Sunday, October 2, 2016

IM Chattanooga race report-9/25/16

I can't believe it's been almost a week since I crossed the finish line. I'm not sore any longer as that went away by Wed, but still very fatigued. I was thinking an easy 2 hour z2 ride today but stopped at 1:40 when I could tell my legs were getting tired. I could sleep all day and eat anything in front of me. Weird feeling.
I signed up for the race on Sept 29, 2015 as these races sell out quickly and got to work on my "off season" by focusing on improving my bike strength and swim. I decided to follow a 30 week plan by Be Iron Fit to get ready for the race. The final 3 weeks of tapering wasn't as bad as I thought it would be and was actually a welcomed rest.
I had made lists of things I needed in all of my different bags and spent Wed. getting everything organized in different grocery bags. Morning bag and swim, bike bag, special needs bike, run, and special needs run. Nutrition bag.
Jess and I took off on Thurs around 1 and stopped at Panera so I could have turkey sandwiches on the way. Drive was long but uneventful and we listened to lots of podcasts. Would stay at a different hotel that was closer to the finish line but this one was nice and clean and fine. Had a late dinner of salad and salmon and got a good 7 hours of sleep. Did not have good sleep the whole week so it was nice to get these 7 hours.
Friday went for an easy 20 min run down to the starting line and back. Was fun to see other athletes out running and checking out the city. It was already hot at 7:30am and that's what the forecast called for. Started hydrating more and adding electrolytes earlier in the week since it looked like it was going to be hot.
Headed over to IM Village and checked in, walked around a bit to take it all in and do some shopping for gear (only 1 shirt amazingly) and then got some brunch and went to different coffee shops for Jess. Back to hotel for a nap and rest and then back out for a practice swim at the dam. Water was very warm but I'm glad I got some open water practice in...10 min was enough for me. Out to dinner for sushi to get my last bigger meal before Sunday. Still hydrating like crazy. Good sleep again. 
Saturday up early after 7 good hours of sleep. Easy 15 min bike ride check followed by 10 min easy run. So hard to keep heart rate down and not stride it out. I feel ready! Stretched and then started getting bags together for bag drop off. Dropped bike and bags off. Made sure to let air out of tires since it was so hot. Lunch at Panera since I knew I could rely on turkey sandwich and then back to hotel to rest. Met Dad and Koke at Whole Foods for dinner at 5:30. So glad I made that choice instead of the nicer Italian restaurant I had made reservations at. Just didn't want to risk anything too heavy.
Stuck with grilled chicken, beets and sweet potatoes. Not a restful sleep at all which I'm not surprised.
Up at 3:45 to drink some coffee and eat Fucoprotein bar and banana. Was supposed to also eat a picky bar but just couldn't bc stomach was jumping. **next time up at 3:15 for more time**By the time I mixed all of my bottles and ate it was time to go. Time was flying. Left hotel at 4:45 and headed to T1 to drop special needs bags, put bottles on bike, air in tires and duct tape fix a flat on top tube. Didn't want to have to change a tire if I didn't have to.
Got on the bus to swim start and got in line with 2200 other people as the line snaked around. Jess said we were about 1/4 mile from start. It didn't matter since my time would start when I got in the water. I wouldn't have wanted to get there earlier but I was happy to start when I did. **next time bring chair or something like a pool raft to sit on as sidewalk got uncomfortable.** Time went fairly fast especially after D and K showed up with chairs. We heard the cannon go off for the pros and then the line started moving. I put on my swim skin, cap, goggles, sprayed down with tri glide and I was on the dock within 5 min. It went so fast. I went to the end of the dock which I'm glad someone said to do bc it wasn't as crowded and got me closer to the middle of the river which is where there is supposed to be a better current. I said "here we go" and jumped in. Always good when the goggles stay on and don't leak. :) I got going. Not too much bumping. Found my rhythm quickly and just kept swimming. I didn't feel any current but I definitely felt when someone was taking my draft so sometimes I would kick hard to get out of that. Just kept swimming. Didn't have to stop to breaststroke at all to see the buoys. It was an easy swim to sight with lots of people to my left. I never saw the island that I saw on the map but once I went under the first bridge I knew I was almost there. I tried to pick the pace up a bit but stayed steady under the 2nd bridge and then the last bridge and then it got crowded. I kicked hard to get the blood flow going in my legs and a volunteer helped me up the steps. I got out and looked at my watch. 1:09! Wow! Fastest I had ever done 2.4 miles. I thought that must've been some current. (Come to find out there wasn't much current at all that day, but some, which I'll take and I'll also take that my swim practice is paying off.)
Ran up a very steep hill and then through the bags shouting 1626, 1626...found it (was a little disoriented from the swim, but not bad) and headed into the changing tent. There were volunteers asking if we needed anything but I was good. Swim skin came off easily and I pulled out my note that I put in my T1 bag to remind me what to do when I got to T1. First thing-eat Honey Stinger waffle. 2.Check bandaids on hot spots (they were fine) 3. Tri glide feet and other hot spots 4. Baby powder in shoes **next time do that before dropping bag off so not to waste a minute...actually forgot to do 1 shoe so took the time to take shoe off and baby powder in it** 5. Headband, helmet, glasses 6. Drink a hotshot. Go!
Start of bike was a little chaotic bc there were lots of people. First 11 miles were pretty much straight out but had to go over several tracks so took it easy as I didn't want a flat. There were mats. Felt good. HR was higher than I wanted to start with so focused on getting it down to z2 and keeping my power numbers at about 75% of FTP. I felt great and caught myself going too hard and had to scale back. My routine consisted of checking HR, power, sip water, sip electrolytes, repeat...Huma gel every 30 min and lick of salt every 30 min with water...grabbed water at every aid station so I would have a full bottle and ditched my concentrate bc I was convinced that's what was causing stomach distress in past long races. Settled with the Gatorade on the course. I think the concentrate was just too much and I wasn't watering it down enough and it was too much to think about. **next time just have amino acids mixed** Good news was 0 stomach issues! Was excited when I got to about mile 50 at Chickamauga bc it was a big spectator spot and I thought I would see my crew. Everyone was cheering and it was awesome but bummed I didn't see them. (They just missed me.) I stopped for my special needs bag as it was definitely getting hotter. So grateful for the peanut butter crackers I had (I knew I would want something besides sugar) and took a minute for more chamois cream, frozen bottle was now hot so didn't take that, stomach was good so didn't need the tums, took another hotshot and off I went. The second loop was much harder. Where did these hills come from? Then it hit me. Mile 85. Hamstring wanted to cramp. Don't panic. Stay positive. Slow down. Drink water. Take in salt. This was my mantra for the next 31 miles. Until l dropped my salt at mile 100. Ugh! **Have 2 salt tubes on the bike next time.** Took it slow. All along the course on that second loop there were people down and out. Saw some throwing up, some just sitting in the shade. It was getting hotter and hotter. Just keep going. Every time I tried to pick up the pace, my hamstring grabbed. Just make it back nice and easy was my new mantra. The last 11 miles back into town was like a zombie apocalypse. Everyone around me was struggling. It was so hot. Lots of people on the side of the road, lots of ambulances passing me...this is crazy...just keep pedaling...don't push too hard. I make it back. My left leg immediately cramps as I try to get off the bike. A volunteer catches me and at this point I really don't know if I can continue. I get upright and start walking to get my run bag. I see my crew. They look worried. They ask if I'm ok. All I can do is kind of nod and put my hand up. I slowly make it to the changing tent. I don't care at this point how long my transition is taking. A volunteer helps me get my bag open and I pull my note out. I eat a honey stinger and start spraying down my feet and change my socks. The volunteer helps me tri glide under my bra and my hips and then sprays me with sunscreen. I'm so grateful for her. I'm grateful for dry socks and for another hotshot. I'm starting to feel better. I can do this. I stop to pee. First time all race. That's good. I'm staying hydrated. After the longest transition ever for me but I'm glad I took my time to get everything done (12 min) I take off running and give my crew the thumbs up and tell them I'm ok.
The first mile I feel good. Then bam quads lock up and I know it's going to be a long 25 miles. Now it's just grind. The first 6 miles are flattish with 0 shade. I run until my HR gets to a high z3 and then I walk until it goes back down. I walk all of the aid stations and take water, stuff ice in my shorts and bra and drink some Gatorade. Lick some salt. Get going again. Mile 8 Barton St. Straight up hill. Nobody is running. It's so steep. Coming down I ran but the pounding on the quads was unbelievable. Just take it mile by mile. Keep going. At this point, it's all about damage control and making it to the finish line. People are falling out everywhere. Stretchers pass me. Ambulances pass me. People are throwing up. My goal of a high 12 is over and it's merely making it to the finish line. Every step I took hurt. Keep moving. Keep hydrated, but not over hydrated. Take in salt, but not too much. I checked my HR but it was so low bc I wasn't moving very fast so I didn't have to worry about burning too much sugar. Just don't do anything stupid so that you cramp fully and have to stop. So happy to see my crew at the 13.1 spot where my special needs bag was. I told them I was sorry it was taking me so long. The way I was moving it was going to be another 3 hours. **next time put a hotshot in special needs run** wanted and needed nothing in my sn bag so after a brief stop I kept going. Just kept ticking down the miles. I calculated that as long as I maintained a 20 min/mile pace I would make the cutoff. I knew I could do that. It hurt and it wasn't pretty but as soon as I got to mile 24, relief started spreading in my body. 1 more mile to go and I could hear the crowd. I tried to pick up my pace. The finisher's chute was amazing. So many people. I saw my crew. I soaked it all in. I am an Ironman! 13:53:24 Come to find out that 25.6 % of the 2200 starters DNF. 2nd highest in all of Ironman. It was the hottest Sept. 25 in Chattanooga since 1930. I'm grateful to have finished. Heat index was over 110*.
So happy that I didn't have any blisters and NO chafing. Finally found the right solutions after 5 years of racing. Tri glide, bandaids on hotspots and baby powder in shoes with socks for bike and run.
I am so grateful for the support of Jess, my dad, Koke, and all of my friends and family following me from home. I truly felt the support and love from everyone. When I finished there was no way I was doing another one. One week later and I signed up to do IMNC in 3 weeks. To be continued....

Sunday, January 11, 2015

If Not Now, When?

Jan. 1st we had a great turnout at our New Year's Day boot camp.  Nothing like a clean slate.  A fresh start.  But now we're 11 days in and it's starting again.  "There's so much going on."  Kids, friends, illnesses, parents, family, work, holidays, vacation, winter, etc..

I had heard it all, as I do every year starting right around Thanksgiving through Dec. 31.  Too much going on.  Too many parties.  Too much, too much, too much..."I'll start exercising consistently again when things slow down."  Here's the thing.  What does that mean?  Life is life.  It never really slows down.  Because now it's Jan. 11 and I'm hearing the same things.  

There will always be unexpected illnesses and events.  Good times and bad times.  New job.  Old job. New relationship. Old relationship. No relationship.  New diet.  New plan.  Old plan. Try this.  Try that.  If only this...if only that.  If only nothing.  Start now.  Everyone is busy.  Everyone has problems. You may think you're different.  You're not.  Everyone is in the same boat.  Life is happening all around us.

The goal is to make your health a priority.  Everyone (doctors, nutritionists, therapists, etc.) say to exercise to feel better.  Exercise to be better.  The point is to make exercise a daily habit so that when life happens (because it will), you don't miss a beat. If you're waiting for "that perfect time" to start, you never will.  Because what does that mean?  

Sure, once every so often, the weather is perfect, I feel great, my favorite song comes on, and I have the best run I've ever had.  That happens like 1% of the time.  Usually it's just an ok day and I go out and get it done.  Whatever "it" is. Get it done.  Run, walk, bike, yoga, zumba, lift something heavier than 2 lbs, swim, dance, play basketball, play tennis, whatever.  Do something.  Every day.  Make a plan.  Then make a plan B. Because, believe me, life will happen and the dog will pee on the floor right as you're walking out the door and then you might have to scrape ice off your car and now you're late to your class.  So now what?  Give up. No, you have a plan B.  So maybe that means you go back inside the house and do jumping jacks and squats and lunges and run in place and get your body moving for 30 min or so or maybe 20 min or whatever.  Just stop waiting for the "perfect" time because that is a figment of your imagination.  It's just another excuse.  

How do you do it?  How do you make exercise a daily habit like you brush your teeth?  By making a commitment to you.  To your health.  Commit to move every day and then do it.  Focus on the now.  On today.  You deserve it.  

Sunday, January 4, 2015

What is your psoas and why should you care?

Last year, I made the announcement to my clients that it would be the year of the glute and that we would focus on firing those muscles correctly and staying away from being quad dominant.  This year I've proclaimed it's the year of the psoas. (of course we work on a well balanced program, but will talk about the psoas as one focus point.)

The psoas muscle is a super thick muscle that connects from your lumbar spine (lower part of your spine) to your femur (big thigh bone).  Its primary action is hip flexion (pulls your torso towards your thigh) and secondarily, it assists in lateral rotation of the hip.

When your psoas is chronically tight, it creates an excessive anterior pelvic tilt. (increased curvature of the lower back.)  An excessive anterior pelvic tilt can increase the risk of knee pain, lower back pain/injuries, and other musculoskeletal disorders.

Most people have tight psoas muscles and may not be aware of it.  If you do a lot of sitting (working, driving, gaming, sewing, painting, etc.) your psoas muscles (and other muscles in the back and legs) are probably tight.  So what do you do?

1. Mobility work with a lacrosse ball. Lie down on your back and push a lacrosse ball into the muscle and "roll" the ball around for self-massage.
2. Specific stretches such as the pigeon pose and lunge stretch
3. Stop sleeping on your stomach
4. Limit your sitting.  Mindfully get up and walk around and stretch your muscles at least 2x/hour if you are sitting for long periods of time.
5. Add in back extensions to your daily exercise program.

While all 5 of these tips will help you, the best thing you can do is sit less and move more.  Be mindful.  Set an alarm to remind yourself to get up and move around and stretch.  When we are tight and in pain, it's hard to be at our best.  Take the time and take responsibility to keep your body feeling its best.  When starting the mobility work and stretches, there may be some uncomfortableness.  Try to work through it with deep breaths and take your time.  Obviously, if something doesn't feel right and causes sharp, shooting pain stop doing what you're doing.

Remember, if pain persists or you don't feel an improvement in a couple of weeks, it's best to be checked out by an orthopedic doctor, physical therapist, or chiropractor.  A tight psoas is just one possibility for back and knee pain.
2015-the year of the psoas

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

You're a Personal Trainer AND You Eat Cake?

I was at a party the other night and it was whispered in my ear that people were afraid to eat the hush puppies and cake that were being served because I was there.  How sad.  I'm not the food police.  I like to enjoy a party as much as the next person.  When I'm out socially, I want to enjoy my friends and the party and I'm not "on" as a personal trainer.  I trust that you'll make the best choices you need to make without me standing guard.  I'm a human being just like everyone else and I like to have a treat every now and then and enjoy a party.  Here are a few more tips (follow up from my last blog) that I follow on how to enjoy the holiday season without completely overindulging:

1. Missing scheduled workouts is non-negotiable.  Over the weekend, I'll look at the week ahead and plan my workouts.  Do I have a party or 2 to go to on the same night?  I make sure I have a workout planned for that morning.

2. Make sure to really enjoy what I'm eating.  When I'm at a party, I make sure that I savor the cake I'm eating or homemade brownie or whatever.  These aren't things I eat on a regular basis because they're treats so I make sure to really appreciate the taste, texture, etc..

3. Keep things in perspective.  One meal will not make or break my health.  I enjoy a meal with friends and remember the WHY part of getting together whether it's a birthday celebration or a holiday. I don't need to overindulge to enjoy my time with friends and family.  And if I do, I move on and get back to what makes me feel my best.

If you find yourself getting frantic and caught up in the holiday frazzle, that's the best time to slow down and keep things in perspective.  Remember to focus on what's really important.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Stay on Track AND Enjoy the Holidays

It's that time of the year again.  2 weeks until Thanksgiving.  I can see the panic and anxiety in some people's eyes.  Admittedly, it does seem like there are more parties to attend this time of the year, more treats being shared at the office, and more, more, more.  While I could offer up 20 tips to help you get through the next 6 weeks without completely derailing your quest to be healthy and not have to totally "start over" come January 1, I'm going to give you 3 to stick to and you'll be just fine.

1. Schedule your exercise for first thing in the morning.  Put it on your calendar like an appointment with a very important person who you wouldn't want to blow off.  By exercising first thing, there's very little that can get in the way.  Last minute meetings aren't being called, the offer of happy hour isn't happening at 6am, and normally that's a pretty calm period of the day.  Get moving.  Plan ahead.  Put your exercise clothes out the night before so all you have to do is roll out of bed and put the clothes on. Also, by doing something that's healthy for you, you're more likely to eat and drink things that are better for your body.  I'm not a fan of the thought process of "oh my treadmill said I burned 500 calories so that means I can eat a 500 calorie brownie sundae."  Doesn't really work like that.  That topic can have its own blog.  But exercise will get the metabolism going and get your mind right.  Get the exercise in and read on.

2. When you go to a party, don't congregate near the food and drinks.  Get your plate of food and a drink and move away.  You'll be surprised how much those nibbles and bites add up.  If you're not standing near the chips and dip, you'll be less tempted to just grab and mindlessly eat.  This all comes down to mindfulness.  Survey the food options and if something looks amazing and you want to try it, try it.  One cracker with some crab dip isn't going to derail you.   Be mindful, enjoy a little bit of what you want, and remember why you're at the party.  Remember, desserts and heavy sauces will carry the bulk of your calories so be mindful with those foods.  Split a dessert.  Make sure it's something that you really want.  One dessert will not derail you.

3. Watch the liquid calories.  They add up.  And I'm not just talking alcohol.  Punches and fruit juices can quickly add up.  If you're going to drink alcohol, alternate between water and alcohol.

You can enjoy the holidays without feeling deprived.  It just takes some mindfulness.  Plan ahead.  Pay attention to your surroundings.  And remember the WHY of the holidays.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


Perseverance-“steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.” I like to shorten it to say “to carry on in spite of difficulty.”

I love the word perseverance.  To me it means “I know sh*t's going to happen that’s totally out of my control, that I’ll make mistakes that I’ll learn from, but that I’m going to keep going and not give up in spite of these difficulties.”

In my personal life, there have been many situations and circumstances where I had the choice to persevere or give up.  We all go through difficulties.  Everybody.  Don't let fraudulent Facebook posts convince you otherwise.  Facebook is just a snapshot of what someone wants you to see and believe.  

In my profession as a personal trainer/health consultant I get to watch people go from out of shape and lacking confidence to fit, confident, and health-conscious individuals.  Unfortunately, I also witness people giving up before seeing the major changes they’re expecting in an unrealistic period of time. 

It takes most people about a year to see the major changes they want when they come to see me.  There are generally 3 reasons why someone would want a personal trainer: to look better, feel better, and/or move better.  Unfortunately, people quit too soon.  They don’t persevere. 

All 3 “betters” require changing habits.  Changing habits takes time.  Fitness is not linear.  There are going to be bumps in the road.  There is a learning curve.  One of the first things I discuss with new clients and continue to educate on is that “life” will always happen, meaning there’s not going to be a day when things go exactly planned.  You have to make fitness and eating healthy a priority no matter what.  I teach people how to do that.  But knowing something and doing something are 2 different things.  To make a habit a habit, a person first has to deliberately do the new habit.  Habits won’t become habits until you’ve done them enough so that you don’t have to think about it.  Believe me, I’ve heard every excuse in the book on why someone “got stuck” eating cookies and chips.  And really the excuse doesn’t matter.  If it’s good enough for you, then it’s good enough for you.  BUT if you want to see changes, you’ve got to persevere.  Yes, it’s hard to change, but if it’s important enough to you, you will persevere.

I hear often that people are “intimidated” to come out and just try a boot camp with GetAMPed Fitness.  I can understand feeling anxious and nervous and maybe the word “intimidated” is a defense mechanism for “oh my gosh, if I go, then I’ve committed to having to make changes to my lifestyle that I’m comfortable with and even though I know I need to make changes, the uncertainty of the changes is more uncomfortable than the misery I’m in doing things the way I’ve always done them.”  How’s that for a stream of consciousness?  “You mean if I want to look better, feel better, and move better than I’m going to have to make some major changes?  I’m ‘intimidated’ by that thought so I’ll keep doing what I’m doing until I’m so miserable that I’ll be willing to make the changes.”  Isn’t that how things usually go?  We don’t make changes until we are in enough pain and misery. 

Recently, I was meeting with a potential client who is overweight and was having shortness of breath and chest pains.  I told him I couldn’t and wouldn’t work with him until he went to a doctor and got released to exercise with me.  He wouldn’t go.  He hasn’t been to a doctor in over 20 years. Unfortunately, most likely, this is the type of person who won’t do anything to change his unhealthy lifestyle until a traumatic event like a heart attack or a stroke happens.  Very sad to me.  I’m here when he’s ready to make the change and persevere.

If you’re ready to make a change to look better, feel better, and/or move better email me to set up a strategy session with me.  I’m ready to help you.  Are you ready to be helped?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Finish Line Is Not the Only Goal

I love to run.  This time of the year in Raleigh, NC may be my favorite.  It has cooled off considerably and the humidity has been turned down.  Maybe it's because after pushing through the mugginess of summer, the crisp morning air is welcome.  Or a slightly warmer afternoon run, but not too hot.  And you can still get in a quick evening run before darkness and the temperature falls.

I'm trying to enjoy each run even when they don't feel as easy as they should or I'm just feeling lazy because in Nov. I'm having surgery on my left big toe to deal with lots of bone spurs and to fuse the joint since there's no cartilage left.  (Yes, I should've stretched my calves more but that's for a different blog).

I love this time of year for running because normally I would be tapering down from a 4-6 month marathon training program and getting ready to run a fall marathon.  I'm envious when I see the Facebook posts about people going out for the last 20 mile run.  I start thinking, "hmm I've got enough miles under my belt to struggle through a half marathon. Should I just do one before the surgery?"  But you know what?  It's the process. The journey of training that I really enjoy.  Yes, the actual race is cool, but there's so many variables that are out of my control that it's actually a little stressful.  The training though.  That's what gets me excited.  The decision to do the race.  Make a plan.  And then stick to the plan no matter what.  Looking at my week's plan of scheduled runs and cross training and figuring out when to make them work.  Looking at the weather and seeing that there's 100% chance rain on my long run day and making a change in my schedule so I can run on a nicer day.  Planning and then doing.  That's where I get the satisfaction.  Running when I don't want to.  Getting up before dawn to beat the heat and getting the miles in even when I don't want to.  That's what gets me jacked.  Not the actual race.  The preparation. The training.  The setting of a goal.  Keeping my training going and my eye on the goal even when I'm on vacation.  Getting in that run because it's on my training plan and not letting the next best excuse derail me.  The process of getting to the finish line.

So I won't be running in my normal early Nov. marathon or even 1/2 marathon.  I haven't actually trained for it.  I've done my normal "I'm alive and I want to be healthy exercise" running and that's good enough to keep me in shape but not good enough for me to enter a race and compete like I want to.

You want to be inspired?  Pick a race that's coming up in the next couple of months.  Enter it.  Download a training schedule from Hal Higdon or Couch to 5K and COMMIT to doing the plan no matter what.  Don't run?  So what.  Walk the course.  Train to walk a 5k.  That's 3.1 miles.  Seriously, the "stick-to-it-ness" of setting a goal and following a plan will empower you.  It does me.

I'll start training for another big race starting in about March of 2015.  Until then, I'll live vicariously through all you fall/winter racers and I wish you all the best!  I'll be out there cheering for you as I know all of the hard work you've put in to get to this point.  Run like the wind is at your back and always run your hardest through the finish line. :)