7/22/17

The only day that matters is race day


Over the past few days, I have been surrounded by many inspiring Ironman athletes who are counting down the days until it is time to put all that hard work to good use (one more sleep left!). Although I am out there swimming, biking and running alongside hundreds of other athletes, my intentions with each workout are very different than the athletes who sport a blue wrist band.

As Karel sharpens up his body to race 140.6 miles on Sunday, I have been training my body to adapt to intentional training stressors. Karel has done the work for his race day and I am (still) putting in the work for my upcoming races. We each wake up with a workout on our training plan but with different mindset as to how the day will go and what we need to accomplish. Whereas I have great flexibility in my training and I don't have to read too much into my body signals, Karel, on the other hand, has to be very in-tune with his body signals so that he can perform his best on race day.

The Ironman athletes who will be racing on Sunday can now think back to all the training sessions that helped to physically and mentally prepare the body and mind for race day. The preparation is done and now the only day that really matters, is finally here. All the hard work is in the past and the only day that matters is the present moment.

I think most athletes can agree that training is fun. Although the early alarms and busy schedules can make training exhausting, preparing for a race is not as nerve-wracking as race day. Nobody is watching you, it's easy to give-in when it hurts and it's fun to push boundaries when there's no finish line to chase and you can always modify the workout/course when you want to change things up.

But not on race day.
Race day is the day that really matters. 

Race day requires you to believe in your abilities. To trust your training/preparation and to know that you can handle anything that comes your way.

Self-awareness and being in the moment will allow you to avoid and to overcome obstacles that will occur on race day.

Just like in training, race day requires a high level of motivation. You must never stop caring about your performance, from start to finish. Keep your focus on yourself and don't be disrupted by distractions, like the race pace of another athlete. There's no need to compare yourself to anyone else or say "I'm too slow" or "I'm having such a bad race." Hopefully you learned in training that you can never ever judge an outcome from a current moment situation.

Understand that your race will likely not go as planned so be prepared for the unexpected and the unfamiliar.

Race day is going to hurt and you probably won't feel great throughout the entire race. There will be high moments and there will be lots of low moments. Understand that you don't have to feel great all day to have a great race performance. Thoughts are not actions.


Stick to what worked in training and don't overthink race day pacing or nutrition. Your training prepared you for race day so please don't try anything new on race day. Go into the race with confidence by doing what worked in training.

Bring a positive attitude to your race and keep it high all day long. Your mind will wander, it will bring in negative thoughts like "you can't do this, walking would be so much easier than running, this hurts too much to continue" but you must catch and quiet these thoughts before they become so strong that you can't ignore them. Let your mind work with your body.

The work is done and it's now time to race!
Don't give up until you reach that finish line!


7/20/17

Staying busy in Lake Placid


Now that we are all settled in and we have made Lake Placid our home away from home until Tuesday, it's time to look back on the past 48 hours as we have been very busy! 


My train-cation started on Wednesday morning with a 1.2 mile swim in beautiful Mirror Lake. Oh do I love swimming in this lake. With an underwater cable to keep me on course, floating small buoys to break up the swim and lots to look at in the lake, I am reminded of how much I love open water swimming when I swim in this lake. After my swim, I walked back to our house (1/2 mile away) and got myself ready for my second workout of the day - a 75- minute interval run. 



Although I got a little warm during my run, it was nothing compared to the heat that I have been training in in Greenville. Plus, the dry air was so welcoming. I was running happy, despite working hard with my body.

WU: 20 minutes on the start of the IM run course
MS: 6 x 6 minutes as (#1-2 build by 2 min to strong. #3-4 2 min EZ, 4 min strong. #5-6 strong) w/ 30 sec rest in between. 
Steady effort back home



I just love this part of the IM run course (River road) as you are running by farms, which eventually turn into a flowing river and plenty of mountain views. 



The roads were semi quiet, with only a few Ironman athletes out training, so it was nice to enjoy nature while working hard during my main set. 



As I was finishing my run, Karel headed off for a 3- hour ride (joined by his friend from Czech for 1/2 of the ride) so that he could get out on the course and wake up his legs. While Karel was gone, I got some work done on the computer, while hanging out with still-exhausted Campy. 



Later in the afternoon, as Karel was resting and watching the Tour de France on the NBC Sport Gold app, I headed out for an endurance 2 hour ride. It was nice to spin my legs and to not have to focus on structure in a workout. 



So happy riding here in Lake Placid! 



I rode out to the new out and back section on the bike course and although it is a short section, it is so historic! I rode by the Olympic biathlon and bobsleeding courses - so cool! The athletes are in for a treat! 



You can see the Olympic ski jumps in the far distance. 



After my ride, I grabbed a recovery drink (Clif protein) and Campy and I walked with Karel to Mirror Lake so that Karel could swim a loop of the course. We bumped into Trimarni athletes Adam and Ariel (Adam is the host of the Intelligent Racer Podcast - check it out!) and it was nice to see the town becoming more crowded with triathletes. 


With so much fueling/refueling and snacking between workouts, I was looking forward to a refreshing dinner so I made lettuce wraps stuffed with rice, crumbled cooked tempeh and provolone cheese. Around 9pm, it was time for bed and it was a great night of sleep to conclude our first official day in Lake Placid. 


Thursday morning started with another swim at the Lake - not complaining, I love open water swimming at Mirror Lake! But this time, I was joined by Karel and we both swam together for 1 loop of the swim course (1.2 miles). We started out smooth and comfortable on the way out, swimming side by side and then after passing the two turn buoys (~25 yards apart), we picked it up - swimming from one buoy to the next as strong and then smooth. It was nice to have the big buoys on the course as we used those as our markers for when we would pick up the effort. Karel has improved his swimming so much over the years and it was nice to be able to clock 29 minutes with him by my side for a semi-comfortable 1.2 mile swim. 



Karel has been a great guide and translator for his friend Roman who is from Prague. This is Roman's first time to the US (and first time racing in the US) and Karel is enjoying speaking so much Czech (his native language) here in Placid. Although, I think his brain is a little tired because he often forgets to switch from Czech to English when he talks to me right after having a conversation with Roman. 



After the swim, we walked back to our house and I got ready for my ride. I snacked on a Clif Mojo PB bar as I started my ride as the first 20 minutes or so was very easy before settling into a rhythm down to Wilmington. I reversed the IM bike course and ended up in the town of Jay, where I started my main set of intervals. It was fun to be on the IM Lake Placid course and to reflect on my first time racing here in 2013 with Karel (our first IM together). We were living in FL and I thought the Placid hills were so hard! Although our Greenville training has strengthened our legs, the wind was a bit exhausting today on my ride - and you can never beat the wind, no matter how hard you try. At least the views were pretty! 



I didn't have much time (or energy) to take a lot of pictures so I took a lot of mental pictures as I was enjoying my time on two wheels.

MS:
6 x 8 minutes build to strong w/ 2 min EZ spin in between (In Jay, toward Keen and back)
20 min recovery/smooth
30 min strong (starting from Wilmington)


The wind was straight in my face for my first 3 intervals but I managed to stay focused and to remind myself how lucky I am to be able to do what I can do with my body. 



It's been good for me to have my own training to focus on so that Karel can spend the time that he needs to focus on himself, without me being in his way. I know there are times when he just wants to be alone so it's been nice to have our own time to do what we both need to do here in Placid.

When I returned back from my ride, I was exhausted and just crashed on the couch with my recovery partner Campy. Karel was getting ready for a 20 minute shake out run so it was nice to have a quick chat with him before he headed out for his run. 


Around 2:30pm, we walked up to the lake and met up with our small group of Trimarnis who are racing at Lake Placid (Chris, Adam and Heidi. Also Chris's fiance Michaela is racing her first IM here in Placid) and we gave them a course talk and last minute tips for race execution. Our athletes are very prepared and we are excited to cheer for them on race day.

After our talk, Karel headed over to registration to make his Ironman Lake Placid athlete status official (with a wrist band) and I walked through the expo to say hi to a few familiar faces at the HOT SHOT and Ventum booth. It was also great to see Clif Bar in the expo.

When Karel returned home, I was prepping some food for dinner (roasted potatoes with garlic, salt and olive oil) and he got ready for an EZ 1 hour spin with Roman. As you can tell, Karel has been keeping himself moving with a good amount of resting, just to make sure he doesn't get too stale for race day.

The past two days have been great and we are just loving our time in Lake Placid. The weather has been amazing but it's expected to cool off over the next few days, which should be a great thing for all the athletes who are training/racing here in Lake Placid.







7/19/17

Hello from Lake Placid, NY!


After over 1000 miles of driving, we finally made it to Lake Placid, NY. Although it was a looooong drive, divided into two days (7.5 hours of driving on Monday and 9 hours of driving on Tuesday), it all felt worth it when we arrived to our final destination. 


With Campy's 10th birthday approaching in September, we wanted to share this experience with him. As he gets older, we look forward to any and all opportunities to make memories together as a family. Campy is our furry child and he has a special way of keeping us stress-free, calm and appreciative of all the little things in life. Plus, he gives us non-stop unconditional love. 


It wasn't long into our road trip on Monday that we made a stop at the Flat Rock Village Bakery. Since we only end up at this bakery mid-long-ride (and jersey pockets not big enough for a mega cinnamon roll or a loaf of bread), we took advantage of this opportunity to stock up on some fresh local bread for the first leg of our trip. 


Campy was so excited for his road trip that he didn't nap for the entire day on Monday! He was so interested in all the sights and with no idea of where we were going, he was very alert throughout the entire trip. He's a great partner in the car and never complains or asks "are we there yet?"


After spending the entire day in the car, it was around 5:15pm when we finally arrived to our overnight stay, with our friends Katie and Chris Morales in Cross Junction, Virginia. 

Campy needed to stretch his paws so as Karel took a dip in the lake for a 35 min swim, Campy and I walked around the local lake. 


We then enjoyed a delish homecooked (vegetarian) meal of pasta noodles, squash, chickpeas and goat cheese. Oh so good! And a salad on the side. 


With a longer leg of our trip on Tuesday, we headed out around 6:30am after waking up without an alarm around 5:30am. Campy was exhausted from not napping on Monday so he slept throughout the entire trip. Just like on Monday, Karel and I switched off driving, a few hours at a time for each of us, while being entertained by lots of podcasts. 


We made really good time, with only one minor construction delay and arrived to Lake Placid around 4:15pm. 



I brought a lot of snacks and food in a cooler but we also made one lunch stop at Moe's for a delish meal. The views were beautiful in route to Lake Placid with the mountains views and green trees covering the hills.


After we arrived to our Airbnb, right on the run course (about 1/2 mile from the expo/lake/finish), we unpacked and Karel went for an hour shake-out run and I walked Campy to Mirror Lake. As Karel ate and relaxed, I headed out to the grocery (Hannaford Supermarket) to stock up on some refrigerated food for our stay.

We were all pretty exhausted when we arrived to Lake Placid (traveling is exhausting!) so it was early to bed, around 8:45pm when we all laid down to get a good night of sleep.

As Karel gets himself into "race mode" for his 8th Ironman, I am excited for my train-cation over the next few days as I will be doing a lot of training in prep for the 2017 Ironman 70.3 World Championship (and Lake Logan half) which is quickly approaching.

I am mindful that this trip is all about Karel so I am doing everything I can to make sure that he can get himself in the zone and I can't wait to cheer him on, as well as Trimarni athletes Heidi, Chris and Adam and nutrition athlete Christine, and all the other IM Lake Placid athletes. 




7/17/17

Off to Ironman Lake Placid - time to reflect


It was only four years ago when Karel and I made the trip up to Lake Placid for the 2013 Ironman. Not only was this an amazing opportunity to make memories together in a new location but this was Karel's very first Ironman! Although I never take an Ironman start for granted, I couldn't believe that I would be sharing a 140.6 mile race course with Karel for my 6th Ironman. I was so use to seeing Karel on the sidelines that it was a little strange, exciting and special to see Karel on the race course. 



When we arrived to Lake Placid, we were in awe of the mountain views. The scenery was breathtaking and we felt so lucky that we could race in such a beautiful venue while soaking in all of the nature around us. Lake Placid was the last place that we both visited before we decided to move to Greenville, SC. After returning home from IM Lake Placid in 2013, it was only 6 months later that we decided to make the scary but exciting decision to leave the beach scene and familiarity of Jacksonville, FL and move to the mountains as we craved a bike friendly playground to maintain our active lifestyle and a fresh start to grow the Trimarni business. 



Crossing an Ironman finish line is always an emotional and exhilarating feeling, but knowing that I was sharing the entire race experience with Karel was extremely special. For the first time, I was able to share my race stories with Karel and he could share his experiences with me. It was so fun to talk about those inside details with each other - and walk a little funny together after the race. 


Although I went into the race with limited running due to another setback with my hips/back and we both had our challenges during the race, it was a great race experience to share together and it made me realize how much I love racing the Ironman distance. 


After the awards ceremony, I received a roll down slot to my 3rd Ironman World Championship just 12 weeks later. Although Karel was not able to come to Kona with me due to work (GM of the Jacksonville Trek Store), I was able to share the special experience with my dear friend Dr. G


Although I was celebrating my 7th Ironman without Karel, I was extremely proud of my body for racing so well (IM PR) just 3 months after Ironman Lake Placid. Somehow, Lake Placid taught me a lot about myself and since then, I have not been seriously injured and have experienced huge improvements in my fitness and racing performances.

Although our 2013 Ironman Lake Placid experience left us with happy memories, inside, Karel and I were both dealing with the news that my dad had stage IV cancer. A few weeks before our trip, my dad was in the hospital due to having major surgery on his spine. He was given little chance of walking again and a poor prognosis of making a full recovery from his cancer. 


My training was severely affected because mentally, it was hard for me to be in the zone during a workout. I couldn't clear my head and I wanted to be with my dad, in the hospital, as much as possible. It was extremely hard to wake up each morning, questioning how much longer my dad would be with us. But my dad's strength was contagious. I've always admired his positive attitude and his ability to live life to the fullest every day of his life and even during his cancer diagnosis, he still stayed positive. He was so excited for Karel to tackle his first Ironman and he was so proud of us to both for being able to do amazing things with our body, while celebrating our good health. After cancer took my dad's life after a hard 10-month fight, I learned that good health is a gift and we should never ever take it for granted. When an opportunity arises to do something amazing with your body, take it! 


It was then 2 years later, in 2015, when we returned back to Ironman Lake Placid with a few of our Trimarni athletes (Joe, Mike, Adam and Heidi). This was an extremely special experience to share Lake Placid with our athletes and to give Karel another opportunity to race on one of his favorite race courses. 


Sadly, things didn't go as planned leading up to the race. Near the end of May, Karel tore his plantar fascia after two super strong performances that gave him a lot of confidence with his fitness. He didn't get the diagnosis of the severity of the injury until he had a MRI just 24 hours before we left for IM Lake Placid. With this being Karel's first injury, he had a really hard time accepting that he would not be able to do the run at Ironman Lake Placid. This left Karel with a ton of emotions going into the race, including a lot of frustration. But knowing that he had his first Ironman World Championship just 12 weeks later, he made the hard but smart decision of pulling out of the race after the bike. 


After his race was over and he turned in his chip, he joined me out on the course to cheer for the rest of our Trimarni athletes. Although Karel was disappointed with how his second Ironman Lake Placid experience went down, it was a special experience to see our athletes cross the finish line. Although Karel's injury was very slow to heal (11 months), not running on it ensured that he wouldn't do any further damage.  


Karel's foot injury was tough to handle but we noticed that Campy was experiencing seizures more frequently while in Lake Placid. This was very scary. As soon as we returned home, we had to attend to Campy's health with several vet appointments to figure out what was going on with Campy's brain. Finally, we were able to control his seizures with medication and since then, he hasn't had a seizure. 


Admittedly, my head was not in a good place in the summer of 2015 with so much going on in our life over the past year. Despite Karel and I sharing our first Ironman World Championship experience together (and my 4th IMKona), I couldn't get my mind off Karel's foot, wondering what would happen to him on race day and still grieving over the loss of my dad. 


We both finished the race but I was very disappointed with my performance as my body and mind were not in a good place on race day. After IM Kona 2015, I decided that I would take a break from IMKona and just focus on training and racing without putting any pressure on myself to re-qualify. Since then, I have experienced huge improvements with my fitness and have maintained great health. I've also noticed an improved joy with training and racing. 



Thankfully, Karel's foot was ok for the run (picture from IM Kona 2016) and although he had a few niggles for the next few months, his foot finally healed about 11-months after the tear and he went on to achieve great results in 2016 - which happened to be his best season of triathlon racing at the age of 40! Karel completed 3 Ironmans within 4 months and ran all three marathons off the bike under 3:10! 


As we gear up for our 3rd trip up to Lake Placid today, it was important to reflect on all of the lessons that we have learned since our first IM in Lake Placid. Through the highs and lows of training and racing, we have learned a lot. 

-You can never predict the future. No matter how good or bad your training goes before a race, you never know what race day will bring you. Don't waste your energy trying to make assumptions or plan for what is out of your control. Be in the now. 

-Never wait for the right time to start or do something with your body. Life is too short to wait for the perfect moment. If you wait too long, your moment may never come.

-Make time out of your busy life to slow down and make memories.

-You deserve to be happy - in life, with your career and in your relationships. Don't let people steal your energy or make you feel less of yourself. 


-Work to live, don't live to work.

-When you think that things can't be any worse, there's something better coming your way.

-Slow down. Life rushes by fast. Always take note of the special/happy moments in your life.


-Tell the people in your life that you care about, that you love them.

-Some things in life will just not make sense. Accept that there is not always a reason for everything that happens to you in life.

-Money doesn't buy happiness. Use your money to provide you with life changing experiences.

-There's something special about being in nature. It just feels right.