Survival of the Fittest: Triple Bypass Ride 2014

Going back to the dead of winter, I am still not quite sure what I was thinking when I clicked the submit button to register for the Triple Bypass.  I had local friends give me lots of training advice from mental cues, do’s and don’ts, how to handle being a flatlander in high altitude, nutrition, where to train locally…All I can say is almost every piece of info went out the window once I  sat down on the saddle.

DAY 1

So let’s skip forward to the trip, you do not need to be bored to death hearing about my long winter on the spinning bike and indoor trainer.  From the get go, I had planned to go with my friend Jim and his wife Kay (she was just tagging along for the trip), my friend Kristen who decided to sign up for the the ride to give her motivation post chemo, and the one’s who talked me into the ride Bob and Stephanie.  Long story short, Bob and Stephanie had to drop kids off along the way to Colorado so we never got to connect, Kristen decided recovery was not going so well so better pass on the ride this year, so the road trip ended up just being Jim, Kay, and little me (literally).

Time to hit the road for the Rockies!

Time to hit the road for the Rockies!

Having fun at the roadside pitstops in the middle of Nebraska.

Having fun at the roadside pitstops in the middle of Nebraska.

The road trip was fun as they always are.  We cruised west on I-80 and once we crossed into Colorado, I knew this ride was for real.  Once we could start seeing hints of snow in the mountains, my mindset started to change a bit.  Kay was nice enough to pull up the ride info on my phone, yeah probably not the reminder I needed to see.

Triple Bypass Day 1 Elevation

Triple Bypass Day 1 Elevation

Once we arrived and got settled we headed up I-70 to Evergreen to pick up our packet and get a feel for the start of the ride.  I fell in love with the town almost immediately, just much more mellow version of Estes.  We played tourists a bit,checking out the lake, downtown, local bar and grill, and hit the bike shop for our race packet.  I about fell over laughing when I opened it up and in very easy to read print, ” First Timer”!!!

Bike, helmet, and wrist sticker!

Bike, helmet, and wrist sticker!

 

 

 

 

DAY 2

We were lucky enough to be staying with some folks the split time between Omaha and Colorado.  I had never met them before, but through the cycling groups, was familiar with their names.  Our one host, Garrett, was nice enough to take us on a ride the day before the big day to get slightly acclimated to the altitude and climbing.  We cruised all over the foothills of Littleton, around Red Rocks, the Manor, and some beautiful residential neighborhoods.  The one thing that surprised both Jim and I was how rude drivers were to cyclists.  For being such an active, healthy area, most drivers did not give us 3 feet when passing, sat on their horns behind us, and just drove erratic.  But this little taste of riding in Colorado at about 6,000 feet of elevation gave me a small taste of what to expect.  My legs felt fine, but the lungs were definitely angry and neck was already acting up.  During the ride  Garrett who lives and trains in Colorado and has done this ride many times gave us lots of advice for Saturday.  The three tips that I listened to were, take it easy on the downhills-don’t get too close to the riders; keep your head up; and do not stop at the first aid station.  Overall the ride was what we all needed.  The rest of the day was spent playing tourist in Boulder, getting the bikes tuned up, carb loading for the big day, and packing a full day’s worth of  riding which was an adventure in itself.

Jim, Kay, Garret, and myself at the Manor.

Jim, Kay, Garret, and myself at the Manor.

Day 3

Alarm went off at 4:15.  Pretty used to that from all the races and events I have done over the years.  First thing I felt when I got up was that the pasta dinner from the night before was probably not the best idea.  Lovely, I knew from the get go that the binding in my gut would be an issue.  We were ready to roll under a full moon and made the drive up to Evergreen.  I had hoped to connect with Bob and Stephanie, since I ride with Stephanie, but could never get through to her :(  Once we parked and unloaded everything we rolled up to the start, hit the bathroom, and boom it was go time.  We started off slow because of the large pack of riders, but it spread out pretty quick, and of course Garrett was already long gone.  Oddly enough, a rider, Tom that I had connected with on Twitter was doing the ride and I had given him info about what I was wearing and to look for a short girl with a tall guy.  A few miles in to the ride and to no surprise, here comes Tom.  It was nice to connect in person with him since over the winter he had given me some good training advice.  He road with us for a while then took off.  And as soon as Tom left the ride started to become more real.  The climb to the top of Juniper Pass (thank goodness it was not Mt. Evans) was about 16 miles and took 2 hours.  Slow and steady climbing is all we did.  The oddest thing for me was to do a seated climb the entire time.  I am so used to standing to sprint up hills.  I told Jim about halfway up the climb that this ride was going to be a survival ride.  There is just no way to train properly for long climbs in high altitude.  So we did survive and made it to the pass where there was an aid station.  We listened to Garrett’s advice and did not really stop.  But I am glad we stopped for 30 seconds to roll back on our arm sleeves.  Nobody ever told me how flippin cold it gets on descents.  That first descent scared the crap out of me.  Tight twisty unexpected turns, crazy cyclists flying 55+ mph without their hands on the brakes, and bitterly cold.  And to top it off, my descents in the midwest are usually no more than 1/4 mile long, try  10+ mile decents.  When we got to the bottom in Idaho Spings I could hardly feel my hands, feet, and neck was an absolute mess.  I tried to use my IMBA Instructor skills on the decent, feathering the brakes with level pedals and butt behind the seat, but that constant grabbing in the drops just beat me up.  After that descent it was time to pop some Aleve, refill my Tailwind, stretch and get back to it.

The next section of the ride was beautiful and pretty relaxing.  We went through some fun mining towns right off of I-70.  We had a great experience in Georgetown getting to ride the trail as the train we going over the bridge.  Hearing that horn blow with the black cloud of smoke was just amazing.  We took a few stops in that area to get some awesome pics.

Photo time in Georgetown

Photo time in Georgetown

We continued climbing and then ended up on the bike path from hell.  I got excited when we went on a smooth and pretty bike path, but like Juniper Pass, the climb kept going and going and going.  Garrett said that climb was about 16 miles long.  If there was a moment I could have thrown in the towel, this would have been the spot.  This evil little trail was my all time low of the day.  My mind went to the bad place, my body shut down, I felt like crap, and was temporarily done.  And the worst part was knowing that we were not even halfway, still had 2 mountain passes, and the day was getting away from us quickly.  But somehow we did survive and then heard the rumbles and saw the big dark cloud.  We got extremely lucky to be at the Loveland Basin and ducked under the interstate just in time for the rain to hit.  We put on our rain gear, checked in with Kay, and once the rain passed we made our way to the aid station to take off our rain gear and prepare ourselves for Loveland Pass.

So Loveland Pass was the most difficult, but also my favorite.  It was the middle of the day, sun was shining bright on us, and this climb was a big one.  When I think of bike rides in the mountains, this pass is what I think of.  Steep, a bit more windy, steep drop offs that make the belly drop and the knees buckle, above the treeline, and even snow.  We did have to stop a few times on this pass to check our heart rate, mentally readjust, and of course take some photos.  My lungs were definitely in overdrive on this pass, but oddly enough, my heart rate was only at about 100.  Jim was working just as hard on this pass and it showed.  But gosh darn it, we did it and made it up to the highest elevation of the day.  If we had time, it would have been fun to play around at the top of the pass.  Lots of back country trails just screaming my name to be ran or ridden.  Will put that idea on my bucket list.

Loveland Pass looking up to the road above.

Loveland Pass looking up to the road above.

 

 

2/3 of the way up Loveland Pass

2/3 of the way up Loveland Pass

Loveland Pass Elevation 11,990

Loveland Pass Elevation 11,990

 

 

So once we got to the top, once again it was time to head down the mountain.   At least I knew what to expect this time and dressed more properly.  It was just as cold this time, but we were excited to get to the bottom, Kay was meeting us somewhere in Keystone with a Coke for us!  The oddest thing about this decent was the strange boulders laying on the road.  I just figured they rolled there, but Jim said that he looked over and saw some Billy Goats pushing them on the road with their heads.  Very dangerous, but very funny.  Once were rolled into Keystone I was content and zen.  I knew Kay was waiting for us and knew some mountain bike friends from Omaha were up at the top of Keystone racing their hearts out.  It gave me a fresh perspective on the day and seemed to give me a bit of a jumpstart.  My friends on top of Keystone actually got a pick of where we had just come from and it definitely gave me a fresh perspective of this ride.  Wow, those mountains in Colorado are huge!

At the top of Keystone looking towards Loveland Pass.

At the top of Keystone looking towards Loveland Pass and Lake Dillon.

So after the quick visit with Kay it was time to head towards Cooper Mountain and Vail Pass.  Oh goody, another slow climbing bike path.  Not as bad as the first one, but I was done with bike paths.  We took our time and of course survived again.  Cooper Mountain was again a breath of fresh air and knowing Vail was our last climb was a good feeling.  Plus everyone said the Vail climb was pretty and was not as challenging.  Very true, but when you are tired, a mountain pass is a mountain pass.  But we did the climb in preparation for our long 25+ mile descent into Avon.  Once again, I was not warned about this descent.  I was truly scared.  It was on a tight and windy bike trail going the opposite direction of I-70 traffic with no barrier.  I definitely did go slower on this descent, maybe capping at 38 mph, which is still insanely fast on a carbon fiber frame with two skinny tires separating me from the pavement.  But we did do it.  I kept looking at my watch and realized we had taken too much time at the rest areas and for photo opps that we were going to miss the shuttle from Avon to Evergreen.  Thank goodness for Kay, she drove to Avon to wait for us!  It was such a relief to see a familiar face at the finish line screaming our names.  We were beyond done with the ride, but having her at the finish was icing on the cake.

Finish Line in Avon

Finish Line in Avon

The only thing that was disheartening was finishing such a monster ride to find out they ran out medals :(  I hope to see one in the mail soon, but til then I have my memories, stories, photos, and personal experience.

 

So in a nutshell, I am crazy enough to have done the Triple Bypass Ride.  Would I do it again, I am not sure.  I at least would know what to expect, but training is an issue in the midwest.  This is an experience I will never forget and feel as a coach, athlete, cyclist, triathlete, and person I have grown physically, mentally, and emotionally.  And I conquered one of the hardest ride in the US!  Thank you to my family, friends, and athlete community for the love, support, and encouragement.

Woman returns to Omaha Triathlon two years after nearly dying there – Live Well Nebraska: Fitness

Woman returns to Omaha Triathlon two years after nearly dying there – Live Well Nebraska: Fitness.

 

I am proud to be able to share this article written about my client who had a near death experience during a race two years ago.  As her coach, it is an honor to have helped her overcome her fear and tackle the same lake that almost took her life!  Read on.

First Open Water Swim for 2014

Folks, last night was the first official open water swim in Omaha, NE hosted by Race Omaha. Not only is it a great test of how winter training has gone, it gives you a chance to test out the wetsuit, acclimate to the water and strange things floating, get used to other swimmers, and just to get out the race jitters. I had not open water swam in over a year thanks to my injury last summer, but hopping in the lake felt awesome. I went in with the mentality that I was going to be a coach rather than an athlete and that is exactly what I was. I stayed with the end of the pack to sweep up the slower swimmers and to make sure they were ok. My main focus was my own triathlon group that I have been training for the past 11 weeks, but I also lent a hand to many other novice open water swimmers. One gal who I have known for a few years posted this on facebook today and felt I should share it:

“First open water swim is half excitement and happy adrenaline and half pure terror. This one was no different. It is ALWAYS a very humbling experience. Fellow Goat Kim Cottingham McSheehy was kind enough to loan me her shorty wetsuit ….it fit perfect on shore. Not constricting, maybe a little loose in spots but not much. I was excited to get in the water. I always start slow and sidestroke to the first buoy to allow my anxiety to pass, heart rate to settle in and breathing to relax. I usually visit with other swimmers until I get warmed up. I did just that and it was nice heading out with Heather Jenneman.

After the initial buoy I felt good, rolled over and began freestyle. Arms felt a little heavy because there was some looseness in the armpit area but not a biggie, I had taken on a bit of water in my suit but didn’t think much of it. Then Heather McCowen Dall swam up and asked if I was ok because I had a huge bubble of fabric on my backside. She was concerned for my safety and that I might take on too much water and have issues further out. Since Heather is a tri coach, I respect her opinion and know she would not mention it unless there was a valid concern……being the safety conscious swimmer I am, I reluctantly turned back toward shore. I knew it was the right choice because as I swam back I noticed more boginess. Damn, thought I had a suit I could fit in.

Did throw in the towel and get dressed? Nope, stripped of the suit and checked if there were any sleeveless exterra demos I could fit in…..nothing my size. Women’s only goes to xl and we all know how that went yesterday. They did however have lava pants……wetsuit pants. Hmmmmm, maybe that’s the answer. I tried an xl and they seemed to fit although the rise seemed a bit low. I like a higher “mom” rise but Heather went out with me while I tried them out. Seemed good at first but went out a bit more and came back they began to work their way down despite a drawstring. When I walked up the ramp I had a good ghetto sag and swimmer crack going! Gonna need to size those babies up to an xxl to go over my apple butt and dough belly. Yeah, it’s a great vision isn’t it? Add my smiley face yellow have a nice day minion swim cap and multicolor goggles and you know I looked HOT. Lol.

Also got back in without any wetsuit and figured I could go without if necessary but I really liked the buoyancy of the lava pants to navigate thru that f’ing mass of yucky seaweed. If anyone has a used pair of wetsuit pants that are a unisex size xl or xxl with a regular rise that I could try that would be awesome! I am glad Angie Boyer Zimmer could use my wetsuit I could not. I loved that suit but it did not love me back. Even though I didn’t get my full loop in, I had a good evening trying out new equipment, including my awesome new TYR polarized goggles from Red Dirt! Next week I will be mentally ready to go the full distance no matter what and hopefully score a well fitting pair of wetsuit pants.” Courtesty of Deb Bahr

I greatly appreciate the shout out from a friend and fellow triathlete.  I say this over and over again to my folks, safety first, especially in the water.  Do not mess with water, ever.  If something feels off, get out and correct it.  I also swam with a client who a few years ago had a near death experience in this exact lake.  She was very nervous last night, but I had her only go to the first buoy, turn around, and repeat.  Once she was comfortable, we went out together further and she was fine.  Some of the nerves are just having confidence in the water, but never underestimate the lake.  Water is and can be very dangerous, safety first.

Myself with Deb!

Myself with Deb!

A good portion of my Prairie Life Fitness Triathlon group before the open water swim!

A good portion of my Prairie Life Fitness Triathlon group before the open water swim!

May is National Running Month

I tend to ignore all the invites I get on facebook. But for some reason yesterday I clicked on one and it was an invite for running one mile per day for the entire month of May to celebrate National Running Month. I clicked yes right away and realized after saying yes, that this is actually a big challenge between work and kids starting summer vacation. But I have a promise to myself to do this. Not only will it keep my legs strong for triathlon season, I can include the whole family and motivate and inspire others. And of course my brain started spinning last night and after a quick email to my boss at the gym, I realized why not stop at me, let’s invite everyone at my gym. So are you up for the challenge run 1 mile per day for the entire month of May???

Here is the form I created for work.  Feel free to do something similar.  Let’s get energized and help make everyone a little healthier!  As my friends at Swiftwick would say, “Do What Moves You”

PLF 1 MILE RUNNING CHALLENGE

Training and Race Day Stress (part 1)

I have been struggling to find the perfect topic to discuss, but no worries, I have came up with the perfect topic to discuss prior to most races. Do any of you struggle with anxiety or stress during training or a race????? I would like to say I don’t but the reality is, we all stress a bit. And this stress can be related to many factors. I want to pr at my race, I hate swimming in open water, I had a bad crash on the bike and do not have the confidence, I have been battling injuries while training-what will happen on race day…

nerves
So how do we handle this stress? Let me highlight a few of the bigger problems so during your training you can work on your stress level to be more confident at the race.
#1 Avoiding burnout from training:
This is a huge problem, but luckily for triathlete’s this is not as big of a problem since you are training for 3 disciplines and hopefully doing some weights and yoga. Best solution to burnout, is to not look at the big picture, but to set daily or weekly goals instead. I have some monster training plans, but refuse to look ahead, one week at a time. I just told a client today who is struggling with some injuries due to overuse, that her body is burning out from the hard training and to take a week off. Yes she grumbled, but she gets it. Even though it may seem like a set back, taking time off will help let the body reset.

#2 Motivation:
Motivation is similar to burnout, but different in that you need to set goals. These goals are the key to staying motivated. When you get off track you need to reassess and adjust accordingly. I oddly enough have more clients that do a large group training than individual training I believe that the large group training is what keeps them motivated. You find those people at similar skill levels and you can push one another. I will let you in on a little trainer secret. When setting race goals, don’t just set a race goal. I always ask clients to write down the race they are training for, a realistic goal, a future/better than normal race day goal, and just had a bad race day goal. When trying to motivate oneself, we need to remind ourselves that not every day is the same. There are a lot of factors in a triathlon from weather, mechanical issues, tough race course, injuries, nutrition problems, etc. So in a nutshell, set goals and throughout your training keep reminding yourself of your goals!

#3 Swim Anxiety:

This is probably the number one issue for triathletes, especially beginner triathletes.  It is almost impossible to replicate an open water swim in a pool which for most of us is where we have been training during the long cold winter month.  Discussing all the tips and drills for open water swimming and how to use a wetsuit is a totally separate article.  If there is one tip I can give, swim a lot.  Become confident with your stroke, swim with people in your lane and get used to getting hit, kicked, jabbed, goggles getting knocked off.  These are some of the more common issues during the swim portion of a race.  Like I said, we cannot mimic a lake when we are in the pool but we can at least get our brains prepared for what is to come.  And as soon as it is warm, get in a lake and practice.  Lakes can be dark, smelly, spooky, strange things floating, fish nibbling, etc. so by getting into a lake many times prior to a race will help you to be prepared race day.  Luckily in Omaha, the Race Omaha series offers open water swim practices which is a great way to get some of the jitters out prior to race day.  I cannot promise that the jitters will be gone race day, but we can eliminate some of the guessing ahead of time.

Hopefully by discussing some of the basic things that lead to stress will help you to identify your individual stressors and ways to help deal with them.  If you have questions, please let me know.  I do not want to call myself an expert by any means, but am experienced as a racer, coach, and race volunteer.  I have experienced all of these at some point during my training and race days.

Part 2 (Focus, confidence, race day anxiety)

 

 

If You Run Slow, Who Cares?????

Folks, once again I cannot take credit for this article, but feel that it send a very important message to runners, the power of positive thinking and that running is simply put, running. Be proud of your accomplishments whether big or small, don’t stress about the PR’s, make running a healthy and fun lifestyle versus beating yourself up about speed and time. Please take a moment to read this and reflect…

Content courtesy of Competitor.com

When I first started working with age group and recreational runners in 2006, one of the biggest surprises to me was the amount of negative thinking and lack of self-confidence many runners exhibited. Almost every runner that joined the group introduced themselves to me by stating “I’m probably the slowest person you’ve ever coached” or “you probably don’t work with runners as slow as I am.”

It didn’t matter what their personal bests actually were, almost all conversations started in a similar manner.

Unfortunately, I’ve found that not much has changed in the last seven years. Many runners, both new and experienced, hesitate to join local running groups or participate in online communities. When asked why, most respond that they are embarrassed by how slow they are.

I’m here to tell you that you’re not slow and that this negative, self-deprecating thinking is only holding you back from your true potential!

I’ll admit, this article won’t be as grounded in scientific research and specific how-to advice as my usual pieces. However, shifting your mindset about how you perceive yourself is more important than any workout or training run you could ever do.

The Power Of Positive Thinking

From a pure performance perspective, thinking negatively can inhibit you from achieving your potential. While thinking you’re slow may seem harmless, every time you preface a statement with the phrase, “I know I am slow, but …” you condition your mind to believe that you can never be fast.

Countless research studies in sports psychology have proven the power of positive thinking and self-talk. Athletes who go into a workout or race with positive thoughts perform significantly better and more consistently than those who approach workouts and races with a negative attitude.

Reframing your belief in yourself starts before a workout or race. If you’re negative and lack self-confidence throughout your training, no amount of pre-race self-talk and mental preparation is going to undo weeks or months of self-deprecation. Positive thinking starts with how you frame every aspect of your running.

I understand that it’s hard to change your perception of your running ability, so here is some helpful advice:

Regardless Of Your Speed, Running Is The Same

Here’s a secret about running. The feeling you get after a new PR, the satisfaction from a tough workout well done, and the disappointment from a bad performance all feel the same no matter how fast you are. That’s the beauty of our sport.

There is no difference between the runner who breaks 30 minutes for the 5K for the first time and the one that breaks 16 minutes. Both worked hard, sacrificed to achieve their goal, and experienced the same challenges.

That means all runners can relate to each other, no matter their speed.

I’ve run under 29 minutes for a 10K. I still get nervous about finishing last (in fact, I have the distinguished accomplishment of finishing second-to-last at two consecutive U.S. championships), there’s still a lot I don’t know about training, and I have had more than my fair share of bad workouts, injuries, and poor races.

Therefore, there’s no need to preface any of your questions or thoughts about running with “I am slow.” I’m fast and I face the same challenges and fears. All runners do.

There’s Always Someone Faster

Unless you’re Kenenisa Bekele, Mo Farah or Galen Rupp, chances are there is always going to be someone faster than you. Fast is relative.

I get it. You run 12 or 15 minutes per mile and are embarrassed to call yourself a runner because a lot of people are faster. Here’s a secret: “fast” runners feel the same way.

Former professional runner Ryan Warrenburg recently discussed how he’s hesitant to call himself an “elite” runner. Ryan has run 13:43 for a 5K — I’d call that fast and worthy of elite status. Do you know where his time ranks him in the world? I don’t because it’s way outside the top 500 (sorry, Ryan).

What’s Wrong With Being ‘Slow?’

OK, so I can’t convince you that being “slow” is all a frame of reference. So I’ll ask you, why does being slow even matter?

Runners are perhaps the most welcoming and friendly group of athletes I’ve ever met. No runner I know has a problem slowing down to run with a friend. Think about it. Would you enjoy a run with a friend, even if you had to slow down considerably for them to keep up? I bet you would, and your running group feels the same.

Second, regardless of your pace, you’re doing better than almost 80 percent of Americans. In a study conducted by the CDC, researchers found that less than 20 percent of Americans get the recommended levels of exercise, and more than a quarter of U.S. adults do not devote any time to physical activity.

I hope you can look at some of these statistics and insights from runners who are “fast” and realize speed is merely a state of mind. Once you can reframe your thoughts on your speed and potential, you open yourself up for great things to happen with your training and racing.

The next time you want to join a running club, ask a question to a fellow runner, or want to sign up for a race but get nervous about “being slow,” ask yourself this: “Does it really matter?”

Read more at http://womensrunning.competitor.com/2014/04/training-tips/if-you-run-slow-who-cares_22791#o5fq1OtTf5LCdQCU.99

Goodbye 2013, bring on 2014

Dear Motorist

Take a moment to watch the video, then go online to pledge as a cyclist or motorist to share the road. This info cannot get shared often enough!

http://www.dearmotorist.com/

Only cyclists would undertand…

Folks, this is just a quick fun Thursday post. My friend just shared this video with me and I got a chuckle out of it. Not quite as funny as the triathlon video, but this is still pretty good. Enjoy!!!  (and yes, there is a bit of profanity, you have been warned).

5 Off Season Rules

For those that have not seen this in Triathlete Mag, the info is fabulous. I recently posted my top fun things to do off season, this list is the pertinent list. For anyone who is a triathlete, take a moment to read the article. Good Read!

http://triathlon.competitor.com/2013/11/training/the-new-off-season-rules_45467

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