Friday, November 7, 2014

It's About More Than Just Endorphins

It's actually about WAY more than just the endorphins. As the dust begins to settle after my 2014 season and after receiving several, very similar e-mails, I found myself reflecting on why sports are so important to me.

The Positive Link Between Sports and Self Confidence:

I remember my mom sitting me down after my first year of Kindergarten and telling me I was going to repeat my Kindergarten year. It's peculiar the specific child memories we remember and those that are lost along the way. But I vividly recall her gently telling me it would be good for me to do another year in Kindergarten because it would give me the chance to grow bigger and stronger. Only much later did I learn I was staying back because I was VERY shy. I hadn't made any friends that year and at lunch and recess I would ask to sit with my teacher.  That summer I remember my mom encouraging me to sign up for the summer track and field program. I shook my head and stomped my feet all summer until she finally convinced me to just go and watch on one of the last nights. Well, I ended up participating that night in the 100 yard dash. My nervous little 5 year old body toed the line nearly in tears.  But something funny happened when the gun went off. All the nerves vanished. I crossed the finish line and they gave me a Thanks For Participating ribbon. I remember how different I felt after that race.  I was always a smiley, shy kid but this ribbon made me smiley and confident.  Slowly but surely my confidence began to grow. Sports made me feel like I had a purpose and I was anything but shy on the field.

Time to go beat up on some boys.

My Eating Disorder and The Turning Point

The love affair with running and sports started early.  The quantity of running and sports ebbed and flowed throughout my childhood years but it was always present in some way.  The reasons I developed an eating disorder are far from simple. It was much more than just performance related.  Although, unfortunately, with the nature of endurance sports that was a small part of it.  At times the disorder and the desire to go faster fed into each other. I had a relentless ability to stay motivated and disciplined. Good for sports, bad for squashing an ED. But soon the eating disorder took over and when it gripped me the hardest was, obvious in hindsight, when my running struggled the most.  During my sophomore year in high school I was deep into anorexia and battling bouts of bulimia.  I remember setting out for a 8 mile run one day until I was forced to stop 10 minutes in, feeling very light headed and broken.  I cried and walked home and realized that if I didn't change I would lose the ability to do what defined me.  Running was vital to who I was.  It empowered the shy little girl unlike anything else and I am lucky I woke up and realized the value of that. And in a role reversal, running saved me and allowed me to quell most of my body issues. I eventually earned a college scholarship and realized after winning the Div 1 New England championship that you don't get a medal for being the skinniest, you get a medal for working hard, getting strong, and having the most heart.

Eating lots. :)

It Was Never About Breaking The Tape

Although it was awesome to take the Win at Ironman Lake Placid. It has never been about that. I have so much respect for the endurance community and I love sharing the course with like minded athletes all fighting their own personal battles. The reward is the journey and hopefully through sports I can be the catalyst for someone to find the courage to go out there and be great.

The Human Connection and Sports

It's amazing how solid a friendship can become after bouts of training. Training side by side and sharing the pain and intense emotions of a session is an invaluable experience.  Conversations may be labored but they are sincere and honest.  Specifically biking and running in packs binds athletes together because everyone has a devotion to the group.  The pack mentality is of extreme loyalty. There is a quiet but extremely strong connection. The ups and downs of an endurance run or ride will expose you at your weakest. But that is why your friends are there to help pick you up, or feed you a GU or give you a hug.

So it is WAY more than just about endorphins. It's about the wonderful unexpected friendships...

My very FIRST homestay after I first turned pro. I consider Jim a GREAT friend.
 It's about the traditions.  You realize Danny ONLY races so he can guiltlessly gorge himself at the Pre-race breakfast buffet:

Pre Ironman breakfast buddy
 It's about suffering with a friend.  A friend who makes you laugh when all you want to do is throw up in your his bento box:
 It's about loving the chase and being chased. Thanks Bree!
 It's about motivating others to do what they never thought possible:
 It's about the thrill of winning and then realizing a second place has strengthened you more than you ever thought possible:
 It's about lovingly nudging your parents to go out and play and laugh like kids (and hope they don't disown you after the snowshoe sufferfest):

And the endorphins don't hurt. I mean look at these crazy fools below. You don't smile like that after sitting on the sofa!


Thursday, November 6, 2014

50 Tweets Til Christmas

You have heard of Christmas in July but Christmas in November?

Yesterday I started the 50 Tweets Til Christmas Challenge. Everyday from now until Christmas I will be tweeting and Facebooking either a training tip OR a special promo code for discounted gear or products from some my amazing sponsors.

I may even have a few days where there are free give-aways to lucky respondents of some trivia. Make sure to like my Facebook page and follow me on Twitter to make sure you stay up to date!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Snowshoe Race Series Schedule is Up!

Did you see it already snowed in Maine and Mass? New Hampshire is next and that means snowshoe season is almost upon us!

If you haven't raced before, this is the year to do it! I can't wait to do some snowshoeing:)

The list is up for the Granite State Snowshoe Series and while I won't be doing all of them(I am heading to Quebec for the winter triathlon and the World Snowshoe Championships), I do plan to do several. Join me!

January 10, 2015- Moose Mountain Runaround- Brookfield, NH

January 17, 2015- Whitaker Woods- North Conway, NH

January 25, 2015- Sidehiller – Center Sandwich, NH

January 31, 2015- Beaver Brook- Hollis, NH

February 7, 2015- Horsehill- Merrimack, NH

February 14, 2015- Kingman Farm Moonlight- Madbury, NH

February 21, 2015- Exeter Snowshoe Hullabaloo- Exeter, NH

March 1, 2015- Ski & Shoe to the Clouds- Gorham, NH

March 7, 2015- NH and Northeast Championships- Moultonborough, NH

Interested in snowshoeing but don't have a pair? Contact me and I can get you a promo code for a discounted pair of Dions!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Lessons From Kona

Before you starting reading I want you to get a piece of paper and pen and write down a goal that you have been thinking about for awhile but maybe haven't acted on yet. It can be a family related goal, work or sports related goal. Just make sure it is meaningful and something worth doing. Write it in BIG capital letters and set it beside your computer.

1. Sometimes the Struggle is the Reward. I arrived in Kona 16 days before the Ironman World Championships. I had plenty of time to acclimate, explore the area, train on the course, hug sea turtles and focus for a World Championship race. One afternoon I spent nearly 4.5 hours on my bike out on the Queen K. Reporting that it was hot and and windy would be the understatement of the year. There were plenty of moments where I thought I just might perish in the desolate lava fields.   The terrain is not lacking in beauty but very much lacking in population.  I had only the water and food I carried and could not rely on convenient stores to refuel. Toward the end of the ride I kept telling myself just 20 more minutes and you’re back home and can chug the sweet nectar of the Gods that is H20. Little did I know I had taken a wrong turn and found myself climbing into the mountains. Surprisingly, the higher I climbed the better I felt, the air got cooler, the lush Kona greens became plentiful and shaded me from the sun. I decided to go forward instead of back tracking and I found myself climbing the most beautiful switch back hill towards the Kona coffee farms.  My quads were burning, I was dehydrated from sun and lack of water, nearly going cross eyed, lost on an island and loving every minute of it.  This was most likely a bit of foreshadowing for the race. At times we must embrace the struggle especially when it leads us to this: 

2. We should all give a few more hugs each day (even if it risks exportation). After 10 days training in Kona I was missing my family and  friends and wanted a hug. I discovered an excellent snorkeling spot and each time I went I saw the lovable sea turtle.  I decided this cute little guy was my best option for a hug.  So I did. And promptly got bit by the turtle and yelled at by the life guard.  Apparently it's very illegal to hug turtles. Mahalo for not exporting me from the island.  

3. Taking risks leads to opportunity. The Kona island is very alive. You can feel the power, energy, and strength seep into your soul. All that you are, your weaknesses, your confidence, your self-doubts comes bubbling to the surface in this place.  Specifically, the race offers up a rough, open water ocean swim, 112 miles of fiery hot lava fields and a long, lonely run back through the lava fields. One of the most important things I've learned through racing pro is that if I want to be successful I need to take risks. And no matter the outcome, taking a risk and battling your fears is always worth it.  I had nothing to lose on this magical island - I was an underdog at best - and I was ready to go for it.  

To be on the start line with 38 of the fastest girls in the world was a gift.  The moments before the gun went off I looked around at the hundreds of spectators on the pier, the helicopters overhead and tried to savor every beautiful moment of being a contender in the biggest race my sport has to offer.  And then the gun went off and it was go time. The swim was decidedly choppy with a giant dose of swell.  I fought my way through that ocean remembering what Danny had told me that morning: Sharks attack swimmers that are 10 feet from the pack. Gulp! After a peaceful panicky swim that included inhaling copious amounts of salt water and fighting with every last muscle fiber to stay in the pack I entered T2 with a solid group of girls.   

     I jumped on my Argon E-118 complete with Rotor Q-rings and Enve Wheel Set. Each one of these sponsors did something special for me in Kona and my little red rocket of a bike made me smile big on race day.

  The 112 mile portion this year was absolutely brutal. I'm talking about wind that stops you in your tracks and then knocks you left and right for 5 hours.  Nevertheless, when a few of the best bikers in the world caught and passed me I went with them.  I ignored every rational thought to back off and let the magic of the island carry me along. I stole the opportunity to bike with girls I really look up to and I left with tremendous confidence that a top 10 finish in Kona is 100% possible barring a shark attack. It reinforced my strong belief that taking the risk is worth it.  

Look at that kit!!! Thanks Champion system!!

  4. Fear is whats stop us from chasing our dreams.   Fear is what stops us from being 100% motivated and passionate and it stops us from making crazy worthwhile goals. I was reminded of this many times in Kona.  Once while I stood on the edge of a 25 foot cliff trying to talk myself into jumping into the swell of the ocean.  My ten toes had crept over the edge of the ledge but the rest of me was frozen in space.  After about an hour of self talk - I did it. It was the first step that was hardest. I quickly climbed the cliff and repeated the jump over and over. Believe that you will not fail and there is nothing to fear.  

5. Smile! You never know who is looking up to you.  It's no secret that I do smile a lot when I'm racing. Sometimes I smile because I want to say Thank You for cheering but I don't have enough wind to get the words out. Sometimes I smile because I am thoroughly enjoying the sufferfest that I am inflicting on myself. Sometimes I smile because I'm having the race of my life. But most often I am not consciously smiling. I think the Amber-smile comes out because I genuinely love what I do. I love to hurt and suffer and chase and be chased. I love breaking barries and setting the bar high. I also love being a good role model and setting an example of what a little talent and a super-sized amount of hard work can lead to. I encourage you to smile through the pain next race if nothing else but to give the ones looking up to you the confidence that anything is possible.


      Now if you are still reading....MAHALO! I want you to pick up your pen and re-write your original goal but make it crazier and harder to achieve. So if you wrote something like, I want to run a 5K - I want you to cross it out and say I want to run a marathon. Circle this goal and stick it to your refrigerator and GO FOR IT.

Don't make goals that you are 100% certain you can accomplish - what's the point? Dream big and go chase your dream goals.  Make goals that scare you and challenge you and allow you to explore new oceans, and make new friends.  Aim for way outside your comfort level and remember to smile and give thanks. What is the worst thing that will happen if you don't achieve that giant goal?  I can tell you at times it won't be easy and you will probably second guess your decision. I can also tell you that you'll most likely smile and cry and sweat and belly laugh.  But if you continue to work hard new doors will open, you'll learn new lessons, and learn to love and appreciate all that this world has to offer.

There is no secret I have the best team.  I am already chomping at the bit to get another chance on the big island and I believe that the best is yet to come! Huge Mahalo to: Maverick Multisport and of course the big boss, Kurt Perham. And to Danny Ferreira: To many more crazy adventures that leave your hair looking like this:

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Kona-Non Triathlon Related Pictures

Hello Everyone! I will be shortly posting a blog about my race but first wanted to post some pictures of Kona that aren't triathlon related. Besides the amazing race that is held there every year, Kona is such a beautiful place and it was hard to leave! I will be back:)
Amber Ferreira-Pro Triathlete's photo.Amber Ferreira-Pro Triathlete's photo.
Amber Ferreira-Pro Triathlete's photo.

Amber Ferreira-Pro Triathlete's photo.

Amber Ferreira-Pro Triathlete's photo.

Amber Ferreira-Pro Triathlete's photo.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

And I'm Off!

I head out this Friday for Kona! Thank you so much to all my sponsors, family and friends who have helped support me and made it possible for me to get out there early. I am so grateful for all your love and support and cannot wait to make you proud:)

I will post pictures of sea-turtles as I do my training swims:)

Monday, August 25, 2014


How awesome is Julien Heon Photography?

Before I go on and give the gritty details on my Mont Tremblant Ironman adventure 3 shorts weeks after my first Ironman win, let me just say: I'm going to KONA baby!! It has honestly been a 4 year process chock full of sweat, tears, smiles and sacrifice. I smelled a worthwhile struggle when I first started Ironman and boy am I happy I took on the challenge. Because in all honesty, "Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: "WOW! What a Ride!"

Ironman Mont Tremblant was a race to remember and I will never forget my AWESOME homestay in Tannis and Kenny Hall ( They served me the most delectable food and took me by boat to the START of the Ironman!) Hopefully I get to see these 2 wonderful people for 70.3 World Champs in 2 weeks.

"When you come out of the storm you wont be the same person that walked in. That is what the storm is all about." 

And that storm was Ironman Mont Tremblant.  Someone up above wanted me to suffer that day and suffer I did. I had put a TREMENDOUS amount of pressure on myself to qualify for Kona as a pro. So much so that I really did not even let myself fully enjoy the Ironman Lake Placid win. After Placid I smiled when people congratulated me but really I was hyper-focused on having a solid day in Canada.  The 3 weeks between Placid and Mont Tremblant were hard. I was feeling tired, sore and nervous. There were some bike rides where I was on the verge of crying because I was not sure if my very sore foot would hold up. And the worst case scenerio was if I got injured racing this risky double.  

Here is an interview before the race. Interview. I sound happy and giggly but really I am shaking in my boots.

Race day came VERY quickly. I had the wonderful opportunity to sit on the pro panel,  interview with Ironman and Kevin McMahon and participate in a photo shoot with the super talented Julien Heon

Photo Credit: Julien Heon

I woke on race morning to 50 degree temperatures, a sore/questionably stress fractured foot and LADY CRAMPS. Whoa baby! If that's not a triple threat I don't know what it. Regardless though, I really have a hard time feeling sorry for myself. I enjoy the pain, I like to suffer, I LOVE to swim bike run.

Holy lats! This is why I swim OK and also look terrible in dresses.

This is the break down of the start. 1) Gun goes off 2.) I start swimming INSTANTLY 3) Tine Deckers (who is approximately 3 feet taller than me proceeds to walk through the water for the next 1/2 mile) 4.) DOH!

Leading out of the water. Thank you TYR!

In short, the swim was exciting because, well, I was leading it. I love chasing things. And for 57 minutes I got to chase the stand up paddle boarder.  However, post race Tine Decker informed me (with a Belgian accent) that she was 100% sure I am the biggest wiggle worm of a swimmer she has ever met. I am sorry to Tine and Sara Gross. I know the swim is 2.4 miles but it is quite possible I led you on a 3 mile adventure.  

Ouch. Leg cramps, lady cramps, and shoulder cramps, If my eyeballs could cramp, they would have.

In short, the bike was the most grueling mentally challenging ride of my life.  I saw my VERY AWESOME coach a billion times throughout the ride. Every time he say me he would yell: "EAT and DRINK!"
What made matters worse is I couldn't eat very well due to said lady cramps and my quads were on FIRE. I actually looked down at my watch 90 minute into the bike portion and my body felt like it does after 6 hours of riding. On top of that, I had trouble reaching for gels in my back pocket because my shoulders would cramp.

I had also moved into the lead at the 3 hour mark and this was NOT something I was expecting. After Ironman Lake Placid I learned that being chased is quite possible the scariest part of racing and it actually takes quite a bit of mental fortitude. You have to be ON YOUR GAME and stay on top of that positive talk or it's game-over in the blink of an eye.   

Running VERY scared from Sara Gross.
The run was the storm. I went between nearly crying because my foot hurt and then the next moment wanting so desperately bad to keep the lead. I wanted to win for my Coach (Kurt Perham) and for my partner in crime: Danny. I knew Danny was cheering me on even from afar.  I wanted to win for my great friend Ryan who was out on course cheering like a mad man. I wanted to win so badly for everyone that wanted it for me. I knew I only needed top 5 to secure a Kona slot but leading an Ironman makes you want to hurt yourself and dig deep and experience those intense emotions so you can break that tape at the finish. It makes you HUNGRY to accept the pain.

Chasing my lead biker. She was AWESOME by the way. Totally made my day.

At mile 130 (20 miles into the marathon) Sara passed me. I tried to hang on with every fiber of my being but it was a losing battle. She was the strongest girl on that day. I crossed the line 100% depleted.

 Finish interview: 2nd at IM Mont Tremblant

Huge congrats to Sara Gross. She pushed me so far into the pain cave and for that I OWE HER.
And then you know what I thought??  KONA BABY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Time to hug some sea turtles and race the best girls in the world at the Ironman World Championships come October....