Monday, November 12, 2018

Diary of an Ultraman: Day 12

6:01 am.  I peek at the alarm clock.  

6:24 am.  I roll out of bed clearly not falling back to sleep.

7:00 am.  I put 9 quarters in the washer and toss all my stinky, sweaty clothes from the last few days in.

7:03 am.  I'm in line at the breakfast buffet.  Oh, yeah.  This is a rest day.  My day to eat and get caught up on life.

7:34 am.  It's really too bad that you can't stockpile food for the rest of the day.  I would have loved to eat three times as much as I did, but at least I can get free coffee refills until 10 am.  We head back and toss the towels and socks in the dryer, and take the rest of the clothes up to the room to hang out to dry.  I gather my computer and head back downstairs to work.  

11:37 am.  The lunch crowd has rolled in and it's getting noisy in my little work spot.  I head back up to the room to keep working.  

12:45 pm.  I walk downstairs and head to the adjacent building for my massage/ chiropractic appointment.

3 pm.  Massage was OK.  Chiropractic appointment...  I had my energies balanced.  Yes, that's right.  Walked in thinking my cervical spine needed adjusting, walked out with my astral spine aligned.  Welcome to Hawaii.  I jest, but was pretty amazing actually.  It was like the universe was sending me another reminder that it is here to support me.  That healing comes from within.  That I can choose to be well.  

3:05 pm.  I am freaking out.  (OK, my balance didn't last long.)  I get back to the room to find my bike - which we had taken in earlier to have a compact crank put on the front in an effort to make climbing easier - was back AND WITH THE WRONG SIZE CRANK ARMS.  I'm in full on panic mode.  The shop closes in 3 hours, I don't have the flexibility to ride 170s, and I have a 6 hour ride.... tomorrow.  

3:06 pm.  Also, my tongue still feels gross from the swim yesterday.  Have you ever burnt your tongue on hot soup or coffee?  And it feels a little bit swollen, and like you can't taste properly for a few days?  Well multiply that by 20, and that's what swimming in saltwater for 3 hours feels like.... for days afterward.  I'll probably have normal feeling back in my tongue by next week.  Just in time to do this all over again.  Maybe my tongue will develop some immunity to the salt water...

3:25 pm.  I'm calm again.  The gap between stimulus and response is getting a little bit bigger.  At least I'm recognizing when I react a way that is not in alignment with who I am.  And I apologized for my outburst.  I am a work in progress.  Anyway, my bike is now back at the shop getting my old cranks/ chain rings put back on.  They're going to see if they can order the correct size and have it in before the race.  And we're sitting at the Kona Brewery contemplating food.  They have this amazing Asian chicken dish with rice and steamed veggies... it's spicy, sweet.  I'm having de ja vu, so I likely have already told you about this dish.  My world revolves around food.  And sleep.  

4:45 pm.  I'm showering to get all the oil off of my skin from the massage.  I've made it through the whole day without truly sweating.  (My legs did get a little gross against the leather of the car seat...)  Mary 1, Hawaii 11.  

6:18 pm.  I'm debating gelato.  I want some.  But I don't want to walk to get it.  The sun is down, so I'll keep my non-sweating streak alive.  But I'm tired, and I just want to lay in bed and watch TV.  My bike is back from the shop so the ride will go on.  

6:47 pm.  The ice cream hit the spot.  We ended up at Kona Haven for a scoop of the mac nut ice cream.  Sweet, salty.  Creamy, crunchy.  Delicious.  

6:50 pm.  I set the timer on my meditation app for 15 minutes and close my eyes.  I breathe.  

7:13 pm.  I'm getting bottles ready for tomorrow and getting ready for bed while watching HGTV.  My secret guilty pleasure.  I'm looking forward to re-doing my first ride tomorrow, with new focus, new energy, new appreciation.  


Sunday, November 11, 2018

Diary of an Ultraman: Day 11

Time is passing.  With or without me.  In 12 days from now I'm going to be lining up on Dig Me Beach waiting to start my journey.  Today was another lesson in not resisting.  Just embrace what is. 

Our day started early.  415 am to be exact.  I was sleeping so soundly when the alarm sounded and I groaned.  I was not ready to get out of bed.  One hour later we were leaving our hotel to head to the swim exit at Keauhou Bay where we were meeting my paddler, Sarah.  We dropped our van there and hopped in her truck to head to the swim start.  10k swim on tap. 

It was still dark when we were getting our stuff together on the pier.  Bottles of nutrition, sunscreen, extra vaseline for swimming in salt water.  We clipped everything onto the kayak so it was secure, and helped get Sarah into the boat and off of the sea wall in the high tide.

The plan was to stop every 30 minutes to feed.  The first hour went by rather uneventfully.  By 90 minutes in I was thinking, OK this is good.  We can do this.  45 minutes later I declared that I had lost all will to live and I was quite certain that the sea was going to claim my body.  On another note, I've been thinking that rather than writing my speech for the awards banquet, I should probably write my acceptance speech for the award I'm getting for my performance as lead actress in a dramatic role. 

Sarah was puking off the side of the kayak every time we stopped.  With 2 miles to go Dan was wanting to stop every 10 minutes because he felt bad.  And as much as I wanted to just take off and cruise to the finish, they were both out there for me.  I couldn't abandon my crew when the going got rough. 

Eventually we made it to the Bay and once on solid ground, Sarah felt much better.  We chatted with a couple of locals for a minute and then started the process of hauling the kayak up to the car.  Meanwhile, Dan was looking pretty terrible sitting on the dock -- and I didn't realize just how terrible he felt until 5 minutes later when he was on hands and knees in the parking lot heaving everything he had consumed the previous 4 hours all over the concrete. 

To make matters worse, I'm a sympathetic puker.  So when someone is puking, I'm not the one rushing to hold their hair back.  My response is avoidance, and then irritation.  I lose all inability to be compassionate and empathetic.  So weird, I know.  Plus I had been dreaming of pancakes from IHOP for the last 2 hours and now I knew that was off the table. 

We dropped Sarah off at her truck and headed back to the hotel.  Shower, food and then I collapsed into bed and didn't set an alarm.  2 hours of blissful sleep after which I laid in bed another hour before I finally got up to get ready for my afternoon run. 

416 pm.  I hop out of the van and start running.  I have no expectations for this run so I'm pleasantly surprised to find that my legs feel fantastic.  (Yay triple run day!!)  I bang out 10 miles and finish my run as the sun is setting over the water. 

Laying in bed watching reruns of The Big Bang Theory tonight I don't feel rushed.  Tomorrow is a rest day.  I have a lot to get done, but I also don't have to leave my air conditioned room if I don't want to.  My schedule doesn't drop off quite as quickly as I had hoped this week, but again--- 12 days.  In 12 days the journey starts, and in 15 days it's over.  I'm trying to soak up every last ounce of preparation, every lesson, every opportunity for growth. 


Saturday, November 10, 2018

Diary of an Ultraman: Day 10

Q:  What happens when you take a mountain girl and put her on the beach for a month?

A:  You watch her slowly unravel.


I feel like this is my undoing.  I am reaching a new breaking point.  A new low.  The irony is not lost on me.  I worked so hard to get here.  This was the goal for 18 months.  And I think I am on the brink of learning something completely amazing.  About myself.  About life.  About dreams, and vulnerability, and courage.  I just have to go through this gauntlet first.  To be forged in the fire. 

Today was triple run day.  A way to squeeze 19 miles into a day while also being forced to run on tired legs.  Aside from the couple of hours I was running, I was relaxing in the room, catching up on my new favorite show which is THE WORST show for me to be watching right now.... (A Million Little Things).  I cry through every episode.  Even before I came here and started crying through every workout.  And I attempted to rehydrate and eat between runs- though I swear I am perpetually dehydrated which makes me nauseous and not hungry.

I also got a chance to listen to a couple of really good podcasts today.  Michael Gervais interviewed Brene Brown which was exactly what I needed this morning.  My sour mood improved 20 minutes into my first run listening to their conversation.  And I listened to YogiTriathlete's interview with Julie Moss during my second run, and easy spin which made the hours of sweating more enjoyable.  I caught up on Serial season 3 during my 3rd run-- which I hate to admit, I'm not loving.  It makes me feel a little bit hopeless about our justice system.  I loved season one, and I enjoyed being challenged to think and consider other opinions besides my own in season two, and Sarah is a great story teller, but the stories in season 3 are a bit depressing.  If you're listening, I'd love to hear what you think- and what you thought about season one and two for that matter.  We discussed the ethics and sides of season two on our preview of the day one bike course last week. 

Other than that there's really nothing to report from today.  Tomorrow will be a challenging day but Monday is a REST day and I am *hoping* the start of taper.  I have a massage scheduled and I plan to sleep and drink coffee and eat.  And that is it.  I'm looking forward to moving into our rental house next week.  This hotel thing is getting really old.  Our room is directly above the pavilion where all the entertainment takes place (read:  weddings with loud stupid music until all hours of the night).  Even with a sound machine and ear plugs, you feel the bass in your chest which keeps you awake regardless of how much you drown out the actual singing.  I'm pretty sure I didn't sleep at all last night, which probably contributed to my mood today.  Tonight I'm going to try the noise-cancelling headphones and see if it's any better.  Though I'm not sure I have a suitable playlist on my ipod for sleeping.  I'm currently scouring Google playstore for sound apps.

4:15 am wake up call tomorrow.  I better start thinking about sleep. 


Friday, November 9, 2018

Diary of an Ultraman: Day 9

6:31 am.  I am awake.  I lay in bed for a while before finally getting up.  Today is a recovery day so only 2 hours worth of workouts.  I have a list of other things I need to do, but this is priority. 

7:15 am.  We do 30 minutes of strength training in the hotel fitness center.  This involves yoga mats on the floor with some free weights.  I write a circuit including burpees, squats, dead lifts, planks, rows, and overhead press.  It's a tiny little room but thankfully we're the only ones in it.  (Everyone else is eating breakfast.)

8:30 am.  We're swimming at the Kona Aquatic Center.  My arms are D.E.A.D.  Not to even speak of my quads which burn with fatigue making the 2k of 25 fly/ 75 free super fun.  My 200s for time are laughable.  As in "did someone convert this yards pool to meters overnight?" laughable.  But this is a recovery day.  And I've had 3 hard days so I'm not surprised I feel a little bit like dirt.  It's all good. 

10:10 am.  I drop my bike off at the bike shop for a tune up.  The rock I hit in yesterday's ride sent my derailleur into crash safety mode.  I didn't even know this was a thing, but it is and thank God I didn't do any real damage.  I had scheduled this tune up 2 days ago, so once again, timing is perfection.  I walk next door to the yoga studio / coffee shop and order an iced coffee with 4 shots of espresso mixed with dark chocolate. 

10:49 am.  I throw two loads of laundry into the wash.  After 3 days of biking + double bike day I'm down to one kit.  And nothing dries quickly here so I have to stay on top of the clothing pile up. 

10:58 am.  I'm back up on my floor, but now the cleaning lady is in our room.  So I stand in the hallway scrolling Instagram while she finishes up.  I get back into my room just in time to turn around and go get the clothes out of the washer.

11:33 am.  We finish hanging clean clothing around the room and the balcony.  We wander down Ali'i to Daylight Mind for a bite to eat.  The food is AMAZING.  Like the most perfect spinach leaves you've ever seen.  I eat a benedict with avocado, spinach and tomatoes, minus the hollendaise sauce, plus a side salad.  I drink a kale and mango smoothie.  Fresh food tastes amazing after eating training food for 3 days.

12:55 pm.  I get a call from the bike shop.  Apparently there was some confusion as when I scheduled the tune up, somehow it got entered into the system as just the inspection for Ultraman.  We got it sorted out and he told me I could come get the bike, that he'd have it ready to go.

2:27 pm.  I'm waiting at the bike shop for them to finish up the tune up.  My bike gets inspected, but my back-up bike doesn't pass because of some spoke issues.  We schedule another inspection for race week when another pair of wheels will be available for me to use.   

3:05 pm.  We're at Target again getting a few things.  Like frozen fruit (fresh fruit lasts like a day if you're lucky) and almond butter.  Stuff to make smoothies with. 

3:54 pm.  We're back at the room and I feel like my whole day is gone.  Nothing happens fast here.  My mom always jokes about how everyone in Hawaii is on "wiki wiki time".  This is a legit thing. 
I thought I'd have all this free time to get caught up on emails/ work stuff... and now it's practically bedtime.  Maybe I'm cranky because I'm hungry again.  So we make nachos.  Blue corn chips, black beans, salsa, avocado.  It's delicious.

5:47 pm.  Work emails are done.  Caught up on my training log from yesterday and today.  We've officially been here for a full week.  Time is going by quickly, and slowly, all at the same time.  Today I'm particularly grateful for all the friends who've reached out in support.  This first week was rough, and I try not to be melodramatic, but I also want to share where I *really* am.  No fluff.  No filter.  And knowing that I have friends who love me no matter what is really uplifting.  I honestly feel like I have a new outlook on things and am feeling calm again.  So THANK YOU for your emails, texts, DMs.  You are so appreciated. 

5:56 pm.  I'm getting in the recovery boots.  I'm going to lay here and think about sleeping.  And I'll probably be asleep in the next 30 minutes.


Thursday, November 8, 2018

Diary of an Ultraman: Day 8

"Expectation is the root of all heartache."  William Shakespeare

Another 4 am wake up call for what should have been my last longest day.  I was to preview 147 miles of day 2, skipping over the first 24 miles which I rode just two days ago.  I knew it was going to be a long day and after Tuesday's ride, I also knew what lay ahead. 

One might think that after having done the big climb, and knowing what was involved, it would be easier the second time around.  It was not.  I still struggled.  It still took me 4 hours to bike 28 miles.  I still quit a thousand times even though I never stopped.  I still swore I was never going to ride my bike again. 

And then something amazing happened. 

As I left Hilo I was feeling pretty down.  I knew there would be no way I could make the time cutoff on day 2.  And that hurt.  A lot.  I applied to Ultraman Worlds with the expectation that barring disaster, I would complete each day within the time allotment.  I arrived on the island with this expectation knowing the work I had done in preparation for this, over months and years.  I also arrived on the island with the expectation from my coach that I would not only finish, but do well and be competitive. 

I don't feel like these expectations were unrealistic, generally speaking.  I had the fastest women's time on day 2 in Australia the year I raced.  And I had the fastest bike split 3 months ago in Mont Tremblant in my age group, and one of the top 10 women's splits overall.  I am not a bad cyclist.  But when after 90 miles, my average pace is just over 10 mph... the math doesn't add up.  It is physically not possible for me to ride 171 miles, on this course, in 12 hours. 

As I rode along I let the scenery distract me from my thoughts, and in that moment I was overwhelmed with the urge to cry- not from pain or frustration as was my norm- but because of the sheer beauty of this ride.  If you've never biked the saddle road into Hilo, or taken the 19 from Hilo to Waimea on two wheels- you must.  It is hands down one of the most beautiful rides I've ever done- on par with the Alaska Extreme Tri course. 

And then it hit me, I was letting my expectations steal my joy.  This is not me.  These are not my thoughts.  I chose to apply to race here because of the challenge it presented.  That challenge still stands, and I can pursue it with joy and passion, or I can quit. 

I continued my ride and in my head I was composing my consolation speech.  (At the awards banquet each athlete gives a speech- and they order them by non- finishers, participants--those who completed it, but didn't make the time cutoff--, and finishers from slowest to fastest).  So I imagined being one of the participants sharing my thoughts on how this was not how I wanted things to go.  I cried (AGAIN) as I rode, and I let it all go.  I let go of the expectations.  I let go of the fear of failure.  I let it go. 

A few minutes later I hit a huge rock in the road which bounced off my rear derailleur and caused me to lose function of my gears.  I was stuck in the biggest gear with a lot of climbing left to go.  My day was over.  The irony of this is that for 105 miles I said I was finished.  That I quit.  That I was done with this.  And the minute I let go and decided to just enjoy riding my bike, the universe steps in and ends my day.  A reminder to be careful what you wish for.

I knocked out my 5 mile transition run, and then on the way back to the hotel I called the #bff, who is also my voice of reason.  I told her what I knew- that I wouldn't make the time cutoff on day 2- but that I was also OK with this, and I was going to keep biking until they were told to pull me off the course.  I told her we might be out there for a really long time on day 2, and this won't set us up well for day 3, but I am going to finish what I started. 

I am at peace with this now.  And I'm glad I have 2 more weeks to solidify the plan in my head, and to be calm with it.  More than anything I want to do what I love most- and that is race with joy.  I don't want to be negative.  I want to choose away from the negative, to lean into the challenge, and just keep taking one breath at a time.   

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Diary of an Ultraman: Day 6 & 7

Day 6.  Here are some actual comments from my workout log from Tuesday, November 6:

"I stopped at least 5 times on the climb, and I quit no less than a thousand times."

"I am legit worried I could miss the 12 hour time cutoff on day 2."

"Also, I cried for at least 90 minutes of this ride."

"Today was all mental."

I totally don't remember smiling, but apparently I did when I made it to the top.

As luck would have it I was scheduled to skype with Jess (my meditation teacher) this afternoon.  And I literally got back to the hotel room 9 minutes before our scheduled chat.  Timing could not have been more perfect as I was a complete mess. 

I was so negative all day.  And I could see how ridiculous I was being, but I just couldn't get out of it.  I was drowning.  The most important things she told me was A) to be gentle with myself (I have a lot going on in my life right now, and add in the training load on top of it and I'm completely broken down) and B) just breathe the next breath I'm given.  When there is nothing else... when gratitude and joy and kindness are so far removed from my reality, just take the next breath that I'm given.  I can do that.  How many times do you take a breath and not even think about it?  It's automatic if you let it be.  But when you focus your attention on just that one breath, everything else seems just a little bit easier to manage.

I finished my day with an easy run with some pickups to shake off the long ride from earlier in the day.  Though I was feeling better my energy was completely sapped and I was ready to crawl into bed at 630 pm.  So I did.  And I didn't even care. 

Day 7

I woke up 8 minutes before my alarm went off after over 10 hours of sleep.  I felt rested but still pretty raw from yesterday.  I cried through half of my meditation this morning.  At some point the tears dried up and calmness set in.

We drove to the pool at opening.  I had a 5700 yd swim including the main set that I nearly failed last week.  Today I had no expectations, good or bad.  I had done everything I could to prepare myself for this-- got a good night sleep, ate a good breakfast, etc.  It was going to be what it was.

I felt OK during the warm up, nothing special, but I knew when I started the main set that I felt really good.  Nothing like last week.  I was crushing it.  Not quite hitting the ideal target, but I was within 1-2 seconds (as opposed to 5 seconds+ last week).  About a third of the way through the set my goggles started to leak.  I said to myself, I don't need to see to swim, I just need to breathe.  And I kept swimming.  (This set is on short rest so there's not enough time to adjust goggles at the wall.)  Eventually they stopped leaking and I was still swimming.  This felt like a win, especially after yesterday.

Hill repeats done!

After the swim we had a 2 hour bike ride with some hill repeats.  AND THEN.... we went to IHOP.  Yep, #sorrynotsorry.  I ate #allthecalories. 

After breakfast (which was actually more like lunch) we hit up Bike Works to do a little shopping.  And then back to the hotel to regroup for the afternoon session.  It's amazing how quickly time goes by when you don't want it to.  Before long our mandatory 3 hour break was up and we needed to start thinking about getting our act together for the afternoon brick. 

Oh yes I did!

3 hours and 45 minutes after we finished our morning ride, we were back on the bike for another 2 hours followed by an easy run in the Energy Lab.  The second ride wasn't great.  My legs just felt dead and I had nothing to give in my intervals.  But I didn't let it get in my head, and I didn't let it ruin my run. 

Energy Lab:  where I first found Aloha.  #findingaloha

I'm nervous for tomorrow.  I'm repeating the ride from yesterday--- and adding on another 80 miles.  It's going to be a long day, and parts of it outside my comfort zone.  But I will just keep taking the next breath that I'm given. 

Monday, November 5, 2018

Diary of an Ultraman: Day 5.

5:01 am.  I pick my head up to look at the clock.  Yesssss.  8.5 hours of sleep.  I lay here a moment longer and contemplate the morning.

5:30 am.  I take my laptop out onto the lanai to start working.  Today is a recovery day and I have a lot to catch up on between writing plans, Cadence, and logging into Oasis. 

7:11 am.  I press start on my watch and start swimming.  I've picked up one of the "safe swimmer" buoys which actually doubles as a place to store car keys, etc.  And it gives the illusion that I might be more visible to boats, etc.  It floats, but it's actually creating a bit of drag as I fight the current heading south along the shore.  I feel a bit lazy today.  The body feels fine, I just lack energy.  And it shows as I struggle to keep up with DB, and I'm now regretting my suggestion for him to wear cheater panties. 

7:44 am.  We can't see any buoys.  I'm not sure if it's the roll of the waves, or the boats that have anchored nearby?  And GPS stopped tracking at 1080 yards into the swim, which was where we popped our heads up at the 1.2 mile turn around.  It feels like I need to swim for another 5 minutes, but I also don't have the energy to argue about where the actual turnaround is, so we turn around.

8:30 am.  I'm waiting at the van for him to get his run gear on so I can go get coffee and head back to home base. 
Ocean view.

8:47 am.  I should have sipped my coffee when I left the coffee shop because now it's too late to ask questions and I'm pretty certain there's some form of sweetener in my latte.  Stevia, maybe?  I'm not sure but it makes my tongue prickle.  Which I hate.  I drink it anyway because there's 3 shots of espresso that cannot go to waste. 

9:55 am.  I put a load of laundry into the washer and pop 9 quarters into the machine.  Apparently the cost of laundry has increased significantly since 1995.  I take my laptop to a high top table overlooking the ocean and start writing athlete plans. 

10:25 am.  I toss the socks and towels into the dryer and take all the rest of my stuff upstairs to hang out to dry.  Or attempt to dry.  I'm not sure anything ever dries in 80% humidity.  But at least it won't smell when I put it back on. 

10:42 am.  I am back downstairs working with my amazing "home office" view. 

11:32 am.  I am texting with Josie about her arrival on the island and we are sending selfies of our "current sitch."  She gets this one of my in my home office: 

Home office!

11:36 am.  We retrieve the laundry from the dryer, drop it upstairs and wander across the street to grab lunch at Foster's Kitchen which is my current favorite place to eat.  They make this amazing ahi lime stacker.  All sorts of goodness.  I follow it with a shrimp salad. 

1:16 pm.  I'm back in the room and back to work.  Checking emails, login to Oasis to check lab results and respond to emails.  Pay the invoice for The Next Big Thing.  Write myself a reminder to book the hotel.  Work on Cadence stuff. 

3:17 pm.  Text my teammate Amy to find out what she's ordering for Team SFQ gear for 2019.  Place order.  So much cute new stuff!!!   

3:26 pm.  Make a list for the week.  Flying by the seat of my pants isn't really my thing as we're finding out.  Or found out after day 1 as it were.  So now I have start times for all my workouts for the rest of the week.  No more guess work.  No more "why are you waking me up at this hour???" 

Dinner with a view.

4:38 pm.  I'm drinking a beer.  I've avoided the lure of tropical beverages and this is only my second adult beverage since arriving.

7:06 pm.  Dinner has been consumed.  Bottles are filled.  Hydration pack filled.  Recovery smoothie made and on ice.  My feet are up and my eyelids are getting heavy.  Plan is to be on the bike by 6 am.  Night, y'all.