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My heart belongs to running.

Happy National Running Day! 

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I might be a triathlete now, but I have always been a runner. I started running at the age of 13 (that’s 17 years of running), more than half of my life. I’ll never forget the first time I discovered my love and natural ability for the sport… running several laps in my parents backyard (not kidding!). Although running has caused some frustration in recent years i.e. knee surgery and stubborn injuries, it has taught me many valuable lessons and for that, I am grateful. I will always consider running to be my ‘first love’ when it comes to exercise and sports.

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In honor of this day, I thought I would write a thank you letter to my dear friend: Running

Dear Running,

Thank you for:

  • Always making me feel better when I’ve had a bad day
  • Teaching me courage (and heartbreak)
  • Coming natural to me, when I am with you I feel at home
  • Keeping my legs strong and toned
  • Giving me a challenge: when it’s hot outside, when there’s a hill, or when I’m just plain tired
  • Making me feel humble– when I am surrounded by those who are faster than me
  • Giving me confidence, in life, while training or during a race
  • Relieving my stress (thank you endorphins!)
  • Teaching me how to overcome the struggle of injuries: knees, feet, hips, we’ve been through it all together
  • Always listening… I can get my thoughts out with you, as if you were my diary
  • Keeping my blood pressure and heart rate low
  • Giving me body awareness, when things feel good (or not so good) you always tell me
  • Making me feel fast
  • Always being there for me. I am lost without you. I consider you one of my best friends.
  • Guiding me through three marathons in two years
  • Being the final leg of Triathlon that I always look forward to
  • Teaching me grace

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All of these things and more, I am grateful for the ability to run.

Your life-long friend,
Kristin

When did you first start running? What does running make you grateful for?

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Tri Talk Tuesday: Pre-Race Jitters

Today I’m linking up with Courtney, Miranda, and Cynthia for Tri Talk Tuesday!

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Today’s topic: Pre-race jitters… Something I have a lot of experience with. No matter the race, no matter the distance, I think it’s completely normal to feel nervous before a race. I’ve been getting these ‘jitters’ since playing sports and running track in high school. That butterfly feeling, like something is doing flip flops in my stomach… that’s how I describe my pre-race jitters. I can only imagine what these jitters are going to feel like in the days leading up to Ironman Mont Tremblant in August! Eek!

I would say my biggest anxiety comes at the swim start. I used to be SO afraid of the swim start and had couple of bad instances where my heart was racing so fast (panic mode) and I had to stop and tread water. I can practice in the pool and lake all I want, but getting in the water with a crowd of people totally freaks me out. I finally found a technique that works for me and it has made all the difference. Perhaps it can help you too! For the first time last September, I did not get scared at the swim start and I cruised to my fastest swim time ever… and ended up placing 3rd female overall!

My technique for getting over open water swim anxiety during a race is: Getting an upbeat song chorus stuck in my head… and repeating the beat over and over. It completely relaxes me and helps me get into a groove.

I actually wrote a letter to the editor of Triathlete Magazine about how getting a song stuck in my head helped me with the anxiety in open water. My little claim to fame (ha). Triathlete magazine ended up publishing my letter, so awesome! I have Sara McLarty to thank for this fantastic tip. I posted the photo below with the text under it (since it’s hard to read).

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The Beat Goes On: November 2013 Triathlete Magazine

The night before my most recent Olympic Distance Race, I picked up my copy of the October issue, just in case I wanted some last minute tips. This was going to be my last race of the season, and I knew I wanted to PR! The swim has always been my least favorite part of Triathlon racing. While I am a strong swimmer, the anxiety tends to kick in and I lose my rhythm. I quickly scrolled to the swim section hoping something might help me, mentally, on race day. I was in luck when I turned to Sara McLarty’s article “Swim to the Beat.” I completely related with her comment of how the last song you hear tends to get stuck in your head during the swim. I just never realized how powerful this could be on race day! She mentioned how it helps when the chorus is catchy and has the perfect tempo for a fast stroke cadence. I took this advice and on race morning I listened to Katy Perry’s ‘Roar’ right before the start. At the start of the race, the water was very choppy. I knew I could easily get psyched out and panic, so I started to repeat the ‘Roar’ chorus in my head. Stroke by stroke I kept repeating the chorus, keeping a fast tempo. I was cruising through the waves, and didn’t miss a beat, passing others in my age group. I felt the most confident I have ever felt swimming during a race. As I got out of the water, I glanced down at my watch and was in complete shock, I had just swam my fastest swim ever during a race of that distance! I beat my time from June by six full minutes! Thank you Triathlete Magazine for this helpful tip, that will for surely continue to help all of my future races.

Besides the swim start, here is what pre-race jitters typically look like for me:

Race Stomach- Lovely GI Issues before the race (specifically morning of the race)

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  • I will spare you the details, but let’s just say I can’t hold onto any food for long on race morning.
  • This issue used to be really bad, until I consulted a sports nutritionist and we figured out I was eating wayyy too much fiber prior to racing… well I changed that immediately and it has made all the difference (i.e. at Boston)

I am OCD with checking my gear bag and all of my equipment, which is probably a good thing.

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  • I lay everything out the night before the race, even the food I will be eating for breakfast
  • I check, re-check and check again everything I will need before, during and after the race

I don’t feel like talking to anyone, not even my husband

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  • I am very intense, in life and when racing. I don’t like to listen to other people and how nervous they are (because this makes me nervous). I try my best to ‘zone out’ and not listen to anything around me prior to the race i.e. at transition area. Hearing things like: ‘the swim course is really choppy’, or ‘I hear the bike course is really hilly..’ totally freak me out and mess with my head. I try to ignore these comments as best as I can.
  • I do however, chat in porta potty lines or prior to the swim start, and this helps ease nerves (sometimes).. but I’m no chatty-kathy..
  • This being said, I get annoyed with overly chatty people at races (sorry!) I’m trying to FOCUS.. it doesn’t mean I don’t like you:)

I assess my competition

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  • I survey transition… who looks fast? Who looks like they can beat me (or better yet, who can I beat)? I want to place in my age group and I like to know who my competition is.
  • A fast looking bike is not always an indication of who is fast and who isn’t, trust me. I try to remind myself of this pre-race… I also try not to think too much about what other people look like (race kits, bike, wetsuit, etc). It’s easy to get psyched out by doing this.

 

How do you cope with the pre-race jitters?

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IMMT Training Recap {Week 12}

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According to the Countdown App on my iPhone, as of today, I have 75 days until Ironman Mont Tremblant! Now that we are in June, it’s becoming more and more real. After June comes July… then August… then (eek) my first Ironman! I have twelve weeks (including this week) until the race. I also have my first race of the season in just under two weeks now. I’m excited to see how far I have come since last year and I hope to set a PR!

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View on my run yesterday!

Total hours last week: ~ 13 hours
Weeks until IMMT: 12
Weeks until Patriot Half Ironman: < 2

Monday
Rest Day (no endurance work, long hike the day before)
TRX Full Body Workout (upper and lower)

Tuesday
Bike 1:30 Tempo Ride (Z2 HR)
Run: 30 min ( Z2/Z1 HR)

Wednesday
Swim Intervals at Masters Practice
Run 20 min recovery pace
Strength & core work 30 minutes

Thursday
Bike Tempo Ride (w/ 2 x 20 low cadence at Z2 HR)
Run 48 minutes with hill repeats

Friday
Swim 2800 yards at Masters Practice

Saturday
Bike 3:05 (Z1, Z2 HR ride)
Run 30 min brick run

Sunday
Bike 45 min (with 10 x 30 second sprints inserted in middle of workout)
Run 1:04 (Z1/Z2 ride)
TRX Upper Body workout

Recap: This past week was a tough one! I am adding in more volume and more intensity. Let’s just say by Sunday night I was ready to crash.. head on pillow… out cold. Starting with the beginning of last week, I took a ‘rest day’ on Memorial Day. We hiked for 6 hours on Sunday and by Monday my legs were toast. I decided to take it easy on Monday and rest my body. I did some TRX exercises to get the legs and arms moving, but nothing too strenuous. What I love about TRX is how you can bring your workouts outside! I just hook my TRX to my garage door and do my workouts on the patio

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Oliver likes to hang out with me while I train

By Tuesday I was back at it with my training, and getting into Zone 2 heart rate intervals, bring on the sweat!

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Here’s an example of one of my Zone 2 workouts- Tuesday, I did this tempo ride on my indoor trainer:

1:30 total ride time:
20 minute warm up @ Z1 HR
Main Set: 2 X (20 min @ Z2, 5 min @ ZR/Z1) *For the 2 x 20 min at Z2, I had to keep a cadence at 90+ RPM and HR at, 140-150 bpm
Cool down at Z1

As much as I love to be outside, staying on the trainer for these shorter rides allows me to really focus on my cadence and heart rate. All of my training is heart rate focused (not power focused). QT2, my coach/training program, uses heart rate as the number one metric for all athletes (age groupers and pro’s alike). Before joining QT2 I did not realize how important heart rate is to training and racing.. now I am a slave to my Gamin heart rate monitor… I actually feel like it’s a part of my body.

012a271bb6952ec9d71240c97c604680How am I feeling? Last week made me realize how much stronger and faster I’m getting. I am gaining a lot more confidence on the bike, thanks to hours and hours of being on my trainer all winter. I have actually only been on three outdoor rides all year (sounds crazy I know), but my weekends have not lined up (weather wise or plans wise) to get outside. I also love the controlled environment of being on my trainer and keeping my heart rate where it needs to be. It’s really hard to keep a steady, consistent heart rate outside, thanks to hills, stopping at intersections, etc. I find that if I am scheduled to do a ‘Zone 1 heart rate’ bike ride, I cannot for the life of me keep Zone 1 while riding outdoors. I live in an area with tons of hills and it’s not easy terrain to ride on. The roads at perfect for a Zone 2 / Zone 3 day, but it’s really hard to ‘take it easy’ where I live. I did get outside on Saturday however, since I was incorporating some Z2 intervals into my ride AND it was so nice out! I actually started on my trainer, and could not stand to look at the clear blue sky from indoors any longer. I switched out my back tire, threw on my helmet and hit the road for two additional hours. It felt so great to get outside! One thing I did not realize is how freakin’ windy it was.. gusty strong winds. Despite the wind, I was really happy to see my speed on the bike and how I was able to maintain it for the two hours on the road. I averaged about 19.5 mph, with head winds, and I was psyched! It’s hard to tell when on the trainer how you will apply your speed indoors, and I was pleasantly surprised. Not only that, but it feel ‘effortless’ to go at that pace (yay!). Running has always come natural to me, but biking has not. I am always happy to see improvements in the saddle and it proves that hard work and persistence pays off.

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Foot injury update: The pain in my left heel is still there (unfortunately). The podiatrist has deemed my injury as basically ‘chronic’ but he’s not saying it just yet. What we thought was Plantar Fasciitis in the beginning is actually more of a Fasciosis. From what I understand, this means it is a ‘soft tissue injury’ not a ‘muscle injury.’ Given that it’s a soft tissue injury and the actual tissue is damaged/dead, I finally know how to treat it (heat, NOT ice) and gentle self-massage. The heat seems to be working and I am in less pain than I was a few weeks ago. The good news is, according to the doctor, training for and racing the Ironman should not (knock on wood) make things worse. However, it definitely won’t make it better and the only thing that might make it go away, long term, is shock wave therapy… let’s just hope the heat treatment continues to work.

How was your training last week?

Do you train with Heart Rate or Power primarily?

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Friday Favorites!

Happy Friday! This week was a nice four day work week because of Memorial Day on Monday, and it flew by! I am looking forward to the weekend, with lots of biking and running on the agenda. I also have a graduation party and bridal shower (unfortunately, Ironman training couldn’t get me out of either of those, this time, ha).

Here are some things I am loving this Friday!

This quote from Maya Angelou

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It’s so true, just be yourself. Poet and author Maya Angelou died on May 28th, at the age of eighty-six. I can’t help but think about all of her quotes that I love. After her passing, I realized that so many of my favorite quotes were actually written by her. If you are looking to be inspired, more of her quotes can be found here.

Organic Blueberries

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I am so excited that berries are finally in season! I love summer fruit and I find blueberries are the perfect snack! However, I am very picky about my blueberries and they need to have a little ‘crunch.’ I love adding them to my yogurt or just eating them by the handful.

Nutiva Brand Shelled Hemp Seeds

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I don’t know why I waited so long to try hemp seeds! I have been adding them to my salads daily and they add a nice flavor and texture to any salad (or meal). They also are a nutritional powerhouse packed with protein and all nine essential amino acids. I like the Nutiva Brand because they are Organic and non-GMO. I also hear they go well in smoothies!

Discovering new trails

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I always love finding new trails to hike and run on! This week I realized there is a network of trails literally behind my office. It’s a 2 mile loop and has both wooded trails and these wood bridges that are really cool. It’s such a nice place to go in the middle of the workday when I need fresh air. I try to get outside every day during work (as long as it’s not raining). I also look forward to running on these trails during my ‘runches.’

Running hill repeats

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Ok call me crazy, but I love doing hill repeats. I have entered the Build phase of my Ironman training and I will now be incorporating weekly hill workouts. Since my Ironman is in Mont Tremblant, I really need to practice hills! From Runner’s World: Training on hills improves leg-muscle strength, quickens your stride, expands stride length, develops your cardiovascular system, enhances your running economy and can even protect your leg muscles against soreness. In short, hill running will make you a stronger, faster and healthier runner.

What are you up to this weekend? 

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The mountains are calling and I must go.

My favorite quote from John Muir says it all.  Sometimes the mountains are just calling my name.

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Last weekend was a long weekend here and we headed up to New Hampshire on Saturday.  I was scheduled to do a ‘short 30 mile easy’ bike ride on Sunday but in my mind and my heart, I had bigger plans.  I typically ask my coach for permission to do such a thing (like changing my workout), but I didn’t bother because I knew what the answer would be ‘Kristin a 10 mile hike is too much volume for the end of your recovery week.”  I am one to always follow my plan, to a T, but I just couldn’t last weekend, I needed to be in the mountains, my happy place.

We had been watching the forecast for Sunday and it wasn’t looking too great in the higher elevations. Being in the Northeast, most of the NH mountains are 3,000 to 5,000+ feet in elevation.  Todd and I are currently working on our 4,000 footer list, which is the (48) 4,000 foot peaks in NH.  We have completed 32 of them and have 16 to go! The list includes all mountains in NH that are at or over 4,000 feet.  It’s considered a badge of honor in these parts of the woods to hike all of the 48.

Our game plan was to wake up early on Sunday and meet our friend Steve (Todd’s best bud from College) to go hike Mt Wambeck, one of the 4,000 footers that we still had to check off our list.  This hike is about a 1.5 hour drive north of my parent’s house. We picked this hike because the views aren’t supposed to be that great from the summit, and it’s quite wooded… the forecast was calling for rain showers and clouds.  As we started our drive into the White Mountains, the sky started to open up and I instantly wanted to do a hike that would give us the best views possible! I could tell it was going to turn into a beautiful day and I wanted to take advantage!  It was a very split second decision (we were literally one mile from the trail head), but I made the decision to do Mt Flume and Mt Liberty instead. This would be a 10.1 mile loop hike in Franconia Notch, which is one of the most beautiful locations to hike in NH. Todd and I had done this hike before, years ago, but it would be the first time for Steve.  The only time Todd and I hiked these mountains, it was cloudy and we didn’t see the views clearly… this prompted me to want to hike it even more!

Here is a little recap of our hike:

Peaks hiked: Mt Liberty (4,459 ft) and Mt Flume (4,328 ft)

Total Distance 10.1 Mile loop hike

Trails: Whitehouse trail, Liberty Spring trail, Flume Slide trail

The brave souls: Myself, my husband Todd, our friend Steve, Dogs: Aspen, Steve’s dog (lab mix) and Oliver our dog (westie)

We started at around 9:00 AM from the Whitehouse Trailhead parking lot.  We had to walk on a short bike path (.9 miles) to get to the Whitehouse trail (.6 miles) and then Liberty Spring trail (2.3 miles). Once we got to Liberty Spring, we took this rocky/steep trail up to Mount Liberty.  Most of the trail was completely uphill, at times not letting up. I was jealous of our four legged friends, Aspen and Oliver, who made climbing look so easy!  People often ask me if we have to carry Oliver when we hike (he’s about 20 lbs with short legs). My answer is no, because he is a tenacious little dog who has been hiking since he was a puppy!  We always make sure he has enough food and water for the hikes and I like to think that he loves it as much as we do!

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Climbing up the Liberty Spring trail

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Here is a map of what we covered during our hike:

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Once we got near the top of Liberty, I was beaming with excitement.  I love that moment when you are about to summit a mountain.  There is a sense of accomplishment and thrill.  I wish I could bottle up the feeling of being on top of a mountain, especially one that you worked so hard to summit. It makes all of the hard work and sweat worth it.

Here are some photos from the summit of Mt Liberty:

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Kristin's iPhone 5.27.14 303Our little hiking family

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From Liberty we hiked 1.2 miles to the Summit of Mt Flume.

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Oliver the hiking westie!

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Livin’ on the edge!

10338864_10100147237641827_8147897165214856719_nTodd, Me & Steve

Kristin's iPhone 5.27.14 247Looking from the summit of Flume to Mt Liberty (where we just were!)

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From the Summit of Flume, our choice was to either retrace our steps back over Liberty and go down the way we came (via Liberty Spring) OR take the VERY step Flume Slide trail down Flume.  Both ways were about equal in distance to get back to our car, but the Flume Slide is treacherous and not recommended on the descent.  Most people go up the Flume Slide trail and hike the loop the reverse way we did (Flume first and then Liberty).  I did not realize this until we were hiking up Liberty (oops!).  We had lots of people tell us along the way that going down Flume Slide is not recommended, especially during spring when the rocks are wet and slippery.  We decided to take our chances and try the Flume Slide.

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If I could do it again, I would not have gone down Flume Slide.. it was the steepest trail I have ever descended and it was very wet (hence why I have no photos of us going down the trail). We had to duck into the woods often to avoid falling on the slippery rocks.  The dogs did great, us humans on there other hand were having a difficult time.  The steep and dangerous section lasted for about a mile, and then things got ‘easier.’  All in all, the hike took us about 6 hours (including a nice lunch break on the summit of Flume).  It was a fantastic day and probably one of my favorite hikes to date!  I seriously could have stayed up on those mountains all day long. Hiking in the White Mountains is my true happy place. I am so grateful for my strong legs and heart that allow me to hike these majestic peaks.

Do you hike where you live?  What are you favorite things about hiking?