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mental training




My second key to surviving an endurance ride? SING OUT LOUD. I often tell my athletes they’re body tells them what to do on a long ride: If you’re cranky - eat a calorie. If you’re woozy - drink electrolytes. If you’re happy - sing out loud.

HERE are my notes from the ride five years ago:


Somewhere in the crowd of the first 20 miles, I heard Jen say that she was going to sing for every church she passed. It was a Sunday, after all. And, although she announced this to some roadie in the pack, I figured eventually I'd join along.

Sure enough, I played the game.  We passed a zillion churches. I already have a love for little country churches and their marquee signs but adding songs to each one (some based on their marquees) was an entirely new venture. We sang camp songs. We sang old-school Christian “rock” songs. We sang senior youth club songs:

Thy Word

Wondeful Matchless Grace of Jesus

.I Love You Lord.

Rejoice in the Lord Always, Again I say Rejoice

We even sang

Bohemian Rhapsody

(Inspired by a Mother's Day sign. Plus, it mentions Beelzebub.) 

Little did we know:





In All Four Counties. Were at the top. Of. A. Hill. It gave depth of meaning to the song We Are (a City on Hill) by Kari Jobe (see video below). By the time we reached the church at the crest, we were too winded to sing. It was NOT a joyful noise.  Plus, some of the hills were so long that by the time we hit the top, we had forgotten what song we had picked to sing! I was disappointed that when we reached a Presbyterian church a the top of a hill and could not remember the words to the


!! The song that I had sung nearly every Sunday for 18 years (that over 850 times) was lost at the top of that hill. 

I found my breath and the lyrics about a mile later and when I did, I sang them like I meant them. Full of gratitude for the blessings all around me. I imagined the angels singing with me, drowning out my off-key tune. I was suddenly focused on being grateful and forgot about the next hill and the one after than and the head wind and being hungry and cutting the ride short and getting sunburned and.......that's how I survived the last 23 miles.   

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;

Praise Him, all creatures here below;

Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.







It's been a long time since you've had a set back, said a friend about a month before my hamstring quit playing. Sigh. I think she jinxed me and now I want to set her back. [You know who you are.]

It's true though. I've been lucky. The last time I had an injury was 2014. I broke my calf. Well, It felt like that anyway. Way back then, while warming up for a 5k, I started my skips and bounds and then BOOM. You know that sound of the bass drop when the space ship jumps to hyperspace? Yeah. I heard that. I thought I'd been shot. And I nearly dropped to the ground. It made me nauseaus and woozy. I hobbled into the expo of the race and found some ice for my calf and a glass of wine for my feelings and cried while all my friends finished their race. The next morning,  I remember lying on the floor of our sunroom and crying to Ace; whining that I couldn't run and that it hurt to sleep and I'd never be able to race again and and blah blah freaking blah.

This hamstring injury was not as dramatic as that.  But, I AM. And I'd knew I'd have a come-apart at some point. I haven't had as many tears, but I did have a mini-freak-out about two weeks in. There is a fear that snuck in and said - it's over. Discouragement took over. It said: you'll never get it back. Shame played its part: how could you let this happen?  Pity had a party: everyone else is running, why can't I? and But, I don't want to be injured.

I knew what to do: I called my coach/mentor/friend to talk me off the ledge. The next day at swim practice she brought me a goodie bag. It was filled with lotions and potions and her Compex and a note that read: you are a ROCKSTAR. It made me smile and I stepped away from the Cliffs of Insanity. 

I decided to see this as a TIME-OUT. In basketball (#goheels), time-outs are called for various reasons: to stop the momentum of the other team, to change up your game strategy, to draw up a specific play, fire up the team or rest your players. I'm resting this player.

GIVE GRACE: It's one of the 4Gs. In the middle of this GRUEL (another G), I am giving myself a little GRACE. A little forgiveness. A little time. A little love. Whenever there's a run in my plan, I've given myself the gift of a massage, or a PT session, or a freakin' nap! Give it to yourself and your aching body. Don't rush the process.  Give yourself the time to heal. Rest.

DRAW UP A SPECIFIC PLAY:  Make a plan to get back into the game. Make it as specific as you can. I often tell my athletes that my advice for coming back from an injury is the same that a doctor would give to an addict leaving rehab and fearing relapse: YOU CANNOT GO BACK TO THE SAME DOSE YOU HAD WHEN YOU STOPPED. So create a plan - or hire a coach to help you create a plan - that eases you back into your normal training load. Otherwise, you will overdose.

FIRE IT UP/LOOK FORWARD: Get excited. I have had to drop three races off my schedule this spring. Instead of wondering what could have been, I've had to shift to thinking about what IS on my schedule. I've gotten to make new goals.  I've fired up my YouTube browser to find inspirational videos. Use this time to imagine what it will be like to come back from the setback. How will this add to your story?

LOOK BACK: Reflect on your successes from the past few months. Enjoy your victories from last year! And, you can always go back to your one word. Go back to the word you chose for this year and ask a million questions, starting with: how can I see this as............? [Gratitude? Resolve? Honor? Posture? FillintheBlankWithYourWord].  My one word for 2018 is FULL-CIRCLE. So, my question is: How can I see this as FULL-CIRCLE? The answer: One of the reasons I got into triathlon is because I got injured running! I was bored and had a now-forgotten injury (bursitis in my hip?). I knew that swimming and biking would make me a well-rounded athlete and was great cross-training. Plus, it felt just like being a kid again! How's that for FULL-CIRCLE?!

Plus, the year I had my calf strain, when I didn't run for six weeks and wore a boot at night and acting like a whiny-wort was the year that I had my best Ironman (by an hour) and placed third in my age-group. #thebestisyettocome

Whether you're injured or stuck, you can use these four tools to set yourself up for the next right step. How do you set yourself up for your comeback?



Kona Bound


Kona Bound

Let me introduce you to Sami Winter. Nearly five years ago, I met Sami through the YDUBTRICLUB. She was our cycling coach that year and was a hero even then. She was a four-time IRONMAN triathlete - before I even understood what that meant - a Boston Marathon finisher, a Tar Heel grad - and she rode a custom Carolina Blue Guru tri bike. Oh, and she can dance! I even wrote a blog article  about her (almost five years ago to the day).

She is still a hero to me and I consider it a blessing to call her friend. I want to be her when I grow up! This past year, I've had the joy to get to know her better. Here is what I learned from her:


I was there when she competed in her 12th Ironman - her attitude when they cancelled the swim was remarkable. She adapted to the news and was able to encourage and motivate a room full of naked athletes. Her quote: It's still gonna be a good day. Check her out at 3:13:

I watched her qualify for Kona at Florida. She was technically going to qualify through the legacy lottery at this, her 12th race. Her name was supposed to go into a hat for a chance (a very good chance) to go to Kona for the World Championships. This was going to be a celebration no matter what. A celebration of endurance. She was the first coach to teach me about "steady state" on the bike and 12 IronMan races proves endurance and a steady state.

But something amazing happened on the way to Kona. She placed third in her age group at Florida. She finished on the podium received a Kona qualifying spot. When they called her name, we yelled,  KONA! KONA! KONA! from the grand stand.  Eff instant gratification. Delayed gratification - especially when it means you're going to the Olympics of your sport - is as sweet as a gold medal.

We went to a coaching conference together and met Andy Potts (road trip!). I learned a ton from Christian Van de Velde and Mr. Potts and Data from Training Peaks (I love you, Andy Coggan). But, I learned just as much in the car on the way there and back.  Plus, I learned what it means to be hard core.  She and Brian brought bikes and trainers and did a workout for the Tour de Sufferlandria, a nine day cycle challenge. She didn't miss a day (that's hard core). I watched and did pilates on the hotel room floor as they killed it on the bike at 5:30am. [I was also reminded to dream big dreams - and that led to my next adventure: Ironman France.]

She let me in on an amazing swim clinic with Olympian Sheila Taormina. I learned (from Sami) how to communicate, organize and make others feel important.

I drafted (briefly) off of her and her posse on a killer bike ride this spring and learned how to go harder than I thought I could. She helped me through a difficult run through Hugh Macrae park and I learned the power of distraction - she kept me talking and our fast miles flew by. Less than a month ago, we endured a 4500-yard swim (2.5 miles) from Sheila Taormina- a celebration of our birthdays and an amazing benchmark that launched her into her Kona taper. She reminisced at the end of practice of breast-stroking her first half iron seven years ago. She's come so far! I learned that practice is the effort that makes winning possible.




They don't call her Yoda for nuthin'.

Judge me by my size, do you?

Judge me by my size, do you?

On Saturday, Sami races the World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. As she faces one of the toughest challenges,  my blessing/prayer for her will be:

May He cover you with his feathers and under His wings may you find refuge. His faithfulness will be your shield and protection. Psalm 91:4
In your majesty, ride out to victory, defending truth, humility, and justice. Go forth to perform awe-inspiring deeds! Psalm 45:4



Adapt and Overcome

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Adapt and Overcome

I am so proud of my friend Ty. Last weekend he headed to Cambridge, Maryland for IRONMAN MARYLAND. He's been training for months for his A-Race and just last week we had a send-off party for him. On Wednesday, he loaded up his amazing wife, Lissi, and their two girls to travel nearly eight hours to the race.

On the Road. Stolen Selfies from Ty's Facebook Page

On the Road. Stolen Selfies from Ty's Facebook Page

I don't know if you know this, but the past week has been crazy - weather-wise - in the south and along the Atlantic. Record-breaking rain on top of high tides and wind from a low pressure system over South Carolina and the threat of Hurricane Joaquin created a perfect flood. When the weather goes crazy, triathletes go crazy. Even if you're not the one racing, you may become obsessed with Jim Cantore's location (never a good sign for him to show up in your neighborhood) or Al Roker's predictions. You also may become obsessed with the race website or facebook page. Will they cancel the swim? Will they cut it short?

IRONMAN's slogan is ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE. I've learned that in any triathlon - ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN. Several hours into their trip, the Rabons got the news that MDOT had cancelled the whole race. I think it was a great decision - safety personnel were going to be needed for something more than a race.

Ty at IMFLA 2014

Ty at IMFLA 2014

Now, let me add that this race was a redemption race for Ty. He raced his FIRST iron distance last November at IMFLA. As we were standing on the beach for the swim start, officials announced they were cancelling the swim! They would switch to a bike/run format. Again, probably the right call. Our swimmers from Wilmington were strong and probably would have weathered the waves and rough seas, but safety personnel couldn't stay in place and kept drifting into the area that would have contained 3000 athletes. In order to get in a full full, Ty signed up for Maryland.

When THAT cancelled, there must have been frustration, tears, cussing (?), anger,  surprise, disappointment, sadness, hurt. It's the ultimate C'MON, MAN. He'd felt it all before a year earlier.  Ty knows how to adapt and overcome. Here's what that looks like (from my perspective):

  • He had a plan B. He had met with his coach, his close friends and family before they left and discussed the multitude of possibilities. He had people in place to help him sign up for Beach2Battleship, right here in Wilmington. Home field advantage. Plan for the worst, hope for the best.
  • He compromised with resolve. He could have taken the rain date that IM tentatively offered or probably deferred to next year's race. He could have said, to hell with this! He did not give up. Instead, he chose another 140.6. He resolved not to let the situation get the best of him.

My favorite thing is that his two daughters got to see this. How amazing that they can watch their father's example on how to adapt and overcome. How to turn lemons into lemonade. How to make the best out of a bad situation.  And how much WE can learn from him, too. 

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