I’m back! Not that I left or went anywhere special, but lately life has been busy and my priorities have left very little room for hobbies or downtime. I finally have a window of opportunity to give my blog a little attention and catch everyone up on what’s been happening this past month! Some of the highlights include:
- Epic bike rides on closed roads over scenic mountain passes.
- My first Mother’s Day (it was the best).
- Time with family and meeting my stepsister’s 4-month-old little girl.
- Introducing Axel to his great grandparents.
- I got a new road bike!
After the Eugene Half Marathon, I ended up getting sick. I literally went to urgent care that evening after we returned to Bend, was diagnosed with some kind of virus, and it took me nearly a week to feel like myself again. I believe that getting sick is just another way our bodies communicate that it’s time to slow down and recover. So I spent a lot of downtime with these two handsome fellas.
Since the half marathon my running has felt a little off, both mentally and physically. I’m still covering the mileage and doing the workouts my coach prescribes, but it FEELS a lot harder. Does this ever happen to you? It’s as though after the race my legs took a hiatus and went on strike. They feel heavy and lethargic, and I’ve been struggling with consistently running between a 7 and 8 minute mile. I am chalking some of that up to the fact that I have continued to ramp up my training volume and intensity ahead of Ironman CdA 70.3 in June, but here’s hoping I can reignite the fire in my steps and find them again between now and then.
Along with this, after the race I mentally felt like I needed a small break from running. I had been doing a lot of races in March and April, and the half marathon was the tipping point that put me over the edge. Thankfully, several of my runs have been at base and endurance pace. This allows me to focus more on endurance and control, and to run with Justin and Axel on occasion.
In the meantime, I have really been enjoying life on the bike and am working hard to make huge gains in the saddle. The bike is where I can really see myself excelling this year in triathlon. Whatever time I lose in the swim (which will be several minutes) I will have to make back ten fold on the bike!
I have put my will-power and strength to the test on a few occasions lately while riding with my coach and his team of clients/athletes, all of whom are training for various events. A couple weeks ago a group of us rode up and over both sides of the McKenzie pass, one of the most difficult climbs in Oregon starting at 1500ft and climbing to over 5000ft within 20 miles.
It’s also one of the most beautiful rides I have ever done. The road is closed to vehicles in the winter, but was clear of snow and hadn’t yet re-opened to auto traffic, so we had the pavement all to ourselves. These guys provided nothing but encouragement as we weaved up and around the twisting road to the summit!
Last week was another epic climb up to Mt. Bachelor with my coach. Once again, I tested my limits and pushed hard as we rode to the ski lodge and beyond on the Cascade Lakes Highway.
Up until this past Monday the road beyond Bachelor was also closed to vehicles, so we had the road and views all to ourselves! I love when there are no vehicles on the roads and you can ride freely without worry. This road has a 10 inch shoulder, so it’s important to be cognizant of vehicles throughout the summer as traffic can be a bit crazy these days (everyone is finding out about Bend).
On Tuesday, I also showed up for my first large group ride. Ever. With a name like Hammerfest, and with a field full of current and former pro cyclists, to say that I was nervous and intimidated would be an understatement. I stuck close to my coach’s wheel the entire time, stayed with the main group until the big climb near the end, and “hammered” out 30 miles at an average pace of 22.52 miles per hour. I might even consider doing it again!
And, because my cycling has been so strong for me lately, guess who is doing her first ROAD RACE this weekend? Me. That’s right. I am stepping 100% out of my comfort zone and am doing something I said I would NEVER do. I almost just fainted typing that. Honestly, I have never had any desire to race a bike in a group setting. It scares the crap out of me. I’m okay with riding in a triathlon setting and having a comfortable space between me and other riders, but the mere thought of riding closely in a group of women puts a little fear in me. I’m just hoping I can shrug off the nerves and enjoy the experience. I’ll be racing at the Bend Don’t Brake on Saturday – wish me luck. Eek! At least I will have my favorite two cheerleaders there supporting me!
Swimming continues to be a struggle for me, both in the “I enjoy this” category and the “I’m good at this” category. I just wish something would click for me like it does for others. Three things have seemingly helped these past few weeks.
- I got a small lesson and had the masters coach analyze my technique and catch. With a few adjustments and drills, my catch will hopefully provide a little more power to move me through the water.
- I started breathing on my weak side. It sounds weird, but I discovered that I actually swim FASTER when I breathe on my awkward (left) side. My coach wanted me to practice bilateral breathing and as soon as I did I was 10-15seconds faster per 100meter. It is still hard for me to breathe on my left side, but this is something I am going to focus on moving forward since the results speak for themselves so far.
- They removed the roof/cover and I am now able to swim outside. Just knowing I will get a little fresh air and vitamin D motivates me to get my butt to the pool when I’m not feeling it.
I’m hoping to throw on my wetsuit in the next week or two and take it out for a test swim in one of our (cold) nearby lakes. After months of swimming in the pool it will be fun to see where I am at in the open water.
Ironman CdA 70.3 is less than five weeks away, which means I will be investing time and energy into some big training days in the coming weeks before tapering for the race. I find it very invigorating to mentally prep for these big weeks and power through. These weeks are tough – but rewarding. At the same time I am entering into the final two weeks of the spring term, which means grading, emails, and exams will begin piling up and put extra time constraints on my already busy schedule. Apparently, I really didn’t think this through when I signed up for the half Ironman. Oh well, once again it’s all about doing what I can and making it work.
Honestly, because of training, work, and SAHMing, I haven’t had much of a social life lately. Womp womp. In fact, what is a social life? Haha. I guess my social life takes place during group rides and running events, which is the best I can ask for when my time is spread very thin. Thankfully I have friends who are very understanding and know what kind of commitment I am making (I think) when it comes to taking so much on at once.
Justin has been very patient with my training and helps out when he can to watch Axel, prepare meals, and do chores around the house and yard (he also built and installed two bird nest boxes, which are now inhabited by a Northern Flicker family and a House Wren family). I couldn’t do it without him. Even though we are both busy, we make it a goal to do things as a family and spend quality time together each week. It’s been both fun and challenging watching Axel experience new things as he joins Justin and I on our adventures. For example, we learned that he LOVES being in the pool, and hates car rides that are longer than 4 hours (yep, we somehow survived a 5 hour road trip a couple weeks ago). For the most part he is pretty adaptable and is very much a go-with-the-flow kind of kid. He’s nearly 30 inches tall already, more than 20 pounds, and as a result everyone seems to comment about what a great football player he is going to be someday. And his first words, much to the dismay of his mama and nana, were dada. My mom (nana) caught it all on video. I’ll have to post an Axel update after our 9-month appointment next week. ☺
It’s good to be back here after my recent hiatus, and I look forward to recommitting to my blogging from here on (as time allows, of course). With a busy summer of training, racing, and life ahead of us, there will be plenty to talk about!
Have you ever done something that was 100% out of your comfort zone?
Have you ever done something that you said you would never do?