Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Become The One

How many times has it been the friend waiting  on the street corner that gets you out  of bed for your run in the morning?  Or knowing that someone in the group ride is waiting for you?  Or kicking off the covers to make the 5:30 muscle class because the instructor will ask where you were when you don't show up.

It is safe to say that many marathon long runs are planned with friends.  And century ride training is done with a peloton.  And ocean water swims are done as a group, and should never be done alone.

Which brings me to my challenge for 2010.  Why not, for the new year, become The One.  The one who is on that street corner waiting for your friend so you can run together.  The one who accepts the challenge of entering and running in the local 10K then trains with a buddy and crosses the finish line together.  The one who is always at Masters practice, or the track, or the meeting place for the group rides.  Always.

Reliable.  Available.  A Goal Setter.  Why not, for the new decade, try and be the person that others can count on.   Resolve now to not miss a workout, be there when you said you'd be there, and support those that are supporting you.   Make a goal to strive for something beyond your reach.  Then work with others to get there.   Because doing it alone isn't nearly as fun as doing it together.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Lecture #102

The fam is skiing all week.  And being the social gal that I am, I encourage small talk while riding up the lift.   Today I asked the Ski Patrol Girl on the chair lift which was more dangerous, skiing or boarding.

"They are about the same, " she said.  "With boarders you see wrist injuries, with skiers you see knees."

But while we were talking, a distress call blared out over her radio.  Two skiers down, one with a helmet, one without.  "That's what makes a difference," she said.  "whether you wear a helmet or not."

Now I know there are lots of skiers on the mountain more focused on looking good --with their Chanel sunglasses, cute ski suits, and freshly highlighted hair flowing in the breeze.  But it always disturbs me that they are not wearing helmets.  Haven't they heard of Sonny Bono or Natasha Richardson?

Helmets are warm, comfortable, safe and some even have built-in Ipod speakers.  Don't be stupid.  Beanies are great, but helmets are best.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Entranced with Lance

I have to admit it openly - I like this guy.  I may be confused. I may be out of line.  But when I see what Lance can do with his bike or in a gym - ah hem, it just amazes me.  Is he on something?  I choose to believe not.  Who knows.

Having an insightful sister who chose my name in the Christmas gift exchange, I was also lucky to receive this as a gift:

My review:  Great photos, lots of personalized information from Lance, nice cover, good size.  If there is a Lance fan in your family, go get one today.

Comeback 2.0 -- for me he never left.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Treadmill Running

Personally, treadmill running is not my fave.  It can get tedious, and after five minutes I am checking my watch every 30 seconds or so.  But sometimes it is a neccessity.  Like when you are here:

In these incidences, I have learned (again from triathlon pro Jessi Stensland) that you should do the following:
1.  Position the treadmill incline button to 2 percent to simulate outdoor road conditions.  (I also use the "Hill" workout as another option.)
2.  Stand and run upright, keeping your core firm.
3.  Keep your foot directly under the hips.
4.  Neck, shoulders and back relaxed.  Arms by your side, fingers relaxed, not tightly clenched.

Treadmills are a great place to work on cadence.  Try and keep your strides light, running on the ball of your foot, turning over quickly.  Another good treadmill feature is that you can hear yourself run -- whether you are landing light or heavy on your feet.  Try and tweek your run until you hear the beautiful sound of quiet, efficient running mixed with the whizzing hum of the treadmill.  And if you can pop in a good movie at the same time, all the better.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Let's Be Serious

Don't think for one minute this triathlon training doesn't leave time for this:

or this,

or this...

It just makes it all the more sweet when you do.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Bees Knees

A recent Stanford University study reported in Runner's World claims that knee problems might not necessarily be related to running.

The osteoarthritis study of the knee followed runners and non runners over two decades and reports that running is associated with lower incidences of arthritis.  Initially, seven percent of runners had mild arthritis; none of the non runners did.  Yet 18 years later, the non runners were 60 percent more likely to have arthritis - and four times more likely to have severe arthritis.

Like I've stated in an earlier post,  I think that Omega 3s are helping with my knee and joint pain.  I use Dr. Sears brand, which is easy to take and not fishy smelling.  Omega 3s are not manufactured in your body and must be obtained through diet or supplements.   They help with inflammation and joint dexterity.  They've done my body good!

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Great Article about Nailing the Ironman

Excuse the long post.  I thought this was a great article and wanted to refer back to it often, so I copied it all here.

How To Nail The Ironman Marathon
Triathlete senior editor Matt Fitzgerald provides advice on running a successful marathon come Ironman race day.
Written by: Matt Fitzgerald

The marathon is where Ironman dreams die. It is very difficult to run a strong marathon after riding 112 hard miles. In fact, it is seldom done.

Consider the following example. At the 2008 Ironman Arizona, the fastest bike split was 4:26:12, and the 50th-fastest bike split was 4:55:24—29 minutes and 12 seconds, or 10.9 percent, slower. Compare this gap to the corresponding gap in the run. The fastest run split was 2:46:38, and the 50th-fastest run split was 3:20:22—33 minutes and 44 seconds, or a full 20 percent, slower.

As you can see, in the bike leg, the top 50 performers were bunched close together, whereas in the run they were spread out. This pattern is apparent in every Ironman. There are three possible explanations for this pattern:

1. The depth of running talent is less than the depth of cycling talent in Ironman events. This explanation is implausible on its face. There is no reason whatsoever to believe that Ironman events attract stronger cyclists than runners. The athletes who compete in Ironman events are by and large the same athletes who compete in shorter triathlons, and run times are typically much more closely bunched together percentage-wise in shorter triathlons than in Ironman races.

2. Most triathletes go too hard on the bike in Ironman races and do not save enough energy for the run. This explanation seems much more plausible than the first, but there is actually no good evidence that those athletes who produce the fastest run times in Ironman races hold back more on the bike than their fellow competitors. In fact, contrary to popular belief, elite Ironman triathletes really don’t hold back at all on the bike. If riding at 80 or 90 percent of capacity (relative to the distance of 112 miles) were normal and necessary at the elite level of Ironman racing, then you would see at least one clown fly off the front and complete the bike leg 10 or 20 percent faster than the real contenders (which would translate to 30 to 60 minutes). Even if it were suicidal, people would still do it for a moment of glory. It’s human nature. But this never happens. Why? Because elite triathletes actually ride the Ironman bike leg at something closer to 98 percent of their maximum capacity (meaning they would ride only five to 10 minutes faster in a pure 112-mile time trial).

Pacing is important, of course, but people don’t realize how great a difference there is between 98 percent and 100 percent efforts. To gain a better appreciation for the difference, go to the track and run 10K (25 laps) 2 percent slower than your 10K race pace. So, if your 10K time is 40:00, run a 40:48. I guarantee you will feel about 10 or 20 percent less miserable in the last lap at the slightly slower pace, which is why many elite Ironman racers think they are holding back 10 or 20 percent on the bike in competition when they are actually holding back 2 percent.

Riding too hard can affect subsequent run performance, but fitness trumps pacing. The less fit you are, the less your run will benefit from holding back on the bike. You could go 95, 90 or 85 percent on the bike and be shot for the marathon in any case. And the fitter you are, the less pacing matters. Craig Alexander would not run a 2:35 marathon in Hawaii instead of a 2:45 if he rode the bike leg in 4:55 instead of 4:37.

This observation leads us to the third and true explanation of the marathon meltdown phenomenon.

3. Most triathletes just aren’t well-trained enough to run a good Ironman marathon. You start the run fatigued no matter how you pace yourself on the bike. Those who hold it together and run well simply have better Ironman-specific fitness, which enables them to run closer to their ability level despite fatigue.

With this explanation in mind, use the following tips to avoid the all-too-common scenario of running poorly in the Ironman marathon.

Get Strong on the Bike

The inaugural Ironman Wisconsin, held in 2002, featured a novelty. A couple of elite Kenyan runners did the race. I’m talking about sub-2:15 marathoners. The story was that some coach had recruited these guys as a sort of experiment. Anyway, not only did the poor guinea pigs get crushed on the swim and the bike, but they also ran terribly. This unique example demonstrates that the first key to running strong in an Ironman is not pure running ability but strength on the bike.

It makes sense, right? Your bike fitness has to be at such a level that you can ride hard for 112 miles and still have something left for the marathon. All of the running fitness in the world won’t help you otherwise. How do you get that strong on the bike? The short answer is by putting in a ton of volume. But most of us don’t have enough time to put in the optimal number of bike miles. So then, what is the least you can do to build enough bike fitness so that 112 miles is no big deal?

Aim to complete four independent 100-mile rides, one pair of back-to-back four-hour rides, and one all-day ride (about eight hours as slow as you need to go to survive it). All of these rides should occur within the last 10 weeks before your taper, and obviously in the preceding weeks you should gradually build your long-ride distance toward the 100-mile level.

Run long, but Not A Lot

It may be intuitive to believe that running a lot of miles is an effective means to improve one’s chances of running a strong Ironman marathon, but in fact it is not. While you have to be fit enough to run a strong marathon, you should actually do the minimum amount of running to ensure that you are capable of running a strong marathon and devote any remaining available weekly training hours to building the bike strength that will enable you to actually realize your running potential.

I recommend that even serious competitive Ironman triathletes perform only three independent runs per week. The most important of these is the weekend long run. Complete at least four runs of 18 miles or more, and feel free to go as long as 26.2 miles in training to cement a solid reserve of running endurance. Put as much as you want into your long runs, within reason, but resist the temptation to do any more running during the rest of the week than is required to support your progress in these long runs, as it will only increase your risk of injury and burnout and take away from your cycling.

Do Frequent Transition Runs

In Ironman training, a mile run immediately after riding is probably worth five miles run on fresh legs. Running off the bike in training prepares you specifically to run off the bike in an Ironman. I believe that doing short runs frequently off the bike in training is more beneficial than doing occasional longer runs off the bike, because it’s really the transition from cycling to running that you are trying to train. If you can start running strong off the bike, chances are you will continue running strong. And the converse is also true. Unlike in regular marathons, Ironman marathons usually don’t turn ugly at 20 miles. They start ugly.

After building your base, add one easy mile of running after one ride in the week. Then add an easy mile of running after a second ride the next week and continue in this manner until you are running an easy mile after each ride. Next, add a second mile of easy running after one ride, and the following week add one easy mile to another post-ride transition run. Finally, over the ensuing weeks, gradually increase the pace of those two two-mile transition runs until you’re doing them at roughly your lactate threshold pace.

A second advantage of this approach—the first advantage being its effectiveness—is that it is not terribly stressful. If you ride four times a week, you are looking at a maximum of six miles of transition running, with four of those miles at threshold intensity. Those few miles will do you far more good than they would if incorporated into your training in any other way.

Don’t Waste Energy on Speed Work

Pure runners typically perform two fast runs each week. Pure cyclists typically perform two fast rides each week. Many triathletes try to do two fast rides and two fast runs each week. I don’t think this is a good idea for anyone, except perhaps World Cup racers, but it’s definitely not a good idea for those training for Ironman events. The problem is that fatigue from cycling transfers all too well to running, and vice versa, such that doing two hard rides and two hard runs weekly is almost tantamount to a pure runner doing four hard runs every week. Fatigue will accumulate, and performance in all of those hard workouts will be compromised.

Even for those few athletes who hold it together, the Ironman marathon is run at a relatively low intensity—about 60 percent of VO2max. While faster runs could theoretically stimulate improvements in aerobic capacity and efficiency that would enhance performance in the low-intensity Ironman marathon, these theoretical benefits are outweighed by the fatigue cost that would come with trying to combine high-intensity run training with high-intensity bike work.

I believe that Ironman triathletes are better off committing themselves to either one or the other, and specifically to high-intensity bike training. Doing two hard rides per week in addition to a long ride will make you that much stronger on the bike and that much more likely to have enough legs left at the start of the marathon to hold goal pace—which, again, is not a particularly fast pace for any triathlete—all the way to the finish. And keep in mind that, just as fatigue crosses over between cycling and running, so does fitness, albeit to a lesser degree. So you can count on those hard rides to also elevate your running a bit.

I am not suggesting that you avoid fast running altogether, but I am suggesting that you strictly limit it. In addition to the threshold-pace transition runs I described above, you may also do some fartlek runs with 30- to 60-second spurts of 5K to 3K race pace running scattered throughout an otherwise steady, moderate-pace run, some very short (eight to 10-second) hill sprints after you’ve completed one of your weekly easy runs, and progressions, consisting of one to three miles of running at marathon to 10K pace at the end of a base run or long run. That should do it.

As I suggested above, doing frequent, short transition runs off the bike will prepare you to start your Ironman marathon strong, and when you start the marathon strong, you have a good chance of finishing it strong. However, a one- or two-mile transition run does not fully prepare the body for the stress of running an entire marathon after a long, hard ride. Nothing does, actually, but a long bike-run brick workout will help.

Four to five weeks before you race an Ironman, do what I call a metric Ironman. As you know, an Ironman features a 112-mile bike leg and a 26.2-mile run. A metric Ironman workout consists of a 112K (69.6-mile) bike leg and a 26K (16.1-mile) run. That’s about two-thirds of what you will have to do on race day, which is about perfect in terms of simulating the Ironman challenge without overtaxing your body. Perform both the bike and the run at close to Ironman race intensity. (You can even start with a 2.4K [1.5-mile] swim if you like.)

Running a marathon off the bike will neither seem nor be quite as hard once you’ve gotten this metric Ironman workout under your belt.

Don’t Banquet on the Bike

Many Ironman marathons are ruined by nutritional issues, and nine times out of 10 the specific nutritional issue is consuming too much rather than too little. Triathletes very often overestimate both the amount of nutrition they need to get through an Ironman and the amount their bodies can actually absorb and use.

If you can take in 60g of carbohydrate and 750ml of fluid per hour on the bike, which is very easy to do with nothing more than a sports drink, you should be fine. Few athletes can absorb and use more than 80g of carbs per hour. If you’re a bigger athlete and your race takes place on a hot day, you may need 1 to 1.2 liters of fluid per hour to prevent a dehydration-related slowdown. But 80g of carbs per hour and 1 to 1.2 liters of fluid per hour are still a lot less than many triathletes try to cram down.

The rub is that the body can absorb a lot more fluid and carbohydrate during cycling than during running due to the stomach jostling involved in the latter. So what happens is that competitors take in as much nutrition as their bodies can handle on the bike, then hop off and start running only to be hit with nausea, bloating and worse. So be careful not to overdo your nutrition intake in the last hour of the bike leg so your gastrointestinal system won’t declare mutiny at the start of that all-important marathon.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Hair Care By "S"

Back in the ninth grade, when I was still just a little guppy swimmer trying to make it in the BIG HIGH SCHOOL SWIM TEAM, I came across a little hair tip from a friend.

Now, this friend of mine had beYOUtiful hair! Her "do" put Farrah's to shame. Her strawberry-blonde feathered locks made her an instant boy magnet. And those boys went crazy when she walked away leaving a hint of Love's Baby Soft and Aquanet trailing in her wake. Oh, the days of pharmacy perfumes. Brings ya back.

Said friend introduced me to HOW TO SAVE YOUR HAIR FROM EVIL CHLORINE. While I have not always been faithful to this tip, as of late I've come to realize how really useful it is. Here you go:

1. Before your swim, apply a dab of your favorite conditioner to dry hair and comb through.

2. Put on your swimming cap. Wahlaa! Done.

Now your hair is absorbing good conditioner instead of bad chlorine. And when you take your cap off at the end of the workout, your hair is smooth and silky, not brittle and straw-like.

During the summer I usually just douse my head with water from the shower before I put on my swimcap. Same principle. But now that temperatures have dropped and dry hair = warmth, this tip has really proven its worthiness.

Thanks S! See you at the pool!

Friday, December 18, 2009

An Early Christmas Present
Well, tomorrow's the day. If you've never watched an Ironman on TV, set your TiVos for Saturday, Dec. 19 at 2:30 Arizona time. I promise you will love this.  
Watching NBC's coverage of the Kona World Ironman Championships is a truly inspirational event. It will make you smile, and it might make you weep when you hear the stories of these amazing athletes. Ah, I am so excited. Trust me. It's worth your time.
Let me know what you think!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

You Spin Me Right Round

Honestly, I've never been a big fan of Spinning.  At my gym, they cram 30 bikes into this tiny closet of a room and it's all dark and scary in there.  The ceiling fans are whipping the air around like some sort of wind tunnel.  And the splash of sweat from your neighbor is downright nasty. 

Today, however, was better.  We got to spin to a DVD called Spinervals: The Rockies.  Admittedly I am new to the whole indoor cycling craze.  I did not know videos like this existed.  Basically the entire hour's workout follows actual cyclists as they climb and sprint and cycle around areas like Boulder, Tucson and even Vegas!

What I liked about the whole experience was it felt like you were really riding outdoors.  I tried to match the cadence with the pro cyclists "in front" of me on screen.  The cyclists would come on and give tidbits of advice and every once in a while a motivational quote would flash on screen.  I also enjoyed trying to keep my upper body "quiet" instead of flailing it around like the instructors seem to encourage in other classes.

These DVDs would be great to have at home with your trainer as an alternative to riding in finger numbing weather.  I am a firm believer that we don't need to do all that crazy jumping and impossibly fast cadence stuff that goes on in spin class.  Maybe I'm wrong, but doing something that mimics regular outdoor cycling seems to be the best alternative to actually getting out there on two wheels.   And for me that is centering the body, keeping the hips from rocking, and using your core to turn those pedals - like the pros do in these movies. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Learn to Swim

One of the scariest things for many people doing their first or fiftieth triathlon is the SWIM.  While there is not much you can do to duplicate the experience of 2500 people swimming next to you in a mass Ironman start, there is something you can do to improve the overall swimming experience -- enroll in a Masters program.

Masters Swimming does not mean that these swimmers are masters at their sport - by any stretch of the imagination.  Masters simply means OLD! Swimmers of all abilities, sizes, ages and personalities are welcome at the pool to refine their strokes with a certified USA Swimming coach on deck.

My coaches at the new Kino Pool in Mesa are Paul and Laura Smith.  They have pushed me to new levels are constantly giving advice and tips on becoming a more efficient swimmer.  They also turned me onto the website which gives video footage on correct techniques and drills to help beginners and experts alike.

Make it a goal to join a Masters team next year.  You'll need a suit, goggles, maybe some pool toys and a nice swim parka for the winter.  It's a great way to improve confidence and ability for your 2010 triathlons.

Here's the link to MAC if you are local  --

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Christmas Cards are one of my favorite parts of the holidays.  I love the photos, the updates, the braggadocios letters.  I have friends in Hong Kong (Hi Carrie!) and Oklahoma and Chino Valley that I still get to "see" yearly and hear about their family shenanigans.

Which is why I was happy to get a card from one of my favorite stores,

Normally I don't really appreciate the mass produced company cards.  But I was pleasantly surprised when I opened this card and saw:

Yay!  I love when people sign cards.  Even when it is strangers who probably laid out 500 cards on a table and had a "forced signing" party over eggnog and hot toddy.

But then again, this is TriSports.  They probably celebrated with Clif Shot shooters and slices of Power Bars.

You know what, I don't even care.  It was just fun to see that Susan and Pat and Ash cared enough to sign a card for little old me.  It really doesn't take much to solidify my loyalty.  Today, did just that.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

12 Days 'Til Christmas

Today was the the 12K Santa Run in Gilbert.  It was a good race.  Later start -- 10a.m., nice.  And they gave you a Santa hat when you registered.  Sounds great, right?  I thought so too, but running in a felt Santa hat = hot hat head.  I'm not sure how many people wore their hat for the entire race, but it was a no go for me.

Here we are before the run.  Afterwards, we found out that Amy (far left) and Christy(next to her) took first and second in their age group.  Amanda (2nd from right) would have probably placed too, but she was a bandit.  Me, not so much.  But it was fun to drive the winners home.  Oh, and one more thing, Amy ran nine miles BEFORE she started the race, just to get in some extra training.  Sheesh!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Sit. Up.

Q:  How do you stay motivated to swim, bike or run when the weather is dark and cold?

A:  If you can get your feet off the bed and onto the floor, you're halfway there.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Powder Alert

Lately, the magazines around my house have gone from this:

to this:

Yes, it's beginning to look a lot like ski season.

As different as running and skiing are, there are quite a lot of similarities, too.  Both required core work to improve performance.  Each of these magazines had articles this month that stress using balance and stretching as part of a daily workout.  I know you know it.  Just a little reminder to get back in the gym to get ski ready.  At the bottom of your next black diamond run when your quads are screaming and your butt is burning, you'll thank me.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Small Talk

Lately I've been a blog stalker.  I love reading the thoughts and writings of people who inspire me, like Stephanie Nielson and my dear friend Monya Williams, who is going through chemotherapy for breast cancer right now.  I admire how these women are sharing their lives with others.  On the flipside, I wonder why I am writing about such trivial stuff while they are dealing with life and death.

However, I think life is made up of trivial things.  And if we find joy in the small things, life is better all around.  Right?

So I type.  And tell you how this little sport called triathlon helped fill some kind of space in my heart.  How crossing a finish line, or learning how to become a faster runner made me a more confident, happier person.  And how, in some way, I am honoring my father who devoted his entire career helping others achieve their goals and dreams through athletics and recreation. 

I take pride in knowing I helped others do things they didn't think was possible just one year ago -- Ian, Jana and my kids finishing their first 10k.  Ryan and Greg getting dubbed Ironmen in Panama City.  Dave finishing Tour de Tucson in the top eschelon of it's competitors and knowing he borrowed my bike for his first ride. 

It's all just trivial stuff in the grand scheme of things.  But it's the little things that make up the big things.  And we all need to Dream Big, because that's what makes life worth living.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


As I sat church today, one word kept coming up during the meeting: trials.   As I analyzed the word, I began to think of it's multiple uses:  A courtroom trial.  A personal trial.  And in racing, the dreaded time trial.

I like to think of a trial as a small test.  A test that will end.  And something with which we will gain new knowledge and understanding.  There are periods of rest between trials, but those times might be short or long depending upon our goals.

When training for a race, it is recommended that an athlete complete regular time trials on the bike, swim and run.  Here are some suggested time trials that should be scheduled monthly during the base season:
1 fast mile at the track 
1500 meters in the pool
40K bike on a flat course

Make it a goal to complete and record your paces for each of these trials every four weeks.  They're the best way to be honest with yourself in how much you are improving, maintaining or losing your fitness level.

All trials, especially those personal or physical ones, have a purpose.  They push us to new limits.  And teach us that there are things we didn't think we could do that, in fact, we can.

Friday, December 4, 2009

It Is Time

Once morning temperatures hit 40 degrees here in AZ, it's officially WINTER.  That may sound wimpy to you Northern snow bunnies, but sorry, Zonies find anything sub 80 to be darn right chilly.

With that being said, it's time to break out the gloves.  There are hundreds of brands to choose from when you Google running gloves.  Here are some great ones from Nike:

These gloves look awesome.  And their a nice $20 investment if you're going to be running all "winter" long.

However, running expert John Giles also introduced me to these bad boys at the St. George Marathon:

These gloves are .20/pair.  Very nice if you're like me and you have a tendency to lose things that come in a pairs. (Am I the only one who has an entire laundry basket filled with single socks?) 

Your choice.  They both work.  Good for runny noses and keeping fingers warm without getting sweaty when you run.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Parkin' It

The pros on Team TMobile don't usually have to park their bikes at the convenience store for a quick bathroom stop.  But the rest of us do.  Here's how to do it like a pro:

- Roll your bike up to a wall or pillar.

- Position your rear tire to lean against the side of the post/wall. 

- Let your front handle bars drop to the side to help bring the bike into balance.  Voila!

This method assures that your bike's paint job will not get nicked, and handle bar tape will not get rubbed, keeping your bike in pristene condition.   

Bonus, you won't look like a newbie.

And speaking of newbie, don't ever wear underwear under your bike shorts.  Or pass on the right.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Okay, we are all busy.  It's the one word we can throw out there to get us out of whatever we DON'T want to do.  "Yeah, I'm just too busy right now."

Which makes me appreciate those people who are NOT too busy.

Here's my point.

This weekend was full.  Preparing food, eating said food, shopping, working, a movie if you were lucky -- all time taker uppers.  But perhaps what I am most thankful for are these super busy people:

1.  Turkey Trot spectators, cheerleaders and volunteers esp. the SERTOMA Club.  A race without a fans is just another training day.
2.  Family organizers who planned and executed a great family reunion.
3.  Friends who stop by to say hello.
4.  Kids who stay home.

Sure, we are busy.  But taking the time makes it all worthwhile, I'd say.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Better, Faster, Stronger

Sir Roger Bannister

When the world's first sub-4-minute mile had been run in 1954 by Sir Roger Bannister, Franz Stampfl, Bannister's coach wrote this:  "Training is principally an act of faith.  The athlete must believe that through training he will become fitter and stronger...He must believe that through training his performances will improve and continue to improve indefinitely as long as he continues to train to progressively stiffer standards."

Do you believe?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

For Starters, Breathe.

I went down to watch the start of Ironman Arizona today.  

Here's a little glimpse as the cannon went off.

After positioning myself at the bike exit, I watched as swimmers became cyclists who screamed out of T1 with panic in their eyes.  Some of them didn't have their chin straps fastened.  Some struggled with their clipped in cycling shoes.  Some tried to pass in the small confines of a single file cycling shoot.  RARELY, did they come out of T1 with a calm, relaxed demeanor.

PANIC!  STRESS!  ANXIETY!  These can all be part of an Ironman day.  But none of these were helpful to today's competitors. It was very evident that most of these athletes were running on crisis mode instead of systematically and logically pacing themselves toward their goal.

I know this is a race, but unless you are a pro, a frantic sprint through the transition zones can only cause problems in this long, long day.  RELAX.  FOCUS.  BREATHE.  It applies to triathletes.  It can be applied to life.  We're all better when we are sure of ourselves.  Push the panic away.  Point yourself in the right direction.  Then "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams!"

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Hurts So Good

If you've never used a foam roller, you might not appreciate the new Grid roller from Trigger Point. But this new piece of equipment is a gem.

Most old-style rollers are about three feet long,  styrofoam and bulky.  Physical therapists and athletes use them to apply gentle force to adhesions or "knots" on IT bands, calves, lats, or any body part that is fatigued due to exercise.  Those tender spots on the body can be worked out by rolling over the spot and holding for about 30 seconds, to bring the muscles fibers into straighter alignment.

The new Trigger Point Grid is a more compact and better version of it's older self.  And it has massaging grids that feel awesome.  And it's a cuter color than white or baby blue.  I love mine.  I can get right into those tight knots in my legs and roll them out for instant relief. 

In therapist words, "It helps restore your body back to it's optimum level of function by resetting the propiroceptive mechanisms of the soft tissue." 

Blah blah blah.  It's just good.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pro Triathlete Pointer #2

Another tip from Jenni, sans photo.  I'm going to call it the Plank 'N Pike.  This is a good warm up for a swim.

1.  Assume the position of either downward dog/pike, or another way to say it, reach down for your toes and then place your hands flat on the ground.

2.  Step the hands away from your body until you are flat,  as if you were doing a push up.  Now with your toes, take tiny steps forward until you are back in that pike/downward dog position.

3.  Repeat this up and down movement  5 times or so.

This exercise activates wrists, core, back, glutes, hamstrings and ankles among other muscles.  It especially loosens wrists and ankles making it a beneficial movement for your pre-exercise routine.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Elementary, my dear.

I attended an all day seminar last weekend put on by this gal,

Pro Triathlete Jessi Stensland.

Um, yeah.  True story, you can find her by googling "hot triathletes". 

But enough about that. 

Jessi taught the absolutely essential need to warm up before any swim, bike or run.  She suggested even one minute of pre-exercise drills will keep you injury free for a lifetime.

While I have many of these to share with you, I'll give you just one for today....skipping.  Yep.  Skipping.  Skipping activates the ankles, knees, hips, arms and core.  You can skip lightly for say, 30 second, before any run to trigger your muscles and mind that you are ready to move.  Try it on your next run.  It's pretty awesome. 

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Power of the Guy Who Yelled "Gorilla"

As the last screams and shouts fade away from the Ironman finish-line,  and I turn away from the beach-front condos to begin the daunting 26.2 mile run ahead of me, I make a mental note of my progress. Swim, check.  Bike, check.  Run.  Okay, now onto the last stretch of the race.

In the Florida course, the mass of humanity funnels itself into the single-file flow of runners who snake through the quaint neighborhoods of Panama City and into the desolate trails of a St. Andrews State Park -- then return and repeat.  Aide station volunteers scream out "Water!  Gatorade!" Power Gel!"  to all the passers by.  But soon the footsteps and my own breathing fill my ears louder than any spectator ever could.

As I head out of town, I am cheerfully greeted by those costumed characters who offer me beer shots instead of water.  They are wild and crazy and fun!  But as I tick off the miles, my journey becomes more solitary,  and a man standing alone picks me out of the crowd and calmly, quietly encourages me: "Good job, Gorilla.  Keep going."

I had been yelled at by thousands of spectators who seemed to draw more attention to themselves than to those struggling runners for whom they are cheering.  But this man didn't make a commotion.  He simply stated an affirmation that I heard and took heed.  When I pass him the second time, I am not expecting him to be there.  Again he singles me out.  "Okay Gorilla, you're doing fine.  Keep it up."

Daylight savings robs the town of Panama City of it's afternoon hours with sundown at 4:51p.m.  By Loop Two, twilight is setting in and the portable spotlights begin to hum as the generators kick on. The runners become a bit more spread out and "to themselves". As I round the corner once again, my personal cheerleader is waiting on the same patch of grass.  He's found my jersey in the shadowy darkness and quietly restates his powerful words:  "You've got this one, Gorilla."

At mile 24, I passed him a final time.  This time, I expect him there for me, I stand a little taller, run a little prouder and smile as I look his way.  "Congratulations Gorilla.  You're there.  Nice job, today."

You can't escape the hype of the family and friends who await the Ironman finishers.  Their cheers and screams energize and rejuvinate each participant and remind them that they did not get here alone.

But there is something to say for the mental uplift a single person can give another just by acknowledging a name, a bib number, or a logo on a jersey.  The power of a quiet human voice can communicate louder than any stadium-packed crowd.  Don't ever doubt the power of one.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Emperor's New Clothes

As a participant and/or spectator at an Ironman, the event can be a little...disconcerting.  With day glo Newton shoes, compression socks, Breathe Right strips and lightweight aerobars you may feel a little like one of the royal subjects in The Emperor's New Clothes -- mindlessly following the crowd.

There are so many gadgets to buy into -- GPS systems, lightweight sunglasses, nutritional magic pills.  And as athletes, we are definitely doing just that.  We spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to improve our times with lighter wheels and featherweight bicycles.

Take for instance the teardrop helmet.  These helmets were designed and wind-tunnel tested to be more aerodynamic than traditional cycling head gear.  Manufacturers suggest wearing one can help save from  30 to 60 seconds per hour on the bicycle.  This is great news to a triathlete.  And perhaps the idea of wearing something sleeker and lighter psychologically helps to improve the overall bike split as well.

Proceed with caution is what I say when considering all the latest Ironman gear.  We sometimes get hung on up what the Emperor is wearing and fail to recognize our "engine" is what will get us through that grueling day.

As I watched the Kona Championships this year, I noticed most of the athletes were wearing the teardrop helmets, except for two:  Chrissie Wellington and Craig Alexander, the two overall winners of the race.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Happy Snaps

Don't these photos just make you happy?
                                                 Ryan Fish  finishing in 11:55

Greg Arnett in 11:27

And my finish at 12:12. 

Monday, November 9, 2009

Take Aways from Florida

1.  You WILL get through the swim, but it's not gonna be pretty and you won't make any friends.
2.  Do not compare race times with previous year's race times/places.  Every day is unique.
3.  Hug your family and friends.  You didn't do this alone.  And thank the volunteers -- good karma.  (See also: Dave Weins, Leadville 100)
4.  A steady run through the marathon, instead of a walk, will boost your mental energy even if you are tired.  Ever played the game called Road Kill?
5.  Keep eating/drinking even when you are sick and tired of eating/drinking - it all plays into that last two hours.
6.  Overfill your special needs bags - options are good!  Bring anything you might think:  'that sounds like a good idea.'
7.   Read the signs along the way and "insert your name here".
8.  Over prepare, over pack, but do not overthink. You've trained and you are ready.
9.  Secure all your belongings as items tend to shift -- Screw in cartridges, push in water bottles, and tighten up everything! (Serious garage sale going on out there on the course.)
10.  Like I've said before, smile at the finish line.  Today is about you.  Tomorrow is probably not.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Five Alive

You want betters abs?  I have the recipe: 

1.  Less or No white flour products
2.  Very little sugar
3.  No fried foods
4.  No carbonated drinks
5.  Eat as many raw foods as possible (lots of fruits and vegetables)

This, and quite possibly six hours a day in the gym (like Rachel), is the recipe for her Ninja-Turtle-like abs.  

Sunday, November 1, 2009

New York Minute

We did it! An American won the New York City Marathon today.

Now, he might not have been American born, but Meg Keflezighi represented the U.S. in style, crossing the finish line in 2:09:15. That is significant for our country because an American has not triumphed in New York since Alberto Salazar in 1982. The United States needed to flex their distance running muscles to the rest of the world.  And today, they did.  In fact, Americans took six of the top 10 spots in today's race.  That's good news for us, and great news for what's to come in London in 2012.

Just a side note:  the NY Marathon is on my bucket list.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Talk To Me

If you ride or run regularly and haven't purchased your Road ID yet, now is the time.

Road ID is personal identification system that you wear as a bracelet or anklet. It's good for runners, cyclists, swimmers, triathletes and even kids! It provides important emergency contact phone numbers in case you are in an accident or can't identify yourself.

I wear the anklet when I ride. Every time. And so do most of my cycling buddies. But recently my friend told me she had bought ID bracelets for all five of her kids to wear at Disneyland. Genius! Haven't we all been lost or have lost children at Disneyland? Wait, that might just be me. I am one of six Funk kids.

Believe me, I am aware of the hazards of cycling. And I am confident a Road ID can buy you valuable time if you are in need of medical attention. Just to be safe, order yours today.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Random Epiphany

As I was boogie woogying around the kitchen today, I had this funny realization: the dance moves I've used from junior high school through college are all I got.

I used to laugh at my parents or anyone older than me when they danced. Their movements seemed so ... dated. They'd throw a little waltz-type box step in with an under-the-arm pass through. Totally out of style. My mom even had the Chubby Checker "Twist" in her dance repertoire!

Now here I am -- my mother.

It's pretty funny when you think about it. We never seem to lose those moves that got us through proms and college formals. They are ingrained in our brain.

Talk about muscle memory.

Good thing Michael Jackson and I are such good dancers.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Gobble Gobble

Today in AZ it finally felt like Fall. The morning was crisp and chilly and dark. The cyclists were wearing their arm warmers. And the after-the-kids-depart morning stayed overcast and grey. I loved it.

It's times like these that SETTING A GOAL is a good move. Face it, who wants to wake up and run on a dark canal or ride in the freezing cold? With Fall comes Winter, and with the dropping temps, it feels like it's time to take that long winter's nap. Setting a goal will keep you focused and scheduled and just might eliminate those mornings when you want to crawl back under that toasty down comforter.

Races give you an extra incentive to run. Signing up for a 5-K or 10-K is a great goal for anyone. Next month there is a Turkey Trot in almost any town in the U S of A. There are marathons in Phoenix, and half marathons in Queen Creek. Get to and check it out for yourself.

And take along a friend. When you have to meet at some crazy hour to get in a long run, it's nice not to do it alone.

So Goals and Friends. That's what I got today. It works. I promise.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Behold, the $55 cycling sock

I found these in a high end "Snottsdale" cycling shop. Yes, you read it correctly, $54.95. For two socks. Cashmere, okay. But two socks.

I am constantly reminded that the cycling world has two distinct consumers: those that ride because they love to ride, and those that ride because they love the gear. I had this epiphany at the top of Bald Mountain this year in Deer Valley, when I realized I was riding next to nearly 24 thousand dollars worth of mountain bikes, and four riders.

I don't want to fault anyone. But as I scanned the hill and watched the local teenagers tearing up the mountain on their beat up, squeaky clunker bikes, it didn't take a rocket scientist to notice that expensive gear does not equal a better time on the bike. These young riders were laughing, screaming, and enjoying their ride just as much as my swanky Assos-clad friends. (Assos =Swiss made cycling apparel/expensive)

When my younger brother Dave decided to try out cycling for himself, he jumped on my old aluminum Specialized and proceeded to pass every cyclist on the road. He didn't need the most lightweight, newly-released titanium model. He just needed a bike and his freakishly strong legs and he was hooked.

So if you are all about the $550 handmade Italian cycling shoes, or the top-of-the-line Pinarello... go on, and enjoy. But remember that it doesn't take the newest ride on the street to enjoy a great day of cycling. It only takes you and two wheels...and a comfortable seat.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Maximum Swim

Training for the open water swim requires many, many hours in the pool. And those hours might as well be optimal performance hours, right? Here's something that just might help you in the pool.

A study conducted at St. Cloud University compared the effects of energy gels and water with water alone on the performance of competitive swimmers in a hard workout. Twelve swimmers received the gel packets and completed a difficult college level swim workout. Each swimmer did the workout twice - once with gels and once without on seperate days.

The results noted that swimmers' times slowed down significantly more over the course of the workout when they received only water during their day. Every timed 100-yard sprint was significantly faster in the gel trial than in the water-only trial. And in the gel trial, swimmers maintained their performance through 20 sprints, while the water only swimmers slowed down after just the fourth sprint.

Based on these results, it is beneficial to slurp down one packet of energy gel right before you start your swim workout. (They also recommend an additional gel every 30 minutes during the workout). This provides a signal to your brain that there is extra energy available for your muscles and allows you to perform at a higher level. And don't forget to keep your bottle of water at the edge of the pool to stay hydrated, too.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


It happened today in the little town of Kona, Hawaii. The Ironman World Championships. All the drama and action will be unveiled soon as a television special event. Until then, we'll all just have to wait.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Okay, sometimes I am a little slow. I have to learn things ... visually. I have to take a moment. And it's times like these that I feel it is my obligation to pass along my newly acquired information to you. Just in case you're a step behind the curve, like me. I'm sure you're not. But just in case.

Last week, it was time to order new tires for the Guru (my tri bike). Four weeks from Ironman and the tread was dead. After consulting Jim (my OTHER guru) for recommended tire brands, I ordered the Continental 4000s.

The tires came this week and when I asked Jim to help me put the them on, he came right over and we got to work. Um, well, he got to work. Opening the box, Jim announced to me that I had ordered "Twenties". Alrighty then. Not sure what that meant. But as I watched him work, I noticed that it took a bit of "muscle" to get these babies around the wheel. Lots of gripping and adjusting and even a little bit of talcum powder.

So what, pray tell, is a Twenty? A Twenty equals the width in millimeters of the tire. Notice the difference between the Dave's super fast Specializes tires

and the tires on this cruiser bike.

The cruiser has a way wider tire -- which puts more contact on the road, which provides a slower, more stable ride. I had been riding with a 23mm tire. But now I am at least three millimeters higher off the road. That equates to speed, baby! When I got on the bike yesterday I did notice a difference between the fatties I had been using and the new Twenties.

Well, that's it. Just a little common sense physics lesson for today. If you want to go fast, use the smaller tires. They come in 25s, 23s and 20s. Now you know.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Gym Rats

Fall leaves and the cooler weather tend to signal the "off season" for athletes. We take a break from long runs and ridiculously long bike rides. And we tend to avoid the pool and curl up under that warm down comforter for a few more minutes. But what we should be doing is making time for strength training!

Master's athletes (that's adults who think they still can race) need year round time in the gym. With mornings a little more accesible, 30 minutes twice a week can keep you strong, injury free and even more powerful for next season's races.

Commit right now to a strength program that involves sweat and work instead of jaw reps and socializing. Light weights and high reps will not gain power in your legs or arms. Get off the machines and work with stability balls, Bosus, dumbbells and ankle bands.

Here are 10 exercises perfect for triathletes and marathoners during the on and off season. Remember that more movement equals more calories burnt so standing exercises always trump sitting or lying on a weight machine. Even if you don't use these exercises, just watching all these gym rats on youtube is totally awesome! I love the music in the background. Hilarious.

1. Cook Hip Lift
2. Hip Flexor Stretch
3. Reverse Lunges with Bar
4. Reverse Fly
5. Single Leg Squat
6. Single leg dead lift
7. 1 arm/1 leg cable row
8. Cable Lift and Chop
9. Single Leg Heel Raise
10. Stability Ball Push Up

Monday, October 5, 2009

Why I Love The Marathon

In a word - DRAMA. There's more butterflies, tears, elation and suspense in that twenty six point two miles than any bestselling novel or box office movie out there. And Saturday I observed it all.

Thirteen point one. Halfway up Snow Canyon Parkway. That's where I positioned myself to help cheer on the Mesa gang for the 2009 St. George Marathon. Check off that first half, folks, it's on to victory now! And within a few minutes - the race unfolded. First, the quiet and beautiful wheelchairs sliced down the highway. Silent, amazing and inspirational. The men and women would push and push and push their wheels with a cadence as fast as any runner's stride.

A few minutes later the first runner passed -- so effortless and efficient. (So THAT is what running is supposed to look like.) The chasers came singularly at first. One. Then another. Then another. Until Ben LeSueur in his neon singlet whooshed past me in a blaze of glory. He would go on to finish at 2:37, his personal best and a top twenty finish. After that, the gaps begin to close. Runners filled the expanse of the highway. And mixed between the colorful tanks, shorts and visors, I got a glimpse of my friends.

We ran individually and collectively for the next hour and fifty minutes. I chatted. They listened. (I've never had such a captivated audience!) I retrieved water, and talked them through the hills. And in return, they rocked it. I know they suffered. I know they challenged themselves. But they finished strong. There were goals realized and Boston times achieved. It was a PR day for many.

Congratulations to all the finishers. You inspired me with your determination and dedication. I know it wasn't easy. I watched you dig deep and turn those legs over. I watched you follow your heart. It was a day of dreams and I loved participating without being a participant. Thank you for inspiring me to reach higher in all that I do.

Kudos to Karen Scoresby, Michelle and Jared Cox, Charlotte Rush, Jenny Allen, Amanda and Mitch Bogle, Jacque Arnett, Sally Johnson, the Tri Mesa Boys. And Dawn Bollinger, Cordell Rogers, and Marnie Brian too!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

This Is True...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Solitary Refinement

I was alone today, well, except for the cats. Alone with my thoughts, my ipod in one ear, and the cats who seem to rule their nighttime kingdom. I had a 21 miler and my friends were tapering for St. George. So I ran solo, with my mind talk to keep me company.

While I ran I mished and mashed the conversations going on in my head. I wanted to tell my marathon friends good luck and good racing. In no particular order, here is a compiled collection of several hours of solitary head ramblings.

First, you are ready. I know because I was with you on those 3:15a.m. long runs. You have worked hard. You have tapered. You have followed a plan and worked toward a goal. Now go out and show me the money!

Second, there will be miles that just hurt. It might be mile 10, it might be mile 19. When that happens, let your muscle memory take over and try and flush all that pain out of your system. Go to your happy place. Keep on keepin' on and you will get a second wind. You will feel better. And you will get stronger again during the next mile or two.

Third, remember to smile. Natascha Badmann, one of my favorite triathletes, is known for her smiles. She smiles through the entire Ironman and none's the wiser if she is in pain or not. She's just happy to be there. She's thankful for her health. She's glad to be part of the race. Here she is:
Lastly, be proud. You're going out there to do something on Saturday that not many people would even consider doing in their entire life. You've chosen something hard. You've challenged yourself. You've gone out of your comfort zone to something a little scary and daunting. So walk tall. Run proud. Finish strong. Then pat yourselves on the back. Because you're going to finish a marathon. And that, my friends, is cool.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Helmet Head

Just a little heads up...helmets get dirty. They get that salty film on the straps and it is gross. So go ahead and take your helmet into the shower with you. Lather it up. Rinse it off. Get it nice and clean. Nobody wants to look at that dried salt on the side of your head.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Just a little more about food...

Did you know that the average American should eat about .08/kg of protein per pound of body weight per day? That equals about 8 grams of protein per 20 pounds of body weight. BUT, an endurance athlete should eat about 1.4 kg/protein per pound per day. Almost double. Are most marathoners and triathletes eating lots of protein? I don't think so.

There are many good sources of protein out there-- veggies, beans, nuts, whole grains, even a bowl of cereal and milk are all good places to start. But these proteins are usually incomplete proteins, which means they lack the essential amino acids not manufactured by the body. Animal proteins are complete proteins but you should think twice about a big slab of steak for dinner every night. A six ounce porterhouse packs 38 grams of protein but it also contains 44 grams of fat, 16 of them saturated.

What to do, what to do? First, be aware of what you put on your plate. Most reasonable diets will provide you with adequate protein. But like I said before, make your plate colorful, with lots of variety in the mix. Second, look for leaner alternatives. Skim milk, fish, and leaner cuts of red meat are all good choices for anyone. And third, keep carbs as part of your diet. A well-balanced meal is the premium gasoline for your little engine.

Now pass the edamame. It has 8g/per half cup. Chicken breast (good sized) 45 grams. An egg, 6 grams. One cup tomato puree, 4.1 grams.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Preferred Pasta

Channelling my inner Jessica Seinfeld, I've made a little tweek to our spaghetti dinners. I started using whole wheat pasta instead of white flour noodles. At first, I had to secretly mix half of the white pasta with half of the whole wheat noodles. But my kids' taste buds have matured and they are now okay with the healthier noodles.

I think they have made improvements to whole wheat pasta in the past year. My original attempts with whole wheat noodles seemed to taste about as good as warmed-up cardboard. I've since experimented with different brands and De Cecco and Barilla seem to get our family's vote.

We don't miss the white stuff anymore. Whole wheat is delicious, healthy and most importantly, easy.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Another Great Find

The new Camelbak water bottles are sweet.

Just when you thought Polar had a nice thing going with their insulated 24 ounce bottles, Camelbak comes up with something better. These bottles are insulated too, but they have this great leak-proof lid that lets you sip your beverage of choice without having to raise and lower the valve. They are called Podium bottles and you can tip them up, down, sideways, whatever, and nothing will drip or spill or make a mess. Kind of like a sippy cup for adults.

I'm not the most graceful cyclist you've ever seen, so these new bottles are a real bonus for me. I like the silicone tip you drink out of, along the lines Camelbak's hydration system you wear on your back. The bottles hold 20 ounces of fluid so they are substantial, yet do not crowd your bottle cages. I bought mine for $10.99 at my local bike shop, but I'm sure there are online deals out there for them. Either way they're a good purchase for anyone who wants to invest in something that beats all the other water bottles on the market.
Que lindo es sonar despierto.
How lovely it is to dream while you are awake.

Dreams That Have Come True