>There’s no ‘I’ in Team…and only one ‘A’ in Triathlon.

December 28, 2010 § 4 Comments

>You don’t have to like the sport.
You don’t have to even respect the sport.
But please, for the love of god, learn how to spell its name:



December 21, 2010 § 4 Comments

>I get a lot of questions when I talk to people about what I do. And that’s okay – I enjoy telling people about ultrarunning and endurance sports. But one of the things that always gets to me when I answer these questions is that I feel like the people asking them are looking for some deep, soul searching answers. One of the most common questions is “what do you think about during all that time you’re running?” I don’t know what answer would prompt any intrigue or excitement, but usually my answer is “nothing, really.” Or maybe, “putting one foot in front of the other.” I am then met with a look of disappointment by the person, as if they were expecting something greater. And while those are true answers, I suppose I do think about some things. So during the 9 hours I spent running this weekend I made note of the things I thought about:
-What is a Sharona?
-Man, has Avril Lavigne put out any new jams lately? These old ones are dope.
-Who sings this song? …oh, Avril again.
-Why does my iPod only play Avril Lavigne and Daniel Powter when it’s on shuffle mode?
– I wonder if this guy is going to tell on me for trespassing.
-I wonder if I will get shot by a hunter today.
-Oh my god there’s a bear!
-I just saw my first bear.
-Why isn’t that bear hibernating?
-Where is that bear’s mother?
-Man my legs are tired.
-I’m hungry.
-If I could eat anything right now it’d be a cheeseburger from Fudruckers.
-Does Fudruckers even still exist?
-Where are these hikers coming from?
-I need to buy a megamillions ticket.
-Man this pack weighs alot.
-I should drink more to make it weigh less.
-Now I really have to pee.
-There is nowhere to hide in the woods in the winter when you have to pee.
-Hahaha: yellow snow.
-How can I possibly sweat this much when it’s so cold.
-I wonder if anyone still has Kid Pix on their computer.
-I should probably think about something deep and thoughtful now, to impress people.
-Hmm…deep and thoughtful. World Peace.
-North Korea?
-Carly said interesting things about diseases the other day when I ran with her. Maybe that’s something deep.
-It would be weird if you could give people diseases without having them yourself.
-I would give ____ shingles or something gross.
-Boom boom pow.
-Vanilla gingerbread GU tastes like Christmas.
-I wonder what I would say tastes like Hanukkah.
-Almost done
-Woop woop
-Maybe I’ll try to run up this whole climb since it’s the last one of the day.
-Yep, maybe not.

You get the picture. While ultrarunning does offer you the time to do some soul searching, that’s certainly not what it’s all about for me. For the most part, it really is just about the run.

>It’ll Get Worse

December 14, 2010 § Leave a comment

>My parents have always been two of my biggest fans. They have also given me some of the most useless advice during my races:

Mom: Good job Alyssa. How do you feel?
Alyssa: Not so good. My stomach is a little iffy right now.
Mom: It’s okay to quit if you want to.

Dad: How do you feel?
Alyssa: Not so good. I’m not sure my legs are gonna hold up.
Dad: Well, it’ll only get worse.

My parents’ words were ringing in my ears this week. While I am feeling good physically, mentally the winter is tough. I don’t want to get out of bed. I don’t want to drive 2 hours to run 5-6 hours in freezing temps. My mind wants to just hibernate and watch Jerry McGuire and Princess Bride all day. I was able to drag myself out for each run this weekend, and still, everything just seemed to get worse.

Saturday’s 50K was so cold my straw from my nathan pack froze and I couldnt drink until over 11 miles into the run. Then I fell, twice, in the Do Loop and got a hole in the knee of my last pair of running tights that didn’t have holes in the knee already. It scraped me up pretty good and I cut my intended run a little short. Sunday was just as cold, oh and it was pouring rain. Foggy and icy, I knew it’d be a long day. It also just looked super spooky up in the mountains:

The rain made the little icicles from the tree branches that fell on my head for 3.5 hours. The rocks were slippery and I couldn’t make good time. And I was cold. And wet. And lonely.

On my last repeat on Sunday I was making good time trying to fly recklessly down the mountain in hopes that I could make my run all of 30 seconds shorter than if I took my time and ran carefully. I hit a log that was set up to make a step along the climb and before I even realized what happened my leg slid down the log, my other leg reached out to catch me but only found air, and boom, there I was, sitting on a log. Listening to the soundtrack of Rent on my iPod. After looking back up the mountain to ensure no one saw the embarassing feat I just managed, there was only one option: to laugh. And just like that, the spell was broken.

So yes, it will get worse.
But then it will get better.
And this is what I came for.

12/6 – Easy 8.5 miles, 75 minutes
12/7 – 10 miles with 4×2 mile repeats, 85 minutes
12/8 – Easy 7.5 miles, 1 hour
12/9 – 15 miles, 2 hours
12/10 – Easy 8.5, 75 minutes
12/11 – MGM 50K, 5 hours 40 minutes
12/12 – Hill repeats, 3x30minutes, 3 hours 20 minutes, 15 miles

Totals: 95.5 miles, 14 hours 55 minutes

>I have a confession

December 11, 2010 § Leave a comment

>I listened to music while I ran.
For the first time.
In twenty.

And I’m not sorry.

I also probably never would have admitted it, but I was caught red-handed. (Thanks Brenjunarf)

While this will not become a regular practice of mine, I do think it may come in handy at the HURT.

In other news, last week was a rest week and those are boring to post about so I will say that I just took it easy, my long run was a little over 3 hours, and I was in the low 60s for mileage. I really needed a massage and some time to regroup mentally as I geared up for the coming weeks. It seemed to have worked so far though as I have felt good this week.

Jackie mentioned the other day that she had been stalking me (which I appreciate) and ended up wayyyy back in my blogposts. So I was like hmmm I wonder what those even say? It was a sad realization when I realized that my blog stories were way cooler and funnier 2 years ago when I was living with 3 hot blonde girls and drinking a box of wine every night. So in the interest of actually keeping people entertained throughout my boring stories as a homeowner/old lady/obsessive runner, here’s this little gem:

A friend of mine was deployed during Thanksgiving and they sent over some letters to the military from kids in the US. He was nice enough to spread the good cheer and type up a few of the diamonds in the haystack for me, and I will pass them on to you (complete with his slightly humorous commentary on them):
1. “Dear Hero, Thank you for fiding for are country it is helpful to us.
Thank you for helping us. From Kalee.” (came with a rudimentary marker-drawn picture of a dude in camo holding an American flag with a plane overhead. Plane had a line to it with the word “airplane” and soldier was aptly labeled “guy”.)
2. “Dear Savior, Thank you very much for protecting all of us. I really appreciate what you are doing. You are being really really nice to us and I like that very much. Please write back. From Joey.” (no address for me to write back)
3. “Dear Hero, Thank you for protecting are country. Thank you for fighting for are country so everybody ais safe. Because if you win we can have more stuff to have. From Morgan” (typical chick)
4. “Dear Defender of the U.S.A., How are you doing, how does it feel to be in the armed forces. Thank you for fighting for our Country, we appreciate what you did, or we wouldn’t have good clhoths but you gys are really spiechl I hope you get to celebrat thanksgiving pleas can you write a letter back if you want. From Miraela”
5. And my personal Favorite: “Dear Defender of U.S. (maybe just us…not exactly clear). Thank you for risking your lives in world war 2 for are country. From Jon” (Little Jon’s best subject is history)

>Fantasy Triathlon

December 3, 2010 § 2 Comments

>Who would win an iron-distance triathlon, and why?

-Jane from Survivor Nicaragua (yes I am part of the 1% who still watches it)
-The Little Mermaid (she gets legs in T1)
-Chrissie Wellington
-Little Red Riding Hood
-Sarah Palin


December 2, 2010 § 1 Comment

>I’ve hinted already that I have spent some time debating ultras vs. Ironman. Can they both be put on a race schedule and can you get to your best at either one with them both on the schedule? While I have achieved a dece level of success this way, I do not believe I will get any further in either one trying to balance both. So as I train for HURT, all my focus is on running and I’m staying off the bike and out of the pool. There really is not other way to prepare for 25,000 feet of climb and a 30 hour race day other than to be on your feet, and on the trails. But then the question become, what next in 2011? I really do love the 100 mile distance and I want to work towards a big win at that distance one day. But, I also like the Ironman. I like cycling. I like the level of intensity that is in that race during every minute. Looking at it further, improving at either sport is simple: get faster. After thinking about it, I knew that ultimately my speed would improve more doing the workouts required for an IM rather than a 100. It’s easier to then take speed from a marathon and draw that into endurance for a 100, then it would be the other way around. Therefore I decided that after HURT, I will focus solely on the Ironman in 2011.

Easy, right? Well, not really. Truth of the matter is, Ironman training is tough. Not just the workouts – the logistics. When I work 45 hours a week, scheduling running workouts is relatively easy to me by now. I know how to get in the miles and I know what type of workouts are required. When you throw swimming and biking into the mix though, I’m a lost puppy. And there really aren’t many people I know who have had great success at the distance either to draw from their training. I have said it before that I felt like I had a sub-11 race in my hands at Wisconsin, and watched it slip away on the run. The reason for that is simple: I didn’t train for a sub-11. I didn’t to the proper workouts to run that off the bike. I wasn’t prepared. Close, but no cigar.

Figuring out how to get myself to the next step wasn’t even a question. I knew I would get a coach when I was ready to tackle the IM head on. In the past couple years I have had discussions with several notable coaches. For one reason or another, they never worked out. Generally, I wasn’t ready. But I also didn’t feel like I had met anyone that clicked with me enough to coach me and get the results we’d both want. After Wisconsin this year, I stumbled upon Hillary Biscay. You may have heard of her from her recent 2nd place at Ultraman (if you don’t know what that entails, look it up!). Or, perhaps you know her as the chick who did 6 Ironmans in one year…and placed top 5 in all of them. Or maybe you just watch Ironman Live sometimes and think she’s pretty, haha. And if you don’t know her, you should.

When I look for a coach, I have a few priorities. First and foremost, can I respect their athletic accomplishments in a way that I relate to them as an athlete. Of course I respect someone like Chrissie Wellington. She’s uber fast and a great role model. But, I think Chrissie also came out of the womb doing a sub-9 Ironman. I can’t relate to that. I have always thought of myself as a great athlete, but when I want to get good at a particular thing – whether it be soccer goalie, the high jump, or triathlon – I have to do work. Luckily, I consider one of my best qualities also to be that I am extremely coachable. Once I decide I respect a coach, I have no problem putting all my faith and trust in them and just doing what they ask of me. In my opinion, it’s great. They’re doing the hard part of figuring out how to schedule my workouts and what to make them…I have the easy/fun part of just doing them! After reading about Hillary’s athletic accomplishments (including training under the infamous Brett Sutton) I know that she has truly had to work hard to get to where she is. (Not that someone like CW doesn’t work hard…it’s just…different.) People like that generally expect the same from those they coach, and that’s what I want. Hillary also has the “ultra” mentality. She will understand that side of me.

Second, can I be friends with this person? While this may be a trivial thing for some athletes, it does matter to me. No longer am I part of a team where if you don’t like the coach it’s “oh, whatever, I have my friends around me that I play with at practice.” Instead, it’s us. My coach is my team. Thus, they have to be my friend. I need them to understand me as a person as well as an athlete. I need to feel like I can be open with them about my life; that kind of relationship (in my opinion) only strengthens the athlete-coach bond. And, I’d argue, it makes the coach better able to help the athlete. After exchanging e-mails I had a hunch that Hillary and I would get along. When I went out to IMAZ, she graciously took the time to meet me for coffee. I was able to chat with her for over an hour without even blinking. Who knows – we do have the same birthday so maybe that helps, but I definitely feel like we’re on the same page with both life and triathlon.

And finally, what is their coaching style? Heart rate coaching? Miles vs. minutes? How far out do they schedule workouts? How frequently will they check in and readjust them? I was happy to hear that Hillary doesn’t coach via heart rate. I don’t understand that and I don’t really like it. I would hate to have my heart rate be telling me to slow down when really I feel good and can keep pushing it, etc. She coaches based off perceived exertion and does a combination of miles and minutes. She schedules workouts 1-3 weeks in advance, and as soon as I log a workout she can sign in and see how it went to re-adjust the upcoming ones. She is also a very “hands on” coach. I like that she didn’t have separate levels of coaching packages. In her words: “I don’t really know how to create a “less is more” training program, and I don’t pretend to.” She limits the number of athletes she takes on so that she can give them 100%, while still getting after her own training/racing agenda. Pretty Sweet.

So that is set, and I’m pretty excited. Right now, my 2011 looks like this:
-Columbia Triathlon (May)
-Eagleman 70.3 (June)
-IM Louisville (August)
-IM Arizona (November)

I’m sure I’ll race a few others but those are the bigger ones for next year. February can’t come soon enough!


December 1, 2010 § 1 Comment

>“When it is all said and done, the HURT 100 is made up of souls: souls with young dreams, visions of sublime beauty, and the ever-present vigilance of the vulture of uncertainty that makes this kind of adventure and camaraderie so rare and precious in our modern era.”— Matt Stevens, 2009 HURT 100 Participant

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