Friday, February 29, 2008

Camp HTFU Update

Hello! Hello! Day one of Camp HTFU went great! 45 min into my ride I endured 4 flats, and got frustrtaed with my inability to locate the source! I headed back, and via the Bat Signal found the bike shop, where we identified and remedied the issue. Whew!

I don't know how I found my way .... but more on that later. Let's just say Mary had a big cup of HTFU in a very different way!

Today's totals for me:

4300 yards
1:45 bike..... the others got 3:00 ..... bummer for me, but I did get to experience the unbelievale kindness of South Carlina...... special thanks to the Carolina Triathlon Bike Shop and especially to Matt..... for leading my way!!!!!
45 min run.

Tomorrow is out biggest day, we climb Panther. Good thing for me I am not as trashed as my teammates so I should be fine!!!!!

The weather is a bit cool but there is no snow!

THANK YOU TO DANIELLE FOR THE AMAZING CARE PACKAGE! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! JEN took care of the chocolate and Liz and I took care of the coffee.

And did you know that Marit's name is NOT pronounced Marit like Mary. It is pronounced MARit, like Marshmallow.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

It's 3am

Here's a random picture.... it's Curt, my nephew Cameron and I sledding on Christmas Day. Luc is to the right of Curt, but I am not so great at the self portrait!

It's 3am and I am mustering the guts to go run on the treadmill before I leave for the airport. It is 16 degrees outside, which means in the garage it is 30 degrees out. By nigh time I will be in a warmer place.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008


In two days I will be on an airplane leaving all of this snow behind. Destination: South Carolina. Agenda: Camp HTFU. Purpose: HTFU. Harden the fuck up... for those of you not in the know ;-). It's not a phrase I came up with. I believe this originated from Coach Paulo Sousa, who passed it on to Coach T, who passed it on to me.

I think that's how it went. It's like that game of pass it on......

Lucky for me, Coach T and I are on the same page when it comes to this whole "camp" thing. I've been doing a camp up in Lake Placid for a few years now, in May. Taking a few days out of your normal life, eating, breathing and living triathlon for a few days does wonders.

It's the same thing as going on a retreat for yoga. To the spa for those who go to spas.

Same bar as they say, different drug. My drug of choice happens to be multisport. Yours might or might not be, but you get the idea.

Camps allow me to find the next level. They give me something to work towards. In the middle of winter it gives me something to look forward to. I will be in this camp with 7 other girls who are essentially out of my league, especially in the running arena.

And that's why this is so important.

This Wizard that Elizabeth speaks of.... he's waiting for me you see. I have feared him before, and when faced with the possibility of coming face to face with him, more often than not I have turned around.

I am slowly learning that the Wizard is not something to fear. It really wasn't him I was afraid of, it was me. The Wizard is something, someone to look forward to. Because when you see it, you've just taken the next step towards your own personal excellence.

We are riding some kind of massive mountain thing this weekend, I have hard that 50% of South Carolina is joining us. I hear I need a 12X 27 to climb this thing. Good thing I ride a 12X23. Gulp. In reality I am not afraid of the climb I am afraid of the descent.... but that is a different story.

Should it happen that the mountain exceeds my gearing, that I can't push anymore I will have two choices. I will have the choice to turn around and I have the choice to get there. Getting there might mean I get off my bike, take off my shoes and run the damn mountain with my bike on my shoulder. If that does happen know that I have seen the Wizard. Given the choice between riding and running my second choice will typically be running. So if I am running with my bike... something has gone very wrong.

As I look out the window and see the snowflakes descending upon the land that I need to fly out of in 2 days I am not filled with worry. I am not afraid that these ladies are significantly faster and at an entirely elevated level than I. I am not afraid to be dropped. I am not afraid to run my bike, roll down a hill, and I am absolutely not afraid of seeing the Wizard.

In fact... I am looking forward to seeing him, introducing myself and then shaking his hand. This season he and I will be seeing a lot of one another. And I just can't wait.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week

It's National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. A few people I told that to sighed and shook their heads. "Everything has an awareness week now!" they cried. It does not offend me at all. I realize the lack of understanding there is about eating disorders whether is be anorexia, bulimia, and even overeating.

There is so much disordered eating going on we begin to wonder what normal is anymore.

But if you did sigh when you read that, think of a teenager girl you know. Or maybe a woman. Or maybe a man. We all know someone who is affected. If you know a teenage girl, think of her Dad and what he is going through. Think of their mother and whet they are going through.

Think they'd appreciate that sigh?

The University of Rochester will be hosting a week long symposium this week, featuring several local experts and panelists. I am honored to be part of a panel that will be speaking on Monday Feb 25th at 7pm at the University of Rochester.

Here is the info for the week:

Please join us for the opening of Joy Christiansen’s exhibit entitled “Family Gathering: A Look into the World of Eating Disorders” on Tuesday Feb. 26th from 5-7pm. The artist will give a short talk at 5:30 that evening. This photographic installation encourages a closer look the world of eating disorders through personal interviews of both individual sufferers of the disorder as well as from their family members and friends. Please see the attached press release and image for more details.

Centered around this exhibition is a week of programming for National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Below is a list of upcoming activities:

The Hartnett Gallery has teamed up with the UHS Health Promotion Office, University Counseling Center, UR Women's Caucus and other student groups to sponsor these events for National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Please consider attending the following events, and pass the list along to your friends and colleagues. All events will be held on the UR River Campus, unless noted otherwise. For more information, directions, and a campus map, please visit

Monday, Feb. 25, 7-8pm. Hoyt Auditorium. Panel Discussion: Health, Art and Life: Breaking the Silence of Eating Disorders. Featuring Mary Tantillo, PhD., local expert, Mary Eggars, RN, triathlete and coach, and Joy Christiansen, MFA, visiting artist & creator of the exhibit "Family Gathering."

Tuesday, Feb. 26, 5-7pm. Hartnett Gallery, Wilson Commons. Art Exhibit Opening: Family Gathering: A Look Into the World of Eating Disorders. Joy Christensen, the artist, will be on hand to talk with attendees informally about her work.

Wednesday, Feb. 27, 8:30-10:30am. Hirst Lounge, Wilson Commons. Wake Up in Wilson Eating Disorders Book Display.Thursday, Feb. 28, 11am-4pm. Gowen Room, Wilson Commons. Eating Disorders Screening. Students can complete an assessment and meet privately with a professional from University Counseling Center.

Thursday, Feb. 28, 8-9pm. Ciminelli Lounge, Student Living Center, Eastman School of Music. Mindful Eating Workshop. Learn from a University Counseling Center professional how to pay closer attention to your body and mind while eating.

Friday, Feb. 29, 8-9:30pm. Strong Auditorium. The Vagina Monologues. A student performance sponsored by the UR Women's Caucus. Tickets available at the Common Market and at the door.($5 UR students; $7 all others).

NEDAW is sponsored by the Hartnett Gallery, Women's Caucus (SA Funded), Graduate Organizing Group, UHS Health Promotion Office, University Counseling Center, Wilson Commons Student Activities, New York State College Health Association, and the Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender and Women's Studies. Additional support provided by the Panhellenic Association, MGC, UR Student Health Advisory Committee, and ESM Residential Life.

Friday, February 22, 2008

My Very Own Confession

I confess. I am addicted. Completley addicted. To LOST. It began in the beginning of January when I got the iPod Classic. I had 80 G of memory, more than the enitre military and now the capacity to watch TV on my iPod!

I hadn't watched TV in ages. During my Ironman Florida taper I started to get invloved with Days of Our Lives again, but it was the same loop. Over and over.

Then I found LOST. Lucky for me there was a writers strike. And lucky for me I like to ride my bike. A lot.

I had three entire seasons to watch and it took me a lot of hours on my bike, and nearly three weeks. For the big premeire I was ready. And every Thursday night I am glued to the TV. Last night was no exception.


Just when you think you have a theory, you think you have figured it out there is a twist. It's not just the plot either, it is how the story is told. The first 2 seasons it was present day + flashbacks. Now it is present day + flash FORWARDS. FORWARDS?

So there. I have said it. I am shamelessly addicted to LOST. So if you find me wearing a T Shirt that says "SAVE CHARLIE" or one with "The Numbers" on it, just smile. Unless you are a fan. Then we can sit down and trade our theories on how on God's green earth did Ben and Syaid become partners??????

What nickname would Sawyer give you? Click HERE to find out!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Cold with a Capital C!

It's all in your attitude ... I told myself as I started my car this morning at 5am. Home is where the heart is.... it's all about attitude.... I start my car for about 15 minutes before I leave in the morning. So if you are looking to steal a SUV, come on over to my house early. Chances are you'll get caught pretty quick. My car is pretty easy to spot. We'll just say you'd better be an Ironman, and you'd better be a chick. (How else can I prevent my husband from driving my car? :-)

I will not get a remote car starter, I said to myself. How lazy could I be? Upon my arrival at my 6am yoga class somehow that was the topic of conversation. Remote car starters. Now I admit I am being stubborn. When I leave the hospital at 2:30 am and have a 20 minute walk to my car, it would be nice to have it started and toasty.

It would also be nice if there was a hot cup of coffee waiting for me but I park accross from Starbucks so I will take that.

When I leave for Masters or yoga in the morning .... I go out and start my car anyways... what would be the difference?

So I at least promised myself that this Sepetmber I would reconsider it. It certainly not about price, the things are dirt cheap these days. It's about principle. Too bad that right now I can't seem to define that principle. I can't seem to find the reason I was against one in the first place.


Next week is Camp HTFU and I have decided this.... if South Carolina for some reson is not warm enough we will pack into the van.... the Camp HTFU van and we will drive south until we find the sun. So far they are calling for 61 degrees and I will take 61 degrees. 61 degrees is more than thirty degrees warmer than where I am.

It's also 30 degrees warmer than the garage which houses the bikes and the treadmill..... it's also five degrees warmer than it is in my house ;-).

So bring it on. Let's go. Give me the sun. Better yet, if my plane flies me straight into the sun, I will be one happy camper.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Home Is Where The Heart Is

My Father always told me that I should be able to live in a cardboard box and be just as happy as I would be if I were living in a mansion. Later on I did understand that. Happiness is a choice. And things are truly what you make of them.

It's funny these life lessons I keep learning. My father also always told me the grass was greener on the other side. Take when I went to college for example. I went to Long Island which met my criteria for a school that was 6+ hours from home.

I landed right back in Buffalo.

Take my little stint in California. Laguna Beach.

I landed right back in Buffalo.

So when Curt was transferred to Rochester I laughed as I looked at where my sister and brother ended up; Paris and Georgia. And here I was. the one who strayed the furthest ended up the closest.

But it means things like Luc knowing his Grandparents more than 2 times per year. It means never having to stay at my parent's house for a week. It means I talk to my father at 12:45 nearly every single day and the phone bill is easy. It's things like that that sit with me deeply.

I looked to change careers. I applied and was accepted into 2 Masters programs for education. I began to drift and I began to wander. Then something very strange changed. And it was me who changed. It was an 11 year old girl with cancer who was in Peds ED a few months ago. No one could access her port, we needed a line and the nurses one by one tried and were unable to get IV access.

That means she was poked and poked and poked.

I went in. She was crying. Her parents were exhausted. I looked in this girl's eye and I told her we were going to get this line. This was the last poke. And if I didn't get it in 15 seconds I was out.

So she agreed. And we agreed to sing a song together. "You are my sunshine". This girl and I sang together and before the song was done I was in, labs were drawn and the ugliness had ended. And it was nothing special that I did. It was just luck. Every nurse in Peds ED is a rock star at IV's. Every single one.

So I sat with her for a bit after that, as she was asking me questions. Sometimes these cancer kiddos rooms are great places to be. The door was closed and in chaos it was quiet. As nurses we know when there is time to sit and talk. We talked about being a nurse. I told her I was thinking of changing careers. She told me not to.

"Who would get my IV if you were not a nurse? Who would sit and talk to me if you weren't a nurse?" She was convincing. "Please don't quit.... it is too important to kids like me."

I wanted to say..... someone else would take my place. There's always someone else. But I didn't. She got me thinking.

So I have decided on which Masters Program to accept an acceptance to. It will be Nursing. It will be NP. And I have a local university friend pulling me to not only pursue that but also consider Nursing Education as well. Hmmmmmmm......

In addition today I had a very cool experience and I was given a large choice to make. I take three days to make a major decision and it would not impact the remainder of my life, the business, training. In fact it might have made things a little easier.

As I sit here tonight weighing the pros and the cons..... thinking through options and possibilities.... I can't help but remember how each time I stay away from home, I see the value in home. Now I am not talking about home as in my family or where I live, I am talking in terms of career.

As today is day two, I know where my decision is beginning to lead. I just need some training time to think on it. And 2 more conversations with my father.

The Meaning of HTFU

What does this elusive four letter acronym mean? It's very simple. One day at band camp....... in between my training for IMLP and IMFL last season, I mentioned to Coach T (Trevor Syversen for those who are not in the know....) that I was tired. Go figure. Someone had told him once, and it was time for him to pass it along to me.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Hot Fun

I never thought about it when I designed my HTFU suit. Not even once. I laughed out loud when Marit wrote of what happened to her.

And then it happened to me.

"What does HTFU mean?" An older woman asked me at the YMCA last week. She looked so sweet, she had the cap with raised dasies and a chin strap....

Oh GAWD what do I say?????? I panicked. I dont' want to tell someone who reminds me of my Grandmother what it means, that would involve dropping a great big F-Bomb and then I would be scolded. I thought quick and used the exact same line Marit and her friend used....

"Hot Fun." I said. "Hot Fun. They spelled it wrong!"

"It's very cute." she smiled again. I imagine a suit with skulls and crossbones looks very cute. Maybe she already knew and she just wanted to see if I had the balls to drop an F Bomb on her.

I didn't.

Camp HTFU is just over a week away and I know it will be flying past me. I have no idea what's in store for me except good hard fun. Marit and Ashley just ran some smoking 1:27 1/2 marathons this past weekend. I am a good 10 minutes begind these ladies in the 1/2 marathon running dept. But that's what camp is for. To hold on and hold on tight. And come out of it a better runner. Well, it would better be said to elevate my pain threshold.

But I swam some 1:12's in the pool yesterday! Does that count? Damn that the swim is so short in an Ironman!

Speaking of swim I did my swim challenge. And I should have done them on 1:08. I might have died, but I should have attempted.

HTFU Mary!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Chosing to Live

On Valentine's Day I will be speaking at the State University of New York at Geneseo, as I do each year. 7pm. Topic..... eating disorders. Specifically.... mine.

"Do you ever get tired talking about it?" My husband asked me. Tonight I did. He's never actually heard the whole story, and it might be better for him that way. It's a hard illness to understand, and what happened.... happened four years before I met him.

Yet his love and his support has been a massive part of my recovery over the past 10 years.

In some ways I get tired of talking about it.... which is the exact moment that I need to talk about it more. As part of recovery it is my responsibility to share. Each year when I do this talk a few of the kids email me. I know I reach someone, somewhere and give them a ray of hope.

Someone, a long time ago did that for me. Her name was Colleen and I will never forget her.

Her ray of hope followed me for five years before the day I died. When I woke up it was something I held onto.

I feel honored and I especially feel blessed. I am lucky, so very lucky. To be alive, to have a family, to have been able to bear a child, to function, to live and breathe.....

I remember being told I would never be healthy enough to have any of that. A tube up my nose and what seemed like spaghetti in terms of IV lines protruding from my chest. I was presecribed a life of weakness and illness.

All of which I rose above.

I want to give you the formula. I want to give you the secret. I want to tell you it goes away and never haunts you.

But I can't.

What I can say is that it will haunt you, and you must remain strong. I look at my seven year old son and I have reason to hold the course.

What I can say is that if you look hard enough you will find a ray of hope.

What I can say is that there is freedom, days of freedom. Weeks of freedom, and sometimes years of freedom. What I can say is that there are times when it seems like it would be easy to go back.

But I won't have my son grow up without a mother because she didn't love him enough to stay well. That right there, is my top priority. It's one thing when I am sick and it's only me. It's an entirely different story when what I do directly affects my child.

That's how I stay recovered. I will not do that to him.

So I will share my story and I will walk the path. I often times think I should create a power point or some kind of presentation.

Yet my life is not a presentation. It's my story. It's my life. It's about a 10 year span of flushing myself down a toilet. It's about a choice I made at age 10, and then a secodn choice i made at age 20. It's about a choice I have made daily for fourteen years.

It's about choosing to live.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Going Just Fine

I'm not sure how, but my athletes and I began to create rapper names, sometime this ... or maybe last year. We've got Ja Boon, The Wev, Amy-Mo, K-Dub, I have had a few and my most recent is M-Squared.

Ja Boon and M-Squared met at the YMCA this morning for a swim. The YMCA truthfully is my back up pool, as the lifeguard won't let me wear my paddles. And the water is warm. However without Masters this am and a noon meeting, it was myself, Ja Boon and the YMCA at 5am.

The water was eighty three and you know what? I was glad about it. When the air is 4 but feels like -18 (and for the record.... what's the difference? Can we just call is a day when we forecast four degrees?) I took a good long easy 6 X 500's and it felt just fine.

I saw jason and Jeanne, and Amy, and it was nice to see familiar faces.

When we were done Ja Boon and I sat in the hottest- hot- tub- ever- in-the- world. Hooray! Something's gotta be warm around here and if that's water.... we will take it.

So workouts these days are in the garage on the trainer and the treadmill. The pool seems to be the only outing. I just wont' outside run when it feels like -18 and we have 40+ mph winds. I might need to HTFU.... or I might not need to have my son's memory of his mother to be that she was found frozen to death on the side of the road in the running position.

Now I am outside just plenty, those treadmill workouts are few but they are present. But hey, at least I can wear my skirt.

So here's to winter. The white and fluffy. The colder than cold... which I affectionatley call ass cold. Becasue in 2.5 weeks I will see the sun.

Oh yes... I will!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Three Weeks... Still

Somehow I have lost a week. Added a week. Because I looked this morning and camp is still three weeks away.


It seems strange in February but this week I shall be making sure I have all my outside riding gear all set. Spare tubes, pump, etc. I typically don't get this stuff ready until April. In no time at all I will be riding with friends in the sun!

I had a great week of training. I even ran an 8 miler yesterday, hanging onto goal pace for 1/2 the race before fatigue set in. The good news: I hung onto Alan one mile longer, I held my pace one mile longer, and I did not give up. Heading into a race with 12+ hours of training on my legs didn't feel bad, it felt pretty good.

Just like my uber running friends are HTFU'ing in Masters Meets, I am HTFU'ing myself up in road races. And while my times are not reflecting it yet..... I am making big gains. When I hit the road in Gulf Coast I will have these freezing cold harder runs under my belt. I will know what to do with the pain, I will know what to do with the fatigue.

In due time, in due time.

It is exciting.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Most embarassing Day of My Life

In the spirit of Valentine's Day, here is one from the archives. It happened last February and I have not returned to the store. This is a true story, enjoy!


Today very well may have been the most embarrassing day of my life.

To understand the end, you must understand the beginning. I have put 7 hours of training in within 2 days, trying to front load my week and stay ahead of the snow storm. With that said this morning's 2 hour run in 12 degrees was not to bad. It wasn't too bad aside for the fact that my water was frozen by mile 4 and my Gu froze too.So picture me chomping on 100 calories of frozen lemon Gu while trying to pry open the top of my Fuel Belt flask to get to the water inside.

I can't say I was successful. So I resorted to grabbing handfuls of snow, hoping no dogs peed in it, and then convincing myself there must be nutritional value to dog pee if indeed I did unknowingly ingest some.

So that leaves me arriving home in a bonked state. In a time crunch I decided to grab a quick shower (and forgo my morning coffee in a 60 minute shower...... ) and head to the mall. I have an idea for Valentine's Day and I am about attaining the goal.

As I walk through Dick's Sporting Goods I feel like I am in the bonk tunnel, things look fuzzy, I am dehydrated and not refueled from my run but I only have so much time to get this done.I have never been to Victoria's Secret and I can now say I will never go there again.

With that said know that what I am about to say does involve Lingerie but is completely clean. Rumor had it that VS had the most comfortable pajama pants in the world, for men and women. Silk, fleece, you name it, I was told that they had it. So I thought that a matching pair of jammie pants would make the perfect gift for Curt. Of course!

"ARE YOU MARY EGGERS?????? " I hear a female voice screech as I entered the door. Can't say I have ever been recognized in a store before, I felt alarmed and I should have gone with that instinct. As I looked around to see who it was, I realized that VS was full of men, and I was the only female.

"Oh my God!" says this tall blond woman, who obviously works there. She's dressed to kill, and she's up close and personal. "I used to take your spinning class, I see you on TV all the time, and I am such a fan!"

A Fan? What is she talking about?"I ran a marathon last summer and I am training for my first triathlon... .." After that I don't hear what she says as I am feeling slightly sick and falling further into the bonk tunnel. I need to getsomething to eat........ I tell her that I am there for the pajama pants I keep hearing about.

"No, No No No!" she grabs my arm and leads me to the back of the store where strappy nighties are suddenly surrounding me. "You need something a little more..... seductive... . for that husband of yours."

My heart rate enters zone III.

"I know exactly what you would look fabulous in." Oh my God, I think, maybe someone will rob the store and I can run away. She throws a little pink nightie at me, tells me to hold it and proceeds to take off my coat."This would be perfect on you."

It's small, see through and pink!

I need to get out of this situation........"I...... um.... " I begin...

"Nonsense" she throws up her hand "You wear less fabric than that in front of thousands of people! Think of how your husband will react when he sees you in THAT."He will probably laugh his ass off lady. But I am really tired, and I am really mortified, and I really need to get something to eat. I feel dizzy.

"Just try it on and see what you think." She leads me to the dressing room.

Oh my God.

So suddenly I am in a small dressing room by myself with this little pink thing to try on. I feel like the only way out is to try the damn thing on, and what the heck. Maybe she's right. Maybe I need a little spice in my life. Maybe I need a little satin and forgo the coolmax for a day.....So I slide it on. Realizing my hair is soaking wet from my shower, I flip my head over. I don't want to get the fabric of this thing wet.

So I tie my hair up on top of my head, and in one quick swooping motion, I stand back up....... too fast! Too fast!

I saw stars and then I saw black. The next thing I know I smell ammonia, my eyes open and I am on the floor in VS's, about 10 people standing around me, I had passed out! I am half in the dressing room and half laying out of it.

"Are you all right?" The mall security guy asks me.


"I am fine!" I say realizing I am in this sheer nightgown thing, and I have just passed out in VS!!!!!!!!

I jump up. "I had a long workout this morning, I am so sorry, I am fine....." I slither back into the dressing room where I overhear my sales girl explaining to the crowd that I am a triathlete.

Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god......... I have just become the psycho exercise addict who passed dout in a lingerie store!!!!!!

I throw my clothes back on, I profusely thank everyone for their help and I apologize for making a scene, and I quickly excuse myself from the crowd and the store.

With no gift in hand obviously!!!

I am so bright red I feel sunburnt. I make my way over to EMS, where I feel at home again.I can't believe that just happened. I need to eat. So I grab Curt a fleece vest and some wool socks and a few PowerBars.

As I get to the register one of the employees begins to ring me out. Another comes through the front of the store returning from a break.

"Hey Joe" he says "I heard some girl just passed out in Victoria's Secret!"

"No way" he responds, laughing.


I can't get to the car quick enough with my revised gifts and my head hanging low, stuffing the Power Bar into my mouth. I am so completely mortified I don't know if I am going to laugh or cry.

So of course I laugh.

Now you can understand a good 200 reasons why nutrition during and after a long run is important, why Vs's is a store I should not be in, and how to handle yourself with grace. Yeah, grace!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Valentine's Day Swim Challenge

Our friend Pedergraham has issued a swimming challenge for the month of February. Click here to find out what it is. List your date and sets on her comments form. I am doing mine on Valentine's Day. JOIN US!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Just For The Swim Of It

It's something I hear all of the time form athletes. "Can you give me some swim tips?" Of course I will happily oblige. Except I ask them a few questions first.

"How consistently have you been swimming?"

"Well, I would swim more, but I am sure I am not doing it right, maybe if you gave me a few tips it would feel better." Then I tell them I will see them in 3-4 weeks, with 2-3 swims consistently under their belt.

I know that sounds shocking. Sounds kind of mean even! But in all honesty if you are not a strong swimmer…. how you will swim for me without some kind of swim base…. will be very different from how you will swim for me with a swimming base.

We often joke that swimming sometimes feels like it has it's own cardiovascular system. You can be a 3:30 marathoner and hop in the pool and feel completey destroyed by a 100 yard freestyle.

"How can I feel so out of shape!" You will wonder "It must be my stroke!"

When I do see you swim I will only give you one thing to focus on. The more I give you to focus on… the more scattered your stroke will become.

For one swimmer it might just be head position. For another it might be the entry to their stroke. For a third it might be rotation.

The worst thing to happen is for these 3 swimmers to get together. They will compare one another's drills sets , and wonder if they should have the others' !

Just like any sport, swimming takes time. It takes consistent training. Pools aren't as easy to come by as a pair of running shoes or a bike on a trainer. Getting to the pool or lake or ocean takes some time. As with anything else if you make the commitment, the improvement will come.

In time.

I always recommend joining a Masters Team. If you are in Rochetser I recommend you join my Masters Team, the RAMS. Hands down Lorie Rick is the very best Masters Coach on earth. Ever. And I am biased.

If you are on your own there are a few things to do when structuring your swims:

Just as V Dot is for running, FTP is for cycling, in swimming we have a T Time. Essentially it is an average pace per 100.

The very best place to get that actual number is to swim for an hour and have someone count your lengths.

The second best way to do this is to swim a timed 3,000 yard swim.

Third best way is a 30 minute swim.

Fourth best way is a timed 1,000 yards. This is what I use and most people use.

Why? Quite frankly people are not typically in shape enough in their swim to swim 1 hour straight. Or they find the test intimidating.

Each year Masters Teams all over the country hold one hour Postal Swims. That's a great option if you are looking for one. Check out for the schedule.

However you arrive at the number, you attain your T Time. Then begin to create a set of workouts. I like to group my workouts according to a 2-3 week theme. A block of swims might be on that T Time, which becomes very grueling. Another block of swims might be on t time + 15-20 seconds. It all depends.

I write my swimmers workouts, and I also pull them from various sites. A lot of good coaches out there have great workouts. Again is one terrific resource.

Each of my workouts has three sections:

warm up: typically 400-1000 yards

Main Set: a Set of about 1000-1500 yards in total, with focus.
This could be broken any way you want it to be. Maybe 5 X 100
500 pull and 5 X 100. I like to keep the # of repitions lower. I won't
give 16 X 200's. That's for high school.

Cool down; 150-200 yards nice and easy.

Giving each set and workout a distinct purpose is important. Then you are not swimming brainless yards.

If you are training for an Ironman I like to give sets of 200, 300, 400, 500 yard repeats.

Shorter distances we will stick to some 100's, and play with speed.

Depending on the focus of the workouts I might time each repeat to be on the t time or t time + 5,10,15 seconds.

The athlete is always instructed to go slower if form falls apart. Sloppy form is like sending an invitation to the universe for a shoulder injury.

Remember in swimming that changing one aspect of the stroke will affect another aspect of the stroke;

A high wrist recovery typically will drop the hips.

A head that is looking forward to the end of the pool will typically drop the hips.

Breathing with the head out of the water often causes a person to sissor kick.

Push water behind you to move forward. Don't flick the wrist to the ceiling. If you throw water up you are sinking yourself. Throw it to the wall behind you. I have an athlete who throws it across his back. He swims crooked.

Most importantly, swim.

Turn off the switch in your head that controls the technical non believing voice. Learn to be comfortable just… swimming. If you truly turn it all of you can hear nothing but the sound of water surrounding you.

Learn to love that sound.


I was feeling tired this morning. I have been sititng at my desk, preparing spinning class, this am's swim, and my run. Assembling music. I am looking out my window to snow, and I am so glad it is not rain or ice. This is winter give me snow.

And again I vowed that when I earn my Master's I will take a travel job to a warm climate with the boys. I love to watch them play on the beach next to the ocean.

Mopey, I am a little mopey this morning.

Then the doorbell rang. It was the Fed Ex truck with my Camp HTFU suit from Splish.

It made me smile.

In the package the lovely Dawn Heckman had packed me a cap. A pink cap. I don't like pink but it made me smile. I just might wear it.

Then I re-read an email from Ashley. She said it was 74 degrees in South Carolina yesterday. I visited Marit's page. She lives in Florida and I will say nothing more but know I am envious.

So Jennifer, Elizabeth, and I (where does Leslie live?) rest in the tundra, the Northeast for me and the middle of the country for them. When I hear they were socked with snow, I know I am next.

But in just 21 days we will all converge in a passenger van, in South Carolina. I really only know Jen, but I feel like I have known these gals all my life. They've got some serious track records, and they are all highly talented women who are much faster than I am.

I think camps are terrific for that very reason. Where, except in a race am I going to have this sort of experience? To train with the best of the best and come out of it at a brand new level?

One might thing with the trophies these ladies have, that there could be a clash of the ego.

But I think that's why we've all gotten along so well. Because with this gang, that doens't exist. I feel a sense of team, community, togetherness. Like the sorority that I never belonged to, but could there be a sorority quite like this? No hazing, no drama.... just bring your bike and get ready for some good old fashioned training and fun.

Rather than hairdos there are helmets. Instead of designer boots there are running shoes.

Although, we all did make a special custom HTFU suit for this event. So we have that.

And coffee, don't forget the coffee. Except Jen Harrison is allowed none of that.

So here's to Camp HTFU. Here's to riding in the sun. Here's to our completley rediculous suits. Here's to a lot of miles, here's to a lot of laughing.

It brightens my day just thinking about it!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Groove is in the Heart

We'll be discussing this very topic over on our forum.... today join us and join in on the speak!

Training by heart rate is a great way to train. There is a lot of information you can learn from a heart rate monitor. More often than not what I see happen with a heart rate monitor is that it slows people down. Which it should.

I met with an aspiring triathlete last week in fact, who is an extremely intelligent person. Try as I might I knew they were not buying the "slow down now, to go fast later." pitch. And I knew where the story would end. Not adhering to training zones, paces. Then burnout, injury and disgust would come next.

We talked about base phases, but they believed they already had a base. We talked about the right intensity at the right time; they wanted it all of the time. They wanted to go hard, go fast and right now. Their goal race is in September. This is February.

So many athletes have a terrific work ethic, and the harder, better, faster, stronger theme applies well to them. The biggest challenge I have is slowing them down during training.

I have been there myself.

So we will cycle through tests. Swim tests, bike tests and running tests. We establish heart rate zones, T times, and V Dots.

More often than not I get this email;

"I think my zone 2 is wrong. I am running with a cadence of 90, I am hitting my E pace, but I don't feel like I am working hard enough."

Bingo…. hold it right there. Don't change a thing.

I never have a question about a higher heart rate because no one has an issue with going harder.

Last week. I had the following question from one of my athletes:

If I open Joe Friel’s book, I can look up my LTHR and the table shows the heart rates for each of the zones. Zone 4 appears to be 96% of LTHR. My question really was is 96% accurate for all athletes, all ages. Zone 2 appears to be 85% - 91% of LTHR. Is it possible that for someone else it actually is 80% to 86%?

This was an excellent question. It brings up several good points.

First point; Joel Friel's book. Joel Friel is the author of the Triathlete's Training Bible. As my coach says people believe it to be THE BIBLE. It's definitely a terrific resource, but the best coaches and athletes have plethora of resources they pull from.

Now I am not arguing that Friel is wrong, his reputation speaks for itself. I am saying that there is more than one way to turn the wheel.

Friel has established a set of heart rate zones based on his theories, calculations, etc. Different people have different methods of calculating zones, and therefore different zones.

Many coaches have developed their own zones, and these zones sometimes cross over, sometimes don't.

Below is an example from a very detailed spreadsheet my Coach, Trevor Syversen of TMS Mulstiport sent to me. I wish I knew who put all of this information in one place because it is a fabulous reference.

Take a look at the differences:


Athlete Data:

Age= 46
Max HR by either using the age predicted or age and gender formulas= 191
Resting heart rate = 58
Lactate Threshold= 170

Now according to Joel Friel the heart rate zones are:

1 65% - 81% 110.5 to 137.7 Recovery
2 82% - 88% 139.4 to 149.6 Aerobic
3 89% - 93% 151.3 to 158.1 Tempo

According to Andy Coggan the heart rate zones are:
1 <>2.5 Hr) road races
2 69% - 83% 110.4 to 132.8 Aerobic Capacity. Endurance paced training rides

3 84% - 94% 134.4 to 152 Tempo rides, aerobic and anaerobic interval workouts (work & rest combined), longer (>2.5 Hr) road races

Cycle Coach Ric Stern bases his zones on Max Heart Rate
1 75% - 77.5% 143.25 to 148.025 Endurance Long Endurance 1.5 - 6 Hours
2 77.5% - 80% 148.025 to 152.8 Endurance Core Endurance
3 80% - 85% 152.8 to 162.35 Endurance Tempo Training

Sally Edwards uses Max Heart Rate Predictions
1 50% - 60% 95.5 to 114.6 Healthy Heart Zone
2 60% - 70% 114.6 to 133.7 Temperate Zone
3 70% - 80% 133.7 to 152.8 Aerobic Zone

The Karnoven Formula uses Max HR, Resting HR and Age
1 60% - 70% 137.8 to 151.1 Weight Management Zone
2 70% - 80% 151.1 to 164.4 Aerobic Zone
3 80% - 90% 164.4 to 177.7 Aerobic Threshold Zone

The American College of Sports Medicine uses Karvonen formula of Max HR and Resting HR
1 50% - 85% 124.5 to 171.05 20 - 60 Minutes continuous aerobic activity
3 - 5 days per week, alternating days

So to make it even simpler, or perhaps more confusing, just look at zone 2. Again we are not looking for who is wrong or right, we are just looking that there are differences in how to attain, how to measure, and how to set. Just notice that differences exist.

Friel 139-149
Coggan 110-132
Stern 148-152
Edwards 114-133
Karvonen 151-164
ASCM 124-171

Has your head stopped spinning yet? Who is right? Doesn't that seem crazy? Which one to follow? How will you know if you are in the right place? The right zone?

Then begin to add in all of the variations that heart rate training can give you. 10 beats here for dehydration, - 5 beats there because it is cold.

It's maddening.


My husband Curt is a 51 year old male. Triathlete for 20 years. At age 51 he's still kicking around the youngsters in our area. He's a four time National Champion after the age of 45. He's done Hawaii. He's been an All American a hundred years straight. In fact he's on this year's Inside Tri All American list. He's a Long Course Duathlon Silver Medalist.

Curt Eggers does not wear a heart rate monitor. He uses no computer on his bike; he likely doesn’t even know his resting heart rate. Power meter? No thanks. Garmin? Forget it.

Tempo runs, sure he times and measures those but goes by the watch on his hand which does nothing more than start and stop.

His big training tools? A Timex Ironman watch and a big dose of Perceived Exertion.

Would knowing his LT or his FTP make him any faster? Knowing Curt it'd drive him bananas.

Tell him to run at tempo pace? He finds it. It's in his heart. He knows it. He probably has the keenest ability of any person I know…. to know exactly where he is at all times.

His results speak for themselves.

With all the differences in zones and theories and the mix of perceived exertion, what are we to do?

It's one of the reasons I love to train with Pace and Power ;-)

You have to use a combination of things, in my opinion. The largest priority should be given to Perceived Exertion, in my opinion. And there are even a bunch of Perceived Exertion charts out there.

I happen to like the one in Friel's book. For many of my athletes we have created our own simple version as well.

So the answer is not clear. There is no one correct answer. You have to weed though, understand the differences, and see what applies to you. Realize that HRM batteries will die, Power Meters will fail, Garmins won't locate.

HRM have their place. They are excellent tools to help you measure where you should and shouldn't be. They should be used as part of training. Not as the cornerstone.

There comes a time when everything shuts off and you are just left with your breath, your own pace, the sound of your own feet crunching through a dirt trail. The sound of the wind and the chirping of the birds.

I can promise you that's what Curt notices every single time he runs.

You know when you are going too hard.

More important than the very most exact and correct zone….. is accepting that easy days are easy. Hard days are hard. And every single day is not hard.

More important than which method is correct is understanding the principles of correctly building your season. You begin from the bottom up. You build a strong foundation with slow easy base work. Intensity has a place and a time, but without a foundation to support it, your house will fall down.

You wouldn't build the roof before you built the basement. And you wouldn't call it a house with only 1/2 inch of height on your basement.

So start slow, start easy. Tune into yourself, and tune into what's around you. There is a place for heart rate monitoring. There is a place for measuring. Just don’t' get so caught up in the readings, zones, etc., that you forget to look around. Don't get so caught up in the math that you forget why you are out running in the first

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Just Breathe

Yes it is true. I am a yogi. I have been practicing for eight years and I have been teaching for four. I don’t' talk about it that much, and at the same time people are typically stunned that "someone like me" teaches yoga.

"Someone like me" seems to never have a definition. But it does make me smile.

It's hard to describe yoga, especially to the triathlete world. While it does bother me that misconceptions exist about yoga being terrible for multisport, I don’t' do much to correct that myth.

The truth of the matter is…. yoga and triathlon are quite similar. Very similar.

In both arenas the danger lies in your edge. In triathlon it is risky to push that edge and that edge has several definitions. In yoga pushing that edge means pushing too far into a pose, doing something you aren't ready for (bakasana or headstand in class one…) and usually ends in injury.

I have seen both change people's lives. Sometimes yoga feels like my best kept secret.

There are lots of schools of yoga. Iyengar, Bikram, Ashtanga, etc. They all have great qualities and I explored them through my early yoga years.

I walked into the studio where I now teach, Breathe Yoga and I found my Kula. My community. My home.

I was introduced to Baptiste Power Vinyasa. We practice together in a heated room of ninety degrees. It is an athletic practice, and there is the danger that one can push too far…. if they are not ready or they don't listen to their body.

I began my studies with Baron Baptiste in Hawaii in 2005 and I shall be continuing this coming year. In fact I am going to be assisting Baron himself in an upcoming workshop, with my amazing fellow instructors.

If flexibility were a requirement for yoga, I would have been kicked out eight years ago. I am the most inflexible yoga teacher you will ever have. I use blocks, I bend my knees in a half way lift, my heels do not touch the floor in downward facing dog.

The only thing you need to be able to practice yoga is the ability to breathe. Yoga is a moving meditation. Just like running. Just like cycling. Just like swimming.

The Darth Vader breath you will hear is called the Ujai breath. Imagine you are whispering the word HA with your mouth closed. You will feel the sensation, you will hear your breath and just like you tune a radio into a radio station, you tune into your breath.

Give it a try. Just sit quietly. Close your eyes and see if you can feel that breath.

Cultivate it, practice it. I promise you it is magic.

Add the breath to the movement. I like to say that the breath is your tour guide through the practice.

For example: Sun Salutation A;

Your first class you think about it, memorize it, analyze it, and maybe judge it. You think:

Downward Facing Dog.
Step or float to the hands.
Halfway lift
forward fold
Come all the way to standing
Fold forward.
Lift halfway.
Step or float back to chattarugna
Upward dog,
downward dog.

Now, turn the voice off in your head. Let the thoughts stop bouncing off like tennis balls. Tune into that magical breath. Same sequence; but rather than thinking…. breathe the movements:

Downward Facing Dog.
Exhale (Step or float to the hands.)
Inhale (Halfway lift)
Exhale (forward fold)
Inhale (Come all the way to standing)
Exhale (Fold forward)
Inhale (Lift halfway.)
Exhale (Step or float back to chattarugna)
Inhale (Upward dog)
Exhale (downward dog)

After a while you don't think about the sequence. You surrender to it. You just breathe. Nothing more complicated than that. Just breathe.

And then after a while you stop looking around, you stop watching the most flexible girl in class and you tune in to yourself. It isn't escaping. It's getting to know you.

We want others to spend time with us. Try spending time with you.

I am not good at articulating why I love my yoga. I don't try to preach it to others because they need to find their way there if it is for them.

Yoga has saved my life in so many ways.

Have you ever driven down the street, and thought "Hey, did I pass the grocery store? Holy cow…. how did I do that?"

That used to happen to me for weeks on end. I would be in my life but I wouldn't be present in my life. I lived at Lactate Threshold.

Yoga taught me to be fully present in every moment of my life.

Yoga taught me to let go.

Yoga taught me to surrender.

Yoga gave me wings.

Sure the naysayers will always be there. Asking me if I won yoga today, if my Chakras are balanced, if my downward facing dog barks….. and I smile. I wish I could give you the window, I wish I could show you the magic.

But I can't. And it isn't for everyone, just like multisport isn't.

What I can say is that if you find your place on your mat…. and it takes some searching. The journey you will embark on will be forever. It will teach you a lot about you.

At Breathe we have an amazing Kula, comminuty, yoga family. We are all walks of life. There is no more diverse group of people whom I share practice with each day. Including my amazing teachers and fellow instructors. They are family to me. Absolute family.

I practice every single day. I mostly practice at home. I try to hit a studio class once a week. I teach five, and some days my teaching is my practice. I get just as much out of it as they do.

Some days my practice is 10 minutes. But it is daily. I wish I could correctly articulate what it has done for me.

When I say it has saved my life…. I don’t' say that lightly.

So I encourage you to spread your wings. Step onto a mat. The lessons you learn on that mat will transcend the boundaries you thought you had. They will take you places you didn't think they could.

All you need….. is to breathe.


I love my Masters Team. I love my coach. I love my lanemates. I know (insert laugh here) they love my custom suits. So I decided to pay tribute to them, with an ugly color scheme, but a tribute nonetheless. They made me lead 2 sets this week, and I truly appreciate the support they give me. They make me better. They make me reach beyond. I love my STUDS!

The Small Stuff

"What do you think it is?" He asked me as I felt his belly in the Emergency Dept. He was between the ages of 8-12.

"I don't know." I told him. He was too young, well maybe he wasn't too young to comprehend that what I felt inside was sheer terror.

"It doesn't hurt." He said. Darn, I thought. It would have been better if it did. Becasue what I suspected that mass in his belly was.... it just might be.

Later on the radiologist read it as a type of lymphoma, although they truly won't know until the results of a biopsy came back. That takes a few days.

"I am scared." He said to me later. "I have never had surgery."

"I haven't either." I told him, "But I can tell you what I know." He and I proceeded to talk about it, his Mom and Dad held him, stayed strong, I knew they were scared too and as we looked at one another we were all holding back tears.

Yeah, I cried.

When I stepped out of the room one of the residents was complaining "This day never ends." He said. I looked at him and I thought to myself.... at least you are not wondering if you will live or die.

Throughout the evening I watched them through the window of their room, body language says alot. I was grateful that he was loved.

Stories like this are powerful for all of us. They make us take a step back and look at our lives a little differently.

How lucky were we that our son could have open heart bypass surgery, and we knew it would be a done deal. It's something we won't have to worry about again.

So take a look around. Take a deep breath. Things like this help you to look at the world a little kinder. Realize that the small things we worry about.... well we can be glad they are small.