I’m Joining the Rev3 Run Across America This Weekend!

It seems that whenever I am heading down into the Blue Ridge mountains it’s to do some running, and tonight will be no exception! I am so excited to be meeting up with the Rev3 crew that has been running across America to raise money for the Ulman Cancer Fund. Following this crew the past 19 days  has been inspiring to say the least. The 2 days that I will be there is just such a small part of what they have already accomplished. When you have a second, head over to the blog and check out the stories and pictures from along the way. There are also a few ways to donate to this cause – you can enter the $5 or the $20 raffle, or you can make a donation here.

Please keep the crew in your thoughts as they finish up this amazing journey the next couple days. And if you are in the DC area, here is the info if you would like to be a part of what I am sure will be a very inspiring finish at 2pm on Monday!

QOTD

“With these dangerous conditions, we had to be alert all day,” Voeckler said. “When I left behind other escapees, I initially hoped to bring some others with me. This was not the case, so I went alone. My goal was the have a minute lead as soon as possible ahead of my closest pursuers. This is the kind of [advantage] that plays on the minds of opponents. It worked, as the results show.”

-Thomas Voeckler on his win at Brabantse Pijl  and #doingwork like he knows how! (via VeloNews)

Note: Google translate struggled with this a bit and I left the “escapees”  as is because it sounds cool. The other option it gives is “escaped cons.”  haha.

My Mailbox

For the past year, I have been in a war with my mailbox. When I was installing it last year, I got all of the necessary supplies I would need to properly mount it. I even got the special masonry drill bits the dudes at the hardware store said I’d need.

For about a week or two, it stayed put. And then it fell.

The reason it fell was clear – I didn’t drill the initial holes far enough. My arms started to hurt so I drilled it just barely far enough, then put the anchors in the best I could, and so on. Long story short, I took a short cut.

That short cut has cost me dearly. At least twice a week I come home to find my mailbox on the sidewalk; one time the postwoman didn’t even deliver the mail because it had fallen and I forgot to put it back up. Every time it falls I have to dig up some tools, stick the screws back into the not-long-enough holes and then just wait for it to fall again…..because it will. A small little project has grown into a huge headache.

Today I went out and got new Residential Locking Mailboxes, new anchors, plugged in the drill, and created proper holes. It served as my reminder not to take a short cut, even if my arms hurt.

So here I am passing on your daily reminder not to take shortcuts in training either. Eating right means making good decisions about food every day *cough*nomorebingeingonEastercandy*cough.* And Ironman training means doing the workouts – all of them. Every rep. Even when you don’t really feel like it – even when your arms hurt. Skip the short cuts!

Find your Rhythm

I recently read this article about Marissa Mayer, a VP at Google. As I read this I couldn’t help but imagine these same words coming from any Ironman Champion as they spoke to their fellow athletes at an awards banquet:

“Find your rhythm.”

Find what matters to you and make time for it.

“You can’t have everything you want, but you can have everything that matters to you,” she said.

Mayer said she believes there’s no such thing as burnout — you can work really hard for the rest of your life as long as you know what matters most to you and make sure you get that.

These words are what differentiates the top of the field – in a sport, or in life – and the middle of the pack.

Those words are also the answer to the question you’ll be asked a million times: “Don’t you get sick of it?” (Also can be phrased as: how/why do you do all of that training?)

After reading this article I thought about my answer to that question. The truth is, I am never sick of (literally) running myself into the ground. I’m never sick of having chocolate gel running down my face because I’m too tired to wipe it off. I am not sick of those moments before a race – those 5-10 minutes before the start gun goes off, when you have to learn to make your mind free, clear and focused only on yourself amidst the chaos.  That feeling of embracing the unknown, knowing you did your best in training and now is your chance to execute. No, I don’t get sick of that.

At the end of the day, racing is important to me. I make time to do it, and I make time to prepare myself to be the best I can be for those races. Some people get that – but many do not.

I realize that may not always be my answer. And I realize that there may come a day when racing doesn’t make the list of things I make time for. But for awhile at least, it is.

Not a Foodie

I have never been a picky eater. But I have never been a particularly healthy eater, either. Growing up, I learned quickly that chocolate and ice cream taste better than apples and salads. And I stuck with that as a mantra well into adulthood…..aka last week. Having Hillary as a coach undoubtedly puts food on my radar more. Having followed her progress as a triathlete for years now, I have also followed her evolution with diet. Aside from that, it’s pretty much common sense that if you want to be an elite athlete, you have to take care of your body.

Up until now, I have made some feeble attempts to become more aware of what I am eating. But, if I felt like eating crappy food for a day, I did it. I deserved 3 bowls of ice cream when I got up in the morning to swim that day, right? If three Cokes a day got me through my 8 hours of work, then so be it! Why eat a banana when this bag of jellybeans is sitting right here?

While I have had successes in endurance sport with my current diet, I’m no fool: it’s time to make some changes. In fact, that time was probably years ago. But better late than never, right? So, I sent my food log over to coach and will spare you the details, but when her reply includes a line like “once I got over the initial shock…” you  know you have work to do 🙂 Before I got to work though, I had to send Coach some photographic proof that two of my diet staple items do, in fact, actually exist and are currently in my cupboard.

Right off the bat there were some big things we saw I could change. I know the way I work, so I think I can best accomplish this diet improvement with a series of substitutions, some small changes…and a heck of a lot of will power. Hopefully, all of these small changes will eventually equal one big change. My priorities right now are to focus on:

  1. Laying off the sugar. Part of this is working in “good” sweeteners into the diet. Apparently there are alternatives to the mounds of sugar I usually dump into my coffee which taste just as good! I am also limiting my intake of sugary cereals and Coke – this is the most challenging as I had become accustomed to a minimum of 2 Cokes per day. And no more lunch time trips to the grocery store to come back with family size packs of Twizzlers. {Allegedly} Choosing more healthy options will become easier as time goes on – something about my taste buds will trick me into thinking healthy things actually taste good. I’ll believe that when I taste(?) it!
  2. Eating more live things. I ate one salad the week I food logged….and that was partially because in my head I thought “shoot, I’m food logging, I should include something healthy.” The toughest parts for me about eating fruit/veggies are that a) they are confusing to buy (I don’t know what they are like when they are ripe, too ripe, not ripe enough, whatever) and then b) I feel like as soon as I buy them they go bad. Seriously, you know how people say cars are terrible investments because of their depreciation when you drive them off the lot? Well, I’m fairly convinced fruit is way worse. No Dole stock for this girl. Just yesterday I threw out bananas because it turns out that stacking them on top of other grapefruits makes them gross really fast (note: this may or may not be factual, but it is my latest observation). Meanwhile, Carly’s counter-top sitting bananas have looked great and healthy for days. Steep learning curve here people!
  3. Eating more often. As it is, I am a champion snacker. But, I do tend to wait until I’m hungry to snack. And that usually results in bingeing….not the best route, especially when the snacks to this point have been cookies, chips, soda, candy, etc. So, I’m subbing in what I can for healthier options. I like apples when they have peanut butter so that’s a good start. And hummus. And applesauce (even when it doesn’t have sugar.)

One thing I know I will keep in my diet though is dessert. Lucky for me, coach just posted some Hillary-approved options! And I tried out making some Chia Seed Chocolate Pudding the other day. Not my favorite – but it could work in a pinch. The recipe I used was:

 1/4 cup Chia Seeds

3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 heaping tbsp cocoa powder

1 tbsp brown rice syrup

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Mix ingredients together in a bowl and let sit for 10 minutes. Stir it up, then place in the refrigerator for about an hour to allow it to thicken up. Then enjoy!

For what it’s worth, the recipe says it like that – “enjoy!” ….I would say something more along the lines of “then eat and dream of PR’s to rationalize why you are eating these goopy tasting seeds and pretending it’s as good as ice cream.”

But hey – whatever works. Any other suggestions? Fellow HB-er Laura shouted out the Soda Stream on Twitter today and I have been contemplating getting one – that may be crucial to my ability to reduce the soda intake!

No Baggage, No Cry

Remember this post, where I came out to the world about being a bag lady?

Well, times are changing and I am handing in my bag lady card….I’m like the opposite of a bag lady now….also known as a regular looking girl going to the gym/pool.

What happened that changed my life so drastically? BLUE SEVENTY! They are sharing the love this year and are one of the great sponsors of the Rev3 family. I was so excited when I heard that news since I’ve had my eye on the Transition TZ bag for awhile now.  If you are currently in the market for a new transition bag – or a swim bag, or a run bag, or a bike bag, or a swim to run bag, or a bike to run bag, or a swim to bike bag, or shoot, if you’re going camping – get this bag!!!

My favorite part is the compartment at the bottom that is fully waterproof. No longer will I be pulling damp work clothes out of my bag as I unpack at home in the evenings! The large middle compartment is also huge enough for me to carry all of my necessities – TRISWIM shamp/condish/bodywash/lotion, towel, running clothes, clothes for after, nicer clothes for after (just in case dinner plans aren’t at a triathlete friendly venue), makeup, hair dryer, etc. Then there’s also plenty of other compartments along the outside. I keep my keys, lock, gym pass in top easy to reach zip pocket. There’s also spots for shoes, water bottle holders, and even a spot for a helmet! I am no longer walking out the door with 15,000 bags in the morning as I have managed to consolidate down to 2 – this one and my work purse! It’s a pretty amazing feeling of freedom, I have to say.

Some Sponsor Love!

It’s been awhile since I gave some sponsor love, and this is Part 1 of some very exciting news coming from Rev3! We have some AMAZING companies supporting us this year, and I mean it when I say that in only 3 months they have already made a difference in my training and racing. I want to focus on two of the great companies in this post….PowerBar and Swiftwick.

PowerBar

The support that this company gives to not only triathlon – but all athletes, in so many sports, all over the world – is undeniable. Just check out their Team Elite Roster. From Ironman Champions to age groupers, PowerBar is with us every step of the way, fueling us and helping us recover faster. I have three absolute favorite products from PowerBar: RESTORE Sports Drink Mix, Cola Energy Blasts, and the Triple Threat Caramel Peanut Fusion energy bar.

Cola Energy Blasts are my go to morning pre-workout snack. It’s usually too early for me to eat anything too substantial, but the energy blasts trick me into thinking they are candy. They aren’t too big or hard to chew, so I can easily get enough in to get me calories to make it through my intervals on the trainer or the track.

Lately I have been bringing the Triple Threat bars on rides. At 220 calories they are a quick and easy snack that’s easy to eat on the bike – even with gloves on (very important for those colder rides). These are also a staple of my swim bag and my purse at work for go-to snacks. I have found it’s important to have something handy for immediately after workouts to help tie me over until I can get a real meal in me.

And I have been most excited to have found the RESTORE recovery beverage. The best part is when it arrived at my doorstep it was uniquely packaged:

I have not finished a ride yet this season and not been mixing a bottle of this within minutes! It tastes like Sunny D, so it brings me back to my childhood, but luckily I can fix up a serving larger than those silly little bottles Sunny D came in that you could finish in one gulp. I have noticed that the addition of this as a post-workout beverage has left me feeling stronger and more ready to tackle the tough workouts the next day.

If you have any other questions about PowerBar products, shout them out to me or any member of the Rev3 team!

Swiftwick

I didn’t start using compression socks until last summer during the drive out to Louisville. A regular of getting cankles, I was willing to try them to stop those cankles from forming during travel…and they work! I have since incorporated them into the recovery process, and as I sit here with my legs up getting ready to race this weekend, you know they’re on my legs!

The Swiftwick website is really user friendly and allows you to shop around for socks based off of sport, height, material, color, etc so you know you are finding the perfect pair. I have also been wearing the Aspire One and will be sporting those this weekend for the DU. No foot problems whatsoever since I started wearing them. And for my Baltimore readers I will keep you updated about local places to find these socks, but they are at my favorite bike shop, Twenty20!

Girls & Sports

A few days ago Lauren Harrison posted on her blog, the infamous Slog, about the importance of sports in her life. Inspired after overhearing some remarks by young girls in the pool locker room, she wrote compellingly on the issues that girls face in today’s world and how sports have helped her overcome them. Yes, today’s world. In case you have been under a rock, women’s rights isn’t just an issue for the history books.

Lauren points out that throughout her life sports were an outlet for her that taught her how to combat the negative thoughts that seep into every young girl’s mind. I had a similar experience. In addition to playing competitive soccer growing up, I was lucky to have an older sister who set an example of how to work hard and pursue dreams; she went on to Columbia Law School and is becoming a kick-ass lawyer in NYC (think future Diane Lockhart from The Good Wife). I have parents that sent me outside to play with the neighborhood kids knowing that they were mostly boys and never minding that I was coming home with grass stains on my jeans instead of barbies or makeup. All of these things – sports, a supportive family, caring mentors/coaches – were enough to keep my head on straight and ready to battle the negative influences I’d experience throughout my life.

I never had the awareness as I grew up that I was, in fact, facing threats to my own progressive thinking every single day. The magazines. TV (though I didn’t have cable as a kid which probably helped!). The internet (Facebook certainly has it’s downsides!). The fact that going to USNA for 2 years of undergrad meant I was lucky to take an English class – women’s studies or anything remotely related was practically a curse word. Throughout all of this, sports remained the center of my life teaching me valuable lessons, many of which I probably still haven’t even realized are there.

Lauren was right and I second her applause to those young girls out there who are learning to play sports, and to the parents who are schlepping them back and forth to practices. And I want to add my own CHEERS to Lauren (and LJ!). To Hillary. To Linsey, Beth W., and Kelly. These are just a few of the women who are forging the path in the sport that I now play in my adult life. And who are making a name for themselves professionally and/or athletically. Who are teaching the young girls out there – as well as the twenty-somethings like myself – that you can do it. That you can be a mom and a triathlete – or hold off on that whole mom thing – and either way it’s okay. That you can choose everything from your career, to your birth control, to the bike you want to ride fast on.

And on a lighter note, here’s to hoping someone takes Lauren up on her offer to take a carpool shift, or swim or bike with their daughter, because I’d love to read the blog about that!

Weekend Riding Recap!

I apologize for my lack of blogging about Camp Biswelsiek this past weekend, but I assure you it was for good reason: it was tough and left no energy for typing! I am eager to read Dawn and Michelle’s reports of the actual camp, but judging from the Twitter activity, and Hillary’s blogging,  it looked like a lot of fun was had and a lot of fitness was gained. I am sure the group dynamic played a huge role in getting the campers through the workouts. Dawn was so kind as to send me some virtual love since she knew I was camping solo-style on the East Coast, and believe me, I needed that on Saturday!

It was a big weekend of riding (which bodes well for a weekend celebration of DST!), and while I have been on the trainer this winter more than I ever have been before, it will always take a good few rides outside before I really feel like I’m getting my riding legs under me again. Saturday I had a 5 hour ride on tap. I pieced together several of my favorite rides to create a 75 mile loop, figuring that worst case scenario, it would take me all 5 hours. Best case, I’d swing through a park on my way home to add a few more miles. Unfortunately for me, this was a worst case scenario type of day! When I had mapped the ride, I completely ignored 2 things: 1. Coach’s instructions that it doesn’t have to be a hard ride, I just need good time in the aero bars, and 2. The weather report. Had I simply paid attention to the forecast, and which direction the gusting winds were going that day, I could have ridden out a tail wind for most of the ride. Instead, I headed into some crazy crosswinds and a headwind for 45+ miles of the ride. For a girl who is used to sitting on the back during a group ride, this was a rude awakening! I also probably could have helped myself by finding a flat route and not deciding to ride up every single huge hill within a 40 mile radius of Baltimore. I have no clue if 4,300+ feet of climbing really is that much over 75 miles, but it sure felt like it! As I was on a climb towards the middle of the ride I actually had the “thank god I’m wearing a road-ID so they can identify me in case I don’t make it back” thought. A little dramatic, sure, but I have never had my butt kicked like that before.

Sunday proved to be a better day for riding. I duped a couple girls I know into coming with me for an early start. It was going to be an early start BEFORE daylight savings….so it was double early with the clocks rolling back on Sunday morning. Which also meant cold! But Christa and Amy were troopers and we rode out to Patapsco together. I had a longer ride on the agenda, so they headed back, but it’s always nice to have some company on any portion of a ride. That gave me some more motivation to tackle the hills of Columbia before heading home.

This weekend is St. Patty’s Day Du; I think it will be a good measure for the early season! And with temps in the 70’s all week I am hoping for some solid weather.