Sunday, December 23, 2012

12 Tools for Your Triathlon Toolbox - #10 Experts

A few weeks ago, our Team visited Neurosport Physical Therapy for a Functional Movement Screening, conducted by Physical Therapist, Matt M. and Exercise Specialist/Head PT Tech, Chris H.  The screening revealed our individual weaknesses and inflexibilities.  Chris and Matt provided each of us with a safe and effective core strength program that addresses each of our dysfunctions.  As we keep up with these exercises, there is a good chance we will prevent future injury.  Hooray!

Last week, our Team had the pleasure of meeting with Kyle O’Day of Continuum Sports Solutions who specializes in Run Stride Analysis.  He demonstrated several dynamic warm up drills and asked us to practice the drills so he could check our form.  Then, he watched each of us run while he provided tips to help us improve our efficiency.   It was extremely beneficial and I was grateful to Kyle for sharing his expertise with our Team!

Next month, our Team will host Robin Benardot, RD of Benardot Nutrition as she shares her knowledge and experience about nutrition with the Team.

Having these professionals in my circle are extremely important to my coaching business.  My job as a coach includes guiding athletes through the disciplines of swimming, biking and running.  Of course, I also incorporate mental toughness, injury prevention, strength training, nutrition and technique.  Referring to these professionals comes into play when I recognize that I have an athlete that needs more help in an area than I can provide.  Since I've established great relationships with these experts, I can work with them to tailor the athlete's plan to best address his/her deficiency while keeping training at a high level.

Training for this sport takes a lot of our precious time.  My suggestion is to save time and consult an expert as soon as you start having an issue that needs a higher level of attention. 

When one of my athletes needs more help in an area that is not my specialty, I don’t hesitate referring them to one of these more experienced professionals. 

Happy Training and Racing!  

Thursday, December 6, 2012

12 Tools for Your Triathlon Toolbox - #9 Training Partners

I got my start in the sport of triathlon ten years ago with Team in Training.  Being part of a Team to train and fundraise with was a fantastic way to get initiated in to the sport!  I made tons of friends, learned so much from the coaches and fundraised for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  Crossing the finish line at the 2003 St.Anthony’s Triathlon meant a whole lot more than just finishing my first triathlon.  It meant working hard to reach a goal, enjoying it with friends and making a small difference in someone’s life who could not compete in the sport due to their illness.

As I continued my involvement in the sport by competing in longer distance races, I learned the importance of having solid training partners, especially for bike rides.  It’s tough to face a 65 – 100+ miler on your own, especially when you need to complete rides like this on a regular basis to get ready for an Ironman triathlon or other long distance event.

Over the years, I’ve relied on several fellow triathletes and cyclists to join me on rides.  I’ve treasured my training partners over the years.  Here are some of the qualities they possess:

·        Timeliness
·        PMA (Positive Mental Attitude)
·        Seriousness
·        Preparedness
·        Honesty
·        Ego in Check
·        No Sandbagging
·        Good Citizenship

Take this short quiz to find out how you rank on the “Coach Mari Fridenmaker Training Partner Compatibility Scale”:

1.)  When you decide to meet for a “Wheels Down at 7:30am” ride, do you…
a.      Arrive at 7:05am, get everything ready and show up at the starting area at 7:25am?
b.     Arrive at 7:25, quickly get everything together and hope you are good to roll out at 7:30am?
c.      Pull in the parking lot at 7:35 wondering if you are in the wrong place?

2.)  When you come to ride with your Training Partner, do you…
a.      Always have enough fluid and nutrition for the duration of the ride and even a little bit extra?
b.     Arrive with just enough to get you through the ride?
c.      Show up to the ride, then remember you left all your bottles and nutrition sitting on the kitchen counter?

3.)  How do you greet your Training Partner when meeting him/her at the ride?
a.      “Hey buddy!  You look strong today.  I’m feeling great and can’t wait to ride!  Let’s go!”
b.     “hey.  ready?”
c.      “Hey.  I didn’t get any sleep last night because my date kept me up all night…talking.  Then, I was late for work.  My boss kept me in yet another meaningless meeting until 5:15pm.  I feel like crap and my ride is going to suck.  Should we just go for pizza instead?”

4.)  When you meet your Training Partner for a mid-week recovery ride and you know he/she is a little bit slower than you, what do you do?
a.      Ride at his/her pace without letting him/her know you are taking it easy. 
b.     Ride ahead of him/her, but close enough where he/she can see you.
c.      Go “balls to the wall” and *maybe* see him/her back at the parking lot.

5.)  When approaching a stop sign while riding in town during a busy part of the day with your Training Partner, what do you do?
a.      Stop.  Unclip.  Look both ways.  Proceed when traffic is clear.
b.     Slow down.  Stay clipped in.  Look both ways.  Proceed.
c.      Ride so fast through the stop sign that the cop can’t catch you to give you a ticket…only for him to eventually catch up to you to call the ambulance.
If you answered mostly with an “a”, you are an excellent Training Partner.  If you answered mostly with a “b”, you’ve got a few ways to improve.  If you answered mostly with a “c”, please return your Blue Iron Coaching cycling jersey immediately!

In this sport in which we spend a lot of time training, having solid training partners is invaluable!  I’ve had tons of awesome training buddies over the years…too many to mention.  These people have contributed to the joy I have received from the sport.  I hope you all cherish your training partners and serve as one yourself!

Happy Training and Racing!  

Friday, November 9, 2012

Mari's Ironman Florida Race Report

Folks, I'm going to keep it brief this time!

I just want to share a few pieces of advice I took along with a few things I did different this time around during Ironman Florida.  For those of you who don't know, it has been over six years since my last Ironman.  I finished Ironman Coeur d'Alene in 2005 (Finish Time: 15:01) and Ironman USA in Lake Placid in 2006 (Finish Time: 14:16).  I've learned a lot and taken some good advice since then!

  • Different: I weighed in 17 lbs lighter this year than both of my previous IM races.  Result: I felt great and was faster.

  • Different: I decided to swim in the mob of swimmers to take advantage of the draft.  Result: I got hit pretty hard in head with an elbow and saw stars.  My goggles got knocked off, but they went back on fairly easily.  I definitely felt the draft and was quite comfortable swimming in the crowd.   

  •  Different: I drank a whole lot more on the bike than my original plan.  My mouth was raw from the salt water I took in during the swim.  Result: I got some practice peeing on the bike.

  • Advice: I focused on the "Average Pace" when looking at my Garmin.  Result: I beat my goal of sub 6:30 on the bike by coming in at 6:23.  <Thanks, Heather G, for that good piece of advice!>

  • Different: I did not hold too much back on the bike.  Result: See above.

  • Advice: I took extra time in T2 to stretch (Downward Dog, Catcher's Pose, Hip Flexor Lunge).  Result: There is no evidence of the "Ironman Shuffle" during my run.  <Thanks, Robbie G, for mentioning that tip on our drive down to PCB!>

  • Different: I did not change clothes in transition, nor did I put on another shirt at special needs.  Result: I was able to sport my Blue Iron Coaching kit ALL DAY!  <Thanks, Jessica C, for creating such an awesome kit design!>

  • Different: I went in to the race with "race mentality" rather than a "just finish" mentality.  Result: I finished with an IM PR of 13:08:45.  My quads hurt for an extra day.

Here are my stats from the race:

Race Splits:
Swim: 1:16:27
T1: 7:05
Bike: 6:23:24
T2: 8:41
Run: 5:13:10
Total: 13:08:45

Calorie Intake and Expenditure:
Calories In (Including both pre-race breakfasts): 3,893
Calories Out (Not including walking back and forth from my condo in the morning, pre-race swim and running in and out of transition): 3,626
Calorie Overage: 267

Thanks so much to everyone who was at the race to cheer and volunteer, especially Big S, Callie, Karen W, Kristi, Ben, Colleen, Tom, Gayle, Nadia, Joe, Regina, Chrissy, Carlton, Lorraine, Sarah and Allen H, Sarah H, Lea, Karen L, Ann, Susan, Lauren and Ronald.  (NOTE: Lupe, I'm sure you were out there, but I never saw you. <smile>  Thanks!)

Congrats to everyone who raced, especially Robbie, Trisha, Jennifer, Bill, Ken, Chris, Brendan, Michael,  Steven, George, Branan, Jim, Dale, Ryan, John, Karen W, Frayed Laces Laura and KC.

And, thanks to everyone who was there in spirit, cheering from afar!

This experience would not be as sweet if it weren't for all of you!  

A few of you didn't make the cut-off.  My heart goes out to you.  I hope you will try again because Ironman is an unforgettable, life-changing experience.

Time to start planning for 2013.  

Happy training and racing, everyone!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

12 Tools for Your Triathlon Toolbox - #8 Mantras

As I begin packing my toolbox for Ironman Florida, I will be sure to include my mantras for race day.  Pre-Race Mantras: "I am calm"  "I can do this"  "I won't throw up!"  Swim Mantras: "Glide"  "Gliide"  "Gliiiiiiide"  "I'm faster than that shark!"  Bike Mantra: "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10"  "Up and Over"  "Head Down and Breeeeeeeeathe"  Run Mantra: "Fast Legs, Calm Breath"  "FIN-ISH Liiiiine!"

Over the past several months, I've been practicing my mantras during training.  There have been some tough days and my mantras have come in quite handy.

Tough Day #1 - My calves cramped during the Death Valley Open Water 5K Swim Meet in Clemson, SC.  I found out how tough it is to swim without the use of your legs.  Ugh.  My mantra was "keep going, keep going, keep going".  The cramps didn't last too long, I kept going and finished my first 5K open water swim race!

Tough Day #2 - On Day 3 of Gaps Training Weekend, I really didn't feel overly thrilled about getting back on my bike for another day of several miles of climbing.  My mantra was "quit now and regret, quit now and regret, quit now and regret".  Okay, technically, that was a pre-ride mantra, but count it anyway.  Also, I was the ORGANIZER of the weekend and I was NOT going to quit!  Bottom Line...No regrets, baby!

Tough Day #3 - It was a Friday morning that stretched into the afternoon on Columns Drive.  The goal = 6 hours or 100 miles, whichever came first.  For those of you who don't know, Columns Drive is a flat 2.5-mile residential road just outside of Atlanta.  It backs up to a park with trails and is quite popular with folks like me who like to train.  I ended up riding the 2.5-mile stretch a total of 38 times (19 loops) over the course of 6 hours.  My mantra was my tried and true "Head Down and breeeeeeathe".  It worked!  The time flew by and before I knew it, my six hours was UP!

What are your favorite mantras?  Do you need some help coming up with a few mantras to add to your toolbox?  Want to know what the sanskrit word "mantra" actually means?  Want to read a good quote from a sports psychologist?  Check out this excellent article in Runner's World. 

Happy Training and Racing!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Roast at the Coast Recap!

Roast at the Coast...
  • 24 Dedicated Athletes, Including 4 Support Crew Members
  • Four Days of Long-Course Triathlon Training
  • 90 Minute Coaching Session with Pro Triathlete and Coach, Heather Gollnick
  • Four Planned Group Meals
This is what was on tap for Labor Day Weekend in Panama City Beach, Florida. BRING IT!

Several months ago, one of my athletes and I decided to plan a training weekend in PCB over Labor Day weekend. A great idea, considering we are both training for Ironman Florida, scheduled for Saturday, November 3rd. This would lend us the opportunity to focus on our training for four days and experience the IM FL course first hand. As the plans began to emerge, we opened it up to other athletes to join our fun! As more and more athletes jumped on board, I rounded up a few Support Crew Members to help us during the weekend. We ended up with a wonderful group of both athletes and support people! What a wonderful experience!

Here is my training recap:

Since I arrived in PCB on Thursday, I decided to get up early on Friday morning and join the Masters Group at the PCB Aquatic Center. It was so nice swim in a 50-meter outdoor pool at 6am and see the sun rise during the workout!

The majority of the group arrived early in the afternoon. Our plan was to swim in the ocean for one hour, then run on the beach for one hour. Unfortunately, we had double red flags so swimming in the ocean was a "no go".

I laced up my running shoes (okay, usually I don't lace up my shoes because I wear Yankz!, however my Yankz! were broken beyond repair after my last interval run 'cause I'm that hard core***wink***) and hit the beach with two other athletes. Chatting with them was great because I learned a bit about each. And, it helped take my mind off the heat of the afternoon!

Since we couldn't swim in the ocean, a group decided to hit the PCB Aquatic Center for a pool swim and we decided to head to Lake Powell for a lake swim. A bunch of us piled in three cars and headed west. The lake swim was not my favorite workout of the weekend. I couldn't see much once my face was in the water. What the **bleep** was in this water anyway?!?! There were several fish who clearly didn't want me in their "home". Then, I really got the picture when several crabs were banging up against my feet and legs when we took a break to regroup. Okay, back to the shore for me. Everyone else did a bit more swimming before we all headed back to the condo for dinner.

Pool Swim: 2,200 meters
Ocean Run: 60 minutes (no Garmin, so not sure of the distance)
Lake Swim: 600 yards

Could.Not.Wait.For.This.Ride. The plan was to ride 83 miles of the IM FL bike course and I was pumped! I had driven the course when my Camp Co-Conspirator and I came down for our reconnaissance trip in July so I knew it was going to be a treat!

Our group met at the same park that housed the PCB Aquatic Center. When we started the ride at approximately 6:45am, there was a ton of fog. This was a bit troubling because I was worried cars would have trouble seeing us on the road. As we got going, this did not seem to be a problem. The cars were courteous and all was well. Unfortunately, my glasses were wet which created difficulty seeing. My solution: I spent the first 15 miles staying behind (NOT drafting...but three bike distances away) our youngest athlete because he had a nice blinky light on his bike. By the time he pulled away from me, the fog had lifted and I had no trouble seeing. I changed my glasses to the no-fog variety and things were great!

As the ride continued, I was enjoying progress I was making. I was sticking to my nutrition plan of one bottle of INFINIT per hour.   I was keeping a steady pace.  I was staying in my aerobars as much as possible. Also, I was paying close attention to the course. Come Saturday, November 3rd (IM FL Race Day), I want to be as prepared as possible which is why I love being familiar with the race course ahead of time.

The Rest Stop at Pitt Springs was a welcome sight! Two Support Crew Members greeted me at the entrance. Yes! Unfortunately, when I asked about the other athletes, I was told there had been some flat tires. Ugh. I was half expecting to get a flat tire along the way. Luckily, I avoided that hassle. As I pulled in to Pitt Springs, my hubby and Camp Co-Conspirator welcomed with water and snacks. I made a short *pit* stop (PUN INTENDED), filled my bottles, ate a homemade granola bar and headed back out.

The rest of the ride was nice. There are a couple of rolling hills on Hwy 20, but nothing significant. I really only had to stop once after the Rest Stop, which was at a large intersection. I was so pleased at the low amount of traffic on the course. In planning the weekend, I worried there would be a lot of tourist traffic since it was a holiday weekend. Fortunately, this was not an issue.

On the final stretch of the ride, my pace started to slow. I was wishing I would have brought my second homemade granola bar for a boost of energy. I took some time to stand up on my pedals for 20 revolutions to stretch out a few times. This made a big difference in how I felt. Sometimes, just shifting my position helped change the bloodflow and muscle usage and helped my psyche.

As I rolled back to the park where we started, I was happy to see our Support Crew at the picnic table with our lunch laid out on the table. Ahhhh...Greek Barley and Chicken Salad and Spicy Southwestern Edamame Salad...both cold...both yummy...both hit the spot!

After a snack, I decided to hit the PCB Aquatic Center for a cool-down swim. So refreshing! Despite experiencing a couple of cramps in my inner quad during the swim, I was so glad to have gone to the pool.

After my swim, I went back to the picnic tables to greet the other athletes. A couple of us decided to ride back to the condo. What's another 7 miles on the bike?

Bike: 83 + 7 = 90 miles
Swim: 2,100 yards

The "Blue Iron Scorcher" was the catchy name my hubby came up with for this workout: 1.5-mile ocean swim, 3-hour ride, 10-mile run. Again, we had red flags so the ocean swim was not going to happen, however there was nothing stopping us from doing the bike and run.

We set out on the out-and-back bike course: Thomas Drive, Front Beach Road, Hwy 98, Co Rd 30A for 90 minutes and back. We had such lovey scenery! Alys Beach was even holding a 5K that morning!

Back to the transition area, we all took a short break before starting the run. This, my followers, is where the "Scorcher" came in to play.

I believe it was well over 100 degrees during our run. I sported my hand-held bottle with my nutrition hoping it would get me to the halfway point where I had put out a 5 gallon jug of ice water to refill. Well, I slurped down that fluid quicker than normal. As I approached Thomas Drive from Dolphin Drive, I spotted a hose attached to the side of a liquor store. Hallelujah! As fast as I could, I unscrewed my water bottle cap, turned on the hose and filled my bottle with...HOT water! Shizz! Okay, I just decided that HOT water was better than NO water and I drank it.

One of the faster athletes approached me on his way back on the run and let me know the water jug was gone. OH HE77 NO! I stopped at the Omlette House for a refill of ice and water, then called back to our Support Crew. I was told another Support Crew Member was already on his way to the halfway point with another jug of water. NICE! At that point, I knew we were in good shape. I met up with a few other other athletes and we met our Support Crew Memeber and again refilled my bottle. This time, I added my Ironman Perform powder to the water. Yes, indeed! Needed that! We continued on to finish the 10-mile run. Along the way back, we were met with oh, so cold water from two of our other Support Crew Members. EXCELLENT! That was a big boost which helped us keep going strong! I was glad to have made it back with enough nutrition/hydration and minimal walking.

The red flags turned to yellow flags and a group decided to do an ocean swim. Since I was rather "scorched", I decided to stay inside for the rest of the day.

Bike: 53.77 miles
Run: 10 miles

We started the morning with a nice poolside Yoga/Pilates/Core Strength/Stretching routine.  

Then, a bunch of us hit the ocean for a swim! The water was a bit choppy, but not too bad. I was a little weirded out because I couldn't see much of what was going on in the water. I'm used to the water at PCB being nice and clear. Not today. I know there was some activity going on in the water because something **bumped** me a few times. What the heck?!?! "Okay, don't panic" I told myself. "You are fine" I continued telling myself. "You are wearing a wetsuit, you goober. There is nothing to worry about." I chastised myself. Then **BUMP** again! "Okay, I'm good" I told myself as I headed to shore after only about 600 meters of swimming. As I was swimming to shore, I could see a herd/school/group/gathering (not sure what they are called) of jellyfish. I tried to avoid them, but I was clearly in their territory. I exited the water and was glad to see my other fellow swimmers who also had been telling themselves similar stories in the water.

Yoga/Pilates/Core Strength/Stretching: 40 minutes
Ocean Swim: 600 meters

All in all, it was a wonderful weekend! For four days straight, I logged tons of really good training miles, met a few new training buddies and enjoyed being with training buddies I hadn't seen in awhile. I definitely appreciated having our Support Crew Members out there to help us along the way. We couldn't have done it without you! Great job to all the athletes who accomplished their individual goals and overcame some tough conditions!

If you want to experience more about the weekend, check out runkdubrun's post about her weekend!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Gaps Training Weekend Recap!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Late Friday morning, three of my athletes and I arrived at the High Valley Resort in Suches, GA for our weekend of riding The Gaps.  For those of you who are not familiar with The Gaps, it is a popular location in North Georgia to ride for serious cyclists.  It consists of a series of mountains with rolling hills in between each mountain.  It’s a short 90 minute drive from Atlanta and is one of my very favorite places to ride!

On Friday, the plan was to ride from the cabin to conquer three gaps: Woody, Neels and Wolfpen.    This is a 35-mile ride but it would probably take us approximately 3.5 hours.  We filled our bottles, put on our helmets, locked the cabin and we were off!

Starting the ride with a big, fat headache didn’t make for a good start to our ride.  Sometimes I get motion sickness, especially when riding in the car across the curvy, country highway, which probably contributed to my headache.  Alas, the ride must go on, headache or no headache!

Two of the four of us were brand new to riding The Gaps, so there was a bit of anxiety along with excitement.  When we planned this trip about four months ago, the two Gaps-newbies were already pumped to take on this challenge.  They have both come a long way even in those four, short months.

As we headed up Woody, the shortest climb of the three, two of my athletes took off to the point in which I could no longer see them.  A good sign!  My other athlete and I hung behind to conserve our energy <wink> for the remaining two gaps.

At the top of Woody, it was all smiles!


As we descended Woody, many thoughts crossed my mind: What if someone has a mechanical bike issue?  What if one of my athletes can’t complete the entire ride?  What if one of them crashes?  These are all legitimate concerns, however I decided to put all of those thoughts out of my mind.

Again, onward!

We regrouped at the bottom and continued on to Neels. 

Neels is a bugger!  It’s long.  It’s curvy.  It’s long.  Did I already mention that?  The shoulder is narrow.  Anyway, I just got settled in and continued making progress up the mountain.  At the top, two of my athletes were waiting.  Again, with smiles!  My other athlete made her way to the top and there were “high fives” for all!

Onward to Wolfpen!

We regrouped at the bottom of Neels at the turn to start Wolfpen.  My Gaps-experienced athlete and I warned our two Gaps-newbies to take it easy and beware of the hairpin turns and a few steep sections of the climb.  Both the newbies were ready.  It seems as if their confidence got higher and higher with each Gap accomplishment.  Sweet!

Wolfpen was a nice ride.  Not too much traffic (bike, car or motorcycle).  We were all slowing a bit on this one, but we all made it up.  Again, smiles!  Again, “high fives”!

We finished up the ride at our cabin in Suches, The Husky (far right).

Saturday, August 4, 2012

We got an early start on Saturday since our ride was much farther.  

Two of my athletes were taking on Wolfpen, Jacks, Unicoi, Hogpen and Wolfpen (66 miles).  One of my athletes and I decided to go a bit shorter and save Hogpen for our next Gaps outing <wink>.  We rode Wolfpen, Jacks, top of Unicoi, back down the same side of Unicoi, Jacks and Wolfpen (58 miles).

The four of us regrouped at the top of the climbs and at the turns until we got to the top of Unicoi.  

Then, we went our separate ways.

I was really excited to go up the back side of Jacks since I hadn’t done that previously.  It was a nice change because it wasn’t as tough as the front side of the mountain.  My other athlete and I also got a chance to chat without worrying about the guys.  The two of us have known each other for almost nine years, however we’ve only been working together as Coach-Athlete since April.  It was fun to spend time with her and get to know her on a more personal level. 

We made it up and over Jacks, then we made our way to Wolfpen.  Before we made the turn to start Wolfpen we stopped at Sunrise Grocery to refill our bottles.  Best.Country.Store.Ever!  This place has everything from cantaloupes to coonskin hats, boiled peanuts to bear poop candy!  Seriously!  It’s the bomb!  After we refilled, we set out to finish our last Gap of the day. 

This was tough.  I noticed my speed was almost an entire half mile per hour slower than yesterday going up the same Gap, which is a lot when you are talking about the difference between 6 mph and 5.5 mph.  Ugh.  Decided to keep on repeating my hill-climbing mantra: “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10…”  This is me..counting my pedal strokes.  When I decide to get out of my saddle, I only stand for a count of a ten, then I sit for a count of ten.  This is a way to control my heart rate so I don’t get too tired too quickly.  Also, it helps me not roll backward.  LOL!   

My athlete and I made it back to the cabin and we were pooped!  About 30 minutes later, my two other athletes made it back.  Hurting, but happy!  Actual quote: “Hogpen was tu-uff”!  WORD!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

We got psyched for our third day of riding.  I opened this ride up to others who wanted to join us for the 35-miler.  For us, this would be the same route as Friday.  For everyone else, the plan was for them to ride from the rock pile up/over Neels, up/over Wolfpen and up/over Woody. 

We rode up/over Woody to wait for the group.  Only one brave soul decided to join us, so off we went at 8am!  Onward to Neels!

For some weird reason, Neels seemed to have gotten longer since Friday.  Hmmmm….  Maybe it was just a mental game my mind was playing on me.  Again, I settled in and climbed the mountain.  There was not as much regrouping at the top of Neels.  I wanted to ride the Gaps straight through this time around.  As I sped down Neels, I made the turn to Wolfpen and got some really good momentum!  Unfortunately, again, I noticed my pace begin to slow.  Since this was the last Gap of the weekend, I decided to push a bit harder and get up Wolfpen as fast as possible!  I was up before I felt the pain!  Woo Hoo!  If the truth be told, I didn’t experience much pain at all during or after my rides.  Nice!

Onward back to the cabin!

As I pulled in to the resort entrance, my face was sore…from smiling from ear to ear!  Not only was this a big training weekend for me, it was HUGE for my athletes, especially the Gaps-newbies!  They did AWESOME, in fact they did much better than I expected!  It is a joy for me to see athletes accomplish something they weren’t sure was possible.    

My accomplishment over the weekend went beyond my own expectations.  Of course, I knew this would be a tough weekend.  It was.  For sure.   But, being able to dig deep to push it past my comfort zone up Wolfpen was a fantastic feeling!  

Actual quote: “A successful weekend”!  WORD!


Day #1 - Woody, Neels, Wolfpen - 35 Miles - Elevation gain of 4,173 feet - 792 Calories burned - 622 Calories consumed

Day #2 - Wolfpen, Jacks, Unicoi, Jacks, Wolfpen - 58 Miles - Elevation gain of 6,049 - 1,584 Calories burned, 1,343 Calories consumed

Day #3 - Woody, Neels, Wolfpen - 35 Miles - Elevation gain of 4,173 feet - 792 Calories burned - 622 Calories consumed

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

12 Tools for Your Triathlon Toolbox - #7 Rest and Recovery

I love this quote by Ryan Hall, who will be representing the United States in the 2012 Olympic Marathon.

“I actually think being a more balanced person makes a healthier, happier, and thus faster person. The question I try and ask myself when I consider whether or not to train more is what is my body craving and what is my body ready to absorb? Sometimes pushing harder is not the answer. It takes self control, confidence, and intuition to know when to train and when to rest, but when in question error on the side of being over rested.”

It is obvious changing our Blue Iron Swim Team practice from Tuesday and Thursday mornings to Monday and Wednesday mornings has taken a toll on some of my athletes.  After a long weekend of training, they are usually dragging themselves to the pool at Agnes Scott College on Monday mornings at 6am.  The athletes I coach don’t usually see a rest day until Tuesday, which is challenging after a long weekend of training and a tough swim on Monday.  Luckily this schedule change only takes place during June, July and August.  Come September, we’ll be back swimming on Tuesday and Thursday mornings and Monday will be a welcome rest day for my athletes!

It is no secret that rest and recovery is important to the success of triathletes.  Why? An athlete's body needs time to recover from the stress that is put on the muscles as athletes swim, bike, run and strength train.  When you skip rest and recovery, you increase the risk of injury.  It is also the time for your body to reap the benefits of your hard training.

I want to share with you the following recovery tips for training days longer than 2 hours.  These are guidelines I’ve adapted from the book “The Athlete’s Guide to Recovery” by Sage Rountree.  I had the pleasure of hearing Sage speak at a seminar as part of my USA Triathlon coaching certification requirement.

Snack, Rehydrate and Ice Within 30 Minutes
Snacks should consist of protein and carbohydrates. Pack food and drinks in a cooler and leave in your car for immediately after your long bike ride or run.  Continue to hydrate throughout the day and the next day. Remember, it can take 24 - 48 hours to rehydrate after a long workout.

"Spot" ice any areas that are giving you trouble. I like to keep a zippy bag of ice in the freezer. I just grab it, rub it on the affected area and put it back in the freezer for next time.

If you just had a really tough workout, you can soak your legs in a cold water bath for 10 - 15 minutes.  Once the blood starts moving, you legs will tingle and warm up.

Shower Within 60 Minutes
Everyone around you will appreciate this.  Seriously, it's a good idea to remove sweaty clothes as soon as possible due to the bacteria that is multiplying in damp clothing.

Compression Socks (if you choose) After 2 Hours
If you like compression socks, put them on 2 hours after your workout to aid in recovery. You can wear them for 2 - 4 hours.

Eat a Healthy Meal After 2.5 Hours

Yoga and/or Stretching After 3 Hours
If you are familiar with Yoga poses, put yourself through this light routine: Legs on the Wall, Supported Child's Pose, Supported Prone Twist, Supported Back Bend, Supported Side Bend, Supported Bridge, Supported Corpse Pose

If you are not familiar with these poses, perform your favorite stretches and hold for 30 - 60 seconds each.

Take a 40 Minute Nap After 3.5 Hours

Massage or Self-Massage After 5 Hours
If you are able to have a massage by a qualified therapist, go for it! Be sure to let the therapist know you had a hard ride or run today. You can also self-massage with a Foam Roller or The Stick.

Go For a Walk After 6 Hours

Take a Warm Bath Before Bed

The next day's workout should be light or a cross-training day.

I hope this helps! It may seem a like a lot, but in order to continue to train and avoid injury, your body needs to be treated this way so you will be ready for the next hard workout. You might not be able to fit everything in, so pick the things that work best for you and your schedule and stick with it!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Coach Mari’s Florida Challenge Aquabike Race Report!

In October, along with fellow PTC members, Gabriel and Judd and my friend, Kristi, I signed up for the Florida Challenge Half Iron-Distance Triathlon (1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run).  This was a FANTASTIC way to stay motivated to train over the winter!  Also, I’ve done this race before (when it was in October) and was excited to go back and take it on again.  Unfortunately, I suffered a nasty case of shin splints at the end of the year which put me out of running for the majority of January and February.  Yep!  Even the Coach gets injured!  <wink>  Realizing I would not be ready to run 13.1 on April 15th, I decided to change my registration to the Aquabike (1.2-mile swim and 56-mile bike).  Yes, I was a bit disappointed, but was thrilled to have the Aquabike option.  My other options included 1.) Recruiting a relay partner to run 13.1 for me, but felt like that was a bit too much to ask, 2.) Quitting after the bike.  Dang it!  I’ve never had a “DNF” after my name in my nine years of racing and I wasn’t going to start now.  NOT AN OPTION! 3.) Drop down to the Sprint.  Just couldn’t bring myself to drive to central Florida for a 400-meter swim, 8-mile bike and 3.1-mile run.  When I noticed the Aquabike division, I jumped right on it!  TIP: If you are ever in this situation, make your decision and contact the Race Director right away.  There were several athletes who tried to switch two weeks before the race and they were not allowed.

Up nice and early!  That’s me on Race Day!  I prepared my favorite breakfast: Fruit smoothie, hard-boiled egg and V-8 juice.  I packed a few last minute items, loaded the car and was off to the race site with my friend, Kristi.  We got parked and headed to transition.

On my way to transition, I asked one of the official race organizers about the finish for the Aquabike racers.  As of the day before, they were thinking of adding a different finish line for the Aquabikers.  He let me know we should just come in to transition and hand our timing chip to the timer at the finish line.  <sigh>

After everything was set up in transition, I headed out for a warm-up run.  It was nice to get away from the crowd and clear my head.  It also helped to calm my nerves.  The sun started to come up and it looked like it was going to be a really pretty day.

I dropped my running shoes off in transition, grabbed my goggles, swim cap, wetsuit and headed to the lake.  I slipped on my trusty Orca neoprene get-up and decided to do a little bit of swimming before the start.  The water felt fantastic!  Something happened that has never happened in a race before: A wave of extreme relaxation came over me.  I was ready to race!

I lined up in my chute and was off!  The swim started like a bunch of others I’ve done in the past.  Lots of arms and legs moving about and bodies battling for position.  No worries!  I’m a fairly strong swimmer so I didn’t mind being right there with them.  I decided to hug the inside of the buoys for the rectangular swim.  A point in time came in which I was swimming alone.  Hmmmm.  I just kept trying my best to sight in the bright sunshine.  Then, a guy on a kayak came and told me to get back on course.  Oooops!  I was cutting in to the rectangle a little bit too much.  THANKS to the volunteer in the kayak for not letting me cut the swim course.   I kept on swimming and did not worry that I may have swum a few extra meters in the process of going off course.  Then, there he was…a guy in a green cap!  Yay!  I just passed someone from an earlier wave!  Oh, then there was another one…a guy in a red swim cap.  SWEET!  I just passed someone from two earlier waves.  Nice.  With that boost of confidence, I swam all the way until my hands touched the sandy surface of the beach.  I was up and out of the water in 30:51.

As I exited the water, I was surprised to see the wetsuit strippers.  I pulled down my wetsuit halfway, got on my back and let them rip that sucker off of me!  I ran to transition, quickly put on my helmet, bike shoes and sunglasses.  I grabbed my bike and I was out of transition in 2:12.

I got on my bike after crossing the mount line and started the ride.  Then, I realized I completely forgot to rinse off my feet after the run through the sand.  Oh well.  If I get chafed, at least I won’t have to run with sore feet.  (Luckily, this didn’t create a problem at all during or after my bike ride.)

This is a tough bike ride!  Folks don’t realize that there actually are hills in central Florida.  My Garmin calculated a total elevation gain of 2,103 ft, which included the beast titled, “Sugarloaf Mountain”.  All good!  I was ready!  Since I didn’t have the run to look forward to today, I decided to go pretty hard for the ride without exceeding Zone 5 too often.  I knew if I went too hard, I would poop out prior to the end of the ride and that is not a good feeling.  I held back just a bit until I conquered Sugarloaf Mountain which was at mile 26.  Awesome!  Now it was time to GO!  I continued to stay on top of my nutrition, which was my long-distance formula of infinit.  I also stuffed two Accel Gels in my pocket in case I started to feel like I wanted a kick.  It turned out that I didn’t need them.  The infinit worked like a charm.

As I headed back to Lake Minneola for the final 7 miles or so, I asked myself, “Do I really need to go this hard?”  I knew I was competing against 5 other females who were racing the Aquabike, however I didn’t see them in my starting wave.  There was a bit of a mix up with our swim caps.  Aquabikers were supposed to have purple caps.  I got a blue cap.  I went back to exchange mine for the purple cap.  When I lined up in the chute, I was the only one with a purple cap.  Hmmmm.  Whatever!  I tossed the thought to slow down out the window and kept on riding at a decent clip.  When I came in to transition after 3 hours, 14 minutes and 34 seconds, I crossed the timing mat and by habit, I RAN my bike to the transition rack.  Wait…I’m done!  I took a deep breath, slowly racked my bike, slipped off my helmet and bike shoes, put on my flip flops and walked over to the timing guy and turned in my chip.  My race was over in 3 hours, 47 minutes and 35 seconds.

Was I sad?  A little bit.  Was I glad?  Yes.  I felt like I gave it my ALL on the course and that was a GREAT feeling!  I got some water and watermelon to recover.  Then, I met up with Gabriel and Judd to hear about their race.  They both enjoyed the bike course too.  We chatted for awhile before we went our separate ways.  I wanted to cheer for my friend, Kristi, who was still on the run course and eat my peanut butter and jelly sandwich and sip my Kroger sparkling water.  Kristi was smiling each time she passed me, which was awesome!  She had a fantastic race, which included a big smile at the finish line!

When the awards ceremony started, I had a feeling I probably placed in the Top 3 in the Female Division of the Aquabike.  I was super-pleased to find out that I placed 1st AND was 18 minutes faster than the 2nd place Female.  Oh yeah!

I’m not sure I will sign up for another Aquabike race.  Skipping the run just didn’t feel the same.  However, it was a really cool experience to race and not hold anything back!  I’m definitely glad the multisport world has these options available!

I’m really looking forward to my next race: Macon Rock N Rollman on Saturday, June 2nd.  I’ll be RUNNING the 13.1 miles <YAY> with two relay partners who are also my athletes.  Lisa F. will be swimming and Drew S. will be biking.  It will be another opportunity to practice going hard for a portion of the race.  Stay tuned!

Friday, April 27, 2012

I'm Out...of a Rut!

I'll admit it.  I get in a rut from time to time.  In an effort to be efficient with time and training, I've spent lots of years limiting my bike rides to the hilly neighborhoods of Buckhead and occasionally venturing out to the North Georgia Mountains.  This year, many of the winter months were spent riding at Stone Mountain to prepare for the Florida Challenge Aquabike race that I just did on April 15th.  It's true!  I love riding hills!  I love the struggle of the uphill to be rewarded with the exhilaration of the downhill!

As I transition to my training for Ironman Florida, I realize I need to spend some time on the flats...starting today!  Jena, my Kestrel Airfoil triathlon bike that has seen me through over seven years of triathlon seasons, and I loaded up and headed to the Silver Comet Trail with plans to ride 40 miles.

For those of you who know me know I'm not a big fan of this training venue.  For those of you who don't know me, please allow me to briefly explain.  The Silver Comet Trail is fantastic for roller bladers, walkers, dog walkers, moms and dads with strollers, kids on bikes and runners.  Cyclists looking for a hard-core workout sometimes don't mix with those who are there for a recreational outing.

On my drive to the trailhead, I pictured myself taking it easy through the recreational areas and trying to go a bit faster when I got further out on the trail.  Then, turning around and doing the same thing coming back.  I also had three topics on my mind that I wanted to think through during my ride.  This was my way to ward of the boredom I was expecting.  My training goal was to keep my cadence between 85 - 95 without letting my heart rate get too high.

As I got going on my ride, I noticed there really weren't too many recreational folks out today.  Great!  I picked up the pace and kept going past the depot, past the red caboose, past Hiram, past the water treatment plant, over the two bridges, through the two tunnels and finally to the Rambo Trail head!  I thought to myself, "Hold the phone!  I've never been this far on the trail!  Nice!  This is pretty cool!"  I posed for a quick pic and headed back.  I smiled all the way back to the trailhead!  Actually, I'm pretty sure I smiled during 99% of the ride.

I'm officially out of my Hills-Only-Riding rut!  It feels good!  Ironman Florida...BRING IT!        

Here are just a few tips for my fellow triathletes and cyclists when riding at the Silver Comet Trail:

  • Be courteous to the recreational folks on the trail.
  • Wave to fellow cyclists.
  • Verbally signal when you are passing others.
  • Stop at the stop signs and stop lights.
  • Go during off days/hours.
  • Save the hard-core training for the rural parts of the trail.

Happy Spring, everyone!  Enjoy your training and racing!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

12 Tools for Your Triathlon Toolbox - #6 Lessons

As a Coach, I try my best to be a good example for my athletes.  Here is the truth: I’ve made my fair share of mistakes over the years!  The lessons I’ve learned from my mistakes have been tools in my toolbox for years.  One of the goals I have for my athletes is to help them avoid the same mistakes I’ve made.

Coach Mari’s Top 3 Mistakes:

#1: Drinking too much the night before a big workout – My first century ride was the Six Gap Century in the North Georgia Mountains in September 2004.  Yes, I chose a ride in the mountains as my first 100-mile bike ride.  Was it peer pressure that helped me complete the registration form?  Maybe.  Was it the fact that my Ironman training buddies were also signing up for this ride?  Maybe.  Did I have any doubt I could complete it?  No.  It wasn’t until I drank too much the night before at dinner, woke up with a big headache, got to the ride late and almost missed the cutoff one third of the way along the route that I strongly considered quitting.  I felt lousy, but I finished the ride in about 10 hours.  The finish was at the school where we started the ride.  The parking lot was almost empty and all the food was gone.  I was glad to be done, but I kicked myself all the way back to Atlanta for not being in tip top shape for this grueling ride.

Drinking occasionally is not the worst thing in the world.  However, you will never be at your best when you drink prior to training or racing.  When I learned how much dehydration negatively affects performance, I decided to forego the pre-race glass or two or three of wine with dinner.   

#2 Not following the plan – My third Half Iron-Distance race was the Florida Challenge in Clermont, Florida in October 2004.  I traveled to the race with a group of friends and friends of friends.  One of the guys, who was a friend of a friend, scoffed when I was buying white bread at the grocery store for my breakfast PB&J.  Even though this is what I had for breakfast in training, I gave in to his suggestion and got wheat bread.  Once I hit the course the next day, I realized the effects of fiber on the system.  I visited each and every portable potty on the 13.1-mile run course.  Not good!  Again, I beat myself up for not sticking to the plan that worked during all my past training sessions.

Regarding nutrition, we all respond differently to different foods and nutrition products.  We all need to practice this in our training.  I also suggest having a “Plan B” for race day because what works in training might not especially work during the race.

#3 Signing up for something big while already training for something big – Ironman Coeur d’Alene (my 1st IM) was already on my schedule for June 2005 when I entered and got in the lottery for the New York City Marathon in November 2005.  I thought “Oh, doing a marathon after my Ironman will be a piece of cake!”  I could (and I might) write an entire post about why this is not true!  After the Ironman on June 25th, I turned right around and ran the Peachtree Road Race 10K on July 4th and my marathon training began from there.  I didn’t take time to rest my body or my mind.  I did not enjoy training.  I did not enjoy the race.  In fact, I asked the police officer at the finish line to “…put me out of my misery”!  His response: “I’m out of bullets”!    

To all of you First-Time-Ironman-Athletes-In-Training: Please don’t sign up for a big event until AFTER you complete your Ironman and you’ve given yourself time to rest and recover!

I’ve made a bunch of other mistakes like forgetting to put my bib number on in T2 at the Disney Olympic-Distance Triathlon in 2003 and trying a new bike dismount at the Gulf Coast Half Iron-Distance Triathlon in 2005 which resulted in a crash in the chute in front of my hubby and several others. 

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot.  I don’t make these silly mistakes anymore.  Please put some of these lessons in your toolbox and save yourself some time and embarrassment!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

12 Tools for Your Triathlon Toolbox - #5 Snacks

Some people think triathlon is the center of my life.  The truth is, I think more about snacks than I do about triathlon! 

I had a manager once who used to say, “As long as we keep Mari fed and watered, she will be fine.”  Well said!  That is the truth!  I know I’m not the only one who gets cranky when hungry and/or thirsty!

I started thinking a lot more about snacks last summer when I started working with nutrition expert, Lauren Lorenzo.  She taught me a lot about the timing of my calorie intake.  Basically, I needed to take in more calories around my workouts in order to fuel myself for the workout and recover afterward. 

Since the majority of my workouts are done in the morning, I have a snack when I wake up because I am already at a calorie deficit and a snack after my workout, then a large breakfast after my shower.  I continue to snack throughout the day.  This helps me stay balanced with my hunger and satisfaction.  By time my hubby and I sit down for dinner, I am not starving to death and it is much easier to have less calories at that time. 

By the way, dinner is about HALF what it used to be before I started working with Lauren.  For many years, I would eat the same amount of food for dinner as my 6’ 2”, 180 lbs hubby.  Not good!  I’m 5’ 2” and 123ish lbs (down from 134 lbs this summer).  There was no need for me to be eating that much!

Here are my top favorite snacks:

  • HomemadeGranola Protein Bars – Ingredients: Natural peanut butter, honey, powdered milk, whole wheat oatmeal, almonds, raisins, wheat bran, cinnamon, kosher salt
  • Larabars – Ingredients in Cherry Pie: Dates, almonds, unsweetened cherries
  • Apples – Varieties: Fuji or Honeycrisp
  • Carrots
  • Bananas
  • Yogurt – Brands: Wallaby Organic, Chobani (OMG – Apple Cinnamon is my new favorite flavor!), Siggi’s (more expensive, but sometimes the Dekalb Farmers Market has it on sale when it is about to expire)
  • Almonds
  • Pretzels
  • Popcorn – No butter, just salt and white cheddar cheese flavoring

Gone are the days of sharing a six-pack of beer at night with hubby along with a big plate of cheese and crackers!  I have cut so far back on alcohol I haven’t even taken advantage of the recent ability to purchase it on Sundays.  I’m even finding myself volunteering to be the designated driver for my friends!  There are a ton of calories in alcohol and though I need calories, they are empty calories that do not help my ability to keep my weight down and continue being a strong athlete and coach.  

Hey, I’m not going to tell you that this shift has been easy!  I have to continue to plan every day about what I’m going to eat.  I have to make sure the refrigerator and pantry are stocked with healthy stuff.  I don’t leave the house without a snack so I don’t go too long without eating.  I have to be disciplined about my portions.  I avoid getting seconds.  
Do you know what else I avoid?  I avoid eating at restaurants because I have less control over what I’m eating.  Sorry, il bacio, Burrito Brothers and Roasters!  I know you were getting used to seeing us more regularly!

The reward has been feeling better all day, sleeping better at night and it’s a whole heck of a lot easier to swim, bike and run without the extra eleven pounds I was carrying!

You can meet Lauren Lorenzo tomorrow at 7:30pm.  She will be at Podium Multisport to present “Nutrition for Athletes”.  The cost of the session is $25.  You can register here or come tomorrow and plan to pay at the door.

Happy snacking and training!