Saturday, February 15, 2014

Love your body.

I’ve been sitting on this blog post for two months now.  I keep editing it, and thinking to myself, should I actually post this?  I realize this opens me up to criticism and strong opinions on a sensitive issue.  I simply want to share my experience and hope that someone might read it and find peace with his or her body too.


One of the many things that I love about triathlon is that it’s a beautiful mix of different body types. Even amongst the pros, it’s not one body type winning races.  However, it isn’t a secret that our sport is no stranger to eating disorders and body image issues.  A number of well-known professional triathletes have written about their battles with eating disorders. Growing up in the sport, I was 16 when my coach first spoke with me about my weight.  I had NEVER ever considered myself to be “fat” prior to this conversation, but triathlon has a whole other definition of skinny.  I carried this doubt in my head for a long time, and for years considered myself one of the “bigger girls” in the sport.  I felt confident in my body as a normal human being, but as a triathlete I felt I was big.  One single defining moment changed the way I looked at the scale. In 2009, I walked into the gym to do a strength session with my coach at the time, Tim Crowley.  I was very happy because I had lost a few pounds, and I was excited to tell him.  In a very polite way Tim said to me, “I don’t care about your weight. All I care about is how fast and healthy you are”.  That was it.  I realized that I’m a professional in a sport that ONLY measures your success based off of how fast you are.  There are no extra points for being skinny.  I didn’t step on the scale for a very long time after that. Not because I was avoiding it, but because my relationship with my weight had completely changed.  I was now completely focused on the numbers that mattered. 


Over the last four years there has been a gradual change in my body. My diet changed, because I realized I was punishing and rewarding my body by with food.  Instead, I focused on eating a balanced, clean and unprocessed diet. I never starve my body because I feel it only teaches my body to store calories in the future. My body trusts me to consume calories that it burns so it’s never unnecessarily storing.  I changed how I viewed my body. I saw it as a product of my work; the food I consumed provided it with the fuel and recovery it needed to perform it’s best.  My body is a vessel for me to pursue what I love and I am so grateful for everything it does for me. When was the last time you thanked your body, or appreciated your body, or LOVED your body for what it does?  Love your body.


Unfortunately, I think all of the discussion about losing weight or race weight has resulted in people thinking that skinny equals fast.   Fast equals fast. Bottom line. That’s it.  There is no weight that means you’re instantly going to achieve your racing and training goals.  I try to think about about being healthy rather than skinny. What does healthy look like for you?  One component of it could be a number on a scale, but what else does it include? 


With all the focus on race weight, it’s easy to become singularly focused on being thin.  However, to be able to race and train all year round, you have to be healthy and there are multiple components of that.  Most importantly it’s about balance.  There is no magic button or special ticket that is going to get anybody to achieve your goals.  Simply losing weight is not going to make anybody fast.  Focus on the numbers that matter, and nurture your body with healthy and clean foods that provide your body with the best possible foods for recovery and fuel.  Most importantly, love your body; it is an absolute gift.  

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

UWC Bahamas Triathlon & 2013 Wrap Up

My final race this season was the UWC Bahamas Triathlon.  We landed in Nassau on Wednesday and got comfortable in our homestay for the week.  We (Jarrod and I), shared a place with Jenna, Barrett and Lauren Brandon.  We ate almost every meal at Barbara Ann’s home, and Chef Biju prepared all the food.  On Thursday morning we flew to Highbourne Cay.  As soon as we arrived we went to feed iguanas on a neighboring island and check out ‘the sand bar’.  The sand bar might be my favorite place on the entire planet.  It’s so beautiful.  We collected lots of shells and all the athletes enjoyed lounging and playing in the water.  

We ate the most incredible food at Highbourne.  It was amazing to watch the fishermen go out and come back with conch, lobsters and all sorts of delicious edible goodies from the sea.   We had a little costume contest for Halloween and then on Friday we did a 1.5 mile open water swim race.  I was genuinely scared for the swim race because of the sharks.  Jenna did some research for me to let me know that being bit by a nurse shark would just feel like getting slammed in a car door and rather than losing the limb it would most likely just be broken. This made me feel a little better.  Long story short, we didn’t see a single shark- though people did see some in their warm up before we left for the swim start.  I really didn’t want to swim alone, so I was very happy to have Luke McKenzie and Leon Griffen with me for the entire swim.  I finished in 3rd for the womens race.  Overall, it was so much fun and next year I won’t be nearly as nervous.

One of my favorite things about this race is the opportunity to spend time with athletes from different distances in our sport.  We spend so much time with the athletes we compete against all year; it was great to get to know the long course athletes better as well as there partners.  The cool part me for me was realizing we all our fans of our sport- we all achieved some level of greatness this year, but every athlete was so humble. 

Race day was beautiful and hot.  The swim course was a little choppier than we expected so the swim stuck together.  We came out in a large first pack.  This was the first time in my life I have ever swim in the same pack as Sarah McLarty so I was pretty excited.  I got onto the bike and I felt tired- I really wanted to ride with the lead men but my legs were not having it.  Instead, Chris Foster and I rode together.  I could tell he wasn’t feeling his best so I was able to use him a good pace bunny.  The bike course was 4 laps and we slowly lost time to the lead group of men.  I came off the bike and felt pretty good on the run.  The run course was two laps on a beautiful crushed gravel trail.  I had a comfortable lead on the run so it was nice to just enjoy the course and cheering on everyone racing.  It was also excited to watch the battle unfold between Jarrod and Tim Don.  Jarrod and I both crossed the line in first place.  It is always fantastic to win a race with him.

Afterwards there was a kids triathlon.  I worked the first buoy with Sara McLarty and we had so much fun watching how determined these kids were.  It was great to cheer them on and watch them fly through the course.  Nothing is better than watching a kid cross the finish line with cap, goggles, helmet and no shoes on.  Priceless. 

The day after the race we were all invited to Atlantis experience Dolphin Cay.  I had never seen a dolphin up close or been able to touch it so it was great to get to interact with these incredible animals. 

Thank you to Barbara Ann Bernard for an incredible race and experience.  Thank you to Mark Holowesko for his generosity, and providing us all with the opportunity to stay at Highbourne Cay.  I can’t wait to come back next year! 

I want to say a special thank you to my coach Joel Filliol who challenged me a lot this year.  There were coaches before him who were also helped shape the athlete I have become, but 2013 represented a big leap for me in my career. I have been able to achieve consistent results and put quite simply, I got faster. Thank you to my fellow squad mates who pushed me in the early months of my training.  Jarrod Shoemaker, Richard Murray, Tommy Zafares, Mario Mola, Carol Routier, Vendula Frintova, Sarah Groff, Kyle Jones, Helle Frederickson and Paula Findlay. It’s been amazing to watch each and everyone excel in 2013. I feel extremely grateful to be a part of such a talented group of athletes. 

Lastly, I want to thank each of my sponsors individually.  Thank you Triflare for making such beautiful and fast race suits.  Thank you to Scott Bikes and Shimano for helping me have the fastest bike split at 10 of my races this year.  Thank you to Endurance Shield for shielding and nourishing my skin in training and racing.  Thank you to Greg Welsh at Oakley for providing me with eyewear that protects my eyes and looks cool all at the same time. Thank you to Normatec for helping me recover faster in between sessions.  I would also like to thank my massage therapist and good friend, Emily Tornatore who sees more than she would probably like;)  Thanks to my MAT, Suzanne Gross, for keeping me healthy and injury free. And finally, thank you Team Lopez chiropractic for always squeezing us in, since we never could seem to show up during our scheduled appointment time this year and for the great adjustments of course.  

Thank YOU for reading and following my career this year. It's been an incredible journey and I'm very much looking forward to what 2014 will bring.  

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Lifetime Triathlon Oceanside

I absolutely love racing on the west coast because I can fall asleep early since I stay on EST- this makes the 4am wake up call a little more bearable!  I woke up feeling great and had one of the best sleeps I’ve ever had before a race.  T1 and T2 were about a mile apart.  Jarrod drove Jenna and I down to T2 to drop off our run gear and we noticed immediately how chilly it was.  When we got back to the hotel room, Jarrod checked the weather again and he said the marine layer was expected to stick around for our race, meaning cooler conditions and impaired visability.

I rolled down to T1 with Jenna and set up transition.  Water temp was announced at 64 degrees.  This would mean our first wetsuit swim in the series.  I felt great in my swim warm up and as we approached the start line we found out there was going to be a 10min delay.  Some athletes decided to get out, but the water was almost 20 degrees warmer than the air, so I stayed in and kept swimming.  I had a great swim start and was able to avoid the congestion.  At 400m, I was swimming in third place when Jen Spieldenner came by me.  She was moving really well so I gave her the space to get around me cleanly and quickly, so I could hop on her feet.  We exited the water about a minute down from Sara McLarty and Lauren Brandon.

I got onto the bike and was immediately greeted by a thick marine layer. This meant the bike was very cold and visibility at times was poor.  There were small patches of sunshine around the far turnaround, but in general it was cold.  The bike course was two laps, on Hwy 76.  I moved into the lead on the bike shortly before we finished up the first lap.  The cold really set in during the second lap and I did my best to keep the power up in an attempt to stay warm and increase my lead.  I could see the men a few times on the bike but I didn’t keep track of how much time they were putting on me.  

As I approached the end of the bike I was extremely careful taking off my shoes, my extremities were numb and my cognitive functioning had definitely slowed down.  I dismounted my bike and I felt like I was moving in slow motion.  My legs hurt badly from the effort and the cold.  I had a smooth T2, and took off on the run. The marine layer was still pretty thick. The run course was two loops on The Strand and Pacific Ave.  As I went on to the run course, Jarrod let me know that I had about 2 minutes on Helle. A little later in the run Jarrod also let me know that Ben Collins and Stu Hayes, who were 3rd and 4th in the Toyota Triple Crown had biked very well and were only 4:30 down off the bike. 

I hadn’t given up much time on the first lap to the boys. I knew the race win, the Lifetime Series and the Triple Crown were mine if I could keep racing the way I was racing. I focused on my nutrition and holding my pace. At the final turnaround I could see that I still had about 2min on Stuart Hayes who had moved into the race lead. As I ran the final stretch I started to let myself enjoy what was about to happen.  Crossing the finish line with the tape in my hands was a combination of relief and joy.  I immediately began looking for Jarrod.  He had been my rock leading into the race, doing absolutely everything I needed to race my best and he was everywhere on the course giving me the splits I needed. I wanted more than anything to run into his arms and share the moment with him, and that’s exactly what I did. I was overcome with emotion.  

Lifetime Tri Series Champion!

After finishing 2nd in the Lifetime Series twice, it felt great to win.  The Toyota Triple Crown added an extra element of competition, excitement and potential financial reward.  It felt fantastic to win the Triple Crown and win one for the girls!

Thank you to Lifetime and Toyota for supporting our sport and creating such incredible racing opportunities in the United States.  

My next race is the UWC Bahamas Triathlon next weekend.  This will be my final race of the season.  Thank you for reading!

Toyota Triple Crown Champion!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Lifetime Tri Dallas

            Dallas is one of my favorite races because it’s notoriously a tough, cold race.  The weather didn’t disappoint this year as it was 50 degrees and windy.  The race officials had told us that the water temp had dropped 10 degrees overnight; however, I think they only took the temperature in the first few inches of water because the water felt very warm.  I regretted not getting in the water for the warm up since the water was much warmer than the officials had said. Lesson learned, touch the water yourself!

            I felt a little flat off the start and missed the feet of lead swimmers.  I was leading what I thought was a “chase group” but it turned out to just be one other athlete on my feet.  I exited the water in 4th place with McLarty, Brandon and Frederiksen up the road.  I knew that I was going to have my work cut out for me on the bike as I received the splits to the leaders coming out of the water.  I got on the bike prepared to turn myself inside out to get the lead going onto the run.  I saw racing from behind as an opportunity to try and win the race in a different way.  I moved into the lead just past half way on the bike and worked hard to gain as much advantage as I could going into T2. 

As I approached T2, I struggled to get out of my bike shoes with the speedy descent and numb fingers.  I had a smooth T2 and it felt good to regain feeling in my feet.  Shortly after starting the run course, I found out that I has a 75 second lead on 2nd place.  The run course in Dallas is very hilly; I took it one hill at a time.  Since it was so cool the hills were a great way to get warm.  I felt great, especially on the second lap.  I found myself feeling really calm and truly enjoying the challenging course.  The sun came out and it was just beautiful!

It felt great to cross the line with my 5th win in the Lifetime Series.  I also won my 6th bike prime in series.  Next up is Oceanside: the Lifetime Series Championship and final race in the Toyota Triple Crown.   If you’re interested in racing in Oceanside use “TriClub20” to get a 20% discount and the first 1000 registrations get a free backpack. 

Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Lifetime Tri Tempe

In the days leading into the race, the weather was very warm. There were rumors that the water temp was going to be 89 degrees.  I was expecting a very warm race, but we got extremely lucky. It was only about 80 degrees at our race start and the water was 83 degrees. I decided to wear no skin suit this time since I regretted wearing one in Des Moines for Hy Vee.

As I looked at the start line I could see that the swimmers had completely spread themselves out.  When the gun went off Helle Fredriksen went to the front very quickly and gapped all of us. I was in shock because it anyone other than Sara McLarty.  Super swimmers Lauren Brandon and Sara had raced the Super Sprint in Vegas just two day earlier so they didn’t have the “get out” speed they usual have. However, they came through after a few hundred meters, and set their usual blistering pace. Helle and I just couldn’t quite hold their feet.  By the time we exited the swim, we had lost about 1min. 

I got on to the bike and felt fantastic.  The course had some tight corners due to the fact that we were limited to just one car lane for most of the course.  I caught Sara McLarty and Lauren Brandon about 10min into the bike.  I moved into the lead and pushed hard to gain as much advantage as I could going onto the run.  Just as the bike was finishing I was able to catch up to a few pro men, who are always great to run with.

I dismounted my bike and was happy to find that my legs were feeling pretty good!
As I started onto the run I wasn’t sure what my gap was to Helle, but I figured it was around a minute.   I absolutely loved this run course, though I was hurting, it was still beautiful.  I came through on the first lap and didn’t get a split but I could see her going over the bridge as I was going under.  I had no sensation of whether that was 30 seconds or a minute. I felt like she was RIGHT behind me.  As I went through 4 miles, I willed my body to find another gear.  At 5 miles an age-group male went by me and it gave me the kick-in-the-butt that I needed to push to the finish. I refused to look back.  I finally saw Jarrod and he let me know that I had a good gap and I could enjoy my victory for the last bit of the run. 

Me & Helle post race
When I crossed the finish line, I was excited to see Cam Dye chatting with the race announcer about his win. I was so happy for him; I had just learned that his newly renovated home was severely damaged by the flooding in Boulder.  He and has family had moved into just 8 days prior to the flood, and had to move out again immediately.  Cam also raced and final’ed the super sprint in Vegas two days ago.  Despite all the adversity he faced, he put together two amazing back-to-back performances. Congrats Cam!

Overall, I am extremely satisfied with my performance.  I am looking forward to racing in Dallas in just two weeks. This will be the 6th race in the Lifetime Series.  This season has just flown by, it's hard to believe it's already almost over.  Thank you for reading!!