April 23, 2014


A coach can make or break an athlete.  A great coach will inspire, encourage, enlighten, support, educate, and bring out the best in an athlete.

I remember getting hit hard on the chin off a bad bounce when fielding a softball during a game in college – after that, I kept pulling my head when fielding groundballs in fear of taking another head shot…..when you pull your head, the ball rolls right under your glove, through your legs and right out into the outfield.  I was playing shortstop and two more grounders got by me during that game – allowing players to advance – bases loaded – embarrassing.   I looked over at our coach with defeated/pleading eyes (please take me out of the game).  Instead, he called a time out to talk to me – really embarrassing as time outs are usually for the pitcher or the team – not for the shortstop.   Essentially he told me to get my head down and play the ball;  that there was no way he was taking me off the field and I needed to figure it out……those are really not the exact words he used, nor was that the way he said it – suffice it to say that part was really, really embarrassing.  You can probably guess that, after that, I played the ball the way it was supposed to be played.  I walked away from that game a better person because of the coach.  I could have been benched after the second error and left filled with self-doubt knowing I had let down my team.  Instead, I walked off knowing that I had the ability to execute the plays required but that I needed to learn how to manage my emotions and fear better during games – to work on my mental toughness.  One of many lessons learned.

Although there are many, these are a few pearls I’ve pulled out from the past 30 years of coaching wisdom I’ve received.  Most, if not all, are not just for athletes.  They easily translate to the rest of life: 

Coach Sampson (softball) – just because you might think you can’t, doesn’t mean you can’t.  Move to the edge or outside of your comfort zone and opportunities will present themselves

Coach Jenkins (volleyball) – passion is just as important, if not more important, than skill

Coach Bright (swimming)  – every person on a team is important; everyone has a role to play; good teamwork capitalizes on its members’ strengths and compensates for weaknesses

Coach Dinova (softball) – get your head out of your @#! and just do what you are supposed to do (love this one!)

Coach Chris (volleyball) – painstaking repetition, working on fundamental skills, and perfecting technique elevates good to great

Coach Kelly (triathlon) – sometimes, to be successful, we just have to give ourselves permission

Coach Kevin (running) – consistency, quantity, quality, and diversity combined effect the most positive change

Coach Eric (triathlon) – 1. more is not always better   2. smarter is always better

Thanks goes out to all of my coaches for their wisdom over the years and for not only helping me to be a better athlete, but also a better person.

February 4, 2014

Every Second Counts

Last year my training mantra became "This is where you want to be".  It has been motivating me for months now as a reminder to stay in the moment and as a reminder to stay focused mentally.

I have yet to set out all of my triathlon goals for 2014 - still working on those.  But I am ready for a new mantra.    "This is where you want to be" got me to the point of coming in 4th overall out of the women in quite a few races this year which was a big improvement over 2012's results.  In 2014, I know where I want to be - on the podium (race-speak for coming in 1st/2nd/3rd in a race).  To be competitive with the women who are winning overall in races locally AND with the women with podium finishes in my age group at nationals AND with the top 10 women finishers in my age group at Worlds, I will have to shave at least another 5 minutes off of my best sprint tri time.  The World Grand Final in Edmonton is less than 8 months away.  This year....Every Second Counts.

Sprint tri's are relatively fast/quick races in the world of triathlon.  Just to put it in perspective, the race is over for me in less than 1 hr 20 minutes.  At Nationals this past year, I came in 11th in my age group - separated from the winner by 4:51....that's the origin of that 5 minute goal.  If I was just 30 seconds faster in my first transition (my T1 in that race was a disaster), 90 seconds faster on my bike, and 60 seconds faster on the run - for a total of just 3 minutes - I might have been in the top 5.

For the upcoming season, I have some time to gain on the swim but not sure that it will make a huge dent in the 5 minutes.  T1 improvement should be relatively easy - just more practice/learning technique. The improvement on the bike is doable, but will be a lot of time/effort to get there.  I'm still a relatively novice cyclist so it stands to reason that experience and more time in the saddle will equal improvement...and maybe a pair of borrowed race wheels...if all else fails, buy speed on the bike :)   Improving my run is going to be the toughest - my relative weakness on the bike has a tendency to ruin my legs for the run - that and I'm not certain how much faster running I can get at this point (you know - aging 40-something lungs and muscles and all - throwing that in there before my husband or Coach can comment).

To drop those 5 minutes, I will need to:
  • ensure every training session is focused and purposeful
  • get more sleep/have better recovery during training
  • add strength training
  • have better nutrition before, during, after training/races
  • improve my transitions
  • be better on the bike
  • remind myself that whether it's sleep, time spent eating, hydrating, running, biking, or swimming....Every Second Counts

January 3, 2014


I've been thinking a lot about gratitude lately.  Consciously thinking every day about what I am grateful for.  I try to ask the kids each day about what they are grateful for - often it ends up being "Rice Krispie treats" or "New Legos", but every once in awhile sprinkled in there are "warm mittens" or "nice teachers".  Even though I don't like to declare a New Year's Resolution, I am going to have greater resolve this year to ensure that our lives are filled with more gratitude.  Today, the thermometer is hovering around 0 degrees F.....easy one - grateful that we have a warm, comfortable home.  That led to a conversation of the hundreds of thousands of people that don't have a warm place to stay on days like today.  Gratitude brings out the positives in your life - makes it really hard to focus on the negatives with thoughts of gratitude bringing everything into perspective.

So, that being said, I feel like I have to start the New Year by making up some lost gratitude ground for the people around me....

I'm grateful for training partners like Gina - who answered the call to do a hill repeat workout that I described to her beforehand as being "probably less than an hour" that turned into brutal interval training run on really steep hills for 90 minutes....she hangs tough regardless of the workouts...even the surprise ones.  Grateful that we've been learning the sport of triathlon on about the same timeline and that she is an amazing athlete with a really kind spirit.

For my friend Bob with whom long chats during long runs make the time pass by quickly, thankful for his jelly beans and favorite post-run (adult) recovery beverage.....and grateful that he also puts up with my speed workouts on occasion.  Grateful that he gets me onto "the roads less traveled" whenever we can connect.

I'm grateful for Coach Eric who stays focused on my goals, doesn't let me whine (too much), and keeps things in perspective for me - even though that sometimes means pointing out my age and warning me against comparing myself to younger competitors....just to be clear - I'm not yet grateful for those comments - only the perspective :)

I'm grateful for my husband who helps me fit training in where I can - even though it means hearing me bump around early in the morning as I head out for an early AM workout, or waiting for me to come to bed at midnight after a late night workout in the basement.

I'm grateful for my kids who have taught me tons about myself as I teach them about navigating life.  For the motivation they provide me to be a better mom and a better person.  Obviously, I'm grateful that they are healthy - but equally grateful that they are learning about being healthy and understanding that much of "health" is within our control.  I am grateful that, at relatively young ages, they are becoming skilled in two "life sports" on which they can rely into adulthood - swimming and tae kwon do.  I'm grateful that they enjoy competing and working to be the best they can be.  I'm grateful that, even though they sometimes have to do their homework sitting on the floor next to me while I'm on my bike trainer or have to wait for me on the pool deck while I finish a workout, they accept it as part of our lifestyle and rarely complain....unless, of course, they don't get enough TV/computer game time to balance it out!  And, as most moms will confess, there are some days that I'm most grateful that my active kids also enjoy their screen time.  Everyone benefits from a little electronic downtime now and then :)

As we hit the ground running into 2014, my hope for all of us is that we can maintain this attitude of gratitude......could be my new mantra, but more to come on that in a future post!