My Triathlon Training and Racing Blog

Saturday, April 9, 2016

April - The Running Highs and Lows

Lacing up the running shoes. Not always with a big smile on my face. But mostly. 

Triathlon. Three sports. My favorite? Biking. The one I struggle with the most? Running

I love running. It's so simple and efficient, so natural and freeing. Ideally I'd run every day. Twice. On beautiful single track trails up in the mountains. Or on a nice dirt road with friends. And I certainly enjoy a good hard session on the treadmill that leaves me in a puddle. We've all had them: Days where going fast feels effortless and we don't want to stop. Days where we just put one foot in front of the other until we are back home. 

A warm March day in Provo Canyon. 

There have been some really fun and fast days on two feet for me this year. Days where I think that maybe - finally - I can actually nail that marathon at the end of an Ironman. Days where I get a glimpse that - if my hamstrings/glutes/hips hold up and I will finally be able to open up that stride - running off the bike might become my strength again. 

 all decked out in Coeur gear = a natural heart and courage boost

I've also had some really shitty days of running this year. Where my body is yelling at me to stop doing this thing that is hard and that hurts it and I am frustrated with myself for not performing the way I would like to. I remember my old coach asking me: Why is running so mental for you? And me answering: I have no clue but it sure is!  

Why is it that I can easily shrug off a bad swim or ride but a bad run stays with me for days? Not making the intervals in the pool? Oh well. Just add 5 seconds. Tomorrow will be better. A few watts short? No big deal. You're still going pretty well and having fun. Off pace on a run? The world as I know it is coming to an end. So is my triathlon career. I am old and slow and fat and out of shape. I suck at running. 

Fake it till you make it. Gloomy weather = gloomy mood. 

I don't really have an answer as to the above question. But I think it's time I find one. I will let you know when I do. But what I do know is that company is key. Running with a group or a friend is much easier on me because I don't have time to think and it seems easier to have others push me than to push myself. Like I mentioned at the beginning, enjoying easy trail runs is one thing; finding joy repeatedly in long tempo runs on the road is a very different thing. But a thing I am determined to figure out. 

the husband = best support biker 

On rare occasion the husband joins me for a run. We had some grand plans to train a bunch together this winter but they fell by the wayside when he broke his foot on Thanksgiving. Sometimes I get lucky though and he needs a break from writing his dissertation and bikes next to me. It's the best! I have been missing my training buddies from Flagstaff a lot. I thought it would be easier to find friends to swim, bike, run with here but that hasn't been the case. There are plenty of great athletes in Utah Valley but we are all so spread out with so little spare time that it's been difficult to get together. Excuses... excuses... Gotta make it happen! 

Provo Rec Center: everything in one. Love that place! 

In order for me to run relatively pain-free, I need to take very good care of my upper hamstring, glutes, and hips. I spend a lot of time at the gym doing strength and mobility work and time at home foam rolling and stretching. I feel super blessed to have an amazing recreation center in Provo with a lap pool, a gym, an indoor track, a hot tub, and tons of fun stuff for the kids. Most days you can find me there at least once, sometimes twice. No matter where we move to, I will miss that place! 

Thursday, March 31, 2016

New Bike Day & Coeur Love

So excited about my new Fuji Norcom Straight!!! 
Bike love to the max! 

HUGE THANKS to T3 Triathlon for this beauty aka The Boyfriend! 

Funny and true story: The other day Max (8) had a friend over who apparently always comes over when I happen to not be home. So he asks Max: "Why is your mom always gone? Does she have a boyfriend?" Haha. The Husband overheard the conversation and had to laugh pretty hard. He then said: "Yep. She has a boyfriend. He is black and handsome and has two wheels." And since Karl is the one taking care of any issues The Boyfriend has, they know each other pretty well... As a matter of fact, Karl is the one that put the bike together in the first place! Thanks to him and Shaun at T3 Triathlon for taking time to do that for me! 

New bike day = the best day! 

And because I wasn't already spoiled enough with a new bike: 
My new Coeur Team Kit has arrived! 
I have so much love and adoration for this company and all that it stands for. 
Absolutely thrilled to be a part of their team again and feel the Coeur love on and off the race course. 
To check out more of their amazing triathlon kits, running and cycling gear, go here

Thursday, March 24, 2016

March - Rising Tide Fun in Denver

Rising Tide Triathlon Coaching (RTTC) hosted its first (swim/run) camp in Denver. I got to be a pat of it and it was oh so much fun! After the February camp in Arizona and some great training in the following weeks, I wasn't feeling my best and headed to Denver definitely feeling a bit tired. I think that was Sonja's plan all along. This way I had a better chance of being able to just chill and go with the flow. It worked! 


Pat and I came a few days before everyone else and got to ride our bikes together in beautiful Colorado, a state I definitely haven't spent enough time in! Yes, it was at least as cold as it looks. We never took off any layers. We just added them as we climbed higher and higher and it got colder and colder. But Coach Sonja was right there following us in her car, so there was no crying or quitting... Which I am so glad I didn't because it ended up being a super fun and gorgeous day! 

And then the other campers arrived! I knew exactly none of them which means a lot of awesome and nice new friends! It was a fantastic group of girls. And Pat. 

A highlight was swimming in the beautiful Denver University pool. With none other than super swim star Missy Franklin training next to us! What a treat! Love my new Rising Tide bikini. So cute! 

The girls. And Missy Franklin. And Pat. 

We had a wonderfully warmish and sunny day and then the snow started to fall. And kept falling and falling. We knew it was coming so we enjoyed the blue sky and clear roads while we could. 

Nothing like running under the watchful eye of your coach. It's something that I have been missing as I love and thrive training in a squad-like environment. It's much easier to push myself and I like not knowing the exact workout beforehand. 

All of the Rising Tide coaches are top notch and I especially enjoyed getting to know Mikki who is in charge of writing the schedules and a genius at it! 

RTTC coaches Audra, Sonja, Mikki, and Andrea 

Lunch after a long swim was always a highlight and super yummy. It was followed by a presentation from one of the coaches and we learned a ton! Thank you! 

When the roads were icy and the snow falling, we stayed inside and enjoyed Plan B which was a gym workout from our strength coach Audra. Let's just say she knows how to kick your ass and I love her for it! 

There was also plenty of time for some much-needed and important recovery. Love me some Normatec boots and a hot tub full of girls and sea horses! 

At night the whole group would go out to dinner together, enjoy each other's company, and get to know our RTTC teammates and coaches better. Overall it was a very well-balanced few days and I had a really good time. Thank you, Rising Tide

Photo credit: To anyone and everyone in this group! We shared all of our photos and now I can't remember who took which. But I love them! Thank you! 

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Friendships and Alpine Loop Shenanigans

the Alpine Loop in its winter glory

A few days after getting back from training camp in Phoenix and while still questioning my abilities to be a good friend to those I love, one of my favorite girls came to Utah for a visit and we got to spend some quality time together training but also just visiting and hanging out. The timing really was perfect: The in-laws were on a trip and we had the house to ourselves. Time to invite some friends over! 

fun in the sun snow with Anne and Donna

Another friend suggested a snowshoe adventure (minus the snowshoes for me - I prefer micro spikes unless there is a ton of powder) and of course we were in! If it must be cold and snow, you might as well go out and play in it! As we all know: Friends, sun, fresh air, mountains, and some exercise can do wonders for a heavy heart and a restless mind. Thank you, ladies! 

Smiles for miles!

I was really craving the proximity of a good friend and she couldn't have come at a better time. 
Anne* was going through a rough patch in her life as well and I really enjoyed chatting with her until late into the night. Nothing like a good old sleep-over and some girls talk! And we made some plans for a get-together in Oregon later this year. And I am pretty sure it's actually going to happen. I can't wait!  

*She is the one I first saw while peeing in the bushes on the side of the road up the canyon and then chased down, remember?

A few weeks later, I met up with my dear friends and college roommates, Jen and Mandy, just to go out to dinner and spend the evening in Salt Lake. We don't do this often but when we do, it's a blast!   

And after a while I found peace in knowing that I am indeed a good friend to some. Maybe not to all and maybe not good enough for some but it will do.

More girls talk. 

Sunday, February 28, 2016

February - Valley of the Sun Training Camp

View from my bike: I have come to truly love the desert! 

In February it was time for The Great Escape down south where the skies are blue, the sun is warm, and the pools are outside! 

But why Phoenix

Good question, considering I refused to set foot in (and anywhere near that city) for over a year when we first moved to Flagstaff! It seemed ugly, huge, boring, and terrible for training. 

St. George (3.5 hours south) wasn't going to cut it. I tried that in January and it didn't go so well. I love that place but winter is a bit too iffy for my taste. 

5 layers on top. Not my idea of fun. However, this Coeur jacket rocks! 

Las Vegas (6 hours south) is always a good option but I need some more friends and training buddies there that will show me the best secret spots before coming for camp. Anyone?

Phoenix (9 hours south) was the winner because (in that order) 

SOUTH MOUNTAIN (riding and trail running)

*I left Provo early in 7F and arrived that night in 70F. Happy dance! 

I would say it was definitely worth the long boring drive! Not sure why I like the desert so much, considering that I grew up in the rainy foothills of the Black Forest in Germany, but I do! I love its warm mornings/evenings, its views, its sunrises/sunsets, its dry heat, and its lack of water reservoirs and pretty golf courses! Much to the chagrin of the environmentalist husband, I get a total kick out of the fake lakes and lush green grass which is totally not a natural part of the Sonoran desert! But who cares? Not like I was going to do a training camp in Death Valley... 

My happy place


Highlight - Pit stop for a little swim/run/nap at the Henderson pool. My favorite place in Vegas! I am so sad that Silverman 70.3 is no more. That race was right up my alley. 

Bummer - Sitting in the car for so long. D'uh! Good times though talking to friends and family in Germany during the few hours where there is actually some cell reception.

My dream backyard! Wish I had had more time to relax out here... 


Highlight - Staying in Paradise Valley with the generous and oh-so-much-fun McClurgs for the first few days and, wow, were they the best hosts! And I am not even talking about their amazing house, gorgeous backyard, or outside lap pool. I am talking about THEM. Unfortunately, we didn't see each other much but when I did get to hang out with them for an hour here and there, they made me laugh so hard and feel so good - despite (or maybe because of) the endless teasing - that I could've sat at that kitchen counter all night. Huge thanks to E&C! 

Bummer - There are just not enough hours in the day. But are there ever? First really long ride outside this year and I nailed it did not nail it. But I had so much fun that I don't even care! And once again a good reminder that my legs can feel like poop on the bike and then still have a good run in them!

Duct tape to the rescue!


Bummer - Where to even start? Some long solo training days go almost flawlessly, others don't. Yesterday was the former, today was the latter. Here is the short version: Made myself a shake after a long morning run. Used an apparently brand new knife to cut the apple. Chopped a significant piece of my finger tip off. Not good. Lots of blood. No one around. I managed with the first aid kit in our car. Decided I need to drink my shake anyway and what do I find in the last mouthful? My chewy piece of finger tip! Gross. Headed to pharmacy for more bandages. Blood kept soaking through so right before I hopped on the bike I put enough duct tape around my finger to not see the blood. It was ugly but luckily much less painful than I had feared. The ride went better than expected until my rear bottle cage holder broke. Snapped into two pieces just like that! Barely avoided crashing. Tried to tape it back on but no luck. Eventually decided to stash it in some bushes and get it later. I was pissed. But what can you do?

Highlight - I am proud of my problem solving skills today! Knowing that when sh*t goes wrong and I am all alone, I will be ok. I will find a way, I will figure out a solution. I will adjust and do my best with what I have. Ran in the dark, swam in the dark, and still managed to enjoy a lot of today!

I love, love, love this girl! 


Highlight - The one and only Karen H came down from Flagstaff to join me! Oh happy day! I rode 4 hours solo and then we rode another 4 together. And ran. And swam. It was awesome. Riding with K is the best mix of nonstop-chatter-at-the-top-of-our-lungs and head-down-working-together-busting-our-ass riding. I am so lucky to have her! There may have been a few long minutes where we weren't sure we would make it back out of from Bartlett Lake alive but then we snuck into a golf course and talked some nice guy into giving us free ice water and all was right in the world again... Your company means the world to me, Karen! 

Bummer - Having to say good-bye. Yes, I could have skipped that swim and made time for a proper dinner (as a friend kindly pointed out) but it's not how this friendship works. We prefer lots of time to play and a little picnic in the parking lot plus stuffing our faces with random food in the shower. It's how we roll together. Thanks for putting up with me, K! Those crackers you left in my locker saved me.

Sun, sun, and more sun. Filling up the empty tank. 


Bummer - I had nothing on my long run. Here is what I wrote to Coach: Oh wow. Yikes! This did NOT go according to plan and the reason is my legs! They are so tired. I simply couldn't get them to move any faster. I should've worn my HR monitor but it was hot and I wanted to wear as little as possible. But now looking back I would like to see HR... Duh. Here is the thing. It might look like: Oh, she just took it easy and ran all of those 16 miles at the same slow pace of 8:00/mi but that is NOT the case. I tried so hard. I never gave up on those legs. Mind and heart were in the right place and I tried all of the tricks but the legs just would NOT GO! Nothing. And it's not even like I settled in. I kept trying and just had nothing. Overall it wasn't a failure because I didn't give up. I know I am still in a good emotional state because I haven't even been close to tears. And I am almost surprised by that. You know how when you are so tired emotionally that even dropping your fork makes you wanna ball your eyes out? I have been there many times but right now I am doing just fine. So that's good. I put in the time and the mileage and I tried to do what you asked, and this is what I got. I'll have to take it! ;) So not a complete bummer. Just not quite what I had been hoping for. 

Highlight - Being back in Ahwatukee! I love that place. Nothing like an easy spin on wide, smooth, quiet roads, yummy Trader Joe's food, and a swim at the Foothills YMCA. What more can a girl want? A fellow German triathlete to stay with. Check! Good times indeed.

One Russian roadie + one German triathlete = a pretty nice view


Highlight - South Mountain! It's nothing crazy or epic. Just a solid climb and fun descent on a safe road with a nice view and water at the bottom. It's all I need for a day of fun! And the best part: My two favorite engineers on two wheels joined me! It's always a good time with those guys. That is, until they decide to head back home way before I am done playing! In which case: Paul to the rescue! He is one of my favorite guys to ride with and I could listen to his stories all day. Seeing how we hadn't seen each other for a while, there were quite a few to tell! It was a happy day. 

Bummer - Some day I want to see how many times I can ride South Mountain in one day. Start when the sun comes up and keep going until I can't anymore. Today, unfortunately, was not that day but I will be back! Let me know if you wanna join me!

The Champ. I miss that guy. 


Highlight - New route and new friend! Thank you, Russ B, for showing me the way around the other side of South Mountain and then climbing it with me! You can never have too many friends in the triathlon world. The more training buddies in various places, the better!

Bummer - After a beautiful late-afternoon swim, I went straight to Trader Joe's to buy some (more) good food because: Feed the machine. Upon getting back to the house, I realized that P had already left. And locked the door. And I didn't have a key. I was tired and starving and locked out. So I had a good laugh (still no tears so far), sat down on the front step, ate some a lot of my goodies, talked to the husband and kids until my phone died, and came up with a plan. I would grab the blanket (which was supposed to be a present for M but I figured he would understand) and camping pillow from the car, climb the fence, and take a nap in the backyard until P got back home a few hours later. And that's what I did. It wasn't half bad.

President's Day

Bummer - Long easy days on the bike with a good friend are probably my favorite. As long as your idea of easy matches your friend's idea of easy and there's plenty of stories to tell and things to discuss. Turns out, this wasn't really the case today. It made me sad but, hey, even a less-than-ideal day on my bike is still better than 92% of all other things and certainly nothing to complain about! (I'm just trying to keep things real. It wasn't ALL smiles and warm fuzzy feelings.)

Highlight - I finally had a chance to explore the South Mountain trails! Nothing like a long sunset run on beautiful single-track where your heart wants to burst with joy!!! And then having to hustle on the way back to beat the darkness and whatever dangerous animals live out there waiting to get me... 


Highlight - I got to run with a dear old friend that I ran cross-country and track with in high school and meet his family! Thank you, Justin, for putting up with my crazy I-am-here-for-training-camp-so-if-you-wanna-hang-out-you-will-need-to-run-with-me self. During my exchange year I was known as "The Crazy German" so I am sure he wasn't too surprised. 

Highlight II - No bummers today. Because it's always a great day when Malcolm comes to train! We had only met up briefly over the weekend but made up for it with a fun trail run, a lets-make-it-10k-for-today swim, and a yummy dinner. He was just what I needed. A friend that knows and understands what I am like during camp and can see the fun in it. Someone that I can be myself around without feeling judged. I am so glad we met that day when I yelled at you on the bike to bust those drafters up ahead and then we ended up on the massage table next to each other and next thing you know we went to St. George for a few days of training together. I so appreciate your friendship!

Lots of swimming in the dark. Not ideal for my tan but I like a good recovery flop. 


Highlight - South Mountain and SBJ meet again! And this time, on my last day here, I owned it. I went up 4 times and each time I shaved 2 minutes off the previous time. I was on a mission. It was hard and I wasn't sure if I would make it but I nailed it. It was one of those (rare) days where I felt invincible on my bike. Just me and some good old German techno music. Whatever it takes... 

Bummer - Getting in an argument with a friend. Really missing my husband and kids. But tomorrow night we will be reunited! 

The End

And then it was time to say good-bye. After a long winter in Northern Utah, training here in the warm sun all day every day made me so ridiculously happy. So grateful for a supportive family, a healthy body, a great coach, fantastic friends, and gracious hosts. It couldn't have happened without you! Thank you! 

And yet, I can't finish this post without telling you that, despite all of the awesomeness and happiness I experienced this week, I was really struggling on a more personal level. I saw a dear friendship crumble right before my eyes while feeling unable - in the moment - to do something about it. And then it was too late. And it broke my heart. 

In some ways, I am certainly not the best version of myself while I do these training camps. I always assume that people know me well enough to understand but I don't think this is always the case. It takes a lot of effort and sacrifices on my family's part to make this happen. But because it is something that I crave and need and that ultimately makes me a better wife and mom, we can pull it off. However, with this comes a strong feeling of urgency and this need to make every minute count while away. To a fault. I am afraid that I somehow cheat my family if I am too social or have too much fun outside of training. It doesn't fully make sense, not even to me as I am typing this, and I realize now more than ever that it can come across as very selfish. I train hours and hours every day at camp and when I am not training, I eat, sleep, and get ready for the next session. It's beautifully simple but far from easy. It basically takes all of the physical, mental, and emotional strength that I have. And because it is so different from my life at home where I am constantly trying to make my husband, kids, and in-laws (who we currently live with) happy, I truly enjoy it. But it doesn't leave a lot of energy or time for personal relationships during camp days and I regret that. I believe I have offended a few people because of this over the last two decades of racing and for that I am sorry. Truly sorry. 

Here is to living and learning and trying again! 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

January - On Winter Training, Back Injury, and Current Eating Habits

Rock Canyon in all of its glory

Winter Training in Utah

I love Utah in the summer. One of my very favorite places to be June through October. The rest of the year? Not so much. I might be posting some pretty pictures of playtime in snow-covered mountains but - let's face it: I'd rather be riding my bike outside in the warm sunshine every day and then occasionally drive up into the mountains to play in the white fluff. But, hey, (sometimes) you just take what you get. And I have definitely had some great snow adventures this winter already. You know - the ones that make you feel ALIVE and HAPPY and GRATEFUL and oblivious to the cold.

I consider myself extremely lucky to live only 30 minutes away from Soldier Hollow, 2002 Olympic venue for Nordic skiing and biathlon. How is this for some great (and hilly) fun on skate skis?

Definitely one of my favorite sports! Even with ancient equipment and not the best of skills I manage to have fun for hours and stay (mostly) in control on the steep downhills. But I do wish it was more easily accessible and cheaper! 

And then there was the Outdoor Retailer Winter Show that I finally made it to. Summer OR would've been more up my alley but it's always a crazy time of year so I was going to embrace the winter one for all that it's worth. And it was worth a lot! I got a pass from my sponsor T3 Triathlon and showed up at Mountain Demo day at Solitude with no friends, gear or plan but a whole lot of EXCITEMENT! Turns out: That's all you need! I ran into some friends, got all of the gear I could possibly need, and - who needs a plan anyway?!

After years of dreaming about backcountry skiing, I finally got to go! It's at least as fun as I thought it would be and I can't wait to go again. Then they gave me a lift ticket and I skied my little heart out. Because I've still got (some) skills and who knows when I get another chance! And to top to all off I tried out some wickedly light racing snowshoes. Thank you OR, T3, Dynafit, Northern Lites, and Native, for one of my best winter days yet! 

Whenever I get the chance, I head up to Rock Canyon because not only is it super close but also gorgeous and serene. I went for a lot of walks and hikes up here while recovering for my back injury and now whenever the plan says: trail run - this is where you will find me. Love living in the foothills of some pretty majestic mountains! 

But don't be fooled. Most days look like this. Grey snow. More or less bad air. Cloudy sky. Unglamorous. Just doing work and trying to enjoy the moment. And once March comes and it still looks like this, there is gonna be a whole lot more complaining! ;)

Back injury

A week before Christmas I went to the gym for my usual off-season fun which includes some heavier weight lifting (for me) and whatever my friend Chelsea comes up with. She had been kicking my booty for three weeks already and I felt like it was good for me. Something different. I actually fit in at the gym and wasn't just doing my usual hey-look-she-is-barley-moving-and-not-even-sweating-why-is-she-even-here boring mobility exercises. But then one morning I either wasn't warmed up properly, my legs are too strong for my back, or I simply lifted too heavily and I hurt my back while squatting. Badly. It was most likely a case of:

I could barely walk for a week. At the beginning of January, I resumed light excise and was worried I'd never feel normal again. On our 11th wedding anniversary, the husband with this broken leg and I with my bad back looked at each other and had a good laugh: Here we are, two invalids, in our mid-thirties living at his parents' house with no real income at the moment (but also no debt - phew) while he finishes his PhD and no idea where this journey will take us come June. Good times! ... And then my back slowly started to improve and I would say by now it's 95% back to normal. Looking back, it was a good but difficult  complete break from all things that usually make up my day and I had the holidays and kids to keep me from feeling sorry for myself. Lesson learned: Stay away from the heavy weights at the gym, even in the off-season, because it's just too risky. For me.  

long trainer ride on tap


I have been doing a little experiment this year and so far it's turning out rather well. So I am going to keep rolling with it. No, it's not some sort of crazy diet. But I did cut out gluten, soy, dairy, and sugar. I just added corn to that list this week because neither corn tortillas nor corn chips are doing me any good either. I wish I could say that I don't eat any processed foods but here and there I REALLY need some rice crackers! This isn't anything official, definitely no low-carb craziness, and it's all my own rules but I have actually been feeling quite good and have by now stopped craving sweets and pretzels. Yes, pretzels. My favorite snack used to be scooping out half an avocado with pretzels...

I don't buy specific gluten-free products so what does that leave me with? A ton of options. These days I eat a lot of yams, sweet potatoes, red lentils, quinoa, avocados, eggs, veggies, fruits, chicken, fish, brown rice, nuts, etc. To be honest, this would all be a whole lot easier if Grandma didn't stock the pantry every two days or bake her yummy bread. But this time I am not wavering. At least not yet... I haven't lost a single off-season pound but that's not the point. The point is this:

What we eat is fundamentally an opportunity for an reflection of personal responsibility. [...] Our goal is to do more than survive. Our goal is to optimize and thrive - to use real food as a weapon. What you call your diet is or how you label it is far less important than the ingredients you use to build it. Like proper training, the inherent quality and diversity of what we choose to eat is key to optimal health and performance. (The Feedzone Cookbook)

Since I am still mostly base training over here and primarily indoors, it's easy to fuel with real food at the moment. For my longer runs, I take Honey Stinger Gold with me. A gel that consists of nothing but: Honey, water, B vitamins, electrolytes. And I always have a Lara bar (simply nuts and fruit) in my gym/pool bag. For now, it works. 

All of that said, I am in the middle of baking 60+ pumpkin chocolate chip muffins at the moment. Why? 
  • I love baking. 
  • The smell alone is so delicious. 
  • My kids and their friends will be thrilled when they come here after school. 
  • If I can't have it, someone else should and there are currently seven people living in this house. 
  • I am leaving town on Monday for 10 days and might feel slightly guilty. 
  • There really is nothing wrong with a healthy, home-made treat!  
So if you live in the neighborhood, feel free to stop by anytime today... 

Next up: Solo training camp in Phoenix. Time for some fun in the sun and miles in the saddle!!!