Triathlon

Tugging at the Cord: Yucatan World Cup

Hello from Colorado! It is absolutely gorgeous here and has been incredible to catch up with old friends, to make some new ones, and to work with a number of swim experts in the area as I continue my pursuit of front-pack swimming, which as many of you know is one of the keys to success in draft-legal ITU racing. The last week has been quite the whirlwind, from racing down in Mexico, to heading up to Boulder for some training at altitude with lots of new workout buddies for 10 days leading up to next weekend’s MLT Vail.

Many people have asked about my experience at the Yucatan World Cup, so wanted to share this latest chapter in my triathlon journey and some of my takeaways! Heading into race weekend, I had a mixed bag of emotions. I felt stronger, fitter, and faster than ever in swim, bike, and run, but my July racing had been rocky to say the least. I knew my last two races weren’t representative of what I am capable of, but to be honest, they had shaken me a bit and really forced me to take a look within at my self-image. I spent a lot of time outside of training reading my new favorite book, The New Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz, and applying it to my every thought, move, and breath, confronting self-doubts that had been lingering under the surface and reared their heads with my recent stumbles. I think this self-reflection helped me to re-calibrate, and while I certainly had pre-race butterflies heading into my 2nd World Cup, I was focused and ready for battle.

MERIDA.jpg

Complementing this process as I headed into just my second World Cup was the story about circus elephants that Adam sent me in his amazing pre-race email. He said to me:

Just because you've had some certain prior outcomes (training and racing) doesn't mean those are your perpetual reality - don't allow yourself to be "roped" in to a certain level. I'm not saying you must break free, though, I'm just saying that you deserve to give yourself the chance to yank on that rope a little...just see if it starts to stretch a bit.

With this in mind, it was kind of perfect that our race day coincided with world elephant day. On that day, my spirit animal was the elephant. I stretched the cord a bit. I took it one thing at a time and laid down a performance that was by no means perfect but that had a lot of positives and was a step in the right direction; a fight I could be proud of.

 Head down, driving the train.

Head down, driving the train.

I’m continuing to work my swim and continuing to build the mental focus, self-belief, and confidence needed to perform to the best of my ability every time I get the opportunity to toe the line. I’m so grateful of the support I received from Greg, Adam, and my family and friends as I’ve regained my footing. I’m really excited to build on this performance going into fall racing. As I said, next up is MLT Vail Valley on August 26 (all you Coloradans – come out and watch! You won’t regret it!) and the MLT Championships in Cleveland on September 9th. Still figuring out fall world circuit races: stay tuned for updates in the next couple weeks!

 On the lighter side -- SOO fun exploring the local cuisine! A couple USA teammates and I found a hidden gem in Mexico with handmade tortillas and amazing fresh toppings!

On the lighter side -- SOO fun exploring the local cuisine! A couple USA teammates and I found a hidden gem in Mexico with handmade tortillas and amazing fresh toppings!

 Lots of hurry up and wait in Mexico! And "interesting" transport strategies haha Luckily great company to make light of the constant craziness :D 

Lots of hurry up and wait in Mexico! And "interesting" transport strategies haha Luckily great company to make light of the constant craziness :D 

 Racing into the sunset! Photo Credit: Wagner Araujo/International Triathlon Union

Racing into the sunset! Photo Credit: Wagner Araujo/International Triathlon Union

Back to Life, Back to Reality

Since I started my career as a professional triathlete last year, I’ve been chasing. Chasing the collegiate swimmers and the women who have been doing triathlon since before I even knew what the sport was around the race course. But after Cuba, even though I knew it was only a Continental Cup (the first of the three levels of ITU racing), I felt like all the blood, sweat and tears this winter were beginning to pay off. While I knew I had no means made it, the feeling of being in the front pack – being in the race – was so gratifying.

However, my most recent race in Sarasota was reminder that I am by no means in a place where I can have a bad day on the race course and expect to still be in the race. I didn’t execute the swim to my ability, and it was a chase from there. I organized the ladies around me on the bike and we worked decently well together to hold our ground after the first lap of the bike. And I dug in on the run – putting up a decent split given the fact that I have still never worked explicitly on my run… well… ever!

 Taking a couple quiet moments before my name is called to the starting line.

Taking a couple quiet moments before my name is called to the starting line.

Despite these silver linings, Sarasota was a harsh reminder that I am still chasing. And this fuels me every day in training! After Sarasota, Adam and I hopped in the car and hit the road back to South Bend. We were ready to get home and did the 17+ hour drive in one day – talk about getting it done! While Florida was amazing from a weather perspective and it was fun to have all of Team IE around all the time – so much laughing! – it is definitely nice to be home! In our own bed, with our clean kitchen. And since then, we’ve gotten right back to work. Up to 10k a day in the pool, baby! It’s back to real life. Back to reality!

This might sound weird to some, but funnily enough, while the result wasn’t what I wanted in Sarasota, it was more the feeling of not performing to my potential that frustrated me and has fueled me every step, stroke, and lap since getting back to South Bend. I’m more focused and driven than ever and excited to hit it every day leading up to my next showdown in Bermuda!

 We arrived home to temps in the 20's and snow. Yikes! Luckily it has all melted and spring is in the air as I write this post!

We arrived home to temps in the 20's and snow. Yikes! Luckily it has all melted and spring is in the air as I write this post!

 Bringing back the layers big time! 

Bringing back the layers big time! 

 Cold weather and big training days called for some turkey pot pie! yummmmm.

Cold weather and big training days called for some turkey pot pie! yummmmm.

 All work and no play makes Jack & Jill dull kiddos! Ad and I departing for a birthday scavenger hunt (which ended in insane burgers + birthday cake at the  Morris Inn !!)

All work and no play makes Jack & Jill dull kiddos! Ad and I departing for a birthday scavenger hunt (which ended in insane burgers + birthday cake at the Morris Inn!!)

Two Weddings and a Race

The last week or so has been quite the whirlwind, between racing at CAMTRI Richmond, a trip up the coast to Newport, RI for WEDDING PLANNING (weee!), and the wedding of one of Adam’s best friends.

It was a blast to be back on the east coast – I flew into Washington Reagan, and driving out of DC down to Richmond, I couldn’t help but smile as I passed by running trails and views that were so familiar when I lived there after Dartmouth. I had an amazing homestay – the man I stayed with there is an incredibly accomplished endurance athlete and was a blast to talk to. Made me feel so at home!

 My room in Richmond, called "The Glamour Room!"

My room in Richmond, called "The Glamour Room!"

 Look fast, feel fast, race fast!

Look fast, feel fast, race fast!

The weekend went by in a blur of rain showers and workouts, and I was pretty zoned in – Greg and I planned to train right up until the race so I was focused on one thing at a time.

 Just a little rain leading up to the race ;-P

Just a little rain leading up to the race ;-P

Luckily for us the rain cleared as we lined up for the start, and before we knew it we were off. Greg and I have been working my swim since Florida and seeing progress, but I didn’t know exactly where I would stand, so when I got out of the water next to girls who I was 20-30seconds behind in the swim 6-weeks prior, my head was like “WHERE AM I!” Out on the bike, our pack wasn’t working well together, which was somewhat frustrating, but I decided to sit in as opposed to burning matches. Going out on the run was bizarre – my legs were tired, but fresh, and for the first time I felt like I could actually go out too fast! I balked and didn’t quite execute on the run, but I was still happy with a 5th place finish and my first ITU paycheck!!

 Rain cleared just in time for the swim -- talk about calm waters!

Rain cleared just in time for the swim -- talk about calm waters!

 Post-race refueling -- my fave,  Whole Foods  Pizza!! 

Post-race refueling -- my fave, Whole Foods Pizza!! 

The next morning I was off to Rhode Island, land of sailboats and Adam’s and my wedding come December! From there it was 24 hours of wedding planning madness! And by madness I mean FUN! – wedding cake tasting, florist meetings, and the chance to see our venue in person for the first time! 

 The venue for our big day!

The venue for our big day!

 Cake, cake....

Cake, cake....

 .... And more cake!!!

.... And more cake!!!

 Training stops for nothing! Had plenty of workouts to work off all that cake!

Training stops for nothing! Had plenty of workouts to work off all that cake!

It was also amazing to spend time with all of my family who live in Newport… and get a little road trip with my mom and Tessa (our puppy!) back down to New Jersey, where Adam joined us for the next wedding… which was actually a wedding! One of Adam’s best friends got married in the Hudson Valley area and boy was it beautiful! The wedding was a blast start to finish – Adam and I had to laugh, because we’re so in our South Bend training bubble these days, and it was a little weird to be around “regular” people with 9-5 jobs who were boozing it up at the bar, eating whatever they felt like, dancing the night away knowing they could just sleep in the next morning. It was definitely a refreshing change and nice to let loose a little with our friends. We had such a fun night -- incredible band, soooo much dancing, delicious food and cake, and the happiest, most beauteous couple ever.

 The newlyweds!

The newlyweds!

 Gorgeous cake, insane filling (cannoli!!)

Gorgeous cake, insane filling (cannoli!!)

All in all, it was quite the week. All great things, but now it’s great to be home and I’m back to work leading up to my next race on May 21 in Ixtapa. Stay tuned for updates! 

Major League Talent Takes Temple

If you don’t read further than the first lines of this post, I’ll say it up front. Whether you think of yourself as a triathlon enthusiast or not, don’t let 2016 go by without attending one of the Major League Triathlon Series events!

LAYING THE SCENE

Last weekend, I made my way to the Lonestar State with 31 other pro triathletes for first Major League Triathlon (MLT) Series race. The race location – Temple, TX – is an army town sandwiched between Dallas and Austin. Home of Bucee’s – literally the BIGGEST gas station I’ve ever seen. Temple was a bit of a hike to get to – my travel began on Thursday morning at 4am with a drive to Chicago and flight from Midway to Dallas. Lucky for me, I was able to train in Dallas on Thursday and then stay overnight with friends before embarking on the 2hr drive (well…. 3 thanks to construction traffic!) with John O’Neill & Erin Jones, who were also racing there (road trip woohoo!). And Temple itself was actually a cool town - it's right on an army base so it very vibrant with a lot going on! It was a great setting for a weekend of racing.

TAKING A STEP BACK: WHAT IS THE MLT SERIES?

For all of you who haven’t heard of MLT – you need to! MLT is a series of super-sprint relay races. In it’s first year, we have 8 teams, each of which are comprised of 2 men and 2 women, racing in 4 different locations over the season: Temple TX, Sarasota FL, Omaha NE, and last but not least, Portland ME! Check out their website for more details. Future years will have more teams and more races!

MLT - TEMPLE

The Dans, who founded and are organizing MLT, ran into a strong of bad luck in Temple for sure (permit revoked, no pools in the area to use, portable pool wouldn’t work). But we've seen issues like this with even very established races like Ironman Texas this year, and the Dans still managed to put an amazing pro event together despite the situational headwinds.

Everyone I talked to agreed - it was one of the most exciting events we’ve done! Teammates were all over the course cheering on teammates, and there was a sense of bonding/community that is absent as most other races. There was also some incredibly fast racing – exactly what a new pro like me needs to grow and develop! TRS took some great footage of the day - check it out below!

 Take your mark.....

Take your mark.....

The Dans were also extremely organized and we’re all excited to see the incredible event they will certainly be putting on for age groupers and pros alike in Sarasota this June.

 Congrats to the top 3 teams on the day: Sarasota Suns (1st), the Portland Keepers (2nd), & the Temple Toros (3rd)

Congrats to the top 3 teams on the day: Sarasota Suns (1st), the Portland Keepers (2nd), & the Temple Toros (3rd)

MLT is trying to grow the sport of triathlon and change the current dynamic where pro’s struggle to balance finances and opportunities to gain the experience necessary to grow and develop into top athletes. I couldn’t be more honored to be part of the MLT in its inaugural year and contributing to it’s growth. Curious? Come race the age group race in Sarasota on July 17 (get 10% off entry fee using code "ALEXANDER"), then hang out for an amazing pro race, the chance to hang out and learn from top North American triathletes, and food, frosty beverages, and music! You won’t regret it!

 California Cadence represent! We're comin for the other teams in June, guns blazing!

California Cadence represent! We're comin for the other teams in June, guns blazing!

No Regrets

birthdaycake

This past Monday, I turned 29 (AH I'M GETTING OLD!). Birthdays always have a way of making me reflect – what have I achieved since last year? Am I happy? Am I accomplishing my goals (or making steps towards them)? What do I need to do to make the coming year the best one yet?

This year, as I rode through the hills of Bloomington w/ Coach on the afternoon of my birthday, I was grateful to be doing what I love, pursuing a dream that many would shy away from because the rate of failure is so high.

In my 28th year, I made the decision to live regret-free. Since then, it’s been a series of great adventures (some of which are captured in the gallery below, starting most recent back to March 30, 2015! Check em out!). I’m not sure I could count the number of pools/bodies of water I’ve swum in, the cities I’ve trained and raced in, the new amazing people I’ve met and friends I’ve made, the workouts I’ve completed that I never thought I would be able to. I’ve adopted the philosophy of making my life what I want it to be as opposed to doing what others think I should; of taking action and getting to work, not sitting around and talking about it.

In my 29th year, every moment, every day, I am choosing to do what will get me one step closer to my dream of racing at the top of the sport of triathlon, whether that’s passing on dessert, doing that last set of strength exercises that I just reallyyy don’t feel like doing, or turning off my computer mid-show to make sure I get 9 hours of sleep for the next day’s training.

The result is a life free of regret – it’s an incredibly liberating feeling that I wish for every person out there. So, what will you do today to be happier, more accomplished than yesterday? Make the choice for this year to be the best yet and commit to it, one act at a time!

One-Two Punch: Clermont + Sarasota CAMTRI Cup Recaps

Once racing season begins, it seems that every week we get a deluge of race reports. Story after story of the trusted race morning breakfast, the nerves and excitement that filled the air, the crazy start, the hard effort put forth, etc etc. These are great sometimes, and I do have many people asking me, "How do you warm up?" "What kind of nutrition I use to be able to perform?"

While I enjoy sharing my tricks and tips, I figured I'd mix it up sharing my experience at ITU CAMTRI American Cups at Clermont and Sarasota the last couple weekends. Growing up, my family and I would play “highlight-lowlight” at the dinner table every night. Here, I give you my highlight-lowlight for each race along with a bonus: takeaways from my first ITU races of my first pro season.

lineup

CLERMONT

Highlight: My run. Laid down my fastest 5k time with no dedicated run training to date. There is no doubt still a long way to go, but it was awesome to see that kind of progress and know that there is more there – this is just the beginning! Oh, and amazing pizza dinner with the team at Goombas the night before the race. Team IE might have a new Clermont pre-race tradition here!

Lowlight: Hmm tough one, because there were so many positives in Clermont. Lowlight was probably two-fold – playing catch up after getting out of the water 20 seconds back from the main pack and then not having quite enough in the tank at the end to hold onto 10th (props to Dominika Jamnicky and Calah Schlabach for laying down a STRONG final 400m - just out-kicked me! - and to Abby Levene for an impressive 17:15 …. I’m comin' for ya, girls! :)) But in this "lowlight" lies clear opportunity for improvement, which I'm all about! 

SARASOTA

Highlight: Racing on one of USA’s teams in the relay – this new format of racing, where four triathletes (two men + two women per team) each do a super sprint before tagging their teammate, is SO fast and exciting!! I would say it was equally thrilling for athletes and spectators alike and made me even more excited to race in the inaugural year of Major League Triathlon starting with its first Temple race next month (go California Cadence!).

Lowlight: Mmm, there are two. First, while I had an improved swim from Clermont, which was improved from Tritonman, which was improved from last fall (yay progress!), I have a lot of speed to find and again I was playing catch up. That being said, having the opportunity to compare my skill/fitness to a stronger field of athletes was invaluable both in terms of gaining experience and gathering data! Second, WIND! Made for some challenging biking and running conditions (although, who am I kidding! I love a good challenge!).

Key takeaways:

  1. Greg’s master plan is working. Since last October, I’ve found significant speed in the water, and it’s continuing to come little by little every time we get in the pool (knock on wood!). But while I’m encouraged, I’m by no means satisfied. Being THIS close to front pack out of the water has made me hungrier than ever. We barely skipped a beat of training for the Florida races and are already building up yards again to keep finding seconds.
  2. It takes a village. Between the trip from Vegas to the east coast and our time at Florida, I have been absolutely overwhelmed by the support and generosity of the Team IE family. Between homestays, home-cooked meals, cheering squads on the sidelines, it’s incredible how at home you can feel when you’re so many miles from home. Thank you to everyone who has supported my teammates and me, including incredible sponsors like Kiwami, which OVERNIGHTED my suit so I would be ready to rock in Sarasota. Above and beyond. Thank you to everyone.

And because pictures are worth a thousand words, a few snapshots from the weekend!

Heart of a Lion

2016 is now in full swing. It feels like just yesterday we arrived in Vegas for camp, and here we are with my first race around the corner (T-minus 4 days to Tritonman!) and beginning to pack up and head east again (only now we head to the state of sunshine and citrus since South Bend is still getting piled with snow).

As racing draws near, I can feel little butterflies fluttering in my stomach now and then -- racing is where we get that objective feedback. It’s that honest look in the mirror. And while the work I’ve done and my personal quest for excellence serves as inspiration, one of the women I’ve met out here in Vegas is a new source of inspiration.

Rachel Jaten just competed in the US Olympic Team Marathon Trials. She placed 48th, finishing ahead of many women who, on paper, she wasn’t expected to outrun. She was also our housemate for the month of January.

Over the month that we lived with Rachel, or “Rochelle” as we came to call her, she truly became part of the Team IE family, from poking fun at Greg, to joining in for nightly Shark Tank marathons, you name it! She became one of the crew – a friend, and an inspiration.

For those of you who haven’t heard about this amazing woman, quick background: Rachel ran when she was younger, but when she reached the point of burnout by the end of college, she hung up her running shoes. Rachel didn’t run for more than a decade. Only recently did she make a comeback.

Since returning to running, Rachel has balanced two full-time jobs – making deliveries for UPS and training for the Olympic trials. Our jaws all dropped when she humbly told us about her typical day, which would start at 4am in order to fit in her work responsibilities and training demands. Rachel’s story is impressive in itself – lining up to race women averaging 10 years younger than you takes guts! – but what was more inspirational to me was her grounded approach to training, racing, and running in general.

Rachel was always cool and collected; she embraced the hardest workouts and training with girls running more miles and faster than her, coming in the door just saying “it was so great to be pushed like that.” She was an elite athlete, but unlike many driven, high-achieving people, she was so refreshingly chill! Not to mention  curious, open to learning, super funny and sarcastic, and, well, NORMAL! :D

Her coach was spot on when he described her as having “the heart of a lion.” Rachel’s race last weekend in LA was a testament to the power of doing the work and executing when it counts; of believing in yourself; of doing what you came to do, what you know you can do, and nothing less. This year, I hope to take a page out of Rochelle’s book! 

 Jaten. CrushingIt. (source:  http://www.facebook.com )

Jaten. CrushingIt. (source: http://www.facebook.com)

Journey to the West

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Hola from Nevada! Finally, the dust has settled from our move out west, and it’s time for a post/update!

When people hear about my decision to pursue triathlon full-time, one of their first questions is: where do I live and train?! They typically expect me to answer with Florida, Boulder, or southern California so are clearly disappointed when I respond, “South Bend in the summer and Henderson, NV in the winter!” Neither are your typical "triathlon" hotbeds, but I’ve shared my thoughts about the Bend, and now that we're in Henderson, I thought I’d share a bit of what it’s like (aka how awesome it is) to live and train here!

It was a long drive out west, particularly since I was sick for the 3 days we spent driving from SB to NV – lucky for me I had my knight in shining armor, who crushed the trip! Ad, Eth (my Prius!), and I made it through wind, rain, sleet, snow, and were only too happy when the Boulder City mountain came into sight!

Now, we’re here in our happy Team IE house, we’re healthy, and we’re workin' hard with our awesome teammates – can’t ask for too much more!

 Team IE Henderson House!

Team IE Henderson House!

 With some of my favorite things from my room in SB, almost anywhere can feel like home sweet home!

With some of my favorite things from my room in SB, almost anywhere can feel like home sweet home!

 Team IE Henderson Selfie (Thanks for your long arm, Robby!)

Team IE Henderson Selfie (Thanks for your long arm, Robby!)

Henderson has been voted one of the best walking cities in NV, and we at Team IE can tell you why – there is an incredible network of trails that weave through the town and desert here, from paved to gravel paths, to legit off-roading, you will never get bored running here. I tend to gravitate towards flat, straight asphalt, so it’s been SO good for me to have to run on uneven surfaces. I might even say I’m coming around to liking them? (gasp!)

 AM neighborhood run with the team!

AM neighborhood run with the team!

 Learning to love trails and off-road adventuring! (Thanks,  Ad , for the action shot!)

Learning to love trails and off-road adventuring! (Thanks, Ad, for the action shot!)

It’s been colder than usual here this winter, with lows in the 30’s in the morning and temps getting up to high 50’s if we're luckily – hopefully that will change in the coming weeks! That being said, it’s nice and dry, so 35 in NV feels a lot better than 35 in the Midwest. It’s still pretty cold on deck before morning swims at the outdoor pool though!

 All smiles after a morning swim in the mist! Preparing to launch out of the pool and sprint to the showers!

All smiles after a morning swim in the mist! Preparing to launch out of the pool and sprint to the showers!

Henderson is just a few miles from Lake Mead National Recreation Area, which has incredible riding! We have yet to find a flat road anywhere in Henderson, and it’s awesome to constantly be climbing and descending with a spectacular backdrop at every turn. An uphill always seems to come just when I least want it – which, I keep reminding myself, is a good thing! (queue music in my head)

 Hard to beat this scenery - so vast!

Hard to beat this scenery - so vast!

It's also just a few miles from the iconic Las Vegas Strip, which is always nice to have around when we need to blow off some steam! I've only been once - last year when Adam and I visited, and it did not disappoint! Now, I have to laugh as we're running and riding through the peaceful desert, knowing the debauchery that's going on just minutes away! Good stuff.

 Scenes from last year's trip to the strip! Hopefully we have time (and energy!) to go again this year.

Scenes from last year's trip to the strip! Hopefully we have time (and energy!) to go again this year.

Moving to live near my coach in South Bend last year was life-changing. Working face-to-face with him everyday allowed us to dial in training better than we could have otherwise and the gains came quickly. But LIVING in the same house as your coach takes everything to a whole nother level!! It might not be for everyone, but I feel so lucky that he can see everything – the good, the bad, the ugly. I learn every day - from both him and my teammates - and getting feedback about my nap schedule, the amount I roll/Normatec, my post workout recovery nutrition, how I warm up for different types of workouts, etc. has empowered me to raise the bar in my physical and mental recovery and performance.

Here are a few more pics of Henderson and Team IE for your enjoyment (thanks to teammates for a couple of these pics!). Stay tuned to hear more next week about a day in the life at Team IE Henderson winter camp and, later in the month, what it means to me to be a “professional triathlete."

Lessons From a Puppy Dog

Since I will only be home for a couple days over Christmas, I decided to take an extended visit over the Thanksgiving holiday – it was a great opportunity to enjoy a change of scenery and to spend some time with my fam! While I wouldn’t say that my time at home was completely “relaxing” – Greg and I have already begun to build my training in preparation for 2016, and owning my own business, my work follows me wherever I go – it was definitely refreshing to have my Mom around to cook delicious dinners and not have to worry as much about house cleaning, laundry, etc. etc.

The other MAJOR highlight of going home was hanging with my parents’ new puppy, Tessa…. Or as we like to call her, “Trouble Bunny!” Even though Newfies tend to be more mild-mannered than other breeds, (not-so) little Tess is your quintessential high-energy, shoe-stealing, jumpy, nippy, fluffy, lovable, hilarious puppy. She provided loads of entertainment – and maybe a littleee frustration – over my 2 weeks at home.

  Little Tessa-Bear at 3 months old!

Little Tessa-Bear at 3 months old!

  Photo shoot with my little fluffball! Just a typical interaction between us ;-P

Photo shoot with my little fluffball! Just a typical interaction between us ;-P

As I depart from home and head down to Team IE's Florida camp, I realized that in the process of training Tess with my Mom, she also trained me, providing some valuable lessons and reminders that I am applying to training, work, and life in general. I thought I’d take a minute to share my top three lessons from Ms. Tess:

1. The Power of Living in the Moment

Tessa provided the ultimate example of living in the moment. She would be completely immersed in destroying her favorite pink squeaky ball (see fetch vid below!) until she heard the crinkling of a bag in the kitchen. Then, bam! No interest in the ball anymore. We could almost hear her calling to us, “Food! Food! Food!” That is, until I grabbed her stuffed pig, named “Baby,” when her focus would again turn completely; this time, to playing with Baby.

  Tessa and her Baby!!

Tessa and her Baby!!

Of course, I’m not saying to never reflect upon/learn from the past or prepare for the future. In her couple months at home, Tessa learned what it meant when we dropped food in her crate (she’s not the biggest fan of crate time), she’s learned good behaviors that result in rewards, and she’s internalized bad ones that yield negative results (well, sort of!). Similarly, I am a big proponent of making time to reflect on both successes and failures to learn and grow. I am also a big believer in the saying, “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” But I am definitely working to channel my inner-Tess by embracing the present and not leting my past experiences or desires/fears for the future hold me back in the here and now.

2. The Cheetah Principle

An extremely common mistake in triathlon training – and, I would argue, in life – is that there is not enough change of pace. In hard workouts, they don’t go hard enough; in easy workouts, they don’t go easy enough. Everything is done in an in-between grey zone, a no-man’s land, which just wears them down and creates a sense of monotony.

Tessa’s days are a roller coaster of energy extremes, alternating between RUNAROUNDANDPLAY and sleeeeep. There is very little middle ground. When she goes, she GOES, and when she rests, the rests hard. Greg, Adam and I call this the Cheetah principle, because they do the same: lounge, lounge, lounge, the SPRINT; repeat. As I seek to develop as a high-performing short-course triathlete and strive to become the fastest triathlete I can be, I am working to be more like the cheetah. More like Tess.

3. A.B.C. (Always Be Curious)

Tessa is exceedingly curious – not one thing evades her gaze. Even running at the speed of light around the yard, she would grab sticks and leaves to take back to her safe spot for inspection. She’s constantly jumping up on the counter just to survey what’s going on up there (… and whether there might be a little treat she could nag! …. We’re admittedly working on that habit). We could almost hear her thinking, “Ooo what’s this? … what’s that? … WHAT’s THAT?!” as she would do a round of even the living room, which I would personally have expected to be kind of boring at this point, since it's where she has presided since she came home with my parents!

   Just seeing what's up at the kitchen table! (Plus a subsequent guilty puppy face since she knows she's not supposed to jump up!)

 Just seeing what's up at the kitchen table! (Plus a subsequent guilty puppy face since she knows she's not supposed to jump up!)

It can be easy to get so caught up checking things off in our daily to-do lists that we don’t take the time to be curious; to stop and ask questions; to wonder “why” something is the way it is and could some change create a better product, situation, result, etc. than the current status quo. But it’s this curiosity that leads to learning, which empowers us to become better athletes, managers, professionals, leaders, and members of the community.  So I’m taking a page out of Tessa’s book and allowing myself to let go of that to-do list/schedule just a bit to make time for questions and curiosity.

  On alert - "HEY! What's going on out there?!?"

On alert - "HEY! What's going on out there?!?"

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from your furry friend(s)? Would love to hear from you!

Gratitude is an Attitude

As you may have noticed, process and attitude are two central themes in my triathlon story thus far. Conversations between my coach and me continually come back to executing even the smallest details on a daily basis to achieve incremental gain in every training session. I would say this actually applies to professional growth and performance as well as sport.

More recently, one word that has emerged in our discussions about process is: mastery.

In this vein, my coach recently recommended Ariana Kukors’ interview with Michael Gervais in his podcast, “Finding Mastery.” It may appear to be a long interview, but make the time. You won’t regret it. Once I started listening, I couldn’t tear myself away!