Friday, December 28, 2012

December/January Newsletter

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

New Year, New You Challenge

  If you are interested in making some serious changes in 2013 contact for more info!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

10 Life Lessons from Thailand

Yes, this is a triathlon blog, but I am pretty sure I can use some of these lessons and apply it to my training and racing.  Maybe you can too!

1.  Hot weather brings out the worst in me.  Yeah, those of you who know me already knew that.  

2.  Having no control over a situation gives me serious anxiety.   Picture this, in a cab stuck in bumper to bumper traffic, miles from your hotel with no alternative route.  I was the only one freaking out.   

3.  If you prepare yourself for the worst, it probably won't be as bad as you think.  Case in point- bringing my two year old on a 16 hour plane ride turned out to be a piece of cake.  

4.  Kids are awesome.  Not once did my daughter complain about the heat, the traffic, the jetlag, anything.  She was either sleeping in her stroller or laughing.  I think I should try to behave more like that.  

5.  Thai massages are amazing.  As stated in last week's post.

6.  If you expose yourself long enough to something that really really freaks you out, it won't freak you out after a while.  Let's just say there was a large invasion of ants in one of the bedrooms I slept in.  By the third day I hardly noticed.

7.   American bathrooms truly are wonderful.  Just be thankful.

8.  The more you get out of your comfort zone, the more adventures there are to be had.  Almost every experience I had in Thailand was a new one.  It was pretty cool.

9.  Elephants are my new favorite animal.  Ok, probably can't apply this to triathlon training but they are friendly, intelligent and surprisingly coordinated. 

10.  Traveling is amazing, but doing it with friends and family makes it even better.  Thanks to my parents for all their help, Peter for being an awesome host and Gene for your hotel/airline points.  Being with all of you created memories to last a life time!!

-Coach A

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Why I'd be Injury Free if I Lived in Thailand....

Thailand. Home of Bangkok with its smothering heat, insane traffic and bustling crowds. And contrarily, a smattering of quiet, idyllic islands where the water lapping and birds chirping are the only sounds heard. I've spent the past week of my life in both of those places and had very different adventures in the city and the islands. However, they do have one thing in common- dirt cheap massages.

I knew about the massages coming here and was looking forward to partaking as much as possible. Never having had a Thai massage before, I knew to expect it rough and anticipated it would be good for my ever tight hamstrings and IT bands. Four hours of massage later (costing a grand total of roughly $45 US including tip) I am a Thai massage fanatic.

As I reported to my friend and host Peter, there is "no time wasted on just rubbing their hands around." I mean, the lady just grabbed my feet and started pulling pushing, stretching, digging. Once in a while she would slap my skin and command "Relax!" Then she would hoist herself on top of me while my leg was twisted around and just push all her weight into my hip. Or my butt. Or my neck. Or whatever body part she happened to be working on.

It was fantastic. And affordable. And if I lived here I would most definitely incorporate a massage into my schedule each week. I truly believe in the healing power of massage, especially this type, and think it would keep me ahead of aches and pains brought on by all that running, biking and swimming. Only problem is if I lived here I probably wouldn't work out all that much because it is too damn hot......

Monday, November 5, 2012

Race Recap: Hot Chocolate 5k/15K

The packet pickup line.  That was the big story coming out of this weekend's Chicago Hot Chocolate Race.  Waits of 90 minutes or more to pick up your bib and sweatshirt.  I admit, I was infuriated as I stood in the freezing weather with my two year old and walked the ridiculous queue.  However, after participating in yesterday's race, it is unfortunate that it may have been overshadowed by the packet pickup fiasco.  The actual run was executed flawlessly with a great course, stocked aid stations, and no wait for yummy treats at the end.

I had convinced many people to register for this race, runners and non-runners alike, so I felt a bit guilty about the packet pickup events.  However, everyone managed to get the their bibs and pull it together to get ready for the race.  I had a prerace dinner with three of the people that had "trained" for their first 5K and weren't sure whether they should be looking forward to or dreading the big race.   While I took a lot of ribbing for "making" them do this, I knew deep down they were excited.

With the time change, it was a breeze getting up at 5:15 am Sunday morning.  We had two friends staying at our house in preparation for the race, so it was almost like a party getting ready.  We made our way down to Grant Park without any issues and I wormed my way up to Corral B.

For myself, my goal was to keep it under an 8 minute mile the entire 15K.  For my other clients it ranged- to finish the 5K, to finish without walking, to place top 10% in age group of 15K, to finish 15k with no pain.  Goals were all over the place, but I knew what everyone was shooting for and I was excited for them all.  Amidst 44,000 runners it was hard to keep track of everyone but they were prepared to handle it on their own.

As we took off I spent my first mile running with Rahm Emanuel and his security detail.  As much as I would have liked a guard alongside me the entire 15K, I decided to leave him behind during the second mile.  I turned in a sub 24 5K and felt strong as I repeatedly churned out 7:45'ish miles.   Hey, this might turn out to be a great race!    

As I crossed the finish line in 1:12 I felt fantastic.  I have not run this far in months and this is the fastest pace I have ever kept for a race of this duration.  Yay to fall running!  Congrats to Elisabeth, Claudia, and Patti for placing way up top in their age groups. Congrats to Bret, Hannah, Stephanie, Cindy, Dave,and Tavia for participating in and dominating a race that was a little out of their comfort zone.  And congrats to my hubby Gene for his first race back since a nasty ankle sprain, and for racing it really fast! Doesn't it feel great everybody?  When is the next race?!?!

-Coach A

Monday, October 29, 2012

USA Triathlon Art & Science Symposium- Top 10

Here is a snapshot of what I've picked up this past weekend. Some triathlon related, some not. Enjoy!

1. When it doubt about your swim technique, ask yourself- "What would fishes do?"

2. A make your own trail mix bar is quite possibly the best idea ever. Especially when triathletes are your audience.

3. Ride fast up those hills, and get as aero as possible on the way down.

4. Clients- next time you have an internal dialogue during a workout that might clue me into your mental frame of mind- tell me!

5. I have not yet figured out why I don't live in San Diego. It's straight paradise here.

6. The older you get, the less you care what comes out of your mouth.

7. I actually do know what I'm doing as a triathlon coach- most of the time.

8. Electronic shifters are the greatest thing since sliced bread. Or so I've been told.

9. USA Triathlon is a great organization to be a part of!

10. When you see a decorative ceramic mask in a restaurant, DO NOT pick it up.

-Coach A

Monday, September 17, 2012

Coach A is Going to Vegas!!

Coach Angela is excited to present at Club Industry on the topic of Targeting Endurance Athletes!  Heading to Club Industry on October 10th? 
Be sure to check out Angela's session:

Session Description:
Last year, over 467,000 Americans crossed a marathon finish line and USA Triathlon doubled its percentage of active members to 135,000. With marathon and multisport participation booming in the past decade, health clubs and trainers have a lucrative opportunity to tap into this growing market of endurance athletes. This session discusses the advantages of targeting this market, covers programming ideas and best practices, and provides guidance to trainers who would like to add endurance athletes to their repertoire. 

Click below for more info!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

IM Wisconsin Weekend Recap: See you in 2013!

I came, I saw, it conquered me.  That about sums it up.  It was an absolutely gorgeous weekend in Madison.  My family and I drove up Saturday and had a suburbalicious dinner at Quaker Steak and Lube in Middleton (was so impressed by the restaurant in all it's Wisconsin glory that I have to give it a shout out here), turned in early and were up an at 'em to see the swimmers in the morning.

Our first vantage point was where the athletes run in and out of T1.   We had several friends racing, including Spark athlete Lori B, so the time went by quickly as we tried to scope everyone out.  We saw the first pros, the top age groupers and shortly after our friends started streaming out of the Monona Terrace building.   It was great to have everyone accounted for and see them on their way.

Once everyone was off on the bike we met up with our friend, Kevin, for breakfast.  He had come up to volunteer and register for the 2013 race.  We spent a while chit chatting about this and that and as the conversation unfolded I realized how excited I was for him, yet how jealous I was that he would be racing next year.  My race envy was back.   It was back bad.  And it was all I could think about the rest of the day.

After Alex took a nap we headed out the farthest most point on the run, miles 9 and 22 out on Lake Mendota Dr.  The spectators are sparse here and you can always really see your athletes and exchange some words with them instead of fighting for their attention.  We spent a couple of hours out here, saw the male and female pros head in for their last few miles, and most of our friends, as well.  My head was still spinning on how I could pull off an Ironman race in 2013.   

Around 5 pm we drove back into town where we headed to the bike in area.  The bike cutoff time in this Ironman is 5:30 pm.  If you have not crossed the timing pad at the entrance to T2 at this time, you will not be allowed to continue the race.  It is always exciting to cheer those last few people who make it, and devastating to watch those who just miss it. It really captures the energy of the day. 

Finally around 6 pm we wrapped up our day around the finish line.  We actually met up with several friends here and just watched people cross the line.  The energy was amazing with music pounding, family and friends yelling and the constant flow of the announcer yelling "You are an Ironman!"   It was so inspiring to see our friends and strangers alike finish strong.   At this point I really could not stop thinking about racing 2013.

You might wonder why I wouldn't go for it without a second thought- I am a triathlon coach and I have done an Ironman before.  But now I have a family that I love to spend time with and am not willing to take weekends away from them.  I also only have one child, who is turning 3 soon, and I get questions everyday about when I plan to have another.  Time is a ticking, right?

After as much thought as I could put into it in 24 hours, I decided that if there was still space when I arrived home from Madison on Monday, I would register.  Lo and behold, when I logged in at 1:30, the race was 80% full and I snagged my spot for IMWI 2013.    If it was truly race envy I think I may have had a smidgen of regret since then, but instead I feel excitement and energy that cannot be contained.  I am going to have to be very creative with my (mostly weekday) training but have already started piecing together my summer training and know I can pull it off.

So, thank you to all you racers who were out there on Sunday.  You were tough, amazing and truly inspiring.  I cannot wait to be out there next year among you.   And as soon as I cross that finish line I'm fairly certain I will be ready to add to my favorite little family and put off my racing aspirations for a while.   Looking forward to a great 2013!!!

-Coach A

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Chicago Tri Race Recap- Elisabeth's Story

I’m internationally known and locally respected for (over)planning and (over)preparing when something big is coming up and I’m feeling anxious about it. In the weeks leading up to the triathlon, I was definitely in hyperdrive to the point where it was getting embarrassing. Let’s just say I had a detailed knowledge of the inventory of every major triathlon shop on the internet and a 150-point checklist. I’m exaggerating.  No I’m not. All that planning did settle me down. I was perfectly ready. Nothing bad could possibly happen.
But of course, I actually do know that all that planning just gives me the illusion of control. Things happen anyway. Race morning -- starting the second my alarm went off at 3:00 am -- I had some pretty bad GI issues. Six hours later when my wave finally jumped into the water, I was so dehydrated from it all that I had cramps for the next 2 hours, 56 minutes and 13 seconds. At T2, even my hands were cramping and so useless that I felt like I was trying to get my running shoes on with one of those plastic toy robot claws. All problems brought on by nerves.
The weird thing was, on race morning I didn’t think I was that nervous. After all, items #147-#150 on the checklist were to stay calm, put my faith in my training, do my absolute best, and have fun.  But there was no denying it, I was scared.

What was I truly THAT worried about? Was it the swimming? It’s true I’m still pretty new at it. But I had trained hard for it. I could finally breathe to the left almost comfortably, had dutifully practiced Angela’s Tarzan swimming and alligator eyes, and had swum in water so choppy that it warranted a freaking small-craft advisory. I hope I qualify as a small craft.

I don’t know, but I think the nerves were about something bigger. I think that it just hit me on some level how right people are when they say triathlon is a metaphor for life. It’s occasionally brutal and messy and painful, and the mere thought that I might not be strong enough to handle it and that I might actually crumble into a sorry pile of road bike wreckage at the edge of the Lake Shore Drive of Life, is just plain stomach- turning.

As it turned out, over the course of those nearly three hours, I never did crumble. I did handle it, the cramps and the pain, and other things, too. At one point during the swim, someone grabbed onto my ankle and wouldn’t let go. I thrashed my cramping foot to try to get them off, but then eventually had to start kicking them with the other cramping foot. They were pissed at me for something I’d accidentally done, or I guess it’s possible they were panicking and needed a tow for a minute - unlikely, but you never know. Whatever it was, I took care of it. I didn’t let it mess with my head. I just swam on and focused on the steady beep of the tempo trainer set to 33 stroke cycles/minute tucked snugly inside my cap.

So when I made it to the finish line and someone handed me that huge-ass finisher’s medal and I somehow lassoed it around my neck with my last bit of strength, it actually meant that I had made it through some hard things in life and that I would have the grit to face brutal stuff in the future just the same. Sometimes it hurts a lot; it’s unfair; people can be mean; people may try to hold me back. But I can handle it. It’s a comforting relief to know I’ll be okay.

But then it became more than just mere relief. Drunk on endorphins, it turned into some truly sappy joy. I realized I have a bestie who will pace me and encourage me on the run after she’d already done her own race. I have a husband who can bust out apropos rap lyrics on demand (about the medal, “watch out for the medallion, my diamonds are reckless, it feels like a midget is hanging from my necklace.”). I’ve got two sons who even when soaking wet and bored, will still insist they want to come watch me again next year. And finally, I have a coach who cares about me more than I even imagined. I didn’t just survive, that was a full-on WIN.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Five Questions with Pro Triathlete Liz Blatchford

I met Liz in 2008 when she was randomly paired with me as a home-stay for the Chicago Tri.    Since then she's gotten married, I have had a child, and we've gotten four years older!  When she decided to come back to Chicago to race this year I was thrilled to have her, and her husband Glen, stay with us once again.  Liz is one of the nicest, friendliest, most fun people I have met.   She was coming into this race off of a win at Boulder 70.3 and finished 4th on Sunday.
Read on to get to know Liz a little more.  

A: Do you prefer an urban race like Chicago or something more rugged, like the Boulder 70.3 you just completed (and won!)? 
L: Hmm I have never actually considered which I prefer to be honest. I like each for their own separate reasons. It can feel pretty special when they close down major roads in big cities for us to compete on. Plus the crowds are usually great in urban locations. They were a little sparse this year though due to the crazy rain! Plus it is exciting visiting big citites. For training we are always seeking rural/rugged locations so to compete in the city is fun and different.
A: How do you think the weather (torrential downpour on the bike) effected you and the other pros? 
L: Well it slowed us down around the corners on the bike (all 4 of them!). Slowed some down more than others - Cam Dye, Sarah Haskins and Jillian Peterson all crashed unfortunately. None of them were badly hurt and were all able to get straight back up and finish. The rain just meant we had to take a little extra care on the bike. There was a point when it was raining so hard that Lake Shore Drive was flash flooded and it was difficult to see and avoid any potholes. That combined with pelting rain and sideways wind made it interesting! It also significantly thinned the spectators but those who did remain were great and cheering loudly:)

A: Three word to sum up your feelings when you crossed the finish line in 4th place on Sunday: 
L: elation exhaustion and excitement 

A: Sarah Haskins has won this race 4 years in a row.  Is it common for one triathlete to hold a title like that for a particular race? 
L: It is definitely not unheard of but a very impressive feat. Sarah is obviously an incredible athlete and really has no weakness just 3 strengths! She has had no major injuries or illness over the past 4 years and continues to dominate the Olympic distance non drafting scene. 

A: What were some of the highlights of Chicago (triathlon related or not)?  
L: Gorgeous bike ride in the sun along the bike path on Friday morning followed by a dip in the lake. Not training as such, just taking in the sights.
Delish dinner at Hubbard Inn with great company - Angela and Gene, my cousins, my husband and close friend and competitor Annabel Luxford.
Giordano’s pizza post race;)

Liz will be racing next weekend in Des Moines at the Hy-Vee Triathlon. 
 Be sure to check out and like her Facebook page!
-Coach A

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Chicago 2012 Race Recap Part II

You know the drill with the Chicago Tri, get up at 4 am, ride over in the pitch black, walk the mile to the swim start.  That is how my morning began on Sunday.  It was fairly warm out for the early in the day but the wind was quiet and the lake was calm.  After days of anticipation I was excited for the race to finally be here. 

I rounded up a few of my athletes and we settled on a meeting point for families, friends and us for the day.  Got my hair french braided, used the port-a-potties and by then it was time to squeeze into the wetsuit and head to the swim start.

My stomach was crazy with nerves as my wave jumped into the water, which to me is a sign that I am ready to go.  We treaded for a bit before the horn blew and then we were off!  I kicked hard to separate away from the group and pushed the beginning of the swim.  After a bit I settled in to a rhythm with two other men from my wave.  I managed to follow and draft off one for a bit and he helped me navigate as we caught up with the group ahead.  The swim felt good and relief hit me as I turned the final buoy.

Because my spot was on the far side of transition I opted to slip on running shoes for the quarter mile plus run to my bike.  I tried to run quickly and pass as many people as possible during that time.  It was a tough few minutes but I hit the pad into transition almost exactly at my goal of 14 minutes.  Before I knew it I was heading up the ramp onto Lakeshore Drive.

The wind had not picked up too much (and it was still sunny and warm) by the time I was racing which meant a speedy bike course. I have been commuting and training hard on my bike this year and it paid off.  I managed to be passed by only one single guy during the entire course, which made me feel great.  I stayed to the right and kept my head down, especially when we turned around to ride into the wind.  I coasted down the final hill right around my goal of 39:00.

I was confident and happy with my times and needed to run a 23:00 5K to get my goal of breaking 1:20.  I passed my cheering section about a half mile in (thanks everyone!) and used that first mile to get my legs used to running.  I clocked in about 7:40 when I passed the first marker, which was slower than I wanted.   As time went on I searched and waited for the second mile marker- it never came!  I don't quite understand how a race of this size could not have mile markers on the run course and it was a bit frustrating.  Not being sure of my pace (although I knew I as going as quick as I could!) I finished over 24 minutes for the 3.1 miles.  It was a disappointing time as I have not run that slow at the end of the race in at least a couple of years.  Looking at other people's times I have a suspicion it may have been a bit long on the run, so I will just keep telling myself that.

Despite the slow run I dropped about 45 seconds off last year's time, and it was a PR for this course.   The time ended up getting me 1st in my age group and 8th overall for women, but I did not win my bet with Antonio :(  Sadly he managed to beat me by a few minutes.  However, I do believe that he was humbled by the effort the race took.

All in all, good race for me, great race for my clients and another Tri Season is in the books!
-Coach A  

Stay tuned all week for an interview with Pro Triathlete, Liz Blatchford and race recaps from my client's points of view!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Chicago 2012 Race Recap Part I

I am a selfish person.  Ask my husband, my mom, my best friend and they will agree.  I am not afraid to say or do whatever it takes to get what I want.  Having a child has broken me of this a bit, but when it comes to certain things, like triathlons, Angela always comes first.  This weekend I felt something different than I ever have before.

I worked closely with several women this summer helping them prepare for yesterday's race.  Some were completely new to triathlon, some were doing their first Olympic distance and some were seasoned veterans.  I have coached them on all different aspects- swimming, transitions, speedwork, what to wear, etc- you name it, I did it!  Yesterday, despite the fact I raced, was completely about them.  Here is what I experienced....

Claudia finished her race psyched about her swim improvement.  She had worked so hard on the open water aspect and her excitement over her time drop was clear.

Ellie was scared as shi* (her exact words, I believe) about the race, which I had convinced her to do.  I finished about the same time as her and all she kept saying was "I can't believe I did it.  I am so happy."

Mendy just could not stop smiling.  She might always be that way but pretty sure the smile was a little bigger when she was done with the race.  Despite a moment of panic during the swim she powered through and had a fantastic time.  And we already know how she is going to drop 7 minutes next year ;)

Piper got her personal best.   She had a positive attitude all day, despite the rainy run and was as excited as Piper gets about anything when the race was done.

Tyllie rocked it!  She was nervous about the Olympic Distance but had a great showing.  I will never forget the look on her face when I cheered for her while she was WALKING out of the swim.  Priceless ;)

Elisabeth had very specific time goals that she blew away.  She wanted top 25% and got in the top 19%.  She worked so hard this summer and had a GENUINELY huge smile when she was done.

Jodi dropped 18 minutes on her sprint race.  With a new bike and the right swim and run training, she was a rockstar.

I have coached many people before but something about these individuals and the time we all spent together really hit me hard.  I felt truly invested and cared markedly more about their experience than mine.  That is a big change for me that even my husband noticed and commented on.  He said he was proud of me :)

So ladies, I want to say congrats and thank you.  I will never forget yesterday- the sun, the rain, the energy, the smiles and the laughter.  I have the best job in the world thanks to you.

-Coach A

PS- Part 2 to come tomorrow- official race review

Thursday, August 23, 2012


1.  Look at your time from last year (if you raced) and decide where you want to be this year.  Break it down into disciplines. Write it down and mull over it.  Memorize it.

2.  Visualize that race from start to finish.   Figure out what you are going to do when the going gets tough.  Think about how you will feel when you kill it!

3.  Get a good nights sleep tonight and Friday.  Saturday night is a lost cause.  Especially with a 4 am wake up call.

4.  Sit.  As much as possible.  Save those legs so you can kick it in the last mile of the run.

5.  Get excited!  You are (or are about to become) a triathlete!  This is why we train and it is going to be a fabulous weekend!!!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Pre-Race Jitters: The Phantom Injury

Just as certain as I am that I will have butterflies and nausea the morning of a race, I can count on having a phantom injury the week before.   These weird, nagging pains that come and go out of nowhere when I am focused on racing fast in a few days.   Let me tell you my latest.

Friday afternoon I was training my final client of the day.  Towards the end of the session I thought to myself, "There must be something in the top of my shoe, my foot hurts."  As soon as I got home I kicked off my shoe and there was nothing there except a dull, painful ache on the top of my foot.  As the night went on the pain progressed and I began limping around the house.

Fast forward to Saturday morning.  I had planned to get up and run a few easy miles but I could hardly walk!  I finally put on some sneakers and managed to train my one client of the day by keeping most of my weight on my left foot.  Tried to rest for the remainder of the day, iced it and took some Advil.

Sunday things were a little better and I was able to ride and swim.  And !poof! by Monday the pain had magically disappeared.  Can someone please explain to me what that was?  No?  Well, here is my explanation.

The mind is a very powerful thing.  Not only do I pay more attention to every little ache and pain the week leading up the race but it might in fact be a higher power telling me to SLOW DOWN.   I took it easy this weekend, which is not my usual MO, but exactly what I should be doing before a big race.  So, over the years I have learned to accept my phantom injuries, give into them and back off from my usual crazy workouts.   It seems to be working so far!

Ever had a phantom injury?  What do you think is the cause?
-Coach A

Monday, August 20, 2012

My Must Have Race Gear....

After all these years of racing, there are a few items that I cannot get through a race day without.  Read on for my race day essentials.  

Sugoi Tri Top- I have been through a few different tops, but all Sugoi brand.  They tend to run a little longer than other brands and help to keep your belly button hidden.  Phew.

Body Glide- Bloody armpits, thighs, neck hickeys, etc.  
Just use Body Glide and avoid this.

TYR Socket Rocket Goggles-  I switched to these several years ago after being a die hard Swedish Goggle wearer for most of my life.  These have soft rubber around the gasket which is a Godsend when you get kicked in the face during a race. 

SIDI T2's-Easy on, easy off and very light.  Can't ask for much more.

Mizuno Wave Riders- Been a Mizuno girl for years and these shoes always do me well.  Finally just came out in super cute bright pink color.  Yes, I stocked up.

Headsweats Visor- Been through a lot of these as well, but keep coming back to Headsweats.  They keep my face dry and my crazy curly "Lion" hair off my face,
even during an Ironman!  

Oakley Sunglasses- I think this is my fourth pair of Oakley sport glasses, each a slight improvement from the model before.    Lightweight, snug and don't fog.  

Timex Ironman Watch- During races I like to stick to the basics as far as gadgets.  This $30 watch has seen at least 5 years and 30 races and keeps on ticking.  Start at beginning of swim, lap it at T1, bike and T2 and grab those mile run splits. 
 No need to worry about GPS, HR monitors, speedometers. 
 Besides, doing math in my head helps distract me from pain.  

PS- Didn't get paid to promote any of these items but if you know how I can, 
let me know! ;)
-Coach A

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Spark Strength Workout in 99 Shots....

What a way to start your morning!
Thanks Tyllie Barbosa Photography!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

South Shore Triathlon Race Recap

Another unbelievably gorgeous day for a race. Albeit windy, we had mild temps in the 70's, which is almost unheard of this summer. While I was excited about this race for myself, I was more excited for four of the athletes I've been working with this summer - Piper, Patti, Tyllie and Elisabeth. They were ready to go.

When we arrived at the race we were welcomed by a VERY choppy Lake Michigan. In all honesty, I think it is the choppiest swim I have ever endured during a race. But I tried to downplay that to my ladies and send them into the water with confidence. I felt good about all of them doing fine, except poor Patti, who despite all my urging, had never done an open water swim. Tsk, tsk;).

The swim- never have I had to stop during a swim and get my bearings as much as yesterday. The water was quite shallow and a couple times I stood up to take stock of where I was. One of the buoys washed in towards shore, so everyone swam into it, soon realizing the final buoy was out a good 25 yards, requiring them to swim back into the lake. Relief is the perfect word to describe how I felt when I turned around that final buoy.

Relief is also a good word to describe how I felt when I saw Patti pass by on the bike :) The bike- fast and fun. A short out and back then a straight shot up and down Lakeshore Drive. Thankfully for us we rode into the wind on the way out and got pushed home on the second half of the bike. Overall pretty fun and uneventful.

It is always a good feeling to get off the bike and start the run. I had been having tired legs all week and not great sleep and was a little worried about finishing the race. However, with the cool breeze and shady path on the run, I managed to turn in a 7:30 pace, which is decent for me. I was excited to cross the finish line and cheer in all my athletes.

And here they came- Piper, then Elisabeth, Kevin (a friend), Patti.... And finally, Tyllie! I had been looking for Tyllie the whole race but had no idea she had thrown on a white shirt so I was looking for the wrong color all race. Coach must know your race outfit beforehand, it's a rule.

At the end they were printing out little tickets with your race time summary. When I got mine it said I had a 5:17 swim, which I knew was wrong. When I went to talk to the timing table I found out that Piper and I had started with the wrong wave! What?!?! Apparently we had started with the pink caps instead of the purple. For those of you who know me, you know I don't have a hard time identifying pink. These caps were practically the exact same color!!! Thankfully they fixed up our times and all was well.

All my ladies managed to get within a couple minutes of their goal times, which was great considering that swim. I landed second in age group despite the wave snafu. It was a beautiful morning and I can't think of a more fun way or more fun people to spend it with. Way to go everyone!!

-Coach A

Monday, July 2, 2012

July 2012 Newsletter

Click below for Spark July 2012 Newsletter!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Spark Kids Triathlon Training Information

Email for more info or register online here. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Pleasant Prairie Triathlon Recap

Before I write this I should really go back and see what I wrote about last year's PP race.  I remember it being ideal conditions and one of the most well executed races I have ever completed.  I was pretty certain going in today that I would not be able to better my time, but I almost 2 minutes.  Honestly, the conditions today were probably THE BEST I have ever raced in in my 13 year career.   No wind whatsoever, low 70's and overcast.  Loved it!

So, let me back up.  I love coming to this race.  It is in the town where I grew up so I have an excuse to stay at my best friend's house, I always see lots of people I know and it is fast no matter what the conditions are.   The lake is warm and clean, the bike is flat and smooth and the run is around the lake.  So fun!

I rode my bike over to the race and immediately set up my transition.  I wandered around looking for a few people I knew who were doing their first tri- one Spark athlete and few coworkers from the gyms.  I gave out a few words of advice, shared some Bodyglide and wished everyone well as they headed into the holding pen.  Frankly, they all seemed a lot calmer than me!  I hung out with another friend who I know from Lululemon (yes, I shop there that much) and we kept each other company until the sprint distance began.

The lake was really warm, 77 degrees to be exact.  I tried to stay as close the front of the group as possible, but there were several 14/15 year old girls who were in my wave and they totally kicked my butt.  The only solace I can take in this is that my 14 year old self (as a swimmer) would also kick my butt right now.   Ran out of the swim and busted through T1 as quickly as possible to head out onto what was one of my most fun and fastest rides ever.  Imagine newly paved roads, no cars and no wind.  That is what those 13 miles were.  This is where I picked up most of my time from last year.  After T2 I knew I just needed to come in under a 24:00 5K to beat last years time and I was confident that would be no problem.  It wasn't!  I did not bust the 1:10 mark overall but did come as close as possible at 1:10:00!

It was a great day, feel so happy that I actually was able to get my top goal- totally worth the blisters on my feet from wearing no socks with my Mizunos!  Also amazing to see all these people finish their first tri- Congrats Cat, Adrienne, Brent and Stacy!  And Brad and Emily even though you are veterans!  Welcome to the sport!

Can't wait to race with the rest of you!
-Coach A.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Triathlon Gear Checklist

Use this handy dandy checklist to make sure you have everything packed for the big day!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

SparkKids Coming Soon!

Official schedule/info to be announced later this week, but Coach Angela will be working with young athletes this August to prepare them for Chicago Kids Tri!  If you know any junior triathletes age 7-14, please spread the word!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Five MUST-DO's before your first tri each season....

Seasoned triathletes and newbies alike, make sure you have everything checked off this list before you do your first race of the season-

1.  Get in the lake.  With your wetsuit.  Preferably with several of your closest friends kicking and pulling all over you.  This will get your swim anxiety out of the way before race day.

2.  Nail down your breakfast.  Have it many times right before a workout and fine tune it so it fills you just the right amount to keep you energized but not weigh you down.

3.  Practice your transitions.  Especially that bike to run.  Always a shocker how those legs feel off the bike.

4.  Workout with your race outfit.  You may have forgotten how it rode up last year, or that you gained 20 lbs and it is now a belly shirt.  Figure that out before the morning of.

5.  Establish a goal.  Think about what you want to accomplish this year and DO IT!!

Now you are ready to race!
-Coach A

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Elkhart Lake Tri Race Recap

The first race of the season is a wrap. As I sit on the balcony of our hotel and gaze upon the scene of the tri I can't help but think that this is by far the most logistically easy race in which I have ever competed. Up at 5:45, across the finish line before 9, back in the room with all my gear by 9:30 and in the pool playing with my daughter at 10. Does it get any better than that?

The race began with a short 400 meter swim in beautiful Elkhart lake. One of the shortest swims I have ever raced- took only 6 minutes. After running out of the lake up the first of many hills towards transition I headed out to the pretty technical bike course. Lots of hills and lots of turns- witnessed a couple crashes but managed to get through safely with a decent time.

Then for the run. Note to self- would you ever let one of your athletes head to a hilly race and not train hills beforehand? No. Then why did you think you could do it? Not sure. Did you pay for it? Yes. That run sucked.

The first 1.5 miles was almost completely uphill, whether steep or gently sloping. I was not prepared for either. A lot of heavy breathing, a few curse words, and 12 minutes later I was on the second, and much easier, half. I was able to pick up the pace a bit and and bring it in under an 8 minutes pace, but barely.

Luckily for me, I wasn't the only one who got her a** handed to her on the run. I eeked out a 3rd place overall female finish and am starting this season off on the right foot. And while no Sparklers are along with me at this race, I am here with many tri friends from over the years. Now time to sit back and enjoy the weekend with my fam and friends!

PS- Would definitely recommend this race to everyone - especially those who could enjoy a relaxing weekend in the country!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Pre-race Rituals

It's the night before a race and I need to prepare. Here are the things I ALWAYS do before I race: *Prepack my bag and double check everything on a gear checklist *Lay out my race outfit *Check the results from last year's race. Even if I didn't do it- need to scope out the competition, ya know? *Have dessert *Freeze my profile water bottle *Take my bike for a quick spin with my race wheels- always a confidence booster *Prepare my breakfast as much as I can for the morning *Get to bed by 9:30 and visualize my race as I'm falling asleep What do you do the night before a race? Anything crazy? -Coach A

Sunday, May 20, 2012

My First Triathlon

As we embark up on the 2012 Midwest triathlon season, many of you are gearing up for your first races.  That first triathlon can be an incredibly exhilarating albeit intimidating experience.    Let me share with you the story of my first triathlon.

It was 2001, I was a junior in college and I had no idea what the heck I was doing.  I had competed in a couple of Indoor Triathlons and thought it would be fun to take this sport outdoors, so I registered for the J-Hawk Earlybird Triathlon in Whitewater, WI.  I packed up my road bike (an early college graduation present), my boyfriend (now my hubby), and a few other accessories into my Ford Escort (the H2O Bug for those of you who have known me that long) and headed up to Wisconsin.  Little did I know how this sport was about to change my life.

I will never forget arriving at that race and seeing all these other athletes who clearly knew what they were doing.  I distinctly remember saying to Gene, "I can't do this, let's go home."  I saw people in head to toe spandex, tricked out bikes and shoes that clipped into their bike pedals.  What?!?!?!  I was definitely out of my league.

The swim for this particular race was a 500 yard swim in a pool.  That I could handle and people were probably even impressed by my speed.  I quickly learned that the swim is a VERY small portion of the race.  Only seven minutes of this race, to be exact.  I fumbled my way through T1 and headed out on the bike for the longest 13 miles of my life.  I think I had only had the bike a few weeks and was in no way prepared for the gusting winds and country roads.   It took me over an hour.  After a slow T2 (I was exhausted), I headed out for the run with heavy legs.  I recall taking a wrong turn and crying in a panic that I was going to get lost in the trails of Whitewater University.  Thankfully I found my way back on track and managed to cross that finish line.

By the time I was done it was a gorgeous, sunny and mild spring day.  And I felt awesome.  I totally sucked at the race but I had finished, and gotten a taste of that feeling of accomplishment that I still cannot get enough of.   I had totally gone out of my comfort zone and done something that, at that time, almost no one that I knew had.  From the moment I finished that race I was thinking about when I would do it again.

Is your first race coming up?  Is it going to freak you out on race day when you arrive?  Absolutely, but those race days jitters are just one part of the whole experience that you will learn to embrace and even look forward to.  Even to this day, after completing upwards of 75 races, I still feel like I want to puke when I walk into transition on race morning.  Don't let it scare you away, it may just change your life like it has mine!

-Coach A

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Ready to Tri Clinic- June 6th

You or anyone you know going to become a first time triathlete this year?  Raced before but not quite sure what the heck you were doing?  Come to this clinic lead by USA Triathlon Level II Coach Angela Park to learn everything you need to know about having a smooth race!  

Monday, May 14, 2012

Spark Summer Tri Clinic Series

Email to have info sent directly to you!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

What! A! Week!

Wow, it has been a rough week for Coach A and several of my Spark Athletes (Oh, how I just want to call you all Sparklers, but I know I would get my butt kicked by some for that! ;)  I ended up with a vicious flu and spent the night in the hospital, one of my athletes is having some serious knee pain that needs to be nipped in the bud, and yet another athlete missed a whole week of workouts due to an insane work schedule.  What else do we all have in common besides a bad week?  We had all trained for and were scheduled to run yesterday's Lakefront 10 Miler, where it was 40 degrees and raining with 20 mph winds.  None of us made it to the race.

How you handle a week like this is what makes or breaks you.  For some, this might be the final push in the wrong direction that derails them from their regular workouts.  For others, it may cause them to question their goals and whether they can really be accomplished.   For me, it reminds me that I need to slow down, listen to my body and prioritize my life again around things that are going to make me feel good.

I have missed many races in my career but have almost always come back stronger after I  have had to sit on the sidelines.  Why?  Well, once in a while we all need to slow down and take the long view.  Is a week of not working out going to destroy my entire season?  No.  In fact, I think this week has brought some clarity that I did not previously have.  It is no surprise that I was running around with the world's longest to do list when the flu took me down flat on my back for 48 solid hours.   During those two days I got to thinking about what I could do to clear my plate, breathe a little and enjoy life a little more.  And, in fact, I have taken some very big steps to accomplish those goals.  I am feeling better already (despite my lack of workouts) and am ready to start Monday with a fresh perspective and less stressful schedule.

So, the next time you are sidelined by an injury, illness, or plain old stressful week, take a step back and try to identify what you can do to correct and avoid this situation in the future.   Sometimes a few bad days is all we need to help us realign our attitude and goals and appreciate what we have a little more.  Stay tuned for future posts about coming back after more serious setbacks...are you reading Derrick Rose?

-Coach A

Monday, April 16, 2012

Spark Summer Tri Training Group 2012

Spark Summer Tri Training Group
April 30th- August 26th, 2012
Join USA Triathlon Coach, Angela Park, and fellow triathletes for a summer training program targeting both of Chicago’s downtown Triathlons- South Shore and Chicago!

What is it? A group of 4 (min) to 10 (max) triathletes training, learning and competing together!

Who can do it?  Anybody who has ever wanted to do a triathlon, is looking for a new challenge or who wants to take their triathlon training to the next level!

Will we actually do a triathlon?  Yes!  Our target races will be South Shore Sprint triathlon on July 28th and
Chicago Triathlon (sprint or Olympic) on August 26th.

When and where will practices be?  The practice schedule is:
Mondays 6:30 pm- Run Speed Workout- Lakeshore Park Track
Fridays 6:30 am- Swim, Bike or Brick Workout -Olive Park
All workouts will be one hour except for a few occasional longer combo workouts on Friday mornings.  
Run practices will meet at Lakeshore Park Track, Chicago Ave. between Michigan Ave. and Lake Shore Drive. 
Friday workouts will meet at Olive Park (5oo N Lakeshore Dr)

What will practices be like?  Every workout will be catered towards the group’s specific needs and tailored so that each individual is challenged but not overwhelmed.  A detailed practice plan will be given to participants so they know what equipment is necessary and what to expect each day.  Coach Angela has years of experience working with groups and will structure the workouts to meet each individual’s fitness level. 

What does the Training Group include?  The training group will be lead by USA Triathlon Level II certified coach and personal trainer, Angela Park.  Each group member will receive a training plan for the events and,
due to the small size of the group, lots of personalized attention. 
Angela will also be at South Shore and Chicago to coach, calm and cheer you on. 
Finally, the benefits of group training include camaraderie, motivation, and fun!

What do I need to join?  The items you need to train for and complete your first triathlon are- goggles, swimsuit, bike (any type), helmet, and running shoes!  A wetsuit can be helpful, too.

How do I sign up?  Registration and more info now available through 
Cost:  1x per week $320, 2x per week $560
There will be no practices the week of May 28th.
Signup now…space is very limited!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Newbie vs Veteran??

I have a friend and colleague who is a phenomenal athlete.  Not sure how to sum up his athletic abilities but he is a beast in the pool and won at least a couple of national titles at the 2011 US Masters Meet.  For a couple of years now he has talked about doing the Chicago Tri but has never followed through.   Knowing how competitive he is (and I am), I challenged him to race and bet that he could not beat me in the Sprint distance. 
 At first it was a joke, now it is ON.  Loser buys dinner.  

Here is what he has going for him:   He is a great swimmer, a natural athlete, and he is a really good swimmer.  I can't really think of anything else.  Oh, except that he is a guy.

Here is what I have going for me:  Over a decade of experience, solid at all three sports, I actually know how to do a quick transition, the right equipment...I mean, seriously, this list could go on and on.  

My Chicago sprint time last year would have placed me 41st out of 1024 men.  Do you think that a tri newbie can come in and actually beat someone who is a pretty decent triathlete with years of experience?  My prediction is he will beat me by 4 minutes in the swim and that lead will be completely gone about halfway through the bike.  Or, I could be totally blown away by what happens when I place a bet with someone who has the competitive spirit of a warrior.  Either way, this bet and all our friends/colleagues knowing about it, could be just the "spark" I need to have the race of a lifetime.  

What do you all think?
-Coach A


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Do you need a Customized Training Plan?

Thinking about your upcoming racing season, do you have a training protocol in place? Certain days to swim, bike and run? Do you know how fast and what volume you should be doing? Or are you just going to wing it?

A training plan is good for everyone, why not just Google "Sprint tri training plan" and get a decent plan?  Those plans are fine for some, but less than fine for others. Besides, who just wants to have a "fine" season? If you are ready to have a STELLAR season, answer the following questions to see if a customized training plan is right for you.

-Is this at least your second of multisport racing?
-Have you at least loosely followed a "generic" training plan in the past?
-Do you have more than 3 races (any distance triathlon or any type of run, bike and swim events) planned for this season?
-Do you have more than one race where you want to excel this season?
-Are you the type of personality that works well with structure?
-Do you have specific goals you want to accomplish throughout the race?

If you answered yes to three or more of these questions, a customized plan will do wonders for your training. It will help you train smarter and more efficiently, race fast when you want to, and make the most of your training hours.

Contact me today to get yours!
-Coach A