Thursday, May 31, 2012

Almost There

Ironman training is trucking along.  At times I think Dirk is (literally) trying to kill me.  Like during last night's run.  He comes up with these interval workouts that look so innocent on paper and then they end up being like 15 miles in total and you just want to lay down on the side of the trail and take a 20 minute nap halfway through.  Oh wait, maybe that's just me... 

Of course I also have days where I think "okay Dirk - what do you have for me - I'm READY!"  I surmise that a coach's goal for Ironman training is to create highs and lows such that the athlete is ready for the same thing on race day.  If so, Dirk is a master at this.  :)

Anyway, I'm incredibly thankful to be happy and healthy and ALMOST THERE!  Hard to believe my first Ironman of the year is only 3 weeks away!  (to me Ironman = October = a full summer of riding in my legs...YIKES!)

In other news, my beloved Petey (my bike of the last 3 years) has a crack in his frame.  Devastating.  I found it right before we left for Columbia.  I have no idea how it happened or even how long it's been there but it's BIG (and growing).  I took the risk of riding on it for the race because the other option was not racing at all but when I took it to the bike shop the next day, they definitely cautioned me not to ride outside on it any longer.  The good news is, Cervelo is sending a brand new frame under warranty.  The bad news is, until the frame arrives I've only been riding on the trainer.  Which is KILLING me.  I didn't have a whole lot of riding last week but this week I have about 19 hours.  All inside.  While it's 85 and sunny outside.  This is when it's useful to have more than one bike!

Of course worse things have happened and although I have a 5 hour ride tomorrow and a 6 hour ride Saturday and I REALLY don't want to do them on the trainer, I will if that's what needs to be done.  The way I see it, if I can withstand the mental fatigue of riding on my trainer for those types of hours, the mental fatigue of Ironman might not be so bad.  (at least that is what I'm telling myself)  And if the new frame doesn't arrive by Monday I'm going to drive to Canada myself to pick it up!!!!!!!!!!!!!  :)

And in other, other news, Oscar and I joined a CSA!  Our neighbor alerted us to the fact that there is a CSA that is a mere 5 miles from our house.  Who knew?  We haven't picked up our first installment yet but when we do, I'll be sure to blog with pictures.  In the mean time, here is a picture of one of the residents of the farm:


Also, I implore you all to go buy some Cookie Crack at Trader Joe's RIGHT NOW!


Okay...and just ONE last thing (I promise).  If you want REAL excitement on your morning commute, you need to come to Pittsburgh.  We have "sharply dressed" pigs roaming the parkways!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Today Is My Birthday

I am 33 years old.  That seems like a good number.  Although on my cake last night at Oscar's parent's house, there were only 22 candles.  If I could know what I know now and go back to 22 years old, that might not be bad either.  :)

I like cake.
I like birthdays a lot.  You get to eat cake (although truth be told, I eat cake on other days too).  You get a gazillion posts on your Facebook wall.  And you get to choose where to go out to eat.  Not surprisingly, I choose Noodles and Company last night (plus I had a Noodlegram that was a coupon for a free bowl of noodles!). 

This birthday is especially awesome because by some divine intervention I not only don't have to work today but I also have a day off training!  This almost NEVER happens (mostly because I never get days off training).  I know some people don't like days off training, but I do.  Especially when the past 4 days involved 20 hours of training.  I'm getting better at handling big loads jammed in a couple days but my legs were definitely hating me yesterday.

So today I will relax and enjoy the day with Oscar and Roxy.  And just in case you forgot how cute Roxy is...

Hope everyone has a wonderful Memorial Day weekend and many thoughts and prayers and THANKS to those who gave all in giving us our freedom. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Columbia Race Pictures

Thanks to Genine and Matt Carlson, I also have some pictures from the race (not just dog pictures!) on Sunday.

Do you know which Wassner is standing beside me (I'm in the white goggles)?  I'm pretty proud of myself for being able to tell them apart now.  :)
Waiting for the cannon/gun/horn.
Perhaps my problem with swimming is that I need to put my head IN the water??!!  :)

LOOK - evidence that I left T1 with no shoes on.  :)  Also, the hill that you must run up to get out of T1 is evil.
Lucky number 13.

I think the expression says it all.  ;)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Columbia Race Report Of Pain

Ah Columbia - the race where I ALWAYS seem to forget about how very big the hills are!  :)

Today I did my 6th Columbia.  I had my 2nd best time on the course (best time dating back to 2008 when ALL I did was short course) and was the 14th OA female/pro female.  I would rate my race as "okay" - certainly nothing spectacular but also not the disaster that it very well could have been.  More than anything I learned a lot today and for that I'm thankful!

Things I learned at Columbia 2012:

1) It's possible to go out TOO hard in the swim.  In Oceanside I didn't go out hard enough to stay with the pack.  I was DETERMINED to get the job done today.  Turns out though, that when you try to go out with the likes of Sara McLarty, Leanda Cave and other such swimming superstars, bad, bad, VERY bad things happen.  Needless to say, in the end, I swam 95% of the swim alone.  This was a painful lesson to learn.

2) I do really like to swim without a wetsuit.  And 70 degree water really isn't that cold.

Early morning fog on the lake.  Columbia is a beautiful place to race!

3) I learned how to start with my shoes on my pedals.  No laughing!  But this was always something I put off and said I'd learn "another year".  Well this is the year!  I can't be the only pro that doesn't do this.  So I figured why not try in a race when transitions really do matter BIG TIME!  I practiced about 10,000 times on Saturday and then did it just fine today.  I've been converted.  I still managed to have the 2nd slowest T1 (dang!) BUT I had the 5th fastest T2 which is seriously saying something when you are competing against ITUers!!!  :)

4) The fatigue you carry from training for an Ironman is the real deal.  I definitely felt it today, pretty much from the start.  Dirk warned me of it and I struggled with it mightily today but in the end, knowing I was going to be this tired still wouldn't have stopped me from racing.  I really love this race and I really love TO race.  I had a great time no matter the outcome.

5) I learned a little about myself today.  It was the first time in a pro race and one of the few times in ANY race where I really had to decide if I was going to give up.  This is where there is a big difference between AG and pro racing in my opinion.  It's much easier to give into the fatigue when you are racing for "nothing" vs an AG win or an elite amateur title.  I really struggled with my thoughts in the early stages of the bike because I couldn't wrap my head around suffering just for the sake of suffering.  And although I really wanted to "quit" I'm proud to say I eventually turned it around in my head.  This landed me my 2nd fastest run time on this course which is saying something considering I had legs of lead!  Really though what I learned is that there is a very fine line that we teeter on in races and if you can just keep on the good side, you'll be okay!

6) I also learned it's all about perspective.  I actually went a bit faster today than I did last year at this race and my bike and run times were faster than last year (yet my swim time dismally slower...).  Of course last year I was 2nd in the elite amateur race so I went home with a big award and a smile on my face.  This year I finished down in the pro field and left empty handed!  Yet last year I probably didn't give the race a second thought when it was over vs this year I feel as if I learned so much.  As the saying goes, can't win 'em all.  :)

All in all it was a great weekend.  I had so much fun with the Pittsburgh crew!  And we stayed with THE most awesome family, the Sproules!  THANK YOU SO MUCH CHRIS AND TAMMY (and Suzy for hooking us up with them!  :).  I really enjoyed getting to know a family in the area and of course it didn't hurt that they had two of the best dogs ever:

Meet Wrigley and Camden.  Yes, we want treats now please!

Most of all, I really enjoyed having my partner in crime (Oscar of course!) back in action with me.  I am so pumped that he will be at my next few races.  It makes a world of difference!  Now only 5 weeks until IMCdA!  Giddy up!  :) 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Ironman Training Is Hard

I was very much reminded of this fact (that IM training is hard) the past 15 days as I embarked on my first real IM training cycle for IMCdA.  I'm pretty sure I forgot just how hard it was until I was somewhere into my 6th or 7th hour on my bike, in the rain, on Sunday.  In a protective sort of way, I think our brains are programmed to forget such things!  Otherwise, we'd never sign up for more than one Ironman.  Of this I'm sure.  Somehow, the only thing I can remember really well from my previous two IM experiences was the euphoria of crossing the finish line.  :)

Nevertheless, I survived!  After my long run last night, I pretty much looked like this (only in our bed, not on the couch):

I don't even get where all those legs come from?
I think this is normal.  Remember, Ironman training is hard! 

And now, lucky for me, I get to rest up because...I GET TO RACE THIS WEEKEND!  YAHOO!  (and boy am I glad of this fact because otherwise I might be staring at yet another week of IM training - HA!)

Yes, this weekend is one of my all time favorite races, the Columbia Triathlon.  This will be my 6th straight year of doing Columbia, the only race I return to year in and year out since starting in the sport in 2007!

Of course the first year I do Columbia as a pro, they made the race a 5150 with HyVee qualifying points.  Which means a doubling in the size of the pro field (Columbia would usually have 8-10 pro females and now there are ~20 on the start list) AND the addition of some BIG STAR names!  Leanda Cave, Angela Naeth, Annabel Luxford, Debbie Tanner, Sara McLarty, the Wassner twins, etc, etc, etc...  GULP!  Let's just say, if my much improved swim is going to show up for ANY race this year, THIS would be the weekend for it to make an appearance!  HAHA!

But in reality, who is in the race is neither here nor there.  I will race my heart out as is always my goal and use my fast competitors to get the most out of myself - perhaps even break the elusive 2:15 on that course (it's a toughie - long bike course and lots of hills)!!!

Hope everyone has a wonderful week and to all those racing this weekend (IM Texas/Lanzarote, Florida 70.3, etc..) HAVE A BLAST!     

Monday, May 7, 2012


SIX: The number of marathons that Oscar has run, including yesterday's finish at the Pittsburgh Marathon.  He didn't reach his goal of breaking 3 hours but he did PR!  He's getting a little closer each time and I know, one day, he will get there.  I can't even really begin to express how proud of him I am.  He has always been my hero and my true source of motivation in my own athletic endeavours!  GREAT JOB out there yesterday O!  Although at first he claimed that he was going to take a break from the marathon for a while, by the time we were eating our post race ice cream after dinner, he was looking up the dates of the Harrisburg and Columbus Marathons this fall.  ;)  

19,000: Approximate number of finishers in yesterday's race (including half marathon and full marathon).  INSANITY!  I did my run through the South Side and Strip District while the race was going on and it was just awesome to see the streets of Pittsburgh absolutely packed with runners.  I felt like all of Pittsburgh was pounding the pavement yesterday morning and it was so fun and inspiring to watch!

SEVENTEEN: Number of hours I rode my bike last week.

NINETEEN: Number of hours I have on the schedule for bike riding this week.

1: Number of workouts on my schedule today.  2500 yard easy swim.  Oh recovery day how I love you more than you can know.

44.23: Number of miles I ran last week.  My running (especially off the bike) is much improved over last year.  But I know I have a loooooong way to go.  Do I have a sub 3:35 marathon in me in Coeur d'Alene?

FIVE: The number of times Roxy has yawned at me since I've started typing this blog.  Her way of telling me she's bored with my "numbers"?  :)

Hope everyone had a great weekend and congrats to all who raced!  It was a HUGE weekend for swim/bike/run and I thoroughly enjoyed "watching" everyone crush it!  :)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Since I decided to race pro this year, I've had several people ask me if I planned on quitting my job or working part time.  So I decided to write a blog about my current work situation. 

The way I see it, I have 3.25 jobs.

Job #1: Professional Triathlete

This would be my favorite job.  What's that saying about how you know you TRULY love your job if you'd still do it without being paid?  HA!  Well, I must truly love triathlon.  :) 

This job really isn't a job so much as a passion.  Because as long as I've done sports I've always had a huge passion for seeing just how far I can go with the body that God gave me.  It's never really been about winning (but that certainly is fun!) or certainly not about making money.  But it's always, for me, been about how fast can I be?  Can I break 10 hours in IM?  9:30?  9:20?  Can I go under 4:30 in 1/2 IM?  How about 4:20?  Can I swim a 55?  Can I run under 3:30 off the bike?  Can I bike under 2:20 for 56 miles?  These are the types of questions that drive me daily to get up out of bed and get on my bike for the 14th day in a row.  Despite some nasty saddle sores.  ;) 

I train about 20-30 hours a week which of course doesn't include time spent stretching or getting body work (ART, massage) done or prepping equipment, etc...  But at least this job has no commute!  (except to the pool which isn't so bad :).  Proportionally, I spend the most time on this job.  And I feel HUGELY blessed to have the opportunity to pursue this career.  I won't be able to do this job forever so I remind myself daily to make the most of it.

Job #2: Registered Dietitian at the Univeristy of Pittsburgh Medical Center Oakland Campus

I also like this job but I can't say I'd still want to do it if I didn't get paid.  :)

This is the job that started my career as a dietitian.  I've worked at UPMC for the past 10 years.  For about 6 of those years I worked full time.  For the past 4 years (give or take) I've been "casual" meaning I set my own schedule (yeah!) but only get paid for the hours that I'm there (ie: no vacation days or paid time off). 

At UPMC I do "nutrition support" which is working with patients that either need tube feeding or IV nutrition (TPN).  I've worked in all sorts of capacities doing nutrition support including trauma, surgery, transplant, oncology, etc...  I'm lucky to work with a great team of docs, nurses, PAs, CRNPs, pharmacists and of course, other dietitians.  And I'm lucky to work at one of the premier medical centers in the country.  UPMC does it all and because of that I've learned a TON.  There really isn't any type of patient I've not seen. 

Working in health care has always given me such perspective on life.  The patients that I've worked with through the years have taught me so much - one of the biggest lessons of which is: if you've given up there is nothing anybody can do to save you.  And vice versa, if you continue to fight like hell, amazing things CAN happen.  It's no guarantee but it's better than the alternative.  I've also learned that family support can make a world of difference.  That cancer sucks.  I've learned that modern medicine is simply awesome.  But again, that a positive outlook is even more awesome.  I've learned that you should ALWAYS wear your seatbelt and that you should never drink (thanks to trauma and liver transplant respectively for those lessons :).  I could go on and on and on...

One day I'll probably go back to full time work at the hospital.  But the problem with that now is that those are longgggg days.  I have an hour commute each way and hospitals don't operate on a 9-5 schedule.  This job simply wasn't flexible enough to allow me to pursue triathlon dreams.  So for now I work 16-24 hours a week at the hospital. 

Job #3: Registered Dietitian, CEO, Owner, Janitor, IT Specialist, etc... of The Athlete's Eutrophia

This was a job I never thought I'd have.  But I'm glad I do!  This is the nutrition consulting business that I started about 4 years ago.  I work primarily with athletes on their every day nutrition or race nutrition, but I also work with "active people" who are just looking to improve their diet and (as is often the case) lose some weight. 

I love this job because I like getting to know the people I work with!  And the people that come to me are motivated and ready for change.  This is almost always a recipe for success.  It's very fun when people allow you to be a part of reaching their goals. 

And I also love this job because it offers me all the flexibility in the world to train and race as I've wanted while making up (at least some of) the difference in salary loss while NOT working full time at the hospital.  I want to ride my bike all day on Tuesday and work at night?  That works!  I want to take off to Denver for a 10 day training camp?  That works!  This work can always come with me no matter where I'm at! 

I would estimate that I spend about 10-20 hours a week doing this job.

Job #0.25:  Odds and Ends

I do some other odds and ends - teach classes at my YMCA, do some health fairs (got one coming up in a week or two), etc...  Being a registered dietitian is a handy thing because there are a lot of opportunities out there.  I've definitely cut back on some of these "odds and ends" type of work as my training/racing/recovery hours have picked up but it is still a source of some income.

And that's that!  Now you know WAYYYYYY more about what I do than you ever wanted to know.  As you can see, I definitely still work.  But I have a good amount of control over how much I work and when I work.  And for that I'm truly thankful!!

Work on my friends!