Coach Hat

I love my job. Mostly because I love my athletes. They inspire my training, my work, my life. This week I am going to spend time writing about someone other than myself and why and how I do what I do (when I'm not training). 

It's always the little things about coaching that I love the most. Today I had coffee with an AllStar athlete. We talked about the next seven weeks of her plan and she made me Haitian java. We talked about her goals and I revealed our strategy to get there. I love showing people the next step. 

My second favorite moment of the day was solving a problem in spin class.  One of my athletes has had upper back issues for a while and we were sure bike fit was the culprit. She needed the handlebars and the seat closer together. My fix: looping two pilates rings around the handlebars. It closed the reach in the seated and standing position and seemed to be the fix she needed! She left the class pain free! Well, except for maybe I made her quads burn a little on the jumps and hills. 


Other great moments in the past few weeks:
  • one AllStar raced above and beyond her expectations in a local 10k.
  • another raced her first half ironman and overcame major open water anxiety. I did a victory dance as I watched live timing.
  • in June, one of my rock stars finished Raleigh 70.3 - her first half iron and her second triathlon ever. 
This Is How I Want to Finish Every Race 

Amazing Inspiration from Karen. Next Up B2B 140.6!




It's been a busy Monday. I started early by teaching a spin class at 5:30a. I followed that by a run, another spin class at noon (which I faked a workout) and then an awesome open water swim.

spin bikes all in a row

The highlight of the day was the swim.  We caught a break between thunderstorms and almost three inches of rain for the day. We started at Seapath and swam to the Seaside Club. The water was like glass and the tide was in our favor. There were almost ten swimmers at the start and we were relaxed and fast. It reminded me of years ago when we would water ski at Lake Waccamaw after the rain.

Ace, Falcon Spice and Sunshine Spice celebrated with pier jumping and treats from the Mellow Mushroom at Wrightsville Beach. Yummy!



Today marks a day of regular training plus cross training. We started the day eeearly. Anna and I left the house at 5:45a.m.  and met Leanne near Poplar Grove Plantation. We had a chilly start  it was ONLY 68 degrees! We chatted and rode fast, passing the formy-dugargoyles and speeding pastt a German shepherd. The whole ride reminded me of being a kid again. Anna,Leanne and I would speed around on our bikes with weeping willow branches to spur on our imaginary horses.

Today, when we returned back to base ( our cars) there was a weeping willow branch left by Bee Beth!

My cross training today involved a nap and Nerts. I think we might have played Nerts with the Grecos more than we played Ain't No Bears, Monopoly or horse bikes combined. It's a fast paced card game similar to solitaire and it for us as kids involved shouting, tackling and more drama than a highly contested divorce.  Stay tuned for pictures from tonight's game.


Friday SUP

Great day with the first swim, bike, run athletes I ever met!



Screenshot of My Countdown Widget
Yesterday marked 100 days to Beach2Battleship 140.6.
I'm nervous, excited, worried and ready for the next 99 days. This year has taken on a different shape, a different focus and a different feel. Last year was a new adventure - the training was new, the distance was new, the exhaustion was new. This year I have experience and the knowledge that comes from that - but I have new obstacles (an injury), new distractions (bigger demands at work) and new expectations (faster goals). Last year I wanted to merely survive. This year I want to survive and advance. 

They say one of the steps to achieving a goal is to say it out loud - so here goes: 

I want to beat my time from last year by an hour. I want to finish in under 12 hours! 

Does that sound as ridiculous to you as it does to me? Because that sounds ridiculous to me. Last year I finished in 13 hours (and two seconds).  If I race a perfect race, this is what I want to do in 2014:

That's a 1:30 pace without any tidal push.
That's 18mph pace and it's 1mph faster than last year.

That's a 10:30/mile pace and it's over a minute faster than last year. 

If my transitions are under 4:00 minutes, my overall race time would be:


Woo Hoo! That's cutting it close! Now it looks even crazier. I don't believe I can do it yet, but I'm putting the work in, I'm mentally preparing and I have faith. Here's to the next 99 days.

Post Your Goals Where You Can See Them


Now This is the Story All about How......


.......my life got twisted, turned upside down.

Okay. Not really, but I'm going with the Fresh Prince theme from yesterday. My life didn't get twisted or turned upside down with my injury, but my plans did. It's different and definitely less dramatic.  I'm always looking for what an experience is teaching me and here are a few things I know for sure:
Start doing the things you should already be doing. I should have been stretching and massaging and icing and foam rolling before. The injury forced me to do what I should have been doing all along. I am purposeful about stretching now. I have developed a 10 minute routine after each workout. I've added some corrective and core work each day.  
Listen to your body. I can't say I knew it was coming, but you know what they say about hindsight. There were signs - some physical, some intuitive - that I needed a bigger break. Or that I needed to wait on tweaking my run form. Listen to the whispers because the screaming and shouting hurts.

Sometimes you need a shake-up to wake up. It's easy to become obsessed with data and wattage and mileage and targets when you're aiming for a goal. I got lulled to sleep with all the stats. This shake up made me realize that my running is more than just a number (00:00:00) on a results page. I missed the oval of the track, I missed my running friends, I missed the sunrises. I missed the simple act of moving quickly. I am waking up to a greater appreciation of movement.

Here are a couple more journal entries:

Thursday, June 19
It's been four weeks. I bought a pair of new shoes and got a massage today as reward for my patience. I've scheduled a bike fit for next week.  I can't believe I've been longing for track workouts. 

Sunday, June 29

It's been one month and I want to run. I feel like a could run - but I won't. I trained with the spice girls today which meant that when they took off on a six-mile run, I walked 2.5. The closest I got to running was a little light jog/walk through the yard with Bee Beth's new puppy, Otto.

Tuesday, July 1

I almost cancelled my follow-up appointment with Dr. Jolley but decided to go. I wanted him to see me once more and to assure me that I'd be able to run someday (soon). He assessed my calf, had me flex and point a few times and stand on it.  As a runner himself, I knew I could trust his word on when to run - and when to wait. He gave me the okay, but encouraged me to wait as long as I could.

Wednesday, July 2

Prepared for LiftOff
I waited one day.  I warmed up on the bike with a fast hour and a half draft-legal time trial at the  Brunswick Forest velodrome (five-mile circular neighborhood with only two right hand turns). I started my transition run with a one mile walk/run/walk. It felt pretty damn good! At the five minute mark I thought, hmmmmm, why is it getting harder to breathe? I looked at my watch and was doing 8:40 pace. :)  EXCIIIIIITED! 

Thursday, July 10

I've logged three run workouts this week and feel great. It's been six weeks since the injury and I'm feeling cautiously optimistic. I'm concentrating on building volume and can't wait to try a little longer run this weekend. 

Sunday, July 13

Six miles in the books! I took it nice and easy. I feel like I've had a running reboot. I did 10-minute miles and had a great run down the sound road. It was sweaty and hot, I got hit in the face with a bug, saw three dead snakes in the road and a mole - but I feel great.



See What Had Happened Was.......

I've taken another break from writing because I've been pouting. I've been acting like a baby - crying, whining and stamping my feet. Okay, I've actually only been stamping ONE foot because I've been injured.

Here's how it all went down. You may remember that the Carolina Beach Double Sprint was followed up a week later by one of the craziest things I've ever done: a double century - a 200 mile bike ride in two days. I recovered for a week with lots of swimming but a week later I added an extra strength session, power yoga and some tweaks to my run form. On the last Thursday night in May I pulled an AllStar team together for the Wilma Dash - an all-women's 5k. We were decked out in stars and glitter and skirts and tutus and more.  It was a great way to spend a Thursday night.

We took a team picture and I headed to warm-up. I jogged/walked down the street. I did my side-to-side dynamics. A half a block later, Sunshine Spice and I turned toward the river and I said: let's do the skippy bound things first because I hate them. Skip. Skip. BOUND!

When I took off on my right leg, I felt like I'd been shot. I folded in half in pain and tried not to crumple to the asphalt. I knew right away that it was more than a muscle cramp. I couldn't put weight on my forefoot, my calf was instantly swollen to twice it's normal size and I felt like I might throw up. My calf muscle was torn.

The pain took my breath away. I assured my team I'd see them at the finish and as they took off for the start line, I sat on the curb and cried a little. After they started, I went into the expo. I stopped by the TrySports Wilmington booth and whined and cursed and moaned and groaned to Scott and Adam and Kristin at the nearby WithoutLimits booth.  They let me hide, elevate my foot and foam roll my calf. As the finishers rolled in, I hobbled out to the pier to cheer on my team. In the end, the AllStars helped me back to the expo where I sat in the corner with my leg elevated, my calf smashed onto a dripping bag of ice. My team kept me fed and hydrated - with wine to dull the pain.

Here are some of my notes along the way.

Friday: May 30
I am sick to my stomach. I'm so sad and disappointed. I drove to Raleigh with a compression sock sandwich on my leg - sock + ice + sock. Walking like a penguin or Charlie Chaplan. 

I spend half the night googling calf sprains v. calf strains, tears versus ruptures, soleus, achilles and gatrocnemious. I self-diagnosed a grade two calf strain. 

Sunday: June 1
Spent the day cheering for my AllStars with Erica all day. I almost cried when she saw me limping around. Oh, Honey, she said....and I knew it was bad. She's a P.A. and has seen all sorts of injuries. When she suggested going to the doctor, I knew I was in trouble.

We spent three hours on the bike course and three hours on the run course. It was an amazing day.  Karen finished her first half iron and Lisa (my adopted AllStar for the day) had a great race!

Karen, Coach and Beth S.
Monday: June 2
I wake up crying. All that time on my feet yesterday means pain today. As Ace was stretching after a run, I stretched out on my yoga mat beside him and sobbed. I'll never be able to run! Why did this happen? I was in the best shape ever! This isn't fair.   Wah Wah Wah

8:20am. I'm waiting to see the doctor. I don't want to be here but it's the responsible thing to do. If my athletes faced this same predicament, I would insist on a great doctor and a definitive diagnosis.  The definitive diagnosis was just as I expected: grade two calf strain. No running for four to six weeks.

Tuesday: June 3
I survived a 3200-yard Lance swim without kicking. And I pushed off the wall with my left leg only. 

Saturday: June 7
I've spent most of this week sleeping including two hour-long naps yesterday. Part of it is physical, most of it is mental. I'm sad. I was doing so well. This was going to be my fastest year ever. Now all my run progress is lost. I'll never run again! 
My life is over. Nothing will ever happen to me anymore!

I woke up this morning at 5:00am for the second annual celebration swim at Banks Channel. I arrive early and limp to packet pick-up. I try to hide my injury from my tri-buddies, but meet up with Rebecca in the Blockade Runner bathroom. Girl! I know what you mean, she assures me. You may remember that she was the one at the Azalea tri in 2013 who calmed me, loved on me and made me feel better about pulling out of that race. She shared her story of an arthritis-type ailment and assured me that this wasn't a forever thing. She encouraged me to embrace the break. I hope to rally and someday perform amazing feats like she does (like qualify for Age-Group Nationals).

I limped into the water and swam without kicking for 1.2 miles in a slack current. I had to walk backward up the beach and across the timing mat at the finish to avoid more pain and strain in my calf. I still finished in 31:14 and finished first/fifth in my age group. I was very pleased.

Thursday, June 12
It's been two weeks. I am walking less like a penguin but running is not even an option. My overly dramatic train of thought has morphed into worry: what if I can't run again? What if I can't race B2B? What if I can't race at all? What if this were worse - what would I do?

I've added a very sexy accessory for my recuperation. I'm wearing it at night - to keep my foot flexed and stretched. I borrowed it from a friend who did the same thing to her calf (both at the same time!) a while back. When she went to the doctor, he told her it was a common middle-age injury. We both agreed that that comment probably hurt worse than the muscle tear. 

Saturday, June 15
I'm still sad about my injury. I won't lie, I'm grieving. I can see the cycle - I am well-versed in shock, denial, anger, depression, bargaining and acceptance. Today I had my first flash of acceptance. I did a fun swim > to > bike transition and had a blast with Jen, Renee, Ty and Jon. Somewhere on North Lumina with the sun coming up and the wind whistling through my bike helmet I thought: this isn't so bad. If worse becomes worse, I can swim and bike. This feels amazing!

Sunday, June 16

Thankfully, I'm turning the corner mentally. I've gone from OH, I'LL NEVER RUN AGAIN! To: Hey, I like not running. I'm starting to enjoy my recuperation.


Saturday: June 14
Blueberries. This week I added two bike sessions, including the Tour de Blueberry in Burgaw, NC. I nailed the ride - 42 miles with a purposeful transition walk afterward. Then I did an ambling transition walk with Sunshine and Honey Spice in downtown Burgaw for the Blueberry Festival. We taste-tested eleventy blueberries from different farms and I left with a flat of blueberries from Ivanhoe, some blueberry preserves and a blueberry muffin. 

Tuesday: June 17

We're at the three week mark. My leg is blue but my mood is not.  The swelling is down but there is beautiful blue bruise around my ankle and up to my calf. It's not pretty.