Friday, February 28, 2014

A good time will be had by all DAMMIT!

I had a pretty bad week. It was bad in that it was one of those emotional highs and lows. I just kept wanting to get to Friday. THAT kind of week.

It's all good now. It's FRIDAY. I race on Sunday, and I ended up meeting a really great guy today.  I admit that it's a little weird how the whole thing came about. That probably means we'll end up being life long friends. Life long in this day in age, meaning we'll probably make it to Sunday.

Last week, I raced. If you remember, immediately after I raced, I BOLTED over to Molly's race to cheer her on, yell obscenities and in general be myself.

After her race, my energy levels were dropping quickly. I had a recovery shake, but it wasn't enough, and I was fading fast.

After watching Molly tear up the course, we  she was packing up and some guy kept talking to me. I, of course, was like, "Dude. Stand in line." No, really. I was totally blowing him off because I could no longer think straight.

At breakfast, in which, I was totally throwing down pumpkin pancakes, while Molly was discussing something that had nothing to do with pancakes, but I'm sure was very interesting. It occurred to me. The guy that I was totally rude to.....he swims masters with me.

OH sh*t. It's one thing to completely diss a stranger. It's quite another to diss someone you see every damn day.

Of course, I felt terrible because although we aren't friends, he initiates conversations with me all the time. I had no idea he was a triathlete.

Lo and behold, we both end up at master's today. I ran over to him and gave him a great big bear hug.....not really....come one, we're wearing swimsuits. Even I have standards, granted they're low, but I do have them. I went up to him and apologized profusely. Of course, he laughed it off.

We found out that we are doing the same races this year. We're both doing Loveland (olympic), and we're both doing the Peak (which is nice because my other 2 friends backed out of the Peak, and I'm always looking for a good a$$ to smack on the course.)  OH....I should point out that my cheerleader, sherpa and very own Harry Potter will be at the Peak and Loveland as well. She'll also be at SOMA! YAY!

Then, it got a little strange when he said, "You did Vegas in 2013 and 2012."

That stopped me. "Yeah. I did."

He told me that he was on the shuttle bus with me. "Stalk much?" I'm thinking to myself.

As it turns out, we've been at each other's races for the past two years. Granted, it is a leetle freaky that he knew I was at all those races, and I never knew he was there. And that he never said anything to me before, but at least he doesn't have hundreds of pictures of me on his phone (like my last stalker)....or maybe it's that he's smart enough to not tell me about it?

So, there you have it.  This weekend I'm racing. Of course, he'll be there and so will another friend from masters.

And a good time will be had by all.

Until my next meltdown, my dear friends.

Or my next PR, whichever comes first.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Laws of Attraction Part Deux

When I wrote the Laws of Attraction post, I never expected it to get the number of comments that I got. (Not just on the post itself but on social media and via email).

The one that got the most attention was the female/male friendship section. I am so glad that so many people really feel the same way that I do.

Sadly, I have an update for you. The woman in that post told me yesterday that she is filing for divorce, quitting her job and moving.

FIRST, I want to make one thing very clear. I knew her well. I was not at all surprised that she is getting divorced. This has nothing to do with her "triathlon spouse".

Second....this news hit me really hard.

This is going to sound crazy, but I felt terrible for her and her tri-spouse. She is splitting with husband, but like I said....I wasn't even surprised. Things have been wrong there for a year. Yet by moving, she is also splitting from her tri-spouse. Granted, they will still talk, but there is something about having that person physically with you, being able to run or swim or race together.

She's basically losing two people (in addition to say people like ME....who were training partners).

When she went over everything, I felt my heart sink. I haven't hidden my feelings about my break up with Coach Mike. I haven't hidden how hurt I was. For awhile, every time I'd hear something or read something, I'd think "Oh, I have to tell Mike about this!" It was usually about something we'd previously talked about.

Then, the reality would set in, and I realized....that I couldn't. I tried to contact him, and he ignored me. I congratulated him on his Coach of the Year, and he went out of his way to ignore me. Maybe I was a glutton for punishment.....well, I'm not really. I explained all that in this post .

He didn't want me in his life anymore. It wasn't even that he didn't want me in his life; it was that he was acting like I didn't exist anymore. Throughout this whole time, that was the part that I struggled with the most.

It was all those feelings that came back when I was talking to her. She is experiencing a loss. I know how much it hurts.

I guess, the moral to the story is that as great as those relationships can be, they hurt like hell when they end.

For the most part, things are ok for me now. I just have those moments, like this week, when I heard about her news....and he was the first person I thought of calling.

I don't know what I will do when I see him. I don't know. I don't know if I will stare stupidly with my mouth gaping. I don't know. I'm just going to have to be me; whatever that means.

Over time, all this will go away, but I wouldn't be human if I didn't have these feelings.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Here little fishy fishy fishy

Let's talk about swimming!

I love swimming. Again, this is all from either personal experience or from questions that I'm asked from people who are new to multi-sport.

Unlike the bike, this is more of a mix of what you need to buy and things you really need to consider doing.

In my experience, a high percentage of people come to multi-sport with a running background. The running piece they feel comfortable with (until the first time they brick). The bike, they figure they can muscle their way through.

But the swim, it's can be pretty nerve wrecking. My goal today is to make it a little less horrible.

KEY POINT. I cannot stress this enough. YOU MUST WORK ON YOUR SWIM. If you are afraid of the swim and avoid swimming in open water prior to a race, you're fucked. Honestly. Take it from me. You will expend an enormous amount of energy, simply because of stress. You'll be completely worn out and unable to really ride or run. 

Let's start with equipment. Like with the bike, I'm assuming a beginner.

1.) To wetsuit or not. Whenever legal, wear a wetsuit. Period. The point of a wetsuit, besides warmth, is buoyancy. When you swim with a wetsuit, it offsets alot of your bad habits. If you have bad balance, this will help you adjust. How this helps you: if you are more buoyant, you will swim faster/more efficiently which means you will have more energy for the rest of the race.  SPECIAL NOTE: It's virtually impossible to drown in a wetsuit, so swim with a little more confidence.

Sleeved or sleeveless? I'm going to tell you it's a matter of preference; HOWEVER, swim coaches that I respect have told me always wear sleeves (buoyancy). I will say this. Some people have a claustrophobic experience when wearing a wetsuit. Going sleeveless often helps. But, there are places wear you can try them on. Better yet, you can rent them. Try it out ahead of time and see what works best for you. 

2.) Goggles: Buy in sets of 4. 2 for inside or cloudy days. 2 for outside in sunny days. Seems excessive right? It's excessive until you pull out your goggles on race morning, and the strap snaps leaving you without any goggles. You don't have to buy $30 goggles. You can buy whatever feels comfortable. There's no such thing as goggles that won't fog up, so go for it. Buy which ever ones you want. But make sure you have different types for light conditions. I'm telling you when you are in open water and the sun is rising directly in front of you, you can't see anything except the sun reflecting off the water. Having goggles to reduce that glare is a life saver. You don't want to follow the person in front you. Get your goggles, sight well, make your own path. 

3.) Swim caps. This one is more for the ladies. Two types Silicone and latex. It's a matter of personal preference but latex can/does tear more easily. Again, buy multiples or save your race caps and swim in those for training. 

Some advice to IGNORE and you will hear it. DO NOT PUT CONDITIONER IN YOUR SWIM CAP TO KEEP FROM GETTING FRIZZIES. AND, wash your face AND hair prior to swimming--shampoo only. Get all that lotions and potions crap off your face and out of your hair. TOO MANY times, I've had my swim cap fly off my head taking my goggles with it because I had conditioner/oil in my hair and lotion on my forehead.

I have wavy/curly hair, so I understand the frizzies. I have to put heavy conditioner in my hair, smoothing cream and oil almost daily. But it works. Find products that work for you.

For those of you with long hair: the habit is to tie up your hair in a messy bun on top of your head, then put the swim cap on.  Whenever possible, get out of this habit and do a messy bun at the bottom of your skull. The reason for this is that, in a race, you're getting on a bike next.....with a bike helmet. You don't have time to re-do your hair in transition. Band it at the bottom of your skull, bike helmet goes right on.

 4. Swimsuits: Sadly, you're going to have to leave the fashion suits and baggy cargo suits at home and get training suits. You can find swimsuits pretty inexpensively on websites like I would strongly urge you to buy at least 2 suits. The first time you forget to wash or rinse your swimsuit, and you go into your swim bag and have to put on a wet'll thank me.  Anything that's baggy is going to create drag. Ladies: the first time that tankini comes up and over your head during a flip turn....well.....yeah......You want a one piece or a two piece, no tankinis, no fashion suits.

Guys: You don't have to wear the itsy bitsy suits (unless you want to, maybe leave that to the ladies?). There are alot of choices out there for suits that have all types of coverage that are also snug.

Oh....and don't forget your flip flops.


Trislide: I love this stuff more than any bodyglide. It's a spray and goes on very easy. Spray it around your neck, armpits....EVERYWHERE, you don't want to start the day with a wicked case of neck chafing that looks oddly like a hickey.

That's pretty much it for equipment. 

How do you go about this thing called open water swimming?

I strongly recommend that you:
a.) Join a masters swim: YES. you will be the slowest swimmer there. YES, you will be lapped. Yes, you will hate swimming. Now, that we have that out of the way, check your ego at the door and get in the pool. It is hands down the best way to get faster. I swam for years on my own. I was terrified the first week I showed up to masters. I can't even begin to tell you how much faster I have become. The coaches work with you. Do it!

b.) Take lessons. In the absence of or in addition to master's take lessons. Swimming is different than when you learned when you were 8 years old. Take one lesson or two or ten. It will really help.

That's getting in a pool. If you have never swam in open water, you're in for a treat. Prior to getting into open water, do a little test. 

Go to the pool, close your eyes and go under water.....

How'd it go? Did you freak out? If yes, keep doing that for a few seconds every time you swim laps. 

If you didn't freak out, you can move to the next step. (Make sure you are in a lane to yourself). Swim a few strokes with your eyes closed, open them, close them. 

Do that until you feel perfectly comfortable. Now, you're ready for open water.

When you get to open water, you will see people dive right in. Please don't do this. The cold of the water and darkness of the water will send your body into shock and cause your heart rate to go through the roof. 

Instead, go into the water, step by step, and allow your wetsuit to fill up with water. The gradual filling of the wetsuit, gives your body time to warm up the water. Oh....yes...your wetsuit fills up with water, this is how you stay warm. Once you are in deep enough that the water is up and over your wetsuit collar, you can start swimming.

If you've been practicing swimming with your eyes closed, the darkness of the water won't affect you or won't affect you as much. 

The one thing you notice right away is how big the water seems, how bright the sun is and how far away the buoys look. 

Take your time. If you panic, do a few strokes and get back to shore. Relax and head back out. 

SIGHTING: You've probably figured it out, but with no black line along the bottom of the pool, you are going to have to look up to see where you are going. At first, don't worry about being smooth. It might take you several looks before you can see the next buoy. Don't worry about it. Over time, sighting becomes a more natural part of your stroke. 

What is sighting? Sighting is take a quick look up to see where you are going. Ideally, your head only comes out of the water to the bottom of your goggles. People have different ways of sighting. Some look up then turn to take a breath. Some take a breath and look forward. 

Bi-lateral breathing. You're gonna want to learn to do this. We are all dominate on one side, but you need to be able to breath on both sides. When the water is really rough, and you are unable to breath on your dominant side, you'll have to breath on your weak side. 

Once you get comfortable swimming in open water, you will want to practice your starts and/or swimming in a group. You will be shocked at how often you will get wrapped up in someone else and unable to get away from them. In fact, an open water swim start can be one of the most violent things you'll see with people running full speed, water splashing around, etc. 

Vertigo: Many people get vertigo when swimming open water. I know that ear plugs often help. However, if you have this problem, you might want to google some ideas. There are a lot of crazy things that people do to help them deal with this issue. 

Quick notes for entry and exit and buoys:
1.) If it's a beach start, run until the water is up to your mid thigh, then dive in. If you are new to this open water swimming thing, don't swim crazy fast. Just get your groove going. Don't worry about how far ahead everyone else is. Don't worry about the next waves catching you. Just do your thing. 

2.) Rounding the buoy: This is where it gets fun. It's CRAZY. everyone want to make the tightest turn they can. You'll get hit. You'll have some big dude feel like he's mounting you. You also have choices: don't fight it, make a wider turn. (Whatever you do, do NOT cut the buoy, do not turn inside, you will get disqualified). Your other choice is to swim aggressively. Hold your ground, in training practice breathing going around a buoy. There are different strategies for turning. Usually, after you hit the first buoy, the crowd starts to disperse. The fast people are way ahead. the slower people are just coming around the buoy, and you're snugly in the middle group with just a few other people. 

3.) On the exit, do not stop swimming until your hand touches the ground. Even the slowest swimmer, swims faster than they can walk when the water is over their knees.

Stand up! BOOM! You're done. You just finished your first triathlon swim. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Dude, I got a PR

This was another race in which the goal was pacing. I was not planning on running a PR or even attempting it.

The race is 5 miles. My previous 5 mile PR (of all time) was 47:16. Today, I ran (officially) 47:03 and came in 10th place which is the first time I have ever cracked the top 10 for this distance. I have done it for the 5k but never any longer race.

All that is wonderful, and I am thrilled, but here's how it went down.

I timed my warm up perfectly to finish right around race start.

I had talked to Coach earlier in the week after being a little stumped as to how to run this race. This race is 2.5 miles downhill and 2.5 miles uphill. Now, the hills are nothing serious, very mild but still affects pacing when the goal is to speed up throughout the race.

I told her that I usually run too hard at the start and my pace drops. What do I do?  She surprised me when she said, "I'd hit that downhill. If you do, just remember, you're going to be in a world of hurt on the final 2.5 miles."

Ok. There you have it. What the hell? I mean really, why not just run it?

When the race started, it starts on steep downhill. I was running way too in blow up fast. I had to back off.

When I hit the first mile marker, I realized that I was running a PR pace. Can I do this? Can I run a PR today?

At that minute, I decided, "Yes. I'm going to run a PR today."

At the 2nd mile marker, I did "check systems"....."all systems go". I am feeling good, and I feel it in my legs, but I'm really ready to do this. I have my mile splits for the 1st and 2nd miles. I'm increasing my pace each mile.

At around 2.5 miles, my garmin vibrates....I mean really vibrates. I glance down at it, and I've lost satellites.


Ok. I have no idea what my pace is. I have no idea where I am with distance.  Here's what we're going to do: effort must increase. I know I have around 2.3-2.5 mile left. 

I can still make this PR happen. Note your time when you hit the mile markers.

At mile 3, I was around 28 minutes. I knew that to PR, I had to run 2 miles in 19 minutes, uphill. I can do this. My legs are starting to hurt, so I know I'm running hard. I wanted to ask the woman next to me what pace we were running, but I didn't want to ruin it. I thought "Just run. Just run hard. Don't worry about anything else. If you do that, you'll have a great race."

Mile 3 was the hardest mentally. I kept losing focus and slowing down. As soon as someone would try to pass me, that would snap me out of it, and I'd run harder.

The nice thing about this race is that I've run this course many many many times over the past 2 years. I know where 4 miles is. I knew that it was the hardest part of course. I knew that the 2 steep hills were coming. 

But dammit, I'm going to get this PR.

Half a mile left. I start the first climb. It's so damn steep, it's more like hiking. But once I got over it, I knew I had about .25 miles left. I look at my watch 44 minutes. I have 3 minutes to run .25 miles up a bitch of a hill.

I can do it. I can do this. When I got to the top, the course flattens out, and I start sprinting as hard as I could go. I don't know if I have ever really run that hard. All I know is that I am very very close to a PR, and I don't want to lose it because I chose the easy path at the very end. 

I crossed the finish line, and look at my garmin 47:02. Oh crap. I think that's a PR. I don't know. I can't think straight. Is it a PR? 

I need a minute. I'm a little shaky. I get some water and gatorade and go run my cooldown. The whole time, I'm thinking "Did I PR"? I hang out for a few minutes and watch the 10 milers start. Then, I head back to the car.

Once I got there, I looked up last year's race (where I PR'd) sure enough 47:16. I just had a :13 PR. Not a huge PR, but a PR. I'm thrilled. I held on without knowing how fast I was running. 

Once I lost satellite, I knew I had to feel my effort go up. I was running uphill. Effort was going to go up, but if I wanted a PR, it had to go up even more.  I wasn't even sure if I could do that. So, I just stopped thinking and started running. 

I did this without really trying. I admit to losing focus during mile 3. And Ok, I could have run harder the first 2 miles. As far as execution, I think I did a pretty darn good job. 

Next week, I'm running a 5k. It's an all out effort and my last 5k of the season. 

Hold on tight. This is gonna be good.

Friday, February 21, 2014

It's all about the bike, sort of

I'm writing this post because it is the number 1 question that I am asked by people who want to get into multisport.

I'm no expert, but if anyone has screwed up, it's me. I've made just about every mistake out there. 

Learn from my mistakes. It'll save you a lot of headaches.

It doesn't matter what kind of riding you want to do. IF you are going to race, I strongly recommend that you RENT a bike or borrow one for your first race.

Why? Because cycling is expensive. If you want to ride AND become a better rider, you HAVE to make the financial commitment. That's it. There is no easy way around it. If you've never even done a race, you don't know if you are going to like it. It's really a waste of money to buy a bike until you know what it's going to be like.

Ok, so you've bought a bike. Now what? These are the must haves. I know. You're going to disagree. You're going to say that you don't have the money.

If you don't have the means, cycling is NOT for you.

Stage 1 purchases

1.) PEOPLE: YOU MUST BUY PEDALS. You don't have to buy the most expensive ones but these: 
are NOT going to work.

Why? First, you need to change your way of thinking about riding. Pedaling (cadence) is not an up and down motion. Cadence is a back to front, left to right or some people call it a kicking motion. The only time you foot should even have pressure on the bottom is when you are dismounting. Imagine a compass, don't think of your feet going north to south. Think of them going west to east. 

Without pedals and shoes, forget it. You have no power to go up a hill. You can't do proper drills (ie one leg drills) to increase leg strength. Forget high cadence work. It is physically impossible to do either of those drills without proper pedals and shoes. 

Why are they important? The goal is efficiency. Efficiency is gained when you can put out a higher level of power at a higher cadence. Grinding at a low cadence only wears out your legs. (Yes. It can be used for training purposes; however, in a race, grinding is bad). Fast legs. That's the goal.

2.) SHOES. You have to have cycling shoes. Again, it's not even possible to do a back to front motion without shoes.

3.) Tubes, cartridges, basic fix a flat stuff. More than likely, the first "mechanical" issue you will run into will be a flat. Learn how to fix a flat. Most bike shops (actually out here ALL bike shops) offer basic instruction for free. If you don't live near a bike shop, youtube it. There are hundreds of videos about fixing a flat. You don't have to be able to fix a flat in under a minute.

But you DO need to know how to do it yourself. Because trust a race, no one is going to stop to help. They might toss you a cartridge, but you're on your own babe. That's exactly the way it should be.

4.) cycling shorts/tri shorts. Yes, I know. They're like $80 a pair. DO it and your ass will thank me later. Buy them on clearance. I don't care but buy them.

Stage 2 Purchases

Once you've done a race, bought a bike and become completely obsessed with riding, it's time to look at how you can improve. If you want to become a faster, stronger cyclist. You need these things. But, don't freak have time....budget the purchases. After all, with all the training you're going to do, becoming faster is still going to take time.

1.) Indoor trainer. Yes, there are people who will ride outside in any conditions. I'm not that person. In fact, my cold threshold is about 20 degrees. Even then, I have to be registered for a race to go out in that cold. So, what's your option? Well, yes, you could do spin classes, but it's always best to train on your OWN bike. Welcome in the indoor trainer. Even without hiring a coach, you can rent or check out from the library various workout dvds that make it a heck of a lot more interesting...dare I say even fun? Yes, I will.

2.) If you've been running, you SHOULD already own a HR monitor. If not, stop reading. Go buy one NOW. You can't train effectively without one. Yeah, yeah, I've heard it all before, "I know when I'm going hard, and when I'm not". The reality is you probably don't. Typically, going hard isn't the issue. It's going TOO Hard on days you should be recovering.

3.) Power/Cadence: You can easily split these in two because a power meter is going to run you anywhere from....hell, I don't know $800 to over $2k. If you don't have the $$$ right off the bat, at least get a cadence sensor. If you already own a Garmin or some type of device, the cadence sensor is actually quite reasonable. If you remember from grinding.

4.) Bike upgrades: This list is endless from carbon everything to water bottle cages. You can make the bike as light as possible. But, before you put a ton of money into the bike....keep this in'll be saving grams by upgrading your equipment. If you lose 5lbs of bodyfat, well.....that's definitely a greater weight reduction isn't it? 

Again, this is all just my opinion. Remember this, all the fancy equipment in the world is only going to be as good as your training. Without training, that fancy $5000 bike isn't going to give you a PR.

Up thoughts on swim equipment.

Rising to the occasion

I know I shouldn't be worried about what other people do, but I can't help it. Sometimes they make me crazy!

I have been swimming with the same master's group for going on 4 years, this coming summer. When I started there I was swimming about 2:45-3:00 per 100's. For those of you who don't swim, for someone who swims for fitness, that's ok; for a triathlete....ummmm.....well, good for you for trying!

In other words, it's slllooooooowwwww. Now, I could argue that I had a number of really good qualities that offset my poor swim times.

When I joined, I was put in the "injured"/old guy lane. Seriously, that lane is used for two very old men who swim every day AND for those athletes currently dealing with an injury. It was not good.

Once Coach gave me a few things to work on, and I pretty quickly moved up a lane. I stayed there for quite awhile because even the slow lane in masters is pretty fast compared to swimmers who swim on their own.

Over time, I jumped again and again.

Yesterday, I had an easier swim because I'm racing this weekend. So, I decided to go down a lane and swim with my old group.

Two things happened:
1.) When you shave off seconds on your 100's time, I had not realized how much time those seconds add up to over time. I didn't realize how much faster I was than my old lane. Good thing it was an easy day because I was getting ample rest.

2.) People are afraid of discomfort. People are afraid of their own power and speed.

This isn't just about swimming, but I see it in running and cycling. I see it at work. I see it all over the place.

It frustrates me because I see myself as just like everyone else. I didn't start out with some kind of super power that meant I could handle high levels of pain. I wasn't born with any type of athletic ability.

The only thing I had was drive, ambition, and I have a lot of that.

So, when I started master's, and I'd swim and sure enough someone behind me would catch me and tap my toes.

I got mad.

Not mad at the person, but mad at myself.

And it made me work harder. When working harder didn't work, I took lessons. I swam smarter.

And at my first triathlon, where I went as hard as I could on the bike, but I only managed 12mph and I was passed constantly, I got mad. That wasn't going to happen again.

And on the run, the entire field would pass me, and I got mad. I knew there would be a day that if another woman was going to catch me, she was going to have to have the best run of her life.

Years ago, finishing almost last in my AG, I had goals to be a top 3 Age Grouper.

Of course, when I told people my goals and told them my times, they just shook their heads and said, "Good for you."

We all know what good for you really means.

I haven't reached all my goals, yet. If I laid them out here, even with everything I've accomplished, I know I would be met with, "You're crazy." "Good for You".

There are people who truly believe they can. And people who truly believe they can't.

People who truly believe they can will show up every day and work and deal with the discomfort. People who believe they can't will say "I'm not like you."

And they are right.....but they COULD be because that's where I started. It's not easy. There are days where I think I will never reach my goals, but I go home. I rest. I eat. I sleep, and I wake up to go at it again the next day and the next.

When those swimmers or cyclists or runners say, "I'm not like you." I want to say to shake them and say, "YES, you are!"

Set your goals, big goals, dream big. Then, start working at them piece by piece. You're going to have setbacks, but when you care enough about your realize that those setbacks are part of the process. Setbacks do NOT derail your progress. They are part of the process. Improvement is NOT linear.

I truly believe that I can reach my goals, even back when I swam a 25:01 750m swim at my first triathlon.

It's not a matter of watching it happen. It's up to me to make it happen. Just like you. You have to have those big goals. A goal isn't big enough until someone tells you "You're crazy. Good for you." As soon as someone says have a good goal and one worth working for. Don't EVER be embarrassed by your goals. Be proud of your goals. Write them down and yell them out.

Remember one thing: 

The only person who truly has to believe in you, is YOU.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Enjoying the ride, one race at a time

I read blogs. I follow people on Twitter and Facebook. I really love reading about people and the training they do. For me, it's like having partners in pain.

No matter what distance you do, it's hard work being a triathlete. I have so much respect for those of you who get your training done while working challenging schedules. At this point in my life, I have quite a bit of flexibility when it comes to training, but I have done the 5am master's. I have gotten up at 4 to do my runs. I've done long rides on the trainer at 9pm. I've done all that. I understand what it takes to manage life + triathlon.

I wanted to mention this because I am really excited to head back into the world of the 70.3 this year. It might seem like I don't care about the rest of my races, but I do. In fact, I have a countdown on my desk until my first race in May. Each race has its own goals and purpose, and my schedule has been built in such a way that it builds perfectly for my half.

I have 2 A races, but I prefer to think of them as A race and A+  race.

I waited a long time to go back to long distance. I ain't gonna lie. I've taken a lot of heat from triathletes for waiting and being patient.

We all have to do what is best for ourselves and our families. Waiting was the right thing for me to do. And, I never felt bad about it. I never wished or dreamed of going back to Ironman (half or full).

I never regretted my decision. That's why this year is extra sweet for me.

I have goals for my races....of course I do. I dream big. As each race comes along, I'll put them all out there: easy, moderate, challenging and pie in the sky goals.

But the biggest goal that I have for this year is to enjoy the entire process, I deserve that. I've waited long enough to do this. I want to savor every step of the way.

If I could I would have each and every one of you at the finish line in October where we could celebrate the finish AND my birthday all in one swoop.

Until then, I'll be enjoying the ride, one race at a time.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Laws of Attraction

We are all human. I don't care if you are single or been married for 50 years. We are all going to meet people that we just seem to click with and find attractive.

There is nothing wrong with that. I think it is a good thing to have people or a person in your life that you can joke around with or flirt with or even have conversations with that just give you a different view.

As triathletes, in particular, we have a lot of opportunity to meet people. I've met people through masters, through open water swims, at races, through my Coach, through other athletes.

It is my favorite part of triathlon. I have male friends and female friends. I think it's the nature of triathlon that we tend to share probably more personal information than any other sport. It's hard not to laugh at yourself when all your good and bad parts are on display in soaking wet material that is less than a millimeter thick.

Because of that, these relationships tend to blossom.

The reason for this post is that I have been watching a couple of relationships over the past months. I'm not here to talk about them. I want to mention the "other" side of it.

I don't know how to say it in a nice way, so I'm just going to lay it out there.

Relationship #1: Female/male friendship. They've been friends for awhile and have recently gotten closer. The woman has recently started to blast women athletes. She has even said that men are so much better as friends. This is a really ignorant statement. If she's having problems with female friends, then maybe it's time to find new friends. However, I think the scale is fairly balanced with male and female assholes. There are just conversations that I can have with my women friends that I can't have with my male friends. you REALLY want to know our various mechanisms for carrying tampons during a race? Come on, not even our spouses are really interested in hearing about that. On the other hand, I've never really seen a guy have a problem with talking about, I guess there's that.

It's really sad, but all she is doing is alienating her female friends. She rips on us for going "long". (Yeah, even me who hasn't done more than an oly in YEARS). She rips on women for running marathons. Yet, all the guys who do the same distances are "inspiring".

Honestly, I think there's more going on here. I know she is easily intimidated by women who work hard and have goals and dreams. I also think she has found that the guys offer a "safe place".

Women are going to tell her like it is. Men are going to go soft. I've talked about this before. Men and women communicate differently. My experience is that if I want the truth, I'll go to my female friends. If I want warm fuzzy, I'll go to my male friends. (I'm NOT talking about being motivating or pushing each other in races. I'm saying that if I ask a female friend if I should work on leaning down....she'll give me an honest opinion. A guy will say, "No, you look great".)

This "female" acquaintance.....criticizes women for doing the same thing that men do.

Nothing makes me me more insane. Women need to support other women. We don't all have to get along but tearing each other down IS NOT the way to make friends.

Relationship #2 
Female/male relationship. I believe that men and women can be close friends (even when married to other people). You can even be attracted to each other and both be adult enough to not take the relationship into the cheating realm.

This one has my attention because at first, I couldn't figure it out. They either have their shit together or they don't care what anyone thinks. I'm not kidding when I say that they act like a couple. In fact, I would say that they are "triathlon spouses". They argue. (I have been on long rides in which these two are actually yelling at each other. It's quite funny.) They make up. They do races together. They travel together. No, they don't hang all over each other. Other than the incidental hugging, they don't even have physical contact.

Seem weird? I've gotten to know them and have traveled with them. I really think they are on the up and up. Cheaters tend to hide. These two don't try to hide anything. They talk and joke and goof off like "friends" do.

I think that's really cool.

Relationship #3
Female friendships. For me, these are the best. I know my girlfriend's PRs and can't remember my own. I like intelligent and funny women who don't take themselves seriously, but take their sport, their work, their relationships seriously. These are the friendships where nothing is off limits. You can be in a bad mood or cry for days at a time or be reflective, and they just listen or give you shit about it.

We can be competitive; yet supportive. We can push each other, but be there when a day doesn't go our way. We know when to push and when to back off. We talk about everything with no inhibitions.

Not all female friendships are like that (see #1). There are women who are petty, who have major food issues, who lack confidence on a daily basis and some who try to fill their voids with endurance events. But there are men like that too.

Let me sum up.
I'm not making any point. I'm just writing about things I think about when I'm swimming, riding or running long. When I do those long workouts, I always seem to think about the people who really make my life more interesting.

With friends,it's not always easy to find the good ones. Yet, in triathlon, the opportunities are there to meet some really great people. The really great ones make it all worth it.

Sunday, February 16, 2014


I woke up yesterday morning with a tremendous feeling of freedom. I still can't exactly put a word on how I felt.

It's like freedom and excitement and happiness kind of felt like what it would be like to pull a rainbow out of the sky, chew it up and blow bubbles with it.

I woke up that way for a few reasons. We've started making plans for our youngest's graduation and going off to college. That's the big one. When you have kids, even when they are old enough to drive, your life revolves around them. I've planned my race and training schedule around activities. I've had to skip races or training because they were sick or had some unexpected thing come up.

That's what it means to be a parent.

He is now finishing up. His sports are over. No more art shows. No more of any of that.

My schedule is my own now. Well, it will be in 2.5 months when he graduates.

The other day Molly had mentioned a race in Arizona in March that I was supposed to do with her, but I coach canceled due to wanting to kick my ass unforeseen circumstances. That's when I realized that I could still go to the race and wear my cute cheerleader outfit play sherpa.

I realized that I had nothing from stopping me from going anywhere at anytime. This might not be a big deal for some of you, but I know others know exactly what I'm talking about.

For the first time in 20 years, I have a race schedule based on what I want to do and when I want to do it.

That's what happened yesterday. I slept in, soooo late. I had a long bike ride to do. I didn't even get the ride started until around 1pm. I don't plan on doing that in the middle of summer, but I felt like I was catching up on 20 years of lack of sleep.

This new found sense of freedom and getting sleep and feeling really good about my training and nutrition and my mental state (for training and racing) and managing my work schedule, it's all just kind of wonderful. 

Wait! There's more warm fuzzy!

I thought about my friends, near and far. I love how you make me laugh no matter what kind of mood I'm in. I love how you make me think about things in a different way. I love how you all believe in me and push me to be a better person....even when you probably want to bitch slap me.

I think all this good stuff is the reason for the weirdest dreams ever. Several times a week, I have Ironman dreams, but they aren't the typical race anxiety dreams. They are good dreams. You are all there too. It's a great time.

It just goes to show how important you are to me; even if I don't say it very often.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Step by Step

  (Bill's gonna put me back on his blacklist for posting this song, but that's probably where I belong anyway.)

My run focus is coming to an end. I have to admit, it was really manageable. I was really concerned about doing a run focus because of personal issues that took place at the end of Dec and in January. When you're dealing with family issues, anything can happen. On top of that, I had work issues that I was dealing with; in other words, if the workout didn't happen early in the was going to be tough for me to get in. 

I really wanted to do a bike focus. This way, I could jump on the bike first thing in the morning and be done with it. I thought the run focus was going to be about hammering alot of miles and speed work. When I told my coach about my concerns, she said, "This is going to be unlike any run focus you have done". 

Right there. That's why I like her. She's a she. She knows how to talk to me. She's not intimidated by my strong personality. When I question her on things, she explains. But most of all, she doesn't "teach or lecture" she "shows". She coaches by doing. 

When I handed her my race schedule, she drew big RED X's through many of my races, "Nope. Nope. Nope. These races don't fit with our plan. " 

She hasn't steered me wrong yet. 

So, I went with it. I was nervous. and excited. I knew that I needed/wanted something different. 

She was right. During the crazy cold and snow, I found myself at the indoor soccer field doing drill work and strength workouts. My long runs weren't all that long but had various mixes of speedplay and running hard uphills thrown in the mix. Did I mention strength work? The best strength work I have ever done. All of my weaknesses were put on display in front of everyone at the gym on the ball and bosu....for everyone to see. (Don't even get me started on the myrtls).

But I got stronger....very fast.

And I got faster....very fast.

Now, I'm looking at the end of the run focus. My run focus ends on 3/2 with my final 5k of the race series. If you've been following along, you know that these 5ks....well, they haven't been all out efforts. They've been 5ks tucked into the middle of a long run, pacing, pacing, pacing, BOOM.

BUT on 3/2, my run focus ends with my final 5k of the season. A 5k meant to be run AS a 5k, all out effort, taking everything that I've learned and putting it together for one fast run. 

I have to admit, I'm crazy excited for the 5k, but at the same time. I'm a little sad to see the run focus end. Except for one little fact:


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

I am a hopeless romantic, not in the sense of flowers on Valentine's Day romantic.

I am a romantic in the sense that I have always felt things very deeply, and I'm not afraid of showing my feelings either about situations or about people. For the people that, emotions like that, scare, they aren't in my life very long.

For the people that love that part of me, they know they will have a friend for life.

Maybe it seems like I've been really self-reflective lately. It's just how I am.  For as strong of a person I am, there are times where I need support.

Sometimes, when it feels like we're all alone. We're not. There are people there willing to be the support you need at just the right time. All it takes, is accepting that support.

Strength isn't about showing how strong you are. Strength is showing that, sometimes, we all need someone to lean on. We need someone else to take care of us for a little while.

This is not a drama filled post.

It's about being a romantic and being appreciative of the little things that people do for me on a daily, weekly monthly basis. It's the little things that say, "I care about you."

Because I've learned that I'm only as strong as I am because I'm standing on the shoulders of giants.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Business Thoughts: Memberships

I'm a thinker.
And an introvert.
I realized very recently how much like me my oldest son is. It hit me when we were on vacation. He would suddenly leave to go read by himself or "just go out" or go for a run. When I was his age, I did the same thing. In fact, sometimes I would drive, for hours and hours.

When they were babies, running was the only time I had by myself. I always made it work. It usually meant getting up at 4am to run, but I wouldn't have made it without my time.

What does this have to do with business?

I come up with a lot of ideas. It's one of my favorite things to do. It doesn't even have to be about my business. I love talking to people about their businesses and brainstorming ideas with them.

Sadly, I don't get to do this very often. I don't know many people who have their own businesses. I *know* of people who do, but they aren't friends. To brainstorm ideas, you have to really trust the person because you are sharing important pieces of something you love. You have to know that the person you are talking to has your best interest in mind.

I'm an idea person, with not anyone to really share my ideas I end up here.

The *thing* that has been on my mind lately has been "memberships". Have you heard of the new Beats Music membership plan?

It basically sounds like Napster (the paid version). When you think about it, Napster was WAY ahead of the game. I know one of the issues they had was that customers didn't like the fact that they were basically renting music. You don't own the music and couldn't burn it on to a cd.  Because back then, ripping cd's was huge. IPOD didn't even exist yet. SmartPhones didn't exist. We  had these little 512mb mp3 players.

I'm getting off track.

Over the years, I've had various memberships. Think about it. You have a netflix account (membership). You might have a gym membership. You might have a coffee of the month membership. You might have an organic monthly fruit membership. Hell, I don't know. At my company, our membership is that as a club member, you get discounts that no one else gets.

If it wasn't for the exclusivity of membership, Facebook wouldn't even exist.

You can become a member to just about anywhere. As business owners, memberships are a HUGE advantage.
1.) It creates incredible customer loyalty.
2.) Customers feel like they are "part of something" (exclusivity)
3.) It's a win-win for the customer (who feels they are getting something special) and for the company (revenue stream/customer loyalty).

I recently had a situation. I made a purchase from another small business. My order was on back order. I received an email stating that it would be another 30 days. No big deal. I was just happy that I was notified. Then, I received an email from the owner of the company apologizing profusely. (Keep in mind, I wasn't upset at all). The owner said that they were going to ship me an "additional" product for my inconvenience.
Of course, as a customer, I said, "Yes".

As a business owner, I couldn't figure out why they were so willing to give away free product. I think this is a mistake that many companies make: THEY GIVE AWAY TOO MUCH because they don't want to lose a sale or a customer.

When a business gives away too much, that means they lose out on revenue but they've incurred the cost. In the case of product, it's the cost of the goods. In the case of service, the cost is your very valuable knowledge and time.

This is where memberships come in.

This company that I made the purchase from, how many of those $70 items did they give away free? That is NOT a sustainable business practice. When something goes wrong, a business cannot just jump to giving away free stuff.

Customers are savvy. They are intelligent. They understand supply and demand. Triathletes (in the US for example) understand that if you buy a new tri kit in March, that it might be sold out, and you're going to pay a premium in order to have at the start of tri season.

Imagine if that had a membership program, they would already have my loyalty. They wouldn't have to give anything away free because I'm already getting some type of benefit.

As crazy as it sounds, it is very hard to get small businesses to understand this simple concept. There is a point where you give stuff away in order to pull people in. If you sell a product, you offer free shipping once in awhile to get new customers on board and get existing customers to make larger purchases.

If you offer a service (say you are a nutritionist), you offer just enough "free" information on your website to get people interested and to sign up with you. Once they sign up, they have access to all the GOOD STUFF.

How you structure your memberships....well, that's the fun part. You can do just about anything.

Don't believe me? Just ask me for some ideas.

I'll get back to you right after my run.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

this is how we do it baby

Damn right I'm writing a race report for a 5K. 5k pr's don't happen every day. In fact, the last time I had a 5k PR was over 2 years ago.

I thought I had PR'd in Dec. I was disappointed to find out that was not the case.

Today was not supposed to a PR attempt. It was a pacing day and a day to work on my mental edge.

On top of that, mileage for today was going to be about 7 miles, as this was a long run with a 5k thrown in the middle then finish up with a couple more miles.

The first 2 (warm up miles) we easy then building to 5k pace, run the 5k as a descend, then run 2 miles however I wanted.

I was armed with mantras and funny quotes from a reminder to not take myself too seriously.

I timed everything perfectly, finishing my 2 miles with 5 min until race start. I felt great when the race started.

I didn't have pace goals for each segment. Coach and I are still learning pacing, etc. Other than telling me that I had to finish faster than my avg pace from last week, I could do what I wanted.

The race started.

Brain OFF.

Body ON.

The entire race I was focused on the race. Nothing else.

I ran the first mile at 9:32. The pace felt very easy. I knew then that I was going to nail this. The loop starts by passing the finish line. I said to myself, "Self. You are going to run the fastest you have ever run the next time you pass that marker."

 Heading into the 2nd mile, I knew I went easy for the first as I ran a 9:13 up the hill.

At that point, I knew I was going to have a lot of gas in the tank for the last mile.

The last mile starts at the bottom of the last hill. I saw the hill and I thought, "come to momma boys." (Bonus points if you can name the movie).  My pace dropped to 9:30. I wasn't worried. I knew once I got to the top, I was going to go balls out.

I ended up averaging 9: 03 for the last mile with the last 1/10 going from 8:40-7:30 as I stepped on the timing mat.

I didn't know at the time, that I pr'd. All I knew was that I nailed the pacing and had a fantastic mental day. All wins! I felt fantastic.

I grabbed some water and head out for my last 2 miles.

I guess I was still high on endorphins because I felt great. I wasn't tired. I wasn't sore. I was just so cold. I really wanted to get back to the car.

I finished my run. I started texting people. It occurred to me that I never even checked my finish time!

The takeaway from this race is that I just popped out a PR without much effort. I am so excited about that.

Sometimes goals take a long time to achieve. I won't tell you that it was easy. Over the past few years, I was about to give up on short distances. That wait made today's PR race so much more satisfying.

I can't even wait for tri season to begin.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Brain Off

Last week, I ran a 5k. It was very cold. The course was a sheet of ice in spots and snow packed in others. I've PR'd in conditions like this.I wasn't too worried about the course itself.

I didn't realize that THIS was going to be the day that I had my emotional purge. Right from the start, I was a mess. I couldn't wait to cross the finish line. A 5k has never felt so long.

I knew it was going to happen, but I thought it was going to happen during a long run. Or some other time that I was able to let my mind go and think.

NOPE. It happened on the day of my 5k. I wasn't disappointed because I knew it had to happen some time. So much so that I was sobbing and heaving like a toddler. I'm not kidding. I couldn't get to my car fast enough.

That's what prompted my Ceremony post.

And the chapter closed.

This week, I have another 5k. Although it will be warmer, conditions will be the same. This week my goal is different. Most importantly, it isn't a race effort so to speak. This week, my goal is to regain my mental balance while running. My assignment, from Coach, this week consisted of coming up with new mantras to use during the race. The race which is a long run with a 5K thrown in the middle.

New mantras, new goals, new objectives for my new chapter.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

If it were easy, everyone would do it.

I really need to rant a little bit today.

Today's rant brought to you by Small Business America.

I'm no expert in running a business. I don't even have enough fingers and toes to count the number of mistakes I've made.

There are a few things that make me absolutely CRAZY and from business owners THAT SHOULD KNOW BETTER.

1.) Don't become a business owner if your goal is to be a millionaire (or a billionaire or a gazillionaire). If your focus is on money, you lose focus on what is important: PRIMARILY your customers. You become so focused on getting to that $$ goal, that you lose what is truly important. Instead of focusing on money, your focus should be on trying to build something fantastic or being the best at what you do. Success is not defined by money. Success is defined by being the best.

2.) STOP HAVING MEETINGS. START WORKING. In fact, STOP reading self help books. STOP reading books about HOW to become a millionaire. I've got news for you. The people who have successful businesses aren't having meetings about how cool it is. They aren't reading about how great it is. Set your "entrepreneurial toolbox" aside and get moving. What do you think the successful business owners are doing? Hell, I'd ask, but THEY ARE TOO BUSY WORKING.

3.) Running a business isn't about YOU. I know. Crazy, right? You put your heart and soul into a business, but I'm saying it's not about you? Damn straight. How did you get there? Were you able to do it all by yourself? Nope. You either have employees or vendors or suppliers or contractors or shippers or developers. It's takes a team to build a business. Let go of the ego. The Captain will always go down with the ship, but the crew is celebrated with safe arrival.

4.) STOP, please, STOP comparing yourself to others. Oh, you like that new BMW the Smiths are driving? Or that mansion in the mountains? Or that extravagant vacation? NEWS FLASH....focusing on what everyone else has doesn't help your business. You should eat, sleep and breathe your business. Oh, and take time away from it....turn off that phone NOW.

5.) Mistakes aren't the end of the world. They're just mistakes. Plain and simple. We all make them. Sometimes we make the same ones over and over. But eventually, we learn from them. Mistakes are nothing to be embarrassed about. In fact, you should laugh at them! Stories about your mistakes are GREAT ways to bond with employees and build a history. Nothing does it better. Besides how do you expect to LEARN without making mistakes? If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you always got.

6.) "NO" is NOT a reason to stop what you are doing. You're going to be told "NO". You're going to be told "It's impossible". Let those people worry about what THEY can and can't do. YOU just keep go on being your awesome self.

7.) Take advantage of social media. Find the one that best fits with your customer and grow your customer base that way. This one just kills me! Social media is a "captive audience". Post often! YOU HAVE to stay in the forefront of your customer's mind or they WILL forget about you. People see your posts. INTERACT with your customers. Get to know them. People share your pictures. Their friends see the pictures, they like your page. Remember that old shampoo commercial: I'll tell two friends. They'll tell two friends and so on and so on and so on. It's like magic. Yes, there *can* be cost, if you go that route of boosting posts or placing ads, etc, but trust for advertising, it's cheaper than Adwords. I think the minimum amount is $5?  I think you can skip the mochachino with extra whip and put $5 into your social media budget.

8.) Being a business owner sometimes means eating pasta and ragu for a year or two or even three. It means not buying new clothes for years. It means driving a +10 year old car. It means LIVING out of that car. It means living a lifestyle now that few would accept to live a life later that few can imagine.

9.) Think you know everything because you've been at this a long time? YOU'RE WRONG. Change is the only constant. Open your mind. Be a student....for the rest of your life. Stay up on trends. Stay up on technology. Stay up on research. You don't like it? It's too much work? Oh, I'm sorry (see numbers 1-8 above).

It's not easy. It's not for the feint of heart, but it is worth every hour, every dollar that you put into it.

Monday, February 3, 2014


I have always believed in closure and more than just being visceral imagery. I need real closure. For me, this has always come in the form of a physical act. A REAL act of closure.

Over the years, at the end of a tough time, when it is truly over, I have taken to either writing letters or writing thoughts on index cards. I take those letters or index cards and burn them. Allow the ashes to fly off, disappear, just gone.

I've done this ceremony even with the boys, if they had a hard school year, we'd go outside. They'd write their thoughts on index cards. I'd tell them that they are passing their feelings off to the universe. They no longer have to worry about whatever it was. And we'd burn the cards. We'd let the ashes blow off into the world.

A new chapter would start.

For several weeks, I've been trying to write a letter. No matter how many times I started, I couldn't get out my thoughts. One attempt was too warm fuzzy. One was too apologetic. One didn't encompass everything I wanted to say.

Finally, last night I sat down and wrote the letter the way it was meant to be written, no filters, no holding back. I was able to be me without worrying about anyone passing judgement or hurting someone's feelings.

Because THIS letter was about MY freedom.

and I wrote and I wrote and I wrote.
then I wrote more and more.

Before I knew it, I had pages and pages of monologue.

I left spelling errors and grammatical errors because the letter was supposed to be imperfect. It wasn't supposed to make sense to anyone but me. It was supposed to hold and show any anger that I had. It was beautiful in the run-on sentences and lack of punctuation. If I'm going to release it, it has to be perfectly imperfect.

I left the letter overnight. I wanted to re-read it in the morning when I was by myself. I wanted to make sure that I said everything.

The great thing happened. I read the letter, and I felt nothing. No more anger. No more hurt. No more pain.

I took the letter outside to set it on fire.

It was really cold. I had a hard time getting the fire going, and I thought, "Wow. This is sort of anti-climatic".

Then it really got started.

And all was left

which I appropriately smothered.

I thought about what to do with the ashes. Do I hold them up and let them blow off into the universe?

No. I decided those words didn't deserve to be released by me. I had already released them when I felt "nothing" reading the letter this morning.

Instead, over time, those cold, fragile ashes will blow off and slowly disappear on their own. I don't owe them ceremony.

The ceremony was already mine.