Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Puerto Rico A Great Place To Race!

The best thing about racing is that you can see some really great places from a completely different perspective.  I raced last weekend in Puerto Rico at the 70.3 Half Ironman.  My training leading up to the event was great considering we are doing an Ironman in April I was ready to go for this Half.  We took the red-eye Thursday night to arrive Friday in Puerto Rico for a race on Sunday so it was going to be a quick trip.  I started feeling a bit congested as we headed for the airport. I shrugged it off as allergies.  Once on the plane my throat was getting sore and it just went downhill from there.  By the time we arrived in PR I was feeling really bad with chills, aches, congestion and sore throat. I don't know for sure if I had a fever but I most likely did.  I was disappointed because I knew even if I could race Sunday it wasn't likely going to be my best race.  I got to the room and went straight to bed while Michael went on a tour of the race course and to dinner.  I was in bed from 2pm until the next morning at 7am.  I woke and still had a horrible sore throat but the aches and chills were gone.  I took some cold medicine and forced myself out of bed.  I began putting my bike together and came to the realization that I just wanted to race and finish.   I was going to try and enjoy some of the beauty of the island.  Before going to bed I took Nyquil and upon rising I took Advil cold and flu.  Race day I actually felt pretty good except for the fact that the cold medicine left me slightly dehydrated.  I didn't expect to qualify for Worlds at this race because it is very competitive.  When I checked results from the previous year the winner in my age group had completed it in 4:55!  My best time ever was Miami at 5:18 so even on my best day I probably wouldn't qualify for Worlds. I signed up for 70.3 at St. George because I figured that was my best chance to qualify and that race is in May.

The water temperature was great and we were not allowed to wear wetsuits.  There was a slight current that made it a little challenging as we turned to go back to the swim exit.  You had to be careful so the current would not take you too far left.  I was able to draft, which rarely happens in the swim however the person I was drafting off did not account for the current and took us a little to far left.  Note to self ......if you draft keep sighting because the person you are drafting off of may not be paying attention. I am usually really great swimming perfectly on course.  This may have cost me less than a minute and is a lesson learned.  I exited the swim in 34 minutes which was not my best and not my worst time. 

I knew the bike was mostly flat with some wind and I expected to have a good bike time.  We encountered some rain on the bike course and it was slick at the turnaround but I managed to stay upright!  For most of the ride the wind was not a factor, I averaged over 22 mph. and was on my way to a personal best bike split.  I actually went very conservative the first half because I was not sure how I would feel on the run. Once I realized I might be able to do a 2:30 bike I picked up my pace.  Then we had about 12 miles to go and we hit a nasty headwind.  This slowed me down to 18-20 mph so 2:30 was out of the question.  I did still have a personal best on the bike with a 2:38.  I must say it was one of the most beautiful bike courses I have been on.  Part of the ride was on the coast and it was pretty amazing.

 As I finished the bike I knew we had a hot, hilly run course ahead of us.  Of course it wasn’t raining anymore and the sun was shinning brightly!  I knew I was feeling pretty good and would be able to have a decent run if the heat didn’t get to me too much.  The first aid station I grabbed as much water and ice as possible.  I poured cold water over me and put ice down my sports bra and held the rest of the ice in my hands hoping to keep me cool.  I also kept re-applying sunscreen (on the bike and run); I carry a small tube with me.  For someone as pale as me this is critical during races in this type of environment.  Every aid station I took the opportunity to pour cold water over my head, grab ice and hydrate.  The run course was hard but had some amazing stuff to see.  We ran through Old San Juan to the San Juan Fort and then along the coast, it was pretty spectacular to see.  I was pretty consistent with my pace averaging about a 9 minute mile.  At mile 11 I got a really bad side cramp, which slowed me down slightly but I kept pressure on my side trying to get it to go away.  Finally after about a half mile of agony it disappeared.  I don’t understand why those come on like that but they can bring anyone to a standstill.  I finally came to the finish in a time of 5:18:08 which is about 30 seconds faster than my previous best time for a half.  I was really happy with my time but still didn’t think I had any chance of qualifying for the 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas.  I knew they only have two slots in my age group and figured I didn’t do well enough get one.  I waited for my boyfriend to finish and then we went back to our room.  When I turned on my phone I had a bunch of emails saying congratulations on placing second!  I thought maybe they were wrong so I checked online for the results.  Sure enough I was second in my age group.  Wow I was pretty shocked.  Now I had to go back to claim my slot.  This meant walking the mile or so back to the stadium which I quickly did…..its amazing how you can suddenly bounce back from your post race tiredness.  My boyfriend opted to stay at the room and I don’t blame him.  I rushed back to claim my spot only to find out they only took cash or check neither of which I had.  I found that really strange because at Panama when I qualified they only took charge.  This meant going all the way back to the hotel to the ATM to get money!  I think in total I added about 3-4 miles onto my Half Ironman just trying to claim my spot and get my award. 
My next adventure takes me to South Africa to do the Full Ironman.  We have two heavy weeks of training ahead of us.  Hopefully there are no bumps in the road for that one but that would be unusual.  There is always something to learn from every race. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

My Top Training Secrets Revealed

Running in Las Vegas at the beautiful Red Rock!
I know many of you have been waiting for my top training secrets revealed so here they are just for you!
  1.  Fuel your body like a pro! So many people think because they train so much they can eat whatever they want.  You need to fuel your body with the right food.  Junk food will not improve your performance.  Non-processed real food will fuel you to win.  Quit eating protein bars and drinking protein shakes and eat real food. I am not saying I don’t ever eat a bar or drink a shake but keep them to a minimum.  Eat foods such as brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal, and get plenty of protein to help your muscles recover.  Keep fat to a minimum and use only healthy fats. 
  2. Get out of your comfort zone and mix up your training all year long.  Some people think in the off-season they don’t have to do any interval work or speed work.  Sure there are times you will do more of it than others however I incorporate some harder intervals in most of my workouts all year long.  There are those days I go easy for the entire ride, run or swim however every week I have some harder workouts that take me out of my comfort zone!
  3.  Get enough sleep.  You thought my training secrets were all about training.  This one is about recovering and getting enough quality sleep.  When you are training for a longer event such as a half or full Ironman 8-9 hours of quality sleep is essential.  This is when you will recover and without it you will not have the performance you hope for.  Don’t try to make up sleep, get enough every night.  If you are having trouble sleeping address it right away.  Try natural supplements to help sleep or reduce your cortisol levels.  When you train a lot your body can produce excess cortisol, which can cause you to have a restless nights sleep.
  4.  Take care of your body with massage, stretching, foam rolling, and ice baths.  Don’t wait until something hurts to start stretching.  Stretch and foam roll on a regular basis. Get massages a few times a month.  After long workouts ice baths are the best way to recover and prepare you for your next workout.
  5.  Train with others that will push you.  I am a person who prefers to train alone or with my dogs but I even know the importance of training with others.  When I train with other people I definitely work harder.  I prefer to mix it up and train half the time alone and half with others.  Find people that will motivate you to work harder and not miss a workout.  Being accountable to a friend can make a difference. You might miss less workouts and work harder. 
  6. Treat yourself – some of my best workouts are done when I get something new to wear or  equipment to try.  A new pair of shoes, a new Lululemon workout outfit, new equipment or even a new playlist will always make me look forward to the next workout.  Instead of indulging with food after a great week of training treat yourself to something new that you can use during training. 
  7. Plan your day and your diet around your workouts!  This can get tricky with a busy training and work schedule.  If you have to do two workouts you need to plan your diet for the day.  If your second workout is after work you don’t want to eat a lunch that is too heavy.  If you know your day might go long you should consider getting it all done before work.  Always have food with you so you don’t eat badly because that will have an impact on your second workout for the day. It could affect how you feel the next day.  Proper planning or your workouts and diet will be key in your success. You should know what your day will look like before you begin it. You should know what you are going to eat, when you’re going to eat and the same goes for exercise. 
  8.  Maintain a healthy weight and body fat percentage all year long. This is important especially when training for triathlons.  You should keep the same weight and body fat all year without having large swings in your weight or body fat. Any extra weight that you have to carry on the run or bike is going to impact your race performance.  If you are the type of person that gains some extra pounds in the off -season only to lose it before race season then try and maintain a healthy weight all year long.  The lighter and leaner you are the faster you will go.  Eating healthy is a lifestyle so you should do it all year long.
  9. Train with a heart rate monitor and computer.  I use Garmin 910XT. It tells me all the information I need on my run, bike and swim. It gives me averages, pace, HR, cadence, distance and much more.  Using a tool such as this can help you track and monitor your training.  While I think it is important to use perceived exertion as a guide, a  tool like a Garmin can help your training.  You should eventually get to a point where you can tell by feel what your heart rate is or at least be pretty close. 
  10. Don’t try to make up your workouts. If you miss a workout let it go and move on.  You could get caught up in a vicious cycle trying to make things up.  Once in a while you may miss something although not great, let it go.  If you have to miss a workout try not to miss a KEY workout.  Key workouts may be different for everyone but if you are a weak runner and strong cyclist I would not miss a run workout. 
  11. Primal Bar and coffee.  This is my breakfast everyday and sometimes I eat it before a second workout.  I get the primal bars at Trader Joe’s in the bread section. I toast them and put peanut butter and honey on them.  The perfect pre-workout food for me. 
  12. Have a good supplement regimen.  I take key supplements that will help me with my performance and aide in recovery.  When you train you deplete your body of many nutrients through heavy sweating.  You also increase inflammation and need additional antioxidants that may be hard to get from your diet alone. 
  13. Keeping your body well hydrated throughout the day and during training will improve your performance and recovery.  Everyone will need different amounts of water throughout the day depending on your training load and how much you sweat.  Most athletes will need to take in a minimum of a gallon a day. On heavy training days I consume 1.5 to 2 gallons of fluids.  This is a combination of water and electrolyte drinks.
  14. I take one rest day each week.  Rest and recovery will make you stronger for your next workout. 
Well those are some of my secrets (not all of them).  What are some of your training secrets?  

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Get Some Natural Help With Inflammation

Just about everyone suffers from some form of inflammation.  Chronic inflammation is an underlying problem for many diseases.  Heart disease , Chrohns disease, skin disorders, arthritis and many other health problems can be associated with chronic inflammation. Many people don’t understand that their diet plays a huge role in managing inflammation.  There are a lot of foods that can cause inflammation in your body.  The site of inflammation in each person may vary but the pain people feel is real pain.  There are some simple things you can do to your diet that will help manage your inflammation.  First eliminate or minimize the following:

·  Partially hydrogenated soybean oil – this causes inflammation.  Almost all processed foods have this in it.  Even products that claim they are low fat or nonfat may still contain this product.  READ your labels and avoid processed food.

  •    Sugar – this is so bad for you in so many ways.  Keep your   sugar intake to natural sources.  Fruits are good in moderation.  Use stevia or splenda in moderation.  Use honey or agave in moderation to sweeten foods. 
  •     Foods containing arachidonic acid, such as eggs, organ meats (including liver, heart and giblets), beef and dairy products promote inflammation.
  •    Alcohol – any type of alcoholic drink is harmful for the body. You need to eliminate them from your diet so you will be able to live longer.

Foods to eat to help prevent inflammation:
  •   Berries such as blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries 
  •     Cherries
  •         Dark green vegetables such as spinach and kale
  •      Fish
  •      Fresh basil
  •      Turmeric
  •      Cayenne
  •       Walnuts
  •      Ginger

Some of my favorite supplements to help with inflammation are listed below:
  •       Zyflamend from New Chapter
  •       Fish Oils
  •      Turmeric
  •     Vitamin D
  •       Resveratrol
  •       Curcumin
  •     Ginger
  •       Quercetin
  •      Bromelain  

I sometimes use essential oils to help with inflammation.  I use the following oils:
  •       Lemongrass – ligaments and tendons
  •       Basil – ligaments and tendons
  •       Peppermint – muscles
  •      Wintergreen – muscles

I put a few drops of each in my hand and put it on the affected area.

Inflammation can be managed through better food choices and incorporating the right supplements into your diet.