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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Come live 18 hours in 2 minutes!

Hey!  For this week I thought I'd do something COMPLETELY different and do a video blog of what my 'workout' week is like.  Lucky for you I sped it up so it won't take as long to watch as it did to do the actual workouts! Hope you enjoy it!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

I've Got a Gut Feeling

Today I took an online quiz to find out what career I should have. Guess what!? It came up as ATHLETE. Sigh. After all these years I'm on the path that was meant for me.

I am an athlete and I am truly happy being one. Therefore, empirical  evidence shows this quiz is 100% correct.

Please don't get confused with "career athlete" as being the same as "professional athlete". Surveys, under "occupation", have "homemaker" listed as a career. This is usually the box I check. However, now I'm going to select "other" and write in athlete. Obviously, Occupation/Career have nothing to do with getting paid. I've never collected a dime as a mom... oops. That's a lie. Coins I get in the washer and dryer are mine. Always mine; and members of my household know that. But you get what I mean, right? My career and arbitrary success isn't limited by the amount of money I make doing it.

I love my sponsors which help out and support me. (Shameless plug for 2014 Team SOAS) But it has been a long road to reach this point.

Am I the only one with Jiminy Cricket on my shoulder, or more appropriately, in my gut? Gut feelings lead me through this world. They are invaluable.

When I insisted on trying to start a business, there was a gut feeling. No matter what hurdles I jumped or how many friends insisted on helping me, supporting and making me feel good about it, that gut feeling wouldn't subside. The one that makes you insist, over and over again, "I can DO this. I can MAKE it work!" If you find yourself saying this a lot, this article is for YOU.

Years ago a friend told me I should be a real estate agent. Oooooh, that gut feeling started, but hey, "I can make it work! I can do this!" I thought if I had more information the feeling would go away. Nope. Maybe I just need to pay my money and take the classes. Friends and family thought it was a fabulous idea. Refueled, I recommitted, doubled my resolve and took the classes. The feeling got stronger. Well, that's just because I need to take the test and then I'll feel better. Remember, everyone thought it was a fantastic idea.

Totally confident that I had made a commitment and fighting all gut feelings, I kept insisting, "But I can make this work". I continued down the path and refused to listen to Jiminey Cricket squeaking in my gut. I took that test. I paid for the license. I found a broker. I bought business cards. No backing out now!!! The ball was rollin', man! With tons of "likes" on FB, I was gonna be a real estate agent! But after spending one day with my first client from Las Vegas, I realized nothing was calming my gut.

But, you say, what about Michael Jordan? He didn't make his high school basketball team. He must have had a conversation with himself that might have had, "But I can Do this! I can make it work!" And he forged on and look how that turned out! What about the snowboarder I just heard about who lost her legs at 19 and is still snowboarding 15 years later? She sat down and said, "Well, I can do this, I just need to figure out how". Well, I say, we don't know what their gut was saying. Maybe it was calm as they faced the odds.

I've had those conversations with myself, too. Like when I decided to do my first triathlon and couldn't even swim. AT ALL!! I watched Ironman and thought, "I can DO that. And I'll have to figure out how to make it work!" All outward indications were screaming otherwise, but my gut was calm and quiet.

When I barely finished my first sprint triathlon and told myself I wanted to be sponsored, some people supported, some people doubted, but I didn't need their "likes" on FB to make me feel good about my decision. Because Jiminy was quiet as a mouse.

When I crashed three weeks before Ironman and had to find a new bike, and not having the chance to ride it before the race, my gut was also calm. I couldn't walk, run, swim, or bike for those final three weeks because of the stitches, the road rash, the stiffness, and my knee was the size of a cantaloupe, but I went ahead and competed. Why? Because my gut was calm. (Nerves were shot, but my gut was calm).

Now I am an athlete. I am on the path I was meant to be on. Was it always easy? Absolutely not. Was it obvious to everyone else? Probably not. Do I care? Did Michael Jordan care? Probably not. Because when you are on the path, you should feel calm. You feel sure. When you are all by yourself, alone in those quiet moments, you just KNOW. You don't rush to others wanting them to calm Jiminy Cricket, or that feeling in your gut. Others don't know what's right for you. Find your better path.

Race like there's no tomorrow. Train with confidence in yourself. Listen to your Jiminy Cricket and become the athlete you are supposed to be, not the one you are insisting you WANT to be. What you may think you want might not be what you need. Your gut knows what no one else does. Listen.

Happy Day! It's almost race season!! Race CALM!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Off Season, Part III: Technical Preparation for Triathlon

Part I and Part II of the "Off Season" focused on the mental and physical aspect of training. Now for Part III: preparing TECHNICALLY during the "Off Season".

If you are at a point in life where you feel the need to "simplify", becoming a triathlete is probably not a good idea. Triathletes tend to accumulate things.

Coming from a running background, becoming a triathlete was extremely complicated for me. Runners throw on appropriate clothes for the weather, a pair of shoes, and go out the door. It's easy. Triathlons are overwhelming. This blog is meant help beginners in the sport, or those who need to re-evaluate "needs" for the upcoming race season.

For each workout I pack a bag to grab so I can head quickly out the door. It simplified my life. Prepacked bags save time and help me remember important equipment. Once I was so busy trying to put my bag together for a bike ride that I got to the gym without my bike! That doesn't happen anymore with the new system!

Let's talk about SWIMMING equipment first.

A swimming suit is a must. (At least for most places!)

After that, goggles and a cap are helpful. To do the drills and workouts, a lot of triathletes buy kick boards, paddles, pull buoys, and ankle bands.

To race, triathletes typically invest in wet suits, skin suits, and sometimes booties for extremely cold water conditions. And a neoprene cap. To make matters even more complicated, there are different types of goggles, depending on the race. Clear, tinted, or something in between. Where you race dictates the need.

Next, the BIKE is the biggest investment; both in time and money. During the, "Off Season", I invested in a Guru Bike Fit at Noble Sports. It was the best thing I have done in years for my bike. I've had multiple static fits and a Retul fit and now the Guru system. Bike fits are an important investment. With the changes you make to your fitness, bike saddles and equipment, re-investing in this area is important. It is something you can do in the "Off Season" to prepare for racing. It's difficult to do DURING your season and maybe not so helpful.
Love my Trek Speed Concept!
The bike itself has multiple moving parts (obviously) so you can check out changing and upgrading a slew of things. I couldn't even begin to tell you where to put your money, but your local bike shop is helpful in suggesting things to buy. They love that! It would make their day if you wanted a power meter, new cranks, to change the crank length, get new sprockets,  new pedals, different areo bars, a new hydration system, bento box, race wheels, a new chain, and derailer hanger. Just to name a few.
Tri bikes don't work on single track!
If I lost you on some of those item, that's the point. I didn't even scratch the surface of the possibilities of bike equipment..

Besides the bike itself, a triathlete needs ACCESSORIES in order to ride. Let's start with helmets. (I have two and I am considering a third). Each helmet has a specific purpose. Areo, better cooling, etc.

Another accessory is a bike saddle. After years I found the one and only saddle that works for me is a Koobi Saddle. After many trys (and tris) it is the only saddle I am truly completely comfortable on.

A triathlete needs to consider bike footwear, also. Bike shoes are varied and can be expensive. But that is not enough. Pedals and clips need to be attached and riders have their favorite. Computer Guy uses different pedals and clips than I do because of his knees. I use Speed Play because with one of my legs, I need extra "float" so my knee and hip aren't locked in place. Every athlete is different.

Eye wear. Wow. What a challenge this one is! Lenses with the right color, size, fit and comfort. I found a great pair last year, but the minute I got into the aero position, the top rim was directly in the center of my view! It was crazy!! I buy the cheapest eye wear possible that still meets the need. Why? Because I lose or break my glasses on a regular basis. Literally, spending money on expensive gear that will be lost or broken after one ride is not fun. I know my weaknesses and have to plan accordingly!

Now for a triathlete's RUN GEAR. Shoes. Not necessary, according to the "barefoot" running craze, but most triathlete's still run in shoes (!) I've seen marathoner's try doing it barefoot but so far, I've never met a happy one. To each his own. If you want shoes for your triathlon, you aren't alone.

In addition to shoes, triathletes use some type of hydration system they can carry for races and for training runs. Many include a place to hold keys, a cell phone or gels. Races require a race number to be displayed on the athlete. The best way to accomplish this is to purchase a race belt. And finally, triathletes often buy specific laces so they save time tying shoes in transition and ensuring they won't have to re-tie them during the run. Coming from someone who has had to stop too many times to tie shoes, I recommend these laces...
Race belts, laces, arm warmers, watches, heart rate monitor and compression socks.
The CLOTHING list needed for workouts and races is exhausting! Bike jackets, shirts, shorts; running shorts, shirts, hats; triathlon "kits"; sweats to wear to races or after workouts...

Oh, the list of things a triathlete can buy is endless!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Thankful 13 Race Report

Two months ago my phone rang. "Hey, will you do the Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon with me?" It was The Gymnast. Without hesitation, I agreed, and the trash talking began... Not really because The Gymnast doesn't trash talk.

Other family members signed up for the 5K.

Fast Forward to Thanksgiving Day. I want to insert here that "excusers" drive me CRAZY. You know the "excuser". You stand next to them at the start line. Everyone's THERE. You all have some story as to what condition you are in at that moment. Then the "excuser" starts talking. "I didn't even train for this." "I ran a 20 miler yesterday". "I'm using this just as a training day." "My Achilles is acting up."

The excuse list is endless. Sometimes I am an "excuser"!

Race Day morning it was about 30 degrees. Perfect weather for a half marathon. We rushed to get the turkey in the oven and everyone out the door. It didn't even feel like a race. I was EXCITED! Energy was in the air, but no focus.

The Gymnast and I decided a strategy. Do whatever you feel and don't worry about the other racers. It was her first half marathon. The gun went off and so did over 700 runners. The 5k people clapped and cheered. The support crew took pictures.

At mile one, I realized we were running a very steady pace and I felt extremely comfortable. I certainly didn't go out too fast. I looked at The Gymnast and knew she was feeling good, too, so I decided the "race strategy" had been implemented. Work steady into a comfortable "race pace" up to mile 3. At mile 6, move into the "comfortably hard race zone," hold that until mile 9 or 10 and then kick it up to the next gear. Smile for pictures at the finish banner.

However, this is how my legs decided the race would unfold...

At mile three I tried to move into another "gear". The legs did not respond, but the heart, lungs and head were ready to go. At mile 5, The Gymnast was in "the zone". I had never ran with one person for so long in a race. It was comfortable, and felt easy. I was enjoying myself as we clipped along. The mile markers seemed to come and go so quickly. At mile 6, I figured it was time to move into "race mode". Legs did not respond. Maybe it was the huge bulk of biking and running over the last eight weeks. But, no matter. I knew I had a ton in the tank and decided I'd kick it in at mile 7.

 Miles 5-7 I felt The Gymnast was struggling mentally. She stayed right on my shoulder and I wasn't really going too much faster, so I stayed right there, checking to make sure she was in still contact. This was GREAT. (Later, she told me she was feeling tired and had done "crazy math". You know, the math that makes you think mile 8 is half way. At mile 7 she realized her mistake, knew it was more than half over, so she got an adrenaline rush---things were going great!) 

At mile 7, I looked at my watch and thought, "Okay, now is the time! Lets go!" Feeling fantastic, and strong, I couldn't believe my legs thought otherwise. It was the weirdest thing. There was absolutely no speed. No other gear. Now, with the race more than half over, I was becoming concerned. However, on the bright side, I wasn't slowing down and felt I could run that pace FOREVER!

At mile 8, same thing. My brain said go, but my legs just stayed at the same exact pace. The Gymnast and I were still together. How absolutely cool is that? I've never ran 8 miles straight, in a race, with anyone, even a training partner. The Gymnast had trained at sea level and flown in for this day and she was doing terrific! I was proud!

Then, disaster struck. My music player stopped playing music. What was I going to do?! I actually run quite a bit without music because in Ironmans and most races, music is illegal. So this little annoyance didn't phase me too much. I looked down and slowed down for a second to check my device. I pushed a few buttons and by the time I looked up, The Gymnast was about 10-15 seconds ahead of me. No problem, really. I took out the head phones and picked up the speed a little. Then suddenly, disaster struck AGAIN! Luckily, the solution was right there in front of me.
The solution to my problem...

After a two minute rest (yes, I checked the time so I had the excuse ready) I began running. Mile 9 shows up and doing the math in my head, I realized I would have to run 30 seconds per mile faster than The Gymnast just to catch up to her by the finish banner. I looked at my strong, ready, willing, and able legs once again and said, "We are running out of miles here! Get into that other gear." Still, no response.

Mile 10. "It's a 5K, now! Go! You've done lots of 5Ks faster than this!" Still, my legs moved at the same steady pace. What?! Is it the bulk of training? The speed and strength training I've done on the bike and run, for the last 8 weeks? Could it be that my legs actually need a week off which is NEXT week? Yep. After all these years, I finally get it. You can't do a boat load of training, take 1 day lightly and expect to run a PR. And I didn't take the day before lightly, either!

I crossed the Finish line at almost the same speed I started.
I only lost time in the Honey Bucket. Not on the hills, even. Even though there was no speed in my legs, I was ecstatic. I stayed with the race plan, never slowed down even the last hilly miles, and felt strong the whole way.

Saddest part of the day was crossing the finish and hearing that Hoopster took 2nd OVERALL Women and won a turkey, a gift card, and a trophy. In her second ever 5K. And I wasn't there to see the look of surprise and shock on her face when they called her name.
Hoopster wins a turkey!

The gymnast did awesome and held the same pace to the end. Everyone who did the 5K had a great time and now I have children that will run races with me. Success!!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Oh, the "Off Season" Part II

Part I of The "Off Season" was about the type of workouts that are done this time of year. Now, I'll talk about the Mental Game of actually doing the workouts! Planning races, reviewing the last season, and hanging out with family keeps motivation up. It really does. But staying motivated to complete the arduous task of long workouts with no discernible race in sight, cold weather, and lack of sunlight hours, requires a strong mind.

Someone once said to me, "Yeah, well it's easy for YOU." I was shocked. Really. In fact, I still gasp when I hear those words in my head. As if there is some special brand of person that WANTS to get up at 5:00 a.m., put on a swimming suit in freezing weather, only to be yelled at from the deck; "OK, go. OK, go," every time you hit the wall. And then, put sweats on over the wet swim suit (because I still haven't learned that this is not a good way to leave the Rec center in 20 degree temps). Literally freezing, I walk out to the car and SCRAPE THE SNOW OFF THE WINDOWS WITH MY KICK BOARD! I take it personally every time. The injustice of it all when everyone else is sleeping!
This is my trusty snow scraper
Then, I drive to the next gym, stick my bike on the indoor trainer, stare at a wall for hours and hours until it finally comes to an end and I go home to eat real food. Are you kidding me?

Note: I do enjoy the lifestyle, even during the winter. Honest. But, it isn't always easy. This is to let you know triathletes are human and we like warmth, donuts, and hot chocolate as much as the next person. But we also like to train.

This is the wall I stare at for hours on my indoor bike trainer
By turning my head slightly, I can stare at a different wall, as seen above

Well, news flash here. I don't think I'm alone when I say this is a difficult time for even the most hardened, soul-less triathlete out there. A) It's hard to convince yourself to do this and B) It's hard to convince yourself that it will make a difference in the long run!

Talk yourself into walking out the door:
This is a frequent conversation in my head--

Self 1: Go do your workout.
Self 2: It's cold/wet/freezing, snowing, raining/hailing, icy...
Self 1: Go do your workout.
Self 2: No.
Self 1: Do it.
Self 2: Nope.
Self 1: I'll let you have a cookie.
Self 2: Hmmmmm.
Self 1: You don't have to do all of the workout. I know it's long...
Self 2: OK

Self 2 falls for this every time even though I've never been rewarded with a cookie and I can't remember the last time Self 1 let the workout be cut short. Well, maybe once or twice in the last "I can't remember how many years". But anyway, Self 2 is gullible and doesn't learn from experience.

Talk yourself into doing the whole workout or the actual assigned workout:

Since I love math and logic, I'll insert a scientific fact here.

*1 hour in the pool feels like ---1 hour in the pool
*2 hours on the bike outside feels like--- 1 hour on the bike.
*2 hours on the indoor bike trainer feels like ---2 hours on the bike.
*2 hours running outside feels like ---2 hours of running.
*2 hours on the treadmill feels like ---FOREVER!

This is the treadmill I spend FOREVER running on.
There are times when I want to do 3 sets instead of 4. Sometimes I want to do 8 reps instead of 10. Does it really matter? Really? So Coach is totally crazy. She's actually not. Not completely, anyway. It just helps when I think of her like that. (Once she sent my workouts with the statement, "Insert maniacal laugh here.") Coach gives me workouts of 93 minutes. Or 99 minutes. Who does that? Whether she knows it or not, this is good for me. It makes me accountable for every minute. I figure that if she extends a workout from a "normal" time like 1:30 to 1:33(!) those 3 minutes MUST be important. Or they wouldn't be there. I'm kind of "Monk-ish" about things like that. So I don't cut any workouts short. Those 3 or 9 minutes dangle out there in a very unfinished fashion. They wouldn't be there if they weren't important.

After a year of swimming by myself, I swam with some friends. They were amazed at how strong I had become. One friend tried to do my workout which was timed 20x100m's. After 8, she declared, "I've got to do this workout with you every week. That's got to be what made you stronger." I thought about it for approximately 2 seconds. Nope. Pretty sure that workout isn't the "magical" workout. So which one was it? Could it be all the push-ups? Maybe it was all the rhomboid flies? The sit-ups? The miles of swimming in the pool over the year? Do you get it? There isn't a magical workout. I think it truly is about consistency. So, rather than chance it, I talk myself into the additional odd 3 minutes.

However, I have to admit that I don't stop at 99 minutes. I CAN'T. So I just do an extra 1 minute, hit 1:40 on the clock, and let my Monk-ish tendency rule. And hope I don't over-train.

Finally, the most important mental hint I can give. I tend to over-think things. Shocker, I know. This is not news to Coach, who says I ask too many questions (sorry) or my closest associates inside and outside of triathlon. So, I attended a clinic by a fantastic, local Sports Psychologist. (I probably should see him one-on-one weekly for about a year, but that's beside the point!) Anyway, out of the many fabulous, wonderful things I have learned, I've only retained one. And it has served me well through many off-seasons and many races. It's actually my "Mantra". It's lame during the middle of a race, but the brain thinks what it wants when the body is over-loaded with caffeine, quick sugar and too many miles....

Ok. Here it is: Focus on the Process. Not the Results. Brilliant, right? During this cold, icy, bleh time of year, when faced with countless hours staring at the walls on your bike or treadmill, just focus on the process.

The Process is a beautiful thing. It just is. Nothing to judge or evaluate. I go into a rote-like state. I stop over-thinking and just swim, bike, run.

The Technical part of the "Off Season" is the best, but more about that soon!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Oh, the "Off Season"! Part I

Is there an "Off Season" in triathlon? It appears my coach has never heard of such a thing. I've only had one day "off" in over a year. (Besides the built-in necessary recovery days). That was Christmas Day. Not even a day off after racing! Kind of like being a mom. You can't just not be a parent even for a day. Guess you can't not be a triathlete, either! For example, each month I get a schedule that includes a weekly "brick" workout. A "brick" is when you combine a bike workout with a run afterwards. There is enough time between the two events to simply slurp down a gel, get a drink, and change shoes. Most triathletes I know don't "brick" on race weeks, but yes, even then, I have one of these crazy workouts before a race. No kidding. If you are talking consistency, you have met my coach. But, in my mind, I pretend I get an "Off Season" so I don't burn out. That's why I am writing this blog about this time of year. It probably isn't "Off", but I call it that. It makes me feel better.

The physical aspect of Training during the "Off Season" (Sounds contradictory, doesn't it, but just go with it, please...)

First, a lot of sleep seems to be required. I'm still trying to figure out why, but that's the way it is. So, sleep whenever you can. Guilt sometimes envelopes me like a very large, warm quilt, but it can't be helped. I tend to fall asleep under a cover of guilt quite often because I should be doing something else, but I'm just too tired. Don't fight it. If you need more sleep, succumb.

Food is another concern during this time, also. What to eat before a workout (that won't upset my stomach and gives me energy), what to eat during a hard workout (that won't upset my stomach and gives me energy), what to eat directly after my workout (that won't upset my stomach and replaces my energy), and what to eat the rest of the day that doesn't require too much preparation (because it takes too much energy). I think you get the drift here. Shopping, planning, and preparing meals is more difficult than it sounds.

Today, as I was walking out the door, for yet another long "brick", this is what I wanted to take for my ride and run...

This is what I chose instead...

If you are wondering why I have a pile of candy in my house, it was Halloween, remember? And my husband bought WAY TO MUCH, thank you.

Next, my "Off Season" has a lot of strength work in it. Ouch. I've never enjoyed strength workouts. I just do it because I'm like that. It's on the schedule. This time of year it's lots of leg stuff. Built on already tired legs.

Legs already tired because there seems to be a lot of base work. Long rides. Long runs. Swims not as long as they used to be, so no complaining there!

Workouts each seem to include a large block of something else Joel Friel would approve of: skill and drill work. I do a lot of swimming drills. They are very enjoyable. Drills break up long swim sessions and put my brain into gear. With a good warm up, heavy drill set, followed by a main set and cool down, poof! You're done with the swim before you know it and you covered lots of distance. Or at least the same 50 meters over and and over again!

I also include bike drills before a ride. And there are run drills before a run. These are great fun! (NO, that is NOT sarcastic.) What makes the run drills fun is the whole experience. Many times I do these in a parking lot at a trail head before my trail run. People come and go. The Fed Ex guy comes quite often. He parks and looks over the valley. That's really what most people do when they drive up there. I wonder if he is ahead of schedule. I wonder if he thinks I look weird doing these weird-looking drills. Another guy comes almost every day. Since I live in a small town, we will not mention specifics. (Sometimes I pretend my town is like a quaint little town in an Agatha Cristie novel.) Back on subject: this guy smokes a really awesome smelling pipe. I wonder what he thinks. About health (his, mostly, as he smokes). I wonder if he wonders if he could do the drills. Mostly, I wonder if he thinks I look weird.

On rainy days, I run a different trail. It goes through the community, behind homes. As I do the running drills, back and forth past the houses, next to the school yard, or across from a large farm, I watch the guy on his tractor, or the people working on their homes. I wonder what they are thinking, too. It's entertaining! Back and forth I go. Lots of miles for very little distance. It's like swimming in the pool, really.

I'm pretty sure not everyone's "Off Seasons" are like mine. But, this is becoming quite a habit. I enjoy the steady, consistent workouts. The physical aspect of working through the "Off Season" is fairly easy. The mental aspect of hanging in there is another story altogether.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Going Extreme! A Shout out to Other Sports

Endurance Athletes love Extremes: setting records, going longer, and testing limits seems to be in our very DNA. We cheer for and are fascinated by other athletes that accomplish great feats. But this attitude is not limited to endurance athletes who love to test themselves.

Extremes in sports give us hope. It empowers us with belief in ourselves. It encourages us to cheer for and respect others. Maybe that's the main benefit of sport in our world.

Movies are based on the underdog coming from behind to win, or people that run marathons, do Ironmans, surf, swim, mountain bike (the list is endless)... after severe body traumas or under extreme emotional/situational hardships. Is it because most people, not just athletes, have a deep desire to be validated? If someone can do something so remarkable in sport, then maybe we can do "X".

I live in extremes and love it here! My fascination centers around two sports other than Ironman. These sports are Beach Volleyball and FIS World Cup Skiing.

First, Beach Volleyball is a very simple sport. The rule list seems short compared to other sports. Don't let the ball hit the ground on your side and try to make it hit the ground on the opponent's side. There are other rules, of course such as don't interfere under the net and you can't "lift" the ball. But volleyball players themselves are extremely fascinating to me. They "lay it down" on EVERY play. Beach Volleyball players are some of the most athletic people I have ever watched. Strength. Wow. If one opponent accidentally hits another in the face, grown men cry. Or they try really, really hard not to on camera. They can jump. High. Many times. Reaction times? Lets not even go there! Digging a ball traveling at 150 mph at your face? Talk about extreme. Quickness? Without a doubt. If I dove for some of those balls like they do, I wouldn't be getting up for AT LEAST 30 minutes. They are back up and hitting the next ball (with accuracy I might add) in 30/100 of a second. Who DOES that? And we won't even go to self confidence. To play like that in that gear on international cameras? Again, WOW!

If you haven't watched Beach Volleyball, I recommend it. The USA has incredible women and men teams. I won't mention names, but I have a few favorites!

The next sport is FIS Skiing. A few years ago I knew very little about this sport. I didn't know the difference between down hill, slalom and giant slalom. However, another easy sport. Stay on course and go faster than anyone else. These races are like swimming. Winners and 20th place are determined by sometimes about one second. Ted Liggety did the opening race a couple of weeks ago in Solden and "blew away the field"; winning with an incredible .79 of a second. My nerves could never handle losing by less than a blink of an eye. It isn't unusual at all for second place to be .02 behind the winner. Hence, Liggety's impressive win by about 3/4 a second.

FIS Skiiers go fast. That isn't new news. But have you thought of the power and strength it would take to hold a tuck for 2 minutes while fighting against wind, speed, gravity, and the strength to make the turns? Once my kids and I tried to hold the tuck for an entire race until the skier on tv crossed the finish line. One of the hardest things we've done and we weren't turning around gates and holding our bodies against wind, pure speed, and gravity of a very steep hill.

I am fascinated by all FIS skiers. Of course, the USA has a great team, but my fascination is not limited to the USA. I follow skiers from so many other countries, it would be impossible to name them. Skiers rebound after multiple knee injuries. It's like they have a revolving door from the slopes to the operating room and back to the weight room.

Skiers are extreme. If you don't know anything about Lindsay Vonn, you should. And this year, I'm giving a huge shout-out to USA's Mikaeala Shiffrin.

As endurance athletes, we should be able to appreciate the hard work and discipline for other sports. Some of their races are literally 2 minutes or shorter. We try to finish in under 17 hours. Those are two extremes. However, we can respect and admire hard work, discipline, dedication and athleticism in many forms. If we expose our kids to every day "heroes" that work hard and dare to dream, maybe they too can believe they can accomplish extremely great things.

Go Extreme. Believe in yourself.  Cheer for others and respect others' efforts. Set your goals high and ENJOY THE RIDE!