Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Training Update: Feeling good

So guys, in addition to bouncing around celebrating my friend's weddings, I have also been working hard and sticking to a pretty solid training plan. I feel pretty good about the routine I have worked out and I'm doing my best to balance it all with having a fun summer, being social, and travel.

Part of what has kept me on schedule is that I did in fact hire a coach to help me get ready for the race I am doing at the end of the summer. Before I get into that, you'll notice that I called it just a "race" and not the "Half Ironman World Championships" at the end of the summer.

After conversations with friends, totally panicking and trying to do it all, I made a big realization about how I need to think about this race. I need to think about it the way that I did when I signed up for it. As a life experience.

When talking with a friend a few weeks ago, I told her all about how I signed up and how I decided to do this race as a "life experience" and build a vacation out of the trip, since I had planned to do a vacation at the end of the summer. As I was stressing about how to fit in the training, lose weight before the race, upgrade my bike, manage a coach, see friends this summer, etc. she pointed out to me, "Katelyn, you just said you are doing it for the experience and as a part of a bigger vacation. You never said that you were doing this race as a chance to PR or that you wanted it to be your A race for the year. You already did that. And you have the New York City Marathon afterwards. You didn't plan for this race. You can always choose a race next year to get an intense coach, focus for, and set out to do to crush how you did in the first one. Listen to what you just said - you're doing this because you took advantage of an opportunity. Because it's a once in a lifetime experience. To go on a vacation. You don't have to kill yourself. Be prepared, stay in shape, have fun with training, work hard. But listen to what you are saying."

It made so much sense to me and put a lot in perspective. I love writing and love the opportunity to sit and think through things on my own, but sometimes you need a good friend to put things in perspective for you.

So that's where I am.

I hired a coach who I found on the Internet when I Googled, "triathlon coaches under $100 a month" because I did want to try this out. He has an unlimited question policy, which I fully take advantage of, and having someone to report back to on what I do each week is certainly helping me stay accountable. I've also found myself pushing a bit more since he gives me interval and tempo runs to do during the week - which are both longer and higher intensity than I would ever do on my own (I hate tempo runs!!) My longer weekend bike rides and runs are also longer than I would probably be doing on my own.

A typical schedule looks like this:

Monday AM:  Master's swim practice at Windy Hill

Tuesday AM: 3-4 mile easy run

Wednesday AM: 6 mile temp/intervals

Thursday PM: 22 mile group bike ride (moderate to hard effort)

Friday AM: Master's swim practice at Windy Hill

Saturday AM: Long bike ride

Sunday AM: Long run

At first I was a little hesitant about the coach because the workouts don't look too different from what I was doing on my own before. I would look at the schedules and think to myself, "Well I could have put this together." However, working with a "professional" takes some of that anxiety away for me. I have the assurance that someone else, who has way more experience than me, is telling me, "Do this, and you're going to be okay."

That's what I always loved about the Hal Higdon training plans - it gave me confidence. I knew that if I checked those boxes on my running workout plans, I had an expert telling me, "You will be able to run this marathon come race day." and now, I have the man from the Internet who came up when I Googled telling me that I will be able to do this come Half Ironman day. The workouts aren't THAT different, but I have no anxiety (granted, I have also done a race before, so I know that I CAN do it, but whatever.)

In between the regular workouts that I am doing as part of the training plan, I am also trying to add in some extra cross training where I can. And am also making adjustments based off my travel schedule. For example, since I was away last weekend and wasn't able to do a long bike ride, he had me add an extra bike ride last week and another on Monday when I got back. Without the anxiety, I feel okay making these changes and being able to check in with him and say, "what do you think I should do?" is really helpful.

I've been feeling good lately guys. I have been feeling really positive about training. This past weekend at the wedding, I felt like I looked strong and fit. In the pictures my chest and shoulders I felt seemed toned. My legs looked muscular.

Granted, the dress was really flattering and covered my problem areas of my thighs and stomach. I'm sure when I put on bike shorts again I will not be too happy with how it pinches my waist. But I'm doing my best.

This morning I did a 4-mile run and this evening, was able to get in a 45-minute swim. I just completely allowed myself to zone out while on the swim. I didn't think about how far or long or how fast I wanted to go and just sort of meditated while I swam. It felt good and I felt happy.  

More to come from training adventures for my second Half Ironman. Which just happens to be a race I am going to swim, bike and run while I am in Australia on vacation at the end of the summer. I can't wait to have this amazing trip, that includes a Half Ironman :)

Monday, June 27, 2016

Teenie and Ryan Wedding Weekend

This past weekend was another one for the record books. I spent Friday through Sunday in the windy city of Chicago celebrating the marriage of another one of my best friends since elementary school, Teenie.

Last summer while in Boston for Meaghan’s bachelorette party, I was shocked and excited when Teenie invited us all to be a part of her bridal party for her wedding to Ryan, this past weekend. We had been having such a fun couple of years with wedding celebrations for all my best friends and it meant so much to be to be asked to be a part of the next one.

Living in Atlanta now, it makes it harder for me to be able to travel to get to every event I want to be at, so I unfortunately was not able to attend the bridal shower this spring. However, the bachelorette party was a great celebration of the bride and had me so excited leading up to this weekend.

I flew into Chicago early on Friday morning, head over and dropped my things off at the hotel, and immediately went out for a run. It was a hot but totally beautiful day in Chicago and I ran along the riverfront with a view of the skyline, breaking my own rules I have for myself, and stopping periodically to take pictures.

Immediately, I was feeling so nostalgic about being back in Chicago, as the last time I was here was for the marathon in the fall. Being in Chicago was reminding what an incredible weekend that was and seriously, what an amazing city Chicago is to run in. There is not much that gets better than running with this beautiful and incredibly unique skyline and the blue lakeshore and riverwalk. I seriously fall more in love with the city every time I go.

After my quick run and Chicago love fest, I showered and changed and head out to meet my friends for a lunch with the bridesmaids. We ate at a delicious tapas restaurant called Cafe Ba Ba Reeba, that I actually ate at the last time I went to Chicago! The food and sangria is great so I was not unhappy with the opportunity to eat there again. Nor did I mind the hour or so we spent pampering ourselves following lunch with bridesmaid manicures and pedicures. If only I could spend every Friday this way.

The rehearsal dinner was at another delicious and fun restaurant called Howells & Hood, where I got to spend more time with my ladies and their husbands, as well as catch up with other friends and family friends I hadn’t seen in a long time. My other friends who got married, E and Meaggie, both had older siblings and older cousins who I knew at their weddings. Teenie is the oldest in her family, which means that her younger brothers (one of whom I hung out with in San Diego a few years ago!) and younger cousins are people I feel like I have known since they were babies and seen grow up. Adding that some of her cousins were my neighbors and went to the same pool club, I knew them all well and it was fun and exciting to see everyone grown up!

I have some amazing people in my life and my girl friends are certainly some of them. The night before the wedding we had some really special moments and it makes me so happy to have so many years of memories between us and such strong understandings of one another. We don’t talk every day, we only get to spend a handful of moments and days together each year (except for the lucky girls who are now all temporarily Boston based!), and I may not have their day-to-day whereabouts in my radar, but our connection and understanding and acceptance of one another really means so much.

Saturday came way too early for me as I was up at 5:30 a.m. to head out on a run at 6:00 a.m. I had 10 miles scheduled to run on Saturday morning and I knew I had limited time to fit it in. The sun rose at 5:15 am in Chicago on Saturday (wow!) so it was nice and bright at 6:00 a.m. and unfortunately it was super hot and humid as well.

I hadn’t anticipated a super humid and hot run, thinking that it would be cooler in the mornings being north. I didn’t plan to bring any nutrition with me, so by the finish I was pretty parched and ready to be done. It was an eventful run from start to finish with lots of interesting people watching, other runners out, beautiful views, and also a few scary events that had my heart racing at points. I love city running and I am always cautious to take measures to be safe and take care of myself – but unfortunately at times, there are just creeps that you come across while out and about.

There were no pictures to be had of this run, as I darted immediately back inside to shower and head out to begin wedding day festivities – starting with hair and makeup! We went to Swerve Salon in Chicago, which did an incredible job of getting us primed and ready for the day, in a fun and relaxing environment.

I absolutely loved how my hair and makeup came out and the girls at the Salon did a fabulous job of taking care of us all.

The getting ready process is a fun one at any wedding and what’s been fun about being a part of all the ladies’ days is how different they have all been. At E’s wedding, we got ready at her home. At Meaggie’s, it was in her bridal suite. For Teenie’s, being at the salon, followed by getting dressed at the bridal suite at the Church, was really unique and beautiful.

When she walked down the aisle, it was an emotional moment for all, and I can’t lie – I cried throughout the ceremony seeing my beautiful friend join her life to the guy who has brought her so much happiness and adventure and love throughout the years. The Church was incredibly stunning, which fit the couple well. Super high ceilings, beautiful colors, and an amazing little pulpit (I think it's called) that I had to hold myself back from climbing up until after the ceremony was over.

The party began as soon as the ceremony was done with pizza, dancing, drinks and pictures as we all boarded the party bus. We traveled throughout the city taking photos and being completely silly and goofy, per usual.

My bridesmaid dress for Teenie’s wedding was really unique in that it is the first time I have worn (or seen) patterned dresses as bridesmaid dresses. They were super comfortable, I think looked great on everyone, and as we discovered, had an added bonus of being “convertible” into other dresses and styles. Maybe J. Crew wouldn’t have recommended this, but we certainly amused ourselves.

We took pictures in two different locations, one in the heart of the city and one with a really pretty view of the water and the skyline behind. I cannot wait to see the professional ones because even just the iPhone pics we snapped came out amazing.

Of course, we had to keep a tradition going that we began a few years ago of taking silly and fun photos, that include us hanging off of things. At E's wedding, we ended up hanging off a wall at the golf course (I couldn't find a picture though) and at Meaggie's wedding, we were hanging off a lamp post. Add a wall to the list, and Teenie's wedding is covered.

Amusing ourselves is never something that has been hard for us. We even found some time to get in our signature “360” move into the day, and I impressed myself with my own strength being able to attempt the “trick” – as well it – and carry two of my friends at the same time! Seriously, it’s probably best not to ask, but I just had to share these pictures! Yes, I am carrying two of my friends at the same time in that middle picture (the attempt for 3 did not go as well...)

The rest of the evening was filled with heart felt speeches, delicious food and cupcakes, catching up with friends, making new ones, beautiful views, fireworks, and lots and lots of dancing. I was so honored to be a part of Teenie and Ryan’s wedding day. I am so excited to see the beautiful adventures that are in store for them as they kick off this part of their lives. Despite being a big wedding, it felt incredibly intimate and there were so many little moments that I had with both Teenie and Ryan that I really will cherish. It was an incredible wedding and I am sad to have the weekend be in the past!!

Congratulations Courtney and Ryan, it was an honor and a BLAST to be a part of your wedding day and to be witness to your relationship over the years. The weekend meant so much to me and I love seeing all of our relationships and friendships grow stronger with every passing year. Cheers to your special day and all the special days to come!

(Last photo from Dabble Me This photography)