Thursday, December 30, 2010

Never Give Up - Wise Words from Mark Allen

Six-Time Ironman Winner Mark Allen

"One of the most precious pieces of tough love Ironman wisdom I was ever given came in 1984 during my third race in that amazing place. I had what seemed to be an insurmountable lead off the bike (about 12 minutes). I ran the first miles through town with the stride of an invincible champion. But from the bottom of Palani Hill to the top on my way out of town it all changed...horribly so. I had extremely misjudged my nutrition and my pace, and in my excitement thinking how wonderful the win was going to feel 20 miles down the road, I had not taken in enough calories to fend off the dredged bonk. It was too late to reverse the damage. I tried, boy did I try, but there is just no way to speed up the sluggish conveyor belt that is delivering that precious carb cargo to your working muscles.

I slowed, and then walked. Dave Scott eventually passed me well before I could even consider sniffing the scent of the finish line. And then I had a choice: did I just give up and quit or keep going? And if I decided to continue on, my dream of winning completely demolished, what would be my reason for trying?

I made the commitment. I was going to finish and I was going to salvage what I could from the day by giving it every ounce of what I had left in me even when I was walking. I could either walk slowly or I could walk as fast as I possibly could. The second option had an appeal. If I could do that, then when I did get to the finish, I would at least be able to hold my head high knowing that I had given it everything I had on that day, even if that was far from enough to be the one giving the victory speech the next night.

So I walked, as fast as I could. Then I ran slowly, but still as fast as I could until I could do that no longer, and then I would walk again. I crossed the line in fifth place, which in 1984 was the final place that would be brought up on the podium the next night. Had I given it a partial effort I would have been passed by a fast closing John Howard, the champion in 1981, and would have watched the entire awards from my seat in the audience. It was a small victory that only I knew the significance of. I saw how important it was, no matter how impossible the big goal might look, to give it everything you have because out of that there will certainly be something that you can be proud of. This lesson was part of what propelled me forward in 1995 when I came off the bike in my final Ironman 13:30 down on the leader, Thomas Hellriegel, with no basis to think that a win was possible. But as you likely know it was.

I invite each of you to look back on this past season. Where are the hidden nuggets that you were given that might be the invisible gas that will fill your empty tank the next time you are without hope? What take home personal triumph are you just now seeing as perhaps your finest moment in an otherwise disastrous race? Stash those away. They might be part of your bigger victories in the near future."

Courtesy of Mark Allen Online

Beautiful Salt Lake City

Monday, December 27, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

I Am NOT My Hair

Because if I was, my hair would be strong, healthy, thick, lustrous, blunt ended and fabulous.  That's what I WANT it to be anyway.  Alas, I was blessed with thin, chlorine tained, mousy, naturally-nappy hair of a lifelong swimmer.  It isn't pretty.  You might recognize my hair from this:

However, I have found a solution.  J was describing her new Brazilian Blowout on our run the other day.  She IS blessed with strikingly beautiful locks.  And her hair has never looked so good.  I knew I must! I must! find out more about this great new treatment.

When I called my girl Hillary of Our Beauty Mark fame, she told me that she had a similar trick up her sleeve, but for far less money than the Brazilian's $350 ticket, and also without cancer causing formaldehyde in the product.  Welcome to my world Keritan Complex Smoothing Therapy.  

Holy soft, manageable, straight-from-the-blowdryer-looking-pretty-decent hair!  My hair feels like it has taken a long overdue soak in a vat of the most luxurious conditioner on the planet.  No more frizz, no more weird funky ends sticking out every which way.  I am in heaven.  

As an active chica who rarely spends the time or money needed on proper skin or hair beautification -- I thought this treatment was worth every penny of its $100 price tag.

If you're in the market for a little self maintenance, call Hillary and get in for a Keratin Complex blowout as a 2011 treat.  Or ask your stylist about it next time you go in.  The treatment should last about six weeks if you're not too generous on your shampoo usage.  And soon your hair will become a soft happy friend, instead of a battling enemy.  

Happy day and hallelujah!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Buy This Not That - Bondi Bands

Consumer alert!  Just call me Oprah, 'cause I've got a new FAVORITE THING!

This week was the first annual Runnin' Ladies holiday breakfast.  We each brought a yummy something and after our morning run we had a mini morning feast and exchanged individual gifts.
Too much chit chat.  Not enough direction....

But one cheater mama gave something to everyone.  And boy am I glad she did.  Twisted up tightly and bound with ribbon was a solid color Bondi Band for each of us.  I wonder if she realized I put mine on at breakfast and wore it for the rest of the day?

These headbands are made from a perfect lightweight material.  They are stretchy and wide but not too tight.  Just amazingly comfortable.  And they hide/cover/disguise the cotton candy bedhead I have in the pre-dawn hours when I run.  Who am I kidding, my hair is unruly 24/7.  But more on that tomorrow....

For some reason, maybe my head is miniscule or bulbously large,  those normal hair tie headbands you can buy at the grocery store (or Under Armour makes a fancy version) just seem to slide right off my head.  You know the ones, they look like large hair ties.  These Bondi Bands were the bomb.  What a great find.  And just another reason to get out there are run! Thanks J!

Smiling for the camera...some of us wearing our new Bondi Bands!  

Monday, December 20, 2010

Speed Or Distance - Which Comes First?

When ultramarathoner Perry Edinger spoke recently at Endurance Rehab, I was front and center in the audience.  His topic: "What comes first, speed or distance?"

As a competitor of races like the Wasatch 100, the Western States 100, and the Badwater 135 miler, Edinger knows his stuff.   After all,  Edinger needs speed to keep on pace when he has to meet his posse at designated aid and recovery stations on his brutal courses.

He answered the compelling question right off the bat -- first establish endurance.  Go long.  Run your base miles.  Push yourself to go farther.  And THEN, speed it up.  How do you do that? -- intervals at the track? speedwork on a flat course?

Nope.  Hills.

Edinger believes it's the hills that make a good distance runner better.  The natural body position while climbing -- forward lean, smaller strides,  tall running form and level chin -- is what gets a runner up and over a mountain.  But it's those same techniques that translate into speed over the entire course.

When a runner can maintain proper form for hours and hours, he is going to far outrun a competitor with poor running form.  Edinger recommends hill repeats as an alternative to hitting the track.  He also suggests taking one trail run a week to gain ankle strength and stability.

So don't avoid the hills on a distance run.  Go for it.   Ditch the Garmin and quit worrying about maintaining a specific pace according to your training plan.  Let the hills dictate the pace.  Steady up, then quick down.  And while you're at it, turn off road and enjoy the beauty of nature.

Who knows? Someday, you'll might want to try the Wasatch 100, too.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


If you've got 16 minutes, this video is worth watching.  Nothing to do with triathlons today, but in the spirit of the season, Validation is awesome.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Are You Allowed To Have This Much Fun On A Bike?

Not since I was a kid have I had this much fun on my bike.  

Cycle cross, it's a riot.  Combine landscaped grass, an off road dirt track, hills, obstacles that force you to jump, run, lift and carry and move like you have not moved since you were on the elementary school playground -- then add a finish line, a booming sound system and a bike.  Wow. 

Here's the basic rundown: The beginner races are short, 35 minutes.  As the categories climb to the more expert riders, the races bump up to 55 minutes. The course is spectator friendly because the entire track is laid out with hairpin turns and switch back trails on a 1.5 mile loop.   Cycle cross bikes are lightweight, with knobby tires and drop handlebars.  The whole race is set to the soundtrack of some heavy metal tunes.  And if you're not red lining 100 percent of that time, you're not doing it right.  

If you're not afraid to try something new and really, really fun, get out there and give it a shot.

Got hills...

And obstacles....

A bit of grass...

Then another, steeper hill or two...

some dry, dusty roads....

And the prettiest thing out on the track, the true professionals who can show you how to get it done.  

Friday, December 10, 2010

Excellent Post Worth Reading from Training Peaks

Weird Words That Will Make You Swim Faster

7 December 2010
by Ben Greenfield
As you’ve probably realized, your IQ drops when you exercise, and nowhere is this more true than when you’re trying to swim faster. So while reading a treatise on the biomechanics of a proper swim stroke may be simple when you’re sitting at the kitchen table, once you’ve jumped in the water and are huffing and puffing, you can barely remember anything you read or learned.
This is where some weird words come in handy. I’ve created a few simple phrases that I can learn the meaning of when I’m outside the pool, then, then when I’m swimming, I can simply pull these phrases into my head without having to focus too much on big sentence and paragraph-based swimming cues.
So, without further ado, here are weird words that will make you swim faster!
Swim Faster #1 - Press Lung: Ideal buoyancy in the water is achieved when the lungs, your body’s natural life preservers, are pressed down towards the bottom of the pool. This is the foundation of downhill swimming and the position that allows for a more streamlined body. Think of your body as a teeter-totter, with the hips as the fulcrum. Pressing the lungs down brings the legs up, and vice versa. If the legs are down, they simply act as anchors, producing drag against the water that slows the rest of the body. Whether in the front or side swimming positions, always focus on pressing the lungs down towards the bottom of the pool. Once this becomes natural, you’ll conserve enormous amounts of energy and see massive increases in speed.
Swimming Tips
Swim Faster #2 Brush Thumb: A proper and full stroke should bring the thumb to brush against the thigh at the end of the pull phase. Too many swimmers cut their pull short, for the simple reason that it makes swimming easier. I guarantee that if you practice a full pull phase, you will feel horrible during your first few swims and the muscles will be completely fatigued by the end of the swim. After practicing for a few weeks, however, your body will adapt and your speed will skyrocket. One of the keys is to achieve the thumb against thigh position by using the powerful lat muscles underneath the armpits, not the relatively weaker biceps and forearm.
Swim Faster #3 – Boil Feet: The feet should be “boiling”, just below the surface of the water. Feet that are submerged far below the surface are simply acting as drag-producing anchors, while feet that kick and splash above the surface are wasting too much time kicking in the air. We all know that the air produces no resistance, so this is wasted energy. Think about making tiny bubbles with the feet as you kick. While triathletes should not be wasting precious muscle glycogen stores in the legs during the swim portion of the race, a low-medium effort kick will be enough to keep those foot-anchors up.
Swim Faster #4 Hide Head: If you are in a proper downhill swimming position, just a sliver of the head will show against the water. As you practice “Press Lung”, a natural consequence should be that the head “hides” below the water. If your head/torso unit is high, your feet will drop. Once again, buoyancy is a crucial key to efficient swimming.
Swim Faster #5 Puppet Elbow: Imagine that your elbow is attached to a puppet string that is pulling it straight out of the water in the recovery phase of the stroke. A full elbow recovery is very important, especially in choppy, open-water swimming, where a partially submerged arm in the recovery phase will quickly tire you out because of increased drag.
Swim Faster #6 – Cigar Mouth: For a streamlined breathing pattern, attempt to take as little of the head as possible out of the water when breathing. The best way to think about this is “smoking a cigar” when you inhale, meaning, for you healthy, non-smoking triathletes, that the breath only comes from the outside corner of the mouth while the inside corner of the mouth is under the water. As you learn this breathing method, you may end up swallowing a bit of water, but long term practice will result in more efficient swimming.
Swimming imageSwim Faster #7 Raise Pinky: To achieve optimum pull against the water with the hand, while still maintaining a drag-free slice through the water, the pinky should be elevated higher than the rest of the fingers during the entire stroke phase. Every hand is different, so experiment with the outwardly turned angle of the hand until you find a position that gives you the most speed. One of the common mistakes I see when the pinky is elevated is a completely locked out elbow. Never completely straighten the arm when reaching towards the end of the pool because you’ll be able to grab less water to pull against.
Swim Faster #8 Wall Reach: “Reach Over a Wall”, “Spear a Fish”, “Take a Cookie From the Jar” – there are many ways to describe how your hand should feel as it enters the water, but the general idea is that you are grabbing as big a handful of water as possible when initiating the pull phase of the stroke. If your elbow was correctly drawn out of the water, this will result in a more vertical entry of the hand/forearm unit. Remember, the forearm creates pull against the water in the same way as the hand, so make sure to use it by keeping the elbow slightly bent as you reach over the wall.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Buy, Sell, Upgrade, Clean out the garage?

There's gotta be an easier way to sell a beautiful tri bike other than Craig's List.  First of all, you're never quite sure what you're getting.  Second, has the bike been checked out by a skilled bike mechanic?  Has the bike been compromised in any way via a wreck or mishandling?  

Here's my attempt to try something new.  If you're interested in buying or selling a bike, send me your info, I'll put it on here with a dedicated post and then a link to the seller.  Let's see what happens.  I'd love to get cyclists and bikes together in a happy marriage.  And I think there are lots of single bikes out there who need to meet their love match.

This is a custom Guru tri bike, Easton Delta Force aerobars, Zipp 303 carbon wheels, DuraAce components, and beautiful Olympic inspired paint job.  The approximate size is 58cm, built for a 5'11" woman.  The bike has been regularly serviced by Kevin Riseborough at Iron Gear Sports.  The seller is asking $3500.  Contact seller at 602-332-0806.  

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Stumped On What To Get Her For Christmas?

As I sit here at my computer tackling online Christmas shopping, I am reminded of this book/gift for my loyal blog readers:

Run Like A Mother by Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea.

This is a perfect gift for a newbie female runner who needs a little guidance and motivation to tackle this sport called Running (No, we do not EVER call it jogging).  The advice is solid, the stories are fun, and the writing is exceptional.  

I purchased RLAM on my Kindle awhile ago, but I wish I had a hard copy so I could refer back to the anecdotes and information that the authors cover in each chapter.  

This isn't a book for a seasoned runner; most of the information is basic to the sport.  But for a light, interesting read for someone who is just lacing up their new Adidas, I'd highly recommend this book.  Plus the authors are so relatable, it's like you're reading about your new best friend.

Just another holiday suggestion to kick start the runners in your life.  You're welcome. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

More on 17 Year Old Billy Orman

I poked around the internet and found this journal entry from Billy Orman's blog Dec. 5, 2010.  We should all sit back and listen to this 17-year-old phenom:

I don’t know if any of the advice I’ve given in my previous journals has been helpful to anyone but I thought I would throw in a little more advice for anyone who wants it.  Everyone always writes about training and workouts but equally important for me are all the “little things” that actually add up to quite a big thing in terms of performance.  So here’s a list, in no particular order, of things I would consider important.

-       Diet – I’ve been a vegetarian for years and it works for me.  It may not be for you but you should at least avoid junk food.  Before a lot of meets, I often see many runners eating chips, candy, or even a bacon sandwich.  I actually think eating healthy food is the single most important thing you can do.  Your weight will most certainly drop, which is always good for a distance runner.
-       Pre-race meal – the night before a race I generally have the usual pasta dinner.  The morning of a race I try to eat at least 3 hours before race time – no fatty foods.  Oatmeal, a bagel, and a banana are good.
-       Drink – I try to drink water most of the time and avoid soda.
-       Recovery Drink – after a hard work out, I drink a glass of chocolate milk.  This supposedly helps muscles repair more rapidly but it has to be done within 15 minutes of the end of the workout.  And yes, I realize this sort of completely goes against what I said about diet.
-       Running Log – I have kept a running log ever since 10th grade.  It is a great way to go back and compare what you did with what you’re doing now so you can see what worked and what didn’t.
-       GU – even though it tastes gross I always eat a GU 20 minutes before a race.  I don’t really know if it works but I guess it doesn’t hurt.  You can buy it at most running stores.

Okay, that’s all for now.  For those of you who have post season races coming up, good luck and enjoy.  For those of you who don’t, I’ll see you in spring on the track!

Ave, Caesar, morituri te salutant.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Give Yourself A BOOST

If you've ever needed motivation to get out there and get runnin', a high school invitational track meet will turn your day right around.  There's something about watching kids push themselves harder and faster than they ever thought possible that cures the dreaded couchpotatoitis.
The World Famous Track in Walnut, California
Smiles all around for cutest girls on the track
Coach Alexander shows off his Toro Nation Crew
That's 20:25, for a 5K.... 
The World's Best Athletes???
This weekend's Foot Locker Invitational in Walnut, California brought out the BEST of the West coast cross country runners.  The 5k course was hilly and challenging.  The weather was cold.  But the smiles on these athletes' faces made me want to get out of the bleachers and run along side them!  (But alas, they would all leave me in the dust).

Congrats Toros, on a great meet.  You inspire, everyday.

**Highlights of the day included Tuba City, Arizona's Billy Orman's 15:28 5k.  He crossed the finish line smiling like he was out for a jiggity jog.  Yeah, just a leisurely 5:09 pace.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Magical Season - 10 Card Bicycle Chain Boxed SetChristmas Tree - 10 Card Bicycle Chain Boxed Set
Santa's Hat - 10 Card Bicycle Chain Boxed Set Bike Angel - 10 Card Bicycle Chain Boxed Set

Jolly Holly - 10 Card Bicycle Chain Christmas Boxed SetWarm Wishes - 10 Card Bicycle Chain Boxed Set SALE Festive - 10 Card Bicycle Chain Boxed SetPoinsettia - 10 Card Bicycle Chain Christmas Boxed Set
JOY - 10 Card Bicycle Chain Boxed Set   Christmas Cards for the bicycle lover in your house.  I found them here:

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Perfection At A Price

On Saturday's leisurely ride, we ended our route at a little happy place called ... Starbucks.  Mmm, the aroma of fresh coffee hit my nose as we swung open the doors to the warm and welcoming haven of casual comfort and joy.   With non working hands and frozen toes, this stop was simply delightful.  

Though I'm not a coffee drinker myself, it's easy to see that this chain is like a candy store for adults.
The one thing that does entice me on the menu is their Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate.  Ahhh, it's good as it sounds.  Just the right combo of salty AND sweet.  Is there anything better? That cardboard protected cup in my cold hands on a chilly winter morning just warms my heart.  Plus after a 40+ mile ride you are deserving of a little indulgence, right?  


It turns out that the Grande Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate (that's 16 ounces), has a whopping 550 calories per serving.  The breakdown: 24g fat, 78g carbs and 14g protein.  Maybe I'm not that deserving after all.    I would've been ahead of the game if I'd ordered the Classic Sausage, Egg and Aged Cheddar Breakfast Sandwich at 500 calories. 

So in the spirit of Holiday Eat This Not That, maybe go for the Tall Non Fat Signature Hot Chocolate at 330 calories (still 15g of fat), or the Grande Nonfat Peppermint Hot Chocolate at 310, or even the Tall Non Fat Hot Chocolate at 190. 

Or just start drinking coffee.  Your call.   

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


If you ask any triathlete why they put themselves through the months of training and strenuous day of an Ironman, there's not a lot of really concrete answers.  I enjoy the challenge?  I want to push myself to achieve something difficult? Because I want to buy every last item in the Ironman shop that has the M-dot logo on it and plaster it all over my car, my attire and on my body?

Hmm, all legitimate answers.  But I have been pondering this question since I watched the finishers at last week's Arizona Ironman.  I have assembled of a short list my personal answers.  For convenience sake, I have entitled my list - Why I Run.  But it can just as easily be applied to Why I Swim, Why I Bike or Why I Do Triathlons.  Here goes:

Running Away - Morning runs are usually preceded by a not-too-eventful yesterday. But occasionally, there's a catastrophic problem that falls into my lap.  My father's death, my friend's divorce, a family issue, an argument with my child.  Have you ever wanted to run from your problems?  On these mornings, I run and run and run, and allow the tears to fall.   My labored breathing becomes the only thing I allow myself to focus on as a tick off the miles.  I let the loud beat of my heart block out the crisis.  The respite from reality is short lived and therapeutic.  It calms my nerves and restores my vitality.  Some sort of wonder drug - maybe?  But if it is, I am addicted.

Running In Circles --   My internal alarm clock no longer allows me to sleep in past 6:30a.m.  So I meet my girlfriends, we say our good mornings, then we are  off.  Routine. While we run the canal out-and-back, the Rita Loop, or the Big Loop, (always running in circles) we share our latest problems/concerns/situations.  We have the unwritten rule "What we say on these runs, stays on these runs."  It is a code of silence by which we all abide.  There is no judgement here.  When we share our issues, we are seeking advice from trusted moms and sisters.  Sometimes it takes the pre-dawn darkness, with all eyes looking forward, to make one feel most comfortable sharing life's sticky situations.  But the good thing is, tomorrow someone else will be seeking council for their own difficult problem. And thankfully, there will be ladies ready and waiting to lend a listening ear and offer some excellent advice.

Running To Race - There's nothing like crossing a finish line.  Nothing like making a plan, executing that plan over many grueling months, then putting that hard work to the test.  I crave it.  A race gives you something to work for, something tangible on the calendar with a start and end date.  And running/biking/swimming allows you to seek out those races, set those goals and push yourself to your physical limits.  If you've ever doubted your abilities in anything, a great remedy is to set a lofty yet achievable goal and work toward it.  It will help to eliminate self doubt.  Baby steps, line upon line, putting hay in the barn - any way you phrase it, if you are making daily effort toward a worthwhile goal, you are bettering yourself.  Stretch your limits and you'll be amazed at what your body can do, and where your mind can go.  There's no better time than today to plan for a race and most importantly, to Dream Big.  It's good for the soul.

So, now it's your turn.  Why do YOU run?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Cycling Schedule 101

USA Cycling Coach Selene Yeager has this to say about training for distance.

"Distance riders often skip SPEED WORK because they  think they need volume, not intensity, to go long.  But riding fast improves your endurance by raising your lactate threshold, the point at which your muscles scream "Slow down!"  When you raise this ceiling, you can ride faster and farther before your body hits the brakes.  Once a week, aim to do four to six very hard or max efforts ranging from 30 seconds to two minutes on one ride; in between, spin easy for twice the length of the interval.  Do these on a challenging stretch of road, such as a hill or into a headwind.

Pro Triathlete Caroline Steffan - images from Timothy Carlson 
The other two rides in a three times a week schedule should be a LONG RIDE in Zone 1-2, which will recollect the familiar feeling of fatigue -- all too familiar in century races.  And a STEADY RIDE, where you aim for two to four longer efforts (15 to 30 minutes in length; 15 minutes easy pedaling in between) that increase your heart rate to 80-85 percent of your max heart rate.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Baby, It's Cold Outside!

Yes, even in sunny Arizona the temps can dip down to a titch above frightful.  Maybe we're Southwestern wimps, I mean, we're never threatened with blizzards like Utah's "Snowmageddon" last week.  But when you're used to 110+ degree summers, mornings in the 30s don't make cycling sound too enjoyable.

If you still want to get your cycling workout in, but don't want to dawn anything fur-lined, you might consider this:

Kinetic Cycle Trainer

This is the Kinetic Bicycle Trainer and you can get it here.

I tried this kawasaki green machine out at Interbike and quickly realized it was not your typical indoor trainer.  The Kinetic trainer moves with you, making it more like riding outdoors.  It strengthens your core, exercises your balance and improves your stability.  It's a total departure from that stiff un-bike-like feel of traditional trainers.  I was particularly impressed when I got OUT OF THE SADDLE to climb, virtually impossible with my old trainer.   I also liked the stable, wide base of this model.

Two thumbs up from this consumer, and a great gift idea for your cycling friend/spouse/child.  Faux fir is not very breathable.  Get this instead.  

Monday, November 22, 2010

Saving Daylight - Ironman Arizona 2010

Behind the scenes.

What a difference a day makes.

All eyes on Chrissie Wellington, the fastest female triathlete on the planet.

Que lindo es sonar despierto.
How lovely it is to dream while you are awake.

Dreams That Have Come True