My first Ironman race was about to commence, in Cambridge, Maryland on October 3rd, 2015, when Hurricane Joaquin was on its way to the East of the US. In addition, a powerful Nor'easter was also about to pound the East coast at the same time.
Race organizers could not risk holding the race and cancelled it, to the dismay of the 2,500 registered athletes. Many participants had already arrived from around the world and were not able to race due to the dangerous weather conditions. The race director, Gerry Boyle, made it possible for Ironman to reschedule the race only 2 weeks later. A first in Ironman history!
The new date, Saturday, October 17th, allowed 1,400 remaining racers to return and the training continued. What does that mean? One basically repeats the last 2 weeks of the training cycle again to stay in top physical form.
The full Ironman distance, a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike, and a 26.2 mile marathon. The swim was to be held in the famous Choptank river, the bike ride through the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, and the run through the lovely town of Cambridge. It was going to be a very cold and windy weekend.
Friday, October 16th, 2015
My crew (my husband and son) and I arrived on Friday in Cambridge, MD, to pick up my race package, attend the pre-race meeting, rack my bike for the race, drop off my race bags and head out on a practice swim. We once again had the pleasure of sharing a group house with Team Z members.
In an Ironman race you get 5 bags for your race needs. Confusing?
The athlete must not receive ANY outside help during the race. That means, my Sherpas can only cheer for me, and help prepare prior to the race. They are not allowed to give me any food, clothes, or any other help during the race. Only the volunteers and race organizers are able to do so. If you receive outside help, you may be DQ'ed (disqualified).
Here is a list of the bags and what you do with them:
1 morning bag: Clothes before and after the race
1 T1 (transition 1) bag: Bike needs (helmet, gloves, change of clothes, shoes etc)
1 T2 (transition 2) bag: Running needs (shoes, clothes, hat, gloves etc)
1 Bike special needs bag: This bag you can access during the bike ride and refill on nutrition, bike tubes, or anything related to the bike ride ahead.
1 Running special needs bag: This bag could be accessed during the run for the same reason as on the bike.
The transition bags are dropped off near the bike the night before the race.
I was asked, what do you eat and drink during such a long hard race?
Athletes work on there nutrition plan during their training period. Here is where you find out what works for you, your stomach, and energy needs while training, and what does not.
As for my needs, I used a product called: Infinit nutrition. They mixed a specific bike and run powder for you, that is geared towards my individuals needs. For instance, how much I sweat, protein needs, electrolytes, how long the distance is I train for, whether or not I want to take in additional food during your race of just drink their formula. All I do is, mix it with water and I am good to go.
I wanted to keep it as simple as possible and stuck to just the drink and then additional Rice cakes (these are little packages of sticky rice, with chicken, seasoning, and red pepper) on the bike.
Saturday, October 17th, 2015
We woke up at 4:15am, had a little breakfast and went to the race start. There I dropped off the additional two bags for special needs. I headed over to get body marked with my race number on arms and legs, as well as my age. Race start was planned for 6:50 – 7:00am that morning.
The Swim Start
We gathered at the swim start, waiting for the sun to rise, and the race to begin. The race announcer let us know that the 13 miles an hour wind might make the swim impossible. Seeing the waves, the wind, thinking about the water temperature at 63 degrees, with the air temperature at around 40 degrees, made me feel uneasy and afraid. I was not sure if I would be able to attempt the swim! My son and husband were there to ease my fears and gave me more clothing to keep me warm. After a few more announcements it was decided to hold the swim, but shorten it to 3,000 meters (1.9 miles) instead of the 2.4 planned, as the wind had died down some.
My fears disappeared and I headed for my swim with determination.
I thought that I would never say this, but the swim was the easy part. I had a little trouble with a leaking goggle but I was able to fixed it during the first part of the race. The water felt great, I did not get hit or punched, I did not mind the other swimmers next to me. I heard the voices of my coaches, Debbie Kraut Gilgore and Greg Nelson, in my head telling me what to do and how strong I am.
I finished my swim in 1 hour and 10 minutes.
The Bike Start
Coming out of the swim, you pass the “wetsuit strippers”. My husband and son were part of this volunteer team. What is their job? They help you out of your wetsuit and they do so with such gusto, it is truly fun and helps prevent cramping of muscles for the athlete.
Next stop, changing tent! Heaters were set up inside the changing tent and it was recommend to completely change your clothes due to the winds expected during the bike ride. So I did, even if it took a bit longer in transition.
The bike ride was brutal! 15 miles an hour winds through the entire 112 miles, never letting up, no matter what direction we took. Staying in Aero bar was more important then ever to escape some of the wind and getting ahead. The air temperature “rose” to about 55 degrees, with winds more ferocious as the day continued.
I finished my ride in 6 hours and 53 minutes, and was glad to be done!
The Run Start
As I walked my bike to its location, I felt tired and exhausted by the bike ride. I took my time in the changing tent to get ready for the run ahead. The run course was a 3 loop course in and around Cambridge.
Many of my friends from Team Z were out cheering or volunteering at several of the aid stations, and so were my husband and son. Now it was getting late, the temperatures dropped, the wind picked up again, and the sun went down slowly. It was beautiful to see, but I had a long task ahead of me, a full 26.2 miles marathon.
I decided to walk the windy part of the course and run the rest, which worked out well for me. The 3 loop course takes you by the finish line 3 times and yes, everyone thinks it's your LAST loop and they cheer for you. My son mentioned that I looked very grim and determined on my run. It's true, at some point you just want to be done and exhaustion takes over.
I finished my run in 4 hours and 57 minutes.
I ran the last mile toward the finish, a slight uphill into town with people right and left giving you high fives and this time I was able to tell them: “This is my LAST lap and I will be an Ironman in a few minutes”. Then a straight down hill into the finisher chute. I can't describe the feeling of joy running those last few yards, with people lining the streets cheering for you.
Then the final announcement: “Heike Yates, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN”!
It is beyond words and anything pales in comparison.
Volunteers catch you once you arrive and help you along, making sure you are ok. A friend of mine volunteering at the finish line, put my medal around my neck followed by many hugs and kisses from friends.
I finally hugged and kissed my husband and son, not believing that I now am an Ironman.
My overall time was: 13 hours 28 minutes and 30 seconds.
I placed 15th in my age group, out of 88 women.
I want to thank my husband, aka Super Sherpa, for all he has done for me. He made it possible for me to dedicate myself to my training and to become an Ironman. I could have not done it without his support and love.
My son, who was there to support me, and to my daughter who always believed that I could do it. I love you two so very much.
Thank you, to Team Z for all the support, training guidance, and all the new friendships I made. We all stuck this out together and got it done!
The first thing I said after finishing? “I will never do that again”! But you know ...no one believes what you say in the first 48 hours after a race :)
Stop eating when you are 80% full they say, and the Raisin Theory
Many of us eat way to fast and don’t pay much attention to our meals, we watch TV, read, or surf the web. We pay little or no attention to what goes into our mouth and how much of it.
It takes 20 minutes for your gut telling your brain that you are full.
When distracted you may eat fast, not knowing what you actually ate, and can't taste the foods on your plate.
How would you know if you are 80% full?
In our HEYlifetraining nutrition program, we teach the following habit:
Eat until you are content and not hungry anymore, but not until you are full.
Let's face it, unless you are in touch with your hunger cues and know your body, you continue to eat not knowing when you reached 80%.
The Raisin Theory
In order to get in touch with YOUR eating habits, I would like you to take 10 (ten) raisins and set them out in front of you.
Each raisin should take 1 (one) minute to eat, not more or less for a total of 10 minutes.
Are you ready? Let's go!
Let me know what you experienced, how did it taste, did you want to eat more, were you able to slowly savor each raisin?
Tell me about your experience with the “Raisin Theory” I am waiting to hear from you.
Do you need some help with your nutrition program?
Start by contacting us at HEYlifetraining for more information on how we can help you eat better.
Cauliflower is extremely versatile, from eating it steamed as a whole (which is may favorite), to making soups, as carb replacement instead of potatoes. Cauliflower is not only a low carbohydrate option, but is full of vitamins, protein and a terrific source of fiber.
1 cup of Cauliflower contains:
0 g total fat
320 mg potassium
5 g carbohydrates
2 g protein
85% vitamin C, 20% vitamin K, 14% folate, plus calcium, iron manganese
(source: IDEA Fitness Journal, July-August 2015)
3 easy ways to make YOUR Cauliflower stand out
After steaming a head of Cauliflower, I quarter the head, add a sprinkle of fresh nutmeg, and it's ready to be served.
For my favorite Cauliflower soup or mashed potato replacement:
- 1 head of Cauliflower, cut into pieces
- add ½ organic Onion
- 1 – 2 pieces of organic garlic
- cook everything in 2 cups of vegetable broth until soft
- add salt to taste
Making the soup, I simply mash everything together. For the mashed potato version, I drain most of the broth and mash it as well.
Are you waiting for the “perfect gimmick ” to start eating better, or exercise more ?
You are looking at magazines and think...
She looks trim and in shape
Should I try this juice diet to lose the weight I have been trying to lose for so long? It worked for her.
She must have a trainer 24/7
WOW I want those six-pack abs
I want my bum to like like hers
Boy, he must be eating nothing but chicken and broccoli
In reality there is no perfect gimmick diet and there never will be.
It is hard work and dedication to lose unwanted fat and improve your health. Some sacrifices have to be made to look and feel the way you imagine.
You look around thinking that everyone else seems to have what you feel you don't.
Enough time. Enough motivation. Enough dedication.
In reality EVERYONE faces the same issues you just don't hear about them.
You are made to believe, that with just a few tweaks in your diet you can get those cut abs and tight buns. By starving yourself and exercising all the time you will look like those models you see on the internet.
This perception is far from reality!
During my past time as a competitive bodybuilder, I learned first hand how to achieve that lean, cut look, with a six-pack. Yes, indeed I had one. In order to be ready for competition, I had to diet and train hard. I had no social life, as it included “eating and drinking”, neither of which I could do comfortably, as my diet had to stay clean. What does that mean to stay clean? I mostly ate chicken, broccoli, a few carbs and nuts.
The look achieved during my pre-contest training diet only lasted a few days, and after competition it was time to gain weight again to gain more muscle mass.
Achieving this look comes at a high price; most people are not willing to pay.
Most of us don't want to make the cover of a fitness magazine and are ok to make small and healthy changes in their food choices that will last a life time.
There are pros and cons with what you like to achieve, only YOU can make the decision of what you want to do.
The following chart is from PN Nutritions blog (The cost of getting lean: Is it worth the trade off. By Ryan Andrews, Brian St. Pierre)
Your health, your life
Many of our coaching clients at HEYlifetraining have come to crossroads and want to make a change in their health and fitness. With our help.
Most clients want to change they way the live, eat, move, and enjoy a healthy lifestyle. Others want to take their nutrition to the next level, for their fitness endeavors.
Some simple principles:
If you want to see changes, you need to change your behavior
The leaner you want to get, the more committed you have to be to your goals
What are the recommended healthy levels of body fat?
Men 11-22% body fat
Women 22-33% body fat
In the U.S., the average body fat percentage for men is 28%, and average women is 40% (PN Nutritions blog: The cost of getting lean: Is it worth the trade off. By Ryan Andrews, Brian St. Pierre)
Start with small changes and implement changes that you can easily do:
walk to the metro each day
share your dessert at dinner
drink alcohol on weekends only
drink fewer sodas
Making small changes will impact your life in a major way. Not only do they improve your health, but you also feel better about yourself immediately. Which in turn makes it easier to take the next step, and so on.
At HEYlifetraining we will support, guide, and help you stay on track. We are here for you.
The choice is yours!
See you don't have to go all out or nothing, like I did for my competition.
Why not start today?
Getting started is hard and figuring out what to do next. At HEYlifetraining we can help you get started and keep moving forward with your goals.
Eight (8) out of ten (10) adults will suffer from back and/or neck pain at some point in their life, according to Mayfield Brain & Spine. Pain can range from acute, that is abrupt to intense pain lasting several days or weeks.
Studies show that 90% of adults experience spine symptoms at one point in their life. If those symptoms would be addressed early 90% of herniated disc patients would NOT require surgery. (Elements Fitness, Dr. Justine Bernard)
Sometimes acute pain can spread to the arms and legs, and/or might increase weakness in your extremities. In this case, stop the activity, do not wait but contact your doctor immediately and seek advice.
Many people have neck and/or back pain from every day actives, and are surprised to find out that their arms, lower back, or/and hips might be effected as well.
At HEYlifetraining Pilates & Wellness, we evaluate the clients current neck and/or back condition based on the Pilates principles, (taking into account, any recommendations from the clients physical therapist or health practitioner) and design a specific program to decrease pain.
Here are the top 5 exercises you can start doing today!
- Shoulder rolls backwards (make circles with both shoulders slowly) 5 – 10 x
- Gently squeeze your shoulder blades together (think of the mid-line in your upper back and bring the blades together) 5 – 10 x
- Breathing! As simple as it sounds, breathing can release tight muscles and relax them (practice focused breathing into the area of pain)
- Lying down, pull your knees into the chest and gently rock your pelvis forward and back
- Correct your posture! Sitting or standing with ideal posture can alleviate many of the every day muscle strains
Want to know more learn more about how HEYlifetraining Pilates & Wellness can help you lead a functional and fit lifestyle?
After 5 months of coaching below are Becki's results and her story:
Weight lost: 6 lbs - 135lb (from 141lb - 135lb)
% of Body fat lost: 6% (from 26% - 20%)
Lbs of Body fat lost: 9lbs
Lean weight gained: 4lbs
Becki started working with HEYlifetraining to gain core strength and get in shape. She was already working with a nutritionist, that was in charge of her weight loss.
After several months she started showing the first results but the weight did not change. I suggested that we work together on her weight loss as well.
Guiding her to eat nutritious, balanced meals, and sneak in some vegetables was a challenge at first. Becki does not like vegetables and ate a lot of fruit. Too much for her goals.
Her snacks turned into “a treat” , with the choices ranging from chocolate to ice cream. She admitted to have a “big” sweet tooth. I told her, she can have her treat and eat it too, but a snack is a small meal which helps keep her energy up during the day.
She also needed to move more, when she was not working with me. During the week she had very little time and the weekend was her only option most weeks. I encouraged her to find things she likes to do and one of her choices was an acrobatics class – how fun!
Becki looks and feels terrific, read her story below:
Many thanks to Heike for helping me lose the pounds I’d tried to take off by myself, unsuccessfully, for several years! Her nutrition coaching was fantastic – she is very supportive but at the same time always held me accountable for my choices. I learned a lot of new information about the food I eat, and believe I have created some solid new habits and a sustainable plan for long-term weight maintenance.
The nutrition coaching was a great complement to the weekly Pilates instruction which has been a fun and relatively painless way to exercise. I’d been wanting to try Pilates for many years and am glad I finally took the plunge with Heike!
Only two weeks after my first ½ Ironman, I was attempting my next challenge, the Eagleman 70.3 Ironman in Cambridge, Maryland. We drove to nearby Cambridge, once again our car loaded with triathlon gear, but this time my husband was my Sherpa instead of racing himself.
What does a Sherpa do? Anything you need him/her to do to make the race easier for you. A Sherpa carries your bags, makes breakfast, cheers you on, and perhaps gets the bike out of transition, should one be unable to do so.
The ½ Ironman distance, once again a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile bike, and a 13.1 mile run. The Eagleman 70.3 is named after the beautiful Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge nearby. It is known to be a flat, windy, and very hot race.
Friday, June 12th, 2015
We arrived in Cambridge, MD for package pick up and the pre-race meeting. The logistics were easier to negotiate than in Raleigh, as everything was nearby and easy to access. We shared a large house, 10 minutes outside of town, with several other team mates from Team Z, who would be racing as well.
Saturday, June 13th, 2015
After racking my bike in the designated area, I went for a quick practice swim, and a short run, then it was time to relax.
Sunday, June 14th, 2015
We woke up at 4:00am, got a little bite to eat and drove to Cambridge, MD were I set up my gear. This time there were no bags involved to store your gear in, but one just organized the items needed next to your bike.
For instance, after the swim you need your bike gear (shoes, socks, helmet, glasses and body glide), behind it you put your run gear (shoes, socks, hat, glasses, sun screen, and race belt). As you transition through each stage, you simply go item by item, and hope you don't forget anything.
The Swim Start
The swim took place in the Choptank river in Cambridge. A shallow body of water, at least for the swim, and you can almost walk the 1.2 miles if you wanted too. The water temperature had reached 79 degrees and once again wetsuits were optional. This swim turned out to be very rough. I was punched, kicked, pushed, got my goggles almost ripped off, and one person even pushed my head under water while trying to swim over me.
I pushed through and finished my swim in 59 minutes.
The Bike Start
The transition to my bike felt easy, and I quickly put on my bike gear and went onto the bike start. The ride is flat as a pancake, often times very windy, and extremely hot. The biggest challenge during my ride was to stay low in my aero bars. Imagine being folded forward on your bike for 3 or more hours, and after the hard swim my arms were so tired. The Wildlife Refuge is a beautiful place to bike, but being in aero bars one does not see much of the beauty around.
I finished my bike ride in 3 hours 2 minutes, feeling terrific.
The Run Start
By the time I started my run, the temperature had risen to 84 degree with a heat index of 104-107! The run course took us outside of Cambridge, along part of the bike course and back. It was brutal, to say the least. During the first 3 miles I contemplated quitting due to the heat. I prevailed by run/walking the course, stopping at each aid station (they were about 1 mile apart) for ice, cold water, and sponges dipped in ice water.
I finished my run in 2 hours 21 minutes.
Overall, I finished in 6 hours 31 minutes and placed 17th in my age group. I am very excited that I finished with a personal record of about 35 minutes over my last ½ Ironman two weeks ago.
Now it's time to rest, recover, regroup, learn to swim better, and get stronger for my goals ahead.
”She said she would so she did”
Once again our car was loaded with two bikes, two wetsuits and an incredible amount of other gear for my first ½ Ironman in Raleigh, NC. My husband, already a seasoned Ironman would participate as well.
The distance of an ½ Ironman is 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile bike ride, and a 13.1 run to top it off.
Friday, May 29th – Arrival in Raleigh, NC
Our Hotel was outside of Raleigh but within 15 minutes driving distance of the race start and finish. We checked in at the Convention center, picked up our race numbers, ankle straps that would track us during the race, swim caps, race t-shirts, and a small Ironman backpack filled with sponsor items.
Saturday, May 30th
We went to the pre-race meeting, as this race included several logistic planning stages. For instance, the bike was to be dropped off at Lake Jordan on Saturday, 40 minutes outside of town and how would we get there in the morning for the race start was among the important things to find out.
Later on, we drove to Lake Jordan, rode our bikes one last time before they went onto the bike racks provided by Ironman (the race organizer). My bike was labeled with my race number and so was a blue plastic bag that included all my bike gear I needed to ride the race (helmet, gloves, nutrition, sun screen, shoes, socks, sun glasses, and glide to prevent chafing). This bag was to be put with the bike on race morning.
As the race setup was in full progress we were unable to swim, but the lake looked beautiful and inviting.
Sunday, May 31st – Race Day
We awoke at 3:30am!!! Drove downtown to where the bike finish took place and dropped off our red bag (yes, another bag); this bag contained our run gear. We would finish our bike ride there, rack our bike, change into running gear, and start our 13.1 miler there.
Buses took all the racers to Lake Jordan for the race start, where we waited for about 2 hours until it was time to swim.
The Swim Start
The lake was beautiful, still, and as it turned out 79 degree. That meant no wetsuit swim for the 1.2 miles. Swimming this distance in open water without a wetsuit was a first for me. I took a deep breath, thinking of what my coaches Greg Nelson and Debbie Kraut taught me. I felt completely confident in my swimming abilities.
I got a bit lost on the orientation buoys that marked the way. In addition to swimming with many other swimmers next to me, which sometimes were in my way or maybe I was in theirs.
I guess that's why the swim took me a bit longer then I anticipated, but I finished my swim in 1 hour and 2 minutes.
The Bike Start
My legs felt steady coming out of the water, and I easily found my bike. Learning from previous race mistakes, I took my time to have everything in place for the 56 mile ride. I even stopped by the “sun screen girls” to have more sun screen applied. It was going to be a hot 92 degree, with little wind or shade on the ride. I now left my blue bag behind, it included my swim gear (goggles and swim cap). One should know that you swim in a triathlon suit and without changing out of it, you simply climb on your bike and ride off.
The bike ride took us through the beautiful country side of Raleigh, NC, with mostly rolling hills. I was surprised to see how many people came out to cheer us on and made the race that much more enjoyable. The ride became more challenging as the temperature rose, I made sure to follow my nutrition/hydration plan.
I finished my bike in 3 hours 33 minutes and felt strong at the end.
The Run Start
After racking my bike, I changed out of my bike gear into my running shoes, everything else now went into the red bag. (Now you see, why we had to go to the pre-race meeting – so many bags). I started my run following my son's advice; I had practiced running right after a bike ride to get my legs used to the change. My legs felt light and ready to go.
After turning the first corner I thought: “Oh, boy is this hot”! The air was stifling, no wind and it it was uphill the first mile. I made it to the first water stop and put ice cubes under my cap, into my shirt, drank cold water, grabbed sponges soaked in ice water, anything to cool my body temperature down. Due to the heat, I felt I could not run the entire time and opted to run/walk the distance. I ran the flats and down hills, then walking the uphills.
It was a brutal run/walk but I got the job done, finishing my run in 2 hours 19 minutes.
Overall, I finished in 7 hours 5 minutes and 27 seconds, and was very happy with my result.
I want to say thank you to my husband for all the support and guidance he is giving me and he still cooks for me too.
Thank you to my incredible kids who still think their mom is crazy, but in a good way. To all my friends out there for your encouragement and friendship.
I could have not done it without the support of the people that love me.
Summer is here and you may crave a cool, delicious smoothie full of vitamins and minerals. Some of the juice bar shakes seem to offer that, but instead are loaded with sugar, contain a low source of protein, adding processed foods, and artificial ingredients.
Why not make your OWN super summer smoothie?
Start with a good blender and pick...
… your liquid: water, almond milk, green tea, or cow's milk
… your protein source: 1 scoop of whey, pea, or protein blends of your choice
… pick your vegetable: 1 handful of dark leafy greens, cucumber, or celery
… pick a fruit: 1 handful of berries or ½ banana, apple or ½ cup of pineapple
… pick a healthy fat: yoghurt, flax seeds, or chia seeds, avocado, or peanut butter
… sprinkle on top of it: coconuts, granola, cinnamon, or ice if using fresh fruit
A recent article in IDEA suggested to add some interesting alternatives, for instance, sweet potato, ricotta cheese, Tahini, and Matcha to your smoothie.
Have one for breakfast or as a meal replacement when in a rush.
The sky is the limit for your perfect cooling summer smoothie.
...contain nearly 20 vitamins and minerals
...is low in sugar and high in fiber
A serving size is smaller then you think:
1/5 of a medium Avocado (1 once) has 50 calories
Remember to eat 5 – 9 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
Exercise and nutrition work together – click here for one of my 4-week online nutrition/fitness program