Archive for March, 2010


When Triathletes Marry

March 31, 2010

People wonder if our  house is something of a tense place to be. I get asked questions all of the time…. What’s it like with two type A triathletes who compete at a high level…. Is it insanity? It’s actually not insanity. I have recounted before about how we work to strike a balance and all of that. But there are a few things you should know.

 Curt and I are basically the same size. We can share clothes (for the most part), shoes, and bikes. This became evident when he began to wear my Newton Running shoes. Mind you if I so much as sneeze on his …. Anything….. he don’t like it so much!!!!! What he doesn’t know is that often times I steal his jerseys, especially that red Pearl Iszumi one…..and I will wear it for a 5 hour ride. While I used to think it was funny to not wash it, just put it back into the pile….. I realize he doesn’t mind stench. When I wear it I wash it with the most flowery smelling detergent that I can.

 For the record I do frequently steal his work socks when I go to work. And then lose one.

 Last weekend he stole my ice for my ice bath.

 I am finicky about my nutrition. I work with the Wizard for crying out loud! So imagine my dismay when I go to take that swig of Power Bar Endurance and realize Curt has dumped the remains of god-knows-what….. into my canister.

Once last year while I was riding I endured a flat tire. When I went to my bike bag which is always packed solid … it was EMPTY. I had to ride my rim home for 6 miles. I found all of my spare stuff on the FLOOR. Curt said he took something from the bag and then….. everything just fell out….. for revenge I took his disc wheel and rode the computrainer with it.

Speaking of disc wheel, two years ago I came home from work at 8:30pm and began getting ready for a race the following day. For the life of me I could not find my rear Bontrager 6.5 wheel! It occurred to me that Curt…. Who was at a duathlon at that very moment…. Had stolen it! I called him to verify! He could not believe he was caught! Right then and there I threw down the trump card.. I AM USING THE DISC.

When we took our vows it went something like this: in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer and I promise to never ever ever touch the disc wheel. He got home that night and my Bontrager was filled with water!!!!! He had ridden in the rain!!!!!!!!!!! I rode the disc. I think all the while I had it he was losing his mind! HA HA HA HA HA!

 In 2004 I did pull up next to him on the bike, I made a pass. I saw fire come from his ears. He pulled ahead of me, and then he rode off course. I called to him in my loudest whisper and he rode away, the wrong way! He did manage to get back on course and run his ass off to catch me. He blew by me and did beat me like always. At the finish line he stated he would first barf his own intestines before he got wifed.

Previous to 2008 his Ironman best was an 11:06. Curt’s much faster than an 11:06 but hadn’t figured out the distance. Man’s been a National Champ in short course for years. When I went 10:58 at Ironman Florida…… he signed up the next day for the following year. For an entire year I got to wear the crown of the family’s fastest Ironman!!

 He promptly smashed that in 2008 with a 9:55. bastard!

I could go on. The years have been filled with these sorts of antics, its fun. Life has been fun. All seriousness aside I am lucky to have married someone who loves this sport as much as I d. Because my husband is someone who understands….. he understands why.

 When I broke 11 hours he understood the emotion. When he broke 10 I did as well. That unsaid understanding of the passion, the drive, the work, the fulfillment. So much of it is unsaid. So much of it is just felt. We give each other space and yet reel each other in when we need to. It’s been a good balance.

 Believe it or not it isn’t all multisport in our house; there is a lot of wrestling unfortunately (for me)! There is also a lot of downtime, family hikes, and believe it or not we go to plays a lot. Our little guy loves the theatre. As our son grown up in a multisport house we don’t push him into the sport that we chose…. We give him the opportunity to explore all sports. We don’t want him to try to “be like us”. That’s a lot of pressure for a child to carry around. I hope he never ever ever feels that way. We just want him to continue to love movement, being fit, being healthy. We want him to love the outdoors as much as we do, to bask in the sunshine and in the fresh air.

If he ends up in this sport. He loves the kid’s races, and he’s signed up for five this season! Just wait until he’s our size…… I’d better padlock my bike now! What am I thinking? He has his own, maybe then it will be my turn!


Trust Your Coach

March 30, 2010

I have a really good coach. Like the best coach. Who took me on about a year ago when I was struggling and who has taught me more than I could have ever imagined. I call him the Wizard because my teammate Michelle called him that…… and I stole it from her because it fits.

He’s the Wizard.

I trust the Wizard. When I see my training block I follow my training block. I don’t add in a run here, a ride there, I don’t overanalyze, I don’t think. I barely move any workouts around because I understand that there s a plan and a purpose. The best part of having a coach is that it is their job to do the thinking, planning, analyzing for you.

All I have to do as the athlete is execute the plan, plug in my numbers, and not worry. Not worrying has become much easier over the years.

When you choose your coach you choose them for a reason. And if you are self coached then your coach is the person who stares back at you in the mirror. Trust them. In many cases they know you better than you know yourself.

When an athlete starts adding things in…… because the weather was nice…. because Sally was doing this particular set….. that’s when you get into trouble. Stick to your plan and your plan alone.

Because I am also a coach, I see things on both sides of the coin. As a coach I spend a lot of time configuring, planning, analyzing, thinking. All of the same things that my coach does for me. I have a grand plan for each athlete I coach, and a way to get there. I see a few common things that athletes do in general to almost self sabotage their training:

1 Adding things in. Just 30 minutes here and there is dangerous. Trust me if there is a 3:00 bike on your plan it’s there for a reason. Don’t go adding in extra time because what you now have done is caused a shift in the following week. Now if you get lost on a route that’s an innocent mistake, but don’t just add in efforts because they are “easy”

2. Adding in too many races. I see a lot of athletes do the following…..  moving a workout close to a race or testing effort. For example…… if you have a 5K on Saturday and an hour bike afterwards, why not ride to the race? That way if you run well you can say “and I even biked here” or “I would have run better had I not biked here.” I attribute that to race anxiety. Deal with the anxiety another way rather than stepping off the path.

3. Moving workouts around. Now there are those weeks where we have to shift workouts, life happens. When I plan a training sequence throughout the week I plan it with a purpose, many coaches do. Ask yourself why you are really changing it. More often than not the change is made because the athlete is avoiding it. Understand that there is a progression and a purpose to your plan, and follow it.

4. Thinking too much. The beauty of working with the Wizard is that I don’t think. That’s his job. You have a race coming up in 3 weeks, believe me your coach is planning your build to race day….. yesterday. Trust that they have their eye on the horizon.

Having a coach whether it be yourself or someone else is a wonderful opportunity to help you safely and successfully reach your goals. Remember why you hired them, you hired them to take the difficulty out of it for yourself. You hired them to make life a little easier. It’s their job to analyze, figure out, plan, they have the whole package in mind.

Don’t sabotage it!


Fueling the Ironman

March 28, 2010

This will be part I of a few series posts in which we will begin to address Ironman nutrition. So stay tuned, the rest of this info will trickle on in the next few weeks.

Many athletes discount the role of nutrition as it relates to their performance. After all, in the case of Sally as we used yesterday…. she’s pretty fast. We shouldn’t fix what ain’t broken right? After all the Kenyans are rumored to live on rice and coffee.

 But what if you learned that by dialing in your nutrition you could be even faster. No extra training required. Something to think about right? Well it turns out that our example athlete Sally, has a pretty good diet as far as daily nutrition goes. Because she is an endurance athlete she relies mostly on bagels and pasta to fuel her day. Her body composition hovers right around 10% body fat throughout the year. Now that we mention it she does tend to get sick, she’s had some stress fractures. She doesn’t recover from the long stuff as well as she used to now that she’s an Ironman athlete.

Believe it or not your race day fueling plan begins with your day to day nutrition. Good nutrition keeps the body healthy. Healthy fats cushion the bones and joints. The body learns to run like an efficient machine. recovery is much quicker. And man do you feel good.

Of course this is where I point you to the Core Diet.  Or try the book called “Race Weight” by Matt Fitzgerald. Those are two excellent resources.

Ironman is not a license to eat. Many athletes go out and do their long workouts underfueled only to come home starving and then turning to the easiest thing they can grab, rather than taking the time to prepare a good post workout meal that will help in their recovery.

Now let’s move back to Sally. Her main Ironman is in November so we address her body composition. 10% is too low. She is not going to make it. So we would have her gain a few pounds to get her up into the 15% range. We will get down to 12-13% but not until November. Adding a few pounds to her is going to help us keep her training injury free until November.

Secondly we want to change her food sources. White bread bagels are all well and good, but let’s get something that has some value to it. Whole grains, and even better how about some Ezekiel 4:9 bread? Have her spread a little peanut butter on that, slice a banana on top and we’ve got a great little meal going for her. Good carbohydrates, fruit, protein and good fat. Perfecto!

Next we notice that sally is a lazy fruit and vegetable eater. However like many she doesn’t like the texture of many vegetables. Problem solved….. get Sally a blended or try the Magic Bullet (just got one, love it). We begin with breakfast. Throw two eggs (lets go with cage free maybe even farm fresh!). 1/4 cup of broccoli, onions, get crazy and add in some carrots. Blend them together and pour into your egg making pan. Now you have an omlet with a smooth consistency with protein, good fat and two servings of vegetables.

It can be so easy and simple to increase our fruit and vegetable intake without having to go crazy doing so.

Fruits and vegetables are our best sources for the vitamins and minerals that we need to fuel an active lifestyle. Much better than trying to pop a pill that we likely just urinate out.

So with Sally we have had her gain a few pounds, change her carbohydrate sources to better ones, and increased her intake of fruits and vegetables, even though she has a problem with the texture of many vegetables (solved with le bullet).  In addition to all of this we want to make sure she’s getting in enough protein, although she’s eating eggs and peanut butter. If she is not a vegetarian we can make sure she’s eating lean meats such as chicken, maybe some fish, and things like that. Because she’s also the busy working mother of 2 kids she is restricted on time in the morning on the week days. So we take our magic bullet, fill with water a banana, some whey protein powder…. then magically she’s got a great start to her day!

Believe it or not, this is the foundation of how your Ironman nutrition will work. You really want to achieve that goal? Then get this down. Now I am not saying you can’t have your cake and eat it too. But before you eat the cupcake, bring in the good stuff. Have some small treat every single day. A Cadbury Creme egg, some M&M’s …. life is too short to live so darn deprived. You will find that if you allow yourself something indulgent daily that your won’t want the big binge on a daily basis.

Here are a few points to remember when focusing on daily nutrition:

  • Eat 3-4 servings of fruit and vegetables a day
  • Log what you eat (be simple, paper and pencil)
  • Carbohydrates from good sources
  • get enough protein
  • stay hydrated
  • choose foods with no ingredient lists.

Stay tuned for part 2&3!


Pacing the Ironman

March 27, 2010

Pacing an Ironman can be very tricky, especially to the first timer, who spends a year in wonder+fear+excitement. Each year as I watch and coach Ironman Lake Placid I see the same thing. The fastest cyclists (and I am talking age groupers here) tend to be most of the marathon walkers. Let’s take a look at a sample athlete. Sally.

Sally’s a great athlete. She is a 1:20 T Time swimmer, a good cyclist and she runs a 5K in about 18 minutes to make it even. She’s put in the training. The most important part of her training… because she had good guidance….. was developing her aerobic base. We all know that is the number one component of the Ironman because last I checked it was over 60 minutes long.

Sally however is determined to have a great bike. She knows she’s a strong runner but she wants to really make up some ground on the bike, as she feels a 1:05 swim might place her too far back.

Race day comes and her splits are as follows:

1:05 swim

5 min T1

5:45 bike

5 min T2

5:00 marathon.

12 hours.

What the heck happened? At first it looks like she must need more run training! More 20 milers at tempo! No no no, upon further analysis you may determine that Sally incorrectly paced that bike. Common mistake.

An easy calculation is as follows, the V Dot system by Jack Daniels is perhaps one of the easiest ways to determine pace. based on her 5K time Sally has a V dot of 56. This targets her flat our marathon pace to be 6:37 which translates into a 2:54 marathon.

However in an Ironman we go by her easy pace for the simple fact that there i a 2.4 mile swim and 112 mile bike plus a boatload of nutrition she hopefully didn’t screw up. In an Ironman we aim for her E pace of 7:48 which translates into an Ironman marathon time of 3:25.

Now let’s look at her bike ride. She doesn’t have a powermeter and truthfully does not need one. On a course like IMLP pacing by speed is not effective because of the undulation of the course. Heart rate monitoring may or more often than not doesn’t work because of the variation in HR. Just being at the event raises HR by 10 beats, so what are you going to do…. slow down? Sally does have a bike computer which shoes us she grinded up every single hill with a cadence of 50. She was standing. Her cadence through the last 11 miles dropped as she rode. Just looking at her speed pattern, her first loop was 10 minutes faster than her second loop.

Does she need more tempo running? No she needs to learn how to pace her bike ride. Providing that her nutrition was spot on, and in most cases it is not…… here are a few tips we can give Sally:

1. Build your bike base through your season. Your ability to run must come from your ability to pop off 5-6 hour rides with ease. Your ability to run off the bike comes from that bike base. We need you to be durable. To quote our friends at Endurance nation…… every time you feel like you should go faster….. think about mile 18 of the marathon because that is where that race begins. Get to know your body. Stay out of your head.

2. To quote our Endurance Nation friends: “Ride the pace you should ride, not the pace you could ride”. It will seem slow. It might be an absolute struggle for your ego, but you have to slow down.

3. I like to pace IMLP by cadence in many cases. If you can ride this course with an average cadence around 88 you are setting up for a good run. Why? Because to hold a cadence of 88 on this course you can’t go balls out. There are too many hills. Secondly riding with a cadence of 50 through hills like Sally did is trashing her legs further than they already are. This is a hilly course. The actual key to keeping the cadence up is shifting. Good cyclists on this course….. well let’s say smart cyclists on this course will be shifting every 10-15 seconds throughout this course. This must be practiced in training. You spend 6 X 6 hour rides riding like this, you will know what this needs to feel like on race day.

4. Nail nutrition. Riding this course on fig newtons is not going to be good. That will show up as stomach horror in the marathon, but we will discuss nutrition in a later post. for now……. if you don’t use what is on the course be comfortable enough with it to use it for back up. Practice nutrition a minimum of 5 times on long workouts. All of my athletes have been practicing it since January.

5. Pace that marathon wisely. Let’s pretend that Sally paced the bike correctly, she nailed her nutrition correctly. Now she gets off that bike and knows she is a sub three hour marathoner, and takes the first mile in 6:40. Whoa Nelly! Slow down! Again to quote the EN guys…… give us three minutes in the beginning and we will give you 10 min at the end. Meaning….. Sally’s first miles off the bike should be 7:45-7:40, not 6:40. It’s tough, she’s excited, she’s doing well, the run begins on a downhill. Save it Sally. Hold back. we tell our athletes that at mile 18, 19, 20 if you feel like you have spent this entire day holding back, going to slow….. then prove it by throwing down the fastest 10K you can. Someone recently asked me “How much time can I make up in 10K” and I responded “If you have really gone too slow the whole day, you will be able to make up a lot”. No one by the way has ever actually done this 🙂

I have spent many years studying pacing of this race. I have worked with amazing coaches who have taught me. I have mentors in this field who prove to me the pacing process works. We have over 100 Ironman finishes under our belts. I know this course. I know Ironman Lake Placid in my sleep. I know where the hard parts are, I know where the ego parts are. I have done this race on the most perfect day, and I have done this race in hail and wind. I have vomited this course and I have qualified for the Hawaii Ironman on this course. I have even been pulled off this course with no memory of what my name was. I have ridden this course in training and in racing over 80 times.

When it comes to Lake Placid…. I know my stuff.

Trust me, the key to this race is patience. Patience on this bike will be rewarded on the run. Stay out of your head and learn to feel your body. It will never steer you wrong.

coming back to Sally. she spends another year preparing. She learns her body. She let’s go of her “I am a rock star runner” ego mentality. The following year she does this:

1:05 swim

5 min t1

5:45 bike……… same split…… paced correctly…….

5 min T2

3:30 marathon


Enough said.


“Life is like a cup of coffee”

March 26, 2010

One of my childhood friend’s mothers….. “Mrs. B.” shared this video, and I had to pass it along. Interestingly, I have thought of her often throughout the years. She is the creator of beautiful embroidery, and ironically in my son’s bedroom I have many of the things she created. I am so happy to have reconnected again with her. Thanks for this Mrs. B!



March 26, 2010

Believe it or not, nothing much to report. Training is rolling along smoothly. I am feeling good. Part of me wishes I were with my teammates at Oceanside 70.3, and then the other half of me remembers in less than a month I will be in Texas! I am psyched to test out my early season fitness. Spend a weekend with friends and go somewhere new.

Over the past 5 years I have done a lot of traveling. I feel like I have raced and been everywhere. Germany. Florida. Texas. Arizona. Heck, even Kansas. It’s a great way to see the country and the world.

I feel really good about where I am in my progression right now. It’s awesome, working with Jesse, I worry about nothing. absolutely nothing. I can be an athlete. I don’t analyze, I don’t configure, I just train and recover and stay in the Core. Besides I manage athletes and their training programs, I don’t even think about mine. I don’t look at my training paces and try to figure out where I am….. I know. and besides that’s Jesse’s job. No one does it better than him.

Friday is my busy day. It always is. Masters, Yoga, Bike, Long Run, Work till midnight. To balance it our however there is Saturday. I spend the morning watching cartoons!

Besides all of that, no news is good news! But one exciting thing: BUNK BEDS! (please ignore the bad paint job to his room, clearly I will be retouching!)


5 Steps to Blow Your Ironman

March 25, 2010

It’s almost April, which means Ironman Lake Placid is right around the corner. If you are a Western New Yorker this means you might be slightly beginning to panic. Don’t worry, that’s common. Well….. don’t worry if you have a solid training plan going!!! The next few days I am going to spend sharing some tips and tricks of the trade of Ironman. We have successfully coached over 100 athletes through Ironman over the past 5 years with 100% finish rate and no injuries. And we are pretty proud of that.

Today we begin with five easy ways to totally blow your Ironman…..

1. Ignore the bike: If I had to pick “the most important part of Ironman” it’d be the bike. Many athletes ignore the bike through the winter only to come into full on panic this time fo the year. Then they hop into monster group rides and fail to truly and effectively develop their aerobic engine. They will run 3 hours but fail to build up the bike mileage to support that three hour run. Look through the results of Ironman. Look at how many sub six hour bike splits are followed up by a five hour run. That’s not a lack of long runs, that’s because they biked too fast or failed to build up the proper volume.

2. Listening to other people: You should have your own plan,  developed by you, or another coach. It should fit you. Never, and I mean never base your training off of what your buddy who did Placid last year does. Period. Shut them off. Especially don’t listen to nutrition plans that sound weird: only fig newtons, PB&J all day long…. turn off your ears and focus on your plan.

3. Too much intensity: The Ironman is a very long day. Ask any person between miles 18-20 how they are feeling and 100% of the time they will never tell you they were so glad they did those 200’s on the track (instead of their long run). Long day = aerobic. develop that engine first.

4. Being stupid with nutrition: Again this goes back to listening to someone else’s plan. Learn to tolerate the foods offered on the course. Gatorade Endurance is mostly the one. If you don’t use GE then you need to know it can be your back up plan. You still need to practice with it. Water bottles fall of bikes. Nutrition gets dropped. Practice your race day nutrition 5 times at least before the big day. Including the pre race breakfast. The Train-This Team…. they have been practicing since January.  You won’t see my team hurling all over the course. Know how much you need an hour. have a plan. practice your plan.

5. Panic. Worrying never solved anything. Worrying is not going to get you through the training. Training is. Many people have Ironman panic right now. Not sure you are on the right path? Shoot us an email (maryeggers “at” gmail “dot” com) We can look at your plan, take over, help you with nutrition. Our athletes have been preparing for Ironman Lake Placid since the fall. This is a  ready team. They are not injured, they have their nutrition in check and they are dialed in. This team isn’t in a panic. Don’t panic. That raises your heart rate 10 beats already.