Traveling can be exhausting and it’s no time for me to get sloppy eating airplane food or something found in an airport. It doesn’t take much to plan ahead and be prepared with more nutritious and delicious options. I think I shared a similar post here when preparing to travel to Ironman Lake Placid. I’ll throw in some Turmeric-Ginger and Chicory teas too. I almost picked up Greek yogurt too and wish I had for more protein. I’ll add a pack of protein powder and my shaker instead. A little bummed after taking the picture I noticed I grabbed one bag of dried strawberries instead of both apples by accident.
Oh, and the two little dark chocolates in front? Those aren’t for me. I picked those up for the two people next to me on the plane incase they’re envious or annoyed by the buffet I’ll be enjoying over 16.5 hours of travel.
8 1/2 weeks of training have come and gone so quickly which means it’s time to pack! But before I forget, Taperhas been awesome! Packing your gear bag for Ironman takes more thinking and organization than packing for a regular vacation. One of my clients, who I adore (HI if you’re reading this!), said to me at our recent appointment “Vacation?? That’s no vacation, Keli!” when I explained to her what this trip entails…fairly early bed times, very early mornings, no cocktails, light swims, bikes and runs every day, and racing 140.6 miles in the Ironman World Championship one week from tomorrow in Kona, on the big island of Hawaii. This is a DREAM COME TRUE vacation to me!
There’s a lot of stuff to pack and my Ironman suitcase is as full as my other suitcase. I think about packing in terms of each leg of the race and visualize myself at each stage of the race as I write my packing list. I also glanced back at my previous Ironman race reports (great advice, coach!) to see if there was anything I wished I had in previous races. Packing well in advance has helped me tremendously this time around. I packed everything non-race related 7 days ahead and I’m pretty sure that’s a record for me. I organized all of my Ironman gear on a towel 5 days ahead, making sure to place everything back on the towel immediately as I finished each day this week’s training. I came across the 16 Things You’ll Forget to Pack for Konatoday on Ironman.comand can you guess which item I forgot? My race belt… which I never wear. I don’t like the feeling of a belt around my waist while running and usually just pin my bib to my tri top. Looks like we need to wear our bib for the bike too due to winds potentially blowing our race stickers off our bikes (whoa!) I also used a tip from my friendEllen that makes me feel even more prepared. When we arrived Ironman Lake Placid 8 weeks ago she already separated her five race bags into large zip lock bags when she packed. Brilliant. It’s already done and all I have to do is double or triple check them before putting gear in each of the Ironman bags. It’s going to make things that much easier and save time. Both suitcases are packed and zipped as of last night, two days to departure. I feel calm and prepared. Now that packing is complete can you guess the final item on my “To Do” list this evening before departure tomorrow morning? Take a guess. I will tell you when I update you on the flight tomorrow…
Goooooooood morning and welcome, Taper! Twelve days to my 140.6 mile journey on big island of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii in the 2015 Ironman World Championship. I am racing on the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation Team for Cures.Over the past week every now and then it hits me although I’ve remained pretty calm going into this race. Maybe I don’t fully believe I am racing Kona or maybe I know it’s best to remain as calm as possible in the weeks leading up to it. This morning I opened my email first thing and it started to sink in. As I read one of my final training plans along with a thoughtful and encouraging message from my coach I briefly felt emotional for the first time over this experience. I also realized this week is departure week.
Taper is a beautiful thing. Yes…a BEAUTIFUL thing. As you reduce volume before your race this is a time to recover from all the hard work and become fully aware of how much progress you’ve made. Even in just the eight weeks I’ve had to train for this race I most definitely see the areas where I’ve improved. It is also an important time to mentally prepare, focus and relax your mind. I have spent some time doing my best to understand endurance athletes during their taper. Believe it or not, taper has a lot in common with what I encounter in my work as birth professional. Actually, training and race day do too and I have thought about this at some point during each of my Ironman races. But that’s another blog post I’ve been meaning to write for a long time and eventually will. If we learn how to nail tapering, like we do the rest of our training, it will likely pay off big for race day.
Taper doesn’t have to be a time that makes triathletes crazy, anxious, moody, bored, and a number of other words athletes use to describe taper. Have you ever thought about how many of us create the chaos or drama in our minds before taper even begins? As taper approaches people post warnings and jokes about how and what they are about to experience. The truth is, if you expect to feel anxious and moody you likely will be. This applies to anything in life. Tell yourself you are going to go nuts and you will become nuts. Athletes who go into taper seeing it as a miserable time will indeed have a very uncomfortable taper. Our mind is a powerful tool and our thoughts are directly linked to our experiences. Sometimes they even create our outcomes. Think about this and ask yourself how crankiness and worrying about things out of your control will affect your overall experience and race. One of the most important things I have learned in training for four Ironman in these past two years is that racing an Ironman requires a lot more than swim, bike, and run. It requires more than being fast enough to meet each of the cutoff times. A successful Ironman performance includes a strong body AND a well trained mind. Whether you realize it consciously or not, as you train the body physically you are training your mind at the same time. There are numerous ways to train the brain although it begins with something very simple: the way you speak to yourself. The things you tell yourself and the messages you choose to absorb from yourself and others will influence your mindset in one direction or the other. ”Be careful how you are talking to yourself because you are listening.” Lisa M. Hayes
Another week flew by and my training load lightened slightly. This week it decreases a little more. My body continues to feel great and although I love training I appreciated the decrease. Wednesday’s swim flew by quickly, feeling refreshed right out of the water. Saturday’s last longer ride was interesting trying to get out of the city with all of the Pope activity. My favorite day was yesterday, my last longer run on the Ben Franklin Bridge for the first time rather than above it. All of our roads were closed in the city for the Pope’s visit to Philadelphia. It was quite the site to see here in Philly, but I won’t even try paint that picture. I ran up and down Broad street, Love Park, Independence Hall, and the Ben Franklin. As I hit the middle of the bridge, half way between PA an NJ, the National Guard snuck up and photo bombed me. They screamed and then laughed which made me scream and then laugh. With the roads closed and so many tourists the energy of the city felt like running a race with so many “spectators” although instead of cowbells it was songs about Jesus every few blocks. Philly was Pope-ular this weekend and this run was the highlight of Pope-adelphia for me.
Physically, taper is needed for endurance athletes to ensure that the body is rested and well-fueled for the upcoming race but I appreciate this time for so much more. Mentally and emotionally tapering can be rather difficult for many as you see a change in schedule, appetite, structure, and so on. Choose to embrace taper. Get comfortable with this time, enjoy your new normal and remember it’s temporary. Much like discomfort you may experience on race day. That too is often temporary. Your body may crave more but choose to appreciate this time to recharge the body and mind. I don’t really know how people seem to have so much time on their hands during taper. There are so many things I need to get done and taper allows me that time. Make a list of all of the things you’d like to do before taper arrives so you are prepared with plenty of things to do when your taper arrives. Consider incorporating yoga and/or a meditation practice into your training BEFORE your taper and use your extra taper time to find yourself on your mat. If you think yoga is simply stretches, relaxation and Pranayama (breath work), think again. Yoga will also provide physical activity and all of this is something I look forward to during my taper. Still have too much time on your hands? Enjoy time with those you haven’t had much time for throughout training. Especially if they are people who have supported your training and will be there to support you on race. Experiment in the kitchen or go get a pedicure…I love looking down at pretty toes before I enter the water on race day. Start getting organized for the race. I packed all of my non-Ironman items yesterday (one week to departure) and intend to pack everything else tonight minus my helmet, run shoes, bike shoes, pedals, and a few other items. There’s no reason to create stress the day before I leave. Whatever it is you enjoy outside triathlon, enjoy it during taper. Focus on positive messages during taper. Direct your energy to how amazing your body is. What are you able to do now that you once couldn’t? What is your body capable of on race day? You have done the work. Going overboard with training during the final weeks to race day will likely do more harm than good. Relax and feel confident with where you are. Choose happiness, choose to appreciate, choose to trust your training and your body. The choices you make physically and mentally during taper are just as important as the choices you make during the peak of your training. One of the best things about taper is going into it without fear, worries, and a positive mindset. I still remember my first Ironman like it was yesterday, exactly one year and six months ago this week. As I approach my fourth Ironman I am calm, my mind is filled with happy thoughts and gratitude for where I am today. I am in taper, therefore I’m happy.
Wishing those who are tapering a happy taper and everyone else a very happy day! Keli
Carrot Ginger-Turmeric Smoothie for lunch. It turned out DELICIOUS! Loading up on natural anti-inflammatories before the race.
1/2 cup Homemade Carrot Juice- Juicing breaks the cell walls of fruit and vegetables, making the nutrients more accessible and allowing the body to quickly absorb the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, all of which can help reduce inflammation.
1 Tbsp Ginger (I like things really gingery so use 1/2 Tbsp if you like it more subtle) - Anti-inflammatory, improves circulation and blood flow, may prevent motion sickness/cramping.
Tiny piece Turmeric- Strong anti-inflammatory, as effective as some anti-inflammatory drugs, increases antioxidant capacity of the body, linked to improved brain function, and a ton of additional benefits (google it)
1 Cup Pineapple – Contains bromelain which helps to break down proteins, aids in digestion, reduces swelling, and can improve blood circulation. Antioxidant packed with Vitamin C.
1 Frozen Ripe Banana- High source of potassium and well…it’s a fruit… the list goes on.
Almond Milk- Unsweetened Vanilla- Vegan/ low cal.
I make the carrot juice using a high power blender, adding 1 cup of water. Once blended smooth and use a cheese cloth to remove the pulp. You MUST remove the pulp for this smoothie. You could use store bought carrot juice but in my opinion it’s not the same.
Rinse out the blender to remove any pulp. Add all ingredients including the carrot juice to the blender and blend until smooth and creamy.
As the leaves begin to change colors, the days become shorter and air becomes cool and crisp it is a reminder that we are transitioning from one season to the next. Today marks the first day of autumn, a season which represents transition. Transition (noun): The process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.
Whether it’s a seasonal transition, transition in location, relationships, work or even transitions in our asana practice, transition is sometimes coupled with feelings of fear and uncertainty but it can also feel good and trigger energy, optimism, focus and motivation. The practice of staying present and not getting lost in the past or too stressed about the future is a practice of patience, dedication, and trusting yourself. I am still working on it almost every day as it is a regular practice for most of us. As the fall season begins it reminds me how important it is to find myself on my yoga mat each week. Yoga teaches us tools to move through transitions and is both a physical practice and internal practice. After I taught yoga at sunset this evening in Washington Square I looked down at the crispy leaves on my way home and thought about the way the transition into fall resembles our own experiences of transition in life. When I reached home I reflected on some recent events and set some intentions for the future. There is something special about this season to me. What are you looking forward to most this fall? As we watch leaves change colors and fall to the ground, allow yourself to remain open and embrace all of the good that comes along with times of transition. Opportunities for good change are around us right now. Wishing you all a happy and healthy fall season. Keli
Seriously, what?? Another week has flown by already? That’s a good thing because that tells me I’m still loving my training. I think one reason each week seems to fly by is because this time I’m taking things day by day. I never look to far out this time around, focus on being present and keep showing up day by day. Showing up consistently makes showing up the next day that much easier. What difference does it make on a Monday to think about what training will be like on Friday though? Sometimes I wonder if triathletes psych themselves up more than they need to getting too excited or anxious too far ahead. This applies to race day too. It’s normal and healthy to be excited, don’t get me wrong. I tend to be a person who gets excited easily by things I enjoy. I am just saying that breaking things down and not getting too far ahead of ourselves can pay off in the long run. I strongly believe in the power of visualization and do visualize parts of the race while training, although for the most part I don’t sit here thinking about Kona when I’m not training. I’m having a hard time even imagining stepping foot on that airplane in nine days…I even had to google that just now. Nine days, whoa. One day at a time.
Last week was a peak training week and my training plan arrived with a short note from the boss (as always) which included “The idea of the run on Sunday is to push you beyond comfort. It is to get you comfortable with the uncomfortable, a mantra that you may want to remember on your journey in Kona!” Well said, boss. I like the way you speak my language and it happens to be one of my favorite mantras I shared last year in the second to last bit ofthis article.Volume and hours trained last week were high, most days were intense, but believe it or not it didn’t seem all the hard or “uncomfortable” and I’m pretty sure I know why. It challenged me, yes…but it wasn’t all that hard. Since I knew this was my final big week of training I told myself at the beginning of the week that it can’t possibly be so uncomfortable. Discomfort usually begins in our mind and sometimes we make things hard before we even begin. How can it be that hard when I knew that this was my last week of pushing my limits? Just knowing that we’d be dialing things back a bit soon leading into taper was enough to make my mind realize how much I have completed in this short timeframe and how I am almost there. Keeping things in perspective and choosing to focus on one day at a time was enough to make that final peak week completely do-able and it went so fast!
Monday’s ride was super fun and so inspiring to finally ride with Derek aka Recycled Man.Derek and I had agreed to ride together at least once before Kona. He reached out Monday just before lunchtime and less than an hour later we headed out for a 2.75 hour ride. Wednesday’s swim rocked and focused on practicing sighting. Although most of my days last week were a blast Thursday’s long run challenged my mind. It takes a lot to upset me and let’s just say I went out for my run feeling angry and frustrated. My chest felt like it might explode, my breathing wasn’t as steady, and my mindset did not feel as strong. At mile three I text a friend and by mile five the reply and support received turned me around and made me smile. If you happen to be reading this… thank you… you made my entire day more than you know and pushed me through something that mattered a lot to me. There are lessons in the challenging days and I always ask myself what I can gain from these days. This run wasn’t my fastest but reminded me that what we focus our attention on is a choice. I can choose to focus on what upset me or choose to move forward and focus on things that make me happy. I am not telling you it’s always easy but it is a choice. There was no way I was going to allow something outside my control to affect completing this run. It was too important to me. I must focus on one thing while I am training…which is my training. Friday’s long (holy moly long) swim felt awesome and I’ve been loving the water and way I feel getting out of the pool. Saturday’s century ride was of course a long day. The second half went faster than the first half which doesn’t surprise me. Once I hit mile 25 I realized I had already completed 1/4 of the ride and that’s when I felt I really settled in. I tend to break down long rides and make them a numbers game. I do it in most races too. Once I hit mile 50 I can choose to tell myself I still have 50% left to go or that I’ve already completed 50% of the task. I focused on the second thought. I’m not going to lie though…it occurred to me at one point around mile 75 that I wasn’t sure I’d be getting this century ride in if it weren’t for my coach. I mean… I felt more than capable physically but I wondered if I would really be doing this ride if it weren’t for the plan. I will ALWAYS complete every task he asks me to so long as my body is capable (week 5/ day 6…my only workout I have missed by choice so far) so I had to complete those 100 miles. There’s no way I’m coming in early from training to report “Boss, I called it quits early today.” Nope. Never. And boy did I feel awesome once I finished the 100 miles. So how about Sunday’s run? “The idea of the run on Sunday is to push you beyond comfort. It is to get you comfortable with the uncomfortable, a mantra that you may want to remember on your journey in Kona!” It wasn’t so uncomfortable after all! My body was totally up it. This was the final workout of the week so I decided it’s impossible for it to be uncomfortable because it was the last bit before completing my final peak week. And that’s exciting! Somehow I even managed to make it to yoga four days last week too. All-in-all last week rocked.
Sunday night I woke up every few hours finding myself in yoga poses again, quads completely on fire. Since I couldn’t sleep I made myself go to sunrise yoga on Monday and it feel so gooooooooood. The rest of this week my body feels amazing head to toe. Ironman training tears me apart sometimes, physically and mentally, and it also put me back together. I feel like I’ve grown just a little over these past seven weeks and that excites me. The more you show up, the more you believe in yourself. I keep showing up for myself these past weeks and last week I pushed myself to my limit. There is something about Ironman that does my mind and body right. Having this chance to train and race is rewarding. You show up on a rainy morning, a hot afternoon, or whatever conditions you are given and stay committed no matter what. You push yourself to the limits to see how far you can go and what you are truly capable of. I have been striving to train like I have never before, focusing on a plan day by day, pushing my body to the limits in pursuit of this incredible experience I hope to have racing Kona in just a few weeks. I can honestly say that I am pretty sure I feel better training now than I ever have before. The workouts have been intense, effective, teaching me a lot, and so much fun. Sunday I dropped my bike off to ship it to Kona and things are starting to ease back this week. I am close to taper time.
The athletes I will race with in Kona are amazing inspirations. They inspire me for many reasons, but it all stems from them showing up and believing in themselves. One day at a time. I need stay to remain focused. I need to continue showing up and I need to believe. Whatever it is you are doing, keep showing up and continue to believe in yourself.
My sixth week of training for the Ironman World Championship, already? I’m getting used to the fact that I am almost always close to a week behind on blogging. Last week’s training was awesome and brought up three important things for me. You probably want here about my actual physical training but instead this week I’ll share some other important parts of training.
1) Overcoming adversity
I arrived the pool last Wednesday to find it was closed. A simple reminder about overcoming adversity.So was the following day (a bike day) when the rainstorms never ended. It was a reminder of the importance of overcoming roadblocks while training and on race day. You’ll usually find a roadblock or two somewhere along the course of 140.6 miles but there’s almost always a way around them. I found myself cycling indoors for the first time in months which turned out to be a good thing. I was so incredibly bored but I realized it challenged my mind to be okay with “what is.” Cycling indoors was out of my control, like many things in a race, and I knew that in a matter of hours I would push through it. By the end of the workout I realized I actually enjoyed parts of it.
The highlight of week 6 was traveling to DC to race Nation’s Triathlon. Race report to follow later this week. It fell on the two year anniversary of my first triathlon which was also Nation’s Triathlon. Both times I raced the Olympic although the first time I stuffed my $250 craigslist bike that I purchased 9 days prior in the back seat of my car, didn’t tell any friends and drove up alone. I did not have a single triathlon friend at the time. This time I had an awesome visit and stayed with my Ironman Lake Placid friend Stephanie. This week was a reminder of the people I have met on my journey through triathlon. All of us share something in common which is our passion for triathlon. Every triathlete has a different story- how they got into it, their motivation, the challenges they have had to overcome to get there, what drives them, and the experiences that have shaped who they are. I feel such gratitude for many of the people I have met, continue to meet, and the new friends I have made along the way training and racing. I am especially grateful for those I have met through the Ironman community, as there is something unique about this part of the community that continues play a meaningful roll in my life. And my final reminder that came up during week 6 is that no matter how big or how small, keep dreaming. Just after finishing the Nation’s Triathlon on Sunday I vividly flashed back to how I felt the first time I crossed that finish line. So much has changed in just two years. I never would have guessed two years ago that I’d be Kona bound in 15 day. (Gasp…I just googled days until departure and can’t believe I leave in 15 days.) Sometimes things may seem so out of reach we don’t even take the steps to begin. But the truth? Sometimes they are closer than we think, maybe sometimes they actually just around the corner. Whatever it is you’re aiming towards, dream big and always keep dreaming.
I just looked and see my clock says it’s about lunchtime. That can only mean one thing since I didn’t train this morning…another workout is looming. At the moment I am sitting here blogging and I’m probably a little too comfortable. But in a matter of minutes I will have to get up and push myself through a two hour run. And I look forward to it.
If you don’t care to read about gross things then you might want to move on. If you’re reading this during your lunch break you also might want to move on. If you’re a runner, triathlete, or think this is interesting then read on. I’m supposed to blog week 6 of Kona World Championship training and my Nation’s Triathlon race report but this seems like a quicker topic to blog today.
A few weeks ago I had a little trouble with my second to last toe on my right foot. I thought it was going to be my first toenail to fall off but phew, it was saved. But then yesterday it happened. I lost my second toenail on my right foot. You know, the one next to my big toe. It was never black before it fell off like people say they are. It had been hanging there completely detached from the nail bed, like a lose tooth ready for the tooth fairy. Please tell me this is as big of a deal as losing your first tooth and please tell me there’s something like the tooth fairy out there. You know…like a Toenail Fairy? Am I going to get some kind of prize or cash like I did when I was a kid losing my teeth or do I just earn some lame “badge of honor” for losing the first toenail? I can’t believe it’s taken three Ironman to lose my first toe nail. Why is this just happening now and does this finally make me an official runner? Melissa and Kristen both tell me it does. Fortunately for you I only sent those two ladies the before and after photo. All you can see is the tiny before thumbnail…no pun intended. Anyways, losing a toenail is mostly funny to me although pretty ugly for a girl. I’ve got 9 pink polished toes and one toe completely naked. Maybe I’ll just polish right over and hope it blends in…
Swimming, cycling, running and rigorous training regimes in order to prepare for the Ironman World Championship. Of course there are the occasional roadblocks too. Imagine showing up to the swimming pool full of energy and excited to get in your longest swim yet…to find the pool is closed. Bummer. That’s what happened yesterday. For a split second I actually thought I was off the hook from training although that only lasted a few seconds before I acknowledged to myself that there was other options. You can’t solve every problem but you can usually manage them. Yesterday marked exactly 30 days to the Ironman World Championship so there was no way I was about to start making excuses now. Quick google search and I ended up driving almost an hour to swim 4400 meters or 2.73 miles. Btw, coach…why on earth am I swimming 2.73 miles when Ironman is 2.4 miles?! I can guess this is to make race day feel shorter and prepare me to exit the water feeling fresh and full of energy. Okay, okay… it makes complete sense and I like it. Believe it or not this swim was pretty easy and definitely left me full of energy for seven hours. I was happy with yesterday’s outcome, minus accidentally walking into the men’s locker room after my swim. Yep, although I caught myself quickly when some dude whistled at me from the pool area. I received awesome feedback after completion of this swim that I really appreciate too. “Way to overcome adversity. Be proud for acknowledging the challenge of the pool being closed and finding a solution on the fly. Believe it or not but it is the ability to adapt that will be a HUGE help on race day, with changing weather, terrain, and fatigue levels. Good job!” I will remember this. I’ve got my swim down and feel confident in the water, my run is getting more and more consistent and that leaves the bike which challenges me the most. And today happens to be a bike day…
It’s been pouring outside since this morning. Full-on heavy thunderstorm. I could train in the rain for practice but it’s not worth it this close to race day. Rain is not a reason to stop myself or make excuses though. Since I can’t change the conditions I’ll have to find a way to overcome the roadblock just like yesterday. Ironman is about many things, including pushing through difficult circumstances, getting through obstacles, overcoming adversity like my coach says above, and ultimately reaching new outcomes and experiences. Maybe you wonder why I’m not on my trainer, but I actually do not own a trainer. There’s a reason for this but that’s a topic for another blog. I’m sitting here at my favorite cafe right now eating soup, working, blogging, and staring out the window coated with raindrops. After lunch I’ll search RPM classes and cycling studios. Looks like I’ll need to do two classes back to back this evening. It’s not the same and I’m cool with that. Who knows what will happen by doing something different once in awhile.
We train our bodies so hard for Ironman but one of the most important things is to train the mind. There is an obsession with triathletes logging data, tracking how far and fast they’ve gotten, and while all of it is important isn’t training the brain as important as training the body? Overcoming adversity has more to do with the mind than the body. It is the obstacles and discomfort that shows up which gives us the opportunity to realize that a strong mind is perhaps the most powerful tool of all. Although this week my training “issues” are tiny, I am pretty certain that it’s the mind that has carried me through some of my bigger challenges in the past leading me to some of the greatest outcomes. It’s been a constant practice though, just like training and yoga, and i have a ways to go. Your mind is trainable to overcome adversity and that to me is essential to Ironman. Train your mind to embrace challenges and it will ultimately lead you to overcome adversity.