October 15, 2013

The End of a Season

The end of a season
The official end to my 3rd season as a triathlete – milestones like this are bittersweet.  I never enjoy hallmarks of the passage of time – as time and life seem to be flying by at breakneck paces.  It is, however, a great time to sit back, even if just for a minute and reflect on accomplishments.   I’m proud to say that I have worked really hard to make it to where I am in my level of fitness.  I had set several goals at the onset of 2013 that I have been able to check off one by one while staying healthy.
2013 Goals
·         To follow a structured, efficient training program 6 days/week for an average total workout time of 6-7 hours/week.  I have been able to sustain this commitment and it’s one of the main reasons for my successes this year.  I have a great coach who has designed training blocks month after month that have built upon my strengths and addressed some of my weaknesses.  I still have a lot of work to do and a lot to learn, but I feel good about the foundation I have.
·         To become comfortable riding/handling my new tri bike and improve my average sprint tri race pace to at least 20.0 mph.  I have proven both that you can buy speed AND that one’s engine is just as important as one’s equipment.  I became much more competitive on the bike this year and, although it’s still my weakest event, I am now towards the head of the pack instead of the middle during this leg of the race.
·         To participate in the USAT Age Group sprint tri nationals in Milwaukee and qualify for a spot on Team USA for the 2014 ITU World Championships.   Pleased to report that I checked this off the list in August – headed to Edmonton, Canada in 2014!
·         To complete an Olympic distance triathlon.  I did the Rev3 Half Full Olympic triathlon in Columbia, MD just two weeks ago.  It’s a little less than twice the distance of a sprint tri – it was a beautiful course that can be described in two words – very hilly.  The weather was perfect and I really felt like I had a good race and really enjoyed it (as much as you can enjoy swimming 0.9 miles, biking 25 miles, and running 6.2 miles as fast as you can) – I finished in 2:38:21 and came in 1st in my age group and 5th overall female.  It was a great way to finish the season and prove to myself that even though I have only been able to train for the shortest triathlon distances, I have the ability to sustain the effort over longer periods of time…..thinking about adding a few of these distances to the schedule for next year now!
I’m looking forward to setting new goals for 2014.  I need to shave at least another 5 minutes off of my sprint tri time to compete with the “big dogs” next year.  There are some really fast 40-something Mommas out there – at Nationals, my age group was one of the most competitive and fastest on the course that day.  It’s exciting and a little intimidating, but, most of all, it’s very motivating to work harder and smarter to step up to the next level.  Wish me luck!

July 20, 2013

THIS is where you want to be

I have thought a lot about mantras.  Everyone says that you should have a mantra – something that will get you through a tough workout or training session.  Words that will rekindle the fire and allow you to regroup and finish the task with renewed strength.
I’ve come across some really good ones that I often borrow – my favorite is triathlete Chris McCormack’s “Embrace the Suck”.  It reminds me that success is not easy.  That even world champions like Macca have to talk themselves through the worst of it.  Importantly, in triathlon, that the people who can endure multiple levels of suffering are the ones who are successful.
But I wanted to have my own, meaningful mantra.  My own words.
So it came to me in my basement one dark winter night.  If you don’t know, many of my training hours are spent in my basement either on the treadmill or on my bike (thanks to the Green Monster trainer).  It’s not glamorous, but the basement strategy has improved my fitness tenfold.  Anyway, I was on my bike late at night, sweating profusely, legs burning, going nowhere fast, wanting to stop when it came to me as I was negotiating with myself to get off the bike.  No, I said outloud:
THIS is where you want to be.
I knew that even though it was painful, I wanted to be on that bike at that moment.  I wanted to become a stronger cyclist.  I wanted to be a better triathlete.  I wanted better fitness.  Even though I was so tired I wanted to cry, I knew that I wanted to be there – that I had to be there.
So the next day I printed off my mantra and hung it on the wall in front of my treadmill.  I also posted the USAT logo with the Age Group Nationals date to visually remind me that I really want to train well for my “A” race in Milwaukee….I want to be THERE on August 11th and race-ready.  When I’m sluggish, wanting to bail out on a workout I say “THIS is where you want to be”.  When I’m in a race and start to question why in the world I PAID to torture myself out on the course, I quickly stop myself and say “THIS is where you want to be”.  It works.  It snaps me out of the negative zone I’m starting to fall into and I regroup.   Well, it probably doesn’t hurt that I often follow it with “Suck it up and get over yourself".  Whatever works, right?

THIS is where you want to be

Sprint Triathlon Age Group Nationals

August 11, 2013

Milwaukee, WI

June 5, 2013

Unofficial 2 year Anniversary

Just saw this quote on-line......

"Fitness is not about being better than someone else - it's about being better than you used to be."

It was two years ago that I ran my first 5k – I made a commitment months before that fateful day in March 2011 to improve my level of fitness, lose weight, and become the more active person I felt I should be – I was motivated by many things – most of them internal.  I dreamed of the day that I wouldn’t need motivation to be active or to exercise….that it would just become an easy part of my lifestyle.  My confession at this 2 year anniversary in 2013 is that I continue to need motivation, inspiration, guilt, etc. to get moving.  I have to fuel my desire to be fit every day.  It’s not “easy”.   I have to make a point of making time to workout.  I seek the company of like-minded people for whom fitness is a priority. Sometimes, I have to set my alarm and leave it half way across the bedroom to force myself to get up in the morning early enough to fit in a workout before my hectic day really begins.
For me, preparing for races becomes the drive.  I like to compete against my own times and also against other athletes.   I think that the drive to exercise varies for everyone. Strategies for maintaining that drive also vary.  You have to find whatever works for you personally.   If you think that it should always be easy, and it’s not – you’re probably just normal – at least that’s what I learned in physics….a body at rest stays at rest, a body in motion stays in motion…..what's your motivation to stay on the move?

April 3, 2013

2012 Goals Revisited, Lessons Learned, and 2013 Goals

Although it already is long past, I’m still reflecting on 2012.  I’ve been wanting to post this for some time now, but life got in the way.  So here it is, better late than never.
Goals Revisited:
My long term training goal for the 2012 season was to design my own training program and to be able to successfully complete the “I’m All That” multisport series on Labor Day weekend….a Sprint triathlon on Saturday, and then three separate races on Sunday (a 1 mile open water swim, a 2 mile bicycle time trial, and a 4 mile run).   I also had a goal to get below a 7:00 {minute} pace for a 5k by the end of the year.  If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I’m huge proponent of goal setting – and for putting them out there for others to see.
I planned out all of my workouts and races for 2012 on my own….with the help of several books, magazines, and random advice/info picked up on the fly.  I had this funny little calendar that I plotted workouts on – there were many crossouts/arrows/etc., but I didn’t do too badly.
Labor Day races:  Sprint Tri 4th in my Age Group (AG);  Escape the Judge 1 mile open water swim 6th AG…I had a last minute goggle malfunction so not bad considering I had at least one or both eyes closed during much of the race; 2 mile bike time trial 3rd AG;  4 mile run 3rd AG;  I’m All That – cumulative score from all races- 1st AG….now my dad would ask how many women were in my age group for each race – remember that my goal was to successfully complete the races, which I did -  so I’m not telling.
In November, I ran a 5k in 21:25…a 6:55 pace.
Lessons learned in 2012:
Although it was a challenge to put together my own training program, it was too inefficient and random.
Equipment doesn’t matter much except for cycling, where it matters a lot.  You can buy speed on the bike.
Equipment for the bike matters a lot, but the engine (rider) on the bike matters most.  No amount of high tech equipment can make up for a weak engine. 
There is a lot of strategy to a well raced triathlon.  Most of the strategy occurs during preparation.
A triathlete has to have endurance, speed, strength, and flexibility.  All are equally important to long term success.
Women in their 40’s are strong competitors.  Tom Hanks would be happy to know that there’s no crying in triathlon.
Coach Kelly was right – you have to set several goals and be sure that some of the goals are ones that are reliant solely on your own performance – for which all factors are within your control.  Why?   Because you never know who is going to show up at a race or when it will be pouring rain or when the age-up rule might bump you out of even the slightest chance at a spot on Team USA.
That I need help with training and strategy.  I had two race strategies in 2012.  The first one was……”Swim - Get in front of as many people as possible;  Bike – Stay in front of as many people as possible; Run – Pass as many people as possible”.  The second one was “Swim like there’s no bike, bike like there’s no run, and run like someone is chasing you.” (I read that last one in someone’s tri blog and thought it was catchy and fun for sprint tri’s).  I don’t think that either strategy is particularly bad, but do know that neither one is very sophisticated.
2013 Goals
To follow a structured, efficient training program 6 days/week for an average total workout time of 6-7 hours/week….enter Coach Eric.
To become comfortable riding/handling my new tri bike and improve my average sprint tri race pace to at least 20.0 mph.
To participate in the USAT AG sprint tri nationals in Milwaukee and qualify for a spot on Team USA for the 2014 ITU World Championships.
To complete an Olympic distance triathlon.
I’m happy to look at these goals and think that it was only 2 years ago that my goal was to simply complete a sprint triathlon.  I have had the fortune to talk with others about fitness and about goal setting.  I’ve even had the opportunity to talk a few people into signing up for races.  But out of everything that I’ve worked towards, my greatest accomplishment is inspiring my daughter to complete a triathlon for kids this summer…..well it was probably the promise of a finisher medal and a tshirt that clinched the deal, but regardless, it’s pretty great. 

February 20, 2013

Love-hate relationships

I really like workouts or drives in the car where my mind can just wander, I can think about "stuff" or nothing at all.  This week must have been a particularly slow news week in my brain - as this is one of the resulting rambles during a recent "mindless/effortless" continuous swim.  After reading this, you will probably have a love - hate relationship with this blog:
I love to work out in the morning….I hate getting out of bed.
I love that I train six days a week......I hate that it takes so much planning and coordination to fit it in to our schedules.
I love swimming……I hate getting wet.
I love to eat……I hate cooking.
I love my new Green Monster (Kurt Kinetic Road Machine bike trainer)…..I hate that it kicks my ass with only one moveable part.
I love to cross the finish line….I hate that I almost puke every time.
I love that I’ve been registered as a potential bone marrow donor for over a decade…..I hate that I have yet to be a match for someone……only 1% of people registered are ever a match for those in need. (www.bethematch.org ) - totally random info - but please register if you haven't already!
I love running…..I hate that my middle aged joints don’t like it as much as I do.
I love that I have an occupation that serves others and (hopefully) makes a positive contribution to their health AND I love that I can get paid for doing it…..I hate the fact I have to be indoors at work every day and can’t wear my jeans, t-shirt, and sneakers.
I love cycling…..well that’s not true….I LIKE cycling…..I hate that I don’t love it yet.

February 2, 2013

In search of perfection

Some people scrapbook, some people knit.  I, however, often use my “free” time to watch videos and read about how people transition from one event to another in triathlons, of people riding bikes up hills, of people running down hills, and of people swimming.  Exciting, right?  Lately, I’ve been studying the flip turn which comes in very handy when lap swimming….but happens to be totally useless during a triathlon.   I first learned how to do a flip turn when I was about 12 years old – all tolled in my life so far, I have done thousands of flip turns.  That realization alone could be an entire post in and of itself.

So why now?  Why change something that really isn’t needed to finish a triathlon successfully or for that matter isn’t really even needed at all (many people log in hundreds of hours in a pool and never once turn upside down)?  Why spend time on something that I can already do with some proficiency and is comfortable?  The answer: I have no idea – EXCEPT that I occasionally become obsessed with performance of a task and doing it the most effective and efficient way possible.  To work towards having a close to perfect outcome every time.  For example, there’s something very soothing to me in being able to produce a perfectly folded t-shirt….again, there’s enough there for another entirely separate post and probably a little psychotherapy!  I fold a mean bath towel too.
I have no interest in doing everything perfectly.  I don’t even have an interest in doing most things perfectly, but every once in awhile I am compelled to seek perfection.   For some reason, I recently became acutely aware of how imperfect my flip turns were during workouts and I had to fix it.  Suddenly, after 30 years of mediocre flip turns I had to do better.   I’ve always known that my turn on the wall was not great – it was adequate – to the untrained eye, maybe even normal looking.  But I could feel the inefficiencies – too many arm motions in awkward directions, turning too close to the wall, too much body rotation, imperfect but it got the job done.

So fast forward to this week - thanks to YouTube and a little practice, I had not one, but several perfect flip turns.   Arms in exactly the right position, feet landing on the wall with just the right amount of hip and knee flexion, and a very smooth transition back to front crawl position with minimal effort.  Perfect.  Well, they probably weren’t exactly perfect as we all know that excellence is a journey, not a destination….blah, blah, blah….but in my book I am calling them perfect.  I smiled in the water after I pushed off from the wall because they felt so effortless and I had finally nailed the technique.  Like hitting a ball with the sweet spot of a racket or a bat.  The perfect golf swing.  After 30 years, I think I finally GOT IT!
As silly as it sounds, it made my day.  Now if only I could learn to flip the perfect pancake.....

January 22, 2013


I’ve never been one to announce that I have a New Year’s resolution.  It seems that anything worthy of that degree of focus and commitment should be decided upon at the time it is needed and not because the clock just struck midnight and we flipped yet another page on the calendar.  That being said, I do love seeing things like the renewed interest in fitness and diet at the New Year that strikes the masses – even though it has caused me a bit of stress these past few weeks when trying to find an open lane in which to swim.

Several years ago, however, I wrote a personal mission statement.  Sort of a resolution to be a better person moving forward.  It was written mid-year during a particularly challenging time that I was having.  Initially, it was an assignment for a leadership training course.  But, unlike many other countless assignments I have completed because I “had to”, I took this one more seriously.  I pieced it together from statements and missions that I have run across over the years.  From my own thoughts on what is important and the person I want to be.

It’s flawed.  Every time I read it, I think of something else I might have included or worded differently.  Reading it reminds me that I’m also flawed and have to continue to work towards achieving the items listed.  But reading it also reminds me of and refreshes my resolve.  Resolve to be a better person, to serve others and to be a good mother.  It doesn’t contain the word resolution or resolve, but it does contain the word WILL many times.  Reading that mission statement reminds me of my determination to be positive and to be a better person regardless of the date on the calendar.


I will be a citizen of the world.

I will contribute more than I receive.

I will be accountable to my family and to the community in which we live.

I will be open to possibilities and will avoid the downward spiral of negative thinking.

I will live a full life.

I will teach my children to be successful members of society.

Through actions more than words, I will value and promote honesty, integrity, fairness, equality, and tolerance.

 I will live my life so, that when I die, the world cries and I rejoice.