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Hi, I'm Whitney! I am a middle of the pack runner who discovered the fun of triathlons in 2009. Join me in my adventures in life and training. I run with the Rush Running team and enjoy the fun that comes with such a supportive group of friends who understand what running means to me. I'm newly discovering road biking and the fun that it entails.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Fitting in a Lunch Workout

Disclosure:  I am a sponsored athlete for SBR Sports makers of TriSwim.  I am provided free products for my use however all opinions regarding their products are my own based on my personal experience with the products.

As a full-time professional fitting in the training for triathlon would not work if I didn't include lunch time workouts in my schedule.  Generally I complete my swim workouts during the lunch time but I have done other workouts on occasion.  Today I realized that many people probably find it to be a challenge to fit a workout in during your lunch break.  Here are my tips!

1) Be efficient - plan your locker room usage so that you are most efficient.  If the mirrors are between the showers and your locker, then complete your tasks at the mirrors before moving on to your locker.  At my gym, the showers are closest to the pool doors.  This means that I take all of my shower gear into the pool area so that when I am finished I can walk to the showers and not walk past the showers to my locker and then back to the showers.  Walking back and forth through out the locker room adds unnecessary time that you don't have! 

2) Use quality products - look for products that allow you to multitask. I don't hide my love of TriSwim products.  I utilize the shampoo and body wash whenever I swim.  On days when I'm really rushed I will just use the shampoo lather to wash both my hair and body!  

3) Find a go-to style - how can you style your hair quickly and professionally.  In other words, don't style your hair in the most complex style possible on days you are working out at lunch!  Whether I have a short style or a little longer style, I simply dry my hair straight.  It's simple and quick and works for my style.  If I have big meetings later in the day then I might break out my straightener and redo my morning style.  

4) Use multiple tools - there is no reason you can't use the hand dryer and your blow dryer at the same time to speed up drying your hair! Make sure if you are using styling tools that you plug them in when you start drying your hair so that they are nice and hot when you are ready for them.  

5) Consider applying makeup back at your office.  I'm usually still sweating as I finish up in the locker room and in the summer I continue to sweat in the hot car for my drive back to the office.  That means it makes more sense to apply makeup back at my office after I've had a chance to cool off a little! 

Most days I can get into the gym, swim a 2000 yd workout, and then get ready within an hour to just over an hour.  It really all depends on how social the swim workout is not on my getting ready process!  I keep my time in the locker room as efficient as possible so that the majority of my time at the gym is spent on working out.  Hope this helps inspire you to give lunch workouts a try! 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Revamping Food Choices

Since late May I have been working with a nutritionist to revamp my food choices and learn how to fuel during long workouts.  This weekend I found some inspiration and fired up the grill.  I bought some lean steak from the grocery store that were pepper encrusted.  To go with that I added a zucchini and tomato foil packet on the grill.  I chopped the zucchini and just threw in some heirloom grape tomatoes with a little olive oil and salt.

The main part of the meal that I was most excited for though was a simple spinach salad.  I lightly chopped some baby spinach leaves.  On top of the spinach, I placed some sliced strawberries and a few blueberries.  Next I layered on some Rosemary and Olive oil flavored Romano cheese.  I just lightly crumbled the cheese after cutting it from the block I bought.  Next up was a light layer of crunchy fried onion pieces (similar to what you normally find on the top of green bean casserole!)  I originally wanted to use crushed nuts for the topping but discovered I didn't have any so that prompted the change to the fried onions and I was really happy with the change.  I used Girard's Champagne dressing and it was delicious!

For dessert, I gave grilled fruit a try.

I had a very ripe pineapple to cut up and so decided to try grilled pineapple as my sweet finish to the meal.  I filled a plastic baggie with some brown sugar and cinnamon.  I mixed the two together and then dropped my pineapple spears into the mixture.  I made sure that each spear got coated with the mixture and then placed onto the grill.  It took a few minutes per side as the sugar mixture caramelized.  I was left with a sweet pineapple treat that had just a hint of the cinnamon flavor.  It was delicious and I will definitely try this again!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Motivation and College Football

A few weeks ago I got a chance to tour the athletic facilities of two rival universities.  I'm not picking sides on which school or team is better but I will share a few of the motivational quotes that I found sprinkled throughout both facilities.  I love inspirational quotes and these were all good ones.  It was inspiring to see the spaces where these college athletes train and compete.  The facilities were amazing and full of the rich history for both programs.  Hope you find some inspiration from one of these too!

Toughness Wins Championships.  No Toughness No Championships.

The only yardstick for success our society has is being a champion. No one remembers anything else.  

Play for the man standing next to you. 

Some want it to happen, some wish it to happen, others make it happen! 

There are only two options regarding commitment. You're either in or out. There is no such thing as life in-between.  

I will not let anything get in the way of me and my competitive enthusiasm to win. 

Winning is an attitude...how's yours?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Tour de Fun 50K ride

The beauty of Facebook is that it makes it easy to be peer-pressured into an event.  A few weeks ago this happened for the Tour de Fun bike ride.  A friend posted a picture after packet pickup for the ride and showed how cute the event t-shirt was.
The FB post that captured me and had me deciding to ride 12 hours before it started! 
That proceeded to getting pulled in to join on the ride with two friends.  I made it to the race site nice and early for registration and got signed up.  I got my number situated onto the back of my jersey and then proceeded to get my bike set up for the ride.

The 50K ride started at 6:45 and just before the start I found my two friends.  The start is in downtown Rogers and there are brick cobbles which always make me nervous.  We got started with a wave to Janet's husband who was taking photographs for the event.
Here we go! Wearing my International kit to support the start of World Cup! 

The first mile of the ride is pretty much downhill with little pedaling required so you aren't really warmed up when you hit the hills into Prairie Creek.  The girls and I separated slightly on the hills so I was looking for a spot to pull over and regroup when I spotted a $20 bill lying on the ground.  The money was near a drive thru ATM machine so I pulled through and picked up the bill.  What a find! The girls passed me so I hollared that I would catch up with them shortly.
Biking across the HWY 12 bridge

We continued on the curving hills and enjoyed cycling across the HWY 12 bridge over Beaver Lake.  It was a gorgeous morning and the lake was beautiful.  We hit the 50K turn and knew we had about 5 miles to go until our turnaround point.  My friend Jeff Spencer came up along side me during this section and so we pedaled and chatted for a few minutes.  We hit the turn around point and we all stopped to refill our bottles and eat some of our nutrition.  We were back on the road a few minutes later and made our way back the way we came.

I forgot about the long decline we had coming out of Prairie Creek but definitely felt the incline on the return trip.  I was going along and couldn't understand why I felt so slow until I realized that it was an incline!  It was quite the relief to realize I wasn't as slow as I thought! The final mile back into town is an uphill that is pretty draining.  I was glad to get up it and make my way back to the finish line.  I finished about a minute ahead of Jamye and Janet and cycled back to join them.  I think they got stopped at the stoplights getting into town.
Finish time! 

After wards I racked my bike at the car and fixed myself an Abloc Nutrition chocolate milk for recovery.  It was fun to enjoy the beautiful weather and chat with friends near the finish area.  However I eventually had to head home and get some real food in me! Below is a Flipagram video that Jamye put together of our day!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

War Eagle Trail Run 25K Race Recap

For the last few years I have been out of town for the War Eagle Trail Run race weekend.  This year I was home and signed up for the 25K distance.  The War Eagle Trail Run is a race put on by local ultrarunner Jeff Genova. This race feels like a family get together since everyone within the Rush team takes part or volunteers it seems.  The race takes place at Hobbs State Park in Northwest Arkansas.  There are three distances offered...10K, 25K, or 50K.
Official race logo designed by Rush Runner and ultra runner Ryan Holler
Hobbs State Park is located about 30 minutes from my house but is someplace I have never run before.  The trails are very well maintained and there is a great visitor center with clean restrooms and interactive displays about the area and the local flora and fauna.  This race is one of the only trail race events allowed within Hobbs State Park.
Hobbs State Park Visitor Center
On race morning, I made the drive to Hobbs and visited a local historic site that in my 10 years of living in NWA I had never been to...the War Eagle Mill.  Because of the size of the race, participants park at War Eagle Mill which is about 5 minutes from the park visitor center.  From there they are shuttled to the visitor center for the pre-race amenities.  I was very lucky to get onto a shuttle quickly after parking.  We got dropped off and I quickly stashed a bag with dry clothes in the race director's truck...that's a perk of being friends with the race director! I made it into the visitor center just before a downpour began.

All morning I had been watching the weather with nervous apprehension.  Luckily there was a quick downpour and then the rain cleared up before the race started.  I was glad to be inside a warm building while the rain happened too!  I met up with friends inside and tried to relax and nibble on my Larabar while we waited for the pre-race meeting.  The pre-race meeting covered a couple very important pieces of information...the course and the course markings.  Each race distance had a different color to follow for the course markings.  I was most nervous about getting lost on the trails but found it to be so well marked and very easy to follow.
Me, Janet, Mandy, Pauline, and Theresa before the start

The race got started a few minutes late due to some delays with the shuttle during the rain.  My friend Janet and I line up toward the back of the pack and prepared for the short run around the parking lot to thin out the race before hitting the single track trails.  The 25K and 50K runners started together and it was a big pack!
There is Janet and I toward the left side of the photo at the start

The first 1/4 mile was pretty slow going as the trails were still pretty crowded.  Eventually once everyone got spread out we were able to settle into a nice easy pace.  Both Janet and I were running simply for the experience.  Neither of us had done much trail racing before and we wanted to have fun and finish!  The trails were gorgeous right off the bat.  It was a little humid but we were trying to drink and eat as we went along.  Around mile 3 I noticed that my heels were hurting.  I made a rookie mistake and wore a brand new pair of socks on race day.  I think the humidity from the last minute rain combined with the new socks to punish me!

Janet and I chatted all along the course and took walk breaks when we encountered inclines.  We enjoyed the sections of trail covered in pine needles because it felt like we were running on air...so soft and cushy! We had a little trail stress as we hit the first major turn on the course.  The turn was well marked but about 50 runners in the faster pace ahead of us had missed the turn.  Just as we hit the turn, they were all making their way back on course.  We tried to be polite since we knew that our slower pace was frustrating them and we asked multiple times to tell us if you want past so we could pull off the trail.  Finally at the next turn, we pulled off and let the group run past us.  They were all pretty cranky having run about 1 mile extra off course.   Janet's husband was unfortunately in that group and we felt bad that he had gotten mixed up and off course.
Photo by Luis Escobar
We snacked our way through the first aid station staffed by some awesome Rush Runners.  As we made our way onto the second aid station my feet were really bothering me.  We ended up walking quite a bit within that section because that felt softer on my heels than running.  When we got to the aid station I quickly asked for some help to treat my heels.  Yikes, they were scary! Luckily one of the volunteers worked quickly to take care of me and get me back on the course.

Our next aid station was staffed by another friend and Rush Runner and that was quite the motivation to make it to that aid station.  We kept chatting all through the trail and enjoying the great day.  As we came into the aid station, Luis Escobar was set up taking photos.  Luis Escobar is an amazing photographer who captures some great ultra events in beautiful images.  We are so very lucky that he includes this race in his calendar.
Photo by Luis Escobar

After getting a pep talk and update on how much further we had to go from my friend Jody, Janet and I took off for the final stretch.  We had a yucky incline left to tackle and then before we knew it we were seeing the end of the trail.  The time passed so quickly and then we hit the parking lot and the short run to the finish line.  We grabbed some water and then my first priority was to take off my shoes.  I couldn't wait to give my heels some freedom and relief from the shoes.
My left heel after the race.  The right heel was in similar shape :( 

I hung out for a little while outside waiting and cheering on friends as they finished their races.  I was happy to change into dry clothes since every ounce of clothing was dripping sweat from the humidity.  I also enjoyed laying down for a few minutes on the floor of the visitor center.  It gave my feet and back some relief to just quietly lay for a minute.  Post race food was catered by another Rush Runner and owner of Catfish Johns.  I had a hush puppy and some chicken tenders.

Overall, I was really proud of myself for finishing the distance and overcoming the blisters on my heels.  The pain from the blisters played havoc on my mind for almost the entire race but I was able to keep a positive outlook and keep moving forward.  Our finish time was 4:00:53.  We were within 60 seconds of the 4 hour mark so I'll take it.  I definitely walked more than I would have liked but now I know what it takes for a long trail race and I will prepare better next time!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Recovery begins when the workout ends!

Disclosure - Abloc Nutrition provided me with a product sample to taste for this review however all opinions are my own based on my experience with the product.

Triathlon season is quickly approaching and with that comes an increase in training as all three sports become important to my training.  In April, I heard from Mitch at Abloc Nutrition with information about their recovery drink product.  I had the Triple Threat training camp on my schedule in May and knew that recovery was going to be very important to make it through that weekend of training.
àbloc Endurance Recovery Mix
Abloc Endurance Recovery is chocolate milk flavored powder that you combine with milk or water to prepare.  The formula is made in a 2 to 1 carb to protein ratio and has a low sugar content.  All you need to prepare this drink is a shaker bottle and 1 scoop of the powder mix.  With a simple shake, the powder dissolves and you have a yummy chocolate milk flavored drink.  

I make no secrets about my love of chocolate so I was anxious to see how the chocolate flavor of this drink tasted.  I was very surprised to find that the powder dissolved completely and it didn't taste chalky like other chocolate protein drinks can sometimes taste.  I prepared my drink with cold water instead of milk simply because I was on the go and didn't have refrigeration for the milk.  It worked out great and I felt great knowing that I was kickstarting my recovery by getting this drink made within the first 30 minutes after my workouts.

The science behind this recovery formula is that it delivers both carbohydrates and protein in a balanced ratio of 2 to 1.  Within the first 30 minutes after exercise, muscles are able to replenish the glycogen stores more efficiently which is enabled through the complex, low sugar, carbohydrate content.  The protein helps rebuild your muscles to reduce muscle soreness.

Abloc Nutrition was founded by Mitch and Matt, both athletes who were struggling with their own recovery after hard training days and found that products out there didn't meet the needs of the endurance athlete. Their research led them to the ideal carb to protein ratio to speed up recovery and reduce muscle soreness.  What I like is that the guys put as much work into developing a great tasting product as one that helps with recovery.  So many protein products out there have a horrible taste and the Abloc Endurance Recovery breaks that mold with a great chocolate milk flavor.

You can learn more about Abloc Nutrition by following their Facebook page here.  If you want to try Abloc Endurance Recovery for yourself, check out the single size serving pack which is available on the Abloc Nutrition site.  It's a great way to sample the taste before purchasing the full container.  The sample size would also be great to pack with you for races or training that is away from home.  The 2lb canister has approximately 28 servings which equates to just over $1 per serving which is a very economical price.  (From my experience, the chocolate milk in the past that I have purchased for recovery has cost over $1 so this is a comparable price for a sport specific recovery product.)  Make sure you make recovery a priority because it will help you have more consistent training!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Ozark Open Water Swim Race Recap

Memorial Day began with a trip to Beaver Lake for the annual Ozark Open Water Swim.  This is an event with three different race distances - 1K, 2K, and 4K.  The morning dawned a little gray and dreary with a forecast for rain later in the day.  For most of the morning the sun stayed hidden behind the clouds which was okay with me since glaring sun can make sighting in an open water swim difficult.
Pre-race selfie!

I selected the 2K race distance which is the distance I've done at this event in the past.  The water temps were in the high 60's to mid 70's so it was wetsuit legal.  Yippee! With lots of TriSlide to protect my neck from chafing I got my wetsuit on and was ready to go.

The race started in 3 waves based on the event distance.  There was about 5 minutes between the waves which really helped spread the field out.  The races were chip timed with a running start and a run out to finish.  As is fairly typical for me, I had some pre-race confidence struggles and seeded myself to the middle/back of the pack.  Once I got into the water though I realized I was being silly and just needed to swim my race and see how well I could do.
This is the 2K group start so I'm somewhere in there to the left side!

The course was a straight out and back.  There were two triangle buoys at the .5K and 1K mark.  Between those buoys were smaller round buoys for sighting.  I tried to swim the buoy line as much as possible.  As I neared the 1K turn buoy, I managed to run into another swimmer on his way back.  It was a fairly uneventful collision and neither of us was really disrupted.  I caught up to some of the 4K swimmers as I neared the turn buoy and that really helped lift my confidence that I was having a good swim.

On the way back to shore, I managed to miscount the buoys....which meant that I began my finish kick a lot earlier than I would have normally.  I had my eye on a couple other 2K swimmers that were swimming to the far right of the course.  I was trying to race them into finish and trying to pick my pace up to stay in line with them.  I got a little discouraged when I spotted the extra buoy that I had forgotten about but told myself to just hold on the pace and finish strong.

For the finish, I tried to swim up to the shore line as far as possible but ended up standing a few feet earlier than I should have.  This meant I had a farther run out of the water but I just lifted those knees up high and raced the guy next to me.  I beat him by maybe 1-2 seconds but it was worth it to have a strong finish!

I ended up 9th of 44 overall in the 2K distance and 4th female.  My time was about 2 minutes faster than in 2012 and my swim distance was spot on for a 2K distance according to my Garmin.  My official time was 32:42 or 1:33 per 100yd.  I was pretty pumped with that pace and with my improvement over my last time at this event.
Celebrating with Triple Threat club members! 

It was fun catching up and cheering on all the other athletes.  The Triple Threat crew did pretty well with podium spots which was fun to celebrate.  There is something peaceful about swimming open water events so it was a great start to the day for me.