Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Ask Coach Kelly

Since I have started having a post every now and then with more of a coaching theme, I've opened up the forum to questions.  I've received a couple already and here is the first from Colleen at Colleen's Triathlon Training Blog.  She sent me this question:

I have a sore foot and the doctor told me... 3 weeks ago that it was just bruised. He said not to run on it while it hurt or it wouldn't get better and that it would probably take a few weeks to get better. I took a few weeks off then it felt totally better so I ran my half marathon on the 11th, but man was it hard after taking that time off! I was so sore afterwards! My foot felt pretty good for the most part until I stopped, then it started hurting again. And it hurt again after my next few little recovery runs so I've decided to take the next few weeks off again. Trouble is I have my first tri (olympic) of the season on July 9th (2.5 weeks) and my A race (Half ironman) in 9 weeks. Is that even doable? I'm starting to get nervous that I won't even be able to run the 10k and  that I won't be able to get enough miles in to be ready for 13.1 in august. I'd just love to hear your thoughts on this. I've done a full but never a half ironman before. 

So, first let me say that I am not a doctor or a medical professional of any kind, so what I will say is from a coach's perspective not a medical perspective. I think we have all been in this position before.  We are registered for a race that we have been looking forward to, and BAM we get hurt.  It seems like you did the right thing by resting for a few weeks, which I assume means no running, but still keeping up with swimming and biking.  Without knowing all the details, it seems like the plan derailed a bit when your first big run back was the half-marathon.  That set you back a bit for sure, because racing is definitely not training!!  Then, even though it was hurting, you still did "a few" recovery runs.  Hmmm...You have to remember to listen to what your body is telling you even if it's not telling you what you want to hear!

My advice to you would be to do as your doctor says and not run until it feels better.  Once it is feeling better, ease back into your mileage slowly, and if your foot hurts, STOP!  In the meantime, you can do some deep water running, which is a great way to maintain run fitness when you are unable to be out on the roads.  Also, use this time to have a little cycle/swim block as well.

As far as the upcoming races, especially the one that is around the corner, a very wise doctor once said to me: "Don't sacrifice your entire season for one race."  Keep everything in perspective and remember that there are more races than the next one!  Turn your race into an aquabike, or defer your entry until next year and volunteer instead!  Keep up the pool running and the rest of your training, and when you get the green light from the doc to run, ease back in.  Make the decision on the half-ironman once you are running pain-free, and you will be much happier in the long run (literally)!  Good luck with the training and the healing!

If you have a question for me, please shoot me an email.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Sunday Report

I'm glad to close the books on this week!  It's been full of adventures I would rather not have on a day to day basis!  The good news is that the training still got done, and I'm progressing nicely towards my next race, the Musselman Half-Iron.

I have been seeing nice progress in my runs, although I did break down this weekend and ran with music, which I haven't done in a very long time.  I'm hoping that is not the sole reason for my faster runs!  I actually think I have just been over-analyzing everything where my run is concerned.  I've been so worried about where my run fitness is in relationship to years past, that I have kind of not been paying attention to just running.  Pulling out the music yesterday and today took my mind off of things and just let me run.  Same thing for the trails on Friday.

Here are the numbers...very similar to last week!

Swim:  3h 15m 9600 yds
Bike:  5h 47m 4s 94.65 mi
Run:  4h 19m 45s 25.17 mi

Total:  13h 21m 49s

I have a reader question that I will be answering this week!  If anyone has a question for me, please shoot me an email.

Have a great week!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Chasing the Funk Away

In an effort to banish my bad-week blahs yesterday, instead of doing my long run with the girls from the Y like I have been doing, I decided to head out by myself to Beaver Lake for some good 'ole trail therapy.  (I have also been struggling with getting down about where my zone 2 run pace is these days, so I knew if I was running trails I wouldn't be so focused on that.)

It had rained Thursday night, so Friday morning was a little overcast and very humid.  I was just finishing my first loop on a path off the main trail, and all of a sudden I heard a scuffling sound and this weird animal cry.  I actually thought two animals were fighting or something, so I sort of slowed down to figure out what was going on.  All of a sudden this cat-like thing starts running toward me sort of parallel to the trail in the brush, all the while still making the weird animal cry.  I picked it up, of course I was on an uphill, because I started to feel concerned that the animal was charging me.  It ran past me in the brush, and then came out onto the trail after I had passed and stood up on its hind legs.  It was a raccoon, but it was really mangy and skinny and totally freaked me out.

I googled "scary rabid raccoon image" and this is almost exactly what the raccoon looked like, only MUCH scarier.


After that, every person I passed on the trail, which was like 4 total (not a busy morning at Beaver Lake), I asked them if they had seen it and warned them not to go down that trail.  I also saw about a billion (really) chipmunks and one lonely snake sunning itself on the boardwalk.  After the raccoon, the snake seemed like nothing.

Despite the unexpected company, it was 9 miles of bliss.  I thought, I vented, I zoned out and just ran, and I remembered why trail running is so great.  After I was done, I was dripping!!  I stopped into the main building to let them know I was chased by a VERY SCARY RACCOON.  I had even paid really close attention to where I was on the trail when it happened so I could describe in detail where it was.  The funniest thing was when the volunteer lady at the desk left and brought back a wad of paper towels for me because I was dripping all over the desk!

This morning I went out for an early ride and followed it up with another run, and I got chased AGAIN.  This time by a VERY SCARY GOOSE!

(Not the actual goose.)
In the goose's defense, it was protecting its young, but it still really scared me!  

Not sure what all this chasing was about, but the good news is it seems to have chased the funk away!  

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Swim Grumpy

It has not been the best week.  

Even though Monday was my birthday, I got a not-so-great present when I walked out to my car after I was done grocery shopping.

Someone hit my car while I was in the store.  I called the insurance company, and they said without a witness there wasn't a lot that could be done.  After I left, another agent called and asked if I had asked in the store if anyone left their info.  Duh!  I was so flustered at the time, I didn't even think of that.

I called the store, and they said that someone had come in and they had paged me.  Of course, I was shopping with Noah and didn't hear the page.  Apparently after waiting about 20 minutes, I guess the woman thought she was off the hook and left without leaving so much as her name!

I ended up filing a police report, but it looks like we are going to be out our insurance deductible unless she decides to step up.  I just can't believe that someone would do that!

Then on Tuesday, I ran over a construction staple on my bike and it totally punctured my brand new tire and tube.  Fortunately I was within walking distance of being done, but the tire is kaput.

Then on Wednesday, it was rainy and dreary and I just had a case of the grumps.

Then today, Noah refused to participate in his preschool graduation.  He was crying and wouldn't wear the goofy hat (can you really blame him?).  We just left, so he wouldn't ruin it for all the other smiling, happy children.  I was so mad!  Kel had driven a half hour over from work and just had to turn right around and go back.  Noah has been going through a real whiny phase, and I've been trying very hard to be understanding of where he is developmentally, blah, blah, blah.  Today, I decided I was done, and we had a little come to Jesus talk in the car.  We'll see how that works.

I have to admit, the week has gotten to me just a bit.  I've been trying to embrace the "act the way you want to feel" mantra from The Happiness Project, that really has been inspiring me lately, but it just hasn't been working.

One thing that is working is swimming!  I have swum (swam?) 9600 yards so far this week, and it has been good.  For some reason, when I have gotten in the pool I've just been able to take all the negative energy from the week and channel it into sets that usually I dread.  9 x 100 at my best sustainable pace?  No problem.  100s at T-Time plus 5 seconds?  Give me more!  I am usually a couple hundred yards short of finishing my workouts (Coach gives me a workout and I finish as much as I can in an hour), but not this week. Today someone called me a "crazy swimmer."  Yep, that is pretty accurate.  Crazed would be even better.

So the lesson here is:  If you want to swim good, swim grumpy.

Monday, June 20, 2011

More of Less is More

What I am about to say will not come as a surprise to seasoned athletes that have worked with a coach or have done a lot of research into training periodization, but I am not saying it for all of those who know.  This post is for the triathletes out there who are just trying to make it all work - life, training, kids, jobs...the list goes on.  Sometimes when we have a lot on our plate, our natural instinct is to make every moment "count."  I see people do this all the time.

Because they want to maximize every minute of their available training time, they end up doing every workout session hard or harder until they totally poop out and have to take a couple of days off to recuperate.  Every run is as fast as it can be, every swim is 30 minutes of all out swimming with no drill work or attention to stroke development, every bike workout is trying to beat the last one in terms of miles per hour average.

As a coach, I see far more people making the mistake of training too hard rather than not training enough.  The interesting thing is that I really believe this is more of a personality trait than a conscious training decision.  It is this all or nothing attitude toward training that can really cost athletes their best races.  There are scientific reasons that we should not be training at our maximum intensity every time.  I am not a scientist, but what I understand is that at maximum intensity our bodies are also under maximum stress.  Stress is good in moderation because it helps us improve, but if you are putting your body under that kind of stress day in and day out it can cause decrease immune function, sleep issues, and injury.

If I could give one piece of advice, it would be to save the hard workouts for once a week in each discipline, focus on stroke development in the pool even to the detriment of speed work, and spend more time doing the workouts that don't really seem that hard (well, I guess that is more than one).  Instead of 4 separate hours of hard biking, do one hour of hard biking, 1 hour of easy biking (think recovery!!), and 2 hours of steady state, aerobic pace biking (think working hard, but not so hard that you wouldn't be able to have a conversation with someone.)  Likewise with running.  Make the hard workout really hard, and all the rest enjoyable!!

Not everyone falls into the category of go hard all the time though, and I am one of them.  I am very content to never go hard!  I would happily run at my zone 2 pace every single time!  When I see speed work on my calendar, I don't sleep good the night before!!  If you are like me, make sure you are getting that one hard workout in per week.  Learn to embrace the pain and become hardcore!

But for everyone else remember that More of Less is More.

37 Things on My 37th Birthday

1.  When I was 9 I loved the movie Annie so much, I memorized every word of "Tomorrow" and "It's a Hard Knock's Life" and would sing them at moments when I thought I might be discovered.

2.  I learned how to play the flute on magic markers that were stuck together end-to-end, because my mom really wanted me to take piano instead of band. In 5th grade, she finally let me switch to flute.  I guess that was a good decision.

3.  I remember when I turned 3 my mom got this coconut cake that was only half a cake.  I loved it, and ate it wearing a blue dress with white smocking on it.

4.  One time when I was in high school, I was walking into the grocery store, and I tripped and fell in front of the girl scouts selling cookies at the door.  They all ran to my aid, and I was horribly embarrassed.  Someone gave my mom a dirty look because she was in the car laughing.

5.  I survived 8 years of marching band in high school and college.  Those were some good times.

6.  My best friend and I met at a summer camp (GHP anyone?) exactly 20 years ago this summer.  We were roommates, and I knew we would be friends forever as soon as she walked in the door.  This is my love at first sight story.

7.  I only made one B in high school.  It was in typing class.  For real.  I am actually a very good typist.

8.  One time while I was helping at a concert, a group of important looking men came over to a group of us and starting talking to us about how much we liked University of Georgia, etc.  They came to me, and I introduced myself and then said, "And you are???"  It was the governor of Georgia.

9.  I worked at Interlochen Arts Camp in Michigan one summer as a driver.  I just drove people to and from the airport.  That summer I got to drive the Indigo Girls and the Beach Boys.  I also fell in love with Michigan cherries.

10.  When I was in middle school I took ballet.  During the recital that year, I fell right as I left the stage.  No one saw me, but everyone heard it.

11.  When I was in college I played competitive racquetball.  Not that I was that good or anything, but I did win every now and then!

12.  One of the first places Kel and I ever went together was Lake Placid.  That was before I knew anything about triathlon, which makes Lake Placid even more special in my mind.  It's just that kind of place.

13.  I have locked my keys in my car more times than I can count.

14.  Every now and then, when I'm walking over a bridge, I have this insane urge to just jump.

15.  I remember riding bikes around my street with my friend Allison when I was 6.  We were allowed to go from my house all the way to her house, which was like 3 streets over.  When I was 6!!

16.  I have always felt like I should be in the Olympics for something.  I think this goes right along with my Annie fantasy because I remember watching the 1984 olympics with complete fascination while listening to my Annie record (yes, record).

17.  Some of the moments I remember most fondly of the time when my boys were babies were middle of the nights.

18.  When I was in middle school I wanted to be a cheerleader more than anything.  Of course, I was in marching band, and not gifted at all in the art of jumping high or looking cute, so I became very good at making fun of cheerleaders.

19.  I have read every single one of the Shoes books by Noel Streatfeild at least 3 times.

20.  I really love Poptarts, although the last time I ate one was when I was pregnant with Ryan.  They are best toasted with a little bit of butter on top.

21.  The most vivid memory I have of kindergarten is the day we had to practice a tornado drill.  I'm pretty sure this has something to do with the fact that I would lay under the coffee table any time a storm warning went across the bottom of the t.v. when I was little.

22.  When I was 5 I took swim lessons and they made us jump off the high dive and swim to the side.  Again, with the scary stuff at 5!!

23.  I used to wish my name was Stephanie when I was in 2nd grade.  I also wanted hair long enough to be put in pigtails.  That was very important in 2nd grade.

24.  When I was in 6th grade I got my first 10-speed bike for Christmas.  It was blue, and I would do laps around our neighborhood on that baby!

25.  The summer I was 9 I lived in Colorado with my dad.  That was one of the best summers ever.  He let me drive a jeep, shoot a gun, pan for gold, hike and fish and explore.  It was fantastic!

26.  I got left at my high school graduation.  Every one thought someone else was bringing me home to my graduation party!!

27.  I went to private school for 1st through 6th grade.  Which means I wore navy blue and white for 6 years.  Take a wild guess at what happened when I went to public school in 7th grade!  Remember guess jeans and forenza???

28.  I used to love the the group The Jets, and I would play their song, "I've Gotta Crush on You" over and over on my little purple boombox.

29.  I also owned a Caboodles for all of my makeup and hair accessories.  There's no fooling around when you have tall bangs and a spiral perm.

30.  My grandmother gave me a piano when I was 10 that I still have in my music studio.  She bought it for me because I was taking piano lessons and would walk across the street to my church to practice every day.  I have a picture of her with my grandfather, my dad and my twin uncles on top of it, and Noah always asks me if he can play "plano."

31.  I still have dreams that I am in school and have no idea what is going on.  The weird thing is that really never happened when I was in school.  Although I did skip Geography 101 more than I went to it in college and still managed to get an A.  This is actually something I'm quite proud of!

32.  I was an orientation leader in college.  You know the people who are insanely peppy and funny and love their school more than anything...yep, that was me, and it was all true, except I'm not really that funny.  But pep I have.  As I look back, this was kind of a realization of my cheerleader fantasy, only better, because I didn't have to jump high.

33.  I do not remember not knowing how to swim.  I also learned to waterski when I was 8.

34.  One of my favorite meals growing up was fried pork chops with the bone in.  Man, that was good stuff.  I have never actually made that meal myself.  I also remember having some sort of bread (muffins, corn bread, bread w/ butter) with almost every dinner.  Can you tell I'm from the South? I'm lucky I don't weigh 300 pounds.

35.  I always thought I would have a daughter.  Sometimes I'm still surprised that God didn't give me one, but I'm sure He has good reasons.

36.  I met Kel at the gym.  We were both on the stairmasters.  When he told me his name I laughed, and he got a little offended until I told him mine.  We were married 10 months later.

37.  One of my favorite things is seeing people do things they are proud of.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Sunday Report

Happy Father's Day to all of the dads out there, including my own!!  Thanks for all you do everyday!!  Here's a little peek into our morning.

This picture is so hysterical, I'm not even going to explain all the craziness in it.  Suffice it to say, it was a pretty normal morning at our house, only there were presents and crowns...and fins!!!

This was a great week of training for me.  I'm sitting now in my Recovery Pump boots as I type and revel in the hard work that was accomplished.   Only 4 weeks (yikes, my belly just flipped flopped when I double-checked on my calendar to be sure of how many weeks) until my first A race of the season, Musselman Half-Ironman.  I have a pretty lofty goal for this race, and I've been a bit nervous about where my training has been. This was a great week for me to realize I have more in my bank than I thought.  Yes, there is still work to do, and my run fitness, well, it probably won't be where I want it to be, but I definitely have some oomph left in me and that is a great feeling!!  I love the direction Coach Mary is taking with my training this season.  As a coach, I totally get it, but as an athlete sometimes you have to trust and believe.  At the beginning of the week I was just trusting this was the right thing, but I wasn't convinced.  At the end of the week, I know it was the right thing.  I love it when Coach proves me wrong, even if she didn't even know I was doubting!!

Here are the numbers:

Swim:  3h 20m 8500 yds (including 2 open water swims, YAY for summer!)
Bike:  6h 17m 51s 96.07 mi
Run:  4h 14m 47s 24.35 mi

Total:  13h 52m 38s

I'm working on another coaching post for this week, hopefully I'll have it up by tomorrow or Tuesday!  If anyone has anything they would like for me to touch on, please leave a comment or shoot me an email.

Have a great week and happy training!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Less Yelling, More Laughing

Today, Noah and I played hookie.  The day was just gorgeous beyond belief, especially in contrast to yesterday which was cold and dreary.  Seriously, it felt like November or something.  Today, on the other hand, there was not a cloud in the sky, it was comfortably cool, but not cold, the sun was shining, and all was right.

I had been planning on going to a TRX class at the Y, but I looked at Noah and decided we just needed a day off.  We jumped in the car and went to visit one of my favorite people, Miss Sarah.  After a nice chat and a cup of tea with her, we headed to the beautiful village of Skaneateles for a latte (for me) and a donut (for him...and maybe a couple of bites for me).

After being fortified with caffeine and sugar we did a little window shopping before we headed home.  While we were out and about I had a very clear realization - when I am out in public I parent very well, not so much when I am at home.  I'm much more likely to yell and lose my temper when I am at home.  I am much less rational and much less patient when I am at home.  It is really kind of embarrassing actually, but it's sort of like being held accountable for your parenting choices.  When people are watching, I am much more likely to make the best choice.

So, in an effort to be a better mommy, I am going to parent my children as if I am in public all the time.  I'm hoping this will lead to a happier and more peaceful home, but really I would just be satisfied with less yelling and more laughing.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Winding Path

Since Kel and I both ride from home quite often but hardly ever at the same time, one of the things we like to talk about is our route of the day.  Actually, it's something I like to talk about - my husband is not a big talker. :)

The other day he was telling me about a particular route he had taken that I had never ridden before, so on Sunday I decided to give it a try.  Without going into details, let's just say I hated it!  I didn't even ride for as long as he did, and the whole way I was just thinking, "Why would he like this route?  It's so boring? It's just one long straight road with nothing cool to look at and no turns to remember or new roads to discover."  I just couldn't figure it out.

When I got home I told him my thoughts and he said, "I like it because it's straightforward.  I won't get lost. I know exactly how to get home, and I know exactly how long it is."

Our little conversation got me to thinking about why I like riding.  Part of the fun of cycling for me is going to new places, finding new sights to see and being alone.  Being alone?  Yes!  I love riding with a group, but I also love the solitude of riding on a country road for miles without seeing anyone, and knowing I got there without a car.  I like the moments when you see another cyclist heading in the opposite direction and you feel a distinct kinship when you nod and they nod back.  I love taking a new turn, knowing I'm headed in basically the right direction, but not quite knowing where I'll come out at the end of the road. I love going by cows and mooing at them (something I probably wouldn't do if I were in a group), and I almost always give a little click or two to any horses I might see.

Does the fact that Kel rides with a much different purpose than me make it any less fun for him?  Of course not!  We each choose our own rides and our own reasons.  On the rare occasion when we do get to ride together, I so enjoy the time with him and will ride the straight and narrow all day!  But when I'm on my own, I choose the winding path for sure!

Why do you love to ride?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Livestrong at the Y Green Lakes Triathlon Race Report

Here is the short version:

22/158 Females Overall
6/31 Female 35-39 Age Group
1st Female Cancer Survivor

Swim:  13:08 1:29/100 pace
T1: 1:14
Bike: 37:12 19.4 mph
T2:  :52
Run:  28:06 9:03/mi

The Long Version:

The Livestrong at the YMCA Green Lakes Triathlon is a race that I have wanted to do for a long time, but just haven't had the chance until today.  The last couple of years Kel raced it, and before that I didn't want to do it since I didn't have a full wetsuit.  This race is a special race for several reasons.  First it is run by the YMCA of Greater Syracuse, which I work for.  Not only do I work there, but the Y is just a special place, and I was really looking forward to racing what I felt like was "my" race. Secondly, all the proceeds go to benefit the Livestrong at the YMCA program at our Y, which is a physical activity and well-being program that addresses the special wants, needs and interests of cancer survivors. LIVESTRONG at the YMCA is the result of a multi-year partnership between YMCA of the USA and the Lance Armstrong Foundation.  Being a cancer survivor myself, this is a program that I know is valuable to many men and women that are in the midst of their own battle with cancer. Thirdly, I had many athletes that I coach as well as friends from the Y that were racing today.

Obviously, I felt some pressure to perform well going into this race.  Let me say that this was pressure I put on myself.  I really was gunning to place in my age group, but even though that didn't happen today, it was a great race.  I had set a few goals for myself going in:
  • Bike HARD. 
  • Quick transitions.
  • Run like my life depended on it.
On the way to the race this morning, I was just thinking and four words came to me. "Today I will shine."  I decided to embrace these words, and realized that shining wasn't just about having a great race.  It actually became a challenge to me.

Of course challenges start in the most peculiar ways.  I got to the race site, went into my transition bag (my new TYR Transition Backpack...LOVE!), and discovered that I had left all my race numbers and bib at home!  I had put them on the bench next to my bag last night, and never actually put them into my bag.  I hurried over to race day packet pickup, and they did let me get my chip and get marked, but they had no extra bibs or bike numbers.  I got back to the car and called Kel.  He had already figured out what I had done, and was hustling the boys ready to go.  I took my stuff over to transition, and, after a little bit of wrangling with the very diligent volunteers, someone finally let me rack my bike.  All during this time I kept thinking about shining.  I did get the chance to snap a picture with some of my girls from the morning crew at the Y.

I went over to the lot where I was supposed to meet Kel and waited. I decided that if I wanted to get a swim warm-up in I needed to do it soon, since after I got my numbers from Kel I would still have to run all the way back to transition to put my numbers on the bike and helmet! So I got in the water which felt great.  Just as I came out, he pulled in, I grabbed the pack and ran back over to transition to finish up.  I had a few minutes to spare before the start, and Kel was able to get a pic of me and the boys.

Soon we were off!  I was in the second wave, but got right in the lead group since the swim waves were done by time.  I had a great swim despite the fact that some man in only tri shorts decided he wanted to lay on top of me the whole swim.  I tried to let him go and he just wouldn't leave me alone.  With about 300 yards to go, I kicked by and finally was rid of him.  It was cool to be one of the first people in my wave out of the water, but I much prefer waves according to age group, so I know who I'm racing and where I am in the race.

I had a quick transition to the bike, where I pushed harder than I have ever pushed in a race.  I knew it was risky, but this was the perfect opportunity to see what I had.  I passed a lot of people from the wave ahead of me.  I didn't get passed by any women, but did get passed by some of the faster male bikers from my wave.  There is one really straight flat portion of the bike course that I was hoping to really gain some speed on, but there was a nasty headwind there, so I actually had to fight to keep my average up there.  I let the hills come, although I'm pretty sure I would have scared a small child with my heavy breathing up the last hill!! I managed to maintain a 19.4 mph average which I am super pleased with.

Why is it that I always look so dorky when I am running?
Another speedy transition (less than a minute, thank you very much) and onto the run.  As I mentioned before, I had been thinking all week about this run.  I had basically decided to run like I was in danger and see how I did. Well, let's just say I hope that tiger that was chasing me was old and slow!! ;)  Actually, the run was hard, which means I was running about as fast as I could.  For where my run fitness is coming off a winter of sore heels and not as much running as I would like, I actually laid down a surprisingly fast run (for me).  I got passed by 4 women on the run, and the last one was the only one in my age group and it was at the very end! She ended up beating me by 10 seconds, but try as I might, I just couldn't hold on.

I like this picture because both of my feet are actually off the ground.
The last woman that passed me edged me right off the podium, since age group awards were given 5 deep.  But I still got an award as prizes were awarded to the first male and female cancer survivors. I am very proud of this award and dedicate this to all the people out there who are fighting this terrible disease

The medals were locally hand made glass medals.  I got a sneak peek at them last week and am so excited to add this beauty to my collection!

All in all, I had an outstanding day.  I raced with people I love, I cheered my athletes through the finish line, I smiled, I laughed, I shined.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Remember the Whys

I am racing the Livestrong at the YMCA Green Lakes Triathlon tomorrow. It is a sprint, and I am prepared to hurt...bad and in the best way possible.

Usually in a hard race, which, let's face it, most races are hard, I always have a moment when my mind says to me, "Why am I doing this?"  It's usually during the run, and I've learned that if I don't have an answer at the ready that voice begins to take over.  It usually says something like, "This is ridiculous! Why in the world would you want to make yourself feel this way? And you actually paid money for this? You are never going to win anyway, why are you trying so hard?"

Yep, my brain is like a very, very mean "friend."  You know what I'm talking about.

I have found that in these moments it is very convenient to have an answer or two at the ready.  This is what I call "Remembering the Whys."

Everyone's "whys" are a little bit different.  You might be racing to celebrate a milestone in your life like turning 40, or losing a big amount of weight.  It could be the start of a new journey of health and fitness in your life.  You might be racing to honor a loved one who has passed or to rejoice in the health of someone who has not.  You might be racing to raise money for a cause that is near to your heart.  You could be racing to celebrate friendship, which is actually a way of saying, "My friend made me do this."  You could be racing to set an example for your kids or to prove to yourself that you are capable of more than you thought.

My "whys" for this race on Saturday are:

  • This race will be a celebration of being a cancer survivor for 12 years. You can read my story here.  I will celebrate my health and the health of all cancer survivors I know.  I will also honor the fight of those who haven't survived.  If they can fight for their life with courage and strength, I will race with courage and strength for them.
  • I love triathlon, and this is my hometown race.  I will race with a smile no matter how bad it hurts.  I will bring my best game for all the people who will cheer for us all.
  • I will race my best for all of my athletes who are also racing this race.  They will give their all, and so will I.
  • I am a runner, and I will prove this to myself tomorrow.

No matter what your "whys" are, if you know them you can answer that question when your brain asks it during the hardest part of the race.  For some the hardest part is starting, setting foot in that water, or toeing the start line.

So when that ugly voice asks the question, be ready.  Remember the whys.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Rev3 Quassy ORev Race Report

Kel and I had a fantastic time in Quassy this past weekend.  We were both racing the Rev3Tri ORev olympic distance race on Saturday, so we left the boys with Grandma and Grandpa on Friday and headed to Connecticut.

We stopped briefly in Chittenango, NY where I was the guest speaker at a career day.  I started off with a little flute playing, and then talked some about triathlons.  I even included a lightning fast transition from my flute clothes to riding into the gym on Miss Artemis Blue!!  Unfortunately, the SD card on the camera got damaged somehow, and I don't have any pics from the trip at all!!

We connected with Mark (@tridadoffive) on the way down and happily indulged of a carb-loaded feast of pumpkin pancakes for lunch at a great little diner in the Berkshires.  Once we arrived in Quassy, we picked up our packets, said hi to all of our Trakkers teammates and Kel and I headed out for a little ride. After the ride, we got cleaned up as much as we could and went to dinner with the team, which is always so much fun.

One of my favorite things about racing any Rev3 event, but especially Quassy, is that after 3 years of racing here as a member of Team Trakkers I have developed some great relationships with my team and the Rev3 family.  The whole afternoon was full of hellos and hugs, and it just made me love triathlon and Rev3 even more.  Even the Team Trakkers pros recognized us little age-groupers and stopped for a quick chat!

Race morning came early, as usual.  I downed my breakfast and we headed to the race site.  Our bikes had been checked in the night before, and Rev3 gave us all cool race number tattoos (sorry, stupid SD card...), so it really minimized the amount of stuff I had to get done in transition before the race. I got into the water which really felt quite nice, especially since I had my super TYR Hurricane Cat 5 wetsuit on!  I swam to the first buoy, floated around a bit, and swam back in.

We got out, I gave Kel a quick kiss since he was in the first wave, and before I knew it my wave was being ushered into the chute.

I had a hard time settling into my swim.  I just couldn't seem to find my rhythm and I finally started to feel comfortable after I made the first turn about 1/3 of the way into the swim.  I'm pretty sure this is just because this was only my 2nd open water swim of the season, and my first was just on Thursday and much more relaxed.  I definitely need to work on my sighting skills, as it seems to throw off my rhythm just a bit when I look up.  All in all, though, the swim was good.

1500 meter swim:  28:58
T1:  2:25

I was in and out of T1 in a flash, it felt like, and onto Miss Artemis Blue.  The bike courses in Quassy for both the ORev and the HalfRev are notoriously hilly, and I was looking forward to using my newly practiced mental "hill skills" on the course.  Soon after I was on the bike, I shifted to the small front ring for a climb.  When I went to shift back to the big ring on a downhill, the most horrific sound of clanging and grinding came from my bike.  I looked down and couldn't really tell what was going on, but something was definitely not right. After about a mile of trying to shift to the big ring with no success, I stopped to see if I could do something about it.  My  front derailleur was rubbing on the big ring, so I tried to force it up a little bit.  That seemed to work, and I was quickly on my way.  I probably lost about 45 seconds or so.  However, as soon as I shifted back to the little ring, it wouldn't go back to the big ring again.  I ended up stopping two more times to try to fix it, with no success, so after the 3rd time I just decided to embrace the situation and leave it in the small ring.  If I had to stuck in the small ring, this super hilly course was a good one to do it on!

The interesting thing about this ride was instead of being annoyed that I was having mechanical issues, I totally enjoyed myself.  I wooted on the fast downhills while I thought about how much I was saving my legs for the run by not pedalling. I spun up the uphills with a cadence that would make Coach proud.  I cheered the people I passed and the people who passed me.  I made some jokes.  I enjoyed the scenery, which was absolutely beautiful. I pretty much nailed my nutrition.  I actually passed quite a few people, which is a pretty new feeling for me.  All in all, it was probably one of the most enjoyable bike rides I have ever been on!

25.6 mile Bike: 1:34:58 16.22 mph
T2:  1:41

In and out of transition again and onto the run.  I have to admit, I had been a little worried about how I would do on this hilly run since my run fitness is admittedly not where I would like for it to be.  The first mile, however, felt great.  I actually passed about 10 people during the first mile!!  I had no idea what my pace was because I chose to race without a watch.  I decided to take a little bit of coke at the first aid station, and it was a great decision.  If people passed me, I tried to latch onto them if I could and let them drag me along, even if it was just for a few yards.  The hills started coming, and I just put my head down and moved my feet. After the 2nd aid station, a man that had been walking decided to join me.  Dan and I continued together for the rest of the run!  I just love that.  At the top of a particularly grueling hill I saw a stopped car and someone jumped out and started cheering for me.  As I got closer I realized it was Team Trakkers Mama Bear herself, Carole Sharpless!!  I didn't think she was coming, so imagine my surprise to see her jumping up and down all for me!!  I gave her a huge sweaty hug before she reminded me that I was racing, so get going!  She popped up all along the rest of the course to cheer me on.  Thanks, MB!!

In the last 1/2 mile there is a brutal hill that Dan and I decided to walk about 25 yards of.  Once we hit the top, we were off to the finish!

6.2 mile Run:  59:58 (!!)
Total Time:  3:08:01

I was super pleased with my run time.  It was faster than I was anticipating, although slower than I would like to be.  This was only the 2nd olympic distance I have ever run, and by far the hardest, so I didn't set a PR.  My time was good enough for 3rd place Athena, though, and I got a beautiful glass plaque to commemorate the event.  (Sorry, stupid SD card...)  After looking at the results I realized I missed 2nd place Athena by about 2 minutes, so if I had had all my gears and no stops I probably could have gotten second.  But, the thing I am most proud of is that, despite my mechanical issues on the bike, I stayed in the mix, stayed positive and had a wonderful race!

Kel also had an amazing race with a 7-minute PR from last year!!  We hung out at the expo, took advantage of the Recovery Pump Lounge (twice!), and then headed to another team dinner which was even more fun!!

We stayed to watch the pros race the HalfRev on Sunday.  Here is a link to a great recap video of the pro race. I could go on and on about how much I loved this weekend.  I love my team, I love Rev3 events, and I love triathlon.  I know it's cheesy, but this race really brought it home to me that no matter how competitive (or not) I am, I love this sport.  My goal is always to have fun and cheer people on, and I nailed it!

Thanks to my great sponsors Team Trakkers, Rev3Tri, Recovery Pump,  KestrelFirst Endurance, TYR, Avia, and All3Sports.  I feel so blessed to be on such a great team with such wonderful people that I instantly connect with!  I feel blessed to be able to go out and race in the beautiful outdoors.  I feel blessed that I can push my body.  I am blessed.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Most of you know that I am a USAT Level 1 Certified Triathlon Coach.  I have been coaching at my YMCA now for a little over a year.  It is something I have found I absolutely love, and it has really become a sort of surprise career for me.  I am still a professional flutist and always will be, but now I consider myself to be both coach and musician.

For a while I've been struggling with what direction to take this blog.  I love writing about my training and my days with my family.  I love writing about balance and struggles and triumphs.  But lately I've been feeling a pull to include more content from a coaching perspective.  So today I'm kicking off a weekly (hopefully) post that will focus on some aspect of training.

Turn It Off

As race season approaches I often find myself talking to people who are full of anxiety and fear about an upcoming race.  Just last night I was at a panel discussion for a local triathlon here in Syracuse, and after the discussion was over I was speaking with a woman who literally broke down in tears because she is so worried about the swim portion of the race. She was terribly embarrassed and confessed she felt silly, but at the same time her emotions were very real.  She kept saying she knows she can swim it, and she has put in so many weeks of training, and now a week before, she is freaking out.

I know she isn't the only one who has these anxieties leading up to a race, especially if it's a first triathlon.  Even after 6 years of racing, I have crazy dreams before a race.  I also find I have those voices, those fears, in my head that tell me I'm not ready, I'm not good enough, that I shouldn't be doing this.

What a tragedy to put in months of physical training only to be devastated by what is between our ears on race day!  The good news, though, is that we can train our mind as well.

Here is a little tool I like to use for those negative thoughts and fears that start to come my way as race day approaches.

I picture a light switch, and every time that fear or negative thought starts to creep in my mind, I simply turn the switch off and put that thought in the dark.  I will not shine light onto something that undermines all of my hard work.  Once the thought is in the dark, I replace it with a positive thought.

For example:

"I'm so afraid I will have a panic attack during the swim."
Turn the light switch off.
Replace with a positive:  "I will be calm and peaceful on race day.  My swim will be smooth. I will be relaxed."
Notice that my positive thought was not, "I won't have a panic attack on race day."  I don't want any focus going to the negative idea.  I focus on what I want to happen, not on what I don't want to happen.

Does that make sense?

Try it this week, and you will be amazed at how this simple tool can really change your attitude going into your next race.

Happy training!!