Six Race Day Tips for Your First Sprint Triathlon - with Coach Katie

Signing up for a race can be a lot of things: exciting, motivating, expensive, overwhelming, terrifying, etc. But just like having a training plan to follow each day, having a race plan is key to executing your best race and in many cases this means a plan A and B or even C, and the plan starts with knowing what you need to get the job done. At Evolve, one of our core values is to differentiate between factors you can’t control and those you can and then, intelligently plan to control the controllables, such as what you need for the race from your gear to your attitude. Doing so will alleviate a lot of the mental stress that comes along with a first race.

Make a Checklist

Trust me on this one. Mentally go through the day of your race, starting with waking up. This is especially important if you’re traveling, because there are lots of little things you won’t want to forget (like your extra pair of goggles.) On the checklist, include your pre-race foods like your breakfast, gear needed pre-race (like a jacket and hat if it’s cool), swim gear, transition items, bike gear, run gear, and fuel. A strategy that helps me a ton is to draw an aerial view of my transition area and how I want to set it up.

Plan your fuel

Plan what you’ll eat for breakfast on race day and have it ready the night before. If you’ve been training with a certain product and it won’t be available on the course plan to carry it with you. For a sprint distance triathlon, you only need a couple of gels and maybe 1 to 2 bottles of your sports drink (think one bottle per hour on the bike). Do NOT try anything new on race day. It’s worth the tiny bit of extra bulk and planning to have your familiar products on hand. Many people will go carb overload crazy. You will not need to do this for a sprint. You should taper off any foods that can cause GI distress in the day prior, but we would not recommend you stuffing your face with oodles of pasta the night before a sprint race.

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Prepare for the swim
-        Lube up. Underarms, thighs, neck, any point on your body where friction may occur. More is more with lube. If you’re wearing a wetsuit, don’t forget wrists and ankles.

You will need:

-        Your swimwear of choice - make sure that you practice swimming in it prior to race day.

-        Swim cap - most races will provide you one.

-       Goggles. Tinted or clear depending on the sun and conditions.

-       Ear/nose plugs if you wear these.

-      Timing chip - provided by the race.

Set up for T1, the swim-to-bike transition area

-        Towel to quickly dry yourself off after the swim if you want, or to wipe your feet off on.

-        Sunscreen to avoid horrific tan lines and UV damage (for a sprint you should be able to do this prior to the swim)

-        Your bike. Make sure tires are aired up how you like them, it’s in an easy gear so you don’t get stuck grinding out of transition, and it’s been recently tuned up and safety checked.

-        Helmet because you won’t be allowed to leave T1 without it. Hang the helmet on your handlebars for quick access. Or place it ready with the strap unbuckled if it cannot go on bars due to aero bottle.

-        Sunglasses open and inside helmet so you can quickly put them on. These provide protection from the sun and road grit, so don’t leave home without them.

-        Cycling shoes loosened and ready to be put on. Talc powder or similar sprinkled inside shoes if you’re going sans socks.

-        Socks unrolled and ready to be put on if you’re wearing them.

-        Fuel. A bottle should be on your bike already. Stash a gel or two in a pocket or if your bike has a bento box, put it in there on race morning.

-        Bike gloves if you wear them, but these are far from necessary on a shorter race.

-      Spare tube, CO2, tire tools (in case of a flat). Oh, and know how to change a flat.

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Set up for T2, the bike-to-run transition area

-        Hat or visor.

-        Keep your sunglasses on.

-        Socks if you’re wearing them.

-        Running shoes loosened and ready to be put on. I HIGHLY recommend you have elastic laces on your running shoes so that you don’t have to fumble with the laces. Make sure you have run in the them prior to get the correct tension. Again, if going sockless, some powder sprinkled inside makes this a better experience.

-        Race number on race belt.

-        Fuel if you’re carrying. A bottle and a gel should be plenty.

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Adopt a TAKE NO PRISONERS attitude

You’ve trained hard, visualized your race, and actually made it to the start line. You have nothing to lose by embracing the day ahead! Even if you have to fake it ‘til you make it, be CONFIDENT. This is YOUR DAY. You’re out here to get sh!t done. You don’t have time for second-guessing, self-pity, doubt, or fear. Because of the distance of a sprint triathlon, you are free to fire on all cylinders from the second the gun goes off until you collapse after the finish line. Pay no attention to anyone else’s performance – this is about you and the course. LEAVE NOTHING BEHIND. If you feel like your muscles are screaming, lungs are burning, heart is jackhammering, mind is protesting – great job, you’re almost working hard enough. Now do it for real.

Remember that there will always be some things you can’t control - the weather, course profile, technical issues, other people - but that’s part of the fun of racing! The only thing that you can do is control yourself! A race is nothing more than a chance to test our limits and learn a ton on a supported course. Go out there, have fun, test yourself, learn a ton, and smile for the camera when you cross that finish line.




Ironman Florida 70.3 Race Report - with Coach Samantha

When I first started this endurance sport business, long before tracker and weather apps, I would fret and freak out about each race. Back then my freakouts were centered mostly around the burning desire to have every one of my races be a PR. At some point, my freakouts gave way to checking weather apps, course profiles, starting lists, times for the course - these were added to my desire to get my fastest time EVERY TIME I raced. While I did race my first Ironman at Lake Placid and have raced a ton in what I have come to realize are hard courses due to growing up in the Northeast, I would worry about terrain as well. A hilly course would have me up at night thinking I was going to be walking my bike or crawling on a run. So basically racing was a total freakout from the time I hit the button to pay for the race until I got in the water, all due to a very intense focus on my times.

And then somewhere along the way, perhaps due to becoming a mom or a coach, or most likely a combo of the two, my perspective on racing shifted. I let go of times, of places, of weather, of terrain fears and now have switched to just doing the best I can with the course that I am on. I actually now welcome the hills, and the heat, and see any challenge as a new way to test my mental fortitude. i still get nervous AF, but now that is more about being mentally weak when I am tested on the course. And in that spirit, two weeks before Ironman Florida 70.3, I decided to test myself and sign up.

Here are some important things to note - it has been a cold and awful winter for most of the country, which meant that I had ridden outside exactly twice before the race since September of last year. I had swam open water once, and up until the race I was running in the cold with a ton of layers.

If you have never raced in Haines City, it is not the flat and fast course you might think of when you picture Florida. The swim is in a tiny lake which requires many turns, the bike has some rolling hills (for me there was no need to ever get out of my big chain ring - so nothing terrible), and the run is a three loop hilly course - which was a little different this year as they decided to add a few more little hills before you got to the real hills. To be honest, I cannot think of a hillier half marathon that I have done to date - perhaps Vegas back when that existed, but those were steady climbs and Haines City is either up or down.

Oh and the weather - it turned out to be 91 and full blown Florida humidity! And I guess I should also mention it was very windy  - I think winds were steady in the teens with gusts a little higher.

So I was certainly in for a test!

Pre-race I stuck to my usual routine. I like to lay very, very low and minimize any human contact in the days leading up to a race. One of the best parts of this race is that you are not required to drop your bikes off the day prior, so I was able to hang out at the condo and read and wait for the hours to tick by after finishing my workouts.

Race morning, as it always seems to, came quickly and I made my way down to the race start. We had about a 15 minute drive and were able to park very close to the race venue. The transition was super packed and after a less than friendly human and I had some words about how she had her stuff sprawled all over the place and that was somehow okay, I decided to get the f out of there and head to get a warm-up swim in. The cool thing is that there is a pool right by the lake and you can hop in and swim for a few. I think this is one of the most important things you can and should do as an athlete, it allows you to raise the HR, and lower the nerves. At the pool I ran into coach Scott and we both hopped in and swam in the dark. I still had my transition bag with me and didn't really want to trudge back to the car, so I ditched it behind a row of shrubs and made my way to the lake. The sun was coming up and there was that wonderful feeling of all these humans ready to get the day started.

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This year the race had returned to an Age Group Wave start and I think I was in the 7th or so wave to go off. Which meant that we had a ton of work to do to get around the slower swimmers in front of us. This is a notoriously slow swim, and it proved to be so as I had to make my way through the previous waves and navigate the many turns on the course. Here’s a strategy that I use and most of our athletes do as well - I count. It starts in the swim - before I get in the water I count the buoys - my swim is simply about getting from one buoy to the next and working to the best of my ability as I navigate from one to the next. I never got clean water but I swam the back half a little harder. When I finally could see the swim exit arch, I swam until I hit the ground - walking through water is way slower than swimming, so I always try to swim as far as I possibly can. Which when you are 5’ 3” is pretty close to shore. When I exited the water I felt like the swim had been slow. If I had time on my watch I would have known that it was indeed slow in comparison to my usual non-wetsuit legal swims. 36:4x was my time. Why no time on my watch? Well I have found that my reaction to times can set me up for a long day. The swim felt slow, technically for me was slow, and if I was in my old mindset of chasing a clock then I would have already been in a deficit and a negative head space. The truth is that the swim was slow for all, and my time was good enough for 3rd in AG which I would not know until after the race. Something I don’t think I ever thought was capable when I first started this sport.

Off into T1 - nothing eventful there other than the fact that my rack was super far and I had a very long run with my bike.

I mounted my bike and off I went. Again, on the bike I ride only with HR, power (no power at this race as my meter never paired with my watch) and RPE. I know how my lungs and legs should feel and I got to work. The course was really crowded and I spent most of my time navigating past other cyclists. It was cloudy and I knew that staying on my fueling plan would be key - The number one rule of a cloudy bike is that it will surely be full sun on the run. Many athletes underfuel in these conditions and pay for it on the run. The roads on the front half of the bike are windy and at times pretty tight and unlike my last few races which were not Ironman branded I was surrounded by cyclists. Which meant that I was often playing leapfrog with a few men who I could out climb and then they would pass me again on the flats. This went on and I did my best to ride legal, and I remember being worried about being too close to others, but also feeling like I was trapped on the narrow roads with so many people who were riding at times side by side and then on one of the windier roads where we were all bunched up, I was given a blue card. I remember thanking the ref as if I had just been given a gift and was kinda in a fog. I was not the only one who was too close, but I was the lucky one that day. Plus, I like to have refs on a course and to know that people are being monitored. I want a fair ride - so I had mixed feelings about the penalty. And after about a minute, I felt all of the energy drain out of me and thought that I should just call it a day after the bike. Then I decided that I would run, but not really focus on the race. Then I decided that I was being dumb and I better get back to being focused and get to the penalty tent and stop the self sabotaging. I think somewhere around mile 25 you come to a town where there is a steady incline, and it was there that I passed one of our athletes who I told that I had gotten a penalty and he would see me real soon!

I was the first of a huge bunch (but none from my pack) to arrive at the tent and yelled out my number and the timer started. Five min seems like a lifetime, but I made sure to use the time well. I decided it would be best to turn my back to the road so that I wasn’t aware of all of the people passing me and instead I filled my aero bottle, stood in the shade of the tent and made sure to not be tempted by looking at the time on my watch. The reality is that if I over-biked the back half of the course I was going to be in for a very long run.

The time ticked by very slowly, but I did get to make friends with a sweet older gentleman who told me that he hadn’t gotten a penalty in 37 years of racing and I told him that this was my first in 20, and so we commiserated  in our mutual penalty sorrow. And then like that I was released from prison, but not before Eric rode by and yelled to me with a big grin - hope you’re enjoying your time out.

The back half of the course flew by until about mile 52 when I hit a very exposed and open windy section and it was pretty desolate. I knew it was close, so I just tucked in and stayed strong until I was back to town. Which after the fact I was reminded by coach Nick’s mom who was there spectating that I was nearly hit by a car when the car failed to stop for a police officer - I don’t even really remember this, so I guess I was in the zone.

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Back to transition and I suited up for the run -  put my shoes on, stepped through my naked belt, pulled it up and grabbed my cooling towel, hat, and fuel and off I went. The first few steps felt awful. My legs felt heavy and I felt like I had never run off the bike before. This feeling is pretty natural for the first 70.3 of the season, so I shrugged it off and off I went. The course was a little different from years past, as we went around the pool area, hit two little hills, and then hit the infamous hills on the front stretch. I had made myself a promise - I would not walk outside of aid stations. I have walked two hills in two 70.3s in my life and they still haunt me to this day. The hard part is that I knew that most would be walking - the bike was hot and windy, and the run was going to be hot and hilly. This tends to lend itself to walking on the run for many, which can be tempting to join in on. The first big hill hurt, but there just happened to be some really awesome penis graffiti on the middle of the hill, so I just said to myself - listen you stupid dick of a hill, I will not give in - I am strong and I can handle this. At the top of the hill, I was a little surprised to see that they were having us go into the little neighborhood that was part of the Full race in November - this added another little bitch of a hill, before we headed back up the second part of the hills on the front of the course. The good part was that after I realized this I also realized that one of my Tri friends Tom was standing there and as I approached him, I threw my watch to him. He told me I looked strong, which probably was a lie, but lifted the spirits. It is never good when you pass people you know and their cheers contain things like - okay, okay, you can do this. Or - are you okay?

Why take off my watch? I knew at this point that this was going to be a slow run. My legs felt horrible and the heat and humidity were coming on strong. I also knew that if I got bogged down by metrics, I would set myself up for an even longer run. I run with HR and cadence on my watch, but I know that if my cadence is low than I am going slow. Over the years, I have found that nothing good comes from negative self talk and it was best for me to just let go of data and move as fast as I could.

Out of the neighborhood, we hung a right and hit the second of the big hills. When I crested the hill, I was flooded with memories of standing on that corner when the rains came during the Full in November. I was able to use the strength of the athletes who ran in that awful rain to power me through the next neighborhood part of the course and then to the final 1.5 miles of the first lap.

My goal for the first lap was to run steady, the middle lap was to  stay strong, and the last lap - do what I could with what I had.

Back by transition I got the much needed boost that comes from the crowds. One of my awesome athletes had made the drive from Tampa to cheer and I was boosted by seeing him. And then seeing a few other friendly faces on the course. My family always jokes that seeing me for 15 seconds is the worst thing ever after waiting all day, but I cannot tell you how much energy it gives me to see people I know.

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Onto loop two, up the dick hill, back through the neighborhood  - at this point, I made a deal that I would walk the aid stations on the last loop and drink all the coke. My legs felt like mile 24 Ironman legs and I knew that my whole meditation had to just deal with picking my legs up and putting them down. My run at this point was still faster than the power walkers and I was passing a few men who had passed me on the bike or run so I knew that I just had to power through the pain.

At the start of lap three I saw Tom and Nick’s mom again which gave me a boost, and then I spotted coach Scott. I hit the first aid station and grabbed a coke and ice and hit the hills again. If I could go back and do this again, I would remind myself to stand tall. I know that my form had gone to hell at this point and I was slouching - not good for race photos or for running well. One last time for Mont Dick - I think this time I actually said aloud - see you never DICK. A little after this point, just after leaving the neighborhood, I caught up to Scott and we exchanged a few words. He had also gotten a penalty and had crashed his bike. Scott and I hit the second aid station together - grabbed some more coke and ice, and then I think I said to him, I can’t talk  - so you do you! The remainder of the run was pure quad pain - I assume from all the downhills on the run. There were two more aid stations - at the next one I grabbed more ice and went on and I ran through the last one. Remember when my plan was to do all that I could on the last loop. Well in my visualization, that involved some speed, but in reality, that just involved moving faster than a walk.

And as always, just like that I hit the final stretch of the run and hit the turn into the chute as the skies opened and started it started to pour.

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So if I lay out the times - it was one of my slowest races. And in fact my slowest 13.1 ever - that seems to be a theme lately.

Swim: 36:43

Bike (with 5 min penalty): 2:47:44

Run: 2:09:09

Total time: 5:40:47

But if I look at my placing then it wasn’t awful.

Swim: 3rd AG

Bike: 7th AG

Run: 11th AG

Final Placing: 7th

So my point is - the times and paces tell one story. But the end result left me feeling like I had done what I set out to do - test myself, learn, and live to eat some vegan ice cream.

There are of course some things that I wish I had done better -

  1. Not get a penalty

  2. Concentrate more on form on the run - STAND UP TALL!

  3. Run harder - I say this because I was able to pick up my pace in the last half mile stretch - which means that I was physically capable of more speed, but was limited by my mind.

My wish for myself and for my athletes this season and beyond is that we can focus less on times and pacing and more on working hard every second of the race. This type of focus is actually really hard, and I am far from perfecting it - but I love that I am able to keep plugging away each year at learning to suffer more and embrace the feeling of pushing myself and finding new limits.

Oh, and if you are still reading this - my tri bag was safe and sound tucked behind the hedges when I went to retrieve it :)

Thanks to all of my athletes and colleagues who inspire me to be a better version of myself each day - you are constantly on my mind when I race and for that I am beyond grateful.

Exercise in Pregnancy - with Evolve Athlete and OBGYN Dr. Anita Schnapp

One of the coolest things about Evolve is the variety of humans who make up the fabric of the team. At Evolve we have coached many athletes during and post pregnancy and we are lucky to also have an amazing OB as an athlete. If you have ever wondered about what do when you go from training for one to training with a baby on board, Dr. Schnapp has the answers.


Every day, I am grateful for the internet.  As soon as my patients have a positive pregnancy test, they consult every mom group they can find.  By their first visit, they know they shouldn’t get a manicure (false), the gender of the baby based on any of 17 different methods (50/50), and that they should not raise their heart rate over 140 bpm during the pregnancy (absolutely false). 

 Historically, pregnant women have been treated differently in various cultures.  In Victorian England, pregnant women didn’t do anything physical for fear of “the vapors.”  I am not sure what “the vapors” are other than an excuse to lounge around for nine months.  I can’t imagine that a pioneer woman was too concerned about the vapors when survival depended on getting crops planted.  And of course, everyone has heard stories of women squatting in the rice paddy to deliver and going right back to work.

As with most things, the reality of exercise in pregnancy lies in the middle.  There are tremendous benefits to exercise in pregnancy.  Exercise increases blood flow to the placenta, which leads to good fetal growth.  Women who exercise are less likely to develop diabetes and high blood pressure during pregnancy, both of which can lead to early delivery and complications for mom and baby.  Exercise helps with sleep in pregnancy, which can be a challenge.  Women who exercise are more likely to have a vaginal delivery and a better recovery.  Perhaps the most important benefit is that exercise just makes you feel good.

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 The flip side of exercise in pregnancy is that you can overdo it. Women can continue any activity for which they are trained.  But the changes of pregnancy will affect how you feel and your endurance.  First trimester, the hormonal changes can make you exhausted.  Nausea can be a limiting factor as well.  Changes in sugar metabolism partially drive nausea of pregnancy, making it critical that you have some kind of nutrition on longer workouts.  In second and third trimester, you need to be cautious with exercises that have you flat on your back.  There isn’t a specific cut-off or limit, you just have to watch for feeling light-headed or dizzy.  Breathing can become more challenging as your lungs are squashed.  Resting pulse increases in pregnancy as well, so if you train by heart rate, you will need to adjust.  Dehydration and overheating are real concerns due to the increased fluid demands in pregnancy and the personal furnace that you are carrying around.  As you hydrate, remember that your bladder is getting smashed by the baby so peeing on yourself is a definite possibility, but not at all worrisome. 

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There are special considerations for triathletes.  Swimming is a wonderful exercise for pregnant women.  It almost makes you feel not pregnant to float in water.  Breathing can be the challenge.  Running is fine, but again, listening to your body and cutting runs short or decreasing pace as your body demands are important.  Cycling is the discipline most affected.  Your center of gravity is off, and your balance may suffer.  Spills during pregnancy can be more serious if you hit your belly.  Finally, getting comfortable on the saddle as you start to have more lower body swelling might be impossible.  In third trimester, your body makes a hormone called relaxin.  It allows the pelvis to open a little during delivery to give baby more room to get out.  It also makes it easier to overextend your joints while stretching or doing yoga. 

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Of course, there are some women for whom exercise in pregnancy may be an issue.  If there are any complications like placenta previa, twin pregnancy, high blood pressure or multiple other considerations, your physician may give you other instructions or restrictions.  If you are in doubt about something, you can always consult the internet.  I’m sure you will find reliable answers there!

Love Potion 140.6 - Triathlon's Secret Discipline with Coach Scott

“Ultimately the bond of all companionship, whether in marriage or in friendship, is conversation, and conversation must have a common basis, and between two people of widely different culture the only common basis possible is the lowest level.” - Oscar Wilde

Pre-Chattanooga 70.3!

Pre-Chattanooga 70.3!



As the intensity of your triathlon season builds, and training hours ramp up, the most important ingredient for success is having a strong support system. Without strong relationships and clear communication with those whom you love, you can really derail your triathlon season. Let’s face it, triathlon can sometimes seem cult like,  and unless you are one of the rare triathlon power couples, then you have to really work on your relationships. But even the power couples face challenges. So, no matter how long you have been in this sport and if your partner is a triathlete - the reality is that communication is essential to get the most out of your training and not leave anyone feeling like they are not part of the process.

Triathlon is something that really raises your endorphins and self-confidence, but at times can zap your energy so the people around you are wondering what you are so excited about. This is what we see to be the biggest relationship stressor - as the season and your training builds so does your excitement. And sometimes that excitement can spill into every aspect of your life. Triathlon brings a ton of positive change from physical to how you handle stress, and in general you might find yourself feeling slightly obsessed with the sport. The positive changes are great, but imagine being the spouse on the other side of that equation. Where suddenly you are coming back from your workout discussing FTP, cadence, power numbers, sweat tests, drills, swim tests, Strava KOMs… You get the point… Consider sharing your excitement, but try not to discuss your watts and FTP for the next 6 hours. Balance the conversation with their day and give them a chance to talk about what made their day. We would suggest capping tri talk at 15 minutes - that allows you to get your excitement off your chest, but gives room for your partner to feel that your day is not the only thing that matters.

What are some things you can do to keep your relationship strong and support EACH other?  Below are 10 things that we see athletes at Evolve do really well in regards to relationships:

 

  1. Take time to have  conversations with your partner and not speak in triathlon geek speak 24-7.

  2. Agree on a triathlon budget.

  3. After your 4 hour workout, do a surprise thing that your spouse will appreciate. It can be a simple thing around the house. Hint, hint .... laundry is the secret to all relationship success.

  4. Share with them WHY you are on this triathlon journey.

  5. Explain the role of your coach.Your coach is there to help you be the best version of yourself in triathlon. Share the conversations with your partner that you and your coach have. Chances are it will mean more than your new FTP to them; your partner will appreciate that you are improving.

  6. When you get back from that long workout (maybe take a shower first), give your partner a hug and thank them for the support and acknowledge it is not always easy, but it means the world to you.

  7. Include your spouse in your workouts when possible - ride the trainer so you can be in the same room, have him or her ride a bike next to you while you run.

  8. Surprise them with a gift and no it is not an Ironman spouse t-shirt…

  9. Understand your partner's love language and try and support it.

  10. Schedule a regular date night and let your coach know when it is, the last thing you need is to have a long bike ride during date time. Your coach wants you to succeed and knows that this is part of the process.

Okay - and maybe just one more tip - when you get back from a workout, let’s be honest, we all want to look at our garmin data, and watch Training Peaks turn green, but take the time to put away all devices and just have a few minutes of real human connection! It really is that simple.



In the end sharing the experience can actually have a positive impact on your relationship, just remember your partner’s interest are just as important as yours. Having separate interests can be a great chance to connect as a couple, all that is needed is the time and communication that can be so hard to have these days!




How to Get to the Top of a Mountain by Training for a Half-Ironman - Athlete Spotlight with Amanda Phraner


“Wow, Kilimanjaro. How are you training for that?” That was pretty much the question I heard from everyone leading up to what was a trip of a lifetime. See I live in Chicago which is not exactly known for its mountains, altitude or well any sort of non-flat terrain. Of course my answer was simple – “Easy, I’m training for Ironman 70.3 Indian Wells which is a few weeks before.” It seemed to appease most people, though a few did point out that maybe some altitude training would be good. And I’m sure it would have been if I had figured out how to add more time in the day and days in the week. But in the end, the training for the race actually prepared me more than any climb could have.

Packing

There is nothing more critical for a race than packing – to the race and for the race. The art of it is making sure you have exactly what you need and nothing more or nothing less. I’ve become a master of using gallon size Ziplock bags to make sure everything is together, organized and water proof (nothing worse than soggy socks because your transition bag sat overnight).

As I tried to figure out exactly what I would need for a 6 day climb, 3 day safari and 6 days at the beach I used all of those race day skills. Lay everything out. Organize it by event. Go through and make sure you have what you need but don’t take anything more than that. I should probably note here that I was also attempting to take everything I needed in my backpack and carry-on, because with 4 different flights there I wasn’t willing to have lost luggage.

Looking back I must say this was maybe the best idea I had. First, if you take all the air out the bags double as compression sacks. Second, when you go through security over and over and over again it is much easier to repack a few Ziplocks into a backpack than every piece of clothing. Third, I knew where everything was over the hike and could quick grab that extra layer.

Nutrition

There is always that line in coach Sam’s race plan – if you can’t eat at least keep taking in fluids. While I packed all the bars, gels, electrolytes and salt tabs a girl could want, when the altitude hit I couldn’t stomach any of it. On summit day I managed half a bar before calling it quits and focusing on how many Pepto tabs I could chew. But I never stopped drinking water/electrolytes because I knew if I couldn’t eat I at the very least needed to drink. So somehow I managed to hike for 11 ½ hours on a half a bar and 4 liters of water. Which brings me to…..

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Moving on Tired Legs

I’m pretty sure learning to move on tired legs is the epitome of triathlon training. Spin for 4 hours and then go run for 30 minutes. Two –a-days, brick work, speed then distance – all of it teaching us how to move on tired legs. This was the second most important application of training for the hike (I’ll get to the first next).

Since we were on the 6-day hike, it meant that within the 48 hours of the summit we ended up hiking for about 24 hours. I’m completely disregarding the 3 days of hiking to even get to this point, but those 48-hours were brutal. It started with a 3 ½ hour hike up (more like a rock climb) over a wall to lunch, then a 3 hour hike to base camp. We had a few hours to “sleep” before dinner, eat dinner and then a few hours to “sleep” before waking up at 11 pm to start the summit climb at midnight. Needless to say sleeping didn’t happen.

From midnight to dawn you pretty much question your sanity a few hundred times. It’s dark, cold, windy and you are moving at a snail’s pace (at least I was). You’re tired. Your legs are tired. But you keep moving until you reach that peak. I can’t begin to describe how amazing that point was – the mental, physical and emotional challenge to get there overwhelms you. The views and the beauty cannot be captured in a photo. Of course once you take this all in, the realization that you have to get down the mountain sets in.

Down to base camp was almost as hard as up to the summit. By now the sun has been up and the ground is no longer frozen so you end up skiing down sand. As you’ve spent the better part of 8 hours climbing up, you become unsure of your legs going down. Hitting a gravel spot every so often doesn’t help with confidence. But this was my sweet spot. I was tired but I knew this place. You just need to keep focused and keep moving.

I’d like to say that was the end of moving on tired legs, but after an hour to rest we had to keep going to lower camp. This meant 6 more hours of hiking. But I was prepared for this. It was like a two-a-day or a long weekend brick. I had just gotten off the bike and it was time to run. Though in this case the runs was more of a slow 6 hour walk.

Mindset

This was the most important aspect of triathlon training that came into play when climbing. Determination and focus was just as important for the climb as it is in every race - part of getting to the top was wanting to get there. Of course there was also the ability to come out of a dark place and reset to keep going. I was well-versed here after Indian Wells – a freezing swim, three issues with my rear tire, and a small crash will teach you how to feel the pain and then put it aside to keep moving forward. There were many dark places along the hike, not just on the summit day. I can’t count the times that I had to let myself feel weak, tired, and sick and then push those aside, re-frame to a positive mindset and move forward. Luckily the friend I hiked with and I took turns falling apart, as it always helps to have someone else pull you back to reality.

Bonus Training: Run Your Own Race

Okay so one more bonus aspect of training for a triathlon that really helped – run your own race. It can be so easy to get caught up in how fast (or slow) you’re moving compared to everyone else. Early on the summit day you see people coming down the mountain – those who couldn’t reach the top for any number of reasons – and people passing you by as if you were standing still. It becomes hard to stay focused on your climb, your pace and what is best for you when you are faced with the question of “can I make it?” as others seem to be doing it easily and some clearly had their day called early.

Pole pole (Swahili for slow) was our plan – and you always follow the plan. It was hard at times to know that if we moved a tiny bit faster we would get there sooner because even though on the way up I didn’t quite know how long the day would be, I still knew it would be a long day. But keeping to the plan would get us to the top, so at all costs I had to block out what everyone else was doing and just focus on the my race (errr climb) plan.

Looking back, would I have trained the same way if I could do it all over again? Probably. Maybe I would have found time to visit the high altitude training room I learned about only after returning. Maybe I would have taken the difficulty of the climb more seriously. Maybe I would have signed up for a 7 day trek. But the truth is, that every bit of the Ironman 70.3 training that got me to the finish on race day, got me to the top of Kilimanjaro and I couldn’t have asked for better training than that.




Welcome Back to Reality - with Coach Nick

New Year, New Me?

It is that time of the year - yes, when our stomachs are full of holiday treats, sugar levels are at an all-time high, and if you are like me motivation, as much as I am telling myself it’s a New Year, is still pretty damn low. You have come down from your post race high from your 2018 ‘A’ race and lost some fitness (which is the sole purpose of an off season). I feel recovered and ready to roll - at least I think I am the latter.

The first few weeks back to your “on-season” are always a struggle and offer a swift kick to the face by the reality of early AM workouts and far more conscious eating. While I am a coach, I am also an athlete and one who succumbs to the same tendencies that others do.  I know that many of us struggle with the same issues, even if we do not always like to admit it.

There are 3 issues I typically face at this point in my early season training, and here is how I have learned to combat them.


  1. Lack of focus on eating (ie overeating, not eating consciously for fueling)

This is one that I REALLY struggle with around the holidays. In a time where you are spending time with friends, family, and co-workers it is tough to not get sucked into the holiday libations, baked goods (mmmmm cookies), and other yummy stuff. For months I was able to indulge far more often (within reason) due to a pretty high volume training.

Yes - you will gain weight this time of year. That is fine, and quite honestly a great sign that you took your off-season seriously. This is the time of year we rebuild our foundation and ensure there are not any cracks in said foundation. One way to ensure that we are ready to built the house anew is through fueling the body and gaining some healthy weight

“Gain weight” says coach - I say, game on. But then I hit a point of “what the hell happened?” It gets to a point with me where I am struggling all day with my eating and the emotions that can be attached to eating and hunger. I catch myself overeating because I am so “hungry” and my mind/body is craving that sugar buzz we get from those aforementioned holiday treats and baked goods (mmmm cookies).

I have tried a few different techniques over my years of racing, but one has really seemed to work for me and helped me to kick off my healthy eating/fueling efforts - food tracking. With the advent of smartphones and apps for seemingly every task possible, there are countless options. The one that I go to is MyFitnessPal (and also perhaps the one that most of you are familiar with). Yes - it is time consuming to find the calories, log it properly (ie weigh the food like the neurotic person I am), and not get so fed up and just eat a pre-packaged meal when you can scan the info and it is loaded into the app. The key aspect of food tracking for me personally, and from what I’ve seen with my peers is that it provide two aspects to you as an athlete and person in general. First off, it holds you accountable for what you are putting in your body. When you have that mind - body connection to the food you are consuming, and seeing the nutrient makeup of say something like a COOKIE, you tend to make the better choice. Being a type-A and goal driven athlete, I love to ensure that I am staying within my caloric goals, and also meeting marco nutrient requirements. Suddenly I am not too focused on how hungry I am, I’m eating less crap (for instance, cookies), the timing of my meals if far more consistent, and the weight starts to come off at a healthy rate. The second reason and simply put, I feel empowered to eat nutrient dense, healthy foods and know that I am treating my body as a tool for performance and my vehicle to become the best version of myself of an athlete - and even beyond that as a person who wants to be physically healthy.


2) Lack of motivation to wake up/getting back into the routine.

Don’t get me wrong - I love to workout. But we all know there are days that no matter how much we enjoy it, motivation can wane. This is amplified by such factors as weather (read: cold, rain, windy, etc), and daylight savings time making us want to just go to sleep at 6 pm and sleep until 8 am.


The first week back is what I refer to as boot camp - it is a swift kick in the pants to bring you back to your structured athletic endeavors. Fact: I am not a morning person, and have to set 5 alarms to get my ass out of bed on time for an am workout. I wish I was kidding, but what can I say, I love my bed (and my mama). You know you are singing that song in your head now...

The way I personally work around this is by setting a goal of waking up to make JUST one workout. Once I get one or two early AM workouts out of the way I am reminded of the mental boost I get throughout the day, albeit if it comes with an additional cup or two of coffee on those first few days. My motivation for the next workout starts to build and gain momentum, and before I know it I am almost excited for my next training opportunity.

Another way to approach this is to reward yourself the first few days, this can be in the form of a smoothie (or healthy-ish ;) snack of choice) on the way home from your workout or on the way to work. Or maybe after you make two weeks in a row of getting up, you buy yourself some new gear. Celebrate the wins regardless of how big or small they are.

3) Not being able to find time to workout

Even outside of the holiday season, it is tough to balance everything on our plates between work, family, and still trying to have a social life that may require you stay out past 6 pm. This gets amplified to new levels of difficulty when the workout load starts to pick up. So how do you combat this other than adding 2 more hours to the day.

First, be open with your coach about what your obligations are. The new year at work can also be stressful, or getting your kids back into a routine. Consistency  is key, so setting up realistic weekly training volumes where you are not running yourself ragged is a key focal point for success. We often want to go head first back into training in the New Year - but that does not always work and can set us back - a slow ramp up is usually the way to go. One great session a week or month does not make an athlete great, but multiple quality, well executed sessions make an athlete.

Second, like previously talked about  - set incremental goals. The downfall I face is switching my workouts around within the week. As a coach it is frustrating to see an athlete do this as I take a good deal of time to schedule all of the various sessions to ensure maximum benefits. The first week back my main goal is no missed workouts. Second week back, no missed workouts AND no moved workouts. After those two weeks have lapsed I am in a decent groove in both a mental and physical space averting any lack of motivation or the attempt of ‘catching up’ on workouts after moving your week around on your own accord.


So what does all this mean?

We are all human, and not robots. The ebb and flow of motivation is natural and normal.

I offer these as what works for me, but if these do not work for you, ask your friends and training partners how they get through it. Do not be afraid that you are showing weakness by expressing your lack of motivation or discipline at the moment. It happens to most everyone. Dare I say all of us - just some are more willing to be open about it.

Make a plan, set a goal, and celebrate any and all victories that come your way!

Here’s to crushing 2019.

Be sure to follow Coach Nick @ncgregory8878 on the gram.



Top 11 Things I Learned During Cowbell 26.2 Training

11.  The chafing is REAL.  And it happens in unexpected places.  I was not surprised to get a little chafing on the inside of my upper thighs.  From previous training, I even knew to expect a little at the insides of my arms where they rubbed my chest wall.  The chafing where my heart rate monitor sits is understandable. But the one that I just don’t get is on my back where my hydration belt sits, not really moving, over my clothes.  And that is always that one that, as soon as I step into the shower or sit down in the bathtub, screams out, “GOTCHA!!!!!”



10.  Wear the sports bra!  (Warning—personal information coming up).  I am no Dolly Parton, not by a LONG shot. I have never really seen the need for sports bras.  They can be more difficult to take off if you are sweaty and seem like they make you hotter. However, even for those of us that are bust-challenged, more support is definitely more comfortable after about mile 5.  And did you read #11 above? Regular bras definitely add to that one as well.



9.  Your children, regardless of age, are probably capable of more than you think around the house.  So if you have a long run and will be gone when your tweens wake up for breakfast I guarantee they will find something to eat.  And mine are old enough that I sometimes just left a recipe on the counter and let them figure it out. No one starved. Except me, as I was out running (see also #4).  



8.   Do not underestimate the importance of sleep or the power of heat.  Invariably, when it was really hot out, and I had a bad run, I would try to figure out why.  Then, later in the day, the posts would start—EVERYONE had a run that was not what they wanted.  Someone actually posted a chart about the effects of temperature on workout by degrees. With my job, sleep can be as unpredictable as St. Louis weather.  And I often noticed the same crummy effect on my workouts if I was up all night working. But once again, during this process, Sam posted something about sleep!



7.   Vegetables are not always your friend.  Sure, they are healthy, full of vitamins and minerals and great for clean eating.  You can have them raw, steamed, grilled, seasoned any way you like them. And many of them are a great source of fiber, which is very important to good functioning of your digestive system.  And therein lies the problem. Enough said.

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6.  Variety is the spice of life.  This is true with respect to your nutrition, as you can only eat so many black cherry Bloks before you hate them.  It is true with respect to your hydration (can you say Watermelon?!?! Just like a jolly rancher!). And it is certainly true of running routes.  When I was struggling at one point with whether I could actually do this, a very wise runner told me to go different places for my long run. I thought knowing what was coming was a great idea.  Boy, was I off base on that one. New routes made it more interesting and therefore easier.



5.   Use the power of being on a team (or at least of having friends in “the lifestyle”)!  With a month to go I was struggling a LOT. I posted on the Evolve Facebook page and within hours had several responses that helped me out.  People shared their stories and suggestions. And, after that I had several others checking in on me to see how training was going and wishing me luck.  The day before the marathon I had texts and Facebook messages from a lot of Evolve folks as well as others I have met on this journey. It made a huge difference.



4.   Grocery shopping after a long run is a crapshoot.  Even after eating something, there is still a weakening of the defenses.  Delicious salty chips? Absolutely! That wonderful carbonated drink? It is like something from Alice in Wonderland with a “Drink Me” sign.  Your children will pick up on this quickly and want to accompany you. They know that now is the chance to put ice cream and cookies and who knows what else in the cart, as you will either not notice, not care, or say, “That looks really good.  Go get another pack of that.”



3.  Don’t panic when the unexpected happens.  And in the long process of training, it will.  Kids get sick, work projects pop up, you get injured.  Adapt, adjust and keep a positive attitude. I told my family in the 2 weeks before the race I was going to be selfish, and that there would be food in the house, and I would get them to scheduled activities, but nothing extra.  Then there was a homecoming dress crisis, a student started a rotation in my office (yes, I knew about that one but kind of forgot), a car that completely died 6 days before the race requiring trips to car dealers and purchasing a vehicle, and a baby to deliver at 1 in the morning the day of the race.  When the car broke down, I almost lost it, but that would not have fixed anything. And so you adjust and move on.



2.   Have a partner in crime!  Finding someone else with my same brand of crazy made all the difference. We didn’t always run together, but we always checked in with each other, gave support on our bad days (which luckily rarely coincided), and sure as heck pushed each other along on race day.  I was fortunate to find someone I enjoy running with who happens to be well paced to me. This may not work for everyone, but it was a huge benefit to me!



1.   Never say never.  I said I would never do a marathon.  I said there was no way I was going to finish.  I said there was no way I could keep up with the training.  Of course, after I finished, I did say I was never doing another one…hmmmmmm.



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The Power of Denial - with Coach Tori

As endurance athletes we take pride in pushing hard and not backing down at any challenge, and while these qualities have their place, they can also be dangerous if taken too far. Paying attention to your body when it is in pain and ignoring warning signs can have serious consequences.

Recently one of my best friends had a heart attack at the age of 42. Two years ago she had a hip problem after an endurance race. The lingering pain and denying anything was wrong for a year led to a labrum tear and hip surgery.  Her PT released her this past spring to start working out. It was a gradual process and she felt like she would never do a long endurance race again. So she decided to race shorter races like 5ks, but as you know, short races do not mean easy. While she wasn’t running ultras any more, she was still pushing her body pretty hard.

After a triathlon this summer, she had chest pains. Her doctor, PT and I all came to the same conclusion that it was most likely exercise related. She went hard and fast and her HR was above what she had been doing and also longer than what she has done in the past two years. A week later and three more episodes, she decided, reluctantly, to go to the ER. She was still in denial, and struggled to skip her morning run, but knew that she needed to go to the ER. She wanted to turn around at every exit she passed. She went into the ER with her swim bag with the attitude the doctors would tell her she’s fine and then off to swim she would go. After an abnormal blood test and EKG, she was moved to an inpatient and a cardiac catheter was performed. 

She had 3 blocked arteries with one that had a section that was 95% blocked. If she would have gone running that morning as planned, the outcome would most likely been different. The final diagnosis is spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD). This is a common diagnosis in seemingly healthy, young women and the cause is still unknown.  While this is not a typical scenario, it does illustrate the dangers of ignoring the warning signals the body is trying to send.

While less extreme, I have had a lingering foot issue. And like any good endurance athlete, I self-diagnosed it as plantar fasciitis. But I had a feeling that it might be something worse, so after my last race (of course I waited until after I raced) I went to the podiatrist and found out I have a stress fracture in my heel. I am now in a boot and not sure when I will be able to race long again.

Do you see the pattern?  Denying that anything is wrong when your body is telling you something, can set you back for long periods of time. We all do this. We all tend to think that the little thing is just an ache, it will go away, it’s not a big deal and I will get it looked at after my A race. This can be true in many cases, but it is best to be proactive in your approach rather than having to react to something larger. If you don’t get it looked at before the A race you may not be able to make it to the start line. 

One really easy way to avoid this scenario is to work with a coach. The trick is that the athlete needs to be upfront about pain. I see this a lot in coaching, an athlete who is unwilling to share their pains with me in fear of me changing the plan. However, it is my job as a coach to pick the best way to get to the starting line as healthy as possible. There are many roads that lead there, and a coach is there to help to identify which road makes the most sense at any particular time. It is very easy to over do it if you are solo in your athletic pursuits. A coach offers an objective set of eyes. She or he will recognize patterns of behaviors and see warning signs even when an athlete is not always forthcoming with being in pain.

An occasional ache and pain is part of sports, but chronic pain or any pain that affects your joints needs to be dealt with right away.

We spend countless hours training, a lot of time away from family. We invest in our health with exercise and eating well, and we need to do the same when it comes to seeing a doctor if we are in pain. Take care of your body it’s the only one you have. 

Ironman Lake Placid and Wisconsin Race Reports with Coach Lenny

My season started in February, when I headed to the QT2 pro training camp in Clermont, Florida. While, I train throughout the year, this is where I really ramp up my volume and also am faced with reality: I have a long way to go. The people I’m with there are my friends, but in the end also my competition.

I love training, but I absolutely love racing. So once we started this season my coach and I decided I could race a 70.3 every 3-4 weeks. This plan would keep me focused and give me more experiences as a pro in my second season. This meant that I signed up for 5 races between April and June and I was excited for it. We would use the races to build through the season, peak at 70.3 Mont Tremblant, take a couple weeks off and then hit it for a second round of racing. And maybe, just maybe, try my first full at the end of the season – Wisconsin.

When I started training with Sam, after our first power test, she y told me how aerobic I am and that Ironman would be my sweet spot, and Tim was no different. But he was also clear in that I should not do a full until I felt ready and really wanted it. Then in April/May, in the midst of training and racing it hit. I was ready. Lake placid was a race on my bucket list, I had been there for training the year before and I loved the area. So I texted Tim: “what would you think about Lake Placid?”. It didn’t take long for him to reply with: “I think that would be a great race for you”. So the decision was made.

With all the racing it was hard to get the long runs in safely, so in my peak weeks I sometimes did 3 or 4 shorter runs in a day. And through some of the hottest and most humid weeks in Wisconsin I got my 6 or 7 hour rides in and absolutely loved it ALL. Of course there were days I struggled. During a weekend of training in Lake Placid I got on my bike the day after a long ride in the blistering heat, a week after having raced, and I just had nothing left. I called my coach, crying out of fatigue and disappointment and ended the workout. Frustrated, I felt like I should have pushed through and not complained – but Tim reassured me, that I don’t complain, so when I do, it’s probably time to pull the plug. So I gathered myself, flew home early the next morning to go straight into a split run with a bike ride in between. I felt rough, very rough, but pulling through days like these builds confidence. It was my choice to do this and it was and is hard, but it wasn’t supposed to be easy. And thankfully, I have a crazy supportive wife at home who made me dinner night after night as I lay on the couch, exhausted.

The week of the race I was nervous. Very nervous. I had no idea what to expect. But I trust Tim blindly, and physically I felt ready. On race morning the nerves were overwhelming and I walked towards the start line with tears rolling down my face. But once that gun went off, it was game time. Time to stick on people’s feet on the swim. Time to crush that rainy bike ride, keeping it steady but solid. And finally, time to nail that run. I had never run a marathon before that day, so I followed Tim’s instructions – easy, real easy for the first 4-5 miles, walk every other aid station, and after mile 14 – just let my body do the work. And it did, yes – it hurt - but I enjoyed every moment of that race.

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After the race I wanted to try it again! So it was on to Wisconsin!

As Wisconsin started getting close, I felt confident. Too confident? Lake placid – was that a fluke? Ignorance is bliss – it was nice to not know what I was getting into that first race, but this race would be different – was I making it prettier in my head than it really was? And now people knew who I was, there were expectations. I had expectations. Were those realistic? Would I be able to do this again?

Not my best swim, I knew that as soon as we got to the 2nd buoy. But I was determined to finish this race strong. And during an Ironman anything can happen. The bike – I had ridden the course, I could do this well. I felt good, was consistent, and pushing hard – but not too hard. As I went down a steep downhill, I tucked in aero – I knew this turn, had taken it in training many times – then came out at the last minute to brake and go into the turn. As I squeezed my brakes on my race wheels I knew I was too late, and I was going too fast. I made the split second decision to ride into the grass shoulder. As soon as my front wheel left the asphalt, it caught and my bike and I made a flip, I landed on my back with my bike a few feet further down. A bit surprised, I stood up – many things flashing though my head. But first things first, I was ok - no pain? No pain. Second – the bike, it looked ok, my wheels spun like normal. So far so good – so I grabbed my nutrition, stuffed my bottles and gels back on my bike and got back on. I refocused on the race; I was determined to finish this race strong. I lost a few minutes, but anything can happen during an Ironman. Before Lake Placid Tim had said: Anything can happen during an Ironman, anything can happen to anyone. Unexpected things will happen during an Ironman. So you take the hits as they come and manage them to the best of your ability. So that I did. And I briefly cursed when I then had to stop for a train – but again refocused. The supporters along the run course were awesome, and it was a blast to run through town, the stadium, and the campus. The run started hurting around mile 15, but I was determined to run it out strong. There are many what ifs and I am disappointed in myself for falling, which maybe cost me a spot on the podium. But then again, who knows, maybe this is exactly what I needed? Anything can happen during an Ironman.

As I am recovering I can’t wait to get back to training, can’t wait for my next long ride or run, can’t wait for my next race.

This stuff is hard - very hard - but it’s supposed to be hard. Consistency is key, the day in, day out of training, of pushing the body, strengthening it slowly and steadily. But maybe more important is the mind, the focus, the determination, to maintain the day in-day out of training and keep going when it hurts, to refocus when the unexpected happens. In the end, what it comes down to for me is that I love it, I love all of it and wouldn’t give it up for the world. 

What Would Janie Do? Coaches Corner with Nick Gregory

As many of us work towards the final race(s) of the 2018 season, balance the multiple hats that we wear, and also try to have some semblance of a social life, it can get increasingly more difficult to match the level of intensity and drive found in the beginning of the triathlon season.

As an athlete, I tend to see my drive ebb and flow throughout the year. I like to work hard; I love the feeling of approaching a session where I just don’t feel I can quite possibly push myself any further, and smash it. But there are days when getting going can seem an insurmountable task.

Motivation comes in many different forms, and sometimes in the most unsuspecting of places.

A few weeks ago I went to my gym to knock out my tempo run on the treadmill due to the lovely summer afternoon showers we get daily here in the ‘Sunshine State’. It was my second session of the day, and quite honestly I had zero motivation for the workout. It was a feat in and of itself that I got into the car to head to the gym, especially after another mentally exhausting day at work. I arrived at the gym in a pissed off mood; to put it bluntly the monster within me came out. I had thoughts of “why do I HAVE to do this?”. I didn’t want to do it, but …

Rewind back to my previous blog post a few months ago where I talked about changing the ‘have to’ verbiage to a reinforcing statement of “I get to”. I had to use my own advice and make the mindset shift.

It worked for about 3 seconds.

I started my workout and my legs pretty much just told me, ‘Hey asshole – we aren’t going to cooperate’. I pressed on in a fairly negative state struggling to take my own advice. Then towards the end of the warm-up I happened to look over to the right and in the corner of my eye I saw a woman doing an interesting movement on the rowing machine. A combo rowing motion and overhead press. I didn’t really think too much of it, but then I took a second glance. The woman doing the workout was an individual I had seen many times before either at the gym or out running. The second glance was caused not by me recognizing her, but by the fact that she was newly an amputee from the knee down on one of her legs. About this time my first interval started and I focused as best as I could, but in the back of my head I was thinking of how terrible I felt for the woman. I put myself in her shoes and the thought of me having to undergo something similar and how that would devastate me. Suddenly the ‘I get to’ verbiage really hit me in the face hard. Here I am pissed off because I had to go to the gym to do a tempo run – not wanting to do any movement, and this woman is adapting her workout routine(s) to allow for her to get any type of movement she possibly can.

The next 6 miles I was fully engaged in feelings of wonder and awe. What happened to her? What was going through her mind? The miles were also motivated by her willpower to say fuck it and keep going despite what life had thrown at her. She was working harder than the ‘bros’ in the free weight area that were chatting more than they were actually doing any true work.

To put it quite simply, she was busting her ass and giving zero fucks.

After I got done with my workout I walked over to tell her that she was a badass. She had inspired me to shut up and get to work.  I had the opportunity to chat with her a bit further, and learned her name - Janie. Janie was a marathon runner and told me how she recently had tried a few different prosthetics with the hope of being able to return to some semblance of running. She had not had much luck, but you could tell that she was not giving up and that her drive was present throughout most of how she approached life. I didn’t ask what happened to her leg, and honestly it wasn’t my business to ask. What we talked about was how she was constantly overcoming challenges, and she laughed off the many follies that she had gone through in her new situation.

Janie did not have to go workout that day, or any other day for that matter after her procedure. She chose to, and adopted the mindset of “I get to”. She truly loves working hard for her own personal satisfaction. Not for Instagram likes, or Strava Kudos, or posting  workout stats. Janie puts in the work silently and diligently, and when she faces a challenge she adapts and overcomes.

The last few weeks I have thought about Janie quite a bit as I am in the final blocks for Ironman Louisville. Janie was front and center in my mind this past weekend while racing the Litchfield Half Ironman. The race did not go as planned right from the beginning of the bike when my electronic shifter malfunctioned and automatically shifted to the extreme lowest gear on the cassette. I sat on the side of the road, and for a split second I thought about pulling out of the race. It was windy, overcast, cold, and my bike wasn’t working. I took a deep breath and tried to figure out how to get the bike to work so I could at least finish the race. While I stood there cold and frustrated,  Janie’s smile as she was busting her ass in the gym popped in my mind. I got on my bike, and went right to executing the race (in perhaps some of the windiest conditions I’ve ever raced in), full of the typical ebb and flow of racing including a bottle cage with my last bottle of nutrition coming off due to the rough roads. I didn’t get upset when any of this happened, instead I laughed and smiled. I thought about Janie and tried to embody her way of adapting to and overcoming anything that life throws at us.

That chance encounter in the gym was one of the most powerful lessons I have had in a long time and reminded me once again, that there is always a positive outcome to a negative situation; some are just more difficult to find.