Caffeine + Naptime = AWESOME
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:
- 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!)
- Set your alarm for 20mins
- Close your eyes, relax and NAP
- Wake up to your alarm feeling awesome!
- 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 🙂
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.
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!
I 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!
Coming 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!!!
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!
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 🙂
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.
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!!!
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.
I 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!
Ben 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
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 🙂
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
November 16th – Ironman Arizona DNF
Even though I thought this would be one of the toughest posts it’s actually one of the easiest to write. There are always lessons to be learned and understanding why we make the decisions we do is never clear but the consequences of those actions can speak volumes.
I signed up for IMAZ with Smile Train after competing my first full ironman in Canada. There were charity spots open and I felt this was a good way to get a redemption race AND do a great thing through the sport I love. I set about fundraising and put on various events: Bikini Car Wash, Live acoustic music set at Grouchy Johns, Silent auction for donated prints, post event massage at a MTB event, a team cyclocross event and a cake shop partnership. People also selflessly donated through the website and to me and we raised over $6250 for Smile Train. It costs around $250 per cleft lip repair so this money has gone to change the lives of children all over the world, and WE helped at least 25! Honestly, the support and love I received throughout this fundraising effort blew me away, and the victory was already achieved before I even toe’d the line. Which brings me to the race itself…
2 weeks before IMAZ I raced in Maui at the XTERRA World Championship, which was one of the best experiences of my entire triathlon career! I travelled home from Maui after an overnight layover in Oahu where I slept on the floor outside the airport because the check in desk was closed by the time I got there, so when I arrived to Vegas I was exhausted. I was back to work Thursday and Friday but struggled to train due to fatigue and migraine. Saturday I felt good! Didn’t want to get too excited so had a 2 hour bike trainer session with some 5 minute efforts and felt pretty solid. However on Sunday I woke up with swollen glands and a sore throat. The fatigue I’d felt all week was still there but the glands were new. Monday came and I wasn’t fit for anything; laid on the sofa all day and ate chicken soup and hot drinks. The rest of the week was similar. I tried hard to rest and be a good patient and I really felt that I did a lot, including drinking boiled Ginger root with turmeric and lemon, suggested by our friends Dax and Gee – it did help but just that night. By this point I had developed a chesty cough which would wake me through the night and rear its ugly head through the day. I traveled down to Tempe on Friday to packet pick up, unsure of how things would go but after all the fundraising and support I just couldn’t quit yet. I went about everything exactly the same as if I were well. The night before the race I was kept up coughing again. I had promised my Mum and boyfriend that I would stop if it became a bigger health risk. I promised myself I would start and go until there was no doubt that I could go no further.
IMAZ began with a rolling start where we funneled through a gate and dove into the water of Tempe Town Lake. This was the first year they had tried it, personally I liked it! 2.4miles is the distance of the swim and IMAZ course is a long rectangle through the lake. I started swimming and kept my calm. This was the first had swam since Maui! The water was cold but I was grateful this time of having a wetsuit. I swam reasonably strong but made sure not to push too hard at this early stage. I swam up to the half way without issue made the turns and started heading back. This got ugly. I had been able to cough and swim up until this point but it was getting harder and harder to get a breath in, I swam over to a kayak and held on to stop and catch my breath. The kayaker was awesome! So encouraging but told me to take my time. He was trying to keep people from swimming off course and the verbal abuse he received from a couple swimmers was embarrassing! Some guy called him an asshole! This kid was volunteering and only helping the athletes. I gave him my ‘volunteer’ band which IM gave us to hand to a volunteer on the course to show our appreciation. Didn’t seem enough, but wanted him to know that we the athletes are grateful to have volunteers in the water. I set off again but soon the breathing tightened up. Ok, new plan, swim to every 4th kayak then stop and catch breath. Luckily there were so many kayakers one was never too far away and I just would swim and then swim to a kayak, breathe, then keep swimming. I reached the end of the swim exhausted. I walked to my transition bag, feeling a fraud amongst al the stellar athletes being cheered on my the crowds. I wanted to stop, but nothing in my body was done so I kept going.
I headed out onto the bike course – my happy place, and quickly settled into a nice rhythm, again taking care not to push hard, just keep steady. There was a slight headwind on the way out to the turnaround with a very small uphill, nevertheless, again my breathing was getting the better of me. My muscles ached and my ribs would spasm if i breathed hard. But I made it to the top. Saw Heather Jackson and Wattie near the turnaround course cheering the athletes which gave me a boost. I turned and came flying down the hill and was able to recover my breathing. The coughing was still there, and by this point immediately followed any time i took on nutrition or water causing me to bring nutrition back up, but I was sure I was getting enough in. Lap one and I’m not terrible but not great, which meant another lap. I wanted to hit the top again and get back down the ‘hill’. This time however, like in the swim, the available space in my lungs seemed to be disappearing, it became harder and harder to breathe. My legs had felt great! I knew my body was strong enough to get me through the race, but I promised myself when something gave up I had to stop. This was it, I was hyperventilating and wheezing trying to catch my breath. At mile 60 I pulled to the side near an aid station and still clipped in hung over my bike trying to breathe. An ambulance pulled up and whisked me into the back where they took my vitals and started me on an albuterol breathing treatment to help open my airways. I couldn’t feel my fingers and when I did they just tingled. The breathing treatment helped but between extreme coughing fits I just struggled to get my breathing rate and heart rate down. An official asked if I would continue and I asked for more time before making a decision but ultimately I knew it was over. As tears rolled down my face I handed my chip to the paramedic. I was devastated.
They transferred me to the medical tent at the Ironman Park and with my breathing rate still high I received another breathing treatment. Volunteers would come and sit by me and tell me how great I had done, but I just felt sad. I had DNF’d. After an hour my breathing rate was down and coughing bouts were back to pre race level. My abs hurt and my body ached but I was well enough to leave and recover my stuff. I headed over to the Smile Train tent where my phone was. I called Ben and sobbed as I told him the race outcome. He reminded me that the victory had been made before the race began and of how many children we had helped through our actions. Perspective.
Honestly, although I was sad, I can wholeheartedly say that I gave it all I could. I started and went until my body couldn’t go anymore. AND we did a great thing in fundraising for a great cause. I can’t be mad about that.
I went back to my Cousin’s house where I was staying in Tempe, and had the most glorious hot shower of my life, ate some leftover pizza and had a cold beer. I was grateful and thankful for every ounce of that, for everything. I am grateful to be able to start an event like an Ironman, to wake up every day and have the opportunity to do great things, spread happiness and love and SMILE.
It was not my day but it was for so many other athletes and they needed the support. I got dressed in about seven layers, headed down to the course armed with red bull and a cowbell and joined the Smile Train team on course to cheer and support the athletes until 9:30pm when we moved over to the finishing line to cheer the athletes into the finishing line right through till the midnight hour! It was humbling to watch these rockstars as they’ve been out on course for almost 17hours through torrential rain, and darkness, to see their joy and relief as they come down the finishing chute to hear those words: “YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!”. How the crowd gets louder and louder as we inch closer to that deadline, or when an athlete is clearly struggling just to make it, the noise and support are incredible, carrying them through the finish line.
There will always be doubts in your mind and I am the first person to say that you are stronger than any of those doubts even if you don’t know it yet. But there will also be days where unavoidable obstacles will force you to stop. When your health is in danger, this is a good time to stop. You are more than one race and one result does not define you. These are hard words to swallow but I wake up today, grateful to be alive, satisfied that I turned my bad day into a day of support for so many others, and happy to be involved in this wonderful sport, through the highs and the lows. I’m still sick but I have time now to fully rest and recover.
I want to thank everyone who helped in our fundraising efforts, including John Wylie of Grouchy Johns, Jori from Nothing Bundt Cakes, Steve Morgan, Brian Larson, Steve Clausse, The carwash girls: Melanie, Ashley, Katie, Michelle, Colleen, Tonya, Shaina and Mallory!, Chenin Orthodontics, Dr Yu of TSMO, Ron Gallagher of Maximum Velocity, Ben Ward (boyfriend, guitarist, supporter) and so many more, without any of you I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this, so thank you for your selfless support and love, you guys did a great thing.
The world is full of good people, show them off and tell them you appreciate them.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart
The power of negativity
Before I begin I will say that I am not a psychologist or mental health councillor, merely an athlete, Physical Therapist, musician and person with experience in mental health issues. My points may not be scientifically proven but I hope this serves as a useful resource for everyone.
The Power of Negativity. It is incredibly easy to be negative. It is far easier to be negative than positive. Without realising it many of us will consider five negatives thoughts on a single issue before considering just one positive thought. We can work to remain positive but the power of negativity seems to draw us back in so easily. When we feel blue, it doesn’t take long for a small problem to manifest or snowball into many other problems. We can become consumed by negativity, almost suffocating, and it feels like there is no way to pull out of this hole. The problem is, that a negative mind directly impacts our body. We are more likely to feel lethargic, frustrated, have low motivation, have general feeling of melancholy and who can forget, comfort eating!
Biologically we are programmed to recognise the negative aspects of a situation. This is a ‘survival of the fittest’ theory where those who can see the danger or negative aspects are more likely to be able to analyse and choose a safer or more positive solution, versus someone who waltzes into danger oblivious to hazards may not come out so lucky!
Ok, so it may be in our nature, but it is also our responsibility to take into account a negative, consider the positive and come to a solution or continue on a path to progression. I think this is where we often get stuck. These ‘blue’ feelings or negative thoughts weigh heavily on our minds, overshadowing our ability to easily consider, or even see the positive.
I’m currently one month in to a complete lifestyle change. At the beginning of September I bit the bullet and took a new part time job to allow me the time to train and recover like a pro, on my journey to becoming a successful professional athlete. I also started with a new coach just a week and a half ago! Big changes, with high financial risk. But, I did this because I am driven to achieve this huge lifelong goal and hey, you only live once! I believe I have what it takes. I believe I can push myself to the limit and then push a little more. Im so stoked, but even still, especially in these early days, when no one knows where I’m at or where I might get to, its easy to let the doubts and negative thoughts creep in. I’ve struggled to sell myself to sponsors, found the new schedule tricky to adapt to efficiently and all the while very conscious that I’m trying to do a lot more with a much much much smaller budget. My boyfriend Ben, has been very supportive and this week asked me 3 very important questions when I’ve doubted myself or felt negative:
Do you want to quit?
Do you enjoy it?
Why are you doing this?
He will force me to answer him out loud. This doesn’t wipe the negativity slate clean but it does clear some of that heavy dark cloud and allow room for the perspective, positivity and acknowledgement of things to be grateful for at this early stage.
It takes work to remain positive; a conscience effort to look at things a different way, for example instead of worrying or catastrophising, consider problem solving and perspective. This applies to all aspects of our lives: Relationships, Career, Fitness, Health, to name a few. I’ve made a conscious effort to do certain things for a positive mental well being, some of which I feel are important for everyone to try and employ:
- Smile – literally the easiest thing you can do, even a forced smile can turn into an actual smile and get those endorphins positively influencing you
- Surround yourself with positive people – i have made a conscious effort to surround myself with positive people. These are people who are supportive, kind, happy, successful, grateful and humble.
- Take responsibility – there are always going to be those lucky people who seem to get everything for nothing, but the reality is these people are a minority. Take responsibility for the things that are happening in your life and if you want them to change, you must initiate that. Don’t bleat over the fact someone has been handed more than you. Jealousy is toxic. Move on and make things happen!
- Pay it Forward – do something good for someone else for no other reason but to do a good thing. Putting good energy into the world is a very good thing 🙂
- Write down 3 things you are grateful for – these don’t have to be big, because in reality we are all very fortunate to have simple things like a roof over our heads, our health and to be alive! Thats got to be something to smile about 🙂
- Reflect on your progress – stop and recognise what you have already achieved. So often we don’t take the time to do this… Take the time! I remember the first time I ran for 20minutes non stop, now I’ve ran 2 marathons, completed an Ironman and paced for a trail ultra marathon in the dark! Or even the first time I got on a mountain bike, just 1 year ago! So much has happened in this year, qualifying for Pro Xterra card, winning a few XC races and Xterra events and upgrading to a Cat 1 XC MTB rider… all on a demo bike I had borrowed.
- Read positive quotes – with social media these are everywhere but I will watch this one video before every single race, or big training days. No explanation needed, just watch: Rise and Shine Athlete Motivation
So to summarise, it’s ok to have negative thoughts. Being a ‘defensive pessimist’ has been shown to have its benefits; but you must ensure that with the negativity and doubts you take the time to consider the positive, keep your mind open and calm to avoid becoming suffocated into that deep dark hole of negativity – nothing good happens there.
I hope this can serve as a useful blog and provide you with a strategy you can apply to all aspects of your life 🙂
Silverman – a ‘training’ race
I entered Silverman around one month ago, after racing Ironman 70.3 Lake Stevens, Washington. I had had a terrible run after a phenomenal bike leg but honestly felt empty after Ironman Canada. I spent a couple hours in a medical tent on IV fluids and although I still made the podium, I was disappointed with my performance. Instead of being rationale and filling up that well I had dug deep into many times this year already, I thought:
“I should do Silverman! It’s a local race, race local, support local, it’ll be fun!”
If you have done the Silverman course, I’m sure you’ll agree most wouldn’t use ‘fun’ as their first choice of adjective. It’s a very hilly course with often unforgiving weather and this year was no different. Not particularly hot but very windy!
Having qualified and entered the XTERRA World Championships on November 1st and still fundraising and aiming for a season finale at Ironman Arizona I needed to do some serious thinking. I had competed two weekends before at Xterra Nationals in Utah and then one week before ran for almost 6hours through the night pacing badass ultra runner Michael Jimanez on the Trails around Big Bear, so I didn’t want to tap too much further into that reserve. One thing Michael had taught me was the importance of ‘the well’. You can dig deep into that well, but you have to take the time to fill it up. And honestly, I hadn’t been filling it up. This forced me to look at Silverman in a very different light. I would have to race it as a good training day. I know some people get irked by this way of thinking but it was necessary. I would race Silverman with the sole purpose of enjoying it, getting my nutrition dialled in and keeping a solid steady pace.
I got to race morning and purposefully left my garmin off and raced only with my watch to monitor nutrition timing. It was a very rough, windy, non-wetsuit swim so I took off my tri top to avoid the drag. It was a pretty messy swim…getting blown around with lots of waves I did my best to stay on track but still came out of the water considerably slower than I’d hoped for. I set out on the bike with a smile on my face and reminding myself to enjoy it 🙂
I rode pretty well, I actually like climbing and I know the hills out there quite well by now so knew where I could stand up, where I should ease off and when I just needed to grind. Everything was going pretty well, until on a fast descent, I looked down for the briefest of moments and the visor from my helmet was whipped off onto my arms… I was going to fast to take my hand off and grab it, but I thought I’d try; unfortunately I had just overtaken somebody and as soon as I tried to manoeuvre to grab the visor it whipped out of my arms blowing behind me… Oh man I felt terrible!!! I knew it would’ve gone flying right into him! I put my hand up and shouted “SORRY!” and looked behind quickly… he was still upright, no crash caused. Phew!
I continued on the bike, and picked people off one by one. I always have the most fun on the bike. I consciously started to hold back with about 15miles to go. I was making good time and there was no need to push deep into that red zone. I cruised into T2 and transitioned into my run gear. I set out for a steady run with a smile on my face 🙂 I saw my boss/leader/friend Ron Gallagher in T2 and he gave me some encouraging words, I high fived him because I’m super american these days 😉
The run course was filled with awesome supporters many I didn’t know but the ones I did, provided the best encouragement. This 3 lap course means you see so many people racing, and I made a point to cheer on my friends and fellow athletes who were racing. I kept a decent smile until lap three when my glutes started complaining of being tired. Sorry Glutes, this is your time to shine! And luckily I saw more and more people who reminded me to keep going, keep smiling and enjoy the event. I finished in 3rd place in my age group and 8th amateur overall. I’m very happy with that. This wasn’t my ‘A’ race. Other people had spent their season training and prepping to peak on this day, I hadn’t. Id ran a trail marathon the week before, Nationals the week before that, not ideal prep for a stellar performance, BUT I was able to start this week of training feeling strong and pumped. I now have a new coach who I’m very excited to be working with and am looking forward to a great race in Maui, November 1st 🙂
Not quite the race report I usually put out, but not every day is your best day. This was a great day for me, not performance wise, but having the mental ability patience to control myself better in a race environment. I only took a little out of the well and have a lot to put in this week.
Congratulations to ALL those who raced at Silverman! It was a tough race with tough conditions but you all persevered and are simply amazing in my book! Thank you to all of the volunteers and supporters who truly make this race what it is, without you we’d be a bunch of thirsty, struggling athletes not sure if we can go on… you push us to the end! Thank you 😀
July 26th – YOU ARE AN IRONMAN
Ironman Canada – Whistler, July 26th 2015
Ironman Canada was never going to be easy, I knew this. This would be the toughest race of my life and I knew I would have to dig deep…often. My preparation for the event had gone reasonably well; I’d built up a solid bike and run base and lengthened swim workouts. I’d practiced my nutrition and hydration in the intense and often severe heat of the Las Vegas Desert. My coach, Chris DeMarchi, was confident in me, and I was starting to feel the same way.
I came up to Whistler on Wednesday to finish my taper and get a chance to pre-ride a bit of the course. I have not properly tapered for a race for a long time so I was feeling very rested going into the event. I had a hydration and nutrition plan all worked out, but tried to keep in mind that this would likely be different to my ‘Vegas Desert Hydration Plan’. The weather was looking to be colder and rainy. I adjusted my attire in that I decided to wear socks and arm warmers in addition to my normal two piece tri suit.
Race morning came and although I was very anxious, I was somewhat calm. It hadn’t started to rain but the sky was full. The race begins with a deep-water mass start of around 2000 age group athletes all going off together with the gun. It was a two-loop swim in a long rectangle. I positioned myself somewhat to the side but in the front line so to get a good start. The gun went off and I pushed hard to settle into a nice steady rhythm and position. Even though I knew we were spreading out, somehow it felt like everyone would get to the corner buoys at the same time. I was very much aware that by this point the rain was lashing down around us. I held strong and kept pushing. Only a couple swift elbows to the face and goggles knocked once but minor setbacks if that. I was eager to keep steady. I exited the 2.4mile swim 9th in my age-group (very surprising for me) in a time of 1:07:37.
Exit the water, down on ground, wetsuit off, into changing tent. A very lovely volunteer helped me don my already very wet arm warmers and I put on my socks thinking to myself what a fat lot of use the talcum powder was. Anyway, out to my bike and away.
The bike course brought more and more rain. It was truly torrential at this point. I was very aware of the voices in my head reminding me not to go too fast in the first part of the bike. I stayed true to this and only pushed to a pace where I didn’t feel like I was working, only moving along. I did start to pick people off but managed to stay calm and true to my plan. The descent coming down from the Whistler Olympic Park was terrifying. I had brand new brake pads for the Zipp 404 wheels I was using, but the rain posed such a high risk for disaster. I played it reasonably safe on these initial descents. Climbing back up to Whistler village, the cold started to kick in. I could;t feel me fingers and I was starting to shiver a little. The rain still not letting up, we began the fast descents down towards Pemberton. This is where things really got worrisome. Now the circulation had left my hands and they were bright white. I would lift my hand and arm to reach for a gel but I couldn’t do anything… I was stuck. The shivering had gotten so intense by this point I could feel my whole body beginning to spasm. Descending, brought more cold and I could barely control my bike. My eyes started to become very heavy. I remembered my special needs bag would be in Pemberton, and in there was hope….a Snickers bar. In Pemberton I pulled up to the aid station and volunteers immediately had my bag open and asking what I needed. I could only mumble and vaguely point in the direction of my food. I was beyond cold and expending a lot more energy than initially planned with all this shivering. A volunteer opened my snickers and all but shoved it in my mouth. It was delicious! I could feel I was crying because there was warmth on my face. Suddenly the volunteers were putting gloves on my hands and a jacket on me. One volunteer looked at me in the eyes and said “Ok, now you will warm up and you WILL finish this, you WILL be an ironman. Now get off down the valley and we’ll see you on the way back”…I kid you not, thats how it went down.
Straight down the valley I went and sure enough I started heating up. Eager to make up the energy deficit I started to panic eat. I had eaten the snickers, energy chews a couple gels, all in the space of about 20mins. I forgot to look at my watch so my timing restarted for eating breaks. Aw crap. I grabbed a gatorade at an aid station. Because whats better to wash down sugar than more sugar…
The climb back up to Whistler village is a long unforgiving one. No lie it goes on forever. My legs still felt good at this point so as long as I changed up my position every so often, stayed in a low gear for the tough climbs I was fine. I had no idea where I was in the standings, I was just grateful to have made it through the cold. It turns out almost 15% of people did not finish at all and of those 15% most had to turn in the towel on the bike because of the wet and cold. That being said 15% is an inspiringly low number…Ironman breeds a certain hardy type of athlete, one for whom giving up is not often an option.
I came back into the village and up towards T2. The village was buzzing with spectators and supporters. I finished the 112mile bike in 6:03:50, 3rd in my age group.
Onto the run with DRY socks and shoes! BLISS! I set off at a steady but VERY manageable pace with intentions to kick it up in the last 6miles and to walk through the aid stations. Well I didn’t stop at the first couple as I really didn’t need to, but after the second station, my guts started churning. I managed to push that feeling away for a while but my 13k I had to stop, I darted for the portaloo… Unfortunately this went on for the next 15-18km 😦 with each spasm in my stomach and gut my legs felt heavier and stiffer. I looked at my watch, seeing my goal disappearing from my eyes. Ok new plan, just make it aid station to aid station. With about 5km to go a girl in my age group past me, I foolishly thought she must have been on her first lap as she looked very fresh and had changed into an entirely new outfit from the bike. I now realise, considering how wet everything was and my own levels of chafing, that really wasn’t a terrible idea… Anyway, with 2km to go and the finish line so close I noticed up ahead that she too made a turnoff for the finish line. Unsure of my standings at this point but vaguely hopeful still of a podium spot I somehow picked up the pace. I lengthened my stride and ignored all the screams of fatigue and pain. All I could hear were the voices in my head from friends and family whom I knew were cheering me on from afar. With just under 1km to go, I overtook her, unsure of whether she’d respond, I cranked it up another gear. Now sprinting through the village, I regret barely being able to appreciate the crowds at this point. I was so grateful throughout the whole course of all the people out there supporting and cheering for us. I saw the finishing shoot and glancing over my shoulder, without this girl in sight I began to smile. Savour the moment.
“Lisa Leonard from Las Vegas, Nevada, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN”
I crossed the line with a smile on my face with a marathon split of 4:06:35 and a total finishing time of 11:27:11. I finished 6th in my age group, 40th women and 198th overall out of 2000 athletes.
I was disappointed to miss out on a podium spot (place up to 5) and to have ran so poorly knowing I could do better…BUT…after I nice pep talk from my coach and some reflection, I am extremely proud of this, my first Ironman. I learned so much from this experience. I have trained relentlessly whilst juggling a full time job as a Physical Therapist, which as most age groupers will know is no easy task. We do not have the luxury of recovery time or endless training hours and yet we all show up and get it done on race day. I’m proud to have joined this special albeit slightly mad, group of athletes who have earned the right to call themselves Ironman.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank my Coach Chris DeMarchi, my teammate Rachelle Jorgenson for pushing me to enter this race, my roommate Michelle whose love and support has been invaluable, My Mum who introduced me to this sport as I watched her compete in triathlon and whose endless strength, love and drive has brought me where I am today, My siblings Jessica, Eva and David, My Dad, my whole family! And all of my friends in Las `Vegas, Balmedie and world wide. I am so grateful of the love and support I receive from you all. I have only just caught up with all the Facebook posts and comments but it really brought me such sincere gratitude and joy to feel and read all of your best wishes and support. Thank you. It’s for you that I will race again, that I will continue to push and push as far as this road will take me. That road may have branches with off road trails and mountain bikes but the goals remain the same. Thank you all once again for believing in me.