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Denver Marathon: Base Building 101

I know I am a week late, but I ran the Denver Marathon last weekend. :) The day before, a friends told me to "try to win it". I laughed and said, "I'm going to try to finish it."

Going into this race, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. Since signing up in August, I had kept up with my running. So, I was prepared for the race (ie, could do the distance), but not really trained for it-- let alone prepared to do extremely well in it. To complicate things, we had hired our new coach and he had me running a 24 mile training run earlier in the week. (Generally you taper/rest-up prior to the race.) This confused me a it, but I rolled with it, thinking there must be some methodology in it.

As the race neared, I did get more excited about it. The expo was fun and I was going to be Trakked on the new Trakkers system. I went to dinner Friday night with a friend and we talked about the race. More talk and encouragement were given to me at a baby shower on Saturday. The morning of, we were up bright and early at 4:45 (actually, it was really dark at this time). We had a sitter arrive and Ross and I were off to downtown.
We took a disposable camera with us (more on poor camera quality later) and took a few shots and enjoyed the hubbub that surrounds the start. Our friend, Sonja, found us and helped us hop the fence (literally) into the corral and there we waited for the race to start, which is where this was taken.
The race was the race. I am sorry that I don't have more insight for you on that. The course was in a city that I know pretty well, so I wasn't enthralled by the scenery or the architecture. But it was flat, well supported and organized-- all signs of a good race. (It will be interesting to see how it is run next year when Rock'n Roll takes it over.)

At one point along the way, I was walking through a water stop with a guy who was obviously hurting, so I asked him if he needed anything. He said he didn't and went on to gripe about not training properly, his body, etc. I told him about my 24-mile run earlier in the week and he asked why I did it. I said "I dunno. My coach told me too." Then he asked "First marathon?". To which I replied "twelfth" and kept running. But it made me think more about my race and my training and why I was doing this. It obviously wasn't for a pr. I didn't need any more race t-shirts or medals. What was going through Steve's head when he had me train so hard earlier in the week? And I thought of the Ironman.

I finished the race strong. Slower than the start, but not in survival mode. Sonja was at the end smiling and waiting for me. She asked how I thought I did and I told her about my week and that I felt good that I could do that much mileage without compromising my body. She confirmed that this was probably Steve's way of building my base. A very, very wide base. Which is what I will need with my goals I have set out for myself for the next year.

Over all, pleased with my experience and my recovery, in particular. This race was an experience and it taught me many things, including that sometimes races aren't meant to be the prize, but the ticket to a bigger one. This next year, I am expecting to have a lot of races that aren't going to be pr's. They aren't going to be highlights. But they ARE going to prepare me to have one AWESOME Ironman!

OH! And I promised more on the picture quality of the camera. Here is another picture that came off of the camera:Recognize him? That's ROSS. With HAIR! Which means this camera is 9+ years old. No wonder the quality of the film was so horrible!

Happy Birthday to Me!

So... you know you are a tri-geek when you get totally excited about... a transition bag!

A transition bag is really nothing more than a gym bag with all sorts of compartments for your different gear. When I started this whole triathlon biz, I had no clue what I would need at races and I still don't. A bag like this allows you to stuff a lot of random things into a small space so that you can have basically everything you need when you are at a race. Above all, it helps to keep you organized. And I like to be organized. (Clean- not always. But organized- yes!)

To top things off, this is something I wanted, but never hinted at it. Didn't ask for it. Wasn't going to buy one. It was just something I had seen around and Ross picked up on the fact that I would like one, so that is what he got me. :)

Here I am with my awesome new bag:
(It even comes tricked out with a small fold-up chair attached to the side. Seriously, this bag has EVERYTHING.)

And here are some of the cute little tags to help me know where to put stuff.

I think the tags are more to show off the cool logos. Some may call it overkill because no matter how dense you are, I don't think you will be stuffing your bike helmet in the sunglasses compartment without their direction. And think I can figure out that my wetsuit goes in the waterproof area and all. Being graphically driven, I still like them.

Then Ross had me open another gift– I LOVE IT!

A simple charm on a necklace to remind me what we had accomplished in our first season.

With the Ironman logo on the other side to remind me what we were training for in the upcoming year. Perfect!

My husband is such a good guy and so in tune with what would make me happy, it is a wonderful thing. I hope that I do the same in return for him.

So... how did I spend my glorious birthday?
Running 24 miles. My longest training run EVER. Then spending the afternoon "working" from the couch. Yep, that's the life I am leading this year. Some people felt sorry for me when they asked how I spent my day, but I loved it. It was totally me and what I want to be doing this year. Next year, I hope to be able to run 33 miles on my 33rd birthday. (I have a feeling like I might accomplish that well before the year is up, but we will see.)

5 Things I Am Willing To Do...

So, after the sign-up. Now we are in. We are REALLY in.

What to do next?

Good question, huh? And one I was sick of answering myself. I mean, this is only my, what, sixth month as a triathlete? And now I am training for an Ironman. Man, I need some help if I am going to survive this next year. Sure, we navigated our way through our first season successfully and all, but I won't lie: It. Was. Hard. And part of the hardest part was never knowing if you were doing it 'right' or wasting your time or what not. I need someone to tell me what to do.

So we hired a coach to tell us what to do.

Now, I know that I say that nonchalantly, but let me assure you, this was not an easy or light-hearted decision. Luckily for us, we live in such a fit climate that the problem wasn't finding a coach, it was finding the right coach for us. And there are so many coaches with so many philosophies, ways of training, different specialties, personalities, everything! Oy, boy! We interviewed 5 (yes, 5!) different coaches and all but one Ross and I really liked. Each interview was 2+ hours, so that's over 10 hours, just on that. Not to mention Ross and I talked for hours about the pros and cons of each coach and what we would get out of them, what we needed, would we consider separate coaches, etc. We contemplated second interviews, but realized we wouldn't really learn anymore than we needed to know. And, when it came down to it, we had to go with our guts, jump in and hope we made the right choice. So we did.

Back to the story:
In the process of signing up with our coach, he had us fill out a number of worksheets on out health, goals, strengths, weaknesses, etc. to help him better understand where we were coming from and to aid him in his job of coaching us. One of the questions that struck me was:
List 5 things you are willing to do to accomplish your goals.

Huh? 5 things? Aren't I just going to be swimming, biking, running a whole lot? Maybe throw in some weight training and core. Do you want me to define how far I am willing to swim? How much time I will devote to biking? Put numbers on it? What's the goal here? I know it struck Ross, too, because he asked me how I was going to answer it.

So I thought about it a bit and came up with these five:
  1. Pay a coach.
  2. Keep an open mind and do whatever is asked of me from said coach. (Which I am guessing involves running, biking and swimming further than I have ever before.)
  3. Define conservative goals for our business for the upcoming year (ie maintain it, but not focus on growing it).
  4. Give the majority of my time to training, learning, recovering, etc.
  5. Basically anything you ask of us. You're the coach and if you think it will improve me as an athlete, I will try my hardest to do it.
This was kind of an eye-opener to me, as I realized that IM training was going to be much, much more than hours in a week of training. It is going to impede on every part of our life. It is going to be a commitment that extends much further than the soreness of our muscles. It is going to affect the pocketbook, how we spend our family time, the business, where we spend our vacations, everything.

But, you know what, I am ok with that. By defining and knowing what we are giving up, we are accepting it so that we won't be resentful of it when it does indeed happen. I am reaffirming my commitment to the sport and to my goal for this next year.

It IS scary, but exciting at the same time.