Wednesday, September 24, 2014

2015 Swim Bike Mom Ambassador Team

So….last week I got a voice mail.

From Atlanta.

It went something like this, “Hi, Rebecca this is Meredith. If you can give me a call back when you get a chance, my office number is…..”.

You see, a few months ago Meredith Atwood of Swim Bike Mom  announced that she would like to put together a team of Ambassadors. I have followed Meredith and her blog since her journey to Ironman Coeur d’Alene over two years ago. Something about the candor and brutal honesty of her writing hooked me immediately. I loved everything that she stood for. Triathlon is not this unattainable pipe dream that only elite athletes can participate in. Nor is it only for the young! Triathlon is for everyone. 

Since that time, Meredith has written a book (with a second on the way), is now a certified USAT coach, has a line of race gear (Swim Bike Sell) and has even built an Army of other Swim Bike Moms (and a few awesome Swim Bike Dads) who are putting themselves out there, doing what they love and changing their lives through this sport. So when I heard that she was putting together a team of Ambassadors and calling for folks to apply, one guess as to what my answer was. Oh, heck yes!  I am already a proud member of the Swim Bike Mom Army and would consider it an honor to help spread our mission. Here are a few of Meredith's own words on exactly what that mission is and what her desires are of this new team:

‘The mission of the 2015 Swim Bike Mom Ambassador Team(SBMAT) is to spread the word to all women–to let them know that they can be changed through the sport of triathlon.The Members of the SBMAT embody a positive attitude,determination, excellent sportsmanship, and a love for the sport of triathlon. The SBMAT is different from other “Teams” because it’s not elite (though some of our girls are certainly hella triathletes!) or exclusive or closed off. These women are here to help this mission and to work closely with SBM to ensure that the “Army” continues to grow and flourish. ‘

Enter "the call".

404 area code in the middle of a work day? I don't know anyone in Atlanta so the immediate assumption is, telemarketer. So I don't answer. Seriously. #myownworstenemy. Thank the Lord above I actually listen to the voice mail. And holy crap it's Meredith (aka Atlanta) - "She is so sweet to call up each applicant personally to tell them that they didn't make the team", I think.

Hello dummy - she's calling to tell you that you're in!!

How? Why? I am still flabbergasted. With well over 250 applicants I don't how Meredith and crew were able to narrow it down but I will forever be grateful to them for such a unique opportunity. Most of the women on this team have amazing stories of heartbreak and struggle, who are getting through each day based on sheer strength and determination. Many have brought me to tears. I am honored and humbled to be racing alongside my new team members. I urge you to take an initial peek at all the 2015 SBM Team Ambassadors and stay tuned to learn more about their stories, our goals as a team and other exciting opportunities for you to participate in!

With my wedding next June, Ironman Arizona in November and now this new Ambassadorship, 2015 is going to be a wild ride and I can't wait to share it with you. Buckle up folks, we're going to have some fun!!

~Cheers, Rebecca

Friday, September 19, 2014

New Link Up and Other Random Info

Happy Friday ya'll! It's been a crazy week for me but one that has ended on one of the highest of highs! I'll spill everything tomorrow when I can actually get my head wrapped out this amazing opportunity, but in the meantime just wanted to give you a quick update on what's been going on in my world.

I've decided to do away with my Mind Wandering Wednesday posts and instead will be trying out a new 'Coffee Date'  link up with some other health and fitness bloggers the first Sat of each month.  It's the perfect way to let you know what's going on in my both my triathlon and everyday world PLUS give you a chance to check out some other sites that might peak your interest! Below is a quick sample of what the format will look like.

Let's test things out.....

If we were having coffee this morning I'd tell you....that I was in So Cal last weekend visiting my sister and new baby niece! Eeek - she is ridiculously adorable and I was so excited to finally get my hands on her. Finnley Grace = sheer love.

If we were having coffee this morning I'd tell you.....that I tried out my new Nathan hand held water bottle during last week's trail run.  No aid stations during this Sunday's relay so I needed to find a way of carrying my own hydration/nutrition and I HATE running with anything around my waist. This little 10oz guy proved to be the perfect option. Plus, the little zipper pouch up front allows for me to carry plenty of gels. The weather was stoopid hot (100+!!) on my run and even though I got out early in an effort to beat the heat, there was no way I could have survived if not for having some water with me.

Can someone say "Splash Park"!! No better way to cool off mid run than some sprinkler play time!

If we were having coffee this morning I'd tell you....that the Gorgeous Relay is this Sunday! Not nearly up to par with mileage though so I'm hoping that my general running capabilities will be enough to keep up a good pace. 60 miles - 6 team members and 1 van. It is sure to be a good time. Stay tuned next week for a full recap!

If we were having coffee this morning I'd tell you....that my son was recently put into some pretty difficult situations and I can't even begin to express how proud I am of his decisions and the young man he is turning into. With only having the one kiddo I don't know how I am going to survive once he is old enough to move out. *waaaah*

If we were having coffee this morning I'd tell you....that one of the most exciting things happened to me yesterday!!! Deets on all the specifics will be posted tomorrow. In the meantime, if you follow me on Facebook you know exactly what I'm talking about! If not, click my link on the right and!  #SBMAT2015

I hope everyone has a lovely weekend and is able to their buns out there to enjoy what is left of the decent weather, TGIF!

~Cheers, Bec

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Tri Talk Tuesday - Mad Skillz

Wohoo! Two Tri Talk Tuesday articles in a row? I'm on fire! Joining Courtney and Cynthia once again for this week's discussion on Skill Development.

This is this is a hard one for me given my fairly newcomer  (3 years and counting) status in the triathlon world and the fact that I, myself, am still in the development stages of the game. I guess that stage never really comes to an end, does it? We've all got things to improve on, especially if we strive to be our best. So in light of trying to sound like an expert (which I am not in any way shape or form) and in order to keep it short and sweet,  I figured I would share my favorite drill that I've incorporated into each discipline when focusing specifically on skill development.

The Swim

Stroke Counting - It's as simple as it sounds. The practice of counting the amount of strokes it takes for you to go from one end of the pool to the next. Adding this drill into your weekly workouts is a great step towards increasing your SPD (Stroke Per Distance). Keeping track of the number of strokes you take per lap will force you to start focusing on lengthening your stroke while adding speed and distance. And isn't that what we all want? The ability to travel further and faster using the least amount of energy? Heck, we still have a bike and run to stumble through! :)

"Hell, I'm just trying to make it from one end to the next without drowning! Who the heck has room in their head to worry about counting your strokes?!", you say.

Haha - I totally get it and understand that this might be a little too much for some to think about. But I'm a firm believer that this is a great drill for weak and strong swimmers alike. I've been doing this throughout my swimming career and am still trying to get my counts down.

So what next? Below is a great article from on exactly how to find your target stroke count:

Finding Your Target Stroke Count

The goal should be to bring down your average stroke count per length. Great swimmers like Alexander Popov or Ian Thorpe may be able to scoot through the water at record speed while taking 30 strokes per length (50 meters), but this low stroke count does not have to be your golden number for improving your stroke.
First, determine what your range is. Try to swim most of the time at the low end of your range or below your lowest stroke count. Don't worry about speed at first- you can influence this later, perhaps as you begin to learn what your "ideal" stroke count is.
Here is an example of a set that can help lengthen your stroke, as well as build endurance:
  • Do a set with yard distances of 50+100+150+200+200+150+100+50
  • Take 10 to 30 seconds between swims
  • Count your strokes each length on the way up
  • Try to maintain or lower your stroke count on the way down while keeping the same pace

Just another tool to keep handy in your training box. Try it out once and see what you come up with. You'll be surprised with how focusing on lowering your stroke count can actually help to improve your overall form!

The Bike

Hill Repeats - So we all know that one of the most important sections of a triathlon and where your end results are closely tied with, is how well you do on the bike. If you want to have more energy on the run and better your overall finish times, you definitely need to focus on your cycling skills. That being said, one of the best ways (IMO) to increase speed is strength training. Which in cycle talk = hill training.  Ugh! No, no hills! Like the picture above says, "It doesn't get easier, you just get faster!". Again...isn't that the whole idea?

Here's an easy session to implement into your mid-week training plan. Remember, hill repeats focus on building strength so don't incorporate long distances. Treat this day like you would your track workouts for the run.
  1. Warm up for about 15-20 mins at a high cadence (low effort) of 90 - 100 rpms.
  2. Find a hill on a low trafficked road with 7-10% grade that will take you at least 1 -2 minutes to get to the top.
  3. Start at the bottom in a low gear that will be difficult to sustain all the way to the top.
  4. Stay seated and start climbing HARD and hold that effort all the way to the top.
  5. Once at the top roll back down and begin again immediate as you hit the bottom.
  6. Do as many planned reps as you have then cool down for about 15-20 mins.
Start with 4 reps and then build onto that. Oh, and make sure that the following day is a rest day - your legs will thank you not only for the down time but for those faster bike splits as well!

The Run

Trail Runs - What the what? Seriously. I'm lucky enough to have a short 2 miler right outside my house which I utilize at least once a week. It's so great to have a break from my usual paved route and the stinking dreadmill. Here are a few of the benefits you will experience when incorporating trail runs into your training:

  • Softer surface - so this doesn't necessarily fall into the "development" category but it does provide a huge stress relief on your joints that normally get a pretty bad pounding. As a result it helps to decrease your risk for injury. Wohoo!
  • It slows you down - How many of you out there really take it easy on your scheduled "easy" days? Hands? Yeah, me neither. Enter my old friend, Injury! Michael Spence, 2009 US 10k trail running champion and an 8:30 steeplechaser says, " On roads I tend to be very conscious of my pacing and sometimes push harder than I should. The hills and turns of the trail force me to focus more on how my body feels and less on my watch." Enough said.
  • Focus - as trail running requires intense focus, it helps to keep your mind fresh and energized. A nice break from your usual paved route that you can basically run bored and blind folded.
  • Activates and strengthens other muscle groups in your legs and core that are otherwise ignored out on the road. Utilizing these muscles more will give your larger, more overworked muscles groups a chance to breath and ultimately reduce the chance of injury.
  • Nature - get out there and breath some fresh air! Not only is it good for your lungs but your mind and spirit with thank you as well.
Did you notice a common theme here? 'REDUCES YOUR CHANCE FOR INJURY' That right there is enough to get me out on some trails.

So there you have it folks - just a few of my favorite drills that you might think about incorporating into your own training. If not one of the above, hopefully you're able to find something that proves beneficial for you! Skill development is key - If we're not growing we're dying. (ouch, that sounds a little harsh. True but harsh.)

~ Cheers, Rebecca

What are some of your favorite drills?

Saturday, September 6, 2014

BTA - Bike Commute Challenge

Woot woot - does this girl like a challenge or what?! Not sure why it motivates me so much but I guess it's just the way I'm wired. That being said I've decided to take part in another adventure, trade in my company parking pass, get my butt up at the crack once again and starting hunting down some winter cycling gear. That's right folks, I am going to start commuting to work!

Every September Portland participates in Oregon's annual 'Bike Commute Challenge', put on by the Bicycle Transportation Alliance . In this competition, local companies have the opportunity to register their workplace and sign a team up in an effort log the most amount of commuter trips during the month. We have a decent amount of cyclists in our office who commute every day so I thought why not join myself? I've got to get my miles in anyway and this presents a great opportunity to get it done before my day really begins!

My route - about 20 miles one way, not bad!

Thursday was my first go around -  I left home around 5:55am, in the dark.....creepy but I had bought lights for both the front and back of my bike so being seen wasn't (hopefully) a problem. Thankfully the sun is still coming up early enough so I am only riding in the dark for about 20 minutes. My route is fairly safe as well with half of the distance being on a bike path separated from traffic.

Just a little dark!

I didn't get the best shot but I promise you the sunrise was ah-mazing!

My buddy, co-worker and true cycling genius Eric, met me about half way and basically escorted me through the downtown area to our office. Lots of one-way streets and unfamiliar territory. Portland is known for it's bike friendly ways but having done most of my riding on non-trafficked courses, someone with more commuting experience to show me the ropes was a HUGE help!

City of Bridges!

About 1 hour and 25 minutes later and we were locking up our bikes and heading to our respective locker rooms. So incredibly lucky that our company provides these facilities for us! Shower, dress, makeup and I was at my desk by 8:15. I'll definitely want to start leaving about 15-20 mins earlier in order to ensure that I have time to blow dry my hair (sported a damp top bun all day) and get into the office by 8am. Otherwise I think it was a total success!! Walking up 10 flights of stairs afterwards was another story. ;)

I'm going to plan on riding in at least 2 days a week (hopefully 3) and maybe even try to ride back home once in awhile. As the days get shorter and the sun rises later, I'll need to find ways of making Ben and I better illuminated and safe on the road. Thankfully P and I work in the same office so I am able to rack my bike and carpool home. Best of both worlds!

I'll keep you posted on my progress and our team's stats. Hopefully I can make a difference in how we are ranked this year! This contest it just what I needed to finally make the commuting plunge. What a great way to save money, help out the environment and burn 980 calories while I'm at it!

~ Cheers, Rebecca

Do you commute into work?
Tips on riding in the dark?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Tri Talk Tuesday - Must Have Gear

Now that I am once again alive in the blogging world I am linking up with our lovely hosts Courtney over @ TheTriGirlChronicles and Cynthia @ YouSignedUpForWhat for a little Tri Talk Tuesday!

Today's subject is "Must have gear". In the world of triathlon there are sooo many gadgets/clothing/gear/nutrition options to choose from that it can certainly get overwhelming at times. However, in that vast sea of choices I have a few favorite items that have proven their weight in gold over my short triathlon life.

   1.  Garmin Forerunner 910XT 

The all-in-one GPS device that provides detailed metrics on your distance, pace, elevation, and heart rate. Ever get tired of having to cart around your phone to utilize a GPS app which never seems quite accurate anyway? Want more data than just how far and how fast you've traveled? Want actual swim metrics to help you become more proficient in your stroke? Look no further. Last Christmas I asked exclusively for Amazon gift cards knowing that I wanted to make the 910XT a reality. So happy I did - love, love, love this thing. Not only does it act as a GPS for your running/biking miles, but it also keeps track of your distance/cadence during OWS as well as indoor lap swimming. I purchased my Garmin in a tri-bundled package at the beginning of this year which included the heart rate monitor and a bike cadence sensor. I swear the censor alone is worth the bundle upgrade. Getting real live data on how quickly you are turning your legs over while logging hours on the bike as been super beneficial allowing for more detailed training sessions.

I know what you're thinking and yes, unfortunately this little piece of equipment is a monster expense, but if you can swing I highly suggest the purchase. If the 910XT isn't in your budget, or if the swim specifics which make this watch unique aren't your biggest concerns, then most definitely look at other GPS options. Garmin makes all kinds of models which capture most of the same metrics that you can upload to an online account and spreadsheet the heck outta your numbers. :) Cause we're triathletes and we love us some numbers.

   2.  TYR Swimsuit

I know, I know, the part we all hate most about the swim portion of triathlon....the bathing suit. As much as I loathe the tightness and overall feeling of suffocation a wet suit can bring, I'd rather wear that tight piece of full body rubber over a bathing suit any day. But once again, what can ya do? In my previous competitive swimming life, and teenage body, I preferred to wear Speedo and Speedo alone. Yes, I was a 90's label whore. Now that I have blossomed (ballooned) into a mature (saggy), womanly (stretch mark riddled) body, I trust my swimming needs to TYR - weather it's the Alliance T-Splice design or the Durafast Lite DiamondFit  (shown above), I feel that their cut in suits better reflect a woman's curves and ultimately lead to a more comfortable training session in the pool. They seem to last for-ever too. I can go an entire season without the need to buy another.
Whatever suit you do decide on, just make sure that it is designed to be used for actual lap swimming and not that adorable two piece you'd wear to the beach. You don't want any unnecessary drag in the water and certainly don't want to be worried about the girls popping out for a meet and greet with your lane buddy. ;)

Oh, and TYR makes some pretty great triathlon specific gear as well.

    3.  Lock Laces

So this is more of a recent discovery of mine which I wish more than anything I would have known about sooner. My transition PR and 2nd place finish in my last sprint tri can definitely be attributed to Lock Laces. Not having to worry about tying, or re-tying for that matter, your laces during a race is priceless. Simply stick your foot in and go! Not only are these elastic laces designed to help with speed in transition but it also helps to better distribute the tightness and flexibility of your shoe placement. Last year during my half marathon training I suffered for about 2 months with issues from tendon inflammation (big toe) on the top of  my left foot due to having tied my laces way too tight. One run, that's all it took to have that sucker flare up and cause a whole lot of pain. After ruling out any sort of stress fracture, I ended up laying off the running for about two weeks and eventually changed up my lacing pattern so that the tendon would no longer rub against my shoe. That worked ok but not without having taken too much time off. With Lock Laces you don't have to worry about whether or not you've manually tied your laces too tight - find the right fit the first time and you're worry free.

Lock Laces - doooooo it.

   4.  CarboPro

CarboPro is another newish product for me. Having only done Sprint and Olympic distance tris the last few years, my need for nutrition on the bike was fairly minimal. 1 GU gel and a few sips of water while on the road was all I needed. Having the Boise 70.3 to contend with this year I knew that what I did for nutrition and hydration on the bike would be one of the most important aspects of the entire race. Enter CarboPro. This pure complex carb mix is designed to be combined with your normal form of hydration, completely replacing the need to have separate forms of fuel during a race. Say whaaat?? Oh yeah, it's a brand new day folks. For Boise's bike stage, I combined 2 scoops of CarboPro and 2 tabs of Nuun into each bottle of water and that was it. Seriously. No unwrapping protein bars, no chewy blocks to choke down and no messy gels to deal with. Simply sip and keep moving.

There are certainly other products similar to CarboPro that I may look at trying down the road but mark my word, I will NEVER go back to separate fuel/hydration during my longer races. With a mix like this it is just too easy! 

   5.  RoadID


I'm just saying. 

Ok, so maybe this isn't specific to the art of triathlon but it IS one of my most favorite pieces of gear. Name, blood type, known allergies and emergency contact numbers. Shouldn't that always be readily available when you're out at about, especially when alone? I have heard/read far too many stories of how this simple little wrist band has saved so many lives. We all know that the road out there can be a tricky place and it seems like more and more cyclists are in the news as the result of a nasty fall or God forbid even a hit and run. With the Road Id, assuming you're not able to speak, all the imperative information needed for emergency responders is right there, plain as day. It saves lives - easy as that.

Yep - my fav 5. Hope one of these items may have peaked your interest (ahem - Road ID). If you have any questions or want more info just let me know!

~Cheers, Rebecca

What are some of your can't live withouts?