Well, I dared to blink and when I opened my eyes, it was mid-March! 2016 is off to a busy start! Doesn’t it always seem that whenever you’re already fighting to keep your head above water, life starts dumping more water on you?! That’s been life for the Oylers lately.
January was full of ups and downs. I was still struggling with leftover respiratory issues from some sort of cold or something I picked up over Thanksgiving. It felt like I was breathing through a straw. I was able to grit it through bike and run sessions, but swimming was miserable. Well, swimming is ALWAYS miserable for me, but it was crossing the line into torture territory! The many ups of the month included a girls trip to run the Carlsbad Half Marathon. My sister-in-law Jenny and I hopped planes to San Diego and were picked up by our friend Amy, who lives there. It was nice to get away from life and spend time with friends. The race was a blast. We threw out all time goals and just ran for the sake of running. I kind of forgot how fun sports can be when you take the competition out of it.
When I got back from my trip, my little lady made her rite of passage into big kid territory and lost her first tooth. That moment was the definition of bittersweet. When she was a baby and first got that tooth, I remember having a little bit of sadness in my heart that I would never see her gummy smile ever again. Four years later, I was on the other end of that tooth, and sadness again filled my heart as that tooth would no longer contribute to her toothy grin.
To cap off the month, I was asked to join the Simple Hydration Run Team. This clever invention was a great discovery I made last tri season, so I was completed humbled to be asked to represent the brand!
Overall, February was a great month! I was FINALLY able to kick the sickness away and was feeling completely healthy again! This newfound health allowed for great tri training! I was able to break La Bete free from the trainer and do some long rides outdoors. These provided me opportunity to develop new friendships and build more confidence on the bike. Tri training this year has really taught me that triathlon doesn’t have to be a solitary sport. While we are ultimately competing against ourselves, the training can be a group activity. I’ve gotten to really jump into the triathlon community here in Houston and it’s been so helpful!
Another big boon to my tri training came courtesy of the Tri Mafia! I was honored to be asked to be an ambassador for this amazing team and am SO thankful for the opportunity. I’ve connected with so many wonderful people that are not just great athletes, but great human beings. When I feel down, these mafia brothers and sisters pick me up and put a foot in my ass to get going again!
March got off to a BANG with an amazing training weekend on the Ironman Texas 70.3 course, organized by Austin Aquatics and Swim Academy (AASA). At the beginning of my training, I set a stretch goal for the race. I know, I should be setting performance goals, not time goals, but we ALL do it! With life making training challenging, I thought that my stretch goal was more like a fantasy than a possibility! This training weekend was an eye-opening experience. The swim was on Saturday afternoon and was a real success. Open water swimming always gives me a bit (translation: A LOT) of anxiety. On top of that, my swim pace has been WAY off in the pool lately. So, my goal for the swim at my race shifted from a certain time/pace to just surviving. The AASA folks were really framing the training as race preparation, so they had us all hop in Offat’s Bayou and tread water for a mass/wave start. I took off at a comfortable pace, but was having a minor panic attack inside. Last year during the Kemah Triathlon, I had a full-on panic attack and had to float on my back for a bit to calm down before I could get going again. This time, I was able to have a panic attack while still freestyle stroking away! BIG accomplishment. When I finished the course and got to the ladder to the dock, I was surprised to see 29 minutes on my Garmin. I asked other what their watch showed for distance and they had about 0.9 miles. This would put me at about a 2:00 min/100 m pace, WELL ahead of my race goal of 2:15-2:30 min/100 m. Granted the water was calm, so my swim could put me at a slower pace if the water is choppy on race day, but this swim was truly triumphant for me. A serious confidence booster!
Sunday was bike-run brick on the course. This was going to be my longest ride thus far and the crucible to test my legs for the run. All the outdoor riding I have been doing lately set me up for a strong bike. Technology issues (translation: user error) had me a bit in the dark on my numbers during the ride. I had no idea my distance or cadence, but I could see my ride time and my speed, so I knew I was doing pretty decently on that first half. Then came the turnaround and the relentless head and cross winds! Ooof! But, my speeds didn’t drop much and I got through it feeling pretty strong. My final average moving speed was 18.8 mph, which was pretty much right on with my stretch goal of 19 mph. I racked my bike, changed shoes, threw on my trucker hat and off I ran around Moody Gardens. I was REALLY surprised how good my legs felt. That first mile is all about pacing and shaking the legs out, after which I felt stronger and stronger. I ended up doing 3 loops of the run course that was set up for a total of 4.41 miles at 8:23 min/mile pace. Again, this was pretty much right on my stretch goal of 8:30 min/mile for the race.
Like I wrote earlier, this training weekend taught me a lot about myself. Firstly, it taught me I’m stronger than I thought I was and secondly, that I need to believe in myself more than I currently do. I struggle with confidence. I think when you have lived 30-something years with very low confidence, building any confidence in yourself makes you feel like you’re being cocky. But, I think I’m learning that maybe it’s ok to be a little cocky. I have friends and family that believe in me, why can’t I believe in myself? I like to think of my self-confidence as a bank account and this training weekend allowed me to make a big deposit. Hopefully, someday I’ll be rich!!
Moving forward, I'm going to try to be better and make a post monthly, so I don't have to write a magnum opus like this one!