10 Great Decisions During Triathlon Training


After reflecting on six months of triathlon training, it’s easy to see where I went wrong and right. In fact, I could write a novel about what went wrong. But I’ll leave that list for another day. Today, I’m going to reflect on the good–actually, the BEST. I’m all about learning from our mistakes but every now and then we really need to give ourselves credit for crossing that finish line. Because if we did, that means we got lots of things right!

Some of these decisions were based on hours spent reading or talking with other triathletes, but the majority of these decisions were made simply because I went with my gut on most decisions.

#1 Listened to My Body
As a seasoned athlete, I know firsthand the benefits of listening to your body. But in this day and age, it’s easy to get lost in the mountains of information out there on the web instead of just going with what your body needs. During these last six months, I backed off when my legs were telling me to or slept an extra hour if my energy lagged. Some days, my mind screamed no but my legs screamed yes, so I went a little further.

#2 Gave Myself Time
Dealing with a stress fracture forced my hand in a very close relationship with the bike trainer and pool–a relationship at the time I didn’t welcome. Even before training really ramped up, I had two long months of no running and needed to keep myself occupied. As it turns out, those two months gave me extra time to build up to a base that I never had before. And by the time my training plan actually started, I was ready for anything.

#3 Ran Less
The majority of plans I read through stressed the importance of running less due to the pounding the body endures. “Make every run count,” several publications stated. And it worked. With running as little as once or twice a week, I was still ready by race day. But don’t worry, that little running was supplemented with more time on the bike and in the pool, which was much less pounding.

#4 Found Training Partners
Biking 60 miles a time gets boring. Very, very boring. And swimming in the lake alone is dangerous. After taking the plunge to join a triathletes group, I found training partners for both of these sports. From accountability, idea swapping to safety buffers, I’m so grateful for training partners.

#5 Experimented with Sport Drinks, Gels and Bars
Both the olympic triathlon and half-ironman takes several hours. That means lots of food, water and sport drinks are necessary to get the body through the day. But with such a sensitive stomach, it was important that I experimented with various types of food and drink before race day. After several months of trying different products out, I eventually got my nutrition down to an exact science. And by race day, I was prepared to fuel my body with what it was used to.

#6 Treated Myself
I’ve always had a runner’s appetite, which typically has me famished every few hours. But the hunger I had during peak training months turned me into a MONSTER. My body craved food all the time. Even with a protein-packed shake most mornings, I was still gobbling down food just a few hours later as if I hadn’t eaten in days. To help curb my cravings, I made a deal with myself. On weekends, when I’d pull myself away from my pillow at 5 a.m. and put the distance in, I’d treat myself to a score of goodies. As a result, I had something to look forward every week, instead of dreading waking up before the sun on a Saturday and Sunday.

#7 Ditched the Pool

Snip20150815_2 Several months ago, I showed up to what was the first of many open water swims in Lake Monona. At first, these swims were extremely uncomfortable and difficult. I’d panic on occasion while my mind would take over and scream at me about all the unknowns. After I finally let my guard down, I had new-found appreciation of the lake: I had the rare opportunity to intertwine my two passions in my life (nature and fitness) all in one adventure.

#8 Switched to Clip-Ins
The timing wasn’t a great decision, but the standard pedals had to go. Just two weeks before my race I switched out the standard pedals on my bike for “egg beaters.” Like I said, the timing was not great but by race day, it made a significant impact on my performance.

#9 Increased My Sleep Time
For many of us, exercise is not our only commitment in life. And sometimes, these other commitments can result in less sleep. But sleep is something most athletes should take seriously. Every now and then, a good night’s sleep does mean skipping a workout or leaving a party early but it’s ultimately a really good decision for your body.

#10 Had Fun
I took the training seriously. The gear seriously. The time commitment seriously. But I didn’t take myself too seriously when it came to race day. I reminded myself to smile and have a good time. For my first 70.3, it didn’t matter to me what time I came through that finish line. All that mattered was that I finished and enjoyed the journey!


How I Became a Confident {Woman} Cyclist


The wind hitting my face. The tires rotating on the pavement. The force of my legs trudging up a hill. Those first few moments riding outside, after being stuck on a bike-trainer all winter, were unforgettable. The snow had finally melted in Wisconsin and temperatures were finally in double-digits again. My stress fracture had healed and I had gotten over a vitamin D deficiency, which partly contributed to the stress fracture.

But as my mileage gradually increased, rides lasting several hours at a time became the new normal. And that’s when the honey-moon phase of riding outside abruptly ended. Anxiety about getting a flat tire or the brakes going out dominated my every thought prior, during and after a long workout.

I craved the same confidence I had with running for cycling but had no idea where to start. I had more than two decades of experience with running under my belt and a coaching certificate hanging up on my wall. With cycling, I hardly knew the difference between a hybrid and road bike.

Then one day I stumbled across an article about a non-profit based out of Madison called “We Are All Mechanics,” an all women’s four-week program about basic bicycle maintenance. The program was founded in 2003 by two women in Madison, India Viola and Ali Dwyer, who saw a need for bicycle education in the community.

Because classes are a month long and are only taught by two teachers, getting a spot can be difficult. But you can sign-up for newsletters to be notified about upcoming classes. I started looking into this in March and successfully got in by April. Actually, my partner successfully got me in the the class by April as a birthday gift. And it’s definitely the gift that keeps on giving!

The Madison Charm
The classes took place within the repair area of Revolution Cycles, a unique and charming bike store located on the east side of Madison. As we sat in old movie theater chairs (all part of the charm!), two cats roamed the place and greeted each student. The shop is casual and has a hip vibe, which makes for a fun environment to learn in.

The two instructors also bring their own Madison charm to the mix. India, a scientist who also works part-time as a bicycle mechanic in Madison, is an avid year-round cyclist and can share an array of stories from her trans-America ride to leading the local “Mondays Around Monona.” Ali also brings a unique perspective to the class. A yoga instructor and accomplished cyclist, she can advise beyond the mechanics, including proper cycling form.

The duo make an excellent team coming from different backgrounds and are both engaging and patient with students.

Class One: An Overview of the Bicycle and Removal of Wheels
Right away, I was impressed with the small class size, which has a four-to-one student-teacher ratio. The small class size gives students the opportunity to ask the instructors as many questions as they want without feeling like a disruption.

India and Ali started out the first few minutes going through the basic anatomy of the bicycle. Then, we spent some time getting to know the various tools we’d be using throughout the course.

Each class came with a hands-on learning experience. This teaching method ensured that we’d actually apply the skills. During this particular class, the hands-on portion of the class involved taking the front and back bike tire on and off our bikes. While something like taking on and off a tire may seem so basic, it’s a critical step in knowing how to maintain and fix other parts of the bike. And this is where India and Ali really get this course right. Ensuring that students are confident with every step, no matter how big or small, is the key to ensuring confidence for the more technical aspects of taking care of your bike.

Class Two: How to Fix a Flat
Every cyclist should know how to fix a flat tire. You can take the precautions, like ensuring your tires are at the correct tire pressure or inspecting your tires every so often. But with tires, there’s just no guarantee you can avoid a flat. And it’s actually better if you just accept that and prepare for something that’s inevitable.


Viola and Dwyer went over all this verbally for a few moments, then we were each given tools to take out the tube of the tire ourselves. I was stunned how quickly this can be done. All this time I was terrified of having to come across a flat but turns out, it’s not that scary!

This class was perfectly timed, too. Because without knowing how to take off the front and back tires as we learned in class one, it’s that much more difficult to fix/change a flat tire.

Class Three: Brakes
Class three was my favorite of all the classes. We were given an overview of the brakes, how they work and how the wheels and brakes work together, and then we spent time on brake adjustment and maintenance.

The lessons we learned were simple, just unscrewing/screwing the barrel adjusters to add or remove tension on the brake cable, but extremely useful. We also spent time on brake pads, which gave me the confidence a week later to change my own brake pads.

The brakes have always fascinated me the most because it’s one of the key elements of the of the bike that keeps me the safest. And now that I’m more familiar brakes, I can properly take care of them and feel safer on the road.

Class Four: The Chains and Gears
Prior to class four, Ali invited students to the class 30 minutes early to talk about bike fit. As I mentioned earlier, Ali is a yoga teacher in Madison. She had several tips on how to properly position yourself to ensure the best possible fit. She also showed us a few stretches we could do in an effort to have better posture.

When class started, we dove right into our last lesson: chains and gears. We spent a few moments going over the different aspects of the chain and gears and how to keep them properly lubricated. Then we each got to clean/lubricate our own bikes ourselves.

Confidence by Default
While Ali and India acquire the same knowledge most bike mechanics would, it’s the way these two pass down their knowledge that sets them apart from everyone else–in a judgment-free zone.

The $160 registration fee is well worth the money. In just one month of applying the skills I’ve learned, I’ve adjusted my brakes, replaced the brake pads, and cleaned the bike and lubricated the chains and gears. I even purchased a fixie at a garage sale to give me an incentive to take my knowledge to the next level. And in general, I now ride with more confidence. I’m not only prepared for something that may go wrong on a ride, but most importantly, I proactively prevent things from going wrong on a ride. The $160 is a long-term investment. Just like a car, by performing routine maintenance, you’ll ensure that bike has a longer and healthier life!

For more information about We Are All Mechanics, check out their website.



Rediscovering the Joy in Racing: Ironman Racine 70.3 Race Report


When the sound of the starting-line horn rang through my ears, the adrenaline charged through my body and I dove into the water. Every part of me wanted to swim as fast as I could but I held back knowing I still had a long way to go.

The point-to-point map of Racine’s swim course

Lake Michigan’s water temperature was 60°, 15° colder than what I was used to during training swims. I tried to synch my breath up with the large waves flowing through the lake and moved through the water at a consistent pace. Despite the hours of training in Madison’s Lake Monona, nothing other than Lake Michigan itself could have prepared me for this swim. The swells and temperature were unlike anything I had ever swam in before.

Undeterred by these factors, I worked my way from buoy to buoy and continued toward the swim finish. Unlike most marathons, there weren’t a pile of worries going through my head because I only had one goal during Ironman Racine 70.3: Finish. I relaxed and began appreciating unique traits of the water: The clear blue color (far different from Lake Monona, which is full of algae and looks green underwater) and the low temperature, which felt refreshing the more I swam.

I arrived closer to the beach and made my way out of the water toward the transition area. I got my bike gear on and ran out of transition as fast as I could. The bike portion started out on a hill but to my benefit because it made it that much easier to clip my shoes into the pedals.

Egg beater pedals

Just two weeks prior to the race, I switched out the standard pedals on my bike for “egg beaters.” The primary difference between the egg beaters and standard clip-ins are the four different spots to clip in, as opposed to only having one or two sides to clip in.

I don’t recommend switching out pedals that close to a race but they made a significant impact on my performance. The first day I tried out the egg beater pedals, I had a few bad tumbles (I still have the bruises to prove it). But once I developed the right techniques, I quickly began reaping the benefits of clip-ins. During the race, I was two mph faster than I was at the last triathlon I completed just a month ago, and that’s with doubling the distance! I won’t ever go back to standard pedals for long rides again unless I’m commuting around town.

By training on the Ironman Wisconsin course near Madison, the inclines on Racine’s course felt non-existent. With all that said, however, this course was painful. While the majority of the course is flat (compared to what I’m used to), that means there’s hardly any downhills, which means there’s no relief. In addition, the roads were non-stop bumpy. Scores of athletes were on the side of the road fixing flats and by mile 50, each bump became more and more painful on my rear.

The 56-mile map of the bike course

I’m almost certain that Ironman Racine has no control over the condition of the roads, however, it’s a deal breaker for me. Because of this aspect of the course, I don’t plan on competing in Ironman Racine 70.3 again. I can train for hills. I can train for distance. But I can’t train my body to withstand that many bumps. Not only that but the bumps make it a slightly more dangerous ride when you’re sharing the road with other bikers who are dodging holes and bumps. Meanwhile, several roads were still open to cars going the other direction.

After mile 56, I put my bike away in transition and laced up my running shoes. Normally this is where I’d plug my headphones in but Ironman does not allow any headphones, mp3 players or any communication devices whatsoever. As one race official put it at the athlete briefing: “We want athletes paying attention out there.”

The running course is two loops long and weaves through neighborhoods where the locals who live along the course take race-day very seriously. Dozens of locals sat on their lawn and cheered on the runners. Several houses even put out sprinklers and hoses. The majority of the course if flat and is ideal for spectating.

The first 10 miles went smoothly. My pace was not too far off from where I wanted it to be and I couldn’t help but smile knowing I was almost there. And then my legs started cramping up and down my hamstrings and calves (a similar experience I had during a Marathon in 2014). I was forced to start walking. Fortunately, there were more than enough food/hydrating stops, which had pretzels, chips, soda, gatorade, water, etc. I took in as much food and Gatorade as I could and hoped for the cramps to start going away.

The map of Racine’s flat and fast run course

I was only three miles away from the hardest endurance race I had ever completed and the only thing standing in my way were the last three miles and cramping legs. It was time to dig. I could feel the sun blazing on my skin.  The sound of other athletes vomiting on the side of the road made my stomach uneasy. And every part of my body was in pain. But I kept pushing.

Once I neared the finish line, spectators lined both sides of the course and cheered us on. Goose bumps ran up and down my body as I heard my family yell, “GO JAMIE!”

Despite all the pain my body had endured, I couldn’t help but smile as I crossed the finish line. All the sweat, tears, hours of training, early morning swims, hilly bike rides, and long runs had finally paid off.

A volunteer wrapped the medal around my neck and from that point on I couldn’t stop glowing. I had finally felt the joy of racing again. Unlike most marathons, it didn’t matter what time I had finished. All that mattered was that I completed the task at hand and did the very best I could. And that’s really all anyone can ask for–including yourself.

I originally signed up for this race to distract me from a stress fracture that happened earlier this year. But as it turns out, I completely fell in love with this sport. I’m happy to report that after six very hard months of training, I’m still injury free. I think I finally found a sport that gives me the satisfaction of going long, without all the pounding. During the last 12 months, I’ve endured two major running injuries that forced me to take a step back. I not only kept getting injured but also kept coming up short of my goal and left me walking away from races disappointed. Now that I’ve moved to triathlons, I’ve rekindled a new relationship with racing and could honestly not be happier.



It’s Not Me, It’s You



Dear Running,

Let’s face it, these last 12 months have been rocky. You and I have been on thin ice. Literally.

Despite our intimate connection, there always seems to be something standing in the way of our relationship. And no, I’m not talking about the logs and streams we used to tackle together in Rock Creek Park. I’m talking about the cramping at mile 25 when I was just minutes away from a BQ. And the hip injury last fall that led to a no-show at the Chicago Marathon. Don’t even get me started on my current stress fracture. Because I didn’t get enough sun. Really? Now you’re just playing hard to get. It’s almost like our hot runs this summer in the swamp meant nothing to you.

Honestly, I don’t know if it’s the endorphins I’m addicted to or the thousands of calories I can justify during marathon training. It seems every time I’m trying to get over you, the memories of our sunrise runs together still linger. Do you know how many cartons of Ben and Jerry’s chocolate brownie ice cream and bottles of wine its taken to put up with our split? My stomach and liver can only take so much.

After weeks of thinking about you on the bike and in the pool, I’ve decided that it’s not me, it’s you.

YOU’RE the reason I keep fantasizing about lacing up those shoes again and getting back out there. YOU’RE the reason I look at every other runner I see outside and wish I was them for just that moment. YOU’RE the reason I have never been able to love another exercise as much as I love you.

In fact, I recently signed-up for new sport that requires less time running and more time biking and swimming. I thought that this new activity, training for a half Ironman, would give me an opportunity to see someone new. Swimming and biking were supposed to take my mind off of you. As it turns out, I don’t really feel like myself when I have all 10 toenails intact.

I’m willing to give this another chance if you are. I can’t have it any other way. So how about this. Let’s get this next round of training started off on the right foot. My left will catch up as soon as it gets out of this boot. We’ll tackle some serious strength training. We’ll avoid over-training. We’ll eat right. And we’ll embrace the hurdles on this long road we’ve got ahead of us.


On second thought, let’s avoid those hurdles. Coordination isn’t a priority for the next steps in this relationship.

Photo credits.


Winter Running Survival Guide

Whether the forecast calls for two inches of snow or two feet of snow, winter shouldn’t get in the way of you enjoying a run outside. In just the few short months I’ve lived in Madison, Wisconsin, I’ve already learned several tips on how to enjoy running in the snow. Here are just a few of them:


Be Smart
It’s tempting to run on the roads when sidewalks aren’t properly taken care of, but there are several safety precautions to consider when hopping on the streets. Always stick to roads with shoulders. If there isn’t a shoulder, your safety is even more at risk. Run against traffic so you’ll know exactly when cars are coming. Be aware at all times and avoid distractions like wearing headphones. If you can’t hear cars coming, you can’t take the proper steps to avoid a dangerous accident from happening. It’s never a good idea to run through red lights but this time of year is especially dangerous. Cars can’t stop at the last minute when the roads are slick and icy. Be patient and wait for the pedestrian sign. Lastly, plan your run along paths that will be cleared. Check your local government website for ideas of trails that will be clear.

Stay Hydrated
Yes, most drinking fountains are shut down during the winter months. But they don’t shut down the bathrooms, which are usually complete with sinks. While it may look a little odd of drinking out of a sink, they make all the difference in staying hydrating this winter. Another option is to bring a hydration system with you during a winter run.

Invest in Gear
From reflective gear to traction devices for your shoes, investing in the proper gear could make or break your running this winter. I highly recommend Yaktrax, which significantly improves the ability to run in icy and snowy conditions. In addition, a dark run is inevitable this time of year. But running with a headlamp, a reflective vest and clothing with reflective tape will help you see and be seen. When it comes to safety, there’s no price too steep.

Don’t Over Heat
It’s tempting to throw on layer after layer but it’s also important to remember to dress appropriately. Over heating is not only uncomfortable but also dangerous! If you struggle with over heating, try warming up for five to ten minutes prior to a run to warm up your muscles. After you begin to feel warmer, take some layers off before you start your run. As a bonus, warming up also helps prevent injuries down the road.

Plan Ahead
Stay on top of the weather forecast. This will help you plan your runs accordingly. If your long runs take place on a Saturday but the forecast calls for an icy forecast that day, consider planning your run on a Friday or another day that doesn’t call for bad weather conditions. By planning your week ahead of time in accordance of the weather, you won’t be forced to trudge through bad weather or risk skipping out on a run.


Friday Featured Athlete: Marsden of RunningLonely.com

Let’s face it, if you’re running a 24-hour race, crazy is kind of an assumption–Marsden of RunningLonely.com.

When the clock neared midnight on New Year’s Eve, I spent the last moments of 2014 stuffing my face with Bull Frog Bagels. Meanwhile, Marsden of RunningLonely.com had already completed more than 62 miles. In fact, when midnight hit, he still had several hours left of running to go in a 24-hour race.

Marsden was competing in a series of timed multi-day ultramarathons held near Phoenix, Arizona on New Year’s Eve called Across the Years. The event consisted of a 24-hour race, a 48-hour race, a 72-hour race and a six-day race.

The race was one of many #ChallengeYoSelf challenges Marsden conquered since last spring. And prior to Across the Years, Marsden hadn’t run more than a 50k, which was just one month before the 24-hour race.

“Most people can’t go off practicing 70-mile runs, but you can do back-to-back long runs reasonably well,” Marsden explained to me about his training for the timed race. “So I did a series of those and it worked reasonably well for me.”

the-start-1024x1024Photo courtesy of RunningLonely.com

Locked In

The event took place at the spring training facilities for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago White Sox. Only 1.05 miles long, Marsden said the course was mostly flat and filled with crushed grave, similar terrain to the C&O Canal in Washington, D.C.

“You keep doing that loop over and over,” Marsden said. “Then after four hours, you turn around and run the other direction. My experience with timed races…is you get locked in to what you’re doing. If you’re running a marathon or half, you’re very interested in your split times and you’re looking very carefully at them. I don’t have that in timed races–I just kind of run (or walk, as the case may be) and all of a sudden ‘oh, I hit 50 miles, that’s kind of cool.’ If I was running a 50 miler, I would agonize over each mile time throughout the course.”

While running the same loop over and over again doesn’t sound ideal for an entire day (or longer), Marsden said there are numerous benefits to a small course.

“It was short enough to get support,” Marsden said. “In fact, they had an aid station halfway through, so you weren’t more than half mile away from an aid station to get water or anything if you needed it.”

Runners had access to their crew every lap, which meant they didn’t have to worry about carrying anything. They were never more than a mile away from a change of clothes or a pep talk, if they needed one. Getting lost, a nightmare for some first-time ultra runners, was nearly impossible on the one-mile course.

Being “locked in” to the timed race eventually led to Marsden to crossing the finishline (for the last time) at 85 miles after 24 hours of running–50+ miles more than Marsden had ever completed before.

Run the Race You Want to Run

“One of the reasons I like timed races is that I feel less pressure,” Marsden said. “If im going to be out there ‘X’ number of hours, you just go out there and do what you can do.”

Marsden added timed races are a great way segway into ultras because you can run as much or as little as you want.

“I think timed races are a great way to put your toe in the ultra water without signing up for some really hard ass trail race that may or may not be your cup of tea,” Marsden said. “There’s nothing wrong with those things, but I think timed races are a great way to get started. You can even try a six-hour race and then go from there. A 24-hour race sounds daunting on some level, but it’s not like everbody is forcing you to run the full 24 hours. Ya know, there were some people who’d go for 12 hours, sleep for a few hours and come back. It’s very flexible. You run the race you want to run, which is kind of fun I think.”

80-miles-1024x1024Photo courtesy of RunningLonely.com

Insider Tips from Marsden

Timed races can vary in scope but like most other races, there’s numerous ones to choose from throughout the year. In fact, Running in the USA lists more than 150 timed races on the 2015 calendar that range from three hours to six days.

Here are some tips Marsden for runners considering a timed races:

It’s Okay to Walk: From Marsden’s website: “Don’t underestimate the walking.  Unless you are one of the top runners, you are going to spend a good chunk of time walking.  Given that, add this to your training.  I didn’t do enough of this and it does stress different muscle groups than running.  Although I could keep a good pace walking, I didn’t have the experience trying to keep that pace for hours on end.”

Ultra Brain is Real: After telling his readers a hilarious story about dropping his gloves on the floor of a porta potty but visioning he was in the middle of the race, Marsden told his readers about an article he read about ultra runners losing six percent of their brain grey matter during an ultra race. From his website: “Around midnight I stopped at my table to grab a gel and wondered why some guy I didn’t recognize was at my table and why my table didn’t have my stuff.  After an uncomfortable 5 seconds I finally realized it wasn’t my table.  I looked at the guy and said, ‘Oh not my table.  Sorry, I’ve got ultra brain.'”

Be Strategic on Stopping: “I will think more about when I need equipment changes versus things that are convenient. One of the risks you take with timed running events, is it’s so easy to stop and do something. I would have five laps where I would change gloves. Each time [you stop], you’re taking a few minutes and if you do that enough, it starts adding up.”

Dunk Your Gu in Warm Water: “Putting your gel in hot water, it warms it up nicely and makes it far more palatable in cold weather. Salted carmel [gu] warmed up, good stuff.”


How a Stress Fracture Cost Me $300

Earlier this week, I went to see a doctor because I’ve been dealing with pain on top of my foot. The pain wasn’t enough to stop me from running and walking felt fine, but it was enough to be concerned about.

A few X-Rays later, the doctor came in and told me I had a stress fracture. He showed me the fractured bone, which was the fifth metatarsal, and said I’d be looking at four to six weeks of no running (at least).

Hearing news like this would have typically made me sad and angry. But instead, my immediate reaction was confusion. My eyebrows furrowed at the doctor and I said, “really?” I told the doctor my mileage has been very low compared to normal since my previous injury. I’ve been stretching. Taking days off. I’ve been doing everything I could do in hopes of avoiding an injury.

The doctor suggested an MRI to confirm the fracture. But he also suggested the fracture could be related to my Vitamin D levels, which allows the body absorb calcium and promote bone growth. According to WebMD, little vitamin D results in “fragile, misshapen bones in adults.” After I received my test results back, the doctor informed me that the fracture could be attributed to my Vitamin D levels, which were extremely low. I was put on prescription Vitamin D supplements and will do another test in a month to see if my levels come up. In other words, this fracture was not my fault (in terms of running).

Staying Sane

With nearly every other injury, I’ve always been told swimming, pool running and other low-impact cross training exercises are completely fine. But swimming, pool running and other low-impact cross training exercises won’t actually give the metatarsal time to heal. “Then what can I do to keep me sane,” I asked. “Stationary biking (with the boot) and upper body.” This was NOT music to my ears.

That night, I finished off an entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s and at least half of a bottle of wine–I had been here before. Just a few months ago, I went through these emotions that made me felt useless, regretful and impatient. And I knew I couldn’t take another day of that again. That’s when I decided to skip those emotions that got in the way of me keeping in shape and focused on the positive ones.

I dug up some old but reliable P90X upper body workout DVD’s. I borrowed my sister’s road bike (another perk of living in Madison is being close to family!) and purchased a bike trainer. And I also made a few changes to my diet.

For a moment, I had a quarter-life crisis. I realized that I’m not going to be able to run forever. I’m only 26 years old and I already have 20 years of running under my belt. My legs and feet have to give out at some point. But that’s way down the road. A few months ago I set a goal for 2016: The Ironman. In order to achieve that goal, I’ll need to ramp up my endurance in the pool and on the bike.

But I know myself, and I’m going to skip those activities if I don’t have an immediate goal to work towards–so I made one.

And that’s how a stress fracture cost me $300. I signed up for the Ironman 70.3 to help see the bigger picture. The registration was a reminder that if I work hard, I’ll be ready in six months for a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride and a 13.1-mile run all in one race.

To get there, I’ll need to take this time to build up some endurance on the bike and gain upper-body strength that will become useful in the water. So while this stress fracture is frustrating, I’m forced to start laying the groundwork for my Ironman 70.3 training plan in a few months. I’m also forced to remind myself that these bumps in the road shapes our perspective as athletes. These struggles we go through gives us a reason to strive towards goals beyond what we know we’re capable of doing and shoot for something bigger.