Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Kill Plan B

So I haven't talked much about my metal training for RAAM yet.

It's a hard thing to share publicly, becuase it exposes your weaknesses, and I am not sure how I feel about that.

One of the things that I did was have a session with sports psycologist Dr. Stan Beecham.

We talked for a couple of hours, and it was a fantastic experience. Within minutes, he had unpacked some issues that I had been struggling with for months. He was able to get me out of my own head look at issues in a clear and analytical way. I learned when I was being emotional and loosing my perspective on reality.

We also talked about the BIG why of endurance racing. I feel like this deserves its own post, but there are certainly two prongs for me: the deep philisopical veiw, and the lighter joyful view.

Right here, I would like to talk about having a "Plan B." We have probably all done it. Things like, "if I'm feeling good when the longer and shorter races split, I'll take the longer one," "My A time goal is this, my B time goal is that, and you know, worst case is my C time goal, which is crossing the finish line before they pull me off the course." Dr. Beecham does NOT think that is how you should work. He teaches to LET GO OF FEAR. To face that fear, release it, and watch your performance soar.

Here is a short piece from this month's Running Times Magazine article entitled "Resolutions for Serious Runner" by Sara Barker.


Whether it's a mountain marathon or a mile on the track, try an event that frightens you--and where you might be awful. "Most people set goals they are 100 percent sure they can hit," says sport psychologist Dr. Stan Beecham. "It's better to set a goal you are only 60 percent sure you will make. The more challenging the goal, the more engaged you will be." Furthermore, don't be a pantywaist. Dr. Beecham recommends you work without a net, metaphorically: "Having a Plan B is the best way to sabotage your Plan A--kill Plan B." Spoken like a fearless guy. And whether you fail or succeed at the event that turns your stomach, the experience will help you the next time the going gets rough.

This is some serious stuff. To be honest though, the races that have been the most satisfying are the ones that made me want to vomit the moment I registered. I think that is why I have been going longer longer and longer with my races. I think I LIKE being scared. I like facing that demon. I like overcoming. I think we all do. Otherwise, we would just sit at home and be comfortable. Those of us in this sport are looking for the challenge that we are not sure if we can meet. Things that are not certain.

As the Sage Eminem would say:

"Success is my only motherf**n option, Failure's not."

Another example is the Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei. They are Tendai Buddhist monks in Japan who embark on a truly mind-blowing running pilgramage whose details would make any western ultra-runner cringe. Really. It seems inhuman.

It is a 1000 day pilgramage over the course of 7 years with 100 day continuous back to back marathons (actually up to 84km/day). No food or drink is permitted while running, and during the 5th year, they have to do 9 of these days without food or water.

Here's the deal. they take an oath that they will finish, or they carry a knife with which to kill themselves. For them, this spiritual journey has no quit. None. DNF's do not happen. Overcoming must occur. There can be no fear of the physical feat, because there is no room for that.

Before they stat their physical journey, they work on seated meditation, breath control, and visualization. The importance of the mind cannot be overstated when we are talking about ultra endurance sports.

I do not think that is the level that I want to be on, but I do believe in commiting you entire self to a goal if you want to reach it. This sign was up when I was at Camp Twin Lakes this week. It seemed perfect.

RAAM is not certain. ANYTHING can happen. It really can. I am not 100% sure we can do it, and that is a part of the allure and the excitment about RAAM. Anything can happen.

Let's be real though--NOTHING is certain. Only now is certain. But with my one plan, then plan to finish, I can live "as if" the future is certain. I can train my body and my mind towards success.

But you know what? There is no room for doubt, and there is no room for Plan B. Arriving in Annapolis with Dani and my crew under the time limit is Plan A, Plan B, Plan C all the way to Plan Z. There is no other plan. There is no room for fear. We have to acknowledge it, and release it to get to the finish line.

The human body has unlimited power when the mind lets go of the fear that holds us back.

I believe that.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Mini-Camp in Florida!

Last weekend, I got to spend the weekend with Dani and Laura back in Ft. Lauderdale!

We had three wonderful days of riding.


Dani and I had a on/off RAAM simulation workout. We were supposed to do 1.5 hours on/1 hour off 4 times. We headed out into the pouring rain. Great.

Our motto for the day became, "better wet than cold!"

We spend our first break drying off in the hotel. Then Dani and I headed out for a longer ride and ended up in beautiful Palm Springs where we wiped ourselves dry with bathroom paper towels and sat down for a lunch at a diner.

We knocked out a shorter third ride back to Delray Beach. We sat down at a smoothie/juice bar and started talking to everyone about our RAAM adventure. They decided that we should all do shots of ginger juice to toast our race! They left out the part where they topped it with cayanne pepper! Holy Spicy!

Warmed up from the spicy juice, we headed back to the hotel for ride number 4 for a total of 111 miles!

We changed clothes, and went out to a really phenomenal dinner with Laura!


We got up and headed down to south Miami to meet up with Ken and Leslie! They brought us on a beautiful ride with some great roads! We rode into the everglades where we saw baby alligators! I really wanted to put one in my pocket. Somehow, I resisted!

We made a MANDATORY stop at Robert is Here for key lime milkshakes. These are seriously the best milkshakes on earth.

We ended the day with 100 miles on the bike, and Leslie joining our crew! I am so excited!! We had a fantastic day with some amazing friends!


We woke up and headed out with Laura for the morning's first ride. We kept riding between storms!

Then, we stopped at our old friend the juice bar, and headed back out for the last part of the ride . We ended the day with 105 miles and a total of 316 miles for the weekend!

We had some time to relax, and then we took off and headed back home....

It was a great weekend of training and friendship. It was wonderful to get the chance to train with Dani and have nothing else to do but ride and talk about riding....I hope to have many more weekends like this as we venture closer to the big week!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Orbana Healthy Energy Drink Review

While on my training camp in Florida (which you can read more about here!), I had the opportunity to try out Orbana Healthy Energy drink mix.

Typically, I do not take in my calories from liquids. I prefer gels, water, and food. I decided to give it a go, and really use it on my training camp. Knowing that I did 45 hours of training in 8 days, I took in a LOT of nutrition.
I brough an entire box of Orbana to Florida. I was unsure what I would think, because I am not a sports drink person.

Taste: This stuff tastes like a light pineapple citrus. It is NOT too sweet, which I loved. It did not taste  like salt (which some drinks do). I really enjoyed it, and found it suprising easy to drink! It was a light flavor, which I liked!

Performance: I like how even I felt when I was drinking it. I didn't feel the highs and lows of taking in gels (or soda, which is my typical drink on the road!). I just felt consistenetly good. For many reasons, I recovered quickly from my workouts, but I really beleive that the rides that I drank Orbana helped me bounce back faster.

Nutrition: Below is the nutrition claims from their website. I will say that I was impressed with the ingredients and the quality of the product.

Packaging: I had a box of little packets. When you are living out of a hotel room, and spending the entire day on the bike, it was great to just throw them in my pocket. Then, I can just refill on the go!

Overall: I would love to keep on using this product. I think it is great for a long distance athlete! I hope to put it to the test even further in my upcoming training!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

RAAM Training Has Begun--Training Camp!

Over my winter break, I had the most incredible opportunity from 12/27-1/7 to train, relax, and mentally prepare myself for Race Across America. George and I traveled to Fort Lauderdale and stayed in the luxurious B Ocean hotel thanks to my partner-in-crime/training buddy/mentor/sponsor/adopted big sister/confidant Laura! You remember Laura, right? We have gone on crazy adventures together before including Ironman St. George, Tashka 50k, accompanist in the double iron, and double-scoop training weekend in Florida! She's my girl!

We actually had 6 bikes in our room! Here's a few of them!

There are really three parts to this training camp:
1. The training for a total of 775 miles in 8 day!
2. The people
3. The FOOD!

1. The Training:


On our first day in Florida, I had an on/off workout on the schedule. These are my new "RAAM simulation rides." Since the race will be each of us taking turns, we are working to train my body to "get back up again" over and over and over. This being the first day, it was 1.5 hours on and one hour off three times to total 4.5 hours of riding. George and I rode on the A1A together for the first two and took a break for smoothies in Delray and then rode back. We picked up Laura after an hour and went back out for round three. All in all a really great start to the week!


We heard that there would be a group century out of Cooper City with a group from Z-bikes, so we decided to head out there! George and I rode about 90 miles on this day (the length of the ride). The ride was really fun because it went through downtown Miami, out to Key Biscayne, and through South Beach. It was the kind of ride that you probably needed 60 people doing to feel comfortable on those roads. We enjoyed the group and met some great people.


The next day was a two hour-one hour off--two hour on-one hour off- two hours on. Laura and George rode with me for the first two blocks. In the middle, we stopped at a little cafe and had a great brunch, and then we did the second segment. The third was solo, and it was WINDY! You aren't going to accidentally be ready for Kansas though, so this was a good practice!


George and I rode out the A1A down to Palm Beach and back. Holy Giant Houses and Yachts Batman! We got in about 5 hours on the bike and saw some pretty incredible homes. Felt like being on a bicycle Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous!


George and I did a century together to welcome in the new year! This was the first day that we found it tough to get out the door. This was supposed to be a bigger effort day. We pushed it pretty hard, so there is no photographic evidence! It was a great ride that we were both very proud of! Anne flew in and was at the hotel when we got back!


This was one of the most fun days! George, Anne, and I drove down to South Miami and met up with Leslie (one of the Team Shepherd riders this year) and her boyfriend Ken. They took us all on a magical 70 mile ride, and we had a BLAST!

We went to Biscayne National Park. George called this photo GLOR or Gorgeous Ladies of RAAM.

The fish are serious down here.

Then we kept on riding until we came upon this true gem of Americana! Richard is Here fruit stand. They make Key Lime Milkshakes. Period. Yum!!! We had a blast watching the petting zoo Emus and Tortoises while we ate our milkshakes. It was a surreal, but wonderful rest stop! George got a mango that they sliced up for him and he put in his jersey to eat on the bike. Totally normal in Florida ;-)

Then we kept on riding until we came upon this bakery that Leslie had been telling me about! WOW. Sticky bun heaven! Yes, the five of us did order a dozen of them, and yes, that is totally acceptable.

I thought you needed a close up.

Then we wrapped up the ride and will a rejuvenated spirit from good food, new scenery, and great friends, we headed back up to Ft. Lauderdale.


Ok--this is the day that I decided on while we were down here. I had talked to a guy on the A1A about his ride from Key Largo to Key west. Then, on the second, Ken told me that you can start it is Homestead on the mainland, and it is more like 130+ miles and even better. So a plan was born! George, Anne, and I woke up really early and drove to Homestead. Then, Anne proceeded to be an incredible crew member and providing us with awesome on the road support. George and I rode along through some really incredible scenery. It got better and better as the day went on!

Anne took off her crewing hat and replaced it with a helmet and joined us riding over the 7 mile bridge. Yes, it is a bridge that is 7 miles long and surrounded by incredibly beautiful water!!

A few hours and 132 miles later, we pulled into Key West!! What an awesome ride!

We spent the rest of the afternoon really enjoying Key West! What a fun place!

Anyone know why the chicken crossed the road in Key West?

Ok--wasn't actually a joke, I was just wondering why there were so many chickens!

Then, we had a long drive back to Ft. Lauderdale to get ready to ride one more day!


Last day of riding in Ft. Lauderdale! I went back out to Palm Beach with George. Anne popped into the ride for the middle 40 of the 85. Then, I went back out by myself until Laura came back. Then, she and I went out to top of the last bit of my training camp riding. It was just perfect to finish the week of riding with her! And I was done!!!

2. The People!

What an awesome trip! I got to spend the whole time with George, who I love hanging out with! He was able to ride with me more that I thought he would!

Laura came down on the bookends of the trip, which was awesome! It was also really great to get to spend some time with her family too! John is a blast and her kids are fantastic.

 Our buddy Scott Rigsby came town for the first weekend. We got to hang out and grab some tasty food together! He was happy to be with us too!

I was so excited to have convinced Anne to join us! We had a blast with her, and I am so proud of her 70 mile ride!! That was her longest ride yet!!

3. The food.

This really deserves it's own post! We ate REALLY well during training camp!

Fresh mozzarella made at the table! It is hard to imagine ever eating normal cheese again after this!

Our "dive" night where we had some killer fish dip!

One of the best dinners ever in Boca Raton with Laura's family and Scott! These were crab cake balls on fresh penne and vodka sauce!

We had a LOT of family style food that night, and of course, dessert!

Take out Thai food in the hotel room. Casual, yet delicious!

Cuban food in South Beach, which was just the perfect place with fantastic music!

And back to the mozzarella place for another great meal! Family style! (that's how we ate everything at training camp! It's more fun that way!)

A brunch at the W Hotel with Smoked Salmon benedict and crab and avocado benedict on our last morning!

Awesome pizza on the way to the airport!

So this was basically a week+ of bicycles, friends, and great food in beautiful weather!! One of my best weeks ever!!!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Powerbar Cookies and Cream and Kona Punch

These are my two favorite nutrition products for long ride days.

Ok, let's be honest, they are my favorite nutrition items for short rides too.

I have talked plenty in the past about my love of the cookies and cream bar. There have been many days when eating that bar is my reason to train! There is something about this bar that has me hooked. When I tried going vegan for a few months (instead of my normal vegetarian), this was my one exception. THAT is how much I love them.
This puppy is one of my go to pre-ride snacks or a mid ride pick me up on long days. If you ride in the morning, they go very well with a steaming and warm cup of coffee. That's a pro level tip people.

Powergels are my go-to gel for most any workout. I love how thin they are. They are much easier to get down than most gels. My favorite flavors are raspberry and Kona punch.

They are light and bright flavors with just enough tang to them to keep you from getting fatigued. I use them every 30 minutes in long days and then I do something longer on the 2 hour mark. For example, in the double iron, I literally went through multiple cases of them. I brought 4 cases to our training camp in Florida last week and only came back with one! I do not like drinking sports drinks, so I love that I am able to get the nutrition and the electrolytes I need in quickly and easily, and then I prefer to drink water.

Love these things, and cant' wait to keep pounding them as a part of my RAAM training this year!