-Strength Training for Triathletes Pt. 1-

5 09 2012

This is the unabridged version of an article I wrote up for the September BRTri newsletter.

We can all agree that being a bit obsessed about our training is pretty much a requirement of multisport. We follow training plans structured around our schedules, upcoming races, and our current level of fitness. Following a progressive plan is a surefire way to make improvements in the three disciplines, but results will fall short if you are not including a vital piece of the training puzzle: strength and mobility training. Does your training include a program designed to improve triathlon-specific performance through increased strength and power, injury reduction, and overall functional movement?

Swimming, biking, and running are repetitive movements that pose a threat to our musculoskeletal health if not executed with proper technique and/or counterbalanced with exercises that strengthen opposing muscle groups. Poor  technique can very well be attributed to faulty movement patterns. Muscle imbalances are most definitely a risk and our bodies must withstand miles and miles of endorphin-inducing abuse.

Weak links in the triathlete’s kinetic chain (musculoskeletal system) often include: the deep abdominals and glutes, which serve to stabilize the pelvis and lumbar spine while promoting efficient movement of the legs and arms; and the muscles that stabilize the scapulae, allow for sufficient mobility of the thoracic spine and shoulders, and promote “good” posture. By addressing these imbalances through the implementation of simple, corrective exercises, soft tissue work, and/or the retraining of movement patterns, these weak links can be made strong and effectively carry out their roles in the kinetic chain.

Our sport demands a few key items of gear, but none of these gadgets are useful without human body…the machine. It’s quite ironic that most of us do not mind spending money on the latest gear in the hopes of gaining an edge on the competition, yet we neglect our bodies, the machines! A brand-new Cervelo P5 or QRoo Illicito will most definitely not make you faster if your body isn’t up to par. Furthermore, slapping toe-clip pedals and cheap componentry on a dream bike is no different than having a body that is broken down and out of balance yet being forced to endure the demands of daily training. It just doesn’t make sense.

I cannot think of a better comparison than a high-performance sports car and the triathlete’s body. Both are finely-tuned machines designed to perform at optimal levels. Problems arise when cheap gas is put into the Ferrari, which can be likened to not adopting a smart nutrition strategy as a triathlete. After miles and miles of driving, the Ferrari is going to break down if there isn’t a focus on day-to-day maintenance, and our bodies are no different. The Ferrari is a work of art, crafted from the finest materials, and built to outperform it’s rivals. Personally, I want to be a Ferrari. I’m guessing you do as well, unless you see nothing wrong with being a beat-up Ford Pinto that guzzles gas, breaks down every 100 miles, and is in desperate need of new shocks!

As both a triathlete and fitness professional, I do have a slight advantage over those of you who are not in the fitness field. I am pretty much obsessed with human movement and the concepts of improving performance and promoting overall balance throughout the body. When you give the body what it needs in terms of proper training, it has no choice but to improve and grow stronger as a result. Sometimes this means taking away activities or exercises that are having a negative effect on a person’s movement. Basically, I’m a human body mechanic, and I would much rather see people becoming more Ferrari-like than breaking down a ‘la Pinto!

Sarah Rippel got bitten by the triathlon bug just three years ago. She is a fitness professional who specializes in the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) and movement-based training strategies for people of all ages, abilities, and levels of fitness. She trains at BRFit (www.BRFit.com). Her email is fitprosarah@gmail.com and she can also be reached at (225) 326-2317.


Eternally Evolving

17 07 2012

ImageThere is a phrase that I coined a while back which I’ve used to describe myself as a person:


I could go on and on and give numerous examples of how this phrase has applied to my life, but i’ll spare you the gory details! 🙂

We’re here to talk triathlon, right?!

Just the other day, I was running with a friend. When we finished a hot & muggy 6.2, we were talking about upcoming races and training plans. He made the comment that he had just started in this sport, and has big goals for himself which he wants to attain NOW! I completely understood where he was coming from, and we both agreed that one of the great aspects about multi-sport is that you can be involved in it for a long time. Your competitive career isn’t over in the blink of an eye such as with sports like gymnastics. It takes years to develop one’s true capacity, and this makes me happy, considering I just turned 36 and got into this sport only three years ago.

I love the fact that the sport attracts those of us who are goal-driven and somewhat masochistic. It takes a certain weirdo to relish in the suffering and appreciate it.

With regards to my “eternally evolving” phrase above, I feel that I am extremely fortunate to have found a way in which I can continue to evolve. The sport of triathlon is one that demands so much from us physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, etc. I’m willing to bet that 99% of us would say it’s all worth it.

Through making the sacrifices and putting in the work, we are rewarded with making progress in our journey. We are given endless opportunities to better ourselves and push just a little bit harder than we thought possible. Every workout is full of small opportunities to make improvements and overcome obstacles that may have been placed in front of us.


The biggest obstacle for myself has been that of the beloved open water swim. From the get go, I have had a serious panic issue with swimming in open water. Despite how great I was doing in the pool, I’d put my face in murky water and the panic would set in. I had begun to think that I was just stuck with this issue and would have to just deal with it. There were a few races where I seriously contemplating giving up the sport altogether because of the open water swim. In the back of my mind, I knew that was ridiculous, and I am glad that I didn’t throw in the towel too soon. Back in May, which was my most recent race, I did not panic! I vividly remember starting out with my wave and thinking “okay, any minute now I’m gonna freak out.” It didn’t happen. Then I was kinda freaked out by the fact that I didn’t freak out! I ended up placing first in my age group (there were four of us 35-39ers, so I didn’t win by default, lol)! I felt like I had started the next chapter in my triathlon career, and I cannot begin to describe how awesome I felt that day.


May 2012 @ LA Tri – 1st place W35-39

We all know about the “mental game.” All of my internal messages pertaining to the open water swim most definitely tie into this. Now I know that I have dumped the old messages of self-doubt and fear, and I can replace them with positive ones. Believe me, I always did my best to stay positive about the swim, it’s just very difficult when your fight-or-flight reaction gets kicked into overdrive when the gun goes off. The mental game will forever be one I get to play, and I appreciate this. I have come to thrive on the fact that my brain will continually send messages such as “this sucks,” or “I can just stop now.” It really is a game! I refuse to give in to the messages. I feel stronger and more confident each and every time that I really do want to quit, yet make the decision to tough it out. Only if I was in a situation where my health or safety would be compromised would I give up. 

Yes, we all have workouts that just don’t go as planned, and sometimes it is best to just cut them short, but finding the positives in these situations is the only way to use them as a means of evolution as a triathlete.

Through our training, we are not only evolving physically, but mentally as well. We are improving as individuals in numerous ways. The lessons that we learn each and every day through our training and racing carry over into our lives outside of the sport.

We are all eternally evolving as not only triathletes, but as human beings.


-Truly a Life-Changing Experience Pt II-

11 09 2009

Hey gang!

In Part I of my reflection on my first triathlon experience, I tried to not be TOO long-winded in describing things leading up to the race.

So…i’m sure y’all have been wondering one thing…


I’m gonna let ya know right now!

First and foremost, may I just say that The Austin Triathlon was an exceptionally-well-organized event? Sure, i’ve never done a tri before this race, but it was obvious. From start to finish, it rocked. There were tons of volunteers, the atmosphere was upbeat, and I have no complaints!

Okay…let’s get goin’!

Pics 050Alarm clock went off around 5:00AM…I hit snooze ONCE. Got up and around 6:00 we were out the door. The first thing I did once arriving at the race site was get my body marked. After telling the woman I was “number 241”, I had to double-check, lol…I was paranoid i’d told her the wrong number! That woulda been BAD! After she put a “241” on each thigh and arm, she put a “33” on my left calf.

The look? Overwhelmed. :)

The look? Overwhelmed. 🙂

Yes, folks, i’m 33 years old. 😀

Pics 053Next step was to set up my schtuff in the transition area. I found my bike and put a folded-up towel down. On top of this, I placed my bike shoes, helmet, and sunglasses (laying inside helmet) on one side, and my running shoes on the other. I turned on my Garmin and snapped it into the newly-installed mounting bracket on one of my aero bars.

Locked and loaded!

Here comes the sun!

Here comes the sun!

Everyone was gathering next to the water for the race to begin! The national anthem was sung by Shawn Colvin at 7:00, and soon afterward, the open wave (aka the badasses) got to warm-up in the water for a few minutes. When they did take off, it was an exhilarating sight! The thought of it just gave me goosebumps!

Every five minutes, another wave entered the water and after a minute they were off!

My wave was at 7:55.

Pics 068Pics 070The pre-race energy was insane…it was obvious that everyone was ready to get goin’!

I was SO ready to get in the water.

I had to pee like a racehorse.

Yep, I said it…and i’m sure almost every other triathlete felt the same. You see, when you’re hyped-up and nervous, it makes things speed up.

Avelina and I before the swim!

Avelina and I before the swim!

Here are some pre-race vids for your amusement!

…and finally…here’s my wave starting the race! Can ya find me? Hint…i’m in the very back…on the very right (not closest to the right-hand side of the screen, but on the right from my perspective in the water)!

What was it like to FINALLY be announced and get in the water? A RELIEF! Other than that, it was butterflies. Yes, I was nervous. I was ready to get the swim over with, and yes I was a bit intimidated…but all was good! I knew I wasn’t gonna die, lol. I set myself up in the back because it was “safe,” and once the horn went off, I waited a little bit to start swimming.

So…how did the swim go? Well, let’s just say that for 40 minutes and 1500 meters, I felt like I was having a series of mini panic attacks. Yes, I can swim, and yes, i’ve gotten a lot more proficient at it. My open water experience is very limited, however, and to be honest, there was nothing that could have better prepared me for the open water swim than just that…swimming in open water. Combined with this being my first race, the fact that I was putting my face in water that wasn’t clear freaked me out. Town Lake (now known as Lady Bird Lake) isn’t funky water. I knew it was going to be different, I just didn’t expect to freak out…but I kept going. I didn’t stop. I never stopped. I swam predominantly using the breaststroke and sidestroke, but I didn’t stop. You’re allowed to hang onto the sides of the kayaks if need be, but in my mind I knew I didn’t need to do that. In addition to having this overwhelming claustrophobic feeling, I literally swam over a rock not once, but TWICE. Kinda a shock? YES! All of this was a bit much, but in my mind and heart I knew I could do it. I just had to survive the swim and i’d be good. Crazy how you train for thirteen weeks and finally feel confident in your swimming ability, then you feel completely uncoordinated once the “big day” comes. I used the turn buoys as goals. On the way to the first turn buoy, which seemed a loooooong way away, my anxiety level was at it’s peak. I passed under the first bridge…then the second…noticed onlookers looking down at us…then there was the first turn buoy…RELIEF! I knew that pretty soon there would be the second, and that would mean I was halfway done! The homestretch! Another thing that is still so clear in my mind about the swim was the smell of the water. That lake-water smell.

May I say that even though the breaststroke and sidestroke are obviously slower strokes, I managed to keep up with and stay ahead of a handful of women in my wave? I also passed up a 50+ guy who was gliding along on his back! I developed a strategy of doing freestyle for up to 10 strokes, then switching to breaststroke of sidestroke. This seemed to work and it calmed me. Why up to 10 strokes of freestyle? Well, that was just about as much as I could handle before i’d suddenly freak out and have to get my head out of the water. It was AWESOME to look over to my right and see this enormous crowd along the side of the water. As I got closer, I heard music…I could hear the announcer and the crowd, and this seemed to make me go faster.

FINALLY…the last turn buoy…a roaring crowd…hearing the announcer tell the crowd that most of my wave was making their way to shore…RELIEF. I didn’t have far to go.

I made it.


In T1, I obviously wasn’t worried about making things as speedy as possible…I mean, I didn’t lollygag, but I wasn’t stressin’ either…lol 🙂

Any prior worries about the bike course were GONE. Once I clipped in, I was on autopilot and it was incredible! Hopefully there will be some professional pics of me on the bike (keep fingers crossed). I was in the zone. That sounds cheesy but it’s true. It was literally a reprieve from the swim. A complete 180.

I knew there were gonna be hills…but didn’t really calculate how many times i’d be climbing ’em! Not to worry, though…because apparently i’m very good at climbing! I’m thinking my small size has something to do with it! I rocked the hills! Even better was what soon came after my first climbs…when I got to turn around on South Congress and ZOOM down my first hill.

You know how there are those defining moments in your life? When you look back and realize just how much of an impact a certain moment had on you? Well, not only was the entire process of training for The Austin Triathlon one of those defining moments for me…but the entire race was as well…and in addition, that first exhilarating trip down my first hill.

It was a rush…and I was instantly addicted!

Top speed = 29 mph! Not too shabby for a newbie triathlete on a road bike equipped with clip-on aero bars!

If you’re not familiar with triathlons and/or the aero position, here’s a great video:

I felt unstoppable on the bike. I did adhere to the rules and tried to keep a three-bike-lengths distance between me and the person in front of me before deciding if I should overtake them or not. There were times where I felt I had to slow down a bit to account for those around me, and I never felt unsafe during the course.

Did I mention it was awesome?

We had to make three laps and then bring it on home. Early into my third lap, I could tell those around me on the hills were fatigued. Not me! I was out of the saddle and climbing, not a worry in the world. I had no clue if my legs would work afterward, but I was goin’! The last little bit of the third lap was awesome because I kept passing lots of guys! 😀

Time to come down the ramp and back towards the transition area. I unclipped at the right time and got my bike thru the chip-timer thingy before getting off to walk. I had NO idea of how freaky my legs would feel once I stood up and tried to walk. It was crazy! They literally didn’t want to cooperate for a few seconds as I started walking my bike towards transition, and then trying to run. I think I kinda hobbled for a bit. Trying to run in the dirt with your bike while in bike shoes with cleats after riding 24 miles as fast as possible is just something that can’t be best expressed in words.

Ya just gotta do it to see how it feels.

As I hobbled back to T2, I saw Nancy standing outside the fence with a few other people. Camera time!

I had a minor scuffle with my Garmin as I was off and running. I had removed it from my bike and popped it onto the wristband, and had it set to “auto multisport,” so all I was supposed to do was hit “lap” as T2 started, then hit “lap” again as I began the run. For some reason, I couldn’t seem to figure it out (even though i’ve done it a gazillion times) and instead of giving me minutes/mile it was giving me miles per hour. Not a big deal, as i’d pretty much gotten comfortable with my “race pace,” so I just went by feel. Fortunately, this plan worked and I felt great during the run!

Typical me…blonde moment…I ALMOST botched my entire race by coming scarily close to rounding the turn to the finish line…WITH AN ENTIRE LAP TO GO! lol

While on the bike, I had eaten a pack of Luna Moons and drank 24 ounces of water. Did I need to pee? Heck yes! I had already come to grips with the fact that I just might pee on myself while running. Other people do it, so it’s not a biggie…I just had never done it before. Let’s just say that once I got running, it became very clear that this “feat” wasn’t so easy. Most of y’all know that I am pretty much an open book and say what I feel, so the fact that i’m discussing this may not come as any surprise. My “strategy” for relieving oneself during the run went something like this:

  1. Grab not one, but TWO water-soaked sponges from volunteers along route.
  2. Soak front of body with one, and your rear with the other.
  3. Find a spot where you are comfortably 10 yards or so in front of the person behind you.
  4. Preferably find a spot where it’s shady.
  5. Try and pee.

Did my strategy work? Not so much. Let’s just say I could barely deliver. There was this small voice in my head saying “you would go faster if you weren’t stressin’ about having to pee,” but oh well. By the time I realized that it wasn’t gonna happen, I was halfway into the second lap and it was time to start crankin’ it up!

Throughout the run, as I passed other triathletes, I wanted to say “good job,” and “keep it up”…that’s the cheerleader-trainer in me. I think the hordes of onlookers did an awesome job for me, however. You would not believe how cool it felt to pass someone and hear “go number 241!” I mean, I didn’t know these people and they were cheering me on!

Also, what was awesome about the run was the fact that from the start of my first lap, I passed people who had to walk. I told myself that if I had to, I would walk…but it never had to happen. Even more evident to me during the run was the fact that there were people of all ages, shapes, and sizes in the race. It was during the run that I began to appreciate all of these people for busting their as*es like I had in preparation for the race. It was during the run that I realized just how very little we have to complain about. It was during the run that I realized my “no excuses” and “no whining” policies would be made even stronger.

Triathlon truly is a sport that many people can do!

The end of the run was upon me. For the second time, I passed a woman holding up a neon poster-board sign that said “Pain is temporary, pride is forever.” Amen, sista! I kicked it up a notch as I made the left onto Congress and headed up the slope of the bridge. The smell of bat guano was even more distinct this time around. If you’re not familiar with Austin, the Congress Bridge bats are truly a sight!

Yet again, I passed the guy dressed up as “Don T. Bonk,” who was holding a giant mallet and encouraging everyone. I came up on the turn that would shoot me back down the bridge, and kicked up my speed even faster. As I made the right onto Riverside, I was sprinting…the finish line was my next right! There I was!


I glanced left and right for a fluorescent yellow shirt and there was none to be seen. It appeared I had reached the finish line before my friend Nancy had!

As I crossed the finish line, I held up my arms and did a double “guns up!” GO TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS! 🙂

The professional photographer shot my picture and I was handed a water bottle. I walked around to the backside of the finish area and wondered where Nancy was. Roughly two minutes later, I see a fluorescent yellow shirt come around the corner. She didn’t notice me at first, and even stopped to talk with her friend and watch the finish line before I said something and she looked over. Her jaw dropped. She was so disappointed that she missed my finish! Guess I was speedier than expected!


Post-race call to my friend Sheila! Everyone and their dog had been calling/texting Nancy during the race, wondering how I was doing!

Post-race call to my friend Sheila! Everyone and their dog had been calling/texting Nancy during the race, wondering how I was doing! We won't discuss the "porta-potty from hell" that I experienced just a few minutes prior to this picture! I can still smell it...

Happily-tired and dirty legs!

Happily-tired and dirty legs!

Salt on my arm!

Salt on my arm!

The feeling is indescribable. I finished. I FINISHED! Not only did I finish, but I felt great AND I had a blast! I really did have a blast! Yeah, the swim pretty much sucked but I am determined to conquer it! It won’t conquer me, for I am INVICTUS…unconquerable!

I can’t wait to do it again!


-Truly a Life-Changing Experience Pt I-

11 09 2009
All ya gotta do is TRI!

All ya gotta do is TRI!

Dear Friends,

I really don’t know where to begin. Since I have been back in Baton Rouge, I have felt a bit “lost.” Nothing bad, just that “what do I do now that the big goal is over?” kinda feeling. All this means is that I must find another goal! 🙂 Anyhow, I can’t wait to share my experience with you! I have already talked about it a bunch with clients and friends, but in typical Sarah fashion I feel I can get the point across much better in writing.

The entire process of training for and participating in The Austin Triathlon changed me.

Before I get long-winded, here’s a list of some of my “discoveries”:

  1. One must CHOOSE to eliminate self-doubt and limiting beliefs. Unless this is done, things ain’t gonna happen.
  2. I now know I CAN train for distance and not just speed.
  3. I LOVE being on my bike!
  4. Fear rears it’s ugly head 24/7, and it’s up to me to stomp on it!
  5. The feeling of training for something that seems unattainable to most is not only thrilling, it’s empowering.
  6. I simply cannot live without goals.
  7. There are NO excuses.
  8. My “zero tolerance” policy for whining and excuse-making has become even stronger as a result of this experience. I simply do not wanna hear it! 🙂
  9. My body has adapted happily thanks to a well-rounded training program.
  10. More people could train for a triathlon if they simply did #1 on my list.

Bear with me if I venture into “deep-thought” mode and get a little cheesy here and there.

I guess i’ll just start where I want, and end up back at the present day.

n550400090_2336164_5608Twelve years ago, I was 21 years old and going through a lot in my life. Let’s just say that my college years weren’t the happiest. I wasn’t a happy person. I was full of self-doubt, and I was unable to deal with things in a healthy manner. Instead of expressing myself verbally, I could only journal and “deal” with things through my coping mechanisms, which were exercise and food. I only knew to live in a constant state of stress, and I had little hope for the future. I honestly didn’t care about school or anything much else than my own workouts, meals, and diet pills. On the outside I looked “perfect” but on the inside I was screaming. You see, I spent a great deal of time reading back then. I read a lot of “self help” books as well as anything and everything pertaining to exercise/nutrition. I think I read every possible book about eating disorders, OCD, depression, and anxiety. I was desperately seeking answers for the questions within myself. I felt “messed up” and wanted so badly just to know why…I wanted a solution…I wanted to put an end to how miserable I felt.

Why did I bring this up?

51AB4GXD7XL._SL500_AA240_Well, I bought two little books twelve years ago that I still have to this day. “Triathlons for Fun” and “Triathlons for Women,” both by Sally Edwards. You see, I wanted to do a triathlon…and, well…I simply couldn’t imagine doing one. Why? I had zero confidence. The thought of putting myself out there was just too much. I had a HUGE fear of failure which essentially kept me paralyzed. I wasn’t truly living back then. The “best years of my life” were full of negativity and looking back, I think i’ve blocked out a lot of that time.

Now, before anyone has a “oh, here goes a pity party” thought…please stop. I do not feel sorry for myself, although I did at the time. I was pretty pitiful inside. I am grateful for all of it, however, because I would not be here today if it weren’t for the “dark times” in my life.

austin-tri-site-planSo…in simply saying “OKAY!” when my friend/former client Avelina called me back in June to ask if I wanted to train for The Austin Triathlon, I made a twelve-year-old dream a reality. I will never forget that day because after saying i’d do the race, I had second thoughts. The old self-doubt crap tried to jump in, but I was able to begin the process of acknowledging it and gettin’ it the hell outta there! Little did I know that I was about to embark on an awesome journey of personal growth and discovery!

It couldn’t have come at a better time. I can honestly say that I have felt confident in myself and my abilities 99% of the time as i’ve been on this “adventure.” 🙂


So…let’s get to the point, shall we? Let’s talk about the RACE!

Wait…let me back it up to the day before the race. I met up with my friend and we got our packets, t-shirts, hats, etc and walked around the expo.

packetAt noon there was a pre-race meeting where they covered the rules and the course. It was during this meeting that I began to get nervous. I had already learned that wetsuits weren’t allowed because the water temp was 80 degrees. Well, they were allowed but if ya wore one, that would mean you wouldn’t qualify if you placed well. I had no intentions of placing…after all, my goal was to FINISH the race, but I opted not to wear my wetsuit. I figured i’d get really hot in it anyway.

Ready to race!

Ready to race!

After the meeting, the next task was to run to CVS to get a few things, wrap my aero bars, then bring my bike to check-in. I was a bundle of nerves and in a foul mood. Bless my friend Nancy for putting up with me, because I know I was a crab. As I was wrapping my aeros, I literally was shaking. 😦 I managed to get ’em wrapped, though.

A sea of bikes...of all kinds...from mountain bikes to $10k works of art!

A sea of bikes...of all kinds...from mountain bikes to $10k works of art!

We walked my bike over to check-in, and I got my first view of the MASSIVE transition area. Not only was there a massive area for Olympic distance peeps, there was a separate one for the sprint distance competitors. I had never seen so many bikes in my life, and not everyone had checked theirs in yet!

Mine's to the right of the Fuji...

Mine's to the right of the Fuji...

After placing my bike next to one at the end of one of the women’s 30-34 group racks, I opted to move it to the other end of the same rack. Why? I don’t know. It just felt right.

After this, I was able to scope out the swim start/finish. The swim takes place in what used to be called Town Lake. Now it’s called “Lady Bird Lake,” but as a former Austinite, I refuse to call it this because it just seems weird. Anyhow, the swim course is a giant rectangle with pyramid buoys marking each right turn.  It seemed soooooooooo looooooong! Would realize just how long it really was once the horn blew at 7:56AM (or thereabouts as my wave took off)!

Stay tuned for PART II!!!

-Taper Week!-

10 09 2009

August 31, 2009 = Felt like I was in a windtunnel!

16.69 mi / 00:52 (19.4mph)

Hadn’t worked out since Thursday, so it felt great to look forward to riding…and ride went awesome! I did almost get hit by a jackass towards the end of my ride, but oh well…one week til race day!

Fastest speed = 21.8mph

September 1, 2009 = I LOVE MY WETSUIT!!!!

600 yd / 00:12:53

Tried out my new Blue Seventy wetsuit and OMG…talk about an awesome feeling! I WILL conquer the swim! 🙂 I felt like I was going faster…and the buoyancy benefits are obvious! Yay!

September 2, 2009 = Last run before race day…

4.01 mi / 00:36 (09:04 pace)

Great little run…funny how I feel faster towards the end…I guess that’s a good thing, considering i’ll be running 6.2mi on race day…and AFTER swim and bike, lol 🙂 I LOVE the feeling of “kicking it in” towards the end! The last half mile was rather sprinty!!!

Fastest pace 7:14min/mi

September 3, 2009 = Easy ride

10.81 mi / 00:34 (19.3mph pace)

Fastest speed = 21mph. Felt great out! I am ready for my race!

-TEN More Days!-

28 08 2009

This week!

As usual, i’m playing catch-up with blog updates…but not to fret!  I am SO TIRED right now. Next week is a taper week, but i’m seriously considering starting my taper NOW.  Why?  Well, as you can see from my dry-erase board pic to the left, this has been a hellacious week of training, on top of my busy work week (which includes getting up around 4:30am every weekday).

Add to this the fact that I had quite a bit of drama in the wee hours of Sunday morning.  I had an amazing long brick workout Saturday and spent the rest of the day relaxing with friends, then taking a nap so that I could go out later that evening.  I don’t go out much right now, so I was excited to get out and see people and have a good time!  It was a crazy, wacky night, and there was no drama involved UNTIL I got home.  You see, I had my friend and her sister follow me to my house because they live outside of Baton Rouge, and I didn’t want them to have to drive home.  We got to my house, came in, and I ran upstairs…then I hear, “Sarah, your dog just got out!”

My natural reaction to this “event” is to sprint…and I did.  I ran downstairs and sprinted out the door, leaving my friend and her sister there.  Come to find out my friend called another one of our friends to say “we can’t find Sarah!”

Biskit has gotten out SO many times, and he always runs like the wind.  He’s a Parson Russell Terrier…it’s their nature to haul as*!  He’s given me SO many scares, it’s not even funny.  I have chased after that little streak of white so many times, I can’t even begin to count.  I have sprinted after him with a broken foot.  I have sprinted after him in traffic.  I have sprinted after him across people’s backyards, through ditches, and in the rain.  Biskit has been my “child” for seven years, and has been one of the main “constants” in my life.  Any dog lover will tell you that the unconditional love provided by a dog is priceless…and they are right.  Biskit has “been there” for me through some hard times, and I dote on him like any mommy would with a child.  He is a precious, friendly, loving little bundle of energy, and makes me smile each and every day.

n550400090_3740652_4327693So…after a few hours of driving around in the dark trying to find him, my friend and her sister had to leave.  What did I do?  Got in my car and continued to search.  Around 6:00am, two other friends came and picked me up, gave me coffee, and we continued to search.  After a while, they brought me home and told me to make 20 signs, which we could put up on telephone poles.  Come to find out they did this because they were worried we would find him in the street, and they didn’t want me to freak out.

As I was printing out the last of the signs, I got a call that they found him!  One of my friends got a “feeling” that he was near her house, so she drove down a nearby street and lo and behold…Biskit was sitting in someone’s yard!  He saw her car and started running towards it…she opened the door and called him, and he jumped in!  He had been missing for six hours!

Can you say RELIEVED?

Just got a bath...you can tell he's sleepy!

Just got a bath...you can tell he's sleepy!

They brought him to me, and he had apparently rolled in something (as usual).  I gave him a bath and we took a six-hour nap on the couch! I was SO emotionally drained, my eyes were swollen, and on top of it my body was tired.  I had a swim workout lined up for Sunday, but that obviously didn’t happen.  Instead, Sunday was spent relaxing in the pool and cooking food for the next couple of days.

All of this started to take a toll on me Tuesday.  You’ll read about my workouts in a second, but Tuesday’s brick was awesome.  I felt great during and after it, came home, worked on my computer a little, and then it hit me.  I was SO EXHAUSTED!  I made myself stop and take a nap from noon-1:00.  Actually, I had set my alarm for 12:30 but no way a half-hour nap was gonna cut it!  I slept like a log for an entire hour and woke up and was starving!  Called in a chicken schwarma plate with extra Grecian sauce and Haloomi cheese, and it was DEVINE!  Even the fact that I was burping garlic for the rest of the day was fine…oh, and I ate leftovers for dinner!

Anyway, the fatigue started on Tuesday.  Wednesday, I got up to train my 5:15am client and was fine…but somewhere in the gap between 6:15 and 7:15 I became very emotional.  I was driving to train my 7:15am client and thinking about my upcoming swim workout that morning, and was dreading it.  The physical, mental, and emotional fatigue was kicking me in the butt!  I texted a few of my friends to let them know I was thankful for their love and support, and I think part of me wanted someone to tell me to take the day off from my workout.  Part of me, on the other hand, realized that I tend to make the swim into this horrific, terrible thing, and in doing so, i’m letting it “win.”  I refuse to let it beat me!  So, I talked to my friend/client Leslie and she agreed to meet me to swim!  I got there before she did, and tackled the warm-up and open water drills, along with the first set of 600 continuous yards.  The workout went swimmingly, lol.  See, it always happens this way…I get going and i’m FINE…and usually have a better workout than expected.

It’s all in the mind.

Thursday was worse…I was even more emotionally and physically drained…and today I am MAKING myself take the day off.  Right now it’s 10:30 and i’m drinking coffee and my legs are sore, tight, and DEAD.  I feel like I need a nap already.

Friday August 21, 2009 = Swimmin’ before my fan club showed up!

2000 yd / 00:51

Warm-Up: 200 yards (4:53)

40 min nonstop (1600 / 40:15)

Heads-Up Drill 4 x 25 (rest 20 sec; ea took 30 sec, and took 3 min total)
Sigting 4 x 25 (rest 20 sec; ea took 30 sec, and took 3 min total)

Swim felt pretty good! My ADD gets me…swimming endless laps sucks, lol. I alternated 100 yards without buoy with 100 yards with buoy. I really focused on stretching out, keeping my kicking in synch, and pacing myself. Taking a breath every 4 strokes feels the best now. Taking one every 3 strokes (bilateral) seems to wear me out and I feel rushed. Let me tell ya, the open water drills at the end kicked my ass! Anyone who wants to swim with their head out of the water can be my guest…it’s obvious that when you do so, your legs sink. It’s a necessary thing, though…

Saturday August 22, 2009 = BRICK

Opted for new scenery for brick workout, and it was great!

Plan called for 15 mi ride/30 min run x 2-3. It also said to do 12-15 mph. I don’t do 12 mph! 😀 Top speed 20.2.

Part I: 15.07 mi 00:5416.7mph pace

Transition took 3:23 because I had to take front wheel off bike and put all in trunk! Wasn’t lollygaggin’ but obviously won’t have to do this in race!

Part II: 2.87 mi / 00:3411:48 pace

Ran in shady, pretty neighborhood wearing new Zoot Ultra Race shoes. They rock! Fastest pace 9:22

Transition took 3:57 because had to take bike out of trunk and put front wheel on…again, obviously this won’t happen in race!

Part III: 15.26 mi / 00:5716.1mph pace

Opted to change up the route a bit, and found it to be a good ride! Lots of hills and shade!

Transition took 3:13 because had to take front wheel off bike and put all in trunk, yet again, this isn’t something i’ll have to do in the race!

Part IV: 2.98 mi / 00:3009:56 pace

Tired, but still felt good! No side stitches or anything! Paced myself! Fastest pace 8:13.

Monday August 24, 2009 = Felt like I could run forever!

7 mi / 01:1110:12 pace

Great run! I had to stop to pee twice, tho…lol…fortunately there’s a restroom at a nearby park! I felt like I was going soooo slow at first but it worked out. I had a

weekend that should have been more restful, but alas…Biskit was missing or 6 hours Sunday morning and I didn’t get a lot of “down time.” My body was so happy to run and it felt great, though! Also, it was cooler and not humid this morning, so I wanted to take advantage of it! Training plan called for a swim yesterday (that couldn’t have happened, considering the Biskit fiasco), so I thought i’d swim today…decided to knock out Thursday’s run today b/c of the nice morning weather. Will swim tomorrow and have a brick Wed.



Tuesday August 25, 2009 = Brick

Part I 17.99 mi / 01:0217.4mph pace

Prior to this workout, my mentality was “this will be a piece of cake!” I was thinking back to Saturday’s 15 mi ride/30 min run x 2 brick and today’s workout seemed like nothing.

I was wrong! It wasn’t easy! I ran 7 miles yesterday and have switched up my workouts this week a bit. Instead of swimming today, I did the brick (because I knew i’d have free time this morning before it got hot). My legs weren’t “dead,” but they were complaining the entire ride. My quads were burning and I refused to ease up too much (typical me). As usual, there were some winds and I seemed to be riding into a strong headwind towards the end of the ride. I chalked this up to additional work, as I had thrown in a few sprints throughout the hour.
Fastest speed = 20.4mph.

Part II 1.99 mi / 00:1808:47 pace

I hopped off my bike, took front wheel off, put everything in my trunk, changed shoes, etc…and decided I had to pee…but where? I squatted…yes, I squatted next to my car…I HAD to…there was NO way i’d have been able to run if I didn’t!

Run went great! I ran a mile out and turned around. On the way back, it was one of those “you can do it!” moments. Stevie Nicks started singin’ on my iPod and I picked up the pace. I felt great! I was breathing, nothing hurt, and nothing felt labored. I only had to do 2 miles, and I feel I pretty much showed ’em who’s boss!

Wednesday August 26, 2009 =Dreaded this swim…but turned out to be a good one!

2200 yd / 00:60

I was mentally and physically exhausted this morning…dreaded my swim. I realized that I had no choice, of course, and I chinned up and did it. I got to the pool and there were like 10 little old people in there! It was a party! That made me smile. I got in and did the 200 yard warmup in 4:55. Used the buoy for half of it. I didn’t rush to get through the drills (Heads-up 4 x 25, rest 20; Sighting 4 x 25, rest 20), and when I ended with those, my watch said “13:15.” Included in my total time is my “lollygag” time, even though I didn’t lollygag TOO bad. 🙂

Continuous Swim (any style/stroke) was on the agenda: 3-4 sets of 600 yards, resting 45 sec after each. I did 3 sets of 600 (15:35, 15:30, and 15:10). Towards the middle of the second set, I realized that freestyle is the most efficient, easiest stroke, so I tried to maximize usage of it for the rest of the workout. I threw in some breaststroke (which made my adductors sore next day) and a few sidestroke laps in addition to using the buoy. My realization that my freestyle is much better made the entire workout earn 5 stars in my book, as well as the fact that I was consistent with breathing every 4 strokes each and every time! I didn’t feel rushed and my heart wasn’t jumping through my chest. YAY for swimming, and yay for just doing it, because I know i’ve built a ton of character in the past 12ish weeks of training for this race. It’s changed me for the better!

Thursday August 27, 2009 = BRICK

Part I 13.46 mi / 00:4816.9mph pace

Felt tired and legs didn’t seem to have the “go” in ’em, but got it done! Focused on keeping a steady cadence.

Part II 2.99 mi / 00:2709:01 pace

No complaints about the run…legs just seemed to be on autopilot and I picked up the pace on mile 3. With half a mile to go, I stepped it up even further. Fastest pace was 7:23.

To sum things up, I want to share one of my favorite poems, “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley.

Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate;

I am the captain of my soul.

This poem pretty much sums up my feelings on my personal struggles throughout the years.

-I Feel Like A Machine!-

20 08 2009

I am midway through week 1 of the 2-week “competitive” stage in my training plan.  My recovery week last week was awesome, and I have felt great this week.  Yesterday was a rest day, and I got a massage…and as expected my body needed it more than ever!  There’s been a lot going on in addition to all of my training and work-related schtuff, therefore the additional stress seemed to have turned my traps into huge knots.  Everything around both shoulder blades was super-tight and sore.  My entire back, for that matter, was tight and sore!  Just a small price to pay for the amazing experience i’m having…I am happy to say that i’m still enjoying the process of working towards my first race!  I am making progress and not overdoing it, and am excited about the fact that I continue to step outside my comfort zone each and every day!

Here’s a recap of my training from the past week!

Sunday August 16, 2009 = Ride.  Change of Scenery!

38.88 mi / 02:09 (18.1 mph pace)

Rode with DJ. First time to do Alligator Bayou! Beautiful morning! Alligator Bayou was really cool – tree-lined/covered and lots of twists and turns. Strong headwind on River Road on way back! Legs were pooped and I started to croak with 8 miles or so to go, but hung in there and drafted off DJ! I got the easy job! Great ride!

Today was supposed to be another rest day, but what the heck. 🙂 I have a 35 mi ride coming up on Wednesday, so in reality i’ve already gotten that workout done…I can do a shorter ride Wednesday. A little extra can’t hurt, and i’ve done a good job this past week with taking it easy (recovery week).

Monday August 17, 2009 = Run. Took Advantage of Early Morning Gap in Schedule!

5.41 mi / 00:54 (9.56 mph pace)

Training plan called for swim today, but I realized that my week’s schedule won’t allow for many early morning outdoor workouts, therefore I took advantage of the time after I was done with client at 6:15! Also, since I rode yesterday, it made sense to run today and do swim workout Wednesday (instead of ride, since yesterday’s ride could replace Wednesday’s…but we’ll see, lol). I am supposed to run on Thursday but there’s no way i’ll be able to before 9:00am, and by that time, it’s too dang hot!

I felt great! Paced myself and didn’t feel winded or like my heart was gonna explode. Wanted to run 6.5 miles but stopped b/c medial ankle pain (both ankles). I’m thinking this probably had something to do with my 40 mile ride yesterday.

Tuesday August 18, 2009 = Swim. Nonstop Swim & Open Water Drills!

2000 yd / 00:53

Warm-Up 200 yds – 5 min
Nonstop Swim = 1600 yds in 39:12 = 43:07 min/mi pace
(alternated 100 yds with buoy and 100 yds without)
Open Water Drill I:
Closed Eyes 25 yds – 6-8 strokes before I go off course, therefore I need to sight every 6-8 strokes!
Open Water Drill II:
Heads Up 4 x 25 (rest 20);
Sightining 4 x 25 (rest 20)

I felt great! I didn’t rush thru the workout but I didn’t lollygag, either. I focused on stretching out and pulling down thru the water. Also, I really felt like things were in synch…kicking/strokes…yay!  Also, I wore my new Aqua Sphere Kaiman Lady goggles, and they rock! They form a much better seal against my face than my TYR goggles!

Wednesday August 19, 2009 = REST DAY! MASSAGE!

Thursday August 20, 2009 = Ride. Rain and Sweat…and a Rainbow!

19.82 mi / 1:04 (18.6 mph pace)

Great ride! Went after training my early morning outdoor fitness group, and it had started drizzling right when we finished at 6:45. I rode hard and fast and it started raining when I had like 5 miles to go…it was awesome! Rain and sweat…and an amazing rainbow! I would have stopped to take a picture of it, but I was doin 21 mph and feelin’ like a badass! 😀

I wish everyone could train for a tri.  This has to be the best experience ever!  I definitely needed this.  I can’t think of anything better for myself at this point in my life.  Work is going well and things rock in general, and my being able to push myself, improve, and grow is priceless!  My overall outlook on everything has been made even brighter.  I am even more positive and feel that this newfound passion, this entire experience has definitely spilled over into my other passion…training clients.  I am finding myself wanting to push my clients harder (in a good way, of course) and I feel that I am setting a positive example for them. 🙂

Each and every workout reminds me of just how amazing a machine the human body is…and i’m so very grateful to be able to utilize my body!  I am in love with the feeling of honest-to-goodness hard work!  The payoff is progress!  My endurance has improved, i’ve grown stronger, and my average heart rate during workouts has improved!  I am able to do all of this because I have respect for my body, for myself, and for my life.  It would be a terrible waste for me to not take advantage of my perfectly-functioning frame, flexible schedule, and desire to improve.  I have no excuses.  Even if I had nagging injuries, i’d still do this because I simply don’t wish to look back and regret not having given triathlons a try. I’m doing it!  My body is thankful.

Some people aren’t as fortunate.  Some people CAN’T do all these amazing things.  Some people have limitations that prevent them from utilizing their bodies in the way i’m so very fortunate to be able to.

To those who are feeling unhappy with the fact that they WANT to get into shape, yet don’t know what to do, I say this:

GET OUT THERE AND DO IT!  Find something that makes you “tick!” Take advantage of the fact that you were blessed with the most amazing gift – the ability to MOVE.  Stop sitting on your as* and do something!  There are NO excuses and life doesn’t stop for anyone.  Make the most of NOW and JUST DO IT!

In addition to my new goggles, I got a pair of Zoot Ultra Race shoes, a pair of Rudy Project Sportsmask Performance sunglasses, and a Profile Design Aqua Drink setup.  I love my shoes and sunglasses but think i’ll be sending the Aqua Drink back…it doesn’t seem to work just as I wish it would, therefore I haven’t mounted it/tried it out yet.  Also, i’ve read some mixed reviews.  I will be looking into other systems that mount on your aero bars.  I did get a mounting bracket and quick-release strap for my Garmin Forerunner, so it may be best just to mount one or the other…I won’t be able to mount both.  I have discovered that other people have figuered out “alternative” ways of mounting their Garmin in addition to an aero bottle setup, so we’ll see.

Two and a half weeks and counting!