Portland fit fix: How Revocycle is fueling an indoor cycling revo-lution

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I have a theory that there are two types of people who work out: those of us who “embrace the suck” and find solace in the burn of each rep or the quiet rhythm of breaths and footfalls during a run…and those of us who try to tune everything out and just push through the pain with the aid of numerous distractions.

Well, as much as I’d love to tell you I’m a member of the former group, I’ve got to admit that I’ve always tended to fall into the latter. That is, until I stopped into Revocycle here in Portland and had an experience that, quite literally, redefined my idea of a good workout.

In an attempt to mix up my cross-training, I decided to check out one of founder Michael Hosking’s early-morning classes a few weeks ago. He started off by helping each student find the proper bike fit, down to precise angles for a safe ride, while reminding us that our goal was to use excellent position and practice beautiful form in an attempt to notice the muscles and the movement and the breath.

Ohhh no, I thought as I started calculating my odds of getting noticed if I ducked out the door. This is going to be the longest 50 minutes of my life. 

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But after quashing those initial feelings of panic, I committed to opening myself up to the experience. After all, as Hosking explained, by paying attention to our bodies, pedaling exactly on the beat of song, tuning in to our breath and heart rate and engaging in mindfulness, we’d be maximizing the benefits of a cycling workout without putting ourselves at risk for injury.

And just because it’s not a loud, high-intensity workout doesn’t mean it isn’t tough; it just means you feel refreshed and rejuvenated after, rather than drained and exhausted.

“Finding the zone is about minimizing distractions,” he recently told Fitness magazine. “Music can help you do just that. If you focus on the rhythm and sync your pedaling or steps with the beat, you can help quiet racing thoughts. It’s moving meditation.”

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And how! For the first time ever, I wasn’t tempted to speak a peek at the clock; time flew by as Hosking expertly intertwined music with instruction, and before we knew it, we were all drenched in sweat, smiling from ear-to-ear and entering our cool-down.

You see, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my approach to working out while in PT these past few weeks. Namely, learning that some of my major muscle groups had gotten lazy and stopped functioning — and that I hadn’t even noticed — has made me realize the importance of awareness with movement.

Clearly, my body’s trying to telling me that disconnection won’t cut it anymore. Removing excess ‘noise’ (both literally and figuratively) in workouts and getting into a more authentic ‘zone’ — in which I’m working hard and totally engaged, yet feeling profoundly peaceful — is not only more relaxing, but also powerfully effective.

And did I mention pretty darn addicting?

Portland-Metro area residents, your first two classes are FREE. Visit Revocycle.com for more information and to register. 

Detroit Marathon: Week 15 training recap

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Big news this week! Hint: It rhymes with “funning.” 😉

Yep, I’ve officially been cleared to run. Ok, so maybe it’s twice a week for five minutes at a time on the treadmill, but I’m thrilled A) to be making forward progress, and B) to be getting stronger.

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My PT even said I had a crazy-huge grin on my face at my last session when I realized I wasn’t feeling my previous aches and pains. But, oh, does running feel different now that I’m actually using my butt muscles! Go figure.

Here’s this week’s schedule; I get anxious thinking of all this peak mileage I’m missing…but I’m thankful to be able to run, regardless of pace (and still mulling over race-day goals…other than the primary objective of finishing healthy).

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And below is my actual schedule; as you can see, I’m still hitting it hard with PT and trying to keep my cardio up through non-impact exercises. I’m also substituting some serious (for me) bike mileage for my long runs, which will hopefully help me maintain the strength and endurance needed for 26.2.

  • Monday: Spin class (60 min) & physical therapy
  • Tuesday: Elliptical (45 min), Bosu stabilization drills & PT exercises
  • Wednesday: Swimming (40 min, ~1500m), jog on treadmill (5 min), strength training & PT exercises
  • Thursday: Revocycle class (45 min) & physical therapy
  • Friday: OFF, Bosu stabilization & plyometric drills, PT exercises
  • Saturday: Long bike ride (aiming for 40-60 miles), PT exercises
  • Sunday: Elliptical or swim (45 mins), jog on treadmill (up to 15 min), PT exercises

Two other highlights from the week, since I’m trying to remain positive and goal-oriented:

First, I’m finding a swimming groove. Whether it’s that I’m trusting my leg again or regaining some fitness in the water, I was able to cut two minutes off my 1500m time from last week and five minutes from the previous week.

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And second is this shot from my weekend long ride, which is pretty self-explanatory. If you like fall — and running — as much as I do, then you’ll understand why (surprise!) fall running is one of my very favorite activities.

So even though it’ll be some time before I’m out logging miles on foot, I’m thankful to be able to enjoy this view from my bike in the meantime. Especially because my days of riding outside in the sun are numbered this season, according to what all the Portland locals are telling me…

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Next week my PT and I will have some decisions to make. I’m registered for the Portland Marathon half on October 5, but I’m not stuck on the idea of running (or even walk/jogging it) if it’ll jeopardize my chances of being able to run my full 26.2 later next month.

As much as I’d like to start building mileage again soon — probably more so to mentally prepare for a marathon — I’m trying not to get too far ahead of myself. The last thing I want to do is undo all the work we’ve done so far, so I told my PT I’ll do whatever she says as long as it’ll get me to the starting line in Detroit, healthy and ready to run.

So stay tuned for week 16 as the countdown to race day continues!

Detroit Marathon: Week 14 training recap

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So as not to bury the lede, I’ll start with the bad news: I’m still not running. And I had to back out of the Ragnar Napa relay this weekend as a result. It’s one of my few DNSs (Did Not Starts) to-date, which smarts, as does feeling like I’m letting my team down. But I keep telling myself to, “Suck it up, Buttercup!” because I’ve got to keep a long-term perspective.

Which brings me to my good news: PT is going well. So well, in fact, that I was able to slowly add in some impact exercises a few times this week to start testing how my leg is healing. No, we’re not back up to those 10-mile track workouts or tempos by any means, but I’ll take a few minutes of nearly pain-free skipping and jump-roping any day. Progress!

Here’s what would have been:

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And what actually was:

  • Monday:  Elliptical (45 min), physical therapy & massage
  • Tuesday: Swim (45 min, ~1500m) & PT exercises
  • Wednesday: Revocycle class (45 min) & PT exercises
  • Thursday: Swim (45 min, ~1500m) & PT exercises
  • Friday: Elliptical (45 min) & physical therapy
  • Saturday: Long bike ride (aiming for 50 mi) & PT exercises
  • Sunday: OFF (cheering Hubby on in his triathlon!)

With the focus still off running, I’ve been wanting to bring more regular weight training back into my weekly workout regimen, but that will most likely be on hold for a few more weeks.

My PT has been keeping me busy with daily strength and stability exercises to keep my core working and my glutes firing, and if all goes well, I may (fingers crossed) get to do a little walk-jog work next week. Until then, it’s all about the Bosu.

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Other than that PT progression, there were two major highlights since last week’s training update: First was the 45-mile training ride I went on with my friend, Kevin. He pushed me further and faster than I’ve ever ridden before, but I loved every minute of it.

The weather was that perfect mix of summer sun with fall crispness in the morning, and I can’t tell you how nice it was to be able to challenge myself mentally and physically while remaining run-less.

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The second, well, every time I tell this story to a non-runner, I get blank stares…but as a total #runnerd, I’m still excited about it. While we were out cycling Sunday, I saw a petite blonde woman running on the other side of a deserted stretch of road. She looked so familiar, but I couldn’t place her until I was already past her.

Then it hit me: It was Shalane Flanagan, one of the top American long-distance runners.

You may remember her from the Boston Marathon this spring, and there’s a good chance you’ll be hearing about her again with respect to the upcoming Berlin Marathon (hint: she plans on breaking the American marathon record). But, regardless, it was thrilling to have a passing encounter with one of my running heroes, so I’m taking it as a good omen as I enter the final month before my own marathon.

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Thanks, as always, for following along as I count down to race day, October 19. Now, onward to week 15!

Detroit Marathon: Week 13 training recap

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One upside to being banned (for the time being) from running? Getting to mix things up for a change with my favorite forms of cross training!

For consistency’s sake, here’s what the schedule would have been this week. Yes, I realize I’m missing out on some peak mileage here (argh), but I keep telling myself that even though backing off may slow me down in the short-term, it’ll allow me to be stronger and healthier in the long run.

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So here’s a snapshot of my actual workouts for the week:

  • Monday: Elliptical (45 min) & physical therapy
  • Tuesday: 6-mile walk & PT exercises
  • Wednesday: Spin class (45 min) & PT exercises
  • Thursday: OFF (migraine) & physical therapy
  • Friday: Spin class (45 min) & PT exercises
  • Saturday: Elliptical (45 min) & PT exercises
  • Sunday: Long bike ride (aiming for 40 miles!)

Nope, it’s nowhere near the numbers or the intensity I should be doing, but I can assure you I’m still breaking a good sweat each day and challenging myself. In fact, it actually feels really good, mentally, to be doing some non-running activities and, physically, to be working some non-running muscles for a change.

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Another tip for staying positive amid a setback is to continue setting goals (within reason, of course) and striving for them. No, I may not be able to hit my weekly running mileage, but I can keep pushing myself on the bike and do some longer weekend rides to maintain that strength and endurance in the interim.

Plus, I’m loving all the quality time with Winnie, and it’s fun to try to keep up with Hubby, who is currently training for a triathlon.

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And in the meantime, I’m being religious with my physical therapy routine. From stretches to rolling, legs lifts to lunges, the exercises are something I can check off my to-do list each day to feel some kind of accomplishment — plus my PT says my mobility, range of motion, strength and stability are getting better, which is just the encouragement I need to keep it up.

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As for when I can get back to running, there’s no clear answer. Most of the aching has subsided in my shin, but there’s still a good amount of tenderness, so we’re taking a wait-and-see approach.

My PT is pretty confident that I’ll be back on my feet in time for my race in Detroit in October, although I won’t be resuming my training schedule anytime soon. All I can say in the meantime is…onward to week 14!

Iron(wo)man Meghan Manion on recovery, racing and relationships

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Meghan Manion will tell you that her Ironman finish last fall is a testament to what an “average” person can do with with proper training and coaching, but I happen to think it’s more about someone who lives her life putting a little (or a lot) “extra” in the ordinary.

And, clearly, I wasn’t the only one inspired by my interview with her about that 140.6 race experience; it’s been one of the most popular posts, most likely because her positive attitude and outlook are simply infectious.

So I thought it’d be fun to sit down again with Meghan to check in on what she’s been up to since swim-bike-running her way around the Sunshine State.

KineticFix: Thinking back to those first few days (and weeks) post-race, can you walk us through the recovery process after your Ironman?

Meghan Manion: When I woke up the morning after my Ironman, I remember my eyes welling up with tears, just realizing that I had really done it. It all kind of sunk in at that moment.

My next thought was that I was hesitant to move for fear of intense pain! I moved slowly, and quickly realized that I was feeling just fine. No chafing, no soreness, no joint pain at all. I walked normally to the bathroom to brush my teeth. I did not expect that to be the way my morning went!

I’ll attribute the lack of chafing to four generous smearings of Chamois Butt’r throughout the day. The lack of pain….I’m still pondering that. I think the most likely answer is that Team Z just prepared me THAT well for the Ironman.

Photo courtesy of Gabrielle Petersen

Photo courtesy of Gabrielle Petersen

I definitely continued training after the race in all three sports, but at a much lower intensity. My motivation did start to fail as the winter arrived; however, I had signed up for the Goofy Challenge (Saturday half marathon, followed by Sunday full marathon) in Disney World two months after the Ironman to give me something else to work for through the winter.

That helped a little bit, but I definitely could have trained better for the race! In March, I ran the Shamrock Half Marathon in Virginia Beach, feeling not very prepared, but actually ended up with a PR that day!

Ironman does some crazy things to your body; it is incredible how much stronger I feel, even months later.

Photo courtesy of Felipe Wells

Photo courtesy of Felipe Wells

KF: I saw that you just completed another Half Ironman recently, too! What are your other race aspirations this year – triathlon, running, or otherwise?

MM: Yes! I did Ironman Raleigh 70.3 in June. I had raced Raleigh last year as a member of a relay team (I did the bike leg). After that race, I knew that I wanted to do the entire thing this year.

The swim there is fantastic. I had a rough day, including a complete tire blow-out about two miles from the bike finish! I carried my bike the last two miles that day. These things happen!

I’ll also be racing a Rev 3 Williamsburg on June 15. I’m doing the Olympic distance there, and I’m really excited to head back to Williamsburg. I raced the 70.3 last year, and it was my first half distance race.

Even more exciting, I met my fiancé Nate at that race last year, and we are both looking forward to reliving that first meeting. And after Williamsburg, Nate will be focusing on training for his first Ironman in Chattanooga in September, so I will most likely follow him around to whatever races he finds useful in his training.

Photo courtesy of Matt Koirtyohann

Photo courtesy of Matt Koirtyohann

KF: Speaking of…you two just got engaged (congrats!).  Any tips you can share for successfully balancing a relationship with training, racing and other commitments, since he’s a fellow triathlete?

MM: Nate and I were engaged on May 1, and we are planning our wedding on the beach in Florida in November! What an exciting year it has been.

We both love having triathlon as a shared interest, and we will always have it as the thing that brought us together. We aren’t able to train together much, because I cannot keep up with Mr. Speedy Pants. But every once in a while we will run together, or go on a casual ride.

We definitely enjoy racing together, or just being there for each other’s races. I think we motivate each other to get out and get the workouts in, too!

Photo courtesy of Stacie Edington

Photo courtesy of Stacie Edington

Thanks, Meghan, for taking the time to chat. And here’s wishing you just as much success and happiness in the second half of your year! 

‘Tri’ a new challenge to kick off summer fitness

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Think triathlon is only for elite athletes and endurance junkies? Think again.

According to USA Triathlon, participation in triathlons in the United States is at an all-time high. The group’s membership has grown exponentially from around 100,000 in 1998 to 550,446 when last reported in 2012.

The Sports & Fitness Industry Association also estimates that the total number of triathlon participants rose 59 percent from 2008 (1,251,000) to 2011 (1,992,000), thanks to the rise in popularity of endurance sports.

And — let’s face it — if I can do it, anyone can!

Why Tri?

  • Beat boredom by switching focus between swim/bike/run
  • Get in shape from head to toe with weekly full-body workouts
  • Reduce risk of overuse injury in one sport, thanks to cross-training
  • Develop a lean, mean body with endurance & resistance training
  • Fall into a more healthy, balanced lifestyle (nutrition & sleep are necessities!)
  • Reap the benefits of being highly organized around training
  • Reduce stress on the body with swimming & cycling, which are non-impact
  • Drop pounds, thanks to high-intensity cardiovascular training
  • Give more purpose and motivation to your workouts by setting a goal event
  • Lower blood pressure, prevent heart disease & diabetes, reduce risk of osteoporosis
  • Choose from a variety of distances for an individualized challenge

How to Get Started: 

  1. Pick a distance.
  2. Choose an event.
  3. Find a training plan.
  4. Prepare for the big day.
  5. Enjoy your first race.

So why not ‘tri’ something new this summer? You just may like it!

Race report: HITS Napa Valley Olympic Triathlon

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On Monday I gave a quick recap of how the race went this weekend. Today, I’m sharing the full report on my first Olympic-distance triathlon (1500-meter swim, 24.8-mile bike and 6.2-mile run) at HITS Napa Valley.

The Day Before the Race

On Saturday, Hubby and I drove up to Lake Berryessa in Napa for our pre-race packet pick-up. Half of me was excited because, physically, my fitness level was right where I wanted it to be for my initial attempt at this distance: I had taken it easy in the previous weekend’s half marathon, and my final shake-out swim (1500m) and bike (15 mi) in the days leading up to the race felt comfortable and almost effortless.

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The other half of me, however, was starting to get increasingly anxious. I had only gotten in one “real” open-water swim session, despite knowing that that leg would be the most difficult for me mentally. I kept thinking, though, that if I could just power through the swim, I’d be home free for the bike and the run.

But, as they say, “hope is not a strategy”…especially when, on Saturday afternoon, I felt an all-too-familiar tickle in my throat. I chugged water and took all kinds of Vitamin C, Elderberry and Echinacea in the hopes that it was just allergies, but it progressed over the course of the evening into a full-on sore throat and full-body tired feeling.

Not that I’m using my not feeling well as an excuse; I know plenty athletes at all levels who race — and win — through sickness. But, looking back, I do believe that it factored into my ability to attack the course when things got tough. More on that later.

Race Morning

Before we knew it, the 4:30 am alarm was jolting us awake in our hotel room (not that Hubby and I had much sleep that night; we were both up every few hours in anticipation of the big day). We dressed quickly, loaded our gear into the car and set off for the hour-plus drive to the race site.

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We arrived to Chaparral Cove about 6:15 am, and went straight over the the transition area to get set up. It was fairly hectic because everyone performing their respective pre-race rituals (think body-marking, port-o-pottie lines and lubing up with BodyGlide), but I’ve got to hand it to HITS — they streamlined the process extremely well.

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Not only did they organize us in alphabetical order within the transition area, but they also provided each athlete with a stool and bike space. Plus, having a bike holder on the ground was SO much better than the hanging kind, which is subject to getting knocked over by overzealous athletes (as I experienced in a previous sprint-distance race).

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The Swim

Once our transition areas were set, we met up with a friend, Tara, and eased into the water for a few minutes before the guns went off. We were expecting the temperature to be in the 50’s, so when we found out it was in the 60’s, it was a pleasant surprise!

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When it was time for the women’s heat to take to the water, I hung toward the back of the pack. After the gun went off, I counted five seconds, then eased my way in. I knew the first few minutes would be complete chaos until everyone found their groove.

Long story short, I never found mine. Mid-way between the shore and the first large buoy was a smaller one, so I gave myself permission to take it easy to that point, and then I’d get down to business. But by the time I reached it, though, I was still in the middle of a splashing pack and started to feel short of breath with my legs and arms getting increasingly heavy.

From there, I figured I’d alternate breaststroke and backstroke until the first big buoy. Or until I calmed down and got my breathing under control. But it only escalated from there. I started hyperventilating. A million thoughts were rushing through my head at once.

Do what you do in the pool. I can’t see anything! Focus on your breath. I just swallowed a mouthful of water! Focus on the next buoy. It’s so far, and I’m losing ground on the group! Why can’t I control my breathing? Relax! I can’t catch a breath. Should I pull over to the kayaker? No, you can’t stop; gotta keep moving forward. I just got kicked! Keep moving. I just inhaled more water! I don’t want to be here. I’m so far out! Just focus on the shore and get there.

Rather than stopping, I resorted to flipping over on my back and counting 15-20 backstrokes before flipping over on my stomach, sighting and doing 5-10 breaststrokes, then repeating the process. I was hoping the routine would help me calm down, but none of my mental tricks were able to override the physical fight-or-flight mode that my body was now locked into.

By the time I rounded the last buoy and headed to shore, things had progressively gotten worse and I started wheezing after swimming through a lovely pile of chunky vomit (ew). Because I hadn’t breathed at a normal rate or depth in 20+ minutes, every deep breath I tried to take would start a coughing fit, which only made matters worse.

By the time I finally hit shore, I wanted to burst out crying — partly out of sheer relief, partly out of disappointment in myself and partly out of terror at having to do it all over again. But I knew the longer I waited, the more I’d psych myself out, so I tried to shake it off as I got back in the water and started lap number two.

I tried again to hit the mental reset button, but it was no use. I had passed the point of no return, still wheezing, unable to take a full breath. I knew I had to make a call: Either spend the second lap fighting, or just give in and try to get it done as best I could to conserve some energy. I chose the latter, and breaststroked/backstroked it in while distracting myself by counting every single stroke.

After I rounded the final buoy, I came up alongside a man who was doing the breaststroke, as well. He must’ve seen me struggling because he smiled and said, “We’re in the home stretch. Almost there, and then we’re done with this!” I could have hugged him; it was just what I needed — knowing that someone else felt what I was feeling — to give me a final push to get to shore.

Once there, I tugged off the top of my wetsuit and made my way up the ramp. But I knew I was in trouble — not only was I still not able to catch a full breath, but I also felt dizzy and completely drained from the adrenaline-ridden adventure in the water.

Time: 55:47

The Bike

I took the first transition (5:48) to strip down, dry off, get dressed in my bike gear and try to recollect myself. It’s never fun getting in from the swim and seeing most of the bikes already gone, but you can either give up or reset your expectations for the day and focus on the finish. Again, I chose the latter, hoping I could make up some time during my stronger disciplines.

Although I was still struggling to catch a breath (every time I’d try to inhale more than halfway, I’d start a coughing fit), the bike leg went really well. I knew I was starting at the back of the pack, so I made a goal to try to pick off as many people as possible to keep myself motivated.

It was an out-and-back-course, and the first half went great; I passed a handful of people, was fueling according to plan (a personal victory to multitask on the bike!) and enjoying myself as I played cat-and-mouse with a fellow rider: I’d pass him on the hill climbs, and he’d breeze past me on the descents.

In fact, it became a bit of a joke after the first few times — I’d pass and tag him, then he’d return the favor. On and on it went, and I think that camaraderie actually helped both of us stay in the race toward the end. Those rolling hills sure got a lot tougher on the way back in, and by that time my stomach started to feel a little wonky.

Although it wasn’t my strongest ride (I was aiming for around 1:30), I was proud that I bounced back and put in a decent effort despite a rough start to the race.

Time: 1:46: 37

The Run

Getting off the bike and into my running gear in the second transition (5:53) proved a more difficult task than I had anticipated. What should have taken me about a minute turned into six because I was dizzy, nauseous and exhausted. Looking back, I think I used up all my adrenaline in the swim, and then finally relaxed on the bike, so when it came time for the run, I had no more “go.”

Even though I had consistently fueled during the bike, I could tell I was on fumes at that point. I was so disoriented, I had to ask a few people to point me toward the run exit out of transition, and when I saw that the first stretch was a hill, I knew the odds of me being able to run the entire 6.2 miles were slim.

Damn. Enter resetting of expectations…again.

Between (still) not being able to take a full breath, a now-upset stomach and cramping calves, I alternated walking up hills and jogging on flats and down hills. I’d literally go until something started going (lungs, stomach, calves), then walk, collect myself and do it again until something else went. Definitely not the way I had intended to spend the last leg of the race.

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The only thing left to do? Turn my frown upside down, turn my tears into cheers. That became my new mantra, and the more horrible I felt, the more I would clap, yell and try to rally all the runners around me as we took turns passing each other. Seeing them perk up, smile and quicken their step in response somehow kept me going. Well, that, and a few cups of Coke at the aid station!

After the final hill climb, I jogged past a women and told her how great she was doing before I slowed to a walk next to her. My stomach was not happy, my whole body ached and I was going to collect myself before jogging to the finish, but she picked up the pace and told me that I couldn’t stop now — we were so close. It was the push I needed  to get running again, around the last corner, down the hill and across the finish line.

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Time: 1:10:16

Doris and Hubby were there waiting for me with big smiles and open arms. I’ve never been so happy to cross a finish line; in fact, I think I was in disbelief for the first few minutes.

What followed was a flood of emotions: Joy at the finish, embarrassment at my swim performance, relief that it was over, disappointment in my time, happiness over the bike portion, anger about the less-than-stellar run and pride at putting it all aside to get the race done regardless.

Final time: 4:04:23

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What’s next?

Well, after my stomach settled, the first stop Hubby and I made was at Habit Burger to reward ourselves with a little post-race cheeseburger, fries and chocolate shake action.

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Next on the agenda? Getting well. After the full-body ache set in, I had a suspicion that I was running a temperature. I confirmed it Sunday afternoon, and it has since morphed into a bad cough and head cold, so I’ve spent a few days loading up on vitamins, juice and rest to try to kick this bug.

As for long-term plans, well, I’m mulling over where to go from here.

My hope was to do a half Ironman in the fall after completing this race, but it’s pretty clear I’ve got to go back to the drawing board and work through this open-water mental block before taking on a longer distance. Whether that means lessons, coaching, duathlons and shorter distances — or a combination of all of those — in the meantime, I’m going to try to figure out.

Is it the end for me and triathlon? No, not at all. With my love of running and my new-found passion for cycling, I feel like I’ve just scratched the surface when it comes to multisport events. And not only did I enjoy training immensely, but I also made some major strides on the bike, so I’m most proud of that small, personal victory from this experience.

Most of all, though, I’d never want to walk away from anything with a bad taste in my mouth. So even if I’ve got to start from scratch in the pool and build up to a successful (aka anxiety-free) sprint race, I think it’d be a very rewarding process from start to finish.

And you know what else? Just like I told myself during the swim to keep from throwing in the towel: You just gotta keep moving forward.

How do you bounce back from a tough race?

HITS Napa Valley Olympic Triathlon: On heart & courage

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Well…what can I say? Sometimes it just isn’t your day.

Or, as I told a friend, “Sometimes you kill the race, and sometimes it kills you.”

Official finish time: 4:04:23.

Let’s play a little game that Hubby and I enjoy after a hard day: High/Low…

Low? That time. Ouch. It’s a full 34+ minutes than my worst-case scenario guesstimate. Granted, a sore throat and low-grade fever came into play (I suspected during the race, and confirmed after) — but no excuses: There were a few other factors than played into how the race ultimately went downhill down. I’ll dive into those in the full recap (coming Wednesday).

High? First was the fact that I finished. There were a few moments where either my mind or my body were begging me to bail, but I ‘sucked it up, buttercup’ and got it done, which I’m proud of. Second was the people. I had an inspiring experience with a different person throughout each of the legs, and that was just the push I needed to keep going when the going got tough. More on that Wednesday, too…

But in the meantime, congrats to a few of my family and friends who completely rocked it out there: Hubby for nabbing a new PR (he’s on a roll after last weekend’s half marathon!), Tara for completing her first Olympic distance on her road to a half Ironman and Jessica for crushing the course on her way to the Wildflower half.

And last — but certainly not least — I want to send a huge thank-you out to Doris (pictured with me above), not only for being an inspiration in all things triathlon, but also for embodying all things ‘heart and courage.” At the start, she gave me some final words of wisdom to help ease my open-water anxiety…and she hung out for more than an hour after she finished (sub-three hours, no less!) to watch me cross the finish.

Now THAT, friends, is why I do these events. You can still feel like a winner — surrounded by kind, generous and wonderful people — even when the numerical results beg to differ.

Stay tuned for the full race report on Wednesday. And thank you for all the words of encouragement and congratulations…you guys are the best!!

Fave Fix: My must-have cycle gear for triathlon training

CycleGear

Last week I talked about my favorite swim gear for triathlon training, and now it’s time to move on to the second leg: Cycling!

It’s arguably the most expensive discipline, but that does NOT mean you have to empty your bank account in order to be competitive.

Again, I’ve broken it down into ‘essentials’ and ‘extras’ according to what I personally use, but you can stay as conservative or get as crazy as you’d like!

Cycle Essentials: 

– Bike: Duh. But while the whole ‘two wheels’ part is non-negotiable, the price you pay can vary greatly. I did my first few sprint-distance races on an older Cannondale commuter bike I bought off of Craigslist, for example, before moving up to my current Giant Avail Composite 3 (aka “Winnie”).

– Pedals: I also biked my sprint tris in running shoes (shhh!), but figured it was about time to get serious — and get clipped in — for longer distances. Enter the easy-in, easy-out Shimano Click’r pedals, which are technically more for mountain biking than road, but they still count. It’s all about baby steps!

– Shoes: Since I invested in my bike this season, I decided not to go all out on the footwear. Sure, a fancy carbon-fiber sole is stiffer and gives better transfer of power, but my standard Shimano cycling shoes do the trick just fine for now.

– Helmet: Eventually, I’d also like to upgrade my helmet to make sure my noggin’s better protected from concussions, but right now I have a basic Giro helmet that’s worked well for the past few years.

Cycle Extras: 

– Tools: While technically not essential to the actual riding part, having some tools to to a quick tire change will definitely help get you back up and running in the event of a flat. I have a spare tube, tire levers, bike-specific multi-tool wrench, CO2 cartridges and an inflator or pump. You can cobble this all together or buy the whole kit ‘n’ kaboodle here.

– Kit: The more I ride, the more I appreciate a really good race kit. Case in point: Coeur Sports’ tri tank and tri shorts, which have a women’s-specific fit, plus other extras like anti-friction seams, antimicrobial fabric, seam-free chamois, plenty of pockets and more…all in super-flattering, fun designs.

– Accessories: This is mostly based on personal preference — and how fancy you want to get — but I have two favorites here: Tifosi eyewear and Ibex arm warmers to keep the sun (and bugs) out of your eyes and to take the edge off when it’s chilly out, respectively.

– Nutrition: I’m still practicing that whole multitasking (eating and drinking while riding) thing on the bike, but what’s been working well during brick workouts is Osmo Active Hydration and Bonk Breaker Energy Bars, so I’m planning on sticking with the same during Sunday’s race, as well.

What are your must-have items for cycling? 

HITS Napa Olympic Triathlon: Week 7 training & Rock ‘n’ Roll SF Half Marathon recap

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We’re in the home stretch!

Last week was the final full week of training before Hubby and I tackle the HITS Napa Valley Olympic triathlon this Sunday, April 13. It was also jam-packed with fun — namely the LUNA Chix Summit and the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Francisco Half Marathon.

Here’s how the week shook out, plus a recap of the race.

Week 7 Olympic Distance Training Plan – planned & (actual)

  • Swim 60 min. (40-min. pool swim with speed work)
  • Bike 90 min. / Run 25 min. off the bike (55-min. spin class/25-min. run on treadmill)
  • Swim 60 min. (30-min. run)
  • Track workout (track workout with LUNA Chix team, 2.5 miles total)
  • Rest day (30-min. walk)
  • Long bike, 35-50 miles (20-mile bike ride to Sausalito)
  • Long run, 9-12 miles (13.1-mile RnRSF Half)

Adam Shane, owner of the Barry’s Bootcamp San Francisco (coming this May!) asked me to help pace him on Sunday since the Rock ‘n’ Roll race would be his first half marathon. It was a point-to-point race, so our crew Uber’ed over in a few different cars and met back up at the Beach Chalet near the race start.

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It was crowded, but well-organized. Hubby made his way to our assigned corral (two) because he wanted to try to get a PR in his second half marathon, but since I had decided to run this one for fun, I hung back with our group and we made our way into corral four.

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Before we knew it, the gun went off and the corrals were being released one by one. We knew ahead of time that it was a hilly course, so no one was super shocked when, almost immediately, we started winding our way up the streets.

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We took it easy, though, and kept a conversational 9:30-10:00 minute mile pace as we enjoyed in the great views (the weather couldn’t have been better — clear and mild with a light breeze) and made our way over toward the Golden Gate Bridge.

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I was especially pumped to  run into one of my favorite workout buddies, Pavement Runner. We took the obligatory selfie and chatted for a few minutes as we jogged along with his group. They were a roving party, playing music, taking pictures and starting impromptu dance parties!

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I knew my job was to get Adam to the finish, though, so I caught back up with the Barry’s crew and checked in to see how he was feeling. Luckily, he was getting a major second wind around mile seven, so he decided to push the pace and go for it for the last six miles.

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As you can see, we had a picture-perfect day on the bridge, but it was pretty crowded, so we ended up losing each other in the mix. I figured I’d either catch up with him further along or he’d continue to push for a strong finish, so I put my headphones on and just ran by feel at a comfortable pace.

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By the time mile 10 rolled around, the flat portion was over, and it was back to the hills…and they were no joke. Yeah, I’m in decent shape from triathlon training, but I’m learning that it can mean something quite different than being in peak half-marathon-racing shape. My legs and lungs started revolting on the back-to-back inclines.

So now it was just a mental battle — my body was capable, but my mind was second-guessing my fitness level. So I knew it was time to reach into the bag of mental tricks and set a goal on which to focus for the remainder of the race.

I hadn’t been tracking my time closely, but after spotting the clock at mile 11, I had a feeling I could pull off a sub two-hour finish if I maintained my pace and gave a kick at the end. I refocused (and spotted Adam about 100 yards ahead!) before bringing it in for the final push downhill to the finish. Final time 1:59:44.

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The best part? Reuniting with everyone at the finish and hearing their race recaps. Adam rocked a sub two-hour finish in his first half, Hubby nabbed a new PR, Vivi ran a strong race, the November Project was out in full force, and Brian (aka Pavement Runner) also stopped by to say hello.

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And coming in a close second as the best part of the day might have been the post-race stop Hubby and I made at Philz Coffee…seriously, the Dancing Water roast is nothing short of amazing.

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Stay tuned for week eight…and RACE DAY!