• The Beginning of JoCo Multisport

    So where did it all begin?  How did JoCo Multisport come to be and why might this be a team you want to join?   Well, here’s the story.  We think you will want to be a part of this! A … Continue reading

  • Food & Fuel

    Fitness is about balance. It is about finding physical activity that you love and enjoy while taking positive steps with your fuel (your food) to nourish your body properly. Neither of these things is something that you can “fix” all at once. They are both a process. They are both a journey. And they go hand in hand. Continue reading

  • White Powder

    Substance abusers often make repeated attempts to quit before they are successful.” Ever tried to not eat dessert? Ever tried to give up drinking soda or sweat tea? Did you start strong and then start to notice that you would think about it? Did your thoughts become so focused on your desire that you get uncomfortable? Did you feel your body “craving”? Did you feel yourself trying to resistant and struggling? Did you know that you didn’t want to eat that cookie or donut or cake but found yourself with it in your mouth anyway? Continue reading

  • Our Long Lost Friend…Hunger

    I continued on my emotional eating train for many more weeks, but the truth that I didn’t need to be eating keep tapping on my shoulder, reminding me that this wasn’t part of any solution that was going to get me feeling better about myself. Like a giant gorilla hanging on me, every time I stuffed things into my mouth, I could hear that ape jumping around “but you’re not really hungry. This is why you are gaining weight. You don’t need that.”

    Man, I hated that monkey.
    Continue reading

Sandra’s Journey to 5K

It’s not my story to tell, certainly not the whole story any way.  But I can share my experience… watching my first friend from childhood (we’ve been friends for nearly 40 years) set off on the journey to a fitter, healthier lifestyle.  She thanks me frequently… but it has been her hard work, focus, refocus, dedication and sweat that got her across the finish line of her first 5K.  All I did was cheer.

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Sandra would say that she was never an athletic person and probably confirm that physical activity was miserable.  It wasn’t something she enjoyed or gravitated toward.  In fact I believe that exercise was quite painful for Sandra – especially in the years that followed high school into our working life.

Somewhere in her late 30’s, Sandra began a journey of fitness and healthy living that has been truly motivation beyond belief.  You can read about her story here on her blog: Slim Down with Sandee. 

She shared her struggles of losing weight on her blog – and inspired so many folks to begin their own journey.  I remember the days when her motivation was so high and the successes were coming often.  It was so inspiring to watch.  Sandra went through the start and stop cycle that we all go through and over the long haul has made permanent changes that have lasted years.  When she reached out to me last year and said that she wanted to do a 5K – she asked, “would I join her?.  There was no place else I would have been that day.   I was so excited for her.

I share Sandee’s journey – not from her perspective, but from mine.  Seeing my dearest sister begin the journey of running (Couch to 5K plan) was so inspiring.  Having started running myself nearly 8 years prior, I understood what she was up against.  Starting the journey from inactivity to becoming active is a challenging experience.  The body begins it’s process of adaptation – and frankly, it can be quite uncomfortable.  I recall my own loathing of running initially – the frustration, the complete sense that I was horrible at it and that it would never get easier, it would never get better.  It was with this memory that my thoughts went out to Sandra.

She would post her workouts on Facebook – and I recall watching the intervals where she ran longer  grow and walked become shorter… I watched her pace increase, slowly but surely.  She was getting stronger – the numbers were showing it.  The day that she posted that she just finished her run on a 40F rainy day – she attained BEAST MODE in my book!

Sandra's 1st 5K__3.png

Each week she posted… her training sessions on the track.  Minute after minute, lap after lap, running around that track.  All I could think about was how mentally tough she was – out there running around a track over and over and over again…. and she just kept going.  She will probably never know how seeing her workouts made me feel accountable to my own training.  How knowing she was out there busting her butt was so inspirational to me.

When the day for her race finally arrived – she was surrounded by her wonderful collection of loving souls to run with her.  As we warmed up for the race – she asked me which one of my races was my favorite.  I remember trying to think about which of all of the events that I had done was my favorite.  They were each unique in their own way – offering new and different challenges.  None stood out as a favorite… each just different.

When Sandra and I crossed the line of her first 5K – a very hilly and hot 5K color run…. the pride and joy at watching her accomplishment washed over me… my favorite race… was running with Sandra in her first 5K.

Way to go, Sandra!!!  You are a runner.  Now, and forever, running the race set before you… running the race with strength, determination, faith and love.  You are a winner!  You are my sister!

Sandra's 1st 5K

A Triathlon…Who Me?

Perhaps you’re considering a triathlon or have had these thoughts “I could never do that,” or “Who me?”  I’m here to erase your uncertainty and say “Yes you can,” and “Yes you!”

Many folks think of the Ironman World Championships in Kona, HI when they think of triathlon.  Understandably, it is one of the few televised triathlons and the largest triathlon event in the world.  But triathlon comes in many shapes and sizes, as do triathletes.  It only takes the thought “I can” to start your journey to becoming a triathlete.

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Most beginner triathletes start with the Sprint distance triathlon, have a hybrid or mountain bike and borrow or rent a wet suit (if it’s an open water swim).  There are many venues for triathlons including indoor events that are held in a pool, on a stationary bike and treadmill.  For the beginner, the sprint distance triathlon isn’t necessarily about sprinting or being fast, it is referred to as sprint because of it’s relatively short distance (usually 15 – 18 miles total) compared to the Ironman Kona (140.6 miles).  For the Elite athletes, of course – the sprint distance is ALL about speed.

The sprint distance is a great distance to enter the sport and learn the skills necessary to complete a triathlon, such as swimming, biking and the details of transition.

2012 Osprey Sprint Triathlon_Swim

Many years ago I started running.  I ran my first 5K and loved it.  Over the years I progressed to the half marathon distance, but running was always very painful for me.  A friend suggested that I sign up for a local sprint triathlon and I had the same thought, “Who, me?  I could never do that.”  My friend was super encouraging and ultimately, I ended up signing up for my first sprint triathlon – the 2012 Osprey Sprint Triathlon in Nanticoke, MD which was a 750 meter swim, 15 mile bike, and a 5K run.

2012 Osprey Sprint Triathlon_Bike1

Fast forward to 4 years later and I have complete numerous sprint, Olympic distance triathlons as well as several 70.3 Half Ironman distances.

Triathlon is about consistency – which is one of our core beliefs at I Tri.  Stick with it (whatever “it” may be) and year after year you will get stronger, more confident and more satisfied with your fitness level.  You don’t need to have fancy equipment or an expensive bike to step into triathlon (take a look at the picture above and see the beast of a bike I rode in my first sprint).  These items can come if you find triathlon is your passion and can be useful motivational tools to keep you growing (i.e. “if I complete my first Olympic distance, then I will allow myself to invest in a better bike.”)

There is a lot of fun in learning the sport of triathlon.  Triathlon also is more complex in terms of the details of racing and nutrition.  Some of you may find that joining a triathlon club or finding a beginner’s coach is great place to start.  We highly recommend a USAT certified coach to help you avoid some of the common mistakes that self coached beginners frequently make and mostly to prevent unnecessary injury as a result of going out too far too fast.  Having a coach to lay out a personalized training plan and guide you through the specifics of training, fueling and competing in triathlon is money well invested.

Triathlon is for you – you need only have the thought, “I can.”  Take the steps to your first triathlon today – let us help you!  Together we can Tri!

 

i tri man

** None of the information on this site is intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor.  Always seek the input of your medical provider regarding changes in diet and physical activity levels.

 

Tears or Sweat…. How will you pay?

It’s 4:30 a.m. and the alarm goes off. It’s dark outside, it’s cold and my body hurts. The bed is warm, the pillows comfortable, and the voices in my head are not happy about what I’m about to ask them to do. Crawling out of a peaceful, restful, comfy bed is difficult. Strapping on the heart rate monitor, watch and lacing up running shoes is not pleasant. Striking out on a 45 minute hill repeat training session while it’s still dark outside is painful.i tri man

I assure you, the physical struggle associated with exercise is less difficult, unpleasant, and less painful than living in an unhealthy, unhappy body – full of sadness and self-loathing. The constant negative self judgement, the mental self-abuse, the eating to numb the pain and the horrible guilt after eating to numb the pain are thousands of times more difficult that putting my warm feet on the cold floor getting ready to exercise.

Life is hard, sometimes unbelievably hard. We all pay the price to survive. The currency is in the form of a liquid salty discharge. We all chose our method of payment. Sweat or tears. We will give up the salt… one way or another.

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We can pay with tears in an effort to cope with the unhappiness in our lives, our unhappiness with ourselves, with our bodies. We can eat to numb the pain and suffering and then pay for it with more tears and misery. We can listen to the angry judgmental voices in our head telling us that we aren’t good enough, that we aren’t worthy and release the tears to cope with the possibility that those things might be true. This pain last every minute of every day, sleeps with us at night, and is there to face us as soon as we wake.

Tears

Or we can pay with sweat from getting out of our comfortable place, our bed, our normal routine and doing the work, putting in the effort, dealing with the challenge and discomfort of pushing ourselves just a little bit farther or faster than yesterday. We can take on the challenge, with sweat beading on our brows, our muscles screaming in rebellion and put one foot in front of the other over and over and over. Those same voices may tell us that we aren’t good enough, but somewhere inside the truth rings out that “Yes, we are good enough!” We take one more step to prove it. This pain is temporary. We do the work. It’s over. And we are free and at peace for the rest of our day.

Sweat

In the times in my life when I have been unfit, overweight and unhealthy – the mental anguish and emotional pain that I endured was far more difficult than any physical discomfort I felt while competing in a 70.3 Ironman. If you are enduring the mental pain of living in a body that you aren’t happy with – the physical work to overcome the emotional pain is so worth it and so much easier than the pain you are enduring every minute of every day.

You are good enough. You are strong. You can do this.

How will you pay?

 

Chose to take your first step today.  Chose sweat.
Contact us… let us take that step with you.

i tri man

** None of the information on this site is intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor.  Always seek the input of your medical provider regarding changes in diet and physical activity levels.

To Resolve or Not to Resolve

As 2015 comes to a close, many of us find ourselves reflecting on the past year, pondering our current place in life and considering possibilities for the future. It can be a warm and peaceful time. It can also be a source of stress or frustration if we find ourselves not where we had hoped we would be professionally, personally, physically. There is always the debate over New Year’s resolutions – should we? Shouldn’t we? Are they useful, helpful, meaningful or useless and ridiculous? To resolve or not to resolve, this is the question.

i tri man

There is no perfect answer – it is a very personal thing to many folks. New Year’s resolutions can be a double edged sword. On one side of the sword, it can provide the motivation and spark to kick start a stagnant physical fitness or healthy eating journey – this is wonderful, helpful and energizing. On the other edge, should your resolve begin to fade in March (if not sooner) and none of the things you set out to do are in place, those same motivational resolutions can become the negative judgement that you hold against yourself – emotionally flogging yourself for your failure, lack of commitment, and inability to fix years of issues in a few short weeks. Many times we make giant lists of all of the things we perceive to be wrong or out of balance in our lives. Our resolutions become one giant long “to do” list that places tremendous pressure on us. Three of the top New Year’s resolutions every year are to eat healthier, exercise more and to lose weight.

new-years-resolutions

Long ago I stopped having a body weight goal and began making my resolutions external achievement goals (like a race or new sport). Over the years, I’ve come to embrace the turning of the New Year and time of reflection. Having specific short term and long term goals for the coming year can be very helpful in keeping us on track. The goals need to be measurable and controllable. The goals need to be realistic and attainable. I recognized that by attaining an achievement goal (completing the race or learning a new sport, or completing a former race, but with a better time) that physically I would be improving and getting stronger. If I was getting stronger and improving, then my weight would surely follow. This approach has proven to work very well.

Having goals like committing to go the gym a certain number of times a week or join a new class at your gym are very achievable goals. Goals such as only having desserts on Friday nights instead of every night is also very controllable. You may not be perfect (in fact I’m certain that you won’t), but if you are better than you were last year, more consistent, more consistent for longer, committed to getting back at it after you stumble – those are HUGE SUCCESSES!!

In the moments when you may find that you are off track, not following your resolutions or drifting back to your former habits – those are the moments to be gentle with yourself. Those are the moments to allow yourself to accept that you aren’t perfect – you never will be. It is this fact that can derail us so quickly. We all say to ourselves “No one is perfect.” We will even comfort a friend who may have stumbled or is failing to achieve a goal. We will tell them, “It’s ok. No one is perfect. Just keep trying.” And we all believe that to be true. Yet when we find that we have fallen short of our imagined perfect self, we are cruel and harsh with ourselves. Our inner self talk can be quite painful and relentless. Remember, it’s not about perfection it’s about what you do most of the time. When you realize that you are not headed the way you want, remind yourself that you still have the desire to try one more time. Be compassionate with yourself as if you were talking with a dear friend.

It is the drive and commitment to keep on starting that is the most important resolution you can make.

Happy New Year

Let 2016 be your year of continued resolve – the year you find your external achievement goals that will keep you focused and committed (most of the time). Let 2016 be the year that when you stumble, you smile and remember that all you have to do is get up, dust yourself off and keeping moving forward. Let 2016 be the year that you resolve to always keep trying. And if you’re looking for a little extra support… we can help.

Happy New Year from I-Tri!!!

i tri man

** None of the information on this site is intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor.  Always seek the input of your medical provider regarding changes in diet and physical activity levels.

What Gets Measured Gets Fixed

I had a boss tell me once that “what get measured gets fixed.”

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What he meant was that when things weren’t going as expected you had to take stock of the situation. He believed, and I wholeheartedly agree, that in order to affect change, in order to right the ship, to fix things, you first have to measure what is happening now. It is only when you measure the current state that you can determine what the real issues are. Once you know what the issues are, you can then and only then begin to build a plan to fix the issues.

I’ve had many folks ask me “what should I do to start eating healthier?”

Healthy Food

My response, “Let’s figure out what you are eating now and then figure out the small changes you can begin to make that will start your journey.” Eating better, getting fit, finding balance and leading a healthier lifestyle is a process. Most of us don’t go cold turkey from our old habits and just start eating kale, quinoa, and lean organic protein for every meal. The reality of getting healthier is that it is a process. You will make small changes that last. Eventually you will add on to those first changes with more changes until you reach a point where you are truly eating healthy. Slow, methodical changes that you can live with are the keys to lasting health and fitness. But before you can start making methodical changes, you must first know where you are so that you can determine what you are willing and need to change.

On of the greatest tools that I have found is My Fitness Pal.  There are many other options out there like Spark People , but I’ve found that My Fitness Pal is the easiest to use and has an awesome free App that has one of the most complete food databases.

My Fitness Pal

Having found myself on the journey from unhealthy to fit, as I began measuring where I was, I also realized that there were some key mistakes that I made along the way that slowed my progress.  Having a cool App on your phone to track your food and exercise activities won’t make you fit all by itself.  In fact, if you fall into some of the traps I list below, you could end up fooling yourself and actually contributing to the difficulty of your journey.

Here are some of the key pitfalls to watch out for as you begin keeping track of where you are.

  • Overestimating your activity level
    When setting up your My Fitness Pal account, you can select (and edit at anytime) your activity level.  Your activity level along with your weekly weight loss goals will determine your recommend calorie intake – basically how much food you can eat.  Sometimes we don’t want to admit to ourselves that we are not as active as we think we are.  Sometimes we don’t recognize how inactive we are compared to the “average”.  Just to give you an idea, I am a triathlete and I exercise 15 – 25 hours per week depending on where I am in my training schedule.  I compete in 4 – 6 triathlons throughout the spring and summer months.  I compete in half Ironman distance triathlons.  During my normal work week, I have a desk job.  I am able to get up and move around and often walk around briskly to see folks throughout my office building.  My activity level is set on “Lightly Active.”  For my age (43) and weight (136 lbs.) my daily calorie target is 1550 calories.  For most of you, “Sedentary” or “Lightly Active” will be the proper setting.
  • Underestimating how much you are eating
    Beginning to read labels, recognize what a portion is and what the recommend serving size is are all keys to getting the most out of your calorie tracker.  If you pour a bowl of cereal and call that a serving size, then you will woefully be underestimating your calorie intake.  A typical serving size of cereal is 1/2 cup to 1 cup depending on the brand and cereal.  I’m not sure about you, but the first time I actually measure a proper serving of the cereal I was eating, I was completely shocked and then deflated.  1/2 cup to 1 cup of cereal is not very much – especially if you have a large bowls (as is typical).  If you are underestimating how much you are eating, then you will not see the results that you are wanting to see.
  • Overestimating the amount of effort / calories you are burning during your exercise
    Another pitfall in beginning to track your food and exercise is overestimating your calories burned during exercising.  My Fitness Pal does have fairly accurate exercise caloric counts.  With some of the exercises, you can choose your effort level.  For example, aerobics is a category that has several different levels of effort (light, moderate, vigorous).  If this is your first time starting out exercising and you find the exercise difficult, you may be tempted to select vigorous.  However, I would caution you that this may overestimate how many calories you have burned.  Vigorous aerobics would be a high intensity for someone who is fit.  Most likely, if you are just getting started, your effort level (from a calorie tracking perspective) will be light or moderate.  Don’t be discouraged.  Remember, measuring where we are is key to being able to affect change.  Be honest and accurate in what you are recording.  In the long run, accurate recording will pay off.

Healthy Eating

 

Power

Every athlete’s (and yes, you are an athlete) power starts in the same place.  Whether we start or stop, run hard, run faster, run longer is all controlled in the mind.

Present Moment

All of your power is in the present moment. 

It was this truth that released me from a lifetime of inner pain and turmoil.  The moment I recognized that the past is over, what is done is done, and that the future is a reflection of what I do each and every moment I was free from my old patterns of thought and behavior.  Right now I affect my path, in this very moment in time.  The past is over.  Yet much of our conflict seems to come from being caught in the past, past habits, thoughts of the past, carrying the pain of the past.

And as much as the past can stall our growth, so can simply wasting time thinking about things that have not occurred.  As I worry about the future, daydream without action my power is sitting idle.

Ghandi said,

“The future is determined by what happens in this moment.”

Your Power is Now

So as I ponder these things, I recognize that our lives are the summary of our choices – a compilation of all the actions and decisions we have made.  Digging deeper, it is easy to see that our lives are a reflection of our thoughts and specifically the thoughts that we act upon.  I have thousands upon thousands of thoughts every single day.  I do not respond to each of those thoughts.  There is a split second in the present moment where I choose to act.  It is at that very instant that I affect my path.  So simple really, yet so difficult to master.

“For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7

  • You think thoughts.
  • You choose to act.
  • You act.
  • Your action has an affect.
  • The affect of your action becomes reality.

If we wish to change our reality, we must start at the beginning… we must change the thoughts.

Our thoughts and the patterns that our thoughts take have been shaped and learned from a very early age.  For the longest time, I believed all of my thoughts, and that I had no means of changing the way that I think.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I am not my thoughts, I am greater than they are.  I am the awareness within, wading through the thoughts.

Your power is in this moment.  Control the thought, choose to act, change the path.
Believe simply that you CAN.

Sign Up – To Keep Motivated

People frequently say things like “I wish I had your motivation,” or “I don’t know how you keep motivated” as they are struggling with their efforts to get fit. While getting started is often the hardest part of leading a fitter lifestyle, staying motivated is the difference between getting the results you want and finding your way back into the old habits that led you to an unfit lifestyle to begin with. Finding focus is one thing; keeping focus is a completely different animal.

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Many times a conversation with a doctor, or a long hard look in the mirror will spur the recognition that you need to do something different and will drive you to those first difficult steps of starting. But weeks later, you find that motivation has started to fade or drifted away, the conversation with you doctor “wasn’t that bad, was it?” As humans, we have a great capacity to forget or with time, dismiss things that were once impactful and noteworthy. And if you have been leading a lifestyle that is not resulting in the physical health and fitness that you desire, slipping back into those old habits and forgetting why you wanted to start in the first place can happen to any of us, especially as the challenge of pushing yourself gets harder, long unused muscles get sore, and results aren’t instantaneous.

How do I do it? How do I stay motivated? It has been a process to say the least. Now at 43, I have found the combination of focus and desire that keep me going. It wasn’t always this way. I too had many cycles of start and stop, and start again. It is difficult to start, it is even more difficult to start again because we realize how far we had gotten the last time we started, how much work we had invested and we let it all go; we have to do it all again. For me, in time, the gaps between exercising and eating healthy and not have gotten smaller. What once use to measure months (or years) between starting again is now measured in days off.

Flowers Plantation Sprint Triathlon Fun

Dragging myself to the gym in pursuit of the almighty lower number on the scale did not offer me the pleasure, focus or motivation that would last a lifetime. As long as the scale was moving, I was happy and would continue. But we can’t lose weight forever, and as we get stronger and leaner, there is less to lose. When the number going down on the scale slowed down, so did my motivation. There were days when I would dread the smell of the gym, dread waiting for weights, or couldn’t bring myself to climb on that elliptical one more time.

“So what did you do,” you ask?

I found my focus in races. After much encouragement from friends, I ran my first 5K. It was hard, I was slow, and finished near the back of the pack. But I loved it. I felt such a sense of accomplishment, I loved being with the other runners, I loved feeling like a runner. That first race kicked off a cycle for me of setting short term goals, the goal of running my next event or race. It eventually led to longer term goals, thinking about races of long distances that would require more time to train for and thus kept me motivated. It gave me an identity. I was a runner.

10K Road Race

Signing up for a race, knowing that the date is out there and that money has been spent on it, that my friends know about it, that there is some cool gear and a medal waiting at the end has been the difference for me. It could be the thing you need to help you stick with your program.

Perhaps running isn’t your thing. There are many types of events or activities that you can get involved in. Swimming, cycling, walking, running, hiking, triathlon. Perhaps you don’t know how to swim. That’s ok, learning to swim will give you focus. It will give you some short term goals (I will learn to swim better) and some long term goals (I will be able to swim half a mile without stopping). 2 Mile Swim

Perhaps you have a bike.  There are some great for charity rides that you can commit to doing. These rides often have multiple distances, so you can find one that challenges you but that you can still manage.

Cycling

 

Maybe events aren’t your thing. That’s ok too. The key is to find something you truly enjoy doing. Getting results is great, and quick results that often happen after being sedentary for a long time can be motivational. But in time, if you don’t love what you are doing, you may find your motivation falling off when the number on the scale going down slows down. If you truly enjoy the activity you are doing, it could be the difference between sticking with your commitment to live healthier and finding yourself in the dreaded “start again” cycle. Doing something you love will help keep you focused through the plateaus that we all experience.  Remember, it’s what we do MOST of the time that matters.  Doing something because you enjoy it will keep you going back to that activity MOST of the time.  Loving your activity or activities will bring consistency to your fitness journey.

Sign up for your race today. You won’t know how much you love it, until you TRI.

i tri man

PPD Beach to Battleship Half Ironman October 17, 2015

PPD B2B held in Wilmington, NC has been rated as one of the top 10 triathlons to compete in. Having just completed the half iron distance this past weekend, I can confirm that it was an amazing race, well-organized, tremendous community support, outstanding traffic control, volunteer armies and a beautiful flat and fast (for some) course. This was my second half iron distance, my first occurring 5 months prior. It gives me pause to think of those having done the full distance … which would have been the equivalent of me doing both of my races on the same day. [I still can’t quite wrap my mind around that concept… though I had better soon figure it out as I have a full distance on my radar planned for the fall of 2017.]

As with any triathlon, there are the swim condition considerations, transitions, the bike course and whether it is hilly or flat, and then the run course. I’ll take you through my perspective of the experience. Keep in mind that I am not an elite athlete, but rather a full-time corporate manager with a huge passion for triathlon. What I lack in speed, I make up in determination. All that being said, let’s start at the beginning.

i tri manPre-Race

Packet pick up is usually first on the list of activities for any triathlon. Additionally there is usually some type of athlete meeting or briefing prior to the race, either the night before the race or race morning. For this race, because of the size of the race and complexity of transitions, the athlete’s meeting was available online weeks prior to the race. Before coming to packet pick up, athletes were required to view the video online, take a short test and print out verification that they had viewed the video and passed the test. Packet pick up occurred at the T2 (bike to run transition) location, the Wilmington Convention Center. It was incredibly organized and took me less than 5 minutes to retrieve my packet. There was a nice though smaller than expected expo. Inside the packet were my race numbers for run, bike and helmet, my body marking sport tattoos (very cool), my timing chip and chip strap, and my transition bags.

Transitions for the B2B were a little complex as the bike was a point to point ride, which meant that T1 (swim to bike) and T2 occurred in two different locations, versus the traditional T1 and T2 occurring together. This required some planning and organizational skills as the equipment that I needed for T2 had to be placed in one of the bags provided in my packet and left at the convention center the day before the race. In my T2 bag, I placed my running shoes, my gels for the run (though these weren’t necessary as they had Cliff Shot gels at about every 1.5 miles on the race course), an extra pair of socks, a visor, and my race number belt with number attached. I opted to keep my GPS watch with me and put it on at T1 after the swim.

After I checked in my T2 bag (hung my bag on a designated numbered rack where it remained until I showed up off the bike on race day), we headed over to check the bike in at T1 located at Wrightsville Beach. This was a mandatory bike check in. All bikes were checked in the evening before the race, and were guarded by police officers until race morning. Upon arriving at T1, the size of the race became clear as there were over a thousand bikes racked. It was amazing to see. I checked my air pressure in my tires and then pushed my bike to its designated rack. Each bike rack was numbered to hold 6 bikes. Once finding my proper rack, I racked my bike. There was no designated numbered spot on the rack, it was first come first serve. Athletes had the option of leaving their T1 bag with their bikes that evening or bringing the bag with them on race morning. I opted to bring my bag with me on race morning. I walked around and looked at all of the awesome bikes and met some athletes. After I said good night to Merlin (my Kestrel TT bike), we headed over to the water where the swim was to occur.

The swim was an inter-coastal water swim which meant that it was a salt water swim, but not out in the ocean. The race is such that the swim is in the direction of the incoming tide, so there is a fast current in the center of the channel that makes for a fast swim. The swim was also a point to point swim, which meant that on race morning they bused us over from T1 to the start of the swim and then we swam to the exit point and ran to T1. The distance from the exit of the swim to T1 was quite a long way (nearly 500 yards). Athletes were allowed to place shoes along the dock at the water exit so that they could slip them on to make the run back to T1. Highly recommend doing this if you are considering this race. The parking lot and road were very rough and with wet water-logged feet on a cool morning, this would have been painful in bare feet.   The day before the swim, at the swim exit, a member of race support was there with a detailed diagram of the swim and personal knowledge of the water and swim. He was very helpful at describing visual cues for the swim, landmarks and ways to avoid unnecessary extra swimming by cutting corners around siting buoys. His input was unbelievably valuable.

i tri manRace Day

For me, race morning followed a restless night of sleep, and I dreamt of the swim course, over and over and over. As I have never been a strong or fast swimmer, the swim is always one of the most challenging aspects of any triathlon for me. Needless to say, when the alarm when off I was happy to end my dream misery, get up and choke down my standard bowl of oatmeal and some coffee. I double checked my T1 transition bag and made sure I had all of the necessities:

  • Bike helmet
  • Bike shoes
  • GPS watch
  • Heart rate monitor
  • Fuel for the bike
  • Gatorade for my water bottles on the bike
  • Sunglasses
  • Socks
  • Towel
  • Wetsuit
  • Body glide (Desitin)
  • Goggles
  • Ear plugs

My bag equipment confirmed, I then began the application of the sport tattoos / self-body marking. They were very easy to apply, though a little hard to read as when you placed them on your body you had to remember they were backwards until you pealed the backing off. Once they were on, they stayed on perfectly (for days!).

The drive to T1 was easy, not much traffic.  There were buses that departed from downtown Wilmington to Wrightsville Beach for athletes only.  Tickets were required and had to be purchased prior to race morning to secure a spot on the buses.  My supportive husband who acts as bike training partner, SAG, photographer, cheerleader and chef also acted as taxi on race morning.  I entered T1 just as the announcer was calling for all full distance athletes to load onto the buses that were headed to the start of the full swim.  I fill up my water bottles and fuel bag on the bike, laid my helmet on my aero bars with heart rate monitor, sunglasses and GPS watch.  I placed my socks in my shoes neatly beside my bike (as flying mounts are not in my wheelhouse yet).  With everything set, I carried my wetsuit, goggles, earplugs and swim cap out to catch one of the trolleys heading to the swim start for the half.Bus to Swim Start

The athletes only were allowed on the buses to the swim start.  Spouses rode bikes or found other means over to the swim start (which was about 1.5 miles from the T1 area).  It was very chilly and windy.  Folks were bundled up in old clothes that once shed, would be collected for the Salvation Army.

Finally, the long-awaited call for the athletes to make our way to the water.  The water was 72F and actually felt warm after standing out in the chilly 55F morning air.  The current was very fast in the middle of the channel and once each wave made their way to the start (in water / treading water start) – they had to struggle a little to keep behind the starting line.

Swim2

It was a good swim, lot’s of visual cues to help with siting.  Lot’s of lifeguards on paddle boards so it was very easy to keep track of where to head.  It was, though a fairly fast swim, still a challenge for me.  Swimming is not my strength and such I had to work initially to not panic when I drank my first mouthful of salty water and then settle in to my comfortable pace.  As a solid middle of the pack triathlete, I am very comfortable with my abilities and recognize that the race for me is vastly different from what some of the elite / front-runners are experiencing.  Everyone’s motivations for racing are different; everyone’s challenges in racing are different; everyone’s outcomes are different; but always your race is your own.

Making it up out of the water is always a joyous event for me.  At the top of the ladders, there were volunteers assisting with wetsuit removal.  They were incredible.  My wetsuit was off in 2 seconds flat.  I ran to my shoes and slipped them on and then continued my 400 yard dash back across the street to T1.  Once I got to my bike, I put on my bike gear and placed my wetsuit, cap and goggles into the T1 bag, tied it, and left it on the ground by my bike rack.

Swim1

On to the bike next.  It was a little windy, with an 8 – 10 mph wind straight out of the north.  Mile 10 – 35 was due north, so I knew I was in for a grind.  The ride did not disappoint.

T1

Bike Mount Line

Triathlon is a lonely sport.  In the water there is only you and your breath.  On the bike, often for miles you will ride alone only seeing someone long enough to pass or be passed, the quick “good job” and then back to your bike computer and your breath.  It was a beautiful roll, the roads were in great condition.  Mostly flat, there were a few overpasses and some small rollers but nothing challenging.  Having cooked it on the bike in my first half this past spring, I purposefully took a slower pace on the bike in hopes of saving my legs a little for the run.

Coming into T2 at the Wilmington Convention Center was a really cool experience.  As we dismounted and headed up the ramp into the center, a volunteer took your bike.  I continued around the hall in the convention center as other volunteers were announcing my number and retrieving my T2 bag that I had hung in the Convention Center the evening before.  With bag in hand, I headed over to the women’s changing area which was super nice.  I changed out of the bikes shoes and took the helmet off, put on  running shoes, placed all the bike gear back into the bag, tied it up and handed it to a volunteer as I exited the Convention Center onto the run course.  The transitions were very long, but the facilities were super nice.

The run was a relatively flat course with a wretched hill at about mile 1.5 (up) and again at mile 12 (down).  It was an out and back loop with the majority of the run taking place on a nice trail around the park.  The town was super awesome to run through as many of the restaurants and shops had folks outside cheering.  The aid stations were super entertaining and had wonderful, friendly, supportive volunteers.

Run1

For me the run was super challenging as I struggled with my left IT band starting at about mile 3.  Dealing with the pain every step was rough, but with the encouragement from the volunteers and spectators, I kept with it and completed the race in  6 hours and 33 minutes.

Run2 Finishers Chute

PPD Beach to Battleship is truly an amazing experience!  If you haven’t yet… TRI it!!!

Happy training!

From Couch to 13.1 …. to 70.3

Where I started, how this whole thing began.  Take your first step… who knows where it will take you.

Tim Kennard 10 Miler Start

On April 28th of 2012, I ran in the Ocean City, MD Island to Island 1/2 Marathon. It was an amazing experience, one that I will never forget. Over the days that followed the race, many friends and family members congratulated me on my race. My husband expressed great pride in my accomplishment; especially since I beat my goal time by almost 8 minutes.

This post is not about the 1/2 marathon race… but the path that led me to the race. Many of the people I work with assume that I am some awesome runner… that running has come naturally to me, that running is something I have done since I was young. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Those same people think that a half marathon is something that they could never do – an activity that is beyond their reach. They are wrong again.

About three years ago, I reached an all-time personal high for my body weight. Previously a fairly active and fit person (particularly through my high school and college years), life had settled in around me and my level of physical activity had significantly declined. With my decrease in activity also came my emotional eating. I was using food for comfort and to help me deal with times of boredom. I had gained almost 20 lbs. since the time I had met my husband. I felt terrible about my physical appearance and lack of discipline when it came to food.

I remember the day that a friend of mine mentioned a series of 5K races that was held over the summer locally. He was very encouraging and suggested that I should sign up and run. He said “you will love it.” I recall thinking that 3.1 miles was a long way, and that I wasn’t sure I could do it. Throw in the fact that it was a “race” and I was nothing but skeptical and nervous. Later that same week, my husband continued to encourage me to give it a try. So, I took him up on it. I knew I was in no shape to run a 5K in my current state and that I would need to start training.

So began the path to my first 5K. Little did I know it was the start of my path to my half marathon. I remember that day – it was in early April – still fairly cool for the spring where I live. I stepped out in my sweat pants and sweat shirt and some gloves.

I was off down the road with a 2 mile run planned. In my mind here are the thoughts that were racing through:

i tri man

The first 10 seconds of my run: I can do this. I use to run 2 miles all the time in high school. No problem!

30 seconds into my run: Dear God, was it this hard to breathe back then? Gosh my lungs hurt.

1 minute into my run (about 0.10 miles in): This sucks. I hate running. Why am I doing this??

1 minute and 2 seconds into my run: [Stopping to walk / hunched over gasping] Are you F@#*!NG kidding me?

tired-runner-cartoon

I ended up only covering about 1 full mile that day (and that is probably being generous), more than half of it I walked. It was, hands down, the worst physical fitness activity of my life.

I waited about 3 days before I tried again (because I was so sore and so frustrated I couldn’t bring myself to try again immediately). Day 2 of training was not much better. I got exactly 1 neighborhood block farther than my first “run” before I had to double over and gasp. I covered no more total ground. What I recall thinking that day – “Well, ok, I got one block farther for I had to walk. That’s something.”

What I didn’t realize was how quickly my body would respond to the training when I stuck with it. Within 2 weeks I was able to “run” 1 mile, walk for a bit and then continue running covering about 2 miles. Within 4 weeks, I was able to run (albeit slowly) for 2 miles without stopping in about 30 minutes.

Now…don’t get me wrong. It was very hard. And everything hurt. My feet, my legs, my lungs all experience pain. I remember being very sore. I remember showing a gain in weight after about 3 weeks and feeling frustrated. Folks kept telling me it was muscle, but I sure didn’t feel better hearing that. (I didn’t know at the time that my blood volume was actually increasing to accommodate the higher demand for oxygen that my body was requiring during my training).

I ran my first 5K in late May of that year and posted a time of 36 minutes and 57 seconds. I ran faster in the race than I had in any of my training runs. The energy of the race was exhilarating. Running with other people, even though they were much better runners than me, gave me more energy and resulted in a real sense of accomplishment. The winner of that race ran the 5K in 15 minutes and 22 seconds.

But for me, seeing myself doing better with each run was enough motivation and brought enough satisfaction that it drove me forward. It just felt good to be trying.

I was not a very disciplined runner and during the first year was very inconsistent. There were 10 x 5K races that summer and I ran in about 4 of them. At the end of the season there was a 10 miler.

During the 8 weeks leading up to the 10 miler, I decided to give it a try. I was really not running any faster, but thought that to go that far would be an awesome accomplishment. I ran the race in September of 2010 and thought my legs were going to fall off of my body. It was the most painful running experience I had ever felt. My breathing was fine, I felt like I had more energy – but the muscles in my hips and legs were so fatigued, I could barely lift my legs to walk across the finish line. I ran my first 10 miler in 1 hour and 51 minutes.

First 10 Miler 2

I took the winter off that year (starting right after the 10 miler) and did not start jogging / running again until about late February. That next summer I ran in about 6 of the 5Ks (my fastest was the first one of the season at 27 minutes and 53 seconds) and ran the end of season 10 miler again, finishing this time in 1 hour and 41 minutes. While I was able to pick up my legs this time, I was still completely wiped out at the end of that 10 mile race. The winter came, but I continued to jog about once or twice a week – short jogs of about 2 to 3 miles.

Close to Christmas time another friend of mine suggested a 1/2 marathon to me. I laughed out loud at the thought of trying to run 3.1 more miles after running 10 miles. She continued to encourage me and true to form I accepted the challenge. I looked online for a beginner’s half marathon training guide and followed it. The plan indicated that the training would take 12 weeks. I began my formal training in February of that year.

And so the official path to the half was recognized. I learned a lot, talked to other runners, gained insight about fueling during the race. Each day brought learnings about my body, about my mental toughness, about my how committed I was.

I completed the 1/2 marathon in 2 hours and 2 minutes, (my 10 mile time during the 1/2 marathon was 1 hour and 34 minutes).

I say all of these things not to pat myself on the back, but to let you know that if you just put one foot in front of the other, and stick with it, the beautiful creation that is the human body will respond to your effort.

It won’t happen all at once. It will be hard work. But it is so worth it. The experiences that I have had, the accomplishment that I have felt, the response my body has had (I’ve lost 10.2 lbs. of the 20 lbs. that I gained) – no one can take that away. And there is nothing magical or special about me. I am not a professional athlete. I am not physically gifted. I have simply put one foot in front of the other and done it.

The smallest effort – if done with desire, focus and commitment will pay off. But I warn you now, if you are open and willing to put forth that small effort, be prepared for it to grow into greater effort…. be prepared for it to grow into ideas and challenges of which you never thought yourself capable.

70.3 White Lake Half Ironman

P.S.  Nearly 2 years after writing this post…. I went on to complete my first half Ironman.  Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think such an amazing challenge would be for me.  My initial ideas did indeed take me places I never thought myself capable….

I am a runner…

Yes, I am a runner….though I am not a good runner. But then, what is a good runner? A fast runner? A runner with amazing endurance? These things are irrelevant to me, the runner, while I am running.

Dewey Beach 10 Miler 2

My husband is also a runner. He is significantly faster than me. He can run farther than I can run. You may conclude that he is a better runner than I. But to me – these attributes are simply descriptive and nothing more. My husband asked me the other day, “Do you enjoy running?” We were talking about how much he enjoyed running. He loved heading out on a weekend morning and just running around the roads, listening to music, looking around and moving.

I thought for a moment and responded with this,

“No. I do not enjoy the act of running. It is very hard and can be painful. But I absolutely love the results of running, so much so that I am driven to continue and to do it again on a new day.”

And I meant every word. Running was horrible when I first started in my adult life. It was so hard, I almost quit. I remember not being able to breathe, I remember not being able to run for more than about a minute before I had to stop. Now, a few years later, I am able to run faster than I did and for longer distances than I did – but the physical challenge is still there. It is a different feeling of challenge, but still riddled with pain and does require a level of mental commitment and focus that pushes me to limits.

Many of my friends and co-workers often seem amazed that I run. They talk about how they could never run and usually start to list a miriad of issues that prevents them from running. While I don’t doubt that they think they can’t run, I am fairly certain that there is nothing magical or special about me that I do run. In my heart I believe the biggest difference is simply in the doing. I have committed to putting one foot in front of the other and just doing it. They have not. That is really the only difference.

Now, I can tell you that there are many “mistakes” that new runners make that prevent them from continuing to run. The number 1 mistake that folks new to running make is that they start out running too fast. If you have not run ever in your life or if you haven’t done it in years, then the reality is that you have no gauge for how fast you are traveling. Most new runners begin their jogging / running at a blistering pace, one that is not sustainable without months (or even years) of training. I think for me when I started, there was a mental image of how fast runners were traveling and I just set out at a pace that seemed like running. Within 30 seconds I was gasping for air, and within 1 minute I was hunched over unable to catch my breath. Entirely too fast.

The best rule of thumb for starting a running program – go slow. You should be able to have and sustain a conversation while you are running / jogging. If you can’t… slow down. You may need to intermingle some periods of walking if you are really out of shape – jog at a comfortable pace for one to 2 minutes, then walk for 30 seconds, then resume jogging. The most important thing – just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Forget about how fast you are running. Forget about how far you are running. Simply move.

Running is a process. It is a meditation. There is a mental aspect that has become the more important / more challenging aspect of running for me. The body will respond to the work that you invest. Your heart will become stronger, your muscles will become stronger, you will become more efficient, and if you are balancing your food / nutrition – you will even lose weight. Some days you will run easier than others, some days it will feel like a burden; it is the commitment to the movement… it is the doing that matters.

Dewey Beach 10 Miler

Me (on the left) running in my 2nd 10 miler.

When I listen to my husband talk about his experience running – I am envious. I desire to feel running the same way that he does. He tells me that it is even more impressive that I find running so hard and I continue to do it.

Perhaps.

But … remember… I am a runner.

There is no judgement from the pavement. The wind does not care my direction or pace. The sun lights my path, the stars guide my way.

I am a runner.