Monday, March 31, 2014

'Twas the Morning of Red Hills

Red Hills Triathlon, one of the toughest sprint distance races in Florida, is coming up this weekend. Here's a little ditty to get you excited for the race, if you aren't already.

Twas the Morning of Red Hills
(With apologies to Clement Clarke Moore)

‘Twas the morning of Red Hills, when all through the house,
A triathlete was stirring, amid the snores of her spouse;
The wetsuit was waiting by the front door with care,
Anticipating the swim in the brisk morning air;
Racing flats safely nestled in the trusty transition bag,
To avoid the mischievous dog’s predictable snag;
Faithful bike numbered and ready to race,
First-class tri at home, no need for a bike case;
Aero helmet packed despite aforementioned spouse’s chatter,
It looks goofy but shaves time and guards my gray matter.
Most important of all is the precious head lamp,
To light the way for the elaborate decamp.
Get to the race course while the morning is dark,
And quickly in line for the age-revealing body mark;

Mind your space setting up your transition,
Competitors may not possess a neighborly disposition.
Make sure to thank the volunteers throughout the course,
And the awesome Kathy McDaris and colleagues from the force.
Once the race begins triathletes will fly,
Let’s cross our fingers that the fates do comply;
And keep all racers safe and sound,
Free to exert, compete and astound.

Family and friends will catch quite a show at Lake Hall,
This sport is a thrill- come one, come all!  

Good luck to all competitors! Have fun out there!

Monday, February 24, 2014

A few questions with Jillian Heddaeus

Jillian Heddaeus has quickly become one of Tallahassee's best runners and triathletes. Lately, Heddaeus has been tearing it up on the local road running circuit. She finished third overall at last weekend's Red Fox Trot, seventh at the muddy Bradley's 15K, and fifth at the 10 Mile Challenge. Jillian finished 6th in her age group at Ironman 70.3 Panama on February 16th, a race she has competed in since its inception.

Heddaeus balances a full time career, puts in time as a gymnastics coach, inspires young athletes to take up running, and somehow finds time to train and race. Until recently, she served on the Board of Directors for the Gulf Winds Triathlon Club. Here is a little more about this energetic and humble athlete.

SG: What sports did you do growing up? How did you get involved with triathlons?
JH: I was very active as a child and was involved in several sports. My primary childhood sports were gymnastics and then soccer in high school. 

I started running as my primary form of exercise in 2008 and participating in local 5k's. I wanted more of a challenge and triathlons seemed like the next "logical" step.

SG: What was your first race?
JH: My first triathlon was in the summer of 2009, part of the Jacksonville race series.  

SG. What is your favorite race? What races are on your bucket list?
JH: Ironman 70.3 Panama. I was born and raised in Panama, so I will always be partial to this one. February 2014 will be the third and final year the race is held in Panama. Participating in all three years has been a wonderful experience. I am hoping 70.3 St. Croix is next. 

SG: How do you balance work, training, and social time?
JH: Between work, coaching gymnastics in the evenings and training, it makes for a long day.  I enjoy each part of what I do every day and try to balance it all as best as I can. 

SG:  Who has inspired you or served as a mentor?
JH: My father, who knows what it takes to be a competitive cyclist. My mother, who reminds me to have fun with it.

SG: What advice or words of wisdom would you give to a beginner triathlete?

JH: Have fun with it!

Jillian finished 6th in her age group at Ironman Panama 70.3 this past February. 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Stepping Stones to a Successful 2014

What are your biggest dreams for the year? Don’t hold back, don’t think rationally. If life worked out perfectly for the next year, what would it look like? What would you have, do, see, and feel if you had a fairy godmother that could make all your dreams come true?
Taking the time to write these dreams down makes them real. You don’t need a fancy journal or your ten year old daughter’s diary. Use your Training Peaks account, tablet, or closest Post-It note. List as many races, places, feelings, and experiences as you can. Want to win your age group at Red Hills? Put it on there, even if you finished at the bottom of it last year. What puts a smile on your face when you think about it happening? A summer trip with the family? Write it down. Put down at least a couple of dreams for each part of your life: family, career, and sport are good places to start.

It might not be the most organized way to keep track of your goals, but it'll work!
Obviously, goals and dreams are different entities. Accomplishing dreams depends on a multitude of factors, many that are outside of your control. You may have dreams of winning Kona, but if you just started swimming a couple of years ago, that may not be a realistic goal.
Think of goals as stepping stones for your dreams. They give you something tangible to achieve that is within your control. On another piece of paper, write down three goals to work towards in three different areas of your life. Again, these should be a little more realistic than your dreams.

Once you’ve identified your goals, think about how you will set out to achieve them. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Pin down four to five steps that will set you up for success. If running under 24 minutes at Red Hills is your goal, perhaps your steps would be achieving specific pace milestones on the track, getting stronger on the bike, doing hill workouts to prepare you for the hilly bike and run course, or increasing the amount of running you do off the bike in training. Specificity is key here.

Lastly, why are these goals important to you? Is it a challenge you want to meet? Do you want to beat a fellow competitor? Maybe it’s to set a good example for your children. Write these down too. When your motivation wanes, as it does for everyone, reminding yourself of why these goals are important to you may give you the push you need to get going.

Now that you’ve laid the base deciding how you’re going to achieve your goals and dreams for the year, think about barriers that may stand in your way. What obstacles and challenges do you foresee? One challenge to winning your age group at Red Hills could be lack of confidence in open water swimming. By acknowledging what could hold you back, you are setting up an automatic goal. How will you become more confident in open water?

As most of us know, the best part of achieving a goal is the reward we give ourselves afterwards. What are some treats you can give yourself when you accomplish your steps and goals? Just like rewarding children for positive behavior, set up rewards for yourself when you meet a goal. It could be something as small as going out for frozen yogurt if you complete all your scheduled workouts for the week. Or a new pair of running shorts after you finish your first 10K.

One of my favorite treats!

Keeping your dreams, goals, stepping stones, and rewards visible will serve as a constant reminder of what is important to you. Some people like writing about them on social media, as it keeps them accountable to others. Some like to post them on their refrigerator or bathroom mirror, so they are frequently reminded of what they want to achieve. Find what works for you and take action. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Reflecting on 2013 can help you plan for 2014

The end of the first month of 2014 is near. How many of you have kept your New Year’s resolutions? How many of you even remember what they were? I find it is easy for these dreams and aspirations of better health, increased fitness, balanced personal life, etc. to fall by the way side. January is a hard month to make changes. The days are short, the temperatures are cool; who wants to go to the gym after work when it will be dark when they leave? And a warm plate of macaroni and cheese is so much more comforting on a chilly winter’s night than a salad and lean protein.

yes please!
Still, I am a big believer in setting goals. And the hype and freshness of a new calendar year provides a good opportunity to take the time to identify what I want to focus on in the upcoming months. To start this process, I like to think back about the previous year. What goals got marked as “achieved” and which ones fell in to the “not quite there” category? It’s okay to not have met all your goals for the year. If you did achieve all you set out to accomplish, maybe you didn’t dream big enough?

Besides just marking “completed” or “not completed” on what you planned in 2013, think about what brought you happiness, stress, disappointment, fulfillment, etc. Maybe you didn’t get that marathon PR you were hoping for, but you made a good friend while training for it. Or maybe you did get the PR, but you were so stressed about the race, you failed to acknowledge your accomplishment. Remember, we can learn from both our successes and disappointments (maybe even more from our disappointments).

Did anything surprise you during the year, whether in sports, professionally, or personally? Perhaps the Sunday dinners at your in laws that you used to dread have become a treasured time to spend with family. Or maybe those extra running miles you logged didn’t lead to any improvements in your running times. Write both the positive and negatives down, as both can shape your plans for 2014.

Lastly, take time to acknowledge what you are grateful for. Whether it’s the Bubble at Myers Park, which allows us to swim when it’s cold enough to snow, or the spouse who runs the vacuum while you’re out riding your bike, be sure to show your appreciation.

It may be hard to breathe in here, but at least it lets us swim on cold mornings

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Successful Multitasker AJ Rhodes

Like many triathletes, AJ Rhodes is a driven athlete, student, and professional, managing to be successful in all aspects of his life. The first Tallahassee finisher at this year’s Tri the Rez, Rhodes finds time for high quality training while working full time and pursuing his studies at Florida State. How is he able to coordinate his busy schedule?

“Efficiency and planning” Rhodes states. “Trading volume for intensity. Every workout has purpose. Just as in a single workout you have a pattern of work and rest, so it is in a day, week, month, semiannually, annually, etc. There are times of the year when things are really structured, and there are times of the year when it's just like ‘go out and do whatever you feel like.’”

Rhodes believes taking the time to exercise each day makes him a more productive person. “Getting in my workout helps me to blow off steam and I am a firm believer that it actually makes me more focused throughout the day” he states.

Focusing mostly on team sports in high school, Rhodes did not discover triathlon until college.  He started swimming to keep in shape for surfing. He discovered triathlon after a friend told him about training for Red Hills exclusively at the Leach Center.  “I scored a used bike off a guy in Havana, signed up for my first tri (Beach Blast Olympic, 2009) and have been hooked ever since,” Rhodes remembers.

Rhodes counts Red Hills and Six Gap Century as his favorite races. He’s hoping Augusta 70.3 and Six Gap will one day be held on different dates, as he’s always wanted to do Augusta, but chooses Six Gap instead.

Due to his full schedule, Rhodes prefers shorter workouts with a focus on intensity. He’s also noticed that “inserting intensity seems to make the time go by faster, especially on the bike trainer or treadmill.” He counts running as his weakness, but feels he thrives in hectic situations.

Rhodes has several words of wisdom for those new to the sport, among them “don't get overwhelmed by gear; the most important thing is the engine. Prioritize rest as much as workouts. Figure out why you train and race. Actually write it down.”

All in all, Rhodes hopes to continue to enjoy training and racing and not get burned out. “I think everybody should spend time each week doing something they enjoy and that brings fulfillment, even if it doesn’t come to anything but that. It could be photography, writing/blogging, cooking, playing music, reading, woodworking, hiking, web design, etc. That's not to say that setting goals is not useful or laudable, just that achieving goals is much more fulfilling if the process is enjoyable. If it is not that, then we need to step back and reevaluate why we are doing ‘fill in the blank.’” 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Gift ideas for the multisporter

If only it were that easy! Unfortunately, there's a little bit of work involved if you want to cross the finish line. Maybe you can put some of these gift ideas on your wish list this holiday season. 

For those cold winter rides, your cyclist will probably appreciate a warm pair of gloves. Louis Garneau’s Shield gloves will keep their fingers toasty because they are waterproof, insulated, and fitted with a neoprene cuff to keep cold air out.

Help protect your loved one’s noggin while giving them an edge on their competition by giving them Rudy Project’s newest time trial helmet, the Wing57. Features include a removable visor, a dorsal ridge to help with head and side winds, a new ventilation system that helps air flow and reduces drag, and an array of colors.
Super Sweet, huh? 

A shell offers protection from the elements, but is lightweight and rolls up to easily fit in a jersey pocket when the temperatures start to rise. Mizuno’s Imperalite Performance Shell comes in reflective green, perfect for those dimly light early morning rides.

Does your runner or triathlete go from the trails to car pool to the grocery store? Give her something she can wear all morning long. Oiselle’s Stripey Long Sleeve Scoop Neck Top comes in several colors and can be worn while you’re running, literally or figuratively.

For the triathlete hoping to make improvements in 2014, consider giving them an account on Training Peaks. Especially good for those data-junkies, Training Peaks is an online tool that allows you to monitor, analyze, and plan your nutrition and training. You can use it to track your own workouts or sign up for training programs through one of the Training Peaks Personal Coaches.

If they prefer to keep an old school, handwritten training log, check out Believe I Am by professional runners Lauren Fleshman and Ro McGettigan. It is chock full of goal setting exercises and inspirational messages, and has plenty of room for writing about key workouts and races. 

For most triathletes, the greatest source of stress on race day is the swim. Those looking to gain confidence on the swim and lower their times may want to utilize a snorkel, like the Freestyle Snorkel by Finis, in some of their workouts. The snorkel allows the swimmer to concentrate on their technique, as they are not distracted by having to breathe. It can also help develop their lungs, as they have to breathe through a small tube, which is a challenge on hard sets.
I love my snorkel!

Looking for stocking stuffer ideas? Gift cards to local bike and run shops are always appreciated, as are those for massages and yoga classes. I don’t know a triathlete who doesn’t like to eat, so maybe a copy of Feed Zone Cookbook, full of healthy and quick recipes, might be a nice surprise. There are also few triathletes out there who don’t use an MP3 device for some of their training. Maybe they’d like a new set of earbuds?

Hopefully these suggestions will help you whittle down your shopping list. Let me know if you have any other ideas for the multisporter in your life. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The "Take it Easy" Season

Off season, out season, transition period, dream season. Whatever you want to call it, this is the time when most multisporters should be taking it easy. If you follow the traditional Florida triathlon race calendar, you probably began racing in late March and finished sometime in the fall. There were over ten races on the Gulf Winds Triathlon Club’s Grand Prix schedule for this year. Some members participated in close to all races; that is a lot of training, traveling, and racing.

It can be hard for those of us who are accustomed to days structured around workouts, training goals, early bedtimes and alarm clocks, to not have a race on the near horizon. When we are so used to going after the carrot at the end of the stick, once we’ve reached it, what do we do?

I’m a big believer in taking a moment to enjoy the carrot and think about the journey that led me to it. And this is best done a couple of weeks after my last race of the season, when the transition bag is in the closet for good, the race kit has been washed and put away, and the racing flats are in the donation pile.

This mental and physical break is important for me to take after my last race of the year. While I still enjoy exercising for the stress relief and physical well-being, I’m not concerned with splits, paces, or times. It’s more exercise than training.

I use this down time to look back on my training and racing from the past year. And not just what went well and what didn’t, but the specifics of the year. In racing: what were my strengths and weaknesses compared to my competitors, how was my mental game, what races did I enjoy or would rather not go back to? I take stock of my equipment. Is it time to get a new bike or maybe this is the year to get race wheels? Workouts and training sessions are also evaluated: did I find a good balance of tempo sessions and speed work, how was my strength on the bike? Hopefully, you have a coach or trusted training partner you can go through these questions with, someone objective who can be honest with you.

Once the yearly evaluation is complete, planning for the next year begins. While it may seem early to start planning for races months away, coming up with a rough race schedule helps to nail down key dates in your training year, such as when to start building up your base again, when important training blocks will take place, and when to stop eating spoonfuls of cookie butter. Obligations such as personal and professional commitments are important to consider when looking at your proposed schedule. Think about what you want to get out of the next year. Is it to build up miles for an upcoming Ironman, regain some lost speed, win your age group in the Grand Prix? Again, it helps to have someone to discuss these ideas with you, to help you narrow down your options or encourage you to set the bar higher.

Remember, it is only November. Most likely, your first triathlon is not until March. That is four months away. Enjoy this down time while you have it. Enjoy sleeping in, going out with friends, and spending money on non-triathlon items. You do not want to be thinking “I wish I had done…” a few weeks before your first race of the year.

Oh how I love thee....
Come talk about how your season went and what you have planned for next year at Monday’s Gulf Winds Triathlon Club meeting. It starts at 6:30 at the Momo’s on Market Street.