Category Archives: Training
I have been meaning for a few weeks to recap my summer of limited racing. The one disadvantage of working in a bike shop full time is that the busy season is summer, which means that training and racing are less than ideal. But I did not let it stop me or slow me down, it just required me to find unique times to train and to focus on only a few key events. The drawback of trying to squeeze in training time is over-exhaustion. All summer, I worked out at 5 am and by bedtime I was plain and simply wiped. I am thankful my family and friends put up with me during the whole training ordeal, I was anything but a fun person to be around and know I created a lot of undue stress in the household. After my long summer of chaos, it made me really wonder how Ironman athletes do it. The family-work-training balance was tough enough just prepping for Olympic Distance Age Group Nationals. I cannot even begin to imagine the pressure and stress related to a full Ironman. Kuddos to those that are really dialed in when it comes to balancing everything.
Some of you have asked me to highlight my race experiences from summer. So now that my triathlon race season is over, I can finally digest the coaching and two races I did and reflect. Summer started off with training my triathlon clients for their events. For the 5th season, myself and my gym sidekick Stacy trained a large group, approximately 30 clients, both male and female to prep for events such as Omaha Women’s, Omaha Triathlon, Papillion Triathlon…The exciting news this year was we gained a handful of awesome guys. They brought a nice balance to the group and I can’t lie, the male aspect was a pleasant change. As in years past, all the athletes challenged and motivated one another and made the season fun. I am very fortunate to have such a great group of athletes at the gym to train. I love being a mentor, friend, fellow triathlete, and coach. It was a very rewarding season full of successes and pr’s.
Somehow in the middle of our group season, I had my arm twisted to do the Papillion Sprint Triathlon to prep for Nationals, and of course in my true nature, could not say no. I may have grumbled a bit since it is not my favorite race. But by signing up for a second event, it motivated me to get my arse in gear and actually work on my swim-bike-run. The night before the race, I did what I lecture my clients not to do. I checked out, lost all mojo, wanted to bail on the race, and plain and simply put, did not care. But then race day came and I gained my mojo quickly. Seeing a bunch of my clients ready for race day and giving one another lots of praise and positivity gave me just the competitive edge I needed. I had a very strong swim, but my go to goggles decided to leak, not once but 5 times, so the speed I had was lost treading water trying to readjust the goggles. The bike was a bit of a challenge. Much hillier than folks would expect and was a 3 loop course. I was happy with my ride, but my ongoing aches and pains I have been fighting for the past few years decided to say hi on the bike. I was able to suffer through the ride just in time for my least favorite part of the race. THE RUN, ugh. My body and me have a disagreement when it comes to the run. Surprisingly enough, I made it through the 5k with only minor aches. I had told myself on the run to just take it easy and do a slower pace run and it worked. At the end of the race I was happy with how I felt and went over to look at the results. I was absolutely floored. I aged up this year to the 40 year old ladies and to my amazement, took 2nd overall in the 40-49 age group. It still blows my mind that I did that well. All of my clients that raced also did very well. There were a lot of big smiles, pr’s, and positive energy post race.
So after my unexpected success at the Papillion Triathlon, my energy level went up and I started to get much more amped up for Nationals. Training started to really increase, especially the bike and swim portion. My run started to really fall apart and my back, it-bands, and piriformis were giving me serious fits so I spent the two weeks prior to the event getting dry needled, massaged, and acupunctured. It helped a bit, but I knew in the end that it would probably not be enough. But I sucked it up and said my famous Heatherism (thanks Renee), “it is what it is”. Anxiety levels were definitely high for Nationals. I knew I was a bit out of my league, those at this event are the best of the best age group athletes. I kept trying to come to grips with this known fact, but mentally it was a hurdle that I could not jump.
But you have heard enough about my injuries and jitters. Jump forward to the race. The day before the race, I stopped down at the race check-in. Parking was beyond a disaster and my kids did not appreciate the tour of the less than ideal part of Omaha to get to Carter Lake. After taking the long walk into the event with my bike, my anxiety level started to go through the roof. I have a very nice Trek Madone road bike, but looking around at all the $5K-$10K bikes I really began to realize how out of my league I really was. The folks at the race were not just average joe triathletes, they were amazing athletes. I have done over 20 races in the past 5 years and typically there are some superstar athletes with a lot of average every day athletes at the venues. This time, I felt like the flubby out of shape athlete compared to all the beautiful physiques that I was surrounded by. Even my kids kept commenting about how lean and strong everyone looked (which is quite scary since they are only 9 and 11 years old).
On race day, 4 am came way to early. As I ventured off to the race I was at peace with myself and confident that I would at least have a decent swim and bike and knew the run, even though flat would be a challenge with my injuries. Once I got to transition, I right away found a few of my gals from Prairie Life and we ended up hanging out til go time. We shared a some laughs, plotted the course, networked with fellow triathletes, and got rather relaxed since most of us had very late start times, mine being one of the last at 9:45 am (the latest start time I have ever had for a triathlon).
Oddly enough, even all the way up until my start time, I stay very relaxed. It seems I worked out all my stress of the race long before. Once it was time to hit the dock, I was more that ready to tri. The swim was in the less than ideal Carter Lake. In Omaha, it is known as a pretty nasty lake, but I know the race directors were focused on keeping the race in an area close to the downtown. I embraced the fact that I was swimming in Carter Lake and with my track record would most likely pick up a bacteria infection (which ironically I did). So back to the swim, it went decent. Our start was a bit unique, almost 200 gals lined up side by side on the dock and waited for what seemed like 15 minutes before we got the go ahead to get into the lake. Once in the lake, we waded for a few more minutes before the horn went off. Once it was time to go, everyone spread out amazingly well. These were definitely no average joe swimmers, I knew I had to swim strong and hard to keep up. Which is exactly what I did. I did not have the swim time I wanted, but coming out of the water I was happy with my swim. I barely got touched or bumped and everyone was very courteous in the water which is rare to find in an open water swim. Once I came out of the water I did my usual strong run to transition and took off as quick as possible. I am scolding myself for not paying more attention to the actual course though. With over 2000 athletes, transition was big which is to be expected, but what I was not prepared for was running in my cycling shoes for about 1/8 of a mile before being able to hop on the bike. After getting on the bike I did my normal routine of relaxing the body, hydrating, and getting into my ride mode. The ride was very pleasant, the only thing I disliked was that the younger guys, 35-39 were behind me so once all the tt bikes started to catch me all I could hear was heavy breathing and deep dish wheels flying past. I had an ok bike overall, I could have gone faster and stronger, but decided to save my muscles a bit for the run.
So onto the run. It was a very flat run going through Carter Lake and heading south through the industrial park to TD Ameritrade baseball stadium. About a mile in my left knee started to swell. I said I was not going to walk until absolutely necessary so I sucked it up until the 2nd water station. By then the air temp was getting very hot and humid with no shade to be found anywhere. During the turnaround in the baseball stadium at mile 3ish, my body told me it was done. I knew from that moment that the last 3 miles were going to be painful and ugly. I did a sufferefest run/walk combo just with the goal to run through the finish line. And that is exactly what I did. Not only was it amazing to cross the finish line, but some of my friends from Prairie Life were volunteering at the finish line and swooped in to care for me. They made me feel like royalty even though in the back of my brain I knew I did not have the perfect race.
I am frustrated by my body, but am very proud to say I was able to compete at such a high level. This race has given me a new respect for the sport and has given me the drive to really focus on healing my damaged body and set some new race goals.
Fit and healthy is my new strong moving forward!
This is what I woke up to yesterday morning on my email. I knew that it might be coming, but had in all reality pushed it to some far reaching land in the back of my brain. The email caught me a bit off guard but I was filled with optimism and excitement as I shared this news on social media for all my friends and followers. All the words of praise, motivation, and encouragement had me very excited.
And then today happened. I got the official email with the link to register. So of course, I decided to just take the plunge. Well, I cringed when I saw the price, but decided, hey this is possibly a once in a lifetime opportunity, just suck it up and do it. I continued on with the registration, but it was not like any other race registration I had done before. This one got personal, pretty much a sports resume. I had to starting surfing the web for some of my race results to find times, pr’s, etc. At that point my brain got the best of me and I started doubting myself. What the heck am I getting myself into? Why do I want to race with such fast folks? Why do I want to embarrass myself? How the heck am I going to find time to train? Will I still be a role model for my triathlon clients if the race is a complete disaster? I know I am over thinking-I have done enough Olympic distance triathlons with mediocre training and been fine, but this race is different. As a triathlon coach who pushes athletes to give it their all and never give up, I have to be the best version of myself at this race. That is a lot of pressure since I am not some world famous athlete. I am an average Joe that absolutely love triathlon , especially the cycling piece. I love to train, talk to folks about the sport, participate in races, volunteer, travel to events, and coach. And as far as I am concerned, this is anything but an average Joe race. This is the best of the best in the country. Holy crap!
So what is the plan of attack as a full-time bike manager in a bike shop, part-time trainer/triathlon coach, mother, wife, care-taker, and friend?
Step 1: Express my fears and concerns (you are reading them)! And try to stay positive (hard to do when it is 10 degrees outside and trying to fight off the winter depression)!
Step 2: Focus on weight management. I got way off track this winter. Too much social drinking, eating out, and getting lazy with my nutrition. My body is not very happy with me. But thanks to some peer pressure from some other friends who got off the wagon this winter, we are all cleansing right now and focusing on our nutrition.
Step 3: Create a practical plan of attack for “off-season” to rebuild my endurance. This is critical since spring and summer are so insane at work, kids out of school, select travel baseball, volunteer time with DEVO (Youth Mountain Bike Group). This will have to consist of getting in some solid runs, swims, trainer rides, and yoga. Weights need to slow down a bit, I love them too much and they do not get along very well with endurance.
Step 4: Create an on-season plan for my crazy life (no idea at this point what this will look like).
Step 5: Make sure my calendar is always organized for me and my hubby’s sake.
Step 6: Try to have fun while in an on-going state of stress. Life is such a juggling act, I need to find the perfect balance, and it is a delicate balance.
Step 7: Ask folks for help. This is probably my hardest step. I like things done my way, but when life gets chaotic, I need to be ok with an extra set of hands. This may actually be my hardest struggle of all. And those that know me, know I never like to ask for help.
Step 8: Lean on my fitness friends to help push me, train with me, and keep me on track. I can do it easily enough for others, but have a hard time focusing on myself. And I keep reminding myself, that even though 2016 is not starting off great, this year is about being the best I can be. I have shared this picture before, but feel I need to post again to help remind myself of the goal I set for myself:
A friend the other day told me that she had lost her mojo over the winter and just had no motivation regarding triathlons and racing in general. I can completely relate, but now that I have clicked the submit button, I have a goal and there is no turning back. It is a very challenging goal, but I can and will accomplish it! USAT Nationals will be my race this year.
As a final note and something I just found on facebook:
As I reflect on this past year, I have come to realize that I have become the ultimate slacker with this site. In my defense, this year has been quite a whirlwind of a year. As the year started, I would have never expected to grow both personally and professionally. It has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster, trying to improve myself while still doing what I love and am passionate about. As a fellow triathlete and friend just reminded me, I am good at what I do. I had to question what she meant, but she said it perfectly “Making people feel successful in their training. Motivating. Practicing what you preach. Being empathetic, but not enabling.” Wow, I truly did not know that I made that much of an impact on others, but excited that my strong passion has carried over to others. This quote reflects a professional goal as I continue on this life long journey. And as we all know, no journey is perfect: there are hurdles, bumps, hills, and rocks, but that’s what helps us grow. So I am vowing in 2016, not only to help others, but to focus on ME!
So what have I been up to this past year? Well, I have always been interested in working in a bike shop to learn more about one of my favorite passions and to share that passion with others. Dreams apparently do come true. Late spring, while helping a triathlon client buy a bike, my friend working at the bike shop mentioned that they were looking for a store manager. The wheels (no pun intended) starting spinning in my head. Later that evening, I was emailing the owner of the company who I have known for a long time to inquire about the position. Long story short, the position as Store Manager at a Trek Bicycle Store fell into my lap. The decision was a heavy one, that meant giving up some of my jobs, leaving behind close friends, and just like moving to a new town, starting over a bit. I have spent so many years developing a community at Prairie Life both with the tennis and triathlon, but in the end decided tennis is what I needed to give up. I am fortunate enough to still have the time and opportunity to train my triathlon clients, plus it keeps me connected and active. One thing I vowed to myself by taking this job was to stay in the loop. I love my clients, co-workers, friendships, and the vibe at the gym. No way could I give that up. So now I try to focus on a balance between Trek and Prairie Life. Balance is quite a challenge, but so far so good. Beauty of it all is that by working at a bike shop and working at a gym, everything seems to blend together nicely.
Time for my rant-Men, warning, you may want to shut your eyes and ears. What I have learned by working in a male dominated bike industry is that I starve for my female time now. This was never an issue before, but now that I have to listen to dirty jokes, crude insulting comments, and interact with a male dominant customer base, I need FEMALE power. As a female, I am trying hard to change the dynamic and culture in the bike shop to make it more inviting to females, but this will take time. So for you females that are intimidated by bike shops, I get it. It has never overly bothered me, but understand why chicks do not love the bike shop culture. Between the guy talk, smell of grease, lots of tools, and lots of testosterone, it can be overwhelming. But I promise, men in bike shops don’t bite. Ladies, let’s work as a team to help change the bike shop image and make it just as welcoming to women as it is to men. And ladies, I don’t want to hear excuses about working on bikes. Am I good at it, heck no. But when customers see me wrenching behind the service counter, it’s pretty cool. I have a very limited skill set, each day my goal is to learn something new. Guess my nickname at the gym, Bike Girl actually works.
Triathlon, where does this fall into the equation? I obviously had to juggle a bit, but I still managed to train a kickass group of folks for the 4th annual session to get ready for the 2015 triathlon season. And when I say kickass, that is an understatement. It was a huge year, with lots of energy, motivation, goals, pr’s, and humor. We had a lot of returning folks and a ton of new faces which made for a great group. I am still blown away with what a great group it was and how we were able to train almost 40 folks. There were many new challenges with a lot of beginner swimmers and even novice weight lifters, but no challenge is to tough for us. The best word I can use for this past season is teamwork, both on the coaching side and as a group of individuals coming together. I wish more groups could become something more like this. This picture alone is just a small handful of the folks that raced last season, but wow, such a cool powerful pic!
On a side note, did I race? My race season was mediocre at best because of the work/family balance, but I was able to escape a weekend of Select Baseball and work to do an Olympic Triathlon. Did I train, ehh. Yes I did train, but not to the level I should have. Needless to say, the road trip with a tri client/friend was worth it and it was a great race venue. I ended up doing the Bluff Creek Triathlon in Boone, Iowa in the dead of summer. Triple H: Hot, Humid, Hilly. But doing triathlon can be therapy for me. I love to open water swim, absolutely love to be on my bike, and running, well running is running, good days and bad days. It ended up being a rough day both physically and mentally, but by some unexpected odds, ended up on the podium. I can’t complain for being out of shape, overweight, overworked, and under-trained.
Lesson, we all have to ability to do anything, just never doubt yourself. The sense of accomplishment is SOOOO worth it. And I got the bug from the Olympic distance race enough to peer pressure both my sidekick and some of my fellow clients to do another race at the end of the season. Black Squirrel Sprint Triathlon was a blast. The swim sucked and was chaotic, the bike was awesome, fast, and flat, and I PR’d on the run. Perfect way to end a season; racing decently, bonding with some of my favorite peeps, and gosh darned it, having fun!!!
What have I learned in 2015? More than I would have ever expected! I am almost at a loss for words. It really has been a roller coaster. I have found a new me. I have learned the importance of a strong family support system, my close female friends are vital to my well being, working out is necessary for multiple reasons, my favorite pastime has been carved into my career, I have a new appreciation for music thanks to my employees at the bike shop, and life is too short to dwell on the negatives, find what you love and roll with it. Make life fun and rewarding! Cheers to a fresh start in 2016 and new adventures!
About a year ago, I decided to help promote my business a bit more by adding my info to various business sites. Recently I was approached to have my Flatlander Tri Coaching and Tennis Coaching highlighted on Thumbtack.com. What an awesome opportunity for more locals to learn about my background, specialties, and passion. If you have a moment, check it out. Honored to be recognized as a top coach/trainer in the Omaha metro. http://www.thumbtack.com/ne/omaha/personal-trainers/
And just a little plug about my coaching, it is never too late to do a triathlon, increase speed and power, or even learn the awesome game of tennis. If you have questions or ever want any advice or coaching, please do not hesitate to contact me! I am pretty much available 24/7 and never get tired of talking about fitness, triathlon, tennis, mountain biking, apparel/accessories, injury prevention, weight training, nutrition, etc………….
Courtesy of one of my sponsors, Swiftwick, “Do what moves you”
I am pleased to announce that back by popular demand for a 4th season will be the triathlon training group I have helped co-train for the past 3 seasons. We are expecting a huge turnout this year and would absolutely love to get some fresh faces. We are fun, energetic, supportive, strong, active, encouraging, and empowering individuals that create an awesome team environment. We are also teaming up with some awesome local businesses and products to provide a great experience for every athlete. And of course, all skills levels are welcome (from the beginner with no swim experience to the podium finisher). So come one, come all!
TEAM TRIATHLON TRAINING
12 Week Program
March 19th-June 7th, leading up to the Omaha Women’s Triathlon
Location: Prairie Life Fitness (132nd/Center St) Omaha, NE
Group Class times: Thursday 9:30am or 6:00 pm
Group activity on Saturday and/or Sunday each week
Cost: $150 members /$175 non-members
Heather Dall – Certified Triathlon Coach
Stacy Houck – Certified Personal Trainer
For inquiries, either post here, or shoot me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org
I must admit, I have been a bit AWOL for the past few months. Not for lack of trying, but thanks to good old writers block. But I am back and want to recap 2014. I promise not to bore anyone with a brag fest about myself, but rather just highlight the high’s and less of the lows of the year.
Excitement number 1 for 2014. My broken elbow bike injury from 2013 healed up nicely so I decided to hit the year hard. I started off with a bang by spending way too much money to sign up for the Triple Bypass Ride in Colorado. As noted in a previous post, my whole training season consisted of riding, riding, riding. As a result, I did in fact do the ride in July and yes, it was the hardest ride of my life thanks to 3 mountain passes and almost 12,000 feet of elevation. Since my body was already used to intense training, I decided it was time to do my first 70.3. I opted for the Pigman in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. After having a full year off of triathlons thanks to my elbow recovery, I had no idea what to expect. With the name alone, I figured it would be a country type race and I was right. Lake was absolutely beautiful and I found out very quickly during the race that I love 1.2 mile swims in open water. I am frustrated that I did not push myself more, but did not want to overdue for my first 70.3. The bike was fine, rolling country hills and less than smooth country highways with a slight breeze. I have no complaints about the 56 mile bike except it was just boring. I got spoiled in Colorado with amazing scenery and great company. But I have no complaints about my ride except legs were a bit heavy from only a week of recovery from Colorado. And then there is the run. Started off pretty solid and set a goal of stopping at each water stop on the 90 degree day to get fuel and walk til my hands were empty and then start running again. This method worked awesome until the turnaround halfway. My good ol injuries decided to make their appearance and bring some extra unwanted friends. So for about 6 miles I hopped, hobbled, gimped, walked, and jogged to the finish. I must say in retrospect, I knew going into this race that a half marathon was not going to be pretty since my IT bands tend to act up at mile six. But gosh darn it, I finished and can now say I have done a 70.3. Will I ever do one again or do an official Ironman 70.3? Maybe, but not quite sure. My true love is the bike, X-Terra, Olympic distance races, and coaching so not exactly sure what my future holds in store for me. But at least I went big in 2014.
2014 was a very big learning year for me. I needed some CEU’s for my triathlon coach certification, so rather than do something boring, I decided to expand my current knowledge base. I was fortunate enough to become Water Safety Instructor Certified (WSI). It was a long 2 days of classroom and pool instruction, but was well worth it. I feel like I am a much more proficient swim coach now and it even improved my own swim skills. Besides WSI, I was very fortunate to partake in IMBA’s Instructor Certification Program (ICP) Level 1 Ride Coach Course. Thanks to my awesome connections with the Trek Stores in Omaha and Papillion I found out that IMBA was coming to Omaha. I jumped on this immediately since I knew I wanted my 9 year old daughter to experience DEVO and figured she would want me as a coach. Plus I am always wanting to improve my own mountain bike skills and have clients who want me to take them out on the mountain bike. From the minute I walked in the classroom, I knew I was a bit out of my league with Cat 1 racers, elite racers, and two instructors with very impressive bios (former pro downhill racer and a snowboard/ski coach for the US Olympic team). After 2.5 days of classroom and on the bike training, I was one beat down girl both mentally and physically. I learned a lot of skills about my own bike skills and had to make a lot of improvements, realized that as much as I love my 1st edition Gary Fisher Sugar GS signed by Fisher personally, my bike is outdated and old school, but I PASSED the class! Boom, enough said.
Moving on, I am very big on giving back in the community. I try my darndest to volunteer at races and this year I went above and beyond and was not only a lead coach for Omaha DEVO but also for my daughter’s elementary running club. I have a knack for coaching kids and found it is very stressful, but very fun and rewarding at the same time. As a tennis coach I know that youth are the future of sports so it is vital to make it fun, get them involved, and learn a few skills at the same time. I must say the run club was a bit of challenge. 50 girls chatting and picking flowers while running is not ideal, but they ran. My daughter had a tough season due to foot issues, aka growing pains, but it was still a rewarding experience. I think both my daughter and I had more fun with DEVO. Any excuse to get on a bike is good for me. And there is nothing better than watching little kids rocking the mountain bike, hitting the jumps and berms, and learning how to properly shift and brake on dirt. It was by far the best volunteer experience I have ever had. Not to say there were no hurdles and folks butting heads a bit, but the end result was lots of kids having fun on mountain bikes.
No summary is not complete without talking about my awesome triathlon clients. The group I co-lead has grown by leaps and bounds this past year. I am amazed by the improvements my former clients have made and am extremely impressed by the accomplishments of the new folks. I have people from every walk of like and this past year is no exception. I have folks that do not know how to swim at all to those taking the podium in their age group. I have a unique group of people that tend to train for the shorter distance races such as sprint and Olympic due to work and family obligations, but regardless of the distance, I am extremely impressed by everyone’s hard work, dedication, and commitment to TRIATHLON. Without my awesome clients, I would not have a job. I am truly grateful for each and every person and look forward to what will come in 2015. I plan to have everyone set goals starting tomorrow. It may be as simple as to finish a triathlon without walking or PR in a race, but whatever their goals may be we will work to make them successful. I expect this to be a big year in triathlon, especially now that the industry is growing in Omaha and the midwest. If you are at a race, keep an eye out for my awesome Prairie Life triathletes!!!
No year cannot be complete without thanking those that have helped to support. I am fortunate at a coach and amateur athlete to have some awesome sponsors, ambassadors, and employment. Thank you for the support in 2014/2015:
Swiftwick Rudy Project FitFluentail Ride Live be Prairie Life Fitness Red Dirt Running Company Mott’s Active Ambassadors TYR Endurance Sport Vitality Sciences JUNK Bands Coeur Sports Race Omaha GoTribal Juice+
What to take away from 2014 is in order to have a great year, it is about the effort you put into it. Setting goals early are huge. Personally and as a coach I am not as big on numbers, gadgets, and all the extra bells and whistles. Our bodies are the primary machine. Treat them well, work em hard, challenge them, get outside the comfort zone, and for goodness gracious, just have fun! If it is not fun, it is not worth doing. And one thing that I do not mention enough, make sure to involve the family. Even if they do not have your interests, somehow try to find something you can all do together. Endurance sports are not for everyone and take a lot of time and training so make sure your support system is there to support you and way possible. Team support is vital, but family is essential.
So on that note, I bid you a farewell to 2014 from my adventurous family to yours and wish you well in 2015!
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.
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).
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.
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”!!!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
The only thing that was disheartening was finishing such a monster ride to find out they ran out medals 😦 I had to be very patient, but luckily almost 2 weeks later, the medal arrived in the mail. I feel like the medal is the finishing touch to this beast of a ride!!!
So in a nutshell, I am crazy enough to have done the Triple Bypass Ride. Would I do it again, I am not sure, but seeing all the mountains gives me lots of places and events to put on my bucket list. 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.
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.
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”
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…
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.
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)