Sunday, 02 October 2011 11:33

There Is Only One Option

The alarm will go off at 3:33am and there is only one option.

I will consume a smoothie and a bowl of granola at 4:33 knowing there is only one option.

At 5:30 transition will open and I will assemble my rack and area with full knowledge that there is only one option.

At 7:44 the gun will go off for M35-39 and then and there my only option will begin.

My only choice is to race hard and push my body to its limits.  Push my mind beyond its limitations.

Failure is not an option.  Success is the only option.

we_are_sparta_300_motivaiton
Published in Race
Saturday, 08 October 2011 20:06

Beat By The Mental Stick

champions_mind_ironmanToday I took El Diablo out for a four-hour ride which was going to be followed by a 40 minute run.  I woke up at my usual time of 3:30a to make my breakfast and prepare for this ride.  After waking up the second time I felt great and just knew it was going to be a strong ride. Once I got to my starting point I clipped in and started.  As I pedaled I could feel my legs and thought to myself:  I feel strong.  I kept pedaling and when the watched beeped for the 4th time (I set my watch to alert me at 15 minutes so that I know it is time to take my nutrition/hydration) and looked at my watch and I had covered more than 20 miles.  I had it in my mind that this was going to be a great ride. I made  right turn and saw a sign that said:  Gunter 11.  I looked at my watch and it said 1:07.  I calculated that I should be at the end of this segment in 33 minutes and keeping a 20 mph pace.  I had a goal of getting to the 56 mile marker of this ride in under 3 hours and closer to 2:50 if possible. It was about 2 miles into this portion that the wind clearly picked up.  I fought through it but I could feel my pace slowing down considerably.  I stopped at the end of this segment to let Karen know I was safe, and then started up again.  It was about 5 minutes into this next portion that the hills started and they did not seem to end.  If I did not notice the wind I was out of the saddle and climbing.  It was brutal and I knew that I was not going to be close to the 20 mph goal I had, but I wanted to beat my time from California of 3:06. As the wind picked up, the hills got steeper.  It was then that everything seemed to just not be right.  The liquid nutrition felt warmer with each sip.  I started getting hunger pains, which has never happened.  It was at that point that I realized that I did not eat the HoneyStinger before I started the bike and would be short of calories.  I made an adjustment from the number of sips at the 15 minute bell from long 3 to a short 3.  This would conserve my liquid and allow me to finish the four hours with no issues. As I turned onto one of the last routes I looked at my watch and noticed I was going 13 mph and that I was at the 3 hour mark and not at 56 miles but at 52.  Quick calculations and I would be nowhere near 3:06 (my California time) after 56 miles and I could feel my body just start to collapse.  It was then that I was beaten by the mental stick and my legs quickly followed.  I pushed through until I made the final turn home.  I got going and wanted to finish strong.  I did not care that my run was still to be done and wanted to get off the bike.  I quickly glanced at my watch and was back up to 21 mph but I just felt defeated and wanted off the bike. As I pulled into the parking lot I told myself it was time to run and run hard.  Let it all hang out.  After putting El Diablo into the Team Baha vehicle and switching into my running shoes I was off.  I got through 0.5 miles and looked at my watch and was at a 7:51/mi pace and feeling strong.  As I made a right turn the wind picked up and the hill climbing started.  I wanted to stay under 9:00/mi on the uphill and be closer to 7:00/mi on the downhill return. The day was getting a tad warmer and the wind was holding steady but quitting was not an option.  When I got to the end of the run I looked at my watched and managed to finish with an 8:21/mi pace.  Certainly not my best run and somewhat disappointed but keeping a steady pace was great and it allowed me to keep finding motivation. mental_strength_ironmanI pulled out all the stops in searching for motivation and inspiration.  I channeled Kona, Greg Larsen, teamCTER....you name it I thought about it.  It was then that I remembered that I had read a mental fitness post just a few days earlier and it made me think about the mental toughness it takes to compete at the 70.3 and 140.6 distances. The article was posted on September 21, 2011 and was written by Jesse Kropelnicki.  The title of the post was Mental Fitness: The Fifth Cornerstone and focused on the mental aspect of the sport. Some of the topics were: Markers of Mental Fitness Motivation - An athlete’s “love of the game” will typically fuel the desire to be competent in their respective sport. As a result, it’s quite possible to be both intrinsically motivated and lacking in mental fitness. Their mutual exclusivity is the reason for this discussion, and what constantly bewilders coaches and athletes alike. Task Relevance -  Task relevance considers an athlete’s mindset while training and/or racing. Those who are able to focus their full attention on task-relevant items are constantly reminding themselves: “I will stay focused on the bike, and peddle at 90rpm,” or “I will run this hill strong, keeping my eyes on my target.” These are signs of a mentally fit athlete because, despite any outside distractions, they are able to concentrate only on the task at hand. Conversely, the mentally unfit athlete tends to get distracted by outside stimuli, thus focusing on task- irrelevant items.  By the same token, the toll of focusing on task-irrelevant items can take the wind right out of an athlete’s fitness sails with too much mental energy spent on why something can’t be done rather than why it can. Athlete Arousal - Athletes should work to identify their optimal arousal level, so that they’re neither a jittery mess nor a wet mop at the starting line. Athletes want to make sure that they are aroused enough to push themselves to their physical limits on race day, but not so much so that they begin making mistakes and focusing on task-irrelevant items. Finding thoughts to reduce arousal level in some athletes, and thoughts to increase it in others is an important component to mental fitness. ==================== I am now recovering from today's training physically but also mentally.  Tomorrow I will be putting together a 2 hour and 40 minute run with the first 1 hour and 40 minutes in Z2 or an 8:30/mi pace and then the last hour in Z4-Z5 and a 7:25-7:40/mi pace.
What Do You Do To Find That Mental Strength?
Published in Race
Saturday, 24 September 2011 11:11

<Insert Name> You Are An Ironman

Yesterday I posted about believing in yourself.  In that post I had an article by Susan Lacke about going from Couch Potato to Ironman.  Within that article was another article written by her titled Anybody Can Do An Ironman. I agree with Susan's point of view that anybody can do one, but the rationale for doing it is going to be different for everybody.  Some get into triathlon to lose weight, others to relive the glory days of high school football.  Others pursue the sport because they want to go beyond their perceived limits.  Whatever the reason you compete in triathlon you are part of an elite society of people.  It is not everyday that the masses wake up saying they are going to race triathlon. I have my reasons for being in the sport.  I started out as a runner and thought I wanted to cross triathlon off my bucket list.  A sprint was how I was going to cross that item off the list, but something happened along the way.  I became enamored with the sport.  I grew passionate about the ins and outs of triathlon.  I could talk for hours on end about training, racing, nutrition and hydration.  I became an ambassador of one, and will even go so far as to goading people into doing an event because I believe in the power of the sport to transform. I used to weigh 175 lbs and through endurance sports I have knocked 35 lbs off of my frame.  I am down to 140 and have never felt better, never looked better or had the energy I had as a teenager.  This sport has created a life loving positive as can be person and I will need that mentality when the clock strikes midnight on January 1st, 2012.  That day will be the first day of what is going to be an epic year.  A year where all the reasons I have for competing in triathlon and registering for Ironman will come true. My triathlon racing year will begin in March with 70.3 Puerto Rico and then Ironman Texas in May.  A few short months later I will be racing 70.3 Rev3 OOB Maine in August, 70.3 Austin in October and Ironman Arizona in November.  I am prepared mentally to compete at each of these events and know that each event will carry a new and different meaning to it.  The sense of accomplishment will be tremendous for sure but it will also be the ability to prove to others that they too can do this sport. Yesterday I was reading 3GO Triathlon Magazine's website when I came across another reason to compete in triathlon and endurance sports in general.  It was an article on the voice or Ironman, Mike Reilly. It dawned on me then that in May I will hear Jason Bahamundi You Are An Ironman.  That one statement will be like crossing the stage on graduation day in 2004 when I got my MBA from Iona College.  it will be just like adding those letters to the end of my last name.  As a matter of fact I am changing my resume and Linked In account to read:  Jason Bahamundi, MBA, IM. [caption id="attachment_4218" align="alignright" width="232" caption="Mike Reilly.....The Voice Of Ironman"]mike_reilly_ironman_triathlon[/caption] I was there when Claudia Spooner, Juan Aguirre and Shannon Spann crossed the finish line of Ironman Texas and heard Mr Reilly announce each of them as they finished (not sure how I missed Jeff Irvin but I managed to miss him.....sorry bud!)  I was streaming Ironman Wisconsin live when Kevin Neumann crossed the finish line.  I interjected Matt and Heather's names when they crossed the line at Rev3 as I was streaming it even though Mike Reilly wasn't there.  Each name and the word Ironman made me smile and fist pump their accomplishments.  Maybe it is not the name being yelled that is the icing on the cake, maybe it is the knowledge of the journey but I can tell you this:  I would not have it any other way. I had never thought of hearing those words as a reason to do an Ironman, and it probably shouldn't be the only reason you do one, but it makes sense that it is a reason.  When you are digging deep around mile 18 of the marathon you will need all the motivation in the world to get to that finish line and this can be another one to hang onto.  The same person/voice that says 'Chrissie Wellington You Are An Ironman' will be saying your name as well.  It is not everyday that Vin Scully says your name. ==================== If you are interested in reading the article click [HERE] Following are some of the highlights for me: Seventeen hours of endurance at arguably the most grueling event in the world, his carefully planned race day strategy involves throwing back gels and Powerbars throughout the day to keep fueled. He keeps his body hydrated like the rest of the athletes out there. But, he’s not swimming, cycling or running. His day is spent holding a microphone, standing above the race course and bringing his athletes home, one by one. Mike Reilly just might have the best job in the world. ---------- Mike has a unique job in the sense that he shares a very powerful moment in time with each and every athlete that crosses the finish line. He is the first to confirm that you have accomplished that incredible goal of completing an Ironman. You did it … and he is the one to confirm that incredible life-changing moment. He has the unique opportunity to share your joy and exhilaration in that very moment. But usually his relationship and experience with you stops as you cross the finish line. But for athletes, our relationship to Mike, and to that powerful moment that we just experienced, is something that we will have for the rest of our lives. As athletes, his words are profound, unforgettable and timeless. When asked if his 17-hour days of announcing year after year ever get old, Mike pauses, and with a piercing conviction, answers back with, “Passion never gets tired. It can’t tire out. When I tell someone that they are an Ironman, it’s so individualistic. It is my first time every time I say those words. It’s my first connection with that person. There are people in the crowd, their friends and family, and they are hearing it for the first time. It’s always my first time. It’s like making love for the first time … over and over again. If at any time I discount that because I’m bored or it’s redundant, I’m out of the game. It would be an injustice to the number one aspect in the sport—the age group athlete.” It’s that commitment to those around him and to our sport that makes Mike such an unbelievably special man. ---------- So what’s next for the man with the voice? He doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon, in fact he may just pick up the pace one of these days and jump in to an Ironman race himself. His son Andy just completed his first half Ironman race and Mike says if his son does a full it might just be his time to give it a shot. And who knows, maybe his daughter, Erin, an accomplished marathoner, might be there with them, too.  When asked who he would most want to announce crossing the finish line at his first Ironman, he’s quick to say, “It would have to be someone in my family. I think the rest of the guys might give me a hard time. Who knows what they would say. At least if it was someone in my family I’d know just how sincere it was. It would mean a lot to me.” So it’s possible that we may see Mike out there racing Kona one day. And I have the feeling that there would be a ton of athletes, friends and family cheering him on and greeting him at the finish line to chant with the passion they have learned from him, “Mike, you are an Ironman”.  ==================== To date my last name has been pronounced correctly once at any finish line but whether or not Mike Reilly pronounces it correctly come May 19th I won't care because I will have become an Ironman. By the way, Mr Reilly, if you are reading this post it is prounounced:  Baha-Moon-D

What Are Your Reasons For Doing An Ironman?

Who Would You Want To Announce Your Name Crossing The Finish Line Of A Race?

Published in Train
Friday, 23 September 2011 11:12

You Say You Can't But I Say You Can

Just about everyday I get asked the question of how do you do what you do?  I ask them initially what they are talking about because I don't consider myself special and certainly don't have some super human powers.  I wake up early to train because I want to be home in the evening with my family.  I plan out my day/week to maximize each and every minute so that I don't feel like I wasted any part of my life.  I live life without regrets so thinking that you could have, should have, would have BUT is just not in my DNA. If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter you know that I have flatted out on long bike rides only to get picked up by my wife, repack my car and continue that ride.  I have also ridden on a flat for 6 miles to finish and follow that up with a 40 minute run.  Why do I do that?  Because I don't want to waste a moment or have regrets. As the conversation continues to develop I get to the crux of the matter and that is typically the person I am speaking with has all their excuses lined up.  For example, I was speaking to a person about my couch potato to marathon program (Marathon Makeover) and was asked time/place/cost.  I told him we start at 6a-630a in the Winter and Fall but at 5a in the summer as it can reach 105* here in Texas.  First response:  Oh that's too early.  We meet in Irving, which is about a 15 minute drive from where I live.  Second response:  Oh that's far.  The program this year was $300 for 40 weeks of training plus other items.  Third response:  Hmmm, that is expensive. I am getting tired of these excuses and responses.  In the past I used to say that when you are ready we will be waiting.  The truth of the matter is they will never be ready because of these excuses.  The excuses have to stop and action has to take place.  My response to these excuses has become:  It might be early and far and costly but compared to the alternative of leaving your family forever, or paying for diabetes care or not being able to ever leave your house this is actually a drop in the bucket. Couch potatoes to marathoners is one thing, becoming a triathlete is another but to each and every one of you I say You Can Do It.  I say it's time to step up your game and get moving.  I say that today is the the day you start and that tomorrow is the day for the next workout.  I have close to 10 participants in my marathon program, but now you are saying that a marathon is one thing, but a triathlon is another.
====================
To that I comment I present to you pieces of Susan Lacke's article on No Meat Athlete titled from Couch Potato to Ironman:
susan_lacke_ironman_wisconsin_finish

Anyone can do an Ironman

After the Ironman, I wrote a post which was titled with the one statement about Ironman I firmly believe: “Anyone Can Do an Ironman.” If you sit on the sidelines of an Ironman finisher’s chute long enough, you’ll believe this statement, too. There’s such a wide cross-section of Ironman triathletes, from chiseled studs to 80 year-old nuns. After sitting at enough finish chutes, I decided I didn’t want to be a spectator anymore. I wanted to know what it was like to be on the other side. The next time I saw an Ironman finisher’s chute, I was running down it. When I made that resolution to run my first 5K, I had no idea I’d complete an Ironman 20 months later. I was a couch potato who was trying to quit smoking (again). Ironman triathlons were something crazy people did, and though I was happy to spectate with a beer in my hand, I never saw myself as one of those people. Besides, training for a 5K was hard enough. Training to run 3.1 miles was difficult and time-consuming. Covering 140.6? No freakin’ way.

The 9 things that helped me do it

It was a series of bold choices, hasty mistakes, happy accidents, and – finally – focused planning which took me from couch potato to Ironman in just 20 months. Key #1: Start small For those people who think “I’d like to do that someday,” don’t make Ironman your first goal. Start small, like with running a 5K, and then gradually build from there. Key #2: Commit If you’re thinking about doing it, stop. Plenty of people think. They have dreams and ambitions and goals, and they’re beautiful… but you need to become a person who stops thinking and starts doing. Key #3: Find those who know No one expects you to be an expert in triathlon before beginning your training for Ironman. But what is expected is that you’ll be willing to seek out those experts. Key #4: Build gradually Focus on the next race, weeks away, not on the Ironman months away. Key #5: Make mistakes You will make mistakes. Lots of them. Too many to count. Anyone who says they didn’t make at least one mistake while training for an Ironman is a liar. Mistakes happen. It’s the people who are willing to admit and learn from those mistakes who truly succeed in moving past them. Key #6: Balance, not sacrifice Triathletes, by nature, are exaggerators. They’ll look at a short rolling course and declare it mountainous. They’ll loudly complain that a bad race was not their fault – it was always something (or someone) else. They’ll brag about sun-up to sun-down workouts and ravenous buffets to refuel. They’ll tell you they spend more time with their bikes than with their spouses. Such declarations are extreme. (Okay, not the ravenous buffets. That part is actually true.) Key #7: Have a support system Having people to support you goes hand-in-hand with finding balance. A support system will know when to say “Quit being a baby!” and when to say “Oh, you poor baby!” They’ll understand why you fall asleep during the afternoon matinee, and will happily give up their French fries when you ask, “Are you gonna eat all that?” They’ll smile when you have a good training day, and give you a hug when you have a bad one. And when you finally do run down that finisher’s chute, they will cheer louder than anyone there. In a way, it’s their big day, too! Key #8: Blinders on I hate the word “impossible.” Hate it, hate it, hate it. Anyone who does an Ironman needs to learn to hate that word, too. You’ll hear it a lot during your training, and it’ll sneak into your thoughts now and then, after a bad run or when you panic during your first open-water swim start. “Impossible” is your mind’s way of tricking your body into quitting. “Impossible” is what you say when you’re too scared to keep trying. “Impossible” is the easy way out when you begin to doubt yourself. Fear and self-doubt can be powerful, but the only way to overcome them is to face them head-on. I won’t lie: I had a lot of “oh, <bleep>” moments, especially in the days before the race. But I also had a lot of really good people who were able to talk me down before I gave up altogether (see #7, above). Key #9: Enjoy it Most people sign up for one Ironman, finish it, and then rack their bike in the garage, never to be ridden again. I’m not that person. I love this sport, and have continued to train and race since last year’s Ironman. If there’s one thing I learned in going from couch potato to Ironman in 20 months, it’s that 20 months can change a lot. And I enjoyed every single second of it. I still do. I don’t mean to oversimplify the sport. If I’ve given you that impression, I apologize. It’s work. It’s dedication and commitment and perseverance. But it’s still fun. I wouldn’t do this sport if it wasn’t. Race day is one day, the culmination of many days of training, each of them bringing their own little victories and joys.

Is it for you?

Many people train for much longer than 20 months before even thinking about registering for their first Ironman. My path just seemed to be a little shorter. It’s not the path for everyone, but it worked for me. I still stand by my assertion that anyone can do an Ironman. It’s just that most people won’t. Many are content to let it be a fantasy, always on the “maybe someday” list; or worse, they’ll focus on all the reasons why they won’t instead of all the reasons why they can. They stand on the sidelines of the finisher’s chute, watching but never acting. Don’t get me wrong — the sidelines are pretty cool. But actually being in the finisher’s chute? You’ll never understand what it’s like until you find out for yourself. ====================
I don't know what you are thinking right now but I can tell you what you should be thinking.  What should be on the tip of your tongue right now is: I can do an Ironman.  You should not be thinking of what time or how fast you can do it in.  You should only be thinking that you can.
I believe in you to accomplish your dreams.  I believe in you to set a goal that seems unattainable but with hard work and perseverance comes into light.  I believe in you to do it.
With that as way of background:  You Say You Can't But I Say You Can.
Let me wrap this up by thanking Susan for allowing me to place portions of her article in my blog.  I have been following Susan ever since Mandy posted a link to an article written by Susan.  If you don't follow her I don't know why not.  Humor and Reality all rolled into one.  An Ironman who is compassionate and sensitive yet able to kick you in the pants to get you going at the same time.  The kind of person you want on your side.....stop wasting time and go follow her then sign up for a marathon or an Ironman.
Published in Race
Sunday, 11 September 2011 13:23

Mental Means As Much As Physical

I have always believed that the mental aspect of training is just as important as the physical part of training, but I did not always get it.  I used to dread getting on the trainer because I just knew it was going to be endless hours of pedaling and going nowhere and it just didn't seem to mean too much.  I had the same belief of the treadmill and even swimming endless laps. It wasn't until one day I spoke with Jeff, Big Daddy, Jon and Patrick that I realized that it was all about embracing the suck or pain.  I fought through the mental hurdle that the treadmill was just boring or that the trainer was a death trap.  Once I did that I got faster on the bike and started to enjoy the treadmill for short speed work where I was forced to hold a pace or fly off the back. This mental breakthrough coincided with my mindset of envisioning a race.  I go through a race in my mind by thinking of the pace I want to set in each discipline and how each will be attacked.  Will I go out hard and taper off to be strong for the next discipline?  Will I ease into it and then negative split that portion of the race?  Did I need to conserve my energy all for the run because it is all uphill?  As you can see getting out there and pushing your body is not the only part of training.  You have to train yourself mentally and be prepared to go the extra mile. A while ago I found this article titled 5 Mental Race Day Tactics to Turn You Into A Triathlon Ninja.  (click here for full article) Here are the 5 points that the article made and my thoughts about each point: Are you a triathlon ninja? Do you want to be one? Triathlon Ninja Race Day Mental Tactic #1: Break Up. While your subconscious mind can grasp the concept continuously swimming, cycling and running from point A to point B, or even of traversing 140.6 miles in a single day, your conscious mind (the part that actually dictates your race day decisions) is easily distracted. For a triathlon ninja, this distraction can be a good thing, because you can feed your conscious mind tiny intermediate goals to break things up. Rather than having to making it to the finish line, you convince your body to make it to the next buoy, the next telephone pole, or the next aid station. I personally divide most triathlons into much more than 3 separate events (swim, bike, run) and instead typically categorize 6-12 separate “sections” of the race on paper, then study that paper going into the race. I have always envisioned a race in pieces and parts.  You gain confidence as you go past a certain marker that you set for yourself.  I also do not say to myself that I have 14 miles to go, instead I say that I just did 75% of the ride or 42 miles.  Accentuate the positive and not think about what is left.  If you think about what is left then you start to think about how tired you are.  By saying you just did 42 miles you will typically say that the next 14 will be a breeze and believe in yourselfe. Triathlon Ninja Race Day Mental Tactic #2: Dig Deep. There’s very little you’ll experience in a race that you haven’t already experienced in training. You just have to remember to dig deep enough during the race to call on those times in training when you headed out the door to run in torrential rain, rode your bike 30 miles on half-inflated tires, or finished off 1500 meters of a swim while resisting the compelling urge to rush to the bathroom and take a dump. During a race, the slight discomfort that we put up with in training can sometimes mentally or physically derail us. So when the going gets tough, think back to the hardest part of your training, including somehow getting your heart rate near maximum at 5am in the morning, and draw on those episodes during the race. This is the embrace the suck/pain part of training that you apply to the race.  We all know that at some point the race is going to hurt, whether it be a sprint or Ironman.  There is going to be something that makes us think, even for a moment, that continuing is going to be impossible but if you remember that time during training when the 3am alarm went off and you went out and ran 15 miles you can get through that next part of the race. [caption id="attachment_3939" align="alignright" width="172" caption="It takes more than the physical"]heart_soul_mind_strength_ironman[/caption] Triathlon Ninja Race Day Mental Tactic #3: Ask Why A triathlon ninja knows their motivation for doing triathlons. Regardless of what your motivation is, you need to identify it and know why you do triathlon. Then, when you’re riding up the steepest hill of the race, ready to fall off your bike and puke, you can remember that the whole reason you’re doing this is so that you look sexy for your tropical vacation in 2 weeks. Or whatever motivates your ninja heart. I race to get better.  I race to be an example.  I race to inspire and motivate.  I race to see my wife at the finish line.  I give Karen my wedding ring before every race and it is my goal to get to the finish line as fast as I can so that I can get my wedding ring back.  You have your reason for doing a triathlon, don't forget it when the going gets tough. Triathlon Ninja Race Day Mental Tactic #4: Harness Energy You’ve probably seen the video game or movie where the superhuman being clutches two hands to their chest, creates a giant ball of fiery energy then releases the burning orb into a crowd of fierce opponents, dispersing the enemy like rag dolls. A triathlon ninja has those same superpowers. When you go running up the beach from the swim, harness the energy of the screaming crowds. Feel it. Use it. When you ride through the aid station, feel the positive energy emanating from the generous volunteers, and use that too. And as you run, try to smile. This smiling strategy helps significantly– because people smile right back at you and cheer you on (whereas nobody really claps much for the triathlete who looks like they’re on Planet Hell). I don't think I need to go into the always smile any further since that is my motto but let's talk about it for one second.  Besides the fact that people will smile back, think about what your competitors think as you are right there with them and your smiling (even if it is fake.)  They are thinking to themselves 'how in the world are they smiling when this just sucks.'  Well as you pass them you gain confidence and you continue to build that up and then your smile turns genuine.  What happens after that is that you pass through a photo section and your race pictures look great as opposed to the beginnings of death. Triathlon Ninja Race Day Mental Tactic #5: See Success Close your eyes. Can you imagine the feel of the water in your hand during the swim, the air blowing by your cheeks on the bike, and the slap of your foot against the pavement on the run? The best athletes on the planet regularly engage in visualization, in which they close their eyes and imagine everything happening perfectly. This takes practice and imagination, but your mind can be trained to visualize powerfully. Visualizing success is the first key to success.  If you believe that you can't do it, then you probably can't and your already defeated before the gun goes off.  I think about this when people tell me how nervous they are of the open water swim start.  If you are that nervous then it is going to be worse for you then for the person who says to themselves it is 200 meters out of a 1.2 mile swim or 2.4 mile swim and I can get through this.  Visualize success and it will come. So what do you think? Can you be a triathlon ninja? You bet you can. Remember... I think I can be a triathlon ninja and I will keep training my mind as well as my body!

What are your mental tips and tricks to get through a triathlon? marathon?

 
Published in Race
Tuesday, 23 August 2011 12:26

7 Links.....

It has been nearly three weeks since I was nominated for this post and I am finally getting around to it.  Life has been a whirlwind in the past two weeks and I just kept pushing it off and pushing it off.  Finally I made the decision to sit down and get this done and schedule it for the future (so I am writing this on Friday the 19th.) [caption id="attachment_3679" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Is there a better age grouper picture out there?"]See_Becca_try_to_tri_rebecca_korb_triathlet[/caption] This is not like the other blogger chain letters that go around asking questions about 100 fascinating items about yourself (I have about 10,000....do you want to know any of them?) or ask any questions you want and get honest answers (feel free to ask away I've got nothing to hide) but instead this is a way to post links to posts that you have written that have different meanings.  It was a pretty good idea so I decided I would participate.  Before I attach my links I want to say thank you to Rebecca of See Becca Try To Tri.  I found Rebecca or she found me (can't remember how we met) on Twitter one day and have followed her journey and as it turned out we raced Oceanside 70.3 this past April.  The downside was that I did not know who she was back then and thus never had the opportunity to meet somebody who inspires me through her words. The folks over at Tripbase have been running a blogging experiment as of late. The goal is to unite bloggers from all around cyberspace to share and develop a vault of lost, but not forgotten blog posts that deserve to see the light of day again. The rules are as follows:
  1.  Blogger is nominated to take part
  2.  Blogger publishes his/her 7 links on his/her blog – 1 link for each category
  3.  Blogger nominates up to 5 more bloggers to take part.
  4.  These bloggers publish their 7 links and nominate another 5 more bloggers
  5.  And so it goes on!
So here are mine… Most Beautiful- Have You Seen The Sun Rise? and It's A Lonely Road There are a few others that I liked just as much, but these remind me of those early morning workouts that when I'm done I see the most beautiful scene ever.  The sun waking up and letting me know that the start to a new day with new opportunities is about to start. Most Popular- Cupcake Marathon   This was by far the most popular and it was a lot of fun for me to host the event.  The Virtual Marathon will be back in the Spring as I am going to make it an annual event as opposed to hosting it twice a year.  This will allow me to find more sponsors and create a larger event. Most Controversial- Strength Training for Endurance Athletes This was not very controversial on my blog, but prompted by Jeff Irvin to post to Slowtwitch.com and the interwebs blew up on it.  I was getting tons of email notifications that it was being commented on over on their message boards.  The post was actually pulled down because they thought that I was upset by the fact that some made comments that were not complimentary to say the least.  For me they had every right to express their opinion and in reality the comments made me laugh more than upset.  I wish they would have left it up because there were lots of good points being made for both strength training and to not strength train. Most Helpful- Nutritional Breakdown for Endurance Athletes I think this is the most helpful because it battles the stigma that carbohydrates and fats are bad.  As endurance athletes we need both and in the proper proportion to get the most out of ourselves.  All too often we hear/read about no-carb/low-carb or no-fat/low-fat diets that are just not smart.  We need all of these macronutrients to help us perform at our best and this post broke it down for us. Success Surprised MeRaise Taxes?  YES This one surprised me because I did not realize how passionate my followers were about obesity.  I think because we train as hard as we do and watch everything we eat we tend to not speak up about obesity so as not to offend anybody.  What I found out is that we are all sick and tired of hearing 'You look too skinny?' when in reality we are not too skinny or small its that the rest of America has ballooned.  We had different ideas and takes on raising taxes and how the money would be used but in the end I was surprised by the passion that you all showed. Didn’t Get the Attention it Deserved – Yoga And Triathlon A Great Friendship We all know how important it is to warm-up before our training session.  We also know how important it is to stretch afterwards but I think that we get lost in all the SBR that we forget that there are other ways to get that stretch in.  We talk about not having time to do it but one class a week for an hour to get fully stretched is great, but the place that you go in your mind during yoga is what the true benefit is.  You distance yourself from the outside world and gain inner peace while also helping your endurance career by getting the most out of your stretching and breathing. Most Proud OfThe Hall of Fame I am most proud of this post not because of what I wrote but because of who it features.  These are everyday people doing the extraordinary and I am proud to have gotten to know them all through Twitter, Facebook, Blogs and some in real life.  I remember when I first started blogging I would refer to them as blog friends and now I just call them friends.  I have grown to get to know them all in a more personal manner than I ever could have imagined.  It is with that thought that I say I am most proud of this post because I am most proud of my friends for accomplishing what was once deemed impossible.  Congrats to all of you and I cannot wait to induct Matt, Katie, Aimee and Kevin.   Now I am supposed to nominate 5 bloggers to post their 7 links and I am having a hard time doing this because I truly enjoy reading so many blogs so let's go forward and find those that I have starred blogs for in my Google Reader and nominate them: The Great MissZ - terrific person on her blog, even better person in real life.  Enjoyed my time getting to know her in Boulder and was one of the first people I ever started following. Shut Up and Tri - formerly known as Φ (that's her behind a tree) Beth is real.  Her blogs are real and she is not afraid to post her thoughts and not a day goes by that I don't laugh because of her. Tri Diesel - BDD has written some of the most inspiring posts I have written that make me want to run through a wall someday.  Just incredible supporter of the average age grouper and it is truly appreciated. The Road - Patrick has given me tons of motivation to be a better step-father through his writings of spending time with his son that it shows me it is all about balance.  I refer to his blog when I think that my training is getting the better of me and I need to be brought back into balance. Caratunk Girl - Mandy is never without a smile.  I have a saying that a smile makes the worries go away.  If you are down about something then smile and if you can't muster up a smile go to Mandy's blog see her smile and you will smile right back.  
Published in Race
Monday, 15 August 2011 20:17

Momentum: Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

[caption id="attachment_3593" align="alignright" width="186" caption="Not the MOmentum I'm talking about"]mamas_boy_vic_mo_food_network_vegas[/caption] Momentum other wise known as Mo or Mr. Mo and no I am not talking about Vic Mo (Vic Vegas) from The Food Network: Next FN Star (btw - the right guy won and I'm contemplating submitting my name for the next season's contest.) I am talking about momentum as in: mass x velocity.  Or an object in motion tends to stay in motion.  Now that we are clear on that, here is the point of this post. There is a saying in baseball that momentum is only as good as the next day's starter (yes, I am a huge baseball geek fan.)  Essentially what the cliche means is that even if you have won 8 games in a row it doesn't matter because your next day's starting pitcher could give up 5 runs in the first inning and start a spiral toward an 8 game losing streak.  So you can see that momentum is only as good as your next day's starter. In triathlon terms momentum is only as good as the next day's workout.  I am going to point to my training over the past few days about where Mr. Momentum has been hanging out. On Thursday morning I had hill repeats to do and since we don't have hills here in Texas I went to the spin bike and just cranked up the tension and pedaled at around 55 rpm.  From there I met Greg for an open water swim and did 1.35 mi in about 48 minutes.  I was feeling on top of the world because Friday was an off day and I would feel rested heading into the weekend training sessions. Saturday morning I was up and out the door to work with Marathon Makeover North Dallas and got in 12.47 miles of running in 1 hour and 40 minutes.  An 8:01 pace  with the middle 45 minutes at 7:30/mile paces.  I did this even though I forgot to bring my hydration with me and still felt very strong but could have been faster. Saturday evening Coach texted me asking how my training was going because she was going to set up the next week's sessions.  Told her I felt great and that I couldn't wait to get out there on Sunday for the long ride and brick run.  I was on top of the world and ready for whatever she had to throw my way. Sunday I rode for 3 hours and 30 minutes and covered just under 60 miles in the 100*+ temperatures and followed with a 3.25 mile run in 30 minutes.  Still feeling strong I could not wait for the ladder down swimming session from this morning. [caption id="attachment_3590" align="alignright" width="273" caption="Keep moving forward regardless of what is in front of you"]momentum_training[/caption] Well, momentum is only as good as the next day's training session.  I got in that pool and my arms felt like they weighed 100 lbs each.  It was like swinging a cinder block with each stroke.  Where had all that good feeling gone?  I figured I just needed to warm up and that I would get into it and feel better.  I did my warm-up, then did my first 600y at T-Pace and 6x25 at a Fast (:20) pace and was still looking for my groove. It was not showing up.  It just did not exist and then all of a sudden there was Greg standing on the pool deck and Momentum showed up again.  Whether it was the friendly competition or the knowledge that somebody else was about to put themselves through the ringer with me I'm not sure but what I do know is that it came back.  I finished out my sets by getting faster with each long set and with a smile. Momentum is back on my side and I'm ready for tomorrow's training but the point of this post is this: Do your scheduled workout because no matter how rotten you feel you will never regret the workout when you are done.  Do not think too much about how good or bad that last session was because your focus needs to be on that day's session.  You cannot control tomorrow's workout and you cannot do anything for yesterday's so live in the present and knock the socks off of the workout you are doing. Our bodies and minds may even go in different directions on some days but we still need to focus on what we are doing, in life and in training.  Worrying about what tomorrow may bring will be nothing but a stressor for you so why worry.  Keep today's momentum going by focusing on today.

How do you deal with a bad work day or bad training day?  Is it any different for a good training or work day?

 
Published in Train
Wednesday, 03 August 2011 14:21

One Step At A Time

The following article was written by one of the participants in the Marathon Makeover program that I run  If you don't know what Marathon Makeover is, please allow me a moment to tell you.  This is a 40 week program that helps turn couch potatoes into marathoners.  I started this program at the end of 2010 and the program officially kicked off in January 2011.  We are more than halfway through with eyes on the prize for October through December when the participants will complete either a half or full marathon. I hope you enjoy reading this story as much as I have enjoyed reading it. ==================== How It All Started  It’s 4 a.m. on Saturday.  The first thing that comes to mind is snooze.  And I do just that until 4:30 a.m. when the alarm sounds again and returns me to a semi-conscious state.  I cannot fathom the thought of parting ways with this 800-thread-count cocoon.  I question my sanity.  Why would I punish myself?  Why would I set such high expectations of myself on the one and only day of the week when I can sleep beyond the 6 o’clock hour?  I lie still trying to find an excuse – reaching, for the most creative and justifiable explanation as to why I should skip out today.   Nothing comes to mind. In the absence of morning sunlight and in a bit of a lethargic state I blindly pat around for the clothes and other items that I laid out the night before – technical fabric gear, several bottles of water, two bottles of Honey Milk (one for before and after), a towel, sunglasses, my iPod, and a pair of well-worn sneakers. Shoes are laced up and I’m out the door.  It’s still dark, but I am slowly being released from a state of lethargy.  That’s a good thing because now I am behind the wheel of my car and making my way to White Rock Lake.   Remembering what the nutritionist said, I reach for a bottle of Honey Milk to get some carbs in before training.  She claims for “sustained energy.”  I have yet to experience this phenomenon. Doubt revisits as I think about what I am about to endure.  I ask myself, “What on earth was I thinking when I showed up for that meeting in January?”  Unemployed and glued to my computer in search of the perfect job opportunity, I took a brief break to visit a social media site.  Across my screen flashed an advertisement touting the promise to turn couch potatoes into marathoners.   As I scoured the marathon web site, the memory of competing at a collegiate level flooded my mind.   I had aspirations to compete in the WNBA and to someday make the Olympic volleyball team.  The second major knee surgery benched those dreams my junior year in college.  Feeling displaced - in the absence of team camaraderie, the friendly taunting of opponents and the boisterous celebrations following a win - my focus shifted from the court to my career where that driving, competitive spirit found its home. For the last several years, all of my goals had been career related.  I was going stir crazy after three months of unemployment.  I needed something to cling to, something to strive for.  A few days later I found myself at the introductory meeting for this 40-week marathon program.  I was surrounded by people who in no way, shape or form resembled couch potatoes.  The majority of the people, who showed up for this meeting on a snowy January morning in Coppell, looked like lifetime athletes and runners.   And there I sat, uncomfortably and thinking I would much rather be eating a potato than sitting in this room resembling one.  I prayed that someone who looked like me would show up and help shoo away the anxiety that was quickly settling in.  There I sat certain that I had already been labeled “Least Likely to Succeed” or “Most Likely to Impede Progress.”  The meeting ended and the group leader approached me.  We spoke for some time and I realized we had quite a bit in common.  He had just recently relocated from the East coast to the Dallas area, had only in recent years taken up running and he too was unemployed.  He took special interest in me and my story.  Before I knew it, I was committed to 40 weeks of what I was sure would be sheer torture. Week 1 [caption id="attachment_3377" align="alignright" width="300" caption="After completing Mile 1 in Week 1"]Marathon_Makeover_North_Dallas_Running[/caption] I returned the following Saturday for our first weekly group run.  A few additional people joined the group this week.  A handful claimed they were not runners and that made me feel at ease.  The group watched a video demonstration of the do’s and don’ts of marathon training before we stretched and we were off to conquer the one mile – our goal for the first week of the 40-week program.  In the video, the founders instructed those who had not been in the routine of running to walk for the first 10 weeks of the program.  Anxiety loosens its grip as several wanna-be marathoners nod their heads in agreement.  Following the video, we stretched as a team and before I knew it we were off - our silent pact to walk the first 10 weeks instantly abandoned.  I followed suit.  Peer pressure no doubt.  Coming in last has never been an option for me. Thankfully, half the group puckered out within 50 paces or so and we slowed to a leisurely stroll.  Afterwards, we took our first team photo and went our separate ways.  That day, the athlete buried deep down inside of me made a pact with my current self to train hard and improve each week. Week 21, White Rock Lake  Pulling into the graveled parking lot I downed what was left of my Honey Milk.  It’s still dark but I spot two vehicles in the parking lot.  One I recognize as Jason’s, our trainer.   I get a closer look at the second vehicle and I say to myself, “This can’t be it.  This is my worst nightmare.” Good morning, “Is this it?” I ask. “Yup, this is it,” Jason confirms.  He is fresh off a triathlon.  And beside him stands one of the most seasoned runners in our group.  The once 15-20 member group has dwindled down to six participants at most and just two on this particular morning.  The urge to unlace my shoes, hop back in my car and race back home overcomes me. Mile 1 We exchange a few pleasantries and a few stretches later they are kicking up dust.  The “urge” hits me again.  Instead, I close my eyes, take a deep breath and pray for divine intervention.  The first mile feels just like it did on day one.    My joints are aching and my breathing is labored.  How on earth will I cover the 9.33-mile trail along this lake?   I think back to week 10 or so when we were to complete six miles.  The horses were off and I walked side-by-side with an older gentleman in the group.  I turned to him and blurted, “I don’t know how I’m going to do this.”  Still staring at the ground in front of him and seemingly struggling a bit himself he said, “Just keep plugging along, one step at a time.  You will get there.”   His proclamation hit home with me.  I have not seen Joe since but his deposit of encouragement resonates with me week after week.  Despite the dwindling number of participants, I have been plugging along ever since no matter how arduous the task. Mile 2 The sun is coming up.   And according to my Garmin watch I am 2.23 miles into this process.  Many people - seemingly lifelong runners and cyclists - flood the trails.   Most are running in groups of two to ten.   I attempt to stay to the right and out of the path of the clusters of Cathys chattering and chuckling as they briskly run by.  I wonder how they manage to breathe at that pace, much less laugh and carry on a conversation.   Cyclists sail by to the right and to the left.  Before I know it, no one is following the unwritten rule – walkers to the right, everyone else pass on the left.  I prefer order.  I like processes, policies, procedures.  I adjust the volume on my iPod so I can hear passersby as they approach.  The air is still and thick.  If it weren’t for those dashing by me, there would be absolutely no sign of a breeze. Parents pass by with their double strollers - infants in tow and fast asleep.  Canoes, boats and families of ducks enliven the lake.  Those hoping for a big catch cast their lines.  Considering the task at hand I wouldn’t mind trading places with the infants, ducks, and fishermen – in that order. Mile 3 My breathing pattern has improved.  My joints are still aching and my “runner’s” toe is giving me grief, but I know there is no turning back now.  Every half mile or so I make a mental note of the 911 location markers.  You know, just in case. Mile 4 I feel like running.  Well jogging.  And I do.  This feels good.  When my breathing becomes erratic, I slow to a brisk walk.  I check my Garmin – 4.45 miles. Mile 5 I’m well past the halfway point and I feel good about it!  This isn’t so bad after all.  I stop to refill my water bottle a second time.  As I am leaning on the water fountain that is temporarily assisting me in maintaining an upright position, a group of young boys approach.  And before I can move out of their way, one after the other they stoop down to the ground-level fountain I am certain is intended for man’s best friends.  They each take in mouthfuls of water.  Cheeks puffed out they begin to spray one another with water instead of hydrating like my nutritionist said.  I was annoyed initially, but their laughter lightens my mood.  I smile and turn to the one boy with the motorized scooter and I playfully ask, “What’s the weight capacity on that thing?”  He tilts his head in confusion.  Another boy who appears to be two or three years older roars with laughter.  He got it! Mile 6 My iPod dies.  I feel like dying too. Mile 7 I look up to a now blazing sun.  Off in the distance I can see downtown Dallas.  Even better I can make out Renaissance Tower.  I have made my home there now for the last six weeks.  It feels good to be back in the swing of things.  To pass time I try to make out the floors and count down from the top floor to the 15th floor where my office is located.  I immediately lose count as I am forced to make way for a group of at least 50 runners as they whiz by. When I accepted the position of Technical Trainer I thought I knew what the position entailed.  But to my satisfaction it has been so much more than what I anticipated.  I think back on my work week and recall the unanticipated but welcomed projects that were assigned to me.  Early in the work week I asked myself, “How will I approach this addition to my work load?  Will I have enough time to complete these tasks?  What is priority?  Will the end result be good enough?”   These are all questions that I asked of myself in past careers as well.  And frankly, these are the same questions I have asked myself week after week on this journey to becoming a marathoner. In the past, when tasked with additional and unanticipated duties anxiety would immediately surface.  I would cancel all personal plans to make way for a series of 12- to 16-hour work days.  Come Friday, I would find myself still lost in the myriad of tasks on my plate.  All weekend plans were out the window. Mile 8 What has been the difference?   How do I now manage time for self?  How did I find that foreign concept that everyone speaks of – work-life balance?  As I continue to focus on the buildings in distant downtown Dallas, it doesn’t take me long to figure out what prompted this transformation. A half marathon is 13 miles.  Upon completing that first mile with my team on that blistery cold January morning I thought to myself, this is an unattainable feat.  But that athlete in me, as promised, continued to train, improve and conquer the increased mileage week after week.  I now manage my career and workload in the same manner.  No matter how overwhelming the tasks at hand may seem, I approach work with the right attitude.  Sure one may complain a bit along the way.  With an office positioned near the coffee bar, I oftentimes hear the grumblings about increased responsibility and workload.  Growth is oftentimes accompanied by discomfort.  And people tend to want to share and spread their feelings of distress.  As I overhear these conversations I am sometimes tempted to lean outside of my door and toward the break room to say what Joe proclaimed to me in week ten of training, “J keep plugging along, one step at a time.  You will get there.” Training for a marathon, like other exercises, unquestionably improves one’s mental health as efficiently as it does one’s physical well-being.  Sure I feel better as a result of training.  Sure I have shaved off nearly 40 pounds since I began this journey.  But what I am most impressed with is all of the psychological benefits of training.   I am less stressed and I am able to easily cope with daily stressors.  Training has forced my mind and body into synchronization.  It refreshes my mind and keeps it clutter free so that I am now able to manage multiple tasks without being easily distracted or becoming overwhelmed.  And when I find myself at a road block, I locate the nearest 911 marker, my supervisor and/or co-workers, for guidance and direction.  Much like the marathon team, we are in this together.  I never expected that the benefits of my quest to be a part of that one percent of the population to complete a marathon would spill over into how I approach my career.  Marathon training has changed my life.  I now realize that if I change the way we look at things, the things I look at change.  Once one finds the courage to start that new work project, exercise routine or even degree plan, you will find your way to the finish line. Now just at the halfway point of the program, I can now wrap my brain around completing a half marathon at the conclusion of this training program.  Notice I didn't say that it hasn’t been painful along the way.  I just had to learn to adjust my attitude and approach. Mile 9  I stretch my neck to find the bridge.  The bridge signifies that I am in the home stretch.  I see it.  My body fills with pride.  What seemed like such an intimidating assignment just a few short hours ago didn’t turn out to be so bad after all.  Just on the other side of that long wooden and steel rainbow is my pot of gold.  The finish line – 9.33 miles.  I pull my shoulders back, make my way over the rickety bridge and repeat several times, “No task is too big for me.”  Double digits where are you?  I am coming after you.  I’m just going to “keep plugging along, one step at a time.  I WILL get there.”
Published in Race
Thursday, 11 August 2011 14:20

What Are Your Limits?

[caption id="attachment_3532" align="alignright" width="272" caption="The Road Doesn't Have To Have An End"]limitless_boundaries_expectations[/caption] I have been doing a lot of questioning of my ability lately, in a good way but also in an inquisitive way.  It was not all that long ago that I wondered if swimming had become my 2nd best discipline that I trotted out a 20+ mph bike at Disco Triathlon.  I then followed that up with a near 19.5 mph ride on the 70.3 Longhorn course and I feel like the bike has jumped back into 2nd place. Now I know that with training I will be focusing on different segments more than others.  If I tell Coach C that I think I need to improve in being more cautious off the bike and not burn out then she will set up a training week or two where my goal is to be in Z2 for the first 3 miles off the bike just to practice pulling back.  All of the training sessions will hopefully come together on race day and that is where the question of my limits come in. I have been training and racing for about 1.5 years with Coach C.  Each race has resulted in a PR and not by 30 seconds or 1 minute but by 7 or 8 minutes.  My marathon from November 2009 to December 2010 improved by 50 minutes.  This is where the question of my limits comes in.  How long will I continue to PR by such a large margin or PR at all?  What is the limit to my abilities?  Am I asking this question so that when the race hits that I don't PR I am not overly disappointed and am just cushioning the blow? These thoughts have been bouncing around in my head when I had a conversation with my boy Juanito.  He and I were discussing what I think he can do at Longhorn and what my goal is.  I told him that it seemed aggressive but I think I am more than capable because of my training times.  I expressed to him that my runs off the bike and runs in general have been very slow and that led to a discussion about Chris Lieto. [caption id="attachment_3535" align="alignright" width="290" caption="Lieto being passed by Bozzone at Mile 11 of 70.3 Texas"]lieto_bozzone_ironman_texas[/caption] If you follow triathlon you know that Lieto is probably the best cyclist on the tour and yet he almost always gets run down in the marathon.  I watched Kona again yesterday and the broadcast mentioned that he had never run a sub-3 hour marathon in an Ironman (this was as of last year and I don't know if he has done it this year.)  I have always thought to myself:  How can this always happen?  Do his coaches not know this and work with him to get better in the run and improve there?  Change their game plan on the bike from pure all out hammering to a pace that can help him improve on the run and not get caught from behind. It was at this point that Juan said maybe his marathon time is his limit.  Maybe he can't improve and the only way for him to try to win is to kill the bike and try to hang on for the run.  What if that is true?  Does he know that or does he think that?  Is he able to push through that limit? I tend to think that I have no limits but I am also realistic enough to know that time will take its toll eventually.  Regardless of how clean you eat, and how much you take care of your body there is the natural aging progression that will slow you down.  Would it make sense to then compare myself to the others around me in my age group?  I don't do that now as I only compare myself to myself and see how I am improving but at some point there will be, at least I think, a point where improvement can no longer be measured against ones own times but against the others in the field. My goal is to someday make it to Las Vegas for the 70.3 World Championships and Kona for the Ironman World Championships, and lets not stop there.  I want to qualify for Boston (maybe end world hunger too but that is for another blog post) so you can see I don't set limits on myself and I wonder if and when time does set those limits how I will react. I am competitive so will I push myself to continue to get better from a time perspective or will better just mean that I am maintaining a bike split or run split that is above average in my age group.  Only time will tell.

Do You Push Yourself Past Your Current Limits?

Do You Consider Your Future Limits?

Published in Train
Not too long ago I wrote about how my swimming has jumped from #3 in ranking to #2.  It replaced cycling at that podium spot.  I have been reflecting back on my cycling as well as thinking about how and what I am doing now.  I started to question my work ethic to cycling and if it were ever really #2.  Was I doing everything I could to get better or was it that swimming was so horrendous that my cycling had no place to be but #2. [caption id="attachment_2886" align="alignright" width="275" caption="One Of Each Please!"]Specialized-Triathlon-TT-Bikes[/caption] In that post I wrote how all three sports were going to start to battle each other for the top spot, sort of like the show Chopped (I had to include a food reference somewhere) where only the best survive.  There was going to be a clean slate and no one sport was going to be favored over the other.  If I want to get better at triathlon then I have to break myself down and rebuild myself. I can't take the stance that the run will always be there or that I am improving at the swim so let's not worry about it.  It is about working at the sport and improving even if it is small. So this past week after coming back from Boulder I set out for a new week of training with a new mindset.  I was going to approach this as if it were my first day and with no preconceived notions about how far and how fast I could go.  I was determined to get better this week and you know what:  I did.  My times may not reflect my improvement but my legs felt strong all week, especially on the bike.  I really pushed hard on the bike to be better and on Monday evening my speed of 18.18 mph over 1 hour and 30 minutes proved it, since that same course I have averaged 17 mph in the past.  The best part was that my legs were not fatigued even though I was completely dehydrated. I did a training session of spin-ups and I was pushing to hold 112 rpm in the big chain ring for a minimum of 30 seconds and there are some instances where I pushed the time to 48 seconds.  I was huffing and puffing and dripping sweat but I know I can do it.  I am very excited about the progress my bike has made just because I focused on starting fresh. Last night while typing this post I started to research articles on how to improve on the bike, and tips and drills to get better.  The tips and drills in the water have given me such incredible improvements and I do drills before every run to stretch out and get my heart rate up, so why not find some tips and drills for the bike. Of course, Google took me right to Active.com and while not necessarily drills for doing on the trainer they were fundaments for cyclists.  I am reposting this article (written by Selene Yeager for Bicycle Magazine) as I tend to follow directions that I have written down.  This is why I wrote notes in the margins of the Chris McCormack Book I'm Here To Win. When BDD gets the book he will be able to read my notes and hopefully comment and email me back, which is in addition to the information he gave me over the phone last night (that's right I talked to BDD.....) Here are the fundamentals along with my thoughts on them: ==================== 1. Have a plan. You may be able to get pretty fit by winging it, but truly remarkable accomplishments, whether upgrading to Cat 3 or scoring a belt buckle in the Leadville 100, require careful execution of a training program. I am thankful I have a coach who lays out time, heart rate zones, types of course, etc so I don't have to worry about this because I would have no clue and probably just ride around in a circle. [caption id="attachment_2885" align="alignright" width="249" caption="Just a cool pic"]Felt-B12-TT-Bike[/caption]   2. Be prepared to scrap the plan. You're scheduled for 20 minutes of pyramid intervals, but your legs feel like you spent the last few days constructing a real pyramid. Spin today. Hit it hard tomorrow instead. Your plan should be etched in clay for molding to your needs, not in stone for beating yourself up. I am not sure about this one because I have never skipped a plan but I know I have not followed a plan all the way through but more out of time constraints than it hurting my legs.  I was told my BDD a while back to embrace the pain and have done that, and now use the phrase embrace the suck from Macca because it does suck some days but I have never scrapped a plan. 3. Ride at the edges. Once a week, go so hard your eyes hurt. Follow it with a ride so slow the snails yawn. The combination makes legs strong. I have not done this at all.  Some days I am at a HR of 135-145 and others I am pushing 155+ and this is hard v slow but it is almost the same speed sometimes so I'm wondering if I should take it down another notch on the slow days. 4. Be true to yourself. Cyclists are pack animals. Enjoy the camaraderie, but don't let your training goals get trashed by constant king-of-the-mountain contests, town-sign sprints or the all-hard, all-the-time mentality of the group. If you can't trust yourself to go easy when you need to, ride alone. I have always ridden alone and maybe that is why I have not improved as much as my other sports.  I am  now riding with a guy I met one day and hopefully riding with him once a week I can get faster just from keeping up with him since he is in the range of 24 mph. 5. Do what sucks. You hate climbing because it's hard for you. You should climb—because it's hard for you. I couldn't agree more.  I think that is why I got better at swimming.  I finally said to myself this is going to suck so you might as well get better so it doesn't suck.  Well, it's time to embrace the suck of cycling and get this sport to #2. 6. Think improvement. Do more than log miles. Intervals, cadence rides and other specific workouts are designed to progressively challenge your body in different ways from week to week. Give every ride a goal. Recently, Coach has been giving me quite a few workouts that are drills and I think that is a big reason for my speed on Monday.  I believe that weeks and weeks of ILTs and Spin-Ups are paying off.  Not only on the bike, but the run after has not had me on jello legs for as long as I had been. 7. Maintain the human machine. The gym is your body shop. Visit twice a week to strengthen your core and other stabilizing muscle groups. And don't forget to stretch. By keeping your supporting muscles strong and joints flexible you can avoid an achy back, tight hip flexors and other overuse pains that can weaken even the strongest cyclist. Twice a week you can find me in the gym sweating buckets while lifting weights.  I do lighter weights but more reps and from an aerobic capacity so I am panting and sweating and getting leaner.  I think this is huge for me in terms of pushing the bike up the hill or finding that next gear on the run. 8. Train your brain. Your body can do more than you think. Convince your brain throughpositive thinking and visualization. You'll be surprised at what you accomplish when you say you can. You all know my belief when it comes to training your mind.  That is the first thing that has to be beat into submission so that when your body is tired your mind will tell it to suck it up buttercup and keep going. 9. Eat. Fuel your workouts with the food you eat on race day. You'll ride faster in practice and digest better when it counts. Experiment: There are dozens of energy concoctions for a reason. No one thing works for everyone. Emily of Sweat Once A Day [caption id="attachment_2884" align="alignright" width="240" caption="Terrific View"]Triathlon-Bicycle[/caption] wrote yesterday about how she has not practiced nutrition on the bike.  I learned early on in my triathlon journey to practice nutrition thanks to Jon.  He either emailed me or wrote on his blog that I need to practice nutrition and know what my body is able to handle and it has certainly paid off as I have mastered the nutrition.  Maybe somebody should write about hydration so I can master that as well. 10. Enjoy the ride. You already have a job. Work hard at cycling, but never make it work. There has never been a ride I haven't enjoyed when I was done.  It may suck during but I know when I stop that I will have accomplished something great.  I will have gotten out of the house and got my body moving.

Do You Break Yourself Down and Figure Out How To Get Better? At Work?  At Play?

Do You Have Tips/Tricks To Get Better At Cycling?

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