Monday, June 4, 2018

"Not Pathetic" - Colorado Triathlon 2018 Race Report

My participation in Saturday's Colorado Triathlon marks the beginning of my sixth season participating in this sport. Although I'm a bit heavier, slower and older, I have really come a long way over the last five seasons. My grit factor has dramatically increased, I don't worry about being dead freaking last anymore, and I generally just do this to have some fun and push myself a bit.

My running has just been so sucky since my hamstring strain in 2015. I've also suffered from some calf problems which just slows me down so significantly. I've grown to dread runs in general and if anything has to get shortened in my weekly training, it's usually the run. With this in mind, I'm not sure if I'll be competing in the triple sport category next year and may shift to the aquabike division. We'll see. But first, I still have 8 weeks until Santa Rosa, so I need to get consistent with running at least over the next 8 weeks.

Now on to the race report...

PRE-RACE
I was able to make it to packet pickup on Thursday night and get in a swim at Boulder Reservoir that night. It was a HORRIBLE swim. First time I put the wetsuit on this year and what should have been a 1500m swim was nearly 2400m. I just couldn't see where I was going and it took me time to adjust to wetsuit reality again. This concerned me for race day. In other news, the Colorado Triathlon swag bag is off the chain: hoodie shirt, water bottle, pint glass, lots of samples. If you didn't know already, I primarily pick races based on the swag they distribute.

I planned to go into this race knowing that I could very well end up DFL (dead freaking last), but I was planning to just race my own race and not worry about how good everyone else is in this state full of super fit triathletes. I'm over it.

RACE MORNING
Up at 4:40a, load up the car, on the road by 5:15. Ben slept in because he gets up every morning at 5:30a and I told him to just sleep. He deserves it!

I had a bagel with peanut butter and a Bing cherry energy drink instead of coffee. I was at the race site by 6:05 and had plenty of time to set up my transition, body marking, timing chip and a short warm up run. You couldn't ask for a better weather day: cool air temps, sunny, dry, light winds.

Swim warm-up opened at 7 and whew lord, that water was COLD. They said 66 degrees which is not the coldest I've experienced but I felt it. Lots of folks were freaking out about water temps but it is an early June race so...that's what's up. Did a few hundred yards around the practice swim perimeter and felt FINE. Let's do this thing.
Transition area rocking my "Pathetic" T-shirt

SWIM
Outstanding swim. If you look at my Strava, you'll see my route was on course and total yardage was almost exactly race distance. My start to shore time was 33:42 but I took my sweet time from shore to transition so my official race swim split was 35:01. T1 was 3:04....which is slow, but whatevs.

BIKE
Decent bike, but not my best time on this route. Basically what I expected...1:38:33 on 23.5 miles (not a true Olympic bike course). I probably could have pushed harder on the bike. I was just phoning it in a bit and having a nice ride. Same for T2...wasted a lot of time (4:02) doing I-don't-know-what...dreading the run, perhaps? Likely...

RUN
Well, as I said, not good. In positive news, it was better than my run/walk pace of 15 minute miles at Bolder Boulder, but it was still pitiful. And in better news, I wasn't DFL! Run time was 1:28:17.

Total finish time: 3:48:58

Overall, I achieved my goals:

  • didn't drown
  • didn't crash
  • didn't finish DFL
  • first and only in my race category (Athena Olympic distance)
  • didn't completely embarrass myself
So 8 weeks until Ironman 70.3 Santa Rosa. I think I can actually do better than my pitiful time at Ironman 70.3 Boulder last year but not sure if I could come close to beating my Ironman 70.3 Steelhead time from 2015. Going to work hard and stay consistent over the next 8 weeks. If nothing else, training in Colorado this time of year is the absolute best. Every day outside is a delight. Makes the process fun as well. Stay tuned!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

2018 Race Season - Week 1 on the Road to Santa Rosa

It's been quite a while since my last blog post but well, I've been busy. Raced a relatively uninspiring season in 2017, got through the first year of my new job, went to China. You know, just a few things going on. Good news is, I've stayed relatively active during the off season and feel like I'm in a decent place as I begin triathlon training season.

I like outlining my race season for the world to see because it kind of keeps me honest with my training. Today marks the end of week 1 of my 20-week training plan for Ironman 70.3 Santa Rosa in July. I'm looking forward to a few new races this year and to a 70.3 course at sea level with shade! I've grown to enjoy the process for 70.3 training and it's challenging but also doable for my current fitness level and amount of time I have to train.

Goals for this season:

Boulder 70.3 - 2017

  • Swim - just maintain: I'd say that I've lost some speed since my 2015 season, when I had a coach and was swimming 7-8k a week. However, I am extremely comfortable in open water now, still enjoy swimming and feel pretty good about my swim times. For Boulder 70.3 last year, I swam almost the exact same time as Steelhead 70.3 in 2015 (much harder swim course), so I'm cool with that. I'll swim two, maybe three times a week during this training plan but this is not a focus area this year.
  • Bike - it's all about the power: I've been really growing in this area since I moved to Colorado and will spend a lot more time this season building strength on the bike. I was consistent with spin class/bike-on-trainer over the winter and saw my FTP increase over several months. If I can stay consistent with this for the next 19 weeks, sea level in CA is going to feel amazing.
  • Run - time on my feet: After Steelhead in 2015, I acquired a deep hamstring strain which required months of PT. I basically didn't run at all for like 5 months and then struggled with running for up to a year. During this time, I also gained about 15 lbs, which also made running even more difficult. 2017 race season was better but dramatically slower. I have been very consistent since January and basically if I do nothing else in a week, I get my prescribed runs in. I'm finally feeling some quality, albeit slow, runs and no injuries at all. I'd like to get that half marathon for the 70.3 under 2:45:00. 

2018 RACE SEASON:
  • Apr 15 - Horsetooth Half Marathon (Ft. Collins, CO)
  • May 5 - AZ Open Water State Championships - 2500m open water swim (Tempe, AZ)
  • May 28 - Bolder Boulder 10K (Boulder, CO)
  • Jun 2 - Colorado Triathlon (Oly) (Boulder, CO)
  • Jun 16 - Denver Century Ride (HALF century for me) (Denver, CO)
  • TENTATIVE - Jul 8 - Boulder Peak Triathlon (Oly) (Boulder, CO)
  • 'A' RACE: Jul 28 - Ironman 70.3 Santa Rosa (Santa Rosa, CA)
Might add a race or two in the fall, but we'll see how things go. More to come!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

I did it! Whole 30 successfully completed, but what now?

I am a super hero. I just completed 30 entire days on the Whole 30. This is the most successful run I've ever had on a "diet." The process has transformed my eating patterns and has helped me to understand the difference between cravings and hunger. I've also discovered foods that were not regularly in my eating rotation. So as Kai Ryssdal from NPR's Marketplace says, "let's do the numbers:"

Weight loss - I lost 8 lbs during the Whole 30. Again, pretty significant for someone who never can drop weight. It should also be noted that the first two weeks were extremely difficult to exercise because I was exhausted all the time. The sugar detox really drained me so I lost that weight without my normal exercise routine.

Inches - about 5 inches overall. I noticed this the most in my waist and thighs.

Macronutrients - My daily breakdown was give or take around 50% fat, 20% protein and 30% carb. Sometimes the carbs creeped up a little higher if I had more fruit but the percentages were in and around these ranges most days. The fat intake may seem high but it's in line believe it or not. This was a major shift in my thinking. Fat is not bad.

Calories - between 1500 and 1700 daily. On days with 45-60 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, I might get up to 1800. Whole 30 says not to track calories or macros but I wanted to know for when I go back to civilian life. Shockingly, I never felt hungry but I had to be careful with timing, particularly after a workout. Also, my calorie intake mostly occurred between 8a and 8p. I would sometimes bring my breakfast to work because I wasn't hungry enough to eat it until around10a.

What I learned:

  • Eating whole, non-processed foods 100% of the time is not that hard - it just takes planning. I tried to avoid eating out and cooked at home A LOT during the last 30 days to control what I was eating. I have a lot of meetings over meals and I was out of town for work 8 days this month so it required a lot of planning. If I had a breakfast or lunch meeting, I would always look at the menu before I arrived at the restaurant. I also kept Whole 30-approved snacks to a minimum but on hand for emergencies. Thank God for Larabars.
  • I was eating WAY TOO MUCH sugar before Whole 30. When I think about the amount of processed sugar I was eating before this month, it's a little embarrassing. Like a 10-year-old kid embarrassing.
  • I should probably avoid dairy altogether. I've been lactose intolerant all my life. I use lactaid, dairy pills etc, but my gut has felt so much better this month and I think no dairy has a lot to do with that.
  • I'm stronger than I originally thought. I can exercise willpower. If I ate Whole 30 even 75-80% of the time, I'd be in good shape with my nutrition.
Whole 30 complete! What now?
I plan to shift to primarily Paleo eating which is extremely similar to the Whole 30 but a little more flexible on substitutes for sweeteners and grains. Last month, I started reading Paleo Diet for Athletes, which is co-written by the guru of triathlon/endurance training, Joe Friel. He is a proponent of Paleo eating and believes it improves performance. For me, it's about finding balance and this way of eating is now understandable for me and I know it actually can taste good too.

Tomorrow on day 31, I will have a glass of wine in the evening and I will likely use Splenda in my coffee (still will use unsweetened coconut milk for creamer) but I am going to try to keep this going for a bit and drop some more weight before the main triathlon training season starts. Curious about Whole 30? I strongly suggest you read the book and get to know Pinterest. Thanks for your support these last 30 days!
This actually tastes as good as it looks!
 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Reflections After Week 3 of the Whole 30

It's hard to believe that I have successfully completed 21 days of the Whole 30. I have been pretty honest with my food and have not strayed. Although, today I did have a chai tea with coconut milk which I suspect has a gram or 2 of cane sugar, but I'm not going to sweat it. Interestingly, I was planning to use sunflower butter on my pear yesterday and when I tasted it, I immediately knew it was sweetened. I looked at the jar and it included sugar...so I had to go back to using the raw almond butter. It's amazing that I can tell right away if there's added sugar.

As I enter my last 10 days of the Whole 30, I feel pretty good about myself. I think I may have lost some weight but according to Whole 30 rules, I'm not able to weight myself until the end. I am most proud of how I've been able to find some willpower. I have never been successful for this long on a "diet." It's definitely changed how I feel about food. I've been cooking a lot, learned a lot about food and my food cravings have virtually vanished. Would I like to have dessert, artificial sweetener in my coffee and a nice glass of wine? Yeah, sure, but I don't need it. One of the most significant lessons I've learned on the Whole 30 is the difference between hunger and craving. I've asked myself so many times: am I hungry right now or is this just a craving? It's a simple question but when you really analyze your feelings, it's a simple answer.

Ben has been back and forth from Nebraska as he finishes his PA clinical rotations so I have been cooking for myself mostly. When I cook, I've been really getting into this reality show on the History Channel called "Alone." The premise of the show is 10 people are left alone on Vancouver Island to survive until only one person is left. Each participant can choose 10 items to bring with them. They have to build their own shelters, find food (mostly fishing and rodents) and combat loneliness. As the participants remain on the island for 1 week, 2 weeks, 2 months(!), it all comes down to willpower. At any time, a participant can pick up their satellite phone and "tap out" (quit the show). Within an hour, a boat will arrive and take them home. A number of the participants have incredible survival skills  - they're able to build canoes, pretty nice shelters and a number of items that would allow them to live in the wilderness for quite some time. However, the individuals who win, have really strong mental toughness. As silly as it sounds, if these people have the mental toughness to survive in the wild for 2 months, I can go a month without sugar.

I'll post an update on Day 31. Wish me look for the next 10 days!

Monday, January 16, 2017

End of Whole 30 Week 2...and change of race plans

Week 2 on the Whole 30 was significantly better than week 1. No more headaches and I finally have the energy to exercise. I've been getting creative with my cooking and using a number of cool gadgets including my spiralizer which makes zucchini noodles, a magic bullet for smoothies and a juicer. The cravings have subsided a bit and overall, I feel pretty good. I'm in a bit of a routine at this point and I am very deliberate with my food planning. If I have to eat out, I search for Paleo-friendly restaurants, which typically fit within the Whole 30 guidelines. My brother has been in town for a few days and we went to an AMAZING Paleo-friendly restaurant in Boulder called Zeal.
I had a dish with cauliflower "rice" and braised beef. My brother had cauliflower "wings" and lavender-infused komboucha on tap. I also had a divine cup of dairy free, sugar free chai. Thank you, Zeal, for making dinner interesting last Friday. I'm now on the hunt for similar restaurants in Denver.

In other news, I decided to adjust my race schedule a bit. I've been considering the Escape Triathlon Series as an option instead of 106° West Triathlon. First place in age groups (including Athena/Clydesdale) win a free entry to the coveted Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon. It's a race that has been on my bucket list and it's hard to win a lottery slot. I would register as an Athena and see what happens. I was also thinking it might be fun to race at sea level after training and racing at altitude all summer. The closest Escape event to me is Des Moines, so I decided to register while the early bird pricing is in effect.

Sunday, April 23 - Cherry Creak Sneak 10 mile run - Denver, CO
Saturday, May 27 - Sky Sprint Triathlon - Ann Arbor, MI
Saturday, June 3 - Colorado Triathlon (Olympic) - Boulder, CO
Saturday, June 25 - Tri the Boat (Olympic) - Steamboat Springs, CO
Saturday, July 9 - Tour de Ladies (metric century [62.5 mi] bike ride) - Parker, CO
Saturday, August 5 - Ironman Boulder 70.3 - Boulder, CO
Sunday, September 3 - Escape Des Moines Triathlon (Olympic) - Des Moines, IA
Saturday, September 9 - 106° West Triathlon (Olympic) - Dillon, CO

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Whole 30 while attending conference in New York...

Today is Day 9 of my Whole 30 experiment. No dairy, no sugar, no grains, no alcohol.  I arrived in New York for the APAP conference on Thursday thinking, if I could make it through the conference and maintain my Whole 30 standards, I can do anything. It's not easy. Great food and drinks are around every corner so it's been difficult but I can happily say that I am still on track. Not one slip...no drinks during dinner. I've been drinking water and club soda like it's going out of style. The only caffeine I've had has been from black coffee and tea. I'm drinking black coffee like it's the best-tasting drink I've ever had. No desserts or sweets of any sort. I thought abstaining from sugar would be the most difficult, but the food monotony has been worse. When you're sticking to non-processed foods on the road, there's a certain amount of repetitiveness. Also, I ask for almost everything without dressings, sauces, etc. so it's just a little boring. Again, it's practically miraculous that I haven't strayed.

So how do you feel, Kendra?! Well, not too bad for the most part. I've experienced headaches in the evening and occasionally I get a sugar craving. I have been trying to evaluate whether or not I'm feeling hunger or craving. I am starting to feel more attuned to the difference. I've also felt extremely tired. I haven't had a proper workout since I started but I've been walking around town a lot so I have decent step counts each day. From what I read, week 2 will be better.

I'm glad to be back in Denver where I can cook my own food and grocery shop. Walking through Sprouts this evening was a beautiful thing.

I'll report in at the end of week 2. Stay tunes!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2017 Race Schedule and the start of The Whole 30

2016 was a good year in many ways. I finished my MBA (finally!). Ben and I made the move to Denver for a great career opportunity for me...and for him when he finishes PA school in March. Ben and I had some fun trips to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. However, 2016 was not a year for triathlon accomplishments. With a nagging calf strain, I pretty much sucked at running all year. My work/travel and school schedule got in the way of of training and I just didn't get enough hours in overall. My race times were slower and I ended up not starting at Ironman Racine 70.3 because of nasty weather (and, frankly, lack of drive). I also gained weight to the tune of 13 pounds over last year, and last year I was already 10 pounds more than I should be.

And so I begin 2017 in Denver, CO, the epicenter of healthy living. The beginning of the year is a nice time to cleanse, purge, start anew so I'm going to start with my eating habits. I've tried a number of diets and not much sticks, other than calorie tracking. My real problem is that healthy, non-emotional eating is not really part of my routine. I do well for a while and then eat a ton of junk. I often make excuses: no time, I'm on "vacay," I deserve a reward, etc.

I had heard about The Whole 30 through friends and decided to read the book. The concept is the "change your relationship with food"...exactly what I need. It focuses on whole, non-processed foods - no added sugar, no dairy, no alcohol for 30 days to "reset" your eating habits and end the cycle of poor eating, sugar/carb addiction, binging, etc. During the 30 days, you also have to eliminate grains and legumes...no bread, no beans, no peanuts. It's going to be intense, but I'm going to give it a shot. I'm going to try and document my progress at the end of each week. My Whole 30 experiment starts tomorrow, Jan. 2. Send your willpower vibes my way - I will need them!

As for 2017 racing, I'm hoping this nutrition reset will also result in stronger results on race days. One of the awesome things about Colorado is, the weather is fairly moderate throughout the year allowing for relatively comfortable outdoor training year round. Man, I love this place. I have already taken advantage of winter cycling, hiking, snowshoeing and running. I also get the opportunity to train at higher altitude than where I live. Denver is around 5000 mi elevation and one can easily get to 7500, 8K or even 10K elev. within 2 hours. Have I mentioned I LOVE Colorado?! Because I live and train in the triathlon mecca, I plan to do all of my 2017 racing in Colorado. I also plan to get a power meter this year and really build on my cycling progress, which was one of the only positive things about my 2016 season, primarily due to the purchase of an awesome bike. So, without further ado, here are my plans for 2017:

2017 RACING SCHEDULE

Sunday, April 23 - Cherry Creak Sneak 10 mile run - Denver, CO
Saturday, May 27 - Sky Sprint Triathlon - Ann Arbor, MI
Saturday, June 3 - Colorado Triathlon (Olympic) - Boulder, CO
Saturday, June 25 - Tri the Boat (Olympic) - Steamboat Springs, CO
Saturday, July 9 - Tour de Ladies (metric century [62.5 mi] bike ride) - Parker, CO
Saturday, August 5 - Ironman Boulder 70.3 - Boulder, CO
Saturday, September 9 - 106° West Triathlon (Olympic) - Dillon, CO

Stay tuned!