Some of you may have read my post about my best triathlon experiences for 2013 and noticed that Chrissie Wellington is the athlete who has inspired me the most. I have had the AWESOME experience of meeting Chrissie twice in my life (so far)…I received my finisher’s medal from her at IRONMAN Kansas 70.3 in 2010 (my first every 70.3 distance race) and at USA Triathlon Olympic-distance Age Group National Championships in 2013. She is an amazing ambassador for the sport of triathlon!! What makes her a good ambassador????
She is trustworthy, honest, follows the rules and is loyal to the sport of triathlon.
She has respect for the sport of triathlon, her fellow professional athletes and the age group athletes that follow in her footsteps.
She has ambition and drive to do and be her absolute best…full of self-control and self-discipline. She is accountable for her words, actions and attitude.
She is open-minded and not afraid to take advice from others around her…always willing to learn and trying to grow as an athlete.
She is compassionate and shows extreme gratitude…I experienced this first hand after IRONMAN Kansas 70.3 in 2010. I was waiting for a massage in the massage tent after the race. When it was my turn for a massage, Chrissie walked into the massage tent inquiring to the massage therapist about when she should come back to get a massage. She did NOT want to cut into the line of age group athletes that had been sitting and waiting in line. I gave her my spot in the massage line and she was UNBELIEVABLY grateful…and for the record, everyone behind me in line still let me get my massage. I was also very grateful!!
She has a vision, both for sport and for making the world a better place. She volunteers her time at races, supports charities she is passionate about and has a “pay it forward” demeanor about her.
She sets goals and pushes her limits trying to achieve those goals…while training and racing.
She lives life with a positive, “I CAN” attitude, even when faced with challenges…keeping a smile on her face and believing that she can overcome any obstacle in her path.
She inspires many athletes just by being real. She does not try to hide the struggles she has gone through or struggles she is currently going through. She has shared her struggles with eating disorders, injuries, her coaches, other professional athletes, etc.
After she crosses the finish line, she always returns to hand out medals to the age group athletes that follow in her footsteps…inspiring us, encouraging us and displaying her passion for triathlon.
In my opinion, Chrissie is an amazing ambassador for the sport of triathlon. What characteristics do you appreciate and look for in an ambassador?
Thanks to Abby at Change of Pace for this post’s inspiration!! She recently posted about her year of running with a triathlon twist and gave credit to Miss Zippy. I am posting my year of triathlon, but with a few of my own bonus “bests.”
Best race experience?
I had quite a few PRs this year (including shaving 26:51 off my 70.3 distance time), so one would think it would be hard to pick just one race, but this is actually an easy one for me…
Not only did I have to qualify to compete in this race (by placing 2nd in my age group at the Lake Geode Olympic-distance Triathlon), but I did so by setting a PR (shaving 11:46 off my previous Olympic-distance time). USAT Age Group National Championships was an AMAZING experience…awesome race venue (Milwaukee, WI), friendly and helpful volunteers, fierce competition, perfect racing weather and yet another PR in the books (shaving another 4:37 off my Olympic-distance triathlon time).
In 2013, I raced two marathons, one half marathon and a 5K to bring in the New Year, but my best run wasn’t a race. My best run was with the Iron Hippie and our two black labs. We ran through Carr Woods for a short, late afternoon run this fall…leaves crunching under our feet, perfect temperature, setting sun through the branches of the trees, uneven terrain, quiet surroundings…PERFECT!!
Was without a doubt the Two States Ride with the Iron Hippie back in June…there was little vehicular traffic, we rode a perfect distance (70 miles), the company was great, we got to experience new scenery…this ride was simply wonderful!!
There really isn’t any particular swim that stands out to me as being “the best” this year. This summer I really enjoyed starting my day with a swim in the outdoor 50 meter pool at 6 am.
Best brick workout?
I LOVED (and at moments hated) the 3×60/20 brick that I completed on May 19!! This brick consisted of 3 sets of a 60 minute ride followed by a 20 minute run. Set #1 was completed in zone 2, set #2 was completed in upper zone 2/lower zone 3 and set #3 was completed in mid to upper zone 3. While it was a very CHALLENGING 4 hour workout, it was also very REWARDING!!
Best group workout?
Six friends set out on a leisure century ride around central Iowa on a HOT July 5th day. We started with 6 cyclists, but shortly before mile 40, one cyclist had to head home and go to work. About 5 miles later, another friend met up with us after he got off work, so our numbers were back up to 6. Great time with awesome friends!!
Best new piece of gear?
This is SUPER easy…my new SOAS tri kit!! Love, LOve, LOVE my SOAS tri kit…no chafing, perfect fit, cool white color…simply AMAZING!!
Best piece of racing advice you received?
I think the best advice I’ve received has come from a variety of sources…Just Believe. When you believe in yourself, anything is possible!!
Most inspirational athlete?
While Chrissie Wellington is not racing IRONMAN any more, she is definitely my most inspirational athlete. Her compassion for sport, love of people, positive attitude, strong will, outstanding character and amazing smile are very motivational and extremely contagious. With every workout that I do, or race that I compete in, Chrissie is at the forefront of my mind with a big smile and the following quote,
“It’s when the discomfort strikes that one realizes a strong mind is the most powerful weapon of all.” ~Chrissie Wellington
If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be?
PR (personal record), FUN, STRONG
Tell me about your 2013 year and then link back to Abby’s and Miss Zippy’s posts!!
Thanks to Erin for the mantra that stuck with me as I raced the Indianapolis Marathon to my 2nd fastest marathon time ever…”Get comfortable with the uncomfortable.”
The alarm went off at 5:30 am (although that was still 4:30 am based on central time). While getting dressed, nourished and race ready, we took one last look at the weather for our race…43 degrees at the start with a steady rain and 10+ mph winds (that would slowly climb throughout the day). Not ideal, but not horrible.
We loaded up on the shuttle from our hotel at 6:40 am and headed out to the race site. Our driver got a little turned around, but we weren’t complaining because we were on a dry, warm bus. When we finally made it to the race site, we were allowed to sit in a large canopied tent to stay dry and out of the inclement weather, which was a good thing. The thought of standing outside in the cold and rain for just over an hour made me consider hiding out in a kybo just to stay dry. I was much happier in the canopied tent!!
With about 20 minutes to the start of the race, I decided to drop my gear, hit the kybo and head to the start line. With only 615 athletes running the full marathon and about 1600 people running the half marathon, it didn’t take long to get to the start area.
When the gun went off, I decided to start out strong and see how long I could hold on. With the cold and rain, I figured the faster I got done, the sooner I’d be out of the inclement weather. “Get comfortable with the uncomfortable.” During the first 13 miles, I thought the course was to be flatter than it was, but there were quite a few undulations throughout this half of the race. “Get comfortable with the uncomfortable.”
I crossed the 8 mile mark at just under one hour, and was starting to feel my left glute start to scream. I’m not sure if it was the undulations or my quicker than normal pace. “Get comfortable with the uncomfortable,” smile and keep pushing forward. By this time, it was only lightly misting and the temperatures were nearing the mid 40s…time to strip down to my tank top and ditch my long sleeve throw away shirt (don’t worry Bill…I had arm warmers on too).
I crossed the half marathon mat at 1:53:08. Not as fast as I was hoping for, but my upper hamstrings and glutes were SCREAMING!! “Get comfortable with the uncomfortable.” Alright…let’s push to mile 15. Check. Focus on the positives…I’m not in a wheelchair…My nutrition is spot on…I am executing this race almost perfectly given the conditions that I have. Time to push to mile 18…Check. No more rain 🙂 Mile 19.5 split…2:48:31. Nutrition is spot on, pace is declining, upper hamstrings and glutes are SCREAMING…smiling like I’m Chrissie Wellington, I keep moving forward. “Get comfortable with the uncomfortable.”
The last 10K was painful, but I kept smiling and pushing forward, finishing in a time of 3:56:42…my 2nd fastest marathon time to date!! While I was disappointed with my finish time, I was satisfied with how I executed my race. I stayed mentally focused and strong even when obstacles presented themselves…controlling what I could control. The Indianapolis Marathon was about “getting comfortable with the uncomfortable.”
“Ultimately, triathlon is about pain – how you endure it and the mechanisms you put in place to deal with it when it comes.” ~Chris McCormack
With the Indianapolis Marathon just around the corner, it is time to be reminded to “Embrace the Suck” on race day. If you truly race, you are going to feel pain at some point during your race and it will suck. “Embracing the suck” is all about how you handle the pain when it shows up. Being mentally prepared for the pain and “suck” is essential to peak performance on race day.
How do we prepare to embrace the suck? Easy…train…during tough workouts, push your body to the moments that suck and take note of where your mind goes during the suck moments. Once you know what this pain feels like, you can determine a plan to help you deal with it on race day. Make a checklist that you run through, accept pain as an inevitable…don’t try to deny that it will show up, positive self-talk can also help keep you focused, smile 🙂 (that always seems to work for me…learning this one from the best…Chrissie Wellington), focus on controlled breathing, determine if your nutrition is in check, make sure you are as relaxed as you can be so you aren’t wasting unnecessary energy, focus on stride pattern and/or stride cadence (for those who are in tune with their stride), and stay in control.
Your body will do anything your mind tells it to, so stay in control. Never lose control of your mind when things get challenging. Stay focused and EMBRACE THE SUCK!!
As you may remember, I qualified for the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championship to be hosted in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 11, 2013. Coming to Milwaukee for the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championship was like coming full circle…back to the place where I ran the Lakefront Marathon and qualified for the Boston Marathon in 2008.
I woke up Saturday morning at 4 am, ate my pre-race breakfast (Nature’s Path Qi’a Superfood with fresh blueberries), gathered up my gear and headed down to the race site. I knew I wouldn’t start swimming until about 8:58 am, so I decided to wear comfortable clothes down to the race site, set up my transition area, inflate my bike tires and then walk the short distance back to the car to deposit the bike pump and change into my tri kit. Since I needed to be to transition at about 5:30 am to set up my area, this seemed to make the most sense. I eventually made it down to the water’s edge by about 7:15 am and began the waiting game…
Since I had quite a bit of time to wait, I soon noticed the absolutely BEAUTIFUL DAY…cue U2…
It was a PERFECT day for racing…there were few clouds in the sky, humidity was low, temperatures were in the low 70s and the winds were about 4 mph out of the north. I didn’t think it could get much better, but I was wrong…the weather got much better while I was racing!! 🙂
There was a delay by about 15 minutes to the official start of the race, because there were some problems closing the interstate so we could ride on it…yes, they closed the interstate for a triathlon…that doesn’t happen often!! Because of the delayed start, each swim wave was pushed back about 15 minutes, so I didn’t start until about 9:15 am instead of the planned start time. At about 9:05 am, we jumped off the dock and into the water where we were given about 8 minutes to acclimate to the Lake Michigan water temps…surprisingly Lake Michigan wasn’t as cold as I thought it would be 🙂 We then had to swim back to the dock and hold onto the dock in a floating swim start fashion.
When the air horn went off, it was complete pandemonium in the water. I have NEVER experienced a swim quite like this one…I know I have mentioned swim experiences in previous triathlons that are similar to rugby tournaments in the water, but this was more like a loaded washing machine on the spin cycle where not one piece of clothing has any freedom…it was FULL CONTACT for the whole swim!! “Just Keep Swimming…Just Keep Swimming…” as well as “Relax, Breathe and Swim Straight” kept playing through my head. These women were out for blood!! There was not one moment in my roughly 30 minute swim where I had open water and was not in some kind of contact with another woman in my age group…whether it was getting kicked in the goggles, hit on the arm, swam into by someone who couldn’t swim a straight line, hitting a slower swimmer in front of me or kicking someone behind me who kept swimming on my feet…swimming in this race was a full contact sport!!
As we approached the swim exit, I knew I had to swim up onto a steep ramp and that there would be volunteers there to pull me out of the water. I emerged from the water after having covered 1.5 km in 30:16 and was pulled up out of the water by my husband…I forgot to mention he was volunteering at the swim exit and pulling athletes out of the water all morning, so he got in a good strength training session while I raced. As I emerged I said, “Thanks!! Love you!!” to my husband, then ran up the ramp and down a long sidewalk into transition.
By the time I entered transition, I had my goggles and swim cap off and my wetsuit was nearly completely off…it was a long run to my bike. I quickly finished taking my wetsuit off, put on my bike shoes, helmet and sunglasses, drank some water, loaded my tri top with my spare tube, tire lever and CO2 cartridge, grabbed my bike and headed out on the road. T1 time was 4:00…I chalk that up to the incredibly long run from the swim exit to my bike and out the other side…
As I started out on the bike, I quickly found my rhythm and mentally recapped my swim…I was so pleased with how well I kept my focus and didn’t let all of the contact in the swim negatively affect me. Now I was on the bike, so it was time to do what I came to do…give it my all. As I was cycling, I kept thinking what a BEAUTIFUL DAY it was…cue U2… The sun was still shining, so I was able to warm up a bit from the 69.4 degree Fahrenheit water temperatures of Lake Michigan. At about mile 10 I rode up onto the interstate…it was a decent climb, but I did not get out of my big chain ring at any point during the race, so it wasn’t too steep 🙂 “I am strong. I am tough.” It was between mile 10 and 13 that I noticed the clouds moving in…YES!! That would make the conditions on the run even better…What a BEAUTIFUL DAY…cue U2… I rolled into transition after having covered 40 km on the bike in 1:20:38, which was an average speed of 18.5 mph…WAHOO!!
I was quicker in T2…having to only change my shoes, grab my visor, race number, nutrition and run out onto the course…but still had quite a distance to cover in transition, so my T2 time was 2:19.
As I started the run, I felt like my pace was a bit fast, but I decided to go with it and see just how long I could hold onto it. “Think strong, be strong, finish strong.” I was feeling great!! I was thinking just how lucky I was to be running in the footsteps of some amazing people, when I happened to run up to a very inspirational person at about mile 4, so I stopped and walked with her briefly…Sister Madonna Buder, age 83…I said, “Sister Madonna, you are such an inspiration.” She said, “Thank you, but it gets harder every race.” I said, “But you are out here doing it and inspiring others.” She said, “God bless you child.” Gave me a hug and I ran off re-energized all the way to the finish, where I crossed the finish line with a run split of 51:49 for the 10 km run, which was an average pace of 8:20.
I received my medal from Chrissie Wellington, who also gave me a hug and then I went to the results tent to find out my official finish time…ANOTHER PR!! 2:49:03 was my official finish time…this didn’t qualify me for Team USA at the Worlds Championship, but I pushed my limits, broke my previous PR by almost 4 minutes and had a lot of fun!! 🙂
After crossing the finish line, Dad was waiting for me. It was so nice to have him there cheering me on and supporting me throughout the day in what he refers to as “crazy.”
With USA Triathlon Olympic Distance National Championships only a few days away, it got me thinking about mantras. I have a few phrases that run through my mind during the different disciplines of a triathlon while I’m racing…
While swimming: “Just keep swimming” and “Breathe, focus, swim straight”
While biking: “I am focused, I am relaxed” and “I am strong, I am tough”
While running: “Think strong, be strong, finish strong” and “I am tougher than the rest” I also play the song “Another one bites the dust” in my head as I pass people on the run and I always remember Chrissie Wellington’s mantra… “Smile”
I have read some really inspiring and motivational books this summer and want to share them with you…
“A Life Without Limits” by Chrissie Wellington…I have actually read this book twice. I love that Chrissie does not just tell us about her life as a professional triathlete, but also tells us about her life growing up, her family, her friends, her education, her life experiences, how she overcame challenges with eating disorders, her career evolution, vacations she ventured on and the route she took to become a professional triathlete and the Queen of Ironman.
“…with a positive frame of mind and a willingness to work, anything is possible.” ~Chrissie Wellington
“Can’t Swim, Ride, Run: From Common Man to Ironman” by Andy Holgate…One of Andy’s colleagues challenged Andy to complete a triathlon. This challenge would change his life!! He not only had to learn to swim and bike, but he was also engaged and accidentally signed up to participate in his first Ironman seven days before his wedding. This book is about Andy’s journey to his first Ironman, with a little emphasis on preparing for his wedding day.
“One of the things that this journey has taught me is that you have to have a positive attitude to get anywhere in this life. You first have to believe in yourself, then others will listen to you, and if you treat them correctly they will respect you.” ~Andy Holgate
“Magical Running: A Unique Path to Running Fulfillment” by Bobby McGee…When I first saw this book, I thought it would be about running, running form, etc. Boy was I wrong!! This book is great for ANY athlete in ANY discipline because it’s focus is Mental Training…affirmations, visualization, setting targets and goals, self evaluation, relaxation, positive self-talk, mantras, key words/phrases, proactive (not reactive) training and racing…
“To run as I want to, I require of myself to exhibit the following characteristics in training, races and in my daily life:
believing in myself and my abilities
believing I am a successful runner
enjoying my running and participation in races
staying calm and relaxed
knowing I have choices in any given situation”
“17 Hours to Glory: Extraordinary Stories from the Heart of Triathlon” by Mathias Muller with Timothy Carlson…This book is a compilation of a variety of different triathlete’s journeys to and through Ironman competitions. These journeys include those of professionals, age group athletes, wheelchair athletes and physically challenged athletes. Each chapter is dedicated to an individual that has their own story to tell, which is told in their own, unique voice.
“Trust in yourself and never give up!” ~Mark Allen
“You can idealize it or condemn it, depending on your mood. Or accept it for what it is. But what is it? This Ironman is an exhibit of physical endurance, either designed by fools for heros, or designed by heros for fools.” ~Sister Madonna Buder
“Be tougher than the rest.” ~Sarah Reinertsen
“Believe in yourself, never give up, and enjoy life. Nothing is impossible!” ~Marc Herremans
“Smile and the whole world smiles with you.” Louis Armstrong
I have recently noticed that when I smile, not only do I feel better, but many others who receive my smile share their smile as well. It isn’t that difficult to smile and it will help to make the world a brighter, more enjoyable place!!
During my most recent race, I noticed that when the discipline got tough (swim, bike or run), smiling seemed to make it much easier!! Smiling helps keep my body relaxed even during challenging or painful times while training and racing. Smiling also reminds me of how much I love the sport…when racing, I do need to take triathlon seriously, but ultimately I do it because I LOVE IT and what better way to show this than to smile?!?!?!
While racing, it is also fun to think about how my competition may be responding to my smile…am I messing with the mindset of my competition when I smile??? Does my competition think I’m finding this easy because I’m smiling??? Does my competition think I’m pain-free because I’m smiling??? Does my competition even notice that I’m smiling???
Smiling not only relieves stress and relaxes the body, but it also boosts the immune system and causes the body to release endorphins. As a triathlete, the release of endorphins will reduce discomfort and increase pleasure, which helps me push forward even when times get tough. I want to reduce as much discomfort as I can while competing in a race, so I plan to follow Chrissie Wellington’s lead and smile!!
Chrissie Wellington continuously smiled when she was racing. She was always relaxed, focused and smiling. With this demeanor, it is no wonder why she broke so many world records in the triathlon world and continued to challenge herself to break her own records!!
“You will remain the same person before, during and after the race, so the result, however important, will not define you. The journey is what matters.”