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mind racing.

Thoughts. [Found on my-teen-quote.tumblr.com via Tumblr]

What is the secret that keeps the mind from racing? I wish I knew because I could use it lately. My thoughts have been going round and round like a hamster wheel.  Thinking about EVERYTHING from my career {job change?}, to my triathlon season {nerves about training}, to the boston marathon {is it a good idea?}, to Christmas gifts {haven’t even started shopping}… I’m sort of going crazy:).  All of this thinking has been keeping me up and night and is making me quite stressed out.

Adding to the mix is some big news I got while at my conference in CA last week. My company is getting acquired and there is a high potential for layoffs in the near future… oy! The bright side is, now perhaps I can REALLY figure out what I want my next career move to be. I’m thinking of this as a little ‘kick in the pants.’ Time to get my butt in gear and figure things out. The problem is, I still feel lost at 31 years old. I’m jealous of people who have a career and a path that they are passionate about.  I honestly have never had that… ever. When you are used to going to the same office every day and staying busy, it’s easy to just forget about your dreams. Also, add to the mix Ironman training and you really don’t have time to think about the future!

Now more than ever, might just be the perfect time for me to do some {job} + {soul} searching. It’s easy to put dreams on the back burner. The hard part is facing them head on and taking risks.  Here’s to taking risks and trying to figure it all out… or at least some of it:)

Todd's IPhone UTAH 274

Do you have a career you love? How did you figure it all out?

 

 

 

eat clean

California in Pictures

Hi! I just got back last night from California and my body feels like it’s been hit by a truck.  I guess jet lag is a real thing, even when it’s only a three hour time difference…

I flew to Los Angeles from Boston on Sunday (6.5 hour flight) and then returned last night to the frozen tundra a.k.a Boston. Why is it that sitting on a plane for hours on end sucks the life right out of you?

From Sunday-Thursday I attended a conference for work in Anaheim. Lucky for me I had a rental car (score!) and was able to explore some beautiful sights around me.  The conference went from 11 am – 3 pm every day, which allowed for some ‘play time’ before and after each day.  I also lucked out BIG time with the weather, 70’s and sunny EVERY day.  Right now they are getting flooded with rain, so we got out just in time.

Here are some photos from the ‘fun portion’ of my work trip a.k.a. my first time ever in California. Let’s just say it won’t be my last time visiting this beautiful state:)

Sorry if my photos cause wanderlust, but these are too beautiful not to share!!!

Corona del Mar Beach at Sunset

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 Huntington Beach at sunset

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Crystal Cove State Park – Sunrise hike/run

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Babette’s Cafe in Newport Beach
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Santa Monica Pier

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I loved California and can’t wait to go back some day!

Have you ever been before? Where did you visit?

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Learnings from my Swim Clinic

Sunday concluded my swim stroke clinic with QT2 Systems! I learned so much and I wanted to share some of the things I learned, in hopes that it might help you too.

Let it be known, I am not a swimmer. Well technically, I am since I am a triathlete, but I am not a SWIMMER, i.e. college swimmer. I only started swimming laps in college (little factoid: I was actually on the swim team in high school, but as a springboard diver!). Swimming always intimated me, until I had a college friend show me how to do a swim workout. Before I knew it, I started to love swimming and found it to be a great cross training workout and a way to rehab from running injuries.

Post college, I joined a local Masters Team at my local YMCA. I’m still on that same team 5 years later! Swimming Masters gave me confidence in the water and improved my endurance ten fold. However, five years after joining Masters, I was beginning to notice that my speed was not improving much at all. I was pretty fast and a decent swimmer, but I had plateaued. Fellow swimmers in my lane were getting faster and I was staying the same. It always felt like a struggle to keep up and workouts got frustrating. My swim times at Triathlons were getting a little bit faster, but pretty much staying the same. Here I was putting ALL of these hours into the pool (and 9,000 + yards a week) and I wasn’t seeing any changes with speed. I couldn’t help but think, something must be wrong with my stroke…

As you probably know, swimming involves A LOT of technique. There are so many little things that can make a BIG difference in the water, it’s seriously mind boggling. Since I was never really taught how to swim efficiently and properly, I didn’t really know about these tricks. When I saw an announcement from my QT2 team about a local swim stroke clinic, I couldn’t help but sign up.  Not only could a stroke clinic help with my swimming, but in turn, it would help with my bike and run during a race (since hopefully, I would be swimming better).

In addition to the actual class, I also had a stroke analysis done with a fancy camera. Coach Jesse filmed me as swam 50 yards freestyle and then sent a video analyzing my stroke.  This helped us understand what I needed to work on during the clinic and going forward. The clinic was small, with only 5 other athletes, so I felt I still got a lot of personal attention.

Here were the findings: 

Poor balance. My balance in the water is way off. In my case, my balance issue has to do with head position, which is way up, instead of down.  When you have your head too high when swimming, it can throw your balance off in the water. See comment below about moving through water like a banana:)

Swimming with the head tilted forward is probably the most common technique problem in swimming, and it complicates every other aspect of the freestyle stroke:

  • Breathing – you need to lift your head too high (which will sink your back end), or lower your head first and then roll your face to the air (which takes too long)
  • Posture – it breaks the connection between your head and chest (your head becomes the loose cannon on deck) – and it arches your back (so you move through the water like a banana instead of like a torpedo)
  • Rotation – with an arched back, rotation of your core is slower and more restricted
  • Arm stroke – because the shoulder girdle tilts forward, it is more difficult to get your arms out of the water, which creates a host of problems: it is more stressful on your shoulders, you will recover your hands closer to the surface (a problem in open water); you will tend to drive your hands across your head on entry (rather than straight ahead, in the direction of travel), and you will be more likely to pull under your body and cross your centerline during the pull (which is like putting your paddle under your kayak – you can get some power that way, but then you have the problem of how to get it out)
  • Kicking – it puts downward pressure on your hips, forcing you to kick harder to keep your hips afloat
  • source 

Head position problems. I rotate my head too much when I breathe, sometimes with both goggles out of the water.  You should only have one goggle out at at time. This leads to increased drag and throws my body mechanics off.

example of too much head rotation:

Think neck tall, chin back. This flattens your upper spine and keeps your head firmly connected to your core. Except when breathing, keep your head facing straight down at the bottom. To breathe, continue to drive your head forward and rotate just your face to the air. (source)

‘Stop sign’ entry. My arm enters the water TOO high, i.e. my hand does a ‘stop sign’ when entering the water, palm up, instead of palm down.

This photo shows exactly what I’m doing wrong (see his hand turning up?) This provides a TON of resistance to the water i.e. putting on the breaks!

dropped wrist

Crossover. Boy, do I have an issue with Crossover. During the pull phase of the stroke, my hand tends to cross the center line under my body. Not good!

an example of mid stroke crossover

pull crossover

I am crossing over with my arms, across my body, instead of keeping my arms close to my body and aligned with my armpit. Everything should always be aligned with the armpit/shoulder!

This is what it should look like:

When your hand enters the water at the beginning of each stroke, you must ensure it doesn’t cross your body’s imaginary midline running from head to toe. Crossing over puts a tremendous amount of strain on the shoulder joint and makes your body fishtail or swing from side to side, increasing drag. (source)

Given the findings above, I was given the task of balance drills!  Specifically, the Total Immersion balance drills. Unfortunately, I can’t post videos here since they are copyrighted, but you can check out their website here. It’s really hard to describe the drills without you seeing them in person… I recommend going to a coach or the Total Immersion website (or class) if you want to learn!

The Total Immersion drills I’m working on are below… one drill progresses into the other.

Sweet spot Kicking on my back VERY RELAXED, leaning to one side with one shoulder partially out of the water, kicking, with my head wayyy back, arms by my side

Long Vessel Sweet Spot doing the above, but with one arm extended

Zipper skate  Doing the above, but bringing one hand up like a zipper towards my chin and then back down by my side

Zipper Single Switch Progression from zipper skate, after the zipper, doing a single free style stroke, focusing on hand dipping low into the water ‘steep and deep’ with the arm and elbow!

At first I didn’t understand how floating on my back would help my swimming, but then Coach Jesse explained it to me. You start basic on your back, working on balance and once you excel at this, you can flip over and incorporate into your freestyle swimming. At first it seemed so silly, the whole floating on my back thing, but it works!  It was very frustrating in the beginning because I had this fear of leaning my head way back, but then I got over it. I had to learn how to relax, and once I did, it stuck. In the three weeks working on these drills, I have already noticed a huge difference.

My advice to you is, think of a FEW things to work on with your swim stroke, not a lot of things… otherwise you will get confused!  For example, when I swim at practice, focus is on head position being DOWN and my hands/arms entering down steep and deep into the water (i.e. no stop sign).  When I’m not at practice, I’m focusing on my drills.

This morning I realized that these things are really working. I was in the front of the pack in my lane, instead of the back.  I was actually leading sets of 200’s and that seriously never happens. All of a sudden, it felt ‘easy.’ At first I was annoyed with practice feeling easy, but then I reazlied, it wasn’t the workout… it was ME. I was getting better at swimming and FASTER! Success!  Yay to making progress!

If you are interested in improving on your swimming… I also love this website: Swim Smooth. Tons of good tips and tricks.

p.s. Swimming a lot leads to toned arms… Bonus!

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back to training (well, sort of)

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I officially made it through my first week back into training… but this was not without a setback. I’ll get to that shortly…

 

so many stupid decisions in the past!

 

So I’m back to having a training schedule and this makes ‘type A’ me very excited! I love having a plan to follow and I love training, this equals a win-win. While I am no longer in my ‘off season’ I’m also not going to be training like a madwoman. The plan I am currently following is a ‘base training’ plan until mid- January.

Base training means the following:

  • I am working at mostly ZR (recovery heart rate) and Z1 (zone 1 heart-rate).
  • I won’t be logging a TON of hours just yet, but merely easing into things.
  • Strength work will be incorporated 3 x week for these next few weeks at an easy, high rep rate and then heavier weights in the weeks to follow.
  • All of my bike rides (on the trainer from now on) will be at 95 + RPM. Think high cadence, low resistance.
  • Easing back into running.

Here is what last week looked like:

Monday
Swim at Masters Practice 3,000 yards
Adaptive Strength Training

Tuesday
Swim 32 minutes // focus on balance drills learned in Swim Stroke Clinic
RUN 35 minutes @ recovery pace (so excited to be running after 3 weeks off!)

Wednesday
Bike 1:10 on the trainer // high cadence, low resistance
Adaptive Strength Training (lat pull down, rows, squats, hamstring curls, etc)

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Thursday (Thanksgiving)

Thanks4Giving 10K Run

First Female overall out of ~ 60 women, 7th overall out of ~ 200 people.. 41:43 (not to mention it was closer to 6.4 miles.. I was going wayyyy too fast)

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Todd ran the 5K, I probably should have too

After the race I was feeling pretty good (just tight hamstrings).

That afternoon we enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner with my parents, sister and a few relatives.  Our families are both within a 10 mile radius of where we live… makes seeing family on holidays very easy (but can be stressful, ha!).  This year it was a small get together, which was really nice.

Friday

  • Wake up… knee hurt immediately, hamstrings sore = angry Kristin
  • Attempt to ride my bike, knee and quad hurt so much that I can’t continue… stop at 45 minutes
  • Unable to flex/extend my left leg with out pain (what the heck did I do?!)
  • Now I’m realllly angry… at myself & no one else.

Saturday

  • Reach out to my coach… tell him that I’m in pain… and the reason why…
  • Reveal to coach that I raced a 10K WITHOUT permission, when I had only gone running twice in 3 WEEKS #EGO #DUMMY
  • Use the excuse that I’ve done this race before and it was ‘only a 10K’
  • Coach isn’t happy with me… I’m supposed to stick to the plan. I only am supposed to race when I’ve trained for 4-5 weeks for that race NOT 4-5 DAYS. Who knew?! (I knew this… shhh)
  • Proceed to beat myself over doing the 10K (and fast) for the next 48 hours, basically ruining my long weekend (my poor husband)
  • Go for a swim to get some endorphins out
  • Get our Christmas Tree!

 

 

Sunday

  • Wake up… in less pain than Friday/Saturday
  • Attend Masters Swim Practice… swim 4,250 yards! My arms = toast!
  • Still angry at myself… whyyy did I try and race the 10K period, let alone why did I try and PR?
  • Realize that I went against everything that I’ve learned over this past year and did not follow advice I’ve given to others
  • Ego sucks. Apparently I’m too competitive to just ‘jog’ a turkey trot… I had nothing to prove.. seriously!

Attend 3rd and final swim stroke clinic… making progress but still have a long way to go… continue to be frustrated.  Let me just say that my wetsuit is my best friend because without it, I would not have the speed I do in open water. My balance is wayyy off in the water.

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Today (Monday)

  • Knee feels the best it’s felt since Thursday.
  • I’ve been told by coach to just swim-swim-swim for the rest of the week and to incorporate easy biking starting tomorrow.
  • I think this might be just a flare up, but I hope and pray it’s nothing else.
  • This is a text book case of: ‘too much, too soon.’

 

Sorry if this post comes off as whining, but I had to let it out. I honestly think the worst feeling in the world is letting YOURSELF down. Sure it’s awful to let other people down, but letting yourself down? It hurts. I have to live with the fact that I set myself back because of a silly thanksgiving race. I let my ego get the best of me. I have no one to be mad at for myself. I also feel like I hypocrite because I would never advise ANYONE to do what I did.

Coach thinks that if I take it easy this week, that hopefully I’ll miss just a few days because of this, not months. He tells me to be positive and to stop beating myself up (easier said than done!). He told me to think of this as a time to work on my swimming and to get faster in the pool! Speaking of the pool… I swam over 5,000 yards yesterday, yikes!

Tomorrow I might attempt to bike (really easy) and see how things feel.  I also will be going to trigger point therapy in hopes that it’s my tight quad causing the knee pain. And…. hopefully by the end of this week I’ll have some good news.

In the meantime, I’ll just try and keep my head up:)

 

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grateful.

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Each year on Thanksgiving, we are reminded to be grateful.  Whether it’s grateful for our health, for what we have, our loved ones… It’s a moment to stop and smell the roses. To take a break from the every day hustle and bustle in life and live in the moment… all while enjoying some delicious food of course.

As an athlete, I often forget to be grateful. I often forget to thank my body for what it’s capable of (some truly amazing things). Taking a break from running recently made me extra grateful. It was frustrating at first, but then I realized I am lucky to just be able to run in the first place. Taking a break really put things in perspective, that is for damn sure.

This Thanksgiving, and every day for that matter, I need to remember this:

I don’t HAVE to be a triathlete, I GET to be a triathlete.

How lucky am I? 🙂 I get to swim, bike AND run because my body and mind are capable of these things… amazing!

inspirational quote - You don’t HAVE to do this. You GET to do this.

So tomorrow, when you are enjoying some turkey and mashed potatoes, don’t forget to be grateful.

I’ll be running a turkey trot tomorrow morning bright and early (not expecting a PR of course).

What will you be doing for your thanksgiving day workout?