This is Why

So many times I have tried to say what he said so simply. Chuckie has taught me so much about physiology, how to train a triathlete and how to find my own inner athlete. Of all that he has taught me, this latest blog of his is the foundation to all of that. He lives this latest blog in his council to me every single day.

He reiterates over and over that there are times in life, when “no” is the answer to a lot of the questions you are asked. That way you can say “yes” to doing what it takes to be great.

In front of the big banyon tree the morning of Kona 2010, I sat with Chuckie and Ang and got those last minute words only a coach can give. I then went and demonstrated my CAPABILITY for 10 hours and 17 minutes.

I have lived many years of my life as a “Jill of all trades”. Look at my bio, I climb, I ski, I mountaineer, I swim, I bike, I run, I sew, I knit, I ultrarun, I could go on here. But since I have been training under Chuck, mostly I’m a wife, a mom, a daughter, a swimmer, a biker, a runner, and I try to be a good friend to a select few. My circle has become smaller and smaller, and often the answer is “no”.

I still have a ways to go. But I have an honest mentor, so much more that just a coach.

Thanks Chuckie, this one was like a giant GONG.

Here it is folks, direct from Chuckie V, read ’em and weep.


Racine 70.3

Racine 70.3 fit on the schedule this year. I had never been to Wisconsin, Vineman was sold out, and the race sounded fun, so I signed up for it.

Saturday morning bright and early I was on the direct flight to Chicago. Landed at 10am, was in my rental car by 11am, and was at the race site by 2pm, including a rather indulgent stop at Trader Joes for food for the weekend. I had 6 hours to pick up my packet, put my bike together, and check my bike in. I think that’s doable!

I drove to transition only to find out packet pick up was not there. I drove back to town and found packet pickup. The line was 1 hour long, yikes. The line management was pure hilarity, they had the line in a room and it was basically doing a reverse corkscrew, so the end of the line was in the middle. Pure mayhem, and people were skipping loops of the line because it was such a cluster.

The Post Office is up for sale in Racine, in case anyone is interested:

Got the packet. Got back to transition, built my bike, borrowed a pump and went for a ride. I saw someone I knew on my ride, Sydney! That was really cool, to know ONE person! My top 3 gears in my big chain ring were hopping so I went to transition to see the bike tech. No bike tech. They said there would only be one on race day (when you aren’t allowed to take your bike out of transition…?). A guy told me where there was a bike shop so I rode over there. 3rd Coast Bicycles completely hooked me up and my bike was shifting beautifully when I left there. I went and checked it into transition.

Next up I really wanted to get a swim in Lake Michigan, so I suited up and headed to the lake. It was pure bliss and I spent about 40 minutes in the water swimming around. After that, I drove 50% of the bike course, checked into my hotel, and hit the hay.

Race morning, 4:00am alarm, and I woke up at 3:56 on my own. I was jazzed and ready to go. I drove to the race, and because I’m type A, punctual to a fault, I got literally THE BEST parking spot right next to transition with a beautiful view. I slept for 30 minutes in the car, put my stuff in transition, slept almost another hour, and then headed over to the swim start which was a 1 mile walk.

KISS: Keep it Simple!!

My wave was one of the last at 8:05am. I watched other waves go and realized that the first 50 meters or so are a dolphin diving sort of situation. I’ve never dolphin dived before but I realized that if I wanted to swim with the pack that I wanted to, I was going to need to dolphin dive.

So….I practiced until I got it down. The other athletes must have thought I was crazy but if you don’t know how to do something, and there’s time to learn, then who cares! There’s no time like the present.

My wave went off and I dolphin dived like my race depended on it, which it did. I got those faster feet and I hung on. As different people would pass the feet I was on, I would switch feet, always trying to stay with the faster ones. About mid way through the swim I wondered whether I had missed the boat on this swim. I was swimming a bit too easy for me, I tried to pass the feet I was on but was unsuccessful, so I got back on them. With about 2 buoys until the final turn buoy I got caught by the first swimmers in the wave behind me. I made a split second decision to hop on their feet and swim as hard as I could to stay with them until I got dropped. I made it to shore with them, dropped the group I had been swimming with, and was exceptionally proud of myself.

LONG run up a sandy beach to the timing mat, into transition, on with the race number, Oakleys, and new Rudy Wingspan that my dad just got me (thanks dad!), grab Blackjack and get the heck out of there.

The bike was pretty flat with some rollers, and various sections of headwind, tailwind, and crosswinds. I stayed aero the entire time except for turns and I didn’t touch my breaks a single time. It was a 56 mile time trial and I steadily passed tons of people. I passed two ladies in my age group within the first few miles and then was on my normal stocking mission to find the next ladies in my age group. I couldn’t find them. Every woman I passed wasn’t in my age group, but I continued to ride hard hard hard. The one thing I would alert others about pertaining to this course is the road conditions. For much of the ride there are expansion cracks in the road, so your ride is “Uh-Uh…Uh-Uh…Uh-Uh” the whole way. Thank you TYR Carbon shorts…

This ride I choose to work on my focus and on my distraction control. I was very in the moment. When I would get distracted I would calmly bring myself back to the effort, similar to meditation. Focus on the now, focus on my body, on staying aero, on keep the pressure on my legs steady and strong. It worked out well and was both mentally and physically tiring.

The last few miles I had a run in with a guy. He was being a complete jerk, passing on the right when he didn’t need to, not obeying the rules. I just wanted past him, and so I moved to pass. I overtook him and was moving over right when he said “Wowah, No, on your right” and passed me back on the right. I dropped a few Fbombs on him and told him I overtook him and he needed to drop back, and that he was a F$%#er (apparently I was a little feisty). He rode off in front of me, so I dropped back and just kept my distance.

I made it in and out of transition licitly split and was off on the run. Right away I noticed how hot it was. Holy moly, the first mile was a scorcher. About 1.5 miles in I passed the doofus from the end of the bike and I looked at him and said “Where are you now, jerk?” and I then passed him and made him eat my shoe dust. He really pissed me off. Mostly because it’s crap like that where penalties happen, and I don’t want to be involved in that sort of behavior.

The run is two out and back sections, so the first out I was looking at every ladies number to see if she was in my age group, WHERE ARE THESE GIRLS? I knew there had to be more ahead of me, there usually are, and the last one I passed was mile 5 on the bike. I got to the turn around and that’s when I realized I was leading my age group, that I had been leading it since mile 5 of the bike. This is a completely new experience for me.

I didn’t want to rest on my laurels, because now is the time when you race the clock, now you race the invisible leaders of the other age groups. To do this, you have to race yourself.

I was really hot. The race was humid, and getting steamy by the minute. I was struggling to put down 7:30 miles. Thoughts would creep into my head like “What is wrong with you”, but I would stop them at the door and say, “Go Harder, tighten up your form.” You never know what a course is going to do to you. It wasn’t until afterwards, looking at some of the PRO ladies run splits that I understood that everyone suffered like I did out there.

The hills on the course were quite evil, 4 of them, and steep. The aid stations felt far apart and I was grabbing ice at each one. It was pure Kona practice. I set mini goals along the way…run hard to the tent, stay with the guy with the circle on his back, fix the form. Still, the pace did not quicken all that much. Heat is a tricky one.

Running down the final stretch was a lot of fun. I gave a lot of high 5s and did a fun little jump at the end.

Being on your own at a race is odd. In the finish food tent I found Sydney and we caught up. Then I got my stuff out of transition, sat on the grassy lawn and boxed my bike back up for the flight home. I repacked my bags and then headed to the lake for a swim to cool down, “shower”, and ice my legs. It was awesome, clean and clear blue water, 66 degrees, amazing! I wasn’t the only athlete down there and I enjoyed chatting with others, met some cool people doing IM Louisville this year.

I called my family, Troy gave me some results and I headed to awards. I took 1st in my age group, and 8th woman. 2nd amateur to Susanne Davis of Team Timex. I knew during the run that my finish time would be 4:45ish and based on the year before I thought it would take sub 4:40 to take the amateur title. Sure enough, she went 4:40.

Since I didn’t know anyone, my dad suggested I ask someone with a nice camera to take my photo and email it to me. I got the nerves up and asked a nice guy who said yes. He was there to support Kristin Andrews who took second PRO woman in her debut year as a PRO! Go Kristin!

After awards I headed out, back to Chicago, back to Trader Joes, and to the airport where I flew home, oh yes, and there was a stop at the Cheese Castle on the way. It was a CRAZY 38 hours, but all in all, very productive. I got to see where I am at with 12 weeks until Kona. I learned some lessons out there, had some successes. All in all, quite a great day!

I went to a Cheese Castle, who knew?

Thank you to my great sponsors, the TYR Hurricane from Kompetitive Edge performs wonderful dolphin dives, my Quintana Roo CD0.1 Blackjack is FAST, I keep getting faster on it, it’s a little scary! A special thanks to my newest sponsor DAD, thanks for the new helmet!


Years back when I was just starting down this triathlon road I spent a weekend in Pueblo with our good friends Michelle, Ron and Sam. I believe I spent a portion of the mini vacation drunk on Pomegranate Liquor, getting the sprinklers turned on me, and enduring a horrible puking session. Not my finest moment but there are always positives that come out of extreme puking sessions. One thing I took away from the weekend, other than the fact that getting drunk is just not for me any more was my friend Ron’s term “PMA.”

I love it and use it ALL the time, a gift from him to me.

PMA…Positive Mental Attitude.

Some people just have it and for some it’s work. People think I am one of those who just have it and I guess most the time I am, but other times not so much, like when I was praying to the porcelain gods and wondering why I spent $40 on a bottle of pink booze that was now headed to the sewer.

That weekend cemented the concept of PMA into my heart and mind and I’ve been running (and riding and swimming) with it ever since.

I’m reading a great book right now that CV suggested. A quote, if I don’t mind myself:

In every pursuit, focus drives consistent high-level performance. The recipe for high-quality focusing is simple – stay positive and stay fully connected.

— Terry Orlick

It’s true that your ability to remain positive in all situations will give you a leg up on your competition, and even if it doesn’t….at least you will have a positive outlook on things. See, I just think the happy route is definitely the way to go. If you are fast and happy, you’re good. If you are slow and happy, still good. But if you are fast or slow and unhappy…no bueno. If you are slow and unhappy, I’m pretty darn sure that shifting to slow and happy will give you the best chance at becoming fast and happy. See what I mean?

But how does one just develop a happy positive attitude? What if you are a pessimistic person, or worse yet, a pessimist who says “I’m not a pessimist, I’m a realist.” I say “You’re in denial.”

Frist things first, I think most of us would agree that our lives are a series of choices. Even if you are prone to making excuses, deep in your heart, you know that with everything that happens to you in life, the reaction you have is a choice, an active choice on your part.

Choose to focus on the positives rather than the negatives. Choose to focus on the opportunities rather than the obstacles. Choose to bring a fully connected focus to your practices and performances. Choose to focus fully on the step in front of you rather than on distractions. Chose to live and perform closer to your potential.

— Terry Orlick

Sometimes we make mistakes though. Sometimes it’s not all hearts an flowers. Having a positive attitude doesn’t have anything to do with what happens TO YOU. Yes, it’s not always peaches and cream. But your REACTIONS, the way you process the stimuli that comes into your sphere of influence, well that, my friends, is entirely on you. Have some PMA.

If you want to keep your snowball of postive results rolling, then process each day by revisiting the positive parts of the day, the stuff that rocked the house. Also take time to assess the parts of your training or performance that can be improved, take stock, make some adjustments and move on. If you are to “dwell”, then dwell on the positives. But dwelling is best done when we are in our graves…plenty of time to sleep then as well.

“Grow from setbacks by channeling their lessons and energy towards improvement”

— Terry Orlick

We can all be a little bit better in all that we do. If we wake up each day, ready to attack it with PMA and a new plan to learn from the lessons of yesterday, then before we know it those days have piled into massive amounts of fun, fitness, and joy. Rest assured, results will follow, and if they don’t, you’ll be too busy having fun to notice.

PMA…think about it.

The Train Rolls On

It’s interesting, going through this Kona build the second time around. First off, I am really grateful that I have the support, resources, and guidance to head back to the island for a second time in a row, I am truely quite blessed. Second, I’m a tad bit scared and excited that only 14 weeks remain between me and the starting cannon on the Kona pier. That doesn’t seem like such a long time. I’m watching the Tour de France right now and one of the quotes I heard today about some of the guys who have been through many tours was “You can’t be here this many times unless you really love to ride your bike.” That really struck a chord with me.

You can’t do this stuff year after year unless you really love the process, really love to swim and bike and run. And it’s true for me, I really love the lifestyle. At this time of the year I essentially disappear off the face of the earth unless you are Troy, Annie, Chuckie, Michelle, Angela, or Josh at Tri-Massage. If you have read Maccas book you know that he is a big proponent of a “small circle.” I have to agree that while I love to death all my friends and family, when it comes to these crunch weeks I tend to close up my circle a little bit. It’s just something that allows me to focus on what needs attention. Some of those things aren’t so fun, like grocery shopping for healthy food, getting in that last flop for the day, or laying around with your legs up on a wall. Not prime social engagements!

The thing is, I really enjoy this time of my life. I have other times where I can be more social, but this is a time of the year that I reserve for my own goals. There are times for “balance” in the more general sense of the word, but that time is not now. Read any successful athletes autobiographies and you will see that when it is crunch time, balance simply includes, family time, training, eating, sleeping, and coaching. I know I’m not a PRO, but I have goals and a lot of people around me support those goals. It’s in everyones best interest for me to buckle down and focus. Pair that with the fact that it’s what I love to do, and you end up with the way things are right now.

There isn’t much to write about. Unless you want to hear about 28 hour training weeks, 3 days a week of double swim days, all out efforts where I almost fall off my bike, and track workouts that last 12…13…14…15 miles long. It’s a lot of work and the bottom line is that Chuckie has told you all how to do it if you read his blog and you are so inclined. You don’t need me to repeat it here.

What I will talk a little bit about is something that is different this year. Last year, things were new being coached by Chuckie. The workouts were new, many times I was just concerned with completing them as they were written, or intended. This year I am familiar with the work and this has allowed us to delve deeper. It has allowed me to become a more active participant in the process. I know what each workout will take out of me, I know how to pace it, and I know when something is “off” or “on”. This has been the big surprise of the year. Chuckie gives us a lot of freedom. He teaches us how to know when we are “on” and when we aren’t. We have guidelines to follow in these situations. I try to impart this on the athletes I guide as well. It’s not cut and dry, you have to make game day decisions.

Last year I was more into doing the work, this year I am more into following the guidelines. Last year I waited on pins and needles to get my schedule every Sunday evening. This year I don’t really care much. I know I am going to wake up, and train. I am going to train as much as I can fit into my schedule in a nonstressful way. I’m not going to force square pegs into round holes, I’m going to move aside obligations to create open spaces to train stress free. As long as Chuckie gives me a guideline of what the day should include, I’m golden.

When I get into the training session, I’m going to have a “best case scenario” in my head that Chuckie has communicated with me. I’m going to warm up slowly, and gently, and I’m going to get into the “work.” All along the way I’m going to see how I’m feeling but without judgement. Based on that I make decisions on where the work will head. Again, I have a framework, and some best case scenarios, but I also have the flexability to capitalize on great days, and successfully downgrade the days where it’s not happening.

That has been the surprise of the year. It’s like one layer deeper that we have reached in the Coach/Athlete relationship. These things take time and I am just now realizing that for the first time. I can’t thank Chuckie enough for being patient through the process and letting our relationship build through the months. It’s a cool feeling to know how supported I am.

So, this is the point of the year where I am getting excited. I’m starting to see some fitness shine through. I’m starting to see my pace get faster at MAF and those watts start to rise. I’m able to really nail the work day in and day out with little rest. I’m sleeping like a log (nothing new there) and getting up in the morning ready for the days training. Things are coming together.

9 years

Troy knew he wanted to get married on the 4th of July. It was one of the first things he said after he proposed. That way he would always have it off from work.

My husband is romantic. Not in the flower ordering, jewelry purchasing sort of way. He is romantic in that he values time spent together. He always makes time for me. It’s the most precious gift anyone can give.

Today marks the 9th year that we have been married. 9 years ago, on the patio outside of the Millineum Hotel in Boulder, CO we said our vows.

“With this ring I promise to love you wholly and completely, without restraint, in life and beyond, where we shall meet, remember, and love again”

We wrote them together and recite them to each other every few months. We really believe them, and we hope that they will come true.

I asked him last night, “Will we make it another 9?” I don’t have to tell you his response.