Sunday, January 29, 2012

My Night with Team In Training!

A couple months ago, my good buddy and Team Sheeper Teammate, Keith Terada asked me if I might want to be a guest coach at one of the local Team In Training group’s workouts. This group is an AMAZING group of people (I would come to find out) and is training for the Lavaman triathlon this April in Waikoloa ( I guess you could pick a worse place to race, right? Anyway, Keith thought it might be fun, since I’m a new pro, to come “run” a track workout (terrible pun intended). This past Tuesday we were finally able to put it on the schedule and what a night!

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Team In Training (, it’s an organization that helps people train for various events while also promoting fundraising for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I considered training with this group in Dallas when I did my first triathlon back in 2006, but never ended up joining. I have always wanted to be a part of the organization because I think it’s such a cool idea, so I was definitely excited about my opportunity not only to attend a practice, but to coach one.

The night had a theme – “Hoedown” which I thought sounded fun. Unfortunately even though I lived in the Dallas area for 8 years and you’d THINK I’d have some GREAT western wear to show off, I had nothing but a checkered bandanna. Better than nothing, I guess? To start the workout, they usually have a cancer survivor tell their story of recovery. Unfortunately I did not get the woman’s name, but it was so inspirational to listen to her talk about her battle with cancer and ultimately overcoming the disease. It was also a great reminder that I need to appreciate my health while I have it and not complain about the little things!

Inspiration time!

Once the speaker was finished and a few announcements were made, it was my turn to take over! There were about 50 people at the workout, which was initially a little intimidating, but within the first minute everyone made me feel right at home. I love getting the opportunity to talk to new athletes about my journey in triathlon. I was not an overnight success, not by any stretch of the imagination. I think my first Olympic distance race was over 3hrs and my first half Ironman was over 6. I know when people get started in triathlon, maybe they are nowhere near the front of the race or even their age group, they might think they’ll never be “good” at the sport. I think I’m a perfect example of how mediocre early results don’t necessarily mean you can’t make huge improvements and surprise everyone, even yourself. It took a lot of hard work, determination, and dedication to get where I am today, but you don’t have to qualify to race pro at your first triathlon to have potential. SOOO all you TNT racers out there – keep working your tails off, you never know!...

Okay, on to the workout. My #1 goal was to get the group to work hard, but to have fun at the same time. I also wanted to keep with the hoedown theme as much as possible. Here’s a quick breakdown of what we did:

• 10min light jog around the track to warm up
• 5min active stretching – my favorite was the Frankenstein walk to stretch out the hamstrings in which everyone began to moan like zombies without any direction from me – LOVE IT!
• 10min strength and core – focusing on glutes (don’t forget to squeeze those butts, I want to see dimples!) and abs – sorry for the backstroke kicks – OUCH!
• 10min run – 5 x 1:30 @ 60% perceived effort (PE), 30 sec 80+% PE
• 10min group line run – the group holds a moderate pace and the last person has to sprint to the front of the line – fun to do on a run OR in the pool!
• 1 mile relay – each team member had to run 200 meters and to tag the next person on the relay, you had to do-si-do with them – WOW was there some great do-si-do-ing out there, VERY IMPRESSIVE!

A little do-si-do-ing

And a little more

I was able to get in a little running during the workout myself and even joined one of the relay teams. Unfortunately I couldn’t pull us to victory, sorry team 5, I let you down! I really had so much fun at the workout. The group was so energized and excited. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time, I think my abs got more of a workout than anything else. I told Keith he might have to let me coach another workout soon. I am also super excited that I was added to the group’s facebook page so I can continue following all these amazing athletes on their journey to competing in Lavaman in a few months. I wish them all the best of luck and I know they will have a great race! I will be rooting for you TNT SV Lavaman 2012 aka TEAM KICK ASS!

This guy deserves to be my next VIP not only for what he has done for me, but what he is doing for so many others. My VIP#6 is a great teammate, a great friend, and the head coach of TEAM KICK ASS!

Love this one! hahaha all my training buddies beware I'll take my fav pic from your facebook page so be careful what you put there :)

Keith Terada! It has been so much fun getting to know Keith through Team Sheeper over the past 2 years. He’s a great triathlete, a stellar mountain biker, and an even better swimmer. Kind of annoyingly Keith developed these great swimming skills as a surfer, growing up in Half Moon Bay (if only I had done the same instead of spending 9 years swimming 9 workouts a week!). He has been my swim buddy and even offered to left me draft in Kona. It was a perfect plan as we were out of the water 13 seconds apart – too bad it’s almost impossible to stay with anyone in particular at the start of that CRAZY mass swim so I ended up losing him almost instantly.

I think Keith displayed the true teammate mentality when a couple weeks ago he agreed to do a timed swim so I would have someone to pace me. Not just anyone would agree to a 1,000 yard all out swim on a Sunday morning when they really didn’t have to. He’s extremely selfless and I am so lucky to call Keith a friend. And no I’m not writing this so he’ll agree to do the next timed swim with me as well…or am I?  Thanks Keith for everything you do!

Keith amd me at TNT practice - Keith bending WAY down and me on my toes to try and be a little closer in height, ha! Sorry for the blur!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Going Pro And VIP#5

Hello blog readers! Sorry it has been awhile since my last post (almost 2 months!). Life has been crazy trying to get through the holiday season at work, traveling to Iowa (brrrr – although not has brrr as normal this year) to visit my in-laws, negotiating with new sponsors (details to come!) and getting back on the training to prepare for the upcoming season. I have been back at the hard work for about 3 weeks now and I think one word can some it up – OUCH! Coach Matty Dixon is definitely layering on a new level of intensity and I LOVE IT! I’m feeling faster already!

On my way to losing miserably at the Team Sheeper Annual Donut eating contest. I gave it my best effort but I went home with nothing but a BAD stomach ache

Big 5 hour ride day w/ MBK, Hailey and the "Boys" - Keith, Aaron, and Bryce

So I’m totally going to cheat and be a copy cat all at the same time with this blog. About a month ago I did an interview for an upcoming 3GO article about “going pro” with a few girls in my age group who are all making the leap to the pro field for 2012. My buddies (and favorite competitors) Beth Walsh and Sarah Piampiano both posted their complete interview on their blogs, so I’m stealing their idea and doing the same. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery! I'm told the article will be in the March edition that will be released online towards the end of February. Make sure to check it out!

Name: Jessica Smith
Age: 30
Occupation: Inventory manager for Williams-Sonoma, Inc.(Pottery Barn Kids division)
Where do you live?: Stanford, CA

1. How did you get your start in triathlon? I think I was 12 the first time I saw Ironman Hawaii on TV. After watching the race I knew some day I was going to be an ironman. It wasn’t until a couple years after college that I finally joined my first triathlon team. It was the first time in my life I didn’t have a sport and decided I needed a new challenge to keep me motivated and in-shape. A year later I completed my first Ironman in Coeur D’Alene and was instantly hooked on Ironman racing.

2. What’s your athletic background? Growing up, I was a distance swimmer. Even when I was little my coach knew I was destined for the mile, probably because my starts were too slow to ever be a sprinter! I dabbled in cross country in high school, but quit after my coach said I had to choose between running and swimming. By the time I got to college I was ready for a change and joined the crew team. It was fun to participate in a more team oriented activity, but endurance sports are definitely where I belong.

3. What’s your strongest discipline? When I first started it was definitely swimming. Over time I have been able to develop my biking and running so now I think at this point my strength is my consistency. I might not ever be the fastest swimmer, biker, or runner in the race, but I do okay putting all three together. Now I just hope I can make all three significantly faster!

4. Which discipline do you think needs most improvement now that you’re joining the pro field? How do you plan to tackle this? Running is my biggest weakness right now. I think developing my run will happen gradually over time, but my plan is simple – run faster. I focus more on quality runs than quantity of miles and I’m sure the intensity will only increase as I progress in the sport.

5. What made you decide to “go pro”? I decided I wanted to “go pro” because I’m always setting new goals and looking for a new challenge. When I started in triathlon my goal was to finish an Ironman. Then it was to qualify for Kona. After that I realized maybe I could race as a pro. Now I want to win as a pro. Before getting there I had to prove to my coach I was ready to race. Winning my age group or the amateur division at a couple races wasn’t enough. We had tentatively planned on Ironman Arizona being my first pro race at the end of the year, but that was contingent upon how much I was able to progress throughout the year. Each time we’d chat I’d get a “we’ll see”. Finally when I won at the Vegas 70.3 World Championship my coach was convinced. I know I still have a long way to go before I’m winning Ironmans, but I can’t wait to get started on this next challenge! Of course the cheaper race fees and chance to earn back some of the money I’m putting in doesn’t hurt either.

6. Will racing as a pro change how you plan your season? If so, how?
Racing as a pro next year is definitely going to change how I plan my season. Before this year, I pretty much signed up for 1 Ironman per year and hoped I could add a second by qualifying for Kona. I might throw a few other local races in the mix, but with my husband in school, racing more than 5-6 times per year just wasn’t in the budget. This coming year I’m hoping I can race as much as possible. I will be looking for races that can help me get points for Kona, where I might have a shot at a podium finish, and of course don’t break the bank (Ironman Australia might have to wait a couple more years)

7. What do you expect to be the challenges of competing in the pro field? I think racing as a pro will be challenging because the race will always begin when the gun goes off. At any point I will have to be ready to swim, ride, or run outside of my comfort zone to stay in it. After just one pro race I have already realized there is a lot more strategy involved at this level and I still have a lot to learn!

8. What will you not miss about being an amateur? I will definitely not miss the swim start. Goodbye 2,000 people kicking and hitting each other while desperately searching for clear water. Swimming might be one of my strengths, but it is still my least favorite part of the race.

9. What concerns you most about your decision to race as a pro? I guess I really don’t have concerns about racing pro, I’m excited about it. I am already further in this sport than I ever expected to be when I started. How can I do anything other than completely enjoy the ride?

10. How will your training change in the coming year as you prepare for your first season as a pro? Ha, that’s a good one for my coach. I’m still working a full-time job so the amount of time I have to train won’t increase much. I think we’ll probably just layer in a new level of intensity. Every year I get a little stronger and am able to crank out training sessions that I wouldn’t have thought possible the year before. I’m hoping that trend continues.

11. What has been your favorite/most memorable triathlon experience to date? I have so many great memories from competing in triathlon, it’s really difficult to pick my favorite. I do think one memory that will stay with me forever is from Ironman Arizona 2009. Going into the race I remember looking at past year’s results and the times it would take to qualify for Kona. I thought there was pretty much no way I would ever get there – unless maybe I kept racing until I was 80. I ended up running about 30 minutes faster than I thought I would that day and passed a girl in the finish chute. I didn’t realize until I saw my husband after the finish that the girl I had passed was second in my age group and I had been third. Passing her (and beating her by less than a second) meant that I had grabbed the last spot in my age group for Hawaii. Of course going to Hawaii was an amazing experience, but this moment sticks out in my mind because it was the turning point in my triathlon career. I decided after that race it was time to get a real tri-bike and join a triathlon team to take my training and racing to the next level. It was one of my teammates who introduced me to my coach, Matt Dixon, and under Matt I have progressed significantly and am now racing pro. I like to think all the success I have had in the last two years is because I always try to sprint to the finish.

VIP#5 From Down Unda
This person definitely could have been my VIP of VIP’s this year. He has really given so much time and energy to helping me succeed as a triathlete and I can honestly say I wouldn’t be where I am without him. He has been an amazing friend and always seems like one of my biggest fans. He likes to joke and tease me any chance he gets (calls me Shorty even though I’m pretty sure we are the same height), but I know he’s always there for me if I need him. He’s actually that way for pretty much everyone he knows.

My next VIP is MIkey Osmond!

I met Mikey, the Team Manager for Team Sheeper pretty much as soon as I joined the team. I actually met this Aussie the same night I met two English (Bob and Leigh) and one Irish (Mark) team members and wondered what crazy international tri team I had gotten myself onto! Mikey was so welcoming and instantly made me feel like a part of the team. He talked to Coach Tim Sheeper on my behalf to assist in furthering my career and I would probably still be racing on the Le Monde road bike w/ aero bars if it wasn’t for this guy. Thank you Mikey for all you do and being who you are! You would have been VIP#1, but I wanted to make you sweat it a bit  I’m so lucky to know you!