TRI SHERPA

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TRI SHERPA

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my tri Sherpa. He has mastered the art of getting around on the course to see me everywhere he can. He’ll station himself at the planned spots on the course so I’ll know to look forward to seeing him, but sometimes he’ll pop out of nowhere and surprise me somewhere on the bike or run. [He’s yet to do it on the swim but I wouldn’t put it past him.]

He’s also mastered my EIGHT TIPS for being the best IRON TRI SHERPA. [He’s the inspiration for almost all of them!]

He’s READY - prepped, planned and prepared - he brings everything he needs for a long race day. It’s almost like he preps his own special needs bag (which looks a lot like a collapsible cooler). It includes maps of the courses, my predicted times, sunscreen, magazines for the in-betweens, cameras, and lots of rechargeable batteries.

He’s FLEXIBLE - he knows the IRONMAN motto that Anything is Possible can also mean Anything Can Happen. So he’ll create alternate routes and knows to be patient when my predicted times are not lining up with my actual times.

He SHOWS UP, not only on race day, but in the lead-in days when I need to vent my taper craziness or when I cry in my goggles. He also always wears something noticeable. He’s won’t wear a costume like my friend Erica, but he normally wears a bright color so I can pick him out of a crowd.

Did you know that smiling at this Lizard could save you seconds on your Ironman time?

Did you know that smiling at this Lizard could save you seconds on your Ironman time?


My two favorite tips are ADD A SURPRISE and WRITE IT OUT. A few years ago, one of my athletes did her first 140.6 at IRONMAN LOUISVILLE. She went out to run an tri errand or attend the athlete briefing and when she returned, her husband had done this to the wall in their hotel room:

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Over 100 Post-It notes with quotes and mantras and words to inspire. They were written by friends and family or were quotes she used (or said) in training. What a surprise! Two tips in one!

Along the same lines - chalk drawings or posters. Get crazy. My friends have created signs out of rafts and chalked up miles of sidewalk with silly sayings - not just for me but all the other participants, too!

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TO FIND out my last three tips to be the best trifan, get your copy of my IMNC 70.3 SHERPA GUIDE. It’s printable and pretty. Fill in the form below and it’ll land in your mailbox shortly. It also contains great places to eat and stay when you come to town.

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SHERPA GUIDE

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SHERPA GUIDE

I have the best iron sherpa. I realize I am extremely lucky that hubby is so supportive of my training and racing and goals and ideas. From the beginning, he has loved to come to races. He has mastered the art of cheering and taking pictures at the same time. He’s mastered the art of getting me from hell-no-I-won’t-go to the start line a zillion times. He manages to drive my friends to remote locations on the bike so they can cheer as I go by and text my parents and sister when they call during races to find out how I am and when I’m going to finish even when I’m three time zones away. He knows how to outsmart MDOT trackers and land at just the right spot at the right time to see me go by. In Boulder this June, he even indulged in the IRONMAN VIP Experience. To my surprise, he even met me at the finish line to GIVE ME MY MEDAL!

My second iron-distance race: Beach2Battleship 2014

My second iron-distance race: Beach2Battleship 2014

And, I have some AMAZING IronSherpa friends! They go out of their way to make me feel like I can do anything. My sister came to my first sprint race in Charlotte and has been a part of every race I’ve done (whether she realizes it or not). I’ve had friends (three of them) travel cross-country to watch me race in Santa Rosa and one friend travel to Nice when I did Ironman France! They have chalked up miles of sidewalk. Created HILARIOUS signs of me dressed as Vanna White and made signs out of blow up rafts! Written pre-race notes, served up flowers and french fries at the finished, shouted by megaphone and sung at the tops of their lungs to inspire and motivate me.

Notes with quotes and lyrics.

Notes with quotes and lyrics.

I was recently a sherpa for my friend Sami as she competed in the Iceland Xtreme Triathlon in Olafsvik. That trip meant that I did the marathon part of the race with her. Up and down a mountain and back again! Carrying hydration, nutrition, a compass, extra clothes for 5000ft of climbing up a glacier and keeping her entertained and on track (that story coming soon!). It meant singing Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, changing clothes in a rainstorm and finding our way through fog and sleet and a moonscape terrain.

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Athletes may not believe it, but being an IRONSHERPA is harder than being the athlete. You can bet there is no training plan for triathlon spectators! The early wake-up, the standing, the waiting, fighting traffic and all the cheering means your squad might mean they need epsom salts, Thera-Guns or naps for days on end! And, you don’t need a VIP pass to have an amazing experience as a trifan.

I’ve created an IRONSHERPA guide epecially for IMNC 70.3 - but it applies to any race. It has my top tips for being the best triathlon fan + places to stay and places to eat while you’re in town. If you’d like a copy, fill out the form and I’ll send you yours. Plus, you’ll get updates when I post to my blog. Next week, I’ll share three of the most creative, motivational and inspirational Sherpa boosts I’ve seen! As an athlete, if you’ve had an extraordinary Sherpa experience, share them in the comments below!

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IRONMAN BOULDER RACE RECAP

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IRONMAN BOULDER RACE RECAP

RACE RECAP & THREE THINGS I LEARNED AT IMBOULDER

It's been two months since #IMBOULDER and this is how I still feel. It was a #unicorn race. I don't mean I won it or that I even PR'd it. It was not even perfect. But, it was an unbelievable day. One that you love from start to finish. Where you smile in every picture and you dance at the finish. Here are few highlights, photos and flashbacks. And, a few lessons learned along the way.

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The day of IMBOULDER did not start as planned. I woke up 30 minutes late. I don't do late. I was proud that I didn't freak out. Maybe sleepy = calm. Our plan was to leave the hotel at 4:00am, drop off my special needs bags and head out to the Boulder Resevoir.


I had 30 minutes to put on spandex, take my meds, fill my bottles for the bike, do other normal morning things, throw wetsuit, nutrition and gear into bags and get out the door. I had planned for it to take an hour.


In that condensed time and space, I made mistakes. I mixed my bike nutrition wrong, I forgot my heart rate monitor and I left my Dorothy pez behind.


We still made it to the car by 4:10am, had dropped my bags at the high school and were headed to the Reservoir by 4:30.

In the weeks leading up to Boulder, the fear was the water in the Boulder Reservoir. Snow melt threatened to make the water around 55 degrees. #icecreamheadache I had borrowed booties, gloves and thermal vest to wear with my wetsuit. Who knew that the air temp would be the challenge! Temps started in the mid 40s and it was colder on land than in the water which was about 67. I was happy to don the wetsuit and get in the water to warm up. The worst part of the entire day was waiting for the swim start. We lined up in the chute according to our swim time and waited. And waited. My feet were freezing and it hurt to stand on the asphalt. They only released one or two athletes down the boat ramp and into the water at a time. So it was a time trial start for 1300 swimmers. The official start was 6:20am, but my toes didn't touch the water until 6:50am. So I danced my way down, one step at a time. Cheered when they played U2 and gave Neal a kiss before I walked beneath the arches and down the red carpet to the water's edge.

The swim was amazing. Every swim stroke on the far side of the reservoir and on the way back in was like looking at a post card. Snow-capped mountains on one side and a rising sun on the other was something I'll never forget.

Halfway through, I thought: it's warmed up nicely, I probably don't even need my long sleeve shirt on the bike. As soon as I got out of the water, I changed my mind. As I peeled my wetsuit off (which got stuck on my watch) I couldn't wait to put on my long sleeve shirt. Plus, I remembered that I had stuffed hand warmers inside my gloves. They proved to be super cozy in those first miles on the bike.

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One of the most fun things about MDOT races is that for many of them, you are competing with the pros in triathlon. [Notice I didn't say against. They are still in a class of their own.] One of the highlights at IMBOULDER was being passed by pros! The first to pass me was Timothy O'Donnell. I was at mile 30ish and he was at mile 85 on the loop. I looked back at the footage from the race and found the spot where he passed me. I hammed it up for the Fbook coverage cam, but they actually blurred out my waving and smiling and saying: go T.O.!

Right before that, I had come off an amazing downhill and turned left at a major intersection. On the other side of the road, I saw a woman running towards the intersection. She had on a hat and earpods and an Ironman pullover. I thought: hey girl! you're headed the wrong way. And then out loud I said: you're not a girl, you're RINNY!! Rinny is Mirinda "Rinny" Carfrae another pro athete who also happens to be married to T.O. She never heard or even saw me when I yelled: Go Rinny!

[On a side note: Mr. O'Donnell finished his whole race (that includes the #marathon after his 2.4 mile swim and 112 mile bike) before I even finished my bike! (He did get a 50 minute head start though).]

The second loop of my IMBOULDER bike was a little daunting. There's some comfort and some trepidation that comes with knowing what's ahead. But, as I sometimes tell my athletes: the bad news is we do it again; the good news we know that if we did it the first time we can do it again. And maybe even better.
What was coming was another round of false flats. I live on the coast of North Carolina, so false flats around here are about 1-3% grade of incline. Up there, it's more like 3-5%. And, at the end of each long stretch of false flat, there's a kick-up in grade. I wondered for a minute as I started that next loop if I could. And then I did. What I didn't know was coming was a visit from Ace! At mile 75 - at the top of the biggest climb (at 5100 feet), I noticed someone that looked like hubby! And then it WAS hubby! He cheered and said: you look great, Babe! That gave me just the boost I needed to finish up the course. I remembered how he's been such an amazing support. Not just for that day, but for my entire triathlon adventure.

I didn't really want to get off the bike, but I also was looking forward to the run. It was on greenways and paved paths that took us from the resevoir into downtown Boulder with a loop past the finish and back out to a turnaround (in an amazing bar parking lot) and back to downtown Boulder. There always seemed to be running water within earshot and the temps were perfect.

I finished my ride (6:50ish) - about 10 minutes under my goal. And I felt great. I nailed my nutrition thanks to Cristina Caldwell Fueled Coaching I didn't get my normal 80 mile headache and my stomach never growled (which is what normally happens). But, less than a mile into the run, I felt woozy. I wanted to take a nap. I closed one eye and tried it. I ran off the road. I tried the other eye and staggered the other way. Um. What is wrong? I tried salt and then calories. Oh, and at mile 4 or 7 (who knows?!) I remembered I was at altitude. Duh. I figured out if I kept my heart rate in a certain range I wouldn't feel wonky on the low end or out of breath on the high end. It was slow going, but I had an amazing time.

THREE THINGS I LEARNED AT IRONMAN BOULDER

I loved Ironman Boulder. It was a unicorn of a race. It was like racing in a postcard. There were snow-capped mountains that I could see in the swim. There were prairie dogs, a rattlesnake, a few pro triathletes and a moose sighting on the bike. There was altitude wooziness on the run and a surprise at the finish line. As usual, I learned a lot. Here are my top three take-aways:

ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE/ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN
I overslept. By 30 minutes! I set my alarm for 3:00am for Mon/Tue/Wed/Thu/Fri/Sat but the race was on Sunday. In the scramble to get out the door as planned, I:

  • Mixed up my nutrition bottles. I mixed bottle one and bottle three together. Different brands. Different flavors.

  • I didn't have time to eat breakfast in the comfort of my hotel room.

  • I forgot my heartrate monitor and my Dorothy Pez!

  • I ended up with weird things in my special needs bag (all of my QTips ended up in my run special needs!).

Practice not only a perfect day, but practice an imperfect day. That way, when it happens to you, you'll be prepared to KEEP CALM & CARRY ON. Practice a messy transition, practice waking up late, practice the pressure and on race day when - not if- something comes up....you can handle it.

HAVE A PLAN A-B-C-D

My bottles weren't the only thing that went awry with my nutrition. My favorite breakfast bagels couldn't be found, we didn't have a very big fridge in the room and we had no access to a microwave. That meant that I had to "make-do" with alternate ways of prepping my nutrition. I had to choose a different breakfast combo (cold waffles, Infinit MUD nutrition, Van's breakfast bars and some almond butter). I had to make all my bottles the morning of the race. And, when I mixed them incorrectly, I had to have an alternate choice.

Always be thinking of another way. Don't think that one way is always the right way. Routines and habits are beneficial - until they break your confidence or create anxiety. For example: You don't HAVE to carry a Pez dispenser on the bike. Especially when you find the token unicorn that a friend gives you before the race.


ONCE AGAIN, WITHOUT FEELING

How you feel coming off the bike is not an indicator of your race. It's not an indication of how you swam or how hard you rode. It may not even be an indicator of your nutrition. You are likely going to feel like sh!t. But that doesn't mean that your nutrition is off, you rode too hard or you're under- or over-trained.

You can use all of those things to overcome how you FEEL when you come off the bike and face the last leg of your race. You can overcome nutrition issues by eating a few more calories, taking in a little more salt or drinking plain water. You can remember the positives of your training - the little victories along the way that consistently led you to the start line of your race. And, although counter-intuitive, you can do the opposite of how you think you've raced up to this point. If you feel you over-cooked the bike, don't go easy. Give yourself a little push in pace. If you feel you didn't push yourself enough, then back off into cruise mode and see if that doesn't flip a switch.

And if none of that works.....keep moving forward. How you feel at the start of the swim or bike or run will be forgotten as soon as you cross that finish line and they hang that medal around your neck.


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MAY DAY GIVEAWAY

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MAY DAY GIVEAWAY

I swear singing OUT LOUD makes you stronger on the bike ride. So whether you do it in spin class or in a pace line - SING!! On Saturday, I did my first HUNDO of the year. I found myself alone on a bridge in a headwind. I was grumpy and scared. So I started singing.

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What I may have needed - more than a song - was a calorie. Lately I’ve been using NBS Pineapple Hydration. On the bike, I use a regular water bottle, but for the run, I use THIS! I love it. Lightweight. Easy to carry and able to stash my other treats (gum, gels and PEZ candies). If you want one, fill out the form below and I’ll enter your name in the drawing for this NATHAN SPEEDRAW PLUS bottle.


Which Song Did I Sing on the Bike Last Week? *
Sign Me up for Journal Updates, Too!
THESE WOMEN! Rocked a 50-Miler and didn’t have to hear me sing.

THESE WOMEN! Rocked a 50-Miler and didn’t have to hear me sing.

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A PREVIEW OF MY YEAR

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A PREVIEW OF MY YEAR

I am getting excited about my year. I am less than 50 days away from my first Ironman of the year and this is where things get packed. I can’t believe it is unfolding as quickly as it is. The next few weeks are BANANAS. Sh!t just got real!

Here’s how it’s all mapped out.

I am doing three MDot races this year:

IRONMAN BOULDER - June 9
I have no expectations for this one. I am woefully under-trained. My hill training is all virtual. Zwift and Rouvy have been my main hill work. I haven’t been swimming in two weeks. My run volume is higher than last year, but my long runs are far from what they should be. As of this moment, my longest run has been 13 miles. I’m worried about the altitude but I’m also thrilled that I am going to Boulder!

IRONMAN LOUSIVILLE - October 13
I can’t wait to do this one. I’ll consider Boulder a kick-off to training for the hills of Kentucky. I might actually shoot for a PR at IMLOU. The swim is current-assisted, the bike is hilly (which I love) and the run is relatively flat. Plus, it is the All-World Athlete Challenge. It’s a new race within the race that may challenge me to work my booty off to rank a little higher than last year. IM is offering fun perks like a Kona viewing party, an AWA swim start lane and fancy seating at the welcome dinner.

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IRONMAN COZUMEL - November 24
Is it bad that I already picture myself on the beach the day AFTER the race with a cocktail in hand? I haven’t even done one of my races and I’m already finished with all three and I’m in Mexico and I’m napping on the beach. Okay, snap back to reality. I am looking forward to this one because of two reasons: Jen and Tonya. (I’m hoping that my third reason is Maria.) This is going to be an amazing race because once again I’ll be tackling it with friends. I am truly blessed to make this journey with people who make me laugh and sing (and sometimes cuss). Doing another race with these girls is going to make this third race of the year my favorite. I can tell already!

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My other big race is an ultramarathon:

XTreme Triathlon Iceland - July 27. This one is going to be a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. I’m actually doing the marathon (+ a few miles) portion of this ultra-distance triathlon with my friend Sami. This race requires/highly encourages a SAG supporter on the bike and a SAG run partner for the run. I have always said that I’d never do a stand-alone marathon, but I am making an exception. Technically, it’s longer than a marathon and it’s part of a triathlon so it’s DIFFERENT! Right?

In preparation for Boulder, I’m hitting the road this month with three major training weekends of events.

Bike the Banks 100-Miler. I did this a few years ago in the lead-in to Ironman France and even though it has one hill, it helped me prepare for the 90-minute climb I faced in the Alps. There is likely going to be wind that feels like a mountain.

Crystal Coast Full Booty Aquabike. The ironman without the run! I’ve never done an Aquabike before but I’m super excited about this race. The timing is perfect to practice a swim+bike and did I mention I don’t have to run? It's also in the Morehead City area, so I’ll be headed back into the wind.

Pinehurst International. I learned last year not to go into a big race without racing a little race ahead of time. I did the Age Group Nationals in 2019 and I was SO NERVOUS. It was totally unlike me to have butterflies and the shakes. I realized that I hadn’t raced in over nine months and that I need to get the cobwebs out with smaller races before I toe the line at a bigger race. Doing the Booty race will help and so will Pinehurst. It’s short, but it features a lake swim and rolling hills for the bike and the run. It should be a great way to shake off the cobwebs and prepare for Boulder.

I have my eyes on a few other races this year, but haven’t fully committed. I want to do White Lake (did someone say aquabike?), the Carolina Beach Double Sprint and the Wrightsville Beach sprint. Those favorite local races are always on my list. We’ll see what else pops up in the fall to support IMLOU hills and IMCOZ.



AND THEN THERE’S 2020!

Right on the heels of Ironman Cozumel there’s THIS:

All the Bling!

All the Bling!

Remember how I said I’d never do a stand-alone marathon? I also said that if I ever did one, it would be this one. The DOPEY CHALLENGE. A 5k, 10k, 13.1 and 26.2 all in one weekend at Disney!

Let’s do this!

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HOW TO SURVIVE AN ENDURANCE RIDE (PART 3)

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HOW TO SURVIVE AN ENDURANCE RIDE (PART 3)

I looked back at my guide to survive an endurance ride from a few years back and laughed at the last entry. Part 3 could be titled: BRIBE YOURSELF.

Here is the opening graph:

The greatest thing about setting a goal and reaching it is the reward. Whether it's intrinsic (pride, satisfaction, relief) or extrinsic (a trophy, a tee shirt, a cupcake) -- the anticipation of a reward at the finish line is enough to keep you going.

On Sunday's ride, I think I planned a different reward as every mile passed. As usual, the rewards related to food (did I mention cupcakes?). Usually I crave ChickFilA, a real Co'Cola, but at mile 30 I was looking forward to the after ride treat: Moe's Chicken Burritos.

I also talked about wanting cute clothes and new tri gear. Not much has changed! I still think about these things when I ride and race.

I will use these strategies when I’m riding this Saturday, too. I’m doing BIKE THE BANKS 100-miler from Emerald Isle to Cape Lookout and back. I did this ride several years ago and I’m happy to see how it’s grown and if I can still endure the long miles. I am going with friends - Nikki, Donella, Stephanie and Geri are coming from Charlotte to do their longest ride so far this year. I will sing on the bike! And, I will most likely imagine all the goodies I can eat post-ride.

There’s a Ben & Jerry’s in Emerald Isle!

There’s a Ben & Jerry’s in Emerald Isle!

Bento Box is on the Way Home!

Bento Box is on the Way Home!

I wanna order more of my new tri kits!!

I wanna order more of my new tri kits!!

I Want these New Run Shoes

I Want these New Run Shoes

Addicted to Planners

Addicted to Planners


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HOW TO SURVIVE AN ENDURANCE RIDE (PART 2)

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HOW TO SURVIVE AN ENDURANCE RIDE (PART 2)

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:

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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:

Every

.

Single.

Church.

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

Doxology

!! 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.

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HOW TO SURVIVE  AN ENDURANCE RIDE

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HOW TO SURVIVE AN ENDURANCE RIDE

A few weeks ago I did the TOUR DE PICKLE - a 75-miler in four counties out of Mt. Olive, NC. It was a hard day. It was a small ride and I went up alone. There were probably 200 riders and I’m pretty sure only 15 of them were doing the 75. All the rest were doing the 25 or 50 milers.

I started a little earlier than the official start, thinking I could hook into a group that passed me. The first group was a threesome that passed me going about 22mph. They invited me to come along but I couldn’t hang. I literally got dropped in three pedal strokes.

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I was able to catch a draft from a group of eight or nine guys. For a while, they blocked what may have been a 10-12mph steady wind that swirled ahead of some storm clouds. I dropped off the back at the worst time. They passed a house with two dogs - a german shepherd and a terrier mix. I was about 300 yards behind them when I watched the dogs leap off the porch in hot pursuit of the peloton. The dogs barked and chased the crowd and stood in the road as I approached. I thought I was a goner. Suddenly, though the shepherd jumped into the ditch (squirrel!) and stuck his head in the drain pipe. The terrier followed him and as I drew closer all I could see their rumps sticking out.

I couldn’t help myself. At just the right moment, I yelled: SUCKA! at them as I flew by. They popped out of the pipe and scrambled up the bank of the ditch to the road. The terrier running full throttle probably matched my speed at 23mph, but didn’t have the endurance. Both stopped after a short pursuit and I rode on.

That was the first of SEVEN dog chases. I counted 22 dead possums. One turtle. And I counted every second of the last 20 minutes in a frog-chokin’ rain. I was so soaked and so tired that I walked my bike over the railroad tracks within sight of the finish.

BUT, I got a jar of pickles at the end!

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I looked back on a post from five years ago on how to endure a long ride. I did the Raven Rock Ramble just outside of Raleigh. Here’s a look back [May 5, 2015]:

I now have a few century (metric included) rides under my belt and I'm realizing there are a few key ways to survive an endurance ride. 

The first key to survival: cycle with friends.

The first 30 miles were AWESOME. I started with my sister and her friends and chatted my way to the first SAG (support and gear) stop. We talked gearing, triathlon, water temps and more. I was sad when I had to say goodbye to Anna and EVERYONE else at Whitey's Country Store in Fuquay Varina. Jenny Sunshine and I called out our goodbyes and were the only two that broke away from the pack. We were alone on two lane roads for the next 10 miles. 

The next thing ya know, we catch up with a couple of former TriStacey athletes. We joked with them, talked about future goals (Ironman Couer d'Alene, Raleigh 70.3), pee intervals and riding without socks. We hung with them for a while and leap-frogged throughout the ride.

The majority of the miles were spent with Sunshine Spice. We laughed. We argued. We debated. We coached each other and raced each other. It was a good mix and it helped me through the hard miles. Most of all, we sang. More on that tomorrow and the second key to survival.

MORE TO COME…….

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FULL-CIRCLE VALLEY GIRL

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FULL-CIRCLE VALLEY GIRL

This morning I was struck by another full-circle moment.

I am blessed to live and work in the town where I grew up. I get to swim, bike and run through many of the waters and neighborhoods that I knew as a little girl growing up in the ‘burbs of Wilmington, NC. This morning, I ran to my old neighborhood for some hill repeats. This little community, called Pine Valley, features a giant circular street around the Pine Valley Country Club golf course. Like every other street in Pine Valley, it was named for a civil war general. I grew up on Pettigrew Drive. My sister, myself and our friends Leanne and Stacie ruled that little corner of the world. It’s where we learned to bike and run.

As a kid, we knew we had made it when our parents let us ride our bikes around the three-mile circle named for Robert E. Lee. I loved that loop. But I only loved it counter-clockwise. If we rode it counter-clockwise, the downhill portion was longer, I could get up a good amount of speed and cruise up the other side. If we rode it clockwise, the downhill was steep and the uphill was long and arduous.

Now, I want you to remember that we live on the coast of North Carolina. I am being VERY generous when I use the terms uphill, downhill and hill repeats! I am not good at reading grade and elevation, but I’m pretty sure it’s only 100 yards of climbing at the most and only 6% grade at the steepest point.

But I was afraid. This hill gave me anxiety! I even remember throwing a little fourth-grade hissy fit when all the kids and moms went for a ride together one spring day. I refused to go clockwise! I turned around and met them all at a different spot on course - just so I wouldn’t have to ride down and up that valley hill.

Today, I realized how far I’ve come. Not only did I run up the hill - which is much harder than riding a 3Speed Raleigh bike - but I did FIVE repeats. And, I enjoyed it. I realized:

Sometimes it’s not the size of the hill, it’s the size of the fear you have to overcome.

And yes, doing the thing that scares you is the usually the one thing that will help you overcome it. Biking in the Alps and running the Tennessee hills certainly puts the speed bump in Pine Valley into perspective.

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What have you done in your life to overcome a fear you had?

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HAPPY NEW YEAR 2019

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HAPPY NEW YEAR 2019

The secret to getting ahead is getting started.

- Sally Berger

This was the quote on my very first blog post back in October of 2007. That seems like ages ago! It was a simple start to something that I love to do……write. It’s been an off and on practice of mine that I’ve decided to start again.

I love beginnings and I LOVE a new year. Newness holds the promise of potential. THAT is exciting. As in years past, I've picked my one word, I've decided what I'm giving up this year and I have set some new goals.

My one word is the main reason I’ve committed to blog. My one word for 2019 is CONGRUENT. It is not a pretty word! It means: superposable so as to be coincident throughout; similar to or in agreement with something, so that the two things can both exist or can be combined without problems. [Superposable: in geometry - to place a figure in the space occupied by another figure, so that they both coincide throughout their whole extent.

Wow. It’s so mathy.

The purpose of my one word is to provide clarity and focus. We all choose resolutions - things to do and not do - each year. I've found that choosing one word is a motive check. It digs into the intention behind my list of goals. It’s a lens I can use all year long to view certain situations, relationships and life choices. It focuses in on the more important person we want to be.

In a short 50+ days of 2019, I’ve remembered that writing is congruent with who I am.

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So today I’m getting ahead by getting started.

If you’d like to choose your one word, CLICK HERE to find out more and leave your word in the comments below!

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CYBER MONDAY - TRI EDITION

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CYBER MONDAY - TRI EDITION

FULL DISCLOSURE: I recently signed up to be an Amazon Associate or Affiliate or whatever they call it in order to monetize my blog. I don’t even know how it all works, but I figure I’d give it a shot. I do know that if you click the links and do your shopping, Amazon pays me a percentage at no cost to you. So shop away!

Here are my top gifts for triathletes this year:

Nathan SpeedDraw Plus Insulated Flask

I learned at IRONMAN FLORIDA that you can try new things on race day. This was one of those things. I knew from my experience at Chatty that I needed to carry my own nutrition. I carried NBS Hydration (Pineapple) in this amazing little flask. For SIX HOURS! I had never used one before but it proved to be comfortable, easy to hold and is lightweight. Plus, I was able to stash extra nutrition, BioFreeze packets, a Pickle Pop and chapstick in the pocket.

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PICKLE POPS

What an amazing not-sweet treat in the middle of your race or big training day. If you get tired of gels and cola and fruit and Red Bull and all the sweet there is to eat, this is an amazing change to your taste buds! Freeze these and then store them in a cooler on training days. When you return from your ride and right before your brick run, slurp one of these nearly frozen dill pickle pops and you will be ready to roll. They are also great warm in the middle of a ride or served over ice at an aid station. Yum! Pickles!



BIOFREEZE PACKETS

Oh how I love thee, let me count the ways. These amazing packets of relief fit in the pockets of my aforementioned nathan handheld and in the past I’ve stuffed them in my tri jersey, bento box on the bike, race belt and all my special needs bags. These little packets are helpful for aches and pains, but more importantly they are amazing in hot weather! I spread a little on my neck, wrists and low back to create a cooling sensation even at White Lake, Chatty and Florida.


SWIM BARK RUN

One of my iron friends gave me this book right before Chatty with a fantastic note inside and a reminder to embrace the day. I read it the night before both of my IRONMANs this year and chanted SWIM, BARK, RUN, Everyone Have Fun a few times during the race. It’s a great gift for the triathlete in your life or for a triathlete in training. It’s not just for kiddos! Remember, we get to do this sport because it feels like being a kid again (only faster!).




THE BRAVE ATHLETE

This book is a COMPLETELY different take on how to handle all your different mental challenges as an athlete. Forget simple mantras and visualization - The Brave Athlete will give you real tools to overcome all the overthinking and overfeeling so you’ll get better at swimbikerun and LIFE! As a coach, you need to read the whole book. As an athlete, read the first chapter and then skip to the chapters that apply to you. Either way, do ALL the activities and you will start to tame the mind monkey!

I’ve had this book on my shelf for over a year but really dug into it after Age Group Nationals when I had crazy race nerves (first time in years!) in the days leading into the race. I wanted to figure that out and a dozen other ways that my Chimp Brain takes over when I least need it. Here are a few of the topics covered:

I wish I felt more like a “real” athlete.

I don’t think I can.

I need to harden the F* Up.

I keep screwing up in races.

I don’t like leaving my comfort zone.

I don’t handle pressure well.

With  The Brave Athlete: Calm the F*ck Down and Rise to the Occasion , you can solve these problems to become mentally strong and make your brain your most powerful asset

With The Brave Athlete: Calm the F*ck Down and Rise to the Occasion, you can solve these problems to become mentally strong and make your brain your most powerful asset

ROKA GOGGLES

Buy every pair. Seriously. You can’t go wrong with any of the styles. The R1 is great (sizewise) for the pool and for open water. I prefer the amber mirror and the vermillion mirror for open water.

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ROKA AVIATORS

I took a step out of my comfort zone when I got these earlier this year. I didn’t think they were really my style but……. I. FREAKING. LOVE THEM. They provide the full coverage I need for my round face. They look good on everyone. You can dress them up or sport them up. Best of all, they are scratch resistant. This is from a girl who drops them regularly and rarely uses the case.

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MEANT TO BE (AN IRONMAN FLORIDA FOLLOW-UP)

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MEANT TO BE (AN IRONMAN FLORIDA FOLLOW-UP)

This race was a pivot point for me.

My mother-in-law (and others) often ask me WHY? Why do you keep doing these races? Why do you put your body through the training? The long weekends? The race day itself? (1068.8 miles of ironman racing since 2012). Why do you sacrifice your time and your energy and your money to do such long races?

The answer is self-discovery.

These races tend to bring out all the feels.

STRONG SAUCE

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I had a mental victory on this day. I had my slowest marathon time since IM France in 2016, but I had some major wins while I was out there for over six hours. I mentioned that I turned off my run/walk alerts and simply ran when I wanted and walked when I needed. My Pez co-pilot for this race was a wolf. I chose him for two reasons.

"NOW this is the law of the jungle, as old and as true as the sky,
And the wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the wolf that shall break it must die.

As the creeper that girdles the tree trunk, the law runneth forward and back;
For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.

RUDYARD KIPLING

I was inspired all day by my pack. Jen, Maria and Tonya made me stronger. They made me resilient and tough. In my weaker moments, I remembered our training days. Our Saturdays in the hot sun on country roads. It made me push a little harder and dig a little deeper. The word for this race was TEAM and this team was brave and adventurous and unstoppable. Even though I was the coach, at times, I needed them more than they needed me.

The other reason for the wolf was inspired by this story:

One evening, an elderly Cherokee chief told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, ‘My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all.

One is evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other wolf is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.’

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked, ‘Grandpa, which wolf wins?’

The old Cherokee simply replied, ‘The one that you feed.’

In races, the good wolf - loves to run. She loves to run with the pack. She loves to lead the pack. She digs in her claws and springs into action. She chases and kind of likes being chased. The bad wolf says: just walk! for crying out Mike. That voice says: give in. It’s worthless. You’re not winning. You don’t even have to finish. She likes to give in when the going gets rough. She succumbs to the pressure. Her mood spirals down like water in a drain.

All day long I fed the good wolf. Wolfie! What a good girl! Look at what you just did! You ran all the way up that hill. And down that one. In the rain! I promised her chicken broth and cola. I told her she was right on track. I complimented her when she kept running. I encouraged her to run through the next timing mat. I told her if she ran up this hill and down that hill that I would take care of her after the race. I’d let her do all of her favorite things (like organize things and sleep late).

WEAK SAUCE

Disappointment. What?! You just finished 140.6 miles of swimbikerun and you are disappointed?! Yes. I felt it AS SOON AS I crossed the finish line. I wanted to run faster. And bike better. And catch Jen and Maria. And claim a personal best. And qualify for Kona. I wanted to weigh 15 pounds less. In the race I was fully focused on the process, but as soon as I finished I was focused on the outcome. That shift created a big conflict within and the edginess that I felt pre-race returned as I stood in the pouring rain with my medal and hat and shirt and wrapped in my tin foil. That edginess is produced by pressure, both real and imagined and is always self-induced. It’s also produced by self-criticism. It’s produced by a feeling of NEVER ENOUGH. If I don’t keep this feeling in check, I tend to miss out on amazing moments. I tend to downplay the importance of them. I sometimes take for granted that my body can go farther on one day in swimbikerun than some people will drive in a week. I tend to check it off my list and move on to SOMETHING MORE. In doing so, I downplay myself. I play small.

In the days since, I’ve combated this by celebrating myself. It’s timely that Thanksgiving was this week. I’ve been reading social media posts about gratitude. I’ve listened to a podcast about THE GRATITUDE ADVANTAGE. I have worn my medal! Each day I’ve listed my wins for that day and put a star by them (like kindegarten) and done a happy dance for each one. I might just order this pillow:

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AWESOME SAUCE

This race was pivotal. In the wake of it all, new dreams formed and passions were reignited. Two major goals developed out of this race.

IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS, I want to coach 20 first-timers to their first IRONMAN finish. I have had the privilege of coaching TEN athletes through their first 140.6 training seasons and races. I love it. Even if I don’t see them cross the finish line, I love their victories. I love their new IRONMAN superpowers. I love their journeys and their own moments of self-discovery. I can’t wait to do it again.

This is what it feels like to finish your first Ironman!

This is what it feels like to finish your first Ironman!

Swim Start in 2017

Swim Start in 2017

I’M GOING TO KONA, BABY! IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS, I am going to qualify for Kona through the Ironman Legacy Program. The legacy program is set up to reward those who’ve done at least 12 MDOT races. Once you’ve done 12 races, your name is put in a drawing for a slot at the World Championships in Kona in October. I have done six MDOT races and I have six to go. In 2017, I went to Hawaii for the week of the race. I went for my Level II Coaching certification and while we were there Ace and I volunteered and spent the day watching the race. We were volunteers at body marking (I met the pros!) and saw the swim and parts of the bike start. Later that day we went out to the run course for a few hours to cheer athletes at the turn-around in town.

The one regret I had about that day was that we didn’t see the finish line. I knew then that I wanted to go back to Kona and for a year I’ve been imagining how it is going to feel when I coach one of my athletes (Jen and Matthew - who’s it gonna be?) across red carpet in Kailua-Kona.

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But now there’s another reason. It’s waiting for ME! I have to see it for myself. I am going to finish that grueling race and swim in the Pacific and ride up to Hawi and run down the Queen K highway and into that finish chute and across that line for me! I am going to own every mile between now and then. I am going to celebrate the swims and bikes and runs that will get me to and through that race. And, although it probably won’t be my last race, it will be a testament to my strength and endurance and love for a sport that has taught me so much about who I am and what I’m meant to be. #teammeanttobe

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