Tuesday, June 29, 2010

42 tri

my 42nd birthday is just a little over a month away. there are a lot of things i haven't achieved yet, but there are a ton i have.

years ago i would never have dreamed that triathlon would be a part of my life. i was active as a little kid, but as soon as puberty rolled around i got sorta doughy and put my focus on the boys, the booze and the smokes. but just before turning 30 i decided to do a marathon and since that day it's pretty much been "game on" and pursuing my passion for sport has been life changing ... to say the least.

for the past 8 or 9 years i have celebrated my birthday by doing some sort of challenging physical activity ... either a race or a hard ride in the hills. physical activity has become my way of life so it seems only fitting that it's how i celebrate the day if was given life.

this year i want to honor what i have accomplished in the best way i know how, doing the sport that has challenged me more than anything and made me grow in ways i'm not sure i can even articulate.

so to that end ... i'd love it if you would join me, either in person or virtually, on august 1st (my actual birthday is the 2nd, but it's a monday and i want people to be able to play along, so we're taking a little liberty here) for "42 tri".
i'll be swimming 4200 yards, biking 42 miles and running 4.2 miles. lest any of you think this isn't a challenge for me ... in the past 6-9 months my training volume hasn't been nearly what it used to be. i haven't swum more than 3000 meters in forever, my rides for the last 6 months have topped out at 30-35 miles and recently i've had an injury that has prevented me from running. SO i'll spend the next month upping my distances and look forward to it being a challenge.

now on to the extra fun part ... i posted my idea on facebook and a lot of awesome friends agreed to do it with me. that being said, about 50% of my female friends have either just had a baby, will have just had a baby or are pregnant. 25% of my male friends are suffering from lack of sleep due the recently birthed babies and another good chunk have been injured ... so we're getting creative with distances so all can take part.

#1 choice -- do the whole 42 as outlined above, but if there is a reason you really can't ... i'd rather have you do what you can than not do it at all. the only thing i ask is that each sport somehow factor in 42 ... how you do that is up to you ... i just ask that you share with me (either here or on FB) HOW you're gonna do it ... that'll be a lot of fun for me!

some ideas:

swim 4 x 200
bike 42 minutes
run 42 x 100

if my crazy ultrarunner friends (yes this means you, josh) want to run 42 miles and swim & bike for 4.2 minutes each ... have at it!

this thursday marks a month until "42 tri" ... plenty of time to get ready for it. i'm committed, i hope you are too!!


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

symphonies, tassles and training, oh my!

the weekend before last, i had the opportunity to head down south for more youth triathlon fun.

in preparation for USAT's 2010 junior triathlon festival, USAT is hosting three youth clinics at the marine corps recruit depot down in san diego. the three clinics cover basic skills and guide athletes ages 7-15 through swim, bike, run drills and activities.

luckily heading south meant a visit with marit and the really cool opportunity to see her perform with the la jolla symphony.

traffic was so hellacious on the way down there that i nearly missed it, but it seems once it let up a bit a paperweight fell on my foot and i made it along the toll road just in time.
the symphony was performing britten's war requiem with 2 choirs, poetry projected on screen, soloists, a children's choir ... it was pretty dang cool!!

that's marit smack-dab in the middle ... the only person looking at me.

marit graciously put me up for the night and even more generously got up with me at o'dark thirty the next morning to share a little oatmeal and caffeine before heading off.

the clinic was fantastic! there were about 8 coaches in total and each area (swim, bike and run) had two coaches. the kids rotated through.

i wasn't sure how many kids we were going to have and let me tell you, i was damn impressed when each group that came through had 25-30 kids! total of about 80 for the day. yahooooo, the future of triathlon is alive and well!

some of the sqidlettes, waiting patiently to get in the pool!

the marine corps recruit depot pool - huuuuge!!

the pool with all the lane lines removed and buoys put in. so cool!

i was assigned to the bike area and led the kids through T1 practice and some figure 8's to practice their bike handling/turning skills. some of the kids had raced before, others were still dazzled by the tassles on their handlebars. we had the full spectrum and i loved it.

some of the younger kids in the clinic

it was really a great time passing on information and seeing triathlon through these kids' eyes. they all had great attitudes and it served as yet another reminder of how FUN this sport can, and should, always be.

after the clinic i stopped and visited with a friend of mine who was in san diego from new york. ya gotta love facebook, i didn't know she was there and when i posted pictures of marit from the symphony, my friend alison saw them and commented that she was in san diego as well!

alison is a friend that i have known since i was 3 years old ... we went to montessori together. it was great to see her and to hear about the work she's doing as a team in training mentor. she's a total inspiration and so dedicated to sharing her enthusiasm with others.

i left san diego full of good spirit for how much sport can unite us all ... with strangers, with the next generation, with old friends and with ourselves.

i'm heading back down to san diego for round two this weekend. i can't wait for another dose of young minds and bodies eager to learn and have fun!


Thursday, June 3, 2010

the future of triathlon

yesterday i had one of my best triathlon experiences yet.

a few weeks ago i was asked to help a class of 6th graders complete their first triathlon. a teacher at a local elementary school has been doing this for the past three years. their school is K-6 so it's part of their commencement on to junior high school.

for the few months leading up to the event the kids meet each thursday and saturday to prepare. in addition to physically training they were also taught the rules and etiquette of triathlon.

yesterday we met them all down at the beach. they swam in a beach club pool, jumped out and came flying into t1, rode their bikes up the bike path a couple of miles with their "mentors" shadowing them.

here's my athlete, cole, going hard into a strong headwind. cole had come out of the pool close to last, but he flew along the path yelling out "on your left! on your left!" each time he approached someone.

in t2 they left their bikes and ran to the stoplight where their "wait time" was recorded and would be deducted later from their overall time. as cole and i waited for the light to turn (it's at the pacific coast highway so it's a loooong wait) a few police cars came along and stopped traffic so the kids no longer had to wait. cole said he felt like a rock star!

the run portion was over a mile and .8 of it was up, up, up a hill covering almost 250' of elevation gain. as we climbed cole said he wished he had taken some water in t2 (gotta love seeing racing lessons in the making, they are always there no matter your age or experience!) thirst and heat aside, he pressed on ... every so often glancing back over his shoulder to see if any of his classmates were catching up.

as we ran through the town to his school various store owners and parents were along the route shouting encouragement. it was so fun to see him pick up the pace each time someone was cheering him on.

finally we rounded the corner and headed down the final stretch to the finish line. the sidewalk was lined with the school's younger grades. music was playing, everyone was cheering and clapping and cole ran down the line of kids, high fiving each one. i don't think i could have been more proud if it had been my own kid! i definitely had goose bumps.

here's a snippet of the scene. not the best video, but you'll get the idea.

afterward we all took pictures together. the teacher kept referring to his students as his "triathletes" and you could see the pride on their faces each time he did.

this weekend i am heading down to san diego for a more formalized youth triathlon program ... three weekends of clinics to prepare a group of children, ages 7-15, for usat's 2010 junior triathlon festival in august.

watching the kids yesterday got me even more excited about this weekend and the idea of bringing this fantastic sport to these enthusiastic kids!


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

camp CHICago

i've spent the past six days in triathlon heaven!

a few months back elizabeth asked me if i would be able to come out to chicago because she and jennifer were hosting a triathlon camp for 13 women and by the time the camp rolled around, she would be in her 8th month of pregnancy and need of some extra hands ... and legs.

don't get me wrong, there is nothing this pregnant woman can't do, but riding on a triathlon bike for hours on end, on roads with car traffic just wasn't gonna happen.

liz doing side plank -- see what i mean? awesome!
(photo by molly)

i started coaching about 8 months ago myself, so the opportunity to go out and work with two women i really like and admire sounded fantastic!

as always, liz and her husband chris made me feel right at home as soon as i arrived ... even allowing me to co-opt their dog's attention and steal him as my bed mate each night. i was here a little less than a year ago and it was great to be back and enjoy all the green, green, green outdoors they have. trails that go on forever and air that changes in both smell and weight as the day moves along. i miss that.

liz and chris' infamous dog, "boss"

the first night of camp we all had dinner together. it was a nice relaxed time before all the intensity began and it was a good chance to learn a little about everyone. the 13 women were of varying ages and exposure to triathlon, but all were clearly dedicated, focused and wanting to be pushed.

first night of camp ... gettin' the low down for the weekend

day one started with open water swimming, including drills and race technique. then a long bike ride through the most gorgeous farm land. it was HOT and windy, but all of the women sucked it up and challenged themselves. after the ride everyone did a short, hilly run off the bike. then it was refuelrefuelrefuel and on to yoga.

on our ride - beautiful illinois countryside
(photo by molly)

during the yoga session, liz and i took the opportunity to get in a swim ourselves and ohmygod, it was everything i love about open water swimming without any of the stuff i don't love (rip tides, angry surf, difficult sighting). we traversed back and forth across the lake for about 45 minutes and i felt such peace and rhythm. i came out of the water feeling refreshed and reconnected (it was my first open water swim so far this season).

"lake in the hills"

that night we all had a great dinner together and then it was off to prepare for day 2!

a tired, but awesome bunch of women
(photo by molly, via our waiter)

day 2 started with jen leading a swim workout and one by one liz videotaping and giving feedback to each athlete. i was able to join liz for part of this and giving some feedback felt really great. i was thrilled to see that all the hands on work, reading, watching, learning i've done has really paid off. i was able to identify some challenges people were having and suggest things for them to work on. oh man, is that gratifying!

after the swim everyone met in what was now the baking sun and we headed off to a nearby hill for some repeats. each woman again rose to the occasion and gave the hill what they had. afterward, liz lead the group in run drills and it seemed like everyone had great take aways from that.

run drills!!

next up half of the group did strength and stretching with me and liz while the other half had a TRX session with kate and then the groups switched. i had not done TRX before and liz generously offered me the opportunity to join in. it's very cool and i can see how it would be beneficial to my overall strength as well as my swim, bike, run.

i took a lot of grief for this photo, but i think it's kinda badass (photo by molly)

molly's been doing TRX for a few months now ... she's really good at it!
(photo by jen)

as if all that wasn't challenge enough for one day ... liz's athletes then came down to her part of town and we all rode through my most favorite arboretum. this place is heaven and if i lived here i would ride and run in it all spring/summer/fall long. that night we had a chance to hang out a socialize again while liz's husband made an impressive dinner that we SCARFED like savages after two long days of training.

day 3, the women had signed up for the elgin fox trot - 10 miler and 5k. WOW! they all showed up and did what i'm not so sure i'd be willing to do after putting all those miles on my legs. to say it was hot and muggy would be an understatement. it was the kind of humid that makes you feel like your lungs are wrapped in saran wrap. i hyperventilate just thinking about it! but they all went out, got their run on and had a blast.

and then, BAM ... camp was over (and a massive rain, thunder, lightening storm rolled in).

at the conclusion of camp each of the athletes had an opportunity to tell the group what they had learned over the weekend. the coaches didn't share, but i couldn't help but reflect upon my time and feel like i came away with so much more knowledge.

post-race, camp conclusion chit-chat

both jennifer and liz are phenomenal athletes. they have each participated in the sport for years, they've each qualified for and raced kona, multiples times. they have accolades a mile long. they've coached for years and have impressive rosters of athletes. and for all of the similar accomplishments they have, they are very different both on the exterior and interior. jen is tall, blonde, chatty. liz is small, dark and reserved. they each process and present information in different ways.

jennifer, post-race

elizabeth, pre-pregnancy

i think their similar love for the sport and different ways of sharing that love was a real benefit to all of the campers. everyone learns differently and you never know when the way one person says something will generate that a-ha! moment. i know, for me, as a newer coach, seeing two pros each share in their unique way, created a robust experience beyond compare.

i came to help and am leaving having been helped.

i'm ready to head home, but i'm sad to go.

thanks CHICago!