Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Leading By Example

Practice what you preach, lead by example, there are two thousand ways to say it. But what I did over the weekend, or rather, what I didn't do.... only needs one word.


Saturday I ran the Hearnish 10K (which was 6.5 according to my Garmin, and for the record, 4 miles too short!). The hilliest 10K+ that I have ever run. Then I worked 13 hours on my feet, well into the wee hours of the morning. Follow with a 10 mile run and a sweet spot ride, then 8 more hours on the good old feet.

Monday morning I awoke looking for the wheel marks of the truck that had apparently run me over.

The good news is that I hurt in all the right places. General pain, general soreness, nothing in the AT or that suggests a muscle strain. Whew.

The bad news is that all of this could easily have been prevented. And I know better.

I simply neglected to recover myself.

Typically after hard efforts, days and races I follow the very basic laws of recovery. I take an ice bath, I practice yoga, I use my stick, I do a 30 minute inversion.

Clearly I did none of this. It disappointed no one else but me. This was all preventable. Now things are a little bit off kilter. Coach moved my first cruise interval run from Tues to Thurs. I am at easy efforts today and even that seems like a challenge.

But it is no one's fault but my own. I know better than anybody that recovering oneself if just as important as the workout. No one notices it more than the 30+ athletes that I currently coach.

They look to me to lead by example and this weekend I did not do it. For no good reason either. So I am coming clean. Today's workouts needn't be moved around had I followed my own rules.

My body doesn't care that in 2007 I did 2 Ironmans. That doesn't matter this morning. The woman in the mirror tells me to get over myself as she sings "Glory Days."..... again.

Tuesday is recover myself day. A bike, a swim, and a recovery run. The stick, an inversion, and a big cup of hot HTFU. I was really looking forward to my first official Cruise Interval Run this morning. By my own fault I am looking at Thursday instead.

Should I be hard on myself? Yes. Because I know better. If I am expecting my athletes to do the same as I do, I'd better be doing it myself.

Lesson learned, lesson counted.

Three cheers for recovery day!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Birthday Blow Out!

It was a perfect birthday, I couldn't' have had any more fun!

It all began at Masters where even Ken's eyes widened at our given set. My mouth hit the floor. But we did it. I did not get lapped once. I made every interval and I had to lay down after practice for a few minutes!

"Happy Birthday" Coach Lorie smiled at me. I hadn't done yardage like that since college. I hadn't felt like that since college either!

Next it was off to breakfast at Cracker Barrel, where I had every intention of chowing down! I ordered it all, eggs, pancakes, sausage patties..... the classic swimming hunger was on board.
But I couldn't even finish it. One pancake and I was full.

The Strong National Museum of Play and the much anticipated exhibit Grossology was awesome. Only our school district had the day off so the crowds were light. Grossology was quite interesting, you truly did learn the science of bodily functions. I shall post some pictures tomorrow.

There is a new exhibit called the Butterfly Garden, which was by far the best part. A butterfly even landed on Luc's nose! We giggled and giggled... this morning my abs are sore from the laughing.

Later on after Curt came home from work my parents came up from Buffalo, and we had a small family party. Luc selected Strawberry Shortcake Birthday hats, Backyardigans noise makers, and whistles as party favors. Over pizza and cake we laughed some more. The fireplace was roaring, it was pure bliss.

I think I started to appreciate my parents when I was 20.... the culmination of my illness. I distinctly remember having the realization that I was loved, I was supported, and we could together endure this storm. It's been that way ever since. They are truly incredible people.

Last night I took that step back, I looked at everyone and I told them how grateful I was for them. We are only the sum of all of our parts, and right now I have some pretty great peeps in my life.

Thank you so much for all of your kind birthday wishes. They mean more than you could know!

Now it's time to bundle up! I have a hilly 10K in 2 hours, and guess what! It's the warmest day of the week, twenty eight degrees!!!! WOO HOO!

Litte Update! The race went fine! I got in a good 20 min warm up.... a 6.5 (according to my Garmin) race and a good 10 min cool down. Till mile 3 I was thinking "These hills ain't so bad" and then they came. Holy camola! But I accomplished all of my goals. I got some tempo work, I got some hills, I ran a 10K in the winter and I had a lot of fun. My performance reflected where I am at in my training program, and I am looking forward to some more good winter races. Who says 28 degrees is cold??????

:-) Mary

Friday, January 25, 2008

Thirty Four

Thank goodness I am a triathlete. Age is looked at with respect, and there is always a new place to go. New age groups, new opportunity. Every few years you get to the the youngest.

Yes it it true, today I am thirty four years old. My age doesn't freak me out, the fact that I have a seven year old child freaks me out! My sister called my mother last year crying that she turned 30. I called my Mom gloating that I am the elder in the age group and next year I get to be the baby!

So what shall I do on this glorious day of mine? Well wouldn't you know, it is "Grading Day" in the Rush-Henrietta School District. But I understand. They have to call it grading day. How would it look if they declared today a district holiday (which it is!).

So what does the big day involve? A trip to the spa? No. A Movie? No.

We start off with masters swimming where my intestines will be yanked through my ears for 90 minutes. Continuing on with a short easy run, then Luc is taking me out to breakfast. (funny.... when a seven year old takes you out to breakfast their ATM is your wallet.... B.O.M. .... Bank of Mom).

And then..... hold your pants on..... this is where it gets exciting. We are headed to the Strong National Museum of Play. You see they have a new exhibit. It's called Grossology? What's that? You'll be glad you asked.

Grossology is the study of boldly functions. Burping, farting, how those are formed.... you get to smell them, climb a wall of skin and feel the hair brush against you. You can stand under a nose and get blown on.

Now that.... it puts the F ... back in the word FUN.

I will be sure to bring along my barf bag.... the kind that breaks open like on my flight home from Germany this year. Yes, that'll do.

So thirty four, here we come. We have great things to accomplish this year. And first we will start it off in the grossest of ways!

And don't worry.... I will let you know how it goes!

:-) Mary

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Answer

I don't believe Ironman Lake Placid to be a hilly course. Before you slap me understand that where I live, it's hilly. Ironman Lake Placid doesn't have any stand and grind hills. Every hill on that course is a slow rise. Around here we have some good steep and die types of grades.

So when I tell you that this 10K (10 ISH) I am running on Saturday is hilly..... you'd better believe it.

A friend of mine asked me this the other day "Aren't you afraid of having a slower 10K published where other people can see it?" I could feel his anxiety.

"Buddy..." I told him, "I am a triathlete. On July 20th no one will give a rat's ass what my 10K time was in January!"

So no, I am not afraid to have anything published. I have had slow times, I have had fast times. All published. And guess what? Here I stand! Alive and well. I just don't worry about the small stuff anymore. The only one who will really care is me, and that's all that matters.

Whatever kind of performance this Saturday's 10-ish K brings me, I am looking for a few things. Hills..... got that. Some intensity..... until this week it's all been E Paced. Fun.... that will naturally happen, many from my team are running. Something a lot out of my comfort zone..... I don't love road racing in the winter because I hate wearing tights.... so this will give me an opportunity to turn resistance into strength.

I am also looking to HTFU. Trust me on this course, that'll happen.

To push past plateaus, to make breakthroughs, you have to step outside or in my case run outside of your comfort zone. What will happen? I don't know. I am putting my head down and running to the best of my current ability, I will look for the edge and I will see what I can do with it.

Because it is all part of the plan. One thing will roll into the next. The next part is built on this part, and that part is built on the next part. It will all lead up to one day.... July 20th.

As I am heading down the chute of my fifth Ironman I want to be able to answer one question. Did I do everything I could possibly do to achieve this goal?

I can assure you this.... the answer will be yes.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Navigating the Jungle

As you may or may not know, I am the mom of a child with what has become the catch phrase "Special Needs". Most of all I think he is a 7 year old boy. But he does have some delays. With those delays however, there isn't a child more full of sunshine than he is. In the whole world.

He believes that while he is at school, I stay home and play with his teddy bears all day. And as long as he can keep believing that I know I have the right balance.

Having a child with unspecified special needs is a lot like being blindfolded in a jungle. You stumble, you hit trees, you have no map to follow and if you did there would be no way to see it or even make sense of it.

Every single day though, you get to feel the sand and the sunshine though. Every single day. And believe me we do not take that for granted.

Sensory Integration Dysfunction Disorder is what has been unofficially diagnosed. Luc fits the profile, and as with anything he is always changing. His issues are always changing. Part of my job as a mom is figuring that all out.

At the age of four someone in education suggested he be placed on Ritalin. That ended with my fist slamming on the table. Yes, medication has it's place. For the right child, absolutely. Our boy does not fit any of the symptoms for ADHD and we have the most wonderful pediatrician on earth to back us up on that.

Besides he was FOUR.

Luc is a square peg that they want to fit into a round hole. Until now. Our schools were realigned and the special education programs were shuffled around. Without even knowing it, we landed in the right place. Our Principal works personally with Luc and her goal is to integrate all of these children by 5th grade.

Last year I was told by our school principal that special education children had no hope for integration.

His teacher is phenomenal. The gains he has made academically are outstanding.

We also enlisted the help of the Sylvan Learning Center.

And it is all coming together.

Tonight Luc sat and read me a book. I smiled the whole time but what he could not see were the tears in my eyes. He sounded out words, I held back from doing it for him. He figured it out without getting frustrated. He read confidently and calmly.

While I don't use medications with my child, I use something that has been around for hundreds of years. I use essential oils. Specifically with Luc I use Peace and Calming and Lavender. At my yoga studio we use them. We learn about them and I do believe they work. Do the research, but research correctly.

Every morning I rub these oils on Luc's feet. The days I don't.... I tend to get a call form the Principal. What should I say "I didn't put his oils on today!!!" How would that sound? Actually knowing this woman, it would sound just fine.

Another thing we do for Luc is ..... gasp.... keep him active. He's grown into quite a swimmer. He's completed a triathlon. He's getting good at balancing on his bike. He loves to shoot hoops. He loves to play.

He owns no video games. We won't even have them in the house. When he was born we decided he would not be one of these video game / TV obsessed children. And I think that's been a big key with his development.

So as Luc grows, we grow with him. We provide a loving and stable home for him, rarely if ever a babysitter (aside form Granny's house!) and plenty of Mom and Dad time every single day. My life is structured so that I get him off the bus (and stay with him!!!) every single day.

I believe that parenting itself is the very best medicine for anything that ails. Anything at all.

Together we navigate the jungle. We hit the trees, we sink in the sand, and every single day we take off the blindfold and feel the warm sun on our faces. We learn together. And we grow together.

We'll get there.

The Coffee Bill of Rights

It was all going great until my husband got involved. His involvement has since been trouble. Nothing but trouble.

You see, until now I have been in charge of the coffee at my house. He cooks, I make the coffee. And I am good at it. He even bought me the coffee makers of all coffee makers a few years ago, the automatic grind and brew. But I was in charge.

For Christmas this year we replaced it, it was a risk. I was a dare. But anything that involves coffee and taking chances I am in for in my search for the perfect cup. So he got me the Kureg.

And I love it.

No more wasted pots of coffee that need reheated. It's 40 seconds to a small, medium or large or in this house….. a too small, a too small and a Venti cup of joy. Set the temperature, use your own grinds or buy the pods. On a daily basis I have coffee galore to choose from.

It was all going well until I allowed Curt to begin making his own coffee.

This morning we couldn't find the coffee scooper. Nine years together and this is the first time the scooper has been missing. The only thing that changed was that he got involved in the coffee making.

I can make coffee without a scoop and I can drink it without a cup. So not too much rattles me.

Except when I go to fill the pod and it's got grinds in it. Coffee respect has not been upheld. You clean it when you are done to allow it to be ready for the next person.

This rule has not been followed. It caused a delay in getting Mary caffeinated. Four days before she turns thirty four this is not so wise Mister National Champion. Not so wise.

I am not in charge of much around here… which is just fine with me. The Mom stuff, my business, and until now the coffee.

So there are new rules instituted for coffee consumption and especially for coffee making;

1. Scoop remains on the left side of the coffee maker. Period.
2. Use your own filter. You are responsible for cleaning it out. Period.
3. If we go to make coffee at the same time, Mary goes first. Period.
4. Keep the water filled to the top at all times.

The first one to break this rule has to
drink instant coffee. Unless it is me.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Balancing Act

(I saw and stole this picture from Chuckie V's Site.....for you Marit :-)

Even though my friend Ass Cold has made a triumphant return to Western New York, I have been waking up smiling and ready for each and every day. Things are going well here at Train-This on so many different fronts, and I am truly so grateful.

My athlete stable is at capacity, and we've got a waiting list for those who want to come on board. Which led to the decision to add a third associate coach, named Teena Clark. Teena is one hell of a duathlete and especially a time trialist. She's the mother of two, a physical therapist, a teacher and the wife of Rich Clark.... who owns Score-This... the brainchild of Train-This! She will be taking on athletes beginning in February, and believe me this is a great problem to have.

I am also referring athletes to the other local coaches.... see if we can drum them up some business too!

The more difficult schedule I have tapered into is holding very steady. I even am taking a lot of couch time, at least 20 minutes per day. Just as important as time on.... is down time. In fact the busier you are the more important it becomes.

My son believes that while he is at school I am home playing with his stuffed animals. He thinks I sit home and wait for him all day long. As long as I can keep him believing that, then I know i have found the right balance.

This week was a bigger week of training for me, about 15 hours worth, and it's going really well. Nothing long yet, but lots of frequency. I remember last year struggling through some four hour trainer rides, and feeling like it was hanging over my head all the time. This season we are working intensity early on the bike, and we will add the volume as camp HTFU approaches.

New to the schedule this season are some road races in the winter. No tapering, no resting for them, a chance to toughen me up. This week it is the Hearnish 10K. Key there being -ISH. Rumor has it this is closer to 7 miles, and it's nothing but hills. I am aiming for it to be a good tempo run with my team. If nothing else, it will be fun and it will be cold!!!! With this race we begin some intensity work, as it has been E paced galore so far!

I am feeling good, I feel that my body is adapting to training and to the schedule. I feel healthy, I feel happy.

It's a wonderful way to start the year and I am so grateful for it!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

V Dot.

If you are looking to absorb some great material about training click here. This is Coach Paulo's blog page, he is thought of by some as controversial, but I don't quite find him so. There is nothing that he says or preaches that is actually new. He does a terrific job in my opinion of explaining things without the sugar coating. Coach T turned me onto this site a few months ago, and I hope you find it as informative as I do.

Training 'round these parts is going well, right on target with what we have aligned. The 3 week running break rewarded me with a healed Achilles Tendon (Who knew! Rest is best!), and I am able to now run 5 days a week. I am cycling about 5 days and swimming four and right now, nothing is very long. Nothing is over 1:15. In case i haven't said it before I just finished a season with 2 Ironmans... (Glory Days they sing to me in the pool...) and it's been 2 months, so it's been time to work on the basics and not on the length just yet.

One of my A goals this season is to improve my running. For me, running 5-6-7 days at the appropriate pace will not yield me an injury. Didn't you injure your Achilles? I was dealing with some tendonitis form 2 Ironmans. (Glory Days....)

When I began working with Coach T he guided me into training via V Dot rather than just pure heart rate. At the time I wasn't quite adhering to the zones, as I was struggling with my ego, and likely that was where my Achilles issues began.

But in between IMLP and IMFL I began training by the V Dot system developed by Jack Daniels. Not the drink... the coach. Never heard of him or his V Dot system? Click here for some more info. Heck, you can even ask the man himself if you visit the Let's Run forum. He posts under JTupper and he will answer any question you might have. A great read is Jack Daniels Book on Running. remember it is written for purebred runners. It's a valuable training tool nonetheless.

What this did for me was get me into the right paces for training. Rather than running each run in the grey zone, I ran in the black white and red zones as i call them. Clear, specific, concise. Easy runs easy, long runs with purpose. Every run has a purpose and every run had a pace assignment.

It just so happened that my heart rate zones pretty much matched where I thought they should be. But we all know heart rate can vary so it's always helpful to use a combination of training tools if you have them available.

What my E Paced runs did for me; they allowed me to run every single day. Many runs are just 30 minutes. Running more frequently for some people will benefit them more than running 4 days at a longer volume. More importantly they forced me into a better running form. When you do establish that E Pace your eyes should pop out of your head. THAT'S TOO SLOW! You should cry. ever run in heart rate zone 2, really heart rate zone 2? Should be the same feeling.

To accomplish this you must run with a higher cadence. 90 foot strikes per one foot during a minute is ideal. If I can do it, anyone can do it. What the higher cadence / slower pace allows is for you to run correctly. Do that and you can save yourself $175 on Newtons.

The V Dot system also gives you Marathon Pace, Threshold Pace, Interval Pace and repetition Pace. It allows me to run my easy runs easy, and my hard runs hard. Which in turn, is much more effective than running all runs in the grey zone. In the grey zone as I call it, I am running too fast for my body to recover from workout to workout, preventing me from making gains on my feet.

What this system allows for me to do is train at precise paces, run more frequently, and avoid injury. Of course I do this with a Garmin and a treadmill and under the watchful eye of my coach.

Because running is not my strength I need to focus on it the most. I have entered some running races in the winter. And I hate to race on the road in the winter. I hate it more than a duathlon. But it gives me the opportunity for a tempo paced run, in harsher conditions, which helps me to HTFU. Are any of these 10K, 8 milers.... going to be PR's? Maybe, maybe not. We certainly aren't tapering for them. With the correct training, running on tired legs at a goal pace will in turn, help me in the summer. Suffer now to excel then. So sure, I will do a 15 hour training week and finish it up with a road race. for me, that's what I need.

Stronger runners, may not need to do the same. Their time might be better spent elsewhere.

So give the V Dot system a look at. Notice that this is not a new theory, not a new training program, and take a look at the experience of Jack Daniels. He isn't quite preaching anything new, but he's preaching what all the top coaches are; training at the right paces / zones, building a solid foundation, properly structuring your season, those are the keys to success.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Confessions of a Skirt

The first time I ordered a Skirt from Skirt Sports, I got a phone call from Nicole DeBoom herself. So convinced it was a joke I even told her so. But Mary! I remember her saying, This really is Nicole DeBoom! It was impressive that someone of her name and stature would call just to confirm and thank me for an order. Of a skirt that I was going to run in. Even I wasn't quite convinced. But I liked Nicole, I liked what she stood for. So I thought I would give it a try.

I don't remember how but somehow the conversation turned to body image and women and then we were talking about eating disorders. She commended me on my recovery and the next thing I knew a box of eight skirts arrived with a "Welcome to the Skirt Ambassador Program" card.

Well it has been three years and I have been in a skirt ever since. They aren't skorts, they are skirts and I swear to you... they are gloriously comfortable. The first time I ever ran in one... it was pouring rain. It was comfortable in the rain. Is anything comfortable in the rain?

Being a fellow woman small business owner, I have continued to support Skirt Sports ever since, and I am a proud skirt wearer. In my line of work you don't have the chance to wear dress up clothes, so I wear it when I am running. I can go for a run and then head into first grade without looking like a slime ball.

My favorite are the Roller Girl and the Marathon Girl. I do have a Groovy Gym girl.... which is the one with the shorts underneath, and I have to say I like the spankies the best.

I even wear them in my Ironman races, on the run. If wearing a skirt makes me feel good, I am going to wear a skirt. Feeling good helps me run better, so guess what? The shorts aren't coming home anytime soon!

New Year! Another Coach!

We are pretty excited here at Train-This for a really great reason. We are sinfully close to sealing the deal on a third coach for our little company. We've Got Coach Erika heading up Train-This DC, me here in Rochester and we've got one on deck for Buffalo. She's actually an old friend of mine, and she's qualified beyond qualified. She was right in front of my eyes and I didn't even realize it!


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Finding Your Sweet Spot

A very special thank you to one of our athletes Amy Moritz, who is not only a triathlete but a sportswriter from the Buffalo News. I grew up in Buffalo and I was honored to be interviewed by Amy for the second article in her triathlon series. Read here. And thank you Amy!

A year ago I took a class from Hunter Allen, author of "Training With Power", where I learned from the man himself all about power, power meters, and being a power head. If you have never trained with power, it really is a terrific and fun way to train.

Before I continue, the statements I am about to make are very simplified. To truly understand power take a class and do some research. Google training with power, or better yet, Google Scholar it. To appropriately define and explain power.... could take all day long!

Back to power.......

Towards the end of the seminar (which was about 8 hours long) I started to feel lost as equations and mathematics swirled through my mind. It took me a long time to begin to process it also. Enter Coach Trevor Syversen, who really helped me to do that. Process Power.

Power meters are expensive, they can give you a big headache, they have a learning curve. I believe you can effectively accomplish the same thing training with other modalities. We train our athletes with what they have available to them. There are a bunch of varieties out there, Google power meters and see what you find.

It just so happens the athlete who made the biggest jump in 2007 happens to have a power meter. Everyone wanted to know what Kevin did, what was his secret.... and many began to feel inferior because they didn't own a power meter.

It was all well and good that Kevin had this device. But what others failed to realize was that it really wasn't the power that caused the improvements, it was consistent workload..... optimal stress + optimal rest = optimal progress.

Kevin has been a four year evolution. Not a one hit power meter wonder.

Coach T is really smart, smarter than I will ever be. He is a damn engineer and if you know an engineer than I have to go no further. Coach T helped me understand how power relates to me and how to best use it to help make me a better athlete.

Power for me is two fold.... in training I work in the sweet spot a lot. The goal is to raise my FTP. In races I use power to hold me back from blowing my wad.... as I have done so many times before. My uber strong bike will be back, we've quieted it down for a bit to improve my run. The culmination will happen, it's not too far away.

Working in the sweet spot / at 88-94% of your FTP is fun. What's the benefit of working in that zone? It allows you to begin to improve your Functional Threshold Power....... without doing workouts that are impossible to recover from.
"In a nutshell what it says is: Spend a lot of time training in the 85-95% range to get the best balance between Functional Threshold Power increasing training effect and recovery ability or training time."

Here is a graph by Dr. Coogan to illustrate this point:

The black line, where it peaks, that is your "sweet spot". Hard enough to be hard, but not devastating. On the trainer it makes an hour pass by quickly. It gives you something to focus on, something to measure, something to watch. As your FTP increases, so will your sweet spot.

Now we know that physiological adaptations to training take roughly 6-8 weeks if you have found your proper training load. So it is wise to retest for your FTP every 6-8 weeks. Hunter Allen has a terrific protocol on how to test in his book, which is absolutely appropriate for the trainer. However, if you are training longer distances, I would recommend the 60 minute time trial. It will give you a truer picture of what your FTP actually is.

Yes, I whine about the 60 minute time trial as well. Which is funny for a girl who has spent no less than 4 hours racing in the past several years. I do believe for indoor training that the 20 minute TT works just fine. Just think about retesting when you do hit the roads.

In my opinion Coach T says is best here, referring to all tests and exactly what we do with this data:

Just to set the baseline.... what we (or I) most want to determine from of these tests (for all Swim, Bike and Run) is your functional threshold pace (speed or power). Why? Because we know that these FT paces are a very good predictor of endurance race performance for races longer than say 15 mins. And we know that the best way to improve FT is to train at FT.

FT is defined as the Power, Speed, Pace that you can hold for about an hour (for bike and run) and 30 mins for swimming.

So the most accurate way to determine your FT for each sport is to give it your best evenly paced shot for each sport for those times.

However there's been shorter tests developed based approximations, rules of thumb and experience to obtain quicker results or reduce the stress on athletes. But like all approximations they can and will be skewed for several reasons.... athletes motivation, athletes training specificity ( i.e. training long and slow for a marathon and we make them run a 5K for a test), athletes level of fatigue, athletes pacing ability....etc. That's all.

So if one test is done we just have to check and recheck to make sure the result makes sense. I don't have a problem with the shorter tests but we have to keep the factors above in mind so we know we have the most accurate data available.

Training with power is fun, it is effective. Just like any training program, whether it be heart rate based, even perceived exertion based, it works only if a few things happen;

  • You have to train consistently
  • You have to train with purpose (easy days easy, hard days hard)
  • Optimal Stress + Optimal Recovery = Optimal Progress
  • You have to have good form and technique
  • You have to commit to your goals and your training program.

You can't have one without the other. Have all of that, and it won't matter what device you use. You will see the improvements in the results.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Big Raise

I have to apologize.... if you happen to have been in my neighborhood this afternoon. You might have (insert nervous and embarrassing laugh here) heard some shouting from my house. From my garage specifically. No, nothing bad was happening. I was home alone. Something good was happening.... it was bike test day.

My day didn't start off so great. I do believe I own the stupidest reason for missing a swim practice this morning. In all my life I have never had such a bad one.And as you might have guessed, it has to do with LOST.

Well wouldn't you know.... I dreamt about LOST last night. And I dreamt I was a character. You see Hurley has a very strange connection with numbers on the hatch that Locke found, and the mysterious French woman knew those numbers too.... and Hurley played those numbers in the lotto 1 year ago, won millions and has been cursed ever since. So in my dream I was sitting at the fire on the island with Hurley, being the only one who knew what had happened, because I had watched the show.....

I remember the alarm going off, and I remember being in the jungle. I remember hearing the wind absolutely howling. I remember Hurley asking me if I was going to venture out in that weather alone.

"Dude." He said to me "I wouldn't be heading out in that wind with that creature out there." And I remember thinking he was right. I should stay put and wait for Jack, or Kate, Sawyer or better yet Mr. Locke, I would be best accompanied by them.

Best accompanied by them down 15A to MCC to SWIM??????

I woke up again at 7:20 very confused.

It's time to take a night off of LOST. Well, maybe one episode.

It's certainly not how I like to begin the day. Luckily enough I can make that swim up, and it was time to pack up and move on. I reoriented myself to the real world and spent 3 hours in 110 degree heat, teaching for the better part of the morning.

Finally 1pm and my bike test arrived. I never get nervous, I get psyched. I wanted the chance to redeem myself from last month's test... in which the data had been lost.

So today was the day and it started off in utter disaster. headache, stomach ace, feeling really crappy. When I finally hit the 20 minute time trial I was searching for reasons to quit. But I found one good reason to go.

I had my time goals written on the mirror in front of me. I stared at them and then I began. It wasn't easy. It sure wasn't easy. I thought back to
Elizabeth's great post about pain and I began to eat the pain. I embraced it, sucked it in and thrived on it.

And I might.... might have been heard shouting out loud EAT THE PAIN MARY! EAT IT! And again I remind you that is a might.

Because I was in such a zone that I wasn't sure if it was out loud or in my head. It was so crystal clear and loud that I couldn't tell the difference.

When it was done I cheered. And then got nervous. Would the same fate await this test? Would the download fail and my results be lost forever? Not so much. They downloaded with ease and as I studied them I smiled. I am up 11 watts since my last test in August, between IMLP and IMFL.

I earned myself a raise. I smiled.

But all the watts on earth won't do me any good unless I can run off of them. And won't do me any good unless I can swim before them. So as exciting as they may be, I have to remain in perspective. I have had the fastest bike split at billions of races. I've biked as fast as the pro women thousands of times.

But I have never run with them. Not yet anyways.

So in the beginning of January, when not only is it ass cold but now 60 degrees and then tomorrow 30..... when I trade running skirt for tights on a daily basis, this is only a test. Tests are only as good as what you do with them. We'll be using this one. And building upon this one.

As I said before I am leaving nothing behind this season. I've left myself all over the place in 05 and 06, and enough is enough.

So please forgive me if you heard any screaming. No need to dial 911 for a domestic violence report. And nothing at all was wrong. It was just me, a girl and her bike, riding away in the sunset.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Ass Cold

It's ass cold up here in Rochester NY. Ass cold. What's ass cold? Not a silly question, don't feel ashamed that you asked. Ass cold in my definition is cold with a bite, and it usually happens when the temperature dips below 10.

It should be a crime to be living somewhere below 10 degrees.

Now with that being said winter is gorgeous, stunning, and my preferable temperature is between 20-35 degrees. It's warm enough to play outside, go sledding, snowshoeing, and even catch a tan on your cheeks.

But not this week. Ass cold has reared it's ugly head and ass cold has taken such a hold of me that in the 90 degree yoga studio in which I teach...... I have to wear a base layer black top to stay warm. Once that bite gets you it doesn't let go.

I train in my garage, which is about 15 degrees warmer. Cold but warm enough that I can work on my HTFU. I wear toe warmers in my bike shoes, and I wear a lot of clothes.

Winter laundry is worse than summer laundry.

But in 7 short weeks I will be heading to South Carolina (South, right?) for a weekend of training with the girls.... and in 7 short weeks the temperatures will have to be above 30 degrees there (right?), and in 7 short weeks I hope to be riding through some mountains, and drinking a lot of coffee and meeting some new friends.

I have had 2 assignments; find a van for the Carolina trip, and find a hotel for Gulf Coast. As I have been making some nation wide friends not only will be be in the Carolina's together but also in Panama City Beach.

And right about now, that sounds just like heaven.

If you know anything about me you know that I have a had a lifelong almost crippling fear of flying. In 2003 I turned down a spot to Kona because I didn't want to fly. Even though I had flown to Kona in 1999. Even though I had flown to Ironman Canada in 2001.

My outrageous fear + Sept 11th, left me on the ground for four years.

And then one day I decided to get over myself and over this damn fear.

In 2005 I went back to the friendly skies and since then have flown to Atlanta, Kansas City, Hawaii, Florida (four times), and Germany.

And I shall fly at least 2 times this year.

So when I upgraded to an iPod classic from an iPod Nano this week, I now had the capacity to download TV shows. I haven't watched TV in ages, and I decided since this writer's strike was on, now might be a good time to catch up on this show called LOST I keep hearing about.

Which was all fine and dandy until I watched episode #1. Involves a plane crash to my surprise. Hmmmm..... I suppose LOST.... involving being LOST on an island..... I imagine they didn't get there by a row boat. Maybe it was my subconscious mind that drew me to watch.

But that's all right, I am completely hooked on this show. During my easy rides I can get through 2 episodes. I don't dare watch during a sweet spot ride.

And the one thing that has caught my eye more than anything.... the sun, she beach the warmth. Right now as I sit here in ass cold central, I have a bit of an inkling to be lost myself.

With my bike of course.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Hard Part

Yesterday we talked about the easy way, or lack thereof, to ultimate health and fitness. Today we talk a bit about where to start. Truly this is the hard part.

Whatever your field.... physician, educator, engineer... we all have the tools available to us to figure out what we need to do. Google health and fitness and you will find Plan A, Plan B and Plan C that will guide you to the fittest body ever.

Why then, would you need a coach, a personal trainer, or even a fitness consultant?And if you have the knowledge of what you need to do.... why would you hire someone to help you?Are you a loser or a failure if you can not do this on your own?

Absolutely not.

Working with someone who knows what they are doing is the smartest thing you can do. The hard part... is asking someone for help. Fitness professionals (good ones) can help you figure out how to evolve into a healthy lifestyle.

A fitness professional can help you address your needs, likes, dislikes, injuries past, heart rate zones..... etc. They can help you dial yourself in to what you need to do to get fitter and stronger. They are objective people that you can rely on, bounce ideas, thoughts, and successes with. They hold you accountable. They help you stay on track.

Be careful of the ones who promise a quick fix. Or ones who have you only do one thing.

I work with all types of athletes. Of late I have filtered out my personal training clients, purely because of time. Lately I have also gravitated towards beginner triathletes because my Ironman team is full.

Recently I had to tell someone who applied for our Ironman team that I couldn't work with him. He spoke of going to Kona and even spoke in terms of "When I go to Kona". He was within an hour of a DNF at his last Ironman and reported that he would not be swimming because he hated it and the water was too cold in the morning. All of the words on earth were not changing his mind. The split comparison, etc. He wouldn't budge. Now can someone who almost DNF'd an Ironman get to Kona? Absolutley. Not swimming because the water is too cold.... enough said.

His why was just not big enough to make his how easy.

Contrast that to a new athlete I will be taking on, who doesn't consider herself to be anything of an athlete... yet. Now she has no interest in an Ironman, her goal is to get healthy and to get fit. And her motivation is sky high.

Her why is gigantic, which will make her how easy.

Now you wonder why the Kona bound guy would even want to work with a coach, in contrast to the girl who could care less about swimming but wants help making a lifestyle change. She's motivated, and just needs some guidance.

We don't all have to have aspirations to do the Ironman or even a marathon to hire a coach or personal trainer. We don't have to be elite athletes or athletes at all. I think we have to be humble enough to say.... hey I need some help.

Asking for help is the hard part.

I work with a coach too.
My Coach is Trevor Syversen of TMS Multisports. He's tough on me. I think once I told him it was raining out and he told me to HTFU. That's the kind of coach I respond to.

You should have seen my OB/GYN when I was in labor. Drill sargeant she was. And I loved her. For the better part of 17 hours she directed me to push from my butt and not from my face and helped me deliver a 9.5 pound boy.

I gravitate towards a coach who pushes me. Some gravitate towards coaches who are gentle, some gravitate towards coaches who don't as alot in return.

My point is that there are all types of coaches and trainers out there. The best thing you can do for yourself if getting fit is your goal, is to work with someone qualified. Someone who matched your personality and your needs.

Once you jump that hurlde, the rest of the way gets easier every single day

The Easy Way

Time and time again I am approached, typically at the hospital by people who have fitness related questions. In a field full of medical professionals I am often humored at the amount of people who just don't have the answers about basic health, fitness and nutrition.

In an environment where health is the ultimate goal, the health of the people taking care of you is very often in question. Many times you will see overweight nurses smelling of smoke, stressed out, overworked.... who will devote 80 hours a week taking care of you, but refuse to spend 30 minutes a day taking care of themselves.

I do proudly have to say that the team I work on is pretty darn fit. 80% of the people I work with have completed a marathon. One person smokes and she has smoked longer than I have been alive. She was also an Army nurse in Vietnam. I would actually fear her not smoking.

I am always asked what the right fitness program is, the right diet, is Atkins good (HELL NO), should I do the three shakes a day diet (NEVER), and I want to get toned but I don't like to sweat.

As I interview athlete after athlete the question also often arises.... what is the quickest route from A to B without having to put in all of the training?

As it stands the health and fitness industry is a multi million dollar enterprise. And I will never be rich in this field.


Because I do not offer a quick fix, slim in 20 days, take a pill and eat all you want program. In fact, the best personal trainers and coaches and fitness instructors.... they don't either.

Take a deep breath because I am about to let you in on the biggest secret on earth. Write down that New Year's Resolution because I am about to give it all away completely for free.

Are you ready?

Eat healthy and exercise every day.

There is no easy way.

Anything worth having has taken some work.

Career? You doctors spent half your life in school for what you do. Teachers? Look at your education.

Family? Even if you have adopted the process of beginning a family is not a quick fix. Labor. Enough said.

Take any other example: buying a house, starting a business, (insert your example here).

People will spend thousands of dollars and years of their lives on everything but working on themselves.

If you are new to exercise, start small. Make sure you are in good physical health. If you aren't, then work with your doctor to achieve it. Build up over time. Do what you enjoy. If you hate running, don't run.

Consult a personal trainer (and check their damn credentials!) to help you design a well balanced program of strength, and cardiovascular exercises.

Schedule every workout whether you are training for the Ironman or getting in shape.

Write down what you eat whether you meal plan or eat as you go. Eat small frequent meals and have as much color in every meal as you can.

Drink 3 Nalgene bottles of water a day. Flavor it with a lemon or a lime for fun.

Give it time. Have patience. How you feel will change within a week. How you look will begin to change within a month.

The longer you take to lose weight, the longer, preferably permanently it will stay off.

Adapt new nutrition habits. Your current habits can not be returned to once the weight goal is reached. Allow yourself to change, to evolve, to be a healthier person.

The bottom line.... there is no easy way. When you start to respect and love yourself, when you find something that you love to do (yoga, swimming, running, step aerobics) then it becomes easy. Then it becomes fun. The it becomes a part of your life and who you are.

So this year ban the diets, ban the quick fix. Delve into you and the great things you can do, to make 2008 your healthiest year yet!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


As the clock struck midnight and 2008 came rolling in, there we all stood, crammed into room #35 in the Peds ED. We passed out sparkling grape juice to the parents and children and we stood with our plastic cups in hand.

There we all stood, taking just a moment in a busy day. To stand together, nurses, residents, attending, NP, and technicians, secretaries, housekeepers and transporters. We raised our cups and cheered one another.

Today we had taken care of one of our own, and it was the most frightening event of the year. Looking into a colleague's eyes as her child lay extremely ill, unknowing, speculating, working feverishly to stabilize......

That's what you get when you work in a place like this. You get a family. We cry, we laugh, we hold together. No matter what your title is, we are equals here.

You may have to wait long, you may not have to. But when you roll in to see us know that you are being taken care of by the very best. We will risk our own lives (and we have) to save your child's.

So as the clock stuck 12 and I closed my eyes, I thought of my husband and son who were home sound asleep. I felt grateful for all I have in this life. I felt proud to call myself a nurse. I felt honored to call myself a coach and a teacher.

Right at that moment I was delighted and humbled to look around at my Pediatric Emergency family. To be part of this amazing team is quite a milestone, not just for me but for us all. We go through so much together.

As I drive home at thirty minutes past midnight, the trauma bells had not rung, and at just 5 after midnight the first teenage drunk rolled in covered in vomit, and right then the streets were quiet.

I tiptoed in and kissed the boys good night. I quietly thanked them for another beautiful year and I happily look ahead to the one before us.