UMC: Keepin' it real.

Apr. 1st, 2014 | 06:34 pm

I get asked fairly often, "How's your training going?" Like a good little polite American, my instinct is to reply, "It's going well, thanks!" And mostly I do. And mostly it is.

But that's just the polite answer, and it's not the whole story.

Because this is hard. It's 4am wake-up calls several times a week, it's two-a-days most days, it was ~62 hours of working out last month, which was just my second month, which comes out to roughly 2 hours of working out a day if I worked out every single day, which I did not (4 off days).

About one of those off days.

It wasn't supposed to be off.

I was supposed to do a wetsuit swim, my first since November, in Quarry Lake after work. I'd already had 2 swims that week and had another that weekend. My shoulders were fatigued. My whole body was fatigued. But I was game and I had my stuff ready and it was gonna happen.

And then one thing went wrong. And then another thing went wrong. And another. And suddenly I was overwhelmed. I didn't want to swim anymore. But I had to. It was on my schedule. It was a 90 minute workout that was my only workout for that day. It wasn't just a throwaway recovery workout. I had to do it. But maybe I could just skip it. But "that's what Ultraman wants" and "if you give up now, why not just give up on race day?" and all sorts of other bullshit platitudes that people use to guilt others into feeling like they have to workout even if they shouldn't. I had to do it. Plus (in the interest of keepin' it real) trainingpeaks tells me how many hours my coach wants me to do that week, and not doing this workout would bring me 90 minutes short of that goal. (Please note: my coach has told me she doesn't look at those numbers at all, but that's not how my brain works, and this also wasn't my most rational moment.) I had to do ALL the assigned workouts. Maybe I could miss a 30 minute recovery run or something. But not this swim. Not my first wetsuit swim. My first open water swim. I HAD TO DO IT.

But I couldn't. I could not bring myself to do it. In the car on the way home, I changed my mind about 10 times, each time being The Final Decision. I walked into the house having decided not to do it. And then I realized there was absolutely no reason I couldn't do it. I had my stuff. I wasn't injured. There was no reason. Except that I couldn't. I stood there and just stared at the ground and had a battle in my head and couldn't even move from that spot.

And then I made the final decision not to do it. And I didn't.

And once I let it go, I realized what a hugely enormous deal I'd made out of nothing, and I realized that.. basically I'd had a small panic attack. And that meant that deciding NOT to swim was completely and totally the right decision.

Do I wish now that I'd swam? Yeah, I kinda do. I wish I had a wetsuit swim under my belt. I wish I'd checked out how cold the Quarry was. I wish I hadn't driven my poor husband completely crazy that night.

But I didn't do the swim. And that was the right decision. And it really made me realize how much I have to take care of myself emotionally, on top of the physical and mental care.

Because as ridiculous as this story sounds, it was all very real and very important in the moment.

So mostly training is going well, thanks.

But some days, in the interest of keepin' it real.. it's not going well at all. It's really hard.

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Run Like the Wind 3 hour run race report 2013.. er.. 2014

Mar. 23rd, 2014 | 08:01 pm

Matt and I signed up for the Run Like the Wind run after Ironman Florida, Matt for the 6 hour, as a training run for Rocky Raccoon, and me for the 3 hour as training for.. just in case I got into Ultraman Canada (UMC), since I felt like I should maintain some sort of base. (For running, anyway. I evidently didn't feel strongly that I should maintain a base for swimming and biking, since I did very little in the months between Florida and UMC acceptance.)

Anyway, the point is, we signed up in November and the race was in December. Of 2013. Except obviously either it wasn't, or I'm REALLY behind in my race reports.

Details within..Collapse )

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UMC: First recovery week!

Mar. 18th, 2014 | 07:04 pm

I've settled in fairly well at this point, and am just plugging away at my schedule. I don't feel that much blogworthy has happened, but since several folks have asked how things are going, I might as well post about the not much!

I guess the biggest thing, really, that I've accomplished is finalizing all the travel/lodging plans. We have a house in Penticton (ish, I think it's actually in Okanagan Falls), on Skaha Lake, the lake in which I'll be swimming 10k. That means both beautiful views and a relatively short drive to the swim start on day 1. We also have a hotel for one night in Princeton, because day 2's bike is point to point, ending in a different city. At some point my crew and I will have to figure out the logistics of THAT day. (Cooking dinner for two nights on night 1, and hauling one along with us in a cooler in the van for night 2's dinner?)

And speaking of a van, we rented a minivan for our crew vehicle. And bought our plane tickets.

So basically these past few weeks have been expensive, but it's a huge load off my mind to have all of that squared away and taken care of. Now I can concentrate all my attention on whatever trainingpeaks tells me to do today.

And NOT what trainingpeaks tells me I'll be doing next week. Kelly has already chastized me for fretting about things coming up. And about staying out of my own head. She's already had a crash course in Amy's Neuroses, but she hasn't threatened to fire me yet.

The training has been going well, though. Two weeks ago, I had a pretty intense week (~15.5 hours of training, which is getting near where I've traditionally topped out for Ironman training) (it may not sound like much, but that's nearly a part time job on top of my full time real job) (and also that was only like week 5, and we have almost 5 months to go). But then I had my first recovery week! Which was delightful and needed. And also featured the worst training day I've had so far, where I got up at 4:30am to do a power test training ride, only to discover my powertap wasn't working, so I ended up doing no workout for my early rising. And THEN I went to Masters swim at lunch, diligently gathering an entire bag of supplies for the swim, only to discover when I got there that I had NOT brought my suit, the only thing that I couldn't borrow from someone else. Frustrating day. Silly in hindsight.

Texas Swim Center, where I do Masters swim. I remember thinking it was impossibly large and scary when I was a kid. It hasn't gotten any smaller as I've gotten bigger.

I really do enjoy this kind of training, though. I have a list of things I need to accomplish, and the planning and execution is like a puzzle game. I get a little thrill each time I manage to pull off a particularly complicated set of workouts, where I have to take clothes and food to work for the following day, or put out all my stuff the night before so I can roll out of bed at 4am and hit the road, bike or pool. (COMBO! 4X BONUS MULTIPLIER!)

If I looked ahead in trainingpeaks, I'd probably see that there's some long, complicated, entertaining workouts in my future. But since I haven't looked ahead, who knows what could possibly be there. Though if I theoretically had a swim in Quarry Lake a week from Friday, I might be moderately concerned that the water temps are allegedly still in the mid-50s currently. Can one wear a hoodie while swimming? I might find out.

It's been raining every Saturday, which means 4 hour trainer party at Karen's!

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UMC: 1 month down, 5 to go.

Mar. 2nd, 2014 | 04:47 pm

Technically I didn't start training at the very beginning of February, and February is a short month, but I'm gonna call it a month anyway. Time to catch up!


I signed up for Longhorn Aquatics Masters swim program, and as I mentioned in my last post, it had been years since I swam with a group, years since I'd done much non-freestyle swimming, and I was more than a little scared. I'm happy to say it's gone really well so far!

Granted, each workout is somewhere between 1:15 and 1:30, and to have my 3rd swim workout back be 4300yds was a little uncomfortable, but I've been able to hold my own in my lane, and nobody has stared at me like I'm incompetent when I'm swimming fly, back and breast, so either I'm pulling it off, or people are very polite.

Throwing an extra element of excitement into my reintroduction to group swimming was the fact that first UIL, then Big 12 swim meets happened the last week+, which meant the ONLY practices on the days I was assigned to swim were 5-6:30am. Buses don't even run that early, and we only have one car, so Matt was INCREDIBLY AWESOME and got up at 4am to drive me to campus and drop me off.

That also meant that roughly half the practices were canceled, which meant more people went to the sessions that weren't, which meant a lot of people in very few lanes. One of my swims, there were 6 other people in my lane. Circle swimming with 7 people in a lane requires a lot of coordination and cooperation.

Oh, and for those who say I'm a decent swimmer.. there are 8 lanes at UT Masters, 1 being the fastest, 8 being the not-as-fastest. I'm in lane 7. These people are amazingly fast.


Not much to report here. Cycling is going well. Ramping up quickly. My ride last week was 55 miles, which feels like it's really soon to already be riding that long, but then I look at where I'm trying to get TO (171 miles), and it seems pretty insignificant, and like I have a long way to go.

I'm definitely not breaking any speed records here, but I DID finally get a powermeter for my bike, and did my first ride with it today (on the trainer, courtesy of a front that moved through Austin, bringing our temps from 73 down to 38 in the matter of an hour or so, along with some bonus rain). Fingers crossed that doing power work will help me get stronger and, as a bonus, faster. I know I don't need to be superfast for Ultraman, just need to be able to ride forever, but my cycling is my weakest sport, and the less I can fear the time cutoffs for the bike, the better my head will be.


If I'd written this post last week, the run portion would have been much different. I came off of an off-season where I felt really good about my running. I was doing my long runs with Karen, and she slowed down to run with me, but I sped up to run with her, and the result was a winter of running faster than I've ever run my long runs, and feeling really good about it.

I did my run fit test for Kelly while I had a head cold, but felt like I did a solid 2 mile run, only a little slower than I felt like I should have been able to run 2 miles. A good base test going into my Ultraman training.

And then every run I did after that was just.. slow. Tempo runs where I had a range for my goal pace, I'd come in 30 seconds slower than the slowest goal pace. Long runs where I felt like I was running a solid normal pace for me (slower than I ran with Karen, but right about my normal long run pace), I'd look at my watch afterward and find that I was running 30 seconds per mile slower than I felt like I had.

It was just weird. My legs felt fine, my breathing felt fine, but when I ran the effort the achieve paces I knew, those paces just weren't there. It was frustrating as hell. I had a small crisis of confidence, which I might have expected from the swim, and definitely expected (and maybe still expect eventually) from the bike, but damn, I had felt GOOD about my running!

So I sent some pathetic mail to Kelly, and she sent back reassuring mail which fortunately did NOT say that I had completely misrepresented myself to her as an athlete, and she was quitting (what? I told you it was a crisis of confidence.. maybe I'll write a whole other post some day soon about the confidence issue and the things Ultraman training has dredged up; or maybe that's too embarrassing).

The stuff she told me was all stuff I knew logically. But logic didn't come into play here.

So then the next week, I tried to keep my head out of my own way. I ran by feel and ignored the numbers on my watch. I didn't get any faster, but I realized the numbers don't mean anything. I don't have to run fast. I just have to run comfortably and confidently. And as long as I feel good, it doesn't matter if I'm slower than I was over the winter. And that speed will probably resurface. I asked my body to do 12 hours of training on week 3 of my training. It did it very dutifully, and who am I to criticize it if it rebelled a little bit in the speed department?

And hey, what do you know? My running felt fine this week, and was even a little bit faster. There's hope for me yet. My head, that is. Not my legs. Those are holding up great so far.


I think he deserves his own section. Did I mention he got up at 4am three times recently to drive me to campus? He also made and packed my post-swim breakfast. And he's been doing all of my trainer rides alongside me, and trying to match up his workout schedule to mine, so he can be there when I need him. Basically he's making this as easy on me as it can be. And that's wonderful now, and will probably become indispensable in the future.

He's a keeper, for sure.

And that's it for now. I looked at my schedule for next week last night, and it looks pretty intense and difficult, but I'm excited to conquer it. And after that a rest week!

Okay, that was a lot of words. Thanks for following along on my journey, and thanks for all the encouragement!

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UMC: Laying the groundwork.

Feb. 11th, 2014 | 07:30 pm

Once you find out you've been selected for Ultraman Canada, you basically have 6 months to train for it. Some days that seems like a really long time. Some days that seems terrifyingly soon. But before I could even begin my journey, I've had to do lay some groundwork.

1. Choose a coach

After 6 Ironmans, I feel like I have some idea how to train for the Ironman distance, but Ultraman is completely uncharted territory for me. I decided to reach out to friend and local pro triathlete Kelly Williamson of Durata Training. We're still in the just-started-dating period of our relationship, where everything is new and she has no idea what I can and can't do as an athlete, so there's a lot of timed intervals and fit tests in my near future.

2. Get power

One thing Kelly does that I've never done before is trains with power on the bike. I've now got a fun new power meter for my bike, but can't start playing with it until we build out a new wheel for it, which is currently on order. So that's a work in progress.

3. Masters swimming

I'm joining back up with Longhorn Aquatics' masters swimming program. I don't even remember how long it's been since I swam with them, and it was only briefly then, but it's been many, many, MANY years. And several years since I swam with a group at all. And some of the days I'll be swimming will not be freestyle exclusively. Not gonna lie.. somewhat terrified about this one. My first class (an all-strokes one) will be tomorrow, unless I completely chicken out.

4. Plan out some events

This is and will be an ongoing process. So far I'm definitely in for days 1 and 2 of Easter Hill Country Tour, replacing the final day or riding with a run, possibly even a run on the ride course! I was hoping to get in a good, long practice swim with Colin's Hope, but it looks like they're only doing one distance swim this year, and it's after UMC, so if I do it, it will be a celebration swim rather than a training swim. And other than that, I have no idea at this point. I surely wish there were more early-season distance swims around Austin.

5. Find a place to stay

So far I'm a little surprised how few options we've found for rentable houses in Penticton via sites like vrbo. I'd say we waited too long, but I started hunting before I was even accepted, just in case, and there just isn't much out there. We've found some promising leads, though, so hopefully we can lock this one down fairly soon, and remove one stress from the huge list.

6. Start training

I'm officially back on a schedule as of last Wednesday (and excited to finally try out Training Peaks). And then as of Friday I got really congested, and as of Sunday, I lost my voice. Starting off my training with a bang! Hoping to chase away whatever this is pretty quickly, because I'm super excited to have begun this journey!

7. Get fit

I won't say "lose weight", although that's what I mean. I don't regret my off season. I needed it, I enjoyed it. I don't relish losing the 10 pounds I gained during it, though. I know it will take care of itself with the volume of training I'll be doing, it's just hard to remember that right now, when I want to lose it ALL, RIGHT NOW, IMMEDIATELY. And I need to remember that the eating part of the puzzle is just as important as the swimbikerunning part.

So that's where I am! Groundworking.

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Next Big Thing: 2014 Edition.

Feb. 2nd, 2014 | 12:58 pm

After Ironman Florida, I said I wasn't sure what was next, but that I wouldn't do an Ironman in 2014.

Both of those statements were true, but they were intentionally vague. However yesterday, while sitting in the middle of Huntsville State Park crewing for Matt as he ran Rocky Raccoon, I received the email I've been hoping for since I sent my application in December.

"Congratulations, this is your Official Invitation to Ultraman Canada 2014."

Ultraman Canada is a 3 day event in Penticton, BC, former home of Ironman Canada.

Day 1: 10k (6.2 mile) swim, 90 mile bike
Day 2: 171.4 mile bike
Day 3: 52.4 mile run (double marathon)

I spent a lot of time fretting over possibly not getting in, and then as it got closer, fretting over the possibility that I WOULD get in. Now that I'm in, I'm mostly just happy and excited. I've already assembled my crew, even. Matt, of course, who will also be my water guardian for the swim, and Karen and Ryan. Between them, I have a team who I know will all get along and work well together, I have folks who know about bikes and bike repair, people who know how to cook, 3 people to choose from to run with me when I need them, and most importantly, 3 people who've seen me at my worst and still love me.

I'll be writing a lot more about it in the next few months, I'm sure, since it's by far the biggest (stupidest?) thing I've ever done, but I had to go ahead and announce it because Matt keeps threatening to congratulate me publicly before I actually announce it.

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Burger Queen.

Jan. 11th, 2014 | 09:21 pm

After my Off-season ruminations, part 1 post, sheilagh commented and asked what BQ and MGP stood for. So here's a not-so-brief history of me versus the Burger Queen.

BQ is Boston Qualifier, or the time that an individual needs to run in order to qualify to run the Boston Marathon. For many, many years, this was 3:40:59 or less for women under 35, 3:45:59 for women 31-35, and I have no idea what it was for women older than that, because that's as far as I ever looked, being that those are the ranges that I roughly was/am. (And for men it's a helluva lot faster than that, which is a source of contention for a lot of men.)

In order to qualify for Boston when I did my first marathon, I would have had to run a 3:40:59 or less, but I had no idea that was the case, because Boston wasn't even vaguely on my radar, and it turns out I ran a 5:35 marathon, so Boston continued to not be on my radar. My marathon time dropped significantly over my next two marathons, 4:36 and then 4:13, and at that point Karen convinced me I should try to qualify for Boston. I would have said, I dunno, sub-4 first, which seemed plenty ambitious, but I told her I'd certainly try for 3:40. Why not? And somehow I managed to drop from a 4:13 to a 3:47. It wasn't enough to get me to Boston, but it showed me that it was within the realm of possibility.

My next attempt at a BQ was the following year, and unfortunately that was even slower, a 3:48. And it reminded me that marathons are so very difficult, and I still had so many minutes to try to shave off in order to qualify. So I gave up for a while. 2 years, to be exact. It took me 2 years before I was willing to toe the line at another marathon, in an attempt to BQ.

The good news is, for that marathon, I was over 35! That means that I only needed to run a 3:45 to qualify. (Technically that was true of the 3:48, as well, even though I was 34 at the time.) I had much more faith in my ability to run a 3:45 rather than a 3:40.

At least.. that WOULD have been the case. But some time after my 3:48 in Houston, they changed the rules and the qualifying times. Now if you were a woman under 35, you had to run a 3:35, and 35-39 you had to run a 3:40.

So, of course, my triumphant return to marathons, I ran... a 3:42. My fastest marathon by 5 minutes! A time I couldn't believe I pulled off! A time that would have qualified me for Boston the year before! But 2 minutes too slow with the new rules.

And now I'm back in marathon retirement again. Marathons are just So Freakin' Hard (harder than Ironman, in my opinion, which is funny since Ironman CONTAINS a marathon; maybe just differently hard), and to pin so much hope on one race and repeatedly "fail" is hard. Especially when a 3:42 is "failing". It's hard to be so happy and so disappointed with a race at the same time.

But this year I turn 39. That means, with how the Boston rules work, that I can officially qualify as a 40-year-old (it's your age at the time you actually run Boston, and your qualifier is good for 2 years, so I could register for Boston the following year, when I'm 40, with the time I ran when I was 39; confusing). That means I could qualify with a 3:45. Or a 3:44:59, anyway. Which I've DONE. I ran a 3:42. I know that I'm capable of that.

Which means there will likely be a marathon coming up in the future for me. I'm not sure where. And I'm not sure when. But part of me is cautiously optimistic.

And the rest of me is terrified.

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A briefish review of 2013.

Dec. 31st, 2013 | 02:52 pm

Overall a very good year for me.

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I don't really do resolutions anymore, but I will continue my life goal of trying to do things that bring me closer to being the person I want to be, and bring happiness to myself and others.

Jazz hands!

Hope you all had a great 2013, and that your 2014 is even better!

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(First Annual?) Christmas in Concan

Dec. 27th, 2013 | 06:47 pm

The Boudloche clan tends to be very traditional when it comes to Christmas. Not traditional traditional, but we generally adhere pretty firmly to our own weird traditions. For 37 years, we've all gone to sleep at my parents' house on Christmas Eve, after a family dinner and hanging the stockings ("the stockings were hung by the chimney with hooks"), Santa comes during the night and puts out presents, then we wake up Christmas morning and open stockings, eat breakfast, then open presents for hours, after which we rest, get cleaned up, then eat Christmas early dinner. (Note: I can't guarantee that we did exactly this 36 years ago, as my memories of my first few years are pretty sparse and unreliable.)

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Traditional family Christmas picture, slightly untraditionally.

Merry Christmas, y'all!

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Merry 8thish Annual Embarrassing Antler Lunch!

Dec. 20th, 2013 | 08:46 pm

An AEAL retrospective:
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