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Insights, inspirations and musings about the multisport lifestyle

In 2013, Leland Brandt embarked on a challenge of many sorts. Getting out of his cushy comfort zone was on top of his “bucket list.” One goal was to complete a triathlon and to accomplish this goal, he trained with Team Training New England.  To keep himself honest, he decided to share his experience that culminated with crossing the finish line of his first sprint triathlon. Take the time to read his experiences, you won’t regret it!  If you are considering training for a multisport race, this is a great “beginner’s eye” view of what it might be like.

The First Time Triaries (Entry #1)

If you have worked out with Team Training New England in any of the prior years, you may know me as Lynne Tapper’s husband or “the guy with the camera.”  My given name is Leland Brandt and I (deep breath) have never…done a triathlon.  I’ve never thought about, fantasized about, or even had nightmares about doing a triathlon.  I’ve been content as the family sag wagon, spectator and silent (or not so silent) partner.  And yet, today I found myself huddling with 13 other people at Cornerstone Aquatics Center for an open-water swim clinic as preparation for my first triathlon.  How the heck did I get here? I’d like to say that this is part of a life-long goal.  It’s not.  There was little that appealed to me about this sport.  The hours are atrocious (who needs to get up that early?).  I didn’t learn to swim until I was 13 (long story), my bike sends me “I miss you” cards, and running is a civil war between my body and my brain.  But, as 2012 was ending, I decided that at my ripe old age (42) it was time to be a little less comfortable.  I christened 2013 “The year of saying “Yes” to things that don’t quite scare me, but certainly make me uncomfortable.”  However, that’s a mouthful, and frankly, too much to contemplate.  So, I’m using the shorthand of “The Year of Living Uncomfortably.” Part of this movement has prompted me to start attending networking functions, because I’m more “business shy” than I’d like to admit.  Having to get up in front of strangers and describe...

This is a nightmare! (Entry #2)

I was drowning. Or at least, I think I was, since I don’t have a lot of experience with drowning, but it sure seemed like I was drowning. Under the water when I didn’t want to be?  Check. Flailing like an upside down turtle.  Check. Water going into places where it shouldn’t?  Check. Yup, I was drowning. This was a major bummer. Where was the help? They said there’d be spotters. Didn’t they spot the guy with the complexion of 2% milk out there in the water?  My skin should’ve been reflecting the sun like a solar array.  And yet, no one paddled over with even the most casual of a, “so, are you drowning or are you just a terrible swimmer?” Maybe it was all the bodies around me, chopping the water with their fists and feet, churning the already murky lake into a frothy, wet fog.  Maybe I was too slow and far behind.  Maybe I was off-course? I started to think that this was a rather lonely way to go.  No drama.  Just the muffled beats of fluttering feet above me as I sank. I’d always wanted one of those dramatic “Die Hard” kind of deaths.  This is mostly because I’m not terribly dramatic in my day-to-day life, I thought I could be in death.  You know, the witty one-liner as I fell off the side of a building, crashing onto the roof of a Checker cab (Look it up. I’m a New Yorker at heart).  This would be while saving the day, of course.  Your basic, glorious passing. Instead, here I was drowning and not...

Brick by brick (Entry #3)

I’m something of a lucky guy.  I’m married to a woman who loves to exercise. For the most part, Lynne’s happiness peaks when she’s sweating over her bike, the road, in the water (I’m assuming she sweats in there as well).  She sets a great example for the rest of the family, but it’s hard for us to keep up.  My usual choice was to not even try.  But, for those who’ve been reading along, this year is different. So, after dropping the kids off at school, Lynne had invited me to ride along with her, indoors, for one of her workouts.  Instead of saying, “I’m planning on donating a kidney in an Albanian youth hostel, so I’ll be taking it easy today” I said, “ok.” I got home, skipped my usual bout of procrastination, and hopped on the bike.  Now, I didn’t set any land speed records, but I did get through just about an hour’s worth of cycling without my usual complaints.  It did help that we had an episode of The Good Wife to keep us occupied (they have TV during the triathlons, right?), but I kept spinning my wheels. When I hopped off, I had gone just over 12 miles, the distance I would need to cover for the race.  That felt like a good accomplishment, though I hear they might have these things called “hills” in our race.  However, I have to admit, my tush wasn’t the happiest camper. Then Lynne said, “I’m going to run 2 miles now.”  At this point, I’m usually ready to call it quits, but instead said, “you know,...

Ode to a Workout Leader (Entry #4)

Saturday morning at 8:00 a.m., I pulled into the parking lot at the University of Saint Joseph.  The first group track workout.  A few people were milling around, but I was, sadly, in the right place.  I’d been running, but it was time to find out what kind of shape I was in, since there would be other people running at the same time.  How many times would I get lapped? After some quick pointers, we began warming up and then started running around the track.  Sometimes we stopped to do some form of calisthenics, pushups, situps, burpees (an aptly named exercise if there ever were one). Running around a track is sort of like running on a hamster wheel, but a lot flatter and without the benfit of the wheel part.  Four laps to a mile.  It seemed like a long four laps.  Four long, lonely laps.  These are the sort of running laps that usually very quickly become walking laps for me. But today was different. Normally, when I run, I’m alone with my thoughts.  This is not always a good thing.  My thoughts sound like this:  “Why am I running?”  “Is that a stitch in my side or do I have appendicitis?”  “Is my foot really on fire?”  “This would go much faster if wolves were chasing me?”  “I think jogging is really Yiddish for ‘runs like a turtle’ ”  These thoughts, in case you couldn’t tell, are not conducive to a long run. But, instead of being alone with my thoughts on Saturday, I had the luck to have two different workout leaders accompany me...

Kick It Real Good (Entry #5)

Our most recent swim workout at Trinity College reminded me of the great Elton John song, “Someone kicked me in the face tonight.*”  I found myself humming this catchy tune as we practiced our swim starts in the pool.  I’m not sure exactly what we were supposed to be practicing, here are the possible options: A)  How to get kicked in the chin and not stopping B)  Attempting to swim while boxed in by two swimmers, each close enough to know if I am wearing deodorant C)  How to take a breath while simultaneously not swallowing all the water being churned up by 20+ swimmers D)  Not colliding If these were the goals of this drill, I think I did pretty well.  I managed to actually get a lot of practice on item A in particular.  And to that unknown person out there who seemed to nail me repeatedly in the schnoz with their foot…time for a pedicure. However, if the goal was to simulate the chaos of a swim start in the safety of a pool, mission accomplished.  I knew I could stand up, reach a wall or, worst case, that the lifeguard and several workout leaders stood nearby to help out. The oddest part, as we did this drill, I found myself laughing.  Since there aren’t a lot of pool-based comedy clubs, I can assume you haven’t had this experience, so let me assure you that laughing underwater and swimming are a bad combination.  Swimming en masses was so crazy, so chaotic so devoid of any rules or organization that it was absurd.  And so I found...

Both coaches Lynne & Janice have been posting articles that will inspire and motivate you to take chances and push yourself.

My 10th Marathon

…and then some. I might be in the minority, but I thoroughly enjoy watching marathons on television. I love listening to the commentators tell the stories of the athletes and the history of the event. On Monday, I watched as over 30,000 runners in Boston achieved their goals of completing the 2015 Boston Marathon. I thought of all that each runner had to overcome to make it to the start line and then, of course, to finish strong, BOSTON STRONG. My first marathon was as a “bandit” in the 1990 Boston Marathon. This means I didn’t have a number but was “allowed” to run. I was 24 years old. Half a lifetime ago. Little did I know that when I donned my running shoes that April morning that 24 years later I’d still be running and racing and setting goals. In August 2014, I ran my 10th marathon…only this marathon was in the final leg of my first Iron-distance triathlon. To keep me honest, I blogged about my experience, the highs and the very low, lows. If you’re thinking of challenging yourself this year, start by reading my blog called, My Iron Year. You can click the title to read it online, but it starts at the end. If you’d like to read it in chronological order, download my first ever e-book (for the low price of $.99…Amazon wouldn’t let me give it away, I...

The snow is my friend

For the past few weeks, I’ve  been questioning why I live in the Northeast. Snow days are not what they used to be when I was a kid growing up in Massachusetts.  I have fond memories of the Blizzard of ’78 (I know, I’m dating myself) where we missed at least 2 weeks of school! Now, when school is cancelled hours before the first flake falls, I cringe.  Running outside will be treacherous, biking outside…forget about it!  And getting myself to the pool is an emotional challenge as I’m so cold just driving to the pool. Before the last storm, or what they were calling, the Blizzard of 2015, I decided I needed a shift in my attitude. I could hole up in my house and hibernate or I could figure out a way to make the snow my friend. I headed over to REI and impulsively purchased new cross country skis, poles and boots.  I did it quickly before I changed my mind.  The boots were very comfortable (much more than downhill ski boots) and the skis were so light and easy to maneuver.  I am not a novice cross country skier, but it has been at least a decade since I’ve ventured out. For the past week I’ve been out a few times and I’m having a blast. I can pretty much ski anywhere (unlike downhill skiing) and it’s immediately an aerobic workout. I encourage you to head out this winter and make friends with the snow. Grab your boots and snow pants and just trudge through your neighborhood. If you’re feeling ambitious, get some snowshoes, cross...

How to attach lace locks to your sneakers

You may have learned how to tie your shoelaces when you were kindergarten.  But, tying your shoelaces during a transition from bike to run in a triathlon is very inefficient.  Lace Locks are an inexpensive and effective way to shave precious time off of your transition. Watch this quick video with step by step instructions in how to easily attach your lace locks to your running...

Our Physical Therapist

Physical Therapist Eric Kopp talks to our training group every season.  Read some highlights from past talks. Actively listen to your body. Anticipate injuries before they are produced. When you have an injury  switch gears to a different exercise that is not provocative. All tissues in the body react to stress and load differently. When the tissue load  demand is greater than the capacity of the tissue, injury occurs, it is that simple. You can choose to rest and wait to get better or continue to train at the same level. The symptoms that are generated by an injured tissue should have a pattern or expected pain pattern that reinforces this. If you can understand this concept, it makes sense to continue to actively condition just with less tissue load/demand/volume. We are all very often guilty of not continuing with active conditioning. REST  is very important for recuperation, but active  rest, meaning small doses of restitution exercise to facility tissue recovery, noursishment  and ultimately healing is how we want our patients and athletes to think. In other words, if I hurt my arm doing arm curls with a 50 lbs dumbbell and then wait two days to do the same weight and exercise again, it makes sense that I will re-injure the tissue. HOWEVER, If I chose simple exercises that condition the arm (for example, triceps pushdowns, lat pulldowns, seated rows, biceps curls with 10lbs pain free) with lighter weights and very high reps ( like 3 sets of 30-40), I will not re-injure my arm and I won’t lose any conditioning. DO NOT under estimate the spine to...

You’re Never To OLD to try something NEW

Twenty years ago, I did first sprint triathlon as a part of a relay team.  This was so long ago, I don’t remember the names of my teammates.  I volunteered to do the bike portion.  Running and biking weren’t a problem for me, but I doubted I could survive (or even master) the open water swim. It took me three years to decide that I’d like to try doing a sprint distance triathlon alone. I signed up for swimming lessons, figuring I could use a refresher course. My goal was to survive the triathlon’s swim portion so I could get onto the biking and running.  The coach announced he was offering a triathlon training weekend.   Desperate to feel more comfortable swimming in open water, I signed up. I remember getting in the lake for the first time, knowing I was going to swim and not just splash around.  It was so dark and murky.  What was I thinking?  I swam very nervously, slowly picking up one arm and moving it forward over my head.  I was moving, but barely. And then something clicked.  During our pool workouts, our coach said, “Do not look down at the bottom of the pool.  Tilt your head up and keep your eyes looking forward at your hands.”  Until this moment, I never understood the point of this instruction.  In this cold, dark lake, the only thing I could see were my hands. Suddenly, his advice made perfect sense.  My hands were something I could see through the pea soup, something I could focus on and my anxiety level dropped.  I took another stroke,...