Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Grand Rapids Tri

The Grand Rapids Triathlon is usually my first race of the season so it's a good marker of the progress I've made since the year before. Going into this year's race I didn't expect any gains so I went into it with the mindset of having the most fun possible.

This race also happens to be the Athena National Championship which means a big party/reunion of strong Athenas from across the country. It's one of my favorite events and I've done a couple reviews before so here is just the highlight reel...

Friday, February 10, 2017

Hedstrom Kamagon

adding the Kamagon to my pain cave
Last month I got a Kamagon Ball from Hedstrom Fitness for free in exchange for an honest review of their product. There is a discount code and links to the product but they are not affiliate links and I will not receive any further compensation for this campaign.

 Word on the street is that hydro inertia workouts are a new trend for 2017 so when I got the opportunity to test out the Kamgon I had to give it a try. First things first, the Kamagon has two handles which makes a lot of workouts I tried to do with a kettlebell SOOOO much easier. It always felt awkward to hold onto a kettlebell (especially with my short arms) so this made squats, lunges, twists, etc way more comfortable. There are lines on the side to let you know how much water to add for a particular weight. I love that I can add as much or as little as I want to adjust the weight which in turn affects the resistance. This is great for traveling since I can empty it out and not worry about lugging heavy weights with me on trips. A dvd came with it and provided some awesome workouts, I've included a few below that were my go-to moves each Friday:

  • Squats with Overhead Press
  • Reverse lunge with oblique twist
  • Standing rows
  • V-Ups
  • Bicep Curls
  • Jump squats
  • Side Lunges
  • Tricep extensions
  • Russian Twists 
  • Side Planks
  • Shoulder raises
  • Deadlifts
  • Side lunge with overhead extension
  • One legged hamstring extension with overhead press
  • Bicycle crunches
  • Standing oblique twists
  • Sit-ups 
  • Sumo squats or one legged squats with overhead press (or tricep extensions)
  • Lunge and press
  • Skater lunges
It was such a blast using this and I've now incorporated it into my daily workouts. It sits in front of my tv so whenever I decide to watch a show I grab the ball and so some squats, deadlifts, etc. The hydro inertia took a bit to get used to but I think this would be a great tool for fitness enthusiasts of every level. I'm glad I was able to test it out and if you check out the info below I've included a discount code if you'd like to get one of your own!
Hedstrom is giving us a coupon code for Surge/Kamagon products to share with our readers for 25% - it is SPHF25 and is valid from Friday, 1/20 until 2/28. It can be used by anyone in US / Canada.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


OK OK I know, I've been a bit of a downer and no real fitness or beer posts lately (other than my insta which has been my main outlet lately). BUT the good news is that I accepted a new job offer today so I've already started making plans to get back on track and devote myself back to my training. I'm working with a running coach to improve my pace and I have a new toy that I'll be posting about soon!

So what are my goals for the year?

-faster pace times
-more efficient swimming
-lose the weight I've put back on and get back to an optimal racing weight
-hang out with friends more
-learn to love my bike
-travel more
-try cooking new things
-write consistently

I only have a couple races on the board for next year but I'm pretty excited about them. I'll start my season off with the Shamrock Shuffle, followed by the Grand Rapids Tri, a relay for Ironman Ohio 70.3, Michigan Titanium Tri, and then hopefully the Chicago Tri. Hopefully I can sprinkle a few more races in there but for now I'm excited about what I have lined up. This season will be all about getting back to basics!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

New Year, New Me?

Today I got my first phone call for an interview. I am beyond excited! This is my top choice so I'm really looking forward to it. (don't want to jinx it so I'll keep the details secret for now but seriously, this could be amazing)

I have to say its been an interesting month. Since I had some extra free time I decided to take a longer holiday break than usual so I could spend extra time with my family. I made the most of the holidays despite feeling a little anxious about the job situation. I decided to not let anything get to me and just take it a day at a time. Now that I'm looking to new job interviews and a new year I've realized that I've totally lost track of my fitness goals. With all the hoopla surrounding resolutions it occurs to me that I don't have any. My one and only focus has been finding a job.

I'd love to say that I'll start dedicating more time to getting back to where I was, but the truth is, until I know I have the safety of a new job lined up it'll be hard to focus on anything else. Fingers crossed things go well!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Unexpected setbacks

Man. 2016 has been tough. Like, really tough. I got laid off last week and it shook up my whole life. No notice, nothing, just sorry we're gonna have to lay you off along with a considerable percentage of the company. I was heartbroken. I love my coworkers and I looked forward to seeing them every day. That's a rare thing to come by. To me, they were family. I spent most of my time with them in and out of the office. I gave myself a day to decompress and deal with it but then I pulled up my big girl panties and started applying for jobs.

In a way, I guess its sort of a blessing. Not that I'm excited about being unemployed, but I'm taking this opportunity to really do some soul searching and figure out what I want to do. I don't want to take a job just because its available, I want to find somewhere I can build a career. It'll be tough. It will take time. But, in the end it will be worth it. I am my greatest project after all.

I still have a lot of feelings and emotions to deal with. This was so totally unexpected and through me off my game. Even though I know it wasn't personal, it still felt like rejection. I'm having a hard time not letting it get to me. I need to just keep telling myself "you will experience breakthrough after breakthrough because what you went through didn't break you".

Here's to hoping that the new year brings new blessings and endless opportunities. I'm ready for the challenge.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Planning for 2017

As my season ends (only thing left is the Milwaukee Running Festival), I've started looking at my calendar for 2017. Normally I have an "A" race or goal that I'm working towards. For 2016 it was the half iron, 2015 was the triple challenge, 2014 was my first Olympic, and 2013 was my first tri ever. As I reflect back on my previous races and plan for the future my "A" goal is to go back to the basics. I won't be getting my half iron redemption next year, I'll get it eventually but I'm going to wait until I KNOW I am ready to tackle that beast again. The full iron is still a stretch goal but it isn't anywhere on the horizon at the moment. I want to go back and embrace the shorter distances, increase my speed, and really learn to love triathlon again. I got so caught up in always needing to get to the next distance that I wasn't really enjoying the journey along the way anymore.

So, 2017, I'm putting it out into the universe that you shall be my year to get back to the heart of the matter. I'll do sprints, relays, aquathlons, runs, and perhaps even an oly if I'm feeling up to it...but my challenge will be in improving myself as an athlete. Tentatively I have a few races on the list to consider for next year but for the first time ever I haven't registered for a single one yet. Anyone want to join me for a relay?

Monday, September 26, 2016

Ironman Augusta 70.3

the swim start is under this gorgeous bridge

A few months ago I posted in the Black Triathletes Team page that I was interested in doing some more relay events. Luckily I was able to link up with a relay team looking for a third member. They were already registered for Ironman Augusta 70.3 so I was a last minute addition to be their swimmer. I've heard great things about this race and was beyond excited to have a late season open water swim. In the last year or so I've really embraced swimming and couldn't wait to have the opportunity to PR since I wouldn't have to worry about saving anything in the tank for the bike or run.
Leading up to the race I felt great. I had done swims in the lake both with and without a wetsuit so I was ready for whatever race day would throw at me. This particular swim course is a point to point swim in a river (with a current). It's always been wetsuit legal so I packed mine along but secretly I hoped I wouldn't have to wear it. I've enjoyed swimming without it much more now that I've become a more confident swimmer. Everything was planned out and I marked my calendar to count down to race day.
I couldn't find a direct flight into Augusta so I settled on a layover in Atlanta which gave me a chance to eat some dinner (and drink some beer). When I got to Augusta there was a huge banner welcoming the athletes. I felt so excited. There were no nerves this time, I knew I was ready and had pushed all my DNF demons away. Our hotel had a free shuttle service so I took advantage of that to get from the airport to the hotel. I chatted with the drivers since I was the only passenger and they told me about Augusta, the race, etc. It was pretty late by the time I got in so I went straight to bed to prepare for an exciting weekend ahead.
Saturday morning I woke up to meet my roommate and head downstairs for breakfast. I met some other wonderful women from Tri It For Life  and one of my relay team members. They made me feel at home and it was as if I had been part of their group all along. Our final relay member arrived not long after and we made our way to the race expo. We got checked in and did some shopping. I picked up a tshirt and pint glass as additional goodies, the race swag included a backpack and tech shirt.
We met up with some more Tri For Life ladies for lunch across the street. I had a beer there and enjoyed some shrimp before running a few more errands. I didn't anticipate how hot it would be so I stopped at a store to grab a tank top for after the race and a few other items. We drove by the finish line and I could feel my excitement bursting. All I could think about was my swim in the morning.
I woke up before my alarm on race morning and browsed facebook for a bit before I started getting ready. All the tri groups were abuzz that the race would not be wetsuit legal. Any athletes wishing to race in their wetsuit would need to wait for the final wave. I had brought my wetsuit but decided I'd rather swim without it. Temps were 77 and that seemed far too warm for me to want to wear it. Plus I didn't want to have to start in a later wave.
When I got to breakfast most of the Tri For Life crew was there who would be doing the relay. We ate together and then made plans to meet back at 8:20 to walk over to the swim start. This is normally where the nerves would get the best of me, or doubt might start to creep in, but all I felt was anticipation and excitement. I went back to my room to finish getting ready and double check I had everything I needed. One of the shuttle drivers that I met on Friday was in the lobby when I came down and he offered to drive me over to the swim start. I told him I was waiting on some friends so he waited for them to join me and then dropped us all off.
The swim start had SOOOOO many people. I've never been to an event quite like this. Music was playing, the weather felt great, I couldn't wait to hop in and get started. I noticed quite a few athletes had opted for wetsuits and I was silently thankful that this meant there would be a significant amount of people behind me. I'm a little bummed we weren't there at the very beginning to see the parachutes with the American flag but thankfully I saw video/pictures later. I imagine it was a really powerful way to kick off the race.

before the swim start
When it was finally our time to head towards the starting dock I couldn't help but dance along to the music. I talked with a few of the women around me and we all assured each other it would be a great swim. As we made our way down the ramp, we heard the announcer tell the athletes in wetsuits behind us that they would have to be split into two waves. Goodness, a lot of folks must have opted to swim in their wetsuit. I'm sure I would swim faster if I wore it but I wanted to feel unrestricted and enjoy the 1.2 mile swim. 
lining up on the dock before getting in the water
The dock swayed as we stepped onto it and I had to take a moment to steady myself. My friend Frank had told me that I should stick towards the middle of the river because there would be less of a crowd (and the current is stronger). I hopped in the water to get acclimated to the temperature and it instantly felt refreshing. It also reaffirmed for me that the water would have been too warm for a wetsuit, I would have overheated. I could definitely feel the current as well when I jumped in. It took some work to stay behind the starting line before the buzzer went off. As soon as it did everyone sprinted out and I stuck around the back, not feeling quite THAT confident haha.

I settled into a groove and just enjoyed myself. We swam under a bridge with tons of spectators and a huge American flag hanging from it. I can't confirm, but I think I may have had goosebumps. From scoping out the course the day before I knew that as I got closer to the swim finish the buoys would be orange instead of yellow. I kept chanting my inner mantra "be the bag of chips". The ongoing joke is that even a bag of chips can make the swim cut off because of the river current. As I passed the final yellow buoy and saw the first orange I said to myself "YES! Done with the nacho cheese and onto the spicy nacho, time to kick in the speed". Yes, everything is food related for me. It gave me a boost of energy and I kicked harder knowing I would be done soon (even though I secretly wanted to go a little slower to savor it some more). 

like little water bugs
where the swim ends

my favorite part of the course
When I tell you that I've never felt happier finishing a swim, I am not exaggerating. As I exited the water I looked down at my garmin and internally gave myself a "fuck yes!". I could not stop smiling. I was over the moon overjoyed and how fast I swam (by my standards that is). I couldn't believe I had actually swam that distance in under 40 minutes. Normally I'm happy to get it done in under an hour. Sweet Christmas. This is phenomenal. I started running so I could pass the timing chip off to my teammate and had to stop to walk to calm down a bit. I was so excited I could feel my heart racing. Man. That swim was awesome. Renee went out for the bike, then Lynn and I walked back to the hotel for food (and so I could wash off the river water). 

Pure Happiness

 Back at the hotel we ran into another BTA member and snapped a quick pic. I checked the official IM tracking to see if my swim was actually as fast as I thought it was and squealed for joy when I saw the official time. 37:21. That's right, I swam 1.2 miles in 37 minutes and 21 seconds. Nothing else has felt as sweet as seeing that. This also gave a little extra cushion time for the rest of the team. After refueling and washing up I rested for a bit before heading down to the cheer station.

#TeamBTA #theblackout
 There's a section on the course where spectators are able to see athletes 4 times. The BTA and Tri For Life tents are next to each other so this made for awesome party time. We cheered, we encouraged, we screamed our hearts off to urge our friends on in the brutal heat. It was so much fun and I'm glad I was able to both race and cheer. It was such a different experience than what I'm used to. I had never met a single person that I was cheering for or with before that weekend but by the end of the day they were family. My heart was full. When Renee and I finally saw our runner Lynn come by for her final lap we headed straight for the finish line to cheer her in. She looked strong the whole way and we all celebrated with her after she crossed. (note: post race swag includes the bling as well as a finisher's hat picture with the beer below)

at the BTA cheer tent

pre-race beer
post-race beer
sampling the local craft

 This race was an absolutely incredible experience and I hope that I can do it again next year. Holler if you're looking for a swimmer on your relay team. Between the camaraderie, venue, food, beer, etc this whole weekend was top notch. I would absolutely do it again in a heartbeat. If they hosted a full ironman race with the same swim I might even consider doing that because it was so much fun.

going home with the bling
final results for our relay team