Essential Sports Nutrition

11/15/18

Any idea of how good you are suppose to feel?


Campy just had his yearly "senior" check-up yesterday. I'm proud to say that Campy is in great health. He is a strong 11 lbs, 4 ounces and even at the age of eleven, he still plays like he is a puppy. He is full of endless energy and still has a very strong personality. While he loves to sleep (a lot), he won't pass up the opportunity to take a long walk (or hike), go on a road trip or sprint in the backyard.

Notice the left paw death grip around my neck. This is how much Campy loathes the vet. 

As a furry parent, Campy's health is really important to me. I want to make sure that I do everything possible to give him the best life possible. Whether you are a furry parent, human parent or caregiver, there's a good chance that you are use to taking care of everyone......but you may often neglect yourself.

If you are tired of being tired, listen up. Life is short and you need to take the time to take care of yourself.

Most people have no idea how good their body is suppose to feel. Far too many people "put up" with health issues, pains, aches, and uncomfortable bodily functions, only to consider these things as the norm. For athletes, many believe that feeling chronically exhausted, run down and sore is an acceptable state of being. For those who aren't taking action and potentially adding training stress on top of a potentially significant underlying health issue, I'm here to say that you have no idea what it's like to be in good health.

When you are in good health, you should not need a copious amount of caffeine to survive the day. Your mind should not be foggy, you shouldn't feel dizzy or lightheaded and you shouldn't find yourself needing to nap periodically throughout the day. Anti-inflammatories should not be consumed like candy. You should be able to easily fall asleep and stay asleep. Your appetite to flow from feeling slightly hungry to comfortably satisfied - never feeling starved or too full. It's normal for your energy to ebb and flow, but without extreme dips and dives throughout the day.

When you are in good health, you make the effort for health-promoting lifestyle, nutrition and sleep practices. Achieving a healthy weight may require a little bit of extra effort but maintaining a healthy weight should be supported by the healthy lifestyle choices that you acquired during your weight change journey. One should never feel "too busy" to make the time to take care of your health. It shouldn't feel like a chore to take care of your health.

When you are in good health, you feel comfortable in your skin and don't bash your body or the way that you look. You thank your body for what it allows you to do.

When you are in good health, you recognize that your mental health is just as important as your physical health. If you have extreme changes in your emotions, you want to withdrawal from society, activities you once enjoyed are no longer fun, you engage in unhealthy behaviors, you use alcohol or drugs to cope with uncomfortable feelings, you have lost a desire for your own health (and self-care), you feel overwhelmed in life or a sense of hopelessness, reach out for help. This is not how you have to live. Help is available.

To get in good health, you have to take action. Get blood work. Get regular check-ups. Consult with a specialist when you have a concern about your health. Talk to someone when you don't feel right - mentally, physically and emotionally. Don't make healthy eating complicated, stressful, confusing or overwhelming. Don't skimp on sleep. Manage your stress. Commit to consistent restful sleep. Exercise daily. If you are an athlete, make sure you are training in a way so that exercise has a purpose and focus. Get rid of energy suckers in your life, especially on social media. If someone doesn't make you feel good about yourself, don't allow that person in your "network."

If you've been putting it off, it's time to take action. Now is a great time to start working on yourself, so you can finally experience how great your body can actually feel.


11/13/18

It's time to get excited about strength training


I have a long history with strength training. I think back to my early years of competitive swimming when was around 12 yrs of age, in the gym (supervised by our coach), lifting weights with my swim team. Since then, I can't think of a time in my life when I wasn't strength training. In the later years of college, I interned with the Strength and Conditioning coach of the UK male and female basketball teams. I then went on to graduate school to study Exercise Physiology to become a Strength and Conditioning Coach. Although my career choice has changed since then, I still have a strong passion for Strength and Conditioning.

Although nothing beats the endorphin rush of cardio training, I love the feeling of feeling strong. You never realize how weak you are until you are forced to lift weight (or move your own body weight through specific exercise). While I have had my fair share of soft-tissue related injuries, I have never had a broken bone or stress fracture, and I'd like to think that strength training has helped with that statistic.

As an endurance athlete and triathlon coach, I could never imagine training for such an extreme cardio-sport without a structured strength training plan. From correcting imbalances and improving mobility and efficiency of movements to increasing muscle and connective tissue strength, strength training helps create a a strong, durable and resilient body.

Like any structured training plan, strength training should be periodized, structured and sport-specific. Because the same muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones that assist in movement in your sport must be conditionally strong, powerful, efficient and durable, strength training should compliment your cardio training - helping you perform better in your sport.

It's interesting how many athletes understand the importance of strength training and mobility work but don't make time for it. When the body and mind are tired, time is crunched or motivation is low, strength training is almost always the first thing to go in the athlete's daily/weekly training plan. But it isn't until an athlete gets injured or experiences a setback in training that the athlete will say "I should have kept up with strength training and mobility work."

The great thing about strength and mobility work is that you can get a lot out of a short session of just 20-40 minutes, a few times per week. However, strength training is one of those things were many athletes need guidance, accountability and direction.

To help get you excited about strength training, I want to introduce you to two experts that I have used for my own strength training and I also prescribe their services to my athletes. They are great resources and have a tremendous amount of respect for both of them as they are experts in what they do.

Back in 2014, I came across Chris Johnson's strength training videos on YouTube and I told Karel "I need Chris in my life!" I reached out to Chris when he was in Kona (getting ready for the IM World Championship) and he responded to my email. I highly suggest to check out his website and videos. Since then, Chris has played an integral role in helping us as athletes and coaches. Chris will routinely speak to our athletes about running injuries, strength training, running form and busting popular running myths. He's a fantastic resource and all around great person (and athlete). Chris and his colleagues have written a comprehensive guide on all things strength training. While a great resource for practitioners and runners, any athlete/coach will benefit from this guide.

From the guide "Each chapter covers one exercise as well as the associated progressions and regressions to meet the needs of the runner. For every exercise, we discuss the following: the benefits and rationale, the objective, criteria for success and mastery, relevant cues, and common errors/compensations. Video links are also included to provide runners with a model of performance. While we encourage readers to work through each chapter systematically, one can also quickly jump to specific chapters if they want to focus on a particular exercise. Finally, at the end of the book, three sample programs are provided to give practitioners a window into how the loads between running and resistance training are managed across different demographics."

Chris is a wealth of knowledge and he knows what he is doing. If you run or work with runners, Chris is your go-to guy. If you are interested in his new Strength Training Guidebook, you can receive a 20% discount with the code: trimarni.


Triathlon is a challenging, time consuming, exhausting sport as you have to train for 3 different sports. Many triathletes neglect strength training because they;
1) Don't know what exercises are "functional" for the sport
2) Don't feel they have time for it
3) Feel overwhelmed by gym equipment and strength regimes
4) Lack the accountability to perform strength
5) Strength training isn't as fun as cardio training
6) Don't know how to fit it into a cardio-focused routine

Erin comes with a great understanding of how to strength train triathletes. She gets it. Not only does she have experience training many professional triathletes but she is extremely passionate about helping triathletes. Like Chris, she is an triathlete herself. Her knowledge and passion shine through in what she does.

Erin has done something that is revolutionary in the triathlon world - She has also made it very easy for athletes to perform strength (with accountability) with a strength training app. This app is easy to use and it's affordable. I've been using one of her programs (compliments of Erin to try it out) for the past two months and find it incredibly easy to use. I also feel like it targets the areas that I find get weak/sore throughout the season when volume/intensity increase (hip region).

I loved the app/program so much that I partnered with Erin and she is now the official Trimarni strength coach for our entire team. Our athletes are currently performing a 4-week demo program (compliments to Erin) that she has set up for our team. The app provides looped videos, suggested reps and sets and each program is designed to be completed as a compliment to your cardio training. There's also a PDF to explain how to use each program. She has also great mobility (Get the connection) exercises to keep your hips/glutes/back happy with all your swim/bike/run training.

I feel so lucky that we have Erin and Chris as resources for our athletes. I encourage you to consider either (or both) as you get excited about strength training. If you have any questions or would like me to make the connection to Erin or Chris, just send me an email.


As a final note, just because you call yourself an athlete, don't expect that you can simply rush into lifting heavy weights, join a cross fit class or try out a plyometric routine. Start slow as you may be an experienced athlete but you are probably a beginner at strength training.

11/11/18

It's time to slow down


Although my last triathlon was Ironman Wisconsin in early September, since returning home from Kona, Hawaii on October 17th, I've done little structured triathlon training. I did, however, participate/race in two events (Hincapie Gran Fondo on 10/21 and the Spinx Half Marathon on 10/27) over the last two weekends in October just to use some of my leftover fitness as my mind and body still wanted to race. While I did keep up with structured swim sessions until Karel raced Ironman Florida on 11/4 (moral support :), it feels like forever ago when I had workouts in my Training Peaks.

Over the past twelve years, I've given myself all different types of an off-season break. I've failed at many and have succeed at several. I've learned that taking "too long" of break didn't work for me (4-6 weeks) but return too soon (1-2 weeks) and well, that didn't work either. In reflection on what worked or didn't work, I think about the season that followed. When I think about when I best peaked for my races, how easy/hard it was to gain fitness and the strength/health of my body, iterestingly, my most successful two seasons of racing have been over the past two years (2017 and 2018). Before both those seasons, I gave myself a ~3 week break from structured triathlon training.

This time around, I'm not deviating from what has been working. While I like to think of my off-season as a "transitional period" with a gradual decrease in training intensity/volume and structure, this past week ended that phase. I've done nothing all week! Well, let me clarify. There's been no swimming, no biking and no running. My "normal" routine is no longer. Aside from 3 light sessions of ECFit strength and mobility work to keep my hips happy, the extent of my daily exercise has been walking - and always with Campy. 

This break from structure has been enjoyable, well-earned and well-timed as we are extremely busy with starting back our athletes (and welcoming new athletes) to our coaching team, I have welcomed colder temps and fall colors (there's something about cold weather that says off-season) and Karel just finished his season so we can enjoy doing nothing together. Since we watch little to no TV over the summer (aside from triathlon, cycling, running and swimming and Ellen), it's been nice to spend an hour or two in the evening being entertained by Netflix. On the weekend, instead of training for hours all morning, we are now exploring beautiful Greenville - by foot. And we can get to a few house-projects such as organizing and cleaning cluttered spaces/closets. To me, this is what the off-season is all about....slowing down, enjoying non-triathlon/extreme activities and being ok with not being a disciplined and dedicated athlete. Nothing has changed with our diet aside from removing the "extra" food that was needed to support higher volume training. And with less time training we can spend even more time in the kitchen cooking. This week was all about chilis and stews with the crockpot. Yum!

Here are some pictures from our hike to Ruby Cliff Falls and the overlook at Caesar's Head. The Ruby Cliff Falls hike was ~4.5 miles round trip and took us about 2 hours. Campy was a trooper and walked the entire hike with no complaints. 












As for what to do or not do in your off-season (if you are an athlete-in-training), everyone is different. What works for one person may not work for you. More so, what worked for you last year or five years ago may not work for you right now in your life. 

However, it's important to remind yourself that your self-identity shouldn't be tied to you as an athlete. While it's great to be passionate about healthy living and physical activity, you can still be a great spouse, friend, family member, community member, volunteer, parent (furry/human), employee and active individual without structured training. So if you are struggling to give yourself permission to take a proper/formal break from training, use your off-season to develop and explore other great attributes about yourself that don't have to do with sport. If you keep registering for races over the fall/winter, this is a red flag that you may be struggling to take a break from training.

On the flip side, make sure you don't get too comfortable with physical inactivity as it poses a great risk to your mental and physical health. While the off-season is an important time for mental, emotional and physical rest, it's very easy to fall victim to unhealthy lifestyle habits. 

If you struggle with a sense of loss or have difficulty finding meaning in your life or self worth without structured training or you don't know how to function in life without training and racing, remind yourself that sport is something you choose to do, it's not who you are.

If you are struggling with a transition away from sport or struggle to find a sense of identity and purpose without being engaged in structured training, reach out to a mental health expert for help. 

11/9/18

Assessing your current relationship with food



It's getting closer to that time of the year. New Year diet fads. 

The start of the year (after the holiday season) is typically the time when people begin to "finally" get serious about the diet, in hopes of improving health, changing body composition, losing weight or getting rid of unhealthy lifestyle habits. While there's nothing wrong with a New Year Resolution, there's the tendency to take the wrong approach to changing your eating habits. Your old diet gets demolished instead of making a small renovation.

You may be wondering why I am bringing up this topic right now in early November. Well, relationships with food are complex, especially for athletes. Whether the focus is on health, appearance or performance (or a combination of all three), focusing too much on your diet and/or body image can become harmful to your health. There's never a wrong time to talk about your current relationship with food and the body.

I love my diet. It's easy, sustainable and it works for me and my health, performance and lifestyle. I'm comfortable with my style of eating, I feel comfortable eating around others and I can take my typical style of eating anywhere in the world. While I have standards as to what I want to put in my body most of the time (which makes up my "typical" diet), I never find my diet complicated or unappetizing. 

While you may feel the same way, many athletes feel the exact opposite. 

Eating is stressful. There's great fear, guilt, worry, confusion and anxiousness when it comes to food. There's inconsistency and uncertainty.  Although some athletes and fitness enthusiasts have yet to master a style of eating that is sustainable, healthy and performance enhancing, there's a large group of active individuals (from all fitness levels) who have a very unhealthy relationship with food and the body. Food is the enemy.

With a complicated relationship with food, there's the tendency to become obsessed with one style of eating that brings great concerns, guilt or fears when it comes to food. There's often something "extreme" with how these individuals choose to eat, constantly thinking about food as good or bad, right or wrong.  Interestingly, many athletes see food as the problem that needs fixing when in reality, the relationship with food and the body are the problems.

Your diet should provide adequate nutrients and calories to support consistent training, optimal health and recovery and should also help to reduce your risk for disease and illness. To achieve this style of eating, you should not have to spend an excessive amount of your time or energy thinking, stressing and planning your diet. Going to great extremes to follow a rigid style of eating may increase the risk for physical and mental health issues, disordered eating or an eating disorder.

I find that the individuals who fall victim to New Year diet fads tend to have a very poor relationship with food and the body. These individuals gravitate toward diet fads in order to feel control and gain a sense of power through an ultra-focused, extremely rigid style of eating.  In a culture that brings a bombardment of messages about how your athletic body should look and the many different extreme styles of eating that are marketed toward athletes, it's important to remind yourself that you don't need to make an extreme change in your eating habits to fix or resolve yourself to be healthier, happier or better athlete. 

Your inability to stick to a New Years diet has nothing to do with your level of self control. Diets don't work. More so, any program or style of eating that is extreme or rigid, comes with risks to your physical and mental health.

Although dieting and diet fads will always be part of our culture, this is one trend that you shouldn't be part of. Before the holiday season, take some self-care time to assess your current relationship with food and your body. Realize the impact that your past, current and future eating patterns have on your mental, emotional and physical health. Chronic restricted eating, habitual dieting, eliminating food groups or certain foods, ignoring physical hunger, compulsive/binge eating and food obsessions demonstrate a complicated relationship with food. 

Let go of the need to be, look and to eat perfect. Stop comparing yourself to a past version of yourself or to someone else. Don't make eating difficult. To love and care for your body, you need to fuel, nourish, thank and honor it for a lifetime. Now is a great time to start.


11/8/18

Ironman Florida Race Report - '19 Kona Bound

Pre-race
While the alarm was early at 3:45am, the recent time change made it only feel like 4:45am. Karel was quick to get out of bed for his morning espresso, followed by his typical pre-race/workout bowl of oatmeal. He ate standing to help with digestion and shortly after, he went for a quick jog around the neighborhood to get his digestive tract flowing even more. After getting all of his gear organized, it was time to drive to the race venue around 4:50am.

It was a quick 2 mile drive from the Southern Dunes property to the Lake Eva community center/park (race venue). I drove Karel (and our other coach Joe) and dropped them off near the transition area. Campy and I then drove around to find parking. Thankfully, Haines City does a great job opening almost every parking lot available for their triathlon races. After parking in the lot of a pharmacy on 5th street, Campy and I walked to the transition area to wait for Karel after he pumped up his tires. The weather was perfect as it was cool, but not too hot and certainly not too cold. After collecting Karel’s pump, I dropped it off back at the car and then went to the Lake Eva pool to meet up with Karel and Joe. The pool was open Wed-Sat of race week (9am-1pm) and on race morning from 4:30-6:30am. I was surprised to not see more athletes take advantage of the pool for a pre-race warm-up. We are big advocates of getting in the water before a triathlon, especially when it’s a wetsuit swim (as it was for this race as the temperature of the water was around 73-74 degrees). Campy and I hung out by the pool area until Karel and Joe were finished with their warm-up swim (about 10 minutes) and then I collected their bags to drop back off at the car.




Nearing the race start at 6:30am, Campy and I made our way on to the beach/sand area by the swim exit (two loop swim with an out-of-the-water transition to the second loop) just in time to see the athletes start the rolling swim. 

2.4 mile swim
Although an interesting course layout for a swim, the lake was very well-marked with buoys. Also, Ironman did something that I had never ever seen before – there was a timing “mat” in the middle of the swim! While a great idea to capture mid-swim splits for each loop, the set-up caused a lot of mayhem as there were two large buoys making a tunnel for athletes to swim through, with the timing system above the water. As you can imagine, place 2000 athletes in a small lake and have hundreds of them try to swim through the tunnel at the same time, there’s going to be some major congestion.
Karel started with the sub-1 hour group for the rolling swim start and within 30 seconds, he was in the water. The first loop was rather uneventful for Karel and he felt comfortable in the water with a strong but sustainable effort. Karel exited the water around 29 minutes before re-entering the water. However, at this point, the rolling start was nearing the end and the lake was filled with 2000+ athletes. Certainly, this caused Karel to slow down a lot. While he felt comfortable with his effort, there was a lot of changes with speed and direction to navigate through all the other athletes. At one point, a lady grabbed Karel’s ankle and yanked it so hard that he lifted his head to turn around to see what was going on. The lady yelled “you kicked me!” Karel couldn’t help but laugh. Who knows if Karel really kicked her as it wasn’t on purpose. Karel has been in that position before where it can be scary, exhausting and frustrating to be swum over so he is always sympathetic when he swims in the open water and tries to be as nice as he can with the slower swimmers. 




Although the second lap was much slower for Karel, he swam very well on a very technical swim course. He exited the water in 1 hour and 1 minute and then made his way to the gear bags in the tennis courts. 


T1
As a last-minute Ironman venue change, there were some logistically issues with this new venue. One of them being the layout of the transition area. The gear bags and changing tents were on the far other side to the location of the bikes. With no carpet on the ground, athletes had to run through the park area on chipseal, which was a bit uncomfortable for the feet. Karel wasn’t complaining as he was just thankful to be racing but it wasn’t the most pleasant of run from swim to bike. After a quick transition, Karel ran to his bike to start the bike portion. 




112 mile bike
As Karel was finishing the second loop of the swim, I made my way to the very start of the bike course on one of the rolling hills by the school (near the lake). I was accompanied by Eedee (who was cheering on her hubby Josh, who we coach) as well as our athletes Stephanie (who was volunteering later in the day). When I saw Karel, I was relieved that he didn’t tell me that his shifting wasn’t working (like in Kona) so that was a huge relief. I quickly yelled to him that he was 8th out of T1 (he moved up two places just in transition) and 7.5 minutes down from 1st place. I felt like this information would be most beneficial to him at the moment so that he knew where he was positioned at the start of the bike.
After spending the next 30 minutes cheering for athletes, I went back to our rental home (with Campy and Stephanie) for a quick breakfast (well, second breakfast for the day). Nearing 9:30am, we drove about 7 miles down the road (backroads) to park on the bike course so that we could cheer for all the athletes, especially for Karel, Joe, Josh and Dave (our athletes racing). We positioned ourselves around mile 60 on the bike course so that we could see the athletes on their second loop. Since there was a timing mat at miles 56, this would give me updated results for Karel and Joe (they were both trying for a Kona slot).
Karel felt good for most of the first loop on the bike. The layout of the bike course is nice in that it is flat and fast for the first half of each loop and then comes the rollers. There’s nothing too technical or hilly about the course but you do need to be an active participant in your effort on the second half of each loop. Karel took some risks on the first loop to stay competitive in his age group but after he stopped at special needs to grab 2 more bottles (a total of 5 INFINIT bottles on the bike, a few bites of a Bonk Breaker bar and a few sips of Gatorade near the end), his back/hips started to bother him (nothing abnormal as it’s an ongoing issue for Karel on the bike) which forced him to ease up with his effort. 



At mile 56, Karel was still in 7th place so his position didn’t really change much in the first half of the bike. However, at this point he was 16 minutes down from the leader. We assumed there would be 3 Kona slots but Karel always likes to be as safe as possible so he was more focused on 2nd place. I told Karel where he was in his age group as he stretched his back by standing up out of the saddle. I purposely positioned myself on the one “hill” on the flat section of the bike course so I’d have more time to yell at Karel (which was only a matter of seconds). As Karel was nearing the next timing mat at 83 miles, we made our way back to the race venue. Throughout the time when we were cheering for the athletes and had the music blasting from my car. As we drove back to the venue, Campy had enough and he was ready for a nap. Ironman spectating is so exhausting! 


I continued to check the tracker and by 83 miles, Karel moved back a spot to 8th place (which was still good position wise) but he was now 20 minutes and 24 seconds behind 1st place in his age group (18 minutes from second). By the end of the bike, Karel was back in 7th but moved back to 24 minutes behind the leader.

T2
As usual, Karel had a super fast transition (Karel says that nothing good happens in transition so get in and out). Because the changing tents were inside, Karel welcomed the air conditioning as it was getting extremely hot and humid out. He didn't want to leave. Although the forecast called for showers in the afternoon, the rain seemed to have other plans as the sun was popping out from behind the clouds.


26.2 mile run
Our assistant coach Joe had passed Karel near the end of the bike and made his way out on the run course right in front of Karel. It was really cool to see Joe and Karel both together. Karel gave Joe a few wise words as he passed him in the first ½ mile of the run.
Although Karel has proven to be untouchable on the run as that’s where he always moves up and runs down his competition (typically with one of the top runs overall), I was unsure of what his body would be able to do just three weeks after Kona.
The positive of this new run course was that there were a lot of timing mats. The downside was that there was a lot of turns. 


Picture by Stephanie G. 
And if you were wondering about the blue KT tape on Karel's knee, he had a phantom taper "pain" going into the race so he taped up his knee. Not pictured is Karel's back/hips all taped up with KT tape. 

To start the run, athletes ran out by the school (on the bike course) and then back to the park to start three loops around the lake. Within each loop, there was a lot of out and backs, turns and hills. 
I was hoping to give Karel good news as he left transition area but all I could tell him was that the other guys didn’t look as good as him (not entirely true but I wanted him to hear something positive).
I made my way near mile 4 of the run course so I could give Karel more updates as I would be able to see him three times over a short period of time. At this point, he was still in 7th and still just under 22 minutes down from 1st place. This was not the typical run race that Karel was use to as he can typically make up a lot of time in the first few miles but the first guy had a huge lead over Karel.

When I saw Karel, he didn’t look good. While he always has good form when he runs, it looks a lot more forced and labored than what I am use to. As Karel ran by, he told me that he didn’t feel good and he wanted to quit. I’ve never heard Karel tell me that before. I told him that he is still moving up and gaining time and to walk the aid stations and to just break the run into small sections. While I know that we all suffer at some point in the marathon of an Ironman, I felt so bad for Karel that his suffering started so early in the run.


Pic by Stephanie Gibson
Although Karel made up little time in the first few miles of the run, by mile 5.6 (timing mat), enough progress was being made for me to (attempt to) convince Karel that all this suffering would be worth it. When I saw Karel again, he had moved up to 6th place in his age group. Although the gap to 1st place was still around 21 minutes, it was only 13 minutes to second. At least 2nd was a better probability than 1st and would still give him a confirmed Kona slot.  When I saw Joe a little later, I gave him the exciting news that he was in 6th in his age group. Although Joe was having some breathing issues to start, he walked it out and got it under control and only got stronger as the run progressed (Joe did IM Chatty and just registered for IMFL 2 weeks before the race – with our permission of course 😉


After Karel ran by, I made my way to the other side of the run loop so that I could give him more updated information. During this time, Karel could see his competition running ahead of him….far far ahead. It was so mentally defeating for him, especially since he was already so mentally and physically exhausted. But he tried to stay positive and reminded himself that anyone can run “well” for 5 miles. Then he told himself “anyone can run well for 10 miles”. He was speaking about his competition because he was not making up much time on them so he was just hoping that his effort was good enough to keep him moving up (even though with every foot strike, he was hurting more and more).

By 8.7 miles, Karel moved into 4th place. Now we are talking! Still nearly 18 minutes down from first, he was only 5 minutes from 3rd. I knew that if Karel could hear that he was nearing that Kona slot, he would feel like this was all worth it. By 10.9 miles, Karel was in 3rd and had put 10 minutes into the competition. He was still 15 minutes first and 13 minutes behind second but the competitors behind him were all slowing down. Karel needed to know that no one was chasing him because he didn’t much energy to give to speed up. He was just trying as hard as he could to not slow down too much.

At 11.9 miles, a pass had been made by the 2nd place guy in Karel’s age group, which then put him into the lead. When I saw him running, he looked really good and he was holding about the same pace as Karel. I noticed that the 2nd place guy was slowing down a bit so this made the race even more exciting. Many athletes were walking as it was a very tough course on a very hot and humid day.  

Hang in there Campy! Just ten more miles to go!

By 15.5 miles, Karel was 12 minutes behind first and still running about the same pace as the first place guy in his age group. However, Karel was beginning to close the gap to second (8 minutes behind). With 10 miles still left in the race, Karel could potentially move himself into 2nd! I made my way to the back side of the loop so that I could give Karel another update before he did an out and back section before making his way to the “big hill” before heading back toward the race venue. Nearing 17.4 miles, Karel had closed the gap to second to 6 minutes and now first place was slowing down!

Karel was really struggling but his competition was struggling more. I knew he’d be seeing the medical tent at the finish line for he was digging so deep. I think Karel could have cried at any moment because he was hurting so bad. As he made his way up the hill to the aid station, he walked through the aid station and he told me that he is struggling to take in nutrition (it felt like everything he took in was in his belly) and is barely surviving. I knew he was struggling so I just told him to “one more loop and you’ll be done.” Karel walked about 15 aid stations throughout the marathon for it was the only way he could mentally break down the race. Even in one section where there were 3 aid stations within 1 mile, he walked each one of those. 



By 22.7 miles, Karel was less than a minute from 2nd and he was running faster than everyone in his age group (including first place). I knew that once Karel passed 2nd, he would get a bit of a lift, especially since he only had a few more miles to go. I texted one of my athletes (Julie) who was working the last aid station of the loop (on the hill) to tell Karel that he was just a few minutes away from 1st!

By 24.6 miles, the pass had been made and Karel moved his way from 7th AG to first. As we always say, it’s not about being fast but being great at not slowing down. Karel was keeping up with his planned nutrition with his Naked Running belt and also stopped at special needs on the 2nd loop (you could stop at any of the loops but only once) to ensure that he was still giving his body energy all the way to the end. He also used coke and water and lots and lots of ice/water from the aid stations. Karel felt like the cloud cover that came on the last loop really helped him feel a bit more alive again since it had been so hot and humid for the first 2 loops of the run.

I made my way to the finish line with Campy and I couldn’t wait to see Karel run down the finish line and rest his exhausted body. With less than 1 mile to go, Karel secured his first place AG by nearly 2 minutes. As Karel was getting closer to the finish, there was a guy just in front of him. Karel got closer to him and saw that he was not in his age group and just let him go. Karel had nothing more to give – not even a 200 yard effort to try to move up one place overall.

As the 6th finisher across the line, it was a little quiet with spectators but Mike Riley gave Karel a wonderful announcement “Karel Sumbal, living the American Dream!” as he called him an Ironman.

Our athletes Stephanie and Kevin caught Karel at the finish line (volunteering) and then quickly took him to medical (I expected it). Karel didn’t take any IV’s but just needed to be cooled off and rehydrated with sport drink. All Karel wanted to do was take a nap but the medical staff kept putting ice on Karel. The medical staff allowed me and Campy to sit in the finisher area by the tent until Karel was able to wobble his way out about 20 minutes later.
During this time, a rainbow had popped up over the medical tent. It wasn't too long later (a few hours) when the sky opened up and it was pouring rain. 





Karel couldn’t believe what he did. He had no idea of his run time and he was shocked that he had the 2nd fastest run of the day. After the race, Karel told me that he is done with Ironman and never wants to do another one. He said during the race he was having so many conversations with himself about how great of an idea it would be to just focus on the half IM distance next year. Well that quickly changed after a night of sleep as he took his Kona slot for 2019. I’m super excited for us to share our 2nd Ironman World Championship together in October. 


 A big congrats to our athletes Joe, Josh and Dave who all finished as well as to all the other IMFL (Haines City edition) finishers!



Results:
2.4 mile swim: 1:01.36
T1: 4:28
112 mile bike: 5:02.58

T2: 3:58
26.2 mile run: 3:15.15
Overall:  9:28.14, 1st AG (40-44), Kona qualified.
6th Overall.
2nd fastest run.





11/7/18

Ironman Florida - Quick recap


We all know that athlete who seems to bounce back remarkably well from a race, only to show up to the start line at another race just a few weeks later. and make it look so easy. You sometimes have to question if that athlete is superhuman.

Earlier this year, Karel wanted to experiment with the idea of racing two Ironmans "back to back" - within three weeks. However, this wasn't just any two Ironman events. After Ironman Austria in early July, Karel's big race of the year was the 2018 Ironman World Championship. A lot of mental and physical energy was dedicated to that race as it requires a very healthy and strong body and mind to tolerate the race day conditions with the best of the best on the start line. However, due to Karel's bike mechanical issue of riding (most of) the entire bike course on one light gear, let's just say that Karel left all of his mental and physical energy on the big island.

In the days leading up to IMFL, Karel didn't feel any lingering issues from the previous Ironman and he was overall healthy. But there was still the big uncertainty of what his body would do during the race, especially the later miles of the run. In the 48-72 hours before the race, when Karel begins to start his visualization process, Karel was unable to mentally get into that familiar place where he was ready and willing to suffer for 140.6 miles (which is a huge part of Ironman racing, specifically at the level by which the top AG athletes race). While he didn't make any excuses before the race, the unknown left him wondering what will happen to his body and mind as the race progresses.

While the focus, mission and goal for participating in this late season Ironman was for Karel to try to get a Kona slot to the 2019 Ironman World Championship, this was a big experiment with a lot of unknowns and what if's.

Perhaps it works for some athletes but for Karel, the Kona Ironman was still in his body and mind. Karel suffered more than he has ever suffered before at IMFL and it was unfamiliar and unwelcomed. The low moments came earlier than ever before and stayed far too long. Throughout the run, Karel expressed to me many times that he wanted to quit. Never has he voiced that to me before in an Ironman. Sure, we all want to retire from the sport of triathlon at some point in an Ironman but Karel could not escape the mental and physical exhaustion that he was experiencing on the 2nd half of the bike and throughout the entire run. The pain was just not worth it to him.

Knowing that Karel was not injured and he was in overall good health, I made sure he didn't give up. I used every trick that I had to keep him mentally in it, even though his body was beyond done. Because he was struggling to shut up those negative voices in his head telling him that the pain and suffering was not worth "it", I made sure that he knew that it would all be worth it.

Without going into too much detail (I'll save that for the actual race report), Karel was in a very unique position where he was hurting so bad but he was running fast enough (compared to his competitors) that to an outsider, one would think that he wasn't hurting. 

As I mentioned above, for most Ironman athletes, slowing down, stopping and quitting often becomes a great idea at some point in an Ironman race. It happens to everyone, regardless of fitness level. But as an athlete, you are expected to have these hardships, struggles and very low moments. That's racing. Although IMFL was an experiment with a mission, I knew Karel would be so upset if he quit the race. Even though quitting would stop the hurt, it was not the outcome that he would be able to live with (even though it seemed like the best idea ever to him at the time).

As an athlete, you need to learn lessons. It's often the hardest ones that help you become a better athlete. Unless health is compromised, giving up teaches you nothing. You can't learn anything by throwing in the towel when things aren't going your way. 

The Ironman/140.6 mile distance is a beast of a race. It's incredibly tough - mentally and physically. There are plenty of obstacles to overcome that no amount of training can prepare you for. Every race is different. You may have a plan but there's a good chance that you'll need to deviate from that plan. After a combined 26 Ironman races, Karel and I have learned a lot from the 140.6 mile distance.

Although Karel felt emotionally and physically depleted for nearly half of the race, deep inside he had the right knowledge and tools to get himself to the finish line from his previous races and lessons learned. While it wasn't easy, Karel persevered and all that suffering was worth "it".

Results:
2.4 mile swim: 1:01.36
T1: 4:28
112 mile bike: 5:02.58
T2: 3:58
26.2 mile run: 3:15.15
Overall:  9:28.14, 1st AG (40-44), Kona qualified. 6th Overall. 2nd fastest run of the day.


So happy that Karel will be joining me at the 2019 Ironman World Championship start line. I was a little worried after he “retired” from the sport of triathlon during IMFL on Sundays. 

Race report to come soon......









11/3/18

IMFL - One more sleep.




Hello from Haines City, FL! Here we go again. It feels like it was just a few weeks ago when we were one sleep away from an Ironman!

During our travels back home from Kona, Hawaii on October 16th, we received an email from Ironman that Ironman Florida was cancelled due to extensive devastation from Hurricane Michael. In the beginning of the year, Karel wanted to do something that he has never done before - race two Ironmans within a month. While an experimentation to see how his body would handle two endurance triathlon events in such a short time period, Karel also wanted to see if he would be able to re-qualify for 2019 Kona. Seeing that Karel did not have the race that he wanted in Kona, he was really looking forward to another opportunity to race. Even though there's the uncertainty of what his body will be able to do in the later miles of the marathon due to the unknowns of what's still lingering in his heart, tissues and muscles, Karel was really looking forward to another Ironman.


Karel selected IMFL as his post-Kona Ironman because logistically, it was easy for us to get to. But IMFL holds a very special place in our heart for it was the first Ironman that Karel watched me race (it was so cold that morning, Karel had to borrow my jacket) back in 2007. We were dating at the time but I knew he was a keeper. Funny thing was after the race, he couldn't understand why anyone would want to do this sport. Why run off the bike when you can just ride your bike? Little did he know that 11 years later he would be about to race his 12th Ironman (13th start) and if all goes well, punch his 5th Kona ticket (4th time racing).


Ironman did something that we have never seen before from a race company. They moved the race to a new location on the exact same weekend! Alongside setting up a foundation for money to go to PCB to help with the Hurricane, Ironman has gone out of their way to move an event to a new city and essentially put together an Ironman in 3 weeks! Ironman offered options for athletes to defer their entry to 2019 Ironman Texas but most athletes decided to put all that hard work to good use in Haines City. While the course will be a bit more challenging than in PCB due to the hills on the run (rollers on the bike), the town of Haines City has welcomed us graciously and it will be a special day for everyone.



We have four athletes racing, including our coach Joe and Karel. We are staying with two of Karel's Czech friends which has been a lot of fun for him to speak Czech again after his mom left us a few weeks ago.




Campy is loving his time in Florida and taking full advantage of his warm vacation. We are staying just 2 miles away (Southern Dunes property) and if Campy isn't inside the house, you can find him outside by the pool - working on his suntan.





The energy at the race has been very positive. I rode one loop of the course this morning (plus a few extra miles for a total of 62 miles) and I didn't have any negative encounters with cars, no honks or unfriendly people. The city has also opened the community pool for athletes from 9am-1pm (Wed-Sat) for athletes to swim before the race (no swimming in the lake before race day). I have been enjoying my time in the outdoor pool with the other registered IMFL athletes.


Although I'm a little nervous for Karel to see what his body will do tomorrow, I always love the energy of being at an Ironman and I'm super excited to cheer for the athletes from early morning until late in the evening.

Best of luck to all those who are racing! Be thankful and grateful to your body for what it allows you to do. No matter how your day goes, the goal is to get yourself to the finish line and to enjoy your 140.6 mile accomplishment.  Stay positive, don't dwell on the what if's and don't forget to thank the volunteers.


Happy 20th anniversary Ironman Florida!





10/30/18

The History of Halloween Candy



The History of Halloween Candy
As featured in the free weekly Trimarni newsletter. Click HERE to subscribe. 
Candy makers in the United States love Halloween. Why? Thanks to trick-or-treating and Halloween-themed parties, Americans will spend over $2 Billion on candy during this holiday season.

Interestingly, the ritual of costumes, approaching the homes of strangers to ask for candy and haunted houses didn't become a national tradition until the late 1940's.

At first, kids would receive nuts, fruit, cookies, toys, cakes and coins. Once the candy companies stepped in, trick-or-treat candy options became widely popular to increase fall sales. Whereas Christmas and Easter were popular candy events, Halloween-themed candies were created just for this festive holiday. Although Halloween is known to be a fun holiday for children (and creative adults who love to dress in costumes), candy is easy to buy, fairly inexpensive and convenient to distribute, making it a perfect choice for Halloween. More so, candy companies provide wrapped candy which is a safe alternative to homemade treats, which the later may pose risks of tampering or poisoning.

Some of my favorite memories are from Halloween. I looked forward to dressing up in a creative costume and seeing the Halloween looks of my friends and neighbors. While Halloween costumes have become much more sophisticated over the past decade, something more noticeable has changed. Many children are at risk for obesity due to unhealthy lifestyle choices. And this is prior to the holiday season filled with sweets, treats and oversized portions of cookies, cakes and pies.

By all means, every one of us deserves a sweet treat without guilt. Halloween candy will not sabotage your health, performance or body composition goals. One tootsie roll a day will not cause weight gain. If your typical eating plan is healthy and well-balanced, you aren’t cheating on your diet by yumming over a piece or two of Halloween candy. No need to be scared - just make sure to indulge responsibly.

Popular Halloween Candy.
What's your favorite to yum over? 


1. Tootsie Pop - 67 calories
2. Hershey kiss - 22 calories
3. Nerds (1 tbsp) - 63 calories
4. Air head - 63 calories
5. Snickers Bar (fun size) - 74 calories
6. Baby Ruth (fun size) - 83 calories
7. Reese peanut butter cup (mini) - 42 calories
8. Reese's pieces (20 pieces) - 78 calories
9. Milky Way (fun size) - 78 calories
10. M&M's (fun size) - 74 calories
11. Dum Dum - 20 calories
12. Blow Pop - 60 calories
13. Twizzlers (3 pieces) - 120 calories
14. Smarties (1 roll) - 30 calories
15. Kit Kat (mini, 2 pieces) - 47 calories
16. Twix fun (mini) - 50 calories
17. Candy Corn (16 pieces) - 118 calories
18. Gummy bears (10 pieces) - 87 calories
19. Jolly Rancher - 24 calories
20. Skittles (mini package) - 100 calories 
"One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats."
Iris Murdoch

10/29/18

Chasing race weight - body image dissatisfaction


At Trimarni, we believe in setting a good example for our athletes by encouraging a healthy relationship with food and the body. Karel and I do not follow any extreme styles of eating and we don't strategically change the way we eat or train in order to change the way that we look. We don't weigh ourselves and we don't measure our food (or count calories). We see food as our fuel and as our nourishment and we firmly believe that when the body is well fueled and well nourished, it's healthy. And when the body is healthy, it can function well in sport. 

Sadly, we live in a society that focuses on competitive leanness. Many athletes are under the mindset that the leaner or more defined you are, the better you will perform in sport. Some athletes even care less about performance and more about achieving the "look" of an athlete. Rather than seeing the body as the vehicle that allows you to do the incredible in sport, many attempt to achieve a "race weight" through strict eating, fueling and dieting only to become injured, burnout or sick. 

When you have an "I feel fat" moment or feel the need to change the way that you look, first get to the root of this misinterpreted feeling. Who or what is making you feel unhappy about your body? Where did you learn that you need to lose weight in order to be successful as an athlete?

As an athlete, you have a very close relationship with your body. If you have a disordered relationship with food or unhappy thoughts/feelings about your body, you may not be aware of (or care about) the long-term damage that can occur by manipulating your eating and training in order to weigh less or change the way that you look. You may also be unaware of how the comments by a coach or advice from a forum/podcast/training partner may affect your mental health.

To think that you (or your coach) can equate leanness with speed and thus an increase in performance will occur when you are lighter is rather foolish if you ask me.  So you are telling me that if you go to the doctor and he/she sucks 10 lbs of fat from your body, you'll suddenly become a more mentally tough, resilient, strong, nutritionally prepared and physically fit athlete?

Successful athletes come in all shapes and sizes. To be successful, you need to be healthy and strong. You need to be consistent with training and you need to take care of your mental health, just as much as your physical health. Restricting food, eliminating food groups or overexercising does not make you a better athlete. It makes you weaker and more fragile.

Food is one of the easiest and most common ways for people to gain a feeling of control. Using food for a sense of control is a common strategy to deal with stress, anxiety, low self-esteem or poor self-confidence. As an example, if you feel stressed because you can't stay consistent with your training or you feel upset that you had a bad workout or race, you may turn to your diet to make you feel better. Turning to food (ex. restriction) to gain control over your body may seem like the only logical solution to remove these uncomfortable emotions but it doesn't have to be this way.

Your body is amazing. Health (mental and physical) should always be a priority when it comes to eating, fueling and training. For many athletes, this idea of "race weight" is not actually about a weight but why you feel the way that you do about your body.

As an athlete, it's important to direct your energy to more productive things in life besides the way that you look and the way you think you should look. Who or what is making you feel unhappy about your body image?

Recognizing that there is no perfect body image (or level of body fatness) that is required for athletic success or optimal health, the way your body looks to perform or function at its best may not match up to the way you think you are supposed to look and this is ok. 

As a human being, your closest and longest relationship in life will be to your body. Take care of your body and your body will take care of you. 

10/28/18

Run Town USA Half Marathon - Race Report


Pretty cool finish line in the baseball stadium of downtown Greenville.


Prior to transitioning to triathlon racing, I considered myself a swimmer turned runner. Since the bike was unfamiliar and somewhat scary to me, I found running to be the easiest sport to do - anytime and anywhere. Living in Florida also made it incredibly easy to find a running race to participate in, almost anytime of the year. Although I struggled with hip/back issues in 2007 while training for my first Ironman World Championship (2nd Ironman), those hip/back issues lingered on for many, many more years to come. Interestingly, there's a connection between my chronic hip/back/glute injuries and running races. From 2008-2012, I would dedicate the spring, summer and fall to triathlon training and then focus on running (with a few half marathon running races) in the winter. Although I didn't give up swimming or biking during the winter, my focus shifted from triathlon to running. I always thought that this approach would make me a better runner as a triathlete (or at least I kept telling myself this) when in reality, it actually made me worse of a triathlete....because I kept getting injured. I was also not getting any faster with my swimming or cycling. Although I was able to finish triathlon and running races, there was a link between my injuries and running races. After a summer of triathlon racing and into a few months of run training, I would always find myself injured come the spring. This cycle continued year after year after year.....for five years. There were many times when I wanted to give up the sport of triathlon because I thought my body was not healthy or strong enough to accept the training. Thankfully, with those learning lessons came a new appreciation and strategy for how to best train for triathlon races. I'm happy to say that I am having more fun than ever, staying healthy and injury free and continuing to get "faster" as a triathlete.

Seeing that the last running race that I specifically trained for was in the late winter of 2012 and I have not been injured since May 2013, I've learned several important facts about the difference between triathlon training and running training and why I feel the majority of triathletes should not train specifically for running races:

  1. Simply put, when you run in a triathlon, it couldn't be more different than a stand alone running race. In a triathlon, you are running after swimming and biking, you've been exercising for 1-7 hours, it's typically warm or hot, it's nearing mid morning, lunch or late afternoon and you are nutritionally (fuel and hydration) compromised. There's great mechanical fatigue that is occurring when you run in a triathlon and the strategy to get to the finish line is very different than in a stand alone running race. 
  2. You can be a very fast runner off the bike but not be fast as a stand alone runner. You can also be a very fast stand alone runner and not be a fast off the bike.
  3. To put together a fast triathlon performance, you need to be great at not slowing down. Therefore, it's not about being a fast runner but being able to put together a solid swimbikerun combination.
  4. As a triathlete, training should be designed to make you resilient and strong. A durable body can resist fatigue and since a triathlon is an endurance event (Half and Full distance), speed is all relative.
  5. A huge component of triathlon racing is being able to pace well, have good skills (swim/bike/run), be efficient, be able to manage the terrain/conditions, have a well-practiced and fine-tuned fueling/hydration strategy and have exceptional mental skills. This requires a lot of training and year-to-year development without inconsistencies in training and little to do with being a better "runner."
  6. Triathlon is swimbikerun. Running is running. They are two different sports that require different training methods, physiological adaptations and nutritional strategies. While some methods can overlap, they are still two very different sports.
  7. As a triathlete, you have the ability to jump into a swim event, bike event or running event anytime you wish as you have the fitness, skills, strength and endurance to do so. You can't say this about (most) pure runners. Aside from cross training, it's rare to see a road runner jump into a gran fondo or century ride or participate in an open water swim event.
  8. Breaking up the year into swimbikerun season and then running season (with minimal or no swimming/biking) is a huge mistake for triathlon is three sports. When you remove or eliminate one or two sports for even a short period of time, you lose the skills and fitness for your sport - triathlon. There's also a great risk for injury and slow adaptations for physiological improvements when a triathlete has chunks of tri-specific training removed throughout the season.
  9. Swimming and cycling can make you a "faster" runner. Running more or running faster does not make you a better swimmer or cyclist.
  10. As a triathlete, your focus should be on getting strong....not lean and fast. Triathlon (especially long-distance) is a strength-endurance focus, not a speed sport. The risk for injury, burn out and sickness increases when you put focus on being light and fast versus being strong and healthy. Train, fuel and eat smart.
  11. The training, nutrition, skills and pacing strategies to put together a very strong run off the bike in a triathlon are very different than stand alone running. Having said that, you must train appropriately for your sport demands and to run well off the bike means being able to swim and bike very well, before you run. 

Photo by Kristen Johnston

After IMWI in Sept, I was not ready to end my triathlon season, however my triathlon racing options were limited due to upcoming travel (Karel's races). After coming to terms that my triathlon season was complete for 2018, I decided to look into some fun events to keep me fit and to give my training a bit of purpose. Although the structure of my training changed week to week (let's call it loosely structured), it was nice to have a few events on my schedule to keep me motivated and excited to train. Plus, I was not ready to have my official off-season just yet. 

After "racing" the 2.4 mile Kona swim and then the Hincapie Gran Fondo (80 miles), I decided very last minute (Wed last week) to register for the local half marathon in downtown Greenville. I had no plans on participating in a running race this year (or anytime soon) but my body was healthy and strong and I have been enjoying running lately (which is sometimes rare for me as I have a love/hate relationship with running sometimes). I heard about the SpinxRun Fest and I thought that it would be a fun event to officially end my season. It was also a way to complete a triathlon spread over 4 weeks (swim, bike and now run event). The big kicker for signing up for the half marathon was that the race was not flat. With around 650 feet of elevation gain and lots of turns, I knew I would have fun with this course. Not having raced a half marathon since 2012 also had me feeling excited and not at all nervous as I had a beginner's mindset going into this race, with no expectations or pressures. Seeing that most of my runs off the bike in a half marathon are around 1:39-1:40, I figured that anything better than that would be a successful run. Although I have a PR of 1:31.51 (flat course, 2011 Subaru half marathon), the thought of averaging around anything less than 7:30 min/miles seemed impossible since I never hold those paces in any of my training runs.

I left my house around 6:10am on Saturday and left Karel to his training later that morning (one weekend left until he races IMFL in Haines City). I do have to say that it's been nice having a few "fun" races to keep me to my normal routine. It also keeps me doing my own thing and out of Karel's way as he stays mentally committed and focused on his upcoming Ironman.

I arrived to the race venue in downtown Greenville, just across from Flour baseball stadium around 6:30am. With the event not starting until 7:30am, I felt like I had so much time to kill. So different than a triathlon event to just show up with a pair of running shoes. The weather was absolutely perfect for running in the low 50's. Although it was a little windy and overcast that morning, it was still perfect for running.

I made sure to do a long warm-up so I jogged, walked and kept myself moving for a good 15 minutes (1.5 miles) as well as some extra walks to the bathroom inside the stadium. It was fun to surround myself with so many runners (there were other race distances like a 5K, 10K and marathon). I ran into my friend Kristen and her hubby as well as a few other familiar faces. I really do love our Greenville running/triathlon community, everyone is so nice.

When the gun went off, I started running what felt like an easy pace up a small incline on the road. After a few minutes, I looked down at my watch and it was showing numbers in the 6:20's. I decided to "run" with it and see what would happen. I found myself near the front of the race (the half and full marathon athletes started together) and the field started to quickly spread out. The course was very hilly so there were very few sections to settle into a rhythm - which probably worked well in my favor being a triathlete who enjoys hilly/hard courses.

After the first 5K, I was waiting for the effort to get tough. It wasn't too long later when my energy started to dwindle. I wasn't having trouble breathing but my body was a bit confused by this effort as it is something I never train (aside from higher intensity intervals on hills or the track, which are both very short 2-4 minutes). My form felt good so I kept focused on my form. I also had to remind myself that this was not a triathlon as I found myself slowing down and resorting to a steady sustainable effort that feels much better to me than a stand alone half marathon effort. To be honest, I wasn't really sure what I was suppose to feel but I knew it was a running race and I should be suffering a bit. I really tried to work the up and down hills and push on the flatter sections. It helped to be around other runners for you get sucked into their paces (something I'd never do in a triathlon as it's all about pacing your own race). Although I packed my hydration belt in the car (with flasks filled with nutrition), I decided last minute not to wear wear my hydration belt for this race but instead, carried a very small flask with an Enervitine gel (225 calories worth) and grabbed water at each of the 5 aid stations. I sipped the flask every time I needed a little pick-me-up.

I tried to take notice of our beautiful Greenville and Falls Park but I was so focused on my effort that I had to use a lot of mental energy to keep myself going. My body kept wanting to slow down but I used some powerful mental talk to keep myself going. My mantra for the day was "you signed up for this and there's nothing else you'd rather be doing this morning than this."

Nearing the last few miles of the race, we approached some longer climbs. I actually liked this more than the punchy climbs as I could use my strong legs to carry me up the longer hills (and downhills). I was surprised that I wasn't feeling too fatigued throughout the race and I could keep good form. I just didn't have anything more to give in terms of speed. I got passed by a few girls in the last 6 miles but I wasn't upset about this as I reminded myself that I am a triathlete in a runners race and it's all about me and the clock. Not knowing what I would be able to do in terms of a finishing time, I was in shock when I looked at my watch in the last mile and did some quick math that I would be well under 1:35! As I sprinted my way into the stadium and around the field, I gave it all I could (if you know me, I'm not much of a sprinter) to finish in 1:33.10 (per my watch). There was a timing issue so they didn't have my official time (along with many other runners) so I had to give them my watch time.

I was thrilled with my performance and I couldn't help but give my body a huge thank you for being healthy, strong and injury free. While I think this run time is super fast for me, I'm proud of how my body responded to this type of effort at this distance. While I didn't train specifically for this race, I feel my previous triathlon training provided me with the strength to be great at not slowing down. This was the perfect end to my 2018 triathlon racing season and a sign that my training is working for my body. I am feeling motivated, excited and grateful for what my body can do in 2019.

Race Results
1st AG (35-39), 7th overall female

Garmin splits:
Mile 1: 6:37
Mile 2: 6:43
Mile 3: 6:34
Mile 4: 7:09
Mile 5: 7:05
Mile 6: 7:25
Mile 7: 7:46
Mile 8: 7:19
Mile 9: 7:17
Mile 10: 7:27
Mile 11: 7:14
Mile 12: 7:16
Mile 13: 7:13
Total: 1:33.10