Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Race Day Prep

A few of you are doing Oceanside 70.3 this weekend.  Good luck!  Steer clear of the sharks...only kidding!
I did want to leave a few reminders from my friend Bob Seebohar on nutrition preparation before a big event.  Bob's book Nutrition Periodization for Endurance Athletes is a must read if you are going to take this triathlon thing seriously.

--Remember to eat your largest meal two nights before your race.  You should still eat 10 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram the day before the race, but space it into 7-9 small meals or snacks so you do not eat one large meal.  Customize this plan according to your body and your specific needs.

-- Increase fluid intake to ensure adequate hydration throughout the day.  Carry that water bottle everywhere and drink up.  Your urine should be a pale yellow color.

-- Add extra salt to the foods you normally eat, especially if you know you are a heavy and salty sweater.

-- Slowly decrease the amount of fiber eaten in the normal diet to prepare for the race day and minimize the chances of frequent bowel movements during the race.  Enough said.

-- Decrease use of hot spices to prevent heartburn or GI distress 2-3 days before a race.

-- Use the energy bars, gels, and sports drinks that have worked during previous training cycles.  Don't try anything new.

Seriously, go out and have a great race.  You've worked hard, put in the time and you are READY!  I'll be watching for race results this Saturday.  Tally ho!


Sunday, March 27, 2011

I've Been A Bad, Bad Coach

You know how sometimes an idea sounds really great, but the execution -- not so much?

photo credit
My darling new friend, T wanted to experience one of my favorite rides yesterday -- EOP.  EOP stands for "End Of Pavement," a ride that takes you from the corner of Lost Dutchman and Brown Road, through the meandering canyon of the beautiful Superstition Mountains.  The single lane road winds its way next to cactus and wildflowers past the breathtaking waters of Canyon Lake, and finishes up at the crest of a mountain top, where the pavement literally ends.  A dirt road continues on from that point, so road cyclists turn and make the quick descent home.

Great idea, right?  Well, we got T all squared away on a loaner bike.  She clipped in for the first time ever in the Dash In parking lot, and did a couple of laps around the gas station to make sure she could handle it, and we were off.  
photo credit
The ride out - uneventful.  It was a gorgeous day. The sun was just illuminating the sky over the Superstitions.  The yellow daisies on the side of the road were bursting with color.  The desert landscape was lush and green.  Yes, everything was simpatico, my friends.  

T made it to the EOP without a hitch.  
"Yeah, I made it!"

And now for the descent.  T was solid, steady and smiling as she made her way down the mountain to refill bottles at Tortilla Flat, a sort of tourist attraction for Snowbirds trying to get a taste of the wild, wild West.  Tortilla Flat has a restaurant and a gift shop, which I personally have never seen the inside of, because it's always been closed.  In fact, most of the time, because we ride so early, Tortilla Flat is  a ghost town, and the few parking spaces in front of the shop are empty.

photo credit
Boy was I in for a surprise.  When we turned the bend to Tortilla Flat, the road was crammed with cars and motorcycles and gawkers.  The Corvette Club was out in full force for their weekly road extravaganza.  Not only that, it was Arizona Bike Week (and no, I don't mean road bikes) and anything with Harley or Davidson on the fender was out in support for "Keep the Lost Dutchman Trail Open Ride," kickin' it along Highway 88, which has exactly this much shoulder...

Um, yeah.  When the trucks pulling motor homes whizzed by and I could take out their windows with my elbows, I know I had made a wrong decision.  With my heart palpitations racing, all I could do was pray we made it out of there alive.  I thought about stopping to ask for forgiveness here...

"Please, oh please, let those big trucks and crotch rockets see us as they are zooming around those blind corners."  

But T finished the ride all smiles and happiness.  She was so proud of her big, bad self for accomplishing something so cool she had barely noticed the parade of traffic over her left shoulder.  She thought rides like that were NORMAL!

Whew, I was glad to get out of that canyon.  I was happy to get off my bike.  And I was happy we were both alive.  

So here's my tip: ride to Canyon Lake, and ride to EOP.  You will absolutely love it.  I think it's the best ride in East Valley.   But don't ride it on Saturdays past 10 a.m. in the morning.  Don't ride it during Arizona Bike (not road bike) Week, and don't ride it when the Corvette Club is in town.   

That being said, you CAN allow yourself a little treat after all that climbing.  And it's not very far from where your ride ends.  

Thank you.  And amen.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Conquering Hills When You Run

Is Boston's Heartbreak Hill or Veyo starting to get you nervous?  Does the thought of running uphill get you down? If hill running is your weakness, you might like this tip by Danny Dreyer, author of Chi Running.  I tried it today and it seemed to really work.
A great run for any runner

Try running sideways! (Sounds weird, but read on).  Turn your hips to one side and run up the hill sideways.  Your feet will be doing a little crossover step, but your heels will be down, meaning that your Achilles tendons will not be overstretched and your calves won't be overworked.  I call it the lateral stride.  The beauty of this unconventional technique is that it engages your lateral muscles (side of leg).  These muscles are generally not used much when you're on level ground, so it's like having a fresh set of muscles helping you out.  When I start up a steep hill, I'll run with my boy turned about 45 degrees to one side for six to eight strides, then switch sides.  In this way, I allow my lateral leg muscles to alternate between running and resting by working one set of muscles and then the other.

Your arm swing will also be different on steep uphills.  When you turn your body to one side, your uphill arm will swing sideways relative to the slope of the hill, rendering it pretty useless.  Don't worry about it.  Just let it swing lightly and don't put a whole lot of work into it.  On the other hand, your downhill arm is aiming in the uphill direction, so let it swing fully across your body, reaching up for your opposite shoulder.  Remember, it's a steep hill, so shift to an even smaller gear.  And lean into the hill with your uphill shoulder -- as if you're trying to break down a door.  Hey, whatever image works...

I've heard many giggles from running-class participants when I mention going uphill sideways -- until they try it.  Then those giggles turn to laughter when they see how easy it is to run this way up a steep hill.  I've even had clients say that it was the single most important thing they learned, because they no longer have to limit themselves to flat running.  That alone is worth it.  

Monday, March 21, 2011

This One's For The Ladies

Let's be honest, swimming three times a week and running or riding in the elements sans sunscreen does not do a beauty regime good.  Triathletes tend to start resembling dried prunes with slits for eyes on their windburned faces.  Pedis and manis go by the wayside because polish won't last and foot callouses seem to block pain.  And the hair do just doesn't get did.

Which is why I suggest ONE beauty secret that DOES last:  Shellac manicures!

My dear, sweet ultra fashionable friend Courtney turned me onto this secret.  C even writes a blog about fashion dos and don'ts.  You can find her here.

So C invited me over a few weeks ago to have my first Shellac manicure.  My nails are short.  And paper thin.  There is a crack in my left thumbnail that constantly plagues me with ripped or chipped nails.  Ugh.

Too much time in the water is another reason I don't upkeep the toesies.  When you swim, your toenails can sometimes scrape the sides or bottom of the pool and all traces of a cute nail polish are completely ruined.   C assured me Shellac would be different.  And it is.

My last two manicures with Shellac have lasted me two weeks without any chips at all!  My hands look pretty with a nice glossy polish and my fingernails have grown past their usual nubs because of the hardness of the glaze.  The mani takes about 30-45 minutes and immediately after you're done you can grab your keys out of your purse without any trouble and be on your way.  I love it!

Shellac nails = my new favorite beauty tip.  Next month, I might try doing my hair more than once a week.

Friday, March 18, 2011

While The Kids Are Away...

Mama will play.

That's me, Gigantor, on the right, with Kimberly
It's Spring Break here in AZ.  Most of the fam damily is up skiing their little hearts out in Utah.  But some of us are home doing other things, like gymnastics (not me) and sneaking away to Mt. Lemmon in Tucson, Arizona (guilty).

If you've never tried to conquer this beast of an Arizona mountain, it's worth your time to give it a spin.  So many riders were out enjoying the challenge of 27 uphill miles  -- taking you from the extreme desert heat to the cool, green pines and Manzanita trees swaying in the breeze at 8000 feet.  Such a treat for the parched and sun beaten cyclists.

Even if you don't want to ride your bike to the top, take a day to get out to Tucson, drive up to the peak and  enjoy the view.  Did you know there is a ski resort up there?  And giant plate sized cookies?
This cookie filled the entire plate before I had my way with it.
Then treat yourself twice and stop in at Eegees for a frozen fruit slush. My favorite flav is lemon, (sounds like there is a theme going on here).

If you really want to make a day of it, head on over to Trisports.com to browse around the world's largest triathlon store.  And while you're spending money, go ahead and book a night at Ventana Canyon or La Paloma for a five-star luxury getaway.

Oooh, and while you're thinking about it, set aside a week for Gorilla Multisport's Triathlon Training camp for March 2012.  All the goodness of the Tucson mountains, Saguaro National Park, intensive training days and endless bowls of chips and salsa for ya.  Now how could you top that?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Right Time To Take A Gel

I've been asked a lot lately how soon/how often to take a gel in a long run.  My rule of thumb has been to take in only water for any workouts less than 90 minutes in length.   When exercise goes longer than this, nutrition is recommended to optimize performance.  

I thought Runner's World explained it best:  If you plan to run more than an hour 15 minutes, take in carbs within the first 30 to 60 minutes.  Continue fueling with 100 to 250 calories per hour, which is about 2 1/2 sports gels or 16-40 ounces of sports drink.  

In an Ironman, I have found it easier to consume solid food such as Shot blocks or energy bars on the bike because I was able to actually chew and swallow as I rode.  But on long training runs, I prefer taking in calories as liquid or gels.  I bring gels (Honey Stingers) on any run longer than 10 miles and space my intake evenly within the time I train. 

Running while eating "real food" just doesn't work for me, so at races, I avoid the cut up oranges or bananas at the aide stations and reach for the gels.   

Research also shows that taking a gel 15 minutes before the start of a race or even a swim workout is beneficial.  

Hope that helps!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Real Daily Mile by Dimity McDowell

I have become a fan of the Run Like A Mother blog.  The ladies are funny, self deprecating and enjoyable to read.  Which is why I'm re posting yesterday's piece by Dimity McDowell.  Haven't we all seen the Facebook posts like the ones she is talking about?  

If you’re not familiar with Daily Mile, it’s a training log that records your runs by asking where you ran, how far and for how long you ran, and how you’d rate it: great, good, alright, blah, injured. Then it asks the broad question, “How did it go?” Like most online training logs, it’s a great way to see your cumulative miles add up and your progress with each workout.

What I don’t particularly like about it–and it’s totally my (self-esteem) problem, I realize–is that you can then tweet or Facebook your results of your run.

When I see, “Jenny ran 5 miles in 40 minutes and felt great!” I, in turn, feel not so great. Why?
1. I estimate the pace to see if I can run faster or slower than the person. Nine times out of ten, it’s the latter.
2. If I haven’t run today or yesterday, I instantly feel like crap. When am I going to make time for my daily mile? (Or, if I’m injured, it’s even worse: will I ever get back to daily mile?)

But those updates, like all things related to FB, show the world what you want to show. This is me on my great vacation! This is my kid being so cute! This is the hip restaurant I just ate at! This is me running so fast! (Lest you think I’m above FB, I’m so not. Just stating fact here.)

So it got me thinking: what happened if people dropped the facade and bared their sweaty souls on Daily Mile?

Megan* ran 4 miles in 40 minutes, and swore at herself and wished she would’ve stayed in bed and hated running for exactly 3.9 miles. When she turned the corner and saw her house, she instantly loved running and remembers it now, 5 hours later, as a great! run.
*Real names have been changed to protect identities.

Anna ran 4 miles with her girlfriends. Last night, she indulged a little too much at Chipotle, so she spent the entire time 4 miles pretending as if it wasn’t her farting every third step.

Pamela ran 5 miles in crowded Washington Park. She subconsciously compared the size of her butt to that of every woman that passed her.

Gretchen raced a 10k, and beat her PR by 2 minutes. Now she will walk on clouds for the rest of the week.

Jenna ran 7 miles in 90 minutes. She did a walk/run because her freakin’ IT band feels like it might snap, but she was too stubborn to quit. She promises she’ll take a break after her half-marathon in three weeks. Maybe.

Kate ran 3 miles at a high school track. She attempted speedwork–6 x 400 meters–but, after 3 breathless, burning laps, she realized she’d rather run happy than run fast.

Joan ran 3 miles at a high school track. She finished a 10 x 400 speedwork session because there was varsity boys lacrosse practice going on. The coach was a hottie, so she picked it up every time she passed him. And then she stretched in the bleachers directly behind him.

Liz ran 5 miles. During mile two, she cried, not out of physical pain, and still isn’t sure why. But she feels so much better now.

Rachel reluctantly ran 4.5 miles with a faster friend. She was annoyed that even though the friend said she wanted to run with Rachel at her pace, she stayed three steps ahead of Rachel the whole time, making her feel both exasperated and slower than she really is.

Danielle ran 2.5 miles. And sang along at top volume to Milli Vanilli the whole time. (“Blame it on the rain that was falling, FALLING!“)

Kira ran 4 miles early this morning at that oh-so-special-monthly-time. Thank God for black capris.

Laura ran the 4-mile loop her in neighborhood for probably the 675th time in her life. The whole time she thought, “Throw me a freakin’ bone already, running. Why can’t you ever feel any easier?”

Joyce ran as fast as she could from home–away from the drama-queen tween daughter, the indifferent husband, the seismically loud twin sons. After 6 miles, she was centered and relaxed, and actually laughing at the dynamics in her house. She was ready to run home again.

How would you bare your soul on Daily Mile? Feel free to submit under a pseudonym if you’re feeling a little self-conscious.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Dave Hansen's Excellent Adventure

The Desert International… When I first saw the name, I knew I had to be there.  Desserts from all over the world coming together for a huge feast sounded too good to be true.  When I arrived I knew I made a huge mistake.  There was nothing but wetsuits, bikes, and skinny people.  The closest thing to a dessert was a Cliff Bar with a Gu packet squeezed on top.  I have since invested in a dictionary!

But since I was there, I thought I might as well make the most of it. The Desert International Triathlon is held at Lake Cahuilla in La Quinta, California.  It was a perfect day, no wind and a fore casted high of 78.  We ditched the kids so my wife Nancy and my Mom and Dad just enjoyed the scenery…me looking dead sexy in a wetsuit and the guy wearing an extra-small Speedo that didn’t quite cover the goods? (I think Nancy secretly liked the Speedo guy).

Though I have done a sprint tri prior to this race, the Desert International provided many firsts for me: my first “Olympic” distance race, first open water swim, and first time in a wetsuit.  Quite an experience getting into that thing! Can you say, “suck it in!?”  

As the gun went off a surge of dread and excitement hit me…or maybe it was the shock of the 65-degree water that I confused for excitement…either way, after about 300 yards of hard swimming, getting kicked, and bouncing off people the excitement was long gone but the dread remained.  Holy crap, it was way harder than I thought it would be!  As the herd thinned out the swimming did get easier, and I managed to avoid the harpoons being thrown my way (so glad Greenpeace made it to the race!)  

I eventually fell into a decent groove (a.k.a. controlled hyperventilating and pseudo grace under pressure) and  was grateful not to be the last person out of the water….I’m pretty sure I beat the lady with one leg …but the guy with one arm  was a fast little dude!  All joking aside, it was TRULY  inspiring and motivating to see the athletes with disabilities more than holding their own and overcoming the odds.

The bike is my favorite discipline, so I was eager to hit the road.  Living in Utah proves difficult for much bike training this time of year, so I was grateful for the flat, fast course.  Unfortunately my seat shifted somehow, so even though I was more “saddle-sore” than usual, I enjoyed a great ride and actually managed to pass a few bikers…all of whom probably caught up to me during the run portion of the race, but still it was an adrenaline rush at the time.

A comedian once referred to his strategy for running as, “Start slow and taper off.”  That quote makes me laugh mostly because I can totally relate!  I didn’t realize until the bike ride (since my extremities were still thawing)  that I cut my feet on debris in the water.  I had to stop mid-run to fish out some rocks and debris from my feet and shoes, and tried to ignore the carnage. So needless to say, that made for a less than enjoyable 10K.  Bear in mind, however, that I use the term “enjoyable” very loosely since this is running I’m talking about after all!   

With very tired legs and cut up feet I finished to a roaring crowd of about four people, three of which were family, as the entire world had already finished, received their awards, showered, had lunch and were now napping back at their hotels. (kidding, there were  6 people still there).

Nevertheless, I consider my first olympic tri a successful one,  and look forward to many more races.  Maybe I’m masochistic and enjoy pain, maybe I secretly enjoy wearing a skin-tight wetsuit, or maybe, just maybe, I’ve found a sport that challenges me to rise above my comfort level and completely satisfies my inner-ADD.

Congratulations, Dave, on a great race and an even better attitude!  Dave, a new Gorilla athlete, is competing in a sprint tri next month and looking forward to Escape From Alcatraz in June.  

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Where Have You Been All My Life?

Adamo saddle, you had me at hello.  You see, I never knew what I was missing 'til I found you. And now I am one happy gal.  

Here's my logical yet illogical thought process:  I've enjoyed the Terry butterfly saddle -- forever.  It works.  It's comfy.  Terry and Trek = a comfortable road ride.  Why mess with a good thing?  So, I thought, why not use that same Terry butterfly for my Guru tri bike?

Let's just stop right there.  First, the angles are all wrong for a road saddle and aerobar mix.  The contact point when you are angled into an aero position, coupled with an upright roadie saddle can get really painful.

I thought I was just gonna deal with that irritation, until I rode with K.   She was not shifting her weight around, standing on her pedals, situating herself every which way for comfort and relief.  No, K could stay down in her aerobars for miles at a time in total bliss!

So off to my favorite bike mechanic I went for a new bike fit.  And with a few tweaks and adjustments, and a new Adamo saddle, I am a new woman.

Thank you, Adamo.  I am forever grateful for your research and development team that created the funkiest yet most beautiful saddle I've ever known.

What a difference a day makes.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Steve's Recap of Ironman New Zealand

I woke up early to it pouring rain.  I had checked the weather reports continuously prior to race day hoping that something would change.  I had no idea that it would get worse.  I headed into town to the transition area and pulled the plastic wrap that protected my bike and helmet throughout the night. 
 Mirinda Carfrae and Joann Lawn were both getting the rundown on the weather- what I heard was really wet and really fast!  I headed to the transition tent where the body marking was taking place and joined the other thousands of athletes taking shelter from the rain.  I decided it was best to put on my wetsuit while in the tent and still somewhat dry.  

I headed down to the swim start which is approximately 400 yards and downhill from the tents.  It was dark and gloomy outside with it still pouring rain, which had me curious as to how I would sight with no sun and tinted swim goggles.  After the cannon signaled the beginning of the race we were off.  

After making it out of the water I headed to my bike and gear which was completely soaked.  Out on the race course I encountered rough roads (chip seal), the ruts in the roads were filled with water, heavy rain and winds.  Although the tail wind helped push me back in to town on both loops.  Coming out of transition, I went from wet to more wet.  It rained the entire time making the run a little rough.  
My K-Swiss running shoes did the job and drained really well!  Having a coke and potato chips helped push me through the run.  

But, the most amazing thing about this Ironman event is the amount of support along the race course from the people of Taupo!  Rain or Shine, they were all out there rooting us on and made a gloomy day a cheerful and fun race.  Just a side note- we had 2.75 inches of rain for the day!           
Congratulations, Steve!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

My Swimming Bag Of Tricks

 Paddles:  These come in a variety of sizes and styles.  I currently use the TYR brand because they come in sizes from XS to XL.  I use them with my tiny swimming students, and recommend them for the adults as well.  Paddles give you the true feel of pulling through the water and highlights the slipping that occurs if you drop your elbow under the water.

Training Fins: Man, I love fins.  I wish I could swim with fins at every race.  They are proof that humans weren't meant for water.  Fins should be used sparingly for kicking drills.  If you wear them to keep up with others in your lane, you are using them for the wrong reason.  Use fins to find your correct kick, which is not as deep or splashy as most beginner swimmers think.  Don't buy or use scuba fins.  They are too long.

Goggles:  Essential for swimming.  Duh. Should I even list these?  I like Vanquisher Plus by Speedo.  They have been my go-to goggles for years.  I keep the fog out by either licking the insides or using a little Johnson's baby shampoo on the inner eye lens.

Pool Buoy:  This little flotation device is placed between the legs for buoyancy of the lower legs/body.  Men, I have found, love this toy because they tend to have heavy legs that make their lower body drop in the water.  The buoy keeps legs up, ready to kick and stabilizes the mid-section.  Good use of the pool buoy would be when using hand paddles and focusing on the arm stroke.

Kick board:  My favorite kick board, circa 1970, is so old that I swear it's an antique collector's item.  It won't break, it's soft around the edges and I love it.  Resist the urge to by a cheapie at Costco or at the pool supply store.  Get a good one that is heavy duty -- I do have a couple with a few bite marks on them from hungry swim kids.  A kick board is a valuable tool to see if you are kicking too shallow or too deep.  Since your head is above water, you can see if you are keeping up with your friends  If you are slow and DON'T MOVE, it's time to revisit your kick.

Don't forget a swim cap, latex is longer lasting and won't pull your hair out.  Make sure you have a waterproof watch or a timing clock at your pool.  I've found TriSwim products take the chlorine smell out of your hair and skin.  And, a mesh gear bag that will hold all your new swim toys, is great for poolside convenience.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


An interesting fact:  

Brain tissue is made up of 85 percent water.  Studies have linked dehydration to chronic fatigue syndrome, depression and other neurological diseases.  

Drink up, my friends.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Car Wash Confessions

I am a pretty good tipper ... most of the time.  But occasionally, when I don't have singles in my wallet, I fold my dollar over a couple of times, giving the illusion of two or three bucks as I hand my money to the attendant.

Ha!  Who am I kidding?  Those car wash guys know the weight and feel of one dollar as compared to three.  Do I really think I'm getting puttin' one over on 'em?

Go with me here.  I have runner friends who think they are not fast.  I know triathletes who struggle to keep up on the group rides.  And there are plenty of swimmers who make a beeline for the "slow lane" when they come to Masters, then head over to Five Guys for a late lunch.

THEY don't think they are good enough.  They want to slip in and out of their workouts unnoticed because they're not eating right, or pacing right on a tempo run.  And they don't want to race because everyone will know they are SLOW!

Well, I'm here to salute the SLOW today.  The ones who worry that they might finish last in the race.  Those who are scared out of their minds for an open water swim.  The ones who struggle up the inclines and get dropped before the mountain turns upward.  You, my friends are athletes.

This crazy sport called triathlon should bring out the best in all of us.  Unless your last name is Wellington, it's not about winning.  There will always be someone who is faster than you and more fit than you (see Wellington*).  But you are challenging your best self and you are reaching beyond your limits.

Today, celebrate the small victories:  climbing out of bed while it's dark to finish your long run, swimming an additional 200 yards, smoothing out your uphill cadence for a more efficient ride.  You are a triathlete.  Celebrate you!  You are not a fraud.  And you're surely not that measly one dollar being passed off as a ten spot.

The fact is, you're ahead of everyone who doesn't get out of bed to try anything.  And if you think of it that way, look how your race results standings just skyrocketed!  You're working hard to improve yourself.  And as a true athlete, you know that's the real victory anyway.
Que lindo es sonar despierto.
How lovely it is to dream while you are awake.

Dreams That Have Come True