Sunday, May 24, 2020

The Build Challenge

            I have been writing workouts for my high school distance and mid-distance runners. With having our spring season canceled and hopefully getting July to compete locally instead, we focused on building mileage for the past four weeks and I did it along with them. Prior to the build, I was typically running 24-26 miles per week. That mileage was manageable to juggle with home-schooling and little kids so I was a bit nervous about the undertaking of trying to fit in 40 miles in a week for the final week. I have not run that many miles since 2013! 
            Taking things one week at a time was definitely helpful. Even thinking two weeks ahead was overwhelming. I tried to keep lifting 3 times per week, and I also added in one short, hard bike ride per week. On Mondays, I did an aerobic run, followed by two recovery runs, and then on Thursdays I kept doing my threshold run, though it dropped in distance from 4 miles to 3 miles during the build. Friday was another recovery run and Saturday I would do a long, easy pace run. Some days, I felt fatigued, and other days I felt really strong. My body adapted REALLY well to the build though! My last run was 10.4 miles and I was able to comfortably pick up the pace at the end. I never anticipated that I would feel that good!
A peak at my training log!
            I was also nervous about how my hip would fare. Over the winter, I had been dealing with pain in my left hip that would prevent me from running some days, and at its worst, I could even feel it when I walked. I am always nervous about getting a career-ending injury and I was even concerned this may have been arthritis already! I tried multiple methods that did not seem to help it improve. Then I started focusing on stabilizing that hip by strengthening the muscles around it. I was diligently doing single leg exercises for it every time I lifted. My self-diagnosis is that I had a weak left glute. It was even affecting my squat form when I was doing heavier weights. My form has since corrected as well now and the week I hit 40 miles, I experienced zero complaints from my hip!
            In my last post, I also mentioned the yard project I have been doing. I cleared all the trees and the land was excavated. Then the most recent aspect of the project has been building a sand pit/box. I missed two of my lifting days as a result during my 40-mile week, but I still did more than enough digging, lifting, and hauling! I record these extra, strenuous tasks in my training log so when I look back, I can understand why I didn’t get something done, or maybe my performance in a workout was affected.
            Perhaps this year I will not get to compete at all. That would be a huge letdown, but I would not regret the time that I have put into training. I will not regret that I got myself into really good shape, and I really appreciate these challenges (workouts and projects) that I have gone through that keep me sane and make myself better.

How have you challenged yourself?

Monday, May 4, 2020

Moving Forward

            I have been slow to write during this time because the last thing I want to do is write something related to COVID-19. I hate to even mention it. Yes, life has changed. That’s not news. Andy and I are high school track coaches who lost the spring season, and our very real chance at having a shot at winning a State Title as a team. There have been all the emotions in our house. There’s the question of when things will be “normal” again. Spring races have been canceled. Early summer races have been canceled. Will I be able to compete this year even? There’s been a lot of speculation but nobody really knows. Triathlon Nationals aren’t until August, but as it draws thousands of people from all over the country – what are the chances of that happening? I’ve had a hard time getting on my bike yet as a result.
My wave of triathletes after finishing.
            As far as summer track meets, I am guessing that the 2 competitions I was planning on won’t happen. Right now, WIAA is now allowing us the month of July for track practice and competition. I can’t even pull out a pit prior to that since school facilities have been closed until the end of June. One month. Much better than nothing, which I have been afraid of, so I am trying to keep my hopes up. We are designing it to be a cross between an abbreviated, rough version of a high school season, and summer Club season, so the meets would be open to all ages. We are also well aware that we could end up losing that as well, but for the time being, it gives us hope, and we could all use more of that.
            I did get in two indoor meets (without practices) and an indoor triathlon, so if all else, fails, I am glad I got that little bit in during 2020. My goal the last several years was to hit 11-6 (and 12 last year), and while I would be left short of that for this year, I at least broke 11 feet both times and went 1 and 2 at the college meets (almost made 11-10 in the video below!). The indoor triathlon was a fun challenge and maybe we could even get another one scheduled before the close of the year.

            I am thankful for the things we do have during this time – the extra time with the kids when I would normally have been gone a lot with the season. I’ve still been running (got a treadmill for Christmas!) and lifting weights. We have a big house to move in and space outside. Homeschooling started when it was still winter here and we got in extra skating, tubing, and exploring. Spring came and I resumed a project I had started at the end of volleyball season – clearing an area of our land of trees (So. Many. Trees!) to be turned into a large open yard. I just finished cutting and cleaning up the area and now we wait for excavation to start! The boys liked to come out and “cut” down trees with their chainsaws too. For the time being, it gave me something to focus on when everything else was being taken away. It gave me purpose and at the end of the day, I could feel like I accomplished something (like my farming days).
            There’s the struggle with identity as being coaches and athletes without our sports. While I take comfort of knowing my identity truly lies in Christ, there’s still much sadness with all that has been lost. Athletes of all levels, all the way up to Olympians, are feeling it. All you can do is try to stay positive, make the best of things, and remember that this too shall pass. When all hope feels lost, there’s still hope in our Risen Lord. Praise. Jesus.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Growing the Family

           After Rowyn was born, Andy and I decided to pursue growing our family through domestic infant adoption. In 2017, we met with Lutheran Social Services to begin the process. We started when Rowyn was only months old because we knew that it could be a long process. We completed our home study, educational requirements, and paperwork in 2018. We made our portfolio and then entered the “waiting period.”
            With the domestic infant program, you wait to be chosen by the birth parent(s). This period of waiting is indeed the hardest. With previous due dates of March 9, 6, and 7 for our three biological children, this past March was personally the hardest for us as we were still waiting for our adoptive child. In 2019, Lutheran Social Services also dropped their adoption program, and we transitioned to Holt Wisconsin.
            We have not been extremely vocal about this whole process, as it is honestly tough to talk about. We have the support of our church, and are often asked about updates. There are simply no updates to give. We are still waiting. We have considered going through an adoption consultant, but cannot currently afford it, even though we are told the wait is much shorter going that route. Our case worker has been encouraging us to be more vocal about our desire and readiness to adopt, so we are finally taking to social media to share a bit of our journey with all of our family, friends, and acquaintances. If you know of anyone who is considering making an adoption plan, help us connect! It seems that many adoptions happen outside of an agency by word of mouth, through family and friends. 
            If you are interested in reading more about our story and our journey, or to donate to our  adoption fund, you can do so HERE If you would like to check out our online portfolio, it can be viewed HERE.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Cleveland Nationals!

            After Nationals in Omaha, I had low expectations for Cleveland as a race venue. After just 2 weeks of focused triathlon training to prepare, I had low expectations for my race results as well. My goals: 
-       30’ for the 1500 swim
-       at least 19mph average on the bike (I only biked 4 times prior to this)
-       sub 8-minute pace for the run.
I had put in a lot of good run training over the winter months, but once I started competing in June, my weekly mileage dropped in half and I only got a few hard workouts in. 
            The venue was at Edgewater Park in Cleveland. It looked beautiful, overlooking Lake Erie with a nice view of the city skyline as well. The swim as IN Lake Erie, and while water temperature was not a concern, the huge waves sure were! On race morning, it was announced that because of the rough water conditions, the swim would be cut in half. I am glad they didn’t cancel the swim portion altogether. That was the wildest swim of my life though! I was slammed and tossed by waves, which made me feel almost a little seasick even. I came out around 14:30, in the middle of the pack, and I was perfectly happy with that.
            After a long run to transition, I was off on the bike! Cleveland shut down a big main road and we rode over the bridge and came down by the Brown’s stadium. We rode through part of a park and in front of the apartment we stayed at the night prior! Based on my training rides, I had low expectations for my watts, but the competitive side of me was pushing 20 watts harder than I did in training, though I was nervous that the more aggressive ride would burn me out for the run. My main goal was to have fun, and I was enjoying pushing the bike, so I continued to do so and averaged 21mph! I was definitely nervous transitioning to the run. My legs were feeling the hard ride and my toes were cramping on one foot, making putting shoes on a slower process. I was hoping things would loosen upon the run. 
            I felt terribly slow running but I pushed the effort. I was hoping for sub-8 and I felt like I was 9’ pace or slower. I didn’t have immediate feedback to know how I was actually doing, and I thought that was probably for the best! I estimated an early mile to be around 7:15, so I thought I must have gotten that wrong. Then my watch beeped giving me times for the next 3 miles of around 6:56 (that can’t be right!), 7:02, and 7:20. At that point, I figured that even if my pace fell off, I would still do just fine. The run included several hills, a couple even that were a steep decline with a U-turn at the bottom to immediately turn around and run back up. I knew that had to have hurt my pace, but I went on effort, and after coming up one hill in the park, we were treated with a gorgeous view of overlooking the lake and the cityscape in the background. It was such a beautiful course, it was impossible not to enjoy!
            A big downhill led us past the beach we swam at, a quick punch up and down over an overpass, and we could see the finish line. I didn’t know the age of the woman ahead, so I set out in a sprint to the finish line. I averaged 7:05 pace for the 10K run! It blew all expectations out the window. My biggest goal was to have fun, and I truly enjoyed the entire race.
            To add to a gorgeous venue and fast results, was also that I placed high enough in my age group to potentially get a roll down slot for the 2020 World Championships in Edmonton, Canada (if I want to take it). Besides the great race, it was also my birthday and I got to spend the weekend with Andy, and our friend Rob flew up from Florida (he’s from the Cleveland area), and we got to meet and stay with his awesome family.
            I had already registered for Milwaukee Nationals for next year, but this race offered so much for me. Now I’ll officially end my season and give my body a much needed break for a bit before starting up with off-season training. What a spectacular year it has been!

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Two Weeks Notice

            People usually put in their 2 weeks notice when they are about to quit something. Instead, I had 2 weeks notice for starting something. This Saturday, I will be competing at the USA Triathlon National Championships in Cleveland, Ohio. I will have roughly two weeks of training under my belt for it (including a couple days of taper for a track meet in there!). 
            So what’s the story behind it? I qualified for Nationals with the High Cliff half-iron distance race that I did last summer (and somehow won!). Since our good friend, Rob, is from Cleveland and it qualifies for World’s in Canada, I originally thought I would compete at it this year. I started training 6 months ago (a logical time to start training for a big race). Shortly after, I was feeling defeated and overwhelmed with trying to balance everything. I told Andy that I decided I wasn’t going to race Nationals. He replied that I could probably do just fine without even training for it. I told him that I would not do that kind of thing.
            A couple weeks ago, USAT announced the location of Nationals for the next 2 years – a return to Milwaukee! I raced at Nationals in Milwaukee in 2014 and 2015, when I qualified for Team USA for Chicago and Cozumel. It has been one of my all-time favorite triathlon courses. I was originally anticipating that Nationals would be far away, and so I was prepared to give a longer break to triathlons altogether. With the location announcement also came another announcement – qualification criteria for next year’s Nationals in Milwaukee would be waived for participants of this year’s Nationals. And here I go! I don’t have to worry about qualifying at a race next year in order to compete at Milwaukee. I have the added bonus of this being a no-pressure race. I biked 4 times and swam a handful of times in order to prepare for this. Good thing I had at least some running under my belt, although I have done minimal distance work since June.
So instead of packing poles, I am packing my bike for this weekend! Wish me luck!