I have heard from many people outside of our little bubble at home, that the Iron Hippie and I are “very disciplined” and that it is a quality many “admire.”  It is true that we get up between 4 and 4:15 am every day and that our heads hit the pillow around 8 pm every evening.  It is true that we do an am and pm workout almost daily.  It is true that we typically juggle our schedules around our training.  It is true that we’ve decided to take one full year off from drinking alcohol as we train.  It is true that we eat mostly healthy (foods that provide us with the energy and fuel stores our bodies need to train like we do).

We are disciplined, but why?  I can only speak for myself…I am determined to be better prepared for IRONMAN Wisconsin this year than I was in 2011.  I am driven to grow stronger and more powerful while swimming, cycling and running.  I am committed to do my absolute best and set new personal records.  I am courageous…I am not going to let fear prevent me from being successful.  I am doing what I love…swim, bike, run 😉


Sure, there are days I don’t “feel like” completing a workout as scheduled or even “feel like” completing the workout, but I know that I will reap the rewards on race day if I have the discipline now.

As of today (May 7), the Iron Hippie and I are officially 8 months sans alcohol, which means only 4 months away from IRONMAN Wisconsin.  That is both great and scary at the same time 😉

How disciplined are you?  What motivates you to be so disciplined?

Typical Week of Workouts

Training for IRONMAN for some is a full time job…there are people who have turned professional, but I am not one of them 😉  I have a full time job (an 8th grade science teacher) and still find time to train for IRONMAN.

The Iron Hippie and I just completed week #10 or our 36 week training program for IRONMAN Wisconsin 2014.  With some minor variations in duration and intensity of the workouts, this is what my typical workout week looks like:


Strength training completed between 4:45 and 5:45 am


Completed between 4:45 and 5:35 am
Run completed between 4:45 and 5:35 am
Completed between 4:45 and 5:35 pm


Completed between 4:45 and 6:00 am
Cycling completed between 4:45 and 6:00 am
Completed between 5:30 and 6:30 pm
Completed between 5:30 and 6:30 pm


Completed at 5:00 pm, but I typically run in the morning on Thursdays...I couldn't resist the decent weather to get outside today.
Run completed between 5:00 and 5:30 pm, but I typically run in the morning on Thursdays…I couldn’t resist the decent weather to get outside today.
Completed between 6:15 and 7:00 pm
Strength training completed between 6:15 and 7:00 pm


Solo ride completed between 4:50 and 6:00 am
Solo ride completed between 4:50 and 6:00 am
Swim from 3:45 to 4:40 pm
Swim completed from 3:45 to 4:40 pm


Completed from 6:00 to 7:00 am
Run completed from 6:00 to 7:00 am
Core work completed from 7:30 to 8:00 am
Core work completed from 7:30 to 8:00 am


Brick completed from 7:30 to 10:30 am
Brick completed from 7:30 to 10:30 am…Bike ride was on the trainer working on cadence and run was outdoors
Hot Yoga completed between 4 and 5:30 pm in a nearly full 106F room
Hot Yoga completed between 4 and 5:30 pm in a nearly full 106F room

14 hours & 10 minutes of training this week…that doesn’t include the preparation time, travel time to and from the gym or refueling/recovery time.  The duration of my weekly workouts will only increase between now and September 7, 2014.

Do you have the available time and determination to train for IRONMAN?


Week #10 Totals:

Swim:  4600 yards

Bike:  72.3 miles

Run:  18.7 miles

Strength Training:  2 hours & 15 minutes

Hot Yoga:  2 hours & 30 minutes

Week #10 in the green ;)

How to Prepare for Your First Triathlon

The inspiration for this post came from watching the movie How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.  Since I was home most of last week with strep throat, a severe sinus infection and the beginning stages of pneumonia, I had plenty of time to lay around and watch movies and reminisce about my first triathlon.

I decided to write a “How to” guide…How to Prepare for Your First Triathlon:

  1. If you really want to complete your first triathlon, you must make training a priority.  This will help you remain injury free and properly prepare you to toe the start line.
  2. Set aside time for your training…make an appointment with yourself.  You should spend a minimum of 30 minutes a week on swimming, cycling and running…that is only 1.5 hours a week.  (Training each discipline twice a week for a minimum of 30 minutes each is ideal.)  If you don’t think you have that much time to commit to training, take a look at how much time you spend watching television, surfing the internet, reading a book, etc.  I bet you can find more time to train for a triathlon than you thought.
  3. Determine your goals for your first triathlon.  Pick a distance that is realistic for the amount of time you plan to spend training on a weekly basis and how many weeks you have until race day.  I would not recommend picking an IRONMAN as your first triathlon 😉
  4. Build a solid base…if you have not been active or have little to no experience with one (or more) of the disciplines of triathlon, you may find it REALLY challenging (and risk injury) if you go out and swim a 1/2 mile, cycle 12 miles and run 3 miles (these are the rough distances for a sprint triathlon).  To help you successfully toe the start line of your first triathlon, you should research training plans, find a triathlon community, and/or hire a knowledgable coach to write a training plan for you.
  5. Incorporate strength training into your workout routine.  Strength training helps prevent injury, builds bone density, strengthens the joints, tones the body, and allows you to be strong and healthy on race day.
  6. Proper recovery is important…make sure to have days and weeks built into your training plan that are not as taxing on your body.  Recovery days and weeks will allow your body to repair itself stronger than it was before you broke it down with the tough training sessions.
  7. Practice, practice, practice…open water is different than pool swimming, swimming in a pack of people is different than swimming in open water, swimming in a wetsuit is different than swimming without one, transitioning from the bike to run often gives people jello legs, consuming fluids and nutrition on the bike and run are different than consuming nothing…anything that is new and different from what you have ever experienced should be practiced, so you have an idea of what to expect on race day.
  8. Find a triathlon community…it is great to have a community of people who will help hold you accountable to complete your workouts, people you can train with (especially for open water swimming and riding on the roads), people you can ask questions of, people you can talk to about what you are experiencing in training and racing, people you can talk with about gear, nutrition, safe riding and running routes, etc.
  9. Remember to have fun…your journey to the start line may be challenging at times, but it should almost always be fun and rewarding!!

TriathletesNow…who’s ready to do their first triathlon??????

“Why Ironman?”

Simone asked the question “Why Ironman?” and it got me thinking about why I want to do another Ironman…and then I experience race day (whether as a volunteer, spectator or athlete) and see videos like this and I know why I will do Ironman Wisconsin in 2014…

“Ironman is a metaphor for life.  As with everything else, work comes before success.  It pays to set goals, be disciplined, work on one’s weaknesses, overcome setbacks, and avoid being diverted from one’s charted course.”                                                                                      ~Mathias Muller

My top 10 reasons for why I want to do another Ironman…

10. I want to experience the extreme highs and lows…both while training and racing.

9.  I want to experience the constant mental battle during training and racing that helps make me a stronger, much more well-rounded individual…the little negative Nelly sitting on my left shoulder vs. the much larger positive Patty sitting on my right shoulder.

8.  I want to improve my weaknesses…cycling and mental fortitude.

7.  I want to develop my strengths…swimming and running.

6.  I love the feeling of overcoming challenges…both during training and racing.  I enjoy challenging myself and pushing myself to find new limits.

5.  I enjoy the feeling of overcoming the pain that comes with racing long and hard.

4.  I LOVE the triathlon community!!  Even though I have not met many of the people involved, I feel like many of the athletes, volunteers and spectators are like family…the triathlon community makes the race day experience TOP NOTCH at Ironman Wisconsin!!

3.  I want to finish my next Ironman in a time faster than 16:15:00.

2.  I want to have fun, doing what I LOVE…swimming, biking and running 🙂

1.  I want to actually remember crossing the finish line this time and hearing Mike Reilly say, “You are an Ironman!!”

Ironman Wisconsin Weekend 2013
Ironman Wisconsin Weekend 2013
Ironman Wisconsin Weekend 2013
Ironman Wisconsin Weekend 2013
Registration morning for Ironman Wisconsin 2014.  We got in line at 4:15 am and waited until the line opened at 7:33 am (the line wasn't suppose to open until 9 am).  We were pleasantly surprised when the doors opened early!!
Registration morning for Ironman Wisconsin 2014. We got in line at 4:15 am and waited until the line opened at 7:33 am (the line wasn’t suppose to open until 9 am). We were pleasantly surprised when the doors opened early!!

Customized Coaching

While writing a recent post thanking my coach, it got me thinking about customized coaching and why I highly recommend it for any athlete.

There are a variety of training plans available for people to use or refer to while training for races of many different distances.  When I first started training, I used a variety of these training plans, pulling bits and pieces from each, to help me reach my goals.  After doing this for about 6 years, I felt like my training and racing had plateaued.  I decided it was time to take my training and racing to the next level…so I hired Coach Julie with Zoom Performance Endurance Coaching to help me.

Zoom Orb

I have found many advantages to have a customized coach:

  1. My customized training plan is designed for my physiology, my goals, my schedule and where I am at mentally.  If changes need to be made due to schedule conflicts or injuries (on those rare occasions), it happens seamlessly.
  2. My workouts are designed with a purpose in mind…I’m not just doing a workout for the sake of completing it.  Instead, I am trying to achieve a certain goal/purpose to help better prepare me for my race day.
  3. I am held accountable to someone instead of to a training plan that has been designed for the average athlete.  Without someone holding me accountable, it is much easier to skip a workout with little guilt.
  4. I am paying Coach Julie.  Some people would see this as a disadvantage, but for me it is a definite advantage…by paying for her coaching services and knowledge, I am often reminded of the need to complete my workouts to the best of my abilities so that I truly get what I am paying for.
  5. It requires me to be dedicated and complete my workouts as prescribed.
  6. My training zones have been established for me to use during my training workouts.  Power output can also easily be established (now if I just had some extra money laying around for a power meter on my bike…hmmm).
  7. Coach Julie has helped me develop my strengths…swimming and running
  8. She has also helped me improve my weaknesses…cycling and mental toughness
  9. She has helped me find my limits and push past them to become a stronger, faster athlete.  As a result, I have passed through that plateau and I am seeing improvements in my training and racing 🙂
  10. Having a customized coach is the right thing to do.  When it comes to race day execution, the customized coaching has never let me down.

There are probably many other reasons that I have forgotten to mention, but the most important point…EVERY ATHLETE should hire a knowledgable and reputable coach to customize their training plan and help them meet their goals!!

Two States Bike Ride

This last weekend, the Iron Hippie and I went to Okoboji to visit my parents.  We had an AMAZING run on Saturday and followed it up with an AWESOME bike ride on Sunday.  The Iron Hippie was scheduled to ride for 60 miles and I was scheduled to ride for 2-3 hours.  I knew that I would not be able to ride 60 miles in that 2-3 hour time window, but figured I would come close, so we mapped out a route.

70 mile bike route surrounding the Iowa Great Lakes area, including Iowa and Minnesota saddle time.
70 mile bike route surrounding the Iowa Great Lakes area, including Iowa and Minnesota saddle time.

Living in central Iowa, we rarely get the opportunity to ride in two states in one day, but since Okoboji is only about 15 miles from the Minnesota border, we decided to map a ride that would take us into Minnesota.  We have also never had the opportunity to completely circle the Iowa Great Lakes region by bike, so we decided that we would accomplish this goal on this bike ride!!  In order to completely circle the Iowa Great Lakes area AND bike in Iowa and Minnesota (safely), we had to make our route a little longer than 60 miles…it ended up being 70.5 miles.  We definitely could have made the route shorter, but we would have had to ride our bikes on some roads with really heavy traffic and decided to opt out of that option.

We donned our bikes at 6 am and headed out in perfect weather…low 60s, less than 5 mph winds, full sun…couldn’t be better for cycling!!  The 6 am start time would allow us to get most of our ride done before the Iowa Great Lakes region woke up 🙂

On the north edge of the Iowa Great Lakes area, there is a stretch of road that is right on the Iowa/Minnesota border.  Since we were the only ones on the road, we decided to take a picture of us riding down the road…my husband was in Iowa, while I was in Minnesota!!  Not everyday you can zig zag across the road and switch the state you are in so quickly 🙂

My husband is in Iowa on the left and I am in Minnesota on the right.
The Iron Hippie is in Iowa on the left and I am in Minnesota on the right.

During this ride, I could definitely tell that I had raced hard the week before.  My legs were a bit sluggish, but I just kept pushing forward!!  We finished our 70.5 mile route in 3:55:00…giving us an average speed of 18.0 mph…I have become stronger and gotten faster on the bike and I am super stoked about it!!

We LOVED this route, the smooth surfaces and the little vehicle traffic that we encountered!!  This is definitely a ride we will be doing again in the future!!

The Journey

Every destination is different, but they all start the same...with the first step.
Every destination is different, but they all start the same…with the first step.

Q:  Why do you participate in races?

A:  When I sign up for each race, I am at the beginning of a new journey.

I am currently on a long-term journey to Ironman Wisconsin 2014 that will include a few short-term journeys along the way.  While I have finished Ironman Wisconsin before, I started it with the goal of “just to finish”…and finish I did…though I was hyponatremic and don’t actually remember the last 8 hours of the event.  For this reason, it is time to go back and do what I am capable of with proper race execution!!

I sign up for races to take me on another journey.  My Ironman journey will include multiple journeys (races) between now and September 7, 2014.  The first of which is coming up in just 2 weeks…Ironman Kansas 70.3 on June 9, 2013.  I have been mentally focused and my training has probably been the best it has ever been!!  I have been VERY happy with both my physical and mental training lately!! I am going to do everything in my power to make sure that my current momentum will continue to carry me forward through Ironman Wisconsin 2014!! Ironman KansasWith Ironman Kansas 70.3 only 2 weeks away, this short-term journey is nearing the taper.  I have created many posts about various workouts I have completed on this journey that you can find at pushmylimits.wordpress.com.  With only a few more “big” workouts left before the taper, I am finding myself more ready than ever to properly execute my race and PR!!  I am in the best shape, both physically and mentally, that I have ever been before…Let’s do this thing!!

I decided to ask Coach Julie where she thinks I can and should be for Ironman Kansas 70.3 in 2 weeks…Here is her response:

“Swim: You had a great swim at Chisago last year – that time would really please me again, maybe a minute or two faster (if the races have properly measured swim courses). GOAL: 42-43 min.

“Bike: Kansas and Chisago have different bike courses, and I think the times you put up there were great for where you were then. We’ve worked a lot on cycling this season, and you’ve really improved. With the right mental approach (and staying focused throughout the bike leg – plus nutrition, etc), you should be able to average 16.5-16.7mph for the Kansas bike and closer to 17+ on a less challenging course. GOAL: 3:20-3:25 (for Kansas). 3:12-3:20 for other courses.

“Run: There is no reason that you can’t run a 2 hour run split. You’ve become a much more mentally strong runner in the past two years (all that experience is starting to pay off!). If you can keep that mental focus going throughout the bike AND through the run, you’ll be golden. GOAL: 2 hours

“If you do the math, that will set you up for that elusive sub-6 hour half IM – I know you’ve been shooting for that, and I’ve been shooting for that for you. Kansas may/may not be where it happens, BUT the mental training from that tough of a half is going to be what sets you up to make it happen this year. You’ve already overcome some hurdles in your training (many of them mental), but you’re finally on the right track. Let’s keep that going for the next three weeks!”

I am focusing my training (both physically and mentally) on doing my absolute best and pushing myself to a PR!!  I am very excited to see the results of the journey I am on and shattering my previous PR (6:32:44)!!  I am anxiously awaiting my new PR of 5:59:59…or faster!!