Dec 17

Sandi – My Journey to IronMOM

My name is Sandi Haws and I just completed an ironman 70.3 (half ironman).  My journey through this adventure taught me a lot about myself, family, and friends.  I am hoping that if you have ever had a big obstacle in your path… reading this may help you find the strength to push through.    To better understand my journey here is a little about me and my family.  My husband and I have been married for 7 years now.  We have two little kids: 3 and 1 years old.  My husband is a registered nurse who works 12-hour night shifts 3 days a week about an hour away from home.  I am registered dietitian.  For the last couple years I have worked 1-2 days per week while staying at home with the kids.  Right before starting training for this race I decided to work part-time with 3 set days each week.  We decided to en-roll our 3 year old son in preschool for this year to see if a classroom setting will help him focus a little more.  It has been a great experience for us.  My husband’s job is unique.  It allows him to be home and watch our 1-year-old on the days I work.  However, on his work days we hardly see him at all.  My husband came to me one day with the idea to train for a half ironman and write about our experience.  At first I thought the idea was crazy.  I am not a writer, and a race that big would require so much training.  One of the reasons I married my husband is because he helps me move past initial fears that often keep me trapped in immobility.  I get frozen in place trying to figure out how or where to start.  All the obstacles start to surround me and I can’t see a way around them.  My husband gets so much fire and excitement for new ideas.  He does all the research to make a dream become real.  And all of a sudden I start to see a path to the goal.  It is a wonderful gift that he has given me many times in our marriage.  Without his guidance I would not have started on this journey at all.

One of the initial promises I made to myself when I started this, was to make sure that my training would have as little impact as possible on my family.  I didn’t want training to take away time spent with them.  Despite the fact that I was just starting to work more I knew I had to find a way to make this work.  Another promise was to try to be prudent about money.  I had the luck of already having a bike.  Jon and I did a couple small triathlons before we had children, and had bought bikes back then.  I will discuss different things I did to save money, and things that I eventually spent money on.


I will give a little background info on my level of fitness just prior to training for this race.  I did very little working out in high school.  I was on the volleyball team for one year.  In college I did workout videos with friends, started lifting weights regularly at the gym (very little cardio), played outdoor sand volleyball, wake boarded, started running 5Ks occasionally.  I was a slow runner, usually averaging 10 minute miles during races.  If you don’t think you are an athlete don’t let that stop you.  At 25 years old I would have told you I am not a runner a biker or a swimmer; I don’t know a thing about any of them and I am not any good at any of them.  When I met my husband we did a few 5Ks together.  He helped create a plan for me to get faster.  I followed a training regimen for about 6 weeks, and dropped my pace to under a 9 minute mile.  It felt great.  I had never really been trained by anyone before, and I loved seeing such a drastic improvement.   My husband had several marathons under his belt before we met, and at some point I decided I would like to do one.  It was a year or more into our marriage, and we hadn’t been working out much.  I was basically starting from scratch.  I remember that even one mile was painful then.  After my first marathon I was determined to get faster and by my third marathon I had dropped a minute per mile off my pace.  Then I started having kids.  After my first child, I ran a marathon 6-months postpartum, but was very slow again.  After my second baby I ran a marathon about 8 months postpartum.  That was this first day of this year 2014.  My knee started hurting halfway through the race and I pushed through the pain.  After the race I backed off running a lot.  I took a few weeks off to let it heal.  I started running 2-4 miles at most, and picked up my pace.  My knee didn’t hurt unless I went more than 4 miles.  I cut back running to 3 days a week at most.  That is where I was at when Jon presented the ironman idea to me.  If I hadn’t run a marathon just 4-5 months prior I don’t think I would have agreed.  But just 18 months after my last child was born I am in better shape than I ever have been before.  Despite many small successes and failures I was able to balance, work, family, and training and I am glad I lived through this!

How I got started…  taking on more work, training plans, time with family, etc


  1. Life plan: Each week I mapped out my entire schedule to determine how and when I could workout. I looked online for some scheduling printouts or organizers and eventually created my own which is attached below.
  2. Research: One of my first steps was finding a training plan.  I didn’t just look at one I looked at several.  I didn’t follow any exactly, but adapted the plans to fit my life and schedule, trying to make sure to implement important aspects of the training plans.  I read about the half ironman and tried to learn from others’ mistakes.
  3. Where to train: Early on I had to decide how and where I would train for this race. Gyms, pools, bikes, strollers, weights, treadmills, bike trailers, bicycle trainers, stationary bikes, etc.
  4. When: I tried to train when kids were asleep as much as possible, so that my working out was taking away my “me time” not my family time.  I also wanted to include my children in my workouts when possible.  This affected what equipment was my priority.



Life Plan/ Research


Once I found a Ironman 70.3 training plan I had to find a way to stay organized.  Until I was able to see that I could fit working out into my life, I didn’t care about the specific workouts.  I spent an hour one day looking at daily, weekly, monthly schedulers/organizers/planners.  A lot of them didn’t work for me.  I didn’t want to plan out every hour, but I needed something with more space than a monthly calendar.  I needed to be able to look at my week and see my work days, my husband’s work days, days I watch my niece and nephew, activities with my kids, and my workout plan, but without having to know exactly what time some things may happen.  One of the best things about my job is that I don’t have set hours.  I can arrive at work at 5 am or 10 am.  I leave when my workload is done 6-8 hours.  Schedules with my family and kids change so I don’t write down specific start times for things, unless I have an appointment.  I found a great idea online and created my own Calendar in Word.



Each row was given a title and events from each category could be tracked throughout the week.  When planning each workout I had to consider a lot of things.  The weather during a summer in Texas is brutal.  Any middle of the day workouts needed to be swimming or biking.  I rarely ever ran mid day.  If I did it was only a few miles.  Since my husband works evenings on the days he works he is not home at night after the kids are in bed.   He is not home in the morning before the kids wake.  I have to either bring the kids with me on a workout when they are awake or workout at home when they are asleep.  This was a big factor in deciding where to spend money in terms of workout equipment.  On my work days I can’t workout during nap time or with the kids, so I must work out early morning or after bedtime.  The number of hours I had to work out varied depending on all these factors.  Here is an example of how I utilized the Calendar for my life.  It helped me keep things straight most of the time.



This was not an actual week, but an example of how it all came together.  It is very similar to a normal week’s schedule.  I printed many copies of the blank calendar and put them on a clipboard.  Near the end of each week I would start working on the next week.  I would adjust based on how the previous week went, and was able to keep up with the most difficult workouts on the training plans I had found.


Where to Train


I had some equipment already, and had a limited budget.  I wanted to include the kids on some of my workouts.  I needed to be able to workout at home 3 days per week.  All of these factors influenced how I spent my money.  Below is a list of what I used for training.


Nature:  I did the majority of my training outside in nature.  I utilized every park and trail that I could find within a 20 mile radius of my house.  No matter where I am in my city I can give a good estimate of how many miles I am from home.  When the weather was good I brought the kids along.

Jogging stroller:  As soon as I was pregnant with my second child I started planning on getting a new jogging stroller – one that would hold two kids.  I used it a lot to train for my marathon, and I used it to train for this race as well.  I use it on almost all outings as well: zoo, museum, park, walks to grocery store, etc.  This investment was very worth it to me.  One day when my three year old wouldn’t go down for a nap he came along on a 6 mile jog.  He slept most of the run and ended up getting some much needed rest.  On longer runs it is really nice to bring some water along.   (ARTICLE)

Shoes:  I spend about $50 – $60 on running shoes.  I probably buy a new pair once every 2 years.  I put a lot of miles on my shoes, and put a lot of thought into each purchase.  The discounted shoes are often the model from the previous year.  They are not poor quality, just not the newest and most exciting.  I have always been able to find great running shoes staying under $60.

Tracker:  To monitor my pace/distance/etc I used a free app on my phone.  I like having my phone on me any time I workout in case something happens.  It uses GPS to let me know my pace and distance.  I didn’t pay for anything just utilized the free app that came with my phone: RunKeeper.  I also utilized a program called mapmyride on some of my bike rides when I wanted to try out a new route.


Bike:  My bike is about 7 years old now.  My husband and I did a lot of research and found a company that made less expensive triathlon bikes.  We found a bike for about $700 that had higher end components.  My sister-in-law spent $800 on a good road bike.  They both worked well.  I personally do prefer the aero bars (handle bars that allow you to ride in a more aerodynamic position).  I noticed a significant difference in my speed, and the position was very comfortable for me.

Bicycle Trainer:  A bike trainer allows you to take your bike and set it up in your home to ride in place.  I prefer it to a stationary bike for several reasons.  First, you can get a bike trainer for much less than a stationary bike.  Second, you are riding your actual bike with a bike trainer.  You can practice correct position on your bike in addition to building your muscle.  It will also get you used to the seat on your bike.  If you can bike outside for all of your training that is amazing, but if weather is a limitation or you are home with kids, like me, the bike trainer is a great solution.

Bike trailer:  I actually didn’t end up getting a bike trailer.  It takes up a lot of space and so I skipped that investment.  I also have issues with my 3 year old being too rough with his little sister.  The one time I borrowed a bike trailer to try it out it didn’t go well.  If my kids got along better I might have gotten a bike trailer that can be used as a jogging stroller as well.

Bike Computer: I started with a $10 bike computer.  It worked great.  It tracked everything that you would want.  It was not wireless.  The one thing it lacked was light, and when I started riding more in the dark I started to want a light on my computer.  I bought a $20 bike computer that was wireless and had a backlight.

Bike shoes and clips: You can actually save time on your transition from bike to swim if you don’t wear bike shoes.  I never noticed a big difference in my speed with bike shoes.  Although I did get bike shoes I don’t think they are necessary.  It works just as well to get toe clips and straps.  The pedal goes around the front of your shoes so you get push down and pull up while pedaling.  This is a much less expensive option.


Pool:  There are a lot of options out there for pool access: personal pool, gym, community pool, neighborhood pool.  Our city gym has a pool for a great price.  It doesn’t have childcare, however.  I was lucky to have an outdoor neighborhood pool.  I waited anxiously for it to open at the beginning of summer, and trained in it til mid October when it closed for the year.  I would have used the city gym if I had been training during the winter.  There pool is indoors.  Texas is known for long hot summers so I had a lot of warm months to train in our neighborhood pool.

Swimsuit:  I did not buy a fancy swimsuit, I just used an old one piece that I had.

Goggles:  I spent a lot of time finding goggles that wouldn’t leak.  I had to go through a few pairs before I found one that worked.   ARTICLE


Neither of the training plans that I ended up using included a weight-lift day.  I think it is essential to build all the muscles utilized in running so that you don’t do damage to your joints.  The stronger the muscles the more support for your joints.  Instead of always just running I also worked in some track workouts with bleachers.  WEBSITE I used a couple training videos that helped workout my core.  I also did planks, squats, superman, crunches, etc.  A strong core helps you keep better posture when running.  I have a small set of hand weights where you can adjust the weigh amount.  I did some good bicep, chest, and shoulder workouts with the weights.  I also used them while I did squats.  The weigh set was actually a free gift from work.  I went to the local high school track and ran bleacher miles and did sprints.  I love using gym equipment for weight lifting, but was able to do everything I needed with a little less expense.


Workout clothes: I have been wearing the same 3 pairs of workout shorts for the last 10 year.  I liked the first pair I bought so much that I went back a week later and bought 2 more pairs.  Since my body has changed over the years I have purchased new running shirts, but I have always been happy with generic brand workout clothes.  I was able to survive all the training with about 4 different workout outfits.

Race clothes: I really wanted to try a triathlon suit for the race.  This was a hard decision because they are expensive but not essential.  I was originally going to buy a one piece because they are a little less expensive.  While researching I read on a website that they are difficult to take off in the port-a-potties for bathroom breaks during the race.  I ended up buying tri top and shorts online.  I used the sizing guide and ordered the cheapest one I could find.  Unfortunately, the top didn’t work for me because it chafed at the top by the zipper.  The shorts on the other hand were perfect.  I loved the little extra padding on the bike, and felt they were very comfortable to run with.  They worked great for swimming as well.  Since I trained with no padding on the bike the padding in the tri suit was a welcome extra on race day.  I just wore an old sports bra during the swim.  I pulled on my favorite running shirt before the bike and wore it the rest of the race.  It worked out perfectly.


Workouts with kids:

I started altering my routes so that I wouldn’t go by a park where my 3-year-old would inevitably start begging to stop at the playground.  I loved to end workouts at the park, however, when I could stretch while they play, then walk home after.





I actually printed off two free online training plans for the Ironman 70.3.  Then I started making adaptations.  I did my best to make sure that I always did the hardest workout of the week, and I tried to make sure I was increasing my distances in each event at a similar rate as the training plans suggested.  Other than that I changed things around a lot.  There were days where my only option was riding on my bike with the Mag trainer.  On other days I could only run if I brought the kids in the jogging stroller.  I adapted time of workout, type of workout to my schedule and conflicts.  By the end of it all I had done the complete swim distance several times including 2 times in open water.  I had done the complete run distance twice.  I had done the complete bike distance once.  I did a lot of transition practice between swim and bike and bike and run.  I completed a 1.2 mi swim followed by a 40 mile bike followed by a 7 mile run.  That workout killed me.  I got so nutrition depleted and dehydrated that I hit a wall and walked about 3 miles of that run.  It was a bit disheartening to me.  It was a really hot day, and I had not adequately replaced fluid, carbohydrates, and electrolytes.  Two weeks later I did a 20 mile bike and a 13 mile run.  It was cooler and I did better with my nutrition.  The run went really well, and I kept a great pace.  Still the last 2 miles I think nutrition again got the better of me.  During my training I never properly repleted nutrition.  I didn’t have enough space on the bike.  Texas summers get very hot and all my long bike rides were between noon and 5 pm.  It is difficult to carry water on runs, and hard to plan runs around water fountains.  I am making a lot of excuses, but I could and should have done better with this.  I was already pretty aware of what I can tolerate.  I have run several marathons, and know what I can handle and what I need during a 26.2 mile run.  I just didn’t prepare enough on training rides to make what I needed available to myself.  I would drain all my Gatorade, and suffer through the rest of the workout.  I just kept hoping that I wouldn’t need to worry about it as much in October.  I was training in 95+ degree weather, and I was hoping for 70s on race day.  One thing I did practice was initial bike nutrition.  I read on a training plan that some people don’t tolerate water or food well the first 10-30 minutes of the bike after their swim.  After my training swims I practiced my transition and did a 30 min bike ride after my swim.  I tried drinking water and Gatorade and practiced eating pretzels.  I had no problems at all so I knew I could start repleting nutrition as soon as I hopped on the bike.  ARTICLE




I am amazed everyday at the things other moms are doing in their lives.  Sometimes people would ask me how I had time for this.  It is the same as anything in your life.  What you put as your priority gets done.  I still worked and put my family first, but I definitely had to give some things up:

Cleaning:  My husband has said multiple times in the last few weeks since the race how much cleaner the house has been.  He keeps saying I don’t know what we are doing differently…  I keep responding that I am spending hours cleaning everyday again!    I was a much less effective housekeeper during this ordeal to say the least.

Cooking: I should have been eating better in preparation for the race, but we were eating out more and eating more pre-made meals.  I stopped making homemade bread.  I stopped making food from scratch.  I had no time to grocery shop and that lead to more eating out.

Me time:  I gave up my “me time”; well exercise became my “me time”.  I was playing volleyball weekly with some friends, but that was quickly replaced by training.

Spouse time:  I made sure to give a lot of attention to the kids through everything, but I did end up spending less time with my husband, which was a strain on our relationship.  Our evenings together after the kids went to bed became my training time.

Patience:  The worst thing that I gave up during training was my self-control.  The added stress and time associated with training left me drained and fatigued.  I was quicker to anger and less patient.  I was more irritated with spills and messes.  I know it is ridiculous to get upset at a 3-year-old who accidentally spills his spaghetti sauce across the room, but when you are exhausted you are less rational.  I love my kids more and more each day, but I regret that maybe I could or should have been a better mom.  I do hope that someday my children will find some personal strength from this goal that I worked for and achieved.


I tried to find accomplishment in every workout.  When I was about 1 mile away from home I always picked up my pace.  I tried to finish every run strong.  Running was the one thing I already knew how to do, and I already could do the distance.  So with running I focused on improving speed and form.  With the swim and bike I rewarded myself for every improvement in distance or speed.  Every workout I would get home and tell my husband what great workout I had just done.  I texted my sister-in-laws about my reached goals, and they told me about their own accomplishments.  That positive outlook got me outside on those days that I didn’t feel like doing anything.  With about two months left I noticed differences in myself.  At that point I was tapering so I had this endurance, but I wasn’t using every ounce on every workout.  I noticed how much longer I lasted playing with the kids.  Things that used to wear me out, didn’t anymore.  I was not in bad shape at the beginning, but I feel like a real athlete now.  My overall health is in a better place than it was before.  Every second was worth it, and the moment crossing the finish line was euphoric.


Jul 08

15 CRAZY Things Runners Say When They Talk to Themselves During Races

Runners are kinda strange people.  I can say that. . . I’m a runner.

We talk to ourselves.  I mean what else are we supposed to do during a 3, 4, or 5 hour race.

Here are the top 15 crazy things we say when we talk to ourselves during races.  Did I miss one? Share it below in the comments.

1. Seriously . . How the Hell is HE Passing Me?


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2. Smashing Water Cups Feels Pretty Bitchn’


3. Yeah, I Should Have Worn the Band-Aids


4. These Dumb Things Only Hold Like 1oz of Water . . . Now I Have to Carry This Belt for 24 More Miles


5. I Paid HOW MUCH for This?


6. Chicks Dig Marathoner


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7. Yeah . . . But I DO Get The FREE Shirt Right?


8. The Race STARTS at Mile 20


9. Dang . . .Everyone Else Is Wearing a Watch . . . Just Look at Wrist and Act Like I’m Pushing Buttons


10. Maybe I Should Buy Shorter Shorts


11. Hmm . . . Guess I Should Have Gotten Here Earlier


12. Crap . . . I Should Have Used the Porta Potty 3 Miles Back


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13. So THIS Is “The Runners High”


14. The Medal Better Be HUGE . . and My Friends Better be Jealous


15. NEXT DAY: “Why Am I Signing Up For Another Race?”


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Did I miss something?  Share it in the comments below.

Photo Credits: Stephen Matthews, Alan StrakeysamwebsterRennett StoweZervasJeff MoriartyEdwin MartinezBrett WhaleyDamian, Nathan RupertTony AlterChris BarberMorten Siebuhr


Jul 07

5 Tips for Finding the PERFECT Running Partner

For those runners who like running with a buddy  . . . you know how hard it can be to find the right running partner.

They are either too slow, too fast, not motivated enough, TOO motivated . . . or you just don’t get along.

I have always enjoyed running alone but Sandi kinda thrives on running with a partner.  When we first started dating we began to run together  . . . but this presented a big challange for us.

I was running an 18 minute 5k and Sandi was running over 30 minutes.    We had to get creative about running together and eventually more creative to help Sandi find running partners that were a perfect fit.

5 Surefire Places to Find a Running Partner


  1. Yes Yes . . . I know it sounds like a place for singles to meet and hang out, but Meetup is actually far different than that.  It is a place for people to post conferences, get together, and social gatherings for individuals with similar interests. Using this tool I was able to find over a dozen running or triathlon groups within 10 miles of my house.  There is a simple search function on the site and once you find a group you are interested in it is easy to learn more details about the group or to learn about upcoming meetings or runs.
  2. Facebook: Midst 374 invitations to play Candy Crush, and updates about all your friends babies . . . Facebook can actually be a productivity tool as well believe it or not.  With Facebook you can easily find out who of your local friends are runners . . . you can post on your page that you are looking for a running buddy and within no time you will have a partner.  You can also find virtual running groups where you can post your workouts and find motivation from your buddies.   BY using the search box and simply typing in “Running Group” you will be able to find events, groups, pages, and more that will guide you in the right direction.Screenshot-2014-07-07-16.32.26-e1404768953401
  3. Running Clubs:  RRCA or Road Runners Clubs of America is the top resource for finding a local running club near you.  Simply go to their site here click on your state and viola you will have a nice list of various running clubs in your area.  Generally these groups have free events you can attend to meet other runners and find a few that are about your pace.  Once you have a nice little buddy or group that run your pace you can plan training runs with them aside form the running group.  Its a great way to find a partner and friends that share your love for running.Screenshot-2014-07-07-16.38.31-e1404769455306
  4. Mans Best Friend: yes, a dog can be the perfect running partner . . . they won’t complain, they will always be ready on time, weather won’t stop them from going . . . and they will love you for taking them.  You don’t even need a HUGE dog to do this.  We had a little 10 pound yorkie a few years ago that was able to outrun me in a 5k.  With a bit of practice if a small lazy dog can enjoy running with you.  Researchers from University of Michigan found that on average dog owners are nearly twice as active and healthy as non dog owners: “Nearly half of dog walkers exercised an average of 30 minutes a day at least five days a week. By comparison, only about a third of those without dogs got that much regular exercise”. New York Times
  5. The Track: Most towns have a High School or Middle school track with a nice field, track, and bleachers to do your workout on.  The benefit of running on a track is that running partners of different skill and speed levels can workout together.  We have a FREE GUIDE to Bleacher Workouts that you can download HERE

Finding a Track to Run On 

While it is hard to find a complete and accurate list of all school that have a track open to the public . . this tool here is great for finding local schools.  You an then either drive by or call them to determine if their track is open for use.

Likewise you can make a phone call to your local school district and ask if or when school tracks are open for use.

High School Finder

Screenshot-2014-07-07-17.15.12-e1404771557312They do “ask” for a lot of information on this tool but if you just put in Zip Code and distance you will get a result.

A huge benefit to track workouts is that you will generally find several other people out there running on the track each night.  Makes a great way to build accountability, friendships as you meet local runners, and a chance to find a running partner.

3 Benefits to Running with a Partner


In a recent study at the University of Santa Clara, researchers found that:

Exercising with someone more fit than oneself could promote a higher intensity workout,  participants gravitate towards the exercise behaviors of those around them. Even when all participants, regardless of experimental conditions, were instructed to exercise at a moderate level and keep their pulse rates within a particular range, they mimic the exercise behavior of their exercise partner.  -Journal of Social Sciences



So if you are wanting to AMP up your workouts . . find someone who is at an intensity and commitment level above yours.  This individual will lift your behavior and aid in elevating your workouts as you mimic their intensity.


I don’t generally like working out with others . . . but when I do it is primarily for entertainment purposes.  Having a partner is a great way to break up the mundane miles and hours of running.   Even just jogging with your kids can help with this.

Every now and then it is good to get out of your own head and just talk with a friend.


Being open with another individual (friend, family, child) can help to create accountability.  Letting someone else know about your goals and asking for them to follow up will get you out the door on slow days.


By following these simple tips you will find yourself a workout partner in no time.  Do you have a partner that keeps you going? How did you find your workout buddy?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Image Credits:  Thang Nuyguen, sangudo

Jul 02

10 Grossest Things about Running (that no one tells you about)

1. Porta-Potty Paradise


Pre-race lines for porta potties would make you think these little green toilets are gold lined and have silk toilet paper. If you want to go potty before a race you better plan on arriving to a race about 6 hours early to claim your spot in line.

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2. Running Red (chaffing, diaper rash, jock itch)


I thought diaper rash was for babies?  After my first marathon I couldn’t figure out what was happening to me . . . then I discovered the miracle of Vaseline and Destine. Runners love to slather this goop on like there is no tomorrow.

3. Medals of Honor (massive post race blistering)


If you have ever spent time with a marathoner, the topic of blisters has come up.  But we don’t just talk about them . . . we compare.  The winner is the idiot who had the biggest blister . . . P.S. I beat my wife!

4. Um . . . . bleeding nipples


Ever see a guy run his first marathon. He is easy to spot. He will be the one with blood gushing down his shirt where his nipples used to be.

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5. Marathon Pedicure (toenails falling off)


A runners favorite nail polish color is black and blue . . . then its no nail!  Don’t worry they do grow back.

6. Snot Rockets (who needs Kleenex)


We have learned to master the art of shooting snot from our noses.  One of the joys of running is watching the newbie learn the skill.

7. Nectar of the Gods (GU energy gel)


What could be more delicious than nectar thick carbohydrates in the flavor of “cardboard and sandpaper”.  These little packets of joy are perfect for making it impossible to swallow or talk for the next 3 miles.

8. Who needs Porta-Potties (yeah . . . we pee our pants a little bit)


Where else can adults pee their pants and no one points and laughs.  All in the name of shaving 20 seconds off the time my friend!

9. Runners Trots ( . . . and sometimes we poop a little bit too)


So . . . I guess a few people didn’t arrive in time to wait in the 6 hour porta potty lines!!!

10. Dehydration . . . Overhydration . . . Heat Stroke


You will either drink to little, drink to much, or run when its way to damn hot!  No worries . . . it will make a sweet story on your next training run!

Like this post?  How about sharing it with a fellow runner …

Image Credits:

Michael (a.k.a. moik) McCuldirvishCasey HelblingAndy CarvinDave HerholzThreeIfByBikeJohn Rees– EMR –GuyChristiana Care


Jun 30

5 tips for Getting it All Done (how I train for an Ironman, raise 2 kids, work full-time, run a business)

Getting it all done is the great challenge in life.  When you set a goal to run a marathon, triathlon, 5k, or just to loose weight it can be that much more difficult to get things done. Currently, I am training for an Ironman, working full-time, running a business, and raising 2 kids.  Finding (making) time for everything can be an incredible difficulty.

Below are 5 tips that I use to get it all done:

  1. Make a schedule – then stick to it
  2. Stop wasting time on TV
  3. Be easy on yourself
  4. Surround yourself with good people
  5. Go to bed early

Make a Schedule – Then Just Stick to It

One of the most complicated aspects of getting things done is actually knowing and understanding everything that needs to be done.  Once you have a clear idea of everything that you need to do you will find it much easier to get yourself organized. One individual who is an amazing example of organization and seems to have an unnatural ability to get things done is Spencer Haws (yes, he is my cousin).

Spencer has a family and runs a large businesses that takes up a large portion of their time.  Spencer has 4 children and managed to build a business that generated enough money for him to quit his full time banking job in the evenings while his kids were sleeping.  Not only that but he also runs marathons with his wife and siblings in his “spare time”. In talking with Spencer he continually discusses the importance that making schedules played in his ability to grow his business and quit his job.

Tools that Help With Making Schedules

You don’t need to go out and spend a ton of money on a fancy planner.  Below are a couple of FREE tools that I have found are the most effective tools for me in planning and setting schedules:

  • I prefer this weekly planner that allows you to plan in 15 minute increments over the course of the entire week.
  • SlimTimer: Slim Timer is an awesome tool if you find that you tend to waste time online.  This tool allows you to track all of your online activities.  By using this tool I was able to decrease the amount of time my mind spent wandering and distracted while working online.  You will find that you spend less time on Facebook, your email inbox, etc if you track your online activities.

Stop Wasting Time on TV

Television can become a productivity abyss! When you really sit back and look at your goals and desires (what you REALLY want out of life) does it involve knowing who the Bachelor picked or how well an NFL wide receiver can dance or do you want to spend time with your kids, run a marathon, learn to play guitar etc . . .Few people think that a complete life involves time spent on the couch watching TV.  If most people are honest with themselves they want much more.

A 30 minute television show is enough time to burn 300 calories.

Now days with Netflix and Hulu you can easily sit and watch entire season of a television show while the day slips away and you miss your chance to grab a quick workout.


Watching less TV can easily open up huge blocks of time to allow you to be able to workout quickly or practice a habit or go on a walk with the kids. Another thing you can do to increase productivity is a simple trick called batching. This involves doing like tasks at the same time rather then doing small tasks as they happen. For example, rather than checking your email each time a notification comes in you can set aside several times a day that you check your mail and deal with it all at that time.

  • Check email just 3 times a day
  • Take Facebook off your phone – only check twice a day
  • Set aside one time a day to check the news

Be Easy on Yourself

Live is a journey.  Fitness is a spectrum.  You do not need to be exactly who you want to be TODAY.  You don’t need to run the perfect marathon TODAY.  Setting goals and slowly moving toward them without getting discouraged can allow you to achieve great things. It can be easy to get discourage when you set a goal and realize all the difficult work it will take to actually reach it. Breaking the goal down into smaller tasks can give you a short term sense of accomplishment as you move toward your larger goal.  This works great with running.  If you set the goal to run a marathon you can sign up for a 5k, 10k, half marathon, and then accomplish running your marathon.  Even if you have never run a marathon it can be possible with smaller tasks and by being easy on yourself. If you do fail or have a temporary lapse in your goals . . just relax. . . it doesn’t mean that you are a failure or that your goal is no longer achievable.

Tools to Help

  • This is an Apple and Android app that leverages the power of community and positive reinforcement to help you reach goals.
  • Way of Life: This is another goal tracking app that allows you to create graphs and charts to view long term goal progress.

Surround Yourself With Good People

This is an obvious tip that is often overlooked. If you want to run marathons or train for a triathlon it is important that you surround yourself with other individuals that have similar goals. Jim Rohn has said:

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” -Jim Rohn

When it comes to preparing for races or setting and achieving fitness goals this quote becomes even more true and important to you achieving success.  You should find people who eat healthy, workout, are positive thinkers, and will encourage you in your fitness goals.

How to Find People to Run With

  • Meet Up is a different kind of social network.  With meetup you find clubs, groups, organizations, and meetings for people who have similar interests as you.  With a simple search for “RUN” I was able to find 16 running groups within 10 miles of my house.
  • Facebook:  With Facebook you can find groups both in your area and online of people that can help you set and reach goals.
  • Road Runners Club of America:  The RRCA is an online database of road runner groups.  Using this tool I was able to find 58 organized road running clubs in Texas.

Go to Bed Early – Wake Up Early

Sounds easy right?  However, the idea of waking up early is repeated over and over again by highly effective people. Zenhabits discusses 10 benefits to waking up early.  For parents I think one of the greatest habits to waking up early is the small amount of quiet time that it provides you prior to the kids waking up.

For me, it works best to wake up around 530am as Taz wakes up around 7:30.  This gives me about two hours of alone time where I am able to focus and work or workout uninterrupted.   I like to take the time to review my plans for the day, open the blinds and greet the sun while I work for a couple hours.

How to Wake up Early

The simplest way to wake up early for me is just to set my iPhone alarm with a gentle alarm that isn’t too annoying.  I can also motivate myself to wake up early if I have a project or goal that I am excited about.  Generally, I will write down 2 or 3 tasks the night before related to that goal and this motivates me to go to sleep and gives me the excitement to get out of bed when the alarm goes off.


It can be hard to stay on top everything as a parent.  Especially if you have a goal to run a marathon or triathlon etc. . . but I have found that by applying these five principles and using the tools listed I can find much greater success in reaching my life and fitness goals.

Do you have any thoughts or ideas on how to reach your goals and get it all done?  Share them below in the comments.


Jun 24

The Law of Averages (how to run faster, eat better, and be happier)

One of my all time favorite quotes is:

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

-Jim Rohn

Jim Rohn, a motivational speaker said this, you can view the speech where he said this below:

Do you agree with this?  

Another way of saying this is PEER PRESSURE.   People like to be part of a crowd, they like to be with those with whom they have commonalities.  Even supposed “outsiders” are always together.  Remember junior high with all the kids sitting at the lunch table wearing the same “Misfits” shirt.

Even if you are not susceptible to peer pressure you will BE like those you are around the most.

The law of averages which basically says that the outcomes of any series event will eventually “even out” applies to human behavior as well. When this is applied to humans it assumes that human behavior will even out among those who spend time together.

“Law of averages typically assumes that unnatural short-term “balance” must occur” –Wikipedia

So what Jim Rohn is basically hypothesizing is that the law of averages applies to who we spend our time with and how we act and interact.  We will BECOME those with whom we spend time.

Take a moment and think of every person that you spent your free time with (NOT those who you were forced to spend time with like at work).

Who were you with:

  • Family
  • Friends

Now, how fit are those people, what are their paychecks, what kind of clothes do they wear, how to they respond to stress?  How similar are your responses to those items.

Are Your Friends Holding You Back?

Are Your Friends Holding You Back?

Two Ways We Become Those We Spend Time With

I believe that there are two ways in which we “become” those we spend the most time with.

  1. We actually adopt habits
  2. We find a new friend

If you spend all your time with someone you will begin to adopt their mannerisms and behaviors.  I feel like it is about the 7th grade (about 12 years old) that kids start to really think for themselves and strive to create an identity separate from their parents.   As they do this they start forming groups and cliques with other children who respond to the “call for individualism” the same way.  They start listening to the same music, getting the same hair cuts, play the same sports, watch the same movies.  All of these outward expressions of self begin to create inward values and belief systems that drive our reactions to the world around us.  This is turn continues the cycle of becoming LIKE those with whom we spend our time.

In order to “find themselves” and discover who they were they became MORE like those they spent the most time with.

If we find that we just don’t fit in with those around us we seek a NEW group of friends. I remember in college about my sophomore year I started to realize that I just didn’t resonate with the vast majority of the student population at my small private college.  I attempted to express myself in my own way but was unable to really grasp the actions of others so what did I do . . . I had two choices:

  1. Adopt the actions of others to fit in
  2. Find a new crowd whose beliefs more closely fit mine

I chose the latter and withdrew from the college and moved back home to Texas where just months later I met and married Sandi . . . who very closely met my way of thinking and responding to the world.

The name for this is Social Comparison Theory as proposed by Leon Festinger in 1954 which basically states:

We determine our own social and personal worth based on how we stack up against others.  – Psychology Today

You can also learn more about Social Comparison Theory HERE on Wikipedia.  Thus we spend time with and associate with those who we believe have approximately the same “social worth” or we improve or worsen ourselves to BECOME LIKE those with whom are are around.

How Does This Apply to Fitness

In this groundbreaking study published by the Department of Social Psychology at Santa Clara University about workout partners it was discovered that by simply working out with someone more fit than yourself  . . . you begin to mirror the actions of the partner and actually increase the intensity of your own workout.

Exercising with someone more fit than oneself could promote a higher intensity workout,  participants gravitate towards the exercise behaviors of those around them. Even when all participants, regardless of experimental conditions, were instructed to exercise at a moderate level and keep their pulse rates within a particular range, they mimic the exercise behavior of their exercise partner.  -Journal of Social Sciences

Basically they found that individuals mirror the activity of those around them.  And on the opposite spectrum they discovered that when highly fit individuals worked-out with unmotivated individuals they began to decrease the intensity of their workouts to match the level of the less fit individual.  If you hang around individuals that always eat out or eat unhealthy food you will begin to eat poorly or spend your money on junk food.

So here are a few quick tips to improve your own fitness level:

  1. Believe in yourself – Learn to place little weight on how your mind sizes up others.  Fitness and health are both on a progressively changing continuum.  With each hour of each day you are either becoming more or less healthy.  If you aren’t where you want to be at this moment then make a small change and move forward a tiny bit.  There is no need to compare yourself to others that are more fit AT THIS MOMENT than you are.  If you continually make small choices you will continually get healthier BIT by BIT.  Social comparison theory CAN be a positive thing IF you do not use it to beat yourself up for where you see yourself TODAY.
  2. Who are you spending time with – It is important that you find other individuals and families that are interested in health and fitness as well.  You don’t need to find fanatics, just other who will support you, challenge you, and be there with you as you set and achieve your fitness goals. When you tell your current friends you are going for a jog or taking your kids to the park . . . What Do They Say?
  3. Workout partners – Do you need a workout partner?  This really depends.  Some people really benefit from working out with others while others may not need the company.  In the study from Santa Clara University they found that those who were at a higher fitness level than their workout partner actually saw worse results when they worked out with a partner of lower fitness level.  So, if you do decide to workout with a partner it will help YOU to find someone of a higher level and intensity.

Who Are You Spending Your Time With


Let me tell you why I love this quote so much. I have always been a firm believe in the power of positive influence in our lives. Great leaders have the ability to lead by influence rather than by other (less effective) tactics like fear, coercion, incentives and others.

Few people are capable of leading a crowd in a positive direction and it is human nature to follow the crowd and the path of least resistance.  You can be that leader that others need.  You can reach your fitness goals.

There are so many people that want to be healthy and fit and raise a healthy family.  That is the purpose of this website . . . to build a community of individuals with a common goal of health and fitness.   If you do not feel like you have that support from those you are currently spending your time with . . . lean on the community here. 

Do you have tips for motivating yourself and friends to obtain fitness?  Share them below \/\/\/\/\/


May 31

Overcoming Your Fears

The journey to get in shape and control weight can often be overwhelming, especially if you are considering running bleachers. To make the journey even harder there are often hurdles to clear: health issues, time management, finding the energy and desire to get out. Even if you have been working out for many years, there will always be new things to overcome. So, how do you overcome these hurdles and barriers and get into shape.


Below are three things that if implemented will aid in overcoming issues and working out.


#1 Don’t Run From Your Fear.


It’s all about meeting your fears and facing them head-on. Focus on recognizing your fears, acknowledge them and then get over them. It is important to ask yourself what you are afraid of? Maybe you have let yourself get out of shape and are worried that you might never get back into shape? Maybe an injury has made your scared of your body? Try using visualization. See yourself as you want to be.


#2 Trust Yourself.


You must learn to listen to yourself and to know what your body is telling you. In many cases, it is easier to have someone telling us what to do and how to do things. However, the greatest source of truth lies within us. You must learn to listen to yourself and follow what your own body says.


Always focus on what your body is telling you. What are your instincts telling you? You must change your perspective and learn that you can listen to what your own body tells you.  If you are in a great deal of pain listen to what your body says.  Look into yourself to find motivation to workout.


Set small goals and as you complete them you will realize that you are getting closer and closer to reaching your larger goals.


#3 Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.


Never let fear control your life.  If fear takes over your life you will soon become a victim to it.  The poem by Dylan Thomas states: “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night.” Whenever we allow fear into the back of our minds it begins to control our every actions.  Running bleachers and setting goals is a hard and scary thing to do.


In conclusion: Get up today and Go.


Overcome the obstacles that are keeping you from obtaining your fitness goals.  You can become the person that you want to become and one day be who you want to be.  Get up and off the couch and start running bleachers today.


May 31

Must Watch Motivational Running Videos

Here are a couple running videos that I have made over the years to keep me motivated.  All songs, logos, company names etc are the property of the company, artist, or designer no copyright intended.

I literally put this song “Send The Pain Below” by Chevelle on repeat during the Park City Marathon. It continued to play for the entire first 10K over and over during that race. I think that is one of the best running songs around. Send the pain below. . . That is where all the pain is felt during a marathon. If you train right, by running bleachers you can reduce that pain! Watch closely you will even get a glimps of Tammy Ivie – CPT, a personal trainer who contributes articles to

I love the Garmin GPS watches (and they work while running bleachers) so much that we decided to make a fun “commercial” about the Garmin 405 GPS watch.  After having used it many times I can tell you it is a great watch.  Anyway,  this is a fun video when you need a little laugh.

The Nike slogan “Just Do It” is perhaps the best advice in the world.  When you don’t feel like running bleachers “JUST DO IT”.  Running is a simple art and a fantastic way to release all the stress.  Just get out and do it.

This video depicts some of our Iron Man training. In a couple scenes you will see us on the track. . . running bleachers no doubt! Every time I see this video my heart gets racing and I get pumped up to hit the road and train!


May 14

8 Moms Who Run Marathons (they are pretty DAMN fast too)

There are a couple of things I am pretty sure I will never do in my life.

  1. Run a sub 3:00 marathon
  2. Have a baby

I am pretty confident the baby thing will never happen, unless Arnold Schwarzenegger was on to something in Junior.  I know I will never run a sub 3:00 marathon.  I have tried and my best was only a 3:24.  So my mind is always blown away by a mom who can run a marathon after having a baby.

So lets introduce our 8 Elite Marathon Moms.   To be completely honest, I have included a few triathletes in our list, but to be fair these moms not only run a marathon, but also swim 2 miles and bike 100 miles before the marathon, so I felt they more than qualified.

  1. Paula Radcliffe
  2. Kara Goucher
  3. Deena Kastor
  4. Jessica Jacobs
  5. Emma Gerrard
  6. Sara Gross
  7. Heather Gollnick
  8. Michelle Andres

Paula Radcliffe

2 Children, 2:15:38 Womens Marathon World Record Holder

CC Copyright fergie lancealot

CC Copyright fergie lancealot

Not only is Paula a mother of two children, but she holds the current world record in the marathon, is a 3 time London Marathon winner, 3 time New York Marathon winner (the year she had her baby, and the year after), and a one time Chicago Marathon winner.  She has also won countless awards and accolades for her running accomplishments.

Oh, and did I mention that she has asthma? Oh, and anemia.

Paula is truly an inspiration to mom and athletes everywhere. On training while pregnant Paula has said“The minute you find out you are pregnant, your priorities change, and of course I slowed down.  I ran for health and pleasure, not for competitive reasons”.    Of course just 12 days after having her baby she was back out training, but later admitted that 3 weeks may have been better.

She won the 2007 New York Marathon just 10 months after having her baby.

Never set limits, go after your dreams, don’t be afraid to push the boundaries. And laugh a lot – it’s good for you!

Paula Radcliffe

CC Lisence Flickr user Alan Cordova

CC Lisence Flickr user Alan Cordova

Kara Goucher

1 child, 2008, 2012 Olympics, 3 Time NCAA Champion

Flicker User Stewart Dawson

Flicker User Stewart Dawson

Kara burst onto the marathon scene in 2008 by finishing 3rd at the Boston Marathon.  She gave birth to her son in 2010, in 2011 she placed 5th at the Boston Marathon with a time of 2:24:52 a PR by more than a minute and beating her 2009 (pre baby) Boston time by 7 1/2 minutes.  Shortly after that she was on her way to the 2012 London Olympics.

She has won many other races and events since having a child and has proven her strength as a runner in recent years.

Acknowledge all of your small victories. They will eventually add up to something great.

Kara Goucher

Deena Kastor

1 chlid, US Record holder in Marathon, Half-Marathon, 15k, 8k, 5k

Photo take by: Ambio

Photo take by: Ambio

Deena gave birth to her first child in February 2011, eleven months later she ran a 2:30:40 marathon to place 6th at the age of 39. Since then she has gone on to place 3rd at the LA Marathon and 9th at the world championships at the age of 40.

Deena is truly an athlete that takes excuses away from the regular folk like you and I.  Despite being a mother and “over the hill” she continues to compete on the world stage as an elite marathoner. In 2006 she was named the top womens marathoner in the world.

When you have the enthusiasm and the passion, you end up figuring how to excel.

Deena Kastor


Jessica Jacobs

1 child, 2012 Kona IronMan World Championships 26th place (11:38:39)

Jessica began racing triathlons in 2011 and quickly became hooked on the sport.  Despite a frustrating first  race she returned for more races and qualified for the 2012 IronMan World Championships where she placed 26.  In 2013 she completed 5 Half IronMan races (70.3) and 2 Full IronMan races never placing below 14th. Her IronMan PR is a stellar 8:55:10, good enough for a 1st place finish at the 2011 Florida IronMan. . . All this while raising a daughter!

Emma Garrard

1 child, Multiple top finished in XTERRA Championships and Winter Triathlon Championships

Emma is a serious competitor and a very busy woman. On top of training for XTERRA and Winter Triathlon races, she is a mom, a photographer, and she coaches various athletic programs. In 2011 alone, she ran 11 organized races. Most recently she placed 2nd in the 2014 XTERRA West Championships just weeks after being bedridden with sickness.  This was her best finish in a pro race. . . EVER. All this just months after having a baby.

She keeps a very fun and inspring blog at outlining her workouts, family time, and races.  If you ever wanted to get an inside look at racing and training with kids, this is probably the best blog to read from a professional athlete.

Smart preparation in not-ideal circumstances can only get you far, good results also require consistent specific training.

Emma Garrard

Sara Gross

2 Chlidren, Professional Triathlete

In 2013 Sara completed 11 triathlon races, completing the Zurich Ironman in 9:55 and placing in the top 3 in 6 of those races.  Yes, that is with two children.  In 2011 she finished 2nd in the Calgary 70.3 just 7 months after having a baby.  Oh, did I mention she also hold a PhD from the University of Edinburgh.

When I get home from training I quickly shift from athlete-mode to mom-mode  . . .

I think that all women should get in the habit of taking care of themselves for at least an hour or two a day.

Sara Gross

As for working out while pregnant, Sara says that she averaged 1-1.5 hours of exercise a day.  Running until week 32, biking until week 37, and swimming up until the day before her baby was born.

Sara confesses that her training has changed since having children.  She no longer is able to plan her training as much as before and must work around her babies schedules. To follow Sara online visit her website at

Heather Gollnick

3 Children, 5X Ironman Champion

Heather is 44 years old a mother of three children and has over 100 podium finishes as a professional triathlete.  In fact if you check out her website at you will see that those top finishes just keep rolling in at nearly every race she enters.

We had a third child and ever since it has been complete madness with my husband and I being out numbered. Training is not the number one thing but I can still get out there and mix it up and love it!

Also remember training will always be there, your little ones get so big so fast.

Heather Gollnick

Heather states that she has no intention of slowing down any time soon and loves the thrill of racing and competing on a professional level.  She is the author of Triathlon EQ which states that endurance sports are as much a test of emotional endurance as physical stamina.


To top it all off, Heather also provides triathlon coaching and is a public speaker.  Find out more about her coaching here.

Michelle Andres

5 children, full time teacher, 3rd Age Group Finisher Kona Ironman Championships

Michelle is an example of a “regular” mom who set her mind on a goal and made it happen.  She has a full time job as a teacher, she is the mother of 5 children, yet she still finds time to train and compete on a very high level.  She is 36 years old and holds the Minnesota state record for the Ironman Triathlon.  Her Ironman time at Kona was 9:50 which was good enough to earn her the #3 spot in her age group. She did all of this with no coach and most of her training was done in her basement on a stationary bike and treadmill.

If its important to you, you’ll find a way, if its not important, you’ll find an excuse. We all have more time in our day than what we think, we just waste a lot of time on things that are not important.

Michelle Andres

She now has her sites set on qualifying for the Olympic trials in the marathon.

Are You a Marathon Mom?

While all of these women have amazing stories to share and have all accomplished a lot professionally in terms of running, they all say the same thing: running after having a baby is not easy, but with planning and determination it is doable.

You may not be trying to win a triathlon or qualify for the Olympic trials, but you can reach your goals with running and weight loss.  You can accomplish what you set your mind to.

Are you a mom who continues to run?  Do you have tips for running with children?  Share your thoughts below in the comments.