Race Report: PolarBear Sprint Tri

On Saturday I completed my first tri of the season! Last week I was going to write a goals post for the PolarBear, but then I realized I didn’t even train for this race and thus I had no real goals. This race really just snuck up on me. I registered for it back in December when it first opened for registration, and then I forgot about it until about two weeks ago.

I hadn’t swam in almost two months, I rode my bike outside for the first time this year a week ago and also did my first and only brick prior to this race then as well. Nothing like being super prepared for this race! I raced the PolarBear last year and had a decent race, even with my knee injury. Last year I thought I was going to DNF because I could barely run. This year at least my knee was fine. I was just worried about my severe lack of fitness.

Before the masses hit the pool

Before the masses hit the pool

The Swim

Since this is a pool swim there were 10 waves of swimmers that spanned from 8:30-10:30am. I racked my bike around 7:45am and then had to wait until 10:30 to swim, because I was so lucky and was assigned the last swim wave. Urgh! Most people were done with the race even before I started. Reason number one I hate pool swim tris. I swam for the first time in about 2 months on Wednesday night. I knew going into the PolarBear that was swim was going to bad. That is was. I shared a lane with another girl who totally lapped me. At least I flip-turned the entire 525 yards! I’m the type of swimmer that needs a lot of warm-up time before I can settled in and find my groove. I’m a much better open-water swimmer as well, since I suck at kicking. I felt like drowning throughout the swim, but managed to muscle my way through it. I was never out of breath so I could have pushed it a bit more, but I just wanted to survive in one piece. Last year I swam a 9:20 or 1:47/100 yard pace. This year I was definitely slower.

Swim: 9:54 (1:53/100 yds) 5/15 AG; 114/253 OA

The Bike

The only bike that I have ridden in 2 months was a spin bike. I was doing super good building back my power from December to mid-February and then I stopped. I rode my bike for the first time outside (and in 2 months) last Sunday. I had no expectations for this bike leg. I just didn’t want to embarrass myself too much. I made a quick transition. On the way out of transition I lost the straw to my water bottle and thus had no way to drink any water on my bike. I was super thirsty too, so this was not a pleasant situation. It was only 11 miles and I could get water at mile 1 of the run. I survived. There was quite a headwind on the bike course. I don’t remember it being this bad last year, but maybe it was. At least it had warmed up a bit during my 3 hour wait! A few guys passed me on the bike and I played cat-and-mouse with another woman racked next to me in transition. She passed me and then I quickly passed her again. She passed me again about half way through the course. As she rode by me she commented that I was tough to catch. I later caught up to her in T2 so she didn’t finish much before me. I had a decent bike considering very little training. Last year I finished the bike in 36:06 and this year I finished in 36:47. I was only about 40 seconds slower this year so I’ll take it! And as a bonus, I averaged 142 watts with a VI of 1.05. That’s really good for me!

Bike: 36:47 (18.8mph) 2/15 AG; 126/253 OA

The Run

Last year I wasn’t even sure if I would be able to run. This year I knew I could, but it would be slower than molasses! I’ve been running a few times a week lately, but focused on slow, MAF training style to build my aerobic base. I haven’t done any speed work since 2012. I felt okay on the run. I was in a comfortable pace. I wasn’t out of breath, but it was work. I could have pushed it more, but I just went with it. I passed some people and a few guys passed me. For the most part I was running alone. There were no age group marking on the legs this year, which I did not like. I could not tell who was in my age group. I passed the woman who I played cat-and-mouse with on the bike. I chatted with her for a minute or two and then finally passed her for good. Most of the run course is on trails and grass. It’s not my favorite footing. I’d much rather run on pavement. Last year I managed to hobble a 28:04 run with my knee injury. This year I was slower at 28:36, but I’m pretty sure it was long this year. My Garmin read 3.2 miles instead of the supposed 3 miles.

Run: 28:36 (9:32/mile) 6/15 AG; 146/253 OA

Overall, it was an okay race. I didn’t have high expectations for this race since I didn’t train for it. Honestly, I thought about skipping it, but decided to use it to “brush off the dust” and perhaps motivate myself to begin training more seriously for Timberman 70.3 in August. But, right now, my focus is on my upcoming vacation to Belize and Guatemala in a week! I ended up placing 3rd in my age group and finishing in 1:17:47. Last year I finished in 1:15:44. I was within a minute of the 2nd place girl as well. Next race is most likely the Norway Tri in July. Maybe I’ll actually traing for this one…

My "trophy"

My “trophy”

Finish: 1:17:47; 3/15 AG; 41/119 W; 132/253 OA

~ Happy Training!


Common Triathlon Training Metrics



Over the past two weeks I have outlined how to conduct a heart rate test and a functional threshold power test; but, I realized that I should have started from the beginning. What are the various training metrics that a triathlete should use?

Coaches, athletes, and endurance sport authors love to talk training metrics and terminology. Lactate threshold. VO2max. Cardiac output. Heart rate. Power. Rate of perceived effort. The list can go on and on…

Let’s look at a few key metrics that any triathlete or endurance sport athlete should understand, or at least a basic understanding.

  • Heart Rate – The very basic definition of a heart rate is the number of heartbeats per unit of time. Heartbeats are created when blood flows through the heart and the values open and close creating an audible sound. The normal human heart beats at 60-100 beats per minute (bpm). This, of course, depends on various factors such as fitness, age, stress, etc. Heart rate in fitness is an important metric because it can measure an athlete’s fitness. Through regular endurance training, the heart becomes stronger and thus can pump more blood with each beat. As a result, the heart doesn’t have to work as hard, and the athlete’s heart rate at rest and during exercise will be lower. Measuring an athlete’s heart rate over time is a good way to measure improvement in an athlete’s endurance fitness. See how to conduct a heart rate test for more information on heart rate-based training.
  • Cardiac Output – Cardiac output is measured as the amount of blood that the heart pumps through the body at a single minute. An increase in cardiac output is important because more blood is delivered to the important organs, such as the brain and liver. Cardiac output increases with regular endurance training. During endurance sports, cardiac output is an important metric because it means that more blood is delivered to the working skeletal muscles during a workout. As a result, more oxygen is transported to the muscle cells to produce energy and other metabolic waste by-products are removed from the working muscles more rapidly.
  • VO2max – Endurance training not only improves cardiovascular fitness, but also improves lung capacity during exercise. Endurance training generally improves an athlete’s respiratory rate (breathes per minute) and tidal volume (amount of air per breath). Improvements in respiratory rate and tidal volume can contribute to an increase in maximal oxygen uptake, also known as VO2max. VO2max is defined as the highest volume of oxygen that a person’s body is capable of taking in and using during aerobic energy production. An improvement in VO2max is important for endurance athletes because it means more oxygen is available to working muscles for energy production during exercise.
  • Lactate Threshold – Lactate threshold represents the point at which the athlete’s body requires a greater contribution from the glycolysis energy system (anaerobic system) and a smaller contribution from the oxidative phosphorylation energy system (aerobic system). At this point, lactate production exceeds the lactate removal rate and blood lactate levels increase. One of the primary goals of endurance training should be to increase an athlete’s lactate threshold.
  • Power – Power is primarily a cycling metric. It is simply defined as the rate of doing work, where work is equal to force times distance. Power is measured via a power meter on a bike. See How to Conduct a Functional Threshold Power test for more information on power-based training.
  • Rate of Perceived Effort – Rate of Perceived Effort, or RPE, is a psychophysiological scale, meaning that it calls on the mind and body to rate one’s perception of effort. The traditional scale called the Borg Scale is based on a scale of 6-20, where a score of 6 is equivalent of no exertion and a score of 20 is equivalent of maximum exertion. Many coaches and trainers, myself included, will use a scale of 1-10 for easier understanding by the athlete/client.

Above are several common exercise physiology and training metrics terminology that are often thrown around by athletes, coaches, and endurance sport authors. Of course, there are many more that we could discuss.

~ Happy Training! 

How to Conduct a Functional Threshold Power (FTP) Test

Power meters are becoming the new standard on bicycles today, especially for competitive athletes. They are certainly an expensive investment, but a worthwhile one if you’re serious about training with data.

Powermeter = LOVE!

Powermeter = LOVE (somedays)!

I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions that I have a love/hate relationship with my power meter. Heart rate-based training on the bike is a great training metric, but it can only do so much. I always liken my power meter to a truth-meter because it does not lie about my current bike fitness and riding abilities.

Power meters are extremely effective tools for training and racing. For long-course triathletes, like myself, I find my power meter acts as a governor for my bike leg because I know if I go out too hard, it will only be time until I blow up.

Most triathletes love spending money on new gear, whether we truly need it or not. A lot of triathletes want fancy race wheels because they make our bikes look fast and cool. Race wheels can easily set you back a couple of grand and the same with a power meter. Now if you had to choose between a power meter or race wheels, what do you choose? A power meter should probably be the correct answer and here’s why:

  • A power meter can help you build your engine. Sure, race wheels can shave a few seconds to a few minutes off your time, but an effective and strong engine (aka YOU) can shave even more time off your bike leg!
  • A power meter can help you monitor your efforts over time and keep you working within your correct zone. For example, if it is extremely windy out you will work harder (i.e. push more watts) than if there was no wind. If you have a power meter, you know you are working harder and thus not fight the headwind by pushing a faster pace (i.e. speed) like your competitors sans power meter.
  • A power meter can give you a highly accurate measurement of your bike fitness over a season. A power meter can be used for benchmark testing unlike a lot of heart rate testing that can have multiple variables with results.

There are various metrics that you can measure over a season with a power meter. I won’t get into that today because the terms can be confusing. If you work with a coach or train with a power meter regularly you are probably familiar with the terms such as normalized power, functional threshold power, critical power, etc.

Today I want to discuss Functional Threshold Power (FTP) because it is often used as the main benchmark testing for bike fitness.

Functional Threshold Power can simply be defined as the wattage an athlete can produce and maintain over a 1 hour time period without fatigue. FTP is relative to nearly all cyclists. It is important for an athlete to test their FTP at the beginning of their base training cycle to determine the correct training intensity zones and also to determine the benchmark for the season. Athletes should periodically re-test their FTP to compare against the benchmark test to observe fitness.


You might want a Puke Bucket!

You might want a Puke Bucket!


FTP Test Protocol:

  1. Warm-up: 20 minutes at endurance pace/easy to moderate pace; 3 x 1 minute fast pedaling (100+rpm) with 1 minute rest between; 5 minutes easy pedaling
  2. Main Set: 5 minutes all-out effort; 10 minutes easy pedaling; 20 minute time-trial
  3. Cool Down: 10-15 minute easy pedaling


  • Keep cadence normal (i.e. 90-95rpm) throughout the test
  • Pace yourself during the 20 minute time trial – it helps to break the time into small sections
  • If you are conducting this test outside, try riding up a steady climb or into a headwind

How to Calculate Your FTP:

  1. Download your data. TrainingPeaks is my preferred software program.
  2. Figure out your average power for the 20 minute time trial. In TrainingPeaks you can highlight the 20 minute interval and it will show average power for that time period.
  3. Take your average power number and multiple it by 0.95 for your FTP number.

Note: The reason you multiple your average power number by 0.95 is because you are subtracting 5% from it. A true FTP test would involve an athlete holding their highest average watts for 1 hour, but since most of us cannot focus that long, we shorten the test to 20 minutes. The 20 minutes is a shorter time period, and thus the athlete generally uses more of their anaerobic capacity and this skews the wattage data by about 5% over a 60-minute effort.

Now what? You know your FTP number and now you can use it to calculate your power-based training zones. The zones are below:

  • Active Recovery – Less than 55% of FTP
  • Endurance – 56-75% of FTP
  • Tempo – 76-90% of FTP
  • Lactate Threshold – 91-105% of FTP
  • VO2max – 106-120% of FTP
  • Anaerobic Capacity – 121-150% of FTP
  • Neuromuscular Power – N/A (maximal number of watts you can push for less than 30secs)

Most triathletes will train predominantly in the endurance and tempo zones, but it is important to include the other training zones in your training plan as well. A coach can help you better plan this type of work with your training plan.

It is important to periodically re-test your FTP to see improvements. If you don’t see improvement over time, it’s probably time to change-up your training routine!

~ Happy Training!

2014 Goals: A Year of Adventure, Stability, and Growth


This year I decided to pick three words that I hope will describe the upcoming 365 days in 2014. Adventure. Stability. Growth. These three words have multiple meanings to me, but in summary the words are synonymous to the goals that I will work towards achieving this year.

2013 started off a bit rough, but as the months passed on, I started to move my life in the right direction – where I wanted to go. You can read my 2013 recaps HERE and HERE if you missed them last week.

2014 Goals:


  • Grow in my job – I have been in my current job for just over 3 months now and I really love it thus far. Throughout my public health graduate studies, I would have never thought that I would find a job in healthcare technology. It was a topic that never really interested me; however, now that I work in the field, I love it. Not only is healthcare technology important in the United States, but globally, where my heart lies in global health and international development. My job is challenging and rewarding. Each week I am learning new skills that will only improve my work quality and also aid in my future career development. In 2014 I look forward to working hard, learning new skills, and furthering my future career path.
  • Grow my business – If you have read my blog for a while you have probably noticed the changes over the past couple of months. I plan to officially launch my new business in a couple of weeks. I started my own coaching and personal training business because it is my passion and I find great satisfaction in helping people achieve their goals. I don’t plan to make a million dollars in my business, but a few extra dollars to help pay my student loans would be nice. I have some interesting plans and opportunities in the future so stay tuned for future developments! 🙂
  • Learn French – This has been one of my goals from early fall 2013. I want a future career in global public health and international development, thus I need to become bilingual, or at least competent at a second language. I’ve been slowly practicing my language skills via software programs, but I will continue in 2014 with french lessons at The Language Exchange in Portland. I don’t naturally pick up language quickly, so this is going to be a tough goal, but it is necessary and important for my future career goals.


  • Become more financially stable – The last couple of years have been a bit tough financially. Last year I took a risk with my career and it did not pan out as well as I hoped. The last couple of years were also riddled with unexpected purchases, i.e. lots of car repairs and health bills. My graduate student loans also kicked in and I quickly realized that about a third of my monthly income goes directly to SallieMae and Nelnet. Awesome. With my new job I received an increase in pay from my old one. I need to buy a new car some point this coming year and thus I have begun to put some cash away for that big-ticket item. I’m still driving my little car until it dies for good (or is going to cost me a zillion dollars to fix). I also plan to stash some money away again into my emergency fund since it became low due to said expensive car repairs. For the past few months I have created budgets and reviewed my spending habits to determine where I can cut back. Going into 2014 I feel pretty comfortable with my monthly budget and I have been researching ways to live more frugally. Stay tuned for that journey.
  • Travel – It’s ironic that one of my main goals is to save more money and live frugally, but I also seek adventure outside the US. I haven’t been to a new country in a couple of years and thus, 2014 is the year I discover a new part of the world. My mind has gone crazy with ideas, but I yet to commit to anything yet. I may travel to South America with a friend, go on a medical mission to a developing country, or take a solo trip to Southeast Asia or Europe. I love daydreaming about traveling the world and I know this year will be the year of an adventure. Anyone looking for a travel buddy? 🙂
  • Volunteer more – This past fall I joined the Junior League of Portland, Maine and have met some pretty fabulous and inspiring women. The organization is built on giving back to the community, which is one of the main reasons I joined. I look forward to volunteering around the community with the JLP, but I also hope to give back to my community in other ways. I have been researching various organizations related to my career interests and will be making contact soon so hopefully I can help in any way needed.
  • Read a book once a month (or more) – I love to read and you periodically will have book reviews on my blog. For a collection of old book reviews click HERE. I’m an avid reader and I usually read daily, whether job related papers or pleasure reading. My goal in 2014 is to finish a book at least once a month; however, I would like to read more than just 12 books a month. Heck, in the past 5 days I have almost finished all three Hunger Games books. 🙂 I have a stack of half-finished books so I will start my reading list there.


Health & Athletic:


  • Injury Prevention – I plan to focus a lot this year on injury prevention and prehab. I was struck with a lot of hip/knee/IT-band issues last triathlon season and I don’t want a repeat this year. Now that I’m confident that my chiropractor and I have identified the underlying cause of my chronic right hip issue, I know where to target my prehab exercises. Much of my issues are fascia-related, which often take 12-18 months to fully heal and thus it will be a long-term goal to return to normal human movement patterns.
  • Weight – I’ve mentioned before that I’ve struggled with disorder eating in the past. I still have relapses often and thus I need to focus on living healthy and forgive myself when I make mistakes. I’m so use to negative talk about my body image that sometimes it is often tough to shake a stick at it. I’m slowly accepting my body and learning to create a healthy body image through exercise and a “diet” that works for my body. I’ve played with different “diets” (note: I use the term diet to refer to food in general, not your typical diet to lose wieght) over the past couple of years and have discovered what works and doesn’t work for me. I will continue on this journey over the next 12 months.
  • Triathlon – I announced my tentative 2014 race schedule about a month ago. You can view it HERE. My “A” race is Timberman 70.3 in August with a few local races spattered in between. I tried to keep my race schedule light this year to save money (racing is expensive!), making sure I keep my body healthy, and also to enjoy other fun things in Maine, like hiking, rock climbing, and go to the beach with friends just for fun (apparently brining your wetsuit to swim is frown upon with “normal” people). I would love to qualify for Age Group Nationals. If I qualify for this coming season then I won’t go because Timberman is so close, but I would consider 2015 depending on the locale. My very, very far-reaching goal who be to qualify for 70.3 Worlds at Timberman but the chances of that happening would be that of me winning the lottery (and I would actually have to purchase a lottery ticket to do so)!


So what are your 2014 goals? Anything fun and exciting? Want to travel together?

~ Happy Training!


A Year in Review: 2013 – Part I

Since today is the last day of 2013 I should probably start my Year in Review posts. Hmm… I’ll keep this one to more of the highlights and photos. But, 2013 was a good year. It started off a bit rough, but ended with many good things happening. I can’t complain.



January was a month of ups and downs. I just finished my MPH degree in December and began my job search. Some decisions made by my boss at work made me extremely stressed since I wasn’t sure I was going to have a job. This caused me become sick often, which hindered a lot of my tri training, which began on the 1st of the year. Things at the gym were also unusually slow so professionally and financially I was stressed. However, I got my degree in the mail so it made things more real!


Picking the pace up!

Picking the pace up!

I ran the annual Mid-Winter Classic 10-Miler again. It went way better than my disaster of 2012 race where I ran sick and came really close to DNFing. However, I still treated the day more of a training run than anything because I was learning I lost all my running aerobic fitness over my Fall running hiatus due to plantar fasciitis. I also learned important lessons in time management. Working three jobs and training for an Ironman is not fun or easy to do.


My mother, my sister and I (1989)

My mother, my sister and I (1989)

Azul and I celebrated our One Year anniversary. I love that bike! I also celebrated the 4 year anniversary of my mother passing, which is never easy to do. I miss her everyday.




I started April off with a bang! I ran the Race the Runways Half-Marathon again, this time as a training run. It was insanely cold and windy, but I had great company throughout the race. The next day I developed a 102 fever and was out for a couple of days. Go figure! Towards the end of the month I began to develop a bit of a twinge in my right knee. I also went to the USAT Level One Coaching clinic and became a certified coach!


Tammy, Myself, Marisa, and Beth - all taking home hardware after a great race!

Tammy, Myself, Marisa, and Beth – all taking home hardware after a great race!

That twinge in my right knee developed into full-fledge IT-Band issues that plagued me for the rest of the summer. I managed to race the PolarBear Tri… barely. Miraculously, I placed 3rd in my age group.


Okay, not from my rides this week... but from the Patriot Hald Aquabike

Patriot Half Aquabike

My run training was extremely limited. I saw my chiropractor at least once a week to help heal my IT-Band issues. I dropped down from the Half-Ironman to the Half Aqua Bike at the Patriot Half. I had a good day, pacing myself like I would at Lake Placid. However, I almost ran over both turkeys and geese on the bike.



I became an Ironman! I celebrated yet another epic 4th of July with my favorite family and began my final build to the big day. My Ironman day went as planned. My knee held out to mile 18ish of the run before I was forced to walk the rest of the way, but I finished my goal, and that was to become an Ironman.


Enjoying a day at the beach

Enjoying a day at the beach

August was a recovery month. I spent a lot of time with friends and family. Towards the end of the month I began running again slowly just to rebuild my horrible running fitness. I had several promising job interviews. I also left my job at the gym I was working at to go off on my own to start my own business.


An example of pubis symphysis seperation - clearly an extreme case (Source)

An example of pubis symphysis separation – clearly an extreme case (Source)

I finally got offered a job! A great deal of stress was lifted off of me. I continued running easily until my pelvis decided to twist itself again. Awesome. I then began another running hiatus and began my yoga addiction.



Hot Yoga Time!

I became addicted to hot yoga and it was fabulous. I saw my chiropractor at least once a week to convince my pelvis not to split into two. I was happy as a clam at my new job and I joined the Junior League of Portland, Maine.


One of my favorite quotes of the year!

One of my favorite quotes of the year!

I continued with my yoga binge, loving every minute of it. I was slowly cleared to return to “normal” training. I mostly rode my bike, but ran a few times. It hurt.


Skiing at Shawnee Peak

Skiing at Shawnee Peak

I skied for the first time since my mother died almost five years ago with a friend. More to come of this in the next week or so. I’ve slowly been building my aerobic base again, mostly through cycling.

~ Happy Training and Happy 2014!!

How to Find a Triathlon Coach

So, you’re thinking about hiring a coach to help you reach your endurance sport goals. But, where do you start? Finding and hiring a coach can be a difficult or easy process depending on who you know and what you need and want in a coach. I like to think that searching for the right coach for you is like dating. There are a lot of good coaches out there, but you need to find the one that works for you. Below is a guide to help you along your journey to finding the right coach for you.

  1. Determine your goals – Do you want to race an Ironman or a sprint tri? Do you need swim-focused training? Are you trying to qualify for Kona or the USA team? Figuring out your short-term and long-term athletic goals is important in identifying the right coach for you. Plus, every coach will ask you what your goals are so it’s best to be prepared anyway. Some coaches specialize in long-course athletes, while others work with short-course athletes. Some love working with beginner athletes and developing their potential from the start, while others prefer to work with athletes that are a bit more experienced. Some coaches have strong backgrounds in one particular sport and thus maybe you need their expertise in that one sport to turn your weakness into your strength. Determining your goals not only helps you figure out what you need and want in a coach, but will help your future coach determine your training plan.
  2. Determine location and communication needs – Do you need to work with a coach in-person? Or can you work with a “virtual” coach through TrainingPeaks and email? Working with a coach in-person is probably relatively rare in the triathlon world, but it can definitely happen depending where you live and what the availability and what services are offered by the coach. This option is most likely more expensive than a “virtual” coach. A large majority of coaches use training software, such as TrainingPeaks, to deliver training plans to their athletes. It allows athletes to upload their training technology devices and provide feedback on each training session to the coach. At this point it is important to consider what level of communication you need from your coach. Are you the type of person that needs to talk to your coach on a daily basis? Do you want access to your coach via email, phone, text, smoke signal, etc.? Every coach will let you know how much access you will be able to have from them. It is important to remember that each coach has a life too and may not be at your becking call 24/7.
  3. Determine the type of personality you can work with best – This is the part that I equate with dating. You need to find a coach that you get along with well. At this point I would suggest creating a pros and cons list of traits that you want and need in a coach. Are you the type of person that needs to be praised after every workout? Do need extra guidance for certain workouts? Do you prefer a coach that will tell you like it is even if it’s bad? Every coach has a unique personality. You might find that you want the same coach your friend is using because of his or hers reputation, but then you may realize you two don’t get along well. Once you figure out your pros and cons list, go through and star the traits that you need in a coach. The rest are the wants that you can live without if you have to, but still try and find someone that meets at least some of those traits. Reach out and have a conversation with a few coaches and see how well you hit it off with each of them. Remember that most coaches will want to keep your relationship professional. There are a few coaches that do become friends with their clients, so keep this in the back of your head when looking for a coach.
  4. Determine cost and affordability – Cost is probably the biggest factor in people choosing to hire a coach or not. Personally, I believe it’s the best investment I have made in my triathlon career. I first hired a coach in 2012 and it was by far the best decision I made because she truly formed me into the athlete I am today and also inspired me to become a coach myself to give back to other athletes looking to reach the next level in their triathlon careers. Determine what you can afford each month for a coach and then search around for coaches that are within your budget. Most coaches are in the range of $150-250 a month depending on their education and athletic and coaching background. It doesn’t hurt to ask a coach too if perhaps you could work out a deal if they are really out of your price range. However, they may not agree so don’t get your hopes up too much.

Now that you have determined what you need and want in a coach, where do you find a coach? A great way is through word-of-mouth. Ask your tri buddies who they use and what they like and dislike about their coach. And, as a reminder, just because your bestie loves their coach, doesn’t mean their coach is the best fit for you. Also you can use the coach finder tool through TrainingPeaks or google triathlon coaches to find other coaches.

Here are some other thoughts that you should consider:

  • Does education matter to you? Most coaches are USAT certified coaches. There are varying levels ranging from Level I (entry level) to Level III. A coach that is USAT certified must pass a test to be certified after attending a two-day seminar and complete CEU courses to remain certified. They also have coaching insurance. Some coaches may have additional certifications in cycling, swimming, personal training, etc. Few coaches also may have degrees in exercise science. Chances are the more educated the coach, the more expensive they will be.
  • Is your coach a top competitive athlete? Many people seem to pick their coach based on the coach’s athletic achievements. Oh, they qualified for Kona? They must be a rockstar coach! Just because your coach is a rockstar athlete does not mean they are a rockstar coach. Chances are they have their own coach that has helped them reach their achievements. Is it important that your coach be active in racing? Are they racing at a high level? If they are, they may not have a lot of time to devote to you and your training needs. Of course, you probably do want a coach that has or is currently competing in the sport (I know I would). There are numerous awesome coaches out there that may not be competing at the upper levels of the sport that are amazing coaches. Look at Chrissie Wellington’s old coach, Brett Sutton. Sutton was not a strong swimmer, but was an amazing coach (he coached the 2000 Australian Olympic swim team with a great deal of controversy though) and has coached many world champion triathletes. (Side note: Sutton is a controversial coach, but he does know how to produce champions)
  • What is their roster size? Some coaches run their businesses as their full-time gig, others do it part-time. What is their athlete roster size? Do they coach 5 athletes or do they coach 25 athletes? How much time will they devote to you? Is this important to you? This question ties in with some of the other factors mentioned above, such as communication needs.
  • Do you want extra benefits like a tri kit and/or clothing? Some coaches have “race teams” and thus have tri kits for their athletes. Do you want to wear a tri kit from your coach? Some people want to feel like they are part of a team and want to represent their coach’s brand. There is nothing wrong with this because I have seen some pretty sweet team kits out there, but is this important to you? Do you want extra benefits?

Don’t be afraid to approach perspective coaches to pick their brains to determine if they are right for you. Most athletes tend to work with a coach for about two years and then will switch to a different coach to try something new. Coaching may be an expensive investment, but I find it has the best return on investment in helping you reach your goals!

Now, for a shameless plug for myself, since I can, I am still accepting athletes for 2014 so contact me above through the “contact me” tab and we can see if we are a good fit for each other.

~ Happy Training!

2013 Triathlete Gift Giving Guide


Perhaps you’re a last minute shopper like me? Yes, I generally wait until December 24th to do my holiday shopping. Nothing like a little procrastination, right? I think grad school taught me that…

Triathletes are usually pretty easy to shop for since we typically like the latest and greatest technology that will make us fitter, stronger, and faster. Many triathletes have no problem shelling out $10,000 for the top of the line tri bike. I wish I had that problem…

However, sometimes it may be hard to shop for a triathlete because we tend to buy the newest technology as it comes out. If a triathlete has been in the sport for several years they may also have just about all the core equipment and some of the bells and whistles already, so what do you buy them?

Here is a list of items of various price tags to meet anyone’s budget and the needs of the triathlete in your life:

  1. Coaching – Perhaps your triathlete already has a coach or is thinking about hiring a coach in the New Year to help them meet their triathlon goals. Hint, hint – I’m still accepting athletes for 2014! Coaching is a great investment that any triathlete will see huge rewards from. Consider paying their coaching fees for a month or two or even the whole year!
  2. Race Entry Fee – Race entries can be expensive for any triathlete, especially if they are racing multiple events in a season. Ironman races can cost up to $700, while even the smaller local races can still cost about $100. Paying a race entry fee for your athlete will sure make them happier and more driven to do well in that race, just for you of course!
  3. Gift Certificate for a Bike Tune-up – Regular bike cleaning and tune ups are part of every bike owner’s yearly maintenance. Unfortunately, many of us tend to skip these very important things in favor of buying gear. A bike tune up several weeks before a big race can ensure that the triathlete’s bike is in working order and can make them faster! Who doesn’t love free speed!?
  4. New Tires – Bike tires are like car tires – they need to be changed when they become too worn out. If you live in an area where in snows a lot then chances are the triathlete in your life has to spend countless hours on the trainer riding to nowhere. Some triathletes buy special trainer tires (which are a great holiday gift idea too!) or just use their regular tire, which will be completely worn by the beginning of spring. They would love a new set of tires for race season! Make sure you check their current tires on their bike to ensure you buy the correct ones.
  5. Swim Pass or Swim Lessons – Little known fact… swimming is expensive! Living in Maine, I personally don’t have a lot of options for indoor swimming pools. I would estimate that we have about 15 pools across the entire state. For those of you living in Boston or New York, you probably have 15 pools in one block! Lap swimming adds up quickly! Most pools in the Greater Portland area average $3-$5 a pop and if you swim 3 times a week that’s about $60 a month! Consider buying your triathlete a swim pass at their local swimming hole and/or swimming lessons. Even the most advanced swimmers can gain something from a swim coach.
  6. Gift Certificate to a Running Store – Support your local running store by getting your triathlete a gift certificate! That way your athlete can pick out their favorite running shoes, winter running clothes, or even stock up on sports nutrition. Win, win for everyone!
  7. Race Wheels – Every triathlete dreams of having fancy race wheels, myself included! Race wheels are expensive, hence why I don’t have any. If you don’t have $2000 to purchase your favorite triathlete some new wheels then consider paying their race wheel rental fee at their big race this season. TriBike Transport, Rev3, and many bike shops offer race wheel rentals on the big day for a fraction of the cost of purchasing a set.
  8. Body Glide – Every triathlete needs some Body Glide! It’s a tough job squeezing into your wetsuit on race day. Body Glide makes the perfect stocking stuffer!
  9. IronWar – Matt Fitzgerald’s book on the 1989 Ironman World Championships tells the grueling story of the battle between the world’s two best athletes – Mark Allen and Dave Scott. This book is an epic page-turner and your favorite triathlete won’t want to put it down until it’s done!
  10. Massage – Triathletes often spend too much money on buying the best gear and technology and not enough on the stuff that matters the most – proper recovery! Massage is a great and proven effective recovery tool. Consider buying your triathlete a gift certificate to their favorite sports massage therapist. Your triathlete will thank you later!

~ Happy Training & Happy Holidays!  

My 2014 Race Schedule


I'm a member of Team Water.org (plus I thought this was funny) :-)

I’m a member of Team Water.org (plus I thought this was funny) 🙂

As much as I have been enjoying my extended off-season, I’m getting physically and mentally restless. Luckily I have been able to stay active through yoga and my bike on the trainer. And thankfully I just got cleared to run and also to return to strength training so my activity levels can soon “normal” swim, bike, run.

For the past couple of weeks I have been putting together my “Yearly Training Plan” or YTP (also known as an annual training plan or ATP). For the past couple of years I have been guided by an excellent coach who transformed me into the athlete I am today (well, not quite the broken down athlete at the moment, but the one that set PR after PR over the past couple of seasons). This year I have decided to coach myself, which could end up being the best decision or the worst decision on the planet. Only time will tell…

Speadsheets galore!

Speadsheets galore!

In order to construct my YTP I needed to decide what races I planned on racing in 2014. It was a tough decision to make. A lot of races have been opening up for registration and I see on Facebook and Twitter what races people are signing up for in 2014. I’m an impulse race register. If I see a friend doing a race then I automatically want to do the race too. It’s kind of a problem, especially since I pledged to myself to only race the small, local races this season in order to focus on healing my body, getting faster and stronger, and growing my own coaching business.


I was debating on signing up for a Half-Ironman this coming summer. It’s my favorite distance and when Ironman was advertising the price of $199 for Timberman 70.3 in New Hampshire I got suckered in. I opened up my wallet and took out my darn credit card. So much for self-control…

So without further ado, here is my tentative 2014 race season:

4/5/14 – Race the Runways Half-Marathon

5/3/14 – PolarBear Sprint Tri

6/8/14 – Pirate Sprint Tri

7/??/14 – Norway Sprint Tri

8/17/14 – Timberman 70.3

10/19/14 – BayState Marathon (maybe)

Those are the major races that I plan on racing in 2014 with Timberman being my big “A” race. I would absolutely love to qualify for Worlds (most likely a roll-down slot), but my chances are extremely slim. I checked last year’s results and there was over 100 women in the 25-29AG with the winner going close to 5:00. Speedy, speedy women!

I will probably register for Beach to Beacon again this year and sprinkle in some 5ks here and there. I may or may not run BayState in October. It will depend how my run fitness is going (and if it comes back)! I want to focus on quality versus quantity in 2014. Of course, everything is always subject to change.

What races are you signing up or have signed up for in 2014?

~ Happy Training!

Book Review: Run or Die

I have major “reader ADD.” I have a huge stack of books sitting on my bed stand waiting to be cracked open for the first time or partially read and just waiting to be loved again. I will start a book and then hear about a better book and read that all while my “to read” books pile up. I’ve made a good dent in my pile this summer (ok, maybe only in the past couple of weeks) and then I go to the book store or Amazon and buy more books. I think I seriously have a problem!

Source: Amazon

Source: Amazon

Anyway, while browsing some of my favorite blogs I found a book review on Kilian Jornet’s Run or Die book that caught my attention. I quickly added the book to my ever-growing “to read” list I keep in my purse, even though I had no idea who the heck Kilian Jornet was. I just knew he was an ultra-runner from Spain who is only 25 years old. Interesting. Last week I had some time to kill before meeting up with a friend so I went to Books-A-Million. I like Books-A-Million, but can I say that I totally miss Borders?! My first stop in any bookstore is always the sports and fitness section to see what the store has on triathlon and exercise physiology books. And then I head over to the science section. Yes, I’m a proud science nerd! Surprisingly, BAM had Jornet’s Book so I picked it up.

I finished the book in a couple of days. It’s short (less than 200 pages) and is a quick and fast read. The book was originally written in Spanish and then translated into English, which at times makes the writing a like awkward at times. Now, who is Kilian Jornet you may ask. Good question! He is a 25-year-old world champion ultrarunner and ski mountaineer who grew up in the Catalan Pyrenees. He began his skiing, running, and mountaineering career at a very young age. By age 5 he had completed the ascent of Aneto, the Pyrenees’ highest peak with his family. Now, that is pretty awesome if you ask me!

He has won the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, a 168K trail race around Mont-Blanc with over 9600 meters of climbing that must be completed under 46 hours. He has won this three times. He also won the 2011 Western States 100 in California. He has also set the speed record on Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak and my number one bucket list item! I’m a bit jealous!

As you can see the kid is pretty spectacular and an amazing athlete. With that part set aside, what I really enjoyed about his book is his maturity and worldly view of his life and what he does. His descriptions of the scenery he sees on his runs and his feelings are very real and keeps you turning the page for more. Through his story you can tell that some of his biggest life lessons have come from running. Clearly this kid is very well-disciplined. Heck, he goes out a runs for 5+ hours for fun!

One section in the book was about Alba, a girl he met on a bus back to his hometown who he fell in love with. From his writing and her mention in the book you can tell that she profound effect on his life. One of my favorite quotes of the book comes from his questioning himself as a person after he and Alba break-up: “It motivated me to find strength and inspiration from those around me, because the winner isn’t the strongest, but rather the one who truly enjoys what he is doing” (page 124).

Chapter 9 entitled “what I think about when I think about running” is the chapter that really hit home for me. As a long-course triathlete it is often hard for my friends and family to understand why I think swimming, biking, and running hours on end each day is fun. Kilian hits home exactly my stance on the issue:

“When thoughts sail through my head and can find no way out, I always go for a run to free up my mind. I find that then I can see everything more clearly, and that my problems are put into perspective. Running is the best way for me to disconnect from routine and to find the solutions to my problems, which I struggle to see even though they are often staring me right in the face” (page 173).

I tend to solve all my problems while I’m either running or biking. I often train alone because I need that time to sort out life’s problems. I have solved many of the world’s problems in my head while running, now just to make them tangible… 

In a nutshell, I recommend this book. It’s a quick and fun read. Kilian is very wise and mature for his young age. He has done some truly remarkable things thus far and I’m sure he is on the path for more greatest in the sports of running and skiing. And perhaps he’ll let me crew for him when he makes a speed attempt on Mount Aconcagua!

~ Happy Training!

Race Report: Ironman Lake Placid – Part I

 Spoiler Alert: I AM AN IRONMAN!

Okay, please don’t be mad, but I’m breaking this race report into two posts since it’s going to be a long one! 140.6 miles is a long way and thus leading to a lot of my ramblings of the day.


Packing for the big day!

Packing for the big day!

 I headed to Lake Placid on Friday. I made the long drive solo listening to books on tape to make the drive go by faster. I arrived in Lake Placid about 2pm. As I drove into town I could already feel the energy of the town as more and more athletes arrived. The energy prior to an Ironman event is amazing. Lake Placid is such a magical place during Ironman week!

I immediately found a parking spot on a top of a giant hill and succeeded to head down to athlete check-in. I showed my ID, signed my life away to WTC and the State of New York, got weighed in (totally should have peed first!), got my numbers and my wrist band. I was officially checked in! Ahhh! I then headed down to the Ironman store tent to pick up my backpack. Funny how WTC placed the backpack pick up in the store tent… not like they make enough money off of us or anything….


 I quickly walked back up the giant hill to grab my wetsuit and walked down to Mirror Lake for a quick swim. The water was the perfect temperature! And completely wetsuit legal! I got in a quick 25 minute shake-out swim and felt good. I passed a bunch of guys out there on the swim who started before me so I felt pretty confident that I would have a decent swim.

After the swim I headed down to Wilmington where our hotel was located, The Hungry Trout Resort. I wouldn’t say it was a resort, more like motel, but it was decent. The beds were actually super comfortable and it was kind of nice to stay outside of town. Mary, my coach, and her daughter Jordan showed up shortly afterwards. We all settled in and then headed back to town for me to attend the Mandatory Athlete Meeting in the ice arena. It was super cool to be in the same ice arena where the 198o “miracle on ice ” occurred when the USA hockey team beat Russia to take the gold medal! I arrived a bit early and listen to some of the welcome dinner inspiration prior to the meeting. When I arrived there was a group of athletes up with Mike Reilly talking about their Ironman journeys. One young girl was from Newtown, CT and said that this race for her was for all the victims of the shooting. I teared up.

The ice arena!

The ice arena!

We had dinner at The Dancing Bear. It was fun to look around to see who had little blue bracelets indicating they were athletes. So many super fit and lean people around on expensive bikes! A bit intimating at times! Saturday morning I slept in to 7:30. I got up and started organizing my bags and getting my bike ready for bike check-in. I had organized my various bags prior to leaving home on Friday. I put items in their own paper bag so all I had to do is dump the items into their corresponding transition bags. We then headed into town for a giant breakfast. It was certainly the highlight of my week! Pancakes and a breakfast sandwich. Yummy! I dropped Azul off in transition for the night. She got a professional photo shoot prior to her entrance into the Olympic oval. I guess WTC wants to make sure everyone goes home with their correct bikes or something.

After check-in, it was back to the hotel for bed rest until dinner. We had an early dinner at the “resort” and then an early bed time. I was in bed by 7:30. I didn’t sleep too good that night. I spent a lot of it tossing and turning, but I figured this would happen so I made sure to get a lot of sleep the week before the race.

Race Morning

My first alarm went off at 2am! Yikes! I got up. Drank an Ensure and had a few handfuls of pretzels. Back to bed. More tossing and turning. Second alarm went off at 3:40am. This time it was put contacts in, put on race kit, eat more food, prepare race nutrition and bottles, and get ready to leave. Mary dropped me off at transition at 4:30am when it first opened. I saw Marisa, another TriMoxie athlete and got myself body marked. I added my race nutrition to Azul and got her tires pumped back up to psi. Next was a walk to run special needs to drop that bag off and then a walk to bike special needs to drop that bag off. Then a long wait. I got in line for a porta-pottie and then made my way down to Mirror Lake. I sat down on the grass near the warm-up area to wait about 30 minutes until warm-up time began. As I was sitting there a woman sat down next to me and asked me who my coach was because she saw my TriMoxie top. Turned out it was Mandy, Caratuck Girl! We chatted a bit and then I met another TriMoxie athlete, Robin. Soon enough it was warm-up time and then time to line-up in our appropriate time corral for the rolling start! I got in the water to get wet and get a few quick strokes in.

The Swim

I lined up in the 1:11 to 1:20 group. I estimated based on training times that I should be about the 1:15 mark. We waited a while in line. I was surrounded by a group of Aussie men joking around. Good day mate! 🙂 Finally the cannon for the age groupers went off and we slowly made our way to the start line. Finally, the volunteer’s arms dropped and it was turn to hit the water!

I quickly ran across the timer mat and hit the start button on my Garmin. I ran into the water until it was deep enough for me to dive in and start swimming. I immediately had lots of open water space. I decided to stay wide of the cable. I didn’t feel like getting punched in the face or swam over just to shave a few seconds off my time. I settled into my swim quickly and felt good. Occasionally I would run into people or feel people tapping my feet, but for the most part I had open water. There were 9 buoys out to the turn-around buoy. I definitely stayed wide of the turn buoy. Mary said that the turn buoy can be a very scary place if you’re not careful. Like the possibility of drowning scary. Yikes! Throughout the swim I keep telling myself “just keep swimming” and “to stay in the present.” I tried not to thinking about the 112 miles that I had to bike next or even the 26.2 miles I had to run later after that!

On the way back towards the beach I started to get a small cramp on the left side of my lower back. This was completely new, but I kept swimming hoping that it would disappear. It did eventually. The beach began to appear larger in the horizon and I knew I was almost done with the first lap! Things started to bottle-neck a bit at this point and I was making a bit more contact with swimmers around, but no boxing match type punches. I swam until my hand hit sand and I stood up, ran across the beach over the timing mat and jumped back into the water for my second loop.

This time I felt a bit more confident and I positioned myself closer to the cable, but still a few feet out from it. I felt a bit more contact here and managed to find some feet periodically to draft off of for a bit. I’ll take any free speed at this point! Once again, I kept telling myself to keeping swimming. I was so close to being done with the swim. It was my warm-up for everything to come. Mary told me that the real race is with the bike and run. I made it around the turn buoys again and headed for the homestretch! I picked the speed up a bit. At one point I swam into a group of about 5 large men who succeeded to sandwich me and push me a top of one of the guys. I survived and kept swimming. Finally, the beach was in sight again and I was done!

I stood up, torn my swim cap and goggles off, unzipped my wetsuit and ran to one of the wetsuit strippers to have them rip my suit off! I stood up, grabbed my suit, and started jogging the 800 meters or so to T1. My right ear was full or water and I kept trying to get it out. Into T1, grabbed my bike gear bag and ran to the women’s changing tent. I put on bike shorts, threw on my helmet, shoes, stuffed my pockets with gels and was off to grab my waiting steed.

Swim: 1:16:09 (1:58/100 meters)

 Next up: The Bike, Run, and Finish!

~ Happy Training!