Wednesday, November 25, 2015

10 Tips to Shut Up and Run in the Cold

I don’t know why this happens.

Every year when it gets cold (let’s say below 30 degrees) and it starts to snow (let’s say a few inches) I’m an idiot. I cannot remember what to wear when I run or how to run in the snowy conditions. Yet, this is my sixth year of running through a Colorado winter.


I hate being cold so much that I think during the warmer months I completely block out the possibility that it will get cold again. Yes, I could use the treadmill, but I don't because if there is one thing I hate more than being cold it’s running inside on Satan’s wheel while staring at a wall. Not gonna do it. (Unless it’s icy, then I will lay on the couch and eat Doritos).

So, I venture out. Like last weekend.


This run began when it was 15 degrees. How do you dress for that? After spending way more time than I should of on the subject, I decided on warm tights, an Under Armour, hat and gloves. With the sun shining, that was about perfect. I expect to be cold the first mile of a run and then to warm up. I’d rather be cold for a few minutes than too hot for the whole run.

BTW, every single run I do when it’s freezing outside I have to give myself a pep talk about the fact that I will indeed warm up. I do have Raynaud's, which means I have terrible circulation in my feet and they turn yellowish/white when they get cold. It’s really pretty disgusting because feet are not supposed to be a yellowish white color. I also get icicle-ass where my butt turns into a large, fatty ice cube. Ah, the FWPs of winter running.

As we creep into winter, here are some tips to keep motivated despite the plunging temperatures:

1.  Be grateful: Stop your whining and remember that you can run. You get to run. There are many people too sick, disabled or injured to do what you are complaining about. Some people would kill to go just one mile in your frozen shoes. So, adjust your attitude fool!

2. Know that cold is easier than hot: Running in the cold can actually be less taxing on your body than running in the heat. Your body doesn’t have to work as hard to cool down and this can increase performance and energy.

3. Sleep in your clothes: If you are really desperate, sleep in your running tights and base layer. That way you don’t have to go through the extra step of getting undressed and dressed in the morning. You might get up easier, but I’m not promising this will do wonders for your sex life.

4. Get the right gear: Not only should you make sure you’ve got the correct cold weather gear for your climate (see HERE for some guidelines), but treat yourself to a new, fun, sassy running item (thongs might be inadvisable). Maybe this will make getting dressed and hitting the road a bit easier.

5. Have someone waiting on you: I’ve said it before, but there is almost no better motivation than to know someone or a group is waiting for you to show up for a run. Do you really want to be the pussy of the group?

6. Have a warm reward: Know that after your cold run, you will treat yourself to something toasty and warm like a latte, a hot bath or a cup of tea by the fire.

7. Remember the bad-ass effect: Not everyone runs when it’s cold outside. It takes stamina, balls and determination. Tell yourself that every car that passes you is impressed by your fortitude. You may be lying to yourself, but at least it can provide temporary motivation.

8. Know you’ll be less SAD: Research has shown that running in the cold can actually reduce symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Running can release feel good hormones that stave off depression, decrease anxiety and promote a general feeling of contentment.

9. Let your goal stare you in the face: If you are training for something, want to lose weight, or are simply just trying to stay in shape, write your goal down on a sticky note and put it on your alarm clock or bathroom mirror. Sometimes these little powers of suggestion can be the extra push you need.


10. Sign up: There are all kinds of short races throughout the winter time – Peppermint Schnapps 10Ks and Freeze Your Ass Off 5 Milers. Sign up for one just to keep your head in the game.

Any other tips you’d suggest for running in the cold?

Are you a cold weather runner or do you head inside to the ‘mill?


Friday, November 20, 2015

2015 Nevis Triathlon Race Report/Review

 {Warning: This is long. So was the race. Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride}

Enough about the island (that post HERE). Let’s talk about the whole reason I went to Nevis – the RACE.

When I was invited to come to Nevis, I checked out the website for the race and saw that it was one of the most beautiful triathlons in the world. Sounds awful. I better go and check it out. 

The Nevis triathlon has two distances: a sprint (550 yard swim, a 20 mile bike and a 5K) and the long course, which was double (1,100 yard swim, 40 mile bike, 10K). I was like, well I am not going all that way to do a sprint, so I signed up for the long course. I mean, I’ve done two Ironmans (well, not in the biblical sense, but you know what I mean), so this seemed like a piece of cake.

Famous last words. Did I mention I hadn’t swam in a year or biked in months?

The day before the race we drove around the island. There is one main road and I would ride it twice. Sure it was windy and extremely hilly and hot and there was no shoulder and the roads were pretty rutted and everyone drove on the “wrong” side, but NBD, right? Let’s just go with the flow. Because I am such a laid back person. No Type-A here. <where is the sarcasm font? 

I didn’t have time to ship my bike, but was assured they would give me a bike to ride. The morning before the race I spoke to the bike guy and told him my height and that I’d like a tri bike. He said, “How about a hybrid?” I thought, hmmm…he must mean like a cross between a tri and a road bike –I’ve never heard of that, but he doesn’t mean like a hybrid, hybrid the kind you cruise around on, right?

At the bike shop some guy came out with a beautiful tri bike. YES! This was all going to work out fine. Until that guy took the bike and went away and the bike guy came out with this for me:


I was a bit worried about the pedals not having cages and the sheer weight of the bike. I kept telling myself “You are in it for the adventure, who cares?” Plus, it had a sweet tool kit and pump. And reflectors!! Safety first.

Race morning dawned warm and beautiful like every day in Nevis. We got to the start and I set up my transition area.  To the right is Jane Hansom, pro triathlete, who just came in 2nd in her AG at Kona.  She and I are clearly very alike. Only she did not steal the green towel from the hotel like I did.


Looks like a swell day for a swim in the Caribbean.


Start/finish line.


The race director, Greg, did the usual debrief. I asked a volunteer if there were bathrooms along the way. “Well, no, my love. You will just have to contain it or sweat it out.” Hmmm..hadn’t heard that one before. Clearly she does not know who she is talking to. Sometimes there are things that are hard to contain and sweat out, sweet lady!

We stood on the beach and with a “ready, set, go” ran into the water. The swim was uneventful. I saw a star fish on the bottom of the sea.  I would have dove down to get him but I was kind of in a hurry. To get on…

The bike started out well enough. Riding on the left side was odd. Don’t even get me started on the round about. I can’t even do those in the States on the right side of the road, not to mention on the “wrong” side of the road. I lived to tell.

I began the ascent on what is called the “Anaconda.”  This is about a 4 mile steep and winding hill. My gears were not cooperating and my feet were slipping off the pedals and there were 95 f-bombs dropped, but I made it to the top.

The reward was a sweeping view of the Atlantic and the Caribbean as well as cold blue Gatorade. I took a GU (I had fortunately stuffed two in my suitcase last minute…they were to be my only fuel for this race. AND I stupidly forgot my Salt Stick). Btw, I was WAY under fueled for this race. I usually take in 200 cals/hour on the bike and for this race I only had about 50 cals/hour.

As I rode along taking it all in, I was trying to ignore the fact that I had to do the Anaconda all over again and the fact that my legs were working REALLY hard to keep this bike cranking and to keep my feet on the pedals. I dodged the herds of goats and the wild donkeys. I knew the run was going to suck balls. But sucking balls in a beautiful place is better than doing it in an ugly spot, right?  After the first loop I checked my watch. It had taken me about 1.5 hours to go 20 miles!!!  Jane was probably already done with the entire race. Damn Jane.

Groundhog Day and let’s do the bike loop again. 8 miles from the bike finish some car behind me would not pass and kept trailing me. I waved him on for a couple miles then realized he was a police escort. WHY? I am not first, I am not last. I did not poop on the road and I didn't break any laws that I knew of. Unless the f-bombs were a crime. He followed me to the transition area, putting on his siren for the last mile. I was in a PARADE!

The last thing in the world I wanted to do was run. It was inching near 90 degrees and I was spent. I knew I would find a way to squeak out 6.2 miles, but I was in a bad mood about it. I started feeling sick and I had major chills, which I knew were a sign of dehydration. How was Jane doing? Oh, yeah. There she is coming into the finish. Go Jane.

By this time I had been out there for 3.5 hours. There was no shade and I could feel the heat coming off the hot asphalt. I took a couple of walk breaks and just tried to get through it, throwing water on my head every chance I got and talking to myself like a crazy person. With one mile to go, a police motorcycle came along side me to escort me to the finish. I’m surprised he could ride this slow. Again, on came the siren.


I think he is going to run me over. Or, he’s checking out my ass.


So glad to be done after 4 hours, 25 minutes.


Determined face.



Then, thrilled to find out I would win one of these for coming in third! Best prize/souvenir ever (even if security at the airport didn’t appreciate it). Three faces, one for each phase of triathlon.




My first podium finish. Thank you Anaconda. Thank you blue Gatorade. Thank you police escort. Thank you Academy.


After a shower, there were beers and burgers for all. And, lots of pool time.


All in all, this was one of the tougher races I have done. For a variety of reasons. Climbing, heat, etc. It was also hands down the most scenic race I’ve done.

You should do this race if:

  • You like to combine a kick ass vacation spot with a race.
  • You enjoy a good challenge. This one is HARD.
  • You prefer smaller, more intimate races.
  • You like being warm (hello, no wetsuit!).
  • You are inspired by scenery and a continuous warm breeze. Mountains + water + palm trees + wildlife.


Thank you to the Nevis Tourism Board for hosting me!

Thanks to Kevin Mackinnon (Triathlon Magazine/Canada) for the race photos!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Let Me Introduce You to My New Friend, Nevis

{In case you missed it, I took a last minute trip to Nevis this past weekend to do the Nevis Triathlon. First post is HERE}.

It’s just a small spot in the Caribbean. Easy to miss on a map and difficult to get to on a plane.  Yet, within this 36 square mile “spot” is a rich culture, an expansive history, and an unspoiled mix of white sand beaches, thick jungle and a dormant volcano – Mt. Nevis (3,200 feet) – visible from all spots in on the island of Nevis.

The grounds of my hotel – the Nisbet Plantation and Beach Club. Cannot say enough about
how peaceful, friendly and comfortable this place is.

I began my journey to Nevis on a freezing morning in Denver, leaving my dark home at 3:00 a.m. to board a 6:00 flight. This was to be a 14 hour travel day for me, so I talked my brain into accepting the cramped seats, smelly toilets (to which I contribute on every flight. Not sure why flying makes me poop – nerves? altitude?), and the long security wait lines in exchange for a visit to what I had heard was paradise.

On any trip there are a thousand moments that grab you – if you pay attention. I try to travel with an openness to people and experiences (except when I’m tired and irritated. Then I just sleep). I don’t want to ever miss the chance to hear someone’s story or the chance to shift my perspective. Instead of highlighting differences in people, travel always makes me realize how alike we are beneath the many cultural and outward appearances.

Denver –> Houston. Houston –> Puerto Rico. All pretty uneventful.  Except for the people in 19A and 19B who did not know how to use their quiet, inside voices at 6am.
Then the adventure began to unfold. There is a moment when things shift when you travel. As you leave home you gradually shake off the place you left and begin to enter the world of the place you are going. It’s subtle, yet you know when you’ve joined a new realm and you have left behind your “other” life for a short time.

I searched for the ticket counter for my flight to Nevis on a small airline called Trade Wind. After scouring the airport with no luck, I finally saw a small sign. As I approached the empty ticket counter, the agent said, “Elizabeth?” First time I’ve ever been personally greeted by an airline rep or saw one smiling. She told me I wouldn’t go through security or need a boarding pass. Huh? I was escorted to a lounge with free drinks and snacks while I waited to board with three other travellers. Is this how famous people feel all the time? Well, non-famous people like me get boners over stuff like this.
We boarded the 8-seater flight for Nevis. 8:00 p.m. Dark, breezy, balmy. Not in Colorado anymore.


A Nevisian woman, Raynice, and I became fast friends. There was a cooler of drinks between the seats and we grabbed a small thing of wine which we shared and chugged straight from the bottle while she pointed out all of the islands – St. Croix, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, St. Kitts – to me in the dark. She knew them all by their shape. She smelled good and I fell in love with her island accent. Can you guess which one she is?


In Nevis I was greeted by Yvette from the Tourism Board. Yvette and I would be attached at the hip for the next two days.

Okay, this is post-race. You can still see my number on my arm. #tiredeyes

Yvette took me to my hotel, the Nisbet Plantation, about a mile from the airport. As we got out of the van at Nisbet, I heard a sound I’d never heard before. Tree frogs. At check in I wiped away the airplane scum with a cool towel and sipped on a strong rum drink. Yep. I’ve arrived.
We walked down a dark, grassy palm-lined area to my cottage. I couldn't see much but I could FEEL the magic of the place and I could hear the waves crashing, the frogs singing, the breeze through the palm fronds. I was seriously giddy.

My room. There was also a sitting area, mini bar, huge bathroom and patio.

Yvette and I had dinner on the beach. I told her I was tired and ready for bed. Then a live band started playing and the wine started flowing and, well, Yvette got tired and said goodnight and I stayed late and hung out with all of my new friends that I’d never see again. #travellife

I woke up late the next day and it was like Christmas morning. My room was dark, shutters closed, I could not wait enter into the life outside.

See that other hill? That’s  St. Kitts. I would later travel on that zig-zag road from the beach to the airport

I asked to be in a Corona commercial here, but no one hired me.
I met Yvette for a tour around the island. We would be driving the bike course and seeing some other historical sites and hotels. There is one main road that goes around Nevis that is about 20 miles. I would be riding that twice during the race, so I wanted to see what I was in for. Hills and incredible scenery is what I was in for. People always tell me that because I live in Colorado I must be really strong on hills. Not true. There are hills and mountains in Colorado. That doesn’t mean I choose to ride on them. There are also flat roads.

I learned that no cruise ships come to the island (too small) and no chains are allowed (with the exception of the Four Seasons – that is the only chain). I knew I loved this place. Wouldn’t be missing Chili’s and Red Lobster one bit.  Also, there are only a total of 400 hotel rooms.
We went to an old (think: 1700’s) sugar mill. Mmmmm…sugar.


We had lunch at Sunshine’s on the beach. Mmmm….lobster.

Look how tan I am. Those lobsters didn’t know what was coming. A very warm death bath.

People kept telling me I should try the “Killer Bee” drink at Sunshine's but that I probably didn’t want to because I would be racing the next day. Who are these people who clearly don’t know me very well? Bring on the Killer Bee (rum drink with passion fruit juice, sprinkled with nutmeg).


Back to the hotel where I promptly fell into a deep sleep at the pool. The kind of sleep where your mouth is splayed open and a bit of drool rolls out onto your chin. Sorry, no picture of my drool, just the pool.


That night I met up with the other three journalists on this trip with me (well, they are journalists, I am not sure what I am). Kevin Mackinnon who is the Senior Editor at Triathlon Magazine in Canada, Bob Taylor who writes for the Charlotte Observer and Nneya Richards who has a blog (‘N a Perfect World) and writes for Suitcase Magazine. I don’t have a picture, but they are all really real, not just my imaginary friends.

We got to bed pretty early as the next day Kevin and I had a little race to do in the morning.
Up next…Nevis Triathlon! Spoiler: I would find out there was a reason only six people (including myself) chose to do the long course.

Ever been to this part of the world?

My trip was sponsored by the Nevis Tourism Board. All opinions about the island and the race are, of course, my own.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

My Last Minute Trip to Race in Paradise. Ever Been to Nevis?

I never know what I’m going to find in my email inbox.

Sometimes it’s an offer to enlarge my penis (<no, I do not have one – joke’s on you). Sometimes it’s my bank telling me I’ve overdrawn again. And, sometimes – like the case on Tuesday night – it’s an invitation to go the Nevis/St. Kitts to participate in the most beautiful triathlon in the world. Whaaatt?
On Saturday. Like, in three days.

Good thing I have a small bone of spontaneity in my body. I usually like at least 6 months to plan a trip out of the country. Guess this time I will settle for 3 days. WTF? It’s the Caribbean! It’s 86 degrees! It’s a race! It's all expenses paid! It looks like this! A scene from Survivor without the immunity idol, the bugs or the drama!

And this!

Guess what? It looks like this here today our my back door, so see you suckas!


I actually wasn't exactly sure where Nevis was. I had only heard of it because Kelly Ripa talks about vacationing there. I suppose it it’s good enough for Kelly, it’s good enough for me. Nevis is a very small island  (36 square miles) in the West Indies. It’s a bit southeast of Puerto Rico. It is far from Denver. Like 3,000 miles. Thanks Google. You are my hero. You make me look smart.

The Race!
Before I looked up where the hell Nevis was, I looked up the Nevis Triathlon. I’ll be doing the longer option (who go all the way there and go small?). The swim is in the harbor (Caribbean  Sea-1,000 meters). The bike is two loops (40 miles) around the perimeter of the island. The run is a 10K and is on trail, road and beach.

Last night when I told Emma about it:

Emma: Mom, do you even swim anymore?Me: Uh, no. Haven’t swam in over year. I’m sure it will be fine.
Famous last words. This is how I approach the unknown: “I am sure it will be fine” (because there is always wine if it’s not fine!)

I don’t have time to ship my bike. They are providing me with one for the race. They wanted to know how tall I was and if I wanted a road bike or a mountain bike. Hmmmm…I’ll take the road bike I guess. I’m supposing there will be no aero helmet, no clipless pedals, no hydration system. I am sure it will be fine! Nevis better have wine. Or rum. Rum would work.


Monday, November 9, 2015

Whatever Doesn’t Kill You Still Hurts and Makes You Cry. My Next BIG Goal.

It is possible that this time I have bitten off more than I can chew. Can you hear me choking? I am always chasing that next big goal. I wasn’t sure what it was going to be, but now I know.

See if you can guess.

6 days – solo running
120 miles
20,000 feet of climbing
Colorado Rockies

(PSA: No, this is not a relay).

No clue what in the hell I’m talking about?  It’s the TransRockies Run in August 2016.

Even it it hurts like hell and you are puking at lest it is beautiful

Let’s say you’ve been reading this blog forever. God bless you. Maybe you remember back in 2010 when I did Stage One of this run (21 miles) with Dean Karnazes as my partner.

Dean is admiring the vein in his arm

That year, Dean ran with a different partner for each of the six days. I was the first and of course the most beloved. Dean still probably thinks of me in the shower, dreams of me at night. He misses those farts I left on the trail, no doubt.

That day, when I finished the 21 mile Stage One I was so tired and sore that I did not know how the rest of those crazy bastards were going to run all six days. There was this thought in the back of my little brain that I wanted to do that someday, but I had just started running a couple years earlier and that seemed a bit eff’ing outrageous.

Not that it doesn't seem any less outrageous, but no time like the present, yeah? I mean I am not getting any younger (almost 49, bitches!) and I am not presently injured (miracle). Plus it’s the 10 year anniversary of this race and it is going to be epic.

Day One: 21 miles, 2,200 feet of gain. Buena Vista, CO to Railroad Bridge

Day Two: 13.4 miles, 3,400 feet of gain (Hope Pass). Vicksburg, CO to Twin Lakes (Leadville)

Day Three: 24,2 miles 2,700 feet of gain Leadville, CO to Camp Hale

Day Four: 14.2 miles 2,900 feet Camp Hale to Red Cliff

Day Five: 23.6 miles 4,100 feet Red Cliff to Vail <this day is going to kill me

Day Six: 22.2 miles 5,100 Vail to Beaver Creek <-this day is going to kill me more

That all adds up to some crazy shit.


Lest you think I am going to carry all of my shit (gear, not actual poop. I’ll leave that on the trail), I am not. The beauty of the TRR is that they transport your gear from the start to the finish, provide your meals and set up your tent before you get there. There are also massage people and hopefully psychotherapists. And beer. Lots of beer. Because it’s good to drink a lot and get dehydrated when you are running an average of 20 miles per day.

Tent village:

Hopefully I will be too tired at the end of each day to be kept awake by fellow runner’s snoring, farting, love making…

For some this may sound like torture. For me, it sounds like the chance of a lifetime. As runners, we seem to get addicted to digging deep and how that feeds our souls and awakens who we truly are.

Sure, this isn’t until August, but you bet I am going to be throwing in quite a few races between now and then as part of training. Stay tuned.

Want to come along? There is a 3-day option (first three stages) or a the 6-day. The six day is typically done with a partner, although there is a solo option. I am running on a media entry, so I am going by myself. Register HERE. (it’s already over 80% full).

Have you ever done a muti-day run? Would you?

What’s your big 2016 running goal?