January Totals

On a lighter note – today marks the end of January and one month working with my new coach. It also has been about 2 weeks since I left my job as a high school teacher to a new role that allows me to have a more flexible schedule to fit in my training.

I have loved everything about how this month has played out for training. I have full faith in what Hillary puts on my schedule and my only job is to complete the workout – it’s great! In saying that, my first Ironman was July of last year – so not that long ago. I’m still new to do this whole endurance sports thing and so is my body. I may have hockey quads that I built up for 20+ years but they are trained to go hard for 30 – 45 seconds not 9+ hours. I first got in a pool a year ago – I’ve got some serious yardage to put in. So – this past month has been a lot about building up my swim and putting time in on the bike. I have learned the joys of swimming with a band and learning to love the computrainer. January was the most amount of hours I have spent training and most miles I have put in and I have to say I can’t wait till it becomes more!

January Totals: (some estimates from trainer rides and Garminless runs)

Swim: 54,695 yards

Bike: 1,100 miles

Run: 122.5 miles

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Pressure

What is pressure and why do we put so much pressure on ourselves? Lately, there have been some tragic stories in the news about the pressure put on others and the pressure we put on ourselves that ends in tragedy, specifically in athletics and school. This pressure is something I have felt personally and understand what these people have gone through and can relate to the feelings of wanting it all to stop.

The recent death of the young collegiate athlete at UPenn and watching this video about Purple Hearts and DIFD made me want to share my story.

I grew up the star athlete in everything I did. I was the one on the team that people looked to if we were down by a goal or we were playing a tough team who was going to stop the best player. I played on the boy’s team from the time I was 5 till I was in 10th grade. I needed to be better than the boys to prove I deserved to be there or be playing over someone else’s son. In 8th grade, I played on the Varsity field hockey team at my high school. I had to perform to show that a 14-year-old girl is good enough to play against 17 and 18 year olds and prove I deserved to not only be there but be playing the entire game. That’s not all, I had to get good grades because none of the things I wanted would happen if I did poorly in school. I had to get Principles List every quarter to show I was just as smart as my older brother and not let anyone down. From about the age of 13 or so, the goal became to get on the Olympic team and go to a Division I college with a full scholarship for ice hockey or maybe even field hockey. As you can see…the statement, “I had to prove” and “not let anyone down” comes up a lot.

I think the hard part about pressure is that most of us embrace it. We take every challenge and overcome it to be the best. Failure wasn’t something that I ever was a part of very often growing up. Looking back, I did everything I could to be the best, I have State records for high school field hockey, Player of the year X 4, too many awards and wins to count but not a lot of hardship. I am not saying that everything came easy, I studied in the car every night as I drove an hour to and from practice and was on the ice rink in my backyard almost every night working on my shot, working with a strength and conditioning coach while everyone else was hanging out going to the movies but failing wasn’t an option.

I didn’t see my first glimpse of true failure until I was a Senior in high school and deciding on which college to go to. I had three choices: my top choice was to go to St. Lawrence with my best friend Tara and be the “package deal” we always dreamed of, Harvard or my “back up” RPI. After a lot of visits and talks with coaches some being just that a lot of talk, I didn’t get my dream. I didn’t go to college to play hockey with my best friend. They wanted her – not me. I wasn’t good enough for their team. Then came Harvard…was I good enough – maybe – but would I play, probably not. Why? I didn’t come from a family with a lot of money and I didn’t come from a prep school with a big name. You know how everyone talks about politics in sports – it is in every sport at every level. What was left? RPI. It wasn’t my top pick by any means. RPI was brand new to Division I, it was only 45 minutes away in a town I played all of my hockey in but I knew I would play and it was a scholarship, a free education and the burden or pressure of not having my parents have to pay for my college was lifted off my shoulders instantly. My decision was easy at that point.

I really couldn’t have asked for a better college hockey career. I made friends that will last a lifetime. I played on a team that may have not been the best but played hard and worked hard. We had our success as a team and I had my successes as an individual player, but not without pressure. Being a captain, being a 4.0 student, being the one everyone looked to, it was a lot. I always had to be “on” – there were no days off or else everyone would notice. I would be lying if I said it was never too much. Some days I would just go home from practice or come home from a game a cry in my room. How could I fix the team chemistry, how could I get Coach to change is ways about this one play, I have an exam tomorrow, I let the game winning goal scorer go by me, I missed the net too many times….the list goes on and on. Sometimes, I wanted it all to stop. I was tired…of being perfect.

At the end of my Senior year, I won the Sarah Devens award. This award is given as a joint award between the ECAC Hockey and Hockey East conferences to a women’s ice hockey player. The criteria for the Devens Award is for a player who demonstrates leadership and commitment both on and off the ice. Sarah’s story…

Her story from – Source:

At Dartmouth, Devens participated on three varsity teams: field hockey, ice hockey and lacrosse. She was named a captain of all three teams. She was considered by many teammates to be the best female athlete Dartmouth ever had.[2] She was nicknamed “The Devil”, for her ability to outlast other athletes in exercise routines.[2] In her sophomore year, she was the co-winner of the Class of ’76 Award at Dartmouth. As of the 2009-10 Dartmouth Big Green women’s ice hockey season, Devens ranked 23rd in all time scoring among Big Green women’s ice hockey players. [3]

In January 1995, Devens tried out for the United States National Women’s Hockey team in Lake Placid, New York but she did not make the team. In early July 1995, she returned from a field hockey camp in Maryland. Her goal was to qualify for the 1996 US Olympic Field Hockey team. Devens had made the U.S. “B” team and the result was that she was disappointed and depressed.

Devens expressed to teammates that she was exhausted and she wanted to take a break.[2] In an interview with The Dartmouth school paper in the summer of 1994, Devens stated that she sometimes felt she was missing out on things by participating in three Division I sports.[4] Lacrosse was her least favorite sport, but she felt obligated to continue.[2] During the 1994-95 season, she was an All-America in Lacrosse.

On July 10, 1995, Devens invited her friend Maura Schneider to go mountain biking. [5] When Devens did not show, a different friend went to the Devens family home in Essex, Massachusetts and found her body. Devens took a .22-caliber rifle and killed herself with a shot to the chest. Devens was 21 years of age and scheduled to start her senior year in college.[2]

I got to meet Sarah’s Dad the night I won the award. It was a difficult award to win knowing her story because that could have been me. The pressure I felt was much like hers – the feeling of being tired and just wanting it all to stop. It’s very scary to think back about some of my thoughts that I had during my time at RPI – as great as it looked on paper it was equally as challenging mentally and physically.

We are seeing more and more stories like this in the news – why? When kids or people are told to do everything perfect or else you will fail – it becomes an obsession that is not always good. So why did I just ramble on for this long…if you are someone who feels this way, don’t be afraid to reach out and get help. Tell someone. The biggest point I wanted to make though, is in this quote below. Everything may seem perfect about a person and that they have everything that they could want, but sometimes that’s the worst part of it all. Be careful what you say to others – for they are fighting a battle themselves.

be kind

I’ll end this post by saying after many years of “feeling the pressure” I have learned a lot and can say that I do still put pressure on myself but it is wanted to pressure. I love every minute of what I do and I don’t feel the need to prove anything to others but only to myself 🙂

My Swimming History

My background in swimming is pretty nonexistent.  I remember swimming in gym class and being scared I would drown. My friends can attest that anytime we played water polo I threatened their lives if they dunked me.

When I made the decision to do triathlons, the first thing out of my Mom’s mouth was, “but, you don’t know how to swim”…and for the most part she was right. So I joined the Capital District Triathlon Club where on Tuesday nights they had training night where you could do an open water swim up, bike 20 miles then run a 5K. The first time I showed up with my friend Tara, I skipped out on the swim and just did the bike and run. The second week – I finally got in the water. Oh my gosh – that was the longest 40 something minutes of my life for a half mile! I had signed up for my first half ironman distance triathlon for the Fall of that year and I think I swam maybe 5 or 6 times before the race. Adding to that, the week before the race I had to buy a wetsuit since the water was going to be so cold and I had never swam in one before. I think the wetsuit was the only thing that got me through that 1.2 mile swim! The only reason my Mom came to watch the race was to make sure I got out of the water and didn’t drown! Thanks Mom!

So fall, winter and spring went by and guess how many times I got in the pool to train? Zero! Summer came and I joined CDTC and BTC triathlon clubs again where I got to swim open water twice a week with my trusty wetsuit and called it swim training!

When I made the move down to North Carolina – the triathlon club scene was completely different from where I lived before and I knew I was going to have to actually swim in a pool for the first time since middle school gym class. The added motivation from signing up for IMLP helped because I knew to swim 2.4 miles was no easy task for me!

Even with IMLP on the dock – I wouldn’t say my swim training was the best and I still wasn’t comfortable in the water. I think my longest workout was 4,000 yards at one time before Placid and to be honest some days I would get in and swimming 100 yards in a row was tough. Luckily, I was able to get in Mirror Lake a week before the race and swim the 2.4 mile course to make sure I could do it. After being down 20 minutes after the swim to my competitors in my age group on race day – even if I am a strong biker and runner I knew my swimming needed to improve if I had any plans to be competitive and get to where I want to be.

Training for Cozumel – my swimming picked up a bit but still wasn’t ideal since the only time I could swim with my schedule was at 8:30 pm on my own. That brings me to where I am today – working with Hillary and getting a new job has already drastically changed my swim and where it will be in the next couple of months.  Things that have helped….

1. I can swim in the mornings when my motivation is the highest!

2. Having a coach write you swim workouts and having you report times – everyone wants to impress their coach! And in case you haven’t heard – she loves 100 X 100 workouts and by god if she tells me to do it I’ve better be able to do it!

3. Masters! I had always been scared and intimidated to go to a Masters swim before but after doing Hillary’s workouts and getting in the water as much as I am – I finally have the confidence to get there and even lead my lane if I can. Now I just need to make sure I am moving up lanes and pushing myself!

4. Kona – I need to swim faster – not necessarily because of time lost but for positioning during the race. I need to get out of the water with bikers that are more around my level so I actually have people to work with instead of saying “on your left” or “slow swimmer coming through” all the time during the race.

So after being called out by James for not having any swimming goals – I guess my answer to him is that since my training was pretty non-existent before January 1 – it is tough for me to see where I can be with sufficient work and training…so I guess my only goal is to complete every workout given to me and push myself to get uncomfortable while in the water and see where it leads!

New Year – New Goals – Same Motivation

January 1st is just another day but to most including me it has a bit more meaning. It’s a fresh start and new outlook on your goals and where you want to be in the future. Why do we put so much on one day; I have no idea but I’m an optimist and love everything about a new year.

I would call 2013 a developing year – I learned a lot about myself personally, athletically and emotionally. I think 2014 will be more of a building year on what I already have. There are many areas I of course want to improve upon and goals that I want to achieve but my motivation hasn’t changed.

I’ve never written goals out before but I thought this would be a good reminder and make me more accountable to stick with them and achieve them during 2014!

Triathlon Goals for 2014 – I know working with Hillary and my training this year – these goals are achievable.

– Qualify for Kona

– Break 1:30 in the half marathon for a 70.3

– Run a sub 3:30 marathon in Ironman

– Dial in race nutrition

Personal Goals –

– Cook and eat at home more (including my coffee!)

– Stick to a GF diet

– Don’t let little things bother me (aka don’t get upset about stupid shit)

– Take more pictures!

– Keep up with my budget

– Say ‘No’ more –

What are your goals for 2014?