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Summer Sun Safety June 29, 2014

Posted by bettyjoan in Cycling, Pretty, Running, Swimming.
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For those who don’t know, I am a melanoma survivor – I was initially diagnosed and treated back in 1999, so ever since then I have been extra super diligent about protecting myself from UV rays.  Back in the day, that meant sucking it up and dealing with greasy, weird-smelling sunscreens that often clogged my pores.  Thankfully, in the years since my diagnosis, there has been tons of progress, even in the drugstore sun protection arena – but my favorite brand has to be Supergoop!

I first tried Supergoop! in a Birchbox – and as soon as I used the sample of the City Sunscreen Serum, I was hooked (and I have been using it ever since).  It is light and non-greasy, and it works amazing as a primer under makeup.  I feel good walking out the door every day, knowing that I have done something good for my skin.  But as much as I love the serum, Supergoop! has so much more to offer…

Through the Birchblogger network, I was chosen to take part in a Google Hangout with the founder of Supergoop!, Holly Thaggard.  In advance of the live chat, Birchbox sent four Supergoop! products for me to try.  DISCLOSURE: I received these products for free, but all of the opinions in this post are my own, and I was not compensated in any other way.

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The Everyday SPF 30 is, like its name suggests, a really great everyday sunscreen.  Yes, you should wear sunscreen every day!  It absorbs really quickly and doesn’t feel sticky or greasy.  Because it goes into skin rather than sitting on top of it, I felt like it really resisted a lot of sweat when I went walking with the doggie on hot, sunny mornings.  Of course, you need to give it time to sink in and then reapply if you do serious sweating/swimming, but since the scent is light and pleasant and the texture is nice and light, I think I’ll be much less hesitant to lather up repeatedly!

The Forever Young Hand Cream is the product I thought I’d like and need the least.  I am pretty good about moisturizing my hands (I truly believe your hands will tell your true age more than your face, if you don’t take care of them properly), and I honestly hadn’t thought about treating them any differently than the rest of my body when it came to sun protection.  But, this cream may have changed my mind!  Like all the Supergoop! products, the texture is divine – not greasy at all.  The scent is subtle, and for those of you who drive to work, the bottle fits in the cup holder so you can protect your hands while they are on the wheel!  A little of this cream goes a long way, so I think the 10-ounce bottle will last a long time.

The Anti-Aging Eye Cream is a freaking game changer for me.  Amazing.  It didn’t irritate my under-eye skin at all (and mine is VERY sensitive), and it was lightweight and soothing (the cooling tip applicator helps with the de-puffing).  Plus, it gives some extra SPF protection to an area that can really help keep you looking and feeling younger.  I am very excited to add this product to my daily routine.

The Mint Fusion Lip Balm may allow me to get rid of a few underperforming lip glosses.  It has a VERY subtle pinkish color, so it looks good on its own (I wore it to a party with a heavier eye, and it complimented the look beautifully).  But, you can also apply it over lipstick for shine AND sun protection.  Win win!  The mint flavor/scent was very mild – I would almost like a bit more.

I had such a good time testing all of the Supergoop! products, and I learned a lot from the Google Hangout.  Despite many years of being a serious sunscreen advocate, I picked up a lot of new tips (for example, I now know to put my sunscreen in the fridge for a cooling effect on hot summer days, and that drinking red wine the night before sun exposure can increase the risk of sunburn) and really enjoyed hearing all of the questions.  Supergoop! is definitely not an inexpensive line, but in my experience, the products are effective and long-lasting.  Much like Maria Sharapova (a devotee of the brand who recently became a co-owner!), I believe in the power of Supergoop! and will be using their products for a long time to come.  It’s so great for an active gal like myself to have reliable and skin-friendly sun protection!

Who else loves Supergoop! – and has anyone tried their new sunscreen oil?

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Let’s start at the very beginning February 17, 2010

Posted by bettyjoan in Cycling, Mentoring, Running, Swimming.
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We now have two team swims and two Saturday group training sessions (GTS) under our belts – and this weekend was our first weekend “off” (which means that we didn’t work out as a team, but we were still expected to follow the training calendar and get our miles in).  Honestly, the off weekends stress me out, since I tend to do much better when I’m expected to be somewhere.  It’s just too easy to skip a workout when no one is going to mercilessly mock you for it.

Our first GTS was with all of the summer teams (marathon/half marathon, adventure race, cycling, etc).  We met as a huge TNT group, and then we split off to talk about triathlon more specifically and to go around and do introductions.  It was a lot of fun, and we seem to have some really interesting and FUNNY characters on this year’s team.  After we got to know each other, we headed into the cold and rain to run three miles.  Shockingly, I felt great, despite the weather – probably because I remembered that last year, at the very same GTS, I couldn’t complete the workout.  What a difference a year makes!

The first swim, as expected, was interesting.  I mean, it’s an intimidating set-up – it’s cold, it’s loud, it’s everyone’s first time in a bathing suit in a while, you get the drift.  My mentorees were all very nervous, and about half of them made it seem like they were going to sink to the bottom and drown within the first five minutes, but they all did great.  They listened to the feedback from the coaches and worked hard during the whole hour-long practice, which was really awesome to see.  I’m such a proud mama!

The following Saturday, we headed out to Marietta for a shoe clinic and our first “brick” (a bike ride immediately followed by a run).  As usual, the Big Peach presentation was interesting and informative, and I had to stop myself from buying new gear on the spot (it helped that I just recently got a new pair of running shoes from Peachy himself).  As for the workout, it was sparsely attended due to some cold, windy, rainy weather conditions, but I ended up doing 10 miles on the bike and 2 miles running.  Although the course (Columns Drive) was flat, the heavy wind made it feel like a hill workout!  Luckily, after some initial derailleur issues, my bike and I interacted harmoniously and had ourselves a good ol’ time.  AND, because my running is much improved over last season, I was actually able to run and chat with some teammates – bonus!

At swim number two, the participants were placed in their assigned lanes for the first time.  As a mentor, I won’t really be assigned to a lane – for the first few weeks, I’ll be placed where there is a need for assistance, and then after that I’ll just swim wherever I’m comfortable and where I can get the best workout.  I swam in lane three this time, which allowed me to meet a couple of new folks.  We were moving into the more complicated drills, so I hope I was able to demonstrate proper form and at least be moderately helpful.  I couldn’t help but notice – after doing so much actual SWIMMING last season, it was weird to get back to doing drills.  BUT, on that same token, it was a lot easier to see and feel how the drills allow you to develop proper form.

I did okay over the weekend in terms of working out, especially considering how cold and nasty it was, but I will be grateful when I can get back to a team workout (this week I’ll be skipping out on the bike skills clinic to go to Athens).  I’ll also be grateful when Mother Nature warms things up a bit – BRRRRRRR!

Chattyvegas, here I come! July 10, 2009

Posted by bettyjoan in Races, Swimming.
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This is it.  My “A” race weekend is right around the corner.  Not that Iron Girl wasn’t a HUGE accomplishment (and a TON of fun), but this race has always been my holy grail.  I mean, come on, an OLYMPIC DISTANCE TRIATHLON.  I don’t guess I’ve ever attempted anything even remotely relating to the Olympics.  Hell, I barely even WATCH the Olympics (thus earning the nickname “Hanoi Jane” from one of my buddies).

I’ve been a good little triathlete and have been tapering.  I went to the beach last week and did two nice, flat, low-mileage (14 and 9, respectively) rides.  I ran a few miles on the beach.  I tried to get lots of good sleep and curb the alcohol consumption.  I did NOT manage to curb my fried shrimp consumption, but what are ya gonna do?

We had our last group swim on Wednesday night, and I got back from vacation early and was able to attend.  Thank goodness, as I wouldn’t have wanted to miss this workout–a 300 meter warmup, followed by two-by-two sprint races, followed by relay races (during which we sprinted, sunk down and touched the bottom of the pool, and sprinted some more), followed by the highlight of the evening…

…doggie paddle racing while singing the “Meow Mix” song.  No lie.  If I can doggie paddle 50 meters while meowing, laughing, and NOT inhaling enough water to clog my lungs, then Chattanooga will be a piece of cake.  Ha!

Our coaches still can’t believe the crazy and humiliating things we will do at their request.  I hope they realize now that we are putty in their hands, thanks to the time and energy and faith they have put in us all season long.  A little meowing in exchange for teaching me to swim, bike, and run?  No problem.

Hope everyone has a great weekend–wish me luck!

My first tri injury… June 12, 2009

Posted by bettyjoan in Cycling, Swimming.
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…and I wasn’t moving at all when it happened.

Okay, it’s just a busted thumb–I sort of stabbed it and jammed it simultaneously, so it is bleeding/scabbing AND sore/swollen.  BUT, I did it while trying to change my tire, which is probably the lamest excuse for an injury, ever, in the history of triathlon.

I got to Dynamo early on Wednesday so that I could learn all about how to perform tire maintenance.  Getting the front and rear tires on and off the bike was a relatively simple process, but once I sat down to “change” the rear tire (which actually means removing the tire itself and changing the interior tube), I started having trouble.  First, I couldn’t seem to get the tire levers hooked into the tire and NOT the tube–I guess partially because my tires have an unusually large bead.  When I finally got one lever hooked and tried to slide the other lever under the tire to remove it, my hand slipped and I ended up stabbing/jamming the tool into my thumb.  Ouch!  After washing my bloody finger and gathering all of my gumption, I did manage to remove the tire, take the tube out, put the tube back in, reposition the tire, and pump the whole thing back up.  Then I put the tire back on the bike and PRAYED that I didn’t screw anything up too badly.  Guess I’ll find out during this weekend’s ride…

After the tire clinic and a VERY stern lecture to my teammates about the importance of sunscreen (I will probably post about that soon), we got in the pool, which felt surprisingly refreshing.  I did 300 meters of warm-up, and then moved on to 6 x 50 of “distance per stroke” swimming, which basically involves being as long and lean in the water as possible (to decrease the amount of strokes you have to take).  Then we did a delightful little torture routine of 10 pool-deck push-ups (hands on the deck, body in the water, push up), 100 meters fast, and 100 meters easy, with no rest in between.  I got through that routine three times and then it was almost time to quit, so I did another 200 meters, this time at just under race pace.  Whew!

I’d say I definitely earned my burrito that night.

On a roll June 11, 2009

Posted by bettyjoan in Cycling, Swimming.
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This past weekend, once again, we did double duty–a bike workout on Saturday and an open-water swim on Sunday.  Strangely,  it was the former that was freakin’ me out.  Well, I guess it’s not so strange, considering that I hadn’t done more than five miles on my new bike, and that the last time I rode, my fiance ended up with a gimp-ass shoulder.

We all met at Cochran Mill Park (a.k.a. Silk Sheets) at 7:30 AM, and the nerves started acting up almost immediately.  After all, the last time we rode that route, I ended up alone for the vast majority of the morning (on my old bike, I was slower than the fast cyclists and faster than the slow ones).  What if I was by myself and lost control?  What if I went too fast and panicked and wiped out?  What if I had to change a tire?  What if I got lost?  What if a dog started chasing me?  The anxiety was visible as we started our two-wheeled journey.  And just so’s you know, nervousness does NOT make you more steady on your bike.

About a mile or two into the ride, one of my coaches came up behind me and mentioned that I looked SUPER tense.  I confessed to her that I was really uncomfortable on the new bike, not because it didn’t fit or wasn’t suited for me, but just because it was SO different.  I was truly afraid of its capacity for speed, and I was already white-knuckling the brakes during all of the downhills.  So, she–being the AMAZING coach that she is–rode with me, at the very back of the pack, for the entire 31-mile course.  She talked me through all of the steep slopes, helping me to gain confidence and speed throughout the morning.  She joked with me about my insecurities (but in a NICE way), marveling that she had never coached an athlete who was faster on the uphills than on the downhills.  She critiqued my body positioning and cadence, but in a way that was productive rather than gruff and discouraging.  We met up with one of the other coaches about ten miles in, and he joined us for the remainder of the ride.  He, too, helped to increase my comfort level, teaching me how to recover when I lost my chain and complimenting me on my form when I fell on my ass while trying to mount on an incline.

THAT is the reason that I would recommend Team In Training to absolutely anyone who is interested in preparing for an endurance event.  Triathlon training is especially tough, since (duh) there are three sports, each with a laundry list of things to remember in order to optimize performance and minimize injuries.  But the support that I have gotten has been incredible and invaluable, especially since I am a rookie.  The coaches really take the training personally, in that they will work with folks when they need extra help, AND they will rejoice when things start clicking and people start feeling comfortable and confident.  Sure, I’ve had nervous moments, but I have NEVER felt like I couldn’t make it through my race days, largely because of the extremely capable coaching I’ve received.

Not to mention, we have a lot of fun together!  After Sunday’s open-water swim at Lake Lanier, we all sat around and ate a picnic lunch as a group.  But first, we had to survive what practically equated to an ocean swim–since we met at 1 PM on a beautiful summer day, there were boats and jet-skis EVERYWHERE, and they were creating some pretty massive wakes in our no-wake (haha) swimming zone.  I felt like I worked twice as hard to go half as far, and I swallowed a LOT of lake because every other breath was met with a wave to my face.  But, I made it through, and I feel like I’m going to be extra prepared for race day because of all of this open-water practice.

Speaking of race day…IRON GIRL IS 17 DAYS AWAY!!!

Weekend update (not the funny SNL version) June 5, 2009

Posted by bettyjoan in Cycling, Running, Swimming.
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Sorry for the lapse in updates, folks—between reconfigured work duties, an injured fiancé, and hard-core training, I haven’t had a lot of time to catch my breath and process all that’s been happening.

Speaking of training, we’ve covered a lot of ground in just a week’s time!  Though I was too sick to go to the Cartersville ride last Saturday (which is a bummer, since I wanted to debut my new bike, AND I hear that it’s a fabulous course), I did rally back from my flu-induced misery in order to participate in our first open-water swim on Sunday.  We started out all huddled up on the beach, and you could cut the nerves with a knife—everyone was jittery, not only about the water temperature (we are used to a 78 degree pool), but just generally about what swimming in the lake would be like.  Well, we would find out soon enough… 

To start, our coaches just asked us to get in the water and swim out to a buoy and back.  It was a straight shot (well, it was SUPPOSED to be, anyway), and I would guess that it was about 150-200 meters each way.  The water temperature was really quite lovely, so that helped soothe my nerves a bit—BUT, it is incredibly jarring to stick your face in the water and see absolutely nothing (well, besides a murky shade of green).  I tried to focus on my breathing and my stroke instead of panicking about what was or was not in the lake with me.  I also tried to sight to the buoy, but it was harder than anticipated given the very strong sun in my eyes.  Somehow, though, I made the round trip journey and wound up back on the beach.  Whew!  We’re done, right?

Wrong!  We moved right on along to simulating a race start and then swimming back out to the first buoy.  From there, we swam to a second buoy (so we were, in essence, swimming parallel to the shore) and then sighted back in to the beach.  Yowza, what a tough lap!  It is really difficult to get into a rhythm when you’re constantly paranoid about veering off course or smacking your submerged head into a pier (not sure which is worse).

The good news is, we all survived.  No one had to be rescued by the kayakers, no one drowned, and, most importantly, no one quit the team.  So, I’d say our first open-water experience was a great success!

This past week, I also had a nice group run with a few of my awesome teammates.  We did about 4.3 miles through the lovely (yet shockingly smelly) streets of Brookhaven, and we had a pretty good darn time doing it.  I always do so much better when I run with other people than when I attempt it alone.  The workout, combined with the fact that I did lower-body weights on Monday, made me a little sore in the pool on Wednesday night—BUT, I managed to do about 1500 meters of combination race pace and sprint drills, so woot!  I am finally at the point where I’m not worried about the length of the swim.  Instead, I am worried about how fast I can finish and how wiped out I will be when I get on my bike.

This weekend will involve another ride at Silk Sheets (where I clipped in for the first time–ah, the memories) and another open-water swim.  Here’s hoping for a productive and FUN weekend of tri training!

Just breathe May 21, 2009

Posted by bettyjoan in Swimming.
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It seems that just when I’m feeling zen about something, I get knocked back to reality.  Last night in the pool, I reverted to my pre-breakthrough self.  Argh.

Among other things, we did a 20-30 minute continuous swim last night, but there was a twist this time (I knew we were in for trouble when the coaches described the workout as “special”).  Instead of going up and down the lanes, the coaches removed all the lane lines from the pool and placed strategically located bouys throughout the space.  We had to swim continuously, but we had to always keep the bouys to our right–which meant that we had to practice sighting AND try to navigate the shortest course around.

I wasn’t freaked out at the start, since we’ve done multiple continuous swims and group starts.  But for some reason, I couldn’t get into my usual breathing/stroke rhythm, and I ended up gasping for air.  I had to go to “sweet spot” (a drill that involves rolling onto your back) a bunch of times, and I never fully recovered or got into a groove.  Once the final whistle blew, I headed to the wall to rest, and a delightful wave of dizziness came over me.  I quickly made my way to the ladder and sat on the bleachers with my head between my knees.  Good times.

Best I can figure, I panicked (subconsciously, maybe) about the new situation and started hyperventilating.  But I was so focused on pushing through that the extra oxygen didn’t hit me till I was finished.  However it happened, I was not pleased–it was the first time that I’ve had to exit the pool before the workout was finished, and I did not enjoy the feeling of defeat.

Since this weekend is a holiday, we have no group training sessions.  I hope to put in some significant pool time, so maybe I can get back to feeling as comfortable in the water as I did before last night’s debacle.

Next up…my morning at bootcamp…stay tuned!

Continuity May 15, 2009

Posted by bettyjoan in Swimming.
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As my mentor and I were driving to the pool on Wednesday night, we were lamenting how tired we both were.  “You know,” she said, “I really hope the coaches don’t tell us we’re in for a fun workout.  That’s never a good sign.”  Sure enough, during our pre-swim pow-wow, our coach definitely dropped the F-bomb (no, not THAT one–the other one).  It was time for another continuous swim!

We had the choice (depending upon the length of our event) of doing 500, 800, or 1100 meters.  I was torn about whether to do 800 or 1100–on the one hand, I need to increase my endurance, but on the other hand, I had been out of the pool for almost two weeks.  So, I erred on the side of caution and decided to do 800.  Since we were in the 50-meter pool, that meant that I would swim up and down the eight lanes, then get out of the water and run to the other end of the pool, then swim up and down all of the lanes again.  Fun indeed.

The start was chaotic, of course, with people kicking and thrashing and trying to get into their respective rhythms.  I got kicked pretty hard in the chest, which slowed me down for a minute, but then I got into a groove and focused on my breathing and my stroke.  I tried not to pay attention to the people passing me, though I admit I was a bit distracted when our team’s star swimmer zoomed by–she is truly AMAZING to watch.

So, the good news about the continuous swim is that I didn’t have to go to “sweet spot” (a drill, rather than actual freestyle) or roll onto my back for rest.  My swim stroke, while not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, was stronger and more consistent than it had been in the previous continuous swim.  The bad news?

It took me 22:20 to finish.

At first glance, I was really excited about that time.  But then I started crunching numbers in my head, and I realized that if I maintained that kind of pace, it would take me about 42 minutes to finish my 1500 meter race distance.  Not bad for a first-timer, but my goal was to finish the swim in 35 minutes.

Of course, I still have about two months to improve my speed and stamina, and there will likely be a current/adrenaline effect on race day.  So while the workout wasn’t “fun” in the traditional sense, it was super productive in terms of giving me a new baseline and helping me figure out what I need to work on.

Next up: transition clinic (or, as I like to call it, “instructions on how to get from swim to bike to run without killing yourself or others”)!

Movin’ on up (maybe) May 1, 2009

Posted by bettyjoan in Swimming.
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Wednesday night’s swim started out pretty rough.  The air was wonderfully warm, which meant that the pool felt pretty darn cold.  My arms were still a bit sore from lifting weights on Monday, and I was tired from a stressful day at the office.  To top it all off, we were practicing pacing–which meant a healthy dose of sprints.

After doing a few 150s at race pace, one of my teammates and I asked the coach how we could generate more speed in the water.  He said that we needed to be more efficient, which of course hinges on proper technique.  To help us out, he suggested that we do something called a catch-up drill (explained here).  It was really challenging and a LOT to think about, but it actually helped quite a bit.  After a few laps of that, the coach told us to do a “three-quarters” catch-up drill; in other words, instead of touching hands each time, our hands entered the water when they were 3/4 of the way to touching.  In both drills, it was crucial that our elbows entered the water last and that our palms pressed straight back toward the wall.

At the end of the workout, the coach came toward me, wagging his finger.  I was ready for a lecture (though a good-natured one, as our coaches are VERY positive and encouraging), but instead, he said, “You were REALLY swimming.  If you keep that up, we’re going to move you up to the fast lanes.”  My jaw probably dropped straight to the ground.

But the feedback wasn’t over!  One of our other coaches approached me on the way to Moe’s (where we go for post-swim burritos) and said, “What the hell happened to YOU in the pool???”  Except she meant it in a GOOD way!  She said that she saw me swimming and had to ask the other coach who I was–and that she was shocked and amazed when he said, “That’s Betty!”

I didn’t think my ego could get any bigger, but THEN my night hit its highest point.  One of my teammates, as we were walking into the locker room, did a double take of me and said, “Betty, your arms look AMAZING–you are so toned!  You really have that hourglass figure thing going for you.”  I dropped my gym bag and hugged her on the spot.

Certainly, all of my training has been positive–I’ve gotten TONS of support, I’ve met some incredible people, and I feel good knowing that I’m doing all of this work for a great cause.  But some days are simply too good to believe!

Here’s hopin’ that I’ll be able to have another “too good” day at the Big Peach 5K tomorrow!

The heat is on April 28, 2009

Posted by bettyjoan in Cycling, Running, Swimming.
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Exactly two months from today, I will be competing in my very first triathlon!!!  I really need to crank up that fire under my behind, since I definitely don’t want to be the last gal across the finish line.

Speaking of fire, this weekend felt like summer rather than spring!  Our group headed to Stone Mountain for a brick on Saturday morning, and by 8:30 AM, we were already starting to feel the heat.  I did three laps around the inner loop (just over 15 miles total) and then ran just over 2 miles.  The course was moderately hilly, so the ol’ thighs were burnin’ during the ride, but I felt really strong during the run (and did both miles in under 11 minutes each).  I am really comfortable reaching into the back of my cycling jersey for an energy chew, but I still have issues reaching down for my water bottle while I’m riding.  Note to self: figure that out before race day!

My swimming is still slooooooowly improving–last week, we practiced drafting, which is basically getting really close to the athlete in front of you and “eating bubbles” (in order to reduce resistance).  I’m still not convinced that the added speed is worth the risk of getting kicked in the teeth, but we’ll see.  The long-course (50 meter) pool is freaking me out less and less each week, and I’m sure it will be downright comforting by the time we attempt our first open-water swim at the end of May.  Eek!

I don’t know what’s on tap this week as far as swimming is concerned, but our group training session on Saturday includes running the Big Peach 5K!  I’m excited–it’s been a while since I’ve run a quickie race without my dog, so I’m looking forward to doing some speed work and shaving off some time.  Who knows?  Maybe I’ll even manage a PR!

Have a great week, everyone!