Archive for December, 2009

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Hilarious! (thanks Matt!)

December 31, 2009

Funniest race report ever right here…….. I am not sure how to upload video yet!

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New Year’s Eve

December 31, 2009

the 00 decade was a great one for me. We moved to Rochester,  got married, had our son, began my career at Strong, achieved more than I dreamt of in triathlon, started a business, became a yoga teacher, and have met some of the best people in the world.

2009 was an excellent year. Personally it was a year of physically healing form a very difficult 2008. Athletically I found my way onto the QT2 team and The Wizard, which in all honesty is a privilege that I still can’t believe I have been given. I found my feet again on the playing field and am slowly making my way back. 2010 holds a lot in terms of possibility, which is why I am up at 4am every day and about to put in a long ride. My mojo is stronger than ever.

Our son was born in 2000, which means this coming November he will be 10 years old. That’s the most stunning thing to me. In another decade he will be a man. In the scope of all of this our children are not children for very long. Part of me is frightened about what the next 10 years will bring. He’s a child with special needs and it’s one thing to be under the safe guidance and loving arms of your parents. Growing up means being exposed to difficult things, like the kids who are fearful of you because you are different.

The goals I have for 2010 are for our son. The athletic New Year has passed, I know what those goals are. The most important goals I want to achieve this year are for Luc. His growth and development.

I was one of those parents who vowed we’d never have a video game in our house. I was talked into getting a Wii, and how many times have I said….. if we want to bowl we will just go bowling? When you have a child with some coordination issues, balance, gross and fine motor skills, those kids of things you have to be careful of how you develop those skills. For many of these kids the traditional tasks don’t work well because they fall and then they lose their confidence. Then they don’t want to try.

In the few short months we’ve had the Wii, Luc has been developing hand – eye coordination beautifully, with confidence, with happiness. With feelings of success. Now I am seeing those skills transfer over into the other skills he needs to master. Coordination is improving. Balance is gaining… it’s amazing. Of course I am not saying the Wii has done all of this. It’s what we do with him, his therapies, and the work on the Wii that’s helped.

It’s the same thing at Newton’s…… they are a good tool but don’t provide the fix.

If you are a parent of a typical child, then this will never make sense to you. Part of it is continuing to be open and allowing the things that can help….. help.

So my big goals with Luc are to improve his skills. Get him off training wheels on his bike. Helping him build the confidence to fall and get himself up. He will be joining the swim team this year. He’s ready but more importantly he wants to join. (YES!!!!!!)

So as I look back on 2009 and the entire 00 decade I smile. I have been blessed with a wonderfully amazing husband…. a beautiful beautiful son….. with opportunities like I never thought I would. Here’s to an equally amazing 2010!

Happy New Year!

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the challange of change

December 30, 2009

“it’s been a good decade for you…” Said the reporter the other night, I was doing an interview for the local paper about our yoga for Athletes program…. (it will be the back page story of the Sports section this Sunday, the “Get Out” column)….. “So what’s next in the next decade?”

I thought about it for a moment. It really has been a good decade. The birth of my son would be the absolute highlight. In terms of triathlon it’s been an amazing decade. I won a lot of races…. but what trumps that by far are the people that I have met, the friendships I have made. In this business of coaching I swear the finishes of my athletes have been much more rewarding than my own.

So what is next as we approach 2010? Bigger goals, Hitting my peak as an endurance athlete, accomplishing things I thought were pipe dreams.

To accomplish what we have set out to accomplish in twenty ten I have had to already make a lot of changes, cognitive changes as The Wizard would call them. Cognitive changes are simply….. choices. Life is all about choices and our decision to simply make them.

I listened to a woman at work the other night complaining about how she could not lose weight. She complained that after 2 months of dieting she could only lose 5 pounds and that just wasn’t fast enough for her, so forget it. Her friend had some suggestions for her and she had resistance to them all.

To truly elicit change in your life, be it weight loss, improving athletic performance, saving money, you name it…… you have to first be open to change. You have to be willing to get uncomfortable. Expect it to challenge you in ways you have never been challenged before. Then expect to grow from it.

We have to commit to the change and realize that it is all our choice.

My cycling has always been my ace in the hole, it’s where I have won every single race. As we reviewed my power files last week I realized that it was not my ace in the hole. That I had a lot of work to do on the bike. That I had room for improvement. On one hand I was almost offended… who me? Not executing a bike segment well? Look at my split! I rode a 2:25 below my power, below my heart rate ………

Exactly.

Over the past few weeks we have been tearing my cycling apart. I am riding long. I am adhering to power and heart rate zones like I never have before. I am learning to smooth power on the computrainer as the first step to smoothing it outside. I am about to take the ultimate challenge and ride with power cranks, which has the risk of zapping any enjoyment from cycling at all.

We are doing the same as you know with my running. And believe it or not, we are doing it with my beloved swimming.

I am tackling some nutritional challenges that the Wizard has issued, which is the most dangerous thing for me. Having a history of an eating disorder it would be safer to not touch it at all. Since I have been working with the Wizard however I am eating better than ever, whittling my body composition down, and stunning my husband. He can’t believe the vegetables I am trying, he can’t believe the soups I am eating and learning how to make. He’s the master of cooking in our house, he’s the master of eating healthy. I could have lived on eggs and bagels my whole life.  Nothing says SWIMMER like that does!

It’s a testament to my recovery that I can make these changes and pay attention to body composition. I am very proud of myself for this recovery. It’s been long and it’s been hard. But it too was a choice.

I distinctly remember laying in the hospital in a very desperate rock bottom moment. I was told I had 2 choices. Get better or die. I remember laying in that bed and making that choice. I remember watching the Hawaii Ironman on TV and vowing I would do an Ironman someday. So many days that dream kept me in line with my recovery.

Now 15 years later I am working on Ironman #5 and I have qualified for Hawaii a few times.

That was sparked by a decision a long time ago. A decision and then a committment to myself, to my health and to my life. That decision might seem easy to you, but if you have ever been in the grips of an EDO you know exactly how difficult it is.

And recovery is forever ongoing.

We’ve spent 8 months healing my body from what I did to it in those days. I am stronger and healthier than ever. eating new fruits and vegetables on a daily basis, enjoying the process of creating, enjoying the process of learning.

To the woman who said that she just can’t lose weight I wanted to step in and tell her she sure as hell can. She just needs to commit to herself, to commit to the choice, to take on the challenge of making a change in herself and in her life.

In this life anything is possible, absolutely anything. We make our own luck. The harder we work the better luck we have at achieving. The more we commit to change, the greater likelihood it is to happen.

So what will my next decade bring? Stay with me and find out!

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saftey saftey saftey

December 29, 2009

It goes without saying that safety in our pursuits is something we should never ignore, or take lightly. We participate in a sport that comes with risk.

 I was reminded of that Sunday afternoon after a call that was much too close, as a car came flying around the corner, making a right from a side street onto the main street. The man in the driver’s seat was looking to the left and never looked to the right as he began to make the right hand turn. His pregnant wife and his child luckily saw me and screamed so loud I heard them through the window. While he never stopped to apologize, or to see if I was all right, but instead floored it to continue to speed around the corner, I was grateful to the police officer who saw the whole thing, pulled over to see if I was all right, and took their names and address.

Sadly…. I knew them. It was absolutely an accident, not an “on purpose”….  but I can not imagine being so cold as to not stop when you come that close….. to seriously injuring someone. Children learn a lot from watching their parents.

It’s a perfect reminder of the fragility of life and the risk of our sport. There are steps we can take to protect ourselves. Typically is I am running along a main street and see a car coming … as on Sunday…. I would slow down, give them the right of way and run around the back of the car, all too often they just don’t look or so involved in something else…. frighteningly. The car was traveling much faster than I had realized.

Here are a few tips to protect yourself when out and about;

* Never assume someone is going to look to the right, for a runner. Even if they themselves are one.  Always always run defensively. I was not running an interval but even if I was it’s worth to drop time than to drop life.

* Be seen. These days you can literally run down the street lit up like a Christmas tree. Go overboard, be bright, wear a light everywhere when it is dark. Set some of the lights to blink on the front and back of you. Catch the eye of the driver.

* ROAD ID: I think this is one of the most important pieces of gear you could possibly own. Ever crash or get hit by a car? The chances of you being knocked out are pretty good. When the ambulance arrives you will be labeled as a Trauma, in the hospital you will be Trauma AA (or some other letter). Your history, allergies, medications, contacts…. unknown. It’s only when you fail to come home that your family must call all over creation to find you, and no one will know who you are. Get a Road ID.

* Stay off your damn phone. I have seen it on both ends, drivers and cyclists. Checking email, checking this, checking that. There’s nothing so important that I feel the need to risk my or my child’s life for. I now keep the phone in the way back. The call, the message, the email can wait.

* Whether you are on your bike or on foot, respect the rules of the road. Stay to the right on the bike, don’t ride two across. Run against traffic. Stay off the road when you can. If you want to share the road then share the road, don’t try to take it over. I used to ride with a guy who rode in the middle of the lane, and would routinely get into arguments with drivers at stop lights claiming he had a right to be on the road. There is a difference between having a right to the road and being an A*S. This guy was great at being an A*S.

* Be defensive. Watch traffic, anticipate, don’t zone out on busy roads. One mistake can be the deadly one.

There is a lot that we can do as athletes to protect ourselves on the road, be smart, use the tools that help you get seen and identified, be defensive. More than likely in an accident the car is going to win. It’s a matter of size. Avoid road rage on both ends.

And how about this. We’ve all got a hand signal for “screw you” that we routinely flash at each other out there for doing each other wrong. What if we had a signal for I am sorry. Or even the guts to say that?

Be careful out there……..

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strategery for recovery

December 28, 2009

The training stress is starting to increase for you, for sure! Glad to hear you are starting to feel it. You should really start to feel fitter over the next 3 weeks.” ……. wrote the Wizard.

Oh yeah…. I’m feeling it. In three weeks I hope I can walk much less run.

But that’s how we know things are changing, shifting. I have not been sore in ages…. I am sore now. I guess you could say that it just hurts so good. I have been working darn hard on my running form, and he’s got me running a lot. Relearning how to run after running a certain way for 12+ years is challenging. A fun challenge.

We are adding in rotation, leaning like a ski jumper, strengthening the hip flexors. I have been running in Newtons and I like them. They are a good tool to help you, they don’t force you to run a certain way. I think if you purchase these shoes with the expectation that they will make you run correctly then you are mistaken. They are a good piece of the alphabet but you still need more than one letter to make the whole alphabet complete.

This week we add in the Power Cranks. There is some debate on whether these help cycling….. I have looked at all of it and I don’t see how it can hurt. What I do see is how it can help running, the pull through motion of the knee and my hip flexors. Hello to some more soreness.

Which finally brings me to the actual point of today’s post: recovery modalities. There are many things that you can do to help with your recovery that are non pharmacological. If you are relying on ibuprofen on a daily basis to get you through, then there is something very wrong with what you are doing.

Here are a few things that I like to use to help me recover from day to day training:

1. Compression socks

Compresison socks are all the rage these days, and truthfully these are not anything that is new. If you work in the medical field you know these are referred to as Ted Stockings. Compression stockings help increase the venous return to the heart from the legs. The arterial system is a muscular pumping system. The vascular system is not. The venous system is a system of one way valves and works through the pumping action of the muscles around the veins and the flow of blood from the arteries through the capillaries to the veins to “pump” blood back to the heart. Compression socks help to stimulate the muscles and nerves to continue this pumping action. (and I am putting this waaaay to simply…. there is actually much more to this than that). To get the true benefit of a compression sock, go to a doctor or medical store and be properly fitted for them. With that being said you can’t really go wrong with a small / medium / large sizing. It’s not like you will cause yourself harm.

These work best in situations where you are on your feet, like teaching or in a profession that requires you to be on your feet for hours each day, or sitting at a desk, and traveling.  Wearing them to bed is pointless because you are laying flat. Wearing them while training doesn’t show to be of much recovery help, and wearing them while swimming….. then I will call you a loser.

Compression socks come in many styles and colors. I happen to like the sleeves that Zensah makes, because I don’t wear socks outside of work.

2. Ice Baths

Ice baths have been used for decades as a mode of recovery, with great success. I take an ice bath after long workouts or intense workouts, 15 minutes at 58 degrees. What’s the purpose of this?

” The theory behind ice baths is related the fact that intense exercise actually causes microtrauma, or tiny tears in muscle fibers. This muscle damage not only stimulates muscle cell activity and helps repair the damage and strengthen the muscles ( muscle hypertrophy), but it is also linked with delayed onset muscle pain and soreness (DOMS) , which occurs between 24 and 72 hours after exercise.

The ice bath is thought to:

  • Constrict blood vessels and flush waste products, like lactic acid, out of the affected tissues
  • Decrease metabolic activity and slow down physiological processes
  • Reduce swelling and tissue breakdown”

In my opinion there are 2 great ways to take an ice bath. The first is best for the summer months, get a plastic garbage can that allows you to stand in water up to your waist. The second is the bathtub. For me the easiest way to do this is to get into an empty tub or trash can, then allow it to fill with cold water. As the water is filling add in the ice. This usually requires the purchase of a few bags of Happy Ice and a few strange looks from the teenager at the gas station who sells it to you….. but it’s worth it.

3. Fish Oil.

A supplement we like to recommend is fish oil with 1,000 mg containing EPA / DHA Omega 3 per day. This is a good natural way to help with inflammation over time. Taking fish oil supplements will not show up overnight, it’s the long time usage of them that ultimately helps.

4. Hydration.

Good hydration is never a bad rule to follow. a lot of waste products get built up in the system just by training alone. By hydrating well we can assist the body in getting rid of them.

 Establish these habits early. Too often we start this in the spring when our bodies may have benefited from them sooner. That’s missed opportunity in my book!

Before long that teenager at the gas station will stop asking what the Happy Ice is for and appreciate your weirdness! I promise!

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Boxing day

December 27, 2009

“Seems like you guys have a lot of fun at your house….” my 11 year old nephew said to me at the end of the evening last night. I nodded and told him he was welcome to come experience life at the Eggers any time he wanted. He lives in Tennessee, so while that likely will never happen, it was nice to hear. It was nice to realize how he was maturing since the last time I saw him. Rather than ask me what was “wrong” with Luc like last time, he was awesome with him.

December 26th brought us boxing day and the family Christmas. If you were around here last year you remember how miserable it was. This year we hit the right formula. A day trip to family headquarters, and the perfect thing for any family gathering…… bowling.

We are bowlers. We are very bad bowlers but we are an active family, so sitting around a house and watching TV isn’t in our blood. Get the extended family out and moving, create some teams and now….. now we’ve got ourselves some fun.

It was the Eggers versus the Workmans. Granny (my Mom), Amy and Cameron (my mother, sister, and nephew…. my brother’s kiddo). My Aunt Marilyn was there as the team photographer. If there was ever an Aunt in the world who has nailed the how to be an aunt formula perfectly…. it’d be her. She’s the greatest. My brother, my father and my other nephew stayed behind and worked to clean up my laptop.

The problem with bowling against the Workman’s was this: my mother and my nephew. Incredible bowlers. Curt Luc and I might have some talent on the triathlon field, but bowlers we are not. What’s funnier is that we actually bowl. Luc is on a bowling league and we go every 2-3 weeks for fun. But we are very very bad.

And we got crushed.

At one point I looked around the bowling alley and smiled. We were “that” family. The ones who were cheering obnoxiously loud and doing victory dances in our lanes. The ones you kind of look at from a few lanes over and think “Wow, those people are having a little too much fun for bowling!”

Is there ever such thing?

It was good to be with family (for once). My brother and I see each other once a year, we haven’t talked since last Christmas…. and I think that worked perfectly. We hugged, said our hellos and in 2 years we can do it again.

I think that the gift part of Christmas is my least favorite part, but this was one Christmas that I got things I really appreciated. My sister gave me some cooking tools as I am learing to cook. My father gave me season one and two of “The Office” , wonderful for my computrainer rides. My aunt gave me DVD’s of Christmas pictures from past years, family memories are always good. Santa is delivering a food dehydrator on Monday to the house and now I can make my own dried fruit and vegetables (rather than paying $5 a bag!!!!!)

At the end of the day it was wonderful to be home in our own home again. We’ve got a marble roller coaster set spanning three different rooms. We’ve got the Polar Express G Gague Train running constantly. We’ve got drums being banged on incessantly.

And we’ve got the Wi Fit Pro being utilized as Luc is conquering his balance issues. I still can’t believe I got him a Wii a few months ago, as there are no video games in this house. At the suggestion of a few of his specialists I got him one to help him work on his coordination. Believe it or not, it had helped. I am a mother who is out in the yard throwing the ball, holding the bike upright, but balance and coordination were not improving at all. Two months using the Wii and now Luc has the confidence to try it out there.

With the Wii Fit (pro of course…) he’s really working on balance, and building his confidence in the process. I am so proud of him.

So it was a good Christmas, actually good to see and spend time with family. To bowl and laugh. To gather and just be around each other….. for not too long…… the length of stay was perfect.

And then it was back home to our very fun life. Every day I look at these two guys and I hold on to these moments. The pauses between moments and the space in between. The sound of laughter as we miss the ski jump on the Wii and the thrill of the roller coaster marble track getting bigger and twistier.

The days I will refer to as the good old days. They are all the good old days though, aren’t they?

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how to blow your season in 6 easy steps

December 26, 2009

I have been fortunate enough to have been working with triathletes for the past 5 years, which has allowed me to see… a whole lot of things in terms of training. It’s great to have an objective view on what people are doing in their season planning, it’s hard to be objective when it comes to ourselves.

Time and time again I see the same mistakes prevent athletes from hitting their potential each season. Here are my five top mistakes on how triathletes blow their seasons:

1. Trying to maintain peak fitness year  round. Joel Friel popularized the concept of periodization, yet it’s been what athletes all over the world have been doing for years. Periodization in a very simple sense means: planning your season in a progression, giving yourself the right load at the right time to peak at the right moment. Part of periodization is rest and recovery both in the macrocycle and microcycle. Triathletes who wish to peak for a summer Ironman race should not be in peak fitness today. Want some easy proof? Take a look at winter running series….. a very high percentage of  those triathletes who are out aiming to win winter running series fail to reach their potential in their summer races. Rather they should be spending this time focusing on building their base, progressing through the right load at the right time and planning to peak for their big race. These athletes maintain a “pretty good” level of fitness year round but fail to hit that next level when it counts. To get stronger, you have to get a little weaker first. You rest, take some time off, and then rebuild the house.

2. imbalance of disciplines. Being a swimmer I can say this: swimmers are the worst at balance. Many swimmers put in 5+ hours in the pool each week, and less percentage wise on the bike and run…… because they believe  since swimming is such low impact, it doesn’t matter, or they want to maintain a certain level of “swim fitness” all of the time. These athletes might turn out a sub one hour swim time in an Ironman, but the difference between a 55 minute swimmer and a 1:05 minute swimmer is all too frequently made up in transition or if that 1:05 swimmer rides a 5:55 versus the 6:30 Ironman bike split the first athlete puts in. Those extra 2 hours they waste in the pool are better spent on the bike or run, or maybe even recovery. Swimming counts, it’s not recovery. The better plan for them is to swim smarter, work on technique and take the 55:30 swim (instead of the 55:00) and be faster elsewhere.

3. Not knowing your zones: I spoke with an athlete this season who had a miserable Ironman, and didn’t have one clue as to determining their heart rate zones. When I asked how they planned their season, their answer was that they went out and rode their bike as hard as they could each time they rode. Same thing with running. It was no surprise their Ironman was a very different day than they had anticipated. Their plan, lacked a plan! Whether you train by heart rate or by power, you have to have a framework to work within. Even if it’s perceived exertion. This lets you work in the right zone at the right time, allows you proper training load at the right time. Not knowing your zones is like an athlete telling me they want to lose weight but won’t weigh themselves. How do you know where you are improving or not improving? Working in the right zones is crucial to progression. It teaches you more than you think you will learn. It plays a role in nutrition and nutritional issues.

4. Paying too much attention to other athlete’s plans. Two athletes who are relatively the same speed, same weight, even the same age…… should they have the same FTP? Lactate Threshold HR? VO2 Max? Good lord no. The worst question you can be asked as an athlete by another….. is what were your test results? Why is that the worst? Because the athlete who is asking is trying to compare apples to oranges, and they will end up harming themselves and their own plan in the future. Your numbers are your numbers. They are your eye color, your DNA. My FTP is 245 right now. What does that mean in comparison to you? ZERO. My LTHR is 180. What does that mean for you? NOTHING. If we are “the same” in terms of ability, gender and age we should still have different numbers. I see way too many athletes get caught up in what others are doing, trying to emulate plans, guess results, etc. Get your testing data, I say don’t get involved in someone else’s results because they mean nothing to you. Yours are yours.

5. Ignoring nutrition; You swim, you bike, you run. You spend a lot of money doing so. You travel to races. You track your HR, power, mileage, hours. You periodize. You don’t get caught up in other’s plans. But you can low it all by ignoring one simple thing, nutrition both on and off the field. We know how much an impact body composition has on your training and performance. We know how much daily nutrition had to do with the same. Race day nutrition…… many will focus on that and fail to execute that plan in training and fail to look at their general nutrition. This is the missing link in our sport, it’s tough to look at, but if you are serious about your results, get serious about your food.

6. Not being open. To change and grow you have to be open to change and growth. Without openness you will not grow, you will not improve, you will not become stronger. Does the wind scare you on the bike? Then be open to improving. Get out on windy days, learn to ride in it. I see too many athletes living by strange rules, a box they place themselves in because it is “mentally safe” to be there. If you are happy with stagnation then stay there. If you want improvement, you want to excel, you really want to reach your personal best you have to get out of the box of fear. You have to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations. You have to be able to take a hit while swimming and not have a panic attack. If I freaked out each time someone hit me in swimming I’d be nowhere. And I have sustained a grade 3 concussion in the water. I have crashed my bike, I have been hit by cars while running. If I freaked out each and every time the wind picked up I’d miss out on opportunity. Instead you look at those difficult moments and environmental situations as opportunities to help you become stronger. If you can’t be open to that, then learn to be happy remaining in the same spot for the next 5 years.

All of the above have one thing in common, you don’t have to work any harder in your workout. You just have to drop the story. Get over it, get on with it, and have the best season ever!