Monday, November 9, 2015

Jana - The Coach

All of you know that I have represented E3 Training Solutions as an athlete since pretty much the beginning of my triathlon career. Why? Because I strongly believe in their individualized approach based on evidence-based concepts, practical experience and technology, which is why after 5 years of being an E3 athlete, I have decided to join E3 as a coach!

Some of you may wonder what all that really means, but what you need to pay attention to for now is one word and one word only “Individualized”

I have grown up through the triathlon ranks with E3 at my side, and I want to help you experience the same! What started as a fun way of staying active and meeting new friends has quickly turned into my lifestyle. It has reignited the competitive spirit I once had but lost when my D1 college basketball career ended.

Initially, triathlon put purpose behind my daily gym outings. Since then however, triathlon has challenged me in every aspect of my life. It taught me that it’s never too late to dream and go after those dreams! It’s shown me that anything is possible if you are willing to fight for it, be committed, and make sacrifices. It continues to teach me that consistency and patience are what matters more than just pure athleticism, and I want to share this experience with you. Guide YOU through the triathlon world that may seem so intimidating at first!

No, I won’t make you do what “czechchick the athlete” does, but I will guide you through a training program that is designed specifically for you; fits your needs, your goals and your limitations.  
I know what E3 Training and their approach has done for me, and I would love to help you reach your own dreams/goals whether it’s finishing your first triathlon, getting on the podium or qualifying for the big dance!

I am a big believer in creating a personal connection with each athlete that goes far beyond just numbers! Although “numbers don’t lie” and play a critical role in program development, how you feel not just physically but also mentally is key! As your coach, I will learn what makes you tick, know when to push you more or when to back off. It’s my goal to make YOU – the best athlete you can be!  Your goal is my goal and “together we will”!

If you want to know more about me – “Coach Jana”, I would love to hear from you and learn more about YOU!

Drop me a line or two at or contact me here:

Monday, October 26, 2015


I’ll let the cat out of the bag quickly! 

Consistency is KEY, and is a very important and often misunderstood concept by many. Consistency doesn’t just apply in training itself, but in all aspects of life! Consistency creates habits, which lead to improved health, fitness and overall healthy lifestyle – our goal here at E3!

In training, consistency along with patience and carefully designed training plan help you stay injury free, and lead to success.

Being consistent in training sounds simple, but just how simple is it?

At E3 we develop programs based on 5 basic pillars in all which we focus on you and giving you the best tools to stay consistent!

What are the E3 Pillars to Success and how does consistency apply?

1.   Training Program

We want to know YOU! Together we identify your needs, your goals, your limitations and create your very own periodized program. These carefully designed programs help you stay consistent over time, which in turn will help you to stay injury free, while allowing you to increase your fitness, and performance. Remember, it is not about how many yards you swam, miles/hours you biked or how many miles/hours you ran in a week, or month if you can’t stay consistent over time and allow your body to adapt to the training! This concept yet simple can be hard for most!

Social media rocks, but social media can be evil! Just because Mirinda Carfrae trains 30-40 hours week, or your fellow competitors train x hours a week, and tell you about it on facebook or twitter, doesn’t mean that’s the best approach for you nor does it mean that’s what they actually do but that’s a post for another day.

The only way to reach consistency is through an individualized training program that is designed and works for you! It allows for your fitness to develop without sacrificing your health or life balance. Being injury free = consistency! Doing too much too soon whether in distance or intensity can lead to  injury which leads to inconsistencies and setbacks. As someone that has been part of E3 for 5 years now, our approach is based on good ole’ fashion hard work. It is no magic and it works. I have lived it and it is the main reason why I was able to achieve my once long term goal of getting on the World Championship podium in Kona! It didn’t happen over night like I thought it should, but I realize now, why I was doing the training that I was even if at times I thought (key word “thought”) I could and should do more.  Regardless of winning or not, how my body felt completing 140.6 miles back in 2012 vs. 2013, 2014, and 2015 is a result of smart and consistent training, and although it never gets easier, you will feel the difference in both your body and mind when you surround yourself with consistency. 

2. Rejuvenation

Rejuvenation relates to mental and physical recovery which directly relates to consistency! We must take recovery seriously in order to stay consistent and injury free. Rejuvenations is NOT something we do when we are not training. It IS part of our training. Sneaking in extra yards or miles will not do you any good. There are various ways to physical recovery whether it be via “active recovery” or “complete rest”, but often overlooked is the importance of also letting your mind recover. 

This quote sums it up best:

Rest your body, rest your mind – Stay consistent!

3.   Nutrition

Nutrition sums up your everyday before/during/post training fueling!  Without going into too much detail, food is fuel, and we at E3 are firm believers of the “Everything in moderation” approach. Again, nutrition is very individual and what works for one athlete, may not work for another!

So where does consistency come into play? We are firm believers that “diets” – restricting or completely removing certain foods for other than medical reasons from once daily nutritional intake is unnecessary! Restricting or eliminating foods to simply reach race weight is not only unhealthy but has potential to lead to overall health issues. Finally, it’s not sustainable over time, hence far from consistent!

The “Everything in moderation” approach supports consistency, creates happiness, and is much more achievable than the alternative. It leads to improved health, fitness and overall healthy lifestyle – our goal here at E3! Instead of providing diets, we help you develop better habits, a more sustainable way to approach diet, based on Precision Nutrition principles.

4.   Functional

Even when it comes to functional strength, addressing muscle imbalances as well as skills (technique); consistency is key!  

Whether it’s improving your technique in swimming via specific drills, your cycling via better pedaling motion or improving your running economy , it’s the ability to repeat these drills/motions over time until they become our 2nd nature!  All of this takes time, it takes patience, and take a guess - it requires consistency

5.   Life Balance

Balancing training with life is the last pillar on which we build our programs on at E3! It is one that requires complete honesty and objectivity, and open communication on the part both: the athlete and the coach! Life balance leads to happiness, and happiness leads to consistency! Telling your coach and telling yourself you can train 30 hours a week, when juggling a full time job, and a family doesn’t sound very objective!  There is no doubt that it can be done, but the questions remains – how consistently! In the end most of us do this for fun and not to make money, but we still crave success!
In summary, the definition of success is different for every single one of you but the definition of consistency remains the same!

The five E3 Pillars to Success as mentioned above, allow us at E3 to develop training programs that suit YOU! Programs that are adaptable and adjustable, programs that set YOU up for consistency with which comes success! These pillars are at the base of your “fitness” house! The more consistent you can be in building/maintaining every single one of those pillars, the more balanced and more successful you will  be in achieving your goals – whether it’s completing your first triathlon, your first 70.3, your first 140.6, or getting on your first podium!

If you like what you read, contact us today for more info.

I am a big believer in consistency, and I and E3 would like to help. Contact me for more info:

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

My IM Kona Race Files and more

I know you already read a “book” about my race in Kona, but if you are into numbers – Czech this out! This one is much shorter version of what went down on race day, but gives you a great insight about what went into my performance!  

My Kona Race in Numbers, Race Files via TrainingPeaks

I will be the first one to admit, I love “data”, and I love “numbers”, but knowing what certain “wattage” on the bike or certain “pace” on the run FEELS like MUST be taken into consideration at all times! Knowing your body remains the single most important factor especially on race day! You will hear many pros or age groupers alike say they train with power, but race by feel! Although I train AND race with power, I don’t necessarily just try to get to a ‘number’ on race day if my body is telling me to not! (You will see that in the article and files attached) It takes time to develop that skill, and I think I am finally getting to the point where I can say that I am getting closer! You gotta know when to push and when to back off regardless of what the numbers may be telling you. Numbers don’t lie, but neither does your body! There is a very fine line in being able to understand the signals, but it’s key you take time to develop that skill!   

The point? Training with power, and working with a coach that knows how to train with power has changed my cycling in the most positive way you can imagine! It has defined what going hard means, but also what going easy means!

So know your numbers, use them to push you or hold you back (especially in training), but don’t become their slave! ;) Always listen to your body! I did on race day and it paid off!

Same goes for running!  Know your body and listen to it! We are all different, but for me, it took running with heart rate to truly define what in this case “easy” pace meant especially in an Ironman marathon! Everything feels easy for the first 10 miles, but does it really?   I have finally learned to ignore pace, and focus on “me” and  how I felt!  Although my overall marathon time wasn’t the fastest I ever ran, and it certainly wasn’t struggle free, but I was for the first time EVER able to actually race at the end of the marathon rather than succumb to the marathon shuffle and that is one awesome feeling!

Want to know more? Click on the link above.

Have any further questions about my race day performance, training in general, or looking for a coach? Feel free to contact me – we at E3Training Solutions just may be able to help! 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Dreams DO come true!

The “Umeke” bowl; THE “Umeke” bowl I set my eyes on when I first stepped foot on the Island of Kona, Hawaii in 2012. It was then, at the Banquet of Champions, when ”Mission Umeke” was born!

What is an “Umeke”? 

I did my first ironman, and first Kona Ironman in 2012, and I wanted to win. I was naive, I had no idea what it really took. (I wasn’t even close to winning and came 15th in AG), but I had an absolute blast, I hurt more than ever before, but I fell in love with the Island, and the race! I knew I had to get back.

Fast forward to 2014, I had just come off 6th place overall finish at the 70.3 World Championships in Mt. Tremblant. I had 2 more years of training under my belt, and I qualified by winning the overall title at IM Cozumel the year before. I was confident that I had what it took to stand on that podium but unfortunately or fortunately, I came up short. I was 6th (Top 5 get to go on that stage and get the “Umeke” bowl). I sat through the 2014 Banquet of Champions trying to unsuccessfully hold back tears. I was genuinely happy for everyone that made it, but I hurt on the inside because I knew I had what it took to stand on that stage myself.  

I decided to race Ironman Cozumel just 6 short weeks post Kona last year to re-qualify. Calculated gamble we took given how fast I was recovering, and given my level of fitness and training at the time. There were a lot of doubters, but I knew how I felt, and I knew I had a chance. I was fortunate enough for my body to hold up, and make it happen, giving me essentially an entire year to prepare for October 10th, 2015. 

The moto for 2015 was “Fearless” with Kona being the obvious BIG focus! I even decided to skip the 70.3 World Championships this time in favor of being able to put in one last block of uninterrupted training. My prep was going near flawless just like I imagined it would until life happened. Being physically and emotionally exhausted is bound to take a toll on anyone. I kept plugging through, putting together very strong back to back weeks of training, recovering well, and staying focused as best as I could, but eventually it all caught up to me! As the race got closer, I became more and more of an emotional “mess”. The perfect prep I imagined wasn’t so perfect anymore, and between travelling for work, and a sore foot that came out of nowhere, I started to seriously question my ability to get it done. I ran a total of 4x in the last 4 weeks leading up to the race, but at the same time I had this feeling on the inside of being not just physically but also mentally prepared better than ever. I arrived on the Big Island little less than 2 weeks out from the race, which was a lot earlier than in the past. 

This view never gets old! You can Queen K in the distance!

I wanted to get in some last minute training on the course and acclimatize a bit better as well. The island welcomed me with open arms, and really showed me just how unpredictable it can be.

One can be certain it will always be hot, humid and windy but unlike any other race, you don’t know to what degree until you are in the moment! And that is exactly WHY I really LOVE this race and this course. One has to be physically and mentally resilient or else the elements itself will beat you up; never mind the top notch competition!  

The first week on the island literally had it all. It was more hot and humid than usual, and the winds were unreal!  Since running was out of question, I did a lot of swimming and riding. Kona has been so warm that the only way to keep the pool on the “cooler” side this is what had to happen!

The awesome Kona Aquatic Center - Free I may add

I pretty much swam every day and loved it! I even started to see times in the pool that I haven’t seen in a while! (Bonus for swimming more, and running less or not at all I guess). Or maybe it was just because I didn’t want to get completely embarrassed and lapped every couple min by the awesome pro’s I happened to be surrounded by almost every day. (I must have been on the same schedule as Sebastian Kienle cuz I literally saw him at the pool every day) 

I also rode often, testing out different front wheels in case the wind would come out to play on race day.  The wind direction was changing every day, the gusts were surreal.  

Into the headwind as you can see by the direction of the small bushes being blown against me

 Time to try the tri-spoke! Definitely much more steady in the cross winds

The day I rode up to Hawi, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. At times, I was making very slow sidewise forward progress while completely leaning into the wind! 

It was laughable and so I rode and I laughed out loud while wishing I was in the car and not on my bike. I was definitely scared shitless and I knew if  race day turned out to be like this, it was not going to be pretty for anyone. Thankfully, I was saved from some of the climb (read more wind) and the descend by a flat tire. A hole in the tire rather!

I was happy that I didn’t have to descend in these insane winds, but at the same time very upset because by now, both my powertap and garmin had stopped working, I got a hole in the tire cutting my 60 mile ride down to barely 30, and my running was nonexistent. Less than 2 weeks out from race day, my prep was far from what I imagined it would be!

The rest of the pre-race time was spent doing more swimming, more riding, enjoying the hot, humid island air, eating breakfast at Lava Java before it turned into triathlete central, going through the expo, getting my sweat rate test done by the folks at Gatorade, which confirmed I sweat like a beast; meeting our current sponsors, meeting up with old and new friends, running around in underpants and  in general just soaking it all in.  

Having fun with the fishes

 Mmmmmm Acai Bowls!!!!!!! 

Getting my hands on 1 of 100 "Cupcake with Cal" hats! If you have never seen his show, you are missing out! 

Soaking it all in
Because who doesn't run around in their underpants

Eventually, I even stopped worrying about the uncontrollable and just focused on “me”! I had a few words with Madame Pele, and had visualized my race from the beginning to the end more than once! I felt super nervous, but strangely also more ready than ever before.

Before I knew it, it was time to “Czech in” my trusty “Fireball”, eat up, and go for it! Time to trust the training even if it wasn’t perfect, and be “Fearless”

Without further ado, here is the race day play by play. .

THE SWIM: 1:18:37 (57thAG)

The most physical swim I have ever been part of here in Kona. Perhaps because I lined up a bit too close to the buoy line, or perhaps because I was swimming faster than before (clearly must have been the starting spot I chose), but I would call the first half of the swim more of a boxing match rather than a swim! I kept getting pushed, and punched and pulled, and a few times I thought I may end up on the ocean floor! I was holding my own even if that meant getting my arms out of the water while everyone else was just trying to hold them down.  I finally felt like I had a little bit of clear water when my goggles got knocked of my head the 1st time! This has happened to me before and caused quite the panic attack, so this time around I was ready. I told myself to calm down, put goggles back on, and just keep swimming. I wasn’t going to lose minutes but rather seconds, so I didn’t need to dwell on this for the rest of the swim. Mission accomplished!  Not another 5 minutes went by, and my goggles went bye bye again! Since salt water and contacts don’t gel well, I put the brakes on again and put my goggles back on for the second time. Thankfully this was the last time this happened, and the 2nd half of the swim was quite uneventful. I did find couple other girls to swim with, and even though I swam as slow as I did , we were still weaving in and out of bunch of men who started 15 min ahead of us. In retrospect, I did lose my 1st place on the swim, but given the distance (2.6+ miles instead of 2.4), this is where my swim is at right now and unlike last year when seeing 1:18 on my watch completely pissed me off, I remained calm, focused, and ready to move on with my day.  

The swim start

T1: 3:01

I threw on my Castelli Stealth Top which I already had pre-stuffed with my nutrition (5 potato/rice cakes; 3 packets of Powerbar Perform powder), grabbed my shoes and ran to my bike. Shoes on, helmet on, and off I was. I also already had 5 Powerbar gels along with SaltStick Tabs, and 2 bottles of PowerBar Perform ready to go on my bike. 

THE BIKE:  5:16:32 (2nd Fastest Amateur bike split, which moved me up to 5th in AG)

The bike was my biggest disappointment last year, and I sure wasn’t going to let that happen again. On race day, the winds were nothing like what I have experienced the last 10 days on the island or the last 2 years I raced here, but there was zero cloud cover. Minimal wind/no cloud cover = HOT! I stuck to my watts, rode from aid station to aid station and just focused on my nutrition and cooling. I was feeling great, and I was on the hunt! I was laser focused, and was holding the mega legs back a bit so that unlike last year, I could have a strong back half of the bike.

All business at the beginning of the ride

I had also made some changes to hopefully prevent overheating and dehydration which slowed me down to a crawl in the 2nd half of the bike last year. Instead of a regular tri top, I wore the new Castelli Stealth Top, I went with a road aero helmet instead of the full aero helmet I wore in the past to keep my head from overheating, and I also went with the front profile design bottle so that I could hydrate even if Madame Pele and the winds were trying to blow me off the bike like last year. Having this water bottle set up allowed me to drink even when holding on for dear life, and it also allowed me to stick with nutrition that I know works for me (PowerBar Perform vs. Gatorade Endurance that is now being offered on the course)

I kept the watts in check all the way up to Hawi, where we were greeted with an awesome (not) rain storm! It was pouring buckets, the winds were all of a sudden blowing hard, and the roads were becoming slicker by the second! Gotta love the unpredictability of the island!

Mega legs in action on the Queen K 

I made the turn around at Hawi, re-filled my front bottle to make sure I didn't  make the same mistake as last year, and started the ride back to town.  The roads were slick for a while, but before I knew it the sun was back out and roads were dry in an instant! I tried to hold the watts up, take advantage of my aero set up, the super fast Castelli Stealth top, and kept picking of people left and right! (No guys, you don’t need to be 200lbs to go downhill fast! There were a few very loud “ON YOUR LEFT” that went unanswered but I have also learned to not let that bother me). The cross wind coming down from Hawi was minimal which made the descent that much more comfortable and safer.

Once back on the Queen K, the winds finally decided to come play, and it was heating up! We were facing some serious headwind all the way to T2! It was also time to push a bit more and hopefully keep gaining time on competition. I kept staying aero, and continued to focus on nutrition/hydration. It was right around mile 90ish, I started to experience the dreaded drafting which included bunch of men and you guessed it, couple of females! I would pass the group, only to immediately get re-passed. I would sit up, establish the legal distance and then set out to re-pass again. This happened a few times, and each time I would get re-passed almost immediately. I even told one of the girls to ride legal, and she responded with the “it’s impossible” bs! Finally, an official showed up,`` gave me thumbs up for establishing legal distance after being re-passed (again), and then proceeded to NOT penalize anyone in the group of at least 10 in front of me- seriously?  The ride was almost over and though my watts dropped some in the closing miles as I was starting to get hot and running out of fluids, I felt great and ready to run. 

T2: 3:42

I hopped of my bike leaving the shoes on the bike, and immediately felt the steaming hot ground under my bare feet! It was like someone stuck my feet right into the fire! Ouch! My feet were burning more and more with every single step, and the changing tent couldn’t come fast enough! Sure enough, the damage was done, the bottoms of my feet were slightly burnt, and with that I had the pleasure of starting the marathon with just a few already forming blisters! 


 The aftermath! Ouch! 
THE RUN: 3:39:10

Starting the run, I had no idea just how I was going to run 26.2 miles with my feet feeling the way they were, but eventually it may have been the bright sun and zero cloud cover that took my mind of my feet, or maybe it was the awesome fans cheering hard along Alii Drive! I saw a ton of familiar faces along Alii and appreciated all the cheers and updates! 

Smiling along Alii' Drive (Thanks Mike - BlueSeventy for the pic!) 

I started the run 5th in AG, running my way into 4th fairly quickly, with 3rd and 2nd apparently not being too far ahead. It was tempting to speed up, but I think I have finally learned that you are not going to win the marathon in the first 10 miles of the race and especially not on this island. For the first time here in Kona I actually ran with heart rate and not pace. I was keeping my HR in check, and although my paces were quite a bit slower than last year, I didn’t let that affect me, and I didn’t let myself speed up. The sun was shining bright, and the wind was non-existent. It was steaming hot on Alii Drive which was not a good news for what it will feel like on the Queen K where it’s that much hotter thanks to the Lava fields!

I knew just how lonely the Queen K can be especially when you enter Struggleville and Bonkville simultaneously, so I really kept focusing on nutrition, hydration, and cooling myself of at every single aid station. Couple cups of coke/water to hydrate, PowerBar Gel every 30 minutes, ice down the shorts, water over head/neck any chance I could. I also wore a Mission EnduraCool Cooling Towel around my neck and a cooling headband instead of visor on my head to help my stay “cooler” a bit longer in between aid stations. 

Instead of attacking the famous Palani Hill like last year, I shuffled my way up it even if it may have felt painfully slow. I got to see my coach at the top, telling me that 3rd was just up the road, but I never saw her (until a lot later). One porta potty stop later, I kept moving along, although at this point, my HR started to drop, and the negative thoughts started to creep into my head. When I made the u-turn at the bottom of the energy lab (Mile 18ish), I saw 2 girls chasing me, and they looked to be moving a lot faster than I felt like I was moving. My pace just kept slipping and miles 19-21 I saw the dreaded 9:xx pace. All I could think about was getting caught by both of them, putting me into 6th place and knocking me off the podium again! I felt weak and defeated and when I saw Jorge and Brian at mile 21ish, I just wanted to stop, curl up into a ball and take a nap. At this point I was still sitting in 4th, with 5th and 6th closing in fast! Talk about being in a negative head space!

I don’t remember what coach Jorge said at the time, but somehow, I snapped out of my pity party, and got my shit together.  I decided to fight for what I wanted – THE UMEKE!  I chugged couple cups of coke, and took off!  If I was going to get caught, these girls would have to earn it. In the next 5 miles, I went from watching my pace slipping between miles 19-21 (9:09, 9:15, 9:29)  to watching my pace getting faster and faster over the last 5 miles! Hell, I felt like I was running 6 min miles and I certainly wasn’t, but I was racing! I went from giving up and thinking I will get caught, to fighting and believing I will at least hold my 4th and get on that podium! Miles 22, and 23 were 8:51, and 8:51. Not fast, but it sure felt like I was flying after slowing down to 9:30s. I was hurting, but I was fighting, and I’ll never forget that feeling! I then began to see a few females that had passed me earlier on. Around mile 23, I moved into 3rd, and just kept moving! I not once at all thought about what was going on behind me anymore, my mindset had completely shifted. I was completely locked in and focused on my own effort and controlling my own destiny.  I didn’t pay attention to my watch at the time at all, just pure effort. I knew I had 3 miles left but really only 2 because the last mile of the Kona Ironman is almost like a “free” mile! It’s mostly downhill, the fan support is unbelievable and somehow you can usually make it through that one on pure adrenalin! I kept trying to pick up the pace, and ended up dropping the pace even more at miles 24/25 to 8:27, and 8:25. Considering both of these miles have a slight elevation gain, this was huge. I made it to the top of Palani, and to my surprise saw coach Jorge again! At this point I could see two more girls down the road (not in my AG), and apparently 2nd place was now 1 min ahead of me. Jorge was literally screaming at me to give it all I had and be “Fearless”!

 1 min – 1 mile! I didn’t even think, and just threw myself down Palani.  I literally ran as hard as I could. My HR soaring, my legs screaming at me, blisters finally popping (that didn’t feel good), but this is my favorite mile of Ironman Kona and I couldn’t stop then. I was looking for one more girl. I absolutely flew by the 2 girls in middle of Palani. I rounded the corner on Kuakini Highway and this section is a bit cruel because although it’s not uphill, after flying down the steep Palani Hill it feels like a mountain. I was running hard, and everyone was cheering me on. I finally spotted Amanda who was sitting in 2nd in my AG, and she was good 50 yards ahead. I kept fighting hard to keep the pace up and finally got closer to her right before the last turn on Alii. I was quickly running out of energy and as I was getting closer and closer, I was trying to figure out if I should slow down and try to save the last bit of energy for a finish line sprint or if I should just go now and hope that she wouldn’t go with me. I decided to just go for it now, and after a brief breather (like 2 steps), I just shut my eyes and ran as hard as I could to hopefully make a statement and not even give her a chance to go with me. 

Running hard after I made the pass. Now where is the finish line? 

My strategy worked, and when I finally turned around to see if Amanda was there, she wasn’t and I got to enjoy the finish line! Mile 26 – 6:38 pace! What? 

I can’t even begin to explain what was going through my head, and how I felt! It was an out of body experience, and one I will NEVER EVER forget.  It wasn’t my fastest marathon, and nowhere near my goal time, but one I am the most proud of, and one that I will draw upon in the races to come!

The best feeling EVER! 

On top of the world! 


What my coach put into my race plan couldn’t be more true! Here are his words:

“I have zero doubts of your fitness ad capabilities. However what’s going to make the difference between getting the Umeke or not is going to be your mental strength on race day. The way you respond to the challenges that the day will invariably throw at you will be the determining factor. Hence I want you to race with mind-sight over eye-sight.”

“Racing by mind-sight means racing with a mindset that no matter what, you can always overcome, you can always find a way around, you can remain in control, you can adapt; but regardless of the challenges, you will never let it phase you, let you lose the belief that you are here for you, here to win, here to accomplish your goal. Mind-sight is a state of mind, it’s confidence, it’s assertiveness, it’s belief, it’s being FEARLESS!”

What a difference a year makes!  

The BEST stage ever! 

It's still a bit surreal, but what a day! Pinch me! 

Thank you ALL (family/friends/sponsors) for YOUR support! 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

A day in the mouth – Part 1

There have recently been a few articles about what pro triathletes eat on daily basis.  I like many of you enjoy reading such articles and/or blogs and I for one reason or another felt the need to share what “I” as an elite level age grouper consume on daily basis.

For one, I want people to know that I that the reason I am thin, is NOT because I do not eat or deprive myself of food but rather the level at which I train, and also because of my genetics!  I actually love food, and I love to eat – just ask any of my friends.  

I am fit and strong, and I do NOT starve myself. I eat to fuel my body to perform its best day in and day out, and just because you won’t find me eating McDonalds every day or drinking beer or wine every night, it doesn’t mean I don’t eat. (Confession - I am not a beer/wine drinker, and never was. The reason I don’t drink is not because I am afraid it will slow me down, but because I just don’t enjoy the taste! You may however see me consuming way more bread than you ever thought was possible. Why? Because I love it! )

For seconds, I actually really dislike the word “diet”. I am firmly behind the “Everything in moderation” approach. Not giving body what it’s asking for over and over again, will only make you miserable and such approach is simply not sustainable most likely resulting in severe weight fluctuations.

Yes – I am skinny; Yes – I have low body fat; Yes – People still talk about me behind my back (See it doesn’ t matter what shape you are, people will always talk), but I am OK with it. I am comfortable in my own skin, and that is KEY! Yes – I am careful about what I put in my body but I love food, and Yes – I EAT (a lot)!   Food/nutrition is a big part of my training and racing!

I adjust my calorie intake up and down slightly depending on how many hours per week I train, but here is a peak into what I end up consuming on most days during my typical training week of roughly around 16 hours. I picked a random Tuesday which is representative of every other day during the week even when the training may vary slightly. 

6:00 am:  Banana  (8oz of water)

6:30 am: 2500-3500y swim (20 oz Water)

8:45 am: Bowl of oatmeal with a scoop of Chocolate protein powder mixed in to aid in muscle recovery and, cup of fresh fruit (I prefer fresh strawberries/blueberries or blackberries) as berries tend to be lower in sugar vs. other fruits, and most importantly I love berries! I also add a scoop of Coarsely Ground Flaxseed that are rich in Omega 3s and also help with decreasing cortisol levels as well as cholesterol and blood sugar levels.  (I may sometimes add an egg white or two for more protein too) Thank you InsideTracker for helping me figure out what is right for ME! (Blood don't lie) 

11:00 am: Snack. I want this snack to fill me up, but also be light enough so that I can either have a quality short run around lunch time or good SMART session to loosen up the body.  I usually go for Brown Rice Rice cakes (Lightly Salted) with Skippy Natural Peanut butter and sometimes I also add a banana. (There may also be just an extra spoon of peanut butter because I am just a little addicted ;) )

 You may have to tilt your head but I just cant' get this photo to rotate! 

 12:45 pm: 30 min super ez run to loosen up the legs, after the long weekend of training OR SMART session/SS also knows as some quality time spent with foam roller, lacrosse balls, theracane and bands for a good stretch.

1:45 pm:  Lunch. My go to is a sandwich consisting of bread of course (I absolutely LOVE bread and could live of just bread and butter if I had to), Applegate’s all organic natural turkey or chicken breast, mozzarella or provolone cheese, little bit of hummus (my favorite is the  Sabra roasted pine nut), ¼ to ½ of fresh avocado, and I also add a boiled egg white for little extra protein. I then either have a baked potato (regular or sweet) cut up and fried in a little bit of olive oil, or when lazy, I reach for the “Original Green Pea Baked Crisps” my new favorite for a little added crunch pictured here! And finally I always have an apple and can’t forget to hydrate so another 20oz of water. 

4:30pm:  Afternoon snack. My afternoon snack usually consists of a cup of white greek yogurt with cup of fruit and cup of Nature’s Path Organic Coconut Chia Granola! Another great combination of protein, carbs, and fat to fuel the body for the evening workout.

I usually get home around 6 or 6:30 and on my way home (I spend way too much time in my car) I may snack on hand full of almonds.

9 times out of 10 take a quick power nap. By 7:00 I am on the bike for the hardest session of the day so it is really important I fuel well all day!

7:00 pm – 8:00 pm Bike Interval Workout. Although only 1 hour workout, this one packs a punch and works up the appetite. It’s usually something fun like 6 x 4 min intervals with 45 sec rest at 105% of your critical power with the last one hopefully higher and pretty much all out at that point. Depending on how I feel I may either eat a PowerBar Gel right before the workout, and I always have 2 bottles of fluids – 1 with water only, and the other with 2 scoops of Perform to keep the energy high and the legs moving. 

8:30pm:  Dinner. Since this is a late dinner night, I try to keep the dinner on the lighter side but still packed with calories.

Not your average salad

Mix of sweet/regular potatoes

 It’s not just your average salad, and my go to few nights a week for sure. Salad consists of: Mixed greens, kale, shaved carrots, cucumber, strawberries/blueberries (sometimes sliced apple), avocado, walnuts or shaved almonds, feta cheese, ½ large baked potato + ½ large sweet potato cut up and fried in olive oil, and for protein I usually mix it up with either salmon burgers, tuna fish (pictured above), grilled chicken breast or steak depending on what I am craving that night. (I may need to invest in “oversized” plates because I usually have a hard time fitting all one, but definitely not in my belly)

There is always bread on the side (I prefer fresh baguette if available) and I also like to have a piece or two of three or 4 of dark chocolate.

I try not to eat the whole thing, but I can ;) 

Mmmmm dark chocolate - especially when it's from your homeland!

10:30 pm – 11:00 – Protein Shot – 8oz of Chocolate or Regular Coconut Milk with a scoop of chocolate protein powder (20g of protein) to aid in muscle recovery so that I can do it all over again the next day. Unfortunately I usually can't wait to guzzle it down, and always forget to take a photo! 

At the end of the day, I am looking at anywhere around 3300 – 3500 calories coming from real food and that number goes up as my training hours go up as well.

I end up eating very similar on most days during the week. When I am a bit more on the go, I tend to reach for easier to carry snacks, and my new favorite pre-training snack are the Bobo bars! If I have to drive to a workout and then have a drive home, a protein packed snack I tend to reach for are the Betty Lou’s protein balls! You can get both at a great price through one of my sponsors RacePak! If you haven’t checked them out, give them a try!   

I don't leave the house without snacks (EVER!)

I hope this showed you that food is very important part of any endurance athlete, and is not bad for you! We all have our guilty pleasures, and there is no need to go crazy to go fast. Eat up folks because skinny doesn’t mean fast! Fit, strong AND healthy means fast!

Next up Part 2 – which will give you an insight into what I eat during the weekend when the training hours are longer, and there may not be as much time for real food, and Part 3 – how I fuel my body on and around race day. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Patriot 70.3 Three-peat Race Report

This was my 3rd year in a row racing the local Patriot 70.3, and I had two goals going into it. One was to win the overall title, and two – to finally break the 4:30h barrier. I have consistently been getting closer and closer and although this was my 2nd half ironman in just two weeks, I knew Patriot is a fast course, and I had the tools to make it happen.

Racing local is always fun, and especially fun when majority of your teammates are also racing! Seeing so many familiar faces on race morning makes the time go by very fast, and before I knew it, it was time to get in the water.

THE SWIM: 34:31

I started in the elite wave which only consisted of maybe 12 people. My swim is still not where I would like it to be but I keep chipping away at it and getting better. I knew there were a few swimmers that I wanted to keep up with and hopefully let them pull me around the course, but that went out the window very quickly. I started off swimming hard, trying to grab the feet I wanted but unfortunately those feet were drifting left, while I was drifting right and I just couldn’t quite latch on.  No problem –plan B – swim your own swim, keep the effort moderate, and swim STRAIGHT! I did a good job of that on the way out to the first turn buoy but then it happened!  I thought I made the 90 degree turn but apparently I didn’t and just kept on swimming straight and completely away from the course. I know, it doesn’t make any sense, and I can’t quite explain what happened either. I simply made a mistake that cost me at least 2 minutes.  Czech it out. 

Pay attention to the top right corner! 

I sighted and even though I couldn’t see any buoys I somehow just  reasoned to myself that maybe the buoys were hiding and I just couldn’t see them “yet” What a dumb idea! Eventually I started to panic a little because regardless of where I looked I still couldn’t see the buoys or any people for that matter! Saved by the kayak who eventually ended up catching me and showing me the way! The buoy line was so far left that it wasn’t even funny! Live and learn – I can guarantee you it will NOT happen next time.

I was way frustrated about the distance I just added on, and probably over sighted on the way back to make sure  I didn’t get lost again! I literally thought my swim time was going to be at least 40 min, so when I saw 34:xx  on the clock, I felt a little better but still disappointed! 

 Loving my new Helix! 

Loving my new Castelli Stealth Top 

T1: 1:43

Wetsuit off, potato/rice cakes in my pockets and out.

THE BIKE: 2:21:57 (3rd fastest bike split including men)

Frustrated from the swim, I got on the bike and started to push the pace a bit. My legs felt good, and even though I was at the higher end of where I wanted to be power wise, I just kept powering through. This is a two loop, fairly flat course with no major climbs, but with a bit of turns that can snap your rhythm if you let it. It’s also a very lonely course, but that’s what happens when you are racing off the front. I kept my head down, stayed aero, stuck to my nutrition plan and just kept pushing on. 

Staying aero was the name of the game 

2nd loop was a bit more crowded and I even got to see my athlete Jerome and Ruthanne both crushing their first 70.3s. Unfortunately when going over a set of railroad tracks on the 2nd loop, I managed to hit them just right and both of my bottles (1 – Gatorade, 1 – water) ejected at least 12 miles from the next aid station and I was left without any fluids. I had a good rhythm going so I decided to go on without picking up my bottles (big mistake).  My power continued to stay right where it was on the first loop, but as I kept moving forward I realized that fueling without any sort of fluids for so long is far less than ideal. I managed to get down the extra potato/rice cake I had, but that was it. When I finally made it to the aid station around mile 46 -48, I grabbed water and set out to catch up on the lost time. Given my extraordinary sweat abilities, there just wasn’t enough time to catch up, and although I managed to get in couple gels in the span of 20ish minutes (probably too much too soon), the damage was done.  To make things even more interesting, I also managed to hit/get hit by a thankfully very slow moving SUV. I was taking a 90 degree left hand turn, and the car was coming from the left hand side going straight through the intersection. I am an aggressive rider but I always watch the cops to make sure they stop traffic, and I could tell this guy wasn’t sure. In his defense, he probably didn’t realize how much faster I was coming through versus the people he was used to waving through for the last half an hour, but it was definitely scary.  I was already leaning left into the turn, with my left knee out and saw he wasn’t stopping. I tried to correct where I was going but not very successfully and I ended up slamming into his right front bumper/hood/light. Thankfully, we both managed to slow down enough that although the impact was a bit loud, I was able to leave the accident with only a few bruises and my bike was untouched since my left calf/quad took most of the impact. The impact knocked me over to the other side, but I managed to unclip and stay on my feet. I was so mad at the moment, that I immediately got back on my bike, put my head down and rode away. (Probably should have checked myself and my bike first, but I figured I'll do that while moving forward). The cop wanted me to pull over, but since I felt fine, I just got back on my bike and powered toward T2. I dropped my power a little bit after that incident but was able to keep my head in the game and re-focus.

All business here 

Thumbs up! 

T2: 2:14

This is one thing that I wish was changed as the dismount line is VERY far from the bike racks and you have to run on a grassy area with your bike for a very long time. This year even longer than years past. Since I leave my shoes on the pedals as I dismount the bike, my shoes are always a grassy/muddy/dirt filled mess when we are re-united post race.  

THE RUN: 1:33:37

I had high hopes and confidence for this run given my run training and my race 2 weeks ago at Quassy, but it became apparent that the events of the day (mostly consuming ½ of the fluids I normally would in a 70.3) were going to get the best of me. My HR was super high right of the bat, and no matter how hard I tried, it wasn’t going anywhere. I was taking in water and coke essentially every mile, but I just had very limited energy. Every time I tried to pick up the pace, I ended up going slower rather than faster! Since I was the 1st female, and 3rd overall human on the run course, it was also very very very lonely. Noone caught me, but I also had noone in my sight to catch. Good thing I got to see my coach every once in a while on his bike because he at least kept me pushing even if it didn’t result in the time we both knew I could run.  

Focused and ready but the energy just wasn't there 

I had long ignored my watch, because I knew that neither one of my pre-race goals whether it be running at least a 1:28 half marathon nor breaking that 4:30 70.3 barrier would happen.

It was about taking it one mile at a time and giving it all I had on the day. I crossed the line with my new course 70.3 PR (3:30 faster than last year), new 70.3 PR of 4:34:01 and a new PR of not peeing once in a 70.3 – Can you say “dehydrated”?

That was a painful run 

Hard to be disappointed with winning with a new 70.3 PR and I am not, but I know there is much more where that came from, and so now I go back to training, because by Timberman 70.3 in August, 4:30 won't stand a chance!

Oh that banner - that heavy banner! 

Three-peat baby! 

Thank you to all my sponsors – Landrys bicycles for always being there when I need something;  Trek for one speedy machine, PowerTap for the watts;  BlueSeventy for the most comfortable and fastest wetsuit that I love so much I decided to swim a bit extra in; PowerBar for keeping me fueled; EC3D for helping me recover day in/day out; RacePak for all the healthy snacks to keep me fueled every day;  Beet It for that little extra kick;  and of course Coach Jorge for coming up with the master plan to help me continue to get faster year after year, and all of YOU who either came out to support or followed from the comfort of your own home. 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Challenge Quassy and the official beginning of 2015 – The Year of Fearless

I couldn’t wait to race. It’s been a long time since IM Cozumel and after I properly and fully recovered after doing 2 IM’s in 6 weeks (I took 4 full weeks of no swim/bike or run without much complaining but I did make sure I was at least foam rolling, stretching etc.), I dove into offseason training with a swim/run focus. I spent a lot of time in the pool, and on the treadmill thanks to the Boston winter we had this year. I used to call the treadmill the “dreadmill”, but I embraced it and made the best of it. Hill repeats, speed work, you name it, I did it. It not only helped me physically, but also mentally. I actually have grown to really like it. There was no hiding from a particular pace. The choice was always mine – either keep the feet moving, reduce the speed or the incline or fall off. I am surprised the treadmill still works because I have definitely left my fair share of sweat puddles behind more than just once.

Once the weather started to get better, I took my fun outside, and to the track. I have done some track work before but on my own, and that’s just not the same as when you are being pushed by others.  If you are local and want come run in circles with me; we (E3 Training Solutions team) meet at the Brendan Grant Memorial Track in Belmont, MA at 6:30 Wednesday at 6:30pm. All levels are welcomed and the more the merrier. It’s fun – I promise! 

 I also swam quite a bit, and a lot faster than ever before. This winter I swam the best 100, 200 and 500 TTs and I can’t wait to translate that speed into open water now that I can finally get in without turning into an icicle in 2 seconds.

I have yet to mention what mega legs have been up to – yes – it’s no secret that the bike is my big strength. I may have not spent that much time on my Fireball but when I did, it was well worth it. Quality over quality approach for this girl. My big winter focus was to first increase my 5 minute power which to my surprise, I absolutely demolished.  I guess those all out, where is the puke bucket intervals paid off. 20 minute power – I am coming after you next! Living up to “mega legs” nickname doesn't come easy. 

But anyways, let’s fast forward to this past weekend. I couldn’t wait to toe the line. This was my 4th time racing on this course although for the first time under the Challenge umbrella, and I have to say Challenge put on a GREAT race! I went into Quassy wanting to test that swim/run combo and more importantly I wanted to stay in the moment throughout the day and be fearless. Fearless from the beginning to the end, fearless when it hurts, fearless when things get tough.

THE SWIM: 34:22 (4th AG, 14th overall female)

Although my official time is in the 34s, I swam more of a high 32 or low 33 as the timing mat wasn’t located right as you came out of the water. Regardless of time, and given my lack of open water practice this season (this was my 3rd time in open water in 2015), I felt great! It was a very cold morning so I made sure to get in a descent warm up. That definitely helped me with the swim start, because my feet/hands and face were already frozen so when I ran in, the water temperature didn’t bother me. I lined up in the 2nd row behind a fairly big guy who was swimming as part of a relay team so I assumed he would be a good swimmer. I was able to draft his hip, as well as some feet in front of me all the way to the first turn buoy, when things got a bit tougher with the sun directly in our faces. It was impossible to see any buoys until you were practically on top of them, so I just followed the caps, and bubbles in front of me. Lucky for me, I ended up swimming a fairly straight line with the exception of having to get around a few slower swimmers every now and then from the previous waves.  Once we made the final turn for the swim exit, visibility came back and I was able to swim on the buoy line the entire time. I never once wondered when the swim would end, and the buoys kept coming up quick! My arms/legs felt great, and if it wasn’t for the little extra buoyance, I wouldn’t even know I was wearing a wetsuit! The BlueSeventy Helix is THAT comfortable! I got out of the water feeling absolutely awesome, and ready to ride!  

THE BIKE: 2:40:25 (Fastest Female Bike Split by 7 min, 18th fastest including all men)

Getting on my bike, I felt great but due to the cooler temps it took a while to warm up. I was definitely very cold for a better part of the first 10 miles of the bike, and my quads felt like two frozen blocks of ice, but I don’t think it really affected my power. I felt great, and just put my head down and went to work. The road was quite congested in spots as my wave was the 2nd to last one and all male waves went ahead of us, but fortunately I didn’t run into too many issues given the nature of the hilly terrain.  I am quite used to screaming “On your left” and Sunday was no different.  Even though I was a bit cautious on some of the descents, I still topped off at 48.72 mph! No, I didn’t carry any extra bricks with me on those descents  – just potato/rice cakes /PowerBar gels to keep me fueled and one kick ass and comfortable bike fit! Aerodynamics matter – shocking, I know! 

I felt strong the entire ride (we are not going to talk about the fact that I somehow confused AP with NP and as a result rode a bunch of watts lower than what the plan was) I even pushed the pace a bit more in the last 10-15 miles to hopefully put more extra into my competition. My overall power was still very good and very close to my best 70.3 race power output ever, but little did I know, I really needed to drop the hammer (more on that later)  

T2: 0:52

What I didn’t realize until I started to take my feet out of my shoes before dismounting the bike is  just how frozen my toes were from the ride even though I wore toe warmers. I couldn’t feel anything at all, which made for an interesting flying dismount but I made it safe and sound, and sorry T2 crowd; I didn’t provide quite the entertainment I would have had I not made it ;) Helmet off, socks and shoes on and off I went.  

THE RUN: 1:33:58 (5th overall fastest female run, and a 4 min PR on a harder than before run course - new for 2015)

I really couldn't be happier with the way I executed this run.  I have been running really well in training, but I would lie if this course didn't intimidate me a bit. Trying to run a certain pace (they don’t call it the “Beast of the East” for nothing) on this course is near impossible, and so I set out to go by HR in the initial stages of the run. The goal was to run steady for 7-9 miles, and then just empty the tank. Advice/instruction is one thing, but execution is another. I knew the only way to run well on this course is to not be scared, stay in the moment & be “fearless”.  Paying attention to pace really wouldn't do me any good.

Since I was the first female on the run course (no pro race took place), I had my own lead biker! Last time I had one was at then Rev3 South Anderson where I ended up running my best 13.1 off the bike with a 1:29 split! I love lead bikers! I was off to a good start.  Well except that my feet were two blocks of ice, but mind over matter come mile 3, I was good to go. I left T1 behind a few men and one by one caught and passed them all but 1 who eventually pulled a little bit away from me. I was working, but I was in control, moving well, and keeping my HR around where I wanted to be. I learned I had a 10 min lead on the 2nd female at the start of the run. I have NEVER had such a great cushion, but little did I know it wasn’t going to be enough.

Come mile 6, my coach caught up to me on the bike and told me my lead is down to 4 minutes (From 10 min to 4 minutes in 6 miles). He has been known to tell me in the past that people are closer than they really are to make me push harder and so I assumed just that, and actually laughed a bit on the inside about his a bit ridiculous math. I had just dropped a couple of sub 7 min miles, and this girl is taking 1 minute per mile away from me? Yeah, right …. Funny coach, funny! Mirinda Carfrae isn’t racing is she?  I kept running, focusing on one mile at a time. 

I was running hard, but still in control and right where I wanted to be. When I got to mile 7.5ish (for those that have done the course, you then take a left hand turn and go down a longish hill – same hill that you have to go back up toward the finish line later), and at that time coach Jorge caught me again to tell me my lead was down to 2 minutes. I stopped internalizing my thoughts, and just yelled out – are you serious? Hoping for no, just kidding – I heard yes – I am serious, and you better run as hard as you can because she is only 2 min away and she is going to catch you.

Game on. I literally threw myself down the hill, running sub 6 min pace and absolutely trashing my quads – at mile 7.5. 

About to throw myself down the hill and drop my running companion in the process 

My old self would have thought ahead and wondered how I will get through the next 5.5 miles, but not anymore! “Fearless” stepped in, and I stayed in the moment. At this point I was running hard and continued to take one mile at a time. I saw a low 6:30s mile go by and thought nothing of it. The steepest hills on the course were yet to come and I didn’t care, I just kept running and before I knew it, I had caught that one last guy that ran away from me in the early stages of the run. I caught him, and I passed him – on a 14% grade uphill – I used to suck at uphill running. Walking would have probably been faster, but I kept moving even though I really wanted to stop (bad). I crested that hill, passed an aid station and not shortly after that (probably mile 9.5 – 10) heard the volunteers telling the 2nd female that the 1st female (me) is right there! I am not going to lie – I hated that but at the same time, I was giving it my all. Jodie (the eventual winner) had passed me like I was standing. I tried really hard to keep up, even running another 6:30 mile but even at that pace she was still pulling away from me. Not long after that she was out of my sights, and I just had one more little hill to climb before the finish line.

Losing such a large lead in 13.1 miles when running well (for me) sucks big time, but now knowing the caliber of a runner that Jodie is (she ran 1:21 and has met the A standard (2:37) for the US marathon trials in February – her PB in marathon is 2:34 – I would need a bike for that ;)), I have nothing to be ashamed of. She was the better triathlete on the day, beating me by 2 minutes in her first ever triathlon. Watch out for this girl, because she has a bright future ahead! But so do I because I am not a different racer and there is more to come where that came from.

I didn’t end up on the top step of the overall podium this time, but I am walking away with a ton of positives & confidence,ready to take on the next challenge as I continue to prep and focus on IM Kona this October.  

Patriot 70.3 – a great local race organized by SunMultisport is up next!   

OVERALL TIME: 4:51:36 (2nd Overall Female)