Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Ongoing Adventures of Coach Cyndee - IM Chattanooga Race Recap

I recently completed my 11th Ironman in Chattanooga, TN. Racing in a place you have never been to is always an adventure.  Traveling with someone you are not with all the time can also be an adventure.  My friend of many years was racing too so we decided to save some money and room together.  He got there Wednesday night and I arrived Thursday morning.  I walked into the room and immediately noticed the freezing temperature in the room.  Upon getting there I had to use the bathroom and almost fell in the toilet because he did not put the lid down after using the bathroom.  I can only imagine the humor of me getting injured because I fell in the toilet or had hypothermia.  Ok maybe I’m being a bit extreme but you get the point.  My roommate Christian for the next several days wanted the room temperature in the 60’s whereas I preferred high 70’s low 80’s.  There seemed to be no compromise between us so as he would turn it down I would turn it back up.

The weather forecast leading up to the event was gloomy with rain and clouds.  The day of the race was supposed to be better without rain just clouds.  Thursday we went to pick up our packet and then went to the local YMCA for a swim.  I unpacked my bike and made sure it was working, these are all the typical things anyone does before a big race it wasn’t too exciting. 

The race was on Sunday, because the major sponsor Little Debbie is a company owned by 7th Day Adventists, and their day of worship is Saturday.  The swim was supposed to be a fast swim and it was.  I was hoping to swim it in 50 minutes and that is about 20 minutes faster than my normal Ironman swim time.  I finished the swim in 56 minutes so it was a little slower than I wanted but to date it was the fastest I have swam 2.4 miles.  The bike course for an Ironman is usually 112 miles but for this race it was 116. Most of the bike was in Georgia and it was rolling hills and pretty remote.  People would say it was out in the sticks of Georgia!  I saw a few strange signs as we rode through the sticks!  Pigs for sale was one sign that I saw and Chickens for sale was another.  Being a vegetarian I can’t imagine who buys a pig or chicken with the intent to eat it but I am sure this is common in the rural areas.  I ran over two huge caterpillars which I tried to avoid but couldn’t.  I saw dogs in front yards just hanging out.  I was surprised they didn’t run into the streets to chase us because that’s what my dogs would do.  Thankfully I only saw one dog tied up, I felt sad for that poor guy but I am sure there are a lot more like him in this world.  I saw enormous houses with yards the size of my entire block.  My immediate thought was that if I had that house and yard I would have a lot of dogs and find them amazing homes or just keep them for myself.   Yes all of this stuff goes through your mind when you are riding 116 miles.  The bike took me 5 hours 41 minutes about 11 minutes slower than I would have liked.  It was a bit more challenging than I thought it would be.  I rode my bike the day before to make sure everything was working and everything checked out ok.  When I got on my bike after the swim on race day my power meter wasn’t working.  I use power, heart rate, and cadence to gauge how hard I am working.  Without my power meter my cadence didn’t work.  This is not a major thing but annoying that race day it doesn’t work when every other day it works just fine.  I did have my heart rate monitor on and it was working so that was good.  During the bike I felt nauseated but tried to force down some calories.  I took more solid than I would normally and less calories from liquid.  I still took in water at each aid station but it wasn’t hot and was cloudy so I didn’t feel dehydrated. 
The nauseated feeling continued with me through the run to the point that I felt like I was going to throw up.  I never did throw up during the race but never felt great.  Going into the race I didn’t run as much as I typically would because of a nagging foot injury.  I knew my run would be a crap shoot.  I hoped for a best case scenario of 4:30 and worst case scenario of 5:30.  I came off the bike with heal pain and hip pain, both of which subsided shortly into the run.  With hip or heal pain I can usually run through the pain.  It may not be a fast run but I can typically get it done.  I was doing ok until about mile 8, this also is when the run got really hilly.  There were long, steep hills on this run and most people walking up the hills.  At this point my knee started hurting it was most likely from whatever was going on in my hip or IT band and it was causing my knee to hurt.  Its pretty tough to run through knee pain especially when you cant bend it much.  It knew it was either my calf or IT band so periodically I would stop and massage it (the massage therapist coming out in me). This helped but only temporary as the pain would come back after running for a few minutes. 

I hobbled to a 12:10 finish and that was about an hour slower than I expected mostly because of my run. Our hotel was just a short walk from the finish, which is one perk of traveling with Endurance Sports Travel.  I didn’t even get my bike or bags I just walked to the hotel and started a bath.  I still felt nauseated and had a lot of pain in my foot.  I took a drink of water and immediately threw up several times. I have hardly ever has thrown up in my life and I can count on one hand how many times I have vomited.  With all the races I have done I have NEVER thrown up before, during or after and event.  I am pretty sure I was feeling sick from the water we swam in because I can’t really pin point any other reason I would puke.  I took a bath followed by a shower and then went to get my bike and bags.  Once I got back I ordered a pizza because I knew Christian was going to want something to eat and at some point I was sure my appetite would return.  When you do an Ironman it seems that your appetite goes into overdrive sometime in the middle of the night after the race or the next day.  Christian came to the room a few hours later and I had showered, done laundry, and ordered pizza! (I hate going home with dirty clothes so yet I did my laundry after the race) He had a great race but he as well had a tough run.  We originally wanted to go back to see the last finishers but instead we ended up crashing.  At 2am I suddenly woke up with an intense craving for Dorito’s.   Keep in mind I don’t ever eat Dorito’s but I guess I shot up out of bed and shouted I want Dorito’s.  Without hesitation Christian got up and went downstairs and got me Dorito’s and got himself Combo’s.  We sat there at 2am me eating Dorito’s and him eating Combo’s and let me tell you they were so delicious.  I am not sure why after a race like that I have strange cravings that I normally wouldn’t have.  What a true friend he is to go get me them without hesitation!  That made up for the ice cold room and toilet seat being left up! 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Toughman Race Recap

I decided to do a race called Toughman in Provo Utah on August 22nd.  It fit perfectly into my training leading up to Ironman Chattanooga, which is September 26th.  I wasn’t excited about the 6-hour drive by myself to Provo. Originally my boyfriend was going to go with me and we were going to make a weekend of it.  He couldn’t go at the last minute so I decided to drive up Friday and drive back Saturday after the race.  I even debated about going at all but figured I had paid for it so I might as well go. 

It was supposed to be a fast course, which was exactly what I needed for training for IM Chattanooga.  My bike and swim have been really good so I hoped for a strong bike and swim and didn’t know what to expect on the run. I have been running longer but my runs have been slow.  Battling a few injuries I have not been running like I had hoped. 
I was told the lake was pretty gross and very shallow.  The water was brown and almost the entire way my hand touched the bottom on every stroke.  A few times I kicked the bottom and lots of people were walking the swim. I was the last wave so I had to pass so many people, which made it hard to get into a good rhythm.  I had a pretty good swim even under those circumstances and came out of the water in 28 minutes. 
I was off to the bike and was hoping to finish in under 2:30 if I did that would be a PR by about 10 minutes.  Although it was flat at the beginning there were a lot of turns for the first 10-15 miles.  I can ride fast but I am not very good at cornering fast.  This made the first part slower than I would have liked but I was only a few minutes off my anticipated time.  Since my group started last I had to pass lots of people on the bike.  For some reason so many people do not ride to the right of the road.  They seem to think they are the only person on the road and ride in the middle.  When you start in the back and have to pass a lot of people it starts to get annoying.  I ended the bike in 2:33 a few minutes off of my anticipated time but a PR on the bike by 7 minutes. 

By the time I got to the run I figured in my head if I could run a 1:55 I would be just under 5 hours for the race and that would be a PR by about 17 minutes.  I felt great and was running good for the first 2 miles.  I started to get a side cramp and I knew that it was because I was breathing too hard so I knew I had to slow down before it got worse.  I slowed for the next two miles to a 10-minute pace and the cramp eased up.  I was able to pick up my pace to about 9 to 9:30 and managed to average about a 9 minute pace for the run.  When I finished I thought I was probably around a 5:07 time but I wasn’t sure.  When I checked the results I finished 5:02 and I was really happy that I had such a great race but really pissed I missed a sub 5 hour half ironman by 2 minutes!

It was great to be able to do this race because Ironman Chattanooga will also be very flat and probably very similar to this course.  It was a great training day and a great boost for my confidence leading up to IMCH.  Overall my pacing on the bike was great, my swim felt fantastic, and I made it through the run without walking.  My nutrition was great and I didn’t feel fatigued at all during the race.  The one thing I would have done different is to not run as fast as I did off the bike. I need to learn to come off the bike a little slower and pick up my pace as I get further into the run.  

Monday, July 6, 2015

My Favorite Gear

My Ultimate Direction Hydration Vest
and my Desoto skin cooler shirt
Welcome to Triathlon…Now you're broke! In the world of swimming, biking and running there is so much gear that one can waste hard earned cash on, and believe me I have spent a lot of money on stuff that sits in my garage and I don't use!. I am going to share with you some of the gear I use on a regular basis that has served me well and gear that I couldn't live without.
TYR Split Fins

Swimming - There are three things I love to use in the pool.  They include:
TYR Paddles

Standard pool buoy
TYR large paddles
TYR split fins

I have tried many different fins and I keep returning to my good old TYR split fins.  I like the split fins because they don't tire your legs like some other fins.  When you swim, bike and run you don't necessarily want to kill your legs in the pool.  The split fin is great to use when doing drills but because of the split it does not over work your legs. I love swimming with paddles and a buoy.  If you are not a strong swimmer or have shoulder injuries you should not use the large paddles but I personally love them. As for googles, its a mixed bag. Try as many as you can to find the perfect fit for your face. I would also recommend having a few in your swim bag as back up as well as a clear lens pair for indoor swimming and a tinted pair for outdoors.

Biking - The few things I couldn't live without on the bike include:

Stages power meter
Speed Fill
Speed Sleev
Speed fill between the arms (BTA)) aero drink system
Speed Sleev for my flat kit which includes CO2, tire leaver,
cartridge adapter and spare tube
Giro Air Attack helmet

I like the speed sleev because its easy to use, out of the way and contains all the essential items for the dread flat. The clever design makes it a compact item. I like the Speed Fill aero drink system because its comfortable between my arms (hence the BTA). I can use any water bottle with the system and it can be easily refilled at aid stations when racing.  The power meter by Stages is a great power meter and less expensive than most other power meters.  Training with power will take your training to another level and give you a more accurate idea of how hard you are working . It is much more accurate compared to heart rate which can be impacted by heat, overtraining, and illness. The Giro Air Attack helmet is comfortable for everyday training as well as racing. It has great aerodynamic qualities and looks like a conventional bike helmet.
Lulu Running Shorts


Lululemon running shorts
Ultimate direction hydration vest

I love the Lululemon running shorts called speed shorts.  They fit me perfect, are very comfortable and have a small pocket in the back for a key or gel.  The ultimate direction vest is great and has room for a bladder in the back and two bottles up front.  I use the vest that you can use smaller or larger bottles with.  It has a few small pockets which are great for gels.  This vest is great for very long runs and most popular with ultra runners because if you use the bottles they are easy to refill.

Some things I use for one or more of the sports include:

Hydro Flask
Garmin 910 - this is easy to use, keeps track of all my training data, syncs with my power meter easily, using the accessories such as the quick release I can easily take it off my bike and transition to the run with it.
Road ID - good to have in case of an accident.  Fortunately I have not ever had to use this but I wear it when I ride and run and it has all my emergency contact informaiton.
Hands free dog leash - any will do but I prefer to run with my dogs using one of these so my arms are free.
Speedo gear bag/back pack - this bag is large and has  a space for wet stuff and two separate areas inside the main area.  It has several large pockets on the outside.
Desoto Skin Cooler long sleeve top is great to use in hot weather.  It also protects me from the sun.  Having very light skin makes me very sensitive to the sun so this shirt is really great for long rides and runs.  It also has pockets that during a race you can fill with ice to help you keep cool.
Way hot yoga mat - I like this mat for Bikram because it is a towel and mat in one.  It is very absorbent and is the best mat I have used in hot yoga.
Hydro Flask is the best bottle to carry water.  I started using this in an effort to use less plastic. It keeps liquids cold or hot all day long. In fact it will even keep your water cold while you do an extra long swim by the pool when its 110 degrees outside.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Oh My Aching Body

So often I hear people comment that they have some part of their body bothering them so they are starting to stretch more.  Even more often people contact me for a massage because they suddenly are having pain somewhere.  It seems that most people neglect both stretching and getting a massage until something hurts.  I am always telling my clients they need to be more consistent with pre and post workout stretching and getting maintenance massages.  Before workouts warming up with active or moving stretching is very important.  Equally important is your routine after your workout, which should include foam rolling followed by stretching. 

If you suddenly have pain and then think that stretching will miraculously make it go away you are wrong.  In fact I would suggest against doing a lot of stretching if you possibly injured something.  When you have an acute injury stretching may not be the best option it may need a several days to recover before you stretch it.  The same goes for massage having someone really work an area that may have been injured and is painful is not necessarily the best option.  When something hurts all of the sudden you really don’t know what is wrong.  Giving it a few days to calm down and for the inflammation to calm down is your best option in that situation. 

Preventing injury is best done with a well-rounded program that includes all aspects of training.  Cardio, strength train including functional movements, stretching/warm-up (pre and post), foam-roll, and massage are all components of a good workout program.   Don’t wait until something hurts to start or resume one aspect of your training.  Take the time to get it all done and that may require shortening one aspect of your training.  Maybe instead of spending one hour on strength training, spend 45 minutes so that you can include time for stretching. 

Don’t just get a massage when things hurt.   I typically suggest at least one massage a month mostly because people can’t afford a weekly massage.  If you can afford to get a massage two times a month then that is even better.  If you wait until you are in pain it will be hard for one massage to take care of your issue.  Sometimes people wait until they can hardly move before they come in for a massage.  They come in with knots so bad that it’s pretty much impossible to work all of them out with one massage.  I can provide some relief but typically they will need a few more sessions depending on their issue.   By getting a massage once or twice a month you can prevent some of the major knots that build up over time. 

You may not know what stretches to do but there are many resources online to help you develop a good stretching routine.  You can search youtube for some great videos on stretching.  On Facebook there is a page called stretching that has some great information  I created a laminated sheet that includes a stretch routine for my clients.  It is simple and easy to use and if you complete all the stretches you will target your entire body.   Here are just a few examples:

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Athletic And Vegetarian - It Can Work!

The first question people ask when they find out that I am a vegetarian and an athlete is, “how do you get enough protein?”  I once thought the same thing about vegetarians or vegans.  I quit eating any meat except chicken and turkey when I was 15 and I am 46 now.  I never really had the desire to eat it and honestly I didn’t really like chicken and turkey I just thought that all my muscle would wither away if I didn’t eat it.  Reluctantly I ate chicken and turkey and not think about the fact that it was once alive.   I didn’t like to eat any chicken on the bone because it grossed me out I just ate chicken breast or turkey breast and tried not to think about it too much.  Last year I finally had enough and I told myself that I was going to slowly eliminate it from my diet.  I wasn’t telling myself I couldn’t have it but I was going eat less of it.  My boyfriend who is a huge meat eater was not too happy but I told him it wouldn’t have any impact on him at all.  I went about a week and didn’t miss chicken at all and when I tried some I didn’t even want or like it.  Its been over 6 months and I am so glad I decided to stop eating it and I know I will never go back.  I think I actually eat healthier getting more vegetables, good grains such as quinoa, and lentils and beans.  I rarely ate quinoa, lentils and beans before and I can’t believe what I was missing! 

Since I stopped eating chicken and turkey I have kept track of my muscle mass, which I originally thought was going to wither away.  I am still the same weight, same body-fat with the same amount of muscle.  I feel great and have lots of energy and I do get enough protein from many different sources.  I eat eggs and egg whites, cottage cheese, beans, legumes, quinoa, nuts, humus (beans), and once in a while a protein shake.  I personally don’t love shakes so I don’t drink too many of them and that’s just my personal preference.  I am not opposed to using shakes I would just rather eat my food if I can.  Honestly I am not obsessed with getting protein I know I eat a variety of foods and I know my body composition has remained the same. My main focus is on eating healthy foods with lots of nutrients and slowly limiting my bad choices.  I am not perfect with my food choices but I do eat pretty well and make more good choices then bad choices. 

If you want to eliminate meat because you love animals then I am 100% for that.  If you want to become a vegan or vegetarian because you think you will lose weight then don’t bother.  Being vegetarian is a way of life and it takes some work because you have to think more about what you are going to eat.  Things should be planned and I always make more than enough to have it left over for a few days.  Its not as easy to grab something quick to eat that is healthy when you don't eat meat.  The first time we went to a neighbor’s house for dinner it was a bit of a challenge since 90% of the meal was meat.  Turkey, chicken, duck, and meat lasagna with a salad was what was for dinner.  I opted for salad and then ate when I got home. 

Many people become vegetarian and eat too much processed food.  In most cases these vegetarians are overweight and not very healthy with various health issues.  If you don’t cook and want to become vegetarian then you will have tough time eating healthy.  You may get caught up eating all the fake meat you will find in your frozen section in the store.  Most of this contains processed soy and other things that are not very healthy.  I personally don’t like how my body reacts to soy that is why I don’t eat tofu (I also don’t’ like it).  I would rather eat something that I prepare that is healthy.  You can get lots of veggie burgers in the frozen food section but you can also make your own. 

Black Bean Veggie Burger Patties

2 cups cooked rinsed black beans
1 cup rolled oats
2/3 cup cooked whole-grain brown rice
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
¼ cup of your favorite shredded cheese or dairy free cheese
1 large cooking onion, peeled and grated (or chopped in blender)
1 large handful of fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
2 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp grainy mustard
2 tbsp tamari sauce
1 to 2 cups fresh bread crumbs made from sprouted bread
Coconut oil
3 tbsp sea salt

In a medium bowl, combine the black beans, oats, rice, nutritional yeast, and cheese.  Mix thoroughly with your hands.

In a blender, combine the onion, cilantro, coriander, paprika, mustard, and tamari.  Blend just until mixed.

Add the onion mixture to the bean mixture and mix well, adding salt.  After mixing, adjust salt if necessary to taste.  Add the bread crumbs and mix with your hands until the mixture is firm to the touch and no longer sticky.  You will find that the bread crumbs and oats absorb the moisture and it will become harder to mix.

Form the mixture into 3/4 – inch thick patties. 

Heat a skillet over medium heat.  Add a little coconut oil.  Fry patties until lightly brown, about 1 minute per side. 

You CAN eat vegetarian and be a top performing athlete.  I have the book and cookbook called Thrive and it has some great information about being vegan and being an athlete.  Since I stopped eating chicken I have read a few articles on how the chicken in the US is being shipped to China for processing and then being shipped back to the US.  This is horrible especially because in China the standards for processing are non-existent.  I am so glad I made the decision to quit eating chicken and turkey making me a real vegetarian!  Here I am in my most two recent races and one of them I was the overall female finisher so I guess it hasn't hurt my performance!