Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Mental Aspect of Racing

We all know alot of adversity can happen race day and unless you are mentally prepared, you are going to have a long, lonely, and somewhat depressing day out there. Obviously the longer the distance, the more reason to be not only physically but mentally prepared. I weigh it in as the exact same level of importance. After all, we are fueled and driven by our thoughts, and that is something that you CAN CONTROL.
No Matter what may happen out there if you have a positive outlook on the situation the Ironman Experience is going to be a great one. An experience that can bring you closer to God, where you get to feel his presence through the sun shining down on your face, the suffering that you put your body through(" Feels like death, but this is living "), and through the love of all those out on the course racing, volunteering and supporting you along the way.

Below i thought i would share some of the scripture, affirmations, and songs that i focus on race day. I keep them in my mind, say them out loud, and sing. Not only when adversity comes but also when i feel strong and in control. Drawing on these words make the racing experience just that more meaningful and enjoyable. There is never a bad day when you get to do what you love, but doing it with a happy heart just heightens the experience that much more.

My favorite song to sing and what i draw on the most :

Hillson - Forever Reign ( Link to hear song - )

You are good, You are good When there's nothing good in me
You are love, You are love On display for all to see
You are light, You are light, When the darkness closes in
You are hope, You are hope, You have covered all my sin
You are peace, You are peace, When my fear is crippling
You are true, You are true, Even in my wandering
You are joy, You are joy, You're the reason that I sing
You are life, You are life,In You death has lost its sting
Oh, I'm running to Your arms,I'm running to Your arms
The riches of Your love, Will always be enough
Nothing compares to Your embrace, Light of the world forever reign
You are more, You are more, Than my words will ever say
You are Lord, You are Lord, All creation will proclaim
You are here, You are here, In Your presence I'm made whole
You are God, You are God,Of all else I'm letting go
Oh, I'm running to Your arms,I'm running to Your arms
The riches of Your love, Will always be enough
Nothing compares to Your embrace, Light of the world forever reign

Encouraging Scripture :
Psalm 105:4 - Look to the Lord for His Strength, Seek His face always

Isiah 40:31 - But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength
They will soar on wings like eagles
They will run and not grow weary
They will walk and not be faint

Colossian 3:23-24 -
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord and not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving

Romans 5:3
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Galations 6:9
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

1 Timothy 4:8
For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

Joshua 1:9
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."

Philippians 2:3
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

Matthew 17:20
I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. "

2 Timothy 1:7
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline

1 John 3:1
My grace is sufficient for you, My power is made perfect in your weakness.

Psalm 29:11
The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace

My race day Affirmations :

1. Race to Glorify God and love others in the process
2. Embrace the experience, make the most of it.
3. No Regrets
4. I AM mentally and physically strong, everyone else is hurting and doubting more than i am.

Good luck to all those racing. Its never a bad day when you get to do what you love !

Saturday, August 25, 2012

My First Ironman - Mont tremblant Ironman 2012

Of course when i got into this sport 3 years ago i said that i would NEVER do an Ironman. I WAS a tennis player, full of high intensity short burst speed, nothing close to the make ups of your typical endurance athlete. I would cramp terribly almost every single race i entered for the first 2 years, walking for a good part of my half marathon's in the 70.3's. Race execution and pacing was just an afterthought. All i knew to do was to go as hard as i could for as long as i could, barely make it to the finishline and then i would proceed to pass out and get a few IV's to recover. I would convince myself that if i did not give that effort - i was weak and not worthy of a great result. If i was a pro - No pain, no gain was the only way to race. During each race i would go to the deepest, darkest part of the mind questioning myself whether i could finish, comparing myself to everyone else who was faster than me and in turn promise myself that i would never do another triathlon again since i was obviously wasting my time. Yes, we have all been there. I thought there was no way that i could take myself through all those emotions for the duration of an Ironman, nor would my body hold up. In the past I had been carrying some sort of nagging injury into every race. But thankfully, this year things changed after racing a ton with great guidance and preparation from the TriDot system and coach Jeff Booher. Thanks to proper guidelines for pacing, nutrition,weight training to stay injury free and learning to tap into my source of true strength and finding mental peace( God ), i was able to string together some consistent, controlled efforts in the 70.3 distance and suddenly doing an Ironman seemed possible.

After Boulder 70.3 this year ( 2 weeks ago ) and a string of 70.3's all 2-3 weeks apart ( think 7 almost in a row ) i was looking for a new challenge. While i was mentally stronger every race, i wasn't able to string any training blocks together in between races. It was race, recover, taper, repeat. And for me to get to the next level at the 70.3 distance i needed to train harder and faster and the body and mind was not willing. It was however willing to go longer and slower :) - so why not do an Ironman... in 2 weeks. I was going to Mont tremblant anyway ( Tri Team Transport was transporting 65 bikes from Texas and Mexico )

So i got back from my effort in Boulder (note to self - never race at altitude and drive 18 hrs pre race to transport bikes again), recovered as best as i could for the next 4 days to fit in one long ride on the Fri where i subsequently had to be picked up off the side of the road 5 hours later ( thanks Catherine - TTT's awesome accountant and friends ) . Think - getting off my bike and laying down on the side of the road TWICE (4 hrs in then 5 hrs in)while my training buddy, Chris, tried to provide shade and pour bottles of water over me ( thank you Chris ).It took me 2 days to recover from that effort but then attempted my longest run, a slow 17 miler. Ready for my first Ironman in 6 days ? not ideal prep .. but was going to give it my best shot. And i am so glad i did - The challenge was an amazing experience. Fresh and FUN.

Below are my random facts, observations and musings from my First Ironman.

1. I picked a great First Ironman location and I highly recommend Mont tremblant as a bucket list race. Amazing organization. Course was set in a resort town with tons of restaurants,bakeries, shops and activities all in one spot (i was picking all my post race eating treats well in advance). Spectacular opening party with bands and fireworks. Beautiful scenery. Clear, calm lake. Newly surfaced roads. A crushed granite trail for half the run. Cool weather. Amazing support from the locals and volunteers. French people shouting for you as you passed. I couldnt help but start speaking English with a french accent for most of the trip.

2. Even if you feel terrible the days leading into race day, doesnt mean that your race day will be ruined. God moved mountains and parted water is what i kept on reminding myself as i lay on the bathroom floor feeling the effects of food poisoning or what was a stomach bug on the Wed-Fr before the race. A Diet soley of Core Power drinks kept the stomach happy till Sun - then no problems, phew !

3. The swim is long ! And people are aggressive !! I had a 10 min head start on the masses but that didnt stop a bunch of guys catching me the last few 100m. One guy came up on me so quickly and when he hit my foot i thought he had robbed me of a toenail ! The next few strokes pretty much sank me as he swam right over the top of me. Totally unneccessary. I Was ready give him my best karate kid elbow jab on the next stroke had i not been 2 ft submerged under water trying not to drown.

4. The amount of crowd support is incredible compared to a 70.3. The run from the water to T1 Tent had people stacked 5 deep on either side of the barriers cheering you on. Tried to smile but i fear it looked more like a grimace as my hrate was skyrocketed at this point. An impressive 175 - full on adrenaline.

5. People Draft and the officials are too scared to give penalties or know its a losing battle since of the pack of 20, do they write them all up ? what a mess.

6. No matter how much Chamois cream you put on and even if you have the best seat on the planet ( ISM breakaway ) ,from about mile 80 on the coochicoo is NOT happy. I did stand up more on the hills from here on out and that seemed to give som relief, but OW.

7. What you plan on taking in for nutrition may not be what your body wants during the race. I ended up taking most of my calories from whatever was offered on the course ( Honey stinger waffles, a banana here and there ) My planned Gels were not very appetizing.

8. Your day is not over when you start to cramp. I am so happy i had tons of Salstick tabs on me. My hamstrings and hands started cramping up at mile 80 or so. 1500 mg of salstick consumed within the next 20 min and cramps be gone. i was fine for the rest of the race, but made sure to stick with 1200-1500 mg per hour.

9. KT tape is amazing. I have been suffering with some IT band issues, or "runners knee" since my little fall down the stairs at Buffalo springs 70.3. The result was the last 2 mths of pain anytime i ran under 7 min miles, hence i didnt run fast, do track workouts and got slower. The day before the race, running 15 min hurt, and i knew 26 miles was going to be a far cry the next day. But a little KT tape from the expo physio and zero pain all day. Voila !Converted!

10. There will be a point in the run when your body just decides it has had enough. For me it came late. I was actually feeling great and moving along decently until about mile 21 or so. Then rigor motis set in. While i wanted to go, my body said no and before i knew it i had pins and needles to my left foot and had to run on the side of my foot or heel the rest of the way. I laughingly thought that at the end of this they were going to have to cut my left foot off to save the leg ( dramatic, i know ) . All worth it to become an Ironman - right ?

11. Ironman people are way more serious than half ironman people. There was way less cheering for others on the course. I figured it was because everyone was very cautious not to waste any unnecessary energy while trying to finish their own race.

12. You will chafe! Best option - lather yourself in antichafe cream EVERYWHERE. My belly button has a scar ! Who knew ?

13. During the run portion, when all stomachs are tired of the sugar overdose, there were tons of "barking spiders" or "Canadian frogs" as Garrick ( my pace buddy for most of the run ) put put it.

14. Dont think you are going to lose weight doing an Ironman if you do what i did ( I know i am not alone here ). A good diet plan does not consist of Taking 150 000 mg of sodium ( yes you read that right ), tons of sugar from gel's, coke, etc for 10 plus hours. And then you are so excited and starving when you are done that you just eat everything in sight and easily eat more than what was burnt off.
What i ate in the 3 days after the Ironman (for fun, as a reward for my first Ironman, and because Steve and i were "vacationing" for 2 days - no i wont do this next time)
In no particular order or consumption, and truthfully - in training i am on a gluten free diet and count every calorie consumed so this was too much fun )
The list - gallons of chocolate milk, 2 pizza's (one proud sitting ), 5 croissants, a dozen eggs, two burger and fries ( never order a burger in canada - they cant cook it rare , what a waste of meat ) , an orea ice cream sandwich, 2 baguettes, a muffin, yogurt covered pretzels, my first mcflurry from mcdonalds, nacho's, a few bags of chips, and my first cookies and cream chocolate bar ( yum ) and a massive waffle cone with a few different scoops of cookie dough and mint ice cream. All that and i came home 1 lb heavier. SOOOO worth it. Now i am back on it. :)

15. You will run on adrenaline for the next few hours. After doing my Ironman , Steve and i had an Ironman of bike loading ourselves. I feel it was more impressive than racing if i do say so myself. We proceeded to get bikes out of transition for our Tri Team Transpor athletes, clean, tag up and load all the bikes into our trailer for transport back home . 6 hours later, 1am and still wide awake ( Ironman excitement is my only explanation ) But we did proceed to sleep ALOT the next few days.

16. Lastly... i am fortunate this is my life. I have the best and most supportive husband ever ! He was out on the course from start to finish, cheering me one, giving me time splits, taking pics and video while encouraging me every step of the way.

Then i had My family back home in South Africa following on the computer and BBM'ing Steve to find out every move or update. Lastly to see all the supportive notes from all my friends in Austin, Houston, etc. Thank you all ! I am lucky !

17. Thank you to all my sponsors. I am so lucky to have the support from so many great companies that provide the very best equipment, training, nutrition, health care and more to allow me to keep doing this sport. I really could not do it without them. And i am beyond grateful !! All the key players for this race -

*Tri4Him and TriDot Creater - Jeff Booher got me race ready with great guidance in a short time. Know doubt it would have gotten very ugly out there had i not had sound wisdom going in.

*My Aquaman ART wetsuit is an AMAZING wetsuit and for sure a big reason why my swim has suddenly come along ! Comfort, Speed, great fit = fast !

*Jack and Adams got my bike perfectly tuned up and ready for race day.

*My Blue Bike survived the 5000ft of climbing like a champ. One word - Di2 !

*My IBike powermeter allowed me to keep track of powernumbers and stay conservative and pace my effort on the bike - no bonkage !!

*My Breakaway ISM Saddle was super comfy and was i fully expecting i would saddle sores after that effort, but nada. yay !

*Core Power was the ONLY thing i could stomach Wed-Fri while i had a stomach bug and thankfully kept my energy levels topped off till race day.

*I flew with my TriggerPoint kit and yes, if you saw someone in the middle of the airport rolling their IT band while waiting on their flight. Yup, that be me.

*Chris Winkle, my Massage therapy extraodinaire for the last 3 years and Dr Chris Sellers and his team from Performance wellness have put Humpty Dumpty together many times this year and allowed me to get to every start line.

*Hill Country Running has the best variety of running shoes and best customer service by far, and i was able to choose the perfect pair for this race. Light, comfy and survived the run blister free.

*Oatmega Bars and Perfect Fit Cookies were consumed in abundance during travel and kept me topped of between all race prep workouts and meals.

*Compex - when i couldnt run cause of IT band pain, i used my compex to keep things firing. Works !

*Rudy - aero helmet and fog free glasses - winning.

*Team Beef - I am a massive meat fan and believer in its Health and Energy Benefits ! Are you Tired - Eat meat !

*Hammer - All my multivitamins are from hammer ! Daily dose keeps the Dr away.

*Torhans - Splash free Aero bottle ! Huge Neccessity ! And looks darn cool with the aero straw

*Healhty chocolate - Need i say more. Training for an Ironman, being super lean and chocolate in the same sentence usually dont fit. Not anymore. Sugar free and filled with vitamins while being super tasty. What a treat !!

*Pure Austin Gym - So importative and imperitive for a great training program. I strength train throughout the season a number of times a week. So so important. when i miss my strength training sessions - i get injured. Simple as that - get in the gym, stay healthy and walk taller when you leave.

Next up - Branson 70.3 or Augusta 70.3, Austin 70.3 and i WILL be training for IM Florida !

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

June Racing Update....

I always have such great intentions to write a recap after each race and always have so much insight or lessons learnt that i cant wait to share, But i always find my other jobs (Tri Team Transport and coaching)take priority over my sitting down and writing my story book recap. I have decided to forego my blow by blow of the last few races and share what ultimately led to a solid race day 2 weeks ago at Buffalo Springs 70.3 where i placed 6th and was the closest i have come to a podium.

While my fitness has increased tenfold since last year, that hasnt started to show up fully in my racing quite yet mostly due to race day experience and lessons that need to be learnt for it all to "come together". I am making Small and consistent gains -( think of the tortoise and hare story - i am the tortoise )but there has been no breakthough performace ( the hare ) we all so wish for, me included. And i have finally come to be ok with that and enjoy the process OR the so called "journey" instead of focusing on the outcome or end result. Getting to this mental state of mind has been a journey in itself and has been one of the toughest things to do since our natural inclination is to compare ourselves to others( hares ).

But i have come to learn that as long as something positive is being learnt every race, be it not having any negative self talk, getting closer to dialing in pacing or nutrition( Note - no outcome goals such as a PR bike split, just process goals ) - i chalk that up to a victory and one small tortoise step forwards in the right direction. And now that i have gotten to this mental state of mind, i have found that the outcome really doesn't matter anymore, and there is so much joy to be found in the "journey" of it all. So if that isn't a lesson in itself here are some key lessons i have learnt over the last month of racing.

I have raced Cap Tex Tri(Olympic distance ), Kansas 70.3, and Buffalo springs 70.3. All 2 weeks apart. And each race experience built upon the one before. I would chalk Cap Tex Tri to a solid race. A decent swim, what felt like a terrible bike even though my time was decent,and an awesome PR run. the Lesson learnt from Cap Tex was even after a poor 2/3rds of a race i was able to pull it all together on the last leg and finish strong and still get an Olympic Distance PR time. Normally i would have mentally gotten down on myself and had a mental warfare for the rest of the race but that wasnt the case this time. The Lesson, your body could feel terrible for 2/3rds of the race but it isnt over and its NEVER too late to pull it together.

Next race - Kansas 70.3. Rough conditions of wind and heat led to a very physically and mentally draining day. I was able to have a good bike ( despite making the mistake of almost no calorie intake which i paid for later ) after what was a very challenging swim, and found myself in 5th place running out of T2. I ultimately ended up 9th with a very slow run ( 400 calories not enough for a 5 hour race ? stupid). There was a huge mental war that went on when all those gals ran by me, and while i tried to stay focused and positive, every inch of my felt either sorry for myself, berated myself or wanted to quit. A few times i even cried while i was running. And it really made me reflect after the race - why was i so so mentally weak that day yet i was getting so physically strong. Funny how the worst races are the ones we reflect and learn the most from. And so i realizes, While i train myself physically every day, pushing myself mentally during training, i wasnt prepared to be mentally ready for the hard times during race day and needed to learn how to do so.

With Owning Tri Team Transport, i get to handle and see many bikes, loading and unloading them on our truck for travel. And i have noticed many times that some athletes will put pictures of their family on their top tube. This was obviously there source of strength when things got tough out there and it got met thinking - What was my source of strength and how was i going to tap into that on race day ? Thinking of my family ? Positive mantra's ? Focusing on form ? Some serious pump up music going through my head ? Nope, no and nadda - tried that all and while it worked some of the time. It wasnt consistent . I needed something that was going to stick.

I prayed about it that night and the answer was so simple you would have thought i would have been consistently drawing on this source of Strength before. God was my source of strength. Living day to day when i go about my day to day and interact with others i always try to focus on what God's will is for me and follow the example Jesus set for us on how to love others and live correctly. Yet, i wasnt thinking about this while i raced. I was too self focused instead of focusing on God. I decided that the best way for me to be prepared was to memorize scripture so that when things got tough, i was able to focus on that.

So going into Buffalo Springs, that is exactly what kept me positive and in the moment for the race. Not only was it probably my best result to date it was also the easiest half ironman i had ever done ( an awesome pacing and nutrition plan definitely helped there too ).

so.. I have Vineman 70.3 this Sunday, and i am not going to lie but i have had some physical set backs since Buffalo springs ( think falling down stairs and having a concussion) In the past this little incident would have me unsure or somewhat negative going in to the race. But honestly, whatever state i show up in on Sunday, i can't wait to race and i am not too worried about the outcome. The Day will be special in the fact that i probably have to rely on God more than ever to get me through it and you know i will be repeating this scripture in my head Sunday "My Grace is sufficient for you, My power is made perfect in weakness " 1 John 3:1

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

April Race Update

It's the beginning of May , and April and the first 3 races of the season just flew by.

My first race of the season was Galveston 70.3 on April 1st and then i just raced New orleans 70.3 ( which turned into a Duathlon ) on April 22nd, and a local SuperSprint called The Rookie Tri in Austin this last Sunday. Normally i would say that 3 weeks is really just enough time to recovery from galveston in time to taper for New orleans, but i actually was able to get some good training in between the 2 and felt ready to "try again" with some new fitness gains.

So first of all Galveston. While it wasn't the finish time outcome i wanted or was trained for, i definitely saw that race as a step in the right direction. This was the 3rd time i have done that 70.3 and the last 2 i cramped during the run and had to walk, and in turn, really beat myself up for it. This time around,i didnt cramp which is a huge victory since i raced a whole year and a half cramping every race and never thought i would ever figure it out. While i was able to manage the sodium, i didnt the hydration and Unfortunately during the bike ride i drank about half the amount i should have and found myself in a hole of dehydration leading into the run aswell as suffered from some allergy related shortness of breath. I tried my best to play "catch up" on the hydration but it was too late and i knew that. So i focused on the next big goal - and that was that i wasnt going to walk and that i was going to stay positive throughout the run. While the body was shutting down every mile and at one stage i was running 9 min miles, i was able to stay positive throughout. Normally my confidence would take a hit or i would doubt my training or that i could run, but not this time. I had just run a very hilly 10k in Austin just 7 days prior to Galveston,and ran it in 39 min , so i knew the fitness was there. The key is that i just need to nail all the little factors that go into running off the bike successfully, and that day i didn't. Moving on, lesson learnt.

So of course, as soon as that race was over, i got really excited that i would get to try again a short 3 weeks later and try to fix that small part of putting a race together.

In between the two races i did have time to do a 10 mile race in Austin the week before New orleans. These races are something that i am trying to do more of ( especially while the weather is not 100+ degrees out ) to work on pacing and racing the run properly. Something i dont have alot of experience in, so i feel those races are really helping but unfortunately do come with a price. While 10 miles is not that long considering i had just done 13 off the bike 2 weeks prior, my calves definitely took more of a beating being that i was able to run much faster than had i cycled before ( something that i hope will change soon )

New Orleans race day came,and i was super excited since it had turned into a Duathlon because of high winds making it dangerous to swim( turned into a 2 mile run, 52 mile bike, 13.1 mile run ) What i was most excited about was that i was going to get to see other girls on the bike and compare my cycling with theirs out on the course and really observe the effort and strategy that may go on during races which i have never been apart of since i am always playing catch up out of the water and pretty much cycling alone for 56 miles. But this was also my first duathlon, so pacing the first 2 miles was something i was told to be very wary of as to not gas myself out before the long windy bike ahead, especially being that it was a full on head wind going out.

The run started and literally within 15 sec everyone was gone. I was told to stay around 6:30 pace, which i did but definitely had to put any pride i had away, and run by myself trailing everyone by a good minute by the time i got to transition. i did get to my bike with my heart rate in an aerobic zone and under control, so i felt i had done it right and now was ready to go catch everyone ( hopefully ) on the bike.

It definitely helped having a head wind going out, since it kept everyone in range. And i must say, biking with a whole string of girls as far as the eyes could see brought a whole new dynamic to the bike portion. I had that carrot dangling infront of me the whole time, and as soon as i picked off one girl i had my eyes set on the next which was super fun. I found that i had passed about 10 girls by mile 20 which was all headwind at that point and at a turn around point 5 girls were all within a half a mile infront of me( Mirinda, Migali, Amanda being 3 of em - yay ). So i had my eyes set on those 5 girls ahead and felt i would for sure catch them but with the tail wind and the fact they had discs and i had taken mine off, i found myself just keeping the same distance and losing a little ground at some of the faster portions of the course which was too be expected.
I ending up passing 2 of them with about 5 miles to go and knew i was going to be in the 2nd pack and top 10 coming off the bike and ahead of about 12 girls i had passed. So exciting.

I ran out of transition conservatively. I was so tempted to try run for a bit with Caitlin Snow who had gotten off the bike with me, but i knew there was no way ( she ended up running the fastest run of the day ) so i watched her very quickly run away from me and decided to focus on my run and race. The first 4 miles of the 2 loop course i was able to hold my goal pace, but i felt like the tank was hovering on E and completely "wind whipped ", so knew i had to refuel and be conservative not too have too much of a drop off. Unfortunately around the start of the 2nd loop i was barely holding on and had come to a crawl, and being passed by girl after girl did not help either. Never fun when someone comes running by and you have absolutely no way to respond except watch em go. At that point i decided to really slow down through the water stops and get as much water, coke and gels in as i could. That seemed to work and was able to bring the pace back a little the last few miles and really pick it up the last 2.

There was a huge lesson learnt on the run. I had thought the finish line was close to where we came in off the bike, only to find i still had to run almost a whole mile more. So 2 miles out ( i thought 1 mile out ) i kicked it in to finish strong and was able to drop my pace way down as i ran to where i thought the finish line was. As i got there and realized i still had about a mile to go, while suffering and breathing like a wounded animal, i was able to hold onto that pace knowing i was now so close and that the pain would end soon. So instead of the last mile being super fast, i had 2 good finishing miles.

Lesson learnt that we all know but need to put in practice - its all in the mind. And our minds need to give our bodies more credit and belief as to what they can do. I would never have believed i could run that hard without passing out if you had told me, only to then do it and realize that i can always go that little bit further and faster. Heck - maybe alot further and faster.
Think of your run workout and when you have that last 800 or mile repeat on the track. You never think you can do it since you almost passed out after the last one, but since it is the LAST one , you somehow find a way to get it done, and most of the time faster than all the other repeats.

It's ALL in the mind. Now the key is to race 13 miles off the bike HARD, and not just run like i am in cruise control or on survival mode. I need to RACE the run. So that will be my next GOAL. Not Cramping - check. Not walking - check. Hydration and fuel - half a check. RACE THE RUN - TO be determined ( stay tuned )

Oh and get an IV after your race. I ending up needing 3. I have never recovered or felt better after a race. Ever. By the Wednesday after i was knocking off the best workouts of my life, and i wasnt injured. I really thought i had strained my calves during the race since i had pain throughout the run, but weirdly enough, 2 days later, they felt 100 % . I really think the IV helped me not get injured - moisture in the muscles. Makes sense.

All for now. Have Cap Tex Tri on Memorial day next and then a busy June. Will be racing Kansas 70.3 and hopefully Buffalo springs if i am recoverd in time since its two weeks later. Onward....

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Gospel vs Religion

Last Sunday ( Easter Sunday )at the church i go to ,Austin Stone, our pastor Matt Carter gave an amazing sermon about how in the last 50 years or so, the church has gotten away from what the gospel really means. The church has been teaching more on a works based faith instead of what the gospel really says. What made me want to blog about what was shared was because wearing Tri4Him across my chest at triathlons has always opened doors for those "religious" discussions to take place. I always try to share as best i can as to why i am a follower of Christ and how He has really changed my life, but alot of the time i wish i was more prepared and could articulate the truth of the Gospel better.

One of the biggest talking points i come across is that many people dont want to discount other religions, so here are a some things Matt showed us about the differences between all other religions and The Gospel!!

All other religions say: If you’re bad…and you don’t follow the rules…God will punish you.

The Gospel says: You were bad…you didn’t follow the rules…and Jesus took the punishment for you.

All other religions say: If you want to have relationship with God…You have to fulfill all the qualifications necessary for that to happen.

The Gospel says: you CAN have relationship with God…Because Jesus fulfilled the qualifications for you!

Religion says: “You want to please God? This is what YOU have to do…..”

The Gospel says: God IS PLEASED with you…because of what Jesus has already done!

Religion says: Follow all the rules…and maybe you can earn your way back to God.

The Gospel says: The way back to God has already been earned for you by Jesus.

Religion says: I’ve been good…So I’m entitled to your blessing…

The Gospel says: God…if you never give me anything but the cross…I’m thankful…b/c you’ve still given me more than I deserve.

Religion says: I obey so that I may be accepted…

The Gospel says: I’m accepted….therefore I obey.

If you want to hear the whole sermon - here is the link -
I usually download them onto my Ipod and then when i am out for 4 hours on my bike i listen to them. Not only do i come back fitter but more enlightened and hopefully a better person that can articulate their reason for faith a bit better if the opportunity presented itself.

Life Lesson Learnt :

Do not trust your feelings. They change. Stand on God’s promises. They never change.

You can only know that you are saved
if your life has been supernaturally changed by GOD
You will have a New Nature to follow Jesus.

It will be a LIFE CHANGING EVENT. It was for me.

Is God Working in your Life? Has He put people in your life to draw you closer to Him and bring you HOME ? is He Changing You?

Monday, March 12, 2012

South Africa Trip Recap

About 2 months too late but better late than never.

So this winter ( South AFrican summer ) i went home to South Africa for my Sister, Nadine's wedding on Dec 17. Since i hadn't been home in about 3 years and wanting to spend some extra time with family, and since it was South Africa's Tri season and South africa 70.3 was just around the corner, i decided to stay for 7 weeks leading up to this race and skip winter here in Austin, TX.

I spent the first 3 weeks of the trip in Kimberley, South africa. Best known for the diamond mines and the Big hole ( which was created from diamond mining ) It's literally a giant hole right next to the downtown of Kimberley and evently the ground around it is starting to cave in. So no doubt in the future Kimberley is going to become a giant hole. Hopefully not too soo, since most of my family still lives there. Besides there being a giant hole, Kimberley now has 2 malls !! This is a huge thing since when i grew up there, we weren't so lucky. With that being said, all time spent not training, sleeping or hanging out with my family, we were at the mall. There was plenty of coffee time and a movie here and there.

Training in Kimberley went great. I was coming off pretty much doing nothing in Oct and November due to being very busy with Tri Team Transport, being an Extra and a PA in a commercial that Steve was working on, and then subsequently falling sick right before the trip home. With that being said, i was in terrible shape and felt like i was starting from scratch. But i was hopeful, and was super excited about putting in some quality training in the heat and altitude. Yeah, no idea that Kimberley, where i grew up, was at 4000 ft altitude.

So of course the first ride i head out with a group of strong guys and one gal that the local bike shop set me up with at 5am in the morning ( gulp ). Within 2 min of the ride they had spat me out the back and my heart rate was sky rocketing at 170 +. For the next 20 miles i literally had one of the guys push me on the back as we rode on what was pretty much a flat course. At the end of the ride our Ave speed was 16mph. I was pretty embarrassed to say the least and no doubt they all thought i was lying when they found out i was actually a professional triathlete.

The good news is that they were awesome and let me ride with them again. The 2nd ride, thank goodness, was way better, but for the rest of my time in Kimberely i was riding like my life depended on it, all trying to prove that i did not in fact "suck", especially after that first ride. Oh, the precious ego. The good news on all that is that my cycling significantly improved in 2 weeks and i was starting to feel a little better about the fact that i was having to race in 3 weeks time.

While i was in Kimberely, i also found a group to run with on the days i didnt have a ride, also at 4:45am ( bigger gulp ). One of my first days there we actually had my sisters bachelorette party till 2am in the morning and then i was set to run at 4:45, so a 4am wake up is in order. I ended up running an amazing 15 miles and feeling great, so there was a definite take away from that run. I can suck it up and train on little sleep as long as no alcohol is involved. Was definitely not going to make a habit of it though.

So after 3 weeks of training in Dec in Kimberley and i was off to a training camp in a National Park at 7000 ft and with some of South African's strongest triathletes and best coaches. Anyone who is wanting to take a trip to South Africa and want to have an amazing training experience, i would definitely recommend this camp. Great training, people and food all in one of the most beautiful places on earth - Golden Gate National Park. The coolest thing is there were horses, all types of deer , zebra's and more all over the place. Almost got run of the road once or twice. I am sure you have seen that video of the mt biker that gets hit by a big buck in the wild. Yeah, i was hoping not to be another victim of that incident. Besides the wildlife, there were tons of hill's , too many in fact, since i of course end up hurting myself on Day 3 of the 8 day camp. Sad face.

After riding hard Monday when we got there, followed by an open water swim and HARD run hill repeats on Tue, the nail in the coffin came when we cycled about 4 hours and about 6000 ft of hard climbing on Wed morning. Way too much on these little legs and my "stupid" calves that keep on injuring themselves. I found myself hobbling away from that ride and for the rest of the week. Calf strain - and 3 weeks till SA 70.3 .BOO....

Well, the rest of the camp was spent swimming and doing light cycling while the physio's and massage therapists tried to nurse my calf back to health. Alot of pity eating was done, so the camp became more enjoyable in one aspect. :)

The next 2 weeks leading up to the race i was able to join Lucie Zelenkova and her group - Trifactri - in Joburg. A seriously strong and really fun group of triathletes, and had an awesome time riding with them and also watching them swim circles around me in the pool. On the side i was able to do a 15 min jog here and there just wanting to get to the start line in zero pain. Less pity eating was done :) and i also found myself leaner than the peak shape i was in the year before, so surely that would help me fake the half marathon coming up.


My first ocean swim was quite the adventure ! The beach start proved to be harder than i thought since by the time i ran through the sand and figured out how to get through the crashing waves dolphin diving under them, all of the pro's were already circling the first bouy 200 meters out. At one point i saw someone in the corner of my eye next to me, and i was relieved that i wasn't alone and swam over to them to hopefully catch a draft the rest of the way. Only to find it was the CAMERA MAN ... i cant describe how my little heart sank at that point. The rest of the swim wasnt any better. With there being 700m between buoy 1 and 2 and me not being able to see it and only think about how many, many great white sharks lurked a few 100m away, i found myself swimming along the shoreline and not into the ocean where that buoy was, adding some unfortunate time and distance to my already "sucky" swim. To sum up - it took me 37 min and i had alot of work to do.

The bike was decent but not as fast as i had hoped. I was cycling all alone for 99% of the ride, and since it was 28miles uphill, i wasnt sure how hard to push or how much to save so i just kept it steady. Looking back after the race and knowing the bike fitness i was in , i should have pushed a little more heading out. I was able to pass 3 girls eventually and found myself in 6th and heading into transition right as 4th and 5th were leaving transition. I WAS BACK IN THE RACE ! YAY.

That "yay" was short lived - it was now time to run on legs that hadnt run in 3 wks. With that being said, i of course thought at the time i was invincable and was going to run like a madman and catch up to the two girls infront of me. About 2 miles in i was right with them but that was also the time we hit a monstrous hill which proved to be a handful for my run fitness and my calf. I was able to manage up and down it but knew my time was limited and before i knew it, was in trouble and running was no longer an option.

There was no way i was going to pull out, for many reasons, so i just walked along feeling sorry for myself. Usually after 2 min of a pity party i snap out of it and take in the experience, all the people out there supporting us (namely my mom who i just passed all excited to see me running by) and start to put in perspective how lucky i am to be there in the first place and Thank and pray to God trusting in His overall plan for me, but this time was different. I had placed so much hope, wrongfully so, on this race and my future in triathlon. #stupid.

To finish up - i plodded along and walked the next 6 miles, walked across the finish line, walked to the food tent, ate my 4 slices of finishline pizza, listened to my mom love me by telling me how stupid i was to race knowing i was injured and then proceeded to buy my favorite chocolate from childhood that i had deprived myself of eating till post race as a reward. It unfortunately wasnt as delicious as i remember - dont you hate that?

Anyways, The After Party soon followed , and get 2000 South african's in one club, all just having done the one 70.3 South africa has per year, and well , there was alot of Cream Soda and Cane to go around ( ew, but evently Cream Soda is good for recovery.... not sure about the Cane )

Alot of personal growth and lessons learnt on this trip. ALOT ! And all in all, i couldnt have asked for a better time and experience in South Africa. Onward....

I will share all lessons learnt in next blog ! :) Hopefully it wont be 2 mths from now which seems to be the going time from one blog to the next. I need to learn to write shorter stories.....

Monday, February 13, 2012

Tri4Him Team Mate Kirk Nelson's notes on the off season

Hey Guys - I just wanted to share my Tri4Him Team Mates blog post. I am also fortunate enough to be working with Tri4Him as a coach using the TriDot Training system, and I am currently working with a number of athletes all seeing the same results as below. If you have any questions or interest after reading below , please shoot me an email at

Here's Kirks Post -

a quick update on training the past ~7 weeks.

I took 6 whole weeks off from training following Rev3 South Carolina (10/14) through Thanksgiving. I started up the week after Thanksgiving with Tri4Him head/founder, Jeff Booher.

I have had a few coaches over the years, but was self-coached for most of 2009, all of 2010, and all of 2011. I knew I was interested in working with a coach beginning 2012, but wanted to make sure of the fit before moving ahead. Upon being accepted to the Tri4Him Elite Team, and following several phone visits with Jeff, it was obvious we were VERY like-minded and that his coaching style and methodology would serve me well.

With a family (new baby girl Selah last Feb 2011 and stepson Austin), and coaching athletes, I have a difficult time finding 30+ hours to train each week. As a self-coached athlete, I also struggle with disciplining myself while training -- basically going hard enough when it's time to go hard, going easy enough when it's time to go easy, and stopping training sessions before major fatigue sets in, esp when training for long course. With a coach and a plan, I don't feel the need to swim/bike/run farther and/or faster. Just do the work, recover well, and repeat. Get super tired? Then take a day off and jump back on the track.

Jeff developed the TriDot System, a unique way of measuring training intensities. In addition, he has developed a very smart and effective way of measuring weekly training workloads, basically the stress applied during a week's worth of training. Simply put, workload = intensity x duration. Essentially, you can work up to a long-course worthy workload, without putting in big volume. For example, on just ~20 hours a week, I have a sustained, weekly training load that exceeds many of my 25-30 hour training weeks I put myself through as a self-coached, long course athlete over the past few years.

I'm doing quality (z3 - z5 intensity) 6 days a week spread over 8-10 training sessions (out of 15 total sessions).

Each week, we ratchet up the workload bit by bit, without adding big volume numbers.

The Result?

Time Trial performances on par with my career bests, and it's only January!

Compared to 2011 season Peak fitnesses within each discipline:

Swimming threshold pace 4 sec/100 yards faster
Bike threshold equal to 2011 season best
Run threshold pace 20 sec/mile faster

Thanks to Jeff and Tri4Him for the guidance thus far. Here's to an amazing 2012 season!

If you're looking for simple, yet solid science behind your training program, getting a very high return on your training-time investment, and top-notch guidance along the way, consider working with a Tri4Him coach. I am thrilled to be a part of such a talented coaching staff!

Running for HIM

p.s. Charity, Selah, and I will be at the International Christian Triathlon Network (ICTN) camp this January 27-29, in Tucson. Consider joining us for fellowship, training, sunshine, and fun

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Way overdue Updates - Part 1

The Update…
Well, this so well overdue, so to catch you up on all that I have been up to I thought I would divide it into 3 Parts ( so that I don’t write one novel ) and then hopefully get you all up to date and keep the blog updated from here on out. These next 3 posts will be factual and then lessons learnt, additional thoughts will follow on posts after that (there were many, as you can imagine)

Part 1 – The end of my 2011 Season
Part 2 – My first trip home to South Africa as a triathlete
Part 3 – My first race of 2012 – South Africa 70.3 Race Report

Part 1 – The end of my 2011 Season ( Post Vineman 70.3 In July )

Boulder 70.3

After Vineman 70.3, I had Boulder 70.3 just 3 weeks later. This was the first time I ever raced at altitude as well as the first time I had ever raced two 70.3’s in a 3 week time frame. Needless to say, it was far from my best effort. Actually, it was the worst I had ever felt in a race and specifically on the bike. Boulder has a lot of downhill and is known for fast bike times, so I had my hopes high for a great bike and was of course disappointed when the first 10 min my legs were feeling like bricks and I was struggling to turn the pedals over. The run was unfortunately no better, and since I had over fueled on Gels on the bike ( hoping to get the extra energy I was lacking ) I came off the bike with stomach cramps ( which is a first ). I struggled the first of a 2 loop course and the 2nd loop decided to take in some coke. Why didn’t I do this sooner? Immediately the cramps started to subside and I was feeling better. Because I had run so slowly the first loop with the cramps, I was able to negative split the run and finish the strongest I had yet to do in a race. One positive I will take away.

To sum up , I think I came 9th but came away pretty disappointed with how bad I had felt, especially after a great race in Vineman just 3 weeks earlier, and knew I had to make some changes when I got home. But not until after I had indulged in an undeserved Truffle burger with truffle fries which was probably the best burger I had ever had. The Last awesome thing about my Boulder race which has me looking forward to returning is that I had the best homestay in Lauren Greenfield. We got along like old friends, cycled the course for my pre race day warm up and even made plans for her to come and visit Steve and I in Austin. Doesn’t happen often so got to mention it when it does. Onward….

Austin Tri – Olympic Distance

The Austin Tri put on by Jack and Adams and High Five events was next on the calendar just 3 weeks after Boulder. As I said, after Boulder I decided to make a few changes (eating and recovering better, and being consistent with my day to day training is the just of it) and that definitely paid off in those short 3 weeks. Despite hearing the day before the race that I had gotten a roll down spot and qualified for the Vegas 70.3 World Champs in a week’s time, I decided to still go ahead and race the Austin Tri just a short 6 days prior to Vegas. And glad I did - I had a great race, placing 4th overall in a pretty competitive Elite field. Besides coming out of the water quite a ways back from the leaders and in about 10th place, I was able to have the fastest bike of the day and cycle myself into 5th place, which I was stoked about since I have really been focusing on holding back during the 40k bike as to leave something for the run. Thankfully, holding back did pay off and I ran myself into 4th place with a 39min 10k and a PR for the Olympic Distance. Next…

Vegas 70.3 World Champs

So I had raced the Austin Tri on Monday and Vegas 70.3 was on Sunday. That whole week was filled with easy workouts since and I felt great, especially coming off a confidence boosting Austin race. I honestly didn’t think too much about racing and was just so grateful that I was getting the opportunity to be on the start line. I was going into this race to just enjoy myself to the max , and learn as much as I could about the course for next year, cause facing reality, I was not at the same level as those top gals I was racing against. Not yet . I was after all the last of the 30 to qualify and be on the start line. So with that being said my first goal was to have fun and give it my all, my 2nd small goal was to not finish no 30.

In Short – I had so much joy that whole day while racing that I ended up having a great race. The big victory of the day was that for the first time in racing a 70.3, I was actually able to swim on some feet and came out with a group of girls in the swim. This was huge for me because I then got to get a feel for what it was like to cycle with girls around me instead of completely alone. This proved to be a great motivation and advantage since it keeps you honest with your effort on the bike as well as bring out my competitive nature. I was able to move up a couple spots coming off the bike and found myself starting the run with Lesley Patterson in 19th spot.

The run course is basically 2 loops of 3 miles down hill, then 3 miles up. I was able to hold my position for the first loop of the run but then started fading on the uphill on the 2nd loop. I got passed by a few gals but was able to keep them in my sight hoping that I could use the last bit of downhill to the finish line to kick it in and maybe claim a spot back. Unfortunately, cramping in the legs stopped that plan and so the last mile downhill turned into a “shuffle and keep moving forwards” which I kept on telling myself. Of course there were many scripture versus and comments thrown my way from the spectators since I was sporting my Tri4Him kit, and the last part of the race I found myself feeding off that more than anything. All in all – I finished 23rd and was super happy with my effort.

Little did I know at the time, but that was going to be the last race of the season for me. My first full year as a pro finished on a high note. More to come…..

Pics Below - No Race would be complete without some post race treats ! ( yes, that was a trip to my first Vegas Buffet )