The Best of 2016

After posting the Best of 2013, the Best of 2014, and the Best of 2015 I decided it would be fun to look back through 2016 and reminisce my faves🙂

Best race experience?

The Okoboji Triathlon was my favorite race this year! It was special to race with The Iron Hippie on our Anniversary and get cheered on by our twin nieces at the finish line!

Getting low fives from my nieces at the Okoboji Triathlon. Photo by Sarah Riley
Getting low fives from my twin nieces at the Okoboji Triathlon. Photo by Sarah Riley

Best run?

There weren’t many runs that stood out as belonging at the top of the pile this year, but the most fun I had while running was at the Market to Market Relay. I got to run with friends All. Day. Long!

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Best bike?

Riding 3 loops of the Ironman Wisconsin bike course…was a challenging day full of 6847 feet of climbing over 125 miles. This ride gave me a lot of confidence for Ironman Wisconsin race day!

Looking down Barlow...this doesn't do it justice since you can't see the bottom!
Looking down Barlow (a 21% climb)…this doesn’t do it justice since you can’t see the bottom!

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Best swim?

The Okoboji 3.5 mile swim was not wetsuit legal, but it was a great experience for me to swim LONG with my father kayaking beside me!! I love swimming in my playground…Lake Okoboji!!

3.5 mile Okoboji Swim with Dad kayaking next to me
3.5 mile Okoboji Swim with Dad kayaking next to me

Best NEW racing experience?

This was a tough one! I had two new race experiences this year…Market to Market Relay and the Hickory Grove Duathlon. While both experiences were new, fun, and challenging (in their own way), the duathlon rocked this category! I was challenged in ways I hadn’t experienced before, had a BLAST, and got to race with my #solesister!

#solesistersweat and a podium finish at my first ever duathlon
#solesistersweat and a podium finish at my first ever duathlon

Best encouraging moment?

This year I was blessed to have the support from Coeur Sports and Kyle’s Bikes to help me start a women’s only ride in central Iowa. It was fun to enCOEURage other women in sport and help them make gains on the bike and in their self confidence! #strongwomen #heartandcourage

Ladies Night!
Ladies Night!

Best recovery technique?

#recoveryisimportant and that is why I invest in the best recovery possible! Nick with Vitality Massage helps keep me injury free. I like to refer to myself as his insurance policy since Ironman racing looks to be in our future for the next few years😉

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Best offseason adventure?

Family time, which included:

Ice skating with our nieces!
Ice skating with our nieces!
Jumping on trampolines is a much tougher workout than I thought it would be!
Jumping on trampolines with family over Thanksgiving weekend!

Best new piece of gear?

This is SUPER EASY!! The Coeur Sports Zele Aero Triathlon Kit…it is the most comfortable, breathable, stylish, aerodynamic kit on the market!! I’m hopeful for more amazing designs in 2017!! #stylishspeed

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Best way to log my workouts?

This is another SUPER easy one…my #believetrainingjournal!! While I love to see green in Training Peaks, I much prefer writing things down by hand. I love looking back through my workouts and it is so much easier to do when they are written down. I don’t particularly like having to open up every box in Training Peaks to review my workouts, so the Believe Training Journal has been an absolute favorite this year! I love it so much that I ordered the Compete Training Journal for 2017!!
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Best way to stay healthy?

This was also SUPER easy…Sound Probiotics has been keeping me healthy since March 2015! As endurance athletes, we put ourselves at risk for a dysfunctional immune system because of the intensity and duration of our workouts. When stress, inadequate sleep, poor diet choices, cold weather, alcohol or travel are thrown into the mix, our immune system is even further suppressed. How has Sound Probiotics helped me? Sound Probiotics helps in nutrient production and absorption, helps fend off viruses, promotes the production of cytokines and mucin, and limits bad bacteria in the gut. I have experienced less fatigue and fewer sick days, which as a middle school teacher who is an endurance athlete speaks volumes! This has provided me with the opportunity for more training and better performance. I would highly recommend all endurance athletes use Sound Probiotics to stay healthy!!

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#soundathlete = #soundlife #winningtakesguts

Best piece of racing advice you received?

I read this before every big race. It is so motivating and reminds me to do and be my best as I embark on the race ahead:

“Be calm; focus on what you are going to do. Don’t get distracted, don’t get overwhelmed, take it all as it comes. You are ready for this; you’ve prepared for years. This is it, your time to shine. Go forth with all your powers. Go forth with everything in you. Make it work.” ~Lynne Cox, “Swimming to Antarctica: Tales of a Long-Distance Swimmer”

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Most inspirational athlete?

I can’t pick just one…so many of my Coeur Sports teammates have inspired me this year!! There were many Coeur women who raced with #heartandcourage in Kona at the Ironman World Championships, other ladies had podium finishes at various races they competed in, many ladies met goals, and all are working hard to achieve their dreams. My inspiration cup runneth over!! I am so pumped to be a part of this amazing team again in 2017!!

I found out that I made the Coeur Sports 2017 Ambassador Team...Such a #hardcoeur group of women that I'm overjoyed to be a part of!!
I found out that I made the Coeur Sports 2017 Ambassador Team…Such a #hardcoeur group of women that I’m overjoyed to be a part of!!
These ladies not only inspire me, but encourage me and light my fire! <3
These ladies not only inspire me, but encourage me and light my fire! ❤

If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be?

Courage over comfort, believe, fun!!

Tell me about your 2016 year!! What are your “bests” from 2016?!

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What’s Up?! – May 2016

Wahoo!! I made it to the end of the school year and am looking forward to having my summer off!! This is what I’ve been up to throughout the month of May:

Focus: Mental Gains

#courageovercomfort has gotten me through some really tough workouts this month, but self confidence and believing more in myself has definitely helped with this also! Some of these tough workouts wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t start believing in myself more. I had a great 10K run off of a 56 mile bike where I saw negative splits (where I ran down into the 7 minutes for the last few splits…gains), I had a long 15 mile run the next day with an average pace of 8:30/mile (I was hoping to run a 9:00/mile pace…gains), I put up fantastic times at the Market to Market Relay and Hickory Grove Duathlon…gains (see below). None of this would have happened without gaining self confidence and believing in myself.

Finish: School Year

The students had their last day of school on Friday, May 27. I have two additional days as professional development days on today and tomorrow, but then I will be free to do whatever I want for the whole summer. I’m definitely looking forward to this!

Firsts: Market to Market Relay Iowa and Hickory Grove Duathlon

Market to Market Relay: This was my first relay that I’ve ever participated in and boy was it SUPER fun!! I was really nervous going into it about what the day would be like, if I would enjoy myself, and how well my legs would hold up. I think being an Ironman athlete helped me both mentally and physically today as I ran 3 different times throughout the day. We woke up at 4 am, met the rest of Team #KissOurAsphalt at the middle school at 5:15 for a departure to Jefferson where we would start our 75 mile running relay to Des Moines, and our first runner started running at 7:15 am. I was the third runner, so I had some time before I started running. My first leg was 5.4 miles at an average pace of 7:56/mile. I didn’t feel too taxed with this leg, but boy could I smell and see the smoke that had drifted down from a Minnesota wildfire. My throat was very scratchy, but all I could think was “I hope everyone up north is safe!” as I ran. My second leg was 5.1 miles at an average pace of 8:07/mile. I didn’t smell the smoke as bad on this leg, but we were farther south…I don’t know if that matters or not. I did slow my pace a bit on this leg for just a short time to run with a friend for about 0.3 miles that I caught up to on the trail. It was good to chat with a friendly face, even if it meant running a bit slower than I had been! I was the final runner for our team, which meant running about 3.7 miles and then meeting my team for the last 0.3 miles as we crossed the finish line. I was nervous about this leg because everyone kept telling me how tired and sore my legs would be and that they wouldn’t want to cooperate. I was pleasantly surprised…as a triathlete, I am used to running on tired legs. It felt just like running off the bike after a long/tough workout. My last run totaled 3.95 miles at an average pace of 8:18/mile. This part of the run I was VERY familiar with (having run this part of the trail during MANY other local races) and I usually break down mentally in this area. Thankfully I had a pep talk with myself before I started this leg and I didn’t break down too badly today! Overall, I ran 14.42 miles at an average pace of 8:07/mile. Since I thought I would be running closer to 9:00 miles, I was SUPER happy with my performance on the day!

#courageovercomfort definitely helped me push past some mental barriers today! We arrived back home at about 8 pm, unloaded the car, showered, relaxed for a bit, and then hit the pillow by 9 pm. It was a really long day, but super fun!! Overall, our team finished in 10:26:45 with an average pace of 8:20/mile over the 75.1 miles. We had a LOT of fun and were VERY happy with our overall time and pace!

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Hickory Grove Duathlon: This was my first duathlon I’ve ever participated in and it was SO MUCH FUN!!

In training I have done some run/bike/run training, but had never raced in this format before. Since it was a 0.9 mile run/15.5 mile bike/3.1 mile run, I wanted to go hard and see what I could do. I am pretty pleased with my performance! I raced to 1st in my age group, 2nd overall female, and finished 11th overall. You can find the full race recap here.

#solesistersweat and a podium finish at my first ever duathlon
#solesistersweat and a podium finish at my first ever duathlon

Finding Faster:

As you know, I have been working on my swim. Thanks to the recommendation of my Coeur Teammate Erin, I purchased the Finis Forearm Fulcrums and have just started to use them. I am hoping these help me find my catch again…sooner rather than later 😉

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Fun Reads:

The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins kept me reading. I really wanted to know who “did it.” I was so captivated that I read the whole book in less than a week. I couldn’t put it down!! “Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost. And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?”

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Elite Minds: Creating the Competitive Advantage by Stan Beecham is a must read for those people trying to change their mindset to develop a world-class mind in business or sport. “Most people don’t reach their full potential because of their body, training, or physical talent. It is their mind that is the deterrent. They may or may not consider how their thoughts and beliefs are actually hindering performance. “Elite Minds” gives insight into the process of developing a world-class mind in both business and sport, where the principles of performance are the same, despite the activity. With “Elite Minds,” Dr. Stan Beecham will: Explain that what you believe is the most important thing in the world to you; Show you how fear is keeping you from reaching your goals; Teach you that there is no such thing as individual performance; Demonstrate how successful people value their time more, making them more efficient; Take you through the minds of the elite, who have reached their full potential by tapping into their consciousness and answering the question: Who Am I?”

Stop Using Qualifiers: How to Own Your Strengths by Carrie Cheadle really got me thinking about how I discount my strengths by adding qualifiers to them. She stresses how important it is to be confident (not cocky) when owning your strengths and not undersell them. Own your strengths, be proud of them, and don’t over shadow them by always setting the bar higher and higher. Accept your strengths and successes as being “enough.”

Stop Saying Just! by Janine Kaye, a Witsup.com contributor, had me really thinking about downplaying our accomplishments no matter how big or small by putting the word “just” in front of it. I just ran a 5K. I just raced the bike leg of the triathlon for my team. I just swam in open water for only 20 minutes. We are awesome and we should own it! “Don’t belittle your achievement or success.”

I am currently reading Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth. As an educator and endurance athlete, I am always trying to gain insight on how to intrinsically motivate individuals. “Pioneering psychologist Angela Duckworth shows anyone striving to succeed—be it parents, students, educators, athletes, or business people—that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence she calls “grit.” Among Grit’s most valuable insights:

*Why any effort you make ultimately counts twice toward your goal
*How grit can be learned, regardless of I.Q. or circumstances
*How lifelong interest is triggered
*How much of optimal practice is suffering and how much ecstasy
*Which is better for your child—a warm embrace or high standards
*The magic of the Hard Thing Rule

Winningly personal, insightful, and even life-changing, Grit is a book about what goes through your head when you fall down, and how that—not talent or luck—makes all the difference.”

How was your month of May? Have you tried anything new lately? If so, what was your overall impression of this new endeavor? What new reads have you enjoyed lately?

Sole Sisters Rock the Du

Sunday morning I was blessed and lucky to get to race our first ever duathlon along side my sole sister! She inspires me, believes in me, and encourages me to be the best version of myself everyday! I am forever grateful that our paths crossed and can’t imagine my life without her in it!

A 4 am wake up allowed me plenty of time to make the breakfast of champions (cream of rice with raspberries and Pure Clean Beet Powder and a Karma Kombucha), pack up the last of my race day essentials, load up the car, and be ready to leave by 5 am. The Iron Hippie was volunteering, so he rode with us to the race venue.

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Breakfast of Champions!

Once we arrived to the race, I could tell Tonja’s nerves were really starting to kick in. While she has participated in every running distance from 5K to Marathon, she has never participated in a duathlon or triathlon and had no idea what to expect. Heck, she has only been on her bike once this year, and it was last Wednesday morning before our race. I kept reminding her that there was nothing to be nervous about…we were there to have fun! We unloaded the car, got her race packet, set up transition and then relaxed in the car to warm our toes until race start.

Matching tats and socks...T must be my #solesista
Matching tats and socks…Tonja must be my #solesista
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Bikes are racked and we are ready to race!

At about 7:30, we decided to check our transition one more time, hit the kybos, and ventured to the start for the pre-race announcements. Tonja was REALLY nervous by this point, but I knew once we got going the nerves would subside. We decided we were going to run the first 0.9 miles together and exit transition together. My role was to prevent her from going out too fast on the first run. She was going to try to keep me in view on the bike, but we both decided to race our own race once out on the bike. As we lined up at the start, we gave each other a hug, a few encouraging words, and we were off.

Lined up and ready to start! Thanks to the Iron Hippie for all of the photos throughout the day!
Lined up and ready to start! Thanks to the Iron Hippie for all of the photos throughout the day!

The first 0.9 miles were on cinder trail, grass, and dirt. Not ideal footing, but we ran side by side and I occasionally reminded T to hold back on this run to set ourselves up for a solid bike and another run. We ran out about 0.45 miles, ran around a cone, and then ran back to transition. Run time = 7:47 (8:39/mile average pace)

T1 time = 1:42

The bike course is 15.5 miles that consists of 3 loops of just over 5 miles each. Once we passed the mount line, we took off! Tonja and I separated pretty quickly, but that is only because I have a LOT more experience on the bike. During the first loop, I went hard, but my main focus was to figure out the bike loop. I learned where the hills were, where the Iron Hippie was cheering/volunteering, where the out and back was (cheering Tonja on as we passed each other…she was doing great!), where we go onto the 2nd/3rd loops or return to transition, where I could drink, where I had to be careful on a turn, etc. On lap 1 at the out and back section, I counted the ladies doing the duathlon that were in front of me (there was also a triathlon and aqua/bike race going on at the same time)…there were only 2 ladies in front of me! #courageovercomfort The 2nd and 3rd loops were so much more fun and I pushed myself even harder on these loops. Now that I knew what to expect, it was time to put the hammer down. #courageovercomfort #courageovercomfort #courageovercomfort was repeated over and over and over in my head while I raced. By lap 2, I could see the 2nd place lady in front of me. #courageovercomfort As we started the 3rd lap, I passed the 2nd place lady and made my way comfortably into 2nd place. Thankfully there wasn’t much wind on the ride, but I knew that wouldn’t be good on the run since the sun was out and the day was heating up rather nicely. Bike time = 50:19 (18.5 mph average speed)

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Thanks to the Iron Hippie for taking pics while I was riding!!

T2 time = 54 seconds

As I exited T2, the 3rd place lady (the one that I had just passed) had just come into transition. I told that she had a nice bike leg and thanked her for pushing me to work really hard on the bike. The last run was a 5K run (3.1 miles) and I was right…it had heated up quite nicely. The first mile was mostly on cinder trail, grass and dirt and went the same direction as the first run that we started the duathlon with. There was an aid station at mile 1, which is where we exited the grassy area and started running on the roads…straight up hill. It was at this point that I was passed by another lady participating in the duathlon. I told her she was doing awesome and to keep working hard as she passed. I knew I was now in 3rd place, but this only made me work harder. #courageovercomfort I could see the first place duathlon lady and knew that I could catch her. My goal was to catch her by mile 2, which is where the Iron Hippie was volunteering. I ended up catching her at about mile 1.5. I told her she was doing great and that it was super hard to catch her! I encouraged her to keep going hard and finish strong! When I saw the Iron Hippie just past the 2 mile mark, he told me I was 40 seconds behind the 1st place female and to give it all I had. Little did he know I was already pushing as hard as I could. At this point, we were back in a grassy area with some cinder trails all the way to the finish line. There was VERY LITTLE shade, it was hot, and I was giving it EVERYTHING I had. #courageovercomfort I was so happy to finally see the finish line!! Run time = 26:48 (8:39/mile average pace)…I guess you can say that I was consistent 😉

Overall Finish: 1:27:29
1st Place Age Group
2nd Place Female Overall
11th Place Overall

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These lovely ladies made me work for this AG win!!
#solesistersweat and a podium finish at my first ever duathlon
Tonja got 2nd place in her age group at her first ever duathlon!! So proud of her!!

This race challenged me in many ways, but was also very fun!! I consider anytime I get to run and bike while racing and encouraging others a win!!

16 weeks ’til #IMWI: work, work, work

The theme of last week was definitely work. Not the kind of hard work you put into your training, but the long hours put into your job that can be mentally draining. I came to the realization that working 55 hours and only exercising 3 hours in a week is MUCH more exhausting than working 40 hours and exercising 18 hours! Thankfully last week was a planned recovery week, there are only 5 days left of school with the students, grades were due this morning, and there is little grading left to do for this coming week. I am beyond grateful for the help and support of the Iron Hippie, especially during weeks when I have a few extra balls that I am trying to juggle!

Monday:

Today was a rest day! After the really big training week last week, we knew we would be taking today off of exercise and our bodies were thankful for the rest. Today was a really long day at work, so when I came home, I hibernated in the bedroom listening to TedTalks, reading, and trying to relax for most of the evening.

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Tuesday:

We did not have a morning workout planned, so we slept in. After a full day of work, I decided it would be best to skip my evening workout and spend my evening grading. Not ideal, but I had a LOT of grading that needed to be done. Thankfully the Iron Hippie ran some errands for me so I could keep working through dinner.

Wednesday:

We woke up early for a 75 minute sweatfest on the bike. Intervals, #bikelove, and #solesistasweat was the perfect combination to start my day! After another long day of work, I came home to another evening of grading. When the end of the school year is near, there can be a lot of grading to do.

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Thursday:

I had more grading to do, so I arrived at school at 6 am to start another long day at school. The students were testing their solar ovens outside today. It is fun to spend the day outside, but lack of structure is sometimes hard for the students, which means a lot of additional “classroom” management required of me. I was exhausted by the end of the day. I came home and continued to work for my part time jobs (writing fitness articles for our local paper and teaching TRX for our Parks and Rec department). After teaching TRX, we had an unplanned visit from some close friends. It was fun to have them just stop by unannounced!

Friday:

With the students doing their egg drop today and more grading to do, I got to work at 6 am again to set up for the egg drop and get as much grading done before students arrived as possible. Another day out of the classroom, meant another long and draining day of having to be mentally “on” all day. After school, I came home and continued to grade and post grades until 7 pm. I was FINALLY caught up on all the grading and it felt AMAZING!! Having worked 55 hours and only exercising 2 hours this week, I decided it was time to relax and let my mind go somewhere else for a while.

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Saturday:

I was able to sleep in this morning with nothing on the schedule, so I took complete advantage of it! At about 7:30 am, I finally planted my feet to the floor and decided to start my day. I paid bills, balanced the checkbook (am I the only one who still does this?!), ran a bunch of errands, did some house chores, picked up my race packet (did I mention I am doing my first duathlon EVER tomorrow?!), and read some more of my book while the Iron Hippie worked some overtime hours. We went to a high school graduation celebration in the evening, then spent the rest of the evening getting ready for my duathlon in the morning.

Sunday:

I’ll have a more detailed race recap for you on my duathlon, but let’s just say I had a BLAST doing what I love, had a podium finish, and got to race with my #solesister…WIN!! After the race, it was all about refueling. I followed this up with some girl time with a friend, some down time at home, and regrouping for the coming week.

#solesistersweat and a podium finish at my first ever duathlon
#solesistersweat and a podium finish at my first ever duathlon

Weekly Totals: 3 hours & 25 minutes (Never mind the 55 hours at work…that was so much more draining!!)

Swim: Nothing, Zilch, Nada 😦
Bike: 33.5 miles
Run: 4.0 miles
Strength Training: 45 minutes

Quote of the Week:

“All work and no play is not good for the soul.” ~Felix Sabates