Saturday, January 30, 2010

Not-So-Stupid Human Tricks

Bunny hopping a water bottle.  Riding five abreast in a parking lot.  Navigating your bike through a serpentine slalom course.  Stupid human tricks?  Think again.

These feats are all part of bike skills clinic that I helped teach today.  Twenty five cyclists came out to put a few bits of cycling wisdom into their back pockets of knowledge.  While they resembled a circus act at times, these cyclists learned techniques that will keep them more aware, more comfortable and safer on the road.

Try it yourself sometime.  Put a water bottle in your driveway and see if you can pick it up while riding past it on your bike.  When you've mastered that, lay the bottle on its side and try again.  Not a challenge?  Try it with a CO2 cartridge, then try it with a quarter.  Then let your kids try it.  Let me know when you're ready for more.  I got plenty more where that came from.

Friday, January 29, 2010

What Does the 38th Largest City in America Need?

Opening April 1, 2010 at the corner of Power and McKellips Road in Northeast Mesa and online, too.  Everything triathlon: 2XU, Zoot, Orbea, Cannondale and Cervelo -- all your favorite names will be there.  More to come.  What are some of your favorites?  We're open for suggestions...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Slow Run

This is from Hal Higdon.  I like what he has to say regarding long marathon training runs.  It answers my questions on why I should slow down ....

Run Slow: I know this is tough for you. You want to go out on those long runs and BLAST! Don't! Normally I recommend that runners do their long runs anywhere from 45 to 90 seconds per mile or more slower than their marathon pace. This is very important, particularly for advanced runners who do speedwork during the week. Listen to what the Coach is about to tell you! The physiological benefits kick in around 90-120 minutes, no matter how fast you run. You'll burn a few calories and trigger glycogen regenesis, teaching your muscles to conserve fuel. Running too fast defeats this purpose and may unnecessarily tear down your muscles, compromising not only your midweek workouts, but the following week's long run. Save your fast running for the marathon itself. There are plenty of days during the rest of the week, when you can run fast. So simply do your long runs at a comfortable pace, one that allows you to converse with your training partners, at least during the beginning of the run. Which brings up my next point.

3/1 Training: Toward the end of the run, if you're still feeling fresh, you may want to pick up the pace and finish somewhat faster. This will convert your long run into what I call a 3/1 Run. That means you run the first three-fourths of your long run (say the first 12 miles of a 16-miler) at an easy pace, then do the final one-fourth (4 miles of a 16-miler) at a somewhat faster pace--though still not race pace. This 3/1 strategy is advised for only the most experienced runners--viewers like you--and I don't recommend you do it more than once out of every three weekends. In other words: first weekend, easy run; second weekend, 3/1 Run; third weekend, step back to a shorter distance. My philosophy is that it's better to run too slow during long runs, than too fast. The important point is that you cover the prescribed distance; how fast you cover it doesn't matter. Note: You will only be able to accelerate into a 3/1 Run if you run in control during the "3" portion of the workout. In other words: slow.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Live And Learn

Yesterday, I was scheduled for a long run.  In my attempt to train with products I might later use in a race, I tried this:

This is Everlast Energy Shot. I got a free sample at last week's marathon expo. It's small, about the size of a 5-Hour Energy bottle. I thought I'd try it out midway through my 14 mile run as a "pick me up", you know, like a GU or Excedrin.

Holy moly, was I wrong. First of all, I did not feel that super boost of quick immediate energy. I felt nothing. I was 8 miles into my run.

It was AFTER the run that the afterburners kick in. Let me explain.  My guilty pleasure is a little cat nap on Monday mornings after the kids leave for school, since I am up at dark thirty to start my jiggity jog. Instead, yesterday I felt like a little bee buzzing around my house all morning long. I WANTED to lie flat, get a little shut eye. Everlast's answer was a big N.O.!

Todd laughed when I told him about it later. "It's time released," he said. "It's supposed to sustain your energy just like it did."

Well, now I know. Everlast, not for me. And espresso, I'm going to just say, will never be for me either.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Final Race Report from a Newbie Runner

Ian Stupar
Age: 31
Goal Time:  3:30 for the half
Finish Time:  2:47
What training plan did you follow?  I initially used an iPhone App called 'Couch To 5k'. Then I developed my own workout routine which consisted of running, hiking, biking, and some light weight lifting.
What did you wear on the day of the race? Spandex shorts underneath basketball shorts, a t-shirt and a baseball cap.
Your pre-race breakfast? I didn't have time.
Your nutrition during the race? Water, Cytomax, and GU.
Any advice you'd give to fellow runners in your time category? Train, train, train!
How did you like the whole rock and roll experience? The bands were terrible, but a nice distraction.
Anything else you'd like to share? I'd do it again!
"So, I definitely felt a little unprepared for the PF CHang's Half Marathon. I signed up last minute. I had been training and working out but wasn't sure I could do it. I decided that even if I had to walk a portion of it, that it would still be worth participating in.  My workout routines leading up to the race have been this:  One day at South Mountain for a three mile hike, and a mile and a half trail run back to my car. Just under a five mile run around Tempe Town Lake on another day. A 14-mile bike ride on another day. One day at the gym for some light weight lifting, and sometimes one small run another day around my neighborhood for like, three miles.

My diet unfortunately has been terrible, which I am working on and I know will enhance my performance once I get it under control, so I won't even go there!

Race day I was nervous, but excited. I live in Tempe and so the people I was running with and I took the Lightrail to the starting line. We showed up at the first corral and were set to go. I was again nervous but excited. Once it was our turn I was ready to get going. 

I tried to be very conscious not to start too fast and maintain a pace that I could hopefully keep up to avoid having to walk from getting too tired. It sounds funny but it seemed to me that this race was easier than the Turkey Trot back in November. I don't know if it is as a result of my continued efforts training that my stamina was better or that there were more refreshment stations, or more distractions. Maybe a combination of them all. In my head I had set a goal to complete the race in 3 hours and 30 minutes and walk for a short distance at the end. I am happy to say I completed the race in 2 hours and 47 minutes and I was able to stay running/jogging the whole time!"

Friday, January 22, 2010

Twice As Nice - Althea's Take on the Half

Althea Beltran  (or one half of the Barbies)
Age: 37
Goal Time: Cross the Finish Line With My Twin
Finish Time: 1:39
Number of Marathons Completed: 2

Training Plan:  Long run on Mondays, track on Wednesdays- when I made it, hills on Friday, easy on Sunday-if I ran on Sunday I would take Monday or Wed. off.   Gym on Tues/Thurs.
What I Wore:  bough an outfit- running skirt and long sleeve jacket /shirt (it had a zipper on it, that cut me up)
Pre-Race Breakfast: 1/2 bagel and peanut butter, ensure, part of a banana- I am usually better at this, but I was tired from working all weekend
During The Race:  not much- 1 salt tablet, rotated water, cytomax drink- 2 round chewy things- I am usually better, but again not that prepared due to working (Althea worked at the race Expo).
What Helped?  Track workout, long runs, bagel, and Ensure
What was Hard?  mile 10 to 11
Opinion of the Race:  It is a great race, great weather, flat, but a little boring- fans aren’t the best, they only cheer on their own.

I know, I know, where is Althea's picture?  It's bound to be the best part of the race report, right?  I'm working on it.  All in due time, my friends, all in due time.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Race Report #2 from the Full-Time Cyclist/Part-Time Runner's Perspective

Dave Funk
Age: 34
Half Marathon Goal Time: 1:35
Finish Time:  1:40
Number of Half Marathons Completed: 2

Training Plan:  Training plan? I think I looked at a plan a few weeks back…then I preceded to go outside and hop on my bike.

What You Wore:  Team UOP tech-T with my Nike Lunar trainers.
Pre-Race Breakfast: Oatmeal with banana before the race, then just Cytomax on the course.
Advice for Others:  Don’t go too fast at the start.** You’re excited and the runners around you are going fast so it’s easy to get sucked into going a minute or so faster each mile then you should. Don’t. Watch your Garmin and stay within yourself or you’ll pay for it at the end.  **see Amy's Advice 1/20/10
Hardest Part of the Race:  Hardest part was the little hill between mile 9 and 10. Your body is already starting to fatigue and that little rise doesn’t help.  
Rate the PF Chang's Half:  The event itself was great. Plenty of volunteers, water/Cytomax, excitement from the fans/bands. This is one race you’d be better off leaving your Ipod at home.  

Editor's Note:  Dave, aka 'Baby Dave' around our house, happens to be my brother, so I got the down and dirty from him.  What caused his lack of umph at then end was his attempt to stay on pace with my cute neighbor and her equally cute twin, who were wearing matching tank tops and running skirts.  I quote:  "I didn't want to get passed by the Barbies!"  But ultimately, that is what happened, and the cute twins passed Dave in the last mile of the race. More from the 'Barbies' on another day.         

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Elite Runner

Amy Sessions
Age: 42
Goal Time: 3:10
Finish Time: 3:09
Number of Marathons Completed: 2

Training Plan You Followed:  A mix of an advanced marathon plan found on and the pfitz 18/70 or 18/55 plan.  Can't remember which one.  The overall plan changed in the middle due to a 10 day layff I was forced to take (broken wrist).

Pre-Race Breakfast:  4:30a.m. bagel with Power Gel, and water.  I sipped Gatorade and water while I waited at the start line.  Left the house at 5:40a.m. and got dropped off at ASU to take the shuttle to the start line.  Arrived at start line around 6:45a.m.

Nutrition During Race:  I think I drank something at each aid station minus the first.  I usually alternated between water and Cytomax, which they provided.  However, I did start to feel I had ingested too much sugar.  At mile 13 and 22 ( I think) I had Power Gels. The second one I had to force down, due to nausea, but I wanted the energy. I still need to figure out the right combination.

Easiest...Hardest Part of the Marathon:  The easiest was the beginning, up until mile 16 or so.  At that point I was pretty much running alone and lost focus and concentration. Another hard part was the feeling of slowing down and not being able to get myself to go faster and hold pace.  Come to think of it, one of the hardest things to do is hold yourself back from going too fast in the beginning.**  I need to get better at that so I have more kick at the end.    ** You will see a pattern here over the next couple of days.

The PF Chang's Marathon Experience:   OK.  I think I prefer to do marathons at destinations other than my hometown.  It was really boring running the streets that I know so well, and knowing exactly how far I had to go.  I also think the band thing is overrated.  You really don't hear them that much and it just messes up hearing your own music.

Final Thoughts:  I just want to say that ALL the glory and honor to go God.  He has blessed me with the natural athletic ability as well as gifted me with the will, determination and perserverance that it takes to train for and run a marathon.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

How'd Dey Do Dat?

Ever wonder what an elite marathoner eats before the big race?  Or how a newbie digs deep to finish his first half?  Or what the course is like at a marathon you've always wanted to do?

Check in tomorrow for these and many more marathon answers and stories from four finishers of the 2010 PF Chang's Rock and Roll Marathon and Half Marathon.  These athletes are answering questions on everything from what they wore to what they ate last Sunday.

Get out your pencil.  It's worth taking note.  See you Wednesday.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Save Your Skin

Triathloning is not good for the skin.  It exposes your tender face to sun, wind, sweat and dirt.  It keeps your entire body soaking in chlorine for hours on end.  And let's not even go into what is floating around in lake water.

I wish I could say I was better at applying sunscreen to my body, but I am doing pretty good when I remember to use this:

Jan Marini facial sunscreen.  I got my first tube from an esthetician many years ago.  I was looking for something that was at least SPF 30, waterproof and not caustic on my face.  She recommended this and I can honestly say, it's the best sunscreen I've ever used.

I have taught summer swim lessons for 25 years.  I spend hours upon hours in outdoor pools.  And during Ironman training, I find myself outside for most of the day in the brutal Arizona sun.  Take it from me, when I say this is a good product, I mean it.

Amazon carries it.  Nice.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

It's Time to Rock and Roll!!

Good luck to everyone running PF Changs this Sunday.  You have put in the miles.  You have prepared your body and your mind. Now go run your hearts out!  Dave, Ian, Althea and Amy, I am proud to know you!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

There's A Bit of a Buzz Going Around...

Northeast Mesa has a huge void when it comes to
a.  athletic shoe stores
b. swimming stores
c.  triathlon stores

Guess what?  Word on the street is that something BIG is opening on OUR end of town.  Exciting, huh?  More deets later.  But for now, just think, no more trips to Scottsdale for tri gear.  Woot woo!!!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

To Thine Ownself Be True

Have you ever tried to log what you are eating when you are on a diet?  You know, write down everything that goes into your mouth in a day.

It can be shocking!

That same tactic can be used to journal your fitness.  Keeping a workout log is a simple way to keep track of your progress or non progress toward race goals, dietary goals or just overall fitness goals.

For the past several years, I have logged on to to track my daily swims, bikes and runs.  I log in my miles, heart rate zones, minutes per mile or miles per hour, even outdoor temperature and how I felt that day.

At the beginning of each year,  I also write out an Annual Training Plan that outlines my races for the entire year.  I enter the plan into Training Peaks and then receive a daily email that outline exactly what I should be doing that particular day.

Because Ironman training is built  on training blocks, it's nice to have a definite plan to stick by each day.   It's also helpful to look back over a year's time to see what seemed to work when I was feeling good, and what might have caused me to have, say, a horrible training run.  And if you're honest with yourself,  the log will paint an accurate picture of what got you through a marathon with a personal record, or ... not.

As a certified USAT Coach, I have access to Training Peaks for all my clients.  I can set anyone  up with a FREE account.  Better yet, let me write a training plan for your next big event.

Monday, January 11, 2010


One year ago I did this.....

My friend Margie and I set sail on the high seas.  It was the "Ultimate Scrapbook Cruise" and Margie was granted luxury accommodations for two as a scrapbook celebrity and presenter to the 300 cruisers who came to see HER in action.  And she took me along for the ride.

As the lucky friend/guest, I was able to travel for the week with Margie and set foot on the beautiful isles of the Florida Keyes, Grand Cayman, and my all-time favorite, Jamaica.  The cruise outdid any girl's trip you can image.  We dance, ate, lounged, swam, climbed and best of all laughed all night long.

And we discovered our new favorite word:  embarkation.

2009 marked the use of our new word in various forms.  Margie embarked upon a new stage in her career with a signature line of scrapbook paper, leaving behind a very fulfilling job with a major scrapbook company and pursuing bigger dreams of her own.

I embarked on a career as a USAT Certified Triathlon Coach and found myself helping new triathletes realize their lifelong dreams of breaking the Ironman finish line tape.  Personally, I embarked on attaining new race goal times.  I'm still working on a few of those.

But ultimately, we embarked.  We left the comforts of home, armed and ready to pursue our dreams.  We faced disappointment and rejection head on.  We set crazy goals, tried new things, and attempted to manage the fine art of balancing family life, work life, and personal desires.

Embarkation isn't easy.  There are plenty of struggles and self doubt along the way.  But trying something hard teaches you something about yourself.  It teaches you that you are stronger than you think, you have a family that will buoy you up when you fall, and dreams can only be achieved if you TRY.

Now that another year has claimed my calendar, I have a new set of embarkation goals in mind.  I will write them down and begin my quest again.  What are your goals? It's time to go.  Today is lifting the gangplank for tomorrow.  And your ship is ready to set sail.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Friday, January 8, 2010

A Quick Book Review

M picked this up at El Tour de Tucson a couple of months ago.  Chris Carmichael, coach of good ole Lance A., was signing his book at the expo before the race.  M passed it along to me to give it a little pre-read before she delved into it.

My impressions thus far:  The Time Crunched Cyclist is a great title.  Most cyclists want to improve their cycling abilities but have limited time to train.

However, I am finding this book difficult to um, thumb through.  I was looking for bold type.  Quick one liner messages that said stuff like, riding hard intervals for 30 minutes repeated five times will get you to the front of the group.  I was wrong.  This book is detailed, has small type, and no photos.  Ugh.  It's gonna take some work.  I'll keep at it.  I guess I'm much better at short magazine articles and 72 point headlines.  I'm sure Carmichael has valuable information for me to get from his book.  It's just gonna take some work.

Sad smiley face and out.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Why Not Just Do Freestyle?

Why do flip turns and work on different strokes when training for a race that only involves a straight swim of freestyle?

I can answer that!

1.  The back end of the butterfly stroke teaches you to extend your arms and push out of the water more forcefully.

2.  The streamline in breaststroke teaches you to lengthen your glide and to stretch out for a less choppy swim.

3.  The kick in backstroke gives you the feel of using your entire leg on a kick instead of just your ankles.

4.  And the flip turn teaches you how to extend your body and glide through the water efficiently and easily.

Working on all four strokes is great way to spend your time in the pool.  Each stroke teaches you how to best move your body in the water.  And each swim movement will help you feel more comfortable when you are ready to tackle the open water.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Let's Hear It For The Girls

Ladies, if you think you're not strong.  Or can't run fast.  Or are just too tired to train for a marathon, I have proof that you CAN DO IT!  Here's a quote from Born to Run:

"How come nearly all the women finish Leadville (100 mile off road running race) and fewer than half the men do?  Every year, more than 90 percent of the female runners come home with a buckle, while 50 percent of the men come home with an excuse.  Not even Ken Chlouber (race director) can explain the sky-high female finishing rate, but he can damn well exploit it: "All my pacers are women," Chlouber says.  "They get the job done."

We were all born to run, it's in our DNA. And women consistently outrun men in ultrarunning events around the globe.  "Beyond the very extreme of fatigue and distress, we may find amounts of ease and power we never dreamed ourselves to own; sources of strength never taxed at all because we never push through obstruction," said William James  an ultra runner.

So let's go, girls.  Who's ready?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Secret to the Swimming Parka

Swimming in the winter isn't so bad, especially if you have one of these:

You can order them online.  I have had great success with  Their stuff is pretty reasonably priced.

Anyway, get yourself a parka and head out to the pool.  It's really only chilly the first minute that you jump in.  After that, the water can be downright comfy, and a lot warmer than a bike or run on a cold winter's day.

But here's the secret to the parka.  After you hop out of the pool, run with your towel into the shower and rinse off all that chlorine.  Then whip off your suit, zip up the parka and head home.  Noone has to know you're commando, and you'll be warmer than you would be if you'd left your suit on.

Just be sure to drive straight home.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Born to Run - Two Thumbs Up

If you need a little inspiration to get you up and at 'em for 2010, I suggest reading this book:

Christopher McDougall is a fabulous writer and not-so-fabulous runner.  On his journey to discover why he is constantly plagued with running injuries, he ends up traveling deep into the Copper Canyons of Mexico to meet up with the legendary Tarahumara Tribe of super runners.  His story and analysis of running got me all pumped up to run with a smile on my face and possibly leather sandals on my feet!    If this interests you at all, come borrow my book, or order your own today.  It's a great read and has a ton of good running tips.   I hope my podiatrist brother is on board with this.  McDougall slams orthotics and all modern-day running shoes, especially Nike.  I'm not ready to go barefoot just yet, but he does make you think.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Candy, Candy Canes, Candy Corns and Syrup

A few of us around here have made some resolutions for 2010.  A year without candy.   Will it happen?  Is it possible?  What about at the movies, next to popcorn?  That salty sweet combination.  One year?  Three hundred and sixty five days.

Stay tuned.

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

Dreams That Have Come True