping with a friend this weekend and saw this tank top, I just had to have it.

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MUSTANG. Free roaming. Wild. Ownerless Beast.
Yeah…that fits. Perfectly.

 

 

Back on the Board

Anyone that knows me, knows the only “game” I will ever willingly play is Snakes & Ladders. That’s right.
Disclosure: I am not a fan of board games…card games…or any games that require thinking, analyzing, memorizing an/or strategizing. If I have to do any of those things to take part, I lose interest real quick; it’s not a game to me. Ask my kids, they have stories. And there is no greater display of love on my part than when I partake in the annual multi-days Christmas Holidays Monopoly extravaganza…or a simple (often made bearable with wine) game of Scrabble when they visit.

I am a big Life thinker by nature so if I’m going to be using something as a diversion from it, it has to be a “luck” thing. And what could be more simple and luck driven than snakes & ladders?! Not much. And where am I going with all this?! Oh yeah…the board…

That’s where I find myself after taking a giant slide down the snake..back to the start. It’s not all bad, really. I have enjoyed the ride (for the most part). The Summer of Nath was a lot of fun and I took care of a number of personal issues that needed tending to. I took care of myself.

So after a thorough assessment, this morning I put my game piece squarely back on the starting square and went for a very gentle run.

I purposely shared very little about my heart health because honestly, I don’t need the judgement and well intended (though often ill informed) advice people tend to give. I am following the doctors’ recommendations and guidelines TO THE LETTER and that’s all that needs to be shared. So if I say I went for a run, it’s because I was given the green light. Not because I am being an impatient idiot. Yeah, that’s preemption right there.

So where are we at? We’ve got a ways to go, that’s where; but it’s cool with me…there’s no  rush or critical deadline to be met, I’m just taking things one day at a time and striving for consistency over anything else.

Sometimes when you have to let go of something you love so much, you come back to it with a greater appreciation for it. It’s different. It’s intriguing. And I am way more relaxed about it than I was when I was on the doorstep of losing it all last spring or desperately hoping for my fitness to carry me through the Mont Tremblant 70.3 race prep and race itself.

After a much less active than usual summer, I am ten pounds over race weight. At 5’4″ and 127 pounds, I am hardly fat but I have lost muscle mass and I feel softer and heavier than I actually am. I jokingly refer to this as my weight “feel like” factor; like the humidex but for the body! On the plus side, I have boobs again. 😜

As luck would have it, my Garmin heart rate monitor battery had died this morning…SOOOO…because I do have to keep tabs on my heart rate, I took out the still ticking 2009 Polar F6 – always have a backup, kids. Yeah, I still have it and it still works great, I just outgrew its very basic functions at some point and never use it anymore. Just in case you wondered, I am not the type that replaces equipment every season and I don’t need the latest-greatest everything to make things happen.

I did, however, wear a brand spanking new pair of running shoes; the Hoka Hupanas.
Yup, after 8 years, I jumped off the Saucony wagon. There’s something about the Kinvara8s that just didn’t sit well with me. And when I looked at getting the Freedom as a replacement, the $200 price tag made me want to vomit. Seriously, at that price point, they better come with an engine in them. I just refuse to pay more than $150 for a pair of shoes that I will wear no more than 3 months; that’s just insane to me…but they get away with it because people buy into it. Not me.

Initial feedback on the Hupanas? I adore them! 5mm drop, lightweight, amazing cushioning (though not too soft) and very responsive. I have high hopes of becoming very good friends with them in the coming months!

So here’s the lowdown on this morning’s comeback run:
1. I ran continuously for the first time since June (no picture pitstops);
2. I kept it short and very easy;
3. I wore two watches (HR monitor + GPS)…GO, GO, Gadget arm!

Here are the numbers (I will only share sporadically to hopefully show progression):

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Run ONE:  6.59kms @ 5:39 pace (4miles @ 9:08 pace)

My resting heart rate this morning was 51 which is pretty normal for me.
When I headed out the door (not running yet), I was at 101. Sensitive heart much?
My max heart rate hit 178 and I averaged 168.

That’s how my heart works. Training by heart rate for me is impossible. By all accounts, this morning’s run if you rely on charts would be considered a very hard run. It wasn’t. It was a simple Z1 run. I was very comfortable and have felt zero fatigue. As the doctors have told me, I have a heart that revs HIGH but is structurally sound. We will monitor and follow closely but that’s just the way it is.

For now, nothing over 180 bpm….which based on lactic acid analysis, is still only Z2 for me in the running department. And hopefully, no arrhythmia or tachycardia to report until my next follow-up appointment in February.

On a final note, I will be going to Chattanooga for the Erlanger marathon (March 2-4th). As an ambassador, I do have a discount code to offer you so if you are interested, DM me and I will give it to you. I will be blogging in more details about this next week but there’s a price increase this weekend (Oct. 1st) so if you want to take advantage of the cheaper rate, act NOW.

Until next time!!

 

 

 

Where’s Waldo?…

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I have been meaning to write this post for a week or so but we’ve been blessed with gorgeous weather and in the spirit of my beloved “Hell Yes” philosophy and refusing to give up on summer (Imma hang on until the leaves fall..don’t crash my party), I have elected to spend my afternoons on the beach and my evenings watching the US Open so, umm, yes….here we are because it is just a bit too cool for the beach today.

I have been quiet on social media. I have pretty much all but abandoned Twitter. Honestly, I went on a few times in the past weeks and couldn’t last longer than a few scrolls down the main page. So my decision has been made to leave the platform altogether. This is something I have been mulling over for a while so I tested it out and yeah, that ship’s dead in the water.

It makes me a little sad – because I’m sentimental as fuck sometimes and I have “met” some fun and interesting people through it, but the good days on this platform (you know the lighthearted yet on point conversations and general good times) are a thing of the past and I have other means of connecting with the few that have made the experience a good one either through other social media outlets or good old messaging – my phone contacts’ list contains a whopping 46 people, yo!

Things change, it’s the nature of the virtual world and I refuse to be sucked down the political/ranting/marketing vortex. As of late, it either feels like reading the comments of online articles, scrolling through a shopping network of some sort or just plain reading general daily lamentations. I have tried to avoid committing these offences in the past (I may have failed..undoubtedly, I have..in fact I am now (briefly) but this is my blog and you don’t have to read) so I’m not saying I am perfect, I know I am not, but if I can’t effect change, I can also choose different and not partake further. And because the only person I have control over is me, ME is deciding to cut the cord.

So I’ve had the “It’s been great but I need a change…it’s not you, it’s me” conversation with Twitter and I am cutting loose. I will leave the profile up – hell, I am an eternal optimist and you never know what can happen….we have certainly seen all kinds of 180s in the past year, haven’t we?!…at least I have…both good and bad…but for all intents and purposes, I am gone. No big deal.

I have, however, remained active on Instagram quite a bit. Simply because it’s a natural fit for me. I like to take pictures of things and moments. Always have. Always will. More on that further down this post.

So what exactly have I been up to? All kinds of things. I have tried new activities. I have kept training (although that is very loosely referring to simply keeping active in the swim/bike/run department) and I have hosted more friends in the past two months than I have in three years…which has been GREAT…I may start asking for reviews on Trip Advisor… 😉 The Summer of Nath has been an absolute blast and I have not started building ships in bottle in my basement so I would say the hard reset I have needed for quite some time has been successfully achieved.

And in those quiet moments, away from all the noise, I’VE MADE A DECISION ABOUT MY HEART CONDITION.
As much as I appreciate the input from well intended people, ultimately this is my life and my health and I wanted/needed to educate myself and sort this on my own. I did ask a few close connections for their opinion but the decision was ultimately made quietly. All by myself.

And with this came a chain reaction of other decisions. I think the catalyst for this was probably Tremblant. No, not probably…it was. Although I did not race, the take-away I got that day has considerably more value to me than a finisher’s medal would have: “Trust”.
That’s corny and cliché, I know…and yes, I may have just thrown up a little in my mouth as I typed this but it’s what it is.

  1. Trust in myself – I can’t tell you how good it was to get that piece of me back. It was a blast to be out there just being my goofy and supportive self while having fun on race day. Because that’s who I am. I don’t take myself seriously, I like to unapologetically be me, laugh and have fun (a lot of it) and I like to be there for people; that is how I’m wired.
  2. Trust that life takes care of things without any interference, influence or forcing on my part…it may take time (by my standard), but ultimately wrongs get righted somehow…failures become successes and staying the course gets rewarded – and all that jazz…as long as I remain true to who I am. Which, btw, doesn’t mean that I let myself be pushed over…just an FYI.  Don’t fuck with me. You will live to regret it. Some people now know this for a fact. There are two sides to this coin and it can flip fast once I’ve had enough.
    And that rather than force or be a “part” of the sorting out process, it is far better to just quietly and peacefully let things go their natural way as you sit and watch things unfold with an “oh look” curiosity while eating popcorn from the comfort of your couch in your favourite sweats. Figuratively speaking, of course. I’m sure there’s a GIF for this somewhere…

As the French saying goes: “Le temps fait inéviatblement bien les choses”.
It might take me a lifetime to hone and truly “get” this concept – I am apparently not a quick learner in that department.  I’m a “let’s do this and let’s do this now” kind of person so this patience thing is not easy for or come naturally to me. It was just one of those serendipitous discovery…kind of a “See? It’s handled” from Life.

Lesson humbly accepted. Onward. Enough with the mushy stuff.

SOOOO……once this health thing is behind me (trust me, I cannot wait to not talk about this anymore), what comes next?
Simple. I am going to go back to what has worked for me in the past. For two years, I have tried “different” with marginal success…possibly total failure depending on how you look at it. The first year I attributed this to perhaps bad timing or adjustment of some sort. The second year was a “learn already” smack upside the head.

Not that everything was bad during those two years. They weren’t. There were some incredible highs. So it was a matter of taking inventory of what worked and keeping those things in the rotation and simply discarding the rest. Simple as that. I’m still going to race once I am ready – more on that in future posts, but with a change in approach in every way; and on my own terms…here’s to shaking things up, baby.

I guess the biggest surprise (to many of you) will be that I am choosing to leave the Betty Designs team (i.e. not reapply for the 2018 season). I have enjoyed the experience but it is time for me to move on for personal reasons. I still LOVE the brand and will remain a loyal customer because the product is solid and the designs are truly beautiful but the time has come for me to break free.

Don’t get me wrong, it has been a ride and I have met some really strong, smart, funny and truly badass women for which I am incredibly grateful and with whom I hope to have made lifelong connection but bottom line is: I can still support something, in this case a brand, without being part of its program. You all know I freaking love Betty Designs and pretty much live in the stuff. That will not change. And if I can’t race, I will be out there supporting the ones who can.

WHICH brings us to Instagram….
If I try to remember as far as I can in my childhood bank of memories, three things really pop up. Despite having all the dolls, Barbies and other “little girl” paraphernalia (this was the 60s…far more gender biased), my ultimate favourites toys were: a camera, my bicycle and a red VW convertible pedal car. Thank you progressive parents for exposing me to non conformity. In those I found adventure and felt freedom and hours of happiness as a child. I can sill vividly see (and feel myself) racing down the sidewalk on either my bike or in my car with that camera slung like messenger bag across my shoulder. Good times…good times. And that is also where I have found solace this summer. I have taken a ton of pictures…ridden my bike for the pure joy of it and my MINI has had the top down for days on end; though admittedly, I have had to start layering to get around as the days are getting shorter.

For that reason, I am keeping Instagram but you will most probably notice a shift as far as content goes. Instead of inundating your feed with pictures of me doing this, that and everything else I love or legs on the trainer (insert eye roll here), I will try to share more of what I see while I’m out…little snippets of time from my world. And push myself to be a bit more creative in the process. So most likely this will mean fewer posts but hopefully of better quality. And should a picture of nude me in a tree find its way on my feed, please, I implore you, smack some sense into me.

And to circle back to the title of this post…Where’s Waldo?
Right here. Right here is where I will be. This blog. My space. This will be my sandbox and you are free to join in.
I am not putting any pressure on myself to publish on a regular basis or meet quotas, etc. I am not in this to make money, drum up business, promote myself or whatever, this is my little piece of internet pie where I will put thoughts down about various topics. I will share when I feel something is worthy of sharing…when I have time…and more importantly, when I feel like it. No pressure. And in return you can choose to read…or not. I’m cool with that..because we all should just live…Wild and Free.