Follow me on my journey of becoming the best triathlete I can be and reaching my full potential with the guidance of coach Jorge Martinez of E3 Training Solutions

Together we are on a mission - Mission Umeke

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Not everything is bigger in Texas - IM Texas Race Report

Don’t believe me? No – I wasn’t in the kids locker room at a local Woodlands YMCA, but YES – I had to squad down to wash my hair!

This was my first time racing this early in the season, and never mind an Ironman. I have done 5 IM’s to date, and all of 5 were either in October or November. (Read full summer of outdoor training)

There was a ton of time spent on my trusty CycleOps trainer sweating away

Just keep pedaling, just keep pedaling 

Racing Ironman Texas meant that pretty much all of my training happened indoors. If it wasn't for the annual E3 training camp in Tucson, I could have counted the number of my outdoor rides on one hand. This way I at least needed both ;) 

  Just the beginning of my fav climb - Mt. Lemmon

 Top of Mt. Lemmon and all smiles! 

 Mt. Lemmon selfie on the way back down

Swimming in the sunshine 

Running in shorts

Just enjoying the fresh air and beautiful views 

I came back from Arizona ready to race except I still had another 4 weeks of (indoor) training left. Not an easy task after having so much fun in the sun, and I was really starting to question my decision to race this early. 

The announcement that bike course would be shortened to 94 miles and have about a million turns further shook my at that point a bit fragile confidence. I knew I shouldn’t worry about things that were out of my control, but  I kicked and screamed and even thought about transferring to another race.  Since there were not any races in the near future that I could affordably get to (key word affordably), I finally moved on, and played the cards I was dealt with, but I wasn't happy.

On the upside, I was very lucky to score an  absolutely amazing homestay (my 1st ever), so that gave me the flexibility to arrive in Texas a little bit early and gave me an extra day or two to check out the area, course, expo without the crowds etc. Jesus and Laura were both amazing and took absolutely unbelievable care of me during my entire stay! I may have to hire them as my race sherpas for all my IM’s from now on.  

Home made "paella" to die for! WOW! 

The canal I thought I would swim in but never ended up doing so. The swim was changed the day before due to high bacteria levels in the canal 

Amazing sunset from the run course  

Few short pool swims, rides, and runs later, it was time to race! I haven’t raced since IM Kona last October, so I was definitely a bit more nervous than usual. The butterflies were at an all time high, but I also knew I was physically ready -  I just had to lock in mentally!

The Swim: 1:15:15

I was ready for a non wetsuit swim in the very dark waters of Lake Woodlands, but I wasn’t ready for just how warm the water would be. It was announced shortly before the start that the water temperature was 82 degrees, but it felt more like 90. (I am always cold, so you know the water really was very warm).

The calm before the storm 

All my other warm IM swims (Kona & Cozumel) I never felt hot, but in Texas I did. Instead of swimming through cooler patches of water as I made my way up the course, I felt the water temperature rising. Before we even made it to the turn buoys, I was boiling even though I wasn’t pushing the pace and was swimming very comfortably. That’s after I stopped hyperventilating from bit of a hectic swim start (My 1st ever rolling start without a promised warm up  that never happened was no bueno) .

The mad dash into the dark waters of Lake Woodlands 

I actually ended up completely stopping a bunch of times in the first quarter of the swim to catch my breath and to look where I was going! Not exactly the perfect way to start the day, and definitely a sequence of firsts for me. It was far from how I imagined the swim would go given the swim training I had done the last 5 months, but I was determined to calm down, and at least stay on course.  I eventually ended up finding someone just a bit faster than me, and swam on her hip for pretty much the entirety of the second half of the swim even that meant a few surges that were causing my body temp to increase.

Happy to see Linda cheering me on and SO ready to get on with my day 

When I got out of the water and saw 1:14:xx on my watch, I was actually pretty happy given what I had experienced the first half of the swim. I know that I still have long ways to go before I will get to where I want to be, but I am also very proud of myself of how I mentally dealt with the situation I found myself in at the beginning of the swim. I am my own worst critic, but I am very good at moving on when in race situations. 

T1: 3:15

This was a long transition, but I love IM transitions. I was in and out as fast as I could.

The Bike: 4:07:35 (2nd fastest amateur bike split by a few seconds)

Time to put my head down, and get to work while staying extremely alert. 

Unlike any other bike course I have ever done, this one had lots of turns and intersections for us to go through. I was the first to complain about that, but I must say that all the volunteers, cops etc. did an absolutely amazing job of policing/securing all turns/intersections and I had felt 100% safe in that respect. There was definitely some “not so very smart” riding and or cornering by some of my fellow competitors but I knew that was going to happen and along with the usual drafting didn’t let that bother me. (I have become good at minding my own race).

The plan was to start the bike a bit conservatively and then pick up the pace (power) after mile 60 or so. Once I tried to pick the pace up however, the power just wasn’t there and my right quad was all of a sudden on the verge of cramping. I kept drinking/eating and popping salt pills like I normally would but just couldn’t shake that oncoming cramp, and my watts were nowhere to be found. I tried sitting up, standing up, but every time I tried to generate any sort of power my right quad was threatening to seize. Instead of upping the power, I was now just trying to limit the damage by staying as aero as possible while pedaling along at my recovery watts for the last 30 miles, which was extremely frustrating, but again, I am very happy with the way I dealt with it. 

Aero was the name of the game 

I wanted to be off the bike so bad, but I was afraid of what that I will feel like. In retrospect, I didn’t have to pee until essentially mile 90, which should have been a sign to me that the hot swim perhaps dehydrated me much more than I thought it would (I normally always pee by mile 20, and then a few more times after that – yeah I know – tmi but you gotta do what you gotta do!). I should have started to drink more and perhaps get some more salt on board, but in the heat of the moment (it was definitely nice and steamy) it just didn’t even dawn on me! It will next time if I find myself in the same situation but hopefully I won't! 

T2: 3:48

I hopped of the bike and ouch - that quad was far from happy! The women’s tent was fairly empty so I had at least 5 volunteers attempting to me very quickly! I could have just stayed in that tent all day.

The Run: 3:43:39

As soon as I started running I knew I was in for a tough run. It was hot and steamy but that’s what I came here for! I wanted to race in Kona like conditions! In addition to my tri kit, I also wore the Dr. Cool cooling towel around my neck and cooling headband which I love! (Use code: JANA20 to get your own). 

My mind wasn’t on the heat but rather on that right at this point already very painful right quad! With every step it felt like I was getting punched square in the middle of it – definitely not how anyone should feel at mile 1 of 26.2. My plan was to run by HR for the first few miles so I didn’t overcook the opening miles of the marathon as I usually tend to do, and then settle in, and close in hard with the last 10k.  I have been running very well in training and was hoping to finally show my run in a race but it wasn’t meant to be.

Given my right leg already feeling like it ran a marathon before I even started, I just tried to keep a steady pace throughout, and slow down the least. I also kept popping SaltStick tabs every 15-20 minutes that I am pretty sure were the reason I didn’t end up cramping and was able to although painfully keep moving all day. I was also getting uncharacteristically thirsty in between aid stations which resulted in the decision to actually walk all aid stations to make sure I got in enough fluids and cooled myself off. I never really overheated thanks to my Dr. chillband and scarf as well as the Castellli Stealth Top, but I was extremely thirsty even though I was drinking more than I ever have.

I also knew I was running 2nd thanks to my twitter friend Jordan who was giving me on course updates. Hailey was killing it up front, and I seemed to be somewhat safe in 2nd as long as I just kept shuffling along. My shuffle definitely slowed down once I hit mile 20, by which point my legs hurt like never before.  I was very thankful to at this point see my host family at least 3 or 4 times in the last couple miles of the course because they honestly kept pushing me along although I swear I had no idea how they kept beating me to various spots on the course over and over again. 

By mile 25.5 the thunder and lightning hit, the temps dropped, the wind picked up and the sky opened up! I have honestly never seen anything like this before. The wind was blowing so hard that the one last out and back I had to do turned into a holy shit my legs can’t move fast enough, stop pushing me forward you crazy tail wind to what felt like running into a brick wall with a parachute holding me back, while getting beat up with hail & head wind but there was no stopping me! 

The finish line was very anticlimactic because everyone including the “voice of Ironman” was understandably at this point seeking shelter but I was very lucky to have guess who there - 2 strangers now friends, whom I have just met my host family there who saw me and cheered me on at least 4x in the last mile of the race when I wanted to be done so badly, as well as my teammate Linda – who was seriously all over the course all day to cheer me across the line! Thank you guys SO much! 

Where is everyone? 

To give you an idea of just how empty the finish line was and how strong the thunderstorm was!

Final Time: 9:13:32 (2nd AG - 35-39) 

In the end, it was far from the race I imagined and knew I had in me, but it's the tough once that we learn  from the most! Although, I am not happy with the time, I am very happy with the way I fought all day even when not much was going my way. I never lost hope and fight and I did get what I came here for and will be making my 4th trip to my favorite island this October! 

Aloha baby! 

 The 35-39 IM Texas podium 

And last but not least, THANK YOU to my coach Jorge Martinez of E3 coaching  for getting me ready to race a hot/steamy Ironman so early in the year, to  my individual sponsors: Quintana Roo, CycleOps, Dr. Cool as well as all of our team sponsors - you guys ROCK, and I appreciate the support more than you know. SPECIAL thank you goes out to David Tilbury Davis for taking care of me along with Jesus/Laura my host family while I was visiting his home state of Texas! I would have been lost without your support! Now that we have a legit bike course, maybe I'll be back ;). 

Friday, February 5, 2016

January Training Update

With the month of January behind us, I thought I would give you a little insight into what my training looked like on regular basis. I think a lot of people think that one must train the magic 20 hours+ a week to get ready for an Ironman, never mind to compete for the top step, but that is very far from the truth. Of course we are all very different, and what works for me, may not work for you, but my training fits within MY schedule, MY life and is based on MY own needs, goals and limitations, NOT someone else’s.

Before we take a look at the month of January, here is a snapshot of my weekly hours for the entire 2015. If you look closely, you will notice I only hit the 20 hour + mark 6x the entire year (The first 3 weeks was due to training camps so I had the privilege of just swim/bike/run/eat/sleep repeat, and the next 3 were in the final build up to Kona).

On average I trained little less than 13:30 hours per week, but I can assure you that most of my sessions included a lot of quality work vs. quantity (volume type work). Why? Because at the time, I simply didn’t have time to properly recover in between sessions due to “life” to put in the 20+ hours week after week.

Could I do it? I could (at least I think I could), but I can tell you that after 2 weeks of 20+ hours, I am able to fall asleep in just about any position and anywhere, my workouts begin to suffer unless of course I can find some more time to sleep or $$$ to use for weekly massages.

Bottom line is, training should be FUN, and not something that you dread doing every day. While for me training is a blast, it too is tough. Tough physically (the easy one to realize), and mentally (the tougher one of the two that most ignore). Just pay attention and tune in with your body/mind during one of your workouts and you will realize the difference between being mentally present or not in no time. 

Mental toughness matters more than you may think! 

I sometimes wish training was like magic! I wish that I could swim like Katie Ledecky at the snap of my fingers but that’s of course and fortunately NOT the case. Have you ever watch that girl swim? (If not, just do yourself a favor and type her name in google – you will be amazed). I wish my power would just keep going up and up and up every week so I could keep up with the likes of Daniela Ryf a.k.a the Angry Bird, and so I could run as effortlessly as Mirinda Carfrae makes it look, but that’s not how it works. There is no magic, just good ole’ fashion hard and consistent work! Consistency leads to results, but is tough to accomplish for many for many reasons, but that could be another blog post of its own. Train smart - make training fit your life with which will come consistency, and the big dreams and goals will happen. It just may take time!  

 The longer it takes, that sweeter it will be when you get there! 

So what has training been like for the first month of 2016? Take a look. 

Quick little side note – My last race of 2015 was IM Kona, so I took two weeks completely of, and then slowly started to build back up. By slowly I mean – week 1 back was 4 hours of training, week 2 was 6 hours, week 3 – 7 hours, week 4 – 8 hours you get the picture. I actually didn’t run for 6 weeks post Kona (I had to make sure my foot I had issues with pre – Kona was healed before I jumped back into it). This break allowed me to not only physically but also mentally recover. It made me hungry and super excited to train again. It should be fun remember?

By January 1st, training was in full swing! Since I was still very much in the “General Preparation Phase” of my training, I spent the month of January not only building fitness, but also focusing on weaknesses. What better time for that now before the move into the “Specific Prep Phase” which this year will come a lot quicker than in the past since I will be racing Ironman Texas on May 14th with (shockingly I know) high hopes of winning the overall amateur title and qualifying for Kona again. 

Swimming: 7x a week (Around 20,000 yards per week)

If you have been looking for me on any given day of the week, your safe bet would be to look for me in the pool.

I do eventually get in the water ;) 

Again, I didn’t just jump into the pool and swam every day. I had built up to 20K after I started swimming back up in November. What started with 10K had grown to 20K by the New Year, and I was actually on quite the roll until I wasn’t.

I have been swimming every single day of the week almost the whole month of December and January (I did make it to the pool on January 1st but that was definitely a bit rough), until I came down with a sinus infection. Sinus infection meant no pool for 11 days! With that I also missed out on an amazing opportunity to attend swim camp with Tim Floyd in Texas. To say I was bummed was an understatement. I still get sad thinking about it now.

When I jumped back in after the forced break, I felt like a foreign object – but at least a floating foreign object. It took me good 5 days to get the same feel for the water I developed before the break. That’s just how it is withe me. I am happy to report I closed out the month strong, and swimming every day again.  

I love a good routine! And I also love the hot tub! (That is my secret to mustering up enough body heat to stay warm for at least half a day). I actually try to stretch in there too and it always helps when your muscles are already warmed up – maybe that’s how my arms haven’t fallen off (yet).

Without too much detail – every Monday is my active recovery day, which also means an easy short (no more than 2K) swim mainly focusing on technique, and every Sunday is my long distance/endurance builder day (4K+) The rest of the week my workouts vary from anywhere between 2.5 and 3.5K for now, and consist of a combo of drills, speed work, and endurance sets. 

Just a few toys including the snorkel as well as tempo trainer and few others 

Drills help me focus on my form, and the snorkel (besides form) on my turnover – one part of the stroke I have been working on. (If it was up to me, I would glide all day but that unfortunately that apparently doesn’t get me anywhere anytime fast). 

What is really happening under water 

There are days where I feel great and like I have made so much progress in terms of both how I feel & my times, and then there are days, when I should just probably go straight to that hot tub because I feel like it’s the first time I have been in the pool in forever. I have definitely made improvements, but I do still have long way to go to where I want to be.

Swimming has definitely caused some great and some very frustrating moments, but I am determined. I have a dream, and I’ll keep chasing It until I get it – I am stubborn like that. 

 "The number one reason why people give up so fast is because they tend to look how far they still have to go, instead of how far they have gotten" 

Biking: 3x a week/sometimes 4x

If it was up to me, I would ride every day – I LOVE to ride my bike whether it’s exploring the outdoors or just spinning away in my living room. Unfortunately I am not much of a cold weather rider if at all, so you will find me in my pain cave (living room) sweating away.

Zwifting while watching some bball

With the addition of Zwift, my indoor cycling routine has been taken to another level! I love Zwift even when I don’t (yet) have one of those smart indoor trainers. I do have a powertap so I can still ride with others even on my trusty CycleOps trainer and some days collect various jerseys ;) or pick up random friends along the way that like to sit on my wheel (See it’s almost like riding outside and adding strangers to your back wheel because they don’t like being chicked). I could keep going on about Zwift, but that’s a post for another day. Bottom line is – it’s fun!

 Orange Jersey for the fastest lap

 Apparently your jersey can be split into two - green (sprinters)/orange (fastest lap)

Aaaand the QOM jersey even though Mr. KOM had caught me

And finally where else can you ride your bike through an underwater tunnel? 

As for my actual workouts, I have been doing a lot of Anaerobic/VO2 Max type intervals (read – super short, and super hard), while riding longer (So far only around 2ish hours) on weekends. The long rides are no joke either, and certainly always feel tougher indoors than outdoors. To give you an idea I usually end up averaging around 80% of my CP on these but break down the time into 30 min chunks within which I further focus on smaller segments ranging anywhere from 5, 10, to 15 min with varying intensities. It makes the time go by much faster (Zwift helps with that too and it’s always nice when a tougher/higher intensity segment happens to match up with one of the segments on Zwift). I create awesome of sweat puddles! 

 Just a little sweat puddle - no big deal

And another one (after just 1 hour of work) - you get the idea 

I have also just recently (the last 2 weeks) started to run off the bike, but super short. I do reserve to the treadmill because by the time I dry off the sweat and put on clothes, I am done with my run on the treadmill.

So here you have it, 3 quality rides per week!  Some weeks, I’ll add a recovery spin to my Monday routine making it 4, or add a short 1 hour ride before my long run on Sundays (although my long run isn’t all that long yet either).

It’s all about smart build up and consistency!

Running: 4-5x week (Around 20 – 25 miles per week)

Since I really haven’t been running very much at all, and my first run since Kona was around the end of November to make sure all is 100% healthy and healed, there is really nothing much to report here besides the fact that I have been just building run fitness/durability while trying to slowly increase the frequency/mileage. Most runs have been at my EZ pace, and I have just in the last two weeks of the month started to add some strides or hill repeats. The first time I did hill repeats (last week), my legs were so sore I could barely sit down or stand up for that matter for an entire week – ouch!

I do run with HR monitor to mostly keep me from going too hard. I have been focusing on my form, running relaxed (whether it’s uphill or downhill), and really trying to get in touch with how everything feels! Knowing your body, can and will make or break your race!

Sweating it out on the treadmill post bike 

Strength Training: 2x per week
SMART: 2x per week

Not much to report here, I have been mainly focusing on functional strength type exercises, core strength, as well as plyometrics, and making sure I spend some time with the foam roller, lacrosse balls and all the fun (not really) self torturing tools. 

And that’s January for ya.  Not a perfect month of training due to that little time period of being sick, but regardless of me moping around for a week freaking out about losing all the fitness I have gained, I have actually found myself feeling strong since I came back.  No fitness was lost, but fatigue has been shed, and that's a great combination ;).  

So that's what I have been up to! Hope you all had a great month of January, and I’ll “Czech” back again with another training update at the end of February. Keep on training and having fun! 

I am now officially 99 days away from IM Texas! Yikes ;) 

Coming up next: some very exciting sponsor news for 2016! 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

2016 - The Year Of Opportunity

The year to build upon “Fearless”

The year to continue to follow my dreams and my passion.

And last but certainly not least, the year to help you follow yours!

Yes! I am super excited to let you guys know that I am taking the plunge into the full time triathlon coaching world.  I have mentored athletes for a few years now, coached a couple last year, and I had absolutely loved it. I didn’t want to take on more at the time because I needed to make sure I had enough time to dedicate to all my athletes while also continuing to reach my own athletic goals but  the time is now – 2016 “The Year of Opportunity”

I am still accepting athletes, so if you or someone you know is looking for a coach, let me know.

I am very excited to be part of the E3 Triathlon Solutions triathlon group, and can't wait to help you reach your dreams. To learn more about me as a coach you can check out My bio; or better yet read about my coaching approach here Jana - the coach

As for my own schedule – no – I am not turning pro, but instead I am continuing to follow the goal I had set out years ago to become the overall amateur world champion. (I have 10 more spots to climb, and more speed to gain)

As for my race schedule, I will be kicking off the season with a big one, which is something new for me, but I couldn’t be more excited.

May 14th, 2016

Yes – I will be spending lots of time in the pool, on my trusty CycleOps trainer sweating it out, and breaking records on Zwift – my new indoor trainer ride companion. (I still haven’t figured out how to actually talk to people on Zwift, but I know how to wave, or give elbows. I also like the fact that you don't have to scream on your left when passing - YOU should join me one day – it’s SO fun!) There are bound to be a few (a lot) of treadmill sessions, sauna visits or even hot yoga sessions to acclimate to Texas heat during the Boston winter. You will definitely hear me complaining about the crappy weather, but all of the above is my definition of fun. I love to sweat, and see how far I can continue to push my “limits”.

The rest of the schedule will be determined after Texas but as of right now, it will be mostly local (read driving distance), unless someone has a ton of frequent flyer mile or extra cash to fly me and my bike around the world ;). 

Patriot 70.3 – June 18th – My favorite local race I had now done 3 years in a row. Trying to win for the 4th time will be a challenge, but hey – you all know by now I love a good challenge!

Timberman 70.3 – August 21st – I had failed miserably on this course last year, and I want revenge!

Pumpkinman 70.3 – September 11th – I am ashamed to say I have never raced this one but for you New Englanders this is another must do, and I am hoping I can finally get it into my schedule, but we will see how the body is coming around post early season IM.

IM Kona World Championships (Pending Qualification) – October 8t – Hopefully I’ll be lining up for my 4th World Championships in 5 years, but we will see. If I am on the start line, I’ll be going for it (again), and if not, I may be looking to race a late season IM yet to be determined.

In between races, I am again planning a few training camps as those are the best way to not only gain fitness, but also to spend time with teammates/friends and suffer & have fun together.

So here you have it – 2016 – “The Year of Opportunity” on both my personal as well as professional level! I can’t wait to cease the opportunity to continue to improve as an athlete, and I am super excited to help you achieve your best and cease your own opportunity.

Monday, January 11, 2016

2015 Year in Review

I know I am late, and we are now almost 2 weeks into 2016 (time flies when you are having fun), so I’ll make it short (who am I kidding - you should still grab a cup of coffee and get comfortable).
For those that forgot that coffee, here are the cliff notes. 

The 2015 winter was long! Lots of magic (hard work) happened indoors. At my 1st race of the season, I lost a 10 min lead on the run at Challenge Quassy even after running a PR on that course. During my 2nd 70.3, I forgot to turn at a turn buoy and got lost on a swim course (duh!), I lost all my nutrition on the bike course, and even got knocked off my bike by a car.  I somehow still landed on my feet unscuffed and won the race. I completely underperformed in my last race before Kona (Timberman 70.3), but didn’t let that affect me. I used it as fuel! And Kona – what an experience! A lot of fun went on in between these races, but for that you will need that coffee.
2015 was the year in which I have learned many valuable lessons. There were lots of highs, and also lows. With successes come failures and it’s not always as rosy as the world of social media can sometime portray.  Here are just a few lessons learned:

  • Know your “WHY”. I was reminded more than ever that mental toughness is the KEY to success (Sure – there were tears of joy, lots of laughs, but also the times that make you wonder WHY, and is this really worth it)
  • I learned to better control my own head (If you think you can – you will, but if you won’t, you won’t – it’s that simple – it really is, and there is a big difference between saying you will and actually BELIEVING you will). Believe!
  • I de-attached myself from numbers and focused on effort - 99% of the time my effort resulted in more watts, or faster paces (I do still struggle with this at times – what can I say – I love numbers)
  • I realized that one bad day doesn’t define you (What’s done is done, one must learn from it, and move on – no need to dwell)
  • Stressing about rest days doesn’t help with recovery! Accepting how you really feel is key (My rule of thumb is to start a workout and let the first 20 min determine my faith) 

2015 was the year in which I put all my eggs into one basket – the Ironman World Championship basket. I had already qualified back in November 2014 at IM Cozumel, so 2015 had a singular focus! I wanted to win and stand on that awesome Ironman World Championship stage/podium (It always was the best stage I ever laid my eyes on, but after standing on it – I can’t even explain the feeling – simply THE BEST!) 

It all started back in January after a 4 week break of no swim, bike, run – I guess that’s the “reward” you get after racing 2 Ironman’s within 6 weeks of each other. It wasn’t easy, but it was necessary!

Between January and April, I spent a lot of time in the pool – I sort of learned how to flip turn. (Read swim without oxygen)

I swam my fastest 200 and 500 time trials, and I added a few more swim toys to my already extensive collection. The snorkel! I don’t know about you, but shockingly, you won’t catch me swimming with a snorkel, unless there is a nose clip involved (it’s just safer that way for everyone involved). 

I also found my new favorite pair of goggles.

And I extended my collection of swimsuits! Thank you BlueSeventy.

I did a lot of super short essentially ALL OUT efforts on the bike, and more times than not those were harder for me than racing an IM. The truth is – I am much better at going long and I can ride at 70-80ish % of my critical power almost all day, but I suck at going short and super hard. Noneless I have re-named these intervals “Where is the puke bucket” intervals! Thankfully, I have only come close to needing that bucket (many times), and as a result, I ended up with my best 5 min power EVER by a long shot!

That hurt, but oh so worth it ;) 

Higher 5 min power, more room to grow that 20 min power, hence improving the Critical Power, and riding better in Kona - you get the picture!

Running was mostly easy at first, and mostly on the treadmill. I have learned to love the treadmill, and found it extremely useful. 

 When the streets you run on look like this, it’s just not all that safe to run outdoors.

The treadmill helped me to keep my pace honest. I have incorporated a ton of plyos, as well as hill reps into my treadmill training, and do I dare to say it was fun even if I wasn’t going anywhere?

I had definitely drowned a few treadmills in the process, but I had become stronger for it. 

I had pay attention to details which included not only accepting recovery and the easy days, but also taking a look at my nutrition. Not because I wanted to “diet” – that is a dirty word in my vocabulary, but because I wanted to optimize my nutrition intake to give my body what it truly needs to perform and recover well. I had an extensive blood panel and analysis done thanks to Inside tracker and I was on my way. Few tweaks later, I can honestly say that I was starting to feel the difference especially in the way I was recovering from session to session.  If you are interested what my daily nutrition looks for the most part, you can read about it here. (My daily nutrition
      By April, I was ready to come out of “hibernation” and take some of my training out on the roads. Nearly one week in the sunny Tucson at the 3rd annual E3 Training Solutions training camp did the trick and the weather didn’t disappoint. 

 Ton of swimming (in beautiful outdoor pools) 

      Riding the famous Tucson routes including the Shoot out loop, Kitt Peak, Madeira Canyon & Mt. Lemmon of course (hill repeats up Gates Pass were also on the menu – can you say ouch?), and of course running under the Tuscan sun (oh wait Tuscon sun ;) 
 Hello Tucson

 Mt. Lemmon (this time now snow) 

More Tucson Shenanigans

When a top of Mt. Lemmon, one must refuel for on of the best descends ever!

Little nap time after all that climbing is also key to have a great Mt. Lemmon descend

"Fireball" ready to say "see you later" to Tucson with some hill reps up Gates Pass 

      Once back from Arizona, it was back to the world of indoor swimming pools, trainer riding during the week on my trusty CycleOps trainer, and outdoor riding on weekends. I do wish I had discovered and used Zwift earlier, but I do love the focused trainer sessions even if I have no one to chase thanks to Zwift. (If you haven’t checked out Zwift, you should!) 


      The roads were finally clear enough to take my running out on the roads, although one session a week stayed on the treadmill. (I told you I have grown to like the treadmill – I think it can provide the right level of focus/consistency that one may lack outdoors – there is just no hiding from a certain incline at a certain pace – you either do it or you don’t, and that ladies and gentleman – builds a certain level of mental toughness and fearlessness”

By May, I included a once a week track session with my E3 teammates to try to find some speed in the mega legs. (Remember -  I would rather run all day, then run 1 hard mile, never mind 800 or 400 repeats).

 Working on that speed 

Little spin, followed by a little run around the track

Face Plant  

I kept swimming (maybe a bit less than in the offseason in the interest of time), and riding both indoors (during the week)/outdoors (on weekends). 

 1 interval at a time 

1 sweat puddle at a time! 

I attended another – this time a bit shorter E3 Training Solutions training camp in Waterville Valley, NH, where I got to meet a bunch of new teammates.  

Awesome training weekend in NH with the E3 folks

In June, the race season was finally here, and I competed in my first 70.3 of the year – Challenge Quassy (Formerly knows as Rev3 Quassy). It was a first great benchmark that was closely followed by a 2nd 70.3 in 2 short weeks and my favorite local race (Patriot 70.3). That race was a comedy of errors, but a great one that prepared me to deal with adversity. Later that month, I attended a 3rd training camp of the year in the flat mountains of Vermont. 4 days of climbing mountains, one Gap at a time. 

 Lots of suffering 

And recovering at the top

My favorite gap 

To say that I was spent after this one was an understatement, but my parents had come to spend almost an entire month of July with me, so there was no rest for the weary! I haven’t seen my parents in a long time (too long), so this was awesome! We got to spend lots of quality time together, and they got to finally watch me swim, bike and run. I was so sad to see them go.

And just like that July was gone, and summer was coming to an end. August saw me travelling to Lake Placid for a long weekend of - you guessed it swim/bike/run

 I finally got to climb that famous Whiteface mountain! I have never had to pay to ride my bike up a mountain but it was worth every penny! 8 miles, 8.6% avg grade, this mountain is a beauty and well if you are suffering you have some absolutely amazing views to distract you from the pain! I can't wait to do it again!

Swimming in the beautiful mirror lake! The one body of open water where even "I" can swim straight ;) 
I also spent some time training with teammates on the Timberman course and also having some fun.

Little boat time at the end of the day on Lake Winny

T I raced it. I was ready to have a kick ass race, and finally come under that 4:30 mark, but I turned out to be very average across all disciplines, and didn’t even come close. My finishing time was 4:40 and although it was good enough for 2nd overall amateur, I wasn’t happy at all. I knew I could do so much better than what I showed. I guess I was saving the best for last?

After Timberman, all eyes were on the final Kona training block. I spent another long weekend (Labor Day weekend), in Vermont, posting some of my best training day after day. I was swimming well, riding strong, and running better than ever. I spent a lot of time wearing all the different recovery products that EC3D puts out there! Good thing their product is so comfortable because their recovery tights had turned into my pyjama bottoms. 

 Rolling .... 

 Getting Ready for bed 

And sometimes recovery deserves some ice cream! YUM! 

I had just done one of, if not the best long training runs ever, and my foot began to hurt. I had done all I could to heal it and get back to 100% pre Kona, but that pain never went away. 

It had gotten significantly better and better thanks to magic hands of Dr. Pete Viteritti whom I highly recommend for you local to the Boston area, and Byron Thomas  who had helped me while I was in Hawaii. 

My runs for the 6 weeks before Kona could be counted on one hand, yet I still believed I had what it takes. This time I really believed - I didn't just think I believed because others told me I should, and I was rewarded. 

You already know what happened in Kona (Race Report here), and just like that the year was done. Just like in 2014 when I knew immediately after I crossed the finish line in Kona, that I had to race again to get my spot to come back in 2015, I knew that this time I was done for the year. I still knew I wanted to go back to Kona in 2016, but I also knew I will have to find a race in 2016 to do so. I was physically tired, but mostly mentally and emotionally exhausted. (In a good way for the most part)
2015 – You were real! I tasted defeat, but also the victory of a long time dream come true! The year, in which I truly went from never wanting to do an Ironman and questioning my goals (isn’t that what usually happens around mile 18 of the run?) to coming back stronger than I ever thought I would. Going from feeling defeated and sorry for myself, to believing that I can, to being fearless.

 It was THAT moment (at mile 18 of that run) that changed me as an athlete, and I can’t explain why or how, but I know it was a defining moment in my triathlon career that I will draw upon in many races or even tough training sessions yet to come. Thank you to all my sponsors for the support! Castelli for the chaif free, super fast tri and cycling apparel (The Stealth top is the bomb!), Powerbar for being my to go for anything nutrition during all my training sessions and races, BlueSeventy for the kick ass fast, comfy suits, speedsuits, wetsuits and goggles, EC3D for helping me recover faster with the variety of super comfortable apparel, Landrys Bicycles for the one and only "Fireball", and where would mega legs be without PowerTap. 

If you made it this far, hopefully you listened to me and had at least one cup of coffee! thank you for reading :) 

Now it's onto 2016. 2016 – the year of opportunity!