2013 Mantra

01/13/2013

I have a tendency to build things up in my head – to stress too much about things that shouldn’t be so stressful.  At some point or another, this has applied to all facets of my life, but most especially to my training.  I see a really hard workout and I stress.  I see a long swim set and my anxiety instantly builds.  I see a long run and “panic” sets in.  Its just how I am wired.

Sometime towards the end of last year, I was in the middle of a really hard run set when I stopped dead in my tracks feeling like I couldn’t possibly go another step at this outlandish pace my coach had scheduled for me.  Annoyed with my coach for having such high expectations of me, frustrated with myself, and feeling defeated, I had a pity party for myself which lasted approximately 15 seconds.  At that point, I gathered myself, took a deep breath, and said these 10 words aloud:

“Don’t make a bigger deal about it than it is”.

I continued with my set, finished all of my intervals at or below my scheduled “outlandish paces” and felt like a million bucks.  I had defeated the devil that appears when things get tough.  I repeated those 10 words no less than 5 more times to myself during that particular workout and have probably said them to myself and aloud at least 100 times since.  I say them pretty much before every swim session.  🙂

My new mantra also reminds me that triathlon is, when its all said and done, just a hobby for me which is easy to forget when you’re surrounded with people who take this sport very seriously.  More often than not, my new mantra frees my mind of unnecessary stress which often hinders me from performing to my potential.  It allows me to achieve what I set out to achieve on that particular day.  But the flip side is that these 10 words also allow me to be more accepting of myself if things don’t go as planned.   I have learned to wrap up a bad workout or race with a nice little bow, move on, and “not make a bigger deal about it than it is.”  I have become more accepting of my weaknesses which has opened up a whole new world of opportunity to improve on them.

No matter what words you chose to use, I hope you have a mantra you can use to defeat your ugly devil when life, kids, work, family, friends, workouts, pets or anything else make you think you can’t possible keep moving at that “outlandish pace.”


Goin’ Gluten Free

01/07/2013

Back in October, I began “transitioning” into a gluten free lifestyle.  If you’re not aware, gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, malts and triticale.  It is also used as a food additive in the form of  “dextrin”.  In a nutshell, gluten [can] cause inflammation in the small intestine which reduces / affects digestion.  Gluten free should not be confused with paleo or no /low carb – they are not even close.

Gluten-free-header1

Going gluten free /was  not something I decided on overnight, but rather started phasing towards over time and it has stuck.  I had no intentions of becoming gluten free; I don’t have celiac (wheat allergy) or any heath reasons that would cause me to do so.  It started when I decided to try to eliminate “processed” bars and foods (Luna bars, etc) as much as possible, and replace with better quality protein and less processed foods.  I have a lot of friends (most of my close training buddies) and my coach are gluten free and I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about if it was the right lifestyle for me.

As I continued to “eliminate” gluten from my diet, I started feeling really really good.  I parenthesize “eliminate” because I have no need to be 100% strict with my gluten intake, or lack thereof.  If I’m attending a dinner party, for example, I won’t require or request a special meal or if there is a small amount of wheat in, say, a salad dressing, I’m not going to throw it out.  There may become a time when even a small amount of gluten (after restricting for a long period of time) will make me feel bad, but I’m not there yet.

What has been the most interesting part of the change is how my performance has been affected.  I feel really good during my training and the amount of fuel / calories my body is requiring for extended workouts is continuously decreasing.  My body is learning to burn fat as I shift to an even cleaner, less processed diet.  When it comes to race day, that is ideal.  The less “crap” you need to pump into your system to maintain your endurance effort (Ironman effort), the less chance you have for GI distress.  So much of Ironman performance is nutrition!  We put SO much time, energy, hours and focus into swimming, biking and running for months and months, day in and day out.  But, if your stomach isn’t trained to perform, it doesn’t matter how many hours you’ve logged, you’re facing an uphill battle on race day.

I don’t really believe in the concept of “dieting” – I did not decide to go gluten free to lose weight.  I am a firm believer in eating well and exercise, plain and simple.  I believe in deserts, drinking alcohol and cheat meals – all in moderation.  The only difference now is that I believe in gluten free deserts, red wine and gluten free cheat meals.  🙂

** Thank you to my friend Tim for being my gluten free reference.


2012 Year in Review and Some Totals for the Number People

01/03/2013

I think I’ve been kinda of dreading the whole recap post because when I think back on my 2012 race season, it wasn’t one of my best. I had a few good, shorter races / results here and there, but as a whole, all of my “bigger” races did not go as planned. Despite wishing my races had been more successful, I managed to take each “bad” race with a grain of salt, learn something, and move on. Hence why I’ve been a little less excited to reflect back on races I’ve vowed to move on from. 🙂

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Looking back, I had three big races planned for 2012 starting with White Lake (and I only consider it big because of its distance, not necessarily its importance), Eagleman 70.3 and Worlds. Each race left quite a bit to be desired on the results front (or lack thereof) but I can confidently say that each race taught me a very valuable lesson about either myself, my training, my nutrition, course selection, etc.

White Lake: Long and short of it was, I woke up ~25 min before my swim start and then my left adductor starting absolutely killing me 1/2 way through the bike ride. I headed out on the run in pain and unable / unwilling to suffer through 13+ miles in 90+ heat. DNF’ing at any race, big or small, A, B, C-race, long course or short course, pretty much sucks. But, I made the decision to call it a day with fear I would further injure myself and I’m proud that I was able to do so. I never really got to the bottom of what exactly caused my leg to hurt so badly, but I imagine a lot had to do with a new bike and a new fit. So I learned a lot at this race – 1.) set two alarms 2.) that it takes quite a while to get adjusted to a new bike fit 3) that my new bike fit (little did I realize) was pretty darn aggressive for a longer distance racing 4.) that you shouldn’t attempt a 56 mile ride, on a new bike, with a new, aggressive bike fit, on a pancake flat course, when the longest you’d ridden on the bike prior was ~45 miles and lastly, 5.) that its possible to wake up, down an eGel for “breakfast”, sprint to a race site on your bike, set up your transition, get your chip (thanks to my sister), get in your wetsuit and get to the start of a race in less than 25 minutes. Hopefully I won’t need to be practicing that ever again!! I think the bike issues have worked itself out as I have zero plans to get a new triathlon bike for at least the next 47 years and I’m more than comfortable at this point.

Eagleman: I stretched at mile 0.25 on the run only to have my entire hamstring tie itself in a ball. What I learned / confirmed is that I don’t do well in the heat. Period. I learned a lot about salt intake for 90-100 degree temps and confirmed I don’t like pancake flat races. I finished here in ~5:40 I believe (truly cannot remember), my slowest 70.3 race by a lot after the longest 13.1 mile death march of my life….but I gutted it out and earned my medal and I’m happy that I did. 🙂

Worlds: Well, I think of all the races that didn’t go so well, I learned the most at Worlds about preparation, mental toughness and changing your race day plan / expectation on the fly, which we so often have to do in triathlon. From the minute we arrived in Auckland, my race day plan needed revision and so did my bike set up. I had only brought along my deep dish wheels and with winds of 40-50 km/hour, I learned to come more prepared. Given my bike bag can hold two sets of wheels, going forward, I’ll be sure to take advantage of this. I also learned after the first 400 meters of the swim that I was going to have to revise my race result expectations and even more so, after about 10 miles into the bike ride after pulling over two times for various mishaps. Instead of giving up, I used the bad swim and crappy bike ride to fuel me for a great, “enjoyable’ run and vowed to smile the whole time. Turns out, smiling is infectious! Adjusting your expectations on the fly is a crucial part of this sport.

Though I didn’t have the day I’m capable of, or that I hoped, in any of these bigger races, 2012 did have a lot of ups that I am truly proud of! In no particular order…

1. I raced my first year in the “open” category for the NC series (huge tail between my legs moment) and was delighted to finish as the 5th overall female for the year.

2. I joined MAC Masters – a program I’ve heard about, been encouraged to join, been tempted to join for over 3 years, but never had the courage.

3. I came within a minute of an Olympic time trial gold medalists time at the Lowe’s TT and posted a top 3 female times ever (21:49).

4. I led two Olympic distance races for the first ~2 miles of the run and despite getting passed, managed to hold on to 2nd in both. (There will be no getting passed in 2013!) 🙂

5. I won the NC State Time Trial Championship.

6. I upgraded from a Cat 4 to a Cat 3 road cyclist.

7. I ran a 5k PR (20:10) and a 13.1 (1:36) PR.

8. I hired a new coach whom I adore, is understanding and truly my friend.

9. I got an new awesomely sweet bike that makes me go really fast.

10. I got a great promotion at my “real job”.

And, last but maybe the most gratifying of them all…

11. I coached 18 amazing athletes to PR’s, new distances, and great seasons of their own!

All in all, I’d say 2012 was a very successful year!

As I do every year, here are my totals for 2012 as compared to 2011.

2012 2011
Swimming: 355,939 yards – 127 hours 323,707 – 128 hours
Biking: 4,533 miles – 235 hours 5,113 miles – 257 hours
Running: 1,188 miles – 150 hours 1,113 miles – 148 hours
Strength/Yoga: 86 hours 56 hours

As a whole, it was a great year for me training-wise. Given my focus on shorter distance, my volume is lower than it was in 2009 and 2010, which is to be expected. I suspect 2013 will include a lot more swimming and quite a bit more of everything, which makes me happy. I credit 86 hours of strength training, which is primarily in the form of yoga, for keeping me generally very healthy and injury-free despite training hard with little down time for 5 years now!

I hope everyone takes the time to reflect back on their race season, their big races, their good races, their not so good races and pats themselves on the back – regardless of the results. Whether you finished 1st or 101st, you trained day in and day out, you had the courage to toe the line and you got yourself to the finish line – and that’s what really matters!


Doing What you Love

01/02/2013

Happy 2013 everyone! I’ve been somewhat quiet on the blog front which as we know, only means one thing…I’ve been really busy! I’m currently ~11 weeks from my Ironman (I sound like a pregnant lady speaking in terms of weeks) and with that comes hours of training, lots of eating, lots of sleeping and less exciting stuff to write about. Throw in Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years and you have one hectic schedule!

My training could not be going any better, aside from my still nagging heal pain. It continues to be manageable, but has definitely stepped up into the “not wanting to manage this pain much longer” category as of late. My entire foot and lower leg are increasingly sore after long runs, to be expected, but I’m finding that my heel generally hurts all the time now vs. just after I run as it was. Nonetheless, I’m doing every possible treatment I can for it to get me through March, some days it feels better than others, and I’ll do everything in my power to not let it affect my race.

Aside from my heal, I couldn’t feel any better! I am hitting paces with ease on my long runs that I’ve never seen before, my power numbers are steady and strong on my bike and my swim times are also improving, though very slightly. Such is swimming.  🙂  The biggest gain I’ve seen in this IM training vs. the last I did in 2010 is my ability to hit strong power numbers on my bike post hard swim workout.  Even if my swim times aren’t quite setting any world records, exiting the water substantially less fatigued than I have in the past is going to be a huge benefit on race day. I did my first long run post pretty short, intense (2 hours) bike workout last weekend and I was beyond pleased to be holding an ~8:00/mile pace with my HR in zone 1, as instructed. So all in all, I’m feeling more and more confident as the race approaches!

I spent this past New Years day doing something I love and I hope you did too! A friend of mine has organized a 100-mile bike ride for the last 8 years which ends at his mom’s house in Lake Wiley where she serves a wonderful Southern New Year’s feast. When he sent the email a few weeks ago I knew it was exactly what I wanted to be doing! I was also “challenged” to be the first estrogen-filled human to complete the ride this year…and I’m always up for that! There were tons of emails and offers to partake in absurdly long swim sets (100×100! 13×500, 213×50) and even though that’s what I probably should be doing training-wise, I refused to spend the first day of what is going to be a great year, doing something that makes me (generally) miserable.  I want to be a better swimmer, but I have limits.  🙂  Despite pretty chilly temps, pretty hard rain at times, a flat tire which took entirely too long to change resulting in 8 literally soaked, freezing cold riders in silence for the next ~10 miles, we truly had a great time. The group was just the right size, our pace was very reasonable and I even got in some good IM efforts riding up front but also rode very easy at times, the food was wonderful and I go down in “history” as the first ever female New Years day 100-mile ride finisher. All in all, I can’t think of any way I’d rather have started in my new year!!

NYE ride 2012
Over the past ~5 years, I’ve learned a lot about myself and what truly makes me happy. I know this will be an ever-changing cycle over the course of life, but I know one thing that will never change is my love of challenging myself, my body, and my mind to new, different, exhilarating endeavors. I spent my youth and my high school days dedicated to my sports (volleyball, softball and cheerleading) striving to be the best athlete I could be; I spent post-volleyball college days (I only played 1 ½ years) and the early /mid part of my 20’s dedicated to having fun, partying with and making new friends, making memories, and maybe a few bad decisions. Now in my early 30’s, I am at a place in my life where I’m comfortable being at home on NYE alone, in bed at 9:30pm with a good book and my dogs so that I can feel fresh and ready the next day’s endeavors. I have finally let go of the guilt and the feeling that “because I’m young and single, I should be out getting wasted in a bar.” I’ve been there, I’ve done that, I loved it while it lasted and I’ve now come to terms with that’s just not who I am at this phase of my life. Sure, I hope to one day have company other than my furry friends on NYE, but it’s comforting to know that I can still be pretty darn happy without it. 🙂

Whether you were on your couch alone, in a bar getting saucy, on a quite trip with friends, with your family, your grandma, or your dog, I hope everyone rung in 2013 doing something they love! I know I did!