How stress impacts my life

During the month of March and the first week of April, I was under a lot of stress. Stress I had the ability to control, but didn’t. Stress I was putting on myself consciously and unconsciously. I knew I was experiencing lots of highs and lows, but didn’t connect the dots and realize why until last weekend when I was completing my Living Brave Semester coursework. Through reflection and guidance in my coursework, I have learned a lot about how stress impacts my body, life, and training.

My Body:

Stress causes my body to be EXHAUSTED. All I want to do is sleep! I mean like 10-12 hours a night…sleep! This makes sense. Mentally, I am focused elsewhere and either consciously or unconsciously deplete myself of all energy as a result.

Sleep, sleep, sleep…

My Life:

Stress causes my life to be in a state of chaos. My train gets derailed and I don’t know how to get it back on track. With complete lack of energy, I turn into the Cookie Monster and eat monster cookies, peanut butter cookies, sugar cookies, cookies, Cookies, COOKIES! A quick sugar fix gives me a short boost of energy, but when it wears off, my energy levels plummet lower than they were originally. It just becomes a vicious cycle. With the roller coaster of energy, comes a roller coaster ride of emotions as well. This doesn’t bode well to maintain a healthy relationship with your spouse when your emotions are all over the place.

cookie monster

My Training:

Stress causes my training to fall apart. I miss more workouts than I complete. Because I am so tired all the time, all I want to do is sleep. When my alarm clock goes off in the morning and I have the choice of getting up and working out, or sleeping for another 2 hours. When I am stressed, I often choose the later, knowing it is NOT helping me achieve my goals and dreams…SIGH…I lack all motivation to even plant my feet on the floor and pretend like I might get up and workout in the morning. I lack determination, willpower, and drive. I get frustrated with the Iron Hippie, because he “lets” me go back to bed. What am I thinking…IT IS NOT HIS FAULT!!

Lots of red in Training Peaks...
Lots of red in Training Peaks…

How do I overcome stress?

Thanks to Brene Brown’s Living Brave Semester, I have learned to focus on identifying what is REALLY causing the stress, how to let the stress go, refocus my conscious and unconscious mind elsewhere, and get myself off the merry-go-round that slowly and continuously seems to suck me into it’s center.

I first take a full body scan of where I’m at. Where is this stress coming from? What am I feeling? Why am I feeling this way? Have I created an ending to my story that is real, or something that may not be real?

Next I take 20 minutes on 4 consecutive days and write in my journal about the stress. I don’t sensor what I write…I just let the pen flow for 20 solid minutes (I even set a timer and put myself in an environment with no distractions). It is amazing what I learn when I don’t sensor my thoughts.

During the day when I start to notice my mind allowing some negativity to filter in around my stress, I remind myself to let it go and focus on the here and now. By refocusing my conscious mind, my unconscious mind follows.

Through this work, I’ve overcome the stress. My train is back on its tracks, and I’m ready to conquer the world…ok, maybe not the world, but definitely the last 6 weeks of the school year. Yep…hard to believe our summer break will be here in about 6 weeks 😉

How does stress impact your body, life, and training? How do you overcome stress?

Quiet the Chatter

“Your mind is your greatest power. Use it well.” ~Unknown

Sometimes during a workout or race, our minds start to have this internal banter with themselves…it’s like the devil is sitting on my right shoulder screaming negativity in my right ear and the angel is sitting on my left shoulder whispering positive come backs in my left ear.

Keep going-Just Quit

D: “You don’t really want to do this workout, so just don’t do it.”

A: “You will feel so much better after you complete the workout, so get it done!”

D: “This is hard. Just quit.”

A: “This should be hard, but I will be stronger. Don’t quit.”

D: “I am too slow.”

A: ” Keep working hard and I will get stronger and faster.”

D: “I can’t hold that power/pace.”

A: “Yes, I can. I am strong. I am tough.”

D: “I’m hungry. I need to stop.”

A: “I can survive for just another couple of minutes and then I can eat.”

D: “Why am I doing this?”

A: “I love to play and swim/bike/run is my playground! I feel AMAZING when I’m done.”

D: “I’m tired.”

A: “I should be tired, but I am strong enough to get through this workout.”

D: “You should just stop because these stomach cramps are BAD!”

A: “They will go away eventually. That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” (Thanks to my mother for this constant reminder…)


How we deal with this internal banter can make us stronger or weaker. I hear the devil, but choose to listen to the angel. I try to make sure that I have a positive comeback for every negative thought that creeps into my mind. Sometimes it takes me a while to twist the negative into the positive, but that is what I focus on until those negative thoughts float away and positive ones take their place.

I have learned to expect the chatter to show up while training and racing. The devil voice in my head has tried to lure me to a more comfortable situations and environments. It often tries to undermine the angel. At times, it is my own worst enemy. But this voice has also made me stronger, tougher, resilient, more persistent and determined. It has taught me to better identify and manage what is pain and what is discomfort. It has taught me how to overcome obstacles and adversity. It has taught me to believe in me. When I embrace the chatter, I take control of the things within my control and let the rest go.

The key is to acknowledge the devil, but only listen to the angel. I have to rise up above myself, my doubts and my fears. Learning from the negative devil is key to my success. I expect to have moments in my journey that are awesome, but I expect to have even more that challenge me and push me to become a better version of myself. I know the devil will be screaming the loudest when I am at my weakest and am the most uncomfortable, but I have the ability and control to overcome those moments and outlast them. Eventually they will either dissipate or I will outlast them by completing the workout/race.

I’ve found the best way to manage the chatter is to keep moving forward toward my goals or the end of the workout/race…whichever comes first. If you keep moving forward, you might just surprise yourself with what you accomplish. Anything is possible if you quiet the negative chatter!!

Who do you listen to more during your workouts and races…the devil or the angel? How do you turn the negative into the positive?

Random Training Thoughts

Kristen over at Glitter and Dust posted about her random training thoughts and she asked me to share mine, so here are a variety of my random training thoughts over the last few weeks.

  1. While biking…Why does my Garmin keep quitting on me? SERIOUSLY…How many times will I have to restart my Garmin to collect data during this 2 1/2 hour ride? Apparently…10 times…UGH!! I think it might be time for a new Garmin.
  2. While swimming…I’m wearing goggles, so why do I close my eyes when someone splashes water in my face?
  3. While biking…I LOVE the seamless chamois in my Coeur Sports tri shorts!! #noangrykitty 🙂  IMG_1652
  4. While getting ART (active release therapy) done on my leg…When do I get to inflict this kind of pain on Dr. Chris?
  5. While running…Why is Basil always so happy to go run? It is so much fun to watch the joy Basil has while running. I wonder what she thinks about while we run…   IMG_1369
  6. While biking…Mojo, why do we have such a perfect chemistry? I love this bike!!!
  7. While running…How many more hills are we going to climb today? Here comes another one…That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
  8. While biking…Why do my sensor (power and cadence) batteries have to die during the middle of a workout? Why can’t they wait until the end of the workout to go kaput?
  9. While swimming (with only a strap around my feet…no pull buoy)…I am SO thankful I am not paraplegic. Keeping my legs afloat is very challenging!!
  10. While running…Thank you Osmo Nutrition for keeping me hydrated!! That was a VERY sweaty run!! #womenarenotsmallmen   IMG_1508
  11. While getting a massage…OOUUCH!! My muscles are SO tight!!  IMG_4210
  12. After a massage…FINALLY…I can relax 🙂
  13. While biking…Why do zone 2 rides have to be so boring? I love intervals…give me speed work…I want hills…give me variety!!
  14. While on the trainer during a HARD #interval set…I love to ride my bicycle, I love to ride my bicycle :)
  15. While swimming…My legs are VERY tired today…please don’t drown, please don’t drown.

What random thoughts do you have while training?


Ironman Wisconsin was 7 weeks ago.  The post-Ironman blues hit HARD.  I went from training 20+ hours a week before the race to basically not at all.  I thrive off of having workouts in training peaks that need to be completed and races on the calendar to train for.  I think it is fairly obvious that I don’t do well with down time.

So what have I done with all of this down time in the last few weeks?

Ran my First Trail Race:

Approaching the first aid station
Approaching the first aid station
Part of the 10 mile trail run course (photo courtesy of The Runner's Flat 50K Trail Run)
Part of the 10 mile trail run course (photo courtesy of The Runner’s Flat 50K Trail Run)
It wouldn't be a trail race if someone didn't eat dirt ;)
It wouldn’t be a trail race if someone didn’t eat dirt 😉

Walk the Dogs:

IMG_0260 IMG_0134 IMG_0108 IMG_0312

Hike at Ledges:


Visit Breweries:

IMG_0033 IMG_0032 IMG_0324 IMG_0319 IMG_0325

Ride Bikes for Fun with Friends:

IMG_0181 IMG_0100 IMG_0091

IMG_0338 IMG_0347

Long shadows with the setting sun.
Long shadows with the setting sun.
Chasing the sun on our bikes.
Chasing the sun on our bikes.

Hayrides at the Berry Patch:

IMG_0311 IMG_0310 Playing Frisbee with Basil:


Being a competitive, determined, driven person is amazing (although the Iron Hippie may disagree with that).  It is the firework that motivates me to train in early hours, to train when it is dark and dreary, to train when it is cold and windy, to train when it is hot and muggy.  It compels me to test myself, to improve and be better than I was yesterday.

Because of my “type A personality,” it is time to get back into a more regular workout routine.  Nothing super strenuous, but a routine with some structure.

How long does your off-season last?  How do you enjoy your off-season?

What’s Next?

After Ironman Wisconsin 2014, I participated in a few running races including a 5K and a 10 mile trail run.  Both of these were challenging in their own way, but neither of them required me to train much.

I’ve been giving my body some much needed down time after Ironman, but have been super anxious to get back into a more regimented training routine.  Training for an Ironman requires a lot of time, patience and coordination with the spouse, but we’ve both decided to pull the plug and register for Ironman #3…look out Ironman Boulder…we are coming for you in 2015!!


“I Feel Good”

This last week was the culmination of our training for Ironman before the taper.  Not only was this our biggest week of training, but it was also my first week back to school.  Needless to say, a LOT of household chores have been neglected as a result.  I can’t believe it has taken me nearly 5 days into the taper to get this blog post written…crazy how time flies!!

Here is what our final BIG training week looked like:

Monday (8/11):

Inservice Day – No Students

3700 yard swim at 5:45 am (ladder to 400)


One hour strength training over lunch

Tuesday (8/12):

Inservice Day – No Students

15 mile run at endurance pace after work (starting at 4:30 pm)

Wednesday (8/13):

Inservice Day – No Students

2700 meter swim at 6 am (300s)

Brick: 20 minute run, 3 hour ride at Half Ironman race pace, 30 minute run (starting at 3 pm)

Thursday (8/14):

First Day of Class with Students

One hour strength training at 5 am

Friday (8/15):

Unintentional Rest Day:  I was scheduled to swim for 1 hour today, but I was EXHAUSTED after completing my first week back at school and lots of training, so I decided recovery for the weekend workouts might be best and scratched this workout.

Saturday (8/16):

LONG Brick:  112 miles on the bike followed by a 9 mile run

This was our longest brick of the season.  While I was riding, I started to hear James Brown in my head, “I Feel Good.”  Eventually this started to escape my lips and I found that even when I wasn’t feeling good, if I started singing this song, my attitude changed and I started actually feeling good again.  The mind is a powerful tool 🙂  The run portion of this brick was AWESOME!!  I felt AH-MA-ZING and know that I could have ran 26.2 miles.  I hope I feel this good on race day 🙂


Sunday (8/17):

One hour leisure bike ride in the am

Bike cleaning session…it was great to have a couple of little helpers with this 😉

IMG_4325 IMG_4324 IMG_4323

5843 yard swim at 6 pm, including 3×1500 at race pace (3.3 miles of pool swimming is a lot of turning)

Monday (8/18):

18 mile endurance run after work (starting at 4 pm)

This was the longest run I’ve had since my injury in early May.  It was also the hottest run we’ve had all season.  We have been very lucky this year with cool training weather, but Monday was HOT and HUMID, which made this 18 mile run much more challenging, but we accomplished it.  “I Feel Good” continued to pull me through this difficult workout as well.  I really hope the cool weather returns in time for race day!!

Total Time:  25 hours

Total Distance covered:  223.5 miles

New Song for Race Day: “I Feel Good” by James Brown

What song(s) do you sing to yourself while exercising to help ease the pain?

What’s Up?!?!?!?!

I thought I’d give you a quick update on where we are at with our training and what is happening in our everyday lives…

Training Update:

4 weeks from today is Ironman Wisconsin 2014…crazy how time has flown by!!  We have been training hard, putting in lots of hours and preparing our bodies and minds for what is to come in a few short weeks.

With 5 weeks out, we successfully completed 15+ hours of training with a 3.5 mile open water swim event.  This last week, we successfully completed 20+ hours of training and are looking forward to the last big push before the taper.

Photo courtesy of L. Bierbaum:  The Iron Hippie and I successfully finished our 3.5 mile swim "race"
Photo courtesy of L. Bierbaum: The Iron Hippie and I successfully finished our 3.5 mile swim “race”
Having the pool to myself is priceless!!
Having the pool to myself is priceless!!
We successfully completed hill repeats...2 bonus repeats were done in memory and honor of an amazing kid never to be forgotten.
We successfully completed hill repeats…2 bonus repeats were done in memory and honor of an amazing kid never to be forgotten.
2500 yard swim followed by a challenging brick.  3x(60 min ride + 20 min run) with each brick repeat at a higher power zone on the bike and faster pace on the run than the last.
2500 yard swim followed by a challenging brick. 3x(60 min ride + 20 min run) with each brick repeat at a higher power zone on the bike and faster pace on the run than the last.
Completing a 9+ mile run with friends after a 1 hour power session on the trainer...priceless!!
Completing a 9+ mile run with friends after a 1 hour power interval bike session on the trainer…priceless!!

Life Update:

Lately our lives have revolved around our training, but we have managed to find some time to spend with friends, make sure the laundry gets done and that we have healthy foods in our bellies.  Snuggling up with my two favorite furry friends and spending time with our twin nieces has also been enjoyable!!  Every night I try to read a bit before going to bed (I’m reading the Divergent series since the 4th book came out), but lately I’ve been so tired, that I think I’ve reread the same page multiple times 😉

Grill out with my sole this girl!!
Grill out with my sole sista…love this girl!!
After our 3.5 mile swim, we took the nieces to the amusement park and then stopped off for a few snow cones on our way home...sure hit the spot on a warm August day.
After our 3.5 mile swim, we took the nieces to the amusement park and then stopped off for a few snow cones on our way home…sure hit the spot on a warm August day.

Starting tomorrow, I’ll be back at school with inservice days on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and students starting on Thursday.  With a 24 hour training week this coming week on top of going back to work and balancing chores at home, this will likely be my most challenging week of the 2014 calendar year.  I know what I need to do and will get it done…it is only one week after all 😉

What have you been up to lately?  How is your training going?

Jumping Through Hoops…Running Update

Funny how jumping on the trampoline triggered this injury and now I’m jumping through hoops to overcome this setback and get back to pounding the pavement.

Acting like a 6 year old is sometimes more costly than one might think...
Acting like a 6 year old is sometimes more costly than one might think…

My running has not been where I want it to be at this point in my Ironman training, but I am working with what I am able to do, so I can eventually get back to running longer distances and speed work.  While I am not back to 100% yet, I am able to run a little bit…more on that in a few minutes.

What have I been doing to overcome this set back?

I see Dr. Chris at Team Chiropractic once or twice a week to receive active release therapy (ART).  He has also done acupuncture on my leg a couple of times to help release the muscle tension around my knee.  We are hoping that this will help my knee heal quicker.

Getting stuck like a voodoo doll…I think it might be helping though.  After having acupuncture twice in one week, I was able to run with minimal pain that weekend.

I am doing some exercises to help strengthen the stabilizing muscles around my knee.

Leg extensions with 4 pounds attached to my ankle and an air filled ball under my knee.
Leg extensions with a 4 pound ankle weight and an air filled ball under my knee.
The infamous monster walks with an elastic band around my shins.
The infamous monster walks with an elastic band around my shins.

I also get a deep tissue massage every other week…


Where am I at with my running?

Last week I ran for 20 minutes on Sunday (June 15), 30 minutes on Tuesday (June 17) and 33 minutes on Thursday (June 19).  When I went back to see Dr. Chris on Friday (June 20), he reexamined my running gait and noticed that I am still occasionally crossing my left leg over the midline of my body while running.  When my left leg crosses over the midline, that is when my knee feels some minor pains.

So…what do you do when you have to retrain your gait to prevent your leg from crossing over the midline while running?  Line running of course!  Where do I go to line run?  You guessed it…

My new running "home" for a while will be at the ISU track where I can line run.
My new running “home” for a while will be at the ISU track where I can line run.

Yes, I run lap after lap straddling the white line around the track.  I make sure to switch directions every 4 laps to keep me mentally focused and challenge my muscles a bit differently…

Anyone want to line run with me?
Anyone want to line run with me?  Saturday I ran 40 minutes around the track.

Yes…I feel like a hamster running on a wheel and my Garmin accurately represents this…

Tuesday I was able to run for 50 minutes around the track.
Tuesday I was able to run for 50 minutes around the track.

It is surprisingly difficult to run while straddling the white line.  This running technique does not allow for much gazing at the surrounding scenery…my only focus is on the white line between my feet.  I think I’m starting to have dreams of a white line that never ends 😉

If you want to join me for a run, you know where to find me for the next couple of weeks…

What hoops have you had to jump through to overcome an injury or setback in your training?

Head vs. Heart…Who Will Win???

Yesterday I had made the decision to adjust my goals for this weekend’s race, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized this still might not be the best decision for my body, for successfully setting myself up for my “A race” and my mental state.

I went out to our local “swamp” to get one last open water swim in before heading to Lawrence and encountered one slight snag…without the wetsuit, the knee is VERY angry.  I didn’t even make it to the first buoy before I decided to be done.


Since the water temperature in Clinton Lake can hover around 76.1F (the water temperature where the wetsuit is no longer allowed), this could pose a problem for the 1.2 mile swim.

I had a BIG decision to make.  Do I go to Lawrence hoping my knee isn’t so angry on race day so I can at least start the race?  Do I go to Lawrence without any gear so I can only spectate?  Do I stay at home and not put myself in a predicament where I might change my mind last minute and decide to give the race a try or worse…have a negative attitude because I’m not racing (this wouldn’t be good for the Iron Hippie and Allen who are racing)?  How will participating in this race help me get closer to the finish line at IRONMAN Wisconsin?

do today closer to tomorrow

This was all I needed to remind me that my A race is IMWI.  So in this battle, the head won.  I NEED to focus on getting 100% healthy.  I NEED to slowly ease back into run training, so I don’t set myself back further.  I NEED to make smart decisions to successfully toe the start line of IMWI.  I NEED to stay home and not put myself in a predicament where I might change my mind and start the race.  I NEED to stay home so I am not surrounding others who are racing with negative energy.

It sucks when the head and the heart don’t align.  What decisions have you had to make when the head and heart don’t align?

head vs heart

Transitions…in Life and Training

“Transition: a change from one state or condition to another”  ~Merriam Webster

Life is full of transitions…transitioning from baby to child to adolescent to adult.  Transitioning from grade level to grade level and possibly school to school.  Transitioning from living at home, to living on your own.  Transitioning from attending school to the working world.  Transitioning from renting to owning a home.  Transitioning from job to job.  Transitioning from single to in a relationship and maybe even to marriage.  Transitioning from season to season.  Transitioning from hobby to hobby.  Transitioning from young to older and eventually “old.”  The list goes on and on and on.

The end of the school year brings transitions to our household and this year will be no different.  I transition from the role of school teacher to the role of house wife.  When I am in the role of school teacher, we have to find/make time on the weekends to run errands, clean house, do laundry and make/prep meals for the coming week.  When I am in the role of the house wife, I can do all of these chores during the week while the Iron Hippie is at work so we can enjoy our weekends more freely.  The role of house wife also gives me the flexibility to take on a few more personal training clients and make a little extra money at my part time job.

Training is also full of transitions…transitioning from goal to goal.  Transitioning from swimming to cycling to running during triathlon.  Transitioning from season to season.  Transitioning from race to race.  Transitioning from indoor trainer rides to outdoor road rides.  Transitioning from indoor pool swimming to outdoor pool swimming and/or open water swimming.   Transitioning from treadmill running to running outdoors.  Transitioning from working out solo vs. with others.  This list also goes on and on and on.

Transition area at the 2013 USAT Olympic Distance National Championships in Milwaukee, WI.

Having a more flexible schedule during the summer months allows me to train at different times of the day…acclimating to different temperatures, training with different people and juggling my workouts around variable weather if necessary.

This year, we are experiencing an additional transition…going from training with a coach, to training without a coach.  While both the Iron Hippie and I LOVE Coach Julie, we have decided to discontinue her coaching services.  Julie is moving to the Chicagoland area and we feel that we are knowledgable enough, motivated enough and dedicated enough to get ourselves to the start line and finish line of Ironman Wisconsin 2014.   As a science teacher, I’m looking at this as our own little science experiment…what can we do to successfully get us to the start and finish lines of IMWI?!?!?!?!

science experiment

Discontinuing our coaching services will allow us to have some extra money that we can save for upcoming races, vacations, home/yard renovations, etc.  We will have the flexibility to incorporate more social activities into our weekly regimen and it will encourage the Iron Hippie and I to communicate more with each other regarding our training and home schedules.

Transitions can sometimes be uncomfortable and scary…especially when we don’t know what to expect, what the outcomes will be, or how they will impact our daily lives.  The Iron Hippie and I are embracing these transitions and looking forward to the positive impacts they will have on our household.

life transitions

Do you embrace transitions?  What transitions do you experience / have you experienced in your life?