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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Goof Review – Newton Energy & BOCO Running Shoes

Goof Review – Newton Energy & BOCO Running Shoes

Here it is again, a long time since my last post.  Life happens and when it does, watch out.  It can really mess up the things you want to do versus the things you must do.  I am learning to prioritize what is absolutely important to me versus what is important to everyone else.  I hope to soon have that under control, but I digress.

Newton was nice enough to send me both a pair of the Newton Energy and the BOCO.  I am reviewing them together since I have found they are the same shoe with the only difference being the BOCO has a tread that is made for the trails and the Energy is made for the road.

To be transparent and honest, I am a certified Newton Coach, so I am a little biased towards Newton.  However, I rarely train in Newtons, as running is very personal I have my favorite running shoes to train in.

I do however, love the methodology behind them.  For those that do not know, Newton running shoes have 5 lugs in the front of the shoe directly under the ball of the foot.  The lugs have a higher or lower profile depending on the shoe.

The lugs serve as a reminder for running form by automatically driving the foot to land on the fore or mid foot, reducing the impact dramatically.

When paired with Newton Natural Run training, the shoe will decrease the effort level of transitioning to a mid or forefoot runner.

In my experience, after the runner has developed the habit, they no longer need to be running in Newtons, but most do not only due to muscle memory, but they also last about 4 times longer than other running shoes.

Prior to the release of the Energy, the core products Newton produced were the Motion, the Isaac, the Gravity and the Distance.  These models needed a transition period for the runner to get used to the way the lugs lifted the heel causing some calf soreness.

The Energy now has a lower profile of lug, and a transition plate which actually allows the athlete very tiny transition period, if any, before the comfort of the shoe settles in.

The EVA foam that makes up the sole of the shoe is extremely comfortable and highly accommodating to the road.

The only conflicts I have heard is the heel cup is a little shallow for some, causing some slippage during long runs.

Since one of the core beliefs of natural runners is that shoes should be tied just tight enough to secure the heel, this could be a problem.  I have always taught, the athlete needs nothing to support but themselves.

In other words, if the shoe is tied too tight, the shoe ends up supporting the runner.  By tying the shoes very light and only tight enough to secure the heel, the feet, the calves, the ankles are strengthened with every activity.

I personally have not found an issue with the heel cup even without the help of a runner’s lace, but I have heard of the issues.

I did get an eleven-mile run on the trails with the Newton BOCO and was I surprised at how well the tread grabbed the terrain.  

The trails I was running were meant for Mountain Bikes and that meant steep climbs and steep downhills and there was not a moment I did not feel secure.ZOE_0005.jpg

For new runners or for athletes transitioning to more efficient technique, I believe the Energy is the perfect shoe.  They are the perfect shoe to transition with before trying one of the core Newton models.

The BOCO is a great trail shoe for anyone wishing to start or continuing a journey into trail running.  They are comfortable, supportive and made me feel completely secure on the trails.

That’s my opinion and I am sticking with it.  Happy Running!

 

Carpe Viam!

Tribute Tuesday #5 – Benjamin Mena

There are people out there that take everything in stride and just let the world unfold around them, and there are people who have decided there is so much negativity in the world it is much easier to be oblivious to everything.  Either way, in my opinion, if it makes you happy, then do it.  There are a few people out there, that have a passion for making the world a better place.  There are those who find one cause and passionately support it, which is phenomenal, but a rare few people out there are able to spread their power of influence, courage, and passion to every cause, organization and individual in need they can.  My friend Ben is one of those people.

Before I tell you about his cool “Run for Cause” fun runs, or the races he has organized and the races coming up, let me tell you about Ben Mena the runner.  Ben and I met through friends from my tri-club the A-Train and some friends from the Run Progressive track workouts.  I knew of him and knew he was fast, but that didn’t justify what I saw when I first ran with him.  I am amazed at people who can run a marathon with 7:30 average per mile pace.  This guy hammers through half-marathons in under 6-minute miles and then will turn around and bike for 20 without skipping a beat.

My favorite memory of watching Ben was actually a cycling workout.  Ben was coerced into joining us and Pete (Tribute #2) let him borrow his road bike.  This bike had pedal cages on it because Ben didn’t have cycling shoes or cleats and this was going to be his first ride.  Well, Ben goes out in front with the “A” group and is really strong.  We all thought, “OK, we will just hang back here and watch him die out and pick him up at the turnaround.”  He reached the turnaround and just kept going and beat us all.  First time out!  A few weeks later he decides to do a duathlon in Orlando for the first time and he finishes first, overall.   Ben’s VO2 max is off the charts.  Maybe that is why he continues to help those in need, with a VO2 max that high, his heart is huge.

Ben organizes a monthly fun run in Brandon, Florida that gives to a different charity each month.  I have been running in every one since July and I have seen no less than 50 people at any of them.  He also is part of a duo with Beth Shaw (Dis-com-BOB-ulated Running), of which they have successfully completed their first race called the Shape Up for Summer 5k and now they have another one coming up called the Corporate 5k in downtown Tampa.  The Shape Up for Summer 5k had well over 750 runners which is well over what they expected and as I used the race as a culmination runs for my clientele, let me just say it was one of the best organized 5k runs I had participated in.  Beth and Ben did a really amazing job, so if you find a race organized by MenaShaw Races, you can be sure to have a great experience.

With that being said, Ben has another race he has organized and this one has an interesting spin on it while helping out some people that can really use it.  I will let him tell you in his own words.  Let me introduce, Benjamin Mena.

Benjamin (Ben) Mena
Birthdate: 8/25/83 – Virgo
Place of Birth: Virginia Beach, VA
Place growing up: Charleston SC and Bremerton, WA
High School: Cocoa Beach High
High School sports: Soccer, Cross Country, Track
College: University of Central Florida
College Sports: Cross Country, Track
Other Sports: Ummmm…..  nope

I usually describe you as one of the fastest runners in the Tampa Bay area. What started you running?
I used to be the guy that would make fun of the runners and throw stuff at them.  (in HS).  I thought running was dumb and pointless.   So after a win-less soccer season, the soccer girls tried to convince me to run cross country to prep for soccer… I said yeah right, that’s dumb… their response was just run behind us.  What teenage guy can say no.   after my first year running (JR year) I developed a passion for it and it quasi-took over my life.
JR year was just an introduction to the sport. Our workouts were easy as hell, but the one thing I loved my coach for (she was hot also) she taught us all how to make running fun and enjoyable.   My Sr year of high school we had a new coach.  She had a background as a professional runner, so she knew her stuff.  She helped give me the dream of being a college athlete.   At that point, I wasn’t good enough for any college team but I worked my ass off as hard as I could.  I had the one gift that every coach wants in their athlete.  Burning desire to make it.
The summer before college was pretty crazy.  I was working 5 jobs to try to get ready for college (until my car died) then I had to drop my job at Publix [Supermarket]because it was a 20-mile bike ride each way).  I would bike to my different jobs, then get home and run and then would be able to start hanging out with friends after 11 pm.   During that time I would never miss a run no matter how bad I wanted to have fun.
I still to this day don’t know why coach chose me out of all the other walk-ons..  but I am thankful she did.  I ran with my heart and I knew I had more to prove that everyone that came in on scholarships.  (I also didn’t have a car… so I got a lot more miles in than most people.   Outside all the running I was walking 5-14 miles a day to and from, and around school)  By the end of the first season, I was granted an athletic scholarship and the following year I was team captain…

Ben doing what he does best

What and When was your first 5k time? What and when was your fastest 5k time?

Year of high school.  I don’t remember the time but I was low 20s, but my fastest was 15:20 in college.

What kind of workouts did you do to get that fast? 
You don’t want to know the schedule.  But my favorite workout was mile repeats!



What was your average weekly mileage?
60-80 was the average.  During the summer we would crank it up for base building.  My highest week was 112 and 90% of those miles were done along the Appalachian Trail.

I mentioned above that you hold a monthly fun run named “Run for a Cause” at the Cork & Olive in Brandon.  How did that come about?
Just had the idea while at the bar.  I love hosting fun events for people…  and it came about from there.  our first event I was hoping for 10 people… and over 50 ended up showing up.

How many different charities have you hosted?  
7 or 8 now

If someone had a cause they would like to have hosted at one of your events what is the best way to contact you? Best is through FaceBook.


The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School has devastated the country. You chose to act quickly and do something about it by hosting this Virtual Run. Can you give the details?
This is a virtual half-marathon and virtual 5K. Since it is virtual, you can complete it anywhere in the world. You can run, walk, swim, bike, anything you like, and you can complete the 13.1 miles or 5K all at once, over the course of a week, or whenever you can. Just complete all miles between now and Jan 31st. This is on the honor system – you do not have to report your miles.
The registration fee for the Half Marathon is $30.
Register Here: http://www.active.com/half-marathon/tampa-fl/sandy-hook-elementary-memorial-half-marathon-and-5k-2013
Event Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/events/186264894845690/ 

What gave you the Idea?
I am on the board for a few charities, and I was already researching a way to do a virtual 5k. When the devastation occurred, I couldn’t sleep, so I mulled it over for a while and by Sunday I had it up on Active.com and Facebook and 200 people already had agreed to participate. Today on Facebook there are over 1800 that have committed and a little over 250 that have actually signed up on Active.com
It grew a lot faster than I thought. It went viral. I originally thought about a few people here in Tampa to raise around 1000 dollars, but now it is well over that.

Beth and Ben

 

Do you have any other races coming up?
Beth and I have been organizing a Tampa Bay Corporate 5K.
This is an event where the runners choose one of the 4 charities that this race will give back too. Every person that registers for the race will get a vote (fill in the blank) for the charity of their choice. The charity with the most votes will receive a portion of the proceeds along with Little Things for Cancer, Cystic Fibrosis (Tampa Chapter), and Operation Helping Hand.
You can get more details on the Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/131275133693630
or on the event website: http://www.tampacorporate5k.com/

Ben and his fiance Jennifer
Ben and the Goof

How to Race Ironman Florida With Very Little Stress

I have a lot of friends that are competing in the Florida Ironman this weekend.  This is the granddaddy of endurance competitions right in the heart of the panhandle Florida at Panama City Beach.

I want to wish you all the best of luck and I know you will all be an Ironman at the end.  Of course, a couple of them already are, but that doesn’t change the challenge any.

As I did this last year I want to give you the lessons I learned while taking on this challenge.  Take them or leave them, but hopefully, you will take something out of it and if not another reader might find a helpful hint to take on their journey to the Ironman Triathlon in their future.

Left to right: Eve, Kat, Marai, Summer, Mary-Ellen & Iron Rick, Anne, Carola (Not pictured: Rick Jansik and David Nardoski)
  • Double check your gear on Thursday when you arrive.  Most likely you will know someone coming up on Friday, so they can bring an item you may have left behind.
  • Go to Athlete Check-In early Thursday or when you arrive on Wednesday.  Get it over with so you have all of your gear bags and as you unpack you can start to pack them.
  • Buy all of the SWAG and stuff you want early.  They run out fast and if you follow #2 then you will not have to wait in line.  For some reason, Ironman does not hire the fastest cashiers in the world and the line seems to take forever.
  • Swim a portion of the course early on Thursday morning as close to race time as possible.  Notice the current, the temperature, how long it took you to warm up, and any wildlife in the water.  Double check to make sure your wetsuit is fitting correctly and any adjustments you needed to make to feel comfortable.
  • Write these ideas and any other adjustments down.  Then the excitement of the race does not bode too well for memory cells.  It is best to be able to look over a checklist on Saturday Morning.
  • If you do not have the experience do not feel invincible enough to rent race wheels or if you do, rent them at home and bring your training wheels with you.  The weather may say 5-7 mph wind gusts on Friday, but that can change to 20 mph in a heartbeat and a lot of miles are spent in the crosswind.
  • Ride on Thursday as well.  Ride a few minutes in each of the major gears and in the low chainring to spin your legs and get some blood moving.  This will also check your bike for any adjustments you may need.  There is always a bike maintenance tent at the expo.  Ride after you swim in case you need to get some maintenance done.
  • Keep eating and keep hydrating especially on Thursday.  Thursday is actually more important than Friday as far as nutrition and rest are concerned.
  • Do not run on Thursday.  Save the pounding for Saturday.
  • Plan for a long, long sleep on Thursday.  The excitement is building but not enough to hinder your sleep on Thursday vs Friday.  Friday will be a completely anxious day and that night will be hard to sleep.  Get it on Thursday.  No alarms, no loud roommates, just sleep as long as you can.  Once your up, you’re awake and it will be hard to get back to sleep.
  • Walk through your transitions and even legs and make a checklist for your gear bags.  This works.  (ex.  I get out of the water, strip my wetsuit, go to the tent and I put on my shoes, helmet, glasses..etc…then write down “shoes, helmet, glasses, and anything else”)  Make sure you walk through your nutrition plan as well, to make sure you have enough nutrition on the bike.  If you are putting the powder in bottles, do that at this time as well.  It is your choice if you want to add the water today or tomorrow, but put the powder in the bottles.  (Personally I put my bottles completely together and put them in the freezer.  By the time you get on the bike they will be almost thawed and you will have ice cold hydration)
  • Put your gear bags together on Thursday night, when you are calmer.  You are more likely not to forget anything.  You will still have a  few things to put in them but the bulk will be there.
  • Plan for a special needs bag for the run, but ride with what you will need for the full 112 miles.  The stopping for the special needs bag is not worth the time.  Have what you need, and if you do come into a situation there are aid stations every 10 miles, they will help.
  • Do put a special needs bag aside for the run.  This is just for some warmer clothes just in case the temp drops.  You probably will not need it, but at least it will be there.  Do not trust the forecast in Panama City.
  • Do a 15/15/15 workout on Friday.  15 min swim, bike and then run to clear all the excess and get your legs feeling like they need to for the next morning.  It sounds weird for the day before such a hard day, but trust me this will make you feel much more confident.
  • After you return and shower after your little workout check your gear bags one last time.  Empty each of them out and run through your checklist one last time.  You can turn these in, pretty early on Friday, and you will want to so you can just relax the rest of the day.
  • Relax as much as possible on Friday.  Put your feet up, watch TV, play some cards, but relax.
  • Do not forget to eat and drink.  Follow your nutrition plan which should include your meals on Friday.
  • Lay down and try to sleep no later than 8:30.  3:30 am comes awfully quick.
  • Get up at 3:30a and take a shower.  This will awaken you and start your day.
  • Have a nice breakfast by 4:30.  This will make sure you have all the nutrients in your body by the 7 am start time.
  • If you train with a gel, have one in each sleeve of your wetsuit.  It is always a little chilly on Saturday morning, so even if it is uncomfortable, your wetsuit provides warmth.  If you have a sleeveless put the gels in your pant legs.  I also put a couple of Imodium as well, but that works for me.  I suggest it if you know it does not cause side effects for you.
  • Find your friends and have them near you at the start.  This helps.  It provides some comfort because the rest of the day…you will be most likely alone.
  • Have one of those gels 10 minutes before the start of the race and the second one while you are running back into the water on your second loop.
  • Put a smile on your face.  If you are terrified then fake it.  Most of the time faking it will make it true.
  • Trust your training it got you here now it is time to have confidence in it.
  • Do not eat or drink anything but water for the first 15-20 minutes of your bike.  Your body is making a switch.  Allow it to settle before you put anything in your stomach.
  • Ride your own race.  Do not worry if others are passing you.  You have a plan stick to it.  Enjoy the scenery and get lost in it.
  • If you have a watch with a timer use it.  I personally had my alarm go off every 15 minutes so I knew to make sure I was drinking and eating.  I knew that I had to take in a quarter of bottle every 15 minutes and a gu every 45.  In the Ironman if you get behind on your nutrition it is a hard fight back.
  • Salt – Make sure you have enough salt.  I took 250 mg every hour and I had no cramping at all.
  • Do not deviate from your plan.  You spent a lot of time putting this plan together do not deviate even if you feel great.  You never know what the course will bring.
  • HAVE FUN!  This may feel like the longest day of your life while you are competing, but after you cross the finish line it will feel like it went by in a blink of an eye.  Enjoy it!  You spent a lot of time training for this, have some fun.
  • Last but not least.  Watch when you are coming into the finish shoot.  If there are people around you, either slow a little or speed up and make sure you are alone as possible coming across the finish line.  This is going to be your moment.  It should be one of the few times in your life you should be selfish.  Savor it.  You swam, cycled and ran the whole thing alone, cross the finish line alone.  Trust me here, you will thank me for it when you see the video later.

I am so proud of all of you.  I am so lucky to be able to call you my friends and I know you will all be amazing.  I will be there volunteering and I really hope I get to see everyone.

Kick some booty.  Ironmen and women.

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.