October Updates

nos·tal·gia : näˈstaljə,nəˈstaljə/

noun

  1. a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.

The last month has been in so full of nostalgia for me. The first couple weeks I spent in Hawaii, and as soon as wheels touch down on the big island and I walk down onto the tarmac…..it feels like home. Which is crazy, because that is actually 17 hours of travel away from my home. But if the past 3 years have taught me one thing, it’s that home can be a relative thing. It feels good to walk into a condo after a year has gone by, but my laptop already knows the wifi code. When I already know the running routes, the grocery store, and the best spot for a coffee to catch up with friends….that’s home.

Then I came home, and I adopted this 52.4 pound bundle of LOVE, Coco Bean.

img_2435At least, for me. For strangers she’s a 52.4 bundle of uncertainty and skittishness, but oh man does she love me. And it’s amazing and literally feels like for no apparent reason other than she just picked me. So I have been feeding off of her obsession with me and am taking her on all sorts of amazing adventures. I’m making the effort to get outside more with her and this has me back on trails that I haven’t been on in such a long time. The memories from my earliest days of trail running are such great ones that I have loved reliving from the dirt paths and the stunning overlooks. The beach is great, but the mountains have been calling.

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So much so, in fact, that I made my off season project this time an ultra. I’ll be running the Mt Masochist 50 miler on Saturday with the one and only Julie. I haven’t seen her since our Lanzarote adventures, so this one feels right!

I get quite a few questions on my training for the ultra after coming off of 4.5 Ironmans this year. Truth be told – my mileage never got super high for this. As an offseason “fun” project, there’s no reason to come out of this trashed and needing a ton of time to recover. After all, 2017 racing begins in about 12 weeks! So, what I did with Hillary this go around is that we found a lot of ways to apply that stress, without really having to do overload of mileage. While I won’t tell you exactly what we did, let’s just say it involved a few days where I took 4 showers, and a few days where I got to the overlook to see this view more than once:

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I’m looking forward to Saturday, and if you wish to follow along, here is the info from the race on how to do that:

“We will use all these, as well as the blog & main eco-x site for live webcasting during the race”:

http://www.facebook.com/czealand

http://www.facebook.com/ecorun

https://twitter.com/czealand

http://instagram.com/clarkzealand

My #5Q Story

I wish there was a more profound story behind the start of it. I’m not sure it would make it better, but it would probably be more exciting to read about if I had a background in women’s studies, a fully in-depth understanding of women’s rights and the history of gender discrimination. That this was a calculated move to start “a revolution” in triathlon. That I had it all mapped out in my head.

But, I didn’t. In fact, I don’t have any of the above. But, I do have a bottle of champagne I bought early in the process to celebrate the change when it happened. It’s still in my fridge.

What it actually was, was July of 2014 and I was preparing to race IM Boulder. I was doing some typical pre-race research on who was racing, and ended up clicking over to the Kona Point qualification system. This brought me face to face with an issue that had always raised a red flag to me, but quite honestly, until that day, it wasn’t as much of a big deal. It’s a little embarrassing to say that while I cared before, I never took another step forward on it because it hadn’t yet begun to affect me. But now, it was 2014 and my first pro year. It was now going to directly matter to me. Why should I have less of an opportunity to race in Kona than a male pro? That question inspired me to take the next step – find out if others felt the same. So, I did what any good millennial would do: I took to twitter.

I’ve been criticized for using twitter as a medium, but it’s important to understand that this conversation had already been going on “politely” for some time. Rachel Joyce is the first to have publicly pointed out that this was a change that should happen.  And, Thorsten Radde, the most prominent Ironman statistician around, had also done in depth analysis on the topic.

My timing was, if I do say so myself, pretty spot-on. The women professionals in the sport were truly at a turning point. Fields were getting deeper. Talent was getting stronger. Women were finding their voice on and off the race course. Within a matter of days there was some traction, and I realized something great was happening here.

Do I regret it? No. There have been plenty of tears shed over this. Tears of anger, sadness and frustration. I’ve quit more times than I can count. But, I go to bed and the next day some reason to keep fighting is always staring me in the face. And there’s also tears of happiness. Thank you to everyone who has reached out along the way to share their story and encourage us to keep fighting for this. It has meant more than you know.

This cause has taught me so much about standing up for what I believe in. About the value of open conversation and listening to others. About give and take. It has taught me that there are businesses out there who don’t care about doing the right thing over making money. And it’s taught me that in my own business, I commit more emphatically than ever to never allow myself to sell out like that. I believe you can do both: make money and do good things.

It has shown me that as much good there is in triathlon there is also just as much stubborn and just as much irrational. And the silver lining to that is that this fight is making all of us more resilient and tenacious. And we need more of that. Especially to take onto the Ironman course.

5Q has also brought to me some of the best teachers I could have asked for in my life. Sue, Sara, Hillary, Jordan, Rachel, Kelly – while I knew everyone before, this cause bound us tighter. You have been shining examples to me of what 5Q is about. Thank you for keeping me going when things got tough.

I think it’s an important part of the story to recognize how the people behind #5Q truly came together independently. I remember having to “come clean” to Hillary early in the process, that I was behind it. My fears of being shut down, of being told it wasn’t worth the potential backlash on my career, of being told that it wasn’t worth her ruining her business and legacy, were over as quick as I hit “send.” Hillary & Smash were behind me 100%. That gave me the confidence to be a part of the larger things that came from this (namely, TriEqual). That was something being worked on by the others well outside of my twitter-verse. I am extremely grateful they brought me in to be a part of that.

The issue of “I didn’t care because it didn’t affect me” at first still really bothers me, and that guilt has stayed with me throughout the campaign. It stays with me because I think that this is one of the attitudes we have to face on a daily basis that hinders our progress, and it’s hard for me to fight it when I know I so easily accepted that same argument myself.  I couldn’t have gotten @50womentokona to where it is today myself. It’s there because of everyone, together. As women we need to support each other and recognize those opportunities when we can step in to support one another, even if it doesn’t directly affect us. That is how great things happen.

To me, 50 women to Kona is about equal opportunity.  We all deserve it. Please voice your support at www.50womentokona.org.

 

Finding My Nerve

Photo: Kaori Photo

After my last blog post, I realized that I was super far ahead of myself in terms of where I normally am mentally, pre-ironman. The truth is, that after the double, I was feeling really fit. It’s hard to pull something like that off and *not* feel pretty darn fit. I felt so good, I actually had tried to hop into IM Mount Tremblant at the end of August. However, I e-mailed for entry on 8/1….7/31 was the deadline. Womp womp. But that left me plenty of time to fine tune things for Wisconsin.

It’s not to say the last 5 weeks haven’t had typical pre-IM freakouts. I still massively failed some workouts and came to the delusional conclusion that l clearly had just gone to bed one night fit, and woke up with my triathlon abilities vanished. Seems logical, right?

But, generally, I have been fit and ready. Though I recognize that the fitness piece is only part of the puzzle. And with the Olympics having come and gone recently, and Kona on the horizon, I have all around me inspiration from the best of the best. I am left with time to think about what it is exactly that makes the great moments. The great races. The days where things come together and you get your day. What do you do to get there?

Hillary recently wrote a few thoughts about this here. These qualities of our Team HPB Kona qualifiers are present in them day after day. So I asked myself if I was going to add to that list, what would it be?

I began to think about racing in itself. Each of our Kona qualifiers – actually, beyond them, all of our athletes who have had a heck of a day racing this year where things just come together, Kona or no Kona….beyond that, on the days when I’ve had great races……what happened? What separated that day from the others. What made that day great, while others only good?

This article by Mara Abbott on her race in Rio is fantastic. One part stuck out to me:

Would you rather have some excuse or rationale for a race outcome: Sick last week, got a flat tire, missed a feed, had to sneeze when the winning attack went, or even just that you lost your nerve that day when it got really hard (yes, this happens). With that, you can forever clasp onto the worrystone-mantra of “I could have won, if only…?”

Or, would you rather honestly know you had ridden a race to the very best of your strength and ability, know there was nothing else you could have done and have that be…not…quite…enough?

 

She writes honestly about so many parts of being an athlete in this article, but I came back several times to the part where she says that sometimes, in a race, you could just lose your nerve that day when it got really hard. It’s not that you couldn’t have done it, or that you weren’t fit enough. Or that you didn’t even recognize the moment it happened. But, you couldn’t capitalize on it. You couldn’t jump: You lost your nerve.

Those races where we lose our nerve happen to any athlete who has raced for awhile, and I would say those are probably some of the races that haunt us the most. But her putting into words that this is an actual thing, made me pause and think.

Because the #6 thing that could be on Hillary’s list, is that these athletes, at some point or another in a race, didn’t lose their nerve. They held steady. Or maybe they went harder. Or maybe keeping their nerve that day meant just not quitting.

As I’m finishing up my third pro season, I have a pretty good sense of what losing your nerve in a pro race looks like. And, where that lands you. I also have a pretty good sense that I’m getting to a time where I’m closer to a race where losing my nerve will cost me more places, potential sponsors, and prize money, than ever before.

So, a lot of people ask what the heck I do all week when I’m out in Madison a week early. I am swimming, biking, and running the course. And, I’m finding my nerve.

Mooooo!

I always used to think that my favorite races are the races where I had a super successful day racing as well. But, I’m beginning to think that’s not quite the case. I’d recommend Challenge Wanaka to anyone in a heart beat (see ya there next year!) despite the whole smushing my face into the pavement thing…..

And…..Wisconsin! If you’ve ever asked me what my favorite race is, odds are pretty good this is one I’d bring up. Then I went back and read my IM Wisconsin race report from 2010. I’ll save you the trouble and sum it up by saying it involves stopping and sitting on a curb. Needless to say, that’s never a good thing.

I’m so excited to be racing IM MOO in a few weeks (apparently for some redemption!), and even more excited to be heading out to Madison next week to get settled on the course. So, I wanted to share my top 5 favorite things about what makes Madison so great to me:

Stella’s Hot and Spicy Cheese Bread. You can find it at the Saturday Farmer’s market, which I also really enjoy. But after searching for this link I’ve just realized that I can now mail order this bread to my doorstep in Charlottesville. AMAZING things happen with the postal service, people.

-The people. I swear….people in Wisconsin are just…..nice. Honest to god they are just more kind than people anywhere else in the world! Every time a stranger has surprised me with kindness — they are from Wisconsin. You’ll be treated right when you are in town! I have a super amazing homestay that is letting me invade their home for 10 days!! And I’ve already been invited to a Labor Day cookout with my friend Erin who was there at the finish line to give me a hug when I raced in 2010….It’s like I have more friends there than at home already!!

-Packers. No, I am actually not a Packer’s fan, per say. But, I am a fan of Packer’s fans. You have to love a town that has such deeply rooted, undying loyalty for their sports teams. Go Pack Go, and I’m packing my Badger’s t-shirt!

-College town. Living in Charlottesville I’m used to the college town vibe, and, I love it. It’s young, it’s diverse (well, okay, we try), it’s intelligent, and there is always something going on! Great food at any hour, it’s all at your fingertips.

-Weather. Okay, this one is not nessarily true. They get a lot of snow and cold in the winter (which really is the negative that keeps me from living there myself!), and, summer can be quite hot. But, if I SAY in this blog how amazing and perfect the weather is for an Ironman, then, the weather will be perfect, right?! #Fingerscrossed

Hope to see many of you in Madison this year or in years to come!!

It’s been a week!

Not like “it’s been a week since…” but more like: Boy has it been A WEEK!

The past week started off on a high note. I had the pleasure of heading up to Columbia, MD for one of the remaining Iron Girl events. It’s no wonder that it’s surviving when you see it: People LOVEEEE this race! It’s got a really great vibe and as someone who has never been to a women’s only event like that, it was great to see. And, when it’s put on by the Ulman Cancer Fund you know it’s in good hands 🙂 Joining me for the pro panel was Emily Sherrard, Suzy Serpico, and Bec Wassner. Between the 4 of us we covered ALL the bases. I have stopped being surprised by the fact that now when I leave a panel like that, even I find myself a bit inspired by the other women and with some new tips and perspective to take with me.

My topic for the panel was “It take a village” and I spoke about some of the influential women who have guided me through my career. If you missed it, feel free to take a listen:

On Sunday, we got to be a part of the event by offering encouragement throughout the start, handing out medals and high-five’s, and cheering as much as we could! It was great to see so many smiling faces, everyone had a great time. It was also pretty cool to watch in person as my athlete Susanne smashed it and took first overall!

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I headed home and this is unfortunately where things took a turn. My cat, Amelia, who you have all heard plenty about over the years if you’ve been reading for awhile, had been sick the past few weeks. Thinking it was somewhat under control, it was so sad to see her on Sunday, and I knew in my gut that things were worse than we were hoping for.  Those of you with furry little friends know how hard it is to say goodbye to such a good one!!!IMG_1841

I had been powering through in the early part of the week, trying to distract myself with workouts and Olympics as best I could. But it was clear that the stress of it all has definitely left me tired and a little sad. Not to mention coming off the back-to-back ironmans, my body is just over it all!

So…..it’s been a week. But the days are going by and as always my support system is one of a kind. I’m looking forward to a new week starting soon, getting things in gear, and continuing the prep for Ironman Wisconsin in September!

Truth Be Told: Thoughts on the Double

Social media and blogging is a funny thing. I do my best to always maintain my honesty, but sometimes for the sake of saving my sanity, this honesty is revealed in a retrospective look at things. This doesn’t mean I’m presenting a “THIS IS GREAT” image to fake people out. But rather, I’m presenting that image at times on purpose because at that time, I need to do what I can into forcing myself to believe it to!

The first rule of the double is: we do not talk about the double.

The second rule of the double is: if we talk about the double it’s only in positive terms. No negativity allowed!

The third rule of the double is: we do the double. No matter what.

Why? Because your mind is a powerful mother f*cker! There’s no sugar coating that. I had already done all of the training in the weeks prior to this. My body was ready to handle the stress of this. But the mental side of it, well, that’s never something that you can zip up and put your feet up and say “okay that’s done now too!” It’s a constant, every day process.

So, in hindsight, how was my double? Really hard. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth it, or that it wasn’t a success or that I didn’t secretly love it all in a weird I love hard things way. But, it was really freaking hard.

After IMUK, I woke up Monday and could barely touch the front of my left shin it hurt so bad. The post Ironman state is a tough one to be traveling to new places in. I was tears when the cab driver for my hotel that night said he didn’t take Visa, I couldn’t find an ATM, and when I converted all the cash I had it only came to $28 of the $35 I needed. I was in tears as my bike bags and suitcase got caught in the revolving doors and I missed my shuttle to the airport. I arrived in Switzerland to find out exactly *how* expensive it is when people warn me “it’s super expensive there.”

But even through some of these tears and the frustrating and tough moments, I tried to never say out loud how hard it was. I tried to be upbeat, and positive. The only person who needed to know my true mental and physical state was Hillary. My twitter, facebook, and Instagram, did not. I needed to give myself a fair shot at this double, and I knew that reigning in the mind was the most important step.

So every time things seemed just overwhelming, I stopped. Literally. And I asked for help. I told the cab driver I just didn’t have the money, unless he’d also take these $10 euros I found in the bottom of my bag. We would have to go to an ATM if not. He took the euros (I think he felt *really* bad for making me cry, haha). I accepted help from the random man with my bags and getting them unstuck. He went in and told reception I’d need the next shuttle (which was luckily in 15 minutes). And in Switzerland, well, living off of yogurt, salami and cheese sandwiches, and chocolate really could be worse.

As for my shin, I just decided that no matter how it felt NOW, it was going to be fine on race day. It wasn’t bad enough that I couldn’t walk and do some stuff. I truly just felt that I could will it to get better by race day. Even if I cried over it every day, maybe it still would have healed. But that would have been a lot of unnecessary stress on the rest of my body and mind.

I realize that a lot of this sounds a bit foofy and maybe even borderline “holistic health,” which is a bit different from my more analytical and scientific personality. But the fact of the matter is that stuff like this isn’t cut and dry. There’s just not enough people who have done it to have a good hold on what it does to the body and how you’ll feel throughout. Hence why you don’t see those “16 weeks to a back to back ironman” plans floating around out there. I’m really lucky that my coach has done it probably more than anyone else and has most of the data is in her mind. But I do have to go with my heart a lot through this, and what I have discovered after doing this twice, is that more than anything, these 2 weeks are about managing stress. Learning that you can’t cut corners, at the expense of mental or physical energy, is important. Pay for a cart to wheel your crap around. Get the taxi. Don’t stress yourself out just trying to save $2. Making things as easy as you can for yourself is key. Learning to embrace that “temporary amnesia” that Hillary told me I’d need to find, is also key. 

Oh, and I guess, this is also probably the post where you expect me to give a race report? Hmmm, let’s see if I can cover that quickly now:

-The swim – non-wetsuit for pro’s, I felt so-so. I was a little disappointed with the 1:03 in the sense that I was hoping to solidify that sub-60 swim time again, but, all things considered I wasn’t surprised with a 1:03 either.

– The bike. This course is glorious and is everything an Ironman bike course should be. I absolutely loved it, the perfect mix of flat, climbing and descending. Frequent and consistent referees on the course, great crowd support. Just a brilliant bike course.

-The run. This…..hurt. I knew very well how hard I had run that first week. I knew this was going to be a struggle. But I’m super proud of how long I held on before things started to break down and I’m grateful for the other strong women I was running against who kept the heat on which helped me keep going. In the last 5k I had fallen back to 9th place. Out of the money, by one spot. I spotted Natascha Badmann, 8th place, about 30 second up with about 2k to go. As much as I willed my legs to, I just couldn’t make up that ground. Until, I turned into the finish chute. Natascha, whether she knew I was right there or not, was celebrating with the crowd. Essentially the door was open. So, I ran through it…..and it was caught on camera. 8th place a little bit of cash was a great way to finish the trip.

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Thank you to everyone who helped to make this trip possible!! Please head to my sponsor page and support the companies that make this possible for me if you are able! The day of Switzerland, I was saying I was done with the double….then a week later I was saying I should have tripled. So who knows what the future could bring 🙂

Here we go again….!

Sidenote: whenever I see “USA” next to my name in a competition, I start replaying the scene from Miracle and have to yell out “I PLAY FOR THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!” True story.

Well, apparently today is Saturday. Which means tomorrow is Sunday. That’s race day.

Since arriving in Switzerland I seem to always be one day behind or one day ahead of myself!! But I think I’ve got it all figured out now 🙂 Going into the double this year, I assumed that, generally, I would know what to expect. First race will feel pretty great, the week between I’ll be tired but the legs will be there, and Sunday will be….hard.

Well, turns out, that every double isn’t the same! The first race this year in Bolton went well, but felt fairly “meh.” I just wasn’t feeling crisp or comfortable at any point in the day. Then, I had some grand plans for this week in between. Last year I was able to do a bunch of sightseeing and enjoy the sights of Copenhagen. This year…….I’ve been sleeping. And when I’m not sleeping, I’m thinking about when I can go back to sleep!!

I was, in fact, too tired in those first early days to worry about the differences. What does that mean for Sunday? – yep, too tired to care! All I know is that I’ve done buckets of training and I trust in my plan and my coach more than words. And sure enough, the past 2 days I’ve had glimpses of my legs coming back around! I’m savoring every bit of these last 12 or so hours with my feet up still, but I think they will be good to go.

It is, perhaps, a good thing that I haven’t been out and about much. For everyone who told me how great Zurich is, they forgot to mention I should probably pick up a few key German phrases!! This has left me going about doing what I usually do in foreign cities…..basically I do what I want to do until someone honks at me, yells at me, or yells and honks at me. Then, I re-evaluate. It works pretty well.

Luckily during my “big adventure” of the week, driving the bike course, I had along a TeamSFQ teammate – Camilla She is primed and ready to get after it tomorrow too. ! I was so grateful she was there to help me navigate as I am pretty sure I would have ended up in Germany without her. And there’s no race in Germany tomorrow. The views from the bike course are breathtaking – I’ll have to remember to soak some of that energy in tomorrow.

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I start at 6:42 local time, which is 12:42 am for all you east coasters, and 9:42pm for those on the west coast! Bib #47, coverage should be here. – Let’s see what we can do!!!

Opportunity Knocks

I do think it will always catch me off guard how we wait and wait and plan and train for these events to come, and then suddenly, boom : it’s the day before the race!! And there is nothing left to do but….wait.

So far Bolton has definitely lived up to it’s name of being one of the “friendliest towns.” Seriously everyone has been super kind and helpful. Their cheerful dispositions definitely make up for a lack of cheeriness brought to most towns simply through sunshine. I know it still exists as every now and then we get a glimpse, but the sun does like to hide behind the clouds around here!

Ironman in Bolton definitely comes with its logistics to figure out. Luckily I am here with my London-based friend Lucy who is helping me navigate the area. We made sure to spread some Smashfest Queen love on the streets of Bolton in our attack kits:

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In terms of the race, the word that kept coming up as I chatted with Hillary was: opportunity. This is a small field. I always do my due diligence with pre-race research on the other women racing. Thorsten’s data is a huge help to me and really helps me break down the data side of the race course.

With the field here in the UK being quite small, it’s clear that I have the distinct pleasure of racing this race, as the numbers would indicate, well under the radar for a podium spot.  Of course, numbers don’t lie…but they also don’t tell the whole story. The numbers don’t indicate my training, or heart. Or what happens to the other women when the pressure is on. Based on the numbers, it was clear this race is a huge opportunity. To go hard. To hang on. To be there when the door opens. And to step up to the challenge. That’s why I chose to race professionally in the first place, so I’m excited for what can come from this.

And, no matter what – I have another *opportunity* in 7 days. So, let’s do this.

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Double Double, Toil & Trouble

Well, I did it again. I let myself forget just what training for back-to-back Ironmans is like, signed up to do it again….and then, here we are. That point where looking ahead in the training plan makes your stomach turn and blood pressure rise. The point where no matter how much you eat, it’s just Not. Enough. The point where your alarm waking you up could be enough to make you burst into tears. Hormones, PMS…? They have nothing on what this training block is like!

But with the balance tipping to that side, every now and then things come rushing  back to the other side too. The moments of clarity. The five mile stretch on a ride where the wind is at my back and it feels like I could ride forever. The run that was over before I realized it stared. The 200 fast swim where it felt like I was Missy Franklin.

Those moments are fleeting, but they are there, and that is enough for me to know I’m on the right track to getting it done. I’m super excited to be heading back to Europe for the double this year: IM UK is first up on July 17th, followed by IM Switzerland on the 24th.

The packing for the double is perhaps more treacherous than the training….well, not really, but it does require double the amount of planning and prep (go figure) to be able to pull it all off efficiently and have everything I need. As I have been sorting through all sorts of things I’ll be bringing with me, some letters surfaced that I had written to my grandmother as a kid. My grandmother had sent them to me 14 years ago when she had been going through her things. They are awesome and I’ve loved reading through them, so I’ll leave you with this gem:

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Spotlight on: Leslie DiMichele Miller

At Ironman France, one of my teammates/fellow coach on TeamHPB/training partner/bff, Leslie DiMichele Miller, broke through the ranks, nailing a 3:05 run (fastest of the day!) finishing 4th, just 30 seconds behind Leanda Cave. As a fellow TeamHPB-er, Leslie and I definitely understand each other and lean on each other throughout the season. I have learned a lot from Leslie in training with her and so I asked if she’d be willing to answer a few questions I thought everyone else might be interested in. Lucky for you, she was!

Hey Leslie! Thanks for turning down all the other interviews and giving me the exclusive after your amazing day in France. First things first – what should we call you? Leslie DiMichele? Leslie DiMichele Miller? Leslie Miller? It looks like you changed names you race under in 2015. Was this a trick to enter the pro ranks incognito?
No problem Alyssa! My phone has been ringing off the hook since my 4th place in France, but since you’re the most important person in my life, I’ve set aside everything for you. So, about the name change, I got married in 2014 and planned on changing my name officially to Leslie Miller. But one thing led to another and I didn’t actually change my name and then I lost my marriage certificate so now I’m stuck in last name purgatory, is it DiMichele or is it Miller? I’m trying to move forward with Miller but since none of my official documents say Miller, I have to throw in DiMichele here and there so I don’t get kicked out of the races. I think it’s safe to say people should get used to both since answering these interview questions is actually cutting into the time I had set aside to get a new marriage certificate and change my name.

Oh yeah, you’re married. Nate Dogg does Ironman too — do you guys train together? How does that work?
We used to train together until he started working with Hillary and now he actually has to work hard on the bike and run. We occasionally swim together but that has led to a lot of fighting…he likes to give up if he’s losing. So you know what I mean. Now we just try to meet for dinners every night.

You’ve been training under Hillary Biscay, the Smashfest Queen herself, for a few years now. She’s known for her smashfests and crazy volume training sessions. Are you doing a high volume program too?
No, I’m not doing a high volume program, although Hillary has increased my volume so slowly over the past 3 years, I might be doing high volume and don’t even know. But I don’t do a lot of crazy volume training sessions mainly because I work full time and recovering from a session like that would be counterproductive. It’s much more efficient for her to crush my spirit in a manageable 90 minute session or something like that.
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I used to think I was late to the technology party….then I met you. Can you share some insight to when you started using things like garmins and power, and how you use them today?
Ha! It’s true, I don’t like a lot of information on my workouts. One of my rules about triathlon is enjoying the majority of the things I’m doing in training and racing. The idea of having a great enjoyable run only to look at my Garmin and realize I was running slow, ick! I didn’t like it. But I finally invested in power in 2014 and then I actually got a Garmin watch in March, woohoo!! I will admit power is absolutely necessary for trainer workouts and I spend a lot of my time on the trainer. I don’t like racing with power, but I’m getting used to it although much to Hillary’s annoyance my power meter usually malfunctions on race day. I’m still not so sure about the Garmin, I do like knowing how far I’m running, but i definitely don’t like going out for a trail run and have the thing tell my I’m running 11 min/miles, that’s just cruel.

You and I have gone on many training adventures over the past few years with Hillary. Which was the one you’d recommend to someone who is looking to plan their own training adventure?
Blue Ridge Parkway! I think you’ll agree that was the only trip that was executed seamlessly. I would recommend training for that…somebody in the group thought she could get fit ON the trip……

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If you remember, the last race before France was Wildflower (long course). It was here that I beat you for the first time in several years. Is it safe to say that I helped light a fire under you for that last month of training, and deserve about 30% of the credit for that 3:05?
I think you deserve most of the credit. I still have nightmares watching your ass pull away from me into the distance. The better question is, are you excited that you’re going to run a 3:05 marathon? As people probably remember we ARE marathon twins and we did run the same at Wildflower!

Okay, but seriously. That 3:05 was amazing. As we downloaded about the race, one of the things we discussed was how one of the factors that have lead us to be successful in this sport is having a personality type that suits hard, repetitive work, day after day….for years. I believe you said “who does this shit day in and day out? And the progress is at a snail’s pace?” This is in reference to the fact that for your breakthrough in France, you have been working with laser focus for 4 years, for this one breakthrough to happen. But the gains on a daily basis are small, often too small to really take note of. What would you say to someone in the shoes you were in 4 years ago?
For me, I always look for progress in training sessions and races even if its minuscule. Obviously I’d love progress like France in every race, but a lot of the time I’m reflecting on a race and my only progress is “I stayed positive for the entire bike” or “I raced the entire run.” Last year at Timberman I flatted at Mile 20 of the bike and sat on the side of the road for almost an hour waiting for a new tire, I pulled myself together and finished, so at that race “at least I pulled it together and finished.” I think most people tend to focus on the negative parts of races and I try really hard to forget the negatives, I honestly think that’s what’s allowed me to stay focused for so long. I would tell people that if you’re going to spend all your time training and racing triathlon, you need to enjoy most of the experience otherwise it’s just not going to last very long.

Alright, well, I think that’s enough of our secrets to give  away in one blog post. Thanks Leslie!! Hope to not have to race you soon!! 🙂 BYE!