Kenda Cup Big Bear: round 1

After a bit of an off month I was eager to get going again and the Kenda Cup XC race in Big Bear was the perfect platform for that. I went back and forth about pre riding but in the end opted for a day trip so Ben (boyfriend) and Freddie (puppy) could join me. I felt pretty good going in to the race other than a bit shaky. My tummy was doing flips but thats usual for me before any race. However this was different….I made an emergency stop to the bathroom in Ghost Town, CA, and thinking I was in the clear we continued our journey. HA. After making the turn off at Barstow that urgent feeling returned with a vengeance. F*ck. There is literally nothing on this road for miles, nothing in the desert but dusty shrubs and cactus. But this was an emergency. I don’t feel I have to talk any more about said emergency, but rest assured I was a little nervous about how this was going to impact my race…

We rolled in to Big Bear and I registered for the race while Ben got the bike together and Freddie let himself be heard by barking at bikes. The nervousness built and after a couple more bathroom trips I rode up to the start. Its around a 15min ride from the parking lot to the start, however the course was now changed and it was much further up the road than I thought, luckily I had left myself plenty time and arrived with enough time to stretch off, practice a couple warm up hill climbs and chill before my wave set off. I recognized a couple faces but was also glad to see new faces.

The race started and I took off up the hill. Its fairly normal to start with a sprint but I quickly found myself alone and pushing up the hill. I didn’t worry though because what goes up must come down! XC racing is full of intervals where you blow up then kind of recover then blow up again. It was pretty hot out but I had a full bottle on my bike and another in my back pocket. I had quickly scoffed a gel before the start and had one more in my pocket also. I continued pushing and finally the downhills started. However, with the lack of rain the corners, downhills and fire road were all pretty loose and I seemed to be losing control of my front wheel a lot. I slowed down quite a bit thinking I had a comfortable lead but before I knew it I looked back and I had a couple riders hot on my tracks. A couple more uphills put some distance in again but sure enough with the downhills they were on my tail again. One girl in my age group past me and we shared a couple words but my heart sank a bit. DONT GIVE UP. We came into a switchback section but the trail was loose, dusty and tight, and with another rider hot on my tracks I wadded up on a corner and went half OTB. Luckily she was able to pass without incident and I collected myself, ego bruised. I couldn’t understand why I was having such issues, but then it clicked! Although I was trying to keep my weight back, in my nervousness I had a death grip on my handlebars causing my front wheel to give out on every corner. After I made the necessary correction I coasted around the course! I found myself actually laughing out loud at my mistake and grateful to be back on track riding smoothly. It was too late by this point to make up the ground for 1st place but I could hold onto 2nd.

I had now gone through almost all of my nutrition but I still had 5 miles to go, I had been guzzling down my fluids, but it wasnt enough. My Right Quad cramped up so hard I almost fell off my bike. It eased off but I was very timid to put much more power through that leg in fear it would cramp again. Finally I got to the last downhill stretch and with memories of riding this section the year before was surprised at how much better I was able to handle the descents, technical spots and corners. I rode into the finish line absolutely beat but honestly so happy.

So many emotions and thoughts go through your head on difficult races: ‘you’re not strong enough’, ‘you don’t belong here’, ‘your legs are empty’, ‘give up now’, and the most important one that screams louder than ANY of them….

‘NEVER GIVE UP!!!!!’

Caffeine + Naptime = AWESOME

caffeine nap

The Coffee Nap. This paradoxical beauty combines two of my favorite things: Coffee and taking naps 🙂 not that I often get to do the latter succcefully…until now.

I had read an article recently regarding brain chemistry during sleep and how caffeine can impact brain receptors during this time. Intrigued I have trialled the theory a few times since with great success I am pleased to report!

 

So what is the ‘caffeine nap’ or ‘Coffee nap’? Well, it does in fact have everything to do with chemistry, brain chemistry to more specific. Throughout the day a chemical in called adenosine accumulates in your brain blocking receptors, causing you to feel drowsy. When you sleep your body is able to reduce the adenosine molecules, so that when you wake you feel refreshed and you start over. Caffeine has been shown to interact with these same receptors blocking the interaction of Adenosine and therefore allowing the stimulating effect of Caffeine to work without having to fight against the adenosine.

So how do you take a coffee/caffeine nap?? Well here you go:

  1. Enjoy a cup of delicious caffeinated goodness (I recommend Adventure Roast from Grimpeur Bros. or if you’re in Las Vegas stop by Grouchy Johns’ Coffee Shop – they have awesome coffee combinations and super comfy nap-worthy chairs!)
  2. Set your alarm for 20mins
  3. Close your eyes, relax and NAP
  4. Wake up to your alarm feeling awesome!
  5. Charge forward with your day with renewed vigor and energy 😀

Now, I will say that although this is definitely an awesome solution, avoid indulging too frequently as this can have a negative impact on longer sleep periods. In addition to that, if you have any medical condition that could be negatively impacted by caffeine (heart condition or blood pressure issues) this won’t magically change that… so be smart people.

Good luck with you coffee naps and be productive, positive and happy 🙂

Lisa x

Calm amongst Chaos – USAT Off Road Nationals Race Report

Oh man, now this was truly an event to remember! I travelled out to Arkansas last Wednesday for the USAT Off Road National Championship in Arkadelphia, AR. I specifically went out early so I could pre-ride the course having learned the value of course knowledge, and after putting my bike together Wednesday, I woke up Thursday, packed a sandwich and  headed out to the race venue. I had switched out tires in preparation for the dirt and terrain of Arkansas to the MAXXIS CrossMarks and boy did these do well! The course was fast and fun, loose in places with short pitchy climbs and a couple small creek crossings. Pre ride was a success. Next up, swim; I don’t know if you have tried to get into a wetsuit in humid conditions when you’re already hot and sweaty, but it feels a lot like being unborn might feel….took me a good 10mins to squeeze myself into this suit! Swim was great but I was aware from the get go of the couple holes in my wetsuit letting in a good bit of cold water, not that I was complaining as it certainly helped to cool me down! But your wetsuit should not have holes. Regardless too late in the day to do anything about it.

The next day brought torrential rain, thunder and lightning the ENTIRE DAY AND NIGHT!!!   A brief break in the weather on Saturday meant I could go and quickly run one lap of the 2 lap course in some pretty wet conditions, but again I loved the course, good climbs, fun footwork and a fast downhill finish! I felt very prepared having reccee’d the majority of the race and really excited for the course.

HOWEVER

I received a text and then an email later Saturday afternoon informing us that due to rising lake levels the venue had been closed down by the Army corps and the race would be moved to a new location and that they would send further details… Now this would probably be a good time to panic but honestly that doesn’t help anyone. This is really just time to be CALM IN CHAOS.

Race morning came and I knew the new location but that was about it. On arrival we learned that the bike would be extended by 4 miles with a 2mile road ride to get to the trail and then 2miles to ride bike in from the trail and that the brand new run course was around 7 miles. People around me continued to panic over the longer distances and change to course but all I could think of was this was exactly what I train for! This is why I will do three hard laps of Badger Pass, or long runs on the trail with hill efforts, for this moment!

I got into the water for race start and felt my wetsuit fill with water around my midriff and torso. The race began and I quickly got into a rhthym. I felt that I was sighting well but my I also felt heavy like I was swimming through syrup. I remained calm and finished the swim, running out of the water I knew I had time to make up!

13123312_10209687325878744_7177073210083077838_oI jumped onto my bike, hit the lockout for the initial road section and got to business! As soon as I reached the trail I knew this course was going to be epic! MUD GALORE!!! This was almost a completely new course to what I had pre-rode but I learned quickly just how much I could push the corners and terrain with the deep muddy sections, and those small creeks….HA! They were now rivers!! I made up a lot of time on the time on the bike despite a couple epic wipeout crashes in the deep mud and water. I was literally covered head to toe in mud and it was awesome! Arkansas offered crazy fun XC trails with beautiful views spanning over the vast lakes that hug the forest coastline. I had stayed on top of my nutrition throughout per Coach Lesley’s instructions and felt good on an energy level!

13094425_10205888749250232_6686331161370814731_nComing off the bike I wasn’t sure that my trail shoes were the right choice for the harsh road section that started the run course. Regardless I headed out on a steady clip, and pushed along the road section, about 1.5miles in we broke off onto the trail section, and I instantly felt better on my feet! I love the free nature of the trail and although still a little technical the ground had significantly dried since the bike leg. My eyes burned from the spurts of mud they had been thrown during the bike but I focused on the trail and my footwork…however I somehow caught my toe on a tree root and stumbled 20feet forward onto the trail, I quickly jumped up and hastened to get back into my pace. Feeling adrenaline rush through my legs I was sure to maintain my CALM. I continued to push the pace in my run and looking at my Garmin, and at 6.5miles we were still in the middle of the woods. KEEP THAT CALM! I knew now the run was going to be long and was grateful of the 2nd gel I had brought with me. Back onto the road section I was able to pass a couple more athletes and only build momentum. Seeing the finish line come in to view I kicked up that final gear and brought it home.

The result although important is only second to the experience of the entire race. Keeping Calm amongst the Chaos is integral to your performance. This was quite a turnaround race for me as I was really able to harness the confidence from my training and the process I have been through to know that whatever is thrown my way I can manage the obstacle and overcome it. This is racing. This is offload racing! It’s messy, it’s dirty, it’s challenging and I LOVE IT!!!

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I placed 3rd Female overall and awarded 1st Elite Female in the Off Road National Championship. I have mixed feelings about this result as it feels like a steal but I also hesitate to feel this way because of the effort and fight I put into this event. I really fought as hard as I could especially coming out the water so far back. I earned the fastest run split of the day of the women which is a great way to finish a race…just as strong if not stronger than how your started! I’m excited to continue this journey, and happy to get back to the grind to get faster and stronger!

 

I was doubly sure to thank and congratulate the race organizers for pulling this event together in less than 24hours in tough conditions, and they truly did such a great job under pressure.

Thank you to everyone who supported me at this race especially my boyfriend Ben Ward and his wonderful family who came to watch and cheer and take care of me over the entire race week!

Lisa x

Does swimming help your run?

There’s no way around it, if you want to become a better swimmer you have to swim more…and not just a couple days a week, I’m talking like 20,000yards a week minimum. Yes technique is definitely important but ultimately its your feel for the water and the time in the water, that will take you from just getting through your swim, to actually seeing improvement in your times. Not only that, but in Triathlon, allowing you to emerge from the swim FRESHER!

So in my quest to improve my swim, I have been swimming more. I’m still building and am no where near the mileage needed yet BUT what I have noticed are changes in my body and in my run! People often ask how often I lift and I tell them I basically don’t, unless its a coffee mug at 4am! But seriously, swimming (and mountain biking) are both great for sculpting your arms. Thats pretty logical. Swimming also utilizes your core strength and stability to keep you fluid and smooth in the water as you glide, pull, kick and breathe. I have noticed my core feeling a little stronger and more firm as a result, and that has transferred over into how solid my ‘chassis’ feels as I run! Not that it was noodle like before but I definitely can feel and reap the benefits of this increased swim volume.

The great thing about being an athlete and a coach is that as a coach you understand the theory and philosophy of coaching and physical performance, but as an athlete you get to FEEL that!

I am lucky to be able to swim with some of the fastest guys in the sport and although I’m a long way off their interval times and splits, they couldn’t be more encouraging and supportive! I also have the luxury of a great local Masters swim group which meets, Monday, Wednesday, Friday mornings, Monday and Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings, giving plenty of options and levels of ability. My advice is to find a group or lane that are just a little faster than you, and use that to drive and motivate you forward with your swimming practice. Check out the masters group at Henderson Multigenerational Pool, at their Facebook page: Henderson Aquatics.

I have my swim bag in the car ready for practice tonight! Maybe see you out there 🙂

Lisa x

 

January 22nd – OTB

Back in 2008 I think it was I bought an iPod. Apple have an option where you can engrave the back of the iPod for you. I had mine engraved with:

Swim. Bike. Run.

Believe.

I used this iPod ALL the time. I used to teach all sorts of exercise classes and loved putting together different playlists for the classes, really using my musicality to get the most out of the participants. I also used it for all my training. Well I did bring it to the states but lost it for a long time. I mean I knew it was somewhere, I just didn’t know where somewhere was… Well I found the iPod the other day whilst cleaning!!! And let me tell you, what a throwback of music you will find on this iPod, its great!!!

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So, I went out to Cottonwood trails yesterday, just West of Las Vegas to take my FSI Cannonade Hardtail out for a shred accompanied by said iPod. Had a blast! Rode up around lawnmower the
n up badger pass then down red valley back over to the downhill section of badger pass. It was an absolutely beautiful day to ride bikes, not too warm, not too cold, no real wind, sun in the sky. Even think I may have gotten a QOM up lawnmower, not the downhill section cause, man the girls out here get GNARLY!! Someday I’d like to be more like them!

So I start descending down badger pass, and I’m kinda pushing it to get back to work on time, and Im not even sure what I hit but, booking it downhill I hit something and was sent OTB (Over The Bars) landing on the right side of my pelvis, right forearm and right knee!!! The wind was clean knocked out of me and I thought initially I might pass out or vomit but did neither and instead just exhaled very loudly…ok screamed for a couple minutes to help the pain escape. But F*** it hurt bad.

12573128_10208768511548960_8303993117810757053_nI looked at my bike and it seemed to look ok, the garmin had ‘ceased to be’ but nothing glaringly wrong with the bike. I stood up, or attempted to, but my pelvis/abdomen were throbbing. I had been making a lot of noise for a few minutes (seemed like an hour), but I knew it was in vain and that most likely no one would be up that trail for the rest of the day. I mustered myself to a stand and climbed over the bike. If I could just roll down to the late night parking lot I could probably find someone there or at least be off the trail for help. I sat my feet on the pedals and literally rolled down, grunting as i went to get the pain out, every tiny bump sending shooting pain through me. I got to the only uphill section on the way back which is only maybe 20 feet…yesterday it felt like a mile. I couldn’t pedal so had to climb off and stumble up to the top. I got back on and rolled to the parking lot. Luckily there were a few cars there and I had managed to call my boyfriend to meet me at the blue diamond lot. A very nice man named Mike calmly and patiently took my bike, loaded onto his car and then helped me in and drove me round to blue diamond. He then stayed with me and talked the entire time to help and distract me, he was my trail angel! Thank you Mike!

12473633_10208768362905244_4593026676478176326_oBen arrived and carried me to his car. We headed to the ER where they admitted me through as a trauma patient. 3 doses of morphine, a tetanus shot, X-rays and a CT scan later I was declared free to leave, no fractures but just pretty beat up. And now high.

It wasn’t the greatest day but man am I glad to ride in such a supportive community of MTB’ers who will not hesitate to help a fellow biker out. I’ve been that helper a couple times before and will continue to contribute to this brother/sisterhood of bikers for as long as i ride!

Sucks being out of commission but Im confident its only for a couple days. I tend to heal pretty fast and Im stubborn so this won’t keep me down for long! 🙂

Ride safe Friends

Lisa x

January 19th – Plan B is ok.

Since I was a teenager, a very independent teenager, I’ve always tried to plan ahead, make smart decisions and learn from mistakes. And I can admit I have made mistakes, haven’t we all! So when I decided to make the jump to work part time in September and train full time, my first plan was to work in MVPT, a cash only sports outpatient clinic. I knew the hours would be tough to make up so I also applied for a position in Home Health Pediatrics which I had a taste of in Scotland and loved!  For those of you who don’t know, this is physical therapy with children primarily aged 0-3 years who have developmental delay or disability. I work closely with the parents/guardians to educate and teach them how to help their child, as well as working hands on with the children to help reach significant milestones like rolling, sitting, standing and walking. I began working in the outpatient position but due to scheduling, the unique cash only clinic model and a unique perspective on outpatient approach it was difficult to create a patient caseload and sustainability. In addition to this the first couple of months with the home health agency were very slow due to paperwork and clerical obligations. However, in December I suddenly was able to begin building a much bigger pediatric caseload up in North Las Vegas where although the driving is farther, the flexibility and dependability was more reliable to the point that i could easily fill 2-3 days. All of a sudden I found I was back to an almost full time schedule between two jobs but with much lower financial stability than when I did work full time. This really didn’t make sense.

Time for Plan B. I received my Elite off-road triathlon license in the post as I returned from Scotland, which was a great reminder of what my current path and goals were/are. I am trying to work part time and train full time, but I’d ended up backwards in a very short space of time, blowing through my savings just to pay bills and living expenses. With the flexibility and stability of the home health position it was a clear choice to make. My decision to move away from MVPT was a tough but necessary step. I can continue with Pediatric home health part time with a flexible schedule and actually train full time. I am grateful to Ron Gallagher for allowing me to try Plan A and his understanding in my moving on to Plan B.

So what do I mean by training full time? Well, for one I won’t be training 40 hours per week, but the beauty of training full time, is the flexibility and time to RECOVER! With often 2-a-day workouts, recovery is a huge part of an elite schedule. Every session counts. Eating counts. Resting counts. The physical and mental stress of working needs to be carefully managed to ensure the athlete can continue to improve and progress with a much lower risk of illness and/or injury.

The second part of Plan B, having extra time, will allow me to pursue more community projects, including some coaching, organizing training rides/runs/groups, and deliver small workshops and clinics in the Las Vegas/Henderson area.

I ask myself why I do what I do quite frequently. One answer is that I want to push myself to be the best I can be, challenge myself to do what I initially think I cannot do, and prove that we are capable of much more than we think. Another answer is my love of empowering, educating and encouraging others to take control and responsibility for their physical and mental health and well being. I believe that my position can be a great platform to deliver that message and encourage others to push themselves and the best version of themselves, promoting healthy living and happiness.

So there you have it. I’m not giving up on my dream because of a bump in the road. There will be MANY bumps in the road. I have only just begun to travel down this road and I’m not prepared to turn around.

“The Bamboo that bends, is stronger than the oak that resists”

Embrace change and allow yourself to adapt as your path unfolds.

Thanks for following and believing 🙂

Lisa x

January 6th 2016- Happy New Year

I always feel like the beginning of a new year is kind of stressful. A lot goes on in the weeks leading up to the festive period and often training, or normal commitments don’t get the same commitment or attention they once did. Then you finish that year and reflect on all the things you achieved, that you didn’t achieve, things you learned, mistakes you made and how you can grow and improve this year. Then you look at the year ahead and start to look at goals. For me I have training camp at the end of January, then training, hopefully some snowboarding, then start racing and as I look at the season the time gets shorter and shorter and suddenly I feel stressed that I have so much to do in the year and so little time. It is true that as we get older time seems to go by more quickly. Maybe its that we consciously plan and look forward to things, or fill our time more effectively so that the time passes and before you know it it’s flown by. I don’t know exactly but it does leave me feeling stressed.

One gift I received for Christmas from my Mum was a book on Mindfulness for the athlete. She did take some time to talk to me about mindfulness later in the year…last year, but I’m grateful she was able to find something to follow up with thats specific to me. Mindfulness in something Ive heard more and more of recently and its actually super simple. Being mindful of your actions, thoughts, decisions, goals and dreams literally means just that. Thinking about what they entail, what that means to you, how it affects you, if it affects you, what impact will that have, etc. It really  only takes an increased conscious effort which to be honest we have lost in recent years of technological advancements. I don’t nee to think about where I’m going in the car, I plug it in to my phone and Siri tells me turn by turn where to go. Thats it put simply but one thing I’ve found useful is mindful eating. Before eating I think about what I’m eating and why Im eating it. My mum and sister take it to a whole other level which I won’t go into but for me just thinking of those two things helps me to be smarter about my nutrition and diet. If I know I have heavy training periods I include protein, fats and plenty fruit and veg, the more colorful the better! If I look at my plate and its all white, I think about what I could replace or add that would bring those colorful nutrients to the table, pardon the pun…

Now I am no expert but in October 2015 a mindfulness summit was held online. A free 31 day summit covering all mindfulness topics. I won’t explain any more than that but I would encourage you to visit the page by clicking on this link: The Mindfulness Summit registration is free and you can take your time to listen and watch experts in this field from all over the world.

I’m off to try and solidify a plan for this year and work on being less stressed 🙂

Thanks for reading

Lisa x