Rocky, but going…

Okay, so I’m off to a rocky and bumbly start. Monday I got up and made it to early morning 6am Masters in SLO. There was a set in the middle that was hard and it’s long course and my brain was like….Blahhhh. But then I realized, crap, it’s day 1. Best get after it then. So I swam a little harder and made all the intervals in good time. Just had to buck up and handle it. Small win.

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Back home it’s time to get Annie off to school, make sure she has all her papers and the huge art project she worked on over the break to enter into a nationwide art contest. Off she goes and then Troy and I walked over to have a romantic breakfast on the bay. Good quality hubby time!

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After that I cut my urgent to do list down from 18 items to 8 items while sitting in the Normatec boots and then it was time for my meetings with my team. They start at 1:30 on Mondays an go until 4. Then I host our online office hours at 5. Then I have to download the recording, and upload it to Vimeo so my assistant Alexis can program it into the website the next morning and finally I finish the night off with a meeting with Coach Mikki. I usually wrap things up with one last email check and I’m done around 7:30pm. I had a grand illusion that I would go for a run at 7:30, but instead I collapsed into bed after a quick dinner and slept like a baby. I did not make it out of my PJs all day.

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Tuesday I was planning on a run and a paddleboard session. Well, the wind was light early in the morning so I swapped the two. I got out on the water by 7am, no small feat when I have to load the board on the car and strap it down and it’s 14 feet long, and I’m still figuring it all out. I love the water, the sun was rising and I was working hard, heart rate was near Ironman rate. I ended up paddling all the way to Morro Bay from my house. Round trip it took me two hours of hard paddling and was a hair over 7 miles. I got off my board and I could barely feel the ground. My feet were frozen and I had sea legs. I got home and was toast. Total toast. So I crawled in bed and red my book for 5 hours and feel asleep at 5:30 pm. All the Light We Can Not See, highly recommend! Snoooooze!

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Wednesday I work up at 4am bright eyed and bushy tailed, no alarm! It was my plan to go to Masters and then ride my bike 50 miles. Well, yea, I pretty much failed hard core on all that. I answered a few emails, missed when I was supposed to leave the house for Masters, then got a bee in my bonnet for work. It’s crazy how this works but I have been doing a redesign on the RTTC website for about 3 months now. I’ve got the lion share of the work done, but a little overhaul actually turned into a huge project. I have 3 big tasks left to do, each are about 8-10 hours, but one of them was creating the new free content I want to offer athletes who come to our site (a 10-14 hour task).

I’ve have this great idea of an audio training with an accompanying action guide that goes through the 5 elements I think you need to have in place to excel in the sport. I’ve been dreaming about it for months but every time I would sit down to work on it I couldn’t get into the creative groove. So I would stall. Well, Wednesday I was up super early, the house was quiet, my shed was freezing and the creativity hit. I sat at the kitchen table for 14 hours straight and recorded a 6 part audio training full of so much awesome it makes me giddy to think about it. I busted out the action guide which I think really turned out great and then I had enough stamina to create an extra freebee called Know Thyself. This content is a fan favorite with our atheltes and I think people are really going to get a lot of insight out of it that they can use in life and triathlon. Eee, so excited.

At the end of the 14 hours I tried to launch into my next to do and my brain went to mush. I got a headache and realized I barely ate anything all day, drank anything all day, and only went to the bathroom once. At that precise time Troy walked in and said “Want to go see Moana” and I said YES! I think I should have gotten on the trainer for three hours but I didn’t. These are the sort of choices I’m not sure if I’m being lazy, if I need to buckle down harder, or if it was okay. Moana was fantastic and I cried through most the movie. Can’t wait to go see it again.

So, I’m off to a rocky start, but that’s the way it goes!

IronTide…and we’re off!

UPDATE!!! Tuesday October 20th! We just closed registration for IronTide as we SOLD OUT of our initial round! We are currently working on getting started with our new athletes, and will open registration again in December! THANK YOU for your interest. If you would like to be on our newsletter list where we release our updates and launches, fill out your email on the RIGHT had side of this blog! 

Hi Friends!

I know you have been waiting on a few race reports from me. They are in the waiting area, ready to get published this week but I had to post really quick today to let you know what I’ve been working on until the wee hours of the morning most nights.

It’s been a doozy! About six weeks ago I launched my first product under Rising Tide Triathlon Coaching. It was a 2X a month webinar on mental skills called IronMind and it’s been going really well. All kinds of athletes are learning, and getting to know themselves better through these webinars, plus they are a lot of fun! It was a big push to get that off the ground and I immediately started working on a bigger project. If you signed up for my newsletter via this blog, I told you that I would let you know when I was ready to launch! (If you are signed up, you will receive an email today with a link to all the information in it – check your promotions folder if you are a gmail user).

That time has come (Happy Dance, and I need sleep)! Today I am rolling out a new format in coaching, called IronTide.

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I have spent the last nine months talking to athletes about the coaching market. Many of you have taken my surveys, and endured one-on-one calls from me asking you a litany of questions. Thank You, this came from that!

Through those surveys and interviews I came to a solid conclusion.

ONE – coaches have inconsistent communication patterns. Athletes get bummed when they used to talk to their coach all the time, and then the coach stops or slows down that communication. Coach communication opportunities need consistency for athletes to stay happy. Like training, it’s less about quantity, and more about consistency. But, volume matters!

TWO – athletes get suspicious about their schedules. They think the coach is slacking and just drag and dropping, or not taking their “special needs” into account. They want custom, and they aren’t sure that their schedule is any more. There is a misunderstanding in the coach/athlete relationship between unique and custom. A schedule can be custom built to the athlete, but the workouts are not unique. Again, more of a communication/education failure on behalf of the coach.

I looked at those two themes over and over again and I knew I could do something about these reactions. I started Rising Tide at the beginning of the year because I wanted to share my knowledge with more athletes. Bottom Line. I saw a million different ways of doing that and as the year progressed I honed in on how I could be of service, which became…how WE could be of service (yes, other coaches wanted to be a part of it…happy dance).

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Then we went about building it. And it took time, and resources, and lots of coffee, and mentors, and a ton of help from all my athletes as well. It was a group effort.

I knew I wanted to build a program that solved the two problems outlined above, created a great community, and allowed the athlete lots of flexibility in coaching fees. I wanted good solid systems of communication, and I wanted attention on the athlete to be front and center. I’m so excited to release my little wonky butterfly into the world.

Intrigued? Fill out the form below and then check your inbox for an email with a link to the program details. If you are a gmail user, check your promotions tab and drag that email into your inbox unless you want RTTC emails to keep going to your promotions folder (no!) We don’t send out much email. We keep it to the super important stuff! Like this!

UPDATE!!! Tuesday October 20th! We just closed registration for IronTide as we SOLD OUT of our initial round! We are currently working on getting started with our new athletes, and will open registration again in December! THANK YOU for your interest. If you would like to be on our newsletter list where we release our updates and launches, fill out your email on the RIGHT had side of this blog!

Ironman Tahoe – The Swim Where I Actually Swam Straight

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I love starting off Ironman days with a good nights sleep, and the night before Tahoe I slept like a bear. I was down for the count!

On race morning we loaded up the car and headed to Squaw Resort. Mikki, and I were racing the full, Tony and Jody were racing the 70.3. We drove the car to Squaw in the morning so it would be at the finish when we were done, and then we took the bus back to the start. From there we all broke up and did our own thing to get ready for the race. I found my super secret real bathroom and enjoyed every minute of not having to use the port-a-potty. It was still mostly dark when they let us into the water for a warm up swim. I had a really nice warm up swim, the water temp was refreshing. I always feel so warm on race morning because I’m all amped up to race, so the refreshing water helped me get grounded and brought me back to solid earth.

After 10 minutes they pulled us out and we lined up. I lined up right behind the 1:00-1:10 sign and there were my friends Kyle and Eric! It was such a boost to see them all excited and nervous at the same time. The music was amazing and I was dancing and grooving and so pumped up. It’s really funny, the 30 minutes before Ironman used to be what I hated THE MOST out of racing Ironmans. One year before Arizona I remember saying to myself “I should quit the sport”. That’s how nervous I used to get! Now, I don’t feel nervous at all, at least not that sick to your stomach, anxiety that I used to get. But I can still see it on the faces of other people. That’s why looking around in the starting corral is one of my new favorite things to do. It’s like a replay of all the emotional states I have been through in the sport.

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Now a days, I just dance. I dance and groove, and let out a little bit of the energy. That’s my sweet spot!

I got the Iolite thing going on my goggles and shortly after that they blew the cannon. I was across the starting line about 1 minute after the cannon blew. I am not a fan of the new wave start for the Ironman. I hate that there is this gap out there on the race course and that you don’t have to physically pass someone to beat them. But, it is what it is, and I have to adapt, because that’s the format and I can’t moan about it. I have to move past my discomfort! I’m working on it.

I ran out in the water, it’s very shallow for quite awhile and finally you can start swimming. I sighted super straight for some fifteen or so strokes until the Iolite flashed at me that it had a fix and then I swam to that little green light. When it would turn yellow I would self correct and it was so darn fun. I didn’t really swim on any particular feet for that first section, I just swam to the green light in my goggles and tried to focus on swimming like I do in the pool. Once I hit the first turn buoy I tested the turn feature out and sure enough it corrected super quick. I started stretching out my stroke and just thinking long and strong. Also, I smiled. I felt great and the water was cool and refreshing.

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At the second turn buoy I found some feet to swim on. It was crazy because I usually look for feet and then stick to them like glue but with the Iolite when the feet veer off course I kept straight and just found another set of feet up ahead. I forgot how fun swimming with 1000 people is because there are ample feet and bubbles to follow. Lake Tahoe is crystal clear so you can look all around under water, which I did. I would look at people beside me and smile.

Finishing the first lap was fun because you don’t have to exit the water, but you swim in shallow water for 100 meters or so before starting loop two. For some reason I got a big kick out of that. I also had figured out that when you swim straight, and you are honed in on the buoys, you actually run into the buoys. I was running into like every one of them.

On the second loop the sun was coming up off my left shoulder and it was flipping AMAZING. Between staring at the sun, and the green light in my goggles, I just relaxed into the swim and was happy as a clam. Long and strong, long and strong. The last straightaway I found a great set of feet to swim on. It was a woman and she swam so darn straight. I pondered how on earth she was doing that without an Iolite, a serious talent. Some day I’m going to have to learn how it’s done. I stuck on her feet most of the way to the swim exit.

I exited the swim and the clock read low 59. I was stunned and confused. I looked down at my watch and it was 7:39. We had started the swim at 6:40 and I was in disbelief. Now, it seems there were a lot of fast times, including my 58:06 but I also feel that I swam a lot better than I usually do, and I think swimming straight was a major game changer for me. Just thinking back to Santa Cruz, I’m really wasting time out there when I get off course. So, yes the swim was a little short, or maybe it was the fact that we got to run for awhile in the shallow bit before we started swimming. Either way, I felt great about my swim, I was the 10th woman out of the water. I always visualize a hot shower in these moments, since we installed our water softener systems, showers have never been so good to the soul.

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We ran up this huge sandy hill in T1, grabbed our bags, and then they headed us inside a building to transition. This was an awesome move for Ironman to make. No more crammed cold tent.  It was warm and carpeted in there, they also have the best toilet, I just had to mention that. I cringe to think about how we must have left that transition area when the race was done. Ew. I was really quick through transition just opting for my shoes, socks, helmet and a set of arm warmers. I stay warm easily, so I wasn’t’ worried. I grabbed my fancy Quintana Roo PRSix and was through transition in 3:46. Muddy was yelling at me at the mount line that I was in 6th place and 6 minutes down on 1st. Game on!

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Santa Cruz 70.3 2015

Six months ago Muddy and I planned this fun epic double for the middle of the summer as good training block for my A race of the year which is Ironman Los Cabos on Oct 25th. He thought it would be awesome if I raced Santa Cruz 70.3 and then we headed up to Tahoe to train for a week and then raced Tahoe 70.3. That sounded epic and awesome and I thought it would be my kind of really good fun. My big Brother Beeson has been training under Muddy since the beginning of the year and I was hoping he would jump on board as well since we are both targeting Cabo for the year. Sure enough he did!

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It was awesome traveling with Tony, he’s super calm and chill and level headed. I seem to surround myself with people with those traits since I tend to be the opposite at times!

We headed out Friday morning, and Mo came along for Santa Cruz as well. We rented a sweet little place in Santa Cruz, a few miles from the race. Audra met us up there later in the afternoon Friday, and Brian her boyfriend came later that evening. Our little group of five had an absolute blast over the weekend. When we rolled out Monday my cheeks hurt from the laughing. It was awesome!

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I knew the race was stacked, it’s close to the bay area, a perfect tune up for those headed to Kona, and well, Hailey was racing…so it was going to be fast!!

Going into the race I was so happy. I LOVE Santa Cruz. It reminds me a lot of where I grew up in Los Osos with the water and the beach and the salty morning air. It feels like home. After a hug from Mo I went off to warm up and noticed there was a little chop. I was excited to test myself on a hard swim course.

In the lineup chute I was just so happy. They were playing the best music, and I was dancing. I really was dancing. I get so excited during the few minutes before a race these days and I was JAZZED. I stood next to Hailey and Christine and tried to soak in some of their last minute speed. It was a repeat of Vineman where I knew Hailey would go for Christines feet and I would not do that so as to not blow up, but would try to limit the time gap back.

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It’s a running start which I loved and I was in the water on the left side before I knew it smiling at Hailey on every breath to the right, then she dropped me. I ended up over on the right…yes I crossed the field and swam like a drunken monkey. That’s my MO…drunken monkey swimming. The first turn buoy I was way right and had to swim back left for 50 meters to get around it. (Sneak peak of the Rising Tide kits!!)

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Then we made our way to the second turn buoy in which I thought about sharks the whole darn time. Don’t think about sharks Sonja…SHARKS. Don’t think about sharks….white sharks, tiger sharks, black tip sharks, bull sharks, leopard sharks. All I could think about was sharks!
I ended up way right of the second turn buoy and again had to turn left and swim all the way back to the darn thing, cussing at myself the whole time. Finally, it was the home stretch and I could just aim for the beach. I found some feet to swim on and stuck to them like glue because I had so far failed at the proper route finding. (KK, Hailey and my bikes all smashed together after the race….the best)

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I exited the swim really stoked! It was technical, and I got a bit lost out there, but I had a blast and I thought it was an amazing course. I wish I could swim it more often!

We had a long run up to T2 and I was very happy that they swept the bike path. I ran it barefoot but luckily my feet were still pretty cold and numb from the swim that I didn’t feel any of the rocks I was stepping on until later that evening.

Onto the bike Muddy was at the top of the first little hill yelling that I was down 3:20. That seemed about right and I got to work seeing what cards I had been dealt for the day. Going into this race the training was interesting. I had to get over the pneumonia from Norseman which was challenging but once I was over it Muddy slammed me. We had several 30+ hour weeks and then race week he backed off everything. I felt rested going in, and sometimes that means my heart rate goes through the roof. Sure enough I get out on the bike and my 70.3 perceived exertion was 171 heart rate. Sigh. I hate resting, it just doesn’t not help me out much.

I keep at it and hoped it would go down but it didn’t. I’ve been in this place before and raced just fine so I took a few deep breaths and kept the pedal to the metal. I thought the course was absolutely stunning and the addition of the hill off of the PCH was fantastic. Somewhere on the hill Jenesse came flying by me and I was cursing Muddy for making her so strong on the bike. She’s one to watch! Mom power! I cought Alli in here as well and again was cursing Muddy because she was riding like a beast as well. I love how Muddy turns everyone into uber bikers! Cycling gluts unite (AKA big butts)!

The descent was definitely sketchy and a few miles after the descent a guy repassed me all bloody. I was feeling for him. At the turn around I saw Hailey and I took a split, 2 minutes. Okay, a little progress. But her head was down and she was in go mode. Oh lordy.

The way back was awesome. We had a tail wind and we were flying along the coast. It was beautiful with the ocean off our right shoulder, some surfers, some whales. It was just stunning. I was really happy and actually found focusing on the race a little challenging at times.

Into T2 I felt good and ready to run. The first hill really packs a punch and Muddy told me I was three minutes down to Hailey again. There was also another awesome athlete that I haven’t raced before KILLING our age group. She was long gone. I got to work running and man I felt heavy. I’m starting to see this trend when I ride at a really high HR, my run pays the price, not so much in speed as in feeling. I just feel doggy. I worked as hard as I could out there. Anthony passed me early on and I told him there was one guy in his AG up ahead, whom had passed me on the bike. Off he went, running so strong and fast!

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I loved the scenery and I thought the course was awesome. You ran along the cliff for a few miles, then cut inland to a bike path along the PCH, then it went on to a dirt trail which was really awesome. At the end of the dirt trail out on the bluff they had this HUGE TIKI carving that acted as the turn around. It was a super cool element and I gave it a kiss as I ran around it.

On the way out Mark, Haileys hubby passed me on my his bike and asked “do you know where Hailey is” I was like “3 minutes up”

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And I was right. I made zero time on her! She is so fit. The entire run back I ran and enjoyed, tried to push as hard as I could, but also enjoyed the moment. The final stretch you run on the sand on the beach, under the pier and through the deep sand up to the finish chute. It was so hard!!! I would try to run on the hard pack, but then the waves would get you and soak your shoes! It felt like an old school tri finish.

I crossed the line 3rd in our AG, and 5th amateur. It was a great day for our house crew. Audra won her AG and ran a 1:30. Tony had a sprint finish and tied for the win in his AG, Mo PRed and broke 6, and Brian finished his first in 5:30 (speedster).

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It was a great day for our little house and we celebrated that evening with….ice cream of course!

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Vineman 70.3 2015

I raced Vineman 70.3 in 2009. It was one of the first 70.3 races I ever raced and I had a rough go at it. I remember a few things. One, a tree fell on the course at mile 7. It fell on three competitors and one of them broke their back. The race was stopped and we all piled up, and when they cleared the way and we got to go it was a crazy large pack draft fest. Two, I met Audra Adair on the course during said tree incident, and we remain friends to this day. I went on that day to melt on the run, and she went on to run her butt off and qualify for Clearwater 70.3 champs. Ahhh, back in “the day.”

This go around, 6 years later, I was excited to be racing this iconic course again. We drove down in Muddys truck, traffic was smooth, and we did the expo business dropping our run shoes off, attending the meeting, picking up odds and ends, and making friends!

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Two highlights here, you know, besides the Mark Allen one of course! First off kudos to Jasmine, who is a mama to 5 beautiful kiddos and was racing her first 70.3! I met her in line at packet pickup and she was just such a bright light! I had a bit of a girl crush on her! She finished in flying colors! I made her and the kids do jumping photos at the finish line, and then I made everyone else standing around get in on it too!!

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And also Shannon, who I have vaguely known electronically, but now know personally…I love that! Great Job Shannon finding that finish line Sunday! Rockstar!

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We ate at the Black Bear Diner and stayed at Motel 6. It was all very ghetto fabulous, but because we had met up with Ron (AKA Punky) life was good. He may see me as his annoying coach (or bratty little sister) who makes him wear a HRM and never lets him train as much as he wants to, but to me he is family and I always feel more happy and silly and at ease around him. We happened to find ourself at the Walgreens late at night buying snacks…no ice cream…sad.

Race morning arrived, 4:40 alarm went ding, and I was up and excited. Calm, and tired…but excited. We loaded Ron, Joaquin, and I’s stuff into the truck and Muddy drove us to the start and dropped us off.

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My wave was really late in the day so we got to stand around and watch the PROs start…and finish the swim leg. I had a very sweet conversation with Magali Tisseyre’s mom during the PRO womens swim, beautiful woman, wonderful mom. Finally it was time to mosey on over. I met up with Christine, and Hailey, and I met my Coeur teammate Lindsey for the first time. We got ourselves into the water and I got in a short warm up before it was go time.

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I never really stopped to think “wait how do i do this again?” I just got up to the front line and when the horn sounded, I started swimming. Pretty hard. I wanted to snag some feet. I always want to snag some feet. I watched Christine and Hailey disappear quickly into the distance, I knew it was them, just knew. I was rusty! I really banged into quite a few girls, not because I was being overly aggressive, but because I was being dumb. A few times I ran into someone and was like “Oh that was rude” in my head and then 15 seconds later “oh crap, I did it again”. I really DO NOT swim straight when I am trying to swim hard and after brutalizing this poor woman about 10 times I finally clued in and just got on her perfect feet and followed them. If you are in Womens 35-39 and you had to roll over a douchebag woman about 8 times out there….I apologize, that was me, and I think I owe you a bottle of wine, better yet, lest get on one of the best limo wine tours in the valley.

Vineman is special in that it is VERY shallow. You can stand up pretty much the entire swim. At the turn buoy you can actually walk. I remember people walking in 2009 and this year, I decided to give it a go. I always like to try at least SOMETHING new each time I race, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. So I stood up and I walked and I waded and I made a few friends, and we laughed and I looked around at the view, which is STUNNING, and I stretched my arms a bit and then when it wasn’t walkable any more I dove back in and kept swimming. The lady that I brutalized and then was drafting off of was swimming this whole section right next to us walkers and by walking I lost about 1-2 feet on her. When I dove back in I jumped out a little bit and was right back on her feet. She took the most amazing line towards the right hand shore all the way back and delivered us right onto the shore with perfect accuracy!

In fact…there she is…right there behind me in the photo, I think…. If you know this girl, hook me up so I can send her a care package!! Also, I look really sad here…and tired, and old. Triathlon is glamorous. Go Roka!

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I ran to my bike and right as I got to it I saw Hailey running out of transition along the outer path. I felt good about that because I knew that she had probably stuck on Christine (super swimmers) feet and would have swam fast. Being one transition behind her I felt was pretty good.

I was sure to step right in a big puddle of mud before I got to the mount line, you know, just to make sure the interior of my shoes were coated in mud the entire ride. Winning!

There is a steep little hill right out of transition. I had my shoes clipped into my pedals. I was rusty, there was some fumbling, and muddy feet, but I did tell myself to keep calm and just get my feet on my shoes as efficiently as possible. If you ever go to a triathlon to watch, go to the mount line, it really is the most hilarious part of the race. People, myself included, do all sorts of silly stuff. You will be laughing for days! Go Quintana Roo! Love my PRSix!

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And…finally I’m on my bike and rolling, whew. Heart rate check in…174. Genius. Okay, that’s probably not maintainable. But the bigger problem. My legs. Oh my legs. How can I accurately describe my legs. Well, they were a sort of mixture between the feeling you get when you are walking down the stairs the day after a marathon, and the pain you are in when your favorite PT gets out that metal tongue depressor thing to do “graston.” I remember thinking at one point, “I might actually be breaking them” Soreness, pain, sharp pain, resistance, anger, not happy, my legs were NOT happy.

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From mile 0 to mile 56 I managed the angry legs. Because I like to be honest, and because it’s kinda funny looking back, I will share with you some of the thoughts that my brain decided to come up with while I was out there.

  • Oh lordy, they are broken
  • this is not any fun
  • this is sub-fun
  • why do I do this shit?
  • you are screwed for norseman
  • you are never taking time off again
  • screw muddy
  • F$%k muddy
  • damn you muddy
  • god this hurts
  • maybe i should quit
  • this can’t be good for me
  • sheesh this course has a lot of shifting
  • why did I ride so hard on wednesday night?
  • can’t we just ride straight for a little bit, preferably down hill?
  • is that wind?
  • it doesn’t even matter
  • oh my gosh they hurt worse
  • how is that possible?
  • is it my bike fit?
  • why did I let muddy convince me this was a good idea?
  • you are so screwed
  • how are you going to run?
  • there is no way you are going to be able to run
  • you are never taking time off again
  • muddy lied to you

Yea, that’s some of the fun stuff the brain likes to bring up. BUT, luckily, I have tools and adversity is what the tools are built to withstand, so every time these thoughts came, these are some of the other thoughts that came behind them. Granted, these new thoughts are choices.

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Choices to NOT go down the rabbit hole. And choices I can only make because I meditate and I practice recognizing when I’m thinking unproductive thoughts. I’m actually getting really fast at identifying “not helpful” and reshifting. But the whole darn bike was like one long painful meditation session of refocus, refocus, refocus. Over and over and over, AKA, fighting the good fight.

  • getting in shape hurts Sonja
  • you won’t die sonja
  • push pull push pull
  • doing your best isn’t always fun in the moment
  • remember what Kona felt like
  • Muddy knows best
  • push pull push pull
  • 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 – 7 – 8
  • trust your coach
  • hard work always pays eventually
  • relax your shoulders
  • today is not Norseman
  • point your toes
  • engage your butt
  • is this the best you have right now?
  • what doesn’t hurt?
  • push pull push pull
  • my nose doesn’t hurt
  • my toes don’t hurt
  • dang my shoes are full of mud
  • push pull push pull
  • head down chin up
  • lean into the pain
  • relax your jaw
  • trust your coach, trust your coach, trust your coach
  • race your race, push pull

At that was how it went. I didn’t pass anyone in my AG and only a few men passed me. It was kinda lonely. Towards the end I was passed by two women in my AG and that was helpful because it gave me a nice little dose of adrenaline and competitive spirit rather than brain/thought/leg/pain management. I was able to use that pass to REINGAGE! hahaha! Joaquin would be proud.

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Coming into T2 I spotted Muddy from a mile away on the side of the road. It was so good to have him out there screaming up storm like he likes to do. He gave me some good splits and I was happy to hear I was actually IN THE GAME, in the HUNT, in a podium position. Coolio.

There was a really long narrow run into T2 and it was slow going as many of the waves were mixed up so some people were walking that section and we had to weave our way around them, which is totally cool, just takes a little maneuvering. I ran to rack 9 where I put my shoes and a few of the ladies in my AG couldn’t find their shoes. Apparently someone had moved their shoes overnight! They were screaming and freaking out big time. Can you imagine being in the hunt, podium position and then your shoes aren’t there. I remember having no T1 bag in Kona that one year, your brain is already in fight or flight and something like that really illuminates how you handle adversity. Most freak out! It’s the normal human reaction.

But I knew that I couldn’t get wrapped up in their drama, my shoes were right where I had put them, so I immediately encapsulated myself in a big Glenda the Good Witch Bubble…you know what I’m talking about, the pink glittery one, and I sat down, put my socks, shoes and race belt on, grabbed my stuff and got the heck out of there.

Running the first mile is always a joke. Usually too fast, sometimes too slow, feeling wonky, it’s never an indicator of the day. But I know one thing, my legs did not hurt like they did on the bike, not even close. So that was good news. Around mile 1 I saw Muddy and he said I was in 3rd. I knew that 1st and second had to be Hailey and Christine, two of my closest friends in Cali. I got this big smile on my face, because it was the three of us, and that felt special! Already a win win!

I caught Punky somewhere in here and asked how his knee was holding up. He said it was okay, but I could tell he was battling with it. We haven’t been able to run him in two weeks, so this was a big wait and see. He said there were two girls ahead, both in pink. I asked if one was in the same kit as me and he didn’t say yes. So that confused me a little.

It wasn’t until several more miles when I caught up to Christine. She was running really strong and smooth and in control, she looked great. We ran together a few seconds, exchanged “I love yous” and “your ass looks HAWT” and then I pulled ahead and kept charging. I didn’t look at my watch the entire run for some reason. By mile three I was feeling really strong and steady and beast-like and I didn’t want to look down and see a split that was slow, so I just decided not to look and to continue feeling good about myself! Haha! Matt Dixon even said I looked good, and in my head I was like “RIGGGGHHHHTTT OOOONNNN.”

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Mark, Hailey’s hubby (the guy who thought Princess Kitty was a bear….skoff) was out on his bike. And of course he’s in his Dodo Case kit! See, on the Coast Ride in January, Mark is my favorite wheel to ride. Yes, I love Hailey’s husbands wheel. I know that 95% of the time that’s her wheel to ride, but sometimes they ride side by side, in which case I can be found on Marks wheel. So, the Dodo Case kit to me is a symbol of comfort: steady, strong, ease for me, and he was in THAT KIT. BAM, loving the symbolism!

Hailey was up the road, beyond sight and Mark was there on the side when I went by. Possibly to get a split for Hailey, but I just pretended he was there to help me. Again, I could have gone either way in my brain, but I was into optimism. I asked how Hailey was doing, and he said “good, she’s a little over 4 minutes up.” I got a big smile. Four minutes is legit, she was racing great, I was happy for her.

Then he told me I was in second, but I just felt I was in third, so I told Mark “people are telling me I’m in third” and he asked about the number ranges. I had noticed at check in that some of us had numbers in the 200s and others had numbers in like the 1200s or something. So I told him that and asked if he would investigate. Sure enough a few miles later he told me that Jen was about 1 minute up the road in pink.

For some reason, that information combined with how strong and steady I felt just lit the fire under me. I had been running with a guy named Alex (I think) and chatting and the chatting ended. I had no fear, it was just “what can I do to try to close that gap?” I looked down the road and knew exactly who it was because we she was who passed me at the end of the bike and we had introduced ourselves to each other out there. I had no idea she got out of T2 ahead of me and she was running fierce!

Into the Vineyard I ran as hard as I possibly could and whenever I could see her pass a pole or a tree I would take a split on my watch to see if I could run that section faster to close the gap. Then another split and another attempt to put just a little more into each turn, cut each tangent a little tighter, stand a little taller, move the legs a little faster. Out of the Vineyard Mark was there again and told me I was 30 sec back. I clocked it at 28.

We were getting to the turn around around mile 8ish and we are close to the turn and I see Hailey! I did not expect to see Hailey at all. I assumed she was past the out and back before I even got on it. And right behind her is Jen. Now all of us are within about 40 seconds with about 4.5 miles left to race.

And honestly, I think because it was my first race back and I had nothing to lose and nothing riding on it, I got super giddy. It was all just so much fun that were were all out there racing our butts off, and that we were strong women, friendly on and off the course, but getting the best out of each other. I usually would be a little nervous with things close like that, but I wasn’t, it felt like girl power. I tell ya, we ladies provide some entertaining racing!

Jen put the hammer down to pass Hailey and then she ran like a boss! I caught up to Hailey and we ran side by side for some time. I had it in my head that when I got to Hailey she would magically just run side by side with me and we would run down Jen and it would be a sprint finish and we would all end up falling over at the finish line from exhaustion and racing and awesomeness.

But no. Eventually I pulled away from Hailey and set my sights on running the remaining hills on the course to the best of my ability. Jen continued to gap me and increase her lead more and more. I was running as hard as I could and my form was as good as I could get it. At mile 11 Muddy was there on the side screaming at me how proud he was to which I screamed 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8…which means…engage! Then he said “I told you so kid” to which I yelled the F word and the YOU word. Not my finest choice of words, but it was more of a “damn you were right.” Then I told him about my legs on the bike and how horrible they felt which felt good to get off my chest.

The last two miles are mostly downhill and I could see Jen up there, but she was UP there. I tired to run with all I had, but I wasn’t able to pull her back at all. I fought, but she was the better woman on the day, and that was 100% A-Okay! Hailey came in just a tiny bit behind me. All three of us, pretty darn close, some awesome racing out there. It was an honor to be a part of it!

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All in all, for me it was a great day out there. I was floored with how good my legs could feel running after they felt so bad on the bike. Joaquin had the same exact experience, to a T. So that was interesting as well. It was a good confidence boost for me going into the next few months and it feels fantastic to have that SPARK back in me. Motivation is high! Okay, one more time, cuz I bought the silly photos!

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Huge thanks to the ladies I raced against for your great sportsmanship, you all are class act. Thank you big time to Coach Muddy, Coach Barbara, and to Joaquin for being my family the last three weeks and also to Troy and Annie for letting me get away to work on my hobby. Also, Thank you to YAY (you have to have a good attitude when your kit says YAY on it), Quintana Roo (PRSix rode so great), Tribella (thank you for the constant help and advise), Coeur (for the sisters, the teamies, the kits, the training clothing, and for Hailey/Kebby/Reg), OSMO (I could not have gotten through 3 weeks and this race with out PreLoad, Active, Recovery, and Stacys advise through the years), Smith glasses (my new fav sunnies), and Punk Rock Racing (where I get my spunk).

Swim: 29:07, T1: 1:36, Bike: 2:39:25, T2: 3:19, Run: 1:34:46, Total: 4:48:13, 2nd in W35-39, 4th Amateur.

Next up, August 1st….Norseman!!! Bring it on!

Keep abreast of the happenings with my new coaching company Rising Tide Triathlon Coaching by signing up for the newsletter here. New fun goodies are rolling out over the new few months and I would be so honored if you would sign up for notifications!

Also the Facebook Page is picking up lots of steam since I post fun photos and ti-bits of knowledge every day! Liking the Rising Tide Triathlon Coaching Facebook Page would make my heart sing! 

Training Camp with Joaquin

This past weekend I raced my first triathlon since Kona last year, Vineman 70.3 (race report up next). It’s been nine long months! After Kona last year Muddy and I had a long chat about where we were headed from there. The Elite card issue came up and we put that to bed for the final time. I will say the current climate over at WTC and the women’s inequality issues helped make the decision pretty easy…yea…I want no part in batteling “the man” while trying to push my body to new limits. I’m very much feeling for the women PROs these days. Also, after Kona, I was really tapped out.

Muddy and I agreed that I would take a big big long long break. The longest break since I started the sport. It sounded great in theory, but it was hard in practice. It wasn’t hard to not train, that was actually really easy for me. More it was hard to hold on to my self esteem. To watch the fitness and the speed and the strength fade into the distance, to struggle through workouts at paces and speeds that were once easy was rough. I thought I would handle it like a champ, but the hard reality is that it was like someone tore away my security blanket.

When it was finally time to get going again, that was also incredibly hard. Two sports is fun, swimming and running. You can have a life, but throw that third sport back in and ouch, back to being all consumed by triathlon again. I stopped and started multiple times. Having one solid week or 5 solid days then taking 2 days off or sleeping for two days. It was fits and spurts, fits and spurts.

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Muddy and I had planned for me to come out to see him for three weeks in late June because my dear friend Joaquin was coming for that time period as well. The first 5 workouts in San Jose were not pretty. I was so slow and it was so painful. There was all this speed work and I had done NONE of that. I cried after the first 5 workouts in San Jose and Joaquin had to talk me off the ledge….5 times. The swims were okay, I was feeling solid there but the bike, oh the bike. Day One – Workout One. Thumbs up!

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The first day I was in San Jose I rode the Wednesday night ride. I got dropped by every single person, and I was going all out, my heart rate was 178 for most of the ride. I won’t admit how many times I repeated “Oh how far you have fallen.” I pulled in dead last, and went out for my run off the bike with tears in my eyes. I came back from my run off the bike with tears rolling down my cheeks. Coach looked at me, he always cares, and he knows me so well, and said “Don’t read into it, I know how to fix this.” Joaquin and I dragged ourself back to Rob and Trinas (thank you R&T xoxox) licking our wounds only to have a double run day the next day with 18 miles of running in 100 degree temps, much of it faster than I felt prepared to run. Still thumbs up, but the smile is forced!

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It was a dicey few days. Over the weekend when coach went to CDA to be on course for Stephen (he got 3rd in the PRO race!!) Joaquin and I joined up with Kayla and Hailey to ride the first two days of the Coast Ride. Joaquin gave me another pep talk and I got myself together, put on a smile, and went to do what I love. We went without SAG support, just mailed a box to Monterey, and bought new outfits in Morro Bay. It was a sobering few days. I got dropped on every climb. I could hold okay on flats, but the climbs I was off the back. It was good for me though, and I definitely got to see from behind just how flipping strong Hailey and KK have become. Kinda felt like that stark, in my face, reality that I have to rebuild the engine. It’s not personal, it’s just from taking time off. My attitude changed out there on the coast. Thank you Hailey and KK and Joaquin. Mark^2 too!

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Oh and all along I have Princess Kitty sticking out of my pocket and Mark Manning says “You have a bear in your pocket.” I was appalled! I said “It’s a cat, not a bear, that would be ridiculous” Haha! PK did have a great time on the coast logging some serious pocket time!

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When we landed in Monterey I felt more alive. The ocean gives me strength and boy did I need it. Riding through the strawberry fields is usually the worst part of Coast Ride Day 1 in January because it’s dry and dusty. But in July it’s ALL STRAWBERRIES EVERYWHERE! It smelled amazing! Joaquin and I needed to procure some flip flops in Montery so we hit up the mall in our kits, with our bikes to buy some at Macys. We got A LOT of looks and I don’t think we smelled too good.

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We had a nice meal out with the girls, which resulted in KK getting food poisoning and having to call her hubby to come take her home the next morning. Stupid shrimp. I slept like a bear, and the next day we headed out as a little group of three to tackle the Big Sur hills.

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I gotta say, sharing all of this with Joaquin, who was just so thrilled to have a month off work to train like a PRO, well he deserved the happy Sonja. So pedal stroke by pedal stroke I got over my bad self. As I like to say HEAD DOWN (do the work), CHIN UP (keep it positive). Rolling into Morro Bay, after throwing a tiny fit after Ragged Point when Hailey and Joaquin were dropping me every time they took a pull (sad legs), I was happy. I love that darn rock. I love that blue coastline. I love where I was lucky enough to spend ages 10-15. Like home, but more special.

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We got Hailey set with a shower, a little black dress, and packed her into the car of a sweet Uber driver who came to get her and take her to the SLO airport so she could drive back home Sunday night. Joaquin and I stayed in Morro Bay. We went to Wavelengths Surf Shop and bought board shorts, shirts and sweatshirts. We had roast beef sandwiches at Hofbrau house and waked to the beach for sunset.  It is a sunset I will not, for the rest of my life, every forget. It was stunning.

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The next day we rode 19 miles to the SLO airport to pick up a car. We had our new outfits shoved down our shorts, in our sweatshirt pockets, we looked like Hobos (Joaquin’s word). The entire ride we discussed words in the English language that have two meanings. Like a bear goes RAR, and you bear a burden. Joaquin has excellent English (he’s from Mexico City) and we had fun laughing the whole way there with like 60 PSI in our tires.

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The drive back was quick and we were in San Jose before we knew it, and in the pool as well, since it was now GO time. I spent three more days with Muddy and Joaquin getting my ass handed to me in most every session before it was time for me to fly home for my anniversary with Troy. We had booked tickets to go to Wanderlust (I’ll blog about that this week). After Wanderlust, I felt complete reset and came back to San Jose for another week of training and to race Vineman.

This was when the magic started to happen. The reset at Wandelust really was huge for me. I did some big runs out there, and when I came back my legs were tired from running but my heart was more clear and my brain was on board.

We had the best week of training before Vineman. It was hard. Lots of training hours. We also fixed some saddle issues I had been having on the bike that I think were contributing to some of my issues. I hit the ground running last week and didn’t look back. On the Wednesday night ride that week I rode with the front pack. I had some great track sessions, some promising mile times and I was starting to feel like myself for the first time in nine months.

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It’s quite amazing what Muddy was able to do with me in such a short amount of time. He knew what to do, and we just got to work. We took it day by day, but we implemented the plan. As the boys would say “It’s time to ENGAGE.” Omg this photo makes me laugh so hard core!!! Coach was making us tri-tip while coaching our workout on the trainers, but I title this one “IT’S TIME TO ENGAGE”

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Joaquin and I became attached at the hip, oh and we ate ICE CREAM every single night of camp. We found this place called CREAM that makes ice cream sandwiches and we ate there every night. We sang lots of songs out loud, took Princess Kitty on adventures, ate food, ate food, ate food, drank coffee, drank coffee, drank coffee, and SWAM BIKE RAN our tails off. It was good stuff.

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Going into Vineman we were both feeling the hurt of the week. If you have never had the experience of training straight through a race, I really urge you to try it. There is nothing like stepping on the line extremely compromised and having NO IDEA how it’s all going to play out. It’s good for your brain. At one point earlier in the week Muddy said “I don’t want any meltdowns out there” and it made me realize he was a little nervous I might not be able to hold myself together. His concern was valid.

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I’ve raced tired before, but not tired and undertrained. Hearing that really made me think, and I told him “Look, I will step on that line as a blank slate, that’s the only way that we will know what we need to change going forward” This really is the goal at every race, to let whatever training and fitness you have in you ooze out. It may be lots, it may be little, but you have to get out of your own way. You have to let what’s in there out, so that the coachycoach has good information to make future decisions with. If you meltdown, how’s he going to do his job? How are you going to get better. It’s not personal, help him help you. That was where my brain was at.

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On Saturday we packed up and headed to Santa Rosa to train. Looking back, the highlight was definitely riding the run course with Muddy and Joaquin and seeing coach analyze the course, tell us where to run on the road, where to push, where the aid was. He was like a kid in a candy store. That got me laughing.

Vineman report up next! Whoop!

I’m sitting in the airport now, heading back to Denver to rejoin my home life. I cried when I had to say goodbye to Joaquin and then when I had to say goodbye to coach. We really put down some great training but more than that we strengthened the bonds we had with each other and we had a lot of fun together. Last – Day, Second to last workout!

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It really is about the journey, regardless of the payoff and I’ve had a great journey out here. Going into Norseman in less than three weeks my head is finally screwed on straight. It’s an adventure. It’s Norway for Petes sake. I’m there to do my best, to be relentless, to persevere through the tough bits, but I’m also there for the journey, for the small contrition that Norseman will have to my overarching story, to my life of adventure.

Cobwebs… and Rising Tide Triathlon Coaching

Wow, I had to dust off some serious cobwebs to get this blog updated. I didn’t even remember my password, had to do the whole password reset thing.

This blog looks like the floor underneath my couch, dust bunnies galore, but also some loose change, a few cat toys, oh and my favorite sunglasses that I thought I lost. I always shake my head when people return to their blog and do the whole apology for not posting anything. I know as much as anyone that nobody has been on pins and needles, nobody really remembers if this blog disappears into oblivion and there are a million other options for online entertainment. I used to tell my story fairly frequently, and then I stopped.

I can’t issue an apology, because I’m not sorry. Over the last year, blogging has not been a gift in my life. I started this thing to talk about being a mommy to Annie and to share the fun stuff with some of my thoughts around it. Then I got into triathlon, which made a good story, and then I had some success in the sport, which made for an even better story, and then I had a great race in Kona, which felt like the end of a story. I don’t know when I swapped over from talking about my experiences to telling a story, but somewhere in there I got a sense that people only wanted to read certain things, and I started talking about those things.

But this is my life. And it’s messy. And to even touch on the mess pisses off other people like no tomorrow. So most of what I had to say just felt like dancing around a huge elephant. I hated that, so I stopped. I tried to get up the race reports, but even those have fallen by the wayside.

So I took a break. And I’m glad I did, because I got to missing it a bit more, and wishing I could write about this and that, and now I’m back here to do so. I think it’s important to go with the ebbs and flows of life, and to ask questions when you are feeling “duty” or “responsibility” calling. Sometimes the best action is no action, to just let things rest for awhile to see if you can get some clarity!

So, a quick little catch up, so I feel like I’ve dotted my Is and crossed my Ts. Oh and a kinda big announcement at the end!

I got second in Kona (can I just say that a few more times). I thought my life would be better after. It wasn’t better. It was the same awesome that it was before (and the same not awesome too). I took a break, because I was burned out. Well, not really burned out, but more just wanted to sit and soak in the pseudo completion of a goal. Yea, yea, I wasn’t first, but second is close, and Amy Farrell is a total bad ass! So, it was close enough to celebrate for awhile.

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It’s strange because I love riding my bike, but suddenly I did not want to ride my bike. And I didn’t. In fact, I did the Coast Ride on several hours of biking (like 11 total…ouch…not recommended) and then I didn’t ride my bike after the Coast Ride for another few months. I started riding a few weeks ago. I essentially took 6 months away from my bike. And it felt good. I fell in love with my dolphin pod (we have matching dolphin suits), got a knee injury running in Hokas in the trails (too squirrely for me), recovered from that, and put in 8 weeks of training for Boston. Honestly, I was happy to be on the line, but aren’t I always?

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I went skydiving at Mile High Skydiving and I absolutely loved it. A small part of me wanted to quit triathlon, sell my bikes, and start taking the fast track classes so that I can jump on my own. I decided against quitting, but, I am going to take the Level 1 class as soon as I can get a free Saturday to do so. I was in love, and I will at some point be jumping on my own. It’s for sure!

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I ALSO, found a really great new book club group here in Denver called Real Life Book Club (they are on facebook, newer company, many different groups around town). Through this I met some new amazing women that have lead me to other amazing women, and I’ve actually had a social life. That’s been a really nice and needed change for me. Also, I feel like I have gained this expansive wealth of resources by connecting with women in many different vocations. It’s been really cool! I’m speaking at the next Real Life Book Club social and if you are in the Denver area, you should check it out (ladies only).

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Book Club has lead to a lot of reading and self introspection over the last six months. It’s been really hard at times, and really good at times. I entered a fun 10 week course called Skinny Dip Society that has been such a blast…okay, and sometimes a lot of tears. But for the first time in my life I feel like I’m digging to the bottom of some deep muck, and really gaining valuable insight on how I plan to live the rest of my life. As much as I would recommend this sort of work, I would suggest all new bedding and a calm bedroom, because I spent a lot of time in bed, licking my wounds.

And, the most wonderful thing has been born out of the last six months. Taking a break, and looking inwards really helped me to hone in on “what’s next?” The clarity always seems obvious once it’s revealed and this has been no different. So, without further rambling, the other huge thing that I’ve been up to, to which a real time commitment has been dedicated, has been creating a new coaching business. Cue: Applause!

Drum-Roll-Please: Rising Tide Triathlon Coaching

Facebook Link to Rising Tide where you can sign up for the newsletter (infused with fun and helpful mental skills tricks)

Website in development at RisingTideTri.com (but hey, there’s a pretty landing page).

Twitter is up and going too @RisingTideTri

I have been coaching for 4.5 years now, ever since ChuckieV really urged me to do so. He was genius, because it’s what I was made to do. How nice to have someone else reveal to you what you were put here to do! I take it very seriously (okay, most the time) and I feel honored to be able to work with such amazing individuals. I still have 3 of my original 6 athletes in my stable (Errrr my regatta…haha).

In the past I have always stayed small, many people have said “I didn’t know you coached” because I just took the number of people I knew I could individually help while still running the business, and training. Sometimes I overextended myself and sometimes I found the balance. In my heart though, I’ve always wanted to expand and have the ability to guide more athletes. I’ve had several women through the years want to coach underneath me or be mentored by me, but I never had the structure in place to do so. I’ve always loved teaching and mentoring, especially other women who want to help others find greater health. When I set up Rising Tide, it was important to me to set up a structure where I had the capacity to do that in a formal manner.

I’ve always loved the mental side of sport. Can you tell? I know that my deeper calling is in this area, and I wanted a company that will allow me to put some unique products out into the world in this capacity. I’m still knee deep in what that looks like, but so far it’s looking really exciting/fun/productive.

As I formed my new business I got a lot of insight by project mapping my current coaching business and assessing where I rock and where I need support. Then I went about finding support for most of those areas. This, to me, is the most exciting process because when you start pulling in people to do what they are great at, things start to get really fun and I saw my time open up, which means I can be available to more athletes! It’s a symbiotic system! Most excellent, and tons of FUN!

So, there you go! Rising Tide Triathlon Coaching is open for business and I’m having a total blast at it!

As for the blogging. Well, I’m turning a new leaf, beginning a new story of sorts and I would like to share it along the way. Stay tuned….

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My Dolphin Pod

I’ve had a bit of a breakthrough in the last few months when it comes to swimming. All along with swimming I knew that the big problem with my lack of progress had to do with my lack of LOVE for the water. This wasn’t due to feeling uncomfortable in the water, I feel safe, I can breath, really I’m a pretty good swimmer for someone who didn’t know how to swim as a kid (“swim” as in the strokes….I had a wicked doggie paddle though). In 2007 I learned “freestyle” and now, I would say I’m a pretty decent swimmer for having learned as a 28 year old adult.

But the process was a painful one. Every year since 2007 I have spent all winter busting my butt to crank out the yardage. I would do anything I could to get myself into the pool. I would promise myself post swim treats, beg other people to show up with me, buy new suits, new caps, new water bottles, new toys, new bags. I never resorted to the swim-mp3 player, but the only thing stopping me was ego on that one. And honestly, I thought about it a few months ago. Every year was a new tactic and a new motivational strategy to get in the yardage (err meterage?). And I made progress this way…I think…sorta. Okay, my Kona swim never got faster but I would have glimmers of hope here and there.

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I would drag myself there all winter and then my swimming would slowly peter off as the season got underway and biking and running took priority. That may happen again this year, I don’t know, time will tell. By Kona that winter swim fitness seemed to be gone, and then I would swim the same crummy times in Kona and get all “motivated by negativity” and would get back in the pool all winter trying to find the secret sauce.

Well something started to happen a few months ago. I was doing my typical back in the pool behavior because I swam 1:10 in Kona, one of my slowest times, blah blah blah…broken record. I started going to Masters a little more regularly simply for motivational purposes. I love the Swim Smooth program (I love the Beeper) but that means I have to swim on my own. And sometimes swimming alone means I won’t go swimming. So masters it was.

Well magic happened for me this winter. I found the secret sauce I think…

I found my dolphin pod. And I must thank Jessica really for being pod-mother (like den-mother but for dolphins) and uniting us. For some reason, and I’ve never seen it in all my years of swimming in different Masters programs, but we have this absolutely phenomenal lane of women (there are occasional guys too, but we have mostly scared them off). Jessica and I are the SAME EXACT SPEED and she’s a long distance swimmer (like 13 mile swims, and a go at the channel some day..2019) and we take turns leading.

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Our pod started with a main little group but throughout January the pod got growing, now there are like 8-12 of us. Not all in the same lane, but close enough in speed that we can all swim “about” the same intervals. And the ladies come from such a variety of backgrounds. Some are still expanding their swimming boundaries, and some have been lifelong swimmers. We have all types! Some swim 3X a week and some swim 10X a week! And…I am the only triathlete in the pod!

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I look forward to Masters every day I go now, which is pretty much every day. I have had so much fun in the pool over the last few months, it doesn’t seem right. There have been hard sets, really hard sets, where some of the dolphins almost puked…(not me) and there have been slow cruiser days too. No matter what mood anyone is in, they are accepted. If I want to put on my fins and swim in the back of the lane, that’s A-ok. If I’ve had a flat-white from Starbucks and I need to lead the lane to GET OUT ALL THE ENERGY then that’s welcome too. There’s no competition amongst the pod, just fun and positivity. YAY SWIMMING!!!!!

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A few fun things the pod has been up to:

A few people in the pod (ahem…yes me) signed up to keep track of our mileage for the year in the US Masters “go the distance challenge” and now we are constantly swimming a little extra here and there to jump up in the daily rankings. So bad, and yet so fun. I have swam (swum?) 80 miles this year so far!

On January 1st we swam 100×100 and it was A BLAST. Different lane leaders, a great set, and Nicole made brownies! Then after doing the Go The Distance challenge for January, I thought it was nice to start the month out with 10k, so I asked if anyone wanted to do 10K on Feb 1st. They were like “you are crazy” then the next day 4 of them were like “we’re in!” Do you see what I mean….dolphin pod!!!!

Feb. 1st we swam 10K, and I loved it. I felt much stronger than Jan 1st and the set was a really good one that was broken up nicely. And Jessica made chocolate chip muffins, and I brought YAY! Swimming car magnets! Is there one on my car?….um yes…there is one on my car. YAY….SWIMMING!

Naturally on Feb 1st the pod started thinking about 10K on March 1st, but half the pod was headed to San Diego to have fun (swimming included) so the pod asked if I wanted to come and we could swim 10K from La Jolla Cove on the 1st! I booked a ticket on Southwest. Because…Ummm….yes!

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Lastly, and this is so far out of my comfort zone, but here we go. I’m going to swim in a meet. The state meet is in about a month. So I have spent quite a few sessions over the last few weeks learning the legal way to swim the different strokes. Again, learning to swim as an adult, I don’t know the proper legal turns and starts for the strokes, and diving off the blocks is a HUGE work in progress for me. But the dolphin pod is teaching me, and I am so thankful to learn new things. I swam the 1650 in the state meet a few years ago, because that seemed like what a triathlete would do, but this year I’m going to swim actual EVENTS, like the 50 fly…. maybe… I still have to figure out what events, but I’m GOING for it. It’s all part of the fun.

Making Swimmer Muscles!!!

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This post is mostly silly, because I’m just really excited and happy about swimming, but if I get a little more serious for a second I want to talk to those of you who toil away at the swim leg of triathlon. My athlete Ellen said to me recently (she is on her own swim quest because it’s needed if she wants to visit the Honu in Hawaii)  “I never liked swimming because I never though doing more of it made me any better.” It’s a really common sentiment. Swimming is one of those things that you can do a lot of and not get better, you can do a little and not get (much) worse. I’ve done that and everything between. I asked Ellen a few weeks ago “where is the motivation?” because I have learned that even if you are swimming the big yardage, if it’s coming from a place of “my swim sucks and I’m losing races because of it” that yardage isn’t going to get you far.

The athletes that I see who are making progress in their swimming, or who are swimming at a high level in the open water….well they are swimming a lot. But, it’s not just that. They love their swimming! They love their swim buddies, they love the programs they swim with, they love their hard crazy workouts, and they really love the water. I think there are different ways to find that pure love depending on your personality, but finding it is the main objective if you want to get better. So rather than toiling away and upping the yardage this winter, instead I would suggest you take a personal journey and try as many things as you can to cultivate a deep love for the water.

We all know triathletes that excel in one discipline over another, and when I look at them I usually see that they also enjoy that discipline. Ellen loves her bike, Mikki loves to run, Mo loves the pool, etc etc. But it can seem like a chicken or the egg situation. Is Mikki good at running because she loves it, or does she love it because she’s good at it? I know the answer. She’s good at it because she loves it. Bottom line. I’m willing to go out on a limb and state it as pure truth. Love it, and you’ll make progress. Don’t love it? Well, roll the dice, the odds are against you.

I know a dolphin pod full of ladies that are going to get a ton faster this year….

#girlscamp

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After the Coast Ride #girlscamp began! This was a first for Muddy, but last year I sensed that his girls would really like to get to know each other more, and I was excited to incorporate some of my girls into the group as well. Three of my athletes: Mikki, Ellen, and Mo attended. Mikki and Ellen did the Coast Ride so they were a little tired. Getting the spark of Mo on Wednesday was much needed! Coeur also helped me get “girl kits” made for the Muddy gals since his kits are kinda dude like. The ladies were so excited to pick up their kits. We kept it simple with a heart with ML in it for “Muddy Love.”  If you know Muddy at all, you know he’s all positivity. I can’t wait to see the ladies racing around in them this year!

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Camp started off Tuesday morning with a 5K on the “dirt track.” This is the track that Muddy and I come to when I’m in town and it’s a special place. It’s not a nice track, there are holes in it, and it’s a good symbol for just getting the work done! I have been recovering from a knee injury so I ran one mile during cool down and then coached. This was really cool for me, to be coach instead of athlete. It took a little getting used to and it wasn’t until the end of the week that Muddy and I were better able to say “coach this workout” and “be an athlete during this workout.” It’s all just part of the learning process when you are coach/athlete and trying to balance that in a camp situation where I can’t just afford to not train for 5 days. A delicate balance!

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Watching the girls have so much heart during that 5K was inspiring. Brynje is just a gazelle and Eileen was 2 minutes faster this year. Rock on! Any sadness I might have had due to not participating was quickly replaced with the joy of watching their fierceness!

Tuesday after the 5K we swam at the fun pool and worked on drills and stroke and “pulling more water!” Everyone was ready for bed that evening!

Wednesday was a sleep in morning and then swimming and doing a coached spin class that evening at La Dolce Velo bike shop. What a great group! Muddy coaches spin on Wednesday evenings and it was a blast. I love sessions like this with a focus on form and strength building, so important!

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Thursday was such an exciting day. All the girls got to run up Sierra Road! This is a 3.6 mile climb that is super super steep. We ran over there, that was 4.75 miles and I ran with the girls. This was my longest run in a month and I felt like an uncoordinated hippo but I was running and that made me so happy! Then I got in the truck while everyone else SLAYED Sierra Road. It was really cool to see Mikki come alive on this run. She’s a pretty stoic girl and this was the run where she just let loose and let her heart sing.

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It was visible and made me smile from ear to ear! I hopped out of the truck and ran home another 4.75 miles with everyone after Sierra because I just wanted to hear the stories of the experience. The two hour swim that evening was hard but everyone just kept swimming and remembered what the end of an ironman swim feels like! There were some great surprise performances on that big hill by Mary and Jenesse (our resident Aussie), these ladies have FIGHT!

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Friday was a big day as we climbed Mt.Hamilton on our bikes. We did this after an all out swim set that had everyone on the ropes at one point or another. Afterwards they ran off the bike, but my knee was sore from 9.5 the previous day so I was benched. It’s all good. I loved that Mikki ran her 20 minutes and then Mo came in off the bike and she ran Mos 20 minutes with her too. The girls were just so supportive of each other!

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Hamilton was where Ellen really shined. She had me on the ropes the whole climb and just motored hard core up that thing. I was really proud of my little skipper! It was cool from a coaching perspective to see how each athlete coped with the fatigue of the week, some wound up, finally relaxing into the work, and others got increasingly tired as the week went on. I think it’s really important to get yourself into these sorts of environments as an athlete so that you can learn more about yourself. As a coach, this kind of time with my athletes is priceless. I eat it up! I also loved getting to know Mary T better. She is coached by Muddy and this was the first time we have spent time together.

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The top of Mt.Ham is always worth the climb, the view does not disappoint. It was great having Muddy there running SAG support. We could not have done this without him.

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The final day of camp was long run day and this was something I knew everyone was dreading. The legs are tired, the body is tired, the mind is tired, and long runs are always a little bit of an unknown. Then throw in an unknown environment and that adds to the stress, but boy did the ladies step up. Mikki and Mo ran less because they were doing a trail race the next day (that report is up next). I ran 4 miles and was totally stoked to have no pain during or after. My favorite part was biking with the girls during the last half of their run. I really learned a lot about Ellen as a runner, and I have great ideas of how to get the most out of her in future races. Brynje and Deirdre just cruised!

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Everyone left camp happy, tired, ready to eat for three days and with some new lessons learned. Huge thanks to Muddy for recognizing the value of community among women. He has some great ladies in his stable and I feel thankful to have gotten to know them through the years! Again, I’m just continually inspired by women who show up fully present, ready to train hard and to push their previous boundaries. #girlscamp was a safe and supportive place to do that!

2014 Kona The Swim

After a deep full nights sleep (I know, crazy right) my first thought when I woke on race day was “TODAY IS A NEW DAY!” and I went pee and packed my bags, made my bottles, and hoped I wasn’t forgetting anything. We headed down to the race, blasting the radio, singing at the top of our lungs. Troy/Annie and I parted ways with a kiss and off I went. Body marking was the WORST I have ever experienced at Kona. I literally felt like a COW off to slaughter in there as the time ticked away. The division of labor was WAY off, and it was stressful to be compacted too close to all the other super nervous athletes in a hot tent. I almost felt a bit of a panic attack coming on.

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Then onto the dreaded medical scale. 141.8. Wow, very much the heaviest I’ve been in Hawaii. I think a full 13 pounds heaver than the leanest I’ve raced here. But hey, I’m healthy and happy and it was the first time in months I stepped on a scale and that there is some serious progress.

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After I got out of there I literally had time to pump my tires, put my nutrition on my bike, go potty, put my swim skin on, have a last minute pep talk with Alex, and boom, it was go time!

Oh, but they had the MOST COOL Redbull dudes jump out of an airplane before the race. It was AMAZING and I was in the potty line at the end of the pier when they landed in the water not 15 feet from me. I was like “WOW that was AMAZING!!” and all the athletes around me looked at me like I was stupid. I wanted to be like “Dude, they have never done that before, you should think that’s cool too”.

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This year they separated the age group men from the age group women for the swim start. The age group men started 10 minutes before us and I was so excited about this. The men got off and we women got in to warm up right afterwards. They partitioned us off this year so I wasn’t able to swim over to Annie and Troy to blow kisses, I just had to swim straight to the start line. I lined up towards the right, towards the front and just soaked in the fact that it was all us ladies. I loved that.

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Instead of the start being mostly men with a few quiet pink caps, it was a whole group of women and they were cheering and telling each other good luck and just being strong kick butt women. It was just SO GIRL POWER and by far the most special Kona start I’ve ever experienced. With a cannon, off we went and it was beautiful.

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That morning I saw that a swell had come in, there was chop and swells and I knew it would probably be a tougher swim, but I felt like I swam great. I felt steady and strong. I found lots of great feet. I didn’t get beat up and I was able to swim the buoy line. I knew the course well and felt like I was in the right place and putting out the right amount of effort the whole time. It was also really gorgeous. I told myself a few times “this might me the last time you do this, enjoy it” and I did. I looked at the bottom when I wasn’t looking at the feet in front of me. I looked at the palm trees, I smiled at the scuba divers and I constantly came back to my cues “relax, pull, chest down”

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Coming in the final stretch I was right along the pier. I cut the final buoys perfect. Nailed it!! There were the steps, and an awesome volunteer was helping me out of the water. I looked at the clock out of the water (its impossible not to, its RIGHT THERE) and it said 1:10. And this was a little errie. When Dr.Steve and I talked through my race we talked about some hiccups that I might experience and one of them was “I get out of the water and the clock says 1:11.” So we literally practiced seeing 1:11 and releasing it. Mental training folks, ya gotta do it. It was written into my prerace script that I see 1:11 and I say to myself “It’s long, move on”. Then I get out and BAM…1:10!!!! Wowah…eerie!!!

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Also, I’m a big believer that we manifest what we think about and the more I realize this the more I see it in my life. Sometimes I call it Jedi mind trick. So after I said “It’s long, move on” I said to myself….”Duuuuddddeee, you made that happen….” but not in a bad way, just in a eerie way.

I ran through the showers and grabbed my completely empty T1 bag, then into the tent, off with my HUUB skin suit, into the bag and I’m outa there. I get to my bike, throw on glasses and helmet, grab the bike, and off I go. Huge smile on my face!