Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Check back next year

While I'm gone, remember this. Whether you are just starting out getting fit or you've been at this a long time, we all experience the same pain.

Stay motivated, my friends.

The song in this ad is "Every little bit" by Aretha

Everyone gets the sunset, but not everyone earns the sunrise.

For those of you heading to Ironman.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Relationship Status: It's complicated.

I've learned a lot about running this year.

The best part is that Coach has figured out what works for me. I've always thought that an athlete needs to spend a certain amount of time with a Coach in order to figure out if that methodology is going to work.

For me, that time is a year. You can't tell in 3 months or 6 months or even 9 months if an approach is going to work.  You have to go through one complete season.

Running is so much more complicated than I ever gave it credit.  It's not difficult, necessarily. It's complicated.

You can do speed work. You can log hundreds of miles. Of course, that makes you a runner, but it doesn't make you a "good runner".

My running (specifically recently) has improved by leaps and bounds.

This year, I did a lot of reading (articles on running). I watched a few athletes that I consider to be very good at the whole running thing. I listened to a couple of people....some....complete strangers.

I noticed there was a trend to what people were telling me.

Then, I had the most horrifying experience of watching a video of me finishing a race.

I took all this information, and I started really paying attention to Liz's workouts.  Liz always tells us why workouts are important, and what it will teach us.

I took those lessons to an even deeper level.

Here's what I've learned about myself.

1.) When I got my bike in April, one of the things that bike fit dude told me was that my left leg is longer. Now this is totally normal, but all of a sudden....it struck me that I was running differently on the two sides of my body. On my left side, I was dragging my left leg. It was almost scooting along the ground.

I passed along the feedback to Liz, who promptly gave me brand spanking new drills to address this issue.

For months, I had to focus on picking up my left leg. The weirdest thing was how weak I was. I was constantly having to work out this sore spot in my left hamstring because it wasn't used to be worked like that.

2.) Overstriding/Heel striking. There's a lot of debate about this issue. Believe what you want. Logic eventually won me over on this issue. I didn't care about articles telling me that heel striking is wrong. I didn't need to be lectured. I needed to figure out on my own, WHY this would be practice that I'd want to get out of.

I watched videos. Not "how to run" videos. I watched regular videos of people running at races...home videos, news coverage.....and I looked closely at runners' feet.

I started counting points of pressure. Heel, midfoot, front foot. That could be 3 seconds of contact with the ground.

I counted midfoot landings. There was really only one point of contact: mid foot then push off.

Three seconds, per leg, per step? That sounded like an awful lot of time. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to realize that the longer your foot touches the ground, the slower you go. (It's the same concept as overgliding in swimming).

This is NOT easy to change. I had to slightly shorten my stride. It was so slight of a change, but required so much effort!

It required a lot of lower body strength because I'm changing my stride. Whether it's habit or my natural running form, it has taken a lot of work on my part.

3.) Cadence: Hand in hand with shortening my stride (slightly) was cadence. When I shortened my stride, I noticed my cadence picked up. That's good. It's exactly like riding a bike. However, I quickly learned that at a higher cadence, I only had two speeds FAST and ALL OUT.

It took me months to learn how to have a higher cadence even while running at an easier pace.

A few things that we did to address this:

        a.) Very fast cadence work on the bike. Get off the bike and go run immediately. The high cadence work stayed ingrained in my brain. It transferred over to the run.

        b.) Treadmill/Outside running. Earlier on, there were a few sessions that Liz specifically wanted me to do on the treadmill. They were very fast, high cadence. The first few times, I thought I was going to fly right off the back of the treadmill.

I didn't take long for me to realize that a 7:40 pace feels very different with a faster cadence than that old 3 points of contact running that I had been doing. (For the record, I can now do these at sub 7 pace).

After awhile, I realize that the treadmill completely took out the opportunity for me to heel strike. It also ingrained how FAST certain paces felt. When I went took the exact same workout outside, I knew how a pace was supposed to feel. Then, I learned how hard an effort felt.

4.) HOW to Run Hills: This was one of those times where the light just came on, and I thought, "Why am I doing it that way?"

There have been many many articles and videos about how to climb a hill on the bike. The concept is that effort should remain the same but speed will drop.  On the downhill, effort remains the same but speed increases.  That's how I've always ridden.

But I was doing the exact opposite on the run. WHAT?! Most recent research shows that runners who maintain a consist effort (allowing their pace to drop on uphills) run the fastest!

Well, I'll be damned. Here, I was relaxing on downhills and really pushing the uphills.

5.) Arm swing: There's no better way to turn your legs over faster than moving your arms fast.
At every race, I hear people yelling at me "MOVE YOUR ARMS". I never understood the connection. I felt like I was moving my arms.


All of this requires incredible strength. Liz and I have been hitting strength training hard. I am do a lot of core work. I do a ton of leg work.

For the first time ever, I understand how important all of these pieces are and how they work together.

I always thought running was just about moving your legs faster or slower.

I had no idea how hard it was to learn how to run efficiently.

For many years, I thought those fast women runners had a secret.

Now I know I was right. They did have a secret. They knew how to run.

Gettin' my Edjumacation on

For a long time, I said.

Great coaching + great athlete = great results

I need to amend that little formula to:

Great coaching + focused athlete + great nutrition = the BEST results

I have had a great week of training, from finally nailing the butterfly kick (seriously, my coach did his happy dance and then proceeded to yell out "YOU FINALLY GOT IT!")

Before then it was always kind of like, "You want my body to do WHAT? again?"  One day last week, I got to officially meet the new coach who will be rotating with Coach Andrew, and he spent time with me after masters.....and it finally clicked.

Now if I could just get my arms to work.

Yes. I know. I'm not training for any swimming events. AND CERTAINLY not for anything that would require me to swim fly competitively....or even moderately fast, which will ONLY happen which the largest pair of fins imaginable. I don't think that goes against any rules, right?

What I have actually spent my time on is, of course, running & nutrition.

Let's start with nutrition.

I had no idea how many people read my blog until I posted about my nutrition update and how amazing it has been. It has not been overnight, but in 4 weeks.....you wouldn't believe the changes: physical changes, speed gains, overall health....I'm blown away.

Many people contacted me. As much as I can give "general details" of my program, most people are understanding to the fact that I pay for this help. I'm not comfortable giving out the details of my nutrition plan. I don't post the details of my training. I'm certainly not going to post the details about my nutrition.

By the way, I'm down 8lbs and several inches (if you're keeping track).

If you are interested in what I'm doing, drop Dina an email. If you want any help with your nutrition, you don't have to be an athlete. Mr. Tea is following a general plan based on what she has me doing, and he's lost 18lbs in 4 weeks.

However, there is one thing I really want to share with you. I have an extremely busy schedule. Mr. Tea has always made lunches for me that I can pop in the microwave. Recently that hasn't been possible.  I went on a search for ready to eat healthy meals.

There have been a ton of new companies that have started just in the past year.

I've tried just about all of them.

I recently found Fuel Food. The first thing I did was talk to Dina about the program. She got back to me a few days later and said, "This is the best food program I've ever seen." That's from my nutritionist.

That sealed the deal for me. I ordered 10 meals. (That's the minimum required.)

A little bit of background on the guy who started the company: he has been a competitive athlete and coach for professional boxers. He started a personal training company which visited pro-athletes & even celebrities. He found that many of them struggled with what to eat and when. SO, he started making them meals and would deliver them to his clients.

Voila....a business is formed.

Take it from me. I have TRIED ALL the plans out there. This is hands down the best.

Here's why:

1.) The food is the BEST tasting food around. It's all organic, grass fed, range free, etc. The food itself is delicious. I have not had ONE meal that I didn't love.  They are the ONLY company to issue a credit if you do not like a meal. It's pretty much risk free to try. This is the only place to offer fully customizable menus. You can choose from 60 meals per week. 

Speaking of which, if you use my link, you will get 5 meals free. And, I get 5 meals too. :) So, there's that. 

2.) They are the only website to offer: Paleo, extreme competition/weight loss, balanced nutrition, treat meals & snacks.

3.) You can choose ANY meals and any number of meals. Other programs require a certain number of breakfast, lunch & dinners. Other sites will send a "pre packaged" meal set. If they send you their pack, and it contains fish, but you don't eat fish....well, you're out of luck...you're getting fish.

4.) Have I already said that the meals are delicious? They are super quick. 1:00 to 1:15 in the microwave, and you're good to go. You can also heat them up in the oven. But, if you're like me...

5.) No other website offers the diet specific plans for specific needs such as paleo, balanced nutrition, etc. When you visit the site, you'll see (very clearly) the differences in meals. 

6.) If you need nutritional help, they will put a plan together for you. Obviously, I'm working with a nutritionist. I can't speak to the help they offer, but it's a nice touch. Simply offering that to their customers is a huge help. You don't have to order foods blindly. Dina told me which menus to choose from.

The Cons:
1.) This is a pre-made, healthy, meal delivery service. Like all plans, it's not cheap. The lowest plan runs $9.50 per meal. You also have to pay for shipping. However, you can sign up for more meals which drops the cost quite a bit.  Other websites include shipping or offer free shipping, but FuelFood is hands down my favorite.

2.) International friends (particularly Canada and Mexico), sadly, they don't ship there. But, if you're interested, you might be able to contact them to find out if they have an option.

Because of my nutrition, my training has gone to whole new levels. I feel great for every single work out.  I'm starting to see muscles that I haven't seen in awhile. I'm so excited to start racing to see where I am.  In fact, I have a 5k in Oct.

I'm doing so much behind the scenes. I feel like I'm learning how to run from the feet up. It's one thing to tell someone to run faster. It's completely different to teach them how to run fast.

For the past 2 years (in particular), I learned how to race the oly. I will never say that I excelled at the oly because I didn't. But I learned a lot.

Recently, I've found that working on the oly and sprint for the past few years was the best thing I could have done to get me ready for longer distances.

I'm going to be so ready for my 70.3's next year. SO. Ready.

I have a great coach. I'm completely focused. My nutrition/fueling is on target. I'm setting myself up for the my best year yet.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

OSF is Back

What is OSF?

Yes....YOU long time reader in the back. WHAT is OSF?

Long time reader in the back: I know this one! It's Operation Super Fit!

YES! Operation Super Fit is BACK.

OSF is my off season goal. Super fit can be whatever YOU want it to be. It can be run fitness. It can be getting leaner, getting stronger. Whatever you want it to be.

Usually, I start OSF right after the holiday season. Since my tri season ended MUCH earlier than it normally does, I thought, "why not now?"  I'm strength training 3x per week. I'm working with a nutritionist. I'm running, a lot.

My goal for OSF is to become a more efficient runner. OSF will end in Jan. I'm also hoping to hit my race weight at that time.

I can tell you this: Three weeks in, and things are looking good!

This is the first year that I'm 100% in with OSF. In the past, I've done it half assed. Not this year!

I have some races coming up. I'm not expecting magic, but I am hoping to see a little bit of improvement from race to race (as long as conditions allow).

Wanna join me?

Monday, September 14, 2015

The want, the drive & the why

A few years back, I was picking up my race packet for an olympic distance race. At the same time and location, there was packet pick up for the Harvest Moon 70.3.  To this day, I remember seeing those athletes picking up their packets and getting a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.

I knew I wasn't ready to go back to that distance.

Over the weekend, I was riding part of the same course. When I passed the run signs, I became really excited about next season.

I am ready.

Being "ready" means something different for everyone.

What it does not mean (for me), and has NEVER meant, is thinking that I'm NOT capable of doing a 70.3.  What it has always meant is the really important things in my life are at a point where I can train happily. I'm not talking about waiting for the perfect moment. Training for the 70.3 is tough. It's like having a baby. There's never a perfect time. But, I knew that there are times that are better than others. I want to make sure that my work life, my personal life could handle the stress. In addition to that, I wanted to make sure that my head was also in the right place.

For so many years, you have heard me say, "I don't want to do it. I'm not ready for it."

I knew when those things came together, I would want to race it again, and I'd be ready for it.

Recently, I have learned how much I want to do this.

I've looked at myself honestly. I've looked at where I need to change my attitude. I know where I need to take training more seriously.

Most importantly, I looked at my nutrition, fueling & weight. Where I want to be and where I am aren't the same places. I know I have to drop weight to get there. I'm holding myself back, particularly, on the run for the simple fact of carrying around extra body fat.

I think I'm more driven, right now, going into next year than I have ever been.  Every single run I treat as the most important work out of the week. I look at every meal and snack and think about the choices I'm making and how it will help me get where I want to be.

You'll always read bloggers that talk about their "why". Why they do what they do. Why they are going long. You have to know your why. You have to believe and trust your why because it will be called into question when you least expect it. You need to be ready to answer.

What's my why?

Because I'm ready. Because I want it.

Thursday, September 10, 2015


Apparently, I owe you post. Probably more so after my FB post the other day.

I know. It's been awhile. I've started and stopped several posts over the past few weeks. I'm all inspired. I start a post. I get interrupted. I go back to it later in the day....and

and so, I don't finish it.

There is a lot going on, a whole lot. Fortunately, I think we're through the worst of it. We have some really great things on the horizon. As Mr. Tea profoundly said yesterday, "We just need some time to decompress. We need a few months of just being able to be".

Decompress. Yes. That.

This post isn't meant to be a drama filled post. It's more or less to 'splain why I've been missing.

We have a really exciting change coming to our lives, hopefully very soon. (GOOD GOD NO. I'm not pregnant.)

I would tell you ALL about the good news, right now. But if the last 6 months have taught me anything it's never trust a fart, and everything changes constantly....I'm not to the point where I can trust good news. I'm sure you have BTDT.

Hold on tight. It will be forthcoming. Of course, it's going to be a pretty big let down to YOU, but to me....it's everything.

What's been going on?

Wow. It's really hard to go back and think about it all.

Work has been fantastic. There is so much I could say about it. Every day I think about how fortunate we are. We are able to share that with employees.

Training goes on at a much lighter volume, which is really nice. I have people always trying to convince me to do more races, but if you know me at all....I do what I want not what other people want me to do. I have a long long history with running. I'm doing swims/bikes a couple of times a week, but mostly, I'm running.....and I really really like it. (And strength training!)

Nutrition is going well, but I already posted about that on FB.

I can tell you one thing.

I had to cut someone out of my life. The decision was very difficult. Once I made the decision, I felt really good, like it was the right move.

The sad part is that I had to do it because (although we had been friends for a long time), I couldn't deal with their angry, hateful comments anymore. (These comments were not directed at me). You're probably wondering why I was friends for so long.....sometimes.....it's really hard to make that decision on someone you've known a very long time.

What makes it even harder is that they don't understand how hateful and angry they are. Everyone else can see it, but they can't. They think they're being funny. This person once told me, "I don't make friends easily." Well, it's because you treat people like shit. You don't have to act that way.  Being nice isn't a weakness.

That person is gone now. I thought I was going to feel empty, but I just felt free.

That's where I stand. A lot has happened, and some of it I just plain don't want to go through again.

But being active helped me get through every thing, somewhat sane.

Now it's time to focus on the really great stuff (fingers crossed) that is right around the corner.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Reach for something more

Something great happened.

I have been trying to figure out my race schedule for next year. I'm just trying to figure out my A races. You'd think it would be pretty easy. I had some potential races on my schedule.

I threw the list away. I made my decision on my first 70.3 of 2016. I've read race reports. I've gotten feedback from friends. I made my decision. I didn't hesitate. I signed up.

Everyone knows what a big step this is for me. For the past 4 years, every thing was comfortable for me. I knew about how many hours I'd be training. I knew how I'd feel during a race.

Yet here I was. I'm on my way to becoming an Ironman. Even though I've done 70.3's before, signing up for this one felt sort of monumental.

This will be my first Ironman branded 70.3. Registering felt like I was really committing. I signed up and posted the race on Facebook.

I was overwhelmed by the number of people who were really excited for me. As triathletes, we do so much alone. Sometimes it can feel like we're in a bubble.

When I told Liz my decision, she simply said, "I will have you ready."

I had people saying they wanted to ride together.

After masters, my swim coach came over to talk to me about Nationals. He asked me "What now?" I told him about stepping up in distance. He said, "You're going to kill the swim. I'm going to make sure of it."

Then my phone rang. It was Dina. I could tell how excited she was. She said, "You are doing this perfectly, taking the time now to get your daily nutrition where it needs to be. As your training volume increases, we'll talk through the adjustments. By the time your race comes around, you'll be ready."

All of a sudden, I didn't feel like I was in a bubble anymore. I feel like I have an incredible group of people around me.

I've had people come into and out of my life. I've had training partners and racing partners.

But, I don't think I've ever had this much support. I don't think I've ever felt like I have my "crew". Not like this.

I feel like I can accomplish anything.

Come on. You HAD to know I was going to post it.