My Guilty Pleasure: ABC’s Extreme Weight Loss

I admit it…I love watching ABC’s Extreme Weight Loss with Chris Powell. I can’t get enough of the show! I have never been overweight, I have some family members who are, but I have never experienced a journey like some of the contestants on the show. I’m curious of who these people are, where they come from and how they got to where they are today. It really has changed my perspective on people. Each one of us has a different story, battling different issues and all fighting our own uphill battle. It’s more of watching the psychological changes of all these people who have to overcome struggles and fight their demons. And we all have demons.

I absolutely love the moment when one of the contestants realizes they have nothing to fear. They can conquer so much. I also love Chris Powell. He is one pretty amazing guy who knows his stuff. If I could work out with him for a day and pick his brain I would be the happiest girl alive. Watching these people overcome their struggles is relatable to what I am doing becoming a triathlete. There are struggles I face, fears to overcome and demons to fight off in order to be the person I want to be. The show definitely emphasizes the idea of your mind controls your body. And seeing that makes me realize if these people can achieve such a great accomplishment (more than weight loss) then I can too. Cheesy, I know but this show is awesome and inspiring.

– Train Hard. Tri Harder.

@Tri_Girl22

3 Reasons Why Yoga is Awesome for Athletes

Long before I started running and competing, I used to hate yoga. It was really hard, and holding all those different poses hurt. My body did not move, stretch, or bend in any way like the freakishly flexible yoga instructor who could turn herself into a pretzel. I gave it up for a while. Once I started college, I slowly started going to classes with friends and started to appreciate the mental and physical aspects yoga had to offer. Since college I started practicing yoga regularly (about twice a week.) I have included it into my training schedule to help my flexibility, breathing and mental awareness, all key elements when it comes to endurance sports.

Here are 3 reasons why athletes should include yoga into their training regime:  

1. Increases VO2max

  • Probably one of the most surprising statements I have come across. A study on the Effects of Hatha Yoga Practice on the Health-Related Aspects of Physical Fitness proved that regular practice of Hatha yoga improved VO2max.  VO2 essentially has to do with your amount of oxygen uptake. The more oxygen you can take in during exercise the better your muscles can perform. The average untrained healthy female will score an average of 27-31 ml/kg/min. Elite female athletes can consume 77 ml/kg/min. The study found that VO2max of the individuals who participated in Hatha yoga, on average increased 6-7%.

2. Improves flexibility 

  •  This one is obvious. But maybe you didn’t know that yoga is based on the premise of correcting the imbalances our bodies incur from daily activities and for triathletes that means activities like biking, swimming and running. The human body does not perform optimally when one aspect of the body dominates the other. Maybe one of your legs is stronger than the other or maybe one ankle can flex better when you swim. If you are unbalanced you aren’t using your body efficiently. Yoga has proven to decrease imbalances through the development of core strength. Your core is where all of your power and stability emulates from. The poses from yoga strengthens your core and elongates the muscles through stretching making joints more flexible by improving the range of motion (ROM). By incorporating stretching based practices like yoga you will improve your ROM which will help prevent joint injuries and keep your body in balance to help you perform optimally.

3. Creates mental awareness 

  • Have you ever listened to what your body is telling you? Besides being hungry. Taking a moment to listen to what your body is telling you while you tackle a busy day full of activities can prove challenging.  One aspect of yoga I believe is a key factor to being self aware is connecting your breath to your body movement. Yoga teaches you to become aware of your breath. Tracy Weber explains, “This integration of breath and movement requires mindful attention and is the key reason yoga is so powerful at connecting body, breath and mind.”  I cannot tell you how many times I have “checked in” with my body to see how I was breathing during my training sessions. Am I panting to hard? Can I slow my breath down? Yoga reminds you that you are in control of your breath, and in turn your heart rate (a key factor when optimally performing.) By practicing yoga and connecting your breath to body movement you become self aware of the power your breath has on your own body, and ultimately your performance.

I encourage all athletes to give yoga a try! You might actually enjoy a good stretch after weeks of pounding pavement. And who knows, maybe by next year you can turn yourself into a pretzel…..

That doesn’t look very plesent

– Train Hard. Tri Harder.

@Tri_Girl22

Race Day Lesson #1: Every Second Counts

I just competed in my second sprint triathlon this past weekend and I finished 4th out of 9 girls in my age group. Not bad, not bad at all. But I missed 3rd place by a second, literally 1 second. I finished with a time of 1:08:04 the girl a head of me finished with a time of 1:08:03. I was that close to a podium finish. I was mad, and I wasn’t mad at the girl who beat me by 1 second, I was mad at myself. Where did I lose that 100 milliseconds? Where could I have gone faster? Pushed myself harder? My mind was racing with so many emotions that I didn’t know what to think. I let myself be mad for a while but looking back at the race I really did awesome. Especially with how my race day started….

IMG_2212

View from my ZipCar @5:50am. Hello, Boston.

My wonderful support crew (aka. my boyfriend) was to be designated driver for my race. But, alas my driver fell threw. He decided to go out the night before and had one too many drinks. He didn’t get home until 3am and we were set to leave at 6am. For those of you who think 3 hours of sleep is enough to sober up, it’s not. I couldn’t get him to get out of bed to save my life. I made the executive decision to get a ZipCar at 5:30am. I booked the car online and ran, literally ran, to the garage to pick it up.(Guess I am warmed up for the race, I thought to myself.) I got back at 5:50am, kicked my boyfriend’s butt into gear and loaded up my stuff. I really thought this would throw off my good mood and ruin my race mentality but I didn’t let it get to me. I just thought to myself “Good thing I’m pretty awesome.”

Fast forward to the race, and my swim went really well. I was probably inspired from Rick and Dick Hoyt, the famous father and son duo, start the race off. This triathlon was their 1,100th race. I was absolutely blown away by the love and dedication of one man to his son. It was amazing to see Dick pull his son in a inflatable boat, the man is 73 years old! I hope to be his age and racing in my 1,100th race.

IMG_2226

The Hoyt’s getting ready to start the race. So happy I was able to see them! #Inspirational

After the Hoyt’s took off I had to wait awhile for my wave to start. I entered into the beginners wave and it was the last wave. So there was a lot of waiting. Luckily, I didn’t have to deal with a wetsuit! My past two attempts with my new wetsuit failed on me completely, my whole top filled with water and it was tough. This time I was kitted out with a bright neon suit (I partially wore it so my really hungover boyfriend could spot me easily.) The water was 83 degrees and half way through I thought to myself, ‘This isn’t refreshing at all.’ Yuck, I exited the water and ran to the transition area.

My bike was awesome. It was a 9mi route with rolling hills. I crushed it. My average speed was 16mph and my fastest speed was 33mph. (Not bad for hardly riding my bike this month…actually at all.) I felt good.

I transitioned out to the run quickly and hit the road. It was only a 3mi run and I told myself “Just run hard.” I let my legs get used to carrying my weight again after a fast bike ride and stepped up my pace a little to about 8:30min/mi. Average pace, but I decided to take it slow until the last mile. That’s when things got interesting…

I have a tendency not to turn around and see who is closing in on me. As I hear people approach me from behind I let the anticipation and nerves drive me a little harder. I hit the last mile and hear fast footsteps, I don’t turn around. I assume it was the really fit 40 year old woman I just saw passing me. I feel someone grab my arm and say, “Come with me.” I glanced down at her calf and she’s 24, it was one of my age group competitors. She picked up her pace and I picked up mine. We were running side by side for the last mile. I thought to myself, “Wow, this is what it’s all about. To be truly racing.” I was filled with adrenaline, but I was still conscious of my heart rate. I wasn’t wearing a monitor but I was breathing heavily enough to judge it was rising fast. I kept the pace with her for 4min then she backed off. I kept my pace (about 7:30min/mi) and ran until I saw the gate leading to the finish line. I had about .25mi to go and the girl pulls up next to me and she pulls up fast. I pick up my speed and it’s an all out battle to the finish line. She pulls ahead of me just a touch, probably 3 seconds ahead of me. And I think to myself as she closes in on the finish line, “Let her go she has it.” She crosses the finish line before I do. I couldn’t tell by how many seconds, I was just so winded I could hardly stand up. I shook her hand and congratulated her.

Battling it out to the finish line.

Battling it out to the finish line.

I just raced my hardest. My competitive spirit was thrilled! I was on a high. It felt awesome to be giving it all I had against someone else. Finding out I lost the podium by 1 second sucked. Like really sucked. It was a wake up call for me. I realized how close you can be to lose a podium finish. I am sure all triathletes (amateurs and professionals) have faced a millisecond loss like I have. I have to remind myself this was only my 3rd triathlon. If I am getting close to that podium now, imagine what I can do in the future! It was that one second, and that second humbled me and showed me I am good at this. I cannot wait for my next race.

– Train Hard. Tri Harder.

@Tri_Girl22

[Takeaways] My First Triathlon

The Beginning 

This summer was my first time competing in a sprint distance triathlon. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t throw myself into my first triathlon with no training. I had been training for my “main” race this summer, which is still coming up. I chose an Olympic distance triathlon in July. Seeing as I singed up for the Olympic in March I had plenty of time to train and I figured why not sign up for a sprint to see if I could actually complete a race.

So I signed up for a sprint race back home in CT in June. I knew going back home to do a race would be better than trying to do a race in Boston, having only the support of  my boyfriend who has been preoccupied with studying for his CPA licence. My parents have always been the best pit crew (even though it does get stressful when they are both trying to tell me what to do.)

Training Hard

My training schedule up until that time had been swim in a pool twice a week, strength train twice a week, run twice a week, spin class then run (what I consider a Brick day) and two full days of rest. I am not trained in any of these disciplines whatsoever. I have been kind of going off of articles I find for running and my gut feeling of the mechanics of a freestyle stroke (going off of my swim team days of 4th grade where I did breast stroke….) Prior to my race I had never swam in open water. I have gone tubing and wake boarding on a lake but never ever have I put my face in ocean water and swam. This was my BIGGEST fear.

I stuck to my training schedule leading up to my race. And finally race day came. My boyfriend was able to get some time off of studying and drove me and my bike (I have named Missy…I’ll explain.) down to CT where my parents were waiting for us with a glass of wine.

Race Day 

SwimI awoke that Sunday at 4:30am. The race was scheduled to start at 6:30am so I figured  I needed a little extra time to eat breakfast and get everything organized before we headed to the race sight. I prepared my meal and was surprisingly calm. I usually can’t eat in the mornings on a big race day but that morning I could. I managed to wake my crew (aka my boyfriend, mom and dad) up at 5am. After their morning coffee routine we headed off to the race site. We arrived at 6am and headed over to the transition area. Thank goodness I had my crew because I had too much stuff to carry on my own (I tend to over pack when I travel somewhere, even to a race apparently.)

We found our way to the transition area that wasn’t too crowded but there were bikes everywhere. My dad somehow managed to get into the transition area to help my choose a spot. This proved stressful. It seemed like everyone was spacing out their race gear and bikes way too far apart. My dad tried hooking it on to a rack but one of the women there quickly snapped, “Bikes have to face in opposite directions.” and looked at us like we were stupid. Great start. But I shook off her comment. So I chose a spot on the end where I hooked my own bike, in the correct direction (thanks lady), and laid out my stuff according to the way someone next to me had their’s laid out.

I left the transition and got my numbers on my arm and leg (I felt badass) and my chip timer around my ankle. I slipped on my mothers wet suit (meant for scuba diving not triathlons) and then got really dizzy. My stomach dropped and I felt naucious. I thought it was because I didn’t fuel up properly so I ate what I could of a muffin I packed in my gym bag.

Things got worse before they got better….

The announcer came on, “Everyone head over to the swim start.” I was petrified. I couldn’t breath right and just seemed to stare out into the ocean where I knew I had to put my head in the water and swim. The first wave of men went then it was the women. I positioned myself in the back to avoid any conflict of arms and legs flying at me. The horn went off and I slowly walked into the shockingly cold water.

I do some warm up breast strokes, just as I have practiced, but I can’t seem to get to put my head under water without panicing. So I just do it. I swim to the first bouy and have three more to go until I can turn back home to safety (what I like to think of it.) After the first bouy I suddenly notice I can’t really lift my arms. I touch my zipper on my back and it’s completely down. My wetsuit flooded with water! I thought s**t I can’t swim. I managed to muster up some calmn and rational thoughts to myself. I worked out that if I flip on my back, swim, then turn on my front, swim, and alternate that way I can manage to get through the swim. And that’s what I did.

bikeI finally reached the last bouy and swam my heart out to the shore. It was hard and when I stripped off the top of my wetsuit water gushed out. Awesome. I run to the transition area to find my bike. I throw on my shorts and shoes and head out. Surely nothing can go wrong now. Wrong. About 5 mi into the ride my chip timer fell off of my ankle. Crap. I didn’t know what to do so I soldiered on. Luckly, the bike route required bikers to do two loops. I get off my bike and grab my chip timer and tie it tightly to my wrist.

I managed to stay calm and push on to the run. The run seemed to be my strong part of the race. I felt awesome and energized. I looked down at my watch and it said I was running 7:00min miles. That couldn’t be possible! I have never run so fast ever, not even in training. But I managed to PR 3mi in 21min.

I crossed the finish line with such joy and pride I couldn’t stop smiling. It turns out I finished in 1:21 and I was 3min away from finishing 3rd in my age group! That 3 minutes came from me hopping off my bike to get my chip timer! Ugh! Success seemed so close. I remember thinking to myself I can do this and I can place!

The Takeaways  

  1. Always practice with your wetsuit – I used my moms wetsuit and only swam in it once for 10 minutes. Big mistake (one I shall repeat again…read my next post). I would reccomend to test out a new wetsuit for 30min in the water to get a good idea if it’s a good fit or not.
  2. Check your chip timer – I noticed that my chip timer was really loose around my ankle when I started. That proved to be my downfall in this race (on top of the wetsuit issue). Now, I always bring tape just in case my chip timer is feeling loose.
  3. You might surprise yourself – I encourage all of my spin students to sign up for a race at least once. You never know how well you will perform and you might prove something to yourself! I proved I can run 7min/mi!

run

Tri Girl