Blogging While Training

Is always dangerous, so hopefully this is coherent!

In trying to maintain some regular blogging, I was brainstorming what to write about this week. My brain is so full of training and coaching and podcasting these days I was like “did I even do anything remotely interesting to write about this week?!” — so, I scrolled through my phone pics to see what I have been doing. I came up with: several pictures of dogs, a picture of a hot dog and candy bars from a long bike ride, a few pictures of me saying farewell as I left on said bike ride, and a couple pictures of a new baby gate I installed in my apartment to keep the beasts dogs at bay so I can get UPS packages or food delivery without scaring the bejesus out of other humans. Hence the photo at the top of this post.

This is #lifeofatriathlete people. Isn’t it fun?!

HA!

So, since I haven’t been doing much fun stuff, I got to thinking more about my training and what people might want to hear about. Training for an ironman is tricky — training for an early season race can be a little bit trickier because you are managing things like daylight hours, bearable temps, precipitation (I won’t even write the “s” word because I don’t want to jinx myself!)…..the summer absolutely lends itself to be a bit nicer to ironman training when you don’t need to worry about lack of sunlight at 7am OR 7pm. And you know that whenever you roll out your door you’ll be warm, even if it rains!

So then I got to thinking about how important execution is in training. Early season or not, actually, the way you execute your training is SO IMPORTANT. And I’m not talking about execution in the sense of hitting the prescribed paces or the number. I’m talking about not taking any liberties to “do what you’d prefer to do” rather than what is written on a plan. 

Let me tell you, from a coaching perspective, the workouts that get put onto your plans *are not* suggestions! You want to carry out these plans as best you can. And if you can’t? Ask questions…..Ask those questions in advance! 

I am annoyingly Type-A about the execution of my workout session. So much so that if I am training with other people I am *very* clear about what I will be doing. There is a time and place in my season to be flexible and go with the flow…..4 weeks out from an Ironman is not that time. If I have a run off the bike, I look at the pace expectations (if there are any) and make sure that I’ll then end my ride in a place where I can run those paces of the bike. That may or may not be my home sometimes. Is it a little bit annoying to drive to ride somewhere so you have a more favorable place to run off the bike? Sure. But, the workout is the workout. You make it happen. One time, I entrusted my boyfriend Matt to plan the route for our 4 mile build run off the bike. He proceeded to take me on a run that involved climbing Mt. Everest during mile 3. Needless to say, his route planning privileges have been revoked until further notice. 

Executing the day to day successfully when you are in a race build can be what separates the good from the great. And I truly believe that learning to execute things properly goes hand in hand with skills like time management and advanced planning. SKILLS! Yes, that means you can work at this and get better at it. Great news, right? 

Here’s a few tips for sharpening up your execution game:

-Take in your upcoming training when it’s posted so you can start planning. You don’t want to be looking at Saturday’s training on Friday night, when your day has already been set and you’re committed to other things so you won’t be able to drive to ride for the best place to do the workout. Had you checked a day earlier you might have been able to adjust some things to make it happen.  

-When in doubt: don’t try anything new on [important] training days. Just like a race!! Sometimes with a training day you can try a new ride or a route. But if you don’t know, don’t go! This means don’t assume a road will be flat for intervals. Or don’t assume a hill will be long enough for 6 minute repeats. We are now lucky enough that with computer tools (mapmyrun or ride, strava, gmap, etc) we can investigate a lot about terrain ahead of time, but if you haven’t done that work, assumptions can get you in a sticky spot. They always told me in the Navy:

What happens when you assume, Godesky?

You make an ass out of “u” and “me”, sir!

Needless to say, I learned that lesson plenty of times in my day, the hard way 🙂 

-Keep it simple. Good training isn’t sexy. I follow up the point about assumptions with this one because it means that often the best training grounds are the ones you know…the boring ones. I have done 4-5 hour rides with most of the mileage being done on a 10 mile stretch of road, that I knew was flat and appropriate for intervals. It wasn’t the most epic or engaging thing to do, but to execute the workout – and more importantly – to give myself a fair shot at a successful session, that was what was required. Some training can be fun and/or epic and all of that goodness, but rest assured that the pros you know are probably doing the BORING stuff, and that’s how we’ve gotten to be good. 

-Keeping a fun factor IS important. Make sure you are in open communication with your coach about this and plan that in. For everyone this is different, but it’s important. Your coach might have you make a call sometimes too — hopefully they’d give you a little tough love if you are asking for some liberties that aren’t the best to get you to your goals that you’re working towards with them, because it won’t always align. 

-Make a meal plan and fueling plan around training! When I take a step back to look forward at my training ahead – often my first thought is about eating. For the big weeks, you need to be proactive about meal planning and fueling. By the time you’re in a fueling hole, it’s too late and your workouts will suffer while you dig out of it. From making sure my pantry is stocked with training fuel (NUUN, Spring Energy Gels, Clif Blocks are my faves), to making sure its also packed with the basic snacks (AND emergency snacks! I always have a pack of Oreos and a box of poptarts in the cabinet during times of high volume training!!), to sitting down and making sure you have at least a rough plan for lunch/dinner through the week. I’m also the first person to encourage you to make this as easy as you can for yourself! We live in a time where you can get groceries delivered, and meal planning done for you. If these things cause you extra stress or you just don’t know where you’ll find the time – outsource it! You are investing so much already in your training for this goal race, don’t cut yourself short now over a few extra dollars to help yourself out (and seriously, it’s only a few extra dollars – I’ve done the math many times!). 

-Communication. I have touched on this through a lot of the above posts, but communication about how you’re executing things is just as important as the execution itself. As I said at the start – this is a SKILL that you will work on during your time as an athlete. Your coach is there to help you fine tune this, and guide you through the processes to do this well. But coaches are not mind readers, so make sure you are communicating! 

Happy training everyone!!

The Beat Goes On

It’s funny how plans change, huh? Or, more like I guess it’s funny how intentions change. What we think we feel and we know can all change in the matter of months, weeks and even days! 

Just a brief 8ish months ago, I was beginning to think that my plans to continue to race Ironman season after season were dwindling. There is just so much adventure to be had in the world…..I had the bug to do my two favorite races (Copenhagen and Wisconsin) but, I just wasn’t sure beyond that. A big part of that is because I have some big hopes of what I can do on the ultra running circuit (UTMB!!), along with some other FKT-type adventures on the bucket list. 

But then, I didn’t get into UTMB this year. [UTMB is the Ultra Tour du Mont Blanc, a ~104 mile running race that happens in late August each year.] Of course, I had a contingency plan in the back of my mind, and to be honest, even I was a bit surprised about what it was! 

I had been planing to race IM New Zealand in March regardless, to be able to get in a bit of triathlon fun before transitioning to UTMB as I hoped. I really do feel that triathlon has been a huge asset to my other endurance adventures. The endurance base you can build without a ton of miles and pounding on your body is really valuable when it’s time to transition to the other stuff. 

So, since I didn’t get into UTMB, I had a bit more time this year to play with some options. And what rose to the top of things? Well, after 2016 when I swore that I would never do it again, I will be racing, once again, the dirty double of Ironman races on back-to-back weekends! With IM Texas and IM St George just a week apart this year……and never having done either of them….I couldn’t quite pick where to go. So, why not do both?! I historically race well doing this, even though the thought of returning to the training for it has me scared! The last time I did this I was 31, and a lot happens to the body — a lot has happened to my body — in these 4 years!! So I’m excited to see how I handle the training, how the strength of the Long Trail and my other adventures might help me with this now, and to see what I can do where I’ll no doubt be racing some of the best women at these North American races. 

So, how is it looking? Well, after a whirlwind couple weeks in California where I managed to get sick not once, but twice, I am back home, and settling back into my routine. With New Zealand coming up fast, it is most definitely crunch time, so I’m happy to be feeling better, and I’m happy to have the base fitness of camp under me to be able to build on that in these next few weeks.

Speaking of: CAMP! Hillary and Maik Twelsiek moved their early season camp to Encinitas, California this year since they are now SoCal based, and it was SO MUCH FUN! It was a blast to ride some new routes and experience new adventures in the sun in January. The second spring camp is postposed this year as they are expecting kidlet #4, but stay tuned as we are assessing plans for a late season camp as well! 

So, moral of my story today? Plans change. You might not want to do something one season, and the next, that’s all you want to do. That’s great. Embrace it! Do what excites you and gets you out of bed to train each day, because the early morning alarms and the fatigue will try to test your resolve! If you don’t have the excitement factor, it’s a much tougher battle. But, be careful, because you might end up signing up for 3 ironman in 8 weeks 🙂 

And? If you’ll be at any of my three races this spring – New Zealand, Texas, and St. George, please let me know! 

Last Minute Gifts!

It’s crunch time people! And actually, while I love crunches (and sit-ups. Seriously I just love ab workouts), I hate crunch time and feeling under pressure for gift giving! I like to buy Christmas presents around the year when I am inspired by something, and I keep a constant list of ideas so I don’t forget when I do have inspiration for a gift. That said…..something *always* falls through the cracks and I’m left scrambling! So here’s your quick, order today so it gets there in time, gift guide:

For the (tri)athlete: Smashfest Queen and ISM Saddles. Smashfest Queen has a range of options for the triathlete or runner in your life, from tri kits to cozy beanies, you can find big surprise gifts or stocking stuffers there. And ISM is for the triathlete who has everything….but what triathlete actually replaces their saddle when they need to?! You can get 20% off the performance saddles with code GODESKY20 before Christmas too!

For the friend who wants to save the planet: Palm Free Beauty’s Sarnaya Oil. It’s only available for pre-sale right now (which in my opinion is even better….it’s like Christmas will come again in March!). But I encourage everyone to educate yourselves on how tropical deforestation to produce palm oil emits massive amounts of carbon, and is a significant driver of global warming. Sarnaya Oil is made naturally, and as someone who was lucky enough to test this through development, it’s simply a great product.

For the friend who is trying to be a little bit healthier: Sister Shrub. I actually do like Apple Cider Vinegar in it’s pure state, but I am always searching for ways to spice up my soda stream habit (note: NUUN Hydration is also a fave in my soda stream water!). I recently tried Sister Shrub and am loving it.

For the friend who loves supporting women and wants to #represent: Live Feisty swag! While many of the above business are women-owned, the holiday Live Feisty shop has a lot of great options for those who want to sport the fact that they are #feisty in full view. Plus, a sparkly phone case and a coffee mug? Say no more.

For the friend who has everything: DONATE! Things are nice, but who isn’t happy to receive word that a donation has been made in their name? Two of my faves this season are the Green Mountain Club (gotta keep that Long Trail up and running for future FKT-ers, right?!) and the ASPCA (or find your local chapter)…..because, dogs.

Happy shopping and happy holidays!!

Offseason Ramblings

I am not going to recap too much of my experience at the Trans-Pecos Ultra. A lot of that has been covered in my Q&A posted on the Smashfest Diaries here. A bunch of post-race interviews are also being posted, you can find them here as they come out.

One thing I didn’t cover too much with my race inside is about my recovery from this event (at the time of writing, it was too soon to reflect on how the recovery went!). It’s now been just over 2 weeks since I finished running so I have had a little bit of time to compare this to other races. 

Overall, I have been super happy about how recovery has been. On the physical side I had a lot of the standard experiences post-ultra: cankles galore, swollen toes, sore muscles, etc. That said, I didn’t feel like it was ever as intense as it is post-100 miler, or even post-50 miler, despite the last day of running being well over 50 miles. I think that’s because the overall pace of running here was slower, especially that last day, compared to how I’ve been able to race ultras in the past. I don’t think I dug quite as deep into the muscle breakdown as when I have raced ultras before. That gives me something to think about in terms of what I could do in future stage races — could I race myself physically to that level? And, how to push myself to that point?  

That said, it’s clear that the overall effort still took a big toll on my body. While the initial physical side of things wasn’t as acute in terms of pain or soreness, the more intangibles and overall body fatigue was easily the same, if not more, than a 100 miler. After the Long Trail, I always get nervous that my sleep status will be affected from these efforts. And knowing that sleep is the best way to recover, it’s nerve-racking wondering if I will even be able to sleep to take advantage of that. Good news folks: this was not an issue! In the first week after the event, I was sleeping 10-12+ hours a night without issue. I’ve never been more grateful for a flexible lifestyle to allow me to take advantage of this. I am positive that being able to sleep for a week straight when my body was asking for it will help me recover faster and move along to my next training block without issue (when that time comes, not there yet don’t worry!).

I have also been eating like a champ. Whatever 6 days of self-supported racing does to your metabolism is the REAL deal. I’m talking like even 10 days after the event I picked up a leaf off my carpet and put it in my mouth because I thought I dropped a pretzel chip and was hungry enough to eat off my carpet apparently. I had some of my bffs from high school come to visit in the week after as well — that meant minimal physical activity, a lot of wine, and plenty of food and snacks. Typically after that kind of weekend I am craving clean eating and movement. This time around? Not so much! My body still wanted unlimited food and wasn’t too keen on getting moving yet. So, I’m listening to it!

I have been swimming masters through my days of having a break from structure as well. Some people like to take time totally off, and I am giving my body a good few weeks off of running with plenty of total rest days. But I still like to hike to stay sane, and to be honest if I didn’t go to masters I might go days without social interaction! So masters is good for my mind and body in this time 🙂 

Also on the list for this time? Major cleaning of my apartment, Christmas decorations are coming out, and other various housekeeping items for getting ready for my next training block….small things like getting new goggles and also big things like a bike fit! This was particularly exciting as I went back to Joe at VeloConcepts just up the road in Culpeper, and it was my first time with him and the new fit system he has. I absolutely recommend anyone heading to him to take advantage of this system. It’s really cool to be able to dial in your original position on the fit bike, slowly make some changes, and then be able to bounce between old-new seamlessly to compare the fits and keep dialing it in.  I’ve also never used a pressure mapping system before to assess my saddle. I have always sat more on the left side of the saddle, and I just assumed that was how it would be based on my anatomy! Working with Joe this week we made some adjustments, and I’ll be swapping to the ISM PS 1.0 saddle going forward, which allows me to sit evenly on the saddle. Super cool to be able to see that technology up close. 

Working on my FITness

More updates to come as I work through offseason and begin to plan what is ahead. Hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving!

What’s in the pack?

For those of you still reading this blog, thank you! And, I do apologize for the lack of consistent posting these days. If you are ever in dire need of knowing “what Alyssa is up to” consider this your reminder that the IronWomen podcast goes out every Thursday and has a healthy dose of my life updates each week 🙂

But, I am doing my best to keep posting updates here. My next race, and last one of 2019, is the Trans-Pecos Ultra. I’m going to be running the 6 day event, where we cover ~164 miles over 5 stages + 1 neutral prologue. Being a self-supported event (water is provided, as are group tents each night), this is totally outside my comfort zone….and I’m excited about that! Part of the fun of this challenge has been figuring out what will go in my pack. Actually, before that, it’s been fun to think about naming my pack. I decided to crowd source it through my instagram followers with voting on my story, and it’s narrowed down to the final two options, with the last vote being today, so go vote! To be honest, I’m expecting quite a few responses as I already have a decent number of followers. But if I wanted more of you to contribute in the voting, then I always have the option of turning to an instagram growth service if I really needed help, because what would be the point of having a vote if I don’t have anyone to take part? But I think it’s fair to say that I’m definitely going to receive an answer once the voting has finished. We still have a while to go yet though. The options are:

Beezus. You may know that my dog is Ramona, named after the character of Ramona Quimby from Beverly Cleary books. 

Beatrice Ann “Beezus” Quimby is a character from the Henry Huggins and Ramona series of books by Beverly Cleary. She is the friend of Henry and Mary Jane, and the older sister of Ramona and Roberta. Beezus earned her nickname from Ramona, who had a hard time saying Beatrice as a toddler.

In the “Henry Huggins” series of books, Beezus is depicted as an intelligent neighboring girl and a close friend of Henry’s who is constantly pestered by her infuriating younger sister and best friend Ramona. The first and only book to shift to her viewpoint rather than that of Henry, Beezus and Ramona, chronicles the sibling rivalry between the two girls and the irritating stunts performed by Ramona that agitate her older sister. From then onward, after the series has completely jumped to centering on Ramona’s life, Beezus is depicted as an intelligent, studious girl and a typical elder sibling towards Ramona, taunting her and aggravating her. However, in Ramona and her Father, Beezus adopts a grouchier attåitude because of her father’s unemployment, albeit toward the ending of the book her mood is enlightened a bit as a result of her selection to portray the Blessed Virgin Mary in the upcoming Nativity play. She is usually kind, but teases Ramona nonetheless and agitates her with the sisterly wisdom she has to share, such as Ramona’s being forced to wear Beezus’s hand-me-downs and the fact that they have experienced similar dreams before in the past, leading Ramona to wonder if some dreams are inherited.

The second option is Junko, after Junko Tabei.

Junko Tabei (22 September 1939 – 20 October 2016) was a Japanese mountaineer. She was the first woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest, located between Nepal and China, and the first woman to ascend all the Seven Summits by climbing the highest peak on every continent.

I think we can all agree that the length of the intro paragraphs from the wikipedia pages I copy and pasted is not related to the depth of their contribution to society! If you care to vote, head to my instagram.

Back to packing the pack. The picture above is what it looked like today as I did another gear check, and the details are below. If you are reading this in hopes of finding some ultra light-weight tips….you probably won’t find much! I do have some lightweight aspects to what I am trying to do, but I know there is a lot I can improve upon. Hopefully this is just the first of many multi day events to come, and I’ll keep perfecting this as I go. I keep having small panics which include me adding and removing various items into the pack, but I think I’m just about finalized!

The mandatory items are:

In addition to the mandatory items, I’m bringing:

  • Flip flops
  • Sleeping mat
  • Pillow
  • Wet wipes
  • Injinji Compression socks (extra)
  • Extra pair of running shorts
  • Sunscreen/chapstick
  • Earplugs
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
  • iPod shuffle (though I do still need to confirm these are allowed!)
  • A coffee mug – for AM coffee and PM NUUN Rest!
  • And as the days pass here it’s becoming more obvious to me I’ll be packing tampons as well!

Needless to say I didn’t ultimately keep myself to 3 luxury items that people suggest for these events….

The race also requires you to bring 14,000 calories…..I’m bringing 18,000. Again, this was a complete unknown for me as I have never been in a situation where my food intake for almost a week would be limited!! Even on the Long Trail, my crew was able to provide me any type of food under the sun at any moment (truly an impressive feat in Vermont). I’ve copied below what I will be bringing for food.

It will be interesting to see what the verdict is on all of this at the end!! Either way, I’m excited to head to Texas and see what this is about – my first race in Texas! I hear things are….big?

Follow me on social media where I’ll post info on the live tracking and updates when I know where you can find them! (links in the upper right)

Slow Burn

I was reading an athlete profile the other day. It told the story a woman who found her way to trail running and described the experience as “love at first summit.” That made me stop and think about my initial encounters with the sport.

Trail running was never like that for me. Neither was triathlon, actually. In both, my early experiences with them were the kind of fun that is more fun in hindsight. But during, it was a lot questioning life decisions and wondering if I’d make it through the damn thing in one piece. I was enjoying the process, sure, but I wasn’t head over heels enamored. 

With cycling, I had to keep going out on the bike with people that would drop me over and over and over. Eventually, I started to keep up and I started to enjoy myself more. I would go out with friends running in the mountains and often pretended I had to stop to tie my shoe when I couldn’t climb as fast (true story), many, many times, before I started to enjoy myself.  It’s never been this big fiery passionate relationship. It’s been a slow burn, that, more than anything, has led me to other stuff. The stuff that does fire me up inside. The stuff like getting more people into the outdoors, and feeling safe on a bike, or on the trails. The stuff like making sure women have equal opportunity in sport and, if not, fighting for it. The stuff like helping others realize that their body is an amazing tool, and they should use it to move, to train, and race! 

I’m not saying this because one way or the other is right or wrong. There are so many ways to enjoy sport and the last thing I am wanting to do is judge which is right. But this made me pause extra hard because of a conversation I had with a friend last week. 

Her and I were talking about life in general, and she was saying how it’s really great that I have been able to follow my passion in life. Her own son had gone to play professional sport for a few years after college, and recently has retired, transitioning back to real life. We chatted about how he’s struggling a little bit with the transition. And she said something along the lines of how it’s great I have been able to find my passion, and hopefully it will also give me purpose along the way, because that seems to be his missing link now that he’s retired.

That concept of purpose struck a chord. “Passion” is such a buzzword these days and it’s easy to see my lifestyle as “living my passion.” But quite honestly that has always felt a bit wrong to me. I hate to say it, but it almost can feel offensive at times! I’d hear someone allude to that and just think to myself: am I really PASSIONATE about…..triathlon?! Or ultrarunning?! Those things are not what I am all about. I do them, yes, but if they were to go away tomorrow, I’m actually 100% sure I’d be okay, and I’d find another way to exercise and be happy.

 And so, I’ve always known that the answer to if I’m passionate about these sports is, perhaps surprisingly, not really. I love these sports and I invest a lot in them. And what I have come to realize is that they have lead me to my purpose. And my purpose is my passion —> not the sports themselves.

So why mention this now? Well, I’m racing again this weekend! And yes, for those counting, that is 2 Ironmans and an upcoming three day racing extravaganza in 4 weeks. It’s a lot of racing. It’s hard on my body. It’s hard on my mind too! People ask me all the time how I do it? Why do you do it? Some even suggest that it can’t be healthy (thanks, peanut gallery). 

And I think what I’ve come to realize is that I do have this “superpower” because triathlon, to me, is: 

  • fun
  • an adventure
  • a place where I learn more about myself and my strengths
  • a place where I learn to be a better communicator
  • a place where I learn confidence

You know what triathlon isn’t? It’s not something that defines the kind of person I am. And that’s all I keep close. 

Some may think that this is why I’ll never be the best. But ya know what? I’m literally doing MY best. If that never matches up with THE best? Well, then it doesn’t. And that my friends, is sports. Some people win and some people lose, and in triathlon there’s a lot more losers than winners, that’s for sure. You can’t take that personally or it will simply drive you nuts.

And so that’s what I carry with me when I race a lot. I know that things might go really really poorly with some of the racing timelines. But most of the time time they go really well! And because my happiness, my passion and most importantly – my purpose – lies in other things, in the end, I’m good either way. The pressure that I see so many athletes putting on themselves, is off – I don’t carry that with me. 

I love triathlon and ultra running and I love that they have allowed me to develop as a strong leader, communicator and coach. I love that they have lead me to things that light up my ambition, and fire up my motivation to do other really good work.

So, maybe, for some like myself, we shouldn’t look for that love at first summit. We should look for that slow burn. That’s how you know where you’ll stay. Happily. 

474 Days

That is how long it’s been since I’ve raced an iron distance race (Challenge Taiwan 2018!). And let me tell you, for someone who, over the last ten years, has raced 30 Ironmans…..waiting 474 days to do one feels like forever! 

But, I am going to be back on the start line for another 140.6 miles of fun come Sunday, in my favorite city in the world to date: Copenhagen. In previous years here I have done a lot of the tourist things – canal tours, meals on the waterfront, E-bike city tours, etc.  This year I am just doing my best to hibernate a bit before the race and keep the legs up and sipping on my NUUN Hydration. I am so lucky because my “host mom” who helped me see Copenhagen like both a tourist and local in years past is still willing to cook for me and we had a great dinner last night, catching up on the last few years. I love the special connections I have made through this sport – we can reconnect just every couple of years and it seems like we haven’t missed a beat, only her grandchildren keep getting older!

Hibernation has given me plenty of time to be super diligent with my pre-race routine and really making sure I don’t blow through any details since I’m out of practice. I’ve done a lot of work all around with the swim/bike/and run in the last 474 days, and I don’t want to lose what that could give me in a race because of a silly oversight! It should be rainy-ish and cool — typical Danish conditions — also perfect Ironman conditions in my opinion! 

If you happen to be in Copenhagen, please join me tomorrow….Women For Tri is hosting a brunch and I will be on the panel for a Q&A. Though, apparently you had to register for this event I just found out….but I doubt they will actively turn folks away!

And finally, remember when I ran the Long Trail last summer? Well, Aliza Lapierre is out on her attempt to get the women’s supported record, as I type! It’s fun to be on *this* side of things this time around, I have to say. Tracking her definitely leaves me a bit nostalgic and I relive each section as she faces it. I couldn’t help but think the “fun” of the rivers that made up the trail that first climb up Jay Peak, climbing through Devil’s Gulch, and eating my summit poptart on Mansfield. Aliza and I did connect before her attempt, and I wish her all the best on this adventure!! You can track her here

And if that isn’t enough adventure, in the other random things I’ve been following since I’ve spent more time on the internet with taper: Mike Posner (yeah, the guy who wrote “Cooler than Me” – aka the song that’s been stuck in your head for the last 11 years) is walking across America and writing songs while he does it. Until, he got bit by a rattlesnake and he has had to spend time in the hospital and recuperating, because apparently rattlesnake bites are not good. Anyway, you can follow this on twitter.

You’re welcome.

Here’s to swim-bike-running for the Danish Kroner on Sunday!!! And always, please consider supporting my amazing sponsors who help keep me dreaming big and racing hard!

It’s the worst! Let’s do it again….

If you have been following along with me the last couple months, you might have noticed I have been focusing a bit on my open water swim. Over the years I have successfully progressed in the pool to a point where we want me to be. The transition from that to a successful swim in the open water has happened…..sometimes. The consistency for it definitely isn’t there, and going into two big ironman races for me this year, I want to feel confident going into the open water that my effort will reflect my abilities. And more importantly, that my swim will put me in a good position to capitalize on the rest of the race. 

There could be a variety of ways to achieve this. Luckily for me, I knew I already had two of the best possible swim coaches on my side. Hillary, who has already revolutionized my swimming in the years we have been working together, and Coach E, or, Don Easterling. I am *very* fortunate to have stumbled upon his masters group here in town!

So, commence #alltheswimming. I am also swimming often with my good friend and training partner, Shirley. Shirley currently holds 13 long distance swimming records, and has had countless others through the years. Luckily for me, her record times in the 65-69 age group are my perfect training pace and my targets for racing! Because of Shirley, I have now also started doing weekly open water swims. Previously if I was going to swim open water in training, I lost steam pretty quickly. Knowing that I should be able to keep up with Shirley – since we are stroke for stroke in the pool – I am much more motivated for a 5k open water workout. While her and I both know I hate it, even if I don’t say it out loud, I always go back to what she told me one day at masters when I was complaining about swimming more butterfly and she wouldn’t let me put on my fins to take the easy way. I asked her how she can keep swimming fly even when we are so tired from 5k of swimming already. She said: “Well…..you just have to do it.” 

It really is that simple. You don’t have to go looking for some “fix” or some hack. You don’t have to find a secret. You don’t need a change in perspective. You can keep hating it. But if you want to be the best, or even just better, you just have to do it. 

This is pretty much how I feel every week when I do my open water swim with Shirley. It is the part of my week that I just have to get through, testing all my mental strategies to stay present and engaged. I really enjoy her company and the fact that she puts up with me clearly not too excited to be there is very admirable! It reminds me of some of the workouts I would do with Leslie in past seasons – neither of us loved it. They were the worst. But we just did it.  Misery definitely loves company, and when your company is helping you get faster and chase those podiums, I really, really appreciate the company!

So, for now, it might be the worst. But I’ll be there next week!

The Heat is On

First: please take a second to go vote for Ramona for the cutest pet contest at my apartment complex. Yes, I have decided to get competitive about this! Please help by LIKING THIS PHOTO!

Now to regularly scheduled programming:

Since getting back from Australia, it’s been a whirlwind! I did end up going to Chattanooga to race, and while it wasn’t ideal to come out of being sick + jet lag to face a race in heat and humidity, it pulled the bandaid off the race season and did get me excited to race some more.

Speaking of heat and humidity…..that situation is REAL right now in the mid Atlantic and southeast! After living in this part of the country for, well, my whole life, I have a strategy for how athletes best survive here: EMBRACE IT!

Seriously! I used to hate running and biking hills. When I was in college and dabbling in triathlon, I’d do anything to avoid the hilly stuff. Until one of my good friends and triathlon superstar, Annie, gave me her secret: she said you just tell yourself you love them. Over and over, and do them as much as you can. Every time you hate it, say *out loud* “I love these hills!” And eventually it’s not that bad.

I’ve chosen to take that same approach with the humid and hot summers that we tend to get here in Virginia. Admittedly, it’s a little easier because I think I’m happiest when I’m tan, in a sports bra and running shorts, and in the heat, rather than bundled up trying to stay warm. But, that doesn’t mean that training has come easy for me in these conditions. When the temperature starts rising and the humidity is off the hook, I fall back on my top 3 to get over the hump of those first few weeks:

-Sunscreen! This is key. Finding a sunscreen that is thin enough you don’t feel like you’re wearing Elmer’s glue, but actually works is key. I suggest Zealios Sun Barrier — with the code “ironwomen” you get 20% off too. Also: don’t forget about your lips! Use chapstick with SPF!

-Electrolytes! If you know me, you know that I rarely drink plain water. I simply don’t like the taste….or lack of a taste. So my NUUN habit is a constant no matter the time of year or training that I’m doing, but it comes in especially handy during these heavy sweating months. The code “ironwomen” will get you 30% off at nuunlife.com. My favorites are the Strawberry Lemonade NUUN Sport, and the Strawberry Lemonade NUUN Endurance (has caffeine!). 

-Think outside the box! Sauna training is a great tool, and the science behind it is very promising. But sauna training means you 1. Have to have access to a sauna, and 2. Have the time to devote to ANOTHER workout session. Not ideal for triathletes already stretching themselves thin! By timing some workouts throughout the week in the hotter times of day — and timing others so they are NOT in the hottest times of the day — you can help your body acclimate and make some heat gains. Trail running is also a great thing to mix in when it works because it’s often cooler under the shade of trees in a trail.…not to mention strategically placed swimming holes (unless you’re like me and would never get in one for fear of snakes!) Or maybe you have Skyline Drive or the Blue Ridge Parkway within reach…..it’s generally at least 10 degrees cooler up there, and that’s a great spot for some training. 

-Patience! Unfortunately I don’t have a discount code for you for this one. But I can assure you that after spending many summers now in the heat and humidity of the east coast, my tune has changed: I now believe that I can race just as strong the heat as I can in perfect conditions. With a few little tweaks and some planning, it’s doable, but now is the time to make those chances, and perhaps most importantly, mentally embrace the conditions!

The up and coming

As I came out of my Tucson camp haze I was also starting to look at my upcoming race schedule, and one thing stood out in my thoughts: I didn’t want to wait until June to race! While I’m not feeling SUPER fit right now, I’m feeling fit enough – and perhaps more importantly, my mind is in a good place to toe the line. The schedule is a little complicated because I am heading to Noosa next week to crew for my TeamHPB athlete Briana in Ultraman…..but, I’m no stranger to traveling. I’ll pack the NUUN and my sleep mask, make sure some travel arrangements are easy when possible….and hopefully I come out of the zillion hours of travel unscathed 🙂

So, it will be a bit of a game time decision (#perk of being a pro) but as of right now I am planning to race Chattanooga 70.3 in a few weeks! If travel back from OZ ends up being a disaster, then I won’t head down south. But, it’s a good course for me and I know that when the itch to race happens, the best thing to do can be to scratch and see where you’re at.

After that,  it’s back to the regularly scheduled programming that I had been planning: Eagleman 70.3, IM Copenhagen, IM Wisconsin, and the Big Savage Challenge at Savageman. I am also contemplating a trip to the southern hemisphere in July for Ecuador 70.3 – more as a bucket list race than anything else – but I might make that call after Chattanooga. We’ll see.

But yes – the stars have most definitely aligned and I will be racing my TWO FAVORITE IRONMAN COURSES in the same season!! Knowing I’ll be heading back to Copenhagen and Madison has me super pumped and ready to take on the long summer days in the humidity to get myself ready.

I’m also excited to tackle a “double” again this year – I think doing IM Wisconsin and the Big Savage Weekend (swim/run Friday, Olympic Saturday, 70.3 Sunday) will be quite tough but I have always loved to race Savageman and I’m excited to go back this year and race the 3 days for the prize money!

I also have already committed to my late season race for the season: I’ll be racing a 6-day stage race in November, the Trans-Pecos Ultra in Texas. This race looks like a once in a lifetime opportunity for sure, and with the ability to earn my last 6 UTMB points for the lottery*, I didn’t want to pass this up. This also conveniently frees my end of September through October for some trail adventures 🙂 

For now it’s keeping the blinders on and letting the process work itself out as I continue to find fitness!

* – UTMB changed their lottery policy and turns out I only need 10 points now instead of 15!! After racing the 110km in Spain and the Marin 50 miler, I will have 9…..ah! So, basically I could have skipped the entire thing racing Marin 2 weeks after Spain…sigh. But then I wouldn’t have had a great weekend with friends, running trails in a beautiful place, so, not really a loss at all.