HITS is a fairly new triathlon series, with a unique concept. Their tag line is “A distance for everyone”, which really says it all. A HITS weekend consists of 70.3 (half-iron distance) and a 140.6(full-iron distance) on Saturday, and on Sunday, Sprint and Olympic distance triathlons. It is a pretty cool concept, and they are really well-organized.
After having breakfast with the Team Foley after the Fight for Air Climb I headed out to Ocala with the hope of seeing at least Margie, Kari and Megan cross the finish line. I have to admit, while I have been training, it hasn’t been as focused as it should have. My “off-season” mentality didn’t quite transition into the race attitude just yet, but I thought I was at least in shape to do the Oly. In triathlon season, usually the first couple of months, is usually “Base” phase which just gets the wheels and legs rolling again, develop some strength and start gaining the endurance needed for race season. With that in mind, I figured an Olympic distance would be perfect to baseline where I am in my training. Imagine my surprise when I saw a lot of my friends out on Saturday competing in the 70.3. As I was watching competitors and friends cross the line there was a familiar itch developing in my heart. I didn’t quite notice what it was at the time.
The course for the 70.3 was pretty intense with loops that included a 1.2 mile swim in a 65 degree Lake Weir, 56 miles of rolling hills and wind of the bike, and an intense mixture of soft trails, and asphalt out-and-backs for the 13.1 mile run. I was too busy losing my lungs to catch any of the swim or bike, but I was happy to be around to see the finale of the run.
I had my first blog recognition, which was really nice. I was at the expo, grabbing a couple of Honey Stinger gels for my race the next day and I was chatting with the owner of Kickstart Endurance and she told me she followed IronGoof. I tried not to make a big deal out of it, but secretly I was really excited.
I missed Margie, but I was really happy to see Megan and Kari cross the finish. They both were finishing their first 70.3 along with some other members of the Tri Psych Club, so for them this was a huge accomplishment and deserved a celebration. That itch started to intensify at Chili’s that night as everyone’s conversation about their race surrounded me.
I really attempted to be nonchalant about this race. I kept telling myself, “Self, this is no big deal. You know you are not ready to race, this is a small race and this is going to tell you what you need to work on.” Unfortunately, waking up the next morning at 4:30a, and preparing my gear not only woke up my consciousness but the competition juices and anxiety levels as well. I showered, dressed, applied my TriTats, loaded the car and off I went.
As I mentioned before, the organization of this race was first-rate, from, staff organizing parking to the transition areas. Have I mentioned the transition area? In previous races I have barely glanced over the amenities of the transition areas, well except for the Rev3 Venice Beach. Let me put it this way, if the transition areas were cars, then every other race I have been in were Toyotas, the Rev3 was a Lexus, and the HITS series was a Bentley. Not only were there boxes that held gear and clamped a tire for easy removal of the bike, plenty of room for transition setup in-between the bikes, but each participant had their own personal stool with their number and last name on them. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it really is the little things that make an impression.
I headed down to the beach with my wet suit on halfway, goggles and swim cap in hand. The temperature outside was perfect with just a slight breeze and the sun was starting to slowly creep up over the horizon. I was incredibly grateful to see my friends down on the beach. Pete, Kari, Megan, Michael, Stan and a couple f others as it made me feel slightly less stressed. After the mandatory meeting, all of the males waded out a bit into the water for the start. My anxiety reared a little due to the fact, I was using my backup goggles because my regular goggles broke in transition and this was the coldest water I had ever swam in.
The whole beach counted off, “Three, Two, One…” and the horn blew. We all ran or dolphin dived toward the first buoy. The water was kind of shallow so I did have some time to start to get used to the water. I remembered my strategy and my stroke count and I started swimming. I started losing ground within the first 200m, which was normal for me. My new stroke technique is still relatively new, so I figured I wasn’t going to be fast immediately. When I reached the first buoy, I started feeling short of breath, even though I thought I was relatively relaxed. My chest started to feel compressed like I was being stepped on, and my arms were not moving as freely as I wanted them to. I moved to breast stoke to see if I could relax a bit, but it was to know avail, the compression would just not loosen. I have never had an issue with my wet suit. Except for getting out of it, I kinda like it. I feel more buoyant, warmer and protected from other things that may cause issues in open water. Now I just felt like it was python, strangling me. I kept going, but it was a combination of freestyle, side stroke, and breast stoke. When I reached the second buoy, my mind went into overdrive trying to get me to quit. The ideas popping in my head were asinine. I kept hearing, “You aren’t trained for this”, “You don’t belong here.”, “Just get out of the water. It is only a baseline remember?”. The thing was, I had another loop to do. I swam toward third buoy, and the water became very shallow, so we really didn’t have any choice but to run through it and start dolphin diving again. I forced myself to have the one thought that has gotten me through tough training, cold, wet and rainy workouts, and exhausting races; “The mind will quit one-hundred times before the body does.” I told myself, “Self, that is first and only time that is going to happen today.” I ran around the third buoy and headed out for my second loop.
The second loop felt a little better, but I was so happy to get out of that wet suit. I am still not quite certain why I felt that way. It wasn’t the size of the wet suit because when I bought it I was 25 pounds heavier. Either way I ran out of the water unzipping and getting out of it on my way to transition. One of the strippers told me to lay down and she yanked it off of me. I grabbed my helmet while I put on my shoes and crossed the mat in less than 3 minutes.
The bike course was actually pretty nice. Rolling hills, with well conditioned roads and plenty help by the Sheriff’s department. I wanted to make up sometime, so in my head I thought to just keep passing people. I only got passed twice during the first ten miles of the twenty-five mile course and I was happy with that. I played cat & mouse with a couple of them, and ended up passing them in during the last half of the course. Unfortunately, there was a storm on the horizon and the wind picked up quite a bit on on the second half, not to mention the hills were more abundant and steeper(at least for Florida). My speed, that I was holding quite consistent at 21 mph started to drop to 18, then 17 and at that point, I refused to go under 18 mph. I came into transition, averaging 19.1 and I was proud of that.
I racked my bike and sat on my stool to put on my socks and shoes. I got hung up a little bit, but was still out of there in less than 3 minutes, and it was off to the run. Pete yelled at me as I headed into the trees, “This is the fun part”. At first I agreed with him.
I decided to wear my Hoka One One Biondi Speed 2 running shoes with the large sole, because I wanted to test how they felt on a triathlon after being on the bike. Big mistake. At first the ground wasn’t very soft, and I was ok running about an 8:15 mile, but as I got further into the woods, the trail got softer and softer. With that big sole, not only was my foot pushing down on the sole, but then into the soft ground causing three times as much resistance as the a regular running shoe. I didn’t figure this out at first, but after one-and-a-half miles, I felt like I needed to stop, and that was not usual, not matter what kind of shape I was in. I walked at the aid station for about 200 yards and then I continued running but at a much slower pace. I had to do two loops of the run course as well, and I could feel the resistance ease off when I hit the asphalt again. All of the sudden I was lighter and faster, but I had to do a second loop into the woods again. I decided my strategy would be to walk a hundred yards at the aid station and 100 yards at the turn-around, but other than that I would let my legs do what could. It worked out well as my splits were faster on the second loop.
I ran out of the woods with Pete snapping shots and hearing cheers from Megan, Kari and a couple of others. As, I crossed the finish line it became clear to me, that I am not in the shape I was in for my last 70.3, but I would enjoy this moment as a victory. It was not a PR, but it this race let me know what I need to do over the next months in order to take on the rest of my race schedule.
After calming down a bit and chatting with Pete and a few other friends, Summer Bailey found me. She had competed in the 70.3 the day before. Summer lives in Georgia, so we really only see each other at races and occasionally chat on Facebook so it was really incredible to actually chat and catch up with her in person. She is an amazing woman and with a huge heart and ferocious determination. We both agreed that neither one of us had trained enough for our races, but it was good to have a race under our belt for the year. Chatting with her was encouraging, and I know we will be seeing each other again during the season. To be able to see and chat with her and some others that I do not get to train with allowed me to remember one of the greatest thing about triathlon and racing in general. It’s the friends and connections we make. Other than having a good race and crossing the finish line, it is the best part about it.
Besides crossing the finish line what are the best experiences you have competing?
There are people that come into our lives that defy all expectation. Have you ever met someone whom you previously had heard about, or may even have spoken to, only to find out they not only lived up to their values and skill but by far exceeded them? It doesn’t happen often right? I can truthfully state this about my massage therapist, confidant, and friend; Lisa Jamison.
I was given a brief introduction to Lisa by my good friend Scott Bragan. He mentioned that he made massage a big part of his training, and in his opinion how much of an expert Lisa was, and how she worked with him on some injuries and ailments. I finally decided to talk to her and see if she could help me. (I will give you my story about my injury in another posting, but I currently have a L5/S1 herniated disc in my back) I had been going to a chiropractor for my injury and they were keeping me running, but I felt like I had to make frequent visits, but that all changed when I met Lisa. The first thing she did was look at my posture and how I hold myself, and immediately gave me analogies to think about, and exercises to do during the day to help. She assessed my injuries and then……and then, she went to work on me.
All I can say is O-M-G! That first massage was an experience. She loosened up muscles I didn’t even know I had, all the while telling me what she was doing and why she was doing it. Lisa and I are both talkers so we also were getting to know each other. It turns out, she is not only an LMT, but a USAT Level 1 coach, a Yogi, a Certified Personal Trainer and an IRONMAN. At this time I was still seeing my orthopedist and my neuro-surgeon. Lisa educated me more on bio-mechanics than either of my doctors, and when I questioned them about the aspects of my anatomy Lisa educated me on, they both looked like a deer in headlights. Lisa’s knowledge and experience was far superior. First impression; this woman knows her stuff.
|Lisa at Fight for Air Climb 2012|
As we continued our professional relationship we started to become friends, and I learned that she was not only passionate about helping athletes, but also para-athletes. She was close personal friends with Scott Rigsby, the first double amputee to finish the Kona Ironman! She was also contracted by tri-clubs all over the nation, to meet them at races and work on their athletes and their para-athletes. Whenever I had a question about about form, posture, or training Lisa always either knew or found a way to help me out. Second Impression; she cares about her clients and will go to great extents for them. Amazing!
Then she told me the story about her brother-in-law that passed a day before she was to compete in Ironman Florida. This immediately brought tears to my eyes, and continues to whenever I recall her words about him. She did end up competing in the race, but returned home immediately afterward. She said that her brother-in-law, Mike Dalton, wouldn’t have it any other way. Currently, she has dedicated herself to American Lung Association and the Fight for Air stair climbs across the country dedicating herself for another friend taken from her, John Foley. Lisa started Team Foley and she recruits athletes every year to do the Tampa Stair Climb at the Bank of America building. Last year I participated, wouldn’t you know it, WE WON! Yep, I stepped up the 42 flight climb with Team Foley and I would do it again in a heartbeat. As a matter of fact I am already signed up for 2013. Lisa also completes stair climbs all over to include the Sears (not Willis) Tower in Chicago. Can you imagine 103 flights? She does it and often.
Third impression – I am in love with this woman. I defy anyone to meet her and not feel the same way.
DOB: March 27, Aries
Grew Up: Vernon, CT
High School: Rockville HS
High School Sports: Drill team/Dance squad, figure skated(outside of school)
College: University of Connecticut
Sports: Inline Speed Skate (as an adult), Triathlon, Running
I describe you as the best LMT in the Tampa Bay area. How and why did you start with massage and sports training?
I studied Sports Med/Athletic Training in college. Through college I worked in the fitness industry (I was one of the early ones…”aerobic instructor”). After college I spent time working as an athletic trainer and teacher while still doing some fitness work on the side. At some point I could see that I wanted to spend more time working in the fitness industry, but liked the sports training model. It seemed to me that if people could take their workouts and view them as something as they “got to do” vs what they “had to do”, our health and fitness might be more enjoyable. I started personal training in the late 1980’s. I moved here in 1991 and have just kept plugging along. I read a lot, take a lot of classes, and just keep trying to throw something new into my “bag of tricks”. I went to massage school about 8 years ago.
If you could give me one adjective to describe the feeling you get when you are working what would it be?
I like the aspect of the day that keeps me looking for a different way to get the job done. Maybe that’s because I need to shake things up for my own sanity, and maybe that’s because healthy clients are in their for the long haul and may get bored doing the same thing over and over again. I can’t think of an adjective…but I do get lost in my own head while I’m working in a the quiet of massage. While training and watching people in their setting, it’s almost like I can get in their body and feel it.
|Lisa at IMFL|
When and why did you start competing in triathlon?
It was the late 90’s. I was working with a lot of triathletes, finishing up with a stint in speed skating and looking for the next sport. I knew I’d get involved in triathlon, but was afraid of the swim. I didn’t rush into it. I participated without training for a couple of years, then changed my workouts to focus on triathlon a little bit. After a few years I started legitimately training for it. Now it’s been a couple of years since I’ve raced. Not sure what will happen next.
What is one thing you love most about triathlon?
The people, the training partners, the group of people. I really like the balance of the group training for an individual sport. I like having to get lost in your own head in the midst of a crowd.
After being in the business as long as you have, what possesses you to still take the classes for continuing Ed that you do?
I have to for many reasons. I am self employed and live alone; if I don’t work, there isn’t money coming in. I learned very early on that people’s incomes can change, and you will be the first person they give up in difficult economic times. If I weren’t “multi-talented”, I wouldn’t work. I always have to be looking ahead to see what else I can do. Personally, I like a day that’s filled with different things. I enjoy being able to train a few fitness clients, work on re-patterning a skill with an athlete, do a relaxation massage, help with injury rehab, do some yoga, and meditate. I like group work as well as private work. I’m a teacher at heart, so as long as somebody is learning something, I go home feeling like I made a difference
|Lisa & the Goof at the Fight for Air Climb|
What was the turning point for you to decide make this a career?
All through high school I volunteered in hospitals and physical therapy clinics. I always said I wanted to work with a “well” community, or one that was injured but was motivated to come back strong. I started working in fitness in 1981 and it’s just all evolved from there. I’ve just had to set the path for what I’ve wanted to do.
What would you say is your greatest obstacle you ever overcame?
There wasn’t a career in “personal training” or “corrective exercise” or even massage during my early days. I’ve always referred to myself as a bit of a hybrid. Now the hybrid careers are becoming more popular. I wish I knew that…I would have saved a lot of time looking for the career that was right for me spent more time “just doing it”.
What is your greatest victory?
When I can help someone get that “a-ha” moment and their day/life/sport makes more sense
Final Impression: I want to be just like Lisa when I grow up.
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.
If you have been following this goofy blog then you probably read in the post “State of the Goof” that I currently coach new runners to their first 5k race. I also mention that there is no other feeling like the emotion I get from watching my runners cross the finish line.
Today was no different. A couple of my runners had mentioned the Lowry Park Zoo Run because it looked like a lot of fun, so by a majority vote we decided to adopt that event as our culmination run. Others may call it an assessment run, because it is the final after the course. It is the race to see if the coaching and training was successful. I am here to say that to those whom participated, it was extremely successful. Just writing this I am getting excited remembering the faces on these women and the strength I saw as they fired over the timing mats at the finish line. What a feeling!
|The last workout before the Zoo Run|
Some of these runners had trouble with the very first workout which is a 5 minute walk followed by a 3 minute run, another 5 minute walk, a 2 minute run, completing with a final 5 minute walk. Now here they are 10 weeks later running a 5k (3.1 miles) straight without stopping. What an improvement. Barely 3 minutes to over 30 minutes in 10 weeks and hopefully having fun running it. (At least I hope.) I tell my students in the beginning that I have four goals for the coarse;
- They adapt my formula for natural running
- They remain injury free for the 10 weeks
- They complete the course with a 5k run where they run the entire race
- They have fun running.
I also tell them that in my opinion that until a person can run at least three miles straight that they cannot make an educated opinion on if they actually like to run or not. At the end of the course I expect one of three things to happen;
- They love running and they make it a part of their lives (My favorite choice)
- They don’t mind running and they use it as just a supplement to their fitness routine
- They still dislike it, but at least they have the fitness level to make that educated opinion
|Linda – 1st place AG|
Today I had 10 runners whom all crossed the finish line. Each one of them PR’d (Personal Record) whether it was their first record ever or if they did complete a 5k in the past. I am absolutely ecstatic about their successes. I had one of my women finish first in her age group of which we all stayed to watch her get her medal. Four of my runners were top 10, two of which were top 5, but mostly everyone finished strong, with no injuries and with smiles on their faces.
I started the course with twenty-three new runners and through attrition of work, family, lack of motivation for some reason, I ended with around fourteen of which only nine of them were available for this date. Either way, I am super proud of my team. This is my favorite day every ten weeks. It is obvious that they all still have different fitness levels and speeds so they do not finish together, but I get so excited that I end up running almost double the course running back and forth to encourage them, and I love it.
|My Champions after the Zoo Run|
My favorite way to go about this is to take the first two miles of the course and run back and forth between the fastest runners and the slowest runners, pacing along side each one to keep them motivated. When the fastest of the runners hits the last mile I try to be there to run with them through the finish line which usually means I am highly encouraging them to sprint to the finish line. After crossing myself, I head backwards through the course and start catching the other runners and I run them in as well until I get to my last athlete which by that time the rest of my group is waiting at the finish line cheering him or her in. Today was no different and I had a blast doing it.
FYI, just for shiggles – my time was around 30:10, but I had 4.25 miles already logged by that time.