Cue the ubiquitous and cliché “It’s spring” post – just in time for Earth Day (which we celebrated by watching Chasing Ice – even more cliché, although the photographer spoke at the school where I’m teaching and I’m teaching his daughter, so it had a personal connection). Also, speaking of new seasons, Game of Thrones tonight?! I’m equal parts excited and terrified – what other show makes you feel that way?
Back to this spring thing…
After living on the west coast for 15 years, Michael and I have enjoyed the shift from winter (a mild one, but still, coming from SoCal, a winter nonetheless) to spring here in Colorado. Yes, of course California has its seasons, but they are different from the traditional winter/spring/summer/fall, varying from “June gloom” to “Santa Ana winds” (and the latter isn’t really a season, more of a phenomena that you, unfortunately, expect in September and October). So, all of the new blooms and buds and bright colors and sweet smells and longer days come as a reminder that the season is shifting from winter to spring. We’ve had a wonderful ski season (well into the spring), but I admit that I’m looking forward to focusing on the bike and getting out for some longer rides and also putting on my hiking boots and hitting the trails.
One thing I’ve learned about springtime in Colorado (at least Boulder) is that you can count on the weather’s fickleness. And the wind. But, back to the unpredictable quality of the weather, which is in general typical of spring, last week, it was 70 degrees on Thursday, and then a winter storm moved in on Friday and it dumped – rain and then snow – the entire weekend. But, as you can see from the photo above, I then rode outside yesterday and was more than comfortable in shorts and a short-sleeved jersey. So, go figure. The Weather Channel app has long been a favorite of mine, and Michael often teased me about it when I checked, obsessively, the weather in LA, and I admit that it’s much more exciting now – but just as inaccurate.
So, yes, weather. The random snow storm has been fun. I, unfortunately, haven’t reaped the benefits of a snow day at work, but that’s okay too.
Because of the late season snow, we were able to squeeze in a few more days of skiing – spending a morning in Winter Park/Mary Jane at the beginning of the month and returning, yesterday, for our very final day at Copper Mountain. Between Switzerland and Colorado, I probably skied around 35 days, which is DEFINITELY the most I’ve skied in my life! It’s been fun to see improvement on the slopes, mainly in my speed, my strength and my form, but I’m still not rocking the black slopes or managing the bumps. As much as I wanted to learn how to really ski the moguls, my knees are much happier if I stick to ‘carving’. Also, I should say that most of these ski days were half-days which really suits my style of skiing. I love arriving early and then packing it up by noon, or even before, if it’s warm (like yesterday). I am a bit sad that ski season is over – we’ll see what next year brings.
And, on the topic of seasons, it’s almost race season! What is that? This Sunday, I’ll be wearing a bib for the first time since August as I toe the line at the Colorado Half-Marathon. So many of my initial ideas for the 2016 season have shifted, changed or I’ve altogether scratched. For instance, Ironman Canada really appealed to me right after I finished IM Boulder and had gotten over the “I-never-want-to-do-this-again” feeling, especially since my cousin is getting married in Bellingham, WA the week before, so it would have, from a logistical stance, made sense. I did, however, wait before pulling the trigger and committing, and while I was in Switzerland, I had distance, mental and physical, from triathlon training and that entire world, and I realized that I wanted something different from my summer. So, I took that option off the table. Looking back, I’m glad that I made this decision. While I’ve had plenty of time to train, I’ve lacked the focus. I’m still figuring out so many things about life in Colorado (I sound like a broken record, I know), and, to be totally honest, we are still working on the the job situation. Economically, training and racing an Ironman is a major commitment, and I didn’t feel that it was fair for me to make this type of financial commitment right now. That was one major consideration when I decided not to sign up, but there were others, such as how I wanted to frame my summer – training for a race or exploring Colorado and being with friends and family? I decided to prioritize the latter. Ironman Canada will be there other years, and if it never happens for me, that certainly isn’t the end of the world.
But, I still have a ‘season’ planned out, at least for the first part of the year – this half-marathon and Boulder 70.3 in June. And that’s it – for now! My initial goal for both of these races was to PR, but then, as I watched myself fall apart in March and didn’t train very well, I reassessed this goal. So, where I am now? I definitely want a solid race on Sunday, and it’s a fast course (net downhill – what IS THAT?!), but we shall see what happens. My last half-marathon was last year at St. George (after swimming and biking, in 90 degree heat), so this will be a different experience. Racing HARD for that distance will challenge me, but it should also be a fun day on a beautiful course. And Boulder 70.3? That race has a special place in my heart as it was my first 70.3 distance. You would think, in the following 70.3 distance races that I would have gotten quite a bit faster, but that just hasn’t been the case – thank you very much Wildflower and St. George, both of which are MUCH harder than Boulder. I’m excited that it’s a ‘local’ race, and I *should* finally finally finally go sub-6:00. But, as the saying goes, I’m trying not to count my chickens!
And, after a few pretty terrible weeks, I’ve started to enjoy training again. Biking in Boulder, while never my favorite living in California, is a ton of fun, and I ride with a group of guys who are fun (eventually, I’d like to make a girl friend, just one, please). Looking at the next few weeks, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I can get in a few nice, long bike rides before June 11. In addition to enjoying the rides, the bike/run piece, from a fitness perspective, is coming together, as I’m starting to feel better at the end of a ride or run and to maintain certain speeds/paces with ease. It’s been an interesting experience to start from a MUCH lower fitness-base than the previous years’ training cycles, and it makes me appreciate and admire those people that take on bold and audacious goals without having the fitness base or the experience. Good for them!
So, the change in season – it is literal, but it’s also a bit more metaphorical as I feel myself waking from something of a hibernation state. I recognize that I don’t, perhaps, have the “drive” that allowed me to focus on the iron distance the past two years, but I’m starting to feel stronger when I start and finish a set, and I’m getting excited about an actual ‘race’ season!
Now I’ll leave you with one of my favorite sightings on one of my favorite bike routes – The pig!