Sunday, November 17, 2013

Stay Fit Through Winter/Holidays

Many people seem to fall into the winter blues around this time of year.  This applies to competitive athletes and people working out to maintain general fitness.  It can be hard to stay focused on your health when you have a lot of temptations around you.  It can be hard staying on track with your exercise routine when you have shopping to do and parties to attend.  Maybe you don't have as much time but you still have some time, so use it wisely and make sure you make an effort to fit it all in. It may be taking a walk on your lunch break or getting up a 1/2 hour early to fit in some form of exercise.  Either way it is important to get it done on a regular basis. Don't fall into the habit of eating things you normally would not eat just because it is the holiday season.  Stay away and maybe give your self one or two indulges a week instead of partaking in the office cookies daily.  

If you are a competitive athlete such as a triathlete then make sure you maintain  your fitness in all three disciplines.  Many people skip what they don't like during the winter months.  Don't do this you because you will regret it when you have to jump back in the pool, get on the bike or start running after you have taken several months off.  I talk to people who completely quit doing the discipline they don't like during this time of year.  You actually should take this time to focus on that discipline and maintain your fitness on the other two areas that you are better at.  Have a great holiday season and stay focused. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Time Management and Training - how to make it all fit!

The hardest part of training is finding time for it.  When planning your season it is important to think about what will be going on in your life at the time of each race you plan to do.  I recently started massage school and I am still working so my schedule is very full or the next 6 months.  I usually do an early season race but with my schedule I have opted not to race at all while I am in school.  I have figured out a way to get 60-90 minutes of quality exercise at least 6 times a week. I will maintain my swim, bike, run fitness but will not race.  I know it will be far too difficult and stressful to work, race and go to school.  If you are planning your season consider major events that will happen in your life and how they will impact your training for a race.  Save yourself some money and do this before you sign up for the races. Will you be able to train without any interruptions such as family vacations or family reunions?

I have a very busy schedule now but am able to still make time for training.  I force myself to get up extra early....which for me is hard because I start work at 5am!  Some days I am in the pool at 4:30 to get a swim done before my 5:30 group starts.  I take advantage of my lunch break to do a short run.  Everyone is busy but your fitness is important so make time for it.

Don't be overzealous when planning your race season.  Be reasonable and think about the time involved in training for the event you are considering.  Think about the impact on your family, friends and your job.  Everyone loves to race but there are more important things to consider before committing to a schedule that is unreasonable for your life.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

PRP - Proper Race Planning - set yourself up right!

It’s getting to be that time of year to start thinking about your race schedule for next year!  Of course for my Ironman athletes this conversation takes place a year before their race because you typically have to sign up for your Ironman a year before the race.  It never fails I am always the bad guy (or girl in this case) telling them they have too many things on their schedule.  I begin cutting out racing or suggesting this one go or that one go.  They never like to hear it.  I have never been a fan of racing to race because your friends are doing it or whatever reason you may have. I pick key races that will help me build my performance for my A races.  This is not to say I have never fallen in the web of racing to race because others are doing a particular race.  In the end I have paid the price with a sub par performance in a race or poor recovery after a race.  As a coach and an experienced athlete I am telling you that filling your schedule with too many races and too much junk will lead to sub par performance.   As a coach I can’t force my athletes to cut back on races but I can guide them and give them my best advice. When they don’t listen to me I may think to myself, “I told you so” but I never express that because I know they will learn and I know I have made the same mistakes. 

I typically like to race one big race a year like an Ironman.  The year I decided not to do an Ironman, I chose to challenge myself with a 50 mile run.  I think trying to focus on great performance in an Ironman AND doing an Ultra event is too much in one year.  This is my opinion and not scientific but I have a lot of experience and this is the way I would do it. If you did want to do both an Ultra and Ironman in one year they should be separated as beginning of the year and end of the year because this gives you plenty of time between events.  This past year I made the mistake of doing two Ironman in one year separated by only a few months.  I had a great performance at my first one and not so great on the second.  I also suffered after the second Ironman with two back to back illnesses.  I typically recover great after a big race because I have been doing this a long time and my body has adjusted but two Ironman back to back was too much.  My body revolted and I learned a good lesson and that was to listen to my own advice. 
My Ironman In South Africa 
If you are an Ironman or Ultra athlete plan your year with one major event.  You can have several events leading up to your big event but don’t go crazy.  You don’t have to do a marathon leading up to your Ironman, you don’t have to do a century ride leading up to your Ironman.  If you have a coach they will plan your schedule with the appropriate mileage for you to complete your race.  Keeping your schedule reasonable will enable you to have a period of time to focus on improving specific weaknesses that you need to improve upon.  Give yourself time to work on things like improving specific areas of your training such as swim, bike or run.  You may also take some time to focus on strength training or flexibility.  These areas may be holding you back during your peak season because you don’t make time to improve your weakness. 

Last year I had a client (who I still coach but will remain nameless) who came to me with a crazy schedule of races.  This is a person who has a super busy work schedule and family schedule.  They had two Ironman listed within 2 months of each other, a 100 mile run, 2.4 mile swim, marathon, half marathon and a number of shorter races.  I knew this was a schedule that didn’t make sense for this person.  Maybe and I say maybe I would have been more open to it if they didn’t work, with no kids or wife and had time to only train and recover.  But knowing this persons schedule I was concerned with this race schedule.  I expressed my concern and we compromised on cutting out the 100 mile run which was much better however not ideal in my opinion.  As it turns out life for this person became even more complicated and one of the Ironman had to go.  A number of other events got dropped.  You may read this and think why would someone want to do all that however this is NOT uncommon.  I am always telling people they want to do too much.  Before you fill you schedule with unnecessary events really think about your schedule and your life and if the events you are doing are going to help you get to your ultimate goal.

I recently decided to go to massage school, which will take me 7 months. I will be working and going to school. Knowing how limited my time will be with a full schedule I have opted NOT to race at all during those 7 months.  It will be strange not doing any early season races but why would I put that pressure on myself and set myself up for failure.  Filling your schedule too full adds stress in your life and possibly a decrease in your performance. 

All My Ironman Medals
When signing up for races for the following year think about what will be going on in your personal life and professional life.  Be strategic in planning your races and this will lead to a successful racing season.
Tigger with my World Championship medal


Thursday, September 12, 2013

World Championships 2013 Race ReCap

Rainy swim start

I recently had the privilege to race at the 70.3 Championships for the 2nd year and it was the last year it would be in my hometown of Las Vegas.  This year has been a long year of racing starting in March with San Juan 70.3, which was where I qualified for the WC.  April I did Ironman South Africa and a few weeks later I did 70.3 St. George.  I completed my second Ironman for the year in June at IM Couer D Alene in Idaho.  By the time Worlds came around I was ready to get the race done and have a little down time.  I had a few setbacks after IM CDA leading up to Worlds.  Two weeks after CDA, I came down with Shingles.  This set me back some however I was lucky to have a mild case of it.  A few weeks after shingles went away I came down with a chest infection.  I missed more workouts from the chest infection than I did with shingles.  3 weeks prior to Worlds I was feeling back to normal. I had some great workouts and my run was really coming along.  Last year at Worlds I fell apart on the run because of the heat. It was really hot and very humid and this year it was looking like we were going to have a very similar day.  Leading up to the event I did most of my runs it the hotter part of the day with my Desoto skin cooler top. I was feeling really good about my run and my tolerance for the heat.  I wanted to finish as close to my time last year as I could. I most importantly wanted to have a good run.  Last year I had to walk some on the run and felt like I was overheating and I didn’t want that to happen this year.
Bikes racked

The weather forecast for race day was overcast with a 40% chance of rain. I didn’t think much about that because anytime we have a chance of rain in Las Vegas it usually comes later in the afternoon. I was hoping it would rain for the run, not for the bike. I woke up race morning and was excited to start the race. I didn’t feel nervous at all until we started driving down to the start and the rain was pretty steady.  I don’t like riding in the rain and I am sure other people don’t like it either.  There was no sign the rain was going to let up.   Racing in pouring rain was one of the worst things in my mind.  This course has  a lot of climbing and descending.  Even on dry roads I don’t descend very well so I expected a bike time that was slower than last year.  I figured I would just have to hope for a great run and I would be very careful on the bike. 

We started with a steady rain and I got to the front of the group for the swim start. I felt really strong the entire swim and my sighting was great, I did not swim off course at all.  I figured I was going to exit the swim about the same time I did last year. Last year I did the swim in 30 minutes which was a pretty good time for me.  When I got out this year I checked my watch and it was 34 minutes!  I was surprised because I felt much faster than that and that’s a lot of time to have to make up.  I got on the bike and it was still raining. Right from the start coming out of Lake Las Vegas you hit some hills on this bike course. I was very cautious the first part of the bike course. I was probably overly cautious but I kept thinking to myself  that a race was not worth dying for.  About mile 20 I started to gain some confidence and picked up my effort because I had some time to make up.  I picked up my effort and the last 20 miles I pushed pretty hard. I ended the bike about 3 minutes over what my time was the previous year. I guess that was not too bad considering the conditions.  That meant I had 7 minutes to make-up to match my time for last year.  I knew my run was going to be better but I wasn’t sure I could make up that much time.  The weather fortunately was not too hot so that was in my favor.  This run course is crazy and probably the hardest run course I have had to run.  The St. George run course is as hard with lots of ups and downs but I seem to be able to go faster on a course like that.   This course was 2 miles up and 2 miles down with a huge hill in the middle that you have to hit twice.  The run course is 3 laps of 2 miles up and 2 down. I was keeping a good pace and I only walked through 2 aid stations.  I kept a pretty good pace ending in 1:57.  The previous year was 2:02 so that meant I was 5 minutes faster.  Overall my time was 2 minutes slower but strangely I feel like I had a better race this year.  When I can finish the race with a good run I always feel great.  Finishing the race while struggling on the run is always frustrating. Finishing with a great run and feeling awesome at the end of the race is a great feeling. 

I'm Done!

I decided this would be the last time I raced in Worlds even if I did qualify again. It won’t be any better than doing it two times in my hometown of Las Vegas. I am glad I got to race here and was so happy to see so many people on the course that I knew. I was also amazed at the support of my clients, friends and the community.  There were so many people cheering us on.  The support was the best part of this race and made a huge difference in my motivation to get to the finish line.  
Tigger wears my medal well!
Michael and I after the race he was a great supporter!

Frank my client who did the race too!
His 2nd Half Ironman!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Fueling For Performance

As triathletes many of us workout to eat more.  I sometimes see people who train a lot gorging on unhealthy food after a long workout.  Lets face it I have fallen victim to this on occasion.  I don't think it's going to kill you once in a while to reward yourself with something tasty but if that once in a while becomes a daily occurrence you might have a problem. It is important to remember the better you eat, the better your performance will be, and the better your recovery will be.  Fueling your body right, can be the difference between an ok season of racing and a great season of racing! 

Fueling right requires very little work! People don't eat healthy because they are lazy.  They will spend a lot of time working out but not save a few minutes to prepare something healthy.  Here are some key components to improving your nutrition choices:

  • Incorporate healthy carbohydrates in your diet from non-processes sources.  Carbs like oatmeal, brown rice, and quinoa will provide you with much needed energy for your longer workouts.  Carbs from fruits will give you quick energy for shorter workouts and provide you with nutrients that will help with recovery. 
  • Fuel with protein and carbohydrates after your workout.  If you exercise on a regular basis you need more protein then the average person.  A good rule of thumb is to eat close to your ideal body weight in grams of protein. If your ideal body weight is 120lbs then I would shoot for 100-120 gram of protein each day.
  • Incorporate 3-5 servings of vegetables in your diet each day. Vegetables are rich in nutrients especially antioxidants that will be beneficial in recovery. 
  • Eat 2-3 servings of fresh fruit each day.  Stick to fruits such as berries, apples, cherries, and nectarines.  These have valuable nutrients for recovery. Cherries are known for reducing inflammation.  The others I listed are lower on the glycemic index than most other fruits. 
  • Limit or eliminate processed foods.  Most processed foods will contain ingredients that are not good for you.  Most processed foods contain ingredients you probably can't even pronounce let alone know what it is.  Many processed foods have hydrogenated oils that will increase inflammation in your body.  
  • Plan your meals around your training and always have healthy options readily available.  I always try to keep grilled chicken in my fridge that is ready to eat.  I can make a quick meal at almost anytime.  Think about your training and plan what you will eat before and after your workouts.  This becomes especially important for people with multiple workouts in each day.
  • Juicing and smoothies can be good but be careful!  Smoothies are a great way to get protein and carbohydrates in a quick healthy drink.  Be careful not to add too many ingredients to your smoothie.  Before you know it you could have a 600 calorie drink. You can use ice instead of milk and limit the amount of fruit that you put in your smoothie.  Juicing can be very healthy and you can get lots of nutrients but do it in moderation to avoid getting too much sugar in your diet.
  • Always eat a healthy breakfast.  Don't skip the most important meal of the day.  You should always have something to eat before and after your morning workout.  Skip the processed breakfasts like cereal and muffins.  Opt for things like oatmeal, egg whites, strawberries or a healthy smoothie. 
  • Drink plenty of water. I know you have been told this many times but seriously drink plenty of water.  I drink 1 -1.5 gallons a day.  If I train more I drink more.  I drink a combination of regular water and carbonated water.  I like carbonated water and tend to drink more if I use that in addition to regular water.  
  • You have heard it before but here it is again 5-6 times a day.  Small meals keep your energy levels up and it will keep your metabolism working.  A great rule is to never eat until your full and don't wait until your hungry to eat.  
  • Avoid or limit alcohol.  Alcohol will have a negative impact on your training.  It will dehydrate you leaving you in sub par state for training.  If you are trying to lose weight alcohol can be your enemy.  If you drink alcohol you may be burning it first for energy rather than your fat cells plus you are getting extra calories that don't have any nutritional value. 
Making small changes in your diet could be the difference between first and second place in a race! Get your nutrition in line and you may be faster than you thought you were!

Here are two pictures of my favorite healthy meals to eat after a workout.  The one on the left is egg whites, brown rice, spinach, tomatoes, with a little feta cheese on top.  The other picture is chicken skewers and a pesto pizza on a whole wheat tortilla with basil on top. Basil is great for after your workout because it will help with inflammation!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Common Race Mistakes

It doesn't matter if your completing a Half Marathon, Sprint Triathlon or Ironman everyone has made mistakes when racing.  If you have never made a mistake then racing then just wait you will at some point.  When I started doing triathlons about 10 years ago they were not nearly as popular as they are now. I did not know anyone who had done one and I didn't even know there was such a thing as a coach that could help me prepare for the race. Needless to say my first race was pretty slow.  My second and third one were much better but I still made mistakes during them as well.  Some of the mistakes I made during my first few triathlons were:
  • Turning the wrong way on the bike course.
  • Putting my wetsuit on inside out - I actually won this race believe it or not!
  • Not getting into open water before the race - at all!  I had to swim the entire race without goggles because mine kept leaking.
  • Not fueling enough and almost passing out at the end of the race.
  • Not checking my bike wheels to make sure they were not rubbing on the brake or frame - my rear wheel was on wrong and rubbing on the side of my frame.  This made for a very slow bike until I realized something was wrong.
Those are some of the first races I did. I still make mistakes during races.  Some of the mistakes I have made recently are:
  • I pushed too hard on the bike.
  • I didn't take in enough nutrition on the bike.
  • I drank too many beers the night before - this was last year before the Arizona Marathon.  
  • I got a new profile bottle I only tested once on a ride.  Don't do anything new race day!
  • Not putting sunscreen on my forearms for an Ironman - I got 2nd degree burns and blisters.
Some common mistakes that people make are:
  • Not racking your bike in an easy gear.
  • Not practicing your nutrition and hydration during training.
  • Not swimming in open water enough before the race
  • Using something new race day - NOTHING NEW RACE DAY!
  • Not using sunscreen - everywhere especially lower back!
  • Not having a flat repair kit and if you do have one make sure you know how to use it.
  • Not hydrating enough leading up to a race or during a race.
  • Drafting, proper mounting and dismounting before the line and proper positioning on the bike.
  • Not eating enough breakfast.
  • Not getting enough sleep.
  • Not removing your helmet in transition and going on to the run course with your bike helmet - yes I have seen this done before.
  • Going to hard on the bike not leaving anything for the run.
  • Starting your run too fast.
  • Not warming up for the swim. Not getting in the water before the swim or getting used to the water especially when the water is cold.
  • When you rack your bike make sure you check for landmarks so when you come out of the water you know where it is.  When you come out of the water you will be confused and being able to quickly find your bike may be difficult unless you can find a way to remember where it is.  I use a landmark like a tree or light pole or sometimes a bright color towel to put next to my bike. 
  • Getting confused about which way is the run/bike - in/out. Before the race make sure you identify which way you bike out and run out.  It can be confusing during the race so knowing beforehand can be helpful to you during your quick transitions.
  • Not knowing the race course or not attending any pre-race meetings.
  • Accepting outside help this can cost you a DQ.
  • Littering - this can cost you a time penalty.

Here I am in one of my early races.  This was probably my second or third triathlon.  I am sure I did something wrong during this race!  

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Don't Put Off Your Passion

I would love to say that triathlons are my main passion.  While I do enjoy training and racing, there are things I enjoy more.  It took me a long time to follow my passion but once I did I wondered why I waited so long to do it.
My paw print tattoo is an example
of my passion for dogs!
I have two examples I want to share with you on how I took the steps to follow my passion.  The first is my passion for dogs.  I have three awesome dogs and for many years I wanted to help other dogs in some way. I didn't really know how or what I would do but I knew I wanted to do something. I completed a 50 mile run and raised money for the Nevada SPCA.  I had heard about a running group that ran dogs from a shelter in another city.  I figured I could try this in Las Vegas.  Although the running group didn't really pan out I began running and walking dogs at the Nevada SPCA.  The first few visits were tough because it was hard to see the dogs in the kennels.  Then I began to look forward to going to see the dogs.  I would be drawn to a certain dog and was looking forward to seeing it only to find one day it was gone.  It would bring me so much happiness knowing they found a good home.  The joy of getting those dogs out for a run/walk or dip in the kiddie pool is amazing.  I can't believe I waited so long to do this.  I kept putting it off for many years and now I can't wait to get there.  This is just one example of following your passion and taking the leap! You may not know what your missing.  In this case I was missing love and sloppy dog kisses from many of my furry friends. I am a lucky women, I have more running partners than anyone I know and they don't complain one bit they just keep running.

Almost 20 years of my life I worked in the retail business. While I didn't hate the job, I didn't love it.  About 10 years into my career in retail I got certified to be a personal trainer. I did it mostly for myself and didn't use my certification for many years.  Finally I took the leap and quit my job, moved to Atlanta and worked as a trainer full-time.  I did this for a year not making much money but getting by.  I got an offer to go back to the retail business making a lot more money.  I took it and lasted two years before I had enough.  I didn't care how much I was making because I wasn't happy. I picked up and moved back to Las Vegas to do personal training and triathlon coaching once again. I was not sure about anything, and didn't have a job or any clients.  When I got back to Las Vegas I took every opportunity to make money. I worked for other trainers, I worked at conventions to make money, I taught classes and I kept trying to build my client base.  It didn't happen overnight, I had to live on a lot less money for a while, but I was really happy.  Slowly my client base became big enough to where I could make a pretty good living.  I don't know why it took so long to take the leap.  Maybe when I was younger I didn't have the patience to penny pinch until I could build up a client base.  It could have been the fear of the unknown or fear of failure.  I absolutely love what I do and would never go back to retail.  I have a job that is rewarding because I see people achieve goals and change their lives.

It may not be a new job for you but I believe everyone has something they are passionate about.  Many people don't take the leap because of fear, lack of time, or lack of resources.  You may have to do a little work to get things moving but if you really want it you will make time!

What if you don't know what your passion is?  Then I suggest trying different things to find what you really like.  Maybe its crafts, knitting, hiking, or children.  Volunteer for a variety of organizations to find what will make you happy.  Who knows maybe you can turn your passion into your job!  Don't wait too long, do it now rather than later trust me I wish I would have done it a long time ago!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Another race in the books and another medal on my rack!

My 8 Ironman medals!
Sunday June 23rd I completed my 8th Ironman in Couer d’Alene, Idaho.  We arrived Thursday to a high of 48 with rain for most of the day.  Cold weather races are not my favorite thing so this was not a good sign.  Fortunately Sundays forecast was looking a little better in the 70's
Cold and Raining we arrived hoping it would get better.

 This was my second Ironman this year and we are only halfway into the year.  Needless to say I was glad to get it over and take a much-needed break for a while.  I had done Ironman CDA in 2007 and finished in 12:25 so I was hoping to have a better time than 2007.  Since this was the second Ironman in a few months I didn’t have the same excitement that I normally do before a race. I actually told my boyfriend the night before the race that I didn’t feel like I was doing an Ironman the next day.  I did however feel really fit and confident I could do the race. My only concern was the cold water and cooler weather. I have been hypodermic on many occasions and seem to be prone to it, with cold water swims.  The water temperature was significantly warmer than the 52 degrees the previous year. It was 61 this year….wooohoooo! 

Here are Terri and Debbie at a practice swim as you can see it looks really cold and it was! We got to do a rolling swim start similar to a marathon. We seeded ourselves based upon our estimated swim finish.  I guess when someone drowns and dies in a race they take more precautions.  The previous year someone drown in the swim and now they have attempted to make the swim much more safe.  The first loop of the two-loop swim course went great. The rolling start was awesome!  My first loop was done in 32 minutes.  I took a little longer with the second loop when I ran into some congestion from other swimmers.  My swim time was 1:08, which was pretty good for me.  I took longer than I wanted to in transition because I was so cold I couldn’t move fast.  Damn the cold water! I was on to the bike and wanted to complete it in 5 hours and 50 minutes.  It is a challenging bike course with lots of hills so I knew it wouldn’t be my fastest bike time.  I was shivering for the first 20 miles on the bike and I even had on a long sleeve shirt and arm warmers.  I had recently had my bike re-fit which probably wasn’t the best thing so close to the race but that is just how it worked out. I did get a 100 mile ride on the new fit when I did I realized the new seat they put on my bike was not good for me.  I put my old seat back on my bike with the new fit.  This worked OK for a training ride the weekend before but was causing some discomfort about 80 miles into the race.  Coming out of the swim I was also experiencing some neck and shoulder pain, which continued throughout the bike and onto the run.  I finished my bike over my estimated finish time in 6:03.  I was glad to see my boyfriend on the bike right behind me – actually too close for comfort!  I saw my two clients Debbie and Terri during the bike. They all seemed to be chugging along on a really tough bike course.
I was so thankful to be off my bike and on to the run.  It took me a while to shake out some of the kinks and get running.  I carried on with the run through mile 6 holding under a 10 minute pace. I wasn’t feeling great as I continued the run and it seemed to get worse.  My head, neck and shoulders were hurting and I was very nauseated not able to take in much at each aid station.  I began walking at times trying to run as much as I could.  The walking portion kept getting longer and longer.  I continued to see everyone on the course and some were doing awesome and some were struggling like I was.  I made it to the finish line in 12:19.  It was not my best performance but not my worst. I finished the race and waited for my boyfriend.  We rushed our stuff (bikes and gear) back to the house we were staying at, showered quickly and returned to see Terri and Debbie finish.  Terri finished in 14:30 and we just missed her finish!  Michael took Terri back to the house while I waited for Debbie to finish.  I knew she would take most of the 17 hours that she had to finish.  I had never gone back to watch some of the late night finishers.  It was a lot of fun!  Finally Debbie came across the finish line with the sound of Mike Riley saying Debbie Eidelman YOU ARE AND IRONMAN!  Here is the video of her finishing and also a video of all the excitement at the finish line.  It is always a unique experience during each race. I learn so much about myself and walk away with great memories and some painful ones!  When I found Debbie the first thing she said was "That was hard!" then she said, "If I can do that ANYONE can!" You know what she's right!  Anyone can do an Ironman if you really want to do one!