Sunday, January 20, 2019

How to Stay Motivated in the Winter

I get asked the question "how do you stay motivated in the winter?" quite often really. I am human, like everyone else, and the cold, dark mornings make it that much more difficult to get out of my warm bed in the morning. I have a number of tricks/ideas that I use in the winter months especially to stay motivated and maintain consistency in my daily training.

1. Find yourself some training partners.
Having training partners is a great way not only to hold yourself accountable, but also to keep the sport fun and fresh. A training camp can also be a great way to change your perspective and environment, while motivating you to work hard on the daily. Surround yourself with like-minded people and it's amazing what you can do together.

2. Plan out your season goals.
Before the next season begins, I like to write out specific outcome-based goals, and then process-related goals of how I will get there. I also like to plan my early season races, which gives me incentive to build fitness in the off-season. A goal on the horizon, can make a significant difference when it comes to finding motivation to train.

3. Music.
Music has been a great friend of mine in the winter, especially to keep me motivated and entertained while on the trainer with my Blue AC1 Limited Road Bike or running on the dreadmill (yes I spelled that correctly). I also like to have different genres of music based on the purpose of each workout. Even when the body doesn't feel great, music has a way of inspiring.
embrace the trainer. It'll make riding on the road that much easier!

4. Go outside
Even when it is cold outside, sometimes it can be beneficial and give you a fresh perspective to bundle up and run outside. Think of the snow on the ground as a change of scenery and fresh perspective on your typical running routes. Every Wednesday, I run a 6 am sunrise run with my roommate, Caryn. We both bundle up and hit the roads with our headlamps. It's a nice morning adventure that motivates me to wake up early :)

5. Yoga.
Practicing mindfulness in the form of yoga or meditation can be very helpful in defining your purpose, letting go of your past, and channeling your energy to future goals. Given I have a body-type that struggles in the cold, the heated sessions especially are beneficial to my overall recovery and ability to relax.

6. Get in the gym and hit it hard!
In the summer season, it's typically race season so gym training is usually a supplement to training and not the core part of training/racing. In the winter time, change it up by hitting the gym hard three times per week. Gym has become one of my workouts in the winter. Building strength will translate to a stronger, healthier body when the season comes around.

hit the gym hard!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

2018 Season Recap

It has been a while since I have taken the time (or had the time) to sit down and reflect. I tend to be more private when it comes to the specifics of my daily training and work-life balance. I do this not because I am secretive, but because my daily life is really not that exciting. I do not participate on Strava or share my PB's with the world because to me, it isn't really that amazing and I prefer to keep the focus on myself and setting my own personal goals. I have struggled with comparison in the past thinking that I needed to do what other successful athletes do in order to be successful myself. What I have learned, is that everyone has their own trajectory and that each person needs to find an environment that works best for them individually. A happy athlete is a fast athlete and a happy person lives a good life :). Overall happiness does not come down to life achievements; it instead involves a multitude of factors such as the influences around you, your attitude about life, how you rebound from setbacks, the environment you live in, and your overall balance (physical, social, economic, mental, spiritual, etc.)
I definitely live a different lifestyle compared to many of my competitors who are fully submerged in high performance daily training environments in which triathlon is their "job." I live in Colorado Springs, Colorado with three roommates (who I am lucky to call my closest friends) who hold full-time jobs. I am sure they think I am crazy to be doing what I do, but they support me. I work 25-30 hours a week at Keysight Technologies, a company who I am truly grateful for because I wouldn't be able to pursue my athletic endeavors without them. My coach, Ken, and I have found that less is more, and there is certainly a point of diminishing return when you add in the extra "junk" volume. Quality workouts over quantity of training has worked well for us, and has enabled me to progress well, while maintaining my physical and mental health. Yes I do still have a social life and time for activities outside of the sport. This in itself keeps me balanced and gives me a healthy life perspective.
 Keysight "family" hike

that time my roommate, Caryn, convinced me to do a Ragnar this summer :)
Last season was my rookie season, so I needed all of the experience I could get. This season, we decided to be more selective with my races and to instead stress the importance of consistent training and increasing my overall strength and durability in all three sports. At times the training was monotonous, but I have made an effort this season to keep it fun by training with people outside of the sport and swimming with a masters team who works hard but enjoys the process (maybe too much sometimes) :-p I think we forget at times that we can choose our friends and we can choose the people we train with and whether we enjoy the training or not. I choose to surround myself with positivity and to be a positive person. We certainly don't do this sport for the money...

I tend to be the kind of athlete who takes some time to work into my season and get comfortable. I started out the season with average results. We saw the improvement in my swim times in the pool, and it translated to some races, but it has been hit or miss. I did execute certain aspects well in each of my races, but couldn't seem to string a solid race together start to finish.

A few months into the season, I began making the lead pack at the continental cup level (not necessarily consistently, but I was close or at the back which was better than before). I found myself on my first ITU podium in Magog at the CAMTRI race. I repeated with another podium in the Montreal CAMTRI a few weeks later. This momentum gave me the confidence I needed to keep at it. Salinas World Cup was my second career World Cup, and though I had a swim which put me in the main chase, bad luck with a penalty in T1 quickly took me out of the race. Instead of getting too down about it, I decided to hold onto the positive improvements and to accept the things out of my control. The final race of the season was the ultimate test of everyone's motivation and fitness. Because we were smart with my race schedule, I felt fresh and ready both physically and mentally. I unfortunately had one of my worst swims this season, exiting at the front of the chase pack and not demonstrating where my swim should have been given my fitness and times in the pool; this was an execution error in which I settled on the wrong feet. I think confidence and commitment in a race setting on the swim will take me time to nail down still. I didn't give up and worked hard to hold the gap on the bike. I ran my way up to a 4th place finish in hot conditions (with the 2nd fastest run of the day) and I missed the podium by 3 seconds! So close, but not close enough. No excuses; more work to do.

What I have learned and accepted this season is that racing is exciting because every race and every day is different; it comes down to luck, consistency, and who can put it together on the day. Racing wouldn't be exciting if we knew who was going to win before the race, would it? I have learned more from the not-so-good days than I have from my successes. The bad days have given me the wake up call I have needed to expose my weaknesses and to work on them. I have also learned that I can perform well, even if I am not necessarily having a good day; the race isn't done until it's done. I feel I am having less "ah sh*t" moments (as my coach calls them), and learning from those moments to not repeat the same mistake the next time.

I feel this season what has been different is I am learning who I am as an athlete and what makes me tick. I am learning to doubt my own doubts and to control my mind as best I can. Most importantly, I have a new-found love of the sport and the overall process with the big picture in mind. With this mindset, it takes the pressure off of daily performance and simply motivates me for daily consistency and long-term success.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Infinit Nutrition-Training, Racing, Daily Formulas

I wanted to share with you guys what my hydration/fueling plan looks like in both my regular training/work day and when I travel to races. Feel free to use my discount code INFINIT-BW while ordering product on Infinit's Website.

In a typical training day, I like to ensure that I have calories for most (if not all of my workouts). If it is a one hour aerobic workout, I will typically consume a low calorie mix, like HYDRATE which has all the essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to ensure electrolyte replenishment. I also like to drink Hydrate during travel, in between training sessions, and I sip on it race morning to ensure I stay hydrated throughout the day. It has a pink-lemonade flavor, and it is so refreshing after a long summer run!

For longer training sessions (1.5hrs+) I like to use my custom ENDURANCE FORMULA. It is quite similar to my racing formula, except it does not contain caffeine and it is more calorically dense to get me through the longer sessions feeling strong and consistent in energy. I strictly use only my Endurance Formula for longer aerobic sessions and given it fuels me with the perfect quantity of nutrients, there is no need for any gels! I honestly dislike the taste of gels and they tend to sit heavy in my stomach, so this simple solution makes life easier and involves less prepping for yay!

For harder speed sessions and/or racing, I use my RACING FORMULA which has the perfect amount of caffeine, beta-alanine, electrolytes, and calories. It is a lower calorie mix (~100 calories) primarily used for sprint distance. If I race an Olympic Distance race, I will typically just double up the scoops. I love this formula because it sits easy in my stomach, yet gives me the fuel I need to ensure my muscles feel sharp in the race and I have no experiences with cramping since using this formula.

For pre-workout or anytime during the day, I love to drink MUD. It has just as much caffeine or more caffeine than coffee, but it also serves as a light meal replacement with 11 grams of protein. For early morning sessions, I like to have an 8oz glass of almond milk with MUD mixed in, a banana, and homemade sweet potato breakfast cookies or a muffin. Our morning sessions usually start at 7, so I don't quite have enough time for a big bowl of oatmeal to digest that early (that typically happens for my real breakfast post workout). MUD is the perfect substitute for coffee and a pre-workout meal.

It has been extremely beneficial for me working with Infinit Nutrition to find the perfect sports drinks to match the demands of my lifestyle based off my individual body composition. Knowing that my body is getting exactly what it needs before, during, and after training/racing gives me the peace of mind and confidence to continue to push my body beyond its limits and to strive for those marginal gains each and every day.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

2018 Season Intro

The 2018 season has finally begun with my first two rust busters in Clermont and Sarasota, Florida early March. I spent the winter months putting an emphasis on my swim technique and overall strength. That being said, my Coach and I believe that it is essential to still maintain the other sports and never to fully neglect one; yes, this does not give us the instant gratification I so desire, but I think building up as an overall well-balanced athlete will serve more benefit in the long run. Mentally I was really driven on the swim, because I knew my run was top five to top ten contention in most races, but I needed to have the swim to put myself toward the front. I put my emphasis on it, but I never fully let go of the other sports.

this pic says it all. Sore arms!
I started back up with my strength coach Erin Carson, whom I worked with in college in Boulder, Colorado. I remember my first two years of triathlon I couldn't seem to find consistency in my training because I did not have the durability in any three of the sports due to my lack of background in any of the three. Erin really helped me build up my durability and taught me the importance of muscle activation and specific exercises for triathlon. This winter, we saw some drastic improvements in my swim. I decided to travel out to Siesta Key, Florida in December to do a winter swim training camp for one week with Greg Mueller and Team IE. I only had around a week of training since my season break, so my fitness was not there yet, but I wanted to go for the experience and change of setting. I had fun chasing Sarah Alexander, one of my good friends and competitors all week. I had never swam so much in my life, but I felt that this week and the increased experience in some pretty rough ocean conditions, gave me the confidence I needed in the open water. 35k of swimming in five days and I could barely lift my arms, or sleep, for that matter because I felt I was still being jostled around in the ocean, but this made me happy in a masochistic way. I used to be very fearful of feeling out of control in the chop, but I learned to embrace it and to flow with the water.

fun training with this group for the week!

I returned home to Colorado Springs with a new love of the water and I found some consistency in training the past few months which is something I had lacked before. My Coach Ken and I worked hard on my nutrition, putting an emphasis on muscle, weight, and fat gain, for we knew this could help my performance and overall health. Being a naturally lean person, and one of premature triplets, this process has been difficult, but I gained five pounds this winter, which has helped me better recover from hard sessions. I am still working every day to continue the gain, even if that means eating when I am not hungry and over eating to the point of discomfort. I had some of my best workouts this winter, setting PBs in all three sports this winter, which gave me confidence going into the race season.  I also feel that I found a level of balance with work and I am extremely lucky to work for Keysight Technologies, a company who supports my athletic ambitions and allows me to work a very flexible schedule. This lifestyle would be very difficult without them!

Race#1: Clermont, FL
I had a solid swim in Clermont exiting 8 seconds down from tail end of the lead pack. It was rough conditions, but I swam well and was so close but not close enough! I was happy that my swim improvements were showing in a race setting. I hopped on the bike with Severine Bouchez and Sophie Chase, two girls who I was excited to work with and I knew we had the potential to bridge up together. Unfortunately Sophie had a mechanical and Severine took off, and I could not hang onto her wheel so things quickly turned south. I panicked a bit, being in no man's land, and spent a lap chasing the lead pack when I should have been more aware of who was right behind me. I was caught by the chase group of three girls who are all strong on the bike. I had exerted too much the first lap chasing solo, and I made some tactical errors, not allowing myself to recover in the draft, so I was dropped again. Really frustrating after the improvement on my swim but that's all part of racing! I fell back to the third group and settled in. Lesson learned. Did my best on the run but legs were pretty flat, so could only run up to 11th. I was disappointed that my hard work didn't come together on race day, but hungry after this race because I knew I made some mistakes that were in my control, which I could improve at my next race opportunity.
Race prep with PEAK Multisport

Race#2 Sarasota, FL

Sarasota Race Start (credit: Jarrod Evans)
I spent the week between races laying low and doing some short race-prep workouts with my coach just to keep my body sharp. I also worked remotely, but with all the free time (which I am not used to), I felt pretty antsy all week. I already bought myself a coloring book for next time :) By race day I felt like a caged animal, and was motivated to explode off the line. I once again had a good swim, and luckily grabbed onto Erika Acherlund's wheel who helped to pull me up to the lead pack not far ahead. It was a big group and the first time for me in an elite race I came off the bike with the leaders. I had a solid first lap of the run, holding onto fourth and chasing the third place girl, but my form fell apart in the second lap, and I think this was partly physical/partly mental being in an unfamiliar position. I was passed about 400m on an uphill before the finishing shoot and with the time adjustment (race course was long) I ran a 17:51 5k. I am where I need to be at the beginning of the season but I am driven to increase my focus on the run now and to see how it progresses.
 I was thrilled to have executed all three sports reasonably well for the first time in 1.5 years. I have learned how hard it is to put all three together in one day, so even though this was not a podium performance, it gives me a taste of success and progress is progress.


on the run

Coach Ken and I post race. Happy with the progression.

I am motivated to continue the consistent training in both the mental and physical aspects of the sport and to build up my run volume, fitness, strength, and throw in some more intensity this next little while. I have five weeks until the next race and the summer season will start shortly afterward. I will have a squad to train with this summer, a group of positive girls, all of whom have their strengths so we can really push each other and help one another grow each and every day. I am embracing the grind and loving the journey, cause it's a hard one but it sure is fulfilling.

"I don't wish it was easier. I wish I was better"-Shalane Flanagan

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Salinas World Cup Race Recap

I will begin with sharing how excited I am to have experienced my debut world cup with my coach, Ken Axford, giving me guidance. It is amazing to think how far we have come together; I still remember being an average age group 19 year-old when I first approached Ken. The rest is history...

We were planning to wait until next season to race my first world cup, but Salinas ended up working out, given it is a sprint distance event, and Ken was able to travel to the event. I don't have a fancy recap, but all I can say is I gave it my everything, and given that I was unfortunately still battling a virus and 70% healthwise, I am pleased to come away with a top 20.

The swim:

  • Had an average swim start. Looking back I wish I had reacted better and gotten a step ahead
  • Got boxed in and was stuck in the mix for majority of the swim. As Ken tells me, chaos is good. If you are in the chaos that means you are in the race.
  • Swam with main chase until the last buoy where I unfortunately fell off pace
  • exited the water 15 seconds down from the first chase with second chase pack

The bike:
  • had a solid pack including Neres, Yelistratova, and Hauser. I truly believed we could bridge up, but for whatever reason the pack could not get organized
  • a little sketchy with a few crashes, so did my best to stay safe
  • 15 seconds grew to over a minute deficit unfortunately

The run:

  • Everyone seemed to go out sprinting, but I followed my typical race plan and went out controlled
  • slowly picked off girls throughout the last lap of the run
  • body hit the wall with 400m left
  • ran my way up to 19th and was passed in finishing shoot to finish 20th

Final Review:
I had wished that I had swam slightly stronger, but also given it was an accurate course, a 10:15 swim ( including beach exit) is a PR for me, so I will gladly celebrate that. Each and every race is a learning experience and another growth opportunity. My body is a little tired from illness and travel, so the focus for the next week is to remain active but recovery is priority. I am motivated to take the lessons I have learned into my next and final race of the season, Santo Domingo on November 12th! I'm ready to fight like a dog and to give it my everything.

entering T2
onto the run

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Champions Adapt-Hong Kong ASTC Triathlon

I am writing this recap from the confines of my bed, with my humidifier running, a cup of tea, and our house pup, Dobby on my lap :)

Over a week ago, I was thrilled to have finally made it to taper for the first time in a long time. I have always seemed to struggle with the final week of training before taper; my body is tired physically and mentally from pushing for so long and I tend to need to begin my taper early. Not this time. It was a brutal workout in which we did some parking lot races (crit style), and ended with 20 minute bike races but having my teammate, Amy Cymerman, to push me helped me greatly. It took about 1.5 hours to execute the whole workout, and I fought hard to execute a solid workout. It felt like a huge success to make it through that. After the workout I struggled with the normal exercise-induced cough; it wasn't until the next day I realized I was starting to become sick.

The timing couldn't have been worse, given I was set to depart for Hong Kong on Monday, October 16th and racing Saturday October 21st. I was extremely frustrated and feeling sorry for myself, but despite starting to get sick, I decided to board the plane. My health deteriorated during that 15 hour flight, which felt like torture. I am grateful that I had my mom with me for the trip. Unfortunately she fell ill too though. I did my best to rest and stay hydrated all week, sipping on my daily hydration mix from Infinit Nutrition.

how I spent most of the week
The two of us spent that entire week leading into the race in bed in the hotel room. I barely slept for the four nights leading into the race, as my cough got worse, congestion worsened, and I developed a fever. The whole week felt like a fog to me; I have never been so ill while abroad. In my heart I knew that the race was not going to go well, and I believed it was highly unlikely I would finish, let alone get to the start line. My Coach Ken Axford and my mom helped me find the courage to commit to racing, for I was fearful. I struggled to hold even 6 minute pace on my run during race prep, so I had no reason to be confident. My swim has been my focus for a while, and for whatever reason that was what felt the best all week, which was great!

My alarm sounded at 3:30 am on race-day, though I was awake already for hours with a cough. The athletes boarded the shuttle from the hotel at 4 am for the 35 min ride to the venue. I listened to music and closed my eyes, but couldn't seem to get the anxiety out of my mind. I texted Ken telling him that I was incredibly fearful and that "if I can execute today, I can do anything." He reminded me that I might actually surprise myself and that there was nothing to be afraid of, for my body will only give what it can. Ken has never steered me wrong so I trusted him. He gave me the courage to go out there when I was probably only 50% healthwise.

I did minimal race warm-up prep to conserve my energy, but I made sure to know the course and rode one lap of the bike course. The gun went off and my body knew what to do. I stayed calm and strong on the swim, and due to a cross current, I had to do a number of cross-overs before finding my position and getting on feet. Two girls broke away on the swim, but I exited with the lead pack for the first time! I couldn't believe it. I gave my mom a thumbs up.

Transition was a mess since it was the width of a sidewalk split in two, so only one bike could make it through at a time. I sprinted to try to stay with the top five girls, but was unable to pass others because of the narrowness. Due to the set-up of transition, this caused a split in the lead pack. We spent three laps chasing and we eventually caught the first pack on the end of the third lap. The two leading girls were still out front. I did my best to stay safe on the bike but there were some sketchy areas due to the nature of a narrow bike course and a language barrier between riders. I made a sprint to get to the front before T2, only to get held up by an ambulance which jumped in front of the pack. How frustrating! We slammed our brakes and the group came together once again. We all entered transition together and it was chaos for we couldn't pass one another and we were tripping over bikes and shoes.

I started out controlled on the run and built up my pace once I felt a bit better but I knew I couldn't run much faster than 5:50 pace given how my lungs and energy felt. I was determined to finish. I found my rhythm and I ran my way up from around 15th to 9th place. About 800m from the finish, my hamstrings began to cramp up; this was certainly related to illness and not my fitness. I knew I needed to stay calm if I wanted to finish. I was passed back by two girls near the finish line, and I crossed in 11th. I wasn't disappointed because I knew my body gave whatever it could on the day. I was physically and emotionally exhausted though.

Post-race my mom and I spent much of our time in the steamroom at the hotel (thank goodness for that) and eating + hydrating. Though we were both sick for the entire trip, I feel it was quite an experience for both of us being in Hong Kong for the first time and I wouldn't change what we went through because I feel these experiences make me stronger as person and athlete. I am learning that ITU triathlon is all about adaptability; champions adapt.

My key takeaways from this experience are the following:

  • trust your body and trust your coach- you've trained thousands of hours and your muscles know what to do
  • be relentless!!! Be mentally tough. 
  • life is 1% what happens to you 99% how you react to it
  • the mind is stronger than you think, and you are capable of more than you believe
  • if racing sick, do whatever you can to stay hydrated leading up to the race. Drink electrolytes and tea whenever possible.  I train and race with Infinit Nutrition. I also have a daily hydration mix which I sipped on all week.
  • don't push yourself to do pre-race workouts if you are ill. Limit all exercise and keep duration short to simply activate the muscles
  • when the gun goes off, turn off the negative thoughts, and allow your body to do what it knows how to do
I am eager to recover so I can be well enough to race Salinas World Cup this Sunday. Given my current recovery, things are looking up! I have never been more proud of a finisher medal than I am from the one I received this week. I now know that I am capable of anything I set my mind to. We all are.

Never been more proud of a finisher medal
mom and I post race

During call down

narrow transition

How to Stay Motivated in the Winter

I get asked the question "how do you stay motivated in the winter?" quite often really. I am human, like everyone else, and t...