Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Hardest Part

The hardest part about endurance sport is when you train and race your heart out, make sacrifices, put everything on the line and come up short in meeting your goal.

There is no lying I love the most brutal workouts. Bring on the workouts that make you grimace and find that inner strong.  And this is why it  stings to work so hard only to fail. After Ironman Louisville I immediately called Ry and cried and cried and cried because I felt like I had let so many people down.

I also felt like my body let me down. I always thought I could do everything. And why not try to do everything, right? Life is short. I chose to race on the pro Ironman circuit, trying to be the best physical therapist and coach and trainer and rebuild a home.  As it turns out, training hard is really only beneficial if you can ABSORB it and ADAPT.

Sounds obvious as I type it but it is so easy for the type A triathlete crazy girl to fall into a bad habit.  Subpar result? I can fix that with extra training.  It's easy to fall into the mindset that endurance sports rewards the athlete that goes the extra mile and pushes a little bit deeper. But that is not always true.

I am definitely not giving up.  I have too much passion and love and respect for the sport.  So I am going to do the hardest thing right now and take an extended break.  A break to let my body and mind fully heal.

My plan is to get a little out of shape ( yikes ), focus on yoga and daily walks and let the body that has raced 20 Full Ironman, 33 Half Ironman , 3 Marathons and countless bike, run, uphill races in the past 6 years REST.  I don't know how long I will have to rest but I am going to put all of my energy into this scary endeavor.  I am motivated to make 2018 my strongest season!


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Finish FAST

I raced DOUBLE this weekend!  (Talk about a little pig in shit.)

First up was a SUPER trail race in Gilford NH to benefit the local conservation and recreation land. My soon to be brother in law race directed and did a fantastic job!!

The course was delightful (even for someone like me who is a disaster on trails). Ry guy took first overall, I took 1st female overall, Deidre snagged 2nd female overall (!!!) and Kanoa took first overall in the 3 miler. Kanoa is coming off a dominating performance at Vermont 50 miler so I won't give him any crap for choosing to race the shorter event. I'll save the sh!t talking for next blog.

After weeks of high volume and intense training for Ironman Louisville I was gifted a mini taper for the upcoming weekend of racing. I chose to participate in the trail race because I had a hunch it would lend optimal Muscle Tension for the half marathon I was racing the next day.  Tapering properly for a race is probably the hardest aspect of training.  The goal of taper is to drop fatigue and sharpen up for race day.  But if you drop too much volume and forgo intensity you risk feeling "flat" on race day.

What works for me is a drop in volume with the right amount of intensity to keep me sharp and keep muscle tension optimal.  I would say I am predominately a slow twitch athlete (duh) so I do well with this set up. A good coach will know their athlete and what is optimal for the athlete and the event they are racing.

My plan for the trail race was to race smooth on the flats and push it on the short, steep uphills in hopes I'd feel "snappy" the next day.
 
It worked. On half marathon race morning I was super BOUNCY and ready to roll. However, this brings me to the point of this blog which is the importance of the NEGATIVE SPLIT (or how NOT to start a race like a crazy lady.)

I was so excited on race morning and feeling so rested and amped up that I literally started my 1 mile warm up jog at 5:40 pace. Talk about little spaz. Reign it in AMBER.  This got me thinking how important and beneficial it is to start a bit slower and build into longer races to PR YOUR NEXT HALF MARATHON:
I get to race 2x this weekend?! Is it my birthday?



(Just so we are all on the same page a negative split run means the second half of your race is FASTER)

A few keys to a Negative Split and a Race PR:

1.) Start the first 1/4 of the race as what feels like painfully slow.  I promise it will probably only be slightly slower than goal pace. Remember, on race day there are all sorts of stimulants working to make you perceive the race start is easier than it is: adrenaline, coffee (!), a loud starting gun/race music, recent taper.

Personally, I was also born with the Hyperactive Crazy Gene so I have that to deal with as well.

It may be nerve wracking to be slightly behind in pace the first few miles but trust the training and trust the fact that you are setting yourself up for a strong second half which is where the majority of your competition will lose the most time.

At the 5K mark I was paying close attention to Heart Rate


2.) Starting out a bit slower than goal pace helps tolerate taking in a bit more fuel (Infinit Nutrition - super sugar) earlier in the race which can help glycogen stores in the later stages. If you have enough glycogen stores in the later portion of the race finishing faster won't be as difficult and will help you avoid hitting the dreaded wall. 

Furthermore, if you slowly build heart rate to race pace you won't burn through as much glycogen as compared to sprinting out of the gates and spiking your heart rate. Trust me, let the guy wearing the American Flag Tutu sprint up ahead. When you eventually catch and pass him you can tell him how much you love his tutu.
Just chugged 4oz of Infinit. If you look closely you can see me licking my chops



3.) Overtaking people in the latter stages feels great.  No matter how fit you are the last 1/4 of a race hurts! To be passing athletes in the later stages can give a huge mental boost and can inspire you to finish even faster.
Finish FAST

 4.) Focus on crossing the line feeling strong and perhaps it will allow you to recover and adapt a bit quicker for the next race. A race is hard but finishing fast can lead to a feeling of: ‘I can do anything,' rather than feeling like someone just bull-dozered over your legs.

HAPPY RUNNING and RACING!




Wednesday, September 20, 2017

THE SECRET....

“What was the secret, they wanted to know; in a thousand different ways they wanted to know The Secret..." 




..."And not one of them was prepared, truly prepared to believe that it had NOT so much to do with chemicals and zippy mental tricks ( or fancy equipment ) as with that most unprofound and sometimes heart-rending process of removing, molecule by molecule, the very tough rubber that comprised the bottoms of her training shoes. The Trial of Miles; Miles of Trials.”

If you haven't read Once a Runner, you should. The quote aptly refers to doing the WORK. Swim, bike and run hard enough that you remove, molecule by molecule the very tough rubber of your training shoes.  

I ran a double run session today which looked like 12 aerobic miles in the morning followed by a light spin and then 10 miles in the evening with specific pace/tempo work.   This double run workout is great for glycogen sparing and the ability to do faster pace running with less chance of muscle breakdown/fatigue as compared to doing one continuous 22 mile run.

I started the run on fatigued legs and it took some effort to finish that first morning session  It took even more effort to get my butt out the door for the second round.  As I neared the 20 mile mark today it occurred to me that if I wasn't 'training' for these crazy endurance events I wouldn't have done that second run.  I would be living in the gray instead of mustering the fierceness to take big chances and dig in real deep and cry and hurt and laugh and win and lose.

I am deeply thankful for endurance racing and training for the daily lessons learned: Life is tough darling, but so are you. #DoWork it pays off.

Monday, August 14, 2017

STEELHEAD 70.3

Sport and competition most definitely satisfies my deep desire to push until exhaustion.  I can't recall exactly when it started - maybe it was always there: the thrill and adrenaline rush from pushing as hard as I can, experiencing lactic acid in my legs and gasping for air. I know, I know.... it's not for everyone but I love it!

In 2015 I was suffering from over- racing and deep adrenal fatigue.  I lost the ability to dig as deep as I wanted in training and in racing. And that made me deeply sad.  Not to mention the recovery was beyond frusterating. I wasn't sure when I would crawl myself out of this hole and all I could do was rest a bit more and wait.


Let's face it: I am a workhorse and I love to suffer so it was extra hard to take a bit more rest, err easy on my workouts and put the BIG races on hold. In 2016 I got my groove back. And then I crashed.  I was talking about the crash to someone the other day when they had mentioned how disappointing it must have been. I explained to them that the crash was actually the opposite of disappointing. When I crashed at Ironman Lake Placid I new in my hearts of hearts that I was back. My desire to make a comeback at Ironman Mont Tremblant 2 weeks later was STRONG. My mental game was back.  ON top of that the way my body responded and healed in 2 weeks showed me that it was just a matter of time before I was my best self yet.  Setbacks can move you forward.


I have been racing a lot but apparently not blogging! During the month of May and June I raced a few 5Ks and 5 milers to work on my run skills as well as some Mountain Races.  I raced to 5th place at Mount Washington Road Race and 5th place at Ironman Mont Tremblant 70.3.  I was pleased with the efforts and how I recovered from each of those races.  I plan to race Ironman Louisville and Ironman Arizona with a few potential 70.3's depending on how the longer races go.


And most recently I raced STEELHEAD 70.3!
Laughing because I missed the front swim pack and had my work cut out for me. When I say "laughing" I mean CRYYYYYING.

I had a character building day on the bike. A day my legs did NOT want to push WATTS
Me: Come on legs, GO!
Legs: No.
Me: PLEASE!? I'll feed you pizza and icecream after the race.
Legs: No.
Me: You know, I AM THE BOSS HERE.
Legs: zzzzzz, good night.
Me: :(

I got off the bike in 12th and left transition n 15th. Oops.

I have been racing long enough and I trust my run. I started the run in 15th and went ON THE HUNT.

I went from 15th to 9th. The sad part of the story was that I was convinced I was in 8th. (They paid 8 deep). Doh.

But when you give EVERYTHING YOU have...there is nothing to be upset about.

As always a HUGE thank you and hug to my sponsors. I am beyond grateful to be racing around the world and making lasting memories and frienships.
TOM RAFFIO of Delta Dental
Velocio Apparal 
Runner's Alley of Concord NH
Infinit Nutrition
Rudy Project
MC Cycle and Sport
Juice Performer

Friday, May 19, 2017

SO HOT: 4 Tips to Stay Cool and Race Faster in the Heat

"Running, one might say, is basically an absurd past-time upon which to be exhausting ourselves. But if you can find meaning in the kind of running you have to do to stay on this team, chances are you will find meaning in another absurd past-time: LIFE"

Mile 2.5 #SOHOT

TOP 3 ladies battling it out


I raced the first of 5 races I will compete in over the next 6 weeks this past Thursday. One of my FAVORITE local races which attracts over 6000 runners to benefit the Payson Cancer Center: THE ROCK 'N RACE.  I have won the race 3 times with a best time of 17:31 over the hilly 5K course and had some epic battles with some super fast ladies.  This year we were all in for a battle as Mother Nature delivered us a 95 degrees day. A huge swing in temperatures as it snowed just 3 days earlier...(!)  There was absolutely no chance to acclimate with a swing that large.

My Thursdays ALWAYS start with a swim at 6:15am, strength work to activate the core and hips and then anywhere between a 2 -5 hour bike ride. This particular Thursday I had my HR up since 6 in the morning and then was outside on my bike in 95 degree weather. Needless to say I was extremely warmed up for the 6pm race. NOT ideal for fast racing.

Here are some self cooling tips from the latest research I used to get to the start line as cool as a cucumber.

1.) COLD SHOWER/ICE BATH. After my swim, strength and bike training I immediately took a cold shower and drank a COLD smoothie in an effort to drop my core temperature a bit.

2.) After the shower, I stretched and then rested with my feet up with ice packs on my stomach and neck.

3.) I sipped on ICE cold Infinit hydration + water

4.) I decided on a short 1/2 mile run to the start line. NO need for a long, extended warm up in hot weather as it takes less to get the HR up and blood pumping.  The warm up goal in 95 degree weather is to get loose and not overheat.   I jogged 1/2 mile with a frozen towel around my neck, holding onto ice cubes and had ice down my bra and shorts and was munching on some ice cubes.  I looked like a special superwomen with a frozen cape but I was cool cold and didn't give one fig.

 A special shout out to 2 of my friends and HUGE sources of inspiration:  The dream team and racing machines Tom Raffio of Delta Dental and Ellen Raffio.  Together the 2 will literally race HUNDREDS of times this year. #BeLikeTom+Ellen






Monday, April 24, 2017

Believe that the Fairy Tale is True

Each day I wake up with a few goals:

1. Be present 
2. Strive to see the beauty in the beasts
3. Tackle the crap out of my goals
4. And believe that the fairy tale is true

I woke up everyday after Ironman Cozumel with these 4 things in mind.  I had a successful training camp in Tuscon in March and noticed the fitness piling up. More importantly I was really loving the work. Twenty plus hours of swim, bike, run on top of a regular 35+ hour work week is hard but I was thriving and I was PRESENT. 

 









Ironman Texas was looming which meant my excitement was building. My love for racing is strong. A love that has been deepened by time and strengthened by both successes and hardships.  I love the thrill of race day and the people I meet along the way.  

First and foremost I was more than excited to go back and visit my Homestay from 2014: The Lee's. They are a wonderful, fantastic family and I am forever grateful to them for feeding my hungry self and making me laugh throughout the weekend.

The build up to the race was perfect save one small snafu with TSA squashing my Enve race wheel.  The triathlon community came through and before I knew it I was rocking a mis-matched but pretty awesome HED/ENVE set up.  I shrugged off the broken wheel because it just deepened my respect for the endurance community. I SAW THE BEAUTY IN THE BEAST. 

Always breaking rule #95


I was feeling so energized and ready to tackle 140.6 miles.  Nothing could stop me now. TIME TO TACKLE THE CRAP OUT OF MY GOALS.

The race started fast (it was the North American Champhipships after all) but I really made an effort to NOT race like a Donkey. New Hampshire had a tough winter so I had limited outdoor ride time and didn't want to burn any bike matches because I truly believed in my run.

I truly believed in my run until I didn't. At mile 1.5 I suffered the worst leg cramps and was forced to walk/shuffle/run/cramp/walk/shuffle.  This was mind boggling as I have done 18 Ironman and my nutrition/race build up/training was at its BEST for #19.

 
The Boss Man cheering me on. 

Moments before attack of the hamstring cramps
Eighteen full Ironman races under my belt and #19 really showed me who was the boss.  I guess that is why we both love and hate the fickleness of an ultra long race like this. You can train like an animal and be mentally psyched and yet there are never any guarantees.  Similar to life.

During the time I spent shuffling/walking/jogging on the run course I SAW THE BEAUTY IN THE BEAST. Almost every athlete that passed me gave me a pat on the back and asked if I needed anything. How amazing is that?  One exceptionally nice Australian triathlete even offered me his Vegemite - haha!  I laughed, I shuffled, I hobbled and I cried.

I have put my body through the most intense training and racing over the past 6 years. 18 full Ironman and 35 half Ironman in 6 years. It was absolutely soul crushing at the time to not finish but my motto is Be Brave. And at this particular time that meant BE BRAVE ENOUGH TO BREAK MY OWN HEART.  And with that I pulled myself off the course.


But I believe in the fairy tale and the beauty of my dreams. The heartbreak will eventually make us stronger...

A gigantic hug my sponsors: (DELTA DENTAL, TOM RAFFIO, VELOCIO, RUDY PROJECT, INFINIT NUTRITION, BEETPERFORMER, MC CYCLE AND SPORT), The Lee's and the triathlon community.




Thursday, March 2, 2017

Snowshoe your way to a PR Season



I raced at the 10th annual Snowshoe World Championships last weekend.

And the struggle was real.

I had a fierce back and force battle with Brandy Erholtz (multiple US Mountain Team member, and winner of Mount Washington and Pikes Peak Accent). I thought for sure my heart was going to explode. It didn't. I came out stronger and here is why:

Snowshoeing is a great training tool for running because of the similarities in the movement pattern. The added weight from the snowshoes on your feet coupled with the low impact terrain makes for a fantastic way to develop strength-endurance.  I would argue that 1 mile of snowshoe running = 3 miles on the road (Kurt Perham, et all 2017).  Also, you may be going slower on the snow but you are indeed breathing harder.

One important goal of training is to extend our ability to use a high proportion of our strength over a longer period of time.  Snowshoe running recruits more muscle fibers as compared to flat ground running as well as enhances our balance and proprioception.

Racing!

Hurdling a log on snowshoes. Did not end well.

#optoutside
Sample snowshoe workout to replace a winter long run:

30 min easy run on the roads.  Stop and do dynamic mobility/stretching and put on the snowshoes.

45 min snowshoe run. Watch the intensity but have fun.

30 min easy cool down run on the roads.  Completing a cool down is an easy way to get performance gains because you are already in a pre-fatigued state so any work you do gets supercharged.