Thursday, July 27, 2017

5 Questions with Jessica Kaiser

(Posted by Michelle Duvall Kalinski) Jessica Kaiser is a full-time working mom to a 5 year old and an 8 year old, and a badass mother triathlete! She also happens to be a great ambassador for BRINGtheKIDZ, and we're psyched to know her.

1. You were a busy working mom when you decided to sign up for your first triathlon. What prompted you to take that leap?

Before I had kids, I had gotten in really good shape, lost a bunch of weight, and planned to train for a sprint distance triathlon.  Then, my two kids happened, life happened, and so triathlon did not happen.  We moved to Colorado about two years ago, and in January 2016, the Parker Rec Center advertised a program for people who wanted to complete their first tri.  I knew it was my chance to achieve a long deferred goal.

2. What has been the most rewarding part of triathlons for you so far? The most challenging?

The most rewarding part has been becoming part of the triathlon community.  I have met so many great friends through triathlon, and that has definitely been an unexpected side benefit that has kept me motivated.  The most challenging part has been patience with myself.  I started my triathlon journey from the couch, and so I just have to give myself more time to reach my goals than someone who started as, for example, a marathoner would. 

3. If your children could take away one lesson from your experiences (personally, professionally, or otherwise), what would you want it to be?

Never give up on yourself.  So many times people give up on themselves before they even try something, and so I talk to my kids a lot about how doing your best really is a win.

4. Tell us about the most challenging or disappointing situation you’ve had to overcome (personally or professionally) and how you did it.

Last August, I decided to race an Olympic distance triathlon as my third race.  It was also the first race I'd done with strict time cut offs (something I didn't realize when I signed up).  In my mind I really believed I could finish within the cut-offs, but my body had other ideas and I missed the run cut off.  I finished the race and got a medal but technically I was a DNF (did not finish).  It would have been easy in that moment to give up on triathlon, but my son was there at the finish (he had spent the day at the BringtheKidz camp).  He had seen me struggle, and he had seen me weep at the finish line.  No way was he going to see me give up.  So I spent the offseason really working to improve my base fitness.  I hired a coach, and also have been working on race nutrition.  My first Olympic distance race of the season was July 9 (The Boulder Peak Tri)- my only goals were to finish and to feel good at the finish.  The heat had something to say about the last part of that goal, but some cold towels on the neck sorted me right out. Otherwise, I had a great race – 26-minute PR for the overall distance, and 14-minute PR on the swim. Both my kids had a fun time at BRINGtheKIDZ making slime and doing an obstacle course (which included the limbo). Even better as I was running into the finish, I heard my son yell "go mom!" No wonder I kicked up the pace for the last bit!
5. If endurance sports had walk-up music, what would be your song and why?

This is a really tricky question.  I guess I'd pick the Imperial March from Star Wars because I've loved all things Star Wars ever since I was a kid.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

5 Questions with Pam Moore

We have a new feature! Each month (hopefully), I will post a mini interview in which I've asked some interesting people 5 Questions about their life and work.

We're starting with Pam Moore, who is a writer, mother, coach, endurance athlete in Boulder, Colorado.

1.     You are a popular author of articles related to parenthood, but I think we agree that no one has all the answers in this area. Where do you find the inspiration and information for your articles?

That’s easy… From real life! I don’t know if a day goes by when something happens, whether it’s something mundane or something extraordinary, where I don’t stop and think “I could write about this!” It turns out, the more painful the experience, the better fodder it is for my writing. Writing not only helps me to process the event, but it also helps me see it in a new way, to find the humor it, and best of all, when I finally publish it, I find those types of pieces elicit a strong reaction in my readers. There is nothing more gratifying to me as a writer, than hearing “I felt that way too when x, y, or z happened to me.” Just as an example, my daughter cried and carried on like I was kidnapping her when I picked her up on the first day of preschool a couple of years ago. I was hurt, embarrassed, and angry, but then when I wrote about it I found it was not only kind of funny, but this kind of thing is not an uncommon experience parents of preschoolers.

2.     You are also a mother, coach, and endurance athlete (she's done two Ironmans, people!). What has been the most challenging aspect of balancing all of these roles, and how do you manage?

I’m not a morning person. I never have been. Yet I remain optimistic that I can be. So that leads to a lot of me scheduling things (work, a workout, meditation) in the early morning, which I sleep through, despite my best intentions. So being realistic about time management is hard for me.

One thing I have been doing lately, however, is hiring a sitter at least once a week (in the afternoon, when I will for sure be awake!) blocking out that time for work. The alternative was squeezing work into all the little nooks and crannies of my day, and often not being present enough for my kids, which make them cranky, which made me cranky, and was not sustainable. Once in a while I run on the treadmill while they watch something on the iPad.

Another thing that has been super-helpful is a shared Google calendar that my husband and I use religiously since we had our first kid. Not only do we always invite each other to everything we do, we also use the Google calendar to block out time for ourselves. So for example, I’ll “invite” him to run with my girlfriends or to work at a coffee shop for a couple of hours, but what I really mean is, “Please stay home with the kids while I do these things.” The other thing we’ve been doing ever since becoming parents is having a standing morning schedule. We switch off mornings, where one person gets all the early morning time to sleep, exercise, or work, while the other person gets up with the kids. I like the simplicity of not having to discuss that part of our schedule. 

3.  If your children could take away one lesson from your experiences (personally, professionally, or otherwise), what would you want it to be?.  

Be yourself.

It’s so easy to get stuck being worried about what other people will think of you, or how you compare to your peers, colleagues, or competitors, but I think if you staying true to yourself will solve most problems. For example, I love writing. I always have. I had a friend who discouraged me from writing when I started blogging in 2007, and I could have listened to her. Instead, I just kept doing what I brought me joy (writing about topics that grab my attention), and over time, by consistently continuing to do that, I’ve established a career as a writer, which is something I’d only ever dreamed of ten years ago.

I had a similar experience with sport. I had a lot of hang-ups about taking sports seriously, especially when I set out to do my first Ironman, as I’d been highly unathletic as a kid. I had a hard time letting go of that self-perception. But I kept pressing on, just taking one race at a time, doing it just because I loved it, and in the process I’ve become a fitter, smarter athlete, and I’ve started taking on coaching clients.

4. Tell us about the most challenging or disappointing situation you’ve had to overcome (personally or professionally) and how you did it.

I am kind of embarrassed to admit I’ve led a pretty charmed life, thus far. (Knock wood). The most challenging thing I’ve gone through was being diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy when my 2nd child was ten days old. Bell’s Palsy is when half your face is paralyzed. Although medication is available to potentially speed the recovery, my doctor said the evidence wasn’t necessarily in favor of it, plus we didn’t know whether the meds were safe for breastfeeding. I opted not to take them, as 90% of cases completely resolve spontaneously (e.g. without meds) within 6 month. My case never healed completely, though it’s close, and it took over a year.

During that first year of my second daughter’s life, I was extremely anxious, wondering if my face would ever go back to normal. My face was mostly functional (though I had a hard time drinking through a straw, and pronouncing certain sounds at first, and only recently have discovered I can whistle again). I am thankful I didn’t have any pain, as some people do, but I was really uncomfortable in social situations, just because my face looked awful. Half of it would smile and the other half would just do nothing. It looked creepy, for lack of a better word.

So I was anxious about that, extremely sleep-deprived just from having an infant, my world was upside down as a stay at home mom caring for a toddler and a baby. Also, the baby was difficult, where my first had been a pretty easy baby. On top of acupuncture appointments for my face, I was also going to physical therapy to rehab a diastasis recti (that’s when your abs separate, a fun side effect of carrying and birthing a 9 lb 6 oz baby!), plus I was seeing a therapist just because I was so sad and anxious and stressed. And on top of all that I put a lot of pressure on myself to keep writing, to exercise regularly, and I was co-producing The Listen To Your Mother Show. I felt like I needed those things to feel productive and to feel like myself. It was just a really hard year.

As far as how I did it? I just pushed through and kept trying to do everything, I guess because I felt like I’d be “giving up” otherwise. But I look back and wish I’d cut myself more slack. I wish I could say I got through it by taking one day at a time or by doing yoga, or committing to a gratitude practice. I just plowed through it and the only thing that really helped was the passing of time and the fact that the baby did eventually figure out how to sleep through the night. Although she is now three and she still struggles with that!
Pam's hilarious book, which is actually a collection of her blog posts tracking her development as an athlete and mom.

5. If endurance sports (or parenting) had walk-up music, what would be your song and why?

Roar by Katy Perry. In part because it’s one of the few songs that make me want to dance that aren’t about sex and don’t include profanity. Just kidding! (Kind of). To me, the message of this song is, it took me a while to figure out who I am and what I stand for but, now I’ve got it figured out, so watch out because I’m gonna be loud and proud about it. I love that. It’s so inspiring.

And, to be clear, I don’t always feel like I’ve got things nailed down as a parent… As a mom, I am constantly figuring things out as I go (or trying to), so this song is apropos because
a) I believe in faking it till you make it
b) I want my daughters to take this message of not apologizing for your own presence to heart.

Interested in having Pam speak, write, or coach for you or your organization? Here's how you can find her:

Instagram: pammoore303
Twitter: @PamMooreWriter
FB: /whatevsblog

Friday, June 2, 2017

Colfax Marathon Relay Race Report

by Michelle Kalinski

On May 21, 2017, I had the pleasure of taking part in my very first marathon relay. We ran to raise funds for There with Care, an organization that provides support to families that have a child with a critical illness. Sounds pretty awesome, right? Well, they are. And when they suggested that maybe BRINGtheKIDZ could put a team together, I was super excited to help out. At first, I tried to get people to choose distances, but since Colfax offers so many (5k, 10k, 10 miler, 13.1 miles, full marathon…), it got too complicated and the relay ultimately seemed the way to go.

The race itself is well-known, and I had been curious about it for a few years, but found the idea of a full marathon a bit daunting. I’ve done some before, but it’s been a long time, and training for a full marathon is no joke (don’t let those untrained people who run them “just to see if they can” fool you!). The Marathon Relay is really well-organized into 5 legs of between 3.4 and 6.7 miles. Basically a 5k or 10k and change. Totally do-able!

It was a bit of a last minute scramble, but ultimately, Laura, Marcie, Andrew and Jay agreed to be my teammates, and off we went! Jay (who, in the interest of full disclosure, is my husband) took on the painstaking task of mapping out who would do which route and how/when drop offs and pick-ups would happen.

Laura took the first leg, starting at City Park in Denver and finishing at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. She was a rockstar and after handing off the baton turned around to re-do her 6.7 miles in reverse to get her training mileage in for the day!

Laura (far right), our first leg runner, with some other friends at the start (Way to go, Allison and Erin!)
The van dropped me (Michelle) off for leg #2 at Sports Authority Field early in the morning, like six something. We all stretched and used the facilities before the rest of the team headed out to the next exchange point. I waited in the sunny but chilly (because we were in the shade of the stadium) morning until Laura ran up and baton-ed me.

Up Colfax I ran to Sloan’s Lake, which was beautiful. Lots of advertising around the lake informed me that they’re building a whole new community in the area, so stay tuned if you are looking for lakeside urban living!

After what seemed much longer than 3.4 miles, I handed the baton off to Andrew, who blew through his leg so fast he surprised us waiting at the van at the next exchange in Lakewood!

Jay made his way from Lakewood back to the stadium, braving a head and chest cold but stepping up to complete his leg and hand off to Marcie for the final stretch. At this point it was sunny, clear and warm. A perfect Colorado spring day!

As Marcie made her way from the stadium to City Park, we tried our best to get there in the van, but were repeatedly thwarted by road closures. I suppose that’s why they provided alternate directions…
Andrew, Michelle, Jay, and Marcie following the Colfax Marathon Relay
In any case, we made it to the finish just in time to see Marcie cross the line and gather our medals. We all enjoyed a nice post-run lunch and a lovely after party in City Park.

Huge props to the race organizers for putting on such a nice event, to Mother Nature for giving us such a nice day, and to my teammates for going along with all of this! Special thanks to everyone who donated to There With Care. Every bit helps!

Lessons learned: Next year, we’ll pull the team(s) together and start fundraising earlier, plan some cool t-shirts, and get a better full-team post-race photo and celebration.

Save the date, May 20, 2018!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

So You Signed Up for Your First Triathlon

 Written by Jessica Kaiser, Working Mom, Triathlete, and BRINGtheKIDZ Ambassador

You’ve taken the plunge and signed up for your first triathlon.  Congratulations!   Maybe you are already fit.  Maybe you are working through a training plan.  Maybe you have no idea how you are going to accomplish this goal.  Here are some tips on how to get to that first finish line.

First off, fair warning – I am not a coach.  I hold no certifications that relate to endurance athletics.  I have not stood on any podiums.  I am not going to Kona.  I am not an Ironman.  So why should you listen to my advice?  Perhaps you shouldn’t, or at least, don’t listen only to me.  Find those Ironman coaches and listen to them too.  But I’ve found that some of those folks don’t remember what it’s like to take the first step, to start from nothing.  So take my advice in the spirit it’s intended as things I’ve learned since I signed up for my first sprint distance triathlon, one year ago.  My memories are fresh, and some of these lessons were learned the hard way. 

1. Safety First.
Make sure you carry some sort of ID with you when you are training outside.  This could be as simple as carrying your license in a zippered pocket.  I personally wear a RoadID which is a bracelet that has my name, my husband’s name and phone number, and my allergies.  That way in the event of an emergency, I won’t be anonymous.

For cycling, make sure you have a quality helmet, some kind of glasses, some gloves, and high visibility clothing (to make sure you are seen by cars, pedestrians, etc.).  If you aren’t comfortable on the bike, find low risk places for your starting rides – a quiet trail rather than a busy street. 

For swimming, particularly open water swimming, always go with a buddy. 

2. Learn to Swim
If you’re starting from ground zero, you can walk (and likely run at least short intervals).  You can probably ride a bike – maybe not quickly, maybe not a road bike with clip in pedals (or what the experts call clip-less pedals for some reason) – but you can likely pedal something.  Swimming is a whole different ball game. 

I never took a swim lesson as a child; I learned to not drown.  I could paddle around my grandparents’ pool, but I never learned to swim properly.  If this is you, go take a swim lesson or a few and get comfortable in the pool.  Bad habits are hard to unlearn, but good habits will help you avoid panic and wasted energy on the swim in your race.

3. Make a List
Let’s face it  - triathlon has a lot of stuff.  Some of it you need for the swim, and a lot of it you’ll need to have organized in the transition area (the area for the stuff you need for the bike and the run).  There are plenty of checklists available online.  The important thing is to have a list and customize it for you.  For example, I wear glasses, but of course, I don’t swim in my glasses.  I need them in transition so I can wear them on the bike.  Therefore, my glasses better be in the transition area before it closes.  That’s the sort of thing that’s on my list (and highlighted with exclamation points). 

4. Practice Transitions.
At a triathlon, there will be an area for your gear so you can “transition” from swim to bike (“T1”) and bike to run (“T2”).  Once you have your list, practice setting your gear up the way you want it.  Here’s a pic of my transition area at my first race (I get there early…)

This also will let you go through your list, and make sure it’s complete.  It doesn’t hurt to practice changing your gear (for example, for bike to run, practice taking off your helmet, changing your shoes (if you’re going to), how you’re going to put on your race number, etc.).

5. Trust Your Training.
Triathlon requires training – how much depends on the distance you plan to do and your current level of fitness.  Find a plan – there are all kinds of resources: books, free online plans, etc.  Follow your plan as closely as you can.  And once you’ve done that, trust in yourself and your training.  The night before the race don’t worry about the missed bike ride or wish you had squeezed in one more run.  You had a plan, and you (likely mostly) executed it.  Time to go out and do the best you can in your race – no regrets.

6. Have Fun.
I never have a bigger smile on my face than when I am at a race looking over the transition area.  All those athletes; all those bikes; all the people in wetsuits.  And I get to be one of them.  Be grateful for every minute you spend in your race.  Race your race – winning is not my goal; wishing I were faster than I am is not my goal; being the best version of myself in that moment on that day is my goal.  I tell other people “good job.”  I sometimes make a new friend out on the course.  Just remember to breathe, relax, and enjoy the wonderful chaos that is triathlon.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Nom Nom Nom

Today I am going to write about a subject very near and dear to my heart: FOOD. I will begin by noting that this post has not been extensively researched by this writer, scientifically or otherwise. Rather, it stems from years of personal experiences and observations of food consumption, rejection, vilification and deification. So let’s dig in!
Mardi Gras Feast - did I mention I LOVE a good theme meal?

First let me say this: I love to eat. A lot of people say this, but I am not exaggerating when I say that I would rather eat that do most anything else. Given the option of eating something delicious or participating in some other activity, I am likely to choose the food probably nine out of ten times. Off the top of my head, the only activities I can even think of that sound likely to draw me away from a plate of nachos or sweet fresh fruit are hugging my children or tending to an urgent need of a child. (Note: In the realm of the child, “urgent” may include situations such as a serious injury, having been given the wrong cup, or needing a tissue even though the tissues are well within said child’s reach.) I was even accused by my French host family in college of being “gourmande”, the French version of a foodie. Now if even the French are calling you out, you know it’s not your imagination. Who loves food more than those guys?!

Boiled dinner! About 17 people attended our annual dinner this year. One of my food highlights of the year!

Having stated all that at the outset, I will also note that I do remain a productive adult, which means that I do not let my responsibilities fall by the wayside for the love of a seductive meatball sandwich (even when I would like them to), but I do think about food most of the time, and have for as long as I can remember. In this regard, it is lucky that I am tall and have a relatively fast metabolism (though it is slowing with age…), so weight has not been an issue, but I did have a tall, thin father who suffered a fatal heart event at the age of 41, so food and its relationship to health has been on my mind for a very long time.

In-N-Out Burger. It is a blessing that there are no locations in Colorado. 
I’ve always considered myself a relatively “healthy” eater, mainly due to my lifelong love affair with fruits and vegetables (and partially comparing my diet to those around me), but have come to realize as an adult that simply consuming fruits and veggies does not necessarily mark a healthy person. As an endurance athlete, in particular, nutrition during sport has always been a challenge for me, as it is for most of us. In my first marathon, I thought it was weird that random spectators were handing out food to runners, and that runners were accepting food from strangers…until mile 19 when I was totally out of gas and greedily scooping up whatever pretzels, cookies, and Halloween candy (it was October) anyone offered. Over the years I came up with a nutrition strategy that worked well for me, but was based primarily on sugar and chemicals (gels, chews, sports drinks, etc.). Over the last year or so, I have been making a conscious switch to real foods for sport nutrition. They aren’t as convenient or portable, of course, but I am hoping that they will ultimately be kinder to my body and digestive system. It has been working ok so far, but I also haven’t been training for any substantial distances, so stay tuned when I train for a marathon next year! (Substantial = long and difficult enough to require me to fuel mid-workout or race)

In the last few years I’ve been exposed to many varieties of eating style* adopted by different individuals in my life for different reasons. Where I live, in Boulder, Colorado, I think it may be even more pronounced than in some other places just because of the sheer number of options available for eaters of any stripe. At first I scoffed, as is my way, but I’ve been starting to look more closely at these different styles which tend to avoid in various combinations: gluten, dairy, meat, grains, alcohol, nuts, and other items.  Plus, there are the cleanses and elimination diets.

A Paleo Superbowl feast!
Most people I know who practice some kind of eating style that doesn’t include anything and everything tell me that they feel a lot better since eliminating X from their eating habits. My husband is on (nonconsecutive) year 2 of Paleo eating and says it makes him feel much better, stronger, less tired, and more energetic. I’ve done a little reading on the subject of food and arguments for and against eliminating certain things (though not extensively, as I noted early on in this piece), and here is what I have decided for the present: everyone’s body is different. How you react to certain foods may be different from how I react to those same foods. This isn’t a bold statement, but I think it is important when advising people for or against certain foods to take into account what their bodies may need. Sure, we can probably all agree that eating fast food every day isn’t particularly good for anyone. But many people I know have a lot of trouble with dairy, for example, while I can’t go a day without yogurt or cheese.

Plus, there is the social element of eating. I see the difficulties faced by those with nutritional restrictions, whether it is due to personal choice, allergy, or otherwise. Choosing a restaurant, accepting an invitation to someone’s home for a meal, or, God forbid, attending an event with a set menu such as a wedding or corporate affair, can be quite difficult. If there is anything I love more than eating and my children, it is socializing with friends and family over food and drink. So, if it is within my power to choose, I choose moderation and the ability to slide easily into social situations involving food.

Valentine's Day cookie making!
Finally, as a parent, I want to do my best to model balanced eating for my kids. I don’t withhold most things from them, they can have a cookie here and there. But not a sleeve of cookies. They rarely get fast food and have never had a Pop Tart, McDonald’s, or Burger King, much to the horror of my family, but they know Five Guys and In-N-Out Burger. Normal snacks for us are fruit and nuts. Just the other day my five-year-old ate six clementines in a row, which makes me feel pretty good as a mother, and less guilty about the bag of tortilla chips he ate afterwards. I think it’s important to encourage them to eat when they’re hungry and not force them when they’re not. For most kids it all balances out, and I don’t want them to grow up with any eating hang-ups like so many of us have. I want them to know it’s ok to mix up what you eat (as long as there is no allergy in play) and not be too concerned about it. Right now they are normal kids, with likes and dislikes and appetites that change with the wind, so I’m not worried just yet.

Thus, I will remain am omnivore for the near future, and continually reevaluate as my body continues aging and playing tricks and changing and telling me I can no longer maintain my eating style. It’s already given me some pretty clear feedback on alcohol (no more than 1 per sitting or I suffer the next day) and created a walnut allergy in my 30s (little known side effect of pregnancy…), so hopefully it’ll be straight with me when it’s time to reign it in on something else.

What are your thoughts on food? What works or doesn’t for you? Tell us about your challenges and ah-ha moments!

*I’m using the term “eating style” rather than “diet” to distinguish from eating patterns intended solely to promote weight loss.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

How hard should I tri?

I’ve been focusing pretty heavily on running these last few posts, so I decided to dip into the triathlon world a bit this time. (A pattern which roughly reflects my life, as well.)

In 2010, having been a runner for many years, and having burned myself out on too much running, I found myself in want of a new challenge. Team sports have never held any appeal to me, and I was not ready for the slow pace of yoga quite yet. My husband had begun doing triathlons of various distances a few years before, and I had accompanied him to many events, helping to set up his transition area, ensuring that his number and age were visibly marked on his body and bike, and generally figuring out how to navigate the triathlon landscape as a spectator. The idea that *I* would ever participate in a multisport event, though, seemed lofty at best. I was not a strong swimmer, nor did I find any comfort – physically or psychologically – on a bicycle. Part of my love of running lay in its simplicity, and triathlons just seemed too complicated.

Around this time, my husband got deployed to Iraq with the Air Force, and I needed distraction. I was working two jobs, involved in two book clubs, and was fortunate to have a lot of friends to spend time with (the babies hadn’t come yet), but I needed a physical outlet and a new challenge. I received an email announcement that my university was starting an alumni triathlon training group to prepare for a sprint triathlon in Hagerstown, Maryland, and I went for it. I suppose it was only a matter of time, since apparently participation in triathlons has been growing, especially among females. (Check out the USA Triathlon demographics report for more info on this. Some really interesting numbers here!)

My training group! I'm fourth from the left. Notice it's all ladies!
Having support helped enormously, and having people to join for workouts, happy hours to discuss race day logistics, and workshops showing us how to change a flat tire on our bikes was way more important to me than I had realized it would be. But there was still a LOT of work to do.

Phase 1 consisted of me enlisting the help of a friend who happens to be a former college-level swim coach to help me with my stroke. I worked with her weekly to get to a point where I could do multiple laps without causing the lifeguards concern about my well-being, and will be forever grateful to her for her time, patience, and skill as an instructor. I ended up loving swimming and regretting that I had not started “real” swimming earlier. I knew these monkey arms had to be good for something, and it sure wasn’t for buying normal long-sleeved tops off the rack! (Although, helping small old ladies reach things off high shelves in the grocery store is another benefit, but I digress…)

Phase 2 involved me purchasing a bicycle. That’s right, friends, this gal did not even own a bike at this point, and hadn’t since the Huffy I had won in a department store raffle as a child. This task was daunting, at best, but the folks at Hudson Trail Outfitters in Arlington, VA, which has sadly since closed, were kind and patient and got me set up with something I could ride.

Phase 3 was getting comfortable on a bicycle. This never happened, but I settled for being at least confident that I could reasonably travel the 11 miles required in this race. There was a bike path about a mile from my house, but I was living in Washington, DC at the time, and had to travel through multiple death traps traffic circles in order to reach it. I finally ended up just walking the bike through that mile until I got to the car-free path. It wasn’t cool or glamorous or particularly athletic, but it got the job done, and I did the bare minimum of training that I needed to do. (Or, what I had considered the bare minimum until I arrived at the same race two years later even less prepared than the first time.)

Phase 4 was just finishing the race. I didn’t bother working on my running or doing any workouts containing all three sports because I had been a runner for so long it was second nature and the measly 5k run would be no problem. Right? Wrong.

Yep, that's me, rockin' a sports bra under a swimsuit and wearing regular running shorts. Cutting edge of athletic fashion and height of athletic professionalism, right here, people! Still shocked no companies sought me out for sponsorship...
Result: I did finish the race, which was awesome. Predictably, overall I finished about mid-pack in the swim, in the top fifth of the run, and the bottom fifth of the bike. No surprises there. What WAS a surprise though, was that I learned that if one is not properly trained and participates in both swimming and biking, one’s legs just might feel like Jell-O at the start of a subsequent run. It was one of the hardest 5ks of my life! Lesson learned.

I’m so grateful to have participated and to have had the experience, and look forward to doing a few more sprint tris once I get my bike confidence back.

Any suggestions on how to do this? Please put them in the comments!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

To plug in, or not to plug in?

Some people love gadgets. They have to have the latest and greatest items to make their lives more efficient or simply to be on the cutting edge of technology. I am not this person, but I am married to one. I swear I would not know about even half of the electronic doohickies available in this world if not for my husband. In fact, it is very likely I would still be happily using a flip phone, and quite certainly nothing in my home would be automated. (Have you ever seen the movie Demon Seed? That’s creepy stuff!)

While I’m much slower to warm to new technology than some, I will concede that I love my iPhone and the convenience AppleTV affords us (No commercials? Yes, please!). When it comes to running, though, I just can’t break that barrier. So far, I’ve managed to avoid a GPS watch, heart rate monitor, fitbit, Apple watch, and whatever else is en vogue for athletes these days. (It’s probably telling that I have been a regular reader of Runner’s World magazine for decades, and a member of many online running groups that cover just this sort of thing, yet I still have no idea what’s going on in this area. Selective memory, I think it’s called…) This isn't out of any aversion to technology in principle, nor do I actively seek to keep this kind of thing out of my workouts; I simply do not actively seek to put them in, which to me seems like a lot more work. I don't want to figure out how to use it all, and have to connect gadgets up to my computer after every workout. I don't have time for that. Plus, as I mentioned in my last blog post about becoming semi-zen with regards to my running, keeping track of all that stuff stresses me out anyway. As far as music goes, I've lived/spent time in too many large cities and lonely trails to want to impede my hearing during a run. If there's a car, or sketchy dude, or bear approaching, I want to know about it as soon as possible! So, no earbuds for this gal.  In any case, there is so much happening in my head at any given time, I rarely hear silence. And it gives me some much-needed time to work out problems, develop new ideas, and flesh out old ones.

I do confess to having pulled out my smartphone to call upon the wisdom of various mapping services to assist me on a trail run from time to time, for which I was grateful, but overall I think I’m doing just fine without all the wires and chips. Maybe it’s part of the whole “Zen Running” thing I posted about in my last blog, or maybe I’m just lazy. It’s probably a combination of the two, but either way my years-old Timex Ironman watch and I have been through too much for me to move on quite yet. (Note the toddler hair tie serving as the strap thing that holds the end of the watch band down, since mine broke at some point that eludes current memory.)

What’s a running gadget you can’t live without? Tell us about it in the comments!