KC Tri Tips 2018

First race of the year for most of us is fast approaching – below are pointers I get asked about most frequently.  Mostly, though, remember that you belong at the race – no matter what facebook may have you believe, no one has this sport mastered :).  If you need help, ask!  Race day rarely goes perfectly for anyone – how you handle those curve balls is what matters.  You got this – find that inner warrior and press on.  Hustle, get gritty, give high fives, push the envelop, smile, get uncomfortable, say thanks, and be awesome 🙂

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Race Day – Keep it Simple & Stick to YOUR plan

  1. Race Day Packing List – writing a list helps make sure you get what you need and leave what you don’t.  No need to rely on frantic race day brain to make sure you remember your goggles!
  2. Write out a Race Day Timeline – Race day can be much more relaxing (i.e. save energy for racing not worrying) if you know you’re on schedule instead of frantically hoping you make it on time.
  3. Keep it Simplestick with what you know and what you’ve been practicing.  Resist that pesky temptation to second guess everything you’ve been doing when you show up and see what other athletes are doing (we’ve all been there – resist!!). Stick to YOUR plan.
  4. Give yourself a bit of extra time race morning – why not?  If you arrive early you can sit in the (warm) car and drink coffee a hydrating beverage of your choice.
  5. Take warm stuff for race morning (including the feet) – why use race energy trying to stay warm?
  6. Transition Area – Don’t be THAT GUY (or gal) with the sprawling tri gear – keep your area tidy – be a good triathlete neighbor :).  Put your transition gear either under your bike or just to the side and only items you will use during the race.
  7. Bike EtiquetteOn the course, stay to the right (to allow others to pass if needed).  If you are the one passing, notify the other cyclist by yelling “ON YOUR LEFT” so they know you are coming. This frequently gets overlooked on race day, but no one wants to crash so do your part.   #saferacing #saferiding

 

Managing Cold Water*

While we never know for sure until race day, the water this year might be chilly.  For most, it’s when cold water hits the face that we have the strongest reaction. It may *feel* like it’s taking your breath away and you may need a few moments to manage this.  It’s extremely important to submerge the face and get control of your breath before you start to swim.  If you either haven’t swam in cold water before or know that it’s something you struggle with, make it a priority to get control of your breath before you start to swim (even during the race).  You may have to hang for a minute or two and focus on this – but your body will adjust and those extra few minutes can make a huge difference to the rest of your swimming and your race.

*We will have a pre-race briefing at 5:00 on Saturday before the race and will be touching on this topic if that’s of interest.

Should I do the warm up swim race morning (if there is one)?

There is no right answer to this – some athletes prefer to do a run warm up if the water and/or air temps are going to be extra chilly.  Remember your goal is to get blood flowing to those muscles and help them prepare to race – do what works for you.  Just have those warm clothes ready to put on when you get done warming up.

Pacing: Race to your Training

Pacing can be a tricky one – but aim to set expectations for the race based on the training you’ve been doing.  Set that darn ego aside and think about what your body is ready to do – if you’ve been training hard, it might be time to push it!  If life has gotten in the way of training, set those pacing goals accordingly.  Avoid the temptation to ‘move your goal post’ or change your goals upon arriving on site race day.  yikes.  Stick with your plan that’s based on what you’ve been doing in training.

Have fun out there & stay safe.  We’ll be rooting for you!

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The Red’s Triathlon Team 

#grit #hustle #teamwork

 

 

 

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The Revolution will Not be Televised (or posted on Facebook)

In another life I did humanitarian work and wrote a piece once about ‘the invisible moments of activism’ – all those moments you’re in the trenches doing the work that matters but GEEZE does progress feel slow.  You question if you’re making progress (you are), if it all matters (it does), if it will ever make a difference (it will)!? Last week, as I was reflecting on the peaks and valleys athletes experienced this 2017 season, I came across that article and it struck a familiar cord.  Though totally different circumstances, the message resonates loud and clear – progress comes in those invisible lonely moments where you choose Grit & Hustle over the easy way.

I get questions a lot from athletes about how it is that other athletes get better – presumably they, too, want to improve – how does she do it (she does her workouts every single day for years), why is his secret (there is no secret, only hard work), I wish I could do that (you can).  What is often missing in that conversation is the understanding of what athletes who are getting better are doing – what their lives look like on a daily basis.

If I could sum it up in a word: Everyday.

We all have things that come up – but athletes who are improving are training just about everyday all year long.  They train smart with a long term focus.  What their specific training looks like depends on their athletic age (how long they’ve been in the sport), chronological age, event of choice, goals, etc – but rest assured they are working everyday year round.

These aren’t athletes who sub in gardening for their weight training on a nice spring day (I know gardening is hard – but it’s not the same), or who sometimes count water polo as their swim workout, or who go too hard at the start of their track workout and then die at the end, or who let their long ride on the weekends be determined by who they are riding with instead of what their body needs.

They are athletes who simply do what needs to be done – the way it’s suppose to be done – everyday.  They don’t over train, they don’t under train, they don’t rant about their stats or gear – and honestly most of them don’t post their daily feats on Facebook.  The ones getting it done are doing it quietly, everyday in invisible moments; getting it done when no one is watching.  They live the Grit & Hustle knowing nothing worth doing is ever easy.

Getting better is hard, it’s long term, and it’s daily.  But what makes it absolutely awesome is that we all have access to this “magic” – whatever your age or goals or history, all of this is here, waiting for you, to come find out just how awesome you are.

It’s Not About the Shiny Bits

Julyl 2017 – Door County 70.3
We aren’t in this sport or in life to sit on the sidelines – and every time we get out there, we put ourselves on the line not knowing what the result will be.  Some days are tough and Door County 70.3 gave us waves fit for a storm in that swim – but every single one of our athletes standing at that start line looked out over that water and did an absolutely amazing job of keeping it together.  There was no complaining – we knew it would be tough – we knew we had no way of practicing in Kansas for the conditions we faced – and there were lots of butterflies & swallowing of nerves – but the waves & the nerves were no match for the hugs, support, and encouraging words you all gave to each other.
Racing is a risk.  And it’s especially a risk on a day like Sunday.  But triathlon isn’t about the shiny bits.  It’s not about the gear or the days that go as planned or the Facebook pictures that give the (false) impression of triathlon perfection.  Triathlon is about what we saw on Sunday – it’s raw and risky and gritty – it’s the moments that are hard and often lonely – where you are digging for every step – and it’s nothing like the shiny bits promised in the pictures.  These moments are what test and build character – I have never been more proud than I was on Sunday seeing every single one of our athletes put one foot in front of the other and take the risk.  Put yourself out there when there was nothing easy about it….and in the absence of the shiny bits, we were left with the medal underneath every. single. one. of you shined even brighter than before.  You all are amazing humans and you inspire the rest of us to take risks, to stay strong, and to keep going.  HUGE congratulations ❤
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The Voice of The Ratchet has got to GO.

As Casey and I were stretching out after our run last weekend, we were discussing how unfortunate it is that, still, after many years in triathlon and many (many) reminders on the importance of stretching neither of us can touch our knees, I mean (or do I) toes.

In our discussion on the merits of stretching somehow we got onto the Sit & Reach….in case you’ve forgotten (or blocked it out):

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We took a little trip down memory lane discussing Elementary School Fitness Tests  … eeeeiiikkkkk….by the end of the conversation I was wondering how any of us escaped with any self esteem in tact??

 

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(ps There are some bad words at the end of this blog. You’ve been warned; abort if needed)

I’m not sure which one of these Fitness Tests to credit as my favorite.  They were all so pleasant.

Fat pinch plier test (I think the politically correct term for that was the ‘skin fold’ test but let’s just call it what it is).  I can still feel my self esteem rising just thinking about Nurse Ratchet applying the big squeeze.

The mile run (‘run’).  It’s hard to imagine why it took me 20 years after elementary school to want run again.

High jump or the bar jump or whatever it was. Eh, hem ooookay kids, this is our annual jump really high day.  To show our support, we’re going to put a metal pole out that’s right about the height of yer head.  We’ll all be staring at you. Good luck.

Really, though, I think some of my best moments had to be on the pull up & the rope climb.  THAT wasn’t embarrassing at all. (I still can’t do an unassisted pull up despite swimming through college).

I must have had a hunch this was a racket b/c I usually got caught hiding on testing days.  In 5th grade, after trying to avoid the jump high test, I was given a special chance to show the whole class it’s not a good idea to skip “skills lessons”.  Boy, did I prove to them it’s not a good idea to make Liz run really fast toward a mental pole (to this day, my vertical is still 3 inches on a good day.  I was never going to make it over that bar.)

As Casey and I discussed these ‘fitness tests’ I got remnants of the same pit in my stomach I used to get back in Elementary school.   eeeiikkkk how I dreaded test days….

Given that Casey (who is a natural and bada** athlete) also had the same reaction, it made me think there must be a fair number people who weren’t inspired to athletic greatness by the Sit & Reach.  And it, in fact, made me suspect that some might greatly underestimate what they can do today based on experiences like running into a metal pole in front of their class mates or the pinch of Mrs. Ratchet’s fat pliers.

It might be part of why athletes who don’t view themselves as “fast enough” or as “looking like an athlete” suggest to me that they “aren’t really athletes”.  I’m willing to bet the voice of The Ratchet still lurks in the subconscious of a lot of athletes – as a coach, I call these brain trolls and they erode self esteem and confidence – and for some even the willingness to try (no pun intended) b/c they don’t feel like they have a place in sports.

For those that struggle to define yourselves as ‘athletes’ despite all the training you do, let’s just go ahead and take a minute to call that what it is:

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Nurse Ratchet and her pliers have no place here. There’s no ‘legitimate athlete’ patrol.   Carry on with yer goals and yer struggles and yer victories and with being yer badarse selves.  Anyone who says otherwise is full of bull.

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WATCH OUT BAD WORD BELOW!

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The Time Clock in swimming isn’t an ‘optional’ toy if you want to improve.

For those of you that are runners and have done speed work, you probably can’t imagine going to the track without a watch.  How would you know your speed or rest interval?  Your speed/effort and rest are what define your workout.

REST: There’s a big difference between doing, say, 15 x 400s at a 5K pace with 1 minute rest vs doing 15 x 400s at 5K pace with 5 minutes rest….that extra rest drastically changes the feel (and impact) of that workout.

In addition to paying attention to your rest – you also probably know your time for each of your 400s.  If your first 400 was 90 seconds (or 2 minutes or 3 minutes – whatever your pace is), you will notice if by the 8th 400, you are holding 95 seconds….

This same concept applies to swimming.  How fast you are swimming and how much rest you take defines your workout – and, to know your pace and your rest in swimming (just like in running) you must use a pace clock.

imgres.jpgTime clock often seen on swimming pool decks.  Garmin devices now make this much easier for many athletes.

(SIDE NOTE: The time clock is most helpful for athletes who are ready to ‘swim hard’ – if you are still learning your stroke, the time clock probably isn’t your priority yet.)

How do you use the Time Clock?

You use a time clock to measure your pace and rest just like running.

First, you have to just get used to watching the clock – after a while it becomes second nature – but at first it’s a pain (especially if you’re gasping for air).  You have watch when you start and when you finish – it doesn’t matter if you’re swimming a 50 or a 300 – you need to be able to figure out your time.

Step 1 – get used to watching the clock.

Step 2 – Learn your 50 time.  Figure out how fast you swim a 50.  Your 50 time will probably be different if your rested vs tired.  Maybe rested you swim 1 minute for a 50.  But when you get tired, maybe you’re at 1:05 or 1:10.  Start with noticing that – you’ll start to see that, just like in a track workout, those seconds make a difference.  If you’re tired there, is a BIG difference between swimming a 50 in 1 minute vs 1:05.

It is in those seconds where your improvement in swimming lies – if you normally swim a 50 in 1:05 when you are tired – push yourself to get under 1:05 – b/c to get better you have to challenge your body.

Step 2 – Learn your 100 time….and then 200….etc.

Step 3 – Notice the impact rest has on your 50 and 100 time and do something about it.  Use the time clock to challenge yourself….more on that on step 5.

Step 4 – Make a habit of holding yourself accountable to the clock.  No mindless swimming.

Step 5 – Intervals.  Intervals can be done in 2 ways – on a certain amount of rest or on a certain time interval. Example:

10 x 100 on 15 seconds rest. With this sort of ‘interval’, no matter how long your 100 takes you to swim, you get 15 seconds rest.  This is ok for learning to use the pace clock – but it’s not for long term improvement….read on.

10 x 100 on 2:15.  This means from the time you leave the wall, you have 2:15 to swim your 100 and leave again.  So, if your 100 takes you 2 minutes, you have 15 seconds to rest.  If your 100 takes you 2:10 you get 5 seconds rest.  This is much more difficult than simply getting 15 seconds of rest no matter how long your 100 took.  This is the kind of hard swimming that’s necessary to get better.

Last point –  there are 2 ways to get better – either improve your speed or extend the amount of time you can maintain a speed.  So, say you swim a ‘hard’ 100 in 2 minutes.  You could either work to improve your 100 time – say try to get it down to 1:55.  Or, you could work to extend the amount of time you can hold your 2 minute pace – eventually could you swim a 200 in 4 minutes?  Both are great ways to get stronger in the water.

Getting faster at swimming requires consistent hard work – you can swim consistently but if you don’t really know how hard you’re working, then it’s hard to know if you’re training effectively.  Learning to use the pace clock is a necessary first step towards really dialing in your swim training.

 

 

Ironman Louisville 2016

Here it is – my race recap that I sent to my coach – getting this out unpolished otherwise it won’t ever get done.  Some bad words are used and punctuation and spell check not included.  Read at your own risk 🙂

The couple weeks leading into the race I felt really good and really rested – this concerned me a little but I kept reminding myself that I have learned from past mistakes that I do much better slightly more rested than not.  I was worried my legs would be dead on race day – but that can happen regardless of your rest.
There had been a lot going on before IM w/ all my athletes racing at Augusta 70.3/ IM CHATT / Nationals so I didn’t feel like I’d really had much time to think about Louisville – certainly not like the focus (obsessing) I had before IM Texas 2016.  I don’t think this was necessarily a bad thing.
I was a little concerned i was getting a sinus infection b/c my ears / teeth / head were hurting a lot the week of the race – but thankfully I warded off whatever might have been coming with Melaleuca and On Guard (essential oils).
We got to LV on Thrusday and checked in – a lesson for the future – this was absolutely awesome. No one was there yet – it was easy and relaxing – and then we didn’t have to go back to the race site until Saturday to check our bikes.  It felt like we actually had time to relax before the race vs. arriving on Friday where there really isn’t time.  Would highly recommend this if it’s an option.
Race morning – we got there SUPER early so we could get a good parking spot and get into transition early.  As w/ arriving on Thursday instead of Friday, I feel like the extra time was really helpful.  We got in and out of transition quickly and w/o any frantic running around and simply went and sat down in line (ie we weren’t on our feet for 2 hours and super stressed out before the race).
 I’d gone to the thrift store so i had a down vest and wool sweater and wool scarf and 2 pairs of pants and ski warmers – so i did not sit in that line for 90 minutes freezing.  Good planning liz!
SWIM:
Before TX I’d done a lot of 5000 yard swims – before LV I did not.  I knew my swim fitness wasn’t as high as it was before TX but I chose not to fester too much about this – my goal was just go under an hour and not to put too much on potential benefits of the wetsuit or potential current.  I’d never done an IM swim w/ a wetsuit and I didn’t want to come out of the water and have it set the tone for my day.  I definitely swam off course a decent amount – so all the more thanks to the wetsuit for the assist to the 55 min swim.  Think I could have gone maybe minute faster if I’d swam straighter – but maybe not.  I was happy.
Transition – no Texas tea party here.  I helped the volunteers help me 🙂
Bike: First 3 hours were AWFUL.  I was freezing numb and heavy.  I felt like I was riding so hard but I came through the 56 mile point at 3 hours.  THREE EFFING HOURS!!!!  I was PISSED.  I thought I sure the freak did not spend the past 2 years working so I would ride the same time on my bike last time I did IM LV  (which was just over 6 hours).  So I thought 2 things: 1. usually on my long rides my first 3 hours were not as fast as my second 3 hours – so maybe i could negative split the race too. 2. I didn’t really care what the consequences were I was going to ride under 6 hours (don’t try this at home).  At that point I thought maybe I’d hit 5:55 or if I was really lucky 5:50.  I was shocked when i came in at 5:42 or whatever it was.  I felt like I was riding way too hard that last half – but i kept the power in check on the uphills and rode hard on the down hills and flats and I my power seem to stay where we talked about it being so I stuck w/ it.  And, maybe this is how it feels to ride my bike the way I’m suppose to?  I fully expected that marathon to be a sh*t show.
I had 1 poo episode on the bike but it was a relatively speedy stop 🙂 You’re welcome that I included that tidbit of info. #everybodypoops
I really could not believe how people rode that course – the first 3 hours, everyone flew past me (when your coach tells you don’t take it out too fast, she’s not kidding).  But then the last 3 hours on the bike and the marathon I was doing most of the passing.  Consistently for the entire bike ride people blazed up the hills and cruised down the hills.  I played cat and mouse w/ a group of guys for at least the last 2 hours as they sprinted up and coasted down.  What were they doing!? #psyouhaveamarathonnext #saveyourlegs #ridesmart
T2 – chop chop.
RUN
First – I had 2 poo episodes that were fairly quick on the run.  They hit, I went, and onward we proceeded. Stomach felt good.
I used those new cliff bar energy food pouches that are made from banana and coconut – a MILLION ZILLION times better than GU.  I don’t think i’ll ever take GU again.  The energy pouches aren’t super sweet and I could totally eat them w/o a problem.  Those plus the honey stinger orange chews and coke at each aid stop…plus carrying osmo/water worked well.
I started this run expecting the hammer to drop sooner rather than later.  I thought it was going to be especially bad when I had to keep slowing myself down b/c 8:30 felt really easy – surely the hammer was going to CRUSH me in the next couple miles.  But….i was ok at 3 miles….and then at 6.  And then I thought, well the course is out/back out/back – you’re at 6 and feel ok – turn off your head and hold this pace going back – you’ll be at 13 then and you’ll have made it halfway w/o feeling awful.  That’s a great day in any IM run.  So I got to 13…and I thought ok, now it’s coming for sure – but keep your head turned off and let the miles tick off like you do in training and focus on the next turn around point….. a critical thing happened at this turn around that totally helped me keep it together for the last 13 miles.  A woman was sitting in the crowd and told me I was in 14th overall –  a few people told me this before her and I didn’t really believe them but this woman looked like one of those athletes that would know 🙂  It really helped me keep my head in the game.
so I kept going….and I got to the last turn around and thought all I have to do is run back in – I mean you don’t feel like a fresh daisy but you sure as hell feel great for this point in the race.  It definitely got hard on this last stretch (but really – not hard by IM standards) – I literally stayed focused on not having to do anything special to finish well.  My body seemed to just hold that 8:40ish pace – I mean that’s just the pace it fell into – I wasn’t doing anything other than just letting my legs run.  And I thought you don’t have to do anything spectacular – don’t try to pick it up – a couple times I held myself back just a tiny tiny bit b/c I was like HOLY SH*T I can’t believe this is happening and wanted to just run like crazy into the finish.  But we all know people who make it to X point and spend the last 4 miles crawling adding 2 hours to their time.  So, I just focused on staying inside my pace that my legs seemed to be able to hold w/o a problem and just prayed they’d carry me in w/o a sudden collapse.
I teared up a few times on that last mile b/c I couldn’t believe it.  To be honest I still can’t.  I mean i know I trained hard and all that stuff – but a lot of people train hard – and just as much if not more than i do – to me that run defies explanation.  I have most definitely never had a run like that before and don’t expect to maybe ever again.  I know for sure the cold temps helped (despite my distain for the cold) – but that was more than just the cold.   My best open marathon is a 3:33 – had I not stopped for the 2 poosplosions I would have been about 10 min off my open marathon time.  That doesn’t just happen.  It was almost like an out of body experience.
This was about an hour and 10 min PR for me on this course and clearly my best IM time ever.  Best swim split, bike split, run split.  Actually, the last 56 miles of my ride I rode 2:42? i think?   And my time at Munice 70.3 on a flat ass course last year was 2:38.  WHAT!?
so, there we have it 🙂  I will forever be thankful for the day I had.  I think it’s the sort of race we all dream of – the one we know our body can do given the right day – but so rarely does that happen.  I am eternally grateful.

Garmin Blog – What I Wish I Knew

Writing a blog for Garmin – thought I’d share it here too 🙂

Title: What I wish I’d known when I started triathlon

Well I’ve been participating and coaching triathlon for 15 years and there is STILL lots I’m learning – but I tell you one of the best things I’ve learned is to keep your sense of humor.  Triathlon will throw all kinds of things at you – but each time you navigate a curve ball, you’re a little better for it (and you collect great war stories to hash over with other athletes which is half the fun of this sport!)   My husband’s first race he wore his helmet backwards – and not just on the bike #run #helmet.  That’s still one of my favorite stories.

Getting started in triathlon can be intimidating sometimes – and, of course, I wanted to know the nitty gritty how-tos of doing my first triathlon (next blog!), but there are some things I wish I’d known that would have helped me feel more at home trying to figure it all out.

You have every right to be there – and if you need help, ask.  Most triathletes are super nice.

Although sometimes it feels like it, not everyone around you has ‘mastered’ the sport of triathlon – far from it!  Even those big tough athletes with popeye arms and calves the circumference of your thigh don’t have magic knowledge of triathlon (trust me, I coach some of ‘em. yikes!)….if they growl at you, just pat them on the head 🙂

Set small achievable goals – learning comes in stages so allow for this.  Set yourself up for success (it’s more fun and typically more productive).

Consistency, not perfection, with training – perfection is the enemy.  It’s easy to get into all or nothing thinking:  If I don’t have time to do my whole workout, I’m not going to do any of it.  Or, I’ve missed 2 workouts this week so I’ll just blow the rest of this week off and start next week.  Consistency, not perfection, is a much more productive (and practical) way to approach training – you’d be surprised at how much progress you can make with consistent training.

Be a student of the sport – Fitness is developed over years.  The cool thing is this means we can all keep getting better (if you don’t think so, I coach a studette (lady stud) who is in her 60s and has set PRs in every race she’s done in 2016!).  The frustrating part for some is this requires a long term approach to developing your best athletic self…..so head down, bum up!  Your most studly years await!!

Last, remember you’re inspiring others.  You never know when you might be someone’s “if s/he can do it, so can I”…keep that smile on and encourage someone else.  It will make you both feel better!

Stay tuned next time for more specifics on the swim/bike/run.