One of my favorite things about this time of year, now that the holidays have come and gone, is that I get to hit the reset button. The big fat mental, emotional, physical, reset button. Like many others, I see a new year as a fresh start. Though nothing will substantially change in my life as I tend to be a creature of habit, I plan to make some small modifications and tweaks here and there that will hopefully have a noticeable impact throughout the year on my family, friendships, work, and other things that bring me joy!
I welcomed 2017 with open arms. After running the Seattle Marathon at the end of November, I was honestly burnt out. My running shoes collected dust for a few weeks and my bike sat quietly on the stationary trainer in our bonus room. The off-season laziness felt great and I enjoyed spending some down time with family, friends, and binging on Netflix. It’s ok to have a relationship with Netflix, right? But now I’m ready to hit the reset button and gear up for a new season of goals, challenges, and adventures.
Accountability is important when recognizing and striving toward goals. I feel as though when you put your goals and ambitions on paper, and make them visible to the world, it instantly heightens their purpose and meaning. I’ve spent some time sifting through my goals for the upcoming year and thought I would share some of the challenges that lie ahead.
To really compete at Ironman Canada… As I noted in my last post, Ironman training has already started as I signed up to race at Ironman Canada this July in Whistler. Last year I fell in love with Ironman training and really enjoyed the process and growth that ensued each week. This year will be no different. Train hard. Race hard. Have fun. But this year I’m reaching a little higher. My goal is to compete in Canada for a Kona slot. This means I will need to finish top two in my age group and this year I will be moving up an age group as I turn 35 (EEK) in March.
Last year after bouncing back from pregnancy, my goal was to rediscover fitness in my new and improved body. People threw around the word Kona, but I never thought is was a possibility for my first Ironman particularly since my racing had been sporadic at best. Plus, have you seen my swim time? But then, in CdA, I somehow raced my way to a 4th place finish (slow swim time and all) and was only 4 minutes away from a trip to Hawaii. That really opened my eyes and lit a fire. I have the potential. I have the drive. And wow, do I want it. I want it bad.
It’s a little scary to put these thoughts and goals out there for all to read. The expectations and perceptions that form can be a bit overwhelming and it has the potential to de-value the actual race if I don’t succeed. However, I understand that finishing the race is a huge achievement in and of itself and there is only so much you can control. Plus, you just never know who will show up on race day. Heck, the woman who won my age group in CdA raced in the pro field 2013. All I can do is train to the best of my ability, listen to my coach, and execute a smart race.
Do a little road racing on my bike… In the past year I’ve developed a strong connection with my bike and a deep admiration for the community of cyclists around Bend. I love the speed and control I have when I’m pedaling on two wheels. Last year I did my first (and only) road race, and while it was a completely different experience from the cycling leg of triathlon, it challenged me in new and different ways. I’m contemplating doing the High Desert Omnium, Baker City Classic, and a few other local races depending on where my triathlon race schedule falls. If I do race this year, my goal would be to win a stage race!
Get stronger on the bike… One of my big goals this year is to see what my legs are made of and get much stronger on the bike. Last year I walked away with the 2nd fastest bike split at Ironman CdA. This year I’d like to finish Ironman Canada with a top five bike split among women. This will require me to raise my FTP to 250-260 (it was 240 at CdA and is currently 230). I feel this is realistic, given that my coach is an incredible cycling coach and knows how to push me out of my comfort zone. Plus, I feel like winter training has significantly changed due to Zwift. If you’re a cyclist – I highly recommend getting on Zwift immediately. ☺
Get involved with Masters Swimming… The thought of doing masters actually makes me incredibly nervous. I would be stepping WAY out of my comfort zone if I were to show up one morning, not knowing anyone, and join the group of bad ass swimmers. When it comes to social environments where I don’t know anyone, I can be pretty shy and slow to warm up to people, especially when I’m a beginner and not very good at something. The funny thing is, I once felt this about cycling and joining group rides as well. I was afraid to ride with others because I didn’t want to be embarrassingly slow, hold anyone back, make a rookie mistake, or just do something stupid. But, I got over it – did it – and became a much better cyclist as a result. It’s time to suck-it-up-buttercup, put on my big girl swimsuit, and start pushing myself in the pool.
Get more organized with nutrition… I actually developed an entirely new relationship with food and my body after going through pregnancy. My hunger cues and nutritional needs were almost magnified, to the point where I would crave certain foods and calories depending on my training level and what I had eaten the day prior. That being said, I did not devote a lot of time to preparing foods that would add variety to my diet. I went the easy route – GUs, bloks, and Gatorade during training, energy bars as a snack, and maybe a bowl of cereal. Thankfully, my husband is an amazing cook and I always ended the day with a gourmet dinner. I’d like to devote one or two days a week to meal prep and planning, adding a better variety of calories to my diet. While I like the simplicity and ease of GUs and bloks, I’d like to start fueling with “real food” and see if this has any change on my endurance and performance. I am hoping to experiment with some recipes from Feed Zone Portables and make my own fuel.
Building connections… One of my favorite things about running and triathlon is meeting and connecting with other like-minded athletes of all ages and abilities. I think it is important to train with a variety of people – to teach – to learn – to inspire – to grow. Because I work from home, training is the ultimate way for me to connect and get some adult human interaction.
Just like with cycling, when I started this sport I was afraid to train with others because I did not want to hold anyone back. But what I learned along the way is that you only grow and get better when you DON’T hold back. Everyone has to start somewhere. It’s not a competition or a race, it’s an experience that is shared among people doing what they love and enjoy. This past year was the first time I have actually trained with other athletes, and it was a blast. I learned so much while riding and running alongside others, and wish I would not have been so afraid to do so in years prior. My goal this year is to encourage others to “join the group” and overcome any fears they may have about training in an environment that feel uncomfortable on the surface. Word of advice → always take the opportunity to train with those who are better than you. It will pay off tenfold.
Recovery and self-care… My final goal is to make recovery and maintenance more of a priority in my life. To take care of my body and mind. When you are training at a high volume, juggling a full time job, trying to take care of an energetic toddler, and still trying to have a life, it’s incredibly easy to forgo recovery tactics and self-care (along with a lot of other seemingly simple things). While I did have a few sports massages at Izom Body Therapy to help with recovery, and I also spent a fair amount of time in the compression boots at Recharge, I rarely used my foam roller, took warm Epsom salt baths, or stretched. Quite frankly, by the time all of my other work and family obligations were met at the end of the day I was either too exhausted or too lazy to do so (does that even make sense) and didn’t make the time. This year I want to recover more, whether that be relaxing in our hot tub at the end of the day, foam rolling during Netflix, or taking 5-10 minutes before or after a workout to stretch. These little changes will hopefully have a big impact on my body’s ability to recover quickly and rebound even stronger.
This year is likely going to be a giant puzzle, learning how to arrange the pieces and put them together in a way that works. I can’t help but feel a little mystified as to how I’m going to cobble together the different facets of my life in a way that is natural, easy, or fulfilling. I’m excited and a little nervous about what this next year will bring. I thought training for an Ironman with a new baby was going to be tough, but I’m beginning to think that training with a toddler is going to be the ultimate challenge. Axel is a firecracker and there are very few (ok, pretty much none) moments when I get to “relax” around him. He is almost full on walking without assistance from a hand or piece of furniture, so I’m preparing for the next adventure in parenthood. Hopefully I am able to muster up the energy each week to train at a high level and kick ass as a wife, mom, instructor, and friend.
Cheers to the new year – new goals- and a fun fresh start in 2017!
What is your biggest goal for 2017?
Foodies out there – what books or resources might you recommend for quick and easy meal planning?