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Race Anecdotes: Darkblade Systems Thunderblade Senior Road State Championship

There we were, the four of us, joking about making it a group ride instead of a race. We asked Shawn if there were any cafes on the Air Force Academy base.

I had two thoughts: where the hell were all the Cat 3’s and I only have to beat three women.

The 3’s had notoriously shown up in small numbers over the past season. As a fresh Cat 3, struggling with internal motivation and realizing what other racers coined “the graveyard,” I was both discouraged that our category size was laughable but also motivated to win.

Truly the only goal I made as a new Cat 3 at the beginning of the season was to win one race. After mid-pack finishes after the other, I thought to myself, “I just have to beat three women.” The thing about courses and racing and racers is that people race to their strengths. Non-climbers didn’t sign up for this race. Hell, two of the women who raced against me admitted they weren’t climbers but they signed up to support the category. Like, how admirable is that?

After my sub-par performance in all the hill climbs over the season, I wouldn’t have called myself a hill climber either. Franky, the day before this race I came in DFL. While I held back in that race to perform better in this race, I still came in last, and I’m sure my holding back didn’t make that much of a difference.

So, there we were, lined up in front of Shawn, the Executive Director of BRAC. We had five 9-mile laps for a total of 45 miles. The four of us, Katie, Nicole, Ashley, and myself agreed we’d ride together as long as we could because truly that was more tactical than dropping each other at the get-go.

Ashley fell from the group first. While I wanted to make it a group no-drop ride, I remembered I came to the race to win, and I knew (at least I told myself) she realized it was nothing personal.

At one point, we caught up to the P-1-2 women who were really treating it like a group ride. We didn’t know if it was best to pass them or hold off in case someone attacked. Our group got bored enough soft pedaling that we ended up passing them.

One of Nicole’s teammates on ALPs shouted at her to not lead the pack. I laughed, knowing full well we were all taking turns at the front. I said something back to that effect. Also, I wanted to let her know she should worry about her own race.

A lap later, the Cat 4/5 women passed us. There were about nine of them in that group. I felt silly being passed by the Cat 4’s as a 3 in the sense that typically that doesn’t happen on these longer courses. But alas, there were only three of us taking turns at the front, which inevitably is harder than a group of nine women taking turns at the front.

I had to remind myself that I could not stay in the front the whole time, even if I was more comfortable there. I had to trust that Nicole and Katie would point out obstacles and people. And they did. We were working together, not against each other. There’s a time and place to be ruthless. Like 500 meters from the finish line or if someone is sucking wheel, refusing to take a pull. Sure, maybe that’s tactical, but it’s also kind of an asshole move. It certainly would have been with just the three of us.

With two laps to go, we lost Katie. It was kind of ironic to have been racing against her a year later on the same course. She was the friendly Cat 3 who I rode with in one of my first road races the season prior as a Cat 4. And then there we were: both Cat 3’s, Racing for the State Champ title. I tried to encourage her to keep pushing just as she had done for me the year before. When I looked back the distance between Nicole and I and Katie had doubled. Nicole asked if we should wait for her. I wanted to but I told Nicole, “I mean, this is a race.”

Again, I had to convince myself that Katie knew it wasn’t personal.

I noticed Nicole was taking shorter and shorter pulls. We were no longer chatting; only breathing. A couple of words between deep breaths and sips of water: “almost there,” we said on more than one occasion.

I saw the 1km sign. Hold back.

Then I saw Alison Powers, Nicole’s team coach. She usually bikes on the sidelines and yells out tips or motivation to her team. I kept the pace the same, waiting for Alison to yell to Nicole. I knew it was coming. I also knew Nicole would listen and do as Alison instructed. That’s how her team operates. I think it’s inspiring how dedicated the team is to Alison and vice versa. Alison knows her shit. And how, almost automatic the team operates. Everything is drilled and dialed in. When you race against ALP, you’re racing against a well-oiled machine.

Who knows what people get when they race against me. As the only Cat 3 on pedal, I don’t get that opportunity to train as a team with tactics. I’m learning as I go. And also, racing against the same people over and over again throughout the season, I picked up on some of their tactics.

I knew Alison was going to give Nicole the cue to sprint to the finish. I was exhausted. I always struggled with the sprint finish – which is where all the racing comes down to. The last 250 meters. I could only hope that Nicole had less gas in her tank than me.

I kept my eyes forward, Alison and Nicole in my peripheral, waiting. I could see the white line up ahead, the orange fencing approaching fast, and there it was:

“SPRINT NICOLE!!”

I could hear Chris up ahead yelling at me: “GO! PETER SAGAN!”

Thoughts flying through my head, all telling me to push, as hard as I could; that I wanted this win. Nicole dropped from peripheral. My lungs were burning, as were my legs. I didn’t dare look back or get cocky and raise my arms in the air.

And just like that, I came in first place. I congratulated Nicole for her finish on a tough course. I also thanked Alison for the cue. We waited for Katie and Ashley and cheered for them as they crossed the line.

We were all friends after that hellish race with those struggles in common. We endured head wind, exhaustion, climbing 3,700 feet, and the same awestruck of the “graveyard.”

Typically, winners will earn upgrade points, but there needs to be a minimum of five racers. I was the State Champ but I didn’t get a single upgrade point. At least I had good company in the grave.

Real Body Image Talk

Hi. My name is Jessica and I have a problem.

I cannot look at my body without having some sort of criticism. Today, I found some broken blood vessel on my face. It looks like a freckle but up close, it isn’t. I stretched the skin around, inspected it as if I was a scientist, reviewing cells under a microscope. I found the vein. I leaned away from the mirror to see if it was noticeable as it was up close. All I could imagine were varicose veins plaguing my face, like some kind of connect-the-moles game. I started to relive fifth grade again. When the kids made fun of the moles on my face: “Moley! Moley! Moley!” mimicking Austin Powers.

I used to think I had strong, muscular legs. That was until I had a body fat analysis scan that revealed most of my fat is in my legs. Oh, and arms. Now all I see are sausage legs in my cycling kit. I don’t look fast. I look fat. I look like when you stuff a giant pillow into a tiny pillow case – seams and material stretching, pushing maximum density, as it curves into itself.

I am more self-conscious now in shorts knowing full well that there’s more fat than muscles. And I rub the sides of my thighs a lot as if I could rub away cellulite like you do with scuff marks on the floor. Once I scuffed the floor from my bike tires. I tried all different kinds of solutions believing one of them would finally wash away the black rubber streaked across the laminate wood flooring. Finally, I took a butter knife and etched away at the black.

I can’t etch away cellulite.

When I walk, I can feel my inner thighs rubbing together. I know it isn’t muscle because of how much it jiggles. It’s soft and flimsy like silly putty. Only I can’t mold my thighs like a stone statue. And my thighs smash into each other when I sit – doubling in size. I try not to look down when I’m sitting because I know I’ll see a single thigh. One giant, jiggly, fatty thigh.

And I eat another piece of chocolate.

My shirts lay against my stomach just right where I can see the little bump that no matter the number of crunches, planks, or skipped meals, it stays there. I constantly tug at my shirt to hide it, pulling material loose. Using two hands sometimes to stretch the material if it hugs my belly too tight.

I’ll dig my thumbs into my hips trying to find the bone. Then pinching the excess that peeks over my jeans. If no one’s around, I’ll lift my shirt high enough and stare and scrutinize my midsection. Twisting and turning to view every possible angle in a desperate search to find the most flattering. Tightening my stomach, pushing it out, and sucking it in to find the right amount of contraction it’ll take to make it look flat. But it never gets as flat as I want it to. I look down and see that fucking bump every day.

And my gaze travels up. Up to my back where skin folds along my bra strap. Months and months of back strengthening exercises and there’s still back fat leering. Months of attempting to cut portions, match my carb-to-protein ratio, and staring longingly at cookies. Sometimes, I’ll reach behind with a false sense of optimism believing that I’ll be unable to pinch anything.

I call my breasts “orangutan boobs” and now you’re picturing it. A sign of getting older and the effects of gravity. I joke their small size keeps me aero on the bike. Always self-deprecating. Never self-appreciating. I also joke about my “bingo flab,” also known as triceps.

Again with the months of Tricep exercises believing that one day I’ll defy gravity and there won’t be loose skin hanging below my arms. That when I do the first place stance my arms will look strong and mighty, not droopy.

And while I complain about all the physical limitations and imperfections of my body, I never apologize for taking up space. Rarely do I complain to the general public about the size of my thighs or the numerous moles on my face. And when I get really fucking down about my body, I remind myself that at least I have a working one. It takes a single accident to lose it all. With all the activities I do, my flabby stomach drops when I consider what it’d be like to no longer ride my bike, hike, run, stretch, walk, and take care of myself. At that moment my eyes look at the blue sky instead.

Race Anecdotes: WMBAcos Purple Pursuit

“I’m not gonna win, but I may as well try,” I thought to myself after reading Good Guy Tubeless’ contest for a free entry into the Women’s Mountain Biking Association of Colorado Springs. “I never win contests” I said out loud as I tagged my teammate, Stacey, in the comments.

WTf-specific

While the “free entry” posted across my Facebook feed initially piqued my interest, what actually pulled me more into the post was the fact that this was for a women’s mountain bike race. The Purple Pursuit reminded me a lot of the Beti Bike Bash held earlier in the year, but on a smaller scale and located in the springs.

I love seeing events pop-up for the non-male cycling community, especially because there’s a need and a want. Every race I’ve attended (with the exception of female-specific races) it’s a total sausage fest. And while I have always been more of a “tom-boy” and typically have more male friends than WTf (women/trans/femme) friends, I want to see more WTf-friendly races, events, and gatherings. The WTf community needs to know there is space for them and races like The Purple Pursuit start that dialogue in the racing scene.

Paired with companies like Good Guy Tubeless who become allies in this quest for getting more people, especially WTf racing bikes, the community continues to grow.

I wasn’t planning on signing up

Let me preface this by telling you I primarily race road. Before The Purple Pursuit, I tried two mountain bike races. I’m definitely a beginner mountain bike racer. To be perfectly honest, I doubt I would have signed up to race The Purple Pursuit. And that’s important to know if we want to get more women racing their bikes.

Why wouldn’t I have signed up for this great, women-specific mountain bike race? One that offered food, prizes, a solid course, and generous support?

I didn’t want to pay to suck and/or lose. I didn’t know anyone else from my team racing. It was a far drive to the Springs from our house. I didn’t have time to preview the course. And I was burnt out from all my prior racing over the season. Mountain biking takes a completely different set of skills from road, plenty of which I am still completely clueless. I assumed I’d be the less-skilled beginner and it intimidated me.

With a free entry, all those worries fell to the wayside. Saving $45 on an entry justified the 55-mile drive and early wake up, and winning was no longer as important as the experience. Granted, I still wanted to win.

When Hannah of Good Guy Tubeless congratulated me on my win through Facebook messenger, I was shocked. Like I said, I never win anything. She asked for a photo and I had to dig deep to find a good mountain biking picture of me. I found one from my first mountain bike race that was also a free entry for me. It was gifted from my teammate Teena, who unfortunately, crashed in another race and couldn’t compete in Battle of the Bear. She offered it to me for free (saving me $70). Then I was given a “friends and family” discount code to Estes Epic that it felt like I was almost getting paid to race.

See a theme yet?

Lower the cost and barriers to entry for women and they’ll show up. Provide a fun atmosphere and unyielding support and they’ll show up. I guarantee you that I will race more mountain next season because of my experiences this year. I’m going from a “roadie for life” to “I’m a cyclist who races road, mountain, and I dabble in cross.”

The course

Since I signed up for the Beginner category, we had a 6-mile out and back, while the Intermediate and Advanced women had a 13-mile loop.

We started in a dirt parking lot near the stadium. There was a small hill I used to warm-up. The lively announcer caught Chris give me a kiss as were staged under the blow-up banner before the start.

My plan was to jet off at the beginning to get enough distance from the group so I could go slower downhill as I’m still getting used to that. The course was perfect for a beginner race. Nothing technical and no hike-a-bikes. There were tree roots to climb over, sandy sections, and calm downhills. I felt confident and I was hauling. Anytime I looked behind me there wasn’t a rider in sight.

As I passed volunteers, I’d hear “pedal!” and their cowbells. At one point, I found myself at 4.5 miles thinking, “when will I be turning back?” I finally ran into a woman who asked, “are you racing?” “Yeah, I’m a beginner.” Shocked, she told me, “you’re on the wrong course. This is the Intermediate course. You have to go back.” So I did. I went to the previous aid station and the guy didn’t know where I had to go so he told me to go back another aid station. So I did. That man didn’t know either. So I continued to backtrack, hearing my number over the walkies, feeling quite foolish.

I finally returned to the aid station where I was supposed to take a hard right (instead, I went straight). When I showed up, there were new flags and ribbon indicating where we had to go. Unfortunately, they weren’t there when I originally passed. The volunteers smiled and apologized for mistaking me for an intermediate racer and pointing me in the wrong direction.

I remembered this was the first time this race was ever put on so I couldn’t expect everything to go off without any hitch. I also realized that I was gifted an entry, for which I was grateful. I told myself as I flew down a steep double-track that this was all for fun.

Racing doesn’t need to only be focused on winning. I thought about the skills I was teaching myself as I navigated downhill through sandy tracks that pulled my front tire back and forth. It reminded me of cross practice in a sandpit. I looked around the forest and again, I was completely alone. I knew I was no longer in first, but at that point, I didn’t care.

The Awards

Inevitably, I came in third receiving a large rock with a purple plaque and a bike chain glued across as an award. It was original which I absolutely loved. They had decorated with purple balloons instead of a car or trash bins in the background.

My favorite part was the DFL AKA “The Perseverance Award” given to the racer who came in last place. Rarely is anyone stoked to come in last. For me, it’s nearly humiliating and demotivates me. But at The Purple Pursuit, it was celebrated. It was awesome seeing the women’s smiles as their names were called; the crowd cheering even louder.

That’s a way to get women to return to a race. Celebrate everyone.

The Schwag & Prizes

Not only did I receive my rock award, but I also got a glass and coozy simply for signing up. I always wonder how these mountain bike races make money with all the free goods they give away with registration.

As we waited for awards, there was a raffle as well. Spirits were high between the free booze and burgers, brauts, and veggie burgers. Again, believing I never win prizes, my name was called. I won! I chose a hat and gave it to Chris as a prize of his own for persevering through the day. I knew he was ready to go home.

This race became more about supporting organizations like the Women’s Mountain Biking Association of Colorado Springs and new racers. It was about challenging myself and learning new skills. It was about thanking companies like Good Guy Tubeless for gifting new racers like me an entry into a race they probably wouldn’t have done. And if I didn’t race, I would have missed out on meeting two pedal RACING teammates who I hadn’t met before who are total badasses.

5 Ways to Keep Your Athlete Intrinsically Motivated

An athlete participates in sports for a variety of reasons and their motivation to continue and excel can be extrinsically or intrinsically-based. Athletes who are intrinsically motivated participate in sports for internal reasons, such as the enjoyment of the sport and to improve their skills. Extrinsically-motivated athletes participate in sports for external reasons, such as awards and trophies or to not disappoint a family member or friend.

When an athlete focuses on the internal rewards and is therefore, intrinsically-motivated, they are more apt to stay focused, have more confidence and self-efficacy, have more satisfaction, and are less stressed when they make a mistake. On the other hand, extrinsically-motivated athletes who seek out external rewards are more likely to be anxious, fear failure, and show less interest towards achievement.

To keep your athlete motivated, focus on intrinsic motivational factors such as improving their performance, their “Why,” staying positive, being mindful, and setting goals.

 

Focus on Improving Performance

Remind your athletes to compares themselves only to their past performance. Comparing their performance to other athletes is a quick way to demotivation. Of course, part of competing is comparing athletes, but to keep an athlete motivated, it’s better to focus on their past performance. Show them how they’re improving from before. Use metrics and data to show them their improvements instead of where they placed in an event or against another athlete.

 

Ask Them Their “Why”

Everyone has a reason for doing what they do. When you have an athlete who is losing motivation, ask them their “why.” Why do they participate in their sport? What makes them continue on? What made them start in the first place? Can they remember the first time they participated and what that felt like?

When you form a sense of purpose for the athlete, it also creates an environment of self-development and growth. This takes time and patience, but when an athlete finds their purpose they will most likely continue to reach their goals with motivation and inspire others.

 

Stay Positive

A study published by The Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology found that coaches who were positive, encouraging, and provided data-based feedback helped develop an athlete’s intrinsic motivation as opposed to coaches who ignored an athlete’s successes and failures. As a coach, focus on the positives while also helping the athlete grow. The “sandwich method” is most often used when providing constructive feedback: provide the athlete two positives and between them, include something they need to improve. This way, the athlete hears about their positive attributes and is more likely to work harder on the aspect they need to improve knowing they are still doing well.

Additionally, staying positive is considered a “mentally tough” attribute according to a study published by The Journal of Applied Sport Psychology. Athletes are “mentally tough” when they can remain calm, relaxed, and energized in difficult situations as well as have the right attitudes regarding problems and stress. As a coach, lead by example by remaining calm and having the right attitude in response to unfortunate circumstances.

 

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is defined as being aware of your surroundings while focusing on the present moment. When you’re mindful in your sport, you’re fully present in what you’re doing at that moment, also known as “achieving a state of flow.” Learning to prepare psychologically in addition to physically and tactically, helps athletes stay focused, motivated, and improves their performance.

Mindfulness helps athletes disconnect from negative or anxious thoughts. Instead of thinking “I can’t catch the racer,” a mindful athlete will think “Right now, I’m having a thought that I cannot catch the racer,” but they do not hold on to that thought. They let the thought go and instead, focus on their breathing or technique.

 

Set Goals

The biggest factor in keeping an athlete motivated is setting attainable yet challenging goals. Having a direction helps an athlete stay motivated or realize they no longer want to participate in the sport. Ask them if they want to continue this and if so, are they going to do everything they can to be the best athlete in their power? If they want to be the best, they need long-term goals. Long-term goals will help remind your athlete why they’re doing what they’re doing; why they’re training as hard as they are during times of low morale. It’s their long-term goal, their “why,” that will keep them going.

Also, strive for short-term goals because accomplishing goals, whether big or small, gives an athlete additional motivation to keep striving toward their long-term goal.

 

 

Remember that every athlete you train is different and are uniquely motivated for a variety of factors. While one athlete may positively react to negative reinforcement, another athlete needs the positive encouragement to keep going. On the other hand, one athlete may be able to easily adopt a mindfulness practice, whereas it’s like a foreign language to another. Being a great coach means adapting and leading your athletes on the path to a stronger version of themselves. Get to know your athletes on a deep level to know which motivational factors will work best for them.

If you’re an athlete looking for a coach to keep you motivated, please feel free to reach out to me here.

 

Jessica’s Weight Loss Formula

Protein + Fiber – Sugar/Processed Foods = Weight Loss

 

There are two types of fat around our bellies: visceral fat and subcutaneous fat. The stuff you can squeeze and jiggle is subcutaneous fat. It’s the fat right below your skin. While it’s not exactly harmful to your health, it’s what we see when our shirts come off and what we hope to lose when we think of “love handles” or “spilling over my edges.”

 

Visceral fat, on the other hand, is harmful to our health and it’s the fat that surrounds our organs. It’s hard fat that causes people’s stomachs to stick out. You know the look: small arms and legs, but the pot belly. It’s dangerous because it causes harm to our bodies, such as increasing our resistance to insulin. It also increases our risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.

 

When we want to lose weight, especially around the middle, there are foods that we should be eating in particular if we want to shed fat. Better yet, there are foods you should cut from your diet immediately.

 

Increase Protein

 

Protein is a macronutrient (along with carbohydrates and fat) that is essential in building and rebuilding muscles. Scientifically speaking, protein is made up of amino acids. Protein helps us fuel our muscles, keep us feeling full, and aids in metabolism.

 

When you eat more protein, you increase your satiety (hunger-reducing) hormones and reduce your hunger pangs. Theoretically, when you eat protein you stay fuller longer and you automatically decrease your calories because you’re not snacking as much.

 

Protein also has a higher thermic effect than carbs, which means your body is burning calories to metabolize and digest the protein. It also increases your metabolism if that wasn’t enough.

 

So how much protein should we be eating on the daily? The short answer is: it depends on your goals. To lose weight, particularly belly fat, aim for 30% of your calorie intake to be protein. Another option is eating 0.7 – 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass.

 

High protein foods

  1. Eggs

A study published by the International Journal of Obesity found that eating eggs for breakfast instead of a bagel aids in weight loss. The protein in the eggs increased satiety while decreasing hunger hormones.

  1. Cottage Cheese

If you’re not a fan of eggs, another breakfast or snack option is cottage cheese. Cottage cheese has a high amount of protein as well as calcium, A and B vitamins. Participants in a clinical trial increased their protein and dairy intake and saw significant weight loss.

  1. Chicken

Grilled chicken packs you with protein without packing in calories. 3 ounces of chicken breast provides 19 grams of protein while only weighing in at 102 calories.

  1. Broccoli

For the vegetarians and vegans, broccoli is higher in protein compared to most vegetables with 2.6 grams of protein per cup.

  1. Whey Protein Supplements

If you’d like to get your protein from a different source or you’re short on time, whey protein supplements are plentiful. Whey is the byproduct after milk has been curdled and strained. A lot of lifters will supplement their diets with whey protein before and after a weight lifting workout because of whey’s digestion rate and its ability to send amino acids to the muscles.

 

Increase fiber intake

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that is a plant-based nutrient. It’s not broken down by the body the same way carbs are broken down, though. “Dietary fiber” is the indigestible parts of plant-based foods that remain intact during the digestion process. Fiber regulates digestion, lowers cholesterol, reduces blood glucose levels, among many other benefits. It can also make you fart if you increase it too much too soon, so think about your loved ones downwind when you begin your path toward more fiber.

 

In a study published by Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers found that by changing a single dietary behavior (adding more fiber to the participants’ diet) aids in weight loss. Like protein, fiber helps us fill fuller for longer periods of time, which helps reduce snacking and arbitrarily eating junk foods.

 

Right now, most adults are only eating 15 grams of fiber per day, which is about half the recommending amount. For men 50 years old or younger, they should be eating about 38 grams of fiber a day. For women 50 years old or younger, they should be eating about 25 grams. For men 50+, they need to stick with 30 grams of fiber per day and women 50+ need to aim for 21 grams.

 

High fiber foods

  1. Almonds

One serving of almonds packs 3 grams of fiber. You can add almonds to nearly any dish or grab a handful walking out the door. They’re also full of protein, so you get double bang for your buck when you eat them.

  1. Oats

If you’ve been enjoying your oatmeal for breakfast then you’re well ahead of the gang because oatmeal contains a powerful fiber, beta-glucan, which helps lower cholesterol. Sprinkle almonds on top of your oatmeal for a protein and fiber-packed breakfast.

  1. Brussel Sprouts

Another shout-out for the plant-based eaters among us, brussel sprouts have as much fiber as they do protein, coming in at 3 grams of fiber per serving.

  1. Lentils

For omnivores, herbivores, and carnivores alike, lentils are not only low on the glycemic index, but these guys pack on the fiber and protein – another double whammy. With the high fiber and protein, you’ll stay full much longer than you would if you only ate a bagel for breakfast.

  1. Whole grains

Eating whole grain breads and cereals will help you reach your fiber intake as well. It’s best to check the label of any food that claims it’s “whole grain” because some will still contain flour. A single slice of whole grain bread contains 2 grams of fiber and if you eat the bread with oatmeal, you’re getting a complete breakfast.

 

Cut out sugar and chemically processed foods

If you really want to make a difference in your belly, cut out the gross, processed shit you’re eating. Really, anything that has a label on it, with more than five ingredients, that can hang out outside of the fridge for more than a few days without going bad is processed. The problem with processed foods is that they have a ton of weird things in them that causes inflammation, makes us sick, and makes us fat.

 

Eating processed foods introduces way too much sugar into your diet. While sugar in moderation is one thing, a Western diet typically eats 82 grams of sugar per day (supposed to stick to 25 grams or less). Eating too much sugar makes you fat, obviously. It also jacks with your metabolism and leads to insulin resistance. It can cause diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

 

If you’re looking to make a change in your diet or lose belly fat, increasing your protein and fiber intake will help you achieve goal. You’ll increase satiety and decrease your snacking because you’ll be less hungry. Adding in exercise will double your effort and the pounds will eventually melt away.

Race Report: Frostbite Time Trial

“You can’t be self-conscious in a skin suit,” I told myself as I sucked in my stomach to zip up the front of my never-worn pedal RACING skin suit.

I figured looking and feeling uncomfortable had to be worth the two seconds this attire would knock off from my time. What I needed was strong legs, not an expensive one piece that hugged all the wrong curves.

I also layered up seeing as the name of our race was called, “Frostbite” and my go time was at 9:00 AM. The sun wouldn’t be out long enough to warm the roads. But I soon came to find out that my warm-up would sufficiently raise my body temperature and I’d be stripping off the leg warmers and base layer.

I knew it was going to be a rough race as I spun out my legs to a made-up-on-the-spot warm-up routine. They were heavy. They felt like two rolls of cookie dough, just fluffy and no oomph. I changed up the resistance, adding and subtracting during this 45-minute wishful thinking.

I neglected all the books (okay, the one and a half) I read that told me to visualize the race and the outcome. I was too busy distracting myself with my teammates. I watched my wolves undulate and listened to the broken music playing from my iPhone.

The day before I took my time trial bike out for a spin and it was shaky. I knew it had been too long since I was last on it for three reasons: 1. There was dust. 2. I forgot which lever shifted up or down. 3. I still had a RAGBRAI tag on the stem. You could say I was a tad underprepared for the race.

But what the hell, I thought. Surely no one is ready for race season at this point.

Time Trials are a race against the clock. Racers are sent one at a time at thirty second intervals. You race for fastest time. Most of the time you don’t know how you’re stacking up against your competition until the results are disappointingly posted.

3…2…1…Silence.

I told myself I wouldn’t allow myself to go below 200 watts. I was recently asked, “Why 200?” Well, why not? It sounded good enough and I based that number off previous FTP scores. One was 192 and another was 177. I’ve also learned that plenty of people think FTP tests are horseshit. So again, 200 sounded good enough.

The biggest thing with Time Trials is making sure you don’t blow up at the beginning (or middle) of the race so a lot of it is pacing and obviously knowing what you are capable of doing. I low-balled myself and thought 200 watts was going to be a challenge based off my FTP tests.

I kept sight of the chick 30 seconds in front of me. Before the race I jokingly said my goal was to catch Teena who took off two or three minutes ahead of me. I didn’t think I’d be fast enough.

Once I rolled away from the taped white line and cycled away from the man’s legs that held me steady as I clipped in, my new goal was to catch the woman in front of me.

A speck of color ahead of me the entire time, I stayed at 200 watts, controlling my breathing, watching her the entire time, attempting to close the gap.

The wind swept me back and forth along the road as I chased down the competition. I never caught her. As I approached the turnaround cone, I saw the rest of my Category catching up to me.

The 200 watts didn’t help me chase down or move fast compared to these women. Two women passed me so I knew I wasn’t getting on the podium.

I figured 5th. I came in 6th. Out of 12.

It’s an ego check coming in middle of the pack after doing well last season. I’m trying to remind myself that this is not a judgment on the person I am. It’s data. I now know how long it takes me to race 11 miles and where I stack against other women. I know these women, my competition, will make me faster.  I will become a stronger cyclist because of them. And I’m grateful for that.

Excuses are like assholes

You aren’t working out because you don’t want to. It’s just not a priority for you. Own it. We only have 24 hours in a day and we all prioritize them differently.

The biggest excuse (and yes, that’s what it is) I hear is: “I don’t have time to workout.”

You do.

The problem is that you don’t want to spend your extra time working out. I get it. I was once like that. I thought walking 500 steps from car to school was a workout.

Back in high school, my best friend wanted me to join soccer with her. I remember thinking I didn’t have the time after school to go to practice. And the games. And all the days/nights spend running around. Instead, I thought going to cafes and punk rock shows were more valid uses of my time. Mosh pits and chai teas were my priorities.

I didn’t want to workout. It seemed like a chore or something my mom would make me do when I talked back. I associated working out with pain and sweat and my 16-year old mind thought, “ew. Gross.” I did not want to find time to go through that.

My friend finally convinced me to go to a soccer try-out with her. I distinctly remember the coaches walking us to the stairs that my crew hung around and I thought, “why the fuck are we going over to the stairs? We’re not running up that shit, are we? No way. I’m not doing this.”

So there I was, running up and down these stairs that I only ever used to get to my next class or hangout at the bottom. And I was panting, sweating, and cursing my friend for dragging me to this. I felt awful and as I made my way to the bottom I told myself that once I reached the top again I was booking it around the corner and running away from this bullshit.

Five steps from the top I was ready. I was ready to dart away and be done. I semi-considered how the other girls would react to this vanishing act I so quickly invented as I gasped for air and that top step. Then I took off. I ducked behind a railing and heard a girl yell, “a girl just ran away.” Yup. Sure did.

Then I army-crawled down the hall, later finding my punk rock friends haphazardly rolling a cigarette. Like I said, I didn’t have the time for sports.

What changed? The inner tube growing around my waist was a pudgy nudge to get my ass moving. I did 30 minutes three times a week in Undergrad. That was plenty, surely, to lose weight and stay fit. I worked out to YouTube videos that were definitely under 30 minutes. Anything that creeped over that 30-minute mark were skipped. Who has time to do a 34-minute video? A new cafe just opened up on Broadway and their untasted chai tea had my name on it.

Unbeknownst to my ignorance, the chai I later drank did away with whatever no-greater-than-30-minute YouTube video burned. I wasn’t seeing results and I heard once that weights were good, so I signed up at Bally’s for $10 per month with my mom.

I had no idea what to do with the racks on racks of weights, the sweat-stained machines, and weird cardio equipment I never heard of before (rower? TF?). I started Googling and teaching myself how to lose weight, gain strength, and grow muscle.

I started going every other day, slowly carving more time out of my day so I could workout at the gym, even adding a weekend into the mix. My mother started doing weights with me and we tried new moves. I began to add weight to my lifts and ventured away from the 30-minute workout to 40 minutes to 50 and so on.

Then I met Jared who probably revolutionized my training routine. I made fun of him at first for how often he trained and how meticulous he seemed about health and fitness. Tracking your workout? With a smart watch? My money was still going to concerts and chais.

Then I got on a bike and fell in love with Bullseye (their name). I wanted to improve on my bike. I remember seeing Jared taking selfies, talking on the phone, texting, adjusting his bibs while he waited for me. I hated being the “slow one.” I felt uncomfortable knowing I was messing with someone else’s workout. I was determined to get stronger.

I started training specifically for cycling, carving out more time from my day to dedicate to riding my bike AND weight lifting because strong legs meant faster legs. The time that was once devoted to chai tea lattes and blaring music in spilled alcohol and grimey dance floors began to shrivel compared to my “training” time.

For the first time, I understood it to be training and not “working out.” I was training for a 100-mile bike ride and late night shows prevented me from waking up early to conquer the trails.

I stopped going out during the week for drinks and coffee because my alarm was set for 5:30 AM to get my workout finished.

I was told you have three choices in training – sleep, training, social life – and that I could only pick two because it was impossible to have all three. This is where priorities come into play and how mine changed.

As I trained, I hung out with my friends less and less. They eventually stopped inviting me out because they already knew the answer. I don’t blame them. Constantly receiving the same, “sorry, I have to get up early morning to train” response would also push me away from asking someone to hang out. They knew they weren’t a priority. My priorities were sleeping and training. I learned the hard way how important sleep is to training when riding my first 80 Miles on little sleep. There were tears.

You must find the time. No one has more hours in their day than you. You have to prioritize. You must make hard choices. You can totally have your cake and eat it too (wouldn’t recommend this every day), but you can’t have your cake, eat it, and reach your weight loss goal.

Same goes for working out: you can’t have all three (sleep, train, social life). You can have a little of all three, but it’ll take you that much longer to reach your goal. If you want it bad enough, you’ll make the hard choices that get you to your goal. You’ll stop doing shit you thought was important (watching tv, drinking at bars, sipping chai, watching bands play until 2AM).

If you want to lose weight, get stronger, achieve some fitness goal, you’ll find the time to do it – only if you’re motivated enough and only when you prioritize.

Heart Rate Zone Training

 

 

 

Want to start heart rate zone training? Get at me: grinandgrindit@gmail.com

The Purposeful Gym Workout

I greet most members in the gym with, “What are you working on today?” and either they don’t want to talk to me or they truly don’t know their goal for the day. Most of the time they’re confused with the question and typically ask me, “What?” They’ll look away – thinking of what to tell me – and then stammer out with, “uh.. cardio….” or “I don’t know.”

Granted, I’m wearing a Personal Trainer shirt so I’m assuming they’re assuming I want to sell them services, which, duh, but also it’s a great way to learn about people. I have some fascinating conversations with people who have years of experience in a particular sport or activity. I also learn a lot about aches, pains, and tears and it reminds me of how important it is to move.

When I walk the floor, I notice a lot of people moseying around, most likely thinking to themselves, “Oh, seated leg press…I should try that.” Then they’ll do one set and move on to another machine. This doesn’t get results.

Planning and following through on that plan gets you results.

1. Start with your goal.

What do you want to accomplish in 30, 60, 90 days? I previously posted about S.M.A.R.T goals, which you should read if you haven’t. Set a goal that is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely. When you give yourself a goal it motivates you to do the things it takes to reach it. If you always go to the gym without motivation other than “you have to,” you’ll always look the same.

2. Develop a Plan

You’ve made your S.M.A.R.T goal. Now you make the plan. What will it take to reach your goal? What sort of training will it take and how long?

This is probably the most intimidating part because most of us have an idea of what we want, but not sure how to get there. That’s when people like myself come in handy. If you don’t want to hire a Personal Trainer, then research. Find blogs, articles, and free sources that can give you an idea as to how other people have reached similar goals as yours. It’s out there. It just takes time and research.

 

3. Keep Yourself Accountable

You’re more likely to slack on a goal if only you know about it. Tell people about your goal. Make them hold you accountable. Start a group of people with similar goals. Do what it takes to force yourself to stick to your goal.

And show up. Set the goal. Make the plan. And do it.

Excuses are like assholes – everyone has one and they all stink.

Everyone has the same number of hours in the day. It’s the successful people who make the most out of every second, minute, hour.

Go to the gym with your exact workout written down with sets, reps, and a column to track it all. That way, when someone like me asks you, “What are you working on today?” you’ll be one of the few with a specific workout and a plan to get ‘er done.

 

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Ready to change your life? Email me: grinandgrindit@gmail.com

 

7 Steps to Reach your Goals

Setting S.M.A.R.T.E.R goals.

I recently got together with my racing team to set our goals for this upcoming race season. It’s easy to say, “I want to increase my power:weight” or “I want to be faster.” The thing about goals is that if you set broad ones, you’ll get broad results. You won’t know if you’ve actually attained a goal if it’s not specific.

It’s like if you went into a restaurant and ordered, “something hot and spicy.” Sure, you’ll get something sizzling and tongue-burning, but if you’re a vegetarian, a chicken layered in spices isn’t going to win over your appetite.

Setting specific goals yields specific results. Usually. Sometimes, we don’t reach our goals even though we had the idea narrowed down and took the steps.

Sometimes we just fail – and that’s okay. We can’t always win. Hell, we may never win. I’ve read that failure builds character.

specific

When setting your goal, you should be able to answer the Who, What, When, Where, and Why.

Who is involved in your goal?

What’s involved with your goal? What do you want to do?

When is this goal? When do you want to reach it?

Where are you doing it? Is there a location?

Why do you want to reach this goal? How will it affect you?

Be so specific you can taste it.

 

Measurable

 

When setting your goal, you should be able to track and measure the progress. When you quantify your goal, you can stay focused and see where you’re at – if you’re progressing or regressing.

Measuring and tracking your goals keeps you aware and then you’ll know if you’ve attained your goal.

 

Achievable

Is the goal you’re setting realistic? Can you actually achieve this goal in the time frame you set? Do you have the tools and resources you need to achieve this goal?

 

 

Relevant

 

When setting your goal, is it worthwhile? Will it meet your needs? Does your goal fit in with your overall objective(s) in life? Does it align with your big picture?

 

Timely

 

Set a date when creating goals. This keeps you accountable. If you never have an end date, then you never have to achieve your goal. Set dates to give yourself a sense of urgency.

 

exciting

 

Are you excited about the goal? You should be. If you’re not excited about your goals, you’re less likely to work hard to reach them. When we aren’t excited or enthusiastic about things, we’re not going above and beyond for them. Like your job, if you’re not excited about your job, you’re going to give a half-assed effort to get through it. Just like goals, if you’re enthusiastic about your goals, you’re going to half-ass it.

 

-Reward

 

Some people believe they need a reward to reach their goal – other than the achievement of the goal being the reward. Think of something to gift yourself (that won’t deter from the goal – i.e. don’t gift yourself a donut if your goal is to lose weight) when you reach small milestones in achieving your goal. It tends to make it more worthwhile.

Ready to write out your S.M.A.R.T.E.R goals?

Here’s a template for you to get started: S.M.A.R.T.E.R Goals

If your goal is weight loss, gaining strength, endurance, flexibility, or any of the combination, please email me so we can get you to your goal: grinandgrindit@gmail.com