Friday, February 27, 2015

Have No Fear

One of the things I'm learning to appreciate is that you can't really grow without challenging yourself and going outside your comfort zone.   

But with that often comes doubts, insecurities, and fears. The biggest of which is often the fear of failure.

Repeat after me:

There is nothing to be afraid of.

Remember... failure isn't final.

Fear of failing is one of my biggest limiters.  I have to constantly remind myself though that failure is never final.  We must never let failure get to our hearts (see Meredith Kessler's take on this).  We can use it to help us grow and move forward, but we can't let this fear paralyze us to inaction.  This also reminds us that we must have patience in our journey.  We may fail once, twice, maybe more before we succeed. Having the patience to continue to pursue growth and to continue on when the reward seems so far off are important ways to fight your fears.

Believe in yourself.

Your belief in yourself is one of the most powerful tools you have in your arsenal against fear.  Remind yourself that you are capable of overcoming that fear, because you have overcome fears before.  It also helps if you surround yourself with people who believe in you and who support your goals and dreams.  Those people can be a source of strength and encouragement when you need a reminder to believe in yourself.

You can overcome any fear with two seconds of courage.

Often our fears are irrational and based on emotion versus the actuality of the thing that we are afraid of doing.  On Sunday, I was afraid of skiing down a hill.  It wasn't a big hill, but I also couldn't see the bottom.  My emotions took over and I decided I was afraid of the hill. But, with a little encouragement and two seconds of courage, I made the decision to just let go and ski.  Before I knew it, I was at the bottom, safe and sound.  And oh my goodness, I actually had fun on the way down!

When you face your fears head on, your self-respect and self-esteem will grow. You will have a sense of pride in overcoming that fear. One strategy is to just, "act unafraid."  Visualize yourself as strong and confidently facing your fear head on, as someone who is not afraid at all. Then summon that courage and go for it.  Whether that means skiing down that hill or having a conversation you've been avoiding. 

Reframe to focus on the positive.

Sometimes we can conquer our fears by reframing them in a positive light.  By seeing fears as opportunities for growth and courage, by focusing on the benefits of conquering those fears, we can work toward overcoming them. Instead of saying, "I can't because I am afraid," say, "I have an opportunity for growth."

It can be hard to remember at first though that the benefits of going outside your comfort zone or fighting your fears will outweigh the challenge and that the struggles you face along the way will teach you things. Sometimes it feels like the struggle will never end and the negative talk takes over.  That is when you have to dig deep and fight the negative talk by reframing the fear or situation in a positive light.

This is what I started doing with my cycling last summer.  I put a smile on my face and focused on all the wonderful things about cycling, then I just went out and rode my bike until my fears started to disappear.  I let myself fly down hills and cherished the burn in my legs as I climbed back up to the top.  My breakthrough was in Arizona at Christmas, where I actually loved every single second of my ride... all alone.. down a mountain in an unknown place.

These are certainly things that I struggle with in all areas of my life, not just in my athletics.  I feel myself fighting growth and change, and wanting to stay in the comfort of what I already know.  But I also want to experience and learn new things, grow in my relationships with other people, and challenge my own beliefs.   So I will keep going, keep fighting my fears, keep choosing positivity over negativity, keep believing in myself...

How do you face your fears?  What strategies do you employ to deal with challenging situations?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Training and Life Recap: Week of February 16

It was a pretty solid week of training and a week of learning lessons!

Monday:  I had the evening off from the barre studio, so I was able to get my Monday workout in after work for once.  I was glad too, since I had 1:10 on the bike in my Training Peaks.  The workout was a mentally challenging one of two times through 5x2 minutes at Z5 with a minute rest and 10 minutes between sets. My legs were on fire by the end!  I sported my new Team Coeur Sports kit though to give me an extra push of #heartandcourage.

Tuesday:  Early morning swim with ROCS. I did about 4000m before calling it quits since my lane mate was on a rest week and she got out early. Main set was two times through 4x100 on 1:35, 3x100 on 1:30, 2x100 on 1:25 with 20 seconds rest between.

Wednesday: I got away at lunchtime for a nice, hard 40 minute progression run along the Rideau Canal.  It was a "warm" day and by the end I had really worked up a sweat!  The evening was spent with my HPS family at our TTP class. I attempted a 20-minute power test, only to have the machine shut down on me.  While it was tough mentally to have my 8 minutes gone to waste, it was also a relief since the next 12 minutes were going to be super hard.  My love for the bike just was not there last week at all. It has always been my greatest source of struggle, and I have to work really hard to stay positive about my cycling.  Luckily, I have supportive training partners and coaches to keep my spirits up!  As usual, we did our strength circuit. I'm a big fan of the one we are doing this month, it has a lot of core strength and glute / hip stability work! Just what I need!

Thursday: It was a BRUTALLY cold day in Ottawa, so instead of running outside, I hopped on my trainer for an hour of easy riding.  I listened to the second episode of "Serial" and tried to focus on a nice, efficient and smooth pedal stroke.

Friday: Up again for my 6 am swim. This time we did 4600m with a main set of all out efforts (50s and 100s) and lots of rest.  My tummy was not pleased though, so it made for a bit of a rough go, but I pushed through and got it done.

Saturday: A long and fun day of activities!  We started with track practice at the Dome.  It was great to have Jenn there to chase as we went through a pyramid at 1500-3k pace (200-400-600-800-800-600-400-200).  It felt pretty solid!  I went straight to teach two barre classes, then after a quick lunch, Jenn, Eric, Gilly and I made our way to Mooney's Bay to try our hand at skate skiing!  Gilly gave us some pointers and we made our way through pretty heavy snowfall.  I looked a bit like Bambi, with skis and poles flailing everywhere, but it was a really lovely day.

Sunday:  Another day of skate skiing! This time we ventured to Gatineau Park.  It was the first "warm" day in a long time and it was so nice to be outside.  Dave came with us and so generously shared his knowledge and patiently helped us to learn the proper skate skiing technique.  I was quite frustrated though since everyone else seemed to "get it," whereas I struggled to get my body coordinated and moving.  Dave reminded me that patience is necessary and that I will feel that much more accomplished from having to work to learn how to ski. I had to overcome some fear along the way too.  Somehow skiing down a hill that I bike several times a week in the summer is a much more frightening prospect than riding down it. But I survived, and as frustrated and discouraged as I was at the time, I can appreciate how beautiful the park is and how much fun skiing will be if I keep at it.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Team Coeur 2015

I wanted to do an official post on my excitement to be part of Team Coeur Sports in 2015.

When I first discovered Coeur last summer, I found myself reading through the page on the Team Coeur members and thinking to myself that I wanted to be part of something like that.  The women are all not only accomplished triathletes at the elite and age group level, but all have something(s) special about them that make them inspirational.  Now, I am so thrilled and humbled to be part of this group and to represent Coeur this year.

Coeur Sports itself is driven by inspirational women.  Hailey and Kebby are both seriously accomplished triathletes.  After years of training and competing in gear that just didn't quite suit a female triathlete, they came together to form Coeur Sports, focusing on creating stylish endurance apparel for women who train hard, compete harder, and want to look great doing it.  Coeur produces high-quality, well-made swim, bike, and run apparel with functional, female friendly details - like the amazing, so comfortable seamless chamois tri shorts.  I didn't even realize how comfortable tri shorts could be until I owned a pair of Coeur shorts.  And the values of the company are unparalleled.  One of the things that drew me to Coeur was the integrity of the brand and what Coeur represents - heart & courage - in all aspects of the way it does business.

We also got our team kits in the mail last week and it made it all seem just a little bit more real!  Check out this beauty...

Thank you so much to Coeur Sports for including me in this amazing group of women. 
Thank you to the rest of the Team Coeur sponsors. 

Argon18 Bikes



Smith Optics

Roka Wetsuits

Osmo Nutrition: I'm so excited to try out Osmo Nutrition products. Osmo products are scientifically formulated for the specific needs of female athletes based on the research of Dr. Stacy Sims (an athlete!) on how hormonal during a woman's menstrual cycle affect training, hydration, and recovery needs.  The motto of the company is, "Women are not small men" and the website has a lot of really interesting information on hydration and fueling for female athletes.  They do also have products for men and children as well.  I have an order in for the hydration and recovery products, and I will keep you posted on how I like them!

Barnanas: Use code Coeur15 for 15% Barnanas products.  I have an order in for the Coconut and I can't wait to try it. (I'll report back soon, but from what I hear, these snacks are so tasty and awesome for the busy endurance athlete who wants to eat real food.)

Monday, February 16, 2015

Training and Life Recap: Week of February 9

It was another crazy week at work, but I did manage to get at least some of my workouts done. It was also crazy cold last week with most days in the minus-30s (Celsius).  I definitely feel a whole lot better when I get my training in and I was happy to be back, even if I didn't quite complete all my workouts and even though many of them were pretty tough. I just keep smiling and having fun with it and remember that I have to put in the work to get the results that I want in September!  Also, my TEAM COEUR kit came in the mail.  It is gorgeous and I can't wait to wear it proudly. Stay tuned for a bit more on the Coeur Sports Team and why I'm so excited to be part of this amazing group of women this season.

Monday: No workout

Tuesday: Morning swim was about 3000m for me. I ended up getting out early since I wasn't feeling well. Our main set was supposed to be 15x100m on 1:30 at race pace.  I did 10 of them holding 1:17/1:18.  It was hard for sure, but I am definitely slowly getting back to feeling good about my swimming.

Wednesday: Morning tempo run (15 minute warmup, 10 minutes at marathon pace (7:40), 10 minute cool down).  It was a cold one.  In the evening we had TTP, so an hour of spinning and an hour of strength and mobility work.  The spin was really tough with a few sets of 5 minutes at Z3 and 5 minutes at Z4 followed by twice through of 3x(1 minute at Z3, 1 minute at Z4, 1 minute at Z5).  My legs were feeling the effects of taking the prior week off of training.

Thursday: I did half my run (28 minutes instead of 50) in super cold temperatures (-20 Fahrenheit).  It was so windy and cold that I just had to turn back around and head home. 

Friday: Ended up being a rest day.  I woke up for swimming, but was so exhausted that I fell back asleep and didn't wake up until practice had already started. Oops.

Saturday: Track practice at the Dome.  My workout was 2x(3x800m at 3k pace with 2.5 minutes rest between) and 5 minutes rest between sets.  It was mentally challenging, since I didn't really feel that well to begin with, and 800s are kind of brutal.  I just kept telling myself, "just do one more," and I was able to get all the way through.  Despite feeling like crud, my pace was pretty good, so in the end I was happy with the workout and know that workouts like that build mental toughness for race day.  In the evening, Jenn and I had a girl's night for Valentine's. We made the most amazing chocolate mousse (with Pumpkin Spice Whiskey mixed in, oh man it was good!) and then we went to Beer Fest!

Sunday: Rest day as usual!  I went out to watch some friends run the Winter Man half marathon and marathon relay.  It was SOOOOOO cold. They are all brave/crazy for racing at -39 degrees. I was impressed at their dedication, that is for sure!

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Swim - A Few Tips

Okay, I'm not a swim coach. And we all know that sometimes I secretly (or vocally) hate the swim. But, I also spent a very long time as a competitive swimmer and it remains my "strong suit" in triathlon. After giving a few friends some tips, drills, and sets to do lately, I thought I would share those same tips here as well.  There are so many things to think about on the swim and it can be very frustrating to be learning and / or not seeing results.  If you have any questions at all, do not hesitate to ask or to talk to your swim coach!


Suit: Ladies, I know it is awesome to have a pretty, colorful suit.  If that is what will get you to practice, by all means, go buy a pretty suit.  But, my preference are suits that last forever (mostly because SBR can be expensive (it doesn't have to be though) and I'd rather save my pennies for a fancy new bike than have to spend on new suits that wear out quickly).  Look for "endurance" or "poly" (as in polyester) fabric suits from Speedo or Nike. These suits last way, way longer than most.  The price point is usually pretty decent too, especially given how much wear you'll get out of it. Men, if you haven't already, it's time to get over your fear of wearing a speedo.  If need be, get a "drag suit" to help cover things up a bit more.

Goggles:  These are a personal preference. I have been a long-time fan of the Speedo Vanquisher, but honestly you may have to try a few pairs out before you find something that works for you. (I used to only wear Swedes, but I wouldn't recommend that torture on anyone.) I also always buy two pairs of goggles, one in a regular lens for indoor training and cloudy days and one with a tinted or mirrored lens for sunny days in open water. Try to wear the same goggles for practice as you do for racing.

Cap:  Don't get fancy. Just save up your swim caps from your races. If you're new to the sport, ask someone for a cap.  I haven't bought a swim cap in years.  And the only time I wear a silicone cap is if that's what the required cap for a race is made of.  Wet your hair before putting it on. Put the front of it on first.  Watch other swimmers do it if you need to.

Pull buoy:  I'm a big fan of using a pull buoy, mostly to improve your upper body strength.

Paddles:  Same goes for paddles, use them with or without the buoy.  Paddles will definitely tell you when the front end of your stroke is "wrong," because swimming with them will feel really strange.  When your stroke is good, you will feel like a powerful beast in the water.

Some tips: 

1) Body and Head Position: The water should hit at the crown of your head (slightly lower sometimes if you are a woman). You want to be looking out ahead of you at an angle (not straight down at the bottom of the pool or straight ahead of you.). Fins can help with body positioning at first (but core strength is really important if you wear fins a lot, don't let that belly collapse down).  It pains me when people suggest that they can just rely on their wetsuit to help with body positioning during a race.  Using equipment is never a substitute for learning proper technique and you never know when the water will be too warm and wetsuits won't be allowed during a race!!

2) Catch and front end of your stroke:  As in the photo above, as you start your catch with the front hand, the other arm is already coming through above the water with elbow slightly leading the way (important to note for your breathing as when your hand leads, you will be more likely to be getting mouthfuls of water instead of air).  And the thing that changed my swimming the most: I may end up posting a video to describe this a little bit better.  The thing that I like to think about is that you are not pulling your arm past your body, but rather you are trying to propel your body past your arm.  Imagine that your hand is an anchor and that it stays in one place as you propel past it.  To get a feel for this, I like to go to a starting block, place my right hand on it, palm flat, with my body facing the block (hand should be aligned just to the right of the center line of your body.  Then I try to pull myself up out of the water by bending my elbow and pressing my palm into the block.  Your hand can't go anywhere, but you have to try to move your body past your hand.

3) Rotation:  Imagine that there is a rotisserie spit through your body. To be most streamlined and efficient, you want to rotate your body around this spit as you swim.  Some of the drills below help to emphasize rotation.

4) Stroke rate:  I'll explain a bit more about stroke rate later in a separate post about open water swimming.  For now though, try to practice increasing your stroke rate during practice, because the best open water swimmers have a fairly quick stroke rate.  Don't forget to finish your stroke though!  You still want to be catching lots of water, so don't sacrifice technique for increased stroke rate.

5) Video:  If you can, have someone film you swimming (a GoPro is great for this).  Look for body positioning, a crossover out front, the finish, elbow positioning, rotation, and where you are breathing.  Watch videos of other swimmers too!


Finger Drag - helps to focus on high elbows

Six Kick switch - focus on fully rotating

Fist drill - instead of swimming with open palms, make a fist and swim. This drill forces you to feel the water on your forearm! This one is my favorite drill.

Catch-up drill - helps with crossover, but also with keeping your arms out in front. Use a kickboard to especially help eliminate crossover

Sculling - (do at least the first 2 from the video) - sculling is really good for getting a feel of the water. You will notice very quickly if you aren't grabbing much water, because you won't be moving at all! This one requires patience, and I recommend moving to the slow lane for this one.

For each workout, warm-up for at least 5-10 minutes with easy swimming, a few laps of backstroke in the warm-up, some kicking, and some drills. Have a plan when you go to the pool. Swim with a purpose.

Main sets: These sets are pretty basic.  The idea is that your main set should be either speed or endurance focused, and can sometimes be both, depending on your preferred triathlon distance.  Try to figure out your goal pace for your race.  In a "build" set, the final rep should be at your goal pace.  In a "fast" set, you should aim for 5-10 seconds faster than your goal pace.  Ideally in a build set, the difference between the first and last rep won't be that major (e.g., improving by 2-3 seconds per 100m for a total of a 6-10 second difference between the first and last 100 on 4x100m build)

4x50 - descend (getting faster each 50) (20 seconds rest)
4x75 - build (getting faster each 100) (20 seconds rest)
4x100 - descend (getting faster each 100) (40 seconds rest)


2x200 - moderate pace (30-45 seconds between each)
    1 minute rest
4x100 - descend 1-4 (20-30 seconds between each)
    1 minute rest
6x50 - descend 1-3 (15-20 seconds between each)


2-3x   1x200 - moderate pace - 45 seconds rest
          2x100 - fast (it should be very difficult to breathe after each one) - 20-30 seconds rest
          1 minute rest between rounds

The Ladder: Try to do the second half faster than the first half. Take 20-45 seconds rest between.

Kick Sets:

I believe in kicking for at least 200m during each practice. I know people say that triathletes need to "save our legs" for the other disciplines, but that still means we need to have a strong and EFFICIENT kick so that we get the most bang for our buck. Plus the swim is like a warmup for the rest of the race.  The kick provides propulsion and helps lift the body.  Kicking is also good for opening the hips up!  Use a board, kick on your back in streamline, do whatever works for you.

At a minimum, kick 200m without stopping during each swim training session. Or you can do 50s or 100s (8x50 or 4x100 with about 20-30 seconds rest in between).

Good Resources:

Total Immersion (lots of great videos to teach you how to swim properly)

Triathlete Magazine Swim Sets

Sara McLarty's blog (750 different swim sets)

Monday, February 9, 2015

Training and Life Recap: Week of February 2

Well, it's sometimes fortuitous when a rest week coincides with a completely insanely busy work week.  Last week was such a week.  I had a nice down week from my coach in my Training Peaks account, but by the time Thursday rolled around, I had to email him to say, "please don't be alarmed by all those red boxes, I just haven't even had time to train." Between a crazy, busy, intense week at the office, and a few girls out on vacation or sick at the barre studio, I really only had time to sleep.  So rather than trying to squeeze in workouts late at night after a long day at work, I opted for actual rest.  It is so important to remember to rest, which includes SLEEP, to allow your body to absorb your training and recover.  And now, I'm heading into my next training block, ready to rumble! 

Monday:  I had a 30 minute easy run in the schedule, but opted to take a rest day (not knowing how the rest of the week would pan out...).  Taught two barre classes after work.

Tuesday: Rest Day. At the office til 7:30, then straight to the barre studio to teach the 8 pm class.

Wednesday: Rest Day. Didn't leave the office til 8:30, so I missed my workout with my training group.

Thursday: Feeling a little stir crazy after not training all week, I decided to just hop on the trainer for an hour. I rode easy at Z2-3 and listened to the first episode of Serial.  Yes!! I finally got around to starting it and I loved it, of course!

Friday: Rest day.

Saturday: Track in the morning.  After our drills, hurdles, and strides, I got to spend 35 minutes running easy.  Luckily there were plenty of people to watch, including a youth soccer game going on in the field in the middle of the track, so I didn't get too bored running in circles. Two more barre classes.  And in the evening, we went to watch the provincial university swimming championships! It was so fun to watch such high calibre swimming again and it definitely made me want to hop in the pool. Great motivation for my swims this week!

Sunday: Rest day (planned), and two more barre classes (taught 8 classes this week, whew!).

What do you do when you have a crazy week at work? Do you try to fit your workouts in or do you take it easy?

Friday, February 6, 2015

Interview Sessions: Annick

It's Friday!! That means it is time for another interview.  I'm excited to introduce Annick to you.  From the first time I met Annick, I haven't seen her without a huge smile. Her energy and enthusiasm is contagious, and she is really passionate about triathlon. And after reading her answers, I realize that we are a lot alike in how triathlon has really given us happiness and a new outlook.

Let's meet Annick!

How did you get into the sport of triathlon?

Around 2008-2009 when I was working for Goodlife fitness, I had a co-worker that talked about triathlons.  I was curious, but I also felt at the time that it was only for very athletic people.  A few years down the road, a new co-worker from Germany joined our team.  I learned that she had coached many triathletes, and was a triathlete herself.   I mentioned to her one day I was a bit interested in doing a tri a try race one day.  She turned to me and said, “No, you will sign up for a sprint, not a try a tri”.  Later that day I signed up for my first race in 2012, and have been racing since J

What advice would you give to a new triathlete or someone considering signing up for their first triathlon?

Learning from my past experience, I would say make sure you can swim in the open water.  My first open water swim was on race day, which was a very bad idea.  I ended up breast stroking, and back crawling the whole way, and repeating to myself, “Don’t die! Please don’t die!”   After that race, I went and joined the OTC swim program, because I knew there had to be a better method for open water swimming.  I learned so much about the sport from the amazing coaches at the OTC.  So for a new triathlete, I would highly recommend a good swim program, practice open water swimming and have fun!

What has been your greatest / proudest moment as a triathlete?

Completing my very first 70.3 last year.  It was amazing, because I started the journey believing that triathlons were for only the elite athlete.  I went from someone who could barely run 5km, 5 years ago; to completing a 70.3.  I was blown away with my results, because I finished 40 min faster than  what I was expecting to do. 

What has been the biggest challenge for you in the sport? 
Open water swimming.  I had anxiety issues when I went swimming in the open water.  Took me over 2 years to become comfortable in the open water.  I struggled a lot until I purchased an ifloat (a blow up personal floatation device that attaches to your waist).  That same weekend I managed to swim in the open water without any issues, and swam over 2000m!  The device, gave me the mental edge to feel relaxed and comfortable in the water.  My confidence grew from there, and swam without the ifloat at Bring on the Bay, a 3km open water swim race. I had a blast!

What has been the most rewarding aspect of the sport? 

This sport has become one of my sources of happiness.  Through it, I have become more mentally strong, accomplished more than I ever dreamt of, and meet an amazing group of people I call friends now.  Prior to my involvement of triathlons, I suffered depression, was in a very sour marriage of 12 years that ended in a divorce, and had to leave a career because it was effecting my mental health.  I was on anti-depressant, which I disliked, made me feel odd, and uncomfortable.  I started training for races, and soon after I went off of the anti-depressants.  Three years later, and I’m without anti-depressants, and I am the happiest I have ever been.  This sport makes me smile every step of the way.  I feed off the positive energy from the members of the OTC, and I feel proud to be who I am.

How does life as a triathlete translate to other areas of your life?

Becoming a triathlete has given me a positive outlook in life.  The ability to keep on going even when things are hard or seem impossible.  It allows me to show my daughter that if you try and be persistent, you can successful and achieve things you want to achieve.  I’ve carried this attitude with me when I went back to school, and done very well for myself.

What is your dream race?

I currently don’t have a specific dream race, but would love to go to Europe one day and try a 70.3 race there.

What is your favorite pre-race meal? Any other pre-race rituals?

The night before I race, I enjoy a nice steak with mash potatoes, some veggies, and a small glass of red wine.  I go over my race bag to ensure it is all there, and relax, curled up to my partner and watch a movie to fall asleep to.  Race morning I enjoy oatmeal with maple syrup, and scramble eggs with a half cup of black coffee.  I again, go through my race gear, and head out  to the race.
Swim, bike, or run?

BIKE!  I love to bike.  I’ve biked everywhere all my life.  As a teen, I lived south of Montreal, where there was very little bus service.  So, I biked as fast as I could to meet up with my friends.  I really love the feel of climbing a hill, and then the reward of speeding down the hill after.
Favorite motivational quote?

Happiness is a choice.  Choose happy. 

Don’t forget to smile while racing.  It will make you go faster, guaranteed!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Training and Life Recap: Week of January 26

A busy week of training, including a big 5k time trial at the end of the week. Things felt pretty good last week and I'm happy with where I am and continuing to see progress. It is nice to feel like I'm getting stronger!

Monday:  Morning spin on the trainer (75 minutes) with low RPM efforts at Zone 5. I did 7 rounds instead of 6 since I felt like the trainer wasn't set up to allow me to go hard enough on the first few rounds.

Tuesday: Morning swim practice! It was the first swim in AGES where I actually felt like a swimmer. I felt strong all the way through a tough main set of 3x(2x150 all out on 2:30) with 1 minute rest between sets.  I held between 1:50 and 1:54 on all six of them! Such a great feeling.

Wednesday: Evening spin and strength session with my HPS crew.

Thursday: An easy 60-minute run outside in the cold (11k), but rewarded by this lovely sunrise.

Friday: Made it to Friday morning swim practice! Main set was 2x (9x125 - 3 easy, 1 all-out, 2 easy, 1 all-out, 1 easy, 1 all-out with lots of rest (2:40)).  It didn't feel quite as good as Tuesday's swim, but still felt pretty strong.  In the evening, I went to Brent's charity spin class in support of Imerman Angels!  We had a great time, in support of a great cause!

Saturday:  5k Time Trial at track practice.  I managed to take another 30+ seconds off my 5k time from my last PR in December.  New 5k PR is 20:20! It was exciting to see another improvement, especially since I had been mostly running sloooow all month long. I went to a pretty tough yoga class in the afternoon, focused on glutes and hamstrings.... which didn't feel awesome after my morning TT. Oops!

Sunday: Rest day!!

Monday, February 2, 2015

101 Things About Me

So, a bunch of my favorite triathlete bloggers (Erin, Katie, LeslieKristen, and Kecia) have shared 101 things about themselves, and I couldn't resist jumping on the bandwagon.

1) I am a dual citizen, but currently live in Canada.

2) I grew up all over the U.S. and Canada - living in 11 different cities in my life (so far) - Calgary; Quebec City; Vancouver; Bellingham, WA; Los Gatos, CA; Severna Park, MD; (back to Los Gatos); Bethlehem, PA; Chicago; Seattle; Toronto, and now Ottawa.

3) The longest I have ever lived anywhere is 5 years.

4) In March, I will be at 5 years in Ottawa, and I'm semi-expecting to have a mid-life crisis.

5) We moved so much because my dad played in the NHL for 16 years and has been a coach in the NHL and other levels of hockey ever since he retired from playing.

6) I wrote a college essay about the "athlete's religion" and how growing up with a professional athlete for a father shaped my life. I still read it on occasion.

7) My determination, discipline, passion for athletics, and competitiveness definitely come from my dad.

8) My mom is my best friend and we talk on the phone almost daily.

9) I have a younger sister and she is way cooler (and wiser) than me.

10) I love Italian food.

11) My nickname is Bella, from our Italian family friends who gave it to me when I was a baby.

12) If pasta didn't make my tummy hurt, I would eat it all the time.

13) I was a competitive swimmer through my sophomore year of university.

14) I swam the mile, 1000, and 500 until I was in university... then I became a sprinter :)

15) The thing I miss most now that I am back to swimming, is swimming outside year round.  There is nothing like enjoying the fresh air and sunshine during a hard practice... or seeing the steam rise off the pool on a cold day.

16) I have a food blog - K&K Test Kitchen - that I started with my mom while I was waiting to start work.

17) When I started it, I could barely cook. It taught me a lot and made me more creative in the kitchen.

18) I love to cook Italian and Mexican food.

19) I dream about moving to Australia to train for triathlons during the Canadian winter.

20) In February 2010, my friend Megan and I went to a travel agent and booked tickets to leave for Costa Rica the next day.

21) My biggest fear is being alone when I am old.

22) That said, I love spending time by myself and I don't mind doing things alone - like going to the movies or going out to dinner.

23) My favorite color is blue or anything in the blue-green family.

24) But my favorite color for triathlon is RED. Something about red makes me feel fast.

25) I like to color coordinate my gear - bike, shoes, helmet, race kit, etc.

26) I can't wait to see the Team Canada uniforms for Worlds.

27) I also can't wait to get my team kit for Team Coeur 2015. I'm so excited to represent such an amazing company with an amazing group of female athletes.

28) I volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters for a few years, mentoring grade 6-8 girls through the Go Girls! program. It was so fun and so rewarding.

29) I went to Honduras twice with Engineers Without Borders. We were building a new water system for a community there. I am not an engineer, but instead went to help liaise with the community on the social, political, and economic side of things.

Making new friends while checking out the digging of the new water pipeline

30) I also helped found a non-profit that installs wells that filter arsenic out of water in Cambodia, Bangladesh, and India.

31) I have a Masters in Economics.

32) I did my undergrad in International Relations and Economics.

33) I sold children's shoes at Nordstrom one summer during university.

34) I also interned at Goldman Sachs for two summers in Chicago.

35) Chicago is one of my favorite cities.

36) I love country music, especially stuff from the 90's.

37) I also love Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, and Bob Dylan. I call them my "3 B's."

38) My favorite Songza playlist though is "MTV Beach House," full of rap, R&B and pop from the 90's and early 2000's.

39) And when I get married, I dream of having a Motown band at my wedding.

40) Alas, I am a single lady and I'm learning to embrace that.

41) Sometimes I worry though that I will never find that special someone.

42) Lately, the guys I have dated seem pretty intimidated by my training schedule and that I am so "busy."

43) I love being busy and would rather date someone who got that.

44) Writing lists is one of my favorite things (which is probably why I felt compelled to do this.)

45) At any given time, I usually have 4-5 notebooks, planners, journals, etc. with me.

46) I love social media and blogging, because it has connected me with so many incredible virtual friends.

47) I also met my real-life roommate through Instagram.

48) I prefer comedies for both TV and movies.

49) I rarely watch TV anymore, but I do love "The Mindy Project," "New Girl," and "Parks and Recreation."

50) "The Little Mermaid" is my favorite Disney movie.

51) When I was little, my sister and I loved to play "house" at furniture stores.

52) We would also spend hours drawing neighborhoods on sheets of paper during long car rides, then we would tape the paper together to make a "town."

53) We also made fairy houses in the woods behind our house.

54) I miss the creativity of my childhood.

55) And I would like to spend more time creating things, decorating my house, etc.

56) I love craft beer, any red wine, Chardonnay, and Bourbon.

57) My first sip of champagne was out of the Stanley Cup when I was three (don't judge my parents...).

58) I started drinking coffee with one semester left in my Masters program, not sure how I survived that long without it.

59) That's also around the time that I started eating eggs.

60) As a kid, I played soccer and did ballet, but gave both up to swim.

61) I also played lacrosse for one season in grade 6.

62) I can barely ice skate (kind of embarrassing given #5 above).

63) In grade 5, I played the violin and clarinet. I was terrible.

64) From grade 6-8, I was in the choir at school and sang Soprano (also pretty terribly).

65) I have a really soft voice.

66) I love trivia and knowing random facts.

67) This probably stemmed from watching Jeopardy with my Grandma when I was little.

68) I also LOVE the Olympics and usually cry when they are over.

69) In 2002, my dad, sister and I went to Salt Lake City for the day to walk around the Olympic Village and attend an Olympic hockey game (mom worked for Southwest Airlines at the time!).

70) I am still trying to figure out how I can be an Olympian.

71) The five years that I spent between my retirement from swimming and the start of triathlon training were some of the hardest years of my life so far.

71) Finding triathlon has helped me to find myself again.

72) Dreaming big, training, racing, and challenging myself are some of the things that make me the happiest.

73) I love teaching barre, because it seriously pushes me outside of my comfort zone and because the guests at the studio where I teach are amazing!

74) I am afraid of needles.

75) This means that I don't have any tattoos and only have my ears pierced.

76) I read my horoscope every day.

77) I'm a true Aries - stubborn, independent, passionate, driven.

78) And when I date someone, I always look up whether our signs are compatible. I've realized that Capricorns are really not for me that way.

79) I have a terrible habit of not finishing books.

80) I do love to read though, especially books about triathlon lately.

81) I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up.

82) This is somewhat of a source of anxiety for me.

83) I do have an awesome, interesting job though.

84) I went to Catholic high school and wore a uniform.

85) I am not Catholic, but I did get "Religion Student of the Year" while I was there.

86) My car in high school was a gold Ford Taurus, with a "swim taxi" license plate holder.

87) I would listen to "California Love" almost every day on the way to swim practice. That and a lot of Sublime, since my sister was also usually in the car.

88) I was a pretty big partier in college at Lehigh... "work hard, play harder" was the motto.

89) But I also managed to graduate with High Honors and get my Masters paid for based on my grades.

90) I love Eskimo and butterfly kisses.

91) I still have my childhood blanket, "Popcorn," that my Grandma made me when I was born.

92) I love celebrating holidays, because I love traditions and I love spending time with my family and friends.

93) I wish I could live closer to my family.

Sister, Ralph the puppy, and me in Arizona at Christmas

94) I have major puppy fever after meeting my sister's puppy at Christmas.

95) But I don't think it would be fair of me to get a puppy right now.

96) That doesn't stop me from looking at the Humane Society website all the time.

97) I love swim, bike, running in Ottawa and am grateful for the huge, supportive endurance sport community here.

98) The large majority of my friends are athletes of some sort.

99) And I am lucky to have friends and family that live all over the U.S. and Canada.

100) I collect quotes about happiness and gratitude.

101) I believe happiness is a journey.