IMLP Training Weeks 1 & 2

Week 1: January 4-10: Recovery week & Travel

I am finally “officially” training for Ironman Lake Placid!!! I kicked off the new year with a 9 mile run on the Boston Marathon Course, a challenging computrainer hill class at FastSplits and 5,000 yards at the annual Miles for Marley charity swimming event hosted by my masters team, Cambridge Masters Swim Club. It’s funny to me that I am now officially training, when my schedule for the month of January doesn’t differ all that much from the past few months! The good news is that I have a great base to build off of, so I should be in good shape to slowly build by 5-10% over the next few weeks. My main focus for training is staying healthy and enjoying the process. In an effort to do so, I will be taking a cautious and conservative approach.

One key component of enjoying the process this year is staying positive and surrounding myself with positive people who understand my journey. I  have an amazing cheerleader in my coach, Kim Webster. My husband is unbelievably supportive, and is excited for me through this journey – I am so lucky! I also have many friends from Boston Triathlon Team, but many of my friends, family and coworkers fall into the category of “Non-Athletic Regular People” aka NARPs who just shake their head and tell me I’m crazy. These comments are not exactly motivating! This craving for positive reinforcement while Ironman training is a big reason I want to document the journey on this blog, instagram and facebook. Thank you in advance for your advice and support!

Monday: Key intensity ride Tunnabora on TrainerRoad 1 hour, 13 miles

I had planned on getting up early and doing this one before work, but my body was craving more sleep. So, I had to do this one after work, luckily I had the time. This workout was 5×7-minute sets of decreasing then increasing watts (88-94% FTP) in 1-minute steps to allow cadence changes over the course of each form interval. It also included 3×2-minute ILT (Isolated Leg Training) steps within the warmup and recoveries between intervals. If you use TrainerRoad, I highly recommend this workout. It was a lot of fun and constantly gave me something to focus on, so I never got bored.

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PT Session – 1:30. I am working on functional core strength since I noticed this fall that my right side was extremely weak compared to my left. I also have piriformis issues and my chronic L5 disc issue. My hope is that all of these exercises will help stabilize the back so it’s not a problem for me on July 24, 2016!

Tuesday: 4,000 yards at Cambridge Masters Swim Club

I just love this group so much. What an awesome way to start the day. So much love for my swim ladies!

Wednesday: Key Endurance Ride 1:15 Collins on TrainerRoad & 20 minute durability run

In an effort to get in as much cycling as possible before heading out to Colorado, my schedule was front loaded with cycling before I left I completed an endurance ride and a quick 20 minute “durability run”, these runs are crucial for building consistency so I can run a marathon after a 2.4 mile swim and 112 mile bike!

Thursday: Day off for travel

I arrived in CO to crazy snow storms, luckily I was able to upgrade my rental car to an SUV which saved my life! Even still, it is crazy to me that CO doesn’t plow roads other than main arteries. What do people without 4-wheel drive cars do?!

Friday: Quick 30 minute spin on the hotel bike

This was a tough one for me. The snow was absolutely dumping in Denver and made it impossible to complete a run outside. I then tried to make plans to swim with my friend Katy, who recently moved to Colorado, but we couldn’t find a pool that would accept non-residents. What the?! Next time a little planning on my behalf would have worked better. Luckily I was able to get a quick spin in at the hotel gym and then it was off to Bachelorette festivities.

Saturday: 8 Miles on the Boulder Creek Path

Unable to sleep and still on east coast time, I decided to head out to the Boulder Creek Path to get an 8 mile long run in. The path was a bit icy at times, but it was breathtaking and incredibly scerene. Everytime I went around a corner and the mountains came into view I freaked out. I had to back off my normal “E-Pace” (also known as Z1, Aerobic pace for long runs) due to the altitude, but I felt significantly better than I had anticipated. Special thanks to the Rockies for some awesome running scenery.

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Seriously, I would run on this path EVERYDAY if I lived here!

Then the bachelorette festivities included a afternoon at the spa, time to hang around and catch up and then a delicious sushi dinner finished off with Karaoke! Super fun, but I was pooped! Since my normal wake up time is 4:30-5am at home, I just couldn’t sleep in while I was in CO. Unfortunately, I didn’t go to bed at my normal time so I was exhausted the entire time!

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Sunday: day off for travel

I was up again before the rest of Boulder woke up and started the day with some coffee with one of my best friends, Courtney. I really would have loved to have gotten a quick workout in, but leaving Boulder at 9am and arriving back at home at 6:30pm, I was exhausted. I crashed early and slept like a baby!

Weekly Total:
1 hour of swimming (4,000 yards)
2:47 biking (28.8 miles)
10 miles running
1 hour of strength/PT/core
Total: 6:29 of training
Not the most consistent week that I was hoping to kick off training with, but it was the best that I could put together despite traveling.

Week 2: January 11-17

This week I was eager to get all of my workouts in and have a green week on trainingpeaks! I find turning those “boxes” on my schedule green to be so satisfying and red boxes to be extremely frustrating. I’m trying not to sweat it and just focus on consistency, which is the goal for training!

Monday: Regeneration ride on TrainerRoad 1:00

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It felt great to spin the legs out and catch up on TV. And detoxing! I usually like to go “booze free” to detox from holiday gatherings laden with sugar and alcohol, but given the timing of the bachelorette party I didn’t really have that luxury during the first week of training! I celebrated detox by having sparkling water in a wine glass 🙂

Tuesday CMSC masters 3,900 yards, Key intensity ride 1:15 Langille on TrainerRoad

Great mid-distance practice with lots of 100’s and 200’s. I’m feeling very strong in the water which is fantastic. It’s always good to feel strong in your favorite sport! In the evening I completed Langille on Trainerroad, a 1:15 workout. Langille is 3×10-minute intervals in the Threshold power level at 95-99% FTP with 6-minute recoveries between intervals. These intervals are bookended by stretches of Endurance work that will end up giving you 75 minutes of ride time.

Wednesday: Strength/PT and 20 minute Durability Run

Thursday: mini strength session and Key intensity run 4.5 miles

It’s so great to feel noticeable improvement when doing these core, glute and hamstring exercises

Friday 4,600 yards CMSC

Tons of lactate threshold swimming which was SO tough! Thank goodness for active recovery.

Saturday 1:40 FastSplits Trainer Class 

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Riding with my ladies, Kristen and Meg, both of whom are doing Lake Placid!

IMG_6644Luz Ardiden in the Pyrenees – WOW this was hard! AC/DC “Highway to Hell” came on during a brutal 20 minute stretch and it made everyone laugh. These classes are such great workouts and I love the camradare between all of the athletes. The majority of the class was at 95-105% FTP as we climbed a mountain. By the end I was completely toast! In the afternoon Rob and I cheered on the New England Patriots to victory!

Sunday: 9 Miles & 45 Minutes of Strength

I started the day off with a Sunday Group Run with BTT in South Boston 9 miles, followed by brunch at our wonderful host’s home! It was great to be in the old neighborhood and running my the ocean. That is what I miss most about Southie! Then I finished out the weekend with 45 minutes of strength and PT exercises.IMG_6653

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Weekly Total:

2 hours swimming (8500 yards)
3 hours and 55 minutes biking (54.6 miles)
2 hours and 39 minutes of running for 16 miles
1 hour and 55 minutes of strength
10:28 swimming, biking, running and strength & PT

MUCH better week and all of my boxes were green on training peaks, YEAH! Not having to scramble and also not having to travel really helped me nail this week’s workouts! Unfortunately it is short lived as I have travel coming up with a quick work trip to Texas!

How do you balance training with travel? Do you have a lot of friends who are NARPs? If so, how do you relate to them?!

Onto 2016! Mission: Ironman Lake Placid 2016

Another year is ending? When did this happen?! Wow. 2015, you were a wild one with so many ups and downs. Work chaos and the emotional stress associated with said chaos, winding down with my last job, starting a new job, moving and then of course, general buzz of my over scheduled life! I’m sure that many of my fellow type-A triathletes are in the same exact boat.

I recently saw this on social media and could not help but share it immediately, as I felt that it captured my year so perfectly:

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2015 certainly was not what I was anticipating it would be. Don’t get me wrong, there were amazing bright spots and happy moments. And the down periods, they have helped me learn so much about myself over the past year. One thing that has become painfully clear is that I really only have one speed, and that is all in and 100% committed. I have learned how to operate without completely burning myself out moving forward, which will be incredibly helpful in the year ahead and beyond. So, just as the above quote states, I am exactly where I am meant to be.

One of the most exciting things to look forward to in 2016 is that I am finally making the leap to the full ironman distance at Ironman Lake Placid July 24, 2016. For those who know me well, it comes as no surprise. I have frequently told the story about watching the Ironman World Championship footage in elementary school and becoming entranced by the athletes pushing themselves beyond their limits. Many athletes were actually crawling over the finish line! Some people would say “no way”, but instead I instantly said “they are insane…I want to do that someday.” And, nearly 20+ years later, after many hours of number crunching, discussions with medical professionals, lifestyle conversations with my husband, course research, question and answer sessions with  my BTT teammates — it all led me to signing up for Lake Placid. 

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I now feel more dialed into my body than I ever have before. I can’t say I am happy that I have had so many injuries and the fact that I am prone to injury, but with each day I learn more and more about my body and the right way to approach each workout. Over the past few years I have acquired a “care team” that is determined to get me to the start line by being proactive and addressing instabilities and weaknesses before they become a major issue. 

One incredible learning experience over the past year has been working with my coach, Kim Webster from Breakthrough Performance Coaching. My schedule was so variable over the past year due to work chaos that it was difficult to achieve the consistency that I crave. Luckily, I have a more reasonable work schedule with my new job and training is one of my biggest priorities in 2016. Working with her over the past year has taught me a great deal about the sports of cycling and running, most specifically how to train as efficiently as possible. Additionally, she has her masters in Sports Psychology and is always there with a helpful tip or strategy for race day. One extra special awesome bonus is that Kim is actually racing at IMLP as well! I am looking forward to going through this journey alongside my incredible coach. 

In preparation for this journey I have been doing a few upgrades to my gear in anticipation of my journey, most namely I have a new trusty steed: a Guru Cycles CR 401!

IMG_6272Special thanks to the patient and extremely knowledgable staff at Fit Werx for setting me up on this incredible rig. If you live in New England and are in need of a bike fit on an existing bike, or are in the market for a new bike, I highly recommend reaching out to them about as their “fitting first” services. They are extremely knowledgable, patient and have absolutely no ego or high pressure selling tactics. I also bought my first aero hydration system, a new ROKA Maverick Elite wetsuit and my first ever Power Meter, a Stages unit. Over the past year I have spent a lot of time using Trainer Road with “Virtual Power”, which is a good affordable (read: FREE) solution for power measurement, but I have personally found it to be incredibly inaccurate. So I am thrilled to have this tool in my back pocket. 

So there it is! The year of Mission: Ironman Lake Placid is about to begin and I couldn’t be more excited. 

Have you done an Ironman before? Or, do you aspire to do one someday? Do you have any recommendations for a first time ironman triathlete? 

 

 

 

Closing the Gap: February, Where Have you Gone?!

Wow, I am late to the party here and SO behind! Between all of the snow, delays, headaches, desperation work outs, canceled races, canceled social events, snow days, Italian meats and wine…it’s been quite the month!

I am happy to report that the sun is shining in Boston and it finally seems like we might be turning a corner from this cold and frigid month. Instead of recapping each and every day, I thought I would do a quick recap:

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Early Mornings: wake ups between 4:45am-5:15am. If I get enough sleep I am really a huge fan of the ultra early work outs. Getting some hard workouts in before the work day has been a complete game changer for my mood with this challenging weather we have been having.

Trainer workouts: Embarrassingly, I am finally getting to the trainer workouts of the indoor cycling coaching group I am a part of this winter. I also finally got TrainerRoad up and running and it is absolutely amazing. If you use TR regularly, I would love to talk about it!

Swimming: While I haven’t been swimming as much as I would like due to the weather and canceled practices, I have gotten some really quality sessions in with my masters team. Including several work outs where I have been pacing so magically with one of my friends and I feel as though I have a huge grin plastered on my face all day. It’s hard to put into words how amazing it feels to dig down and swim HARD with so many amazing people.

Running: A few slippery and dicey runs outside, but mostly I have been relegated to the dreadmill. I decided after my back issue in January to work on getting back to running by implementing the Maffatone Method. The Maffatone Method is based on training your aerobic system to reduce likelihood of injury, overtraining and fatigue. In order to achieve this, you need to stay at or below your Maximum Aerobic Function (MAF for short) for your entire run. If you heart rate bumps up above that, time to slow it down or even walk. Yes, training this way is rather painful mentally, but I have taken it as an opportunity to focus on my breathing and just enjoying the run, because I can. For me, I have to keep my HR under 149 at all times, which for many runs has meant running 5.4 max on the treadmill. I have been focusing on this so much that I actually have noticed some very steady improvement, I am now up to 6.0 on the treadmill within my MAF. Dedication pays off!

Pilates: I’ve really been seeing some big results from my pilates classes at btone fitness. Not only do I feel stronger all over, but my right side that was compromised due to my back strain seems to be building back strength quite nicely. I still have some work to do, but it’s been a nice change of pace and a great alternative to strength training which I (shamefully) neglect.

Fun: I’ve been trying to turn things around by trying breaking out of this hibernation rut as much as humanly possible. This includes dinner at one of my favorite restaurants Row 34 with my husband, meeting friends for drinks at the bar around the corner and even just getting out for an ultra snowy walk.

The fun continued while hanging out with my Boston Triathlon Team teammates at our annual Kick Off Party. 

I also was able to meet and get dinner with Meghan from Little Girl in the Big World! We met at at Lolita in the Back Bay and we had such a great time talking about work (we both work in the independent school world), life and of course, triathlon. It was great to pick her brain about her first IM experience and how it impacted her significant other, family, friends, work and other things. We had a lot of fun and it honestly felt like I was talking to someone who I have known for years, not just a few minutes.

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and lastly, enjoying an awesome art class I organized for my nieces and nephew. Rob and I are really making an effort to try to treat our favorite little munchkins to experiences instead of buying them stuff. Presents are great, but they do not last forever. Memories of great times spent with loved ones do last forever. The kiddos had a great time and I think it was safe to say the adults loved it, too!

Travel: The other big news is that we are less than 2 weeks until we leave for our adventure to London and South Africa! I am beyond excited, but my husband and I are both crazy busy at work so it will be a several longs days before we leave. I’ve been busy over the past month doing last minute research, coordination and high fashion shopping. 

Sadly, there have been some devastating wild fires in Cape Town which may impact our plans for outdoor activities, but I have faith we will work everything out. It’s hard to complain about travel plans being impacted when so many people have lost their homes in the region. My thoughts are with the people of Cape Town!

Reading: I am currently reading The Resilience Breakthrough as recommended by Erin. It has been an extremely powerful message at a time when I really need to see negative things as a spring board for change. I highly recommend it for those who might be going through a difficult time, transition or just looking for a new perspective on hardship.

On another note, I am now taking any and all book recommendations as I am hoping to fill up my Kindle before I leave for my trip.

And that is it. February, good riddance! Looking back on it, things don’t really look all that bad 🙂 Obviously March will be an extremely exciting month! Now, we all just have to cross our fingers that some of this snow finally melts. I am proud to say that I have turned my negativity towards the weather around and my outlook is more positive than it was at the beginning of the month. I now laugh at weather reports and I am doing everything in my power to get my workouts in because they make me happy. Bring on MARCH!

How do you stay motivated when weather or an event changes your workout schedule? 

Closing the Gap: Week 1 (AKA Base building)

Oh winter, you torment me EVERY year. We are currently coming off the highest snow accumulation totals in Boston coming in at 73.9 inches. HOLY! I’ve got to be honest…

I’m in a giant funk.

February, you can leave now. Nobody likes you here. And take your snow with you.

Things at my job have unfortunately not slowed down as I had anticipated, but instead they have actually gotten even more busy and complicated! I feel extremely deflated, frustrated and just plain tired. On top of the weather and job burnout, my husband has been traveling for work so much recently that it’s made these cold winter days very lonely. It’s been easy to get home, put PJs on and go to bed at 8pm. I have been trying to fight this funk with every fiber of my being, but in the end I lose the battle. I could name a million reasons for why I can make excuses, but it’s not acceptable. The upside is that while my back does not feel 100% and these snow storms have limited my ability to visit my chiropractor, I feel good. It’s refreshing to not feel like my body is revolting against me. I really should be ready to dive into training head first, but clearly I need to turn this funk around. 

I recently read Burn Your Goals on my mini get away to Arizona with my mother. As a whole, I thought the book was a great approach to being successful whether it be in sports, your career, and life. They emphasize “trusting the process” over focusing on winning or achieving a very specific goal.

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This is particularly applicable to an endurance sport like triathlon, so I’m trying to incorporate these tips into my training this year. There are a few quotes from the book that really resonated with me, but the most powerful one is: 

I want to know what you are committed to doing with your 24 hours a day to close the gap between who you are and where you want to be.

What am I doing now to close that gap? Right now, wallowing. Sure, it might keep me warm and toasty, but is it going to help my swim, bike and run game come race season? NO. Is it going to lead to the elusive perfect job where I feel fulfilled but, most importantly also not over worked (not convinced that exists)? Most certainly not. I’ve decided that whenever this evil funk comes creeping back into my life I am going to ask myself “what are you doing to close the gap?”

Monday

No work out.

Snow Day. Oh, winter depression! I thought an article from Boston.com really hit the nail on the head in listing “The Stages of Grief: New England Winter Edition”. On the plus side, I absolutely crushed cleaning, laundry and other household chores.

Tuesday

45 minute trainer ride in Z3

Snow Day, 45 minute great trainer ride – focused on HR riding in Z3 as much as possible for some aerobic conditioning with some hills worked in. Ah sweating!

That evening my triathlon team had it’s annual New Member Party that had unfortunately been postponed due to the snow storms. It was great to meet some of the new members, talk about the team, what races everyone has planned for the upcoming season and get psyched for the year ahead. I could feel the excitement building and the fire coming back. Definitely the kick in the you know what that I needed.

Some of the new members of the 2015 BTT rookie class

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Wednesday

45 Minutes of home core fusion work out and lots of yoga and stretching

Back to the office. 

Thursday

45 Minute trainer ride: intervals 

I work at a school and WOW, the amount of snow that has accumulated on the playgrounds is just mind boggling. I wish I had a before picture of this! I came home and knocked out 45 minute intervals ride on the trainer. 

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In the trainer zone!

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Friday 

Easy treadmill run + Swim

No work out. Sad Panda

My husband got back into town late Thursday night and when he is in town I try to drop him off downtown so we can squeeze a little extra time in together. I was so excited to catch up with him on what is normally a 5-10 minute drive, but about a half a mile from our apartment we came to a complete dead stop and stayed there for nearly an hour. With a conference call looming and no end in sight, we decided to turn around and work from home. Making it the third day at home this week.

Just a few trucks as we turned around…

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When I got home I checked twitter and apparently an 18 wheeler hit a city bus because the roads are so narrow due to snow banks. GREAT. I had planned to do an easy run and swim at the gym after work, but given the traffic and parking struggles, I knew it wasn’t realistic. Rob and I had dinner plans with some friends that evening, so we decided to punt on workouts and focus on the weekend.

Saturday

45 minute Pilates Megaformer class at Btone Fitness + 35 minute easy trainer ride

I returned back to my favorite pilates studio, Btone fitness. I first visited Btone before my wedding in 2012 and absolutely loved their “megaformer” core work out. The reason I haven’t been back is that classes are a bit pricey (but worth it) and not terribly convenient to my apartment or job. Despite those challenges, I enjoy how these classes complement my swim/bike/run workouts and when I noticed they had a New Years deal for 10 classes back in December and I decided to jump on it! I was a bit nervous that I would be absolutely dying, but I actually felt very strong the entire class. We did a variety of core, leg and arm strengthening and toning exercises over a 45 minute class.

Here is the description from the Btone website:

Our signature classes, available at all of our studio locations, are our TONE classes. During these classes we combine Strength, Endurance, Cardio, Balance, and Flexibility in not only 1 class but in EACH AND EVERY MOVE through the use of the state of the art Megaformer. It combines the strengthening and toning benefits of weight training and the lengthening and postural enhancing benefits of Pilates in a circuit training sequence. Classes keep the heart rate up and burn extra calories, making it a great cardio workout as well. The routines incorporate old-school exercises such as pushups and lunges with brand new moves reserved for the Megaformer. The support of the machine allows you to get an intense workout with low impact on your joints. It provides maximum results in minimal time and will be sure to leave you hopelessly addicted with its always-changing routines,fun music, and atmosphere.

There were a few newcomers in the class and the instructor Jody made a point to explain everything in detail so no one felt lost. I am already contemplating how to incorporate this into my fitness and training cycles moving forward. 

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Afterwards, I decided to hit the trainer at home, I did a fairly easy Z3 aerobic ride for 35 minutes. It felt nice to balance out the toning core work with some good old fashioned sweating.

Saturday afternoon Rob and I went to our nephew’s second birthday party. What a cutie! I can’t believe how fast our nieces and nephew are growing up. So much giggling, laughing and joy. Being an aunt is just the best 🙂 

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With another winter storm already underway, Rob and I decided to raid the grocery store in order to stock up for the 12-22 inches that was forecasted for Sunday-Tuesday.

Sunday

Slow 60 minute run + swim practice 

1 hour of shoveling + 30 minutes of stretching and core work

My alarm went off just before 7am as I had plans to meet my friend Alexis for a easy hour run and then Cambridge Masters swim practice. I popped out of bed and checked the conditions outside, there was at least another 4-6 inches of snow on the ground and it was snowing pretty hard. I could literally hear my heart SINK. I texted back and forth with Alexis and decided that I was going to pass in fear of the conditions on the road and parking challenges I would face coming back. I cannot tell you how incredibly frustrating it is to constantly have extreme weather greatly interfere or cancel my workouts. Rob and I then decided to take a chance on an unshoveled spot on our street and shoveled wet and icy snow for over an hour. That is something, right?!

My neighborhood during a break in the snow action

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This is the scene on literally every street corner

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After running some errands on foot due to conditions, later on that afternoon I received word that my school had yet another snow day. The 5th snow day in three weeks! Rob and I decided to make the best of it and have some wine and italian meats we picked up from our favorite local specialty shop, American Provisions

Extra time with this guy is always a treat <3

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So that is it, not exactly the week I had in mind but at least I turned my whole mental game around, got some fairly decent trainer and home core workouts in. I was really sad and frustrated that I wasn’t able to run or swim, the roads are so horrible that I was nervous I would get hit by a car if I ran, and the conditions of the roads for getting to 5:30am swim practice were less than ideal. Note to self: next year move to the suburbs and buy a Subaru. I am crossing my fingers and sending no snow vibes to mother nature in hopes that I can resume a normal swim and run schedule to complement my time on the trainer. And as if I needed another reminder…

I want to know what you are committed to doing with your 24 hours a day to close the gap between who you are and where you want to be.

Weekly Totals:

  • Cycling: 2 hours and 5 minutes 
  • Core/stretching: 2 hours
  • Shoveling: 1 hour 
  • Swimming: 0
  • Running: 0 

How do you overcome training challenges? What are your favorite at home workouts?

How to Handle Injuries and Training Set Backs

Well, as I stated in an earlier posts, January didn’t exactly go to plan. My back strain certainly brought all activity to a screeching halt, but it also made room for catching up on some blog projects, reading for fun and the much sought after and usually neglected, sleep. 

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The Monday following my back strain was spent working from the horizontal position on my couch and icing my back in ten minute intervals. Luckily, I improved to the point where I could drive my car the 30 minutes it takes to get to work and the rest of the week I went to work. Aside from some pain after sitting for long periods, I felt OK. I have an icepack and a full bottle of naproxen in my office, so I made sure to use them liberally. 

My chiropractor gave me a test to administer to myself to establish whether I was healthy enough to restart physical activity:

  • bring your head to your chest. If you can feel pain in your back, you still need to rest. 
  • If that doesn’t hurt, sit in a chair and lift your “good leg”, if you can feel pain in your back, you still need to rest. 
  • Then, I have to do the same with the “bad leg”, and yep, you still need to rest.

I’m not going to lie, being injured is pretty much the worst. I hate not being able to move and do things that I love. Unfortunately, I am quite injury prone and am pretty familiar with coping mechanisms, so I took some time to think about my own coping mechanisms and decided to share them:

Swimmy’s List of How to Cope With An Injury

  1. Buy a big ice pack & ibuprofen 
  2. Use it as an excuse to catch up on non-training related things – tackle a few recipes that have been hanging out on your Pinterest board for way too long, make a date with an old friend you haven’t seen in awhile, or catch up on your DVR. You will have a lot of free time on your hands, so try to fill it with positive things to keep you mind off of the pain and make the most of it.
  3. Reduce stress levels, immediately – Many of my injuries are usually brought on by high training volume, but the thing that puts me over the edge is my stress level. After several painful episodes I’m in the process of adjusting my thinking to be more positive, remember to laugh and do whatever I can do move, even if it means just walking at a slow pace on a treadmill. 
  4. Lean on your fellow athletic friends – If you are an athlete, chances are you have an army of friends who have also been through the same trials and tribulations with injuries that you are experiencing. Lean on them. My husband’s high school head master has a saying “grief shared is divided and happiness shared is multiplied”, remember that good friends are there for you no matter what.
  5. Keep the dream alive – Don’t throw in the towel the second you have an injury. Take time to rest, recover and how you can take steps to avoid the injury in the future. You might not be able to start exactly where you left off with the injury, but you can always tweak your plan and make things work within reason.
  6. Take it as an opportunity to adjust your training moving forward – if your body is hurting, it is probably trying to tell you something. Listen to it! Take this as an opportunity to change things up a bit and try out (within reason) a different approach. Maybe it requires strengthening your hips and glutes, a huge weakness for women! For me, it’s making sure to stay on top of my core strength to support my lower back.
  7. Investigate methods to help you stay injury free after you heal – I am a big fan of trips to my chiropractor for ART, regular stretching, foam rolling and rehab exercises. Clinical massage therapy, regular hot yoga or pilates classes are other great options. Researching these options will keep you optomistic and excited for what lies ahead.
  8. Embrace the Journey – Everything happens for a reason, even crappy injuries. Take time to step back and process what you have learned about your body’s limits and how you can make sure not to exceed them as you did when you sustained the injury. My most recent back strain has been a real wake up call that I need to handle stress management significantly better or I’m going to be in trouble.

Dealing with an injury is hard when you love moving, sweating and racing as much as I do, but don’t give up hope!

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What are your techniques for dealing with an injury?

2015 Boston Triathlon Team Pub Run

This past weekend I participated in my triathlon team’s annual “Pub Run” event. The event serves as a social event to bond with teammates, sweat a bit, meet new members and make some memories. This year we started at the Harpoon Beer Hall. Harpoon is one of our amazing team sponsors and they have an large gathering space that overlooks downtown and their brewing operations. Bonus, lots of yummy beer and cider on tap!

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Unfortunately for us, the weather was not exactly cooperating! It was snowing at a good clip and then turned to rain. In total we received somewhere in the 4-6 inch range of snow, but it was thick and wet, which means terrible shoveling. Given the weather, we normally have a crew of 70-80 people, but this year we had about 30 at various points throughout the day. Since I am now a member of the executive committee at Social Director this year, I knew I wanted to stand by the team and run through the bad weather to have fun with my teammates.

Pub Run “Race Bibs”, sadly these did not fair well in the wet snow!

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Small, but mighty crowd ready to run from Harpoon 

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One great bonus is that the Pub Run serves as a welcoming event for our new members, also known as Rookies. Rookies are asked a series of trivia questions and asked to don silly BTT gear like BTT boxers, beads, glow sticks, boas and my favorite: swim cap and goggles before running out to run to the next bar. It’s all in good fun!! 

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Veteran BTT members serve as “refs” and stand at targeted intervals throughout the course and make sure no one gets lost. They also are responsible for asking the trivia questions and making sure everything runs smoothly. Safety first!

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 We stopped at the Kinsale around 3pm for some food, slide show, rookie introductions and a quick team photo! Spirits were high and it was great to excitedly talk about the year ahead.

Rookie, Katie answering Trivia. I wasn’t joking about the boas!

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Yay BTT!

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I even tried out running with my new GoPro Hero4 Silver and my new favorite toy, the beloved “selfie stick”. Maybe it was the weather, the drinks, the sweat but there aren’t too many attractive shots! It was fun to bring out the new toy and play around with it though.

Running through downtown with the Old Statehouse in the background!

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All in all, it was a great day! My back felt great and the positive energy and laughs were overflowing. It was just the fun athletic day I needed! I was skeptical of how the day would pan out considering the bad weather, but we persevered! What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?!

Total Miles 4.6 (broken up into several stops), officially the longest I have run in quite some time!

Does your tri club or tri team have any silly events or fun traditions?!

Arizona Trip Recap & Quitting the Whole30 Early

Ahhh, vacation!

After a few delays in Boston I finally arrived in Phoenix just after 10pm (midnight in Boston time, ahh!) and immediately felt the warmth of the air and it put a huge smile on my face. YES.

Our first order of business was a blissful spa day at the Well & Being Spa at the Scottsdale Princess Resort.

After changing into robes and a wonderful massage, my mother and I spent the day catching up and relaxing before our afternoon mani/pedi’s in the salon. I have always wanted to do a spa day with her and I’m so happy I finally did! The only down side is that now I want to do it all over again. Sorry, savings account.

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The spa complex at Well & Being was unlike anything I have ever seen before: several large pool, whirlpools, waterfalls, saunas, steam rooms, work out areas among other options. A member of the staff said that the facility alone is 4,500 square feet, wow! My mother had never had a massage before, which as a nearly 67 year old woman is hard to believe. Her massage therapist told her “we all treat our things better than our bodies, just think of it like an oil change for your car” She makes a good point, doesn’t she?

Trying out the GoPro 🙂 Nice skinny arm, mom!

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 We left the spa refreshed, big smiles plastered on our faces and feeling a little more spiffy after our massages, healthy lunch, whirlpools and mani/pedis! I highly recommend this spa to anyone looking to do a day like this in the Scottsdale area, it was fantastic. 

Quitting the Whole30

After day one in Arizona I made the decision to end my quest with the Whole30 15 days early. Everything was going very well, except for the fact that I was having some GI discomfort caused by something in the diet and I really wanted to enjoy my much needed break. I rarely “quit” things, so this was hard to do, but I am so happy I did. There are a few culprits I suspect are to blame for this reaction: 1) this is all part of the plan and my gut is “healing” itself, 2) the increase in meat in-take was a bit of a shock to the system, 3) Coconut milk. This is the only thing that I added to my diet during this time, so naturally I would suspect this, 4) I wasn’t drinking enough water. I don’t think this is humanly possible since I have been accused of being “addicted to water”, but perhaps with the diet changes my body needed more water. Most likely I think it is probably a combination of all 4 factors, but the one that stuck out to me was coconut milk in my coffee.

Even though I ended the formal Whole30 program while on vacation, I still maintained a diet as close to the Whole30 as possible, with the exception of coconut milk in my daily coffee. Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf has fresh almond milk so I opted for that and felt a million times better after the first day. Has anyone else ever had any strange Whole30 side effects? I am planning on restarting at day 1 with the Whole30 at some point in the future, but I would love to do more research.

Whole30 Pros

  • I was able to kick my coffee sweetener once and for all. Huge win. I have wanted to do this for a long time.
  • I am 100% lactose intolerant and really should never eat it. The Whole30 confirmed that I really should just never eat cheese. When I do, I make myself miserable.
  • I will most likely never eat corn again. 
  • I really don’t miss processed/fake foods. Not that I ate too much processed food before the Whole30, but knowing that I couldn’t eat it during the program made me blind to it around me.
  • I miss carbs like toast, but I can easily live without them.
  • Feeling “lighter” and less sluggish is pretty great.

Whole30 Cons

  • Constant food preparation necessary. NEVER ENDING CHOPPING.
  • Difficulty eating out, especially while on vacation. Especially in a city with so much Mexican food!
  • The amount of meat I had to consume on the program. Now I know to expect this, but it was a bit of a shock.
  • My coconut milk reaction. 
  • Having people react “OMG you do not need to diet!” 

I look forward to starting the program back up again, but for now I’m enjoying my semi-Whole30 diet until I decide when I’m going to officially get back in the saddle. Luckily, ending the Whole30 early meant that I felt better and really enjoyed the entire trip. 

The next day we ventured to Sedona and stayed at The Enchantment Resort, per the recommendation of a few people that we met. All I can say is: WOW.

The scenes driving into Sedona are breath-taking….

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 The view from our balcony at the Enchantment

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 Hiking in Boynton’s Canyon on the Enchantment property

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I couldn’t get enough of the surroundings and forced my mom into hiking two days in a row. She was a trooper and I *think* had a lot of fun. It was such a treat to get outside during the winter months and get some vitamin D!

We left Sunday afternoon after grabbing lunch in downtown Sedona. What an adorable little town. We got back just in time to watch the Patriots game and go out to dinner in Scottsdale. 

On Monday, since my back had seemed to settled down, despite all of the time spent sitting while traveling, I tried my hand at my first run back since before I strained my back on January 2. What an accomplishment! I decided to run with my Garmin to track my heart rate and tried my hardest to make sure it did not go over my MAF. Since I have been relegated to minimal physical activity, rather than feel frustrated with starting from scratch again, I focused on enjoying the feeling of running again.

Sun on my face. REAL sweat. Endorphins. HAPPY PLACE.

I knew my pace was dreadful, but that wasn’t the point. Staying healthy and having fun is the point! I ended up covering 3.3 miles and my back felt great the entire time. Mission accomplished.

Scottsdale parks, with a view of Camelback Mountain in the background

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Running in shorts. In January. BLISS!!!

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After my successful run, my mom and I went to Last Chance, aka the scariest shopping experience of my life. It is a Nordstrom close-out store and people throw elbows and have zero regard for personal space or human decency when they have a prized pair of Tory Burch heels in their sites! Close-out shopping agoraphobia aside, I ended up scoring some great deals on work appropriate shoes for next to nothing and even a pair for my husband. To decompress, my mom and I had lunch at Chelsea’s Kitchen and I had the most delicious brussel sprouts and roasted chicken salad. Hooray for healthy options. That afternoon we went to the Desert Botanical Garden, which was full of more varieties of cactus, aloe and agave than I ever knew existed.

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On Tuesday, after another successful slow and steady MAF run of 3.5 miles around the parks (and a “holy S%&# I just ran two days in a row!” moment), I showered and kicked around Scottsdale and then went to the airport and we were on our way back to Boston. I was so happy that I was able to experience a small slice of my brother’s life in Arizona, the pampering of the spa, beauty of the outdoors in Sedona and the fun quirks of Scottsdale. I can’t wait to head back!

The only regrets of the trip are that:

  • I didn’t plan to run the Arizona Rock & Roll race while I was out there! I will definitely be trying to plan a return trip around that race next year.
  • I never got the chance to scope out the IMAZ course, mostly because my mother didn’t find a lot of interest in that, I wonder why?!
  • I somehow do not have any photos of my shy older brother we were visiting.

Huge wins:

  • Coming back to craziness at work (not awesome) and feeling refreshed and relaxed (awesome).
  • Creating new and positive experiences with my mother.
  • Checking out a new area of the country.
  • Feeling great after a few days of misery related to the Whole30.
  • Finally being able to get out for TWO pain-free runs!!!
  • I can now get back to blogging about actual workouts, rather than dreaming about it!

Have you tried to Whole30 and had a similar reaction to mine? I would love to know! What are your favorite tips for recovering from an injury?!

Friday Faves

Wow life, you really know how to pack some punches here!

First off, huge shout out to Trina at Pish and Posh Design for the clean, fun and very Kim blog design!!! Many thanks for all of your patience and working so quickly to get this project done.

In some not so awesome news, some interesting developments at my job have made for a bit of a roller coaster of a week. The beginning of the week I was so stressed I was unable to sleep and literally shaking out of frustration (Just slightly type A), not exactly the huge reduction in stress that I was looking for coming off a bad lower back strain. As the week progressed and I thought through the situation I actually changed my tune. I’ve shifted my thinking to “Oh crap, this is the ABSOLUTE worst thing that could happen” to “This is less than ideal, but look at how much I’ve grown over the past 4 months and”. Now I’m focusing on how I can continue to grow and learn from these challenges. For that, I am thankful. I can’t really give all of the details but it’s safe to say that I will look back at this as a turning point in my career. 

During the week I enjoyed finishing Find Your Happy and starting Burn Your Goals. Full thoughts and ramblings on both of them later, but I found both of them as necessary aids to helping to change my perspective and make the most of my current challenges.

And the most exciting thing of all? This weekend I am escaping the cold (and surprise snow storm of Boston) and spending the long weekend with my mother and brother in Scottsdale, Arizona!

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I have never been to the southwest before and I’m P-S-Y-C-H-E-D to experience a new part of the country with some members of my family. Oh yeah, and having a few days off in warm weather when it’s snowing outside is really pretty awesome.

What else is great? Free in-flight WiFi courtesy of JetBlue. As if I needed another reason to love them!

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Part of our plans include a spa day with my mother at the Well & Being Spa at the Scottsdale Princess.

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It’s an early birthday experience for her and I really can’t put into words how excited I am for this chance to kick back with my mother. I actually think this might be a struggle for my mother at first (she is “can’t rest until it’s done” and work-a-holic. Just taking this vacation was a huge negotiation), but I am excited to see her experience some pampering for once.

In addition to that, I’m looking forward to venturing out for some runs in shorts (big YAY! for that), which would be my first time running since I hurt my back in early January. I’m also hoping to find an outdoor pool so I can get my swim on 🙂 I’m looking forward to getting cleared to bike again and then I can kick off the 2015 season

We left the rest of the weekend open, we might explore other areas of Arizona or stay in Scottsdale.  This uber planner is embracing the art of “no set agenda travel” and I think I might actually like it. Who am I becoming?!

And yes, I am checking out the IMAZ course to file in “research for potential future projects”

Have you been to Arizona before? Do you have any “must see” sites?

Find Your Happy and the Whole30

Now that my resolution of Focus, Purpose & Gratitude in 2015 is out there on the interweb, I decided I needed to take a few steps to achieve these in the year that lies ahead. To start my “resolution” off on the right foot, I am reading Find Your Happy.

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I found the book through Juls, who recently read it and posted about it on Instagram. Since my resolutions have been brewing since early fall 2014, I decided to check it out and take it as an opportunity to reflect and start the year off on a positive foot. I’m only about half way into the book, but so far it is full of simple insights how to approach every facet of your life. I am finding it hard to relate to some of her experiences, as they are about certain demons I have luckily never had issues with before. Despite that, I am enjoying this quick read and a chance to make some lists to love life to its fullest to ensure I achieve all of my goals for the year.

Another “new year’s initiative” (so much better than a resolution, right?) is that I am taking the entire month of January off from drinking alcohol. I have a friend who does a January holiday detox every year and I decided to copy his approach. Eight days in and I am still thankful for the break. While I was giving up the sauce for a month, I figured this was the perfect time to attempt the Whole30 since you can’t consume alcohol during the 30 days.

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I’m a bit skeptical of a diet that does not include my precious diet staple, quinoa, but I figured I might as well give it a try. The program boasts that it will “change your life in 30 days”. As I researched the program I noticed that aside from quinoa, bread, the occasional shameful cheese binge and alcohol this program doesn’t differ too much from my current diet. Thankfully, they allow coffee (in moderation), meat, fish, all vegetables, fruit (also in moderation) and nuts; it excludes all dairy, sugar, legumes, grain products of any kind. The program follows largely a paleo and clean diet, so it’s pretty easy to guess if something is off limits (side note: what do you mean I can’t have a cupcake?!) I have suspected a few different food allergies for some time, so why not take a chance to recalibrate? Check out the Whole30 for yourself here.

So far I have made some delicious salads, flank steak and some health-ifying of my favorite prosciutto wrapped cod. I’ve relied upon plain almonds (one of my favorite snacks), kale chips, berries and apples in-between my protein dense meals to help control any unhealthy, non-Whole30 approved cravings. As the 30 days continue and I will share more of my recipe discoveries and thoughts on this process.

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I’m not sure if this will be “life changing” for me as they claim, but I am keeping an open mind and embracing the opportunity to hit the reset button.

The first week of my participation in the Whole30 challenge wasn’t exactly pretty. I have felt exhausted from the craziness of the past few months, so Foxy and I decided to have a low key weekend and try to cross a few things off our to do list. 

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We cranked through a majority of our to do list, but somehow in the middle of doing some vacation research (more on that to come another day), I felt my back lock up. I immediately knew I was in trouble and laid down on my couch, clutched my ice pack and tried to remain calm. As the day turned to night the pain only increased and on Sunday I literally could not move. Miss go, go, go has received a wake up call: chill out! I have been through this a few times before, so I knew the program: ICE, anti-inflamatories and light stretching. I also made an appointment with my amazing chiropractor for the first appointment I could get.

I am feel incredibly lucky that I have never herniated or slipped a disc in my back. Yet, I do have an abnormality with my L5 disc that gets angry every once in awhile. I try to maintain my back health with regular stretching, core strengthening exercises, anti-inflamatories, and icing when needed. External factors, such as stress, are harder to control and when it creeps in it wreaks havoc on my lower back. When I have a flare up the ligaments surrounding my spine become so inflamed that I can’t cough, bend down or roll over in bed without screaming out in pain. In short, it’s several days of misery but it is temporary.

Luckily my chiropractor, Dr. Pete is a miracle worker. After a great ART session and 20 minutes of stim therapy, I felt like a changed woman but still nowhere close to 100%. Until I can pass a simple flexibility test given to me by my chiro, I can’t engage in any physical activity. Sad face.

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H-O-T-T-N-E-S-S is selfies in your Chiro’s office

It seems as though my timing of starting to read Find Your Happy and the Whole30 program was almost serendipitous: I was on the cusp of a physical set back while I was taking time to reset my mind and diet. I never would have picked this as the start of 2015, but I’m dealing with this minor set back as a small bump in the road and maintaing a positive outlook for what the year has in store. 

Have you read Find Your Happy? Have you done the Whole30? If you have, tell me your thoughts on both!

2015: Focus, Purpose & Gratitude

New Years day. A day to feel instantly renewed and ready to face the brand new year! Well, not so much for me. I sat comatose on the coach for the majority of the day nursing my New Years hangover (insert shame face) and a bad cough I have been trying to kick for two weeks. Throughout the day, I found myself mindlessly scrolling through Facebook and I was struck by the number of my friends who updated their statuses noting how challenging 2014 was and that it also had some exciting and memorable moments. I thought to myself, wow, I’m not alone. 2014 certainly had some high points, but it had a great deal of stress, challenges and sadness. While I celebrate and enjoy the high points, I unfortunately continue to feel overwhelmed by the sadness, illness and struggles of many close friends and family.

As a little break from these challenges, I decided to move on and visit some old photos of fun times

Fun in college with my swimming friends.

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My incredible trip to visit my best friend from high school in Panama, who was there for 2.5 years in the Peace Corps. 

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The beginning of my foray into running and my first marathon in 2008.

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I won’t bore you with my entire digital photography archive from the past 10 years. It made me laugh, smile and also yearn for a period in my life that was in no way free from stress, but my friends all seemed happier and life certainly seemed a bit less complicated.

Life is certainly not a cake walk. I came to the realization, that maybe all of this means I am finally a “grown up”? But, even as an adult do you need to feel overwhelmed by unfortunate and bad things that happen to those around us? I refuse to let this be the case any longer. I want to make a concerted effort to be positive and optimistic each day. With that in mind, my only goals for 2015 are: focus, purpose & gratitude for happiness in 2015.

Focus

Everyone who knows me will not dispute the fact that I am a type A, intense person, for better or for worse. I set the bar very high for myself and I do not stop until I achieve that goal. The last few months of 2014 were a very challenging at work, but also a period of tremendous growth in my professional life that I have craved since graduating from college.

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I was so far out of my comfort zone, but I was thriving and happy. I confirmed that I loved my career path, the people I work with, but I was completely spent at the end of each day. Luckily, in 2015 I will welcome a new boss and better work/life balance (fingers crossed). I hope to continue this same focus on my career, but on a manageable scale so I can focus on pursuits equally, career, personal life, training and the list goes on.

Purpose

This goes hand in hand with focus, but I am hoping to be more strategic in all facets of life in 2015: Training, career, personal life, friendships, and hobbies. I am the queen of taking on too much and feeling frazzled and overwhelmed, so I would like to approach things by thinking about how it will impact my schedule, husband and most importantly, my happiness. 

My husband constantly reminds me to think about how adding something to my schedule will impact my schedule long term. He also always carefully points out that something will need to come off to make room for the new addition. He also recognizes that sometimes adding things to my schedule with purpose bring a great deal of happiness to my daily life. An example of this was joining Cambridge Masters Swim Club after a long hiatus and years of swim training on my own.

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I missed swimming with a group for the motivation, friendships and team camaraderie. Swimming by myself certainly was convenient, but it was not fun. I began to toy with this idea of rejoining CMSC as OWS season was ending. I decided to join and my first practice back with the team I immediately felt at home and had I a huge grin on my face. The pool is truly my happy place. This addition has had a significant impact on my schedule, as it requires me to wake up at 4:45 am when I am going to practice. It means going to bed at 9:30pm at the absolute latest (ideally, closer to 8:30) and having my bag and lunch for the entire work day packed the night before. In a time when the work felt never ending, it provided me with a fantastic outlet, the opportunity to train with a dedicated group of swimmers, many of whom have become good friends. I am thrilled to continue this in 2015.

Gratitude

For my amazingly patient and incredibly supportive husband. There are not enough words to express my love for him. I try to make it a point to tell him thank you and how much I appreciate every small gesture he does for me. I am also thankful for the fact that no matter what is going on, what we are feeling, we always find a way to laugh together.

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I have incredible gratitude for my amazing friends, many of whom who live far away and go to great lengths to stay in touch. I want to make sure that I approach each day by being gracious for what it brings me, and also approach every situation with positivity.

So that is it. I am excited to have a new year to tackle new challenges, goals and experiences. I look forward to filling out my training and racing calendar, but for now I am focusing on positivity in 2015. Most of all, I am looking forward to following this mantra…

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 What are your resolutions and goals for 2015?