How to Maintain Fitness and Wellness Habits: Tips and Techniques

How to Maintain Fitness and Wellness Habits: Tips and Techniques

Maintaining your fitness and wellness habits can be challenging, especially when life gets
busy. However, developing simple and effective strategies will help you stay on track and
keep your health a priority. This article will provide you with a comprehensive guide to
staying fit and healthy, complete with tips and techniques that you can implement in your
daily routine.

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6 Tips For Quality Run Training

6 Tips For Quality Run Training

Tips for Quality Run Training Train no faster than one pace quicker than the race you are training for. For example, 5k pace is good for an Olympic-distance race, while half-marathon pace suffices...

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Tribute Tuesday – Katrina Pilkington “Kat”

Tribute Tuesday – Katrina Pilkington “Kat”

It has been a while since I have been able to put together a Tribute Tuesday post and this weeks tribute is someone I am truly honored and excited to write about.  Katrina Pilkington, known by most people as Kat, has a heart that is rare by most standards.  While she enjoys being healthy and partaking in fitness challenges and goals, she always…and I mean always, finds ways to help others reach their goals in the process.

To tell you the truth I have no idea how she does it.  Katrina Pilkington is a woman who a few years ago decided to shed over 40 pounds for herself (see her story) and in doing so created a new energetic voice in the community and the blogosphere directed totally at those who want to become more healthy, more fit, and share ideas on how to go about it.

With only starting to run seriously just a couple of years ago, Katrina Pilkington, over the past nine months has completed her own challenge of 6 half-marathons in 6 months, attained her Certified Personal Trainer, has blogged about some new idea, product, person or technique every single day, holds a full-time job and is very active with her newlywed husband.  Sarah Jessica Parker in “I Don’t Know How She Does It” has nothing on Mrs. Katrina Pilkington.  She is truly amazing.

Kat Pilkington

She doesn’t know it yet (well, she will now), but she is an inspiration to me.  If it wasn’t for her example, Inner Fire probably would not be around today.  Kat showed me it was possible to get a message out that would inspire, motivate and be fun to write.  She also set an example on that there are plenty of topics out there to be expressed each and every day.

You don’t have to take my word for it, take hers in my interview below:

Interview:

Name: Katrina Pilkington or Kat
Blog: Fitty Kat

Katrina Pilkington at the Women's HalfBirthdate/Sign: December 10 – Sagittarius all the way

Place of Birth: Clearwater, Florida
Place growing up: Clearwater, Florida
High School: Pinellas Park High
High School sports: None – I had my head in the books
College: Tampa Technical Institute
College Sports: Nope
Other Sports: Never did any until I grew up!
I have linked to your “my story page” above so everyone can read your amazing story, but can you tell us what was the major turning point that started your fitness journey?
I’d struggled with binge dieting off and on and depended on quick fixes only to regain the weight back each time I stopped. I decided once and for all that I wanted to be the healthiest I’ve ever been and the fittest I’ve ever been once I turned 30 and have since worked to help others learn to live a healthy life the right way through the right methods.
If you could give me one adjective to describe the feeling you get when you are working out what would it be?
Powerful
When and why did you start running?
I started running and did 5ks and smaller races back in 2007.
What is one thing you love most about competing in road races?
I love the sense of accomplishment. I’ve done races and distances I never thought my body could take me through and hadn’t planned on it. Having asthma that kept me from playing sports when I was younger definitely motivates me to keep going and seeing how capable I really am.
Following your twitter, facebook, and blog, we know that you just past the NASM-CPT exam.  What do you plan to do with it?
I wanted to learn about fitness in more depth on my own and to teach others what I’d learned through my blog and in person. I’d love to start teaching boot camps and learn more skills to do more with others.
Kat with husband Gary, and Jaeden

Kat with husband Gary, and Jaeden

We all have those days when we just do not feel like training.  What do you do to get past that feeling and get on with your workout?
I am super structured and as long as I have a training plan in my face, I get up. Having to turn off the alarm and sit up and go. Only one rest day a week is required for me and the only other time I rest is if I’m sick. My workout will get me through the rest of the day better than anything else could.
What would you say is your greatest obstacle you ever overcame?
Running 6 half marathons in 6 months all around 2:10 while working to increase my lung capacity through having allergen-induced asthma (went from 74% – the lungs of someone in their 60s or 70s – to now 88%)
What is your greatest victory?
Those races – and now training for my first full marathon!
What are your favorite quotes?
“Love yourself and be awake, today, tomorrow, always”
~ Buddha (tattooed on my left, upper, inner arm as a daily reminder)
Coach Brad, Kat & Gary Pilkington

Coach Brad, Kat & Gary Pilkington

Carpe Viam!!!
The Goof at the Races

The Goof at the Races

There is a few races that I have neglected to report on.  I decided that being most of them were smaller and very…well…uneventful, I thought I would just give the highlights.

Escape from Ft DeSoto Sprint Triathlon

Taking part in brick workouts at the North Beach at Ft DeSoto allows for familiarity of the surroundings, so when competing in a race in the same location, it is like having home field advantage, unless the course goes off the path.

The swim was 800 meters which for me is usually pretty slow, but the current was decent and I was able to stick nextEFFD to the bouys so I felt like I improved on the swim, but it still wasn’t fast enough.  I was able to sprint out of the water and head to transition with energy to spare.

The bike was one simple loop around Ft. DeSoto with a familiar headwind on the way out and a tail wind on the way back.  I averaged over 21 mph, so I felt pretty good, but I overdid it just slightly because I felt it on the run.  The run was slightly longer than a typical sprint and the second half was on the beach, so I really felt it on my legs.  I still had enough to sprint into the finish line, but it was a lesson learned that even on a ten-mile bike leg, I still need to take it easy at the start and ride negative splits in the second half.

Afterward the finish line was filled with excitement sharing stories of the race with friends and watching a few of them at the award ceremony on the podium.  It was a fun race and while I am not huge fan of Sprint Triathlons, I will definitely be taking part in this one again.

Tampa Corporate 5k

This race was put on by my friends Ben Mena and Beth Shaw (MenaShaw Races).  It was incredibly well-organized with numerous tents for vendors and a line of food trucks preparing everything from smoothies to homemade doughnuts.  Of course a beer truck was strategically placed near the finish line to provide access to exhausted runners looking to replenish their carbohydrates.

Police Run2It always amazes me when Ben and Beth pull these races off.  I know it was basically the two of them doing all the organizing, fundraising and negotiating with vendors and sponsors, so when I walked up to the site and saw an enormous amount of people and activity, I was overwhelmed with pride and honor just to know these two personally.

I was on Nick’s team, No Limit Marketing, so he gave me my shirt and we took a couple of photos and lined up for the race. I really wanted to just take it easy during this race, but the energy got the better of me.  The course was interesting, as it led out of downtown, then off the beaten path where the terrain changed to broken pavement and then a turnaround back to the start.  I was on track for a PR, but the course turned out to be 3.4 instead of 3.1 due to a last-minute logistical changed ordered by the city.  Interesting enough, I only know this due to a conversation with Ben after the event was cleaned up.  There was no mention of it during the event which is a credit to my friends, because it was seamless and no one really cared, because everyone was having a great time.

Our team actually came in 4th but just a couple of minutes.  St. Anthony’s Triathlon was going on that weekend, so Nick decided to just coast through it, which was smart, but he kicked himself later because if he would have actually ran it we would have placed.  We still had a great time.

St. Anthony’s Olympic Triathlon

It was a crazy day for St Anthony’s this year.  The expo was as expected with numerous vendors all giving free swag, free trials, and providing goods for the race and future races.  They all kept the excitement of the race consistent.  I could not keep my heart rate down during the expo.  After a quick bike, run and swim I walked over to check-in and aMCSTA press conference was taking place.  On the panel were a number of champion triathletes and NFL superstar.  Hines Ward, former NFL player for the Pittsburgh Steelers, was on the panel due to his upcoming entry into the 2013 World Championship Ironman Triathlon in Kona, October 12th.  He has never competed in triathlon before so on his road to the Ironman he is competing in the different distances and St. Anthony’s was to be his first Olympic Distance Triathlon.  My favorite triathlete, Mirinda Carefrae was sitting right next to him, because they are both sponsored by Chocolate Milk.  That was a huge treat for me, especially since I was able to talk to her and I got a hug from her afterward.  (Awww.shucks)  She was on her way to a meeting, so unfortunately I didn’t get a picture, but maybe she will recognize me at a later date and at that time I will get a pic.  But I digress.

The next day the expected wave of anxiety especially since the water looked a little choppy and being my confidence in the water is a little shaky, I was even more anxious.  I guess my feelings were correct because after the pros started Phil LeHaye, the race director, came over the loudspeaker and stated the course would be shortened for safety sake.  I really thought  that I would be happy due to my limited swimming confidence, but I was amazed at how disappointed I was.  To me it was no longer an Olympic Triathlon.  I ended up doing this exact same course two years prior when they moved the swim but I was even worse at that point.

2013-05-06Truth be told that was the most unusual part of the race.  I completed the swim without any real issues, the bike was uneventful with an average of 20.8 mph and I even was able to complete the 10k run with only one hitch; my bladder told me after mile 4 that I needed to empty it.  I told it that we only had two more miles, but I had already held it for a while and it just wasn’t going to allow me to keep going for another two miles without relieving it.  I ended up using a port-o-potty on the route which took even longer because I was wearing a one-piece tri suit that Zoot had sent me with their new technology.  I usually am not a fan of one-piece tri-suits but this one even though it was black, was cool and comfortable.

I finished in 2:43 which was 37 minutes better than two years prior with the same distance.  If it wasn’t for the stop it might have been up to 7-8 minutes faster.  Either way I was happy with my performance and I felt really strong crossing the line.

Police Appreciation Run

My friend Rich texted me a few days before this 10k race.  I had no intention of running it, but

PArun

I had not had the opportunity to hang out with Rich for a while and I wanted to catch up with him.  Of course Rich is really fast genetically, so even with all the training I had been doing I still couldn’t catch him, but I enjoyed the race.

This is a Chris Lauber directed race, whom I just have the utmost respect for, not to mention the race was dedicated
to the current and fallen Policemen and women in the area.  Great cause, and a great race, even with the 10k going off course for a bit.  We didn’t know this until we returned to the finish line, but Chris was lucky because even thought we drifted, it was still exactly 6.2 miles, start to finish.   There were plenty of vendors afterward, with food and recovery fluids.  I highly recommend it to anyone.

Miles for Moffitt

I believe I have stated this in other posts, but to make money to live I contract myself out as an IT Program/Project Manager for large firms.  What exactly do I do?  Well, companies hire me to manage projects that usually have over million dollar budgets, like re-designing an online banking site for a well-known financial company, or the development of a government website with over 50,000 pages and applications.  I identify the scope of the project, procure the resources both human and material, set the schedule, manage the budget, mitigate the risks, serve as a liaison between the business executives, IT department, internal and external vendors and worker bees, and manage the tasks in order to complete the project.

MMSBMy latest contract is with Gerdau Steel and they are a major sponsor for Miles for Moffitt, which is a very popular event in the Tampa Bay Area.  Gerdau was nice enough to allow me to run the 5 mile race for them.  They have basically three races the 5 miler, the 5k and the  1 mile run/walk.  The 5 miler and the 5k can be run either timed or untimed.  This was a well-organized event with a relatively flat course on the campus of the University of South Florida.  Surprisingly enough there was a couple of hills, but nothing that felt terrible.  I saw a few of my clients while out there and hung out with Rich again.  I averaged 7:30 miles as I did the week before during the Police Appreciation 10k, so I was content with my performance.

After the races concluded, and the thank yous are stated, they have a parade for the cancer survivors that ran the race.  It was a really awesome site to see all of these people who were diagnosed with cancer now running in a race.  it was inspiring and motivating to know they came back from as close to hell as one can get, and stronger than before.

The Dunedin Sprint Triathlon

I have completed this race for a couple of years now, and since my first triathlon is no longer around, the Morton Plant Mease Triathlon, I decided to make this one my annual “remember how it all started” race.

DTRI

This race is held on Honeymoon Island which is a great beach with usual minimal issues, but this year we were told that the bottom was a little rocky and we should bring water shoes.  I decided to wear my Vibram 5-fingers because they do not hold a lot of water and  I thought they would be easy to get out of.

The swim was pretty much a water run due to the shallowness of the  water.  I usually incorporate some water running during my swim sessions so I know the resistance that water can put on your legs, so I dolphin dived/swam most of the way.  I was going to be using my legs enough during the bike and the run, I didn’t need to be wearing them down, prior.  I came out of the water in the faster 10% of the wave, but was slowed down by two things.  The first being getting out of my shoes.  While there was no water giving me issues, the shoes had constricted around my foot so I had to fight to get them off, and then exiting transition had a very narrow trail, so there was a line of us only able to shuffle to the start mat.  Other than that the race went great I finished in 1:05 which was another PR for me by a couple of minutes.

And that brings us up to date on race reports.  My next race is the NYC Triathlon which is an Olympic distance triathlon in the heart of New York City July 14th.  I am really looking forward to this race due to the course being around my favorite city.

Carpe Viam!

The Saturday/Sunday Supporter

What does it feel like to come across the finish line of any race with the support of the race volunteers and spectators?   Personally it is a pretty good feeling.  What does it feel like with the support of fellow racers, family, and/or friends?  My emotions tend to be more positively charged, and to a much higher level.  Endurance sports tend to be a little lonely during races anyway, so the support level on the course may even be a determining factor on the outcome of an athlete’s personal race.  How do you feel when you have friends and family at a race versus when you don’t?

I had the honor of being support crew for two races this weekend.  The first was the culmination run for the last session of my Fit2Run 5k group.  The race was Saturday Morning, in Dunedin, at the Our Lady of Lourdes 5k.  I really enjoy having my students at these smaller racers.  Not only does it give them the experience of the race, but it also allows them the opportunity to stand on the podium.  This race, we had an age group winner within my circle.  To no surprise Linda Shutt again took 1st place in her age group even after being out for a small injury.

The course was a little tougher than I expected, but a good experience for my runners.  It was a trail run, that included soft soil, grass, and even sand, so for some of my runners these posed a couple of new challenges.   If you want to know the truth, the marking of the race was a challenge for me as I actually wound up lost on the course and ended up completing a 10k instead.  (Pause for laughter)  Luckily my girls, and Carl,  all came across the finish line smiling and a couple with Personal Records.  If you enjoy small races with a couple of small challenges, check out Our Lady of Lourdes Annual 5k Run.

Tanner, Jessica and Cheryl before the Swim start

On Sunday the first TriRock series triathlon was in Clearwater with the start and finish lines at Pier 60.  Overall, I thought the race was run very well, and seemed well organized for an inaugural race.  The weather was perfect in my opinion.  A little chilly in the morning, with it rising to just under 80 degrees by the finish of the race.  I had three Tri-Peeps running, Tanner Stevens, Cheryl Henderson and Jessica Glover.  This was to be Jessica’s first Olympic, so all of our eyes were on her, not to mention her positive attitude is completely intoxicating and endearing.  You may remember Jessica from my Jet City posting as she is the owner and operator of my favorite coffee hang-out.

Jessica Rocking out on the Run

The race has two distances an Olympic, or as they call it, Intermediate (1500m swim, 25 mile bike, and 10k run) and a Sprint (600m swim, 13 mile bike, 5k run).  All of my friends competed in the intermediate distance, because all of three of them are pretty experienced in all three events.  The race started with music from live bands which only enhanced the energy radiating from the voices of the announcers.  It was the typical mad rush for the athletes to setup their transition equipment, dawn their wet suits and head over to the swim start.  One of the announcers sung the National Anthem, and I was very impressed as it was sung acapella.  As a performer I understand how difficult a piece the Star Spangled Banner is and I was incredibly impressed with his version.   He sang with a bluesy undertone but with a rock attitude.  By the audience reaction I would say it was a success.  In my opinion it was at least better than Steven Tyler version during the AFC Championships earlier this year.

There were a few waves for each distance with the Sprint starting 15 minutes after the last Intermediate wave with the swim being an outer and inner loop.  The finishers did cross in some instances, but the finish line was wide enough to accommodate both.  I didn’t see any issues with transition as it was large enough to handle all of the equipment and runners of turf were actually put down for the athletes bare feet.  (Note to any Triathlon Race Directors reading:  This small detail adds a huge comfort to athletes.  Just sayin’.)  The entrances and exits were clearly marked and even with the two distances using the same course, there was not a lot of crowding.  As a spectator I did enjoy the run being an out-and-back south and then north as well.  I was able to see my friends twice on the run before the finish.

I didn’t explore too much, but the expo looked small, but loaded with great vendors, the beer tent was sponsored by Red Hook which is pretty decent, and the headlining band was an AC/DC cover band, which for me was perfect.  Being a child of the 80’s has it’s perks, obviously.

Overall , I was impressed with the event.  I actually wished I would have been able to compete in it, but I enjoyed being there to support.  Out of our little group we did end up with Tanner on the podium for third place in the 25-29 age group at a time of 2:24:16.  With a possibility of two IMs next year I do not believe I am going to be able to compete next year either, but if I have friends that decide to compete I will make sure to be here again.

Athletes, Support and the Goof
Carpe Viam!


Psychology of the End – Stunning Sunday

Notice the title of this blog is not Psychology of the finish which I could probably write another full posting on.  This is “the end”, because within this life we have a number of endings.  Some of them open new doors, some of them just mean we have more to go.  In triathlon, we end each event just to start another one.  I have noticed a few things about myself that I need to overcome and maybe they may just be similar to what you may be going through.  Some of the tips and tricks I have learned may help, and if they do great, if not you have another tool in your bag to pay it forward to others.

The idea for this posting hits me every time I am in the pool.  As I stated numerous times in early posts, I am not a good swimmer by any means.  I try though.  What I notice is when I am in the pool, I speed up a bit when I see the wall coming up.  I end up a little more winded than planned and I stop after 100 m.  Interesting enough, I do make my turn at 50m, but the 100m wall I want to stop.  This is what I reference as the end, not the finish.  In the beginning of the workout I have many more laps to do, but I end up grabbing an extra breath and a few seconds of rest at each 100m turn.  I know it psychological, because in open water I can just keep going.  Do I change strokes occasionally to check the distance on my watch? Sure, but I continue on in just a few seconds.  So why the difference?  Is it discipline?  Yes, that’s part of it, but it is also, the idea that the wall is right there seems to put the idea in my head that it is the end, so automatically speed up and my breathing changes.  Obviously, this is probably not a common problem because I see a lot of triathletes swim lap after lap after lap.

Swimming isn’t the only event where the psychosis of the end comes into play.  Have you ever gone out on a run knowing you are going to do six miles and at the end you are exhausted even though you might have run conquered much longer distances?  I personally see the end of the workout and something kicks in and I am ready to stop for at least that portion of the session.  I am  not talking about a tempo run or a track workout.  I am talking about just your basic run workout.  Different workouts obviously dictate different intensity.  For example, a 6 mile tempo run will require and higher intensity level then a long slow distance run, just as a track workout has a higher intensity level than even a tempo run.

The question is how can this obstacle of the end be broken?  I have started coming up with a few ways to break through the end in order to keep going in the pool, do the optional mile after a hard track workout or even do that insurmountable transition run after a long hard bike session.

1) Swim – Learn to do flip turns if you don’t already know.  My last workout I started to incorporate flip turns.  I still am learning how to do them correctly, but because I took my 1000m continuous swim to learn to do them, the wall became an opportunity to practice the flip turn, and the 50m swim became the time I assessed how I did, and what I needed to make them better.

2) Run – there are three ways I usually get through this:

  • The optional mile becomes not optional
  • Fake it – no matter how slow you end up going do not worry just get it done and after a while your body will learn to expect it
  • Give yourself a little extra time for recovery.  In our speed workouts the coach gives us a pre-determined amount of recovery prior to the optional mile.  Sometimes I need more, so I take it and then run the extra mile on my own.  

3) Bike-to-Run Transition run – I have only found one real way to get through this myself.  Have your running shoes (and socks) ready to go when you get back and in full eyesight when you either open the car or even pull up.  My friend Nick sometimes trusts his shoes right under his car so he can hang his bike and go.  If you trust that they will still be there this is the best way.  When I personally see my shoes there ready and waiting, I would feel guilty if I didn’t run.  Of course guilt is a more negative emotion, but sometimes the negative emotion can be used for a positive outcome.  In my experience, if I decide to wait, I usually end up cooling down and I just have no desire to run.  If I jump into my shoes and start the run, I feel like I am already running might as well work it the best I can.

In life I have had numerous endings that have also opened new doors to experiences that I would not have had if I didn’t recognize it.  The end of my military career brought me to the corporate world where I have been succeeding.  I had the choice to either stay in the military and continue my career or leave and start another one.  I may have never started on this journey into endurance running and triathlon if I didn’t move on from the military.  At the same time I have been offered numerous times after I finish a project to stay at the same location.  Almost every time I have decided to move on and my following project has always given me the opportunity to learn something new.

In each of our lives there are “ends” to experiences, jobs, education, friendships etc.  I believe the secret lies in recognizing whether it is actually an end or a finish.

Carpe Viam!

Albeit Augusta Part I

There is on aspect of competing in triathlon that is consistent among all courses, distances and brands; racing is lonely.  Obviously, during the swim it is hard enough to breathe let alone talk.  USAT regulations state that you keep four bike lengths between competitors unless one is passing and even at that point it must be done in 20 seconds, so accept for a “hey”, “hello” or an “on your left” there is not much conversation going on there.  The run can be more interactive, but after a long swim and bike, most competitors are already hypoxic or have a certain aerobic pace that doesn’t allow for a lot conversation their either.  It does happen though where athletes find new connections or meet with old and finish the run together, but it is rare, at least from what I have seen.  The common denominator is the people whom you share the race experience with, or the support that accompanies you.  After some logistics issues otherwise cancelled some of my support and fellow athletes, I was still fortunate enough to be surrounded by a small group of A-Trainers that made the entire experience a memory that will not fade.

On Friday we met up at Celeste’s home which was centrally located and began the caravan up to Georgia.  We started with three suv’s and a car with seven athletes.  Most of knew each other from other races and workouts, so the dynamic of the group was anxious but friendly.  The ride down was full of group texting, slight a couple of rather “adventurous” maneuvers, the lost and found of some of the caravan, but all-in-all safe and successful.

Luckily, we arrived early enough to drive to the expo and check-in, providing us the option of sleeping a little longer in the morning without the inconvenience of long lines which are typical to this race.  I was mentioning to one of my cohorts, that the previous year we arrived at check-in at 6am, coffee in hand, so we were in a prime spot when the activities started at 7.  I enjoyed this experience much more as there were no lines and even the expo was fairly empty enough to allow us to shop for any possibly extras we may need or want for the race.  Of course after an eight hour drive, unpacking gear, checking-in and shopping we were all tired and hungry.  We decided to walk down Broad Street, the main downtown strip, and see some of the nightlife on our way to Mellow Mushroom.  The thought of pizza from Mellow Mushroom made Celeste and myself excited with anticipation, but unfortunately, when we arrived there was a long wait and the other places we discovered just did not have the selection the group needed.  Even splitting up, Celeste and I picking up the pizza, while Beth, Bruce, Chris and Jessica retrieved the cars from the hotel proved to allot too much time between eating and allowing sleep to overcome us.  On the way back to the hotel, we settled on the next best choice which was have another pizza joint deliver food while we headed back.  The conversation seemed to stay on the race, sleeping and television while we plowed through two pizzas and 20 wings, which were actually a lot hotter than I expected, before we all finally retired for the night.

Saturday, brought on another level of excitement, renewed energy and the freedom of knowing the only task we needed to accomplish was to stow our bikes in transition for the next day’s big event.  I set the alarm for 7 o’clock thinking that would be the latest I slept in a while, but nevertheless my eyes popped open at 6:30 wide awake and ready for the excitement of the day.   Amy, my coach, had planned for me to do 15 minutes of each event as a precursor to the following day, however, emails had been sent from Ironman, announcing no swimming in the river would be allowed prior to race day. Swimming the day before the race is usually used to double check the wet suit and understand the conditions of the body of water.  For me this was not a big deal, as I had already completed the race the year prior, but it could have been for the rest of the group of whom not only was this the first time competing in Ironman Augusta, it was also their very first 70.3 distance triathlon ever.  With all of set on that fact, a few of us headed out for a run, which was surprisingly hilly, but interesting and fun due tot he southern cultural differences and the rare sighting of a fox.  Afterwards, we grabbed our bikes and headed out the opposite way and ended up in a very nice neighborhood with a couple of steep climbs.  I was grateful for that in order to test my bike, which had been recently pulled apart, cleaned tuned and re-assembled, and my legs.  Everything seemed to be in working order which pleased me just fine.

After a shower, a hearty breakfast, compliments of the Comfort Inn, and a quick jaunt to the bike store, we all loaded up our bikes and headed back to transition and race headquarters to drop our bikes in transition and explore the expo one last time.  Transporting our bikes to transition was uneventful with the exception that as we walked our bikes to transition, we noticed athletes with wet suits coming up out of the water.  When we inquired about it, they had no idea that there was an email warning of the disqualification if swimming in river prior to the race.  As a matter of fact the athletes we did talk with all mentioned the overabundance of people that were actually swimming, of which was confirmed by our own eyes.  We were all a little disappointed about that, however we shook it off not allowing it to crush our “high” of pre-race emotions.

Something I said to Chris, as we were walking into the expo that afternoon, may explain my last statement.  I expressed to him that I enjoyed the events of race weekend almost as much as the race itself.  The positive energy of all the athletes there to compete, seems to quell and increase allowing everyone to share in it.  Every expo I have attended from 5k races, marathons and mud runs to half and full Ironman triathlons, they all have never disappointed with the positive aura and energy collected and passed by runners, athletes and support staff.  It is one of my favorite parts of the weekend and this expo was just as exciting.

After buying a sample pack of a new natural energy drink called Zip Fizz, which tastes like grape and orange soda by  the way, I was walking back to the main hall when I saw someone I have been wanting to meet for a long time.  He was not only someone I had read about in countless articles but he was a friend of Lisa Jamison, my extraordinary massage therapist and friend.  This gentlemen did something that would be a first and would motivate a whole new generation of people to overcome the obstacles in their life and challenge themselves to live up to their own dreams.  Scott Rigsby, was the first double amputee to complete the Ironman World Championships in Kona, and I believe the first to finish a full Ironman period.  I was elated to meet Scott and I was shocked to watch him stand up and sit down as he was signing posters and books.  He moved up and down smoother than a lot of people I know whom have natural legs.  After a few words of conversation, a picture and him signing his book for me, I realized why he was so successful.  They guy just oozes positive mental attitude and strength.  Somehow, I believe that whether or not he lost his legs he would have still found a way to be a role model for people.  I wish I would have had the chance to read his book prior to the expo and would have been able to talk with him more about it.

Incredibly, I walked into the main hall and right there was another guy I admired.  John Pyle.  A vet whom had ran across America, flag in hand, for wounded veterans everywhere.  I had talked with John before where I coach at Fit2Run, and even then I noted his air of strength.  John is a little more grounded then Scott, not to mention a little older.  He reminds me of that guy in the motorcycle movies whom hangs out in the biker bars but is not part of the gang.  The character whom always ends up getting hit over the head with something on accident and then ends up taking out the whole gang.  Very cool, positive, respectful and passionate about his cause, but to be on his bad side seems like somewhere I would not want to be.

I completed my purchases and I headed to the hotel restaurant because I was starving.  I didn’t want anything to heavy because of our dinner plans that night, but I needed a snack and Bonk Breakers, Honey Stinger Waffles or any other race supplement was not going to do it for me.  As I sat at the bar, the beer taps floated past my field of vision and my mouth started to water.  Really?  I wanted a beer?  Now?  “Well, you only live once”, I thought to myself.  Thinking about my friend Dom (whom conquered the Chicago Marathon while stopping in the middle for a beer), I ordered a Guiness, and the Salmon with vegetables and it was awesome.  It was even plated beautifully.  While I was eating a very interesting couple sat down next to me.  The wife was an Xterra triathlete and trail runner hopefully bound for the World Championships and he was doing his first 70.3 the next day.  The dynamic had them supporting each other for races, but never doing the same race.  After the pleasantries and initial info gathering the conversation turned to running where I was impressed to hear after a long career of running she had started focusing on a new form to help her run more efficiently.  Was this a sign?  Running form is what I teach, coach and mentor athletes on and love doing so, and this athlete just so happens to let me know she has been looking at changing her form.  Kismet!  Of course as always I mentioned the group I coach at Fit2Run, my back story of how I became a form advocate, my results and then proceeded to ask her about her experiences changing her form and what she was looking to do.  We right on the same wavelength and she even asked my my opinion on a couple of things.  Needless to say, it was an outstanding feeling.

We called ahead to Carraba’s because of course most of the triathlete world wants pasta to carb load the night before.  Being on a 90% paleo diet I now forgo the pasta rituals and more prefer meat and vegetables.  I had a combo of steak marsala, chicken brian and vegetables with a couple of glasses of sangria to help me sleep.  It was perfect and the fact we did not wait for anything made it even better.  So, it was back to the hotel, to double check the gear, lay out clothes for the next day and off to bed.

My race night ritual usually always includes the following; lay out my gear, go over the race in my head to include transitions and nutrition, pack everything up, double check my list one more time, lay out my clothes bib, shoes, hat and glasses in some odd way, take a picture, post it to Facebook, set my alarm and do whatever I can to get to sleep.  The latter is the hard part.  I end up so anxious that I do not usually drift off for a couple of hours.  This night was no exception except I made a small error that revealed itself way too late.

My eyes popped open the next morning and I was ready for the day.  The alarm hadn’t gone off so I thought there was no problem with just lying around for a bit to get my bearings.  As I turned over, to turn off the alarm, my eyes cleared up on the face of the clock; 4:25am it read.  WHAT??? 4:25?? I was supposed to be up at 3:30 so I had an hour to gear myself up for the race before I was supposed to be downstairs at 4:30am.  SON OF A MONKEY”S UNCLE!! (That may have not been my exact vernacular.)  I couldn’t believe I overslept.   I immediately jumped up disrobed, put on my tri shorts an shirt, took my vitamins, put in my contacts, gathered my stuff and was down in the lobby by 4:30am awaiting the rest of the crew.  No hygiene, no pre-race glide, no pre-race meal and of course what I disliked the most, the fear I would have to  use a porta potty for a bowel movement.  OH-EM-Freakin -GEE!  My head was a wreck and I knew I had to get it together.  I was so lucky, I ended up driving myself to the race because I needed a little time to pull myself together.

I finally accepted the inevitable when we parked the cars fairly near to transition.  This was a huge plus as last year we ended up walking over a mile and then dragging our bikes and gear back.  Each moment started to bring on more and more positive energy.  Not that I wasn’t still anxious, but everything was starting to align.  Setting up transition was easy breezy.  A couple of weekends prior Amy had me running through my transition setup a few times to make sure I knew what was the most efficient for me, so it was just like putting puzzle pieces together; towel, shoes, cletes, race belt run, race belt bike, helmet and glasses.  Attach the bottles, ditch the bag and my transition was officially setup.  I ran up to it once and jumped in my cletes and mimed through my first transition as a quick check and at that point I was confident at least my bike and gear were ready.  I grabbed my wet suit, a honey stinger waffle and headed to the bus for a ride back to the swim start.

Everything continued to align as the bus’s speaker roared to life with the announcement that there would be two stops.  The first being the swim start and the second being the host hotel.  “Wait!” I thought.  “Did he just say the host hotel?  Really?”  Shut the front door!  I was going to be able to use a real bathroom prior to the race.  Awesome!  While the rest of the crew decided to go straight to the swim start, Jessica and I continued on to the hotel.  The thought of using a bathroom that was not a porta potty for…well…uh…number 2, elated me.  Not to mention, the idea I may be able to actually get that cup of coffee I was expecting in the hour I planned to have prior to leaving.  YAY!!!  Jessica seemed to be just as happy about the chance to have a cup of coffee as well.

After we both accomplished what we set out for we headed out to the River Walk and headed to the swim start.  The sky had this purple hue as the orange sun started to peak through the sky.  It was gorgeous.  I was also really happy to have a few spare moments to spend with Jessica.  She had taken the trip with us specifically to be a motivator and sherpa for Beth, and I could tell that she really appreciated Jessica being here.  Beth is this type A personality that while excitable always exhibits this aura of sunshine no matter how she is feeling.  Jessica, is extremely positive, but a little more laid back, but can definitely take her Cuban persona to a higher level when provoked.  Luckily, I only experienced it positively provoked spilling sunshine and rainbows.   I found her to be charming, caring and nurturing to everyone and luckily she was there because we all needed that grounding.

Jessica and I walked up to our crew sitting on a curb gabbing while a few of the other athletes we knew all started passing by.  We said our good lucks and gave hugs, high fives and fist bumps all the while suffering from own anxiety.  Beth is the one who turned me on to blogging more regularly and she has also forged connections with other fitness and running bloggers whom I have read.  One is Swim, Bike, Mom whom is very motivating and just so happened to not only be competing but was standing not to far from a group of bloggers that Beth was acquainted with.  I was really excited to see her there.   I don’t know what it was, but I was enthralled.  Maybe because she puts a lot of her personal feelings into her blog that I felt  like I knew her, but I was sincerely happy to see and meet her in person.

I looked at my watch and noticed it was 7:15, so I did some of my Dave Scott exercises, lunges and stretches and sat down to struggle with my wet suit.  As each leg went on the anxiety increased to another level.  “Just get me past the swim”, I kept saying to myself.  “Get me on the bike and everything will be just fine.”  One more glance at my watch.  7:28am.  I had no idea what I was thinking when the first gun went off and the announcer shouted that the Pro Men were off.  I went up to the barrier and and waited for them to swim by.  They were fast and looked as though they hardly were expending any energy.  If I could just figure that out before my wave start everything would be ok, but if I didn’t have it now, I wasn’t going to have it by then.  I decided I would trust my training and just do my best to keep straight by sighting every five strokes, kick as lightly as possible and just swim till I was done.  After that, what I thought, was a quick meditation my watch said 7:46.  I said goodbye and good luck to my crew and headed for the start.