Monday, April 28, 2014

well, that didn't turn out how I thought it would

*warning, big long rambly post as I try and figure out what the hell happened this past weekend and some future type stuff*

So, if you joined a cycling team which advertised a 3 day "Spring Training Camp" which included a 70 mile option on Friday and Saturday and a 3,500+ (15 mile) hill climb up a mountain, wouldn't you think that meant this was a weekend meant for work?  Also some fun, but some real, hard, honest work on two wheels.

That's what I thought and woooo boy, was that a mistake.

Also, if you knew that multiple board members were triathletes, the whole club was volunteering for the finish line at an Ironman, and they sold tri kits to wear at races, wouldn't you assume the group was triathlete-friendly?

Again, ASSume and wow, I was super wrong.

And finally, and again the ASSume rule here, is that my friends will back me just as solidly and loyally as I would for them when they're in a bad place.  Sure, I may not agree with them, but if they need me, I will keep my thoughts to myself and do whatever I can to help.  Again, wrong.  And that one hurts.  A bunch.


Back late last year I was looking for a new group to ride bikes with.  One that didn't try to "out tri-dork" each other with egos and establishing territory.  I just wanted a friendly group to go and ride bikes for miles and miles over lots of hills.  A pretty simple request that I suppose is hard to fill when you're me.  My friend has been a part of a Boulder-based women's cycling club.  The few times I ran into them, they seemed nice and my friend had very good things to say about them.  Sure, I don't get a ton of the benefits, like sponsor discounts, but I was hoping for a nice group of people to train with and I was very excited over the idea of a training camp.

I did a few rides with them and they went well.  People were friendly.  I did get one comment about my TT bike from the president, but it was more like "technically I'm supposed to tell you not to ride your TT bike because its a rule and I'm club president, but as a triathlete, I get that you need./want to ride that bike."  So I took that as I could pick and choose when to ride my bike.

I was really excited to do the out of town training camp.  Three BIG days of training would greatly benefit me for IMBoulder - lots of endurance, time on the bike, and with a huge climb on the last day, lots of mental and strength training.

I show up to Training Camp planning to ride long (70 miles) on Fri and Sat and do the hill climb Sun.  We met with the group and immediately I got a "you brought your TT bike!?!?!"  I played it off as yeah, its my bike and I ride this a ton. Its fine.  No big deal.  And hey, I brought fruit snacks and I'm really friendly.

I have ridden in groups before, and I typically stay up on my bars until I had ~2 bike lengths in front of me and then I would go down on my aero bars.  I feel safe and comfortable doing this based on countless rides and miles of riding this way with groups, from clubs to century rides.  I think this experience is fairly universal for most triathletes.  Its just how we ride and its fine and safe.  An hour into it, one girl (a multi-IM person) said "don't ride down on your aero bars when you're in front of me because you scared me and J."  I tried to explain that I had 2 bike lengths in front of me and apparently that didn't matter.  I get squinty-eyed thinking over this complaint for a few reasons.  1) why is this girl, a triathlete, scared of someone riding aero?  how does she manage to race?  2) how am I supposed to know how close someone is behind me and why is this MY issue.  I've always treated riding (just like driving) as you need to watch what's ahead of you and make sure you can react.  Its damn near impossible to control/watch what's going on behind you.

I approached J (who I also "scared") and apologized and she said "oh, that's just this person, you're fine and don't worry".  So now I'm wondering what the hell is going on and I'm also feeling really self conscious and a bit anxious.  I just want to ride and have fun.  I don't want to be causing problems but I also want to be able to ride the way I want to, which is, I feel, very safe. (again, based on years of experience of riding)

My legs were feeling really good and the hills were treating me well.  We were having a bit of fun playing cat and mouse on the rollers.  I heard someone say "hey, I recognize that hill" and I just went for it.  I was riding along and I got to a potential turn and quickly realized that I had lost my group.  I wasn't leading and I didn't know the route.  I circled back and quickly realized that I had messed up and started hammering back, all the while really beating myself up because I had messed up.  I came upon the group (10 women, all in matching outfits) who were standing there waiting for me.  I felt even worse.  I immediately started apologizing and was very strongly told by 3 people "you CANNOT do that".  Which made me feel really bad and even more self conscious.

I had already been talked to for "scaring" someone and now I made the whole group mad at me.  I was now "that asshole".  With a group of new people that I wanted to be friends with.  I was just seeing things spiral downwards and spent the next 30 miles dealing with some pretty dark social anxiety issues that have been plaguing me for the past several years.  Not to mention, an honest mistake that caused the group to wait a maximum of 8 minutes (according to my garmin), which  resulted in me getting yelled at publicly by several people.  This caused a very large dose of WTF?!? to circle around my head.  All of this combined made for a pretty miserable ride to lunch.

Most of the time after that I was riding by myself (aero, but looking backwards enough to make my neck really hurt at the end of the day because god forbid I was aero when someone snuck behind me and I didn't realize it....) I was sandwiched between the lead and the back back.  There was a corner where I waited for the back pack (because I god forbid I don't wait and I get yelled at again).  The back group zipped in front of me, placing me firmly at the back of the line, which was too slow for me.  There was a huge rumble strip preventing me from swinging out onto the road to pass.  I said something to the person ahead of me about wanting to pass and she either didn't hear it or ignored me and blocked me.  Given my already bad mental state, I just wanted to get away from these people and passed them on the right (on a decent sized shoulder), apologizing to every person I passed for being yet another asshole and passing on the right.  So more anxiety for me.  But I just didn't feel comfortable riding with them in a pack.  And really, the people who yelled at me were in the group and emotionally, I just didn't want to hear their voices.  I just wanted space.

At lunch, I decided to have a talk with the president about the incident where I missed the turn and how I felt like they dogpiled on me.  I explained that I'm pretty emotionally beat up, have some anxiety issues, and the reaction of the group for my innocent mistake really pushed me into a bad emotional state.  I suggested that maybe humor would be a better approach when they're dealing with someone new, so the person wouldn't spend 30 miles feeling awful.  We talked for a bit.  Apparently, contrary to her statement 2 weeks ago, riding my TT bike is a very bad thing.  I explained that I've put a lot of $ into my TT bike and in order to ride safely and comfortably, I'd have to dump a lot of money into my road bike or buy a new one - something which seemed really unreasonable for a group to ask me to do.  Her response was a cold "maybe you can develop new skills".  Which is really confusing because she is ALSO an Ironman.  She then decided to bring up some other things I had done (example, passing on the right) and we parted ways.  This left me upset enough where I spent good 5 minutes curled up on the floor of the bathroom sobbing while everyone was enjoying smoothies, salads and cookies.

Because THAT's how training rides should go, right?

I got myself cleaned up and hid in a corner by the bikes waiting for everyone to finish lunch.  During that time, only one person of the group of ten noticed me and talked to me.  And that person was not my friend whom I was sharing a room with, which upset me a bit as well.

So we rode home.  There were some comments about how I needed to treat this as a fun ride, not a training ride (again, 70 miles... wtf? and what's wrong with training during a training camp?).  Afterwards, in our room, I tried to have a conversation with my friend about how the day had upset me.  She agreed that the dogpiling was unnecessary but there was also a very underlying unsympathetic "we're a Boulder group and this is how we do things".  All I really wanted was maybe a hug and a sympathetic ear and perhaps even a white lie about how she understood and yes I was justified and yes, the entire day was crappy.  Later, after I overheard part of her conversation with her fiancee about how "it will all blow over and be ok."  After she left to meet with people, I called my husband and started bawling because things were definitely NOT ok.  In fact, they were so not ok that if I was not responsible for my friend's ride home, I would have left that night. I was so upset and wanting to be alone after that, that I was seriously thinking of spending the night in my truck.  I was in full, backed into a corner, paranoia, no one sees my perspective, or worse CARES to see my perspective, including my friend, crying on the phone to my husband, misery mode.

Because THAT makes for a fun training weekend.

The next morning, we got ready for a the hill climb (the 2nd 70 mile ride was cancelled for wind).  And finally, someone was nice enough to say she heard what happened and gave me a hug.  And for that I'm thankful, as it made my day a bit better.  It felt like someone got me and was a bit on my side and that I wasn't alone.

The ride up the ski hill was ok.  There were sevearl miles of riding at 3.8 mph because it was so steep, which is sucky.  And it was cold.  And I was an idiot (because I was still upset) and didn't really pack any cold riding gear, so I froze on the way down.

I realized later on, when people gathered downtown for shopping and lunch (including me because I was so worried what people would say about me if I didn't participate) that this weekend was a girl's weekend away disguised as a training weekend.  It was not a training weekend.  People wanted to get away from their lives and shop and drink and talk and do girl-type stuff.  Which is fine.  But don't call it a training weekend.  It even included a big group dinner that night with wine that ended up in a birth control discussion.  That sort of stuff makes me want to poke my eyes out.  Really, most group things drive me batty (there's something about herding cats, getting people to all agree on where to go and where to eat that REALLY does not go well with my independent spirit.  I am much better with groups no larger than 4).  Most people were into it.  I think I was the only one who wasn't.  Really, it was the same thing with Ragnar.  Everyone thought the weekend was amazing.  For me, even without the drama, I would have given the weekend a solid "meh".  Mainly because I just don't need/like girls weekends.  I just wanted to ride my bike, eat good food, have a beer, sleep and repeat.  Shopping and chatting aren't ever high on my list of things I want to do and I never feel like I need to go out of town for these things.   I really felt that for the money I spent on travel/food (money I don't really have right now), I could have taken Friday off of work and ridden the same schedule and terrain and gotten more out of it.  No criticism for "training", no spending money, no social anxiety, no me being tortured by groups of people chatting over wine.  (I'm exaggerating on the torture, they were nice, but the topics on conversation were sooooo not my wheelhouse)

So lesson learned on many levels.  Now I just need to figure out if I want to be a part of this group moving forward.  A large part of me is saying no, that I should sell my gear (or cancel a pending order) and just get out.  Really, any group who has board members treating a new member that way is really not a group I want to participate in.  And then the whole "Boulder elitist" crap that was underlining everything.  They only have their Boulder experience and that's all that they're willing to acknowledge.  Just because they're "Boulder" doesn't mean that there aren't many other ways of doing things and ending up with happy people on bikes riding on roads in groups.

In other words, I think I'll go back to just riding solo and doing my own thing.  Or maybe next year I'll join Rocky Mountain Tri Club.  They did a Moab training weekend this same weekend.  My friends got in 185 miles of riding in 3 days - probably all in aero.  In the end, I'm not sure a pretty kit isn't enough for me to stay.  And, I'm pretty sure that any time I ride with this group again, I'll have a bit of PTSD and paranoia.  Bike riding is supposed to be fun (and sometimes hard,, but never to the point where you're sobbing on the floor of a bathroom during lunch.)  Always looking over my shoulder (figuratively and literally) trying to stzay out of trouble just isn't how I want to ride.

Monday, April 14, 2014

First big weekend of 2014

I had Friday off and we have now started my Friday Deer Creek / High Grade bike adventures.  It was fun this time but I'm pretty sure I'll be over it in 2 months.

Oh wait, back to the beginning, before the big ride.  Based on my whiny-ness earlier in the week, I asked my coach if we could have coffee on Friday morning so we could lay out the plans for the summer.  I think, for me, knowing the purpose behind all this work will alleviate some of the whining.  We had a really good conversation and I left feeling relieved instead of "holy crap, 4 more months of this training... blech".  I'm in a wedding in June and there's some wedding-related things like a shower, and a party, and the wedding.  I was getting a bit stressed about fitting it all in, but Michelle is great and understands balance.  Any wedding stuff will be worked in and I will not be stressed out over trying to get in a workout on the same day.  *phew*  Also, I was commenting on how Boulder basically killed our summer - ie no camping because I'd be on my bike every weekend from now until August 3rd.  She told me to think about a weekend in late June or early July for camping.  No s/b/r.  Just camping, a long hike, and maybe some mountain biking.  Thank goodness - now I have some fun to look forward to.

She also confirmed that she was making my workouts especially awful when I was going skiing, in a sick and twisted way of torturing me (while helping me!) while she was on the couch with a ski-induced ACL tear.  And as I suspected, last year's training was the Michelle-beginner level.  Now I'm on the Michelle-Intermediate plan.  Much harder.  But I feel better with her saying this, versus me just thinking things are that much harder in Year 2 with her.

The meeting went really well.  We discussed some plans for the rest of the year.  I have a potentially crazy race I want to do next January.  And trail running.  Loads of trail running after Boulder.  I left feeling less whiny with more purpose.  Exactly what I was needing.

Then it was off to conquer the big hill.  A friend of mine has signed up for St George and Tahoe - both are HUGE climbing races.  So I made her ride with me on Friday.  We did a ~50 minute warmup around Chatfield then started up the hill.  I no longer have every turn memorized and for some reason, the first part before the left hand turn seemed harder than I remember it being.  It could be partially because it was my first ride of the year here or it could actually have been just as hard last year.  Who knows.

The deal with my friend was that I would wait for he at the left hand turn and at the top.  She was trying to weasel out of it, by saying I could ride up to the top, turn around, and she'd turn when she saw me.  I had nothing to do that day and it was really important that she made it up, so I was really mean and made her ride to the top. :)

This also gave me time to mess around taking selfies :)
this is a very expensive stop sign to run...

I waited probably 10 min at the turn and 15 min at the top.  She came up the hill with a huge smile on her face.  Success!

51 miles and 3500 feet of climbing
My ride was pretty good.  I had to stop in my usual spots on High Grade.  My heart rate hit 180 and I just didn't feel like pushing it any higher.  I feel like it was over 170 for the last 5 miles.  My legs were actually ok and I did feel pretty strong.  I went and checked my files and I think I was only 3 min slower off my best time from 2013.  That's a pretty good way to start the year.
only a little bit of snow....
It was pretty warm - 76 degrees.  I drank all of my water (almost 4 bottles).  I'm playing around with nutrition options.  This time it was some Salty Balls.  I ate them pretty consistently on the way up - at least I'm pretty sure I ate more on this ride than I normally did in 2013.  My stomach felt good but I'm not sure the texture (mushy) will work with me over the course of 7 hours.  Its a start, though!  I got home, showered, and was lured to my friends house by promises of margaritas.  Not the smartest thing, as there was no real food.  Just margaritas, chips, guac, and queso.  We got home at 9 and I ate half of a real dinner.

I woke up starving.  I was riding with my outdoor DIVAS group in Boulder and they were doing the Morgul-Bismark crit course, which involved something called "the Wall".  I pretty much stuffed my face the entire way up to Boulder.  It was ridiculous - every 10 minutes my stomach would end up growling at me.  Note to self: must eat real food after riding Deer Creek.

The ride was around 35 miles.  I was just going to take it easy-ish and see how my legs felt.  Part of the ride was on a road that my friend took me on in 2011 when I was training for IMTX.  I remember the hills being hardish and me dropping my chain in the middle of one of them.  Something must have triggered in my legs with that memory and I zoomed up the hill past the 6 other DIVAS and beat them all up the hill.  Full disclosure: I promptly died after that hill and was very much back of the pack for the rest of the ride.  Unless we were going downhill.  The Wall was delivered as promised.  Its felt like High Grade but I'm thinking that was just because my legs weren't happy with me.
38 miles and 1800 feet of climbing
A few of us did a quick 30 minute run afterwards.  My legs actually were doing pretty well, which was shocking.  Then I had to go and try on bridesmaid dresses for a December wedding.  Yes, after bike riding.  I did manage to hit the buffet at Whole Foods in Boulder.  It was an.... experience.  One whole buffet dedicated to cold foods, two more dedicated to hot foods.  And it was Boulder.  So food then bridesmaid dresses, where I realized while trying on my first dress that I had a huge smear of bike grease on my arm.  Classy!

Sunday (if you're still reading) was a 2.5 hour run.  Friday and Saturday were gorgeous.  Sunday was rain turning into snow.  I like doing my long runs on the Highline Canal.  Its flat-ish and dirt, so its really nice on your body.  My friend Ryan was really nice and kept me company for the whole time, even though I was running a ~12:00 pace to keep my HR under 142.  The idea of running this on a treadmill seemed horrible.  Fortunately, the rain turned into snow at the start of our run, so we didn't get too wet.  My legs were actually ok with running after 2 days of cycling and the entire run went pretty well.  I had to run faster for my last 20 minutes and managed a 10:18 pace with sub-9 at the very end.  I'll take it!

And then we gorged ourselves on $12 all you can pile on a plate (including really yummy bacon and bread pudding) brunch at the brewery.  And then I came home and took a nap.

It was an encouraging start to my big training volume.  Everything worked really well and I even had some fun.  Just as it should be :)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Gear Review - Gone for a Run Arm Warmers

My old arm warmers are looking pretty ragged.  I got them in Jan 2010 at the expo for my first Half Marathon.  The velcro on my aerobars have done a number on them - they're pulled and ratty looking.  

As part of my Gone for a Run Ambassadorship, I thought I'd give their arm warmers a try.  They come in all sorts of fun designs and well, I needed new ones anyways.  I ended up selecting the "Will run for beer" ones.  I thought it was appropriate.  Especially since I've been known to run to the local brewery and meet my husband for beers/dinner.
these are pretty cool looking
The Specs:
  • Top nylon-spandex fabric
  • UV protection 50+ and anti-bacterial fabric
  • Compression fit with "stay put" grip
  • Available in multiple sizes
Depending on design, the arm warmers range from $21.99 - $25.99.


I ordered a small.  I measured my old arm warmers (laid them flat on the counter and measured the diameter at the top) and thought I'd be ok.  What I forgot was that my old arm warmers are VERY stretchy.  As a result, these arm warmers are pretty tight. 

I put them on for a chilly recovery ride on my bike.  I rarely use arm warmers for running but I like them for cycling.  
the true sign of a recovery ride: nothing matches

  • they seemed to have more of a cooling effect than a warming effect when I was riding.  That wasn't so good as it was pretty chilly out.
  • the text is screen printed, which is a bit stiff but not so stiff that you really noticed it.  I imagine it would soften up with time and use.
  • the stretch was pretty good.  I didn't have any bunching at my elbows or too much tightness anywhere.
  • the length was really good
  • I really didn't like the grippy stuff at the top of the sleeves.  It irritated my skin.  If it did that on a 1 hour easy bike ride I don't think it would be pretty for a run.
  • I almost wish I'd ordered a medium.
Overall, these were just ok.  I think I like my old arm warmers better, mainly because I like the fabric better.  (sorry)

But, if you need grips on your sleeves and want something with a cute slogan or colorful fabric, give these a try!
*disclaimer* Gone for a Run provided these arm warmers to me to wear and review.  All opinions remain my own.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Moroccan beef hash

I'm trying to find some quick, easy and tasty recipes to cook up when I'm busy/tired.  I've never made this the same way twice but the basic recipe is very flexible.  All you need is ground meat, spices, and veggies.  It takes about 20 minutes to make and makes REALLY good left-overs. (I am all about left-overs.)  I've made this probably 3 times and each time its been a winner.


  • 1 lb ground meat (beef or elk work really well)
  • veggies!  the photo above has sweet potato, onion, and eggplant.  I've also used carrots and squash.  This is a good "I need to use up my veggie-bin" recipe.
  • cooking oil - I use coconut oil
  • green onion and cilantro
  • spices - I typically use cinnamon, cumin, coriander, garlic, and salt
  • I usually cook my veggies first since they need a while to soften.  A trick I started with sweet potatoes is to microwave them first and then dice them up and toss them into a pan.  Its way quicker this way, although you do risk burnt fingers when you chop up a hot potato.
  • Remove veggies from pan and set aside.
  • Cook beef, add spices
  • When beef is cooked, add the veggies.  Give it a good stir to distribute the spices.  
  • Finish off with cilantro/green onion, stir to mix, and serve

Monday, April 07, 2014


I've been trying to write this post for about a week and can't even manage to just get it done.  I am suffering from major whiny-ness and just general blahs.  BLAH.  And I don't know how to get past it.  Work is very blah (mind-numbingly, which is probably a bit part of the problem).  And then my IM training.  I'm getting my workouts done but there is a ridiculous amount of whining being done on my end.

For example:  the past Tue/Th bike workouts have been 1:30 or 1:40 in duration - and HARD.  This means I either have to get up at 5 AM to get it done before work.  Or I ride after work (6 PM) and then I don't eat dinner until 8, go to bed at 9, and get up at 5 AM for swim practice.  Ick.

Once I'm actually doing the workout, I'm fine and I'm doing well.  But getting to the workout is terrible.  I don't know if I'm burned out (shouldn't be) or tired (probably).  What I do know is that I have ~14 weeks until taper and I'd better get my shit together.

Really, I think if I was sleeping better, I'd be less whiny. I don't know why I'm not sleeping better (I'm blaming my cats) but the lack of sleep is getting to be soul crushing.  I'm getting to work and I'm just so tired that I want to stare at a wall and do nothing.  This is bad because I'm only up to 13-14 hours a week of training.  If I'm a zombie now.... I don't want to see how bad it is in 2 months.

I'm trying my usual motivation tricks.  Some new clothes.  New nutrition to try (Osmo and Feed Zone portables).  I got a bunch of new music to listen to.  And I joined a women's cycling club in Boulder so I'd make new friends and see new places on my bike.  That's all fine.  What I'm having a hard time with is the mental game.  The weeks upon weeks of workouts.  Days (sometimes twice a day) of workouts.  Always doing.  Always being tired.  For 4 months.

Maybe this is what happens when you're training for your 3rd Ironman and its an easier race on home turf? Its a challenge, but in the way that St George or CDA terrified me.  I have targets for Boulder and I want to do well, but I don't quite have the same fire under me.  Last year it was "I need to get going or I won't finish my race".  Every week I had a workout that was new and challenging.  I was seeing growth.  This year I'm still growing - my workouts are definitely more intense than they were at this point last year.  But I know the course and it doesn't terrify me.  The wind and heat terrify me, but I know that I can't control those things, so I'm really not spending much mental energy on it.

So, I'm just trying to find a way to stop being whiny.  Stop being tired.  And find my happy place in between the workouts.  If I don't, its going to be a long 4 months.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

March 2014 Training Totals

I got over my February cold and training really picked up.  Running would have been a bit higher but I went skiing on 2 of the days where I should have been running.  I can run any day of the year but I can only ski during a portion of the year.  And the skiing really has been great this year.  Oh, and zero yoga was done in March.  So much for that off-season goal.....

Bikes have been getting more intense and my weekday rides are a bit on the long side (1:30 to 1:40).  Not so much a fan of this as I can't start riding until ~6:10 PM and this means I don't eat dinner until 8 PM.  Running has all been slow MAF runs, which is fine by me.  And swimming is just swimming.  Although a few weeks back, I finally remembered how to swim again, so that's been a helpful change.  Oh, and I've been lifting weights.  This is a bit on the sucky side, because I lift at lunch and then I have a really hard bike ride after work.  My legs are trashed after that.  And then I'm pretty sore for days.  Two weeks ago I decided to do a ton of single-leg calf raises (I think it may have been 3 sets of 20).  My calves hurt hurt for 4 days, even with taking Aleve and wearing compression socks.  That sucked.

I fully expect April to get more intense and longer.  I'll probably have to do Deer Creek / Highgrade twice and I have a 4 day cycling camp in Sante Fe.  Lots of bike miles.

March 2014
Swim: 12h 30m - 33737.97 Yd
Bike: 23h 44m 19s - 323.62 Mi
Run: 10h 21m 09s - 53.22 Mi
Strength: 1 h
Skiing: 18h

February 2014
Swim: 6h 35m - 17607.18 Yd
Bike: 12h 12m - 154 Mi
Run: 9h 11m 59s - 51.13 Mi
Skiing: 12h
Yoga: 1h