Archive for March, 2010

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When Triathletes Marry

March 31, 2010

People wonder if our  house is something of a tense place to be. I get asked questions all of the time…. What’s it like with two type A triathletes who compete at a high level…. Is it insanity? It’s actually not insanity. I have recounted before about how we work to strike a balance and all of that. But there are a few things you should know.

 Curt and I are basically the same size. We can share clothes (for the most part), shoes, and bikes. This became evident when he began to wear my Newton Running shoes. Mind you if I so much as sneeze on his …. Anything….. he don’t like it so much!!!!! What he doesn’t know is that often times I steal his jerseys, especially that red Pearl Iszumi one…..and I will wear it for a 5 hour ride. While I used to think it was funny to not wash it, just put it back into the pile….. I realize he doesn’t mind stench. When I wear it I wash it with the most flowery smelling detergent that I can.

 For the record I do frequently steal his work socks when I go to work. And then lose one.

 Last weekend he stole my ice for my ice bath.

 I am finicky about my nutrition. I work with the Wizard for crying out loud! So imagine my dismay when I go to take that swig of Power Bar Endurance and realize Curt has dumped the remains of god-knows-what….. into my canister.

Once last year while I was riding I endured a flat tire. When I went to my bike bag which is always packed solid … it was EMPTY. I had to ride my rim home for 6 miles. I found all of my spare stuff on the FLOOR. Curt said he took something from the bag and then….. everything just fell out….. for revenge I took his disc wheel and rode the computrainer with it.

Speaking of disc wheel, two years ago I came home from work at 8:30pm and began getting ready for a race the following day. For the life of me I could not find my rear Bontrager 6.5 wheel! It occurred to me that Curt…. Who was at a duathlon at that very moment…. Had stolen it! I called him to verify! He could not believe he was caught! Right then and there I threw down the trump card.. I AM USING THE DISC.

When we took our vows it went something like this: in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer and I promise to never ever ever touch the disc wheel. He got home that night and my Bontrager was filled with water!!!!! He had ridden in the rain!!!!!!!!!!! I rode the disc. I think all the while I had it he was losing his mind! HA HA HA HA HA!

 In 2004 I did pull up next to him on the bike, I made a pass. I saw fire come from his ears. He pulled ahead of me, and then he rode off course. I called to him in my loudest whisper and he rode away, the wrong way! He did manage to get back on course and run his ass off to catch me. He blew by me and did beat me like always. At the finish line he stated he would first barf his own intestines before he got wifed.

Previous to 2008 his Ironman best was an 11:06. Curt’s much faster than an 11:06 but hadn’t figured out the distance. Man’s been a National Champ in short course for years. When I went 10:58 at Ironman Florida…… he signed up the next day for the following year. For an entire year I got to wear the crown of the family’s fastest Ironman!!

 He promptly smashed that in 2008 with a 9:55. bastard!

I could go on. The years have been filled with these sorts of antics, its fun. Life has been fun. All seriousness aside I am lucky to have married someone who loves this sport as much as I d. Because my husband is someone who understands….. he understands why.

 When I broke 11 hours he understood the emotion. When he broke 10 I did as well. That unsaid understanding of the passion, the drive, the work, the fulfillment. So much of it is unsaid. So much of it is just felt. We give each other space and yet reel each other in when we need to. It’s been a good balance.

 Believe it or not it isn’t all multisport in our house; there is a lot of wrestling unfortunately (for me)! There is also a lot of downtime, family hikes, and believe it or not we go to plays a lot. Our little guy loves the theatre. As our son grown up in a multisport house we don’t push him into the sport that we chose…. We give him the opportunity to explore all sports. We don’t want him to try to “be like us”. That’s a lot of pressure for a child to carry around. I hope he never ever ever feels that way. We just want him to continue to love movement, being fit, being healthy. We want him to love the outdoors as much as we do, to bask in the sunshine and in the fresh air.

If he ends up in this sport. He loves the kid’s races, and he’s signed up for five this season! Just wait until he’s our size…… I’d better padlock my bike now! What am I thinking? He has his own, maybe then it will be my turn!

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Trust Your Coach

March 30, 2010

I have a really good coach. Like the best coach. Who took me on about a year ago when I was struggling and who has taught me more than I could have ever imagined. I call him the Wizard because my teammate Michelle called him that…… and I stole it from her because it fits.

He’s the Wizard.

I trust the Wizard. When I see my training block I follow my training block. I don’t add in a run here, a ride there, I don’t overanalyze, I don’t think. I barely move any workouts around because I understand that there s a plan and a purpose. The best part of having a coach is that it is their job to do the thinking, planning, analyzing for you.

All I have to do as the athlete is execute the plan, plug in my numbers, and not worry. Not worrying has become much easier over the years.

When you choose your coach you choose them for a reason. And if you are self coached then your coach is the person who stares back at you in the mirror. Trust them. In many cases they know you better than you know yourself.

When an athlete starts adding things in…… because the weather was nice…. because Sally was doing this particular set….. that’s when you get into trouble. Stick to your plan and your plan alone.

Because I am also a coach, I see things on both sides of the coin. As a coach I spend a lot of time configuring, planning, analyzing, thinking. All of the same things that my coach does for me. I have a grand plan for each athlete I coach, and a way to get there. I see a few common things that athletes do in general to almost self sabotage their training:

1 Adding things in. Just 30 minutes here and there is dangerous. Trust me if there is a 3:00 bike on your plan it’s there for a reason. Don’t go adding in extra time because what you now have done is caused a shift in the following week. Now if you get lost on a route that’s an innocent mistake, but don’t just add in efforts because they are “easy”

2. Adding in too many races. I see a lot of athletes do the following…..  moving a workout close to a race or testing effort. For example…… if you have a 5K on Saturday and an hour bike afterwards, why not ride to the race? That way if you run well you can say “and I even biked here” or “I would have run better had I not biked here.” I attribute that to race anxiety. Deal with the anxiety another way rather than stepping off the path.

3. Moving workouts around. Now there are those weeks where we have to shift workouts, life happens. When I plan a training sequence throughout the week I plan it with a purpose, many coaches do. Ask yourself why you are really changing it. More often than not the change is made because the athlete is avoiding it. Understand that there is a progression and a purpose to your plan, and follow it.

4. Thinking too much. The beauty of working with the Wizard is that I don’t think. That’s his job. You have a race coming up in 3 weeks, believe me your coach is planning your build to race day….. yesterday. Trust that they have their eye on the horizon.

Having a coach whether it be yourself or someone else is a wonderful opportunity to help you safely and successfully reach your goals. Remember why you hired them, you hired them to take the difficulty out of it for yourself. You hired them to make life a little easier. It’s their job to analyze, figure out, plan, they have the whole package in mind.

Don’t sabotage it!

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Fueling the Ironman

March 28, 2010

This will be part I of a few series posts in which we will begin to address Ironman nutrition. So stay tuned, the rest of this info will trickle on in the next few weeks.

Many athletes discount the role of nutrition as it relates to their performance. After all, in the case of Sally as we used yesterday…. she’s pretty fast. We shouldn’t fix what ain’t broken right? After all the Kenyans are rumored to live on rice and coffee.

 But what if you learned that by dialing in your nutrition you could be even faster. No extra training required. Something to think about right? Well it turns out that our example athlete Sally, has a pretty good diet as far as daily nutrition goes. Because she is an endurance athlete she relies mostly on bagels and pasta to fuel her day. Her body composition hovers right around 10% body fat throughout the year. Now that we mention it she does tend to get sick, she’s had some stress fractures. She doesn’t recover from the long stuff as well as she used to now that she’s an Ironman athlete.

Believe it or not your race day fueling plan begins with your day to day nutrition. Good nutrition keeps the body healthy. Healthy fats cushion the bones and joints. The body learns to run like an efficient machine. recovery is much quicker. And man do you feel good.

Of course this is where I point you to the Core Diet.  Or try the book called “Race Weight” by Matt Fitzgerald. Those are two excellent resources.

Ironman is not a license to eat. Many athletes go out and do their long workouts underfueled only to come home starving and then turning to the easiest thing they can grab, rather than taking the time to prepare a good post workout meal that will help in their recovery.

Now let’s move back to Sally. Her main Ironman is in November so we address her body composition. 10% is too low. She is not going to make it. So we would have her gain a few pounds to get her up into the 15% range. We will get down to 12-13% but not until November. Adding a few pounds to her is going to help us keep her training injury free until November.

Secondly we want to change her food sources. White bread bagels are all well and good, but let’s get something that has some value to it. Whole grains, and even better how about some Ezekiel 4:9 bread? Have her spread a little peanut butter on that, slice a banana on top and we’ve got a great little meal going for her. Good carbohydrates, fruit, protein and good fat. Perfecto!

Next we notice that sally is a lazy fruit and vegetable eater. However like many she doesn’t like the texture of many vegetables. Problem solved….. get Sally a blended or try the Magic Bullet (just got one, love it). We begin with breakfast. Throw two eggs (lets go with cage free maybe even farm fresh!). 1/4 cup of broccoli, onions, get crazy and add in some carrots. Blend them together and pour into your egg making pan. Now you have an omlet with a smooth consistency with protein, good fat and two servings of vegetables.

It can be so easy and simple to increase our fruit and vegetable intake without having to go crazy doing so.

Fruits and vegetables are our best sources for the vitamins and minerals that we need to fuel an active lifestyle. Much better than trying to pop a pill that we likely just urinate out.

So with Sally we have had her gain a few pounds, change her carbohydrate sources to better ones, and increased her intake of fruits and vegetables, even though she has a problem with the texture of many vegetables (solved with le bullet).  In addition to all of this we want to make sure she’s getting in enough protein, although she’s eating eggs and peanut butter. If she is not a vegetarian we can make sure she’s eating lean meats such as chicken, maybe some fish, and things like that. Because she’s also the busy working mother of 2 kids she is restricted on time in the morning on the week days. So we take our magic bullet, fill with water a banana, some whey protein powder…. then magically she’s got a great start to her day!

Believe it or not, this is the foundation of how your Ironman nutrition will work. You really want to achieve that goal? Then get this down. Now I am not saying you can’t have your cake and eat it too. But before you eat the cupcake, bring in the good stuff. Have some small treat every single day. A Cadbury Creme egg, some M&M’s …. life is too short to live so darn deprived. You will find that if you allow yourself something indulgent daily that your won’t want the big binge on a daily basis.

Here are a few points to remember when focusing on daily nutrition:

  • Eat 3-4 servings of fruit and vegetables a day
  • Log what you eat (be simple, paper and pencil)
  • Carbohydrates from good sources
  • get enough protein
  • stay hydrated
  • choose foods with no ingredient lists.

Stay tuned for part 2&3!

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Pacing the Ironman

March 27, 2010

Pacing an Ironman can be very tricky, especially to the first timer, who spends a year in wonder+fear+excitement. Each year as I watch and coach Ironman Lake Placid I see the same thing. The fastest cyclists (and I am talking age groupers here) tend to be most of the marathon walkers. Let’s take a look at a sample athlete. Sally.

Sally’s a great athlete. She is a 1:20 T Time swimmer, a good cyclist and she runs a 5K in about 18 minutes to make it even. She’s put in the training. The most important part of her training… because she had good guidance….. was developing her aerobic base. We all know that is the number one component of the Ironman because last I checked it was over 60 minutes long.

Sally however is determined to have a great bike. She knows she’s a strong runner but she wants to really make up some ground on the bike, as she feels a 1:05 swim might place her too far back.

Race day comes and her splits are as follows:

1:05 swim

5 min T1

5:45 bike

5 min T2

5:00 marathon.

12 hours.

What the heck happened? At first it looks like she must need more run training! More 20 milers at tempo! No no no, upon further analysis you may determine that Sally incorrectly paced that bike. Common mistake.

An easy calculation is as follows, the V Dot system by Jack Daniels is perhaps one of the easiest ways to determine pace. based on her 5K time Sally has a V dot of 56. This targets her flat our marathon pace to be 6:37 which translates into a 2:54 marathon.

However in an Ironman we go by her easy pace for the simple fact that there i a 2.4 mile swim and 112 mile bike plus a boatload of nutrition she hopefully didn’t screw up. In an Ironman we aim for her E pace of 7:48 which translates into an Ironman marathon time of 3:25.

Now let’s look at her bike ride. She doesn’t have a powermeter and truthfully does not need one. On a course like IMLP pacing by speed is not effective because of the undulation of the course. Heart rate monitoring may or more often than not doesn’t work because of the variation in HR. Just being at the event raises HR by 10 beats, so what are you going to do…. slow down? Sally does have a bike computer which shoes us she grinded up every single hill with a cadence of 50. She was standing. Her cadence through the last 11 miles dropped as she rode. Just looking at her speed pattern, her first loop was 10 minutes faster than her second loop.

Does she need more tempo running? No she needs to learn how to pace her bike ride. Providing that her nutrition was spot on, and in most cases it is not…… here are a few tips we can give Sally:

1. Build your bike base through your season. Your ability to run must come from your ability to pop off 5-6 hour rides with ease. Your ability to run off the bike comes from that bike base. We need you to be durable. To quote our friends at Endurance nation…… every time you feel like you should go faster….. think about mile 18 of the marathon because that is where that race begins. Get to know your body. Stay out of your head.

2. To quote our Endurance Nation friends: “Ride the pace you should ride, not the pace you could ride”. It will seem slow. It might be an absolute struggle for your ego, but you have to slow down.

3. I like to pace IMLP by cadence in many cases. If you can ride this course with an average cadence around 88 you are setting up for a good run. Why? Because to hold a cadence of 88 on this course you can’t go balls out. There are too many hills. Secondly riding with a cadence of 50 through hills like Sally did is trashing her legs further than they already are. This is a hilly course. The actual key to keeping the cadence up is shifting. Good cyclists on this course….. well let’s say smart cyclists on this course will be shifting every 10-15 seconds throughout this course. This must be practiced in training. You spend 6 X 6 hour rides riding like this, you will know what this needs to feel like on race day.

4. Nail nutrition. Riding this course on fig newtons is not going to be good. That will show up as stomach horror in the marathon, but we will discuss nutrition in a later post. for now……. if you don’t use what is on the course be comfortable enough with it to use it for back up. Practice nutrition a minimum of 5 times on long workouts. All of my athletes have been practicing it since January.

5. Pace that marathon wisely. Let’s pretend that Sally paced the bike correctly, she nailed her nutrition correctly. Now she gets off that bike and knows she is a sub three hour marathoner, and takes the first mile in 6:40. Whoa Nelly! Slow down! Again to quote the EN guys…… give us three minutes in the beginning and we will give you 10 min at the end. Meaning….. Sally’s first miles off the bike should be 7:45-7:40, not 6:40. It’s tough, she’s excited, she’s doing well, the run begins on a downhill. Save it Sally. Hold back. we tell our athletes that at mile 18, 19, 20 if you feel like you have spent this entire day holding back, going to slow….. then prove it by throwing down the fastest 10K you can. Someone recently asked me “How much time can I make up in 10K” and I responded “If you have really gone too slow the whole day, you will be able to make up a lot”. No one by the way has ever actually done this :-)

I have spent many years studying pacing of this race. I have worked with amazing coaches who have taught me. I have mentors in this field who prove to me the pacing process works. We have over 100 Ironman finishes under our belts. I know this course. I know Ironman Lake Placid in my sleep. I know where the hard parts are, I know where the ego parts are. I have done this race on the most perfect day, and I have done this race in hail and wind. I have vomited this course and I have qualified for the Hawaii Ironman on this course. I have even been pulled off this course with no memory of what my name was. I have ridden this course in training and in racing over 80 times.

When it comes to Lake Placid…. I know my stuff.

Trust me, the key to this race is patience. Patience on this bike will be rewarded on the run. Stay out of your head and learn to feel your body. It will never steer you wrong.

coming back to Sally. she spends another year preparing. She learns her body. She let’s go of her “I am a rock star runner” ego mentality. The following year she does this:

1:05 swim

5 min t1

5:45 bike……… same split…… paced correctly…….

5 min T2

3:30 marathon

10:30.

Enough said.

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“Life is like a cup of coffee”

March 26, 2010

One of my childhood friend’s mothers….. “Mrs. B.” shared this video, and I had to pass it along. Interestingly, I have thought of her often throughout the years. She is the creator of beautiful embroidery, and ironically in my son’s bedroom I have many of the things she created. I am so happy to have reconnected again with her. Thanks for this Mrs. B!

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Friday!

March 26, 2010

Believe it or not, nothing much to report. Training is rolling along smoothly. I am feeling good. Part of me wishes I were with my teammates at Oceanside 70.3, and then the other half of me remembers in less than a month I will be in Texas! I am psyched to test out my early season fitness. Spend a weekend with friends and go somewhere new.

Over the past 5 years I have done a lot of traveling. I feel like I have raced and been everywhere. Germany. Florida. Texas. Arizona. Heck, even Kansas. It’s a great way to see the country and the world.

I feel really good about where I am in my progression right now. It’s awesome, working with Jesse, I worry about nothing. absolutely nothing. I can be an athlete. I don’t analyze, I don’t configure, I just train and recover and stay in the Core. Besides I manage athletes and their training programs, I don’t even think about mine. I don’t look at my training paces and try to figure out where I am….. I know. and besides that’s Jesse’s job. No one does it better than him.

Friday is my busy day. It always is. Masters, Yoga, Bike, Long Run, Work till midnight. To balance it our however there is Saturday. I spend the morning watching cartoons!

Besides all of that, no news is good news! But one exciting thing: BUNK BEDS! (please ignore the bad paint job to his room, clearly I will be retouching!)

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5 Steps to Blow Your Ironman

March 25, 2010

It’s almost April, which means Ironman Lake Placid is right around the corner. If you are a Western New Yorker this means you might be slightly beginning to panic. Don’t worry, that’s common. Well….. don’t worry if you have a solid training plan going!!! The next few days I am going to spend sharing some tips and tricks of the trade of Ironman. We have successfully coached over 100 athletes through Ironman over the past 5 years with 100% finish rate and no injuries. And we are pretty proud of that.

Today we begin with five easy ways to totally blow your Ironman…..

1. Ignore the bike: If I had to pick “the most important part of Ironman” it’d be the bike. Many athletes ignore the bike through the winter only to come into full on panic this time fo the year. Then they hop into monster group rides and fail to truly and effectively develop their aerobic engine. They will run 3 hours but fail to build up the bike mileage to support that three hour run. Look through the results of Ironman. Look at how many sub six hour bike splits are followed up by a five hour run. That’s not a lack of long runs, that’s because they biked too fast or failed to build up the proper volume.

2. Listening to other people: You should have your own plan,  developed by you, or another coach. It should fit you. Never, and I mean never base your training off of what your buddy who did Placid last year does. Period. Shut them off. Especially don’t listen to nutrition plans that sound weird: only fig newtons, PB&J all day long…. turn off your ears and focus on your plan.

3. Too much intensity: The Ironman is a very long day. Ask any person between miles 18-20 how they are feeling and 100% of the time they will never tell you they were so glad they did those 200′s on the track (instead of their long run). Long day = aerobic. develop that engine first.

4. Being stupid with nutrition: Again this goes back to listening to someone else’s plan. Learn to tolerate the foods offered on the course. Gatorade Endurance is mostly the one. If you don’t use GE then you need to know it can be your back up plan. You still need to practice with it. Water bottles fall of bikes. Nutrition gets dropped. Practice your race day nutrition 5 times at least before the big day. Including the pre race breakfast. The Train-This Team…. they have been practicing since January.  You won’t see my team hurling all over the course. Know how much you need an hour. have a plan. practice your plan.

5. Panic. Worrying never solved anything. Worrying is not going to get you through the training. Training is. Many people have Ironman panic right now. Not sure you are on the right path? Shoot us an email (maryeggers “at” gmail “dot” com) We can look at your plan, take over, help you with nutrition. Our athletes have been preparing for Ironman Lake Placid since the fall. This is a  ready team. They are not injured, they have their nutrition in check and they are dialed in. This team isn’t in a panic. Don’t panic. That raises your heart rate 10 beats already.

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On Pregnancy

March 23, 2010

A lot of triathletes are pregnant these days! Where were you when I was knocked up a good nine years ago! With that being said I have been asked many many questions about athletics and pregnancy….. so here’s a post for you momma’s to be!

I had an incredible OB/GYN. She never put one single limit on me. Not heart rate, not volume, nothing. She said stay as active as you can and listen to your body. Now everyone around me, they were a different story. For some reason those who are not athletes seem to think you are so obsessive compulsive that you will go out and do intervals so you won’t get fat.

I quickly learned to turn them off. I honestly was able to let that all just roll off of me. Never even got me upset. You can choose to allow these people to bother you, you can choose to prove them wrong, or you can choose to ignore them. I was a busy mom to be, I chose to ignore them.

I stayed active right up to delivery day. Never wore a heart rate monitor. Never even took my pulse! I just knew how I felt. I swam until delivery day, bilked every single day, and ran until 6 months. Until I had to put my hands under my belly to hold it. I remember that last run. It wasn’t a feeling of defeat but a feeling of….. wow this is getting closer!

I never rode my bike outside. Being that I was a spinning instructor I spun every single day. In retrospect I don’t think I missed  a day. I lifted weights and I swam swam and swam some more. I did not ever bike outside. It was just too much of a risk. I didn’t ride outside for a year. To me the life I was carrying was not worth the risk of being hit by a car. So I spun spun spun.

I was the knocked up swimmer for three triathlon relays, that was a lot of fun! My last one I was 8 months pregnant and I swam very well thank.you.very.much! The race director was at first upset with me until he realized…… I was the defending champion. :-)

The day I delivered the hospital called me, wondering when I was going to come in for my induction. They had scheduled me for 4pm, so that morning I swam, went spinning and had lunch with my Mom. They called me during spinning class, and I told them…. I’ll be in later! Geeez by then I was 42 weeks pregnant! He made me wait this long I was getting in one more ride before my crotch got torn apart!

I felt awesome the entire time. I felt healthy. I never worried. I allowed myself to experience the experience. Knowing my body I knew this was likely something I would only be able to do once. And it was wonderful. I was never sick. I never had heartburn. I never even had a Braxton hicks.

And I never even went into labor.

At 4pm that afternoon, it was November 8th 2000. Election day! I was scheduled to be induced. So I show up, they insert the jelly to ripen the cervix into me, and I sent Curt off for a run. After all, the official labor induction would be the next morning at 6am! We had time!

I walked up to the 5th floor where I was working at the time to visit my coworkers. My hamstrings became sore. My back started to hurt. I shook my head….. my flexibility was sure affected by this whole pregnancy thing.

A while later I stumbled back down to my room. Waved to my nurse on the way into my room. Damn did my back hurt! They had a jacuzzi in the room (their version of it). I got in. Didn’t help. Got out. Layed in bed the next 2 hours and cried because my hamstrings hurt so much.

In walks my nurse. She cried out “Holy shit you are in labor!” I told her I wasn’t, it was just sore hamstrings. I must have overdone it in spinning class.

Then I realized that what I was experiencing was a very serious case od DENIAL. I was in labor. BACK FREAKING LABOR. That’s a code name for HELL. Oh crap. My husband was still not back, and they began wheeling everything into the room.

Every three minutes it was like someone took a knife into my back and turned it 180 degrees. I was honestly expecting labor to hurt in the belly, the part of me that held the baby. But no. But no. BUT NO. All of those conversations of….. I want to do this naturally….. I don’t want drugs……. I want to feel my child pass through me……. I don’t want to not be able to feel my toes………

I would have snorted cocaine had it been offered to me.

The anesthesiologist came in. They never offered me Nubain. Or anything. They even went straight to…. an epidural would be a good idea right now. Okay…… stab me in the back! I will take it! Drug me up! I knew he was going to be about 10 pounds and I quickly realized….. I might not want to be a hero today.

Three minutes later I was on the side of the bed and being cleaned off. Needles don’t bother me. I would have let them put it through my damn eye I was in so much pain. And I had been through pain in my life…… this was a zillion times worse.

My mother had me in the hospital parking lot or something like that because I came so fast. I thought that trend would be me as well. Um…. no.

I remember Curt finally coming back…. asking me why I didn’t call him!!!!! He knelt down in front of me. I was crying. Snot was running out of my nose. I was hunched over my belly with the anesthesiologist telling me to hunch more (dude….. I have a 10 pound baby here!!!) and right when he put the epidural needle in…….

I had the worst contraction ever.

My water broke.

And I cried out “I am incontinent!” (Nurse talk for I just peed myself).

Within 10 minutes I was watching David Letterman. I was numb from the waist down and happy about it. I was dilated…….. one centimeter. This was going to be a long night.

My nurse was leaving. She said to me “When I see you in the morning we will have a new baby and a new president!”

Flash forward 10 hours. No baby. 3 centimeters. And no president. When she came back in I called her a liar.

11am. 17 hours of labor. Epidural. foley catheter. Now insert internal monitors. Now the epidural begins to wear off and I am having pain in my right hip. For the record it was fine. It was tolerable. The chief of anesthesiology came in and saw I was in pain.

“I don’t feel comfortable doing a C section with this current epidural.”  He said. “Let’s replace this.”

Which was ironic because my OB / GYN told me we wouldn’t be doing a C Section. However I had no control or feeling in my legs so before I knew it there I was again hunched over, holding Curt’s hands. Five minutes later I was on my back and everyone was thinking. Thinking out loud.

You sit there between a feeling of loss of control, fear, and knowing there is just one way out of this mess. This baby is coming out and he just might come out through my nose. But he’s coming out.

And still…… no president.

12 noon and they check me again. By this point my modesty had disappeared. I felt like issuing an open invite to anyone and everyone. “Want to see my crotch? No problem, it’s down there.” The eight hundred residents I didn’t want in the room? now we were all BFF. I felt like we were at camp. Let’s make boondoggles and sing some songs.

And is there a president yet?

15 minutes later I didn’t even realize they were checking me again. “Holy shit she’s 10 centimeters!” someone called out. Whoa, the ball is about to drop, everyone throws on a blue gown and a mask, and at my crotch they stand.

Camp song #982.

My OB / GYN instructs my husband to hold my left leg here. The med student to hold my right leg there. Wow, those are my legs? i can’t even feel them.

“PUSH!” She screams at me. Push? Push what? i can’t feel anything. So i push.

“Not from your face from your butt!” What? I do it again. “She needs something to focus on!!!!!! Get the mirror!”

Okay, this is where I draw the line. There are many things that these people need to see but I definitely don’t need to be watching my own crotch in a mirror. No Thank you. This isn’t one of those girl parties.

“NO NO NO!” I shout. “I DO NOT WANT THE MIRROR!”

“Push!!!” three people scream at me. Dude…. I AM. i am pushing something I can’t feel (thank god), and everyone’s eyes are on the one place that I do not want to look!”

“There’s his head!!!” Another person cried. ‘who wants to touch the head!!!!”

“I do!” My husband chimes in. Seriously? More gross than looking at my own crotch would be everyone feeling the head coming out of it. “Wow!” He tells me “It feels like a sponge!”

Oh freaking great. Our son’s head which is half in and half out of me feels like a sponge.

Finally I give one epic I can’t feel anything push.

And then it happens. This ginormous feeling of….. joy+pain+heartache+happiness+overwhelming emotion overcomes me as they rush him over to the NICU team who was waiting (when did they get there and who knew we would need them.). I wanted to get up but all I could do was scream. He was white. Which is worse than blue. He was not crying.

All I could do was scream. They hovered around him. I didn’t know what was going on. My OB/GYN grabbed my head and turned it towards her. “Get a hold of yourself. Let them do their job.”

I bit my lip. I closed my eyes. I prayed as they…… well they slapped the ever living shit out of our son to be honest.

And then was the sound I had waited nine months to hear. The scream that I would hear for the next 6 weeks straight. Colic isn’t caused by milk intolerance. It’s caused by being cozied up in a spa with room service on tap for nine months. Then being dragged into the cold world and having your ass slapped around….. just because you weren’t breathing out of lungs you have never used before. The kid was pissed.

They handed him to me and everything I had ever felt before was magnified. By a million. Thought I knew what love and pain were. I hadn’t a clue. Ka-BAM. Wow. Take every feeling you ever had and multiply it by a million. No book ever teaches you that.

6 weeks later I did my first indoor triathlon. 9 months later I won the Subaru Series Elite Women’s Title. 18 months after that I did my first Ironman. 100% of my best performances were after baby. 100%.

So my biggest pieces of advice to the soon-to-be-new momma’s out there……. don’t make pregnancy harder than it needs to be. You think people say stupid things to you now? Wait till the baby is born. Wait until you decide to go to formula. Wait until you realize they have a heart defect, wait until you hear that advice. But again you can choose to get mad, to prove them wrong, or just to ignore. Make it easy. Trust your instinct. It’s the only instinct that matters.

Life after baby, it’s richer. It’s wonderful. It’s more meaningful. You look at your husband and think….. wow we created this together. Life is not easy, it never is. You can’t control it, you have to roll with it. You have to just take everything….. one step at a time.

So listen to your body, It will never steer you wrong. Your head might. between your ears is a dangerous place to be.

And by the way…….. by 7pm that night we did have our baby. And a new president.

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All Night Long

March 22, 2010

It comes with the glamour of being a Pediatric Emergency Nurse…. or any nurse for that matter. The night shift. I work one per week because I am gone and home before anyone ever knows it. Honestly what a night shift comes down to is nutrition.

Within the profession of nursing in general there is a lot of bad nutrition. I have to say that where I work we have an unusually fit nursing team. everyone is health conscious, everyone exercises. There’s not to say that the donut holes and cookies aren’t around…… but in general I think we have the fittest unit in the hospital.

Nurses, and many health care workers in general are notorious for bad nutrition. What it comes down to is workload and bad planning. On any given day as a nurse you might have the chance to sit down for 1 minute, or never at all. In our department you just never know what you are going to walk into. we are supposed to take a lunch break, none of us ever do. We eat on the go, we really care about what we do and not leaving our team.

Now working the night shift brings about an entirely different set of issues. We sleep before we come in if we can but even so we arrive tired with a large cup of coffee in hand. Jack me up I always say! Then as the night progresses cortisol levels drop, they do for you as well but you are sleeping. This causes nausea, fatigue and that is what leads to hunger.

We can be so pressed for time and so tired that the easy foods get reached for first, rather than the chicken salad that’s in the fridge.

Think of it this way….. a trauma comes in and you get pulled into the bay…. it could be 8 hours before you get back. We try to give each other a break….. but if the ED is busy you get forgotten. You might get a literal 5 minutes to run back to the unit, and what do you do…. grab whatever is fastest to eat.

Especially as I have been eating in the Core I have developed a system. I bring enough food with me so that I can eat at the top fo the hour if I wanted to. I never do but I bring that much preparation. I make sure that I eat something every two hours. I make sure I eat little to no high glycemic foods overnight. I eat mostly fruit, and protein and vegetables. Usually I wake up at about 11pm and have a whey protein shake (powder + water + banana).

My typical lunch bag looks like this:

1-2 bananas

1-2 containers of Greek Yogurt

raisins

Mary’s Gone Crackers (no…. not me….. these are crackers made from seeds)

4 ounces of chicken and salsa

1-2 luna bars (In the event of a trauma I put these in my pocket)

32 ounces of water minimum.

Starbucks’s Via instant coffee.

The key for me to combating nausea and fatigue is staying fueled with foods in the Core. It maintains a stable blood sugar, prevents me from getting to that point where I am too hungry……. and helps me feel good. I would have to say the biggest component to this recipe is the water. Staying hydrated is difficult yet necessary.

When I get home I usually go straight to bed, wake up 5 hours later and have some eggs. Keeping my protein, fruit and vegetable intake high for me…. absolutely eliminates high glycemic food craving, energy swings, and keeps me on my toes.

We don’t always think about how nutrition plays into our work, but if we tweak it just right…… we can get even more out of our day!

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Icing the cake

March 21, 2010

I will be honest, I love big training weeks. And I love big training week blocks. It takes a lot of attention to recovery to put the volume in, but as long as you do that, and stay within the zones, then it comes together. It’s not like you go out and balls to the walls 20 hours. There are a few hard workouts, but the majority of the work is old-fashioned endurance work.

There is a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking this time of the year. “Sally rode great on our training ride  this weekend…..” is what you hear. The majority of the time Sally is the girl who balls to the wall every ride, wins every training session and then when it comes to race day is so far off the radar, or a nice bike split kind of girl.

Developing your aerobic base is the most crucial aspect of all of this. Many people know what their aerobic effort is. Some people rely on heart rate monitors to know it. I always say it’s that feeling that you can sing me happy birthday twice without getting winded. That feeling of, wow I am going so slow, but I feel pretty darn good. To som it’s stupid slow.

Last weekend all of my athletes ran really strong 5 milers. None have speedwork on board. My guy Mike nailed the Miami International Triathlon with….. with nothing but run base on board. There are plenty of performances around that demonstrate that developing a deep aerobic base is critical in all of this.

The deeper the root the taller the tree. If you want speed you have to have a deep base to pull it from. If you want to avoid injury developing that aerobic base will do incredible things to prevent them. I love it when the Endurance Nation guys give a talk and they bring about these points:

1. At mile 18 of the Ironman marathon, if you feel like you have paced your day too slow, prove it to us by throwing down the fastest 10K you can. (I have never seen anyone actually do that by the way :-)

2. At mile 18 you never hear anyone say that they wish they had done more speedwork.

I have been coaching Ironman athletes since 2004….. I have competed in 5 Ironmans and I have watched a million. You understand a lot by watching. The nice bike split folks are typically the ones walking the marathon. If you have ever seen my QT2 teammates they are the ones that pace the bike and run down the field in the marathon.

I have seen athletes do such funny things. From nutrition to pacing, to whatever. Once I coached a guy who swore up and down that the carb to protein ratio of 4:1 was the only way to fuel an Ironman. When he walked most of that marathon with GI upset he told me he “drank bad water”.

The best thing you can do for your race, any distance, is to develop that aerobic base. It will give you a leg to stand on. As a coach I never, I absolutely refuse to thow eggs against the wall…….. work my athletes so hard and hope they live through it. I plan a very purposeful progression. A lot of base work comes under that intensity. To the point where they sometimes get bored or say they dont’ feel like they are doing anything with all this aerobic work. Many get very hungry for intensity too early.

I like when they are feeling that way. It means the work, the aerobic base we are laying, the foundation we are building will them actually mean something when we begin to ice the cake with speed!

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