This month’s travel destination– beautiful San Juan, Puerto Rico, for my first big triathlon of the season, the Ironman Puerto Rico 70.3 (that’s secret code for half ironman). This wasn’t my first time doing this race.  In 2012, I opened up my triathlon season with what was then called the San Juan 70.3.  Up to that point, I’d participated in triathlons, but not really raced.  Come late 2011, I decided to take things a little more seriously, made the (amazing, awesome) decision to hire my (amazing, awesome) coach, actually listened to her, and followed the training plan to a ‘t’ (amazing, awesome coach is now thinking, oh, what happened?).  The months before the 2012 race, somewhat in a test to see if I had what it took, I did a little experiment.  Let’s call it Operation Do Everything Right.  I gave up gluten for months.  I gave up alcohol.  I gave up diet soda (perhaps the toughest one).  For the last two weeks, I gave up caffeine.  I heat trained, flawlessly, for 3 weeks.  My thinking — let’s go all in, just for a little while, and see what happens.  What happened, back in 2012, was that I had a […]

And just like that,  more than a month has passed without me blogging. What has prompted my triumphant return to this space?  Travel, of course.  This time, a quick but eventful training trip to lovely Tallahassee, Florida. My trip to Tallahassee was random and last-minute, made possible in these extremely budget-conscious days by airline miles, a great bag that often lets me escape bike fees (knock on wood), and the seemingly endless generosity of coach/friend/training-buddy-but-not-right-now-because-she’s-busy-growing-a-little-baby-girl Liz, who let me tag along with her while she attended a coaching certification course in Tallahassee, and have a place to stay. Bike in the sun and walk on sand outside without a down coat?  Sign me up. I had two goals for this trip, neither of which was to make it a “camp,” thrash myself or pack in huge training hours–  Twitter suggests that that’s the trendy thing to do right now, but I spent much of February trying to dig myself out of the hole I got in last time I tried it. Goal One:  To get outside a little and get comfortable on my new-this-winter bike before I head down to San Juan for my first 70.3 of the year. Goal […]

Over the Edge

This weekend, I made a little escape from the brutal winter of Chicago and headed down to Florida, eager for a good dose of Vitamin D and a few days without snow or ice.   My parents have a condo in Cape Canaveral and my mother has been staying down there for the past several weeks, so this trip doubled as family time and an opportunity to get in some quality training.  I took my bike along with the intention of getting in a couple of days of good hard, outdoor riding topped off with a little half marathon on Sunday.   My goal was to push myself physically right to the edge (but not over) and hopefully see some good fitness gains.  Unfortunately, wherever that “edge” was, I went right on over it and then fell some more and I write this while sipping hot tea, emerging from a Nyquil-induced hangover, on my third consecutive day of no exercise. This was not the plan. Ran myself right on over the edge I should know from past experience that the weather in Florida in January is quite the crapshoot, but I remained blissfully ignorant until right before I left Chicago, when I […]

The Catch Up

Oh, where to start? Yeah, I abandoned my blog a bit post-Kona, which is a shame because I actually do enjoy writing and need to make more time for it.  My absence has nothing to do with a lack of material — there’s been a lot going on — but to be honest, the lot left me slightly overwhelmed and blogging fell by the wayside.  So here’s a little catch up…Triathlon-wise, after Hawaii I took my forced down time like a big girl,  but I didn’t like it one little bit.  Maybe I’m alone in this (I can’t think that I am, but it’s possible), but I struggle with off-seasons.  Sure, I don’t mind catching up on my wine consumption, having the time to see friends, staying up a little later, all that stuff.  But I also need the endorphins and the routine that triathlon training brings to feel like a properly functioning, bearable human being.  I did/ do enjoy these kinds of nights, however, Still, after pretty much an entire year of hitting the training hard, my body (and maaaybe mind) needed the rest, that was obvious, so I took a few weeks of doing very little, activity-wise, spent a […]

Kona 2013 Race Report

Oh, yeah, Kona.   Should probably write a little something about that one, eh? The race happened over two weeks ago and I’m just now sitting down to write about it.  I’m a master procrastinator!  But I got a bit overwhelmed with vacation and then work and wine and…. well, I’ll talk more about it later.   I’ve been back to work for a bit over a week now, and I’ve been faced several times with the terribly open-ended question: “well, how was it?”   I tried a lot of answers:  Good, but not perfect.  Amazing, such a privilege just be there.  It was hard, but beautiful and inspiring.  Decent.  But what I’ve settled on, and I think is the right answer:  it was an amazing experience.  That’s what it was.  An experience.  Not a perfect one, not a horrible one — somewhere in the middle.  Just….an experience that I’m not likely to forget. Here’s the story: Pre-RaceI woke up race morning feeling excited, ready, and nowhere near as nervous as I’ve felt before other Ironmans.  On the night before the race, I wrote here that I’d pretty much thrown out all of my place and time goals, knowing that the conditions in […]

The Night Before

Aloha! Well, it’s the night before the big day and I’m typing this as I eat an entirely over-salted yet bland dinner at the Early Bird time of 5:00 PM. Dig Me Beach I’ve been in Kona since Monday evening, staying with my family in a big ole house with a beautiful pool and a view of the ocean.  This week has flown by and while I’m more than ready to just get the show on the road, in a way, I’m going to be sad that the pre-race festivities are over.  I’ve grown to love my early morning swims in the ocean  (practice swims that often feel more like snorkeling adventures than workouts), wandering around the town that is packed to the brim with triathletes, collecting free swag from all the industry reps, spotting, and in sometimes almost running into, the pros I’ve read all about.  (No texting while walking in Kona, you just must narrowly miss a head-on collision with Chris McCormack).   It’s humid, it’s hot, it’s windy, it’s beautiful.  I’m just so happy to be here.  Happier even more that I’m able to experience it with my family and some good friends. So happy to have […]

The Journey

I’m doing the Ironman World Champs in Hawaii in a couple weeks. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately, as tends to happen before big events in my life, and in that thinking, I figured I ought to write a little bit about my triathlon journey, the pinnacle of which (so far) will be in Kona.   Well.  That looks fun. If there’s one things I’ve learned about myself as an athlete over the years, it’s that assigning undue importance to any one race doesn’t work for me.  You know that scene in the movie Rudy where Rudy says, “I’ve been ready for this moment all my life?”  Inspiring, sure.  But when I try that stuff, when I look at a particular race as THE SINGLE DAY I’ve worked for for years, when I blast “Eye of the Tiger”  or Van Halen’s “Right Now” (I think I’m dating myself), when I pull the Rudy quotes ….that’s when I get too nervous, when I tense up, when I choke and when I fail.  It works for others, but not for me, and really, It’s best for me to treat each race, even the super big ones, as just another race. However, […]

Vegas 70.3 World Championships

The latest in my tri-adventures took me to one of my favorite places on the planet: Las Vegas, Nevada for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships. For a laugh. This is me, 9 years ago.  This is how I USED to do Vegas before I got all healthy and tri-obsessed.  Don’t judge. I’ve wanted to do the Vegas race for a while now. I actually qualified back in 2011, grabbing a slot that rolled way, way down to me at Steelhead, but then was injured and couldn’t compete. Last year, Vegas fell on the same day as Ironman Wisconsin, so that was out. This year, I qualified on the same day that I qualified for Kona, and I decided to put down the money for the big double because I knew that Vegas would provide a good preview of a lot of the things I would be facing at Kona – heat, hills, the pressure and excitement of a World Championship. Plus, there was the promise of craps. Little secret: I’m a type-A, semi-risk averse (that little 8 month trip around the world/ career suicide thing aside) lawyer who has always followed the straight-and-narrow path… and I love gambling. Don’t ask me […]

USAT Nationals- Gutting it Out

About a week ago, I took a brief respite from my Ironman training to head north to Milwaukee, Wisconsin  (let’s just call this Amanda’s Summer of Wisconsin) for the USA Triathlon Olympic Distance Nationals. I signed up for Nationals this year not because the Olympic distance is my specialty (ugh, it hurts) or even because I fit perfectly within my training schedule, but because, well, everyone else was doing it, and that’s as good a reason as any, in my mind.  When you have a top-level race within a 90 minute drive from home, it’s kinda hard to pass it up.  And I’m so glad I didn’t.  This was a fantastic experience. Although I know this is going to end at some point, I still consider myself somewhat of a “rookie” at this triathlon nonsense.  And I think when you’re like me and you don’t have that many races under your belt, each race is a little more valuable just because it teaches new, unique lessons.  The lesson I have learned pretty well this summer:  things before a race don’t have to go perfectly in order to have a good day, so long as you can get your head screwed […]

Racine 70.3: Anatomy of a Magical Day

 Before I start my race report on the Racine 70.3 that I did this weekend, I want to tell a little story about a completely different person, competing in a completely different race, 15 years ago.  But hang with me:  this is relevant. But first a pretty picture of the Lake I ran track in high school and competed several times against a girl from a neighboring school named Lauren.  Lauren and I had similar PRs in the mile…somewhere between 5:05 and 5:10.  Good for high school runners, but not amazing.  In 1998, Lauren appeared to be having a somewhat rough season. I’d heard she’d shown up to practices in March out-of-shape and discouraged, was struggling to break 6 minutes.  As the season wore on, she improved, and managed to eek her way into the State meet for the mile run, but just barely.   She was not, by any stretch of the imagination, a favorite. Fast forward to that Saturday in June when the milers lined up in Ohio Stadium for the State Championship.  The gun fired, and Lauren, who was not expected to even crack the top 10, bolted to the lead.  She came through the first quarter mile […]