My Triathlon Training and Racing Blog

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!!!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Rising Tide Triathlon Coaching - 10 Day Challenge

I have known Sonja Wieck for a while now (and followed her awesome blog for way longer than that), so when she started to go from being a (well-known and respected) coach to building an all-inclusive coaching business, I payed close attention because this girl doesn't do anything half-assedly. She put out a 10-day challenge at the beginning of December for her athletes and anybody interested and I jumped right at it because - I am always up for a challenge and this seemed like the perfect one for the off-season. 

Here is how it went: 

Day 1 - Set Your Intention 

I know what I want in 2016. I want more courage. I may seem courageous in some ways but don't be fooled. I've been reading Brene Brown's book "Daring Greatly" and I have learned so much. But I have yet to truly apply it. 2016 is about getting out of my comfort zone, facing my personal demons, and having the courage to live the life I really want. This has little to do with my athletic performance and everything to do with the personal relationships in my life. 

Day 2 - Rally The Troops

Karen. Total rock star. Best training partner and friend I've ever had. We play, train, cry, laugh, sing, and have fun together. And we talk. A lot and really loudly. They call us Thelma and Louise for a reason. Now we live ten hours apart and, although it breaks my heart, I know we are friends for life. Thank you, Karen, for all of the good times. They mean the world to me. And for giving me the COURAGE to want to be great.

Day 3 - Functional Playlist

To feel courageous:

Confident - Demi Lovato
Burn It Down - Linkin Park
Girl on Fire - Alicia Keys

To get excited:

Best Day of My Life - American Authors
Ex’s & Oh’s - Elle King
Proxy - Martin Garrix

This is a work in progress. And, yes, I have rather bad taste when it comes to workout music. But so what? Whatever gets me going! You don't even want to know what's been on my iPod for over a decade. Let's just say that I am German and Germans like their Techno music... 

Day 4 - A Touch of Magic 

Petey. He is with me during all of my bike rides and races in the form of a sticker on my handle bars. Why? Because he stands for all of the Saturday group rides where I courageously showed up at Pay'n Take - sometimes the only girl - and rode with the big boys. Sometimes I hung tough, sometimes I got dropped. Always gained a little more strength and respect. They are my friends, my training partners, my inspiration, and my support.

Day 5 - Meaningful Mantra 

Magic happens outside of your comfort zone.

That is going to by mantra for 2016. I actually fell in love with this quote a couple of years ago because it is something I struggle with. I love my little comfort zone. There is even room for a pain cave in there. As long as I don't need to step out of it. I have made some progress but just not enough. I get close to the edge of my comfort zone sometimes but I really struggle to leave it completely. In 2016 I will be courageous enough to see what's on the other side of the line. Can't wait to find the Magic!

Day 6 - Productive Pep Talk 

Hey Sarah, 

I know you feel safe in your comfort zone and unsure of what will happen when you step out of it. You believe and have confidence but not quite enough. Not yet. You want to know! 

Your goal is to take a big step outside of your comfort zone and see what will happen. You know that there is magic outside of that safe space. And in order to find the magic you will have to let go of your fears. Failing is ok. Failing doesn’t make you a failure. Failing will show you how to get to where you want to be. 

You have an amazing support system. Family, coaches, friends, training partners. You don’t have to prove anything to them. They will be there no matter what. Use them! Call them when you need them. 

By doing this you will gain the confidence and knowledge that you need to reach your goals. And you will KNOW what you are capable of. So, please, do me a favor and just go for it! You really have nothing to lose. Plus, it’s going to be FUN! Even if it doesn’t seem like it. But you know your kind of fun and this is it! 

Come on, Sarah, I know you can do this! 

Day 7 - Wake up that Brain

I got VICTORY POSE and I've got this one down! I mean, what else am I supposed to be doing with my arms when I am excited and happy to be alive? 

Day 8 - Tapping into your Senses 

It took me a while to figure out what smell I want to associate with being brave and courageous. One that I have access to at any time. And then hit me: The On Guard doTERRA essential oil. I love the smell. It's the perfect blend for me. I used it every day leading into Ironman Arizona and never got sick (which happens to me quite a bit when tapering) Knowing that I have this little extra protection will make it a bit easier to push boundaries and take some risks.

Day 9 - Pulling Things Together 

Well, looks like I finally got around to this one by putting it all on here! :) 

Day 10 - Celebrate! 

Nothing like a little online celebration party

I am really looking forward to drawing upon this over the next year! Huge Thanks to Sonja and the RTTC team for a great 10 days! 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Racing in Europe: Ironman 70.3 LUXEMBOURG 2014

I know. I am writing this race report 1.5 years after it actually happened. But, hey, better late than never! The end of a year/season is always a good time to reflect and when I saw that I had uploaded these pictures a long time ago but never written anything yet alone published it, I figured it's now or never. This was SUCH a fun race! I'd go back in a heartbeat and really hope I get the chance to do so! 

Swimming in the river Mosel

I honestly think this is my favorite 70.3 race to date! So many things I loved about coming to Luxembourg to swim, bike, run! Honestly, I was a bit nervous (and excited at the same time) to see how racing two 703s only 6 days apart would go but I had nothing to lose! Kraichgau 70.3 on Sunday went well: I made it onto the podium and received my first (tiny) pay check as a Pro! So this was just icing on the cake and a little experiment. 

Whereas only my dad and I went to Kraichgau 70.3, this race was a family affair! Kraichgau is less than an hour from my parents' house and Luxembourg about a 2.5 hour drive. You've got to love racing in Europe!!! I talked my parents and sister into coming to Luxembourg and we turned the race into a camping trip. Growing up that's all we every did. Every vacation we went camping somewhere we hadn't been yet (mostly in France), so this was nothing new. Except that my parents now have a nice trailer and my sister and I have two kids each! Good times. 

family camp

We camped right across the river Mosel from the start. Basically exactly where the above picture was taken. All that separated me from the start line was the river we were going to swim in on race day. But here is the fun part: We were actually camping in Germany and the race was in Luxembourg! In order to get to the other country, we would simply walk across a bridge. BAM! Different country, different language, different culture. My kids LOVED it! And so did I. They held the pre-race meeting in something like 6 different languages! The linguist in me was tempted to go to all of them... Especially because a lot of the pre-race stuff - and even the awards ceremony and banquet -  was on ships floating on the Mosel. Such a fun idea! And smart, of course, because we are in a tiny country and even as is the race took up the entire city already! 

My sister, dad, niece, and my boys

Besides being busy camping with kids and all that entails, I spent the day before the race biking the run course, swimming in a nice outdoor pool right by the start, going to meetings, and trying to figure out the lay of the land. I chose not to drive the bike course because a) I hate driving and b) it looked really complicated and I was worried I would get lost. Turns out that was a smart decision because everyone I talked to that tried to drive it got lost. I like to either know the course really well or not at all. I like surprises and I knew that we were going to bike into France, so either way this was going to be awesome! I mean, how many triathlons do you know of where you bike into a different country and back!?! 

pre-race breakfast 

Another thing I liked about this race was that it took place in the afternoon. The Pro wave didn't go off until NOON! I slept in (as long as one can sleep in camping with kids),  we all had breakfast together, I warmed up, leisurely made my way over to the race, and I didn't have to get into any sort of cold water until it was nice and warm outside! Now that's my kind of racing! Europeans like to party and party late into the night. So a race that starts at 7am and ends in the early afternoon just doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Why not sleep in, race in the middle of the day, and then party all evening? That's exactly what they did in Luxembourg. So much so that we couldn't fall asleep until after midnight in our little tents on the other side of the river. Should've just stayed and partied... 

cousin fun - our idea of partying 

To make  things even better, they rented out the entire outdoor pool adjacent to the start and finish all day. And we're not talking about a little 25-yard pool with a bunch of concrete around it. We're talking at least 3 different pools plus showers, lockers, tons of grass, etc. We were allowed to warm up in the pool for as long as we wanted and then we just walked across the street to the actual swim start. Considering that the Mosel is a very busy river with a lot of boats and ships, this was a very smart idea. 

Swim start 

The Swim - 29:18

We started downstream, then back up, up some more, back down to the start/finish. Again, as in all of my races as a Pro so far, the other girls were fun to hang out with and I enjoyed making some new friends. There was chatting and joking right until the gun went off. And then it was ON! There was hardly any current, and sometimes I wasn't sure if I was swimming upstream or downstream. I had a couple of girls around me and just had fun picking out landmarks. Oh, hey, there's my tent! ... Am I swimming in Germany or in Luxembourg right now? ... This must be the registration boat... And then I exited the river and was carried into and through and out of T1 by a gazillion spectators. Loved it! 

Riding along the Mosel

The Bike - 2:35:25

To say that I was excited for this bike ride is an understatement. I was giddy! And it didn't disappoint! First we did a little out-n-back along the Mosel which was completely flat and a great warm-up. Then we started climbing into the vineyards and rode up and down lots of fun hills. I had a blast! I passed a few girls and got passed as well. It was neither lonely nor crowded. Just perfect. 

Riding away from the river and into the hills 

Beautiful country roads 

Eventually I ended up trading places with Kamila Polak quite a bit, who was wearing a bright green jersey and always easy to spot. Which was a good thing! Because, holy cow, no wonder everyone got lost pre-riding the course. It was tricky! Especially once we got into France. We rode quite a bit on very small country roads (not even sure they would qualify as a road in the US) and the downhills were a bit of a bummer because we had to be rather conservative since there was no way of telling what would be at the bottom or which way we needed to go. But - hey - I like a little adventure and we didn't ever get lost! But, I have to admit, I've lost but all of my technical riding skills since moving to the US. I was quite good at it as a teenager! I remember the guys yelling at me from behind when descending mountains to be more careful. That would never happen now. Now I am the one in the back clutching my breaks. Sigh... 

The last few miles were along the river and flat again and when it was all said and done - I wasn't quite ready to get off my bike but I guess it was time to run

The Run - 1:23:18

No, I didn't suddenly turn into a running machine. Although the course was flat and fast and I ran extremely well, it was also a bit short. My guess is that I would've been around a 1:26 if it had been a true 13.1 miles. Which is still a PR! During the race, I had no idea. Coach didn't make me wear a watch of any sort, so right before the start I decided to go completely watch-less. My preferred way of racing a 70.3 is completely by feel

Me and my my dad

I ran out of T2 ahead of Kamila who I had gotten away from a bit toward the end of the bike. It was a 3-loop run course which I love. Easy to break down with lots of spectators. While I prefer a single loop on the bike, I am a fan of lots of loops on the run. My dad was everywhere and he truly is the best supportive dude! I love it when he comes to my races and I wish he could do so more often. My mom, sister, and the kids saw me quite a bunch as well and they helped me to dig deep. 

I struggled a bit on the last lap and slowed down just a touch and Kamila passed me but other than that the run was rather uneventful in terms of positioning. When I hit the finish line there were a couple of girl lying on the floor still which surprised me a bit considering that I didn't see anyone close in front of me except for Kamila. Turns out that everyone must've struggled on the last lap and we actually made up some time. I finished in 8th place which I was super happy with but, when I later found out that 4th place was only 90 seconds ahead and I was so close to breaking 4:30, I was a bit bummed and wished I had known. Overall I had no regrets though! It was a fantastic day at the races and I have so many fond memories of that race! 

Overall: 4:31:04, 8th female pro

Post-race was awesome! There were a bunch of food tents in the pool area with REAL food. Good food. And a massage tent. With a sign saying: PLEASE SHOWER OFF BEFORE GETTING A MASSAGE. Makes sense, right? It's rather disgusting for all involved when we plop down on the massage table without cleaning up first. I was a bit confused though as to where I should go for a quick shower and my French isn't the greatest these days (although I do have a minor in French, dangit), so this super nice young guy shows me the outdoor showers. I rinse myself off, come back to the massage tent, and he says: Well, that was short. Are you sure you're clean? And I go: Are you the shower police, or what!? I already had my suspicions and turns out it really was Romain Guillaume, French Ironman super star, and we had a good laugh and shared some stories. For some odd reason I am still always surprised when these young, fast, famous kids turn out to be super friendly, funny, and nice. Best of luck to you, my friend!

Of course there were some nice, hot showers to be found on the pool grounds as well, complete with dozens of naked guys strutting around and all. Racing in Europe truly is the best! ;)

Happy racer, tired kids

And the good times just kept on going! 

By the time I got back to the campground, guess who I found visiting with my parents? My college roommate and good friend, Courtney, who I hadn't seen in years!!! I knew she had just moved from D.C. to Germany a couple of days earlier with her husband and little kids and now lived an hour or so north of where we were camping. I mean: What are the chances?!? We had talked on the phone a couple of times but it was tricky since neither of us had cell phones and she had no idea where the heck she was or how to get around. But - it's Courtney - and so she found a way to get herself and her family to exactly where we were and we got to hang out! Better even: She came back the next to hang some more! I love that girl and am so glad I finally got to meet her kids!

gotta love European-style camping

So, yes, throw in some post-race crepes and tartes aux pommes and you have a weekend that I will never forget and a race that I want to come back to!!! As for the two 70.3s in 6 days, I would say that experiment went rather well and I can't wait to do it again! 

A huge THANK YOU to my family

for putting up with my shenanigans and taking care of the kids for a lot of the weekend! It's no easy task to entertain four kids ages 8 and under all day! Fortunately, this race was very family friendly and they found plenty of things to do right by the finish and on the run course. I sure wish I lived a bit closer and we could hang more often. Love you!

Who doesn't like ice cream on a hot day? 

Sand and water. Fun for hours. 

And also Thank You to my fantastic sponsors:

Coeur Sports - The BEST in women's athletic wear

 T3 Triathlon - My FAVORITE triathlon shop

Fuji Bikes - In LOVE with my Norcom Straight

Zoot Shoes - My shoes of choice since 2008

Cobb Saddles - Most COMFORTABLE saddle ever

Osmo Nutrition - Hydration at its BEST

Tifosi Sunglasses - I wear them every single day! 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

2015 Favorites

Just a few of my favorite things and people in 2015.
I know I am way behind on this blog but I have every intention of posting regularly in 2016.
Mainly because I want to document this fun and fulfilling journey with all of its ups and downs.
Not just the highlights.


Favorite Half
St. George 70.3

Favorite Image

Favorite Utah Swim Group
Provo Rec Masters

Favorite Running Weather
Dry Heat 

 Favorite Triathlon Store

Favorite Cross Training
Nordic Skiing

Favorite Full 

Favorite Book 
Daring Greatly

Favorite Lake
 Sand Hollow Reservoir

Favorite Triathlon Clothing

Favorite Moment
Winning Vineman Full

Favorite Husband

Favorite Playground 
Southern Utah 

Favorite Fall Ride
Nebo Loop 

Favorite Off-Season Adventure
Running in the Grand Canyon 

Favorite German to Ride the Alpine Loop with

Favorite Guy to Draft Behind
The Bus

Favorite Loop Ride
Alpine Loop 

Favorite Indoor Short-Course Pool
Provo Recreation Center

Favorite Ride in the Valley of the Sun
Bartlett Lake

Favorite Family

Favorite Mountains
The Wasatch Front

Favorite Training Buddies

Favorite Cheer Squad
Bam Fam

Favorite Bike

Favorite Race Vacation
Silverman 70.3

Favorite Piece of Art 
When I am 100 years old, 
I will be a professional at any sport
by Max (then 5)

Favorite Boys

Favorite Vehicle
Karen's Westy

Favorite Training Camp
Bikini Camp

Favorite Happy Place
On Two Wheels

Favorite Girl

Favorite Group Ride
Pay'n Take

That's it! 
I am sure I have left out a few things but I am still planning on finishing up (at least some of) my 17 (!) drafts saved on here, including race reports, before the end of the year. 
Stay tuned!