Friday, July 22, 2016

70.3 Training

So I'm on week 6 (I think) of half-ironman training. The last time I wrote, training had just began and I was PUMPED. Guess what...still super excited over here ;) with a heavy dash of tiredness lol. My coach is super run focused (which I love) so my training doesn't look much different than when I was training for a half marathon except for the long bikes on the weekend and the addition of bricks. There have been really good days and there have been days when I'm just done.

 A few weeks ago we did 7 miles and ran down to the dam and back. While it was super hot and I was still having a lot of trouble adjusting to the heat (and possibly dealing with a super wacky hormone fluctuation) the views were absolutely gorgeous and I was so grateful that we pushed through it.

 And this one was from one of the hardest workouts I've completed to date. Gah, it was so bad. We rode the loop (35 miles) and dealt with 20-30mph gusts THE ENTIRE TIME. I was thisclose to shedding tears multiple times on that route. At one point we were headed up the biggest hill on the route and going a whole FOUR miles per hour and man was it defeating. The plus side to this is that from here on out any bike ride I do is going to feel significantly easier lol. Perspective, its a useful tool!

This run was serious proof that running in the heat is so much harder than running in cooler temps. We had a monsoon roll through the night before my long run (8 miles I think) so my starting temp was 73!! Oh, what a difference it made! I still wasn't super fast but I was much faster than I had been simply because my body wasn't working SO hard to just stay cool. So worth being completely drenched in sweat from the humidity.

I am incredibly grateful that my coach and I are on the same page when it comes to lifting. I'm currently still incorporating it in twice a week and while those double workout days are rough they are well worth the gains you make in speed and strength. Having strong legs makes swimming, running and biking so much easier! This is when I hit the goal I made this year to be able to squat my body weight. Ha, granted I now weigh 5lb more than when I made that goal because #gainz (HA) so I need to adjust it but it was still so exciting to know that my body can handle that much weight!

Last one! This was from my first brick this weekend (20 mile bike + 5 mile run) and it was SUCH a rewarding workout. So much of training just feels like putting in the time and effort and feeling tired and hoping that it's all working. It was a lot of fun to push myself a bit harder on the bike and to really try and push it on the run even though I knew I was going to be fatigued. It ended up going SO well! I was a mph faster on my bike than I normally am and although my run time could have been faster I put in a really good effort and felt I could have gone longer (which is good!).

Overall, I'm still excited, still mostly happy that I chose to do this and trying to maintain as much perspective on it. I still have a long way to go. My schedule is done through my race and it is so overwhelming to look ahead and see that I will have a 60 mile ride or a 13 mile run (on my birthday no less ;) but it is also so exciting to see my body change and adapt to what I'm putting it through. Its easy to see why people get hooked on this stuff ;)

Up for this weekend: 10 mile run on Saturday and 40 mile ride on Sunday. Wish me luck!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Garter Snake Work Trip

There was close to 25lb of traps on my back at this point. So much fun!

Several weeks ago I got to go on one of the best work trips of my career. We recently found a species of snake at one of our restoration sites that hadn't been found in the area since the 1900s. Because of this rediscovery they will most likely be added to our list of covered species that we build and maintain habitat for. In order to survey for these snakes, we need a permit and in order to get a permit you need trap hours and experience. Thankfully, Arizona Game and Fish were planning on a survey this summer and they invited us out in order to gain the survey hours needed! To be honest, I was apprehensive about the trip. I was to stay in a field house, bring all my own food, possibly share a room, do field work I was not used to annndddd socialize more than I am used to. I spent the better part of a weekend preparing for the week and had mostly calmed myself down about the trip. I was rewarded with one of the most fun trips I've taken in a long time!
The above photo is the view I had every morning while I ate my breakfast [insert heart eye emoji]! It was so incredibly pleasant to work hard enough that I slept well each night, get a full 8 hours of sleep, have 1 1/2-2 hours to prepare for the day, eat exactly what I wanted and to be disconnected from most of social media for the week. 

These petroglyphs were right behind the house we were staying in and the sunset was incredible every evening! On most of my trips, I'm relatively quiet while we're doing field work and the time we have outside of work is spent in my room reading or checking out Pinterest. For once, I did not have that option and in preparation of it, I downloaded several books on my kindle so that if we did have downtime I could just read (aka avoid people lol). What surprised me most is that instead of reading, I played dice games with the other part of the crew, chatted about work and life stuff while eating dinner, explored the entire ranch and in general just chilled. It was so very relaxing.

 As most of my work is spent in converted agriculture fields, spending so much time in the water was a blast! The work was challenging, let's be clear, we hiked over 8 miles each day and it wasn't a leisurely stroll. I was happily surprised that the lead biologist was as speedy of a hiker as I was and that it was a fun challenge to keep up with him ;)

And last but not least, we actually didn't end up seeing any snakes of the species we were hoping for (they hadn't been seen in the area for over 30 years so hopes weren't super high) but we did see this awesome guy as well as a couple Colorado river toads, skunks, raptors, a California king snake and one other diamondback!

I can't stress enough how important it can be to step out of your comfort zone every now and then. I LOVE routine, not having a plan seriously stresses me out. BUT if I had turned down this trip or done my usual recluse thing every night I would have missed out on such fantastic conversations, a whole lot of laughs and a small group of new biologist friends that I hope to work with again. So totally worth it.