How I (Swim, Bike &) Run: Athena National Champ Sarah Girven

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Meet Sarah Girven, a wife, mother, triathlete, animal lover, hiker, runner and all-around adventurer. She’s another fellow Coeur Sports ambassador — new to the team for 2016 — so I was excited to get to know her better after reading about some of her adventures via her blog.

What I find particularly inspiring about Sarah, however, is that she began working out in February 2012 and has been going strong ever since. And by “going strong,” I mean that she’s since trained for and competed in all kinds of events, ranging from 5k’s and half marathons to sprint-distance and 70.3-mile triathlons.

Not too shabby of a race resume — especially since it’s a mere four years old, right?! 

Although Sarah’s currently sidelined due to injury (but on the mend, thank goodness), she usually spends her time racing in triathlons, duathlons, aqua-bikes, bike, road and trail races. And when she’s not working with her local triathlon club or as a board member, she’s busy running her house, shuttling her kids and volunteering.

Sarah seems like the consummate multitask-er, to say the least, so I was excited to pick her brain about tales from training, as well as get the low-down on her favorite gear and the best advice she’s received as an athlete.

1. What’s your favorite route or workout? My favorite route and workout is riding my bike on HWY 159 from Las Vegas towards Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. I do about a 50-mile ride with more than 3300 feet of elevation gain. The backdrop is amazing, and makes the ride totally worth it.

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2. What shoes do you wear — both on the bike and on the roads? I currently wear Brooks Glycerin 13. I am on my third pair and really like how they immediately fit my feet when I put them on. All three pairs have had a long run as their break-in and have never caused any issues. I bike in Shimano SPD SL SH-WR41. They are dirty and beat up, but I love them. They fit great and are tough!

3. What other training gear can’t you live without? I have a few things that I love to train with. I always wear a hat or a visor. I live in Las Vegas and need it to protect my face and catch my sweat. My favorite visors are Headsweats. I love the elastic back strap because it is so easy and quick to get on during a race. I also usually run with my Nathan Hydration Pack HPL #020 on training runs. It carries a 2-liter bladder and is fit for running, so it does not bounce. It also has enough storage for my phone, a small first aid kit and some snacks.

I never leave home without my Garmin 910XT. I’m able to use it for lap swimming, open water swimming, biking, running and hiking. I enjoy looking at the stats when I’m done with a workout. Finally, I’m always wearing sunglasses. I have two types that I wear, XX2i France1 and Rudy Project Rydon or Stratofly SX. I like the XX2i for running because they really grip my nose and do not move when I run no matter how sweaty I get. I like the Rudy for biking; they have transition lenses so they adjust to whatever lighting I am in.

4. What’s your best time-saver or “workout-hack?” I have two tips or hacks I use: One, I set my workout clothes in the bathroom so I get dressed in my gear as soon as I get up and go to the workout as soon as I drop my kids off to school. That way I am already out of the house and ready because if I go back home I might not leave again. Two, I try to pick things close to my house or from my house. If I have to drive a long distance to do a workout, I am less likely to go but if I can walk out my door and start, I am more likely to do it.

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5. What part of each discipline (swim/bike/run) are you better at than anyone else? Swim: I grew up around the water, so I am very comfortable in it. I have a good, steady pace and have no anxiety about training or racing in it. I am tall with a long torso and arm span so I tend to be a smooth, quick swimmer. My friends enjoy swimming with me because they say I push them to go harder.

Bike: I am a rocket when going downhill! I can make a steady climb but I will fly by you on the down-side. I can definitely use my larger frame to my advantage.

Run: I have a pretty accurate internal pace setter. I can set a pace and hold it for a long period of time.

6. What do you listen to while training? I do not listen to anything while swimming or biking. I do occasionally run with an iPod Shuffle. I put one ear bud in and leave the other out so I can hear and am aware of my surroundings. The playlists are just songs I enjoy and are not selected for pace or tempo. I use it as a tool to take my mind off my run.

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7. What are you currently training for? This is a hard question to answer. This past October, I tore my ACL and meniscus in my right knee, and I had the surgery to replace the ACL and clean up the meniscus in December. Currently, I am in physical therapy to regain my strength and flexibility.

I am not training at the moment but I do have a few races on my schedule, though: I have one sprint, two sprint relays where I am the swim leg, two Olympics, a 70.3 half triathlon, Ironman Arizona and a few running races on the calendar.

My “A” race is Ironman Arizona on November 20, 2016. I am not sure if I will be able to compete in this race, though. It will all depend on my recovery, healing and training. I am staying hopeful but am also realistic and do not want to do anything to jeopardize my health.

8. What are your recovery and sleep routines like? What are those? LOL! I would sometimes do ice baths or Epsom salt baths after long runs or extra intense workouts/races. I occasionally foam roll. I also try to do a light swim, bike or run to loosen up a day or two after a hard race. I try to get to sleep by 11 p.m. and am up at about 6:30 a.m. on a normal night.

If I am training, I wake up between 4:30-6:30 a.m., depending on the activity. Since the summer heat is so intense in Las Vegas, I tend to wake up at 4:30 a.m. to get my workouts in before the heat gets too bad.

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9. What’s the best athletic advice you’ve ever received? The best advice I have received is to enjoy the journey. I have had it delivered to me in several ways. One story I often tell others is when I was about to race my first 70.3 (actually 70.4 because the swim was 1.3 miles), and a friend told me that when I am hurting to take a minute to look up and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

The race was in Long Beach, Calif., and as it turned out, the run was hurting. I reminded myself of her words, so I looked up and took in the sights. It truly was amazing. The ability to do this sport is a gift! Our bodies are able to do amazing things and we are blessed to be able to do it. Another friend recently said that we get to spend an entire day doing what we love. How blessed are we?

10. What’s your favorite racing-related memory? There are so many! If I have to pick one it would be from the Athena National Championship race at the Grand Rapids Triathlon on June 16, 2015. I was racing for the 70.3 title, and I was in the 40-54 age group. I had a goal of finishing in 6:15 going off of my previous times. It was raining that day and since I have zero experience training in the rain, I was not too optimistic of my results.

I had a strong swim, and it appeared that I was the first Athena at the bike rack in the transition area. My ride was solid and even with the rain, I was hitting my time goals. I made it back to T2 fourteen minutes ahead of my goal time. Once again, I was the first Athena to the bike rack. I hit the run and was able to hold steady. I knew that this is where I would win or lose the race.

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At mile 7, my husband saw me and told me that I was crushing my times. He said that I was about six minutes ahead of another Athena. As expected, I was passed at mile 10 but I was ok with that because she is one of my best friends so I was extremely happy for her. As I approached the finish line, I gave it my all. I crossed the finish line and found my husband. He wrapped his arms around me, kissed me and told me how proud he was of me.

We found out that I finished in 5:53:29! I placed 2nd overall and 1st in the 40-54 age group becoming the National Champion for that division. I loved racing with my friend and seeing her win 1st place overall, but I will never forget the pride I saw in my husband’s face when I crossed the finish line.

11. Fill in the blank: I’d love to grab a workout with _________. I would love to workout with all the girls from my Athena Facebook group and my Coeur Sports ambassador team. There are so many ladies that I am inspired by, and I would love to meet them in person. They are encouraging and are a wonderful support network. I also wouldn’t mind working out with Andy Potts or Ryan Lochte!

12. Anything else you’d like to add? I love to trail run and hike. I could spend days out on the trails. It is my happy place. I love the fresh air, quietness and beauty of it all.

I write about my adventures in racing, training, and hiking here. You can find me on Facebook and Instagram, too. I’m also a proud ambassador for Coeur Sports, Pierce Footwear, FitFluential, Fusion Sports USA and RACEPLACE.

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Thanks, Sarah! Here’s hoping that your recovery goes well so you can be in tip-top shape for training this season. 

Friends, please give me a shout (info (at) kineticfix.com) if you’d like to be featured!

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June Goal Check-In

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Giving Mary, leader of NoPo Run Club, a Team LUNA Chix Portland Run sandwich!

Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it. ~Russel Baker

Portland’s summer has not only arrived early (I’d been warned to expect rain off and on until the 4th of July), it’s also already kicked into high gear and promises to be one for the record books. In fact, rumor has it that this heat wave is likely to last well into early July and may end up breaking records for longevity, as well.

For example, last Saturday morning’s low at Portland International Airport was 71 degrees. This is the first time PDX has ever recorded a low in the 70s in the month of June.

Not that I’m complaining; I actually like the heat, and I’m thanking my lucky stars that my first year in Oregon has been a mild one when it comes to lack of rain. But it does make outdoor workouts a bit more tricky, so early mornings and advance planning have been key when it comes to sticking to my 2015 goals.

Wondering what this is all about? Read more on the five goals toward which I’m working this year.

Here’s the latest on my progress:

1. Seeking Balance

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, summer in Oregon means one thing: BERRIES! And taking into consideration the amount I’ve consumed thus far, I’m quite shocked I haven’t pulled a Violet Beauregard and morphed into a giant blueberry.

If there’s a second thing I’ve learned, it’s that summer in Oregon also means another thing: ALLERGIES. Spending an afternoon in the strawberry patch on Sauvie Island was totally worth it, even if I had to take Zyrtec for the next two weeks to keep from being a puffy, wheezy mess.

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And although I’ve started to hear the all-too-familiar siren song of fall marathon training, I’m trying to ignore it and stay focused on the present: Bouncing back from injury and enjoying that process before I sign up for my next major undertaking.

Luckily, Ben’s on board with this plan and has made it his mission to keep challenging us with weekend hikes that are as breathtaking in scenery as they are in elevation.

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2. Training Smarter

The biggest revelation — and relief — this month came from finally solving the mystery of my SI joint pain!!! I happened to overhear one of my trainer’s other clients complaining of similar symptoms and that his PT said kettlebell swings were the likely culprit. A-ha!

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Since he’s not a runner and the only common denominator in our workouts is kettlebell work, I decided to back off from swings to keep from jarring my pelvis. It’s been almost a month, and I’m happy to report that the pain has all but subsided during runs, so consider this my PSA if you’re having a similar issue!

3. Facing Fears

Swimming. My 2015 nemesis.

As I sit down to reflect and write my recap each month, I always cringe when it comes to this part. Yes, I’ve been in the pool a few times since my last update; no, I haven’t taken any of the steps needed to actually improve my technique and comfort level.

But that may have changed this past weekend. I was so inspired by watching Ben and friends in the Pacific Crest long course triathlon that I decided to re-commit to getting my ass to the pool.

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And Mary Anne, the swimmer from the women’s relay team (who kicked butt, by the way, and is training for a 5K swim later this season), graciously offered to get in the water with us and give Ben and me some pointers, so we’re going to set some dates and get moving on this.

Baby steps, right?!

4. Pushing Myself

My proudest moment this month came in the form of work: namely, launching my new company, Pulse Creative. After spending the past few years part-time for a start-up with freelance gigs on the side, I finally decided to make it official and fully align my passion (health, fitness and wellness) with my livelihood (helping people tell stories through PR, marketing and social media).

Just as coaches recognize potential and guide athletes to greatness, my goal is to work directly with small business owners to define challenges, recognize opportunities and help them develop the critical skills to be competitive and relevant in their respective market.

So if you happen to hear of anyone looking for help, I’d really appreciate it if you’d send them my way 🙂

5. Giving Back

Last but certainly not least comes Team LUNA Chix Portland Run. An extremely close second in terms of proud moments this month came in the form of being nominated for the Foot Traffic Women’s Hall of Fame for encouraging women to get active and providing a non-competitive environment in which to do so.

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Not only am I humbled at being included in the group they assembled — seriously, there were some pretty amazing competitors, coaches and local legends in there — but it also makes my heart happy to be able to contribute to the women’s running community here in Oregon.

And great timing, too, as we’ve been seeing some terrific attendance and momentum at our weekly workouts, so please come out and join us if you’re in the Portland area. We meet at 6:30 p.m. at the Duniway Park track — and all levels are welcome, both walkers and runners.

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Check out our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts for more info!

How are your 2015 goals coming along? 

May Goal Check-In

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What a whirlwind month! Our first LUNA clinic in the books, a few Pacific Northwest adventures, an uptick in work, some Midwest travel, plus baby and birthday celebrations made for one heck of a busy May.

But as I sat down to reflect on the past 30 days, I realized that this month was less about missing the mark on the original plans I had laid out for the year — and more about how the goals themselves are evolving as the months go by.

Wondering what this is all about? Read more on the five goals toward which I’m working this year.

Here’s the latest on my progress:

1. Seeking Balance

Back in January, my definition of “balance” really meant figuring out how much I could fill my plate without it overflowing. One main component of that was running — training and racing and everything that comes with it.

But as the months unfold, I’ve accepted that there’s going to be a natural ebb and flow in my relationship with running, and I’m enjoying seeking a different kind of balance with a range of activities. Instead of planning my weeks around races and trying to fit everything else in between, I’m fitting runs into my weeks where it makes sense.

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2. Training Smarter

How is it that I can feel awesome on a nine-mile hike up Mt. Hood with 4,000+ feet of elevation change, yet as soon as I head out the door to do a measly three-mile run, my SI joint starts protesting?!

One of my biggest frustrations that I’m working through is not being able to focus on running speed or distance as much as I’d like this year (so far). But rather than continuing to fight it, I’m (finally) learning to give in and fine-tuning my efforts other areas, such as hiking, biking and strength training.

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3. Facing Fears

In other news, I’m back in the pool! Well, I’ve been in a grand total of…twice since my last update…but it’s a start, right?

And as much as I was dreading my first session back, it was just like they say about riding a bike. After a few laps I found my groove, so now the trick is just remembering that feeling and being more consistent about carving out time to get in and practice.

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4. Pushing Myself

I’m also learning that, just as “balance” can have different meanings, so can “pushing yourself.” As in sometimes it’s physical front, sometimes it’s emotional and sometimes it’s mental.

But rarely do (or should!) all three happen at once.

So while racing has had to take a temporary back seat, I’ve been forging ahead in other areas — namely work and some exciting projects coming up. More on that soon! 

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5. Giving Back

This past month was all about getting out and about in the Portland community — a place I’m so proud to be able to call home. We had our first Team LUNA Chix clinic with the ladies from Zest Nutrition (and raised $300 for Breast Cancer Fund), the SweatPink crew hit up NoPo Run Club for their anniversary run, and I’ve continued making my rounds to meet with local studio owners.

We’re getting the wheels in motion for more charity events (spin-a-thon, anyone?) for LUNA, so stay tuned. But in the meantime, we’re calling all local Portland ladies to join us for our free weekly workouts on Monday nights at 6:30 p.m. at the Duniway Park Track in Portland; all levels and abilities are welcome.

Check out our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts for more info!

How are your 2015 goals coming along? 

Fave Fix: Ahnu Sugarpine hiking boot

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Having left behind the epic trail scenery of San Francisco and Marin, it’s about time we checked out what Oregon has to offer on those just-gotta-get-out-of-the-city days. And after living on both coasts, plus a few cities in between, I’d say there’s hardly a better place to be in summer than the Pacific Northwest, especially if you’re into hiking…and, oh, waterfalls.

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So a few weekends ago when we had some friends in town from the Bay Area, we decided to whet our appetites for adventure by paying a visit to Oregon’s tallest waterfall, Multnomah Falls. It’s home to one of Oregon’s most popular trails — a moderate, 2.2-mile hike with 700 feet of elevation gain to the top of the 542-foot, “two-tiered plume that plummets into a misty, mossy forest grotto.”

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Not only was it a great way to work off the Blue Star doughnuts we inhaled for breakfast that morning, but it was also a good opportunity for me to test out my new pair of Ahnu Sugarpine hiking boots. This style came highly recommended by Melissa, a friend and former colleague who now works for the company, in anticipation of me taking to the beautiful, bountiful trails of Oregon.

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Aside from getting a few compliments from fellow hikers on my way up the switchbacks — this style is known for its bright color, yet low profile — I was more interested in the function rather than the fashion of these shoes. But true to Ahnu form they performed beautifully, giving me just the right amount of traction, support, stability, shock absorption and protection…in what felt as comfy as my favorite pair of sneakers.

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Did I mention they’re waterproof, too? I’ve been hearing that kind of gear will come in handy for the season that follows summer up here: Rain.

This isn’t a sponsored post; just helping a friend get the word out about a great company with good products. For more information on Ahnu, visit the site here