Plan your destination race with these valuable tips

Registering for your destination race this year? Here’s how to plan the best trip and make it a vacation!

It’s February already. If you haven’t planned your races for the season yet, now is the time to commit. If you’re looking to combine a race with a vacation, this article could make or break your experience.

For our busy family, we like to plan races and vacations that overlap. We really enjoy doing races in different locales. If that race is within a 4-hour drive of a vacation spot, why not plan a family trip around it? Think of it as a two-birds-with-one-stone type of mentality, but we decided this is a great use of our time and resources.

The first destination experience

My first destination race was in Aurora, Colorado in 2010 for a sprint triathlon. After spending a week in the mountains with friends, we topped the trip off with a sprint triathlon. I attributed the time spent as “acclimating” to the altitude. For me, it worked great. For my friend, well, she got dehydrated and cramped. I should have learned from her lesson.


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New Year Goal

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

What is your goal this year? We have another 349 days left to make some amazing things happen before 2017 ends.

I want to encourage you to pursue a goal that you never thought possible. While it doesn’t have to be fitness or race related, it definitely can be. Think of something on your bucket list. Anything. What is one thing on that list that you want to check off this year? Is there a trip you’ve been dreaming of taking? Do you have a new hobby you want to begin? Maybe there is a job change that would make you a happier person. Start thinking about it.

My current struggle to set new goals

While I’m doling out the encouragement, I’m admittedly struggling to set my own goals right now. I am in a serious rut after IMLOU. I want to do another Ironman. Bad. The bug bit me really hard.

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Holidays don’t have to mean weight gain

Avoid holiday weight gain: an invitation and challenge

Yeah, I know it sounds so cliche. I really get that. Don’t we all want to avoid putting on a few extra pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas?  This year, I set that goal, and I hope others would like to join me in that endeavor. I have a challenge for you.

I started 2016 off still carrying over 10 pounds of extra baby weight. Knowing that my “baby” was 4 years old at that point was great motivation to finally make that happen. After all, I didn’t want to carry those extra pounds for 140.6 miles at IMLOU.

I had a very stressful December last year, and my eating (and drinking) habits were out of control through Christmas. It was like a runaway train that came to a crashing halt when I realized how crummy I felt. My clothes were tighter, and I was irritable and tired. I vowed to make changes. Not necessarily a New Year’s Resolution, but kind of. I wanted something permanent–not just for the new year.

I began this journey by signing up for a 12-week package of nutrition counseling with Niki Kubiak. She is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics with Infinite Sports World in Omaha. She guided me through a realistic 11-pound weight loss from January through April. She then set the framework for my race nutrition and weight maintenance through my triathlon season and Ironman training. I highly recommend her services to anyone. This is not coming from the mouth of a sponsored athlete, people. This is from the heart. She helped change my life, and I’d do it all over again.

I stated this a few times over this year, but having my nutrition on-point was a game changer for me

First, I needed to invest in myself to do this. The cost of the program was actually quite manageable considering the expertise Niki shared with me. Additionally, knowing I was investing in myself made me accountable to my eating habits.  I met with Niki twice per month in the first 12 weeks, and then met with her once per month during maintenance mode.

Prior to this, I would usually “wing it” on my race-day nutrition. My pre-race nutrition was usually spot-on, but I didn’t have an exact plan for race nutrition. A few gels here and there. Some Gatorade, maybe some water. Shot Bloks. Whatever, whenever. Niki planned my nutrition for my Olympic, Half-Ironman, and Ironman races this year. I had specific fueling strategies that were easy to follow. I nailed my goals, shattered my personal records, and became an Ironman.

Through this, I remained mostly injury-free and never got sick. Not once. No sore throats, no coughs, no colds, no stomach bugs. I attribute that to spot-on nutrition. Considering what I put my body through during the grueling training process, I think this is a huge success.

I could never put a price tag on any of that. I was worth it.

A new normal in the off-season

Now that my 2016 race season is behind me, I don’t want this December to mirror last year. I didn’t board the runaway train this year. I put too much into my weight loss this year to blow that effort to shreds. Instead of spending January through April losing weight all over again, I want to continue fine tuning my nutrition. I want to have another “best year ever” with my race season in 2017.

I spent most of October and November easing into my off-season exercise routine and eating habits. I’m finding joy in working out, rather than obligation. I also find joy in the unexpected rest day without beating myself up over it and feeling a ton of guilt. My body needed a rest from what I put it through.

With that comes less calorie burn

I’m settling into my new non-training food habits now. In the peak of Ironman training, I was burning over 3000 calories some days. Now, I burn that in a good week. Luckily, my appetite dwindled with my activity level. I still track what I eat on MyFitnessPal fairly consistently. I’m finding a balance of managing my weight, but not feeling completely deprived over the holidays.

During the last month, I enjoyed and indulged a bit at a few parties and dinners. Then, the next day after each event, I set forth back into my not-so-rigid routine.  Most days, I make good choices. I admit that I still need to get more veggies in, but doesn’t everyone? I’m working out 4-6 days per week. I feel so much better after a workout, so I consider it a necessity!

Over 2 months post-Ironman, I’ve only gained 2-4 pounds (you know, female weight fluctuation). I’ve heard from others that have put on upwards of a solid 5 to 10 pounds, so I feel pretty good about this. I think my strategy is working.

As we still have a couple weeks left of the  holiday season, I want to extend an invitation and a challenge

If you’re like me, you might thrive on accountability. If so, I invite you to connect with me on MyFitnessPal: momcantri. I promise, I don’t judge! I have continued to journal most of my eating and exercise habits to keep myself in check. It’s so easy to use once you get into the routine of doing it daily. We can cheer each other on. Whether you want to start a food journal now, or in a few weeks, please look me up. I would love to have people join me.

Here is my challenge for you: invest in yourself. How you do this is entirely up to you. If you’re looking to adopt healthier eating habits, start an exercise habit, or have some serious goals in 2017, I want you to DO IT. Even if that means seeking the help of a registered dietitian to sort things out, DO IT. If you want to take your athletic performance to the next level, DO IT. If you don’t know where to start with an exercise program, I can help you  with some suggestions and direction. We all start somewhere, so start wherever you are now.

Share in the comments or email me directly via the contact page, and let me know your goal. I want to cheer you on!

After all, aren’t you worth it?


top 5 gifts cyclist triathlete

Top 5 Christmas Gifts for Your Cyclist or Triathlete

Top 5 Cycling gifts

I recently posted a top 5 list of items for your runner or triathlete. This week’s focus is on the cyclist or triathlete in your life. If you don’t ride, you may not have a clue what a biker would want. I’m here to help with my tried and true recommendations. I’ll post in the next week on my top 5 items for your swimmer, so be on the watch for that!

Disclosure:  Links are an affiliation to Amazon, and referral links are no additional cost to you. I will earn a commission if you use them.

My Favorite Cycling Things

1. Pearl Izumi Tri Fly V Cycling Shoe

When I began triathlon and cycling in 2009, I was new to clipless shoes. I purchased my friend’s Bianchi roadbike for a sweet deal in 2010, and it came equipped with Look pedals. Since I was new to the sport and didn’t want to spend a lot of cash, I happily kept the pedals and shopped for a shoe that was compatible with the pedals. I wore a Pearl Izumi road shoe until early this season.

After shopping for a pair of triathlon specific biking shoes during Ironman training, I decided on these Pearl Izumi Tri Fly V shoes. I ordered a half size up from my previous road shoes, as my toes would go numb on long rides. That was a wise choice, because I never had a problem after that change. Also, these are compatible with multiple pedal types–so I can upgrade my pedals when I’m ready without buying a new pair of shoes again.

These shoes are really easy to put on in a hurry, especially in transition. They come with loops at the ankle to pull them on easily. Plus, they have a ventilated top that helps prevent sweaty feet–this was a huge benefit to me. They are very lightweight and comfortable, and offer great support to my feet. I have a history of posterior tibial tendinitis, which causes bad foot pain if I am not wearing a good shoe. These shoes fit the bill!

I was hesitant to order the white, but that was the only thing available in my size when I purchased them. I’m happy to say that after half a season of Ironman training, they aren’t too dirty and clean up easily.

2. Giro Trinity Cycling Helmet

If you love your triathlete or cyclist, PLEASE make sure they are leaving  with one of these on their head. Seriously. People biking without helmets is cringe-worthy.  I will post from my soapbox another day regarding this, but helmets save lives. I forgot my helmet once, and luckily made it only a mile before realizing it. A call to Hubby saved the day (and my head). If I’d been hit or taken a fall, the results could have been tragic.

Aside from safety for regular riding, helmets are required for all triathlons. In fact, you must have your helmet on your head before you even remove your bike from the rack.

That being said, there are so many affordable options for helmets. I have a Giro Kaya helmet, which is very similar in style and price range to this model. I love it. This model also has the acu-dial feature, which adjusts the helmet to a perfect fit. There is also plenty of ventilation, which makes this model extremely comfortable in all temperatures.

You really don’t have to spend a small fortune on a helmet. Of course, you certainly can. One day I may spring for one of the fancy “aero” helmets, you know, when I have an extra $300 to spend. Until then, this protects my head just fine.

3. Hoo Ha Ride Glide

I’m going to approach something rather…personal. So if you’re shy or easily offended by talking about private parts, please skip to the next item.

This stuff is the most amazing thing for any biker’s private parts. I consider it liquid GOLD. Most cyclists won’t come out and tell you this, but riding for prolonged periods of time is not in the best interests for lady bits. Or male bits.

Hoo Ha Ride Glide helps prevent chafing and inflammation with top-notch ingredients. It actually smells pretty good too. I buy the big tube, and section it out into small ziploc bags for races and rides. You can buy it in small packets if you want, but I think the large tube and ziploc option is more economical. This stuff made an incredible difference in staying comfortable for long rides. I don’t have a male version of my testimony, but I’m sure it would work for whatever body part you have down there.

4. Coeur Tri Shorts

This may also border on “private part territory” but these shorts were a game-changer for me this year.

I purchased the 8″ Coeur Tri Short after months of research on the perfect pair of tri shorts. They advertise “No Angry Kitty” for a reason. These are the most comfortable tri shorts I own.

Coeur has a no-seam chamois feature, which greatly reduces your chances of saddle sores. I speak from experience, ahem. Note the “No Angry Kitty” reference and do the math.

I have worn a few other brands that I like. Orca is also one of my favorites because I felt like their shorts were made for my thighs. You see, I don’t have small legs. I never will. That’s ok. As long as I find shorts that make me happy, I’m good. It took a long time to find shorts I felt confident wearing. I actually wore triathlon capris until about 3 years ago.

When Coeur came out with the 8″ version of their shorts, I decided it was time to give them a try. Their sizing is generous, and my thighs fit perfectly without the “sausage casing” issue that most shorts cause.

For me, this was a match made in heaven. Good shorts are important for cyclists.

5. Gift Certificate to a Local Bike Shop for a Fitting

Your cyclist can have the fanciest bells and whistles on a bike. However, if he or she does not have a bike that has been custom fit, no amount of Hoo Ha Ride Glide or other chamois cream will help.

I rode my second road bike almost 2 seasons before I had a custom fitting at the local bike shop. Hubby did a makeshift fitting on me after watching a few YouTube videos, but that didn’t go too far. Rides over 25 miles caused lower back pain, lady bit discomfort, and I didn’t feel like I had much power in my legs.

I spent the best $50 when I scheduled a fit with the specialist on staff at one of the local shops. During this time, he watched me pedal, tweaked things, watched me pedal again, and tweaked more things. He even went so far as to adjust my pedal clips on my bike shoes.

After covering all these details in just over an hour, I was riding a new bike. Well, it was still 3 years old, but it was new to me. Once these changes were made, I took over 5 minutes off my 12-mile ride on the same time trial route.  It made a huge difference.  I also felt better, physically, during my rides, so I know my body was in a better position.

Many shops will charge much more than $50, but I asked around for the best recommendations locally. The guy at this local shop was very well-known for his expertise and cost.  When I purchased my tri bike, I was lucky enough to have a bike-fitting included in the cost of the bike. However, with a used-bike purchase, you should expect to spend a bit extra on the side to get a good fit.