5/21/16

Race to your full potential


Performing at your best requires an effort that goes beyond your old limits. This new limit (or unexplored territory) means that you will ask your body and mind to do something unfamiliar on race day.

If you are racing this weekend, you are capable of achieving something incredible on race day. 

However, first you need to get past all the self-doubts, fears, insecurities, pressures, anxieties and nerves that are possibly holding you back from achieving greatness on race day. 

While there is nothing wrong with pre-race nerves, it is important that you believe in your fitness and your ability to overcome anything that comes your way on race day.

Trust that you have done the work that you needed to do and be confident in your abilities. 

Do not take your race day for granted, especially if you are not sick or injured. 
Don’t live your life waiting for a better time to do something or assuming you will have another opportunity.  

Racing is hard. It hurts.
Acknowledge it, accept it and embrace it.
Pushing through fatigue, sore muscles, uncomfortable breathing, it’s not easy and it can sometimes be painful. When your heart is racing, your muscles are aching and your body is suffering.....this is exactly what you trained for!
Don't convince yourself that you want to give up or “take it easy."

When you are in the hurt locker on race day (which you will be), this is a reminder that you are feeling exactly what you trained to feel on race and that you are mentally and physically tough enough to hop on the pain train.

It's time to bottle up your energy. Have trust in yourself. You’ve done the hard work.
Race day is your reward.
Racing is fun.

It’s a hobby. Remind yourself how lucky you are that you have friends and family who support you and also who believe in you. There are so many people out there who wish to have the focus, patience, dedication and discipline that you do to put in the work to train for an event.
So many individuals struggle with consistency and balance in life, but not you. You found a way to get it all done. Be inspiring so you can show others, who are just as busy as you, that it is possible. 



There is absolutely nothing else that you would rather be doing on your race day.
You have trained early in the morning and late at night for THIS one day.
You have made sacrifices for this day and you have had a commitment to yourself that you would put in the work, for THIS day. 
While this may not be your only race this season, this is not just another race. 


So what now?
You put in the work and now it’s almost time to put all that training to the test. 

You need your mind to be ready for race day. 
It’s not going to be easy. You will have high moments and low moments. Enjoy the highs and when you have a low, remember all those great workouts that you had in training, even when you thought you weren’t going to have a good workout. 
Don’t forget that race day goal that helped you finish all those hard sets or start a workout when you just didn’t have the energy.  
Focus on things within your control and be prepared for every possible oh-no situation on race day. 

And most of all, visualize yourself succeeding. Believe in yourself and your abilities.

Tell yourself your race day goal - out loud. Be brave.
What is that goal, deep inside your heart, that you want to accomplish on race day?
Is it a place, a time goal, a feeling?

What is it that you worked so hard to achieve on race day?

Don't limit yourself.

Race to your full potential on race day. 

5/19/16

Reduce the pre-race stress



Racing is fun but it is also very stressful.
Stress can be a response to things out of your control whereas nerves can mean you care about your result.

I hate to be the party pooper but every athlete is going to have challenges before and/or on race day - whether it's the weather, terrain or something outside your control or feeling really, really uncomfortable because you are giving a hard effort.
While it is important to focus only on things within your control and to not waste energy on things out of your control, trying to control everything can increase anxiety when things don't work out like you had hoped for.
My suggestion......stop worrying about what's completely out of your control and put positive energy into trusting yourself, your fitness and your ability to overcome anything that comes your way before and on race day.
Race day is an opportunity to show off your consistent training efforts - not besting or matching what paces or watts that you held in training so that you can achieve a specific time-goal outcome.

Don't assume you are going to have a bad day because it's windy, hot/cold or rainy. Race day rewards a great effort and a smart execution.
Don't waste away months of training on worries, doubt or fear.
With the conditions you are given on race day, be sure to race your nearest competition with your current level of fitness. 

Racing is all about being proactive. It requires extreme focus to troubleshoot every situation and to not get ahead of yourself (don't think about how you are going to feel on the run when you are swimming). You must execute in the best possible way, on your race course, with the weather you are given on your race day.

The only time you will know what you are capable of achieving on race day is when you cross the finish line, knowing that you gave your absolute best effort and overcame everything that you experienced on race day. 

To race to your full ability and to achieve the best possible outcome, you must understand that racing is a process - it's dynamic and it's very task driven. This is why we encourage athletes to race a few times at lower priority races before racing in a key race so you can go through all the motions and emotions of racing.

When you race, your entire race is built on steps, with each mile affecting the next mile. While there are many things within your control, holding x-watts or x-pace to give you x-final result is not true racing

While it may seem as if having metric guidelines (ex. hold x-watts or x-pace) or a time goal to chase will give you comfort so you race to your potential and/or you don't blow yourself up, putting all your energy into the end result will likely cause you to lose focus on the elements that you can control - your fueling/hydrating, the course, your economy, how you manage your efforts (based on the terrain and weather), your mindset and what your body is telling you at each moment during the race.

To help you relax your mind before a race, focus on simply being present during your race. Give your best effort. Be grateful for what your body can do and what it allows you to do. Be proud of your discipline, which allowed you to gain fitness for your race day.

Don't stress about the outcome.

The best race day outcome is determined by how you manage what you can control and how you overcome what you can't control.... from start to finish.

Enjoy the challenges that you will experience on race day and don't stress out before you start your amazing day with your awesome body.

5/18/16

New eats. Well-Bred



Enjoying the basil strawberry lemonade from Laughing Seed.

I have spent many, many years figuring out the role of food in my life. While I want my food choices to positively affect my health and athletic performance, I have also worked hard to discover a way that I can eat, perform well, and still function well in life to enjoy the things that mean so much to me, like being with Karel, traveling and spending time with close friends and family.
Ultimately, my diet enhances my life and it does not control my life.

Seeing that my career and formal education both revolve around food, it would be easy to assume that I am obsessed with food.
While I am passionate about food and have dedicated my life to learning about food and how it impacts the physiology and health of the human body, food is not my life. I eat when I am hungry, I feel satisfied and I move on with my life. OR, I eat when I need the energy to perform, I train to maximize my performance, I recover and I stay consistent with training.

How about you? Do you find yourself at ease with your diet, comfortable when eating out or when someone else prepares your food and happy when you eat?
Or, do you find yourself stressing, obsessing, feeling guilty, restricted or overwhelmed by food.

There are no food rules and certainly no off-limit food lists in our diet.
Neither of us have ever followed a diet plan.
In my opinion, this is food freedom. 

I feel it is important for every athlete to understand what foods work best for your body and when.
Regardless if you have a clinical reason to avoid certain foods, you want to lose/gain weight or you feel otherwise healthy, I believe that every individual should have flexibility with the diet but with enough structure that assists in reaching health goals and athletic expectations.

While this is easier said than done and takes time (and consistency), one way that I achieve food freedom and a great relationship with food is not obsessing about my weight.

While Karel and I could both probably be leaner, skinner, thinner or however you want to describe the body image, there's a line that neither of us want to cross when it comes to our enjoyment of food and what it would take with our diet to be "less" with our bodies.

If you know anything about me and Karel, we absolutely love trying new restaurants, specifically when we travel. While I try to not be too adventurous with my eating before a race to ensure a happy tummy with familiar and easy-to-digest foods, traveling (especially for a race) provides a unique opportunity to be inspired by new foods, new recipes and new creations.

While returning home from our race (Lake James 50), it took a good 2+ hours or so before either of us had enough of an appetite to eat a meal. I looked up places to eat in Asheville, NC and came across Well-Bred Bakery & Cafe.



Seeing that the name made our mouth water, we couldn't wait to eat our first "real" meal of the day (around 3:30pm)


Decisions, decisions. 


Karel ordered the Tempeh sandwich with sauerkraut and melted cheese on marble rye with a side of pea salad. 



I ordered the breakfast burrito with eggs, potatoes, beans and cheese with a side of salsa and sour cream. 



For dessert, Karel ordered (his favorite) Key Lime pie and a piece of rugelach.

We both shared each other's meal as they were both delicious and we wanted to each share the yumminess with each other.
Lucky for me that Karel doesn't mind vegetarian food options as it isn't that often that I can eat what Karel eats at a restaurant.

After the meal, we left the restaurant with happy tummies, feeling absolutely great with our food choices.



5/17/16

Lake James 50 - race recap


Although the Lake James 50 race was not a key race for me and Karel, we gave it our best effort as that is what race day is all about.
No training session will ever prepare you for all the emotions that you feel on (and before) race day when you want/expect your body to perform and no workout will take you through all the motions of racing as race day is dynamic and you are constantly trying to be proactive to set yourself up for a better next mile, all while trying to delay fatigue.

As I mentioned in my last blog, this venue was absolutely beautiful. The challenging bike and run course allowed us to race and to not be tied to any metrics to control or time goals to achieve.

Rather than writing about the race, I thought I would document this special double win occasion with a video. And rather than just me giving all the play-by-play details, Karel joined me for a special video blog recap from the Lake James 50.





A few extra details that we left out of our recap:

PRE RACE NUTRITION: 

Night before the race (in our hotel room - Comfort Inn, around 7pm)
Marni: Rice + veggie burger + fruit
Karel: Rice + veggie burger, a little chicken + bread (and butter)

Race morning (in our hotel room, around 6am)
Marni: 2 waffles + natural PB + cinnamon + banana and a handful of granola
Karel: Oatmeal + chocolate Bolthouse yogurt drink
Coffee (from french press that we brought) + Water

Race morning (at race venue)
Marni - sipping on 16 ounce water (from plastic throw away bottle)
Karel - 1 bar + 20 ounce water (with ~140 calories in it) to sip on (didn't finish it all)

SPORT NUTRITION: Bike: Marni: 2 x 24 ounce bottles (each with 280 calories, 70g carbs(with 15g as dextrose/cane sugar and 55g as maltodextrin, ~700mg of sodium). Each bottle was a different flavor.
Consumed both (sipping 4-5 swallows of bottle every ~12-15 minutes or a sip as needed)
Extra (JIC - just in case) bottle of 100 calories.
Karel: 2 x 24 ounce bottles (each with ~220 calories, ~550mg sodium).
Consumed 2 "gummy bears" (Margarita Clif Bloks)
Consumed one It's the Nerve before the swim and one before 2nd loop of bike.

Run: Marni: 2 x 10 ounce flasks (Nathan Hydration Mercury 2 belt) each with 100 calories (1 heaping scoop Clif Hydration Cran Razz)
Consumed a total of 1 flask (100 calories and 10 ounces water) in addition to a few tiny sips water from aid station while cooling the body
Karel: 4 x 10 ounce flasks - 1 with gel and 3 with each 1 scoop sport drink.
Consumed 2.5 flasks (120 calories, 30 ounce water) + a few sips of gel flask.



GEAR
Marni:
Clothing: Canari one piece short sleeve tri suit, Oakley Women continuity sport bra, CEP calf sleeves, newton socks
Swim: Xterra vengeance wetsuit, Speedo Vanquisher goggles
Bike: Bontrager shoes, Oakley sunglasses flak 2.0, Giro attack (no shield), Garmin Edge 810, Alto Wheels CC-56, Solestar kontrol insoles
Run: Brooks Pure Flow 4 running shoes, Nathan Mercury 2 hydration belt, Clif Bar visor, Garmin 910






Karel:
Clothing: Canari one piece short sleeve tri suit, CEP calf sleeves
Swim: Xterra Vector Pro, Speedo MDR 2.4 goggles
Bike: Lazer Wasp Air helmet (with shield), Alto Wheels CT-56 front, 86 rear, Bontrager RL road high visability shoes, Solestar insoles, Garmin Edge 810
Run: Oakley Radar vent, Cupcakes with Cal BOCO Gear hat, Nathan 4 flask belt, New Balance Zante V2 running shoes, Garmin 910


5/16/16

Lake James 50 - the double win (quick recap)



I heard about the Lake James 50 event (by Set Up Events) from a nutrition athlete of mine (thanks Stephanie!) a few weeks ago. After giving it some thought and talking it over with Karel, I figured it would be a great opportunity for me to get out some nerves before Rev3 Knoxville.
It was only 2 weeks ago when Karel mentioned that he was interested in the race too so we thought it would be a fun opportunity for us to both race together on a tough course.
And for only $100 as the registration fee, it was hard to turn this race down, even if just for a "tune-up" race.

The event featured a 1 mile swim, 40 mile bike and 9 mile run (although it was shortened to 8.4 miles on race day due to logistics of the run course in the state park) which was just long enough to test our endurance fitness before our key races next weekend. Seeing that Karel and I will only be racing together in Ironman Austria this year, I looked forward to the opportunity to race with Karel - as he has a special way of helping me suffer better on race day.

The race course was absolutely beautiful and the event staff was great. We couldn't find one thing about this event that we didn't like. Then again, we both absolutely love really hard courses that include a lot of hills.

This course did not disappoint our expectations!

The weather was low to mid 50's when when arrived to the race around 6am and by the race start at 8am, it was in the 60's. The high for the day was predicted to be in the mid to low 70's and sunny. The water temp was 73 - so wetsuit legal.
The swim was a two loop triangle swim with ample buoys to stay on course. After one loop, we exited the water for 5-10 steps and then ran back into the water for loop two. 
The water was calm, clean and fairly clear for swimming.

After exiting the swim, we ran up a sidewalk (uphill) to T1. With this being a small race and only around 100 athletes, the transition was easy to navigate through. Karel and I have always been big fans of smaller races as it provides a very fair and low stress racing experience. Plus, we like to support the smaller event companies.

The bike course started in Lake James Beach park with around 2.2 miles on undulating terrain, which was also our run course. It was hard to establish a nice riding rhythm from the start so once we exited the park, we had 2 loops of 18 miles of rolling hills (with a few longer climbs) to get into "race" mode.

The course was very well marked with orange arrows on the road and very little traffic. The course only had 3 turns which made it very easy to navigate (and each right hand turn had a volunteer and/or police officer). We felt very safe on the course and overall, the road pavement was great (then again, anything is better than our pavement near the mountains in Gville :)

When Karel and I drove the course on Friday evening before the athlete meeting (the day before the race), we kept saying out loud "this is going to be hard, this will be so much fun!" If that is any indication of how much we love hard courses. 

Karel and I both prefer hilly and technical courses which allow us to use our bike skills and muscular endurance. While my cycling has been a work in progress over the past 10 years, I am constantly finding myself feeling more and more comfortable executing well on the bike on hilly courses. Karel, on the other hand, is made for hilly, hard and technical courses thanks to his lifetime of bike racing.

The 40 mile bike course was filled with mountain and water views with a sprinkle of farms and the occasional farm animal for me to say hello to (yep, those furry ones always get a hello from me, even on race day).

After 36 miles of riding, the bike courses finishes with 2.2 miles in the park with another preview of the run course.

If you like running up and up and up hills, with the occasional downhill (this run course feels like it has far more uphills than downhills), this is your run course. For Karel and myself, this run course was made for us. Although it's never easy running hills off the bike, our legs favor the change of rhythm of running hills vs just running flats as we can run strong on hills and we don't have to be "fast" (although Karel would say that he likes hilly bike courses and a flat run but he doesn't mind a hilly run too).

Whereas the bike had one aid station with water (per loop), the run course had two aid stations (so about 1 each mile). With the run course being two loops (out and back twice), it was easy to break this run into segments.

And if you love running loops like I do (or out and backs), you will absolutely love the turn around which is a scenic look-out point at the top of a hill. It kinda made you want to stop and enjoy the view!

The finish of the run lead us down to the beach (where we started) and it was a straight shot on packed sand to the finish.

We plan on racing this event next year as we absolutely loved the course, the venue and the Set Up Events staff (and state park staff) was very welcoming, helpful and caring. 

And, with the race venue only being around 40 minutes from Asheville, NC there are many places to eat at (and yum) before and after the race.

This race distance (longer than an Oly and shorter than a half) is perfect for any athlete who is looking for a long distance tri early season to build confidence on hilly terrain, to use as a supported training day, to dust off some rust after several months of winter training or to shake out any pre-race nerves before another key race.
Karel and I will be giving our full recap of the race in my next blog.

RESULTS

Karel - Overall Male Winner -

26:57 swim (4th fastest male swim)
1:47:19 (1st fastest bike)
54:53 (2nd fastest run)
Total: 3:11.26

Marni - Overall Female Winner -

25:19 swim (1st fastest female swim, 2nd overall fastest swim)
1:58.20 bike (1st fastest female bike, 7th overall fastest bike)
1:04.03 (2nd fastest female run, 9th overall fastest run)
Total: 3:30.33 

A big thank you to our amazing 2016 Trimarni sponsors.