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