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 🙂
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 🙂
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
As an invitational only race I knew this would be certainly the toughest race of the year so far. In Triathlon you often race against your ‘age group’ however this was a flat out race against the best amateur triathletes in the USA. Current and former national champions, triathlete of the year, long course national champion…this race had them. It was a small but incredibly stacked field. My biggest fear…making a complete embarrassment of myself, letting down everyone who has supported me in getting here. As a relatively last minute race, my coach Jeremy Wallace wasnt sure it was the best decision to go – I had just come away from racing 4 out of 5 weekends in May including a half ironman (2nd), state TT championship (1st), Devlees Road Race (2nd) and Sand hollow sprint triathlon (1st). Our focus was supposed to be shifting towards prep for Ironman 70.3 Worlds in September. Nevertheless, with support from the awesome people at Bike Shop Henderson I found myself able to travel to Minnesota for this prestigious event. Eyeing up the competition at the ‘Meet n Greet’ on Saturday was pretty nerve racking but by this point I had shifted my focus to concentrating on my performance – the result had to be secondary.
Sunday morning, 9am, GO TIME. With the males and females headed off together I was prepared for a swift wallop over the heed or two but luckily actually managed to sprint out with the pack. For the first time I was able to settle in and draft for the most part. At the turnaround for the second loop I received an elbow to the eye, knocking my goggles off. Quickly repositioning them I continued but the damage was done, goggles filled with water on one side and foggy on the other…now i was drafting out of necessity, i couldnt see a bloody thing. I was relieved to finish the swim 9th with 19:37.
I transitioned somewhat quickly onto the bike and set off at a decent pace. The 3-loop course had a smooth section with a couple hills and then familiar potholes/cracks from weathered tarmac – havent dealt much with that living in Vegas mind you! The bike was strong although my quads were burning. I was spurred on each lap by my fellow Nevada representative Chris Fetter as he passed in the opposite direction, cheering/yelling at me I finished the bike in 1:05:32
Onto the “flat” run course, two laps around lake Phalen. This mostly flat course had a few little kickers in it to make things interesting. My run was fairly solid, my legs felt good, turning over well….and then it began…the stitch. That bloody stitch. I had to stop I think 4 times overall, each time glancing behind knowing I’d passed a couple people but with others hot on my heels. I was able to keep a strong pace, telling myself to relax as much as possible. As I was nearing the final mile, the rain started to spit, and then it increased intensity. It was beautiful. I crossed the line with a 41:28 split and a total time of 2:08:10. The rain was bucketing down, echoed in the distance by the rolling thunder. A perfect finish.
I finished 5th place of the women and was/am delighted with a solid race. This race gave me so much: opportunity, new friends, new opponents, fire, passion and drive to get back to training better than ever. The race organisers Trudy and Jerry were unbelievable – a true credit to our sport.
Thanks to Chris Thornham for wheel support. I rode with the Flo disc and Flo 90 on the front. Now THAT’s a fast set-up!
Thanks to Terry at the Bike shop for all his help and support, couldnt have done it without you dude!
Thank you Chris Fetter for all your help and support – you’re pretty awesome…like a ‘Ken doll’
Congrats to Dani Fischer of Wisconsin who killed the competition. This girl is one to watch
On to the next one…
This race has been my main focus for the last 6 months at least and so I was excited for race day but also keen to enjoy it for every single mile despite how difficult I knew it would get. I travelled up with Leta Rose on the Thursday who was the perfect travel and race partner for this trip – we both had business to take care of! Unfortunately my order of LG gels had not arrived in time and my plan B for nutrition, in hindsight, sucked. Nevertheless I went into the race knowing that training wise I’d done all I could.
The swim was not nearly as cold as I thought it would be and with a calm deep water start we got underway. I couldnt find someone to draft from but was aware of someone drafting my feet almost the entire swim. On the second turn where we head back to the shore I was feeling very dizzy and almost seasick – Im still not sure why. With a couple hundred metres to go this girl who had been drafting swam on my hip, we then get out at the same time where she thanked me for the pull….
On to the bike I felt good, nice and strong. There are many long climbs on this course but plenty room to settle into a rhythm and really work. I felt really good and continued to power through until my energy started fading around mile 30. I had a couple GU gels on the bike and water but my tank was getting low. Snow canyon although beautiful…was brutal! The most inspiring thing however are the signs that the locals of st george put up through snow canyon to motivate you…”Remember that guy that gave up? Yeah nobody else does either”.
I completed the bike and headed out on the run feeling strong tapping into new muscles and into a groove. I stayed pretty strong up the initial ascents and through mile 4, after this it started to go downhill, and not in a good way. My tank was cursing at me by this point, I was starting to get a stitch, my legs were heavy and I pee’d my pants…whilst running..although somewhat intentional…yeah I never said Triathlon was glamourous…
I had maybe thought I was leading my age group until this point but at that moment a girl passed me on her way back, one mile ahead of me and in my age group. I think mentally I started to doubt myself; everything was getting so difficult. Shortly after the turnaround this gazelle-like avatar girl from my age group ran past me…why arent my legs a little longer. I got to about mile 9 and consumed my last gel with a splash of cola and water. At this moment the girl who beat me to second by less than one minute last year, overtook me. I couldnt let this happen again! I stayed tucked in behind her and just built up all my mental motivation – “there are only 4 miles left then it will be over…suck it up princess”. I gradually let mind take over and we both picked up the pace. We passed the gazelle who looked like she was hurting and continued downhill, I slowly overtook her but maintained the downhill pace. I kept running and although I could no longer hear her footsteps I didn’t dare turn around until I had one mile left. I could see her but as long as I kept that pace I was good – but the pace was HARD! I gave it my all and it paid off. I maintained 2nd place in my age group, 8th amateur female overall and qualified for the World Championships for Ironman 70.3 in Canada! Despite a nutrition disaster I PR’d by 5minutes on last years time so I’ll take that.
Time to eat, relax and do a few bike races before settling back in to 70.3 training.
Nutrition 5xGU gels, 2xLG gels, water, cola
Long before the sun is rising in the sky, while children lay tucked up in bed, couples snuggle in close, as the vegas strip begins to dwindle into submission, the age-group athlete awakens to an early morning alarm calling her into action. Scantily clad in lycra she begins her routine by initiating a workout, fine tuning her body to churn out intervals, increasing power output and V02max. She sweats, aches, and digs deep into the hurt locker, hungry for change, hungry to make a difference and to become the ultimate machine. With the workout coming to an end, she smiles, satisfied with the effort and work applied, but then begins her transformation back to her mere mortal self. A shower, change of clothes, breakfast and a coffee and she heads out into the world; the 9 to 5 grind, her ‘normal’ life. She enters work and begins her ‘normal’ day, unbeknown to her colleagues the secret hurt locker session she experienced just a couple hours prior. To the world, during the day, she is a healthcare professional. Once her day is by with and she is finished with the niceties of her day-to-day employment, she heads once again back to that hurt locker to suffer in silence, pushing, grinding, hurting, trying, believing…thats it…believing. And so it goes, a ‘double-life’; from the 9-5 routine to scantily clad exercise in an entirely different sort of uniform. Each day she puts in the work with no immediate reward or return on effort. Each day pounding away in the hope that one day she will be needed. But superheroes don’t wait around hoping to be needed, they ARE needed; they are needed to instil hope, faith and belief in others that they too can change, better themselves or achieve seemingly impossible goals. And what better way to enforce this than race day.
Along the course she digs deep into her inner superhero to find the strength, mental power and focus and determination to guide her through the course. Donning her team kit, she resembles not the day to day mere mortal, but an athlete. Acknowledging volunteers for their efforts, she hopes to show them how much they are valued and instills self-worth and gratification. Taking in the crowds of spectators, giving a knowing nod of appreciation for their cheers, she knows that that simple human gesture acts as a reminder that she is still human and that they could do what she is doing. She hopes to empower and motivate with her work. On the way back to her car still dressed in her ‘superhero’ attire, a new athlete congratulates her, however she will not pursue a conversation of self-appraisal but instead shows her admiration and interest into this new athlete, providing encouragement for future events and to continue this lifestyle of healthiness and happiness.
It may all sound ridiculous, but sometimes we age-group athletes need to take a little more comfort in knowing about our ‘superhero’ status. We live and train these double lives, often with family, friend or work commitments that professional athletes may not have to deal with. Undeterred by these challenges we show that with determination, hard work can overcome adversity, belief can self-efficate our own abilities and push us farther than we ever dreamed of, and a little motivation can move mountains….well maybe not literally…
So this blog goes out to all my fellow age-groupers, some of which aspire to and may become professional, others content with the challenging ‘superhero’ lifestyle, either way, this is for you. You know who you are; you are special, motivating, hard working, influential, empowering, dedicated…you are superhuman.
Swim, Bike, Run. Believe.
2012 has easily been the most eventful year of my life not only in personal achievements but in sporting achievements also. And when I say sporting achievements, I’m not talking about Olympic medals or world records, I’m talking about something MUCH more than that…personal goals. You see you can be first in a race and be disappointed because you didn’t meet YOUR goal and similarly you can be 50th and be absolutely delighted because that personal goal, that milestone of achievement that you have worked so hard for has finally been met.
So 2012. I had been searching for that sub 40minute 10k for some time and who would believe I would achieve it on the first leg of a Duathlon: 39:45. A couple weeks later running a 10k alone back home, on a hilly course I achieved it again in 39:09. Absolutely delighted. Milestone reached. Now onto attaining that sub-38….
Completed my first half marathon in June in Ventura, CA. Aimed for 1:30 but hoping for sub 1:35….achieved 1:26:45. DELIGHTED. Now to get that 1:25:00.
Completed my first half Ironman Triathlon. Time goal was for between 4:45-5:15. Achieved in 5:01. AMAZED and so delighted with result despite also getting heat stroke during the race and spending a considerable amount of time in the medical tent…
So why, when I started the year so well and so positively, have I finished the year with less than impressive results.
9/9/12 70.3 Triathlon: 5:38
17/11/12 10k race: 41:10
2/12/12 Half marathon: 1:37:54
Now each of these last three events may have indeed have had their own individual difficulties (HEAT, long hill, 40mph winds respectively) but still, after starting the year so well, I only feel like I’ve gone backwards and let myself down.
I know there are potentially many reasons for this and I know there is a lot I can do myself to fix issues I have had….still disappointing nonetheless.
So where from here. Well, right now I am looking to put one of the LONGEST seasons behind me (first potential reason for shitty recent results), and look forward to base training and easing off from high intensity training (second reason). I look forward to sleeping more (third reason) and eating a healthier, more nutritious diet (fourth reason), having recently switched to a dairy free (choice) in addition to Gluten free (medical) diet.
To end 2012 with some words of wisdom…founded from stupidity and experience….
- Your racing season should not span the majority of the year. Your body needs to rest and recover PROPERLY…. Choose a handful (no more than 5) of races that you want to do well in and focus on these. Don’t be afraid to turn down some events!
- LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. When you are stressed mentally you become stressed physically. If you miss one session its not the end of the world. Take the time to treat your body and mind with respect and it will reward you with better results come race day.
- Eat to Live don’t live to eat. Think about why you are eating whichever food you’re eating and what nutritious purpose it is serving you. Everything in moderation…
- SLEEP. Disruptive sleep patterns have a negative impact on your life. Don’t burn the candle at both ends and try to relax a good hour before attempting to sleep. Late night gym sessions = not ideal.
- Believe in your own physical and mental strength. When you believe you can be the greatest, great things will happen. If you allow yourself to become absorbed in self doubt, you will slowly succumb to the negativity, and your goals and dreams will fade into the distance. Be strong.
So as I write these ‘wise words’ I realise how late it is at night and that I must sleep. I hope this finds each of you in a better place at the end of 2012, or are you, like me, looking forward to a fresh start in 2013?
Goodnight America and Good morning Scotland
Pro Triathlete in the making…someday…