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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.

Riders in the storm (Entry #6)

For one of our bike rides, we ended up going through the hillier streets of West Hartford.  In the rain.  On the one hand, it was a great way to get used to riding in bad weather.  On the other hand, it was raining. We went round and round the course, up the hills and down the hills, up the hills and down the hills.  At least I remembered my rain coat this time. It was a great way to see how differently your bike behaves in the rain, since I would normally never ride in the rain.  For that matter, why was I riding in the rain today?  I did notice how long it took my brakes to slow me down, how bad the visibility was and how wet my tush was at the end of the ride. As we pulled into the parking lot, the rain finally started to taper off.  The lesson I learned is that it’s a good idea to have a spare pair of socks after a workout. Published May 21,...

Look Ma! No lane lines. (Entry #7)

When I arrived at Trinity College pool for a swim workout something was different about the pool. Had it lost weight? Maybe it was a new outfit? A new hairstyle? Were those new kick boards? No. Someone had stolen all the lane lines!  I was about to call campus security to apprehend the hooligans, when I saw Lynne and Janice with the kinds of smiles on their faces that only meant trouble.  Training trouble. To get the team used to the sensation of swimming in a scrum, they took half the group and placed us at one end of the pool and the rest at the other end.  “Swim to the other side!” Janice and Lynne instructed.  Oh, we’d be on a collision course as well.  We swam towards each other and somehow, no major crackups…we sighted our way through the churning waters. Later, they had everyone form two lines facing each other, about 6 feet apart. Everyone held a kick board, flipper or some other piece of equipment. One lucky swimmer then had to swim down the middle of this gauntlet as everyone splashed. I was one of the last people to go and Lynne exhorted the group “Splash more!”  We weren’t sure if it was because everyone had slacked off or if she was picking on me.  Regardless, as I swam, all I could think of was the poem “The Charge of the Lightning Brigade.”  Splashing to the left of me, splashing to the right of me, water in my mouth and up my nose.” I finished and it was ok, challening, but ok.  I didn’t drown...

The hills are alive with the sound of mucus (Entry #8)

Penwood Hills.  That has a rather bucolic sound to it, doesn’t it?  Rolling hills, sheep on a meadow, winding trails, ladies with parasols.  Sadly, that proved to be only a fantasy that I constructed in my mind as I confronted this workout. From the parking lot was a leisurely jog, just over a mile, to THE HILL.  IT was one of these hills that seemingly just kept going on and on, around every turn was more hill. We were istructed to run for 90 seconds up the hill and then jog down.  Rest and do it again, and again, and again and again. It was a nice night, but not that nice a night for running vertically.  My legs burned, my steps got a little choppy, my heart rate soared and the sweat poured.  But, like one of the little Billy Goats in “The Sound of Music” I kept climbing. Somehow, everyone got to the bottom of the hill before me, so I didn’t have a ton of recovery time.  But, oddly, I found myself enjoying the workout.  There was something about being confronted with this difficult challenge and perservering. I’m not sure if I could have run much longer, but I ran as long as I needed. And, I never would have done this workout by mself, but with a group, with our collective griping, made it oddly fun. Chalk another one up for team training. Published May 30,...

You’re all wet…suit. (Entry #9)

What does the well-dressed triathlete wear these days?  If you guessed a full-body suit made of .5mm thick neoprene rubber, you’d be right. It’s not the sort of thing you’d wear on the red carpet, but it does help keep you warmer in cold water and provides some very welcome buoyancy.  Plus, it’s very slimming. I received my wetsuit as an early Father’s Day gift (I’m assuming they were all sold out of Old Spice).  Lynne and I went into our lake to get used to it. Getting into the suit itself was an interesting experience.  Sort of like rolling really puffy Saran Wrap onto your body starting at your feet.  Nothing slides and you have to slowly hoist the suit on, inches at a time. Once suited up, I was aware of how incredibly snug it was.  Even breathing was noticeably challenging.  Moving my arms also felt restricted. I jumped into the lake and the water rushed into the small openings in the back of the suit.  But, otherwise, I noticed that I was almost floating.  I started to swim and that’s when the panic attack began.  Every time I tried to swim, bringing my arms forward, I felt the suit resisting, pulling them back.  I couldn’t swim freestyle.  Plus, visibility in the water was very limited.  I could see my finger-tips, but nothing further.  The rays of the sun shone down into the water, making the particles of silt sparkle like glitter, but that didn’t help me know where I was going. The quick, racing thoughts that accompany panic started ping-pong-ing around my brain.  “My arms aren’t...

Blinded by the light (Entry #10)

The sun was shining.  As we stood on the shore of Coventry Lake, the back of my wetsuit was getting lightly toasted by the morning rays.  The mellow warmth was a nice counterpoint to the brisk wind and the chilly waters, swollen from the monsoon that had just swept through the day before. The sun is my friend, I thought. We did one practice start.  A quick rush into the water, turning 90-degrees to the right, swimming to a buoy and then another 90-degree turn back to the beach.  As soon as we started, I thought, “What the hell am I doing?  I never swim this fast.  Slow down!”  There was some sort of frenetic magnetism to this moment, dragging me along at a speed that was not my own.  I put the brakes on and tried to better pace myself.  Then, we were hauling ourselves out of the water like the first fish that decided that life on land might be something worth checking out. Then it was time for the main event, a 1/2-mile swim across the lake to the house with the picket fence.   The way out to the house was manageable.  I breathe on my right and was able to use the shoreline as a guide.  The return trip was a different story.  Looking out into the open water each time I took a breath provided no reference point.  I counted ten strokes and then switched to breaststroke to get a visual on the lifeguard stand that was my landmark.  Blindness.  That’s what I saw.  Bright.  Incredible blindness.  My friend, the sun, who had so...

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

It’s easy being green

As an athlete and an adult, I know the importance of eating more fruits and vegetables. Though it is hard to get all the daily servings into my day.  A little known secret is that I am a pretty basic, bland eater. When I go out to eat, I often pick the item on the menu that is the least objectionable.  And if I don’t like it, which happens often, my husband usually switches with me.  Whatta guy!  I’m not allergic to anything, I eat gluten, I eat red-meat (although not that often) and while I have an aversion to fennel and many types of nuts, I always find something to eat anywhere I go. However, I do think that I could eat more fruits and vegetables. So, on a recent visit to Cleveland, my cousin Jill introduced me to the Green Smoothie.  At first I was a bit hesitant.  I didn’t know what to expect. I thought since it looked like grass, that it would probably taste like it too.  But, she was so excited to share this with me that I just said, “Sure, I’ll give it shot.”  For my inaugural green smoothie, Jill added a bit more sweetener for my benefit.  The color was a bright, fluorescent green and I was a bit hesitant before taking my first sip. But…much to my surprise I loved it!  While it looked green, it didn’t taste green.  With my eyes closed, it just tasted like bananas and pineapple, not carrots, celery and kale.  Every morning during my visit, Jill blended me another delicious green smoothie and my day was...

Body of Evidence: 11 Things I Learned About Training While I Was Injured

Body of Evidence:  11 Things I Learned About Training While I Was Injured. A coach’s confession When I hurt my back in August 2010 (my most recent back injury), my husband told me that I had to write about it.  Mostly, because it seemed like the finale of a cruel episode of “E.R.” starring my body. I’d been plagued with various nagging injuries that summer.  First, I had a terrible case of carpal tunnel in both wrists, resulting in painful numbness. Second, I found myself battling plantar fasciitis in my left foot.  Lastly, I fell off my bike during an Olympic distance triathlon where I was going nearly 20 miles an hour.  I got up, finished the last half-mile of the ride and ran the 10k.  Only once I’d finished did I discover how badly the entire left side of my body was swollen and torn up. Two weeks later, my back “went out.”  I was unable to move due to major nerve pain going down the right leg all the way to my right foot.  It turns out that I had herniated two disks (L5/S1) that were pressing on my sciatic nerve. Some of you may be thinking I’m a little (or a lot) nuts.  Maybe you would have thrown in the towel somewhere between carpal tunnel and fasciitis.  But, I also know that many of you reading this would have kept going, just like I did.  Kept going, until you couldn’t go any more. I now realize that I was not going to stop until, eventually, I had no choice.  Despite the many signs telling me to...

An Aha Moment

For the past six months I have had the opportunity to switch places with the hundreds of women that have trained with Team Training New England over the past five years and now I REALLY get it!  I have been lucky enough that my fitness level has enabled me to compete in both Sprint and Olympic distance triathlons without a tried and true training plan.  My life as a mother of a three teenagers, a daughter of aging parents, my involvment in my family business as well as my coaching business didn’t leave me much time to train systematically. When I completed my first triathlon in 2004, I was overjoyed. I felt that I finally found my calling as an athlete.  As I thought about the challenge of a longer distance triathlon, I knew that I couldn’t rely on my current training regime to get me to the finish line.   Like many of our athletes, I was experiencing first hand, the challenge and exhilaration of setting my sights on an event that I had previously thought of as unattainable.  My challenge was a 70.3 (half iron distance). I needed to find the time to follow a training plan.  As Lynne would say, I needed to figure out how put myself on the top of my “to-do” list. For the past five years, my training focus has been on our athletes – the women that we have had the privilege and honor to work with year after year – our “TRI-ladies”.  When I decided to attempt a 70.3, having never run or biked more than 10 or 40 miles respectively,...

The Power of the Popsicle

Group dynamics, self-confidence and frozen juice on a stick A few mothers and I (all triathletes) decided it would be fun to get our 9-10 year-old daughters to attempt their first open water swim. All five girls are confident swimmers and three of them were on a local swim team this past season. We knew they could swim the distance (approximately a ¼ of a mile). But could they swim that distance in a lake; where there were no lines on the ground, or a wall to rest on between laps? I explained the difference between swimming in a pool versus a lake, most notably the limited visibility and lake “stuff” of unknown origin. I told them that it didn’t have to be pretty, but finishing was all that mattered. As is common in any group experience, one girl just took off immediately. While the other girls were just dipping their feet in the water, she was already in the water asking, “Can I go now?” She was fearless. Her confidence in the pool seemed to translate well to the open water. If she was nervous, she didn’t show it. It was tremendous to see her just start swimming and never look back or to one of the mothers for reassurance. The other four girls did their share of screeching and whining. “Ick, something touched me!” or “The water is so brown, it smells really bad.” The mothers swam alongside them, encouraging the girls to focus on their stroke or look ahead at the buoy that they needed to reach. At one point, the girls were bunched together and...

How To Make Your Training Plan Stick

Recently I was talking with a writer from Runner’s World about finding more time to run. As we talked, the conversation evolved into planning more efficient workouts and building them into your weekly schedule, despite all of the activities fighting for your time.  The “just one more thing” syndrome can be deadly to a regular workout routine.  If you find yourself saying “just one more call, email or load of laundry before I go for that run, ride or swim” and then find that run, ride or swim never happens then this article is for you.  
 
These tips will help you stay on track, literally and figuratively, despite the daily challenges and distractions most of us face. Coach Lynne’s Top 10 Tips on how to keep your training on track. 1. Set a race goal If you sign up for a race and have that date on your calendar, you’re more apt to stick to your training program.  With no goal in mind, your morning workout time will be easier to skip (“it’s not like I’m running a 5k in a month!”) and instead get filled up with dozens of other activities. 2. Find a training partner or group Find a friend or make a friend who has a similar schedule to yours.  Planning to meet someone at 6:00 in the morning, puts you both on the “I don’t want them to be standing out there alone” motivation train.  You won’t want to let them down and vice versa.  Two people’s motivation solved in one swoop.  It’s funny that we’re willing to let ourselves down by hitting the snooze...