This is a blog for the strong, the determined, the wild. In the past ten years more than 100 have joined the triBE on a journey to BE strong, to BE fierce, to BE triathletes. We are dedicated to the belief that anyone can BE a triathlete and support each other in every endeavor. Our team members are all sizes, speeds, and ages. This is our story.

"When anyone tells me I can't do anything, I'm just not listening any more." ~Florence Griffith Joyner

If this isn't enough you can read more from me here:

Monday, May 27, 2013

I Want to ...

A couple weeks ago I did a little race.  The emotional and physical aftermath was typical.  First exhilaration (so I took pictures.)  Then thirst (so I drank some water.) Then dirty (so I took a shower.) Then exhaustion (so I took a nap.) Then hunger (so I ate like a wolf.)  It was my last race of the season.  In the summer I do not race.  I work out. I travel.  It’s really hot.  I could race, but I really don’t want to.

My two weeks leading up to this race were a study in negativity.  There wasn’t a single workout I wanted to do.  Two weeks out the workouts are long and exhausting.  I did most of them with little to no enthusiasm, focused solely on finishing.  The final week, meant to be easier, was no better.  The week was focused on short, intense workouts.  I was focused on the short part.  I should have been eager to do the easier training, but I didn’t want to.
After the race I took Sunday off.  Monday I went for a ride with a teammate.  It rained half way through, and we cut the ride short.  I was disappointed.  I didn’t have to ride.  I wanted to.  Tuesday I went down to the pool with nothing in mind.  I just thought I would swim for a while.  It turned into my longest workout in months.  I felt great.  I didn’t have to swim at all, but when the warm Florida sun hit my shoulders and I jumped into the cool clear water, I wanted to.
I think it’s easy for athletes to get caught up in “have to” instead of “want to.”  I’ve gotta go for a run hides the words “have to.” There’s this feeling of obligation inherent in the sentence, a feeling of unwelcome requirement, effort, or work.  “Have to” is like my least favorite chore, weeding.  And if running is weeding, then it’s only a matter of time before I stop doing it. (You should see my garden.)
We create structures to help us through the “have to” moments.  We join a team or club so we have company.  We go to classes at the gym to provide variety (triathlon is a study in variety.) We hire trainers to motivate us.  My personal favorite is scheduling training with friends so I can’t skip a workout. And we sign up for races to provide goals and a natural finishing point.  All this is just a means to get our heads in the game, to turn “have to” into “want to.”
In the end, we “want to” reach our goals, but in order to do so, we “have to” do some unpleasant things.  Sometimes working out is actually work.  Sometimes it’s really fun.  Finding a way to flip the “want to” switch is the key to turning work into fun.  Maybe it’s as simple as changing how we talk about training.  I’m going to stop saying “I have to…” and instead say, “I want to…” 
I want to go for a swim, a run, a ride.  I want to go to the gym.  I want to sweat.  Wanna join me?

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Rest in Peace, Nate

Today I pay tribute to the approximately 20 trillion gnats that gave their lives on my ride around the lake last night.  I know each of them was deeply concerned about my well-being and rushed to check on my status.  Unfortunately, they all underestimated the speed at which I was approaching and slammed into my face at velocities that made their survival impossible.  My sweaty countenance held their bodies throughout the ride and allowed me to transfer them, en masse, to their final resting place in the drain of my shower.

I want to acknowledge one special gnat, Nate, whose sacrifice is duly noted here.  Nate determined that I lacked protein and not only flew to my side, but directly down my windpipe in a futile suicide mission to fuel my ride.  It only took me about two miles to cough him back out.
I tip my helmet to these brave soldiers.  Rest in peace, Nate.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

What are you Afraid of?

"Everything you want is on the other side of fear." ~Jack Canfield

Once again, at a race this weekend, one of my teammates mentioned that she was really struggling with the question, “Why am I doing this?” on the morning of the race.  She was worried and afraid.  It wasn’t the first time someone had mentioned this feeling. I find myself writing about and thinking about fear a lot these days.  I know that the end of the race always reminds us why we do this, but lots of athletes have moments of doubt, dread, or fear on the morning of a race.  There are some good reasons why this happens and definite strategies for dealing with these emotions.

Why are you afraid? 

Fear of the unknown:  The conscious or unconscious understanding that events in a race are not within our control is a source of fear.  We want to be in charge of our own fate, but in a race, many elements are outside of our control. 
Inadequate training:  Experienced athletes know what it takes to be well-prepared for a race and they also know when that preparation didn’t happen.  No matter the reason, inadequate training usually leads to poor performance and disappointment.

Fear of pain: When we train there is a cycle of easy and hard days, pain and relief.  Not every training day is painful.  On race day, if we do our best, there will be pain, guaranteed.   
Forgetfulness and mistakes:  In a sport with seemingly endless equipment and steps to success, there is always the chance you will forget to do something important, especially as you become increasing “race drunk” and your brain is less and less functional.  It is in this state of exhaustion that we make mistakes.

Fear of the swim:  Do I need to explain this?

So what can we do about our fears on race day?
Embrace the unknown:  It is the unknown that is exciting, that is challenging, that is the point.  The only person you are racing is yourself, and part of being successful is managing the unknown.  Without the unknown, you are doing the race alone, in a pool, on a trainer, and then a treadmill.  Winning isn’t just about finishing first.  It is about dealing with the person that kicked you, the flat tire, the blisters.  This is racing.  Abandon your fear of the uncontrollable.  Love the unknown.

Embrace the learning experience:  If you know your training is inadequate, really feel this race.  At what point did things start to go badly? What parts of the race still went well?  Yes you’re disappointed that it didn’t go perfectly, but there is value in every race if you look for it.  Figure out what hijacked your training.  Learn something from your experience and adjust next time.
Embrace the pain:  As triathlete “Cort the Sport” says at her blog, invite the pain.  Every hard workout is an opportunity to practice dealing with pain, and I encourage you to work on this.  But on race day, accept that endorphins will only come through pain.  Satisfaction is the result of pain.  Accomplishment is revealed through pain.  The road you must walk to achieve your goals is Agony Avenue.  Accept it fully.

Embrace the errors:  I can’t ever remember a perfect race.  This weekend I forgot to leave out my socks and ended up racing sockless.  (Actually it wasn’t too bad, but if I had ripped up my feet, I would have been kicking myself.)  On race morning take out your plan and double check it.  (Don’t have a race plan?  Write one!) Rehearse your plan, over and over.  Make it so much a part of you, that transitions are mindless.  And when you recover, later that day or the next morning, review the race again, revise the plan, and never make those mistakes again. 
Embrace the water:  You were born from water.  It is your mother.  It is life.  You do not need to swim faster than gators or sharks.  You just need to swim faster than one other person.  Just keep swimming.  Period.
I have played a dozen or so sports in my lifetime, and whether it is swimming or volleyball, bowling or ultimate frisbee, the key to success on “game day” is less about physical ability and more about what’s happening in your head.  The final hours are the ones that seem to mess up our heads the most.  We don’t sleep.  We feel sick.  We doubt ourselves and our abilities. We panic.  But if we can just get started, the fears drop away, the doubt disappears, and we are in it.  Our minds are consumed with the task at hand and our fears are destroyed by our reality. 

And it is in the end, as we cross the finish line, that we remember why we signed up in the first place.
We should not judge people by their peak of excellence, but by the distance they have traveled from the point where they started.  ~Henry Ward Beecher
From the Humans are Awesome Series. Fear.  Some profanity.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Pictures Say a Thousand Words


Jill and Lori
This weekend was a fine one for the triBE and friends.  In Baldwin Park, Jill Cousins did her first full tri and Lori Hoover was back again this year along with Donna Walker.  Sara and Jonathan Gray were out at Jekyll Island doing their first full tri.  Each can probably tell you stories about their training and race.  Jill can regale you with the tale of a practice tri in the rain with a swim in a pool where she had to duck under lane lines.  (Um what??)  Lori can explain how her bike was stolen a week before the race and her new one arrived on Thursday, and despite the chaos, she was 2nd in her age group!  And Donna was out there in her knee brace again this year, unsure whether she could run at all, but finishing strong, second in her age group as well!  I have yet to talk to Sara and Jonathan, but I am sure they too have some stories to share about their first tri journey.

Donna and students
It was such pleasure to see my friends and not a few students compete this weekend.   I ran into acquaintances from other teams volunteering in transition, and I was again struck by this tight little triathlon family that we all are a part of here in Central Florida.  I was reminded of why I still race once again, and I’d like to take some time to write up a decent post on my thoughts on this later in the week, so for now I let these pictures stand as testament to the happy day that we shared.

Congratulations to all that raced this weekend.  As always, your journey inspires me. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Tell Me a Story

Nicole Kanouse and Sara Dowdy
If what you did yesterday seems big, you haven’t done anything today. ~ Lou Holtz

What a difference a year makes.  Mother’s Day 2012 had 25+ triBE members out in Clemont racing their hearts out.  For many it was a first race.  For others, too many to count.  For all of us it was a day to celebrate, to remember, to learn. 
Today Nicole Kanouse did her first triathlon with Sara Dowdy, the Tomoka Triathlon out at the coast.  This race was a little different in that it included a quarter mile swim in the Intercoastal Waterway, a 15 mile ride that took you over the causeway twice, followed by a 5K back and forth over the causeway again.  There was a little wind along with the causeway hills to challenge them.  I hope Nicole knows the feeling of accomplishment that completing a challenge like this deserves.  I am proud of her.  She, like many of us, conquered her demons and crossed the finish line to earn a new title.  Triathlete.
I pause today to look back on the past year.  Last year the team was strong and united, and we made so many new friends.  So many of you finished your first race and supported each other so honestly and completely.  It was exactly what we had always hoped this could be for so many women.  If you'd like to relive last year's fun, you can check out the video.
This year is not the same.  There is no common purpose, no focus to unite us all.  But when I look at you, there is so much good in your lives.  You each continue to write your own stories, to live your own adventures.  True, there have been losses and injuries, hardships and discouragement.  But there have been milestones and victories as well, and as always, life’s seemingly endless supply of “learning experiences.”  

Returning to the present, I realize that today is a very different Mother’s Day for me.  It’s hard not to be racing on this day after so many years.  I did do some riding this morning, and I feel pretty good.  And I get to race a little next weekend with a few of you, and that will be fun.  I headed out to my mom’s. It’s been a while since I spent time with her on Mother’s Day.  It’s the least I can do in exchange for a lifetime of her support and encouragement. 
It was easy for me to look back on this year.  The chronicle of my racing life is right here in this blog.  I hope you will pause for a few moments and reflect on your adventures.  Please realize that you have so many amazing stories to tell, and that wherever you are in your life’s journey, it is these stories that make your lives rich and wonderfully worthwhile.  
But after you spend a few moments reliving your past, you have to return to the present.  Today Nicole made a story, the awesome story of her first triathlon.  My story of today was time spent with my children and my parents.  I am grateful for my story today because I know that I will not be able to share Mother’s Day with my family in this way forever.  Whatever your adventure was today, I hope you made a good story.  And if you didn’t, remember we get a chance to do it again tomorrow.
Happy Mother's Day.  Happy every day.
I hope you will go out and let stories happen to you, and you will work them, water them with your blood and tears and your laughter 'til they bloom, 'til you yourself burst into bloom.  ~ Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Head Game

Photo credit:  Nicole Kanouse
"Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."
—John Wooden

A few weeks ago I changed my profile pic on Facebook to my favorite one of me racing.  It’s the same picture of me that is always on this website, but I only use it on Facebook during tri season.  I posted it pretty late this year, as I have had a lot of challenges this season.  In fact, have posted it several times over the years, so it’s nothing new, but this year when I posted it, it got a couple dozen “likes” as if it were brand new.  It was like an instant cheering section and that response flipped the switch in my head and put me on track to race.  I could literally feel my focus switch in a matter of hours.  A training plan emerged from the ether and working out moved a lot higher on my list of daily priorities.  This single act got my head in the game.

I have worked with a lot of triathletes over the years and every one of them has concerns, doubts, and worries about doing her first triathlon.  The primary concern is usually the swim, with finishing being a close second.  Lake swimming is a particularly difficult challenge for some, an experience like no other.  The utter blackness, inability to touch the bottom or sides, the extra people, and the creepiness of weeds and critters contrasts sharply with the antiseptic experience of pool swimming.  Some take to lake swimming like literal fish, but most find it to be a startling and scary experience the first time.  I know even the strongest, most experienced swimmers have moments of concern, especially when conditions are rough or the race is aggressive.   Some find it grows easier over time.  Others never really feel comfortable in the lake, but either way, facing these fears and concerns is a real part of the challenge of triathlons.

I could list the dozens of worries and concerns I have had over the years and a hundred more that team mates have struggled with, many of which never occurred to me until someone mentioned it.  The reality is, you can create as much fear and concern as you want and make yourself literally sick or panicked if you are unable to get things under control.  It’s a real head game, and I offer a few suggestions for facing and overcoming your fears.

1.      Figure out what you are actually worried about. Make a list if need be.  Get a clear view of what’s really bothering you.

2.      Figure out if your fear is something you can do something about.  Here are some examples.

·        I am worried that the water will be dark and cold. You CAN’T do anything about that. 

·        I am worried that I am not strong enough to finish the swim.  You CAN create a training plan that gives you more confidence about this.  (Longer, more often, more lake swims)

3.      If your fear is something you can work on, do it.  Train differently, improve your equipment, ask for advice. Doing something feels a lot better than doing nothing.

4.      If your fear is something you can’t control, talk to someone.  The best way to stop yourself from climbing Crazy Mountain is talking it out.  It’s good therapy.

5.      Accept that the day itself is not completely in your control.  Things can happen.  There’s a lot of people, equipment, and moving parts involved in triathlons.  You can do everything in your power to prepare, but then you have to let race day be what it is.  Just as some training days are awesome and others are frustrating, racing works the same way.  The best you can do is learn from your experiences, good or bad. 

6.      Decide that no matter what happens, you will race again.  There is nothing more worrisome than putting all your eggs in one basket.  Decide before you start that no matter what, this isn’t your final race.  Take the pressure off by committing to a future race, even if it’s a long way off.

7.      Remind yourself that this is supposed to be fun.  It is, you know.  Win or lose, the only person you are really racing is yourself, so if you have a disappointing day, only you will really know it.  Decide to enjoy the day, even if it’s not a great one.  Every day you are racing is a gift that so many cannot do.  Be grateful for this awesome opportunity.

"Courage is not absence of fear; it is a control of fear, mastery of fear."
—Mark Twain
Perhaps we should do a race like this!