A Walk in the Woods

Since the beginning of December when I began crawling out of my offseason time, one of the things that Hillary and I added to my program was a mid-week hike. 4 hours, on the trails, just walk in the mountains. This came about for a variety of reasons. As I have worked with Hillary now for 7 years (Can you believe I’m now the age she was when she took me as an athlete??  This is WILD to me!) we sometimes can collaborate on my training. I actually hesitated to even write this blog, because I don’t want people (aka my athletes!) thinking that now their training plans are open for collaboration 🙂 This has been a LONG time in the making, and collaboration may not even be the right word. As Hillary has been known to say, she is not “a vote”, she is “THE vote” – and at the end of the day, whatever she would want me to do, goes. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally weigh in, and with ultras on the horizon, back in December we had a pow-wow about what would get me ready for those. I came to her with a pretty experienced ultra running background, but the balance between using that, and keeping me prime for Ironman, is a delicate one. This type of meeting of the minds between us is one of the things I like most about working with Hillary!

I really felt that a day with a long hike would go a long way for getting me ready for the ultras I had coming up. Rather than try to do this with a weighted pack and risk over-doing it, we opted for a simple hike after a hard treadmill class and a shakeout swim that I’d do beforehand. I had been doing plenty of trail running in the last few years, but not like I used to. When I came to Hillary, I was a trail runner – not a triathlete. And while I love so much about the transformation that has taken place, there was a part of me that was lost in it. And that was the ability to just walk in the woods. I had always felt at home in the mountains, and over the last few years, I lost the comfort they brought when I’d be alone in the woods. Instead, it was like going back to high school – things are familiar, yet awkward. You know where everything is, but you feel a little lost.

And while so much of ultra running comes down to strength and fitness, I do believe there is another element at play there. I feel that those who are truly comfortable on the trails gain a sense of the sport that many others do not. It’s raw and it’s hard to describe, but when you spend a lot of time walking, or running, in the woods, you become a different kind of runner. You don’t live by your garmin….instead you simply start to *feel* the miles passing by – sometimes god awfully slow – with your steps in the dirt instead of looking for the tenths to pass with your footsteps beating on pavement. It’s a different rhythm, and one that happens over time. The comfort and knack for that rhythm can come and go – feeling the beat of the trails is a skill, no doubt. I wanted to get that back. And, after a couple solid weekend pace runs the last few weeks, I’m feeling really good that we did get that back. It only took walking over 70 miles in the mountains 😉

Aside from that, there was certainly another mental aspect I liked about the hikes. I often see people who do social media “detoxes” over a day, a week, or a month. I’ve tried that and to be honest, it doesn’t work for me. For one, I find a lot of good on social media these days. I’ve worked really hard over the year to make my followers (and those I follow), my feeds, etc, positive people and things that inspire me and keep me happy. Of course, I use it to get a lot of news – and that often isn’t positive. But, that’s life. And with the balance I’ve crafted, I’m actually quite happy on the internet these days, which is great. But I still enjoy a break from staring at the screen (and so do my eyes), and so my hikes are a no-phone zone. Generally I don’t get service anyway, so it’s super easy to do. I carry it in case of emergency (in the off chance I fall off the mountain in a Verizon service area), but I keep it silent, and out of reach except for the occasional picture. And guess what? I haven’t missed anything of importance in that time away!

I do get some questions about safety, and to tell you the truth, I feel safer when I am hiking than in many cities these days! But, I do admit that having Ramona helps with that A TON! So, go adopt a protective pup 🙂 She also provides great conversation on the trail: Never interrupts! I also carry a pocket knife, plenty of food and water to last well beyond the planned time (for both human and dog), a LifeStraw, and a headlamp. If I’m somewhere I’m not super familiar with, I will also bring a hard copy of a map (not just rely on my phone). This is probably overdoing it for where I am hiking, but hey, I’d rather be prepared than make it on the news for looking dumb and under prepared!

With less than a month to go until the first 40 miler on tap, I am looking forward to a brief recovery week from running and hiking with lots of bike miles — I’ll be coaching at Hillary & Maik’s Tucson camp and let me tell you – that sun can’t come soon enough!!

If I Was Riding

This is not to be confused with Kelly O’Mara’s amazing triathlon(ish) newsletter that comes out weekly, “If We Were Riding.” You can sign up for that here if somehow you haven’t already.

But what this is really about, is winter riding. I live in Virginia, where (generally speaking), our winters are mild. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t get cold! I find winter cycling to be a bit cathartic — you’re going to go slower (science), and because we *know* that (seriously, the science), you can just bundle up and get out there to do the work. I put a lot of the numbers aside during this time and just ride based on effort and feel during these rides. When the sun is shining, even the cold winter can be one of the most gorgeous times to ride in the Blue Ridge.

But, it’s all about what you wear. And often I hear “I don’t know what to wear when it’s XX degrees out….” So, here’s my comprehensive “if i were riding” clothing guide. I realize these things add up, but it’s worth the investment if you are going to train in the winter. And, if you spend the money to get good quality stuff, it’ll last forever anyway so it’s worth it!

If it’s 30 degrees or colder (note, this is just plain cold and really even with all this stuff it’s going to be cold. But, you’ll feel like a badass for doing it. And if you need motivation to go out when it’s this cold, read this piece. I like to bring that one out every winter to remind me

Outside was hard: winter is hard like the truth is hard. But the only place in winter where a bike rider can find warmth isn’t under the sheets with their head turned to deny the day, it is in the moment that you walk back through the front door with the harshness of winter defeated behind you. Only there you will find your warmth; only there you will find your comfort.

  • Smashfest Queen Jacket
  • Smashfest Queen bra
  • Thick mock-turtle baselayer (I like Under Armour)
  • A wool baselayer tank (I like Rapha)
  • Smashfest Queen Vest – The extra tank and vest here *could* be a bit of overkill, but both are thin and I find that it really just helps to keep my core toasty. It’s all about core, hands and feet for me!
  • Smashfest Queen cycling shorts
  • Good winter gloves (I like Pearl Izumi)
  • Thin gloves to wear under those gloves
  • Good wool socks
  • Good neoprene overshoes (I like Rapha)
  • Balaclava
  • Winter bib tights (I like Rapha)
  • Embrocation balm – I use this one. (I like to put this on my feet and my hands before putting them in socks/gloves)

If it’s 30-40 degrees:

  • Smashfest Queen Jacket
  • Smashfest Queen bra
  • Thick mock-turtle baselayer (I like Under Armour)
  • I like to switch to a scarf from the Balaclava now. Balaclavas tend to make my sunnies get a bit foggy so the scarf is a nice option to tuck my chin in during descents, but breathe freely otherwise. Also, then you stop looking like a bank robber.
  • Thin beanie or good headband over the ears
  • Smashfest Queen cycling shorts
  • Good winter gloves (I like Pearl Izumi)
  • Good wool socks
  • Good neoprene overshoes (I like Rapha)
  • Winter bib tights (I like Rapha)
  • Embrocation balm (I like to put this on my feet and my hands before putting them in socks/gloves)

If it’s 40-50 degrees:

If it’s 50-60 degrees:

If it’s 60-70 degrees:

And if it’s above 70 then if you need me to dress you, we have bigger problems!

November is here!

It seems like I blinked and winter is here! While my offseason technically began back in September, this doesn’t mean that the last couple months haven’t been busy. In fact, it’s been quite the opposite! With less workouts, this is the time of year where I find myself having not enough hours in the day, only for the other stuff now – catching up with friends and family, spending time on longer walks with Ramona, strategizing with athletes about the next season, and connecting with sponsors for future plans. While I do my best to keep the blog up to date these days, keep in mind that one place you CAN find me every week now is the IronWomen podcast. I am absolutely LOVING the time spent on this, with my co-host Haley Chura, and our woman behind it all, Sara Gross. We do catch up on our lives each week before answering questions from our listeners and chatting with one of our many amazing guests, so it’s a great place to see what I’m up to if you are missing your Alyssa time. You can find all our episodes here.

So….what have I been up to? Well, I went to Kona!

I also did a lot of trail running in Vermont…..

And now I’m back home! With all the running, I thought maybe racing a half marathon would be a good project. I set a lofty goal for myself (1:25) and went out on that pace. I held it….for the first 10k. Then it got a little ugly, BUT I still held on for a PR. While “bank the time early” isn’t a race plan I generally promote, it did work this time, with my 1:28:26. I think that 1:25 project will come back at some point though!

So….what’s next? Well, I’ve really been enjoying running, and I think I need some good quality time on the trails next year. So, instead of starting my Ironman season in the winter like I have the last few years, I’m going to stick a bit more local and hit some ultras that have been on my list! First up in February will be the Uwharrie 40 Mile run. It sold out in less than 15 minutes, so you know this is a good race. This is one I ran several years ago, and finished in 8:00:18. Sub-8 is a bit of a mark for that course, so I’ll be heading there to cross that off the list! Then a few weeks later, I’ll head down back to NC for the Mt Mitchell Challenge. Wikipedia calls this “a 40-mile Ultramarathon run in February of each year from the town of Black Mountain, NC to the top of Mt Mitchell, the highest point in the Eastern US, and back down again. This race, intentionally run in Winter to ensure harsh conditions, is regarded as one of the most difficult trail-running races in North America.” Well now, doesn’t that sound fun?! 🙂

My other plans for 2018 so far include the Tucson camps – this year one in January (swim & bike focus) and one in April (Ironman focus). And then I plan to head back to Challenge Taiwan, and on my return trip hit up WILDFLOWER! Still so so excited that one is back on the calendar.

That should keep me busy enough, at least for a few months!!

Ideas

Something many of you may not know about me is that I love to brainstorm. I’m an ideas person. Coming up with a spontaneous list of things to do, solutions to problems, etc….I love it all. Even the most impossible or outlandish ideas are fun to think of and spend a minute imagining that you really went through with them……before tossing them aside.

I’m 99% sure that some kind of brainstorming situation is what got me to today, ready to take on IM Chattanooga – my 6th iron distance race this season – just one week after Savageman. And somehow Hillary and I forgot the “toss it aside” part of the equation for this crazy idea 😉

But the truth is, I do have a bit of confidence going into this double since usually my double consists of 2 iron distance races back to back. And since Savageman isn’t a fast course, my thought is that it was a good strong tune-up, but it didn’t take too much out of me and I’m still 100% for the race here in Chatty. Added bonus is the Indian Summer we seem to be having (insert questionable face wondering if it’s appropriate to call it this?) — it is Hot here in Tennessee and that will definitely factor into the race. You can follow all the fun at Ironmanlive.com — I’m lucky #13. The field looks good and full of women who love to run for the $$ so will be a fight till the end I am certain!

And the last tidbit of the day is that I will be wearing a brand new Smashfest Queen design that will be available in Kona! Check out my instagram story (@alyssagodesky) tomorrow morning to see the amazingness! Look fast –> go fast, so I’m ready to race!!

The lovely TeamSFQ women ready to smash it tomorrow!

Final Stretch

Well everyone, I’m in the final stretch. Sometimes it seems like I live my days in varying degrees of just trying to get to this point. It’s the 14th of the 14×150 in the pool. It’s the last 2.5 minutes of my 15 minute intervals on the bike. It’s the downhill end to my run that drops me at my door. And in an ironman there is nothing like seeing that Garmin tick over to 25 miles.

Leading up to that point is what I like to call “exercise blackout.” I basically will myself into this zone where my mind blacks out and I just let my body execute what it needs to do. This is generally reserved for the particularly hard or long days. My body will do it – the time will pass and it will happen, good or bad, one way or another – I just need to let it. But it is so hard that if I let my brain turn on, the only thoughts that will enter are ones that keep telling me how hard it is – and I don’t need to hear that. So, I turn the brain off.

And then in the final stretch the brain comes back on, because it’s that moment where you finally start to believe you’re going to do it. No matter how many times I have raced an ironman or done a particularly hard training session, I’ll admit that at the beginning, I’m never 100% I can do it. I tell myself over and over that I can — being able to compartmentalize and tunnel vision the heck out of the positive outcome has been a large part of my successful racing. I am really good at not letting the doubt creep in. I’ll out-loud positive self talk myself to sleep if that is what it takes for me to not lie awake with doubts in my mind! 

So, what else happens in the final stretch? Actually, a lot. If you’re not careful about the details and about keeping some focus, things can fall apart in this time. I ran myself into my first Kona qualifier with 400 meters to go (IM Arizona 2011). I’ve been outsprinted in the last 400 meters (IM CDA 2015). I’ve sprinted past Natascha Badmann in the last 100 meters. (IM Switzerland 2016). People let their guard down and lose focus in the final stretch all the time.

So, I’m dotting my I’s and crossing my T’s, packing my bags and getting ready to head to one of my favorite races today – Savageman 70.0! It is such a luxury to be driving to a race, with Ramona in tow no less! She is super excited for our romantic weekend in Deep Creek Lake. But we are staying focused, and ready to do the work. We have 8 more days of training and racing before I wrap up the triathlon season for 2017. And after already doing 5 iron-distances races this year (on 4 continents), a 70.3, coaching three training camps in Tucson, and co-hosting the IronWomen podcast…..I’m ready for those Mai Thais in Kona. But we’ll think more about that 8 days from now 🙂 

Leading the Chase

It’s hard to believe it’s only been 19 days since IM Canada. In that time I’ll have been to 3 different countries, 4 different states, and 7 different airports. I’m writing this from Copenhagen as my next ironman is only 2 days away, but I’ll get to that later….First to recap Canada!

I went into that race feeling fit but also feeling a bit terrified. It’s always hard I think to mentally prepare to race after a couple tough ones. While in Taiwan I had a great day with the cards I was dealt, it still didn’t really allow me to throw down the day I felt capable for. And unfortunately Raleigh wasn’t that confidence boost I was looking for after that! So here we were, and every time doubt crept in, Hillary reminded me of the countless sessions I’d been nailing. My body was ready, I just needed to let it do what it was prepared to do.

My whole 10 hour day can be summed up in the phrase “leading the chase.” For the first time I was leading my pack in the swim. I was leading a pack on the bike. I would have loved to share some more of the work but there wasn’t a whole lot of working together out there. And, perhaps rightly so. Those women are racing their race (everything was legal), I just hadn’t ever been in the position where I was the one people were holding on to….usually I’m trying to find the ones to set my pace off of!

This is one aspect where pro racing is drastically different than the age group ranks. There are tactics that come into play quite often — who is up front, will you take a turn, do you want the help or do you need to drop them all? These are all things that are running through my head which I actually really enjoy about racing now. It makes it much more engaging, one. But it also adds an element of skill and critical thinking to the race. You have to play the cards right, and try to read what the other have in their hand.

Heading out to the run, I was happy with how my legs felt for the first half, and, well, survived the second half. It didn’t take more than a few glances to see I was by no means the only one suffering out there. The run is all on dirt paths and bike path, so there’s not really open road to open up and let the pace settle in. That bike and run combo is certainly one of the most challenging I’ve done on the ironman circuit. Its also one of the most beautiful though, and the crowds and atmosphere are tons of fun.

I ended up hanging on for 8th place pro after a bit of a battle on the run, a paycheck, and overall a successful day. It was also really fun to get to race with my parents spectating – their first time seeing me in an Ironman in awhile! One of the biggest things I’ve been thinking about after that is about how I’ve now developed to the front of the chase pack. And to be honest, that’s not a place I hope to stay for a long time. I’m more of a “hold on for dear life” type of racer…..I played it safe a lot in amateur racing to ensure I had a good day and could get the time and place needed to get a Kona spot. I don’t have to do that anymore, though. So I’m hoping that in my next couple races this season, I’ll be stepping up the gutsy-factor a bit — feeling confident enough to make those decisions that put me up there more with the front pack, rather than leaving the charge to pick up the pieces and slide into what spots remain. I think Copenhagen is going to be a great course to do just that. After racing here in 2015 I loved the city so much I promised I would be back, and here I am!

After racing, I had no time to think about how I felt because I was on my way to San Diego! That was a quick stop though….it was only a few hours (and a swim!) before Hillary and I continued on to Tucson where we were hosting Women’s Camp in the desert. I had been so looking forward to these 4 days and it did not disappoint! We had changed up the itinerary from our spring camps which was really fun for us. This week included a TT during the McCain Loop ride, a trip up to Parker Canyon Lake, and a track session (along with the standard 100×100, Mt Lemmon ride, and some others!). We had an absolute blast with a lot of hard work, breaththroughs, smiles, laughs, and of course tears 😉 Hillary and I were so proud of all the women who came out and gave us 110% during those days. It was also very fun for me to have more auntie time with Madison Frankie!! (sidenote: you can’t leave a crawling baby alone for a *second*!)

I will hopefully have a Copenhagen update next week during my travels home!

It’s always better when we’re together

One of my bffs, training partners, fellow TeamHPB coach and teammate and pro, Leslie Miller, wrote a blog last week about our training tradition that we’ve been able to uphold. It involves us getting together about 2 weeks out from our big race so that we can help push each other through the last big block of work. However, I felt like Leslie must have still had a bit of a training hangover as she drifted over a lot of things, grazing over a lot of the details and leaving a lot of things to be as “oh they were great.” And don’t get me wrong, it was great. But there is a lot more to tell. So, here we go.

One of the reasons Leslie and I like to train together is that we simply train well together. She’s the yin to my yang, the salt to my pepper. It helps heaps that we share the same coach and can generally enter the weekend knowing that we’ll be at pretty comparable fatigue levels. We trust that we’ll each have our moments to shine during the weekend, and can rely on the other to pull us through our weak spots. That said, we almost always realize this in retrospect. We trust it a little more now, but the planning always does start earlier in the week with some doubtful texts: “sure, let’s do it. But, FYI, my legs are so sore I cant get out of bed.” And “No problem, I just failed my swim. We’re good.”

Going into a weekend like this, we each certainly get nervous that we’d be the weak link, and somehow ruin the other person’s training. But that is just our OCD type-A selves talking. In reality, the worst case scenario is something like “remember that time you lapped me in a 400 pull set?” or “remember that time we were supposed to swap pulls but I ended up having to do the entire ride in front?” The worst case really isn’t that bad. In fact, it probably makes for better blogging. One day I won’t get nervous over that!

Since the weekend was taking place at my house, it was my obligation to do a few things: make sure we had ample supplies, and also create our social schedule. This weekend had a few bonuses on our normal weekend sent from Hillary (with love)…..these included a brick run Saturday and a 4k swim on Sunday. Given the increased volume, and the heat, I made the judgement call to clear our schedules of all social obligations. All we had to do was eat, sleep and train.

These training weekends usually involve a later night Friday. By the time we meet up and get through our initial gossip session, it’s later than we would prefer. But, priorities. With the heat and humidity, it’s generally best to start Saturday early. However, with a swim + 4.5 hour brick, there was no way around the heat, really. So, we picked the civil time of 7am to start Saturday’s swim.

As we walked into a mostly dark gym at 6:55 on Saturday, we knew something felt off. Sure enough, some kind of electrical problems meant the pool was closed for the day. Charlottesville has a bunch of pools, but weekend hours are not the strong point.

Nevertheless, we persisted.

I remembered the new YMCA that just opened up, and checked their hours: 7:30! Boom! Only a 30 minute setback. My local swim partner Sandy joined us to help keep us on our toes for the swim. Leslie, a college swimmer, can out-swim me for sure. I give her a run for her money when I put paddles/buoy/band on, but Sandy was my ringer! Sure enough, she came through, taking the W for the day on the final swim TT.

Post swim meant hurry up, eat a bagel sandwich, walk Ramona and get on your bikes as fast as you can. We headed out for our tried and true loop. The instructions for this ride are always my favorite: 4 hours with 3 hours of trading 5 minute pulls on the front trying to kill each other. There are very few other people I could do this ride with other than Leslie. Up and over Monticello and then the fun begins, with a quick pitstop for water/red bull/ice cream….and tampons?! Luckily this is a woman-owned market and the bathroom is fully stocked. We got back on our bikes quick though, because lord knows 2 girls on bikes in rural Virginia is trouble, but menstruating female cyclists? Watch out world.

I’d also like to point out that I am 5’8’’. Leslie is 5’3’’. I’ll let you do the math who has the better time on this ride with their non-pulling turns. For this reason, I count the bike ride as a win for me. For those keeping score, it’s now Sandy, 1, Alyssa, 1, and Leslie 0.

A social patriocial brick run followed, and as we headed down one of my favorite trails Leslie exclaimed, “YAY! Nate never let’s me run single track off the bike!” – Nothing like that to ensure I keep it easy so I don’t end up with a damaged Leslie at the end of that one!

Food, recovery boots, and some quality couch time fills the remainder of the day, and then we’re on to Day Two. The Keene loop is a staple of Charlottesville. A 7 mile loop with plenty of gravel and rolling hills, it’s become our perfect test for Ironman-pace running. The loop allows for a water refill at the car too. In the past we have done 2 loops, then added an out and back on the gravel for the remaining miles. This time, Leslie wasn’t really feeling the gravel rollers and said she was going to add on “a little bit” on the road at the far end of the loop. A nicely timed bathroom stop was keeping her in eye sight, so I followed suit. And I proceeded to follow her on a 2 mile DOWNHILL at mile 10. COOL THANKS, LES! 2 Miles back up, and then thank god only 4 to the end. We both did well, but Leslie takes the W there.

After that we refueled and shook out our legs with an easy spin, which was determined to be a neutral event 🙂 The competition came down to the one tie breaker workout left: the 4k “shakeout” swim of 5×800. Again we felt Hillary’s love as one was band only. We opted to do this in long course for tanning purposes, but that was probably a poor decision as Leslie and I were in pretty poor shape by this time, so Sandy actually wins again, taking the weekend with 2 points, and Leslie and I tie for 2nd with 1. Seems about right.

A final pitstop for waffles with Nutella and brie at Millie Joe’s, and I sent Leslie off home. I’ll be seeing her again soon as we head out to Whistler, and we can both rest easy on the flight knowing we are ready after that weekend!

Don’t believe what you read on the internet

Duh.

I could probably end the blog post here, but I’ll go on.

And I’ll start by saying that my job before triathlon was in the world of digital advertising. In short, I put ads on the internet. Getting you to click on an ad essentially earned me more money. So needless to say, I know *all* the tricks about targeting and cookies and yada yada. I get it.

And yet, yesterday, a package arrived at my door. Because three days ago was Amazon Prime day. I was doing a reallyyyyy good job resisting Prime Day. I didn’t really have anything I *needed* to buy, so I had a couple phone charging cords in my cart that I figured I’d go through with the purchase if I did discover that one other thing I needed. I was going to hold strong. Food, water, shelter – those are my needs. I have them all, so I was pretty certain I wouldn’t be partaking in Prime Day.

And then, I opened Facebook. I believe the title of the article that kept appearing in my feed was “9 Things Every Grown Ass Woman Needs from Amazon on Prime Day.”

I wish I was kidding.

And now, two days later, I own this:

 

Apparently, Himalayan Salt lamps improve indoor air quality, improve mood and reduce indoor allergens. Clearly, I needed this.

This was my really long way to remind you that we’re in the thick of race season. If you’re tapering, you’re probably spending too much time on the internet. If you’re training a boatload, you’re probably still spending too much time on the internet because your legs are so tired you can’t move to go do anything. I get it. But, stop it.

Get out, go to a movie. Go eat out. Just sit outside and….relax.

Because the internet is full of crazy advice! I am, in fact, a grown ass woman and I definitely do not need a Himalayan Salt Lamp. And you don’t need to read whatever you’re reading right now* about the right way to do your training or how to taper. Just ask your coach. And if you don’t have one, maybe look into that.

And in the meantime, I’ll keep you posted on how the salt lamp works out. If you’re interested Check out these stunning lamps to see if a salt lamp is for you!

*Yes, I understand the irony of the fact that you’re reading my blog right now. I like to think one day this will be condensed and put into a memoir of short stories, so really you’re just reading literature right now in it’s pre-released state.

Back to life…back to reality!

Not too much to say here as I’m back to the grind, which means life is boring. Which means life is good, though! I’ve also been lucky as Hillary has given me some of my favorite workouts to be knocking out these days. Most recently the last couple days I did an iconic Charlottesville ride which loops from town, up to Skyline Drive, and back. I did it in reverse of my usual direction which was a fun change of pace. I also had some great company which helps move the miles by. I was really looking forward to a hot dog and Blackberry ice cream at Loft Mountain, only to find out breakfast was still being served when we got there! So scrambled eggs and hash browns had to suffice.

Then this week I *finally* ran the fox mountain loop (pic up top from that run)! Charlottesville has a ton of great trails, but we also have a ton of gravel roads. Since I’m not a gravel grinder (lol – that’s what they are called, right?!) I have never really seen them other than the occasional snafu where I accidentally need to take a shortcut home on a ride. So when I had a 3 hour strength run this loop popped into mind. It was awesome! I probably saw 8 cars the entire run,  and with the constant ups and downs I was putting good time on the legs. I also only got chased by 1 dog, and he seemed somewhat friendly actually.

The only other update I have for you is that things are going SO WELL for our Exceeding Expectations fundraising for John Alvarez. I want to send a huge THANK YOU to everyone who has donated and supported this effort. If you aren’t quite able to donate, guess what – you can without even spending a penny of your own money!

Recently, Kelly O’Mara was asked by the Health IQ team to contribute a question to their Triathlon IQ quiz. She did. Then, to promote the quiz and their other health quizzes, they’re donating $1 to the charity of Kelly’s choice for every person who takes the quiz via her link. And, Kelly chose Exceeding Expectations.

So if you take the quiz via the link below, $1 will go to help John exceed expectations. And Health IQ says that offer’s good across all the contributors until the $20,000 they have set aside for donations is claimed. So, do it!!

Waiting Game

First things first:

There is a massive Smashfest Queen sale going on RIGHT NOW! Today (6/28) is the last day of this event where you can use code AGODESKYFRIEND to get 20% off (Excluding current warehouse items). Look fast, race fast. Obvi. (oh, and apparently size medium fits 58 pound puppies. Just FYI!)

Moving on….

Good news folks: whatever it was that seemed to infect me earlier in June is officially gone!

After Raleigh, I did in fact feel like…..crap. Nothing felt terribly awful, and yet everything just felt slightly wrong. It was as if a switch had flipped, and overnight I lost my entire ability to be an athlete. I could still function as a human being (whew), but doing anything hard athletically went out the window. Which is kind of a problem in my profession.

I went to my doctor and we went through the gamut, but nothing came up. A variety of physical symptoms were present, but nothing super clear, and all bloodwork was okay. In essence, I wasn’t fine, but I wasn’t dying of anything that we could pinpoint as obvious.

So, that was the good news. The bad news is that the prescription was rest, and waiting. Sure he could have pumped me with some things that “might” have helped, but without knowing exactly what was going on I didn’t want to mask anything with medication.

I was actually swimming decently still so I kept that, but the rest of my program went off the deep end. Hillary did a great job keeping me distracted so I didn’t really notice exactly how much time was passing as we waited. And waited.

Being an athlete (well, probably just being a human actually), when something is wrong, you want tangibles. You want to KNOW so at least you can be doing something to fix it. What is wrong? What are the things I do to fix it? What’s the time frame? Typically, on any given day you spend 2-8 hours thinking about your body and how it feels. When it feels so bad that you can’t do most anything you’re used to, it’s easy for your mind get a little crazy.

And for a while my mind did drift to those crazy places: I’m going to have to retire. I’m never going to get to podium. I’m never going to race again. I am sure I have a crazy disease they haven’t detected yet. I probably have West Nile. Maybe Zika. I’m never traveling out of the country again, I’m tired and overtrained from the jet lag.

But eventually, I got tired of the worrying. So, I turned to denial. OF COURSE I’ll be okay soon. So I booked all my travel and accommodation for IM Canada and IM Copenhagen (YAY!) because I’d be racing there come hell or high water!

And I kept waiting. I waited for 17 days. I even missed my birthday smashfest activities because I couldn’t run or ride hard to save my life. I doubled up my Sound Probiotic dosage and did everything I could to stay hydrated and flush this sucker out. Then, I woke up one morning, and it was as if the altitude tent I was living in had suddenly popped. I wasn’t 100%, but I felt like finally, a step in the right direction. Same with day 18, and 19, and 20. And here I am day 25, and while I still feel a bit is lingering, I know I’m on the other side of it. As Hillary said when we discussed this: PTL! (Praise the lord! – you get quite good at acronyms working with Hillary).

Of course there is a silver lining to all of this: it gave me time to reflect. What if I DID really have to retire? Would that be okay? Would I be okay if something happened today and I could never race again? Could I move forward and be content with my rack of 4th place trophies?

On a high level, the answer was yes. At this point I can honestly say I have already done more than I really thought I would be able to 3.5 years ago. But at the same time, everything I’ve done in the last 3.5 years has also shown me how much more I can do. And so for that reason, it would be quite bittersweet. So, over the last few weeks I spent a lot of time looking at the things I’m doing and making changes to do them all a little bit better so I can accomplish more before my time in sport does end (hopefully not for a long time though!). Eating better. Sleeping more. Planning my weeks so I’m not running around like a crazy lady.  Making the effort to do training sessions in the way they are intended – even if it means it’s a bit inconvenient.

So yeah….I’m back. And, moving forward smarter and stronger than I was a month ago!