Thursday, September 26, 2013

Tri Life: Making the most out of your indoor bike training by Tariq Ali

From Nic: For many of us, fall means the end of triathlon season. Marathon season will come and go and then it is time for us to hibernate indoors till spring. I personally struggle to enjoy my time on the trainer even with endless Showtime series at my disposal. I asked TriBlogger, Tariq Ali, to share his thoughts about indoor riding and tips for anyone that might struggle indoors like I do.  

Here is his blog post from last year on:  

Making the most out of your indoor bike training

As we  move toward the Fall and the off season for many, I am still gearing up for my biggest race of the year, Ironman Cozumel. The weather in the north east is getting colder and the sun doesn’t show up that often anymore. The roads are mostly wet and the sky is no longer blue.
Many people ask me how in the world do I bike indoors?  My immediate answer is usually it takes discipline and a lot of it. Biking is usually a fun activity and done outdoors. Unlike running on a treadmill, for some reason, biking indoors on a trainer or a stationary bike can even be more boring.
This year, I have only logged 25% of my total rides outdoors. Yes, only 25% (about 49 hours) and that include racing. Usually one long Sunday ride. Even those I have done indoors sometimes to  dial in a specific workout which I can never seem to do with all the distractions of outdoor riding. My longest indoor ride this year has been around 3 hours and have no problem going longer. Yes call me crazy!!!
Let’s face it, indoor riding is very easy to do. You don’t need to worry about traffic, stop signs, and you can do it early in the morning or late at night. If you are like me and get up at 5am for a 2hr workout then nothing can be more efficient and safer than indoor riding.
So how do I do it? Here are some indoor bike training tips:
1- Get a good trainer. I personally prefer having a roller and specifically e-motion rollers. These are by far the best and most comfortable rollers you can get. They are expensive but worth it. I also have your regular fluid trainer but haven’t used since I got my e-motion.
2- TrainerRoad. This is by far the best and most valuable training tool I have right now. It truly made riding indoor enjoyable. TrainerRoad has been around for less than a year but been in beta for over a year now. Basically, the software you download on your PC/Mac, you create an account and select your trainer model and now you have a virtual power meter. The software will convert your speed and resistance into wattage. You select one of their available rides or just follow one of their workout plans and watch your FTP increase throughout the season.
Here is a quick video explaining what TrainerRoad is
3- Sufferfest. If you want more entertainment and like to put yourself in a place you’ve never experienced before, then videos from the Sufferfest might be for you. These workouts are beyond intense. TrainerRoad have all of the Sufferfest workouts so you can just follow the power recommendation and make sure you keep a bucket next to you just in case you need it if you know what I mean! Or if you are like me on rollers then keep a chair or poll right there because you will need it once you start seeing stars.
Some of my favorite Sufferfest videos:
  • Hell Hath No Furry
  • The Haunted
  • Fight Club
  • The long scream (if you want to add more pain to your workout)
And as I said earlier, you must have the discipline and dedication to make this possible. Once you get use to a routine, you will discover the many advantages of indoor training.
Having a chat with my son
My son on the elliptical. Still in his pajamas.
Do you train indoor? If you have any other tips or have any question about indoor training or any of the products mentioned in this post, please feel free to comment below or send me an email.

Follow Tariq Ali
Ironman triathlete, father/husband. Founder of  stay aero my friend
 Tariq also is the founder of which a one stop shop for discount triathlon deals! Check it out!

Monday, September 23, 2013

New Blogs!

Check out the new bloggers to the site!

Daan Goossens-  (Newfoundland) -Belgian living in Newfoundland, Canada. Former competitive cyclist, trying to get his swimming and running to a decent level.

Kathleen Riley (Boston, MA) - runner. triathlete. blogger. beach comber. lover of all things neon. 
Jennifer Patrik (TX)- New triathlete! I love to blog about health & fitness and travel.

Lisa Swiger (NC) - Newbie to triathlon training for her first 9/21/2013

Kelly Covert (Central NY)- A triathlete, a coach, a mommy, a musician, and so much more!

Jen Small (Maine) - Triathlete-Proud member of Team @Rev3Tri, Mommy, former fatty turned fitness freak @QuintanaRooTri rider @Powerbar fan @GOTRIbalbaby & @FitFluential Ambassador

James Thorp (Ohio) - Aussie, Rocket, Sports Fan, Exercise Fan, No Limits, No Fears, No Regrets, Love My Family, Love My GF, Love Me, Love Life!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Sleepy's Giveaway

Excited to share a giveaway opportunity with the TriBloggers. Sleepy's, the Mattress Professionals, a privately-owned, fourth-generation company is expanding in the Midwest.  They are opening multiple locations in the Chicagoland area and look forward to contributing to the economy with job creation. I checked out one of their NorthShore locations and the people were very knowledgeable and friendly.

Although not tri-specific, every athlete needs a good bed to lay on.  I am the first to attest to that as I have had prior back surgery.  One lucky winner will be receiving an awesome prize pack from Sleepy's including a Spa Gift Set, Pillow and $100 GC.

ChiTri peeps, check out Sleepy's and enter to win the prize pack!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Tri-Life: Interview with Vice President of IronGirl --> Judy Molnar

One of my favorite things about triathlons is the finish line. Not being the fastest, i don't get to see a lot of people finish but I do get to see the back of the packers finish.. and some of them have inspiring displays of emotions as they cross the finish line. This summer, I was fortunate enough to be an ambassador for Irongirl and had such a fun time meeting ladies along the course and feeling the enthusiasm of all the participants. I asked Irongirl Vice President, Judy Molnar, to answer a few questions about the race series. Appreciate her getting back to me so quick and hope you enjoy the interview!

What was the motivation for creating IronGirl?
The motivation for the creation of Iron Girl for women and by women event series, was to provide a platform to enhance the experience of women who aspire to be part of a healthy, active lifestyle. Women inspire, and women inspire others. Iron Girl wanted to capture that inspirational energy and support it with a multi-faceted lifestyle program. Through the Iron Girl events we wanted to reach out and take steps to help empower women to take care of themselves so they can take care of others.

How does Irongirl and Ironman brands complement each other? 
Both events give everyone a chance to participate in an active lifestyle, achieve their personal best and do something extraordinary.

Do you anticipate growing the Irongirl brand to include the Olympic distance? 
We have returned the International distance course to the Athleta Iron Girl Lake Las Vegas this year. We are hearing from more and more women that this is the next distance they want to train for and in an supportive environment such as Iron Girl.

What has been your favorite experience working with the women new to the sport? 
Watching the smiles as they cross the finish line for the first time. They did it, they are excited and often say, their life is forever changed! In life we have a few opportunities to make a difference. I believe what we do at Iron Girl for the participants is give them a platform that marks a milestone in their lives. Whether it is their first or 100th event, the joy is the same, I did it, I finished, I reached my goal!

What new and exciting features can we anticipate for 2014?
We are looking at adding additional events, including more amenities for the participants and community programs for women participating in our events to join together for training groups and socials.

Check out their race series HERE!   
Use Code: TRIBLOGGER for $10 all events 
(except Fountain Hills and Del Mar - Sorry, they aren't doing codes for those)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Tri-Friends: Ciaran Alstowe- England

Meet our newest and youngest tri friend, CIARAN ALSTOWE!

1.  Tell us a little about yourself (in a few sentences)
My name is Ciaran Alstowe, I am 19 years old and currently a student at the University of Bath In England. I have been studying a Sports Performance degree there for one year now, whilst training in Triathlon alongside that. I have always been a very keen swimmer and runner and competed at national level for both of these. I'm a huge music and film fan and love all sport, mainly football (soccer). 
2. You recently quit football to focus on triathlon full time. First, which kindof football and second, what were you motivations for this?
My main focus was always on football (soccer). It was something I always dreamed of doing. However after leaving an academy I found myself only playing local football up to 17/18. I started to swim and run again a bit more and took part in some local events. After years of people telling me to stop football and take up Triathlon i listened. Emma Kate-Lidbury who is currently an Ironman 70.3 professional, currently training in the states, was a one of the people that helped make my decision along with my parents and other friends. Since then I haven't looked back and have been working hard on the bike to catch up for my ill experience. I guess my main motivations were just down to the fact, Ive always dreamed of being a professional athlete and I didn't see that I had a future in football any more despite loving the game. I therefore took up what I was good at and have just gone for it! I have found a knew love and it's just going so well.

3.  What distances are your focusing on this year and are they drafting or non-drafting?
This year I have mainly focused on Sprint distance however I have done some longer stuff and will be competing in an Olympic to qualify for Europeans in September. This year has been a mixture of both drafting and non drafting races. I have missed out on opportunities to race Elite (drafting) due to not having much of a race cv before this year. However as the season has progressed i've managed to find myself getting into the Elite races and hopefully this will help for next season. Iv'e taken this year as a massive opportunity to catch up with the other people around my age who have been doing the sport for years and just keep racing to gain experience. 

 4.  What is your favorite discipline and why?

My favourite discipline... that is a tough one. Coming from a swimming and running backing that's what iv'e always done and loved. But being on the saddle a lot this year to improve my weak link has made me really fall in love with cycling. However when running well and injury free nothing feels better than running, just feel free and great! 

5.  Where do you hope to see your triathlon career in 5 years?
In 5 years time.. Wow that makes you think a bit! Well by then I would of finished my degree and will of possibly sorted a career path alongside triathlon. But the perfect scenario would be that once I settle into the right distance for me whether it be Olympic distance or 70.3 Ironman distance the dream is i go pro. So in 5 years time the perfect thing would be to be racing on the pro circuit and travelling the world.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Tri-Life: How To Beat the Sedentary Office Worker Blues by Alex Modestou

Asked Alex Modestou to share his post on balancing a 9-5 job and being a triathlete.... and for Alex, being a top age group triathlete!  Check out some of his 2013 race results.  Wishing him the best at the XTERRA USA Championships in Utah!

XTERRA East Championship, VA
1st overall amateur
10th including professionals
1st overall
XTERRA Mountain Championship, CO
1st overall amateur
9th including professionals
XTERRA Appalachia, PA
1st overall
XTERRA Charlottesville, VA
1st overall
How To Beat the Sedentary Office Worker Blues 
by Alex Modestou
Last year, I started an industry job in business analytics after teaching high school for a couple of years. I quickly realized that I had put myself into a rather insidious work environment: the cubicle farm. It was a drastic change from being on my feet all day in the classroom. A passive commute sandwiching eight hours of sitting in a dreary cube farm is no way to spend the majority of my adult waking hours, especially with my desire to become a professional athlete. In order to fight my new sedentary lifestyle, I have incorporated a bike commute, standing desk, functional strength work, and yoga into my daily work routine.
Alex interacting with students in the classroom
Never a dull moment, pretty much the opposite of sedentary

Drawing from Prior Experience
As a teacher, I constantly moved about the classroom, not just encouraging and coaching my students, but squashing hate-speech and other forms of harassment, and wrangling as best I could to keep their teenage brains focused on notoriously unpopular and demanding subject matter. Work didn’t stop in between classes or during lunch, as I had to patrol my “zone” with a Sheriff’s Department radio on “lunch duty.”
Alex at the white board in front of students at their desks
Some time was spent at the front of the room
Three students at the board, Alex talking to a student at the student's desk
But mostly I worked to get my students to teach each other

Within a few weeks of work in the office, I realized I needed to develop a sustainable personal wellness plan to get my activity level back to where it had been.
First up: Fix the Commute

Bicycling, in my opinion, is one of life’s great pleasures and is the perfect way to start and end a work day. Fortunately, my better half and I are able to live in a place that allows me to commute by bike on relatively safe roads and allows her to commute on transit. She often takes an early stop on the way home to add a 20-minute walk into her daily routine.
Alex with his bicycle
Ready to hit the road on my trusty Gary Fisher
Alex riding his bike
Visibility is key
Alex parking his bike in a bike rack in a parking garage
My ‘parking spot’ is closer to the building entrance than our CEO’s
Alex walking up the stairs
Always take the stairs!

Next on the Chopping Block: Eight Hours of Sitting
At first, I brought in my exercise ball, which requires active core stabilization to remain balanced. This was a huge step up from a conventional chair, and I quickly progressed to balancing with my feet off the ground for minutes at a time. Unfortunately, medical research indicates that too much sitting of any kind is bad for the body. This Mayo Clinic article pretty much sums it up.
Fortunately, the cubes in my particular farm are modular, which allowed for a quick and easy transition to a standing desk. I set the desk height so that my elbows could rest at a 90 degree angle, propped up my monitor up to eye-level, and voila. It took a month or so to get used to heavy concentration on difficult tasks while standing for prolonged periods of time, especially towards the end of the day. However, working on my feet raised my energy levels, increased my appetite, and coupled with my cycling, started to lift my blues.
Alex standing at his standing desk
Just standing around in my super comfortable Vivobarefoot shoes
Alex sitting on a large exercise ball and reading from a binder
Sometimes I’ll mix it up and use a Swiss ball

Third Challenge: Move Throughout the Day
I started by making a morning and afternoon trip to the cafeteria to get hot water for tea. The simple act of stepping out of my cube and walking for a few minutes helped to clear my mind and focus on my work.
When I found out that the breakout rooms on our conference floor are almost never used during lunch, I jumped at the opportunity to practice power yoga at work. A simple 45-minute yoga routine reinvigorates my mind and body, combating the post-lunch slump and enabling a much more productive and creative afternoon. Even better, when I can’t get work off my mind, the quiet, meditative environment often helps me see through the clutter and identify the clearest path forward. For those not drawn to yoga, I’d wager that walking, cycling, weight lifting, basketball, or pretty much any physical activity will engender a similar effect.
Alex beginning a yoga routine
Lunch time = yoga time
Alex in warrior one yoga position
The Vivobarefoot shoes are quite comfortable for yoga as well, and keep my from slipping on the 1970′s carpet
Alex in bridge yoga position
Bridges are perfect for strength and stability
Alex in a head stand yoga position
Still standing, just not at my desk, or on my feet
Throwing in a little core work with inverted leg raises
Throwing in a little core work with inverted leg raises
Alex rolling legs on trigger point roller
Rolling out

I found the benefits of yoga at work to be so great that I started taking 10- to 20-second handstand breaks to reinvigorate myself a few times a day as well. I try to do it as nonchalantly as possible, away from view from co-workers, but I still get funny looks if someone sees me.
Alex doing a head stand between two office chairs
Nothing like a head stand to get some blood flow to the cranium

Final Touch: Get Outside
My most recent discovery was a park tucked right the building where I work. I had been wanting to add some upper and lower body strength training to my day so I began taking an athlete’s “smoke break” every morning. I walk out the building’s back door, complete two sets of 10 pull-ups, 10 box jumps onto a sturdy picnic table, and some single leg calf raises.
Alex standing on a playground below a set of rings
About to start my “smoke break”
Alex hanging from rings
First up is…
Alex in a pull-up position on the rings
Alex inverted on the rings
Then a little playground-style fun
Alex standing on the ground in front of the picnic table, ready to jump
Then I move to a picnic table for some ‘box’ jumping
Alex just landing on the picnic table, with knees bent and arms outstretched
No gym required!
Alex standing on the picnic table bench with his heel off of the bench
Lastly, some one-leg calf raises, they really help my running

This trip outside allows me to take a quick mental break from work, take in some fresh air, and strengthen my body in the beautiful outdoors. I return to work refreshed and ready to push forward. Although I appreciate you reading this blog, I never find surfing the internet to yield such positive results.

Monday, September 9, 2013

New Blogs!!

Sorry for lack of posts, had my 70.3 last weekend and returned back to Chicago to find out my son had scarlet fever.. yes, it still exists (Would have never known with how much fun he had at Cedar Point Amusement Park)  ..Oh the joys of balancing life and sport, right?!

Ben Collier- (London) Based in Hemel Hempstead near London UK, training for Triathlon.

Matt Hanson (Iowa) Husband, Triathlete, professor at BVU. Sponsored by Quintanna Roo and Use discount code MHANSON for 15% off!

James Chronis (Melbourne Australia)-Triathlete & Coffee lover - Wannabe RaceCar Driver 

Katherine Fischer (Ohio) -triathlete, ambassador, wife, furmommy, BEARCAT | president of RCGC & sponsored by lebanon ford | member of USAT 

Mike Wolfgram (Madison, WI)-Amateur triathlete based in Madison, WI. 6-time Ironman, Kona qualifier, power geek, 2013 TrainingPeaks Ambassador.

Travis Thomason (Denver, CO) -Triathlete first and foremost, but if something involves the outdoors, adventure or a starting line I want to check it out.

Crystal Banning (Hawaii) Former ballerina overcoming my aversion to running and aiming for an Ironman.

JC Harris (Chicago)former 300+ pound cancer survivor now training for my first Ironman next year (have four 70.3's under the belt).

RockTape Winners!

Contact me with your addresses please! a Rafflecopter giveaway

And Congrats to Team Pease for completing IMWI with a time of 15:09:24.  Impressive and inspiring!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Look for Team Pease in Madison this weekend!!


As endurance athlete's, we hear many stories that inspire and remind us that there are so many amazing people participating in the sport of triathlon.  This past week, I read about the Pease Brothers and wanted to share their story with you. If you haven't read their recent LAVA magazine article, definitely check it out.

They are a brother team that live Ironman's mantra that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE and will be competing at IM Wisconsin this weekend. Along with their own training and racing, they
have created the Kyle Pease Foundation with the purpose to
"create awareness and raise funds to promote success for persons with disabilities by providing assistance to meet their individual needs through sports."

Wishing them the best of luck this weekend (and anyone else racing)
If you see the Pease Brothers on the IM Wisconsin course, give them a cheer for me!


To learn more about them and their foundation, here are their sites:

***When I contacted Brent and asked if i could share their story as I know many of you will be racing this weekend and wanted you to keep an eye out for them.  He not only obliged but also hooked up readers with a discount code with  He works for the company and provide Swim.Blog.Run -ers with a code for 15% any purchase: USE CODE: CHURA15 - expires 12/31/2013

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tri-Life/Coaching- The New Season Brings Healthy Changes! By Melissa Li, MS,RD

From Nic: I asked my nutritionist to share something on the blog. She is the founder of Physiolife Studios and has been amazing getting my stomach on the right track which has been amazing as I have struggled with issues since high school.  Melissa is not only a RD and trainer but an amazing triathlete!  She is a 4x Ironman Finisher including a top 10 finish and top 5 finish in Ironman 70.3

Since September is the culmination month for many of us that live in Chicago, i thought this was a perfect post as we transition into fall.  Best of luck to those racing this weekend.. lots of big Midwestern Races and Vegas 70.3!  Cheering for you all!

Tri-Life - The New Season Brings Healthy Changes!  
By Melissa Li, MS,RD

September is here and it is one of my personal favorite months of the year. I enjoy the weather in Chicago, the start of football season, the “back to school” transition, and of course my racing season! But of course there is more to it than that. The ancient wisdom of Traditional Chinese Medicine tells us that each season has its own rhythm and character related to the temperature and weather changes. During the autumn and winter seasons there are many things to look forward to: cooler weather, brilliant shades of yellow and orange leaves, cozy fireplaces and holidays spent with friends and family. But one thing that no one looks forward to is the increase of illness, gaining weight, seasonal depression and just plain old cabin fever. This year, embrace the change and use this time of year as an opportunity to take special care of your body to make sure it has the tools it needs to stay strong and healthy during the colder autumn and winter months. Take the 30-day challenge and try something new everyday for either your mind or your body. You will be amazed at how you feel and will want to carry throughout the winter months. Good luck, have fun and stay healthy and positive through the winter. Here are 30 ideas for you to try or create your own.
  1. Give up all sugar for 1 day, you will be surprised how you feel and will want to do it longer.
  2. Clean out the fridge and the pantry – clean out everything that you have been harboring during the summer and get some fresh food in for you and your kids to enjoy.
  3. Go through your fall and winter clothes and find out what you need to replace and donate old clothes.
  4. All day, try to eat the colors of the rainbow, and no- junk food doesn’t count.
  5. Try a new hairstyle – this is a great way to reinvent yourself for a new season.
  6. Get your school year calendar ready, full of recitals, practices, games, and conferences.
  7. Time to start thinking about canning your vegetables for the winter and saving seeds for next year.
  8. Pick up a book you have been meaning to read, sit on the porch, and enjoy the cool breeze.
  9. Do something that freaks you out- rock climbing, water skiing- anything to take you out of your comfort zone. Learn that it is okay to push yourself.
  10. Go on a dayventure.
  11. Take a new fitness class you have never been to.
  12. Buy some new makeup – try the new fall lines that are out for a fresh new look.
  13. Eat more protein- eggs, fish, chicken, grass-fed beef, etc. Plan your meals and snacks around protein today, not carbohydrates (fruits, grains, starchy veggies, etc)
  14. Experiment in the kitchen with new recipes.
  15. Take the time to take a nap.
  16. Blast some of your favorite songs and have a dance party in your living room.
  17. Develop a schedule that takes the chaos out of your life.
  18. Try aromatherapy.
  19. Take leave of that bad habit you have been meaning to ditch and replace it with a new habit.
  20. Dress up and go out on the town. Is there a theater show you have been meaning to see?
  21. Take a stroll through the neighborhood and enjoy the outdoors.
  22. Laugh – laughter is the best medicine.
  23. Make sure you are getting enough sleep at night.
  24. Spend time with your friends instead of your kid’s friends.
  25. Make a bucket list or revisit yours and pick one thing and commit to it and do it!!
  26. Try a new food 7 days in a row- get your kids involved too, have a new food club!
  27. Make a manageable “To Do” List and pick something on it and cross it off, it feels so good to cross things off.
  28. Sign up for a race or volunteer for one. You will be amazed at how you feel. It can be as simple as walking a mile or doing an Ironman.
  29. Let your kids plan the day from start to finish.
  30. Date night with a spin- put several ideas (try to think of things you would never do or are afraid to do) and put them in a hat and pick one out - that is what you will be doing tonight. 

Melissa Bowman Li, MS, RD
Celebrity Nutritionist, Registered Dietitian and Personal Trainer

Melissa Bowman Li is Chicago’s renowned Nutrition & Fitness Expert. She earned her Master's degree in Clinical Nutrition. She is a registered dietitian (RD) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics with a holitstic nutrition background. She is a Certified Level 1 Coach of the USA Triathlon Association, a PhysioSlow™ Certified Trainer and the founder of PhysioLife Studios™.  Melissa focuses on teaching and empowering clients to incorporate healthy behaviors, including proper nutrition, training and recovery into daily life. With over 15 years of experience, Melissa’s talents lie in helping clients gain a deeper understanding of their bodies while achieving a greater balance in energy levels, eating practices and overall well-being. She has helped clients overcome everything from heart disease and obesity to diabetes and depression. Melissa is an accomplished athlete, she is a 4x Ironman Finisher including a top 10 finish and top 5 finish in Ironman 70.3. In addition, she has competed in numerous sprint, Olympic and half-iron distance triathlons, as well as marathons.