The Eight Days of Chanukah


Chanukah is almost over, so to celebrate why not do an eight days of Chanukah swim workout? Happy Chanukah!

1×300 warm up swim

2x50s kick

3x100s IM order (fly, back, breast, free)

4x100s swim/kick/pull/swim

5x50s sprint with 20s rest

6x75s kick/drill/swim IM order (no freestyle)

7x100s on 2:10/2:00/1:50/1:40/1:30/1:20 (choose a time that will give you about 15 seconds rest after swimming each 100 free.

8x25s 1/2 kick 1/2 swim per 25

2700 yards or meters total for this workout.

Come back later for a twelve days of Christmas workout too!

Introducing Ikaika

cerveloCongratulations to Amber for naming my new bike! She wins a week of training for free with the Training Peaks program and unlimited coach access for a sport of her choice. Steve also had a wonderful name suggestion of Tyche, or the Greek goddess of good luck.

My new time trial bike will be called, Ikaika (ee-kai-kuh), which is the Hawai’ian word for strong or warrior. I think the name suits her just fine, especially since the sport of triathlon began in Hawai’i, and Kona continues to host the Ironman World Championships there every year. Maybe with Ikaika, I’ll get a chance to race in Kona one day, but until then I’ll imagine I’m back in Hawai’i enjoying the scenery and surf. I need to come for a visit soon; I’ve been away from Hawai’i too long! Mahalo!

Rock and Roll VA Beach


Saturday Tri Day

So, if you’re up for a swim, bike, AND run, then here you go! All of this can be done inside.


Warm up: 

2x150s as 50 swim/ 25 drill/ 50 swim/ 25 drill 10s rest in between each 150

8x50s as odds free/ evens backstroke 5s rest

4x50s as 25 kick on back in streamline position/ 25 swim 10s rest

100 pull 10s rest

Main Set: 

Repeat the whole set 3x:

150, 100, 50

Round 1 rest is 15s, 20s, 25s / Round 2 rest is 10s/ 15s/ 20s Round 3 rest is 5s/10s/15s

Get faster as you go through each set.

4x100s on 1:30/1:40/1:50/2:00 NOTE: you leave on the time you chose, so the amount of rest is based on how fast you swim.

Cool Down: 

200 easy

(60 minutes or 2500 yards)


Warm up for 10 minutes on your flat at 80-90 rpm. Do 2×15 minutes at 1-2 gears above your flat, but keep a slightly higher rpm around 95-100. Ride easy for 5 minutes in between. The rest of the ride is easy for the cool down. NOTE: your heart rate should be in a low zone 2 during recovery and a higher zone 2 during the 2×15 minute sections. (60 minutes)


Warm up for 5 minutes on the treadmill with your heart rate in zone 1 or slow jog. Do 3×5 min at 10K or 5K race pace with 1 minute recovery (walk or jog). Cool down for 5 minutes. (28 minutes)

That’s it!

Swim Day Friday

It’s Friday. It’s going to snow here in the Philadelphia area, but that shouldn’t stop you from going to the pool. And yes, I wear socks with Birkenstocks to the pool just because I like them. I always love a Friday bonus too: my hair didn’t freeze on my way to the car.

Swim Day Friday Workout: 

Warm up: 

300 swim

8x75s as kick/drill/swim per 25. Odds are free; evens are stroke.

200 pull

Main Set:

300 easy swim, 20s rest–focus on DPS (distance per stroke) or decrease the number of strokes it takes you to get from wall to wall. Aim for 19-23 strokes per 25.

4x75s FAST with 30 seconds rest after each one

100 easy swim 20s rest

2x75s FAST with 30s rest

75 easy swim with 20s rest

75 FAST with 30s rest

Cool Down: 

300 swim, alternating back and free every 50

I also did an extra 50 for an even 2500 yards. Just keep swimming!

Friday BONUS:

After your swim, why not ride the trainer for an hour and do a brick run?

Trainer Ride Workout

Warm up with 10 minutes of easy cycling at 85-95 rpms. Do 3×1 minute spin ups with 1 minute recovery.

Main set: 3×7 min in zone 4 heart rate with 2 minutes of easy riding in between. Ride easy for 5 minutes and then do 4×1 min sprints as 30s on and 30s recovery. Rest of ride is easy.

Cool down for 5 minutes with easy cycling.

Within 10 minutes off the bike, do a brick run for 20 minutes, starting in zone 1 and gradually moving up to zone 2 for your heart rate. Happy Friday!

Runner Girl

This tennis playing gymnast turned into a runner overnight it seems. Because she’s been competing in gymnastics since age three, she can basically do any endurance sport well, like running or triathlon.

She may have chosen to do intervals for the recent 5K, but the following day, we went for a 3.6 mile run at a zone 2 pace, and she ran the whole freaking way without needing a break. The next morning, she woke me up at 6:30am to go running, which means I had to get up and run in the cold with her. Near the end of our run, we did stop at the park for some fast slides.

Right now, she says the runs with me are easy peasy. Pretty soon, she’ll be kicking my butt and running with daddy instead of me.

Let’s Talk About Stress, Baby


Athletes don’t often discuss general anxiety or the depression that follows major races, and they sometimes turn a blind eye to weakness of any kind because the mind can overcome everything. Sometimes though, you need professional help, and you should get it without being ashamed or made to feel weak.

For me, anxiety is like the volume control on a radio, and without proper care, it’s turned up way too loud and manifests itself in the form of panic attacks. I basically can’t hear anything else except for the myriad of things I have to do. Calm down? Just relax? I can’t. So don’t bother saying those things to me or anyone else with anxiety. Just let them know you’re there and that you understand. Talk to them.

I turned to running and triathlon to help alleviate my anxiety, but it didn’t always do the trick because I would actually get panic attacks while running, which made me feel like I was going to die. I decided to get help and write about it. Below is an excerpt from my memoir that I plan to publish, describing what my day to day life was like before getting help for my anxiety and depression. I hope that by sharing my experiences, others will not feel so alone.


I run past sit-down breakfasts and take breakfast out the door, sipping my smoothie with my right hand and balancing the bags piled onto my left shoulder—work bag, laptop, purse, lunch. The curve in my spine renders my right side useless for carrying something as light as a purse. In photographs, my whole right side appears as if someone is pushing me down into the ground while my body fights to keep it upright and straight.

The first time I noticed this was in a photo my mom took while we visited the Washington coast on Ruby Beach. My baggy red windbreaker billowed in the stiff west wind on the pebbled beach, yet my right shoulder angled into the sand like a beach umbrella. My smile is uneven too—the left side is slightly lower, and, depending on how you look at it, I could be snarling instead of smiling, but that’s better than not smiling at all with my angry resting face.

I’m one of those people who always appear angry even when I’m not. Whenever I’m at work with the windows to my back, the sun occasionally hits the laptop screen just right so my reflection squints back at me, my face stiff and unyielding. Realizing this, my right shoulder faces the camera more often, hiding the slope and the snarl. I thought I stood tall on the beach, making a conscious effort to do so, but I’m lopsided, the left shouldering the burden of work, kid, house, and family—not always in that order. This morning, I fumble for the car key in my left hand and attempt to open the door without scratching it up. I put my smoothie cup down, but then all the bags come cascading off my shoulder, twisting my torso while releasing my neck.

Still, I run behind the wheel on the highway with each tilt steering my way through traffic. I run through first-second-third-fourth class—lunch! I run with lunch boxes in hand before I trade them for a piece of bread in each palm for tomorrow’s lunch. I run carrying pots and pans and soapy sponges from dinner dishes. I run around bath time and laundry. I run while grading essays with my left hand on my temple like I’m angry about something and my eyes squint behind my glasses. I read and run at the same time until my body has reached the point when it’s had enough of running and collapses on the couch. Then, I get up the next day and run again.

Let me start again—like rewriting a list to make it neater, but only resulting in more time lost. I should know. I have a phone that keeps track of my numerous lists, but I still insist on writing items on sticky notes haphazardly clinging to the case and falling off like crumpled leaves.

Here goes: My mind starts running from the moment my alarm clock goes off. The only reprieve is sleep, and I wish for sleep when my mind is no longer running. I hit snooze for an hour to avoid getting out of bed, only to lie in bed with my eyes shut too tight to plan out my day despite the lists I already made. Sometimes sleep is not restful, and I wake up with a gasp and my heart racing at 130 beats per minute or more. I keep track until it falls to somewhere around 90 beats, elevate my head, breathe in and out slowly to avoid hyperventilating, and try to sleep. If it increases beyond 130 beats per minute, I pace around the house and drink water or start walking on the treadmill at 4:00am. Jumping jacks help if I think walking or running on the treadmill in my bare feet will startle everyone in the house out of sleep. I run barefoot because my heart beats too fast to even think about lacing up my running shoes. If I can raise my heart rate through exercise and then cool down, my heart rate will sometimes drop on its own, otherwise, I end up at the ER.

This morning, the night’s thunderstorms rumble in the distance; I go outside and walk in the cool humid air before the sun rises, listening to the slap of my flip-flops against the pavement. The wet calm that settles in after a storm clings to my skin too as I breathe in the moist air. My flip-flops throw water from the puddles up to the backs of my knees, and I feel the water slap, then drip down to my heel. The mosquitoes still sleep under the mist where a fox roams around the development, away from the dogs trapped behind fences. The fox is aware of my flopping around the circle of the development so early and hides in the brush where a house will be built soon. What was here before in this endless loop I walk, a modern day Sisyphus, walking with nowhere to go but around and around. I reach another fence, visible markers around the half-mile loop. Good fences do make good neighbors as the poem goes—it’s hard to talk when eight feet of solid wood fence stands between you and your neighbor.

The kids know better and stand and jump on swing sets to see and yell and play despite the fence. They’ll scale the ninety degrees to touch a friend’s hand or peak their little eyes over to glimpse what lies beyond in the other back yard—forbidden until a much anticipated “yes” lets them come over, opening the gates.

Mornings like these mean my whole day will be off kilter. I’ll be in what I refer to as “zombie mode” where my body is functioning and preparing lessons at my desk, but my mind is somewhere at home, sipping coffee and reading a book on the sofa. The real me checked out. I can listen and converse with family and friends, but I’m really not paying any attention to them—my mind is using all available energy to remain calm and detached from situations.

Big Girl in a Little Coat

I know running fast all the time is not good for me even though I want to be fast. I can’t stand getting passed on the trail by breathless runners, or glancing at my pace that was my starting pace when I first began running six years ago. I know my heart rate should stay in zone 2 for 80% of my runs. I know I don’t have the years of experience that some runners have, nor am I gifted when it comes to endurance sports. I have short, stubby legs for my height and a long torso that catches the wind like a sail.

Since I started competing in triathlons, I’ve managed to get my swimming arms and shoulders back, which means more weight on my 5’4″ frame while running and cycling.  Even my dressy wool winter coat is now too tight in the shoulders. If I’m wearing that wool coat, don’t ask me to reach or pick up anything off the floor. I can’t. The coat has to come off first. I am the Incredible Hulk, bursting my clothes off as I flex.

I know I need to run slow to get fast, but with everything else happening, I feel like a turtle running with rabbits. I want to qualify for Boston, I want to break 25 minutes in a 5K and I want to knock off a few more minutes to break two hours in a half marathon. You know, goals?

Instead of complaining about it, which I’ve done, just ask my coach. I am going to embrace the slower than molasses miles. I need to do this if I plan to finish Ironman Chattanooga that I’ve already signed up for and teach myself some patience. I will do my best to avoid Strava and Garmin Connect so that I don’t compare myself to my faster friends, essentially plugging my ears and saying, “I can’t hear you!” when they talk about their races. I guess I’ll be a bad running friend and run more slow miles by myself to reach my Ironman dream. One goal at a time is best.

After Ironman Chattanooga, I’ll either train to BQ or if that doesn’t seem possible, I’ll keep chipping away at my triathlon times, slowly, but surely and be thankful that I am able to compete even if it is slowly. And, I’ll watch myself morph into a big girl in a little coat, bursting at the seams of what is possible.

Reindeer Romp 5K


Like all good 5Ks, I signed up on race day with a few other crazy friends like me and then headed to the dollar store to get some festive accessories. This was the 20th running of the Reindeer Romp 5K in Havertown that benefits the American Cancer Society in honor of Brandon Lake. Besides supporting a good cause, this race was within walking distance of where we live.

The kid wanted to race too, and she thought she could win her age group that is usually 12 and under and not the official 19 and under age group for this race. I didn’t say anything, but told her to run her race and to have fun. Her friend was running her first ever 5K with us, so the kiddo decided to run/walk the race with her. That was a good plan, and she stayed with her friend the whole way.

My race plan was to keep the girls comfortably ahead of me in case they needed anything.  I underestimated how fast ten year olds can sprint though. Every time they saw me when they glanced in my direction, those two took off sprinting uphill.

The kiddo got a PR of 30:50 for the 5K that included walking when she wasn’t sprinting. She didn’t place in her age group, but now she’s determined to win her age group next year: she wants that piggy bank stuffed with bills. So far, her goal is to run a 10K this summer and get another PR in the 5K. Next time, she’ll actually train for the 5K and not run it on a whim. For a whim though, 30:50 isn’t too shabby for a little kid.