Sunday, January 23, 2011

On my way to becoming a swimmer!

Oh where do I begin!  Perhaps I should start with the most obvious: I am NOT a swimmer! I could always swim, but I didn’t grow up swimming! My swim stroke of choice was always breast stroke.  So when I jumped into the pool about 2 years ago, it was a cold wakeup call! Forget the time how long it actually took me to get in the pool! Brrrrrr …. Forget the time, and how long it took me to swim 50 yards! I was glad to make it the 25 yards there, and 25 yards back, and I couldn’t wait to hang on the wall so I could catch my breath! My rest periods between sets and those sets were definitely limited to about 100 yards at a time,  were just as long as the swim itself. I must say that was extremely humbling! I mean, I always thought I was in shape, so why could I not swim for longer than a minute without feeling like I was going to drown?  I quickly realized swimming wasn’t all about cardio. I mean how else do you explain to me that a person who looks like a couch potato  can swim about 10 times faster than me,  but can’t even run a mile? I immediately knew I was in for a treat!

I slowly got little more comfortable, and made myself swim 500 yards at a time.  I really only did that so that I had some sort of confidence at my first sprint tri. To show you how oblivious I was, I actually thought I for some reason had to swim free style the entire race or else I would be disqualified! Good thing that wasn’t the case as I have used breaststroke to get around the gigantic buoys many times since. Of course I don’t have the perfect breaststroke technique that the lady below has, but it would allow me to catch a breather so I could continue on with my slow poke free style if you could really even call it that and in process perhaps lose some folks that were trying to cling on to me for one reason or another! 

I have since completed 2 sprint, 3 olympic, and 3 half ironman distance races, and I am still waiting for the day when I will actually look forward to the swim part of a triathlon rather than dread it! Yes, I now can swim 1.2 miles without having to breast stroke, but I just can’t swim the 1.2 miles fast enough!

With that said, 2011 is the year when I will become a better swimmer! I have decided my outlook on swimming must change or else it’s just never going to happen for me.  I do believe that attitude plays a huge part in how well or crappy we perform, so as of 1/1/11 I am embracing this thing called SWIMMING! I am going to approach each swimming session with a positive attitude. I will not dread swimming and I am going to become a swimmer!!!!!!!!  The swimmer part may not be today, or tomorrow, or next month but it is going to happen! I have seen improvements in my swimming already every since I began to work with Coach Jorge, but I still have a long way to go. Below is my improvement in numbers, but I do have to say I actually FEEL million times better when I swim, and I don’t dread going swimming like I used to. Baby steps! 


1,000 yards
200 yards
CSS/100 yards
June, 2010
August, 2010
October, 2010
January, 2011
7:58 (500 yards)

I actually look forward to swimming, and I believe that’s one of the most important parts to success. Sure there will be times when I’ll hate the pool, and I am ok with that. I do have love/hate relationship with swimming, but I am ok with that too. Those “hate” days make me work just that much harder during the next session.

I mean, there are days when I want to throw the power meter or my bike out the window, or when I feel like I simply can’t run any faster even though I ran faster with less effort just the other day. Being basketball player, I compare some of these days to the times when you go 10 for 10 from the field, and as long as the ball is thrown in the general direction of the hoop it will go in, and then there are days when one can’t even make a layup! And that’s just how it is – we all have good and bad days!  It’s how we come back from these physically tough, mentally challenging, perhaps not so successful sessions that counts the most!  So I know that if I can approach each training session with a positive attitude, one day I will get into T1 when there are still plenty of bikes left, instead of seeing T1 half empty!  J

My ultimate goal is to swim like Julie Dibens, but I know that it’s not going to happen overnight. Do I wish I woke up one day and swam like her? Sure! J I may never get as fast as her, and I think I am fine with that. Well – not really as I really want to swim fast, but realistically I know that if me and Julie played some bball, I would school her. She was a D1 swimmer, and I was a D1 bball player! She swam for 20+ years, and I played bball for 20+ years. I know it will take me a long time to swim as fast as she does, but I know hard work pays off, and I am willing to put the time in, and watch my times get faster and faster!  We are almost done with January, and I am going to swim probably just as many yards if not more as I swam back in October which is when I put in my highest swimming yardage in to date. I am like a walking chlorine machine, but I don't care! I may care when my hair starts to look like this, but not being a blonde that will hopefully not happen! :)

I have also done the underwater swim analysis back in December, and even though my times have improved quite a bit since last time I did it, and I have been feeling a lot better in the water, Mr. Dartfish (the viewing software) has confirmed I still have many flaws I need to work on, which is so easily said than done. From proper catch and pull, to my hand entry, and my body position, the list goes on. But guess what!  I see lots’ of room for improvement  and that means  once I actually improve my technique even more, I’ll just keep getting faster and faster!  Watch out Julie! :)

So I have been concentrating on my technique quite a bit, and have spent some quality time with my friends below:

I think the ankle locks are my favorite! NOT! If you have never tried those, I suggest you do! :)
I also do have to admit that when I use the kickboard, I barely move. So to improve my kick, I have been trying vertical kicking. Trying is the key word, as I tend to sink very fast!!!

When looking for some youtube videos of how to improve my vertical kick, and improve my chances of NOT drowning after 15 seconds, I came across this paragraph!

Vertical kicking is one of the most under-used "secret weapons" in swimming. One reason it's under-used is because it looks more like aqua aerobics than swimming, and to do it without drowning you have to wear one of those funny-looking belt thingys. But don't be fooled. Vertical kicking is tough stuff. And if you decide to try it without the belt thingy, it is REALLY tough stuff. “

I have also been watching Mr. Smooth and plenty of other youtube videos on how to improve my technique/stroke.  I am determined to have Mr. Smooth’s stroke very soon! J

My desire to become a swimmer continues! It is extremely challenging, but I am starting to find joy in swimming! I mean, I have even been attempting flip turns!!!!!!  It’s by no means pretty, but just the fact that I am trying is a step in the right direction.

I had a bad day in the pool the other day. It was the day after I actually spent some quality time in front my computer screen watching all kinds of drills, and Mr. Smooth! J When I actually tried implementing them, I became way slower! What? That was to say the least a bit frustrating, but this is what my coach had to say:
Anytime you change something mechanical, your efficiency suffers a bit, don’t sweat it. It is part of the process!”

So I’ll take it, and try again next time! I am adding the word “patience” into my vocabulary, and I am excited to continue this journey to reaching my full potential and becoming the best I can be. 

Maybe reading this book will help a bit? :)

Or better yet, maybe visiting the International Hall of Fame in Ft. Lauderdale next week may magically make me a fast swimmer? Aaaah wishful thinking! J

Czech in with me in June when I take on my first half ironman of the season at Rev3 Quassy in CT! I would love to swim around 32-33 min for the 1.2 mile swim which is almost 5 min faster than my fastest ½ iron swim of 36:41 at Timberman back in August, 2010.

Time to hit the pool! Catch you all later!  J

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

2010 Season in Numbers and What Can Coach Do For You!

I know I am bit behind, but here is a quick reflection on my 2010 season and how long I have actually spent training or racing. 2010 was my first real season of tri's. I completed 3 half ironmans, and one olympic distance race.

I more than doubled my swim and run numbers, and I almost tripled my bike miles from 2009 when I completed 2 olympic distance races, and 2 sprint distance races. I think it is very safe to say that the 70.3 distance is my favorite one of all, even though I have yet to complete the full ironman! And yes – that is in the plans as well! Due to my super competitive nature, I must do it right, listen to my coach, and toe the start line of a full ironman when I am ready to win and get myself THE ever so wanted ticket to KONA!!!! A lot of people tell me that I am ready now and that my first ironman should solely be for fun and to sort of “learn” the distance! Unfortunately, that is not how I work, that is not how my mind works! I am too competitive to just race for fun! Don’t get me wrong, I love to race, and I have fun when I race, but I enter every race with every intention to win! I race to compete, I do not just race to finish!  And yes, I may be ready to do an ironman now, but I know I am not ready to win it! There is a big difference!  I know it sounds so easy, but I know it is not, and I know it will take hours and hours of dedication, hard work and sweat for me to get there but mark my words I WILL GET THERE!!!!! J 

Okay, now back to 2010 and the silly numbers I am about to reveal.

Swim:  340,296.8 yards – 193.5 miles in 119 hours, which is almost 5 days

Bike: 4,129.54 miles in 224 hours around 9.3 days

Run:  876.36 miles in 113 hours, which is again almost 5 days

My 2010 swim/bike/run craziness J took me 5,199.4 miles in little over 19 days!  I put in enough miles to take me from Boston, MA to my little town of Benesov u Prahy in the Czech Rebublic, which is 3,891 miles away still leaving me with another  1,300 miles to spare! J

When looking back at these numbers, and days or hours it took to complete these miles, it doesn’t seem that bad, does it? I mean, I worked out 19 full days out of 365 days a year! That’s it? J Now to really put that into perspective, any one of us with full time jobs, we spend minimum of 40 hours a week or 160 hours a month at work, which translates into 6.7 full days of work a month or around 80 full days of work a year not including any vacation time. Now that’s CRAZY!

So in the end, in 2010 I swam/biked/ran 19 full days out of the year and I spent 80 full days at work. Oh there is something very wrong with that! Ha! I would LOVE to have it the other way around, but in the mean time, I must collect more speed so I could maybe one day become the oldest age grouper turn pro! Ha! We all can dream, right? J

Now if I can just keep improving every year like I did in 2010, it will all be a piece of cake! :) Thanks coach!

Here are my improvements in by far my weakest sport – swimming! I know, I know, I am one very slow fish, but believe me, I am working on it. I could post my underwater video analysis for all you to see, but that may scare some of you, so I’ll spare you the details and instead go with simple numbers that tell the story.


1,000 yards
200 yards
CSS/100 yards
June, 2010
August, 2010
October, 2010

From my weakest to my strongest and that is biking! I have no idea why biking is my strongest out of the three, as I have never really biked or really been on a road bike until last year. I rode mountain bikes when I was younger, and biked pretty much anywhere. Bike was really more of a mode of transportation rather than working out as my parents did not own a car, and biking was much faster than walking! Perhaps my basketball background may have something to do with it as well. I can also tell you that if any of you out there are thinking about getting a power tap, you shouldn’t even think about it. It is one of the best investments one can made if you want to improve your power on the bike. I used to think I rode hard all the time, but I can tell you now, I was wrong.  I am learning how to push myself harder each time I get on my bike, and I have to say I never pushed myself harder than I do now. I have the numbers to prove it and numbers simply don’t lie!


5 min
20 min
June, 2010
253 W
223 W
3.71 W/Kg
August, 2010
259 W
230 W
3.88 W/Kg
October, 2010
265 W
240 W
4.04 W/Kg

And last but not least my running. I just want to say that being a basketball player doesn’t make you a great distance runner! Yes, I ran a lot when I played bball, but very short distances, and very fast. The farthest I ever ran was 3 miles at a time, and that was probably once or twice a year during the offseason. I also swore after college that I would NEVER run again! Now here I am, with 876 running miles in 2010! And now the truth!


June, 2010
20 min all out
3 miles/6:45 pace
August, 2010
15 min all out
2.3 miles/6:24 pace
2010 was a GREAT year! I ran my first ever ½ marathon as part of my first ever half ironman race, I qualified for the 70.3 World Championships during my first ever half ironman, I broke 5 hours during my 2nd half ironman on a legit tough and hilly course, and I placed top 20 in my age group at the World’s with a time of 4:46:04. I have met some amazing people, and made some great new friends.

I found the best coach for me – Jorge Martinez ( of PBM Coaching (, and also a great team of fixer upper hands – a.k.a the best ART/chiropractor – Kate Kelly of along with massage therapists Samantha Cail and Joan Howe.  Thanks to these guys I was able to stay in one piece and healthy throughout the entire season, which is half the battle!

I am looking forward to what 2011 will bring! I am addicted to speed, and I am ready to WIN! J  

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Clearwater World Championships - November 13th, 2010

The road to Clearwater was long and once I got into October/November training very lonely! It’s the time of the year that most peeps are done, and enjoying their offseason. The weather is getting cold, it starts to get dark way too early in the day, and getting quality workouts in outside becomes a challenge. It’s especially since I can’t seem to keep my toes warm on the bike once temps dip below 50! Ya, I know – I am a wuss, but riding with frozen blocks and trying to put out any sort of power is near impossible. Regardless of the unfavorable weather conditions, my prep for Clearwater was awesome! I had little over 2 months to get faster in the water, on the bike, and running! My peak month was October when I put in over 30,000 yards of swimming, 430 miles on the bike, and 110 running miles!

It was also the same month, I lost my job, which allowed me to train like a pro and added a bit more stress into my life! As someone who is not a U.S citizen and does not have a green card, I only have so many days to be unemployed, and find another job before I would have to take my ass back to where I came from! Piece of cake, right? I mean, why couldn’t I find a job in the booming economy that we have been enjoying the last few years? I usually do not stress, and take things as they come, but I must admit, I was a bit stressed with this crazy number looming over my head. I really couldn’t imagine packing up my life of almost 11 years, and going back home! I mean, it would be awesome to be close to my family again, but oh so hard to leave ALL my friends, and my life here in the U.S. However, things happen for a reason, and this was just another obstacle standing in my way. The positive was, I now had more time to train, and more time to sleep! My life consisted of training, and looking for a new job! November 13th, couldn’t come fast enough!

I made it to Cleawater on Wednesday, November 10th, with enough time to enjoy the beautiful sunny and warm weather that was last seen in New England back in August. Hello sun, hello heat, and hello ocean! I registered and picked up all my goodies on Wednesday afternoon. The registration site was still pretty quiet, but you could already feel the special energy this place had. I swear most people we saw walking around that day were not speaking English! Hello World Championships! I probably should have switched to speaking Czech to fit in a bit better! :) … aaaaaaaaaaaaand czech out my race number below! So cool!

I couldn’t believe I was here!

Thursday, and Friday rolled around and the atmosphere was electric! By Thursday afternoon, the small town of Clearwater turned into a spot with the fittest athletes in the world! I mean talking about being in shape!! I swear some of these folks workout 24/7! It was bit intimidating to say the least, but I also came here in the best shape of my life, so I didn’t really get those rocking bodies get to me! I worked my little butt off, and I was ready to race! Saturday morning just couldn’t come fast enough.

I picked up my bike on Thursday morning from tri bike transport, and I decided that I needed to put new tires on. Me and my coach Jorge talked about switching them, and after a closer inspection on Thursday I decided I was going to be better off with the new tires rather than risking a flat. Getting a flat on a super fast bike course like this would cause me the race. Plus I really suck at changing flats so my race was really going to be over with. My friend Dan who is also coached by Jorge along with his buddy from “Blue” bikes helped me to change them. More like, they did it while I supervised them, ha! Thanks guys! :) I went for a quick ride, got my rear brakes adjusted one more time by the guys at the Felt tent, and the black “tornado” was ready to go.

I also went for a quick run, and my first ocean swim EVER! Yikes! I was not a fan, and I started to get nervous as hell! I swam one more time on Friday, rode about 8 miles of the course with my friend Stephen and it was time to czech in. 2 transition bags, and the bike. I wrote my name all over both transition bags so I could find them better during the race, racked my bike and walked through the transition area about thousand times visualizing race day! You should see the bikes in this transition area – OMG!!!!!!! These peeps were not kidding! ALL these bikes, and I mean ALL of them looked FAST and EXPENSIVE!!! I finally left the transition area, got some food in my belly, got my breakfast and nutrition ready for race day, and off to bed I went. I read my race report about 10 more times, but I really had it memorized by now! I know, I am crazy!
My alarm went off at 3:45am! If you are interested what happened on race day, I highly encourage you to read on! I had an absolute blast the entire time – okay, almost the entire time, ha and you can read all about it by clicking on the link below or by going to my 2010 race report section.

For those that are just looking for a quick summary, here is my race in numbers, which also includes pro’s:

Swim: 37:18 - 53/88 in my division, 234/570 overall female (Sooo slow, but I was really just glad I survived – it was not a happy ocean)

T1: 2:58 - 17/88 in my division, 72/570 overall female

Bike: 2:25:08 – 23.15 Mph - 12/88 in my division, 56/570 overall female (I would be very curious how many cheaters beat me, but I raced a clean race)

T2: 2:06 - 8/88 in my division, 14/570 overall female

Run: 1:38:35 – 7:32 pace - 24/88 in my division, 78/570 overall female (Time includes my PP stop – it really could have been ugly)

My Overall Time: 4:46:04 – I finished 18th in my AG, 82/570 females including pro's (top 14%) , and 62/550 not including pro's (top 11%)

For those interested in more numbers, my prep, my race nutrition, and more technical info from my coach, czech out his report – a.k.a Coaches Race Report. As he says, it may give some of you ideas on how to set up your own racing and fueling plans for the seasons to come.

To summarize Clearwater, I had a great experience and I absolutely loved the race! I felt like everyone was treated like a pro, and it was awesome to race against the best! I do wish however that everyone raced clean, but that’s unfortunately out of my control. I am super happy with my race! I raced my own race, I got a new PR on the bike and the run, and I finished my 1st season of racing at this distance with a PR of 4:46:04 which is more important to me than my top 20 finish! I can’t wait for next year, and my return to the Worlds except this time on a HILLY HILLY course in Vegas! :)

Here is a little slide show from race day:

Friday, January 7, 2011

My 2nd Triathlon Season - Summer/Fall 2010

My very first triathlon season last year began with the New England Season Opener in May. That is the only tri race in the area with an open water swim prior to the Mooseman weekend on the beginning of June. I won my AG last year, but I was so freaking cold, that this year I decided against it. I was going to run my first ever ½ marathon back in February (Hyannis Half) to give me little more confidence for Mooseman 70.3 and to at least eliminate one of the unknowns! However since I couldn’t run for 2 months leading up to it due to injury, Hyannis didn’t happen. That meant my first race of the 2010 triathlon season was going to be Mooseman Half Ironman! The race of many firsts! 

I have to say, I had a great experience! The weather didn’t exactly cooperate but at least they let us race. I would hate to wait another 2 months to race my first half ironman. It rained, it poured from the minute we stepped into the water till we cross the finish line! The swim was brutal and seemed forever, the bike was super challenging and wet with 2 super long and steep climbs that felt twice as hard with what felt like a river coming down it, and run was a 2 loop fight for survival with what felt like 10 lb shoes on each foot as the water just kept making them heavier and heavier!  In the end, I managed to hit my secret goal and qualify for Clearwater on my first tri! It was time to get serious!  My competitive bug was 110% back and I was ready to get back to training the next day – okay maybe the next week as I was quite immobile the next few days! Ouch!  I guess this is how one feels when you push your body to places you thought it could never go!

Right after finish - OUCH!

That's one hard earned medal!!! :)

For those interested in details, czech out my Mooseman race report in the “My 2010 Race Reports” section on the left hand side.  This was quite the race, and I know that the crazy wet and cold ride I did a few months ago with my Dreamfar peeps was one of the reasons why I was able to be so successful  on race day!  Thanks guys!
Pre race dinner with few Dreamfar folks, Veronika, Colin and the support crew! Thanks guys!!!!
So now knowing I was going to Clearwater, I wanted to take it up a notch and of course make sure I do well there. I didn’ t want to be the last person out of the water, I didn’t want to be last, I wanted to be competitive and see what I can do against the best of the best. It was now obvious to me that in order to make the next step, I needed some one on one attention, and I decided to work with coach Jorge Martinez of Personal Best Multisport Coaching (  I can tell you know, it was the best decision I could have made!  If any of you reading this are looking for a coach, I highly recommend Jorge! He is extremely knowledgeable, super fast to respond to any possible or impossible questions you may have, super detailed, and competitive just like me! I could write an entire post on selecting the right coach, but since this post is about my 2nd tri season I will only say one thing. I believe it is extremely important to find a coach that will understand you, is willing to get to know you, and knows how to motivate you! Since I am writing this in retrospect, I must say again, I made a GREAT decision! If you are competitive like me, I recommend you visit my team's website mentioned above or follow Jorge’s blog - … you never know what you can learn! J  
My 1st day following Jorge’s training plan, which is sent to me every Sunday of every week was on June 29th and it started off with a 20 min bike test! Ouch! I now finally learned how to properly use my power meter!  He also did a swim analysis with me, and we set out a plan for the rest of the season with the main goal and my A race being Clearwater. 
I had 2 other races before Clearwater, and that was the Mass State Olympic distance triathlon on July 18th , 2010, and my 2nd half ironman – Timberman on August 22nd , where I had a chance to meet and race in the same race as Chrissie Wellington!!!!!!! J
The Olympic race went well except for the swim part! I am sure you all are noticing a pattern now!  It was really hot, the water was way too hot as well, so it became a non wetsuit swim, and another first! I didn’t feel all that bad in the water, but I sure was soooooo slow! Ouch! Full 10+ minutes behind the 2 girls that beat me. I killed the bike and had the fastest female bike split of the day thanks to my new bike training and the new bike. I rode Jorge’s Felt DA which rocks! The run went really well as well. It was hot, my first mile sucked, but I was able to get it together and post the fastest female run as well! Thanks swim! U lost me my race! I guess the saying that swim won’t win you races, but can lose them is true!  I learned another thing about myself during this race! I learned how to dig dip, and dig even deeper. I was about half a mile from the finish, super hot, super tired, when I spotted a girl in front of me.  I kept closing in on her, and made up my mind that there may just be enough room before the finish line to catch her. I could have let her go, but that’s not me! Let me just say, sprint finish after swimming, biking and running 6 miles is no joke, and it hurts. It hurts even more if you don’t win it, ha! I came in tied for 3rd overall female, and 1st in my AG. More details about the race and the sprint finish can again be found in the race report section.
You can see me closing in ... :) ... ignore the face - I was "dying" 

Spent!!!!!! I think I need another bottle of pick me up! 

Team Czechchick and my buddy Jim
Now, Timberman 70.3, my 2nd 70.3 but first one under the guidance of coach Jorge.  We worked very hard together to improve my swim, bike, and run in the short period of time we had, but all the hard work definitely paid off. I had a superb race plan, that I was able to execute almost perfectly, which allowed me to break my secret goal of 5 hours!  I am not kidding when I say, my race plan was about 5 pages long, and included about every single detail you can think of what to do the day before the race, during the race, and after the race!  I told you he was KNOWLEDGEABLE and DETAILED! J My final time was 4:54:54 more than 30 minutes faster than I was back in June at Mooseman and even more importantly I felt so much better the entire race than back in June! Sweet!!!!!!  I also got to see Chrissie Wellington in action and guess what! My 2nd transition was faster than hers! J Baby steps …. Ha! I made the podium and most importantly I beat all my times including the swim time from Mooseman! Yay!  Timberman details and my race report are again in the 2010 race report section of my blog.

Feeling good heading out on the 1st loop of the run! 

I got my maple syrup! Yum! :)
The last race of my 2010 season was the 70.3 World Championships in Clearwater, FL and I believe the race and the preparation for it deserve its own blog post! J