swim lane

I belong to a city recreation program. We have numerous gyms around the city and because I’m a resident it ends up being $20 a month. For me that’s a steal for a pool. Especially with both my husband and I participating in triathlons. However, with the aspect of a city pool, comes cluster time in the swim lanes every now and then. To be fair, it’s more often than not. While I appreciate the training for dodging people for IM open swim, sometimes it can be frustrating.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m the first to come unhinged when a kid jumps in the lane on top of me. I have learned to use that as an opportunity to teach the kids (it’s always kids) some swim lap ettiquite. You wouldn’t ram your car out into traffic and hope people see you, treat the swim lane the same way. Also? If your head position is correct in the water, you can’t see them coming at you anyway! I just try to be honest, explain that they need to make sure everyone in the lane knows they are getting in, while also explaining the danger of just jumping in.

Yesterday I was pretty lucky and got to split the lane with two different people during my swim (one for the first part, he got out then a lady got in.) When I had about 400 left, another woman stood at the end of the lane I was splitting. She looked at me when I hit the wall to grab my kick board and made some comment about how the woman I was sharing with should really be over in the leisure pool and that she was going to get in. She thought we were going to bond over being snarky and judging the woman in the water with me. She picked the wrong person as I don’t really get kicks out of judging someone’s pace.

It really irked me. I shook my head and said nothing (mostly because I wasn’t sure exactly how to respond quite honestly) and started my kick. After I came back down the lady I was splitting with said that we would be circling, I said okay and kept my kicking while thoughts just kept circling in my head about the woman being rude and judgemental.

Let me be frank, it is not okay to judge someone on their pace. It makes you look like an asshole. We all started somewhere and just because someone may be slower than you, doesn’t mean they aren’t working just as hard. I get so tired of seeing all the judging. It’s everywhere. Why can’t we just celebrate that we are all trying to be our best?

Triathlon is intimidating and I can’t imagine how hard it would be to try to be training for something like a first triathlon or swim race or whatever, and be subject to the judgement that this woman was giving the other woman. Why do we need to tear each other down to feel better about ourselves? The answer is we don’t need to. My achievements are based on my goals, and you reaching your goals doesn’t make mine less important or less impressive. I can be excited for you while still being excited for me.

I hope we all take the opportunity to be there for each other and work hard to lift each other up instead of tearing each other down. We are all part of the sports community. And as I said on twitter yesterday, our pace does not define us as an athlete, it is our dedication to making ourselves better. 

locker room chatter

Last week I was getting ready for work at my gym. I had just done a long swim session and at that point I think I was close to being ready.

There were two women who were in the same general area with me and started having a conversation about the swim session their coach/trainer had given them. They started with the general chatter, then it turned to the workout they were about to start.

I don’t remember word for word but in their minds the workout was impossible. I want to say the main set was 6×300 and the woman was having a hard time grasping swimming 1800 as part of the set at all if not the total for the entire workout. She was totally and completely convinced that she was not capable of doing any of the workout. She started planning on how she was going to adjust the workout and cut things short before she even got in the water. The coach wanted to her to work too hard and she wouldn’t be able to swim that far.

It took everything in me to keep my mouth shut, but the more I think about it maybe I should have said something. How many times does a coach see something in us that we can’t see ourselves? Isn’t that part of the reason we have coaches and training buddies?

How many times do we self sabotage our workouts before we even get started? I know there are times that I think Mary could have lost her marbles, but I also know that she’s an incredibly smart and talented coach and that if she thinks I can do it, I can. Even if I go into the workout skeptical, I always promise myself I will at least try it, and you know what? Before I know it the workout is complete, and Mary was right. (damn, that’s in writing now)

It takes time and patience to quiet down the little voice that says we can’t do something, that we aren’t good enough or fast enough or pretty enough. Whatever it may be that little voice is a liar. The sooner we stop believing the voice, the sooner we can push our boundaries and do things we never thought possible.

And most days, I love nothing more than proving that little voice wrong.

With a little work, you too, can prove that voice wrong. With a little hard work, anything is possible.

Blackland Triathlon 2014

I love this race. This was my first ever triathlon back in 2010 and I come back every year. The course is consistently the same, the support is great and they have a fun kids race beforehand to provide for some inspiration if you are lacking. For me this is where it all began and I go back to remind myself of where my love of triathlon started.

Sometimes it’s incredibly easy to get caught up in the awe and status of Ironman. I’m not going to lie, I feel pretty darn good when people find out I’ve done several Ironman’s and are truly impressed. But the roots of triathlon for me go back to the local scene, where it’s your friends Michelle and Erik who are in charge of the run course, and the race directors remember who you are because you’ve raced with them so many times, your friends kid is the one who body marks you and your local bike shop who knows your bike almost better than you do is there to help with any last minute issues.

I’m not going to lie, my goals for the race was to podium and grab an AG National spot. Aging up into the super competitive 30-34 age group I knew I had my work cut out for me. I know I’m in Ironman training, but I was hoping the week of taking it easy after last weekend (100 mile hotter than hell bike rally Sat with a hottest half marathon Sun, ouch) my body would bounce back a bit and support me. Valor Triathlon Project next year has a small group where our goal is to storm nationals and with my no Ironman plan next year, this fit perfectly. Spoiler: it didn’t happen, but I’ve got a bit of fire in my belly come January and some short course work to do.

The swim was good, I hopped in and was much smarter than previous years of swim fast and fade. I started with a good, fast consistent pace and just kept moving forward. It was in a 50 meter pool and about my second length I had a guy pass me, well, I latched onto his feet like they were my lifeline and I followed him all over that pool. The last turn I turned on the jets and passed him back and edged him out and got to the stairs first (thanks for the tow buddy.)

Hopped on my bike and just started going to work. This is a two loop course with two hills in the first 2.5 miles. I hit the bottom of that second hill and it’s the steepest of all the hills so I drop to my small chain ring. Uh-oh, I know that noise, chain had dropped. I pulled over to the side and thought I could pop it back on the small ring without getting off. Nope, that’s not working, I have to get off the bike. Try again, nope, it’s not budging. At that point I may have actually thrown my bike (sorry QR) to the ground so I could get a better angle on the crank and chain area. I pull the chain, hard. Nothing. WTF is going on? I then throw my bike totally upside down and realize that the chain has lodged itself between the frame and is stuck up behind my back brake. Seriously? I then used my legs on the bike and tried to pull the chain with my body. Nothing. I then get out my tool to start working on loosening the brake to see if that would help me pull it out, nope, nothing. At that point the mechanic who was based at the top of the hill literally ran down the hill to help me. We worked together and finally got it unstuck. Phew. His help was a lifesaver!

So back on the bike I went and I put my head even farther down and went to work. I knew that every second I was on the side of the road my chances were getting smaller and smaller, but I also knew if I didn’t give it my best I’d be particularly hard on myself for a while. Keeping all of this in mind, the plan for the race was to ride at a certain hr, with the caveat that I could ride higher if I wanted, I just had to keep my HR at x beats higher than my bike average on the run. While I don’t want to give away x, let’s just say it was enough to keep me somewhat level headed rather than completely blowing up on that bike. I worked hard, but smart. I finally hop off the bike and get my running shoes on.

Running running running. Big thanks to MK for snapping the pic during her run course duties!

Running running running in my little back Coeur tri kit. Big thanks to MK for snapping the pic during her run course duties!

I fly out of transition and just focus on keeping a good cadence. I know my general HR average for the bike, and I knew I had to keep it nice and high for the whole run. I cringed when I thought about the conversation with Mary if I didn’t follow through and made a stupid move on the bike where I couldn’t back it up on the run. So anytime I saw it drop a few beats, I pushed the pedal a bit farther down. This was especially fun when I got a side stitch, but managed to work through it without slowing (win!) and just kept trucking along.

It was hard, it was hot, and it was stupid windy all day. A little less than the last mile is uphill to the finish and I just focused on good form and keeping the legs moving. Rounded the corner and gave it all I had.

I finished happy with my effort but knowing in my heart it wouldn’t be enough. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed, but I’m incredibly proud of keeping my head on straight and focusing on everything I could control. It’s also the first race where I truly focused on the process and not the outcome. It was about hitting my zones and keeping my head on, not about the bike mechanical or the wind or anything else. It was sticking to my plan, and I stuck to it, like glue.

Certainly creates a little fire in the belly to work on short course come January. I’m actually excited for the first time to focus on speed (after Ironman Arizona) and have maybe a little more time on my hands for things like work, grad school and coaching.

Big thanks to all of our friends who volunteered during the day and were superb cheerleaders as we went buy. This race wouldn’t mean the same if it weren’t for having out there being generous with your time, thank you.

shaping the future

I can’t believe we are at the tail end of August. This year is flying by and I feel like I’m barely holding on!

After a disappointing race mentally at Texas, coach had me right back in the mix of training. I think she really knew I needed to not sit and wallow, so I became focused on working towards the next goal: IMAZ. Arizona was always the A focus this year, so it was a great way to learn some lessons and apply them to the next IM.

Beautiful day for a ride on the IMLP course

Beautiful day for a ride on the IMLP course

Since then I completed a version of the Whole 30 and about to start another round, gone to my first triathlon camp in Lake Placid (hello IMLP in 2016) and have worked towards some life changes. I also decided that refinishing my kitchen cabinets would be a great idea (it isn’t) but I’m on the tail end of finishing that project. Basically I’ve only left enough time in my life to eat lots, sleep and play with the fur kids.

When a triathlete doesn't have a kitchen, it's a no good, very bad thing

When a triathlete doesn’t have a kitchen, it’s a no good, very bad thing

That being said I have now laid the groundwork to chase some happiness in the next few years. On Monday, I will begin my first day of classes. I’m going to be going after my Masters in Kinesiology with a focus in Coaching. How awesome is it that a masters like that exists? I’m beyond thrilled to learn more about something that I love so much. I am ready for the adjustment to be a student again! (in addition to my daytime job, because that isn’t going anywhere yet) Plus it’s really cool that I will be going through my coursework with other coaches from all over the US. There will be university level coaches, high school coaches as well as recreational coaches I get to share with and learn from. I’m overwhelmed with the excitement – I’m like a kid before the first day of school! (I should point out I was always the excited kid on the first day, nice to see 8 years after graduating college nothing’s changed)

The other item I’ve sort of kept under wraps is that I’ll be attending a USAT Coaching 1 level certification course this fall. I’m sure with both pieces you can tell where my heart lies. I love the sport of triathlon, the friendships I’ve made and everything I’ve learned. It’s important to me to continue to learn and make myself the best coach I can be. I want to help other’s reach their goals and be successful because I wouldn’t be where I am without the support of my friends, teammates and coaches I’ve had along the way.

With that information let me know if you are interested, I’m opening up some spots to start this fall – you can email me at coachheidilueb@gmail.com or contact me via social media :) I can’t tell you how excited I am and how ready I am to get this moving. It’s been hard to keep it under wraps, but I wanted to get my ducks in a row before letting the world in on my little secret.

Here’s to a very busy fall full of things that I love!

a lesson in where I am : Ironman Texas 2014

It’s taken me a lot of time to sit and sift through my thoughts about this race. I had a hard time wrapping my head around what happened and how I wanted and needed to react to it.

The lead up to race day was not what I anticipated when I signed up. I knew that IM Texas was not my A race, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t want to perform my best. Between 70.3 Texas and IM Texas my life, well, it fell apart a bit. Things happened and I wasn’t able to get in as much quality training as I would have liked. In fact I didn’t do a workout for two weeks immediately following the half (there are like 6 weeks between them, so, kind of a big deal). I had more bad long bike rides than good ones, and I think the stress level plus not great eating made me feel heavy and bloated.

I spent the week before the race really thinking hard about my mental game and I knew I was exhausted from everything else. I was worried a bit in my ability to persevere when it hurt and when giving up was the easy thing to do. I knew I could do it, but I was wondered what would come out when I was deep in the dark.

I love my bike! #itspersonal

I love my bike! #itspersonal

Everything leading up to race daywas good. I love when Susan comes to work the event and we get to have dinner with her. It’s a good time where we can relax and enjoy seeing each other. Much needed time away from thinking about race day.

Doing Texas before made for a much easier time the second time around. We knew where to park, how long the walks were and everything in between. We got up early, ate our breakfasts and headed to transition to get everything set up. A quick setup and we were off to the start. The lines were stupid long this year and I barely got to go to the bathroom and get my wetsuit on and get in the water before the gun went off. Like I was literally in the water for under 60 seconds. Here’s hoping I don’t do that again!

Due to the race being wetsuit legal it felt a little more crowded this year, but I didn’t feel as beat-up as last year. Settled into a good rhythm and just pushed comfortably. Ended up getting a lot of air in somehow and had some side stitches in the water followed by some burping (never a good sign, and first time during a race they came up, and would haunt me all day.) I normally breathe every stroke in a long race like this, but felt more comfortable every 3 and just settled in. The canal this  year was more crowded and I honestly didn’t even kick for most of it and just pulled my way through – made much easier by the wetsuit keeping the legs up.

I get to ride my bicycle! Thanks to Shara Johnson for the pic

I get to ride my bicycle! Thanks to Shara Johnson for the pic

Existed the water with like a 6 min PR and headed to the bike! First time in a changing tent I honestly didn’t have anyone to help me. Sort of weird. Not tons of people in there but I did my duties, sprayed myself down with sunscreen (Neutrogena Wet is stupid awesome on race day and lasts.) I was so happy to be on my bike! I immediately started drinking and getting comfortable on my bike. I felt really good out there. I kept checking in – can I do this for x amount of miles more? If the answer was no I did my best (tried) to slow down a bit. Did good on getting the fluids in, struggled a bit with consistent nutrition. I started to feel a bit flat and just struggled as soon as we hit the national forest. Stomach started getting cranky with everything. Eventually I caved and picked up a perform and drank that slowly and it brought me back to life. But out there on 20 miles of soul crushing chip seal and headwind I went to die.

I pushed hard with all my might those last 15 miles. I just really wanted to come in close to last year’s time (honestly the bike ride felt MUCH harder this year with the wind than last year with the heat.) I do well with short little rollers and long straight stretches and ended up passing some people pretty handily during that last section.

Riding in the forest! So happy & surprised to see friends on the bike course! Thanks Shara Johnson for the pic

Riding in the forest! So happy & surprised to see friends on the bike course! Thanks Shara Johnson for the pic

I wasn’t very nice to myself out there. In fact, I got downright mean pretty early on in the bike and that attitude carried me throughout the day. I’ve never been like that for a race. I’m usually negotiating, checking in and motivating myself forward. This race there were no positive thoughts. Only thoughts of how awful I was doing, how I was letting myself down, that I sucked and didn’t deserve all the praise I was getting on the course. I was in a very, very dark place and had a hard time seeing the light.

One of the lights I did see was a little boy who wouldn’t have been more than 10 in the last 10 miles of the bike course. He was on the side of the road randomly with his family and they were all set up with their chairs and such. He was standing and cheering for all of us. He looked square at me and told me that he believed in me. I got chills and almost broke down into tears. This little boy, who didn’t know me, and didn’t know what was going on inside my head believed in me. Maybe I should, too?

Ooof. I sure look happy here. Big thanks to Corey Oliver for the pics - he took pics of everyone during the race and made them available. Big big thanks!

Ooof. I sure look happy here. Big thanks to Corey Oliver for the pics – he took pics of everyone during the race and made them available. Big big thanks!

I even had thoughts of throwing in the towel once I was done with the bike. I wasn’t having fun out there and I didn’t feel like I was performing well (despite the fact that however small I technically PR’ed everything in the IM, including transitions.) The thought of my friends who came down specifically to support Brian and I kept me going. Knowing that Jill and Suzanne were out there to support me and that Team Stringer was so excited to see us kept me moving forward. If you are reading this I don’t think you can understand the impact you had on me for being out there that day. You couldn’t possibly have known how hard of a day I was having, and that you were my light at the end of the tunnel out there. I will forever be grateful to you for that.

So I hit transition and quickly got everything I needed (the lady who helped me in T2 was beyond fantastic) and headed out. I didn’t feel great, at all. In fact I felt like poo, total and complete poo (does that mean I rode right? ha!) and the first few miles were really tough. I was exited to see a bunch of friends after the first aid station (Shara, Sarah, Ann, Chris and Andrew’s family) who really helped lift my spirits during the first part of the run. I just went back to one foot in front of the other. I kept my pace even and tried to only walk the aid stations for as long as I could.

Susan asked me how I felt, I had a message for her. Middle finger style - ahahaha! Thanks Susan Lacke for the pic :)

Susan asked me how I felt, I had a message for her. Middle finger style – ahahaha! Thanks Susan Lacke for the pic :)

During this time I couldn’t really stomach much but a bit of water and perform. So I dumped what I had in my handheld and kept it full of water. Used the 8oz Nathan bottle and kept it between my shoulder blades per usual racing and it performed beautifully again. I told myself no magic coke until at least lap two, ironically enough when I did take coke for the first time it didn’t sit well so I would only take a handful of times and very little. Some races coke is the cure all and others it’s not, that day perform was what my stomach wanted. Just kept pushing forward and jogging (I’m not sure what I was doing qualifies as running but I was moving forward.)

I really loved seeing Kristi out there (and demanded a sweaty hug on course, I think you might actually be my Ironman support buddy, ha!) and running into Ron who had an awesome swim and bike but had a calf injury force him to walk the run. Without that Ron would have kicked the crap outta me this year – I’m sort of afraid of the beat-down that is going to come in AZ… Seeing them on the course lifted my spirits at the end of loop 2 and beginning of loop 3.

After the first aid station on loop 3 Sonja popped up around a corner and nailed me walking. I got a stern talking to about getting moving and walking only the aid stations. Come a few miles later at an aid station I was walking through and she popped up and told me again to walk faster then get moving. I actually had someone around me ask if that was my coach (she was very tough love, which I needed at that moment), I said that she wasn’t my coach but was a friend and a great coach to have. At that point she waited for me at the end of the station and made sure I got running again. From that point on for the rest of the race I ran scared, because I was afraid of walking and having Sonja pop up again. Seriously. I’m a grown woman and I was scared of getting caught walking – talk about some motivation. For that I will forever be thankful she was there to give me the tough love I needed.

IT'S OVER. THANK GOD! Thanks to Susan Lacke for the pic

IT’S OVER. THANK GOD! Thanks to Susan Lacke for the pic

I also was pretty hard on myself during the run, too. Lots of negativity about how awful I am and that I couldn’t believe how slow I was. Keep in mind I really didn’t know overall how I was doing. I knew I had PR’ed the swim and come close to last years time on the bike, what I didn’t know is really how I was doing on the run. Right before I came back onto the waterway for the last few miles of the run there was a guy on his second loop who asked about the actual time and time cutoffs, he was worried about making it. I switched my watch over to time of day to help him calculate it (I was pretty confident with the way he was moving he would make it) but I also realized that with the actual time of day, if I kept moving I could PR overall.

All of a sudden I realized how awful I was being (I didn’t really know at the time) and those last several miles became a battle of how much I wanted a PR. It was hard and yes I cheated and walked briefly twice, but I pushed through with a purpose: a purpose to finish.

I remember making the turn to the finish instead of another loop (thank god) and Eminem was playing. It was so fitting for me. I love rocking out to Eminem when I do listen to music and it was full circle to finishing to him. I was so happy to be finished. Susan was there and took great care of me – I found a sneaky place to sit because apparently Brian was a bit behind me but not super far. He had a very rough nutrition day and pushing through. This way I could still be there when he finished.

See? I'm still sitting on the boxes. So happy to be sitting. Thanks to Susan Lacke for the pic!

See? I’m still sitting on the boxes. So happy to be sitting. Thanks to Susan Lacke for the pic!

I was amazed, I thought for sure someone was going to tell me to move (I was sitting on a bunch of boxes) and eventually one volunteer came over and asked if I needed anything! Ha! I told her the boxes were a godsend and that I was just waiting for my husband to finish, she said to let her know if I needed anything and left me with Susan and Jason. Brian crossed and we made our way through the food tents and grabbed out bags. Thank god the Ironman store was still open and let us use their changing rooms. There is no greater feeling after an Ironman than getting your kit off – I don’t care how comfortable it was during race day, I want the thing off.

Back to the course for a bit and the rest of the night was spent at the finish line with Team Stringer. The finish line is the best those last few hours. I danced a bit (still not sure how) but had a blast cheering those on who were still finishing. Such a special place at midnight, and I still don’t know how Mike Reilly does it.

Best spot to be for the last few hours!

Best spot to be for the last few hours!

Lessons learned? I can pace like a mo-fo. That Ironman run was pretty perfectly paced – the pace I started with is the pace I finished with. I was stupid consistent over the course of the marathon. I may not have been happy with what that pace was, but I was smart on race day and did the best day that I could on that day with my training conditions. Does that sting a bit? Absolutely. I know I’m faster somewhere down inside of me. I know that. And it lit a bit of a fire in my belly to push it out. To work hard for the next now 5 months to really dig and pull out what I can.

Ironically the most fit I had felt in months was the day after Ironman. Yes, I was tired and beat up, but I felt fit and healthy and strong. I will also keep that with me, tucked inside: Ironman makes me strong.

Do I have some mental work to do? Hell yes I do. More than I thought. I broke down and I let the dark win. You bet your ass that won’t be happening in Arizona. I am working to fight for every last inch of that race and really work hard to overcome the negative that I found in Texas. I didn’t have a bad performance day, I had a bad mental day.

Now that I’ve stepped back, I can appreciate a bit more of how I did. It took me weeks and weeks and weeks of really being down on myself to accept that I had a great day for where I was fitness wise. Let’s be honest it’s a true testament to Mary and her ability to adapt that got me across that finish line in one piece. And for that, I am thankful to her. For being a hell of a wingman and really letting me find my way back to enjoying this sport from December to today. She’s allowed me to find my joy again, and with that, came a bit of fire in my belly. Watch out world, we’re here to accomplish great things.