USAT National Champs & 2016 Season’s Final Thoughts

Posted by on Sep 12, 2016 in Dina's Blog |

Race: USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships Distance: Olympic Location: Omaha, NE Date: 08/13/2016 “What you will do here today, is nothing compared to what you did to get here.” This quote resonates so deeply with me, and how I’m feeling about USA Triathlon National Championships and my 2016 season as a whole. The race was brutal, and tested both my physical and mental toughness to the max. This year, I’ve trained harder than I ever have before – and I’ve been pushed the farthest outside my comfort zone than ever before. I’ve also fought some of my most difficult battles this year with RA, a third major surgery, other chronic pain conditions, and unforeseen injuries. Needless to say, I’ve had some challenging breakdowns – but also some killer breakthroughs. Qualifying for USA Triathlon National Championships despite all of these things, and for a 2nd year in a row, was nothing less than an incredible blessing and achievement. One that I definitely wasn’t sure I could attain this year. But I kept fighting, and kept chasing after my dreams no matter how far out of reach they seemed. And it wasn’t because “I’m strong” – NO, it was and always will be because of everyone who believes in me when I don’t believe in myself. I didn’t hit my goal at Nationals, but I did PR my overall time by 1 minute. It didn’t play out how I imagined it would, or how I hoped it would. Instead it was reminiscent of exactly what it took for me to get there. A fight. Enduring pain. Overcoming adversities. Not giving up. Letting the undying belief that others have in me fill my heart and mind. And that’s what it’s really all about. I had already won before I crossed that finish line…and no race result can ever take that away from me. Before and during my race at Nationals, I repeated the quote in my mind many times, “What you will do here today, is nothing compared to what you did to get here.” Reminding myself of all the battles I had won and achievements I attained to be standing where I was at that moment. Battles Back in Nov. 2015, I had my 3rd major surgery – a total wrist fusion on my right hand, which included a bone graft from my right hip. I hit rock bottom during recovery in regards to enduring pain – I literally said out loud many times that I wanted to be put out of my misery. And I meant it. Recovery lasted for months – with many set-backs with the healing process and it took much longer than expected. Besides being in a cast forever and not being able to use my right arm/hand, I also struggled with the bone graft from my hip. Surprisingly the bone graft was almost just as...

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Race Report: Tri For Real

Posted by on Aug 7, 2016 in Dina's Blog |

Race Report: Tri For Real Race: Tri For Real Distance: Olympic Location: Rancho Seco, Herald CA Date: 07/24/2016 “Something will grow from all you’re going through and it will be you.” If you follow my social feeds, you know that I was struggling mentally and physically with training weeks before this race. When I say “physically” I’m referring to the usual Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms and other chronic pain conditions – with an increase of fatigue. When I say “mentally” I’m referring to the fact that the body always hears and feels what the mind is thinking. And my mind was thinking, “Maybe I can’t do this.” Recent weeks of training had pushed me the farthest from my comfort zone than I’d ever been. I was training harder than I ever had before in my life. Which was incredibly difficult because on top of the new level of training, I’m still constantly fighting and managing my RA and other chronic conditions. God, it’s exhausting and sometimes seemingly impossible. I arrived at a breaking point. Honestly the words kept replaying inside my head, “maybe I can’t do this.” And I was starting to believe that. I tried my best to hold it together and not give up because I hoped that this breakdown would lead me into a breakthrough. Training and nutrition leading up to race day: Since my training sessions where increasing in frequency and duration, my nutrition followed suit. I was having more 2x a day training sessions than not, and the level of difficulty for each seemed harder than previous weeks/months. To meet my body’s nutritional needs I tried to consume more healthy carbs (like mango and spinach), healthy fats (like avocado and nuts), and whole grains. Due to the overall increase in training, I also made an effort to up self-care (resting when I should rest), maintenance (stretching and icing), and recovery (massagers and inversion). For race-day fuel, I planned out: 1 premium insurance cap and 1 mito cap with breakfast, 2 race cap supremes before the race and 1 after, 2 endurolytes before the race, 2 on the bike, and 2 before the run, heed before the race and 1 bottle of heed on the bike, 1 hammer gel before race, 2 on the bike, and 1 on the run, lastly I had my favorite chocolate recoverite after the race. Race day: I went into this race not knowing how any aspect of the mental and physical “breakdown” I’d been experiencing would affect my performance. The not knowing part really eats me up inside, and my anxiety has a field day with that! The morning of, I was so anxious and nervous that I came really close to throwing up before I put my wetsuit on. I literally had throw-up in my mouth and had to swallow it back down. Nope. Not today vomit. It was...

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Race Report: California Triathlons (USA Triathlon Southwest Regional Championships)

Posted by on Jul 14, 2016 in Dina's Blog |

Race: California Triathlons (USA Triathlon Southwest Regional Championships) Distance: Sprint Location: Shadow Cliffs, Pleasanton CA Date: 06/26/2016 “Fate whispers to the warrior ‘You cannot withstand the storm.’, the warrior whispers back ‘I am the storm.’ ” – Unknown I can’t explain how much this quote rings true for people like me who have an autoimmune disease. My body is literally attacking itself, all the time – which speaks perfectly to the quote, “I am the storm.” We truly are, without a doubt, the storm that we fight each day to withstand. 2-3 weeks leading up to the race, I had faced some pretty knarly challenges with leg injuries on top of Rheumatoid Arthritis and chronic pain struggles. I injured my legs badly by getting caught in my dogs leash cables, which resulted in multiple trips to urgent care for bad abrasions (open wounds) on both legs and trauma to lower legs, ankles, and feet. Walking wasn’t happening, so swim, bike, run was out of the question for a while. I spent a lot of time elevating my legs, icing, taking antibiotics and pain meds (oh, and playing Black Ops on Xbox 360). Would have been nice if my RA and other conditions would’ve let up a bit while dealing with this, but nope – guess that’d be too “easy.” Knees, shoulder, and lower back/hips in particular gave me the most hell. Needless to say, I had to be sidelined for a while and scale way back on training. As race-day was fast approaching, I wasn’t sure if I was going to go through with the race or bow out. Coach and I took it one day at a time, without planning on racing – that way I could make a decision two days before the race. But I needed help making that decision, so I enlisted the help of my coach because she knows my training better than anyone, and I trust her insight and opinion. She asked, “Do you think you can gut it out?” My warrior instinct always says “Yes”, but all of the extra challenges the previous 2-3 weeks weighed on me anyway. My coach didn’t know it, but by her simply asking me, “do you think you can gut it out?”, she reminded me that I’m a fighter. And that I don’t give up on myself when life gets tough. So I went into it with the mindset that I had nothing to lose. That I would give my best, regardless of my circumstances. Training and nutrition leading up to race day: As noted above, my training suffered greatly 2-3 weeks leading up the race. I had to take at least 1 week off of training completely, and only focus on healing and recovery. Gradually I took on small training sessions per day, to test out how my body was doing and to keep moving....

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Race Report: Folsom Triathlons

Race Report: Folsom Triathlons

Posted by on Jun 13, 2016 in Dina's Blog |

Race: Folsom Triathlons Distance: Sprint Location: Lake Natoma, Folsom CA Date: 06/05/2016 “Courage isn’t having the strength to go on – it is going on when you don’t have strength.” – Napoléon Bonaparte I knew RA, (Rheumatoid Arthritis), had plans to reap havoc on my body the night before my race when I went to stand up from the sitting position and pain in my right knee almost had me laid out on the floor. Pain all night in my knee and in my hips poured into race morning. RA was like “Oh you’re racing today? That’s cute.” Hence the hardest part sometimes about being a triathlete with RA – no matter how hard I train, or how prepared I am going into race day, it can all be derailed in seconds without reason or warning. When this happens I have two options: 1. Don’t race, or 2. Don’t let the disease detour me from chasing my dreams. Because I’m headstrong, I usually choose the later. (Through 13 years of battling RA, I’ve learned what I can push through and what I cannot. However, I can only use my best judgment – again the disease is completely unpredictable and I must suffer the consequences regardless.) This race held lots of firsts for me: first race of the season, first one post total wrist fusion, first one racing my sponsored bike, and first race having a coach. This triathlon season I’ve been working harder than ever before, and was stoked to start racing. At the same time, I was also extremely nervous. All the normal race nerves, but I was mostly nervous about my new wrist in the swim leg. Any triathlete would understand why – it can be violent in the water. Getting kicked, hit, and even swam over is a normal occurrence in triathlon. If I were to take a hard enough hit to my wrist in the swim, it could’ve forced me to pull out of the race or even worse break my wrist. Training details leading up to race day: My main event is Olympic distance triathlons, so my training thus far has been focused mainly around Olympic. I’m usually training 6 days a week, (with a couple of those days having two workouts on the same day), and one rest day per week. As a triathlete with RA and many other chronic pain conditions, I sometimes require additional rest days and also changing scheduled workouts to adapt to how my body is feeling on any given day. This is a constant struggle which results in me feeling like I’m not able to train at my “full” potential. Nutrition leading up to race day and on race day: As far as day to day nutrition goes, I eat to help treat symptoms and to help control my disease. For me, this means lots of whole, natural,...

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Athlete Recipe: Peanut Butter-Chocolate Protein Energy Bites

Posted by on May 3, 2016 in Dina's Blog |

Healthy, Athlete Recipe: Peanut Butter-Chocolate Protein Energy Bites I’m always looking for healthy and easy recipes for healthy snacks throughout my day, that keep me going and satisfy my hunger (and my sweet tooth!). These Peanut Butter-Chocolate Protein Energy Bites are one of my favorites – whether I just need a little snack before lunch or after a workout. Beware: if you’re a peanut butter and chocolate fan, you will fall in LOVE. Hard. Go ahead. Do it. No one’s judging you (they’re good for you, remember?) Makes: 2-3 Dozen Bites (depending on what size you make the bites) Ingredients: 1/4 Cup Mini Chocolate Chips (I use Nestle) 1 Cup Old Fashion Oats (100% Whole Grain) 1/4 Cup Honey 1/2 Cup Peanut Butter (I use Skippy Naturals Creamy) 2/3 Cup Coconut Flakes 3 Scoops (1/2 cup) Chocolate Protein Powder (I use Hammer Chocolate Recoverite) Directions: Measure out all your ingredients and toss them together into a medium sized mixing bowl. Stir all the goodness with a batter spatula until all of the powder, oats, chips, and flakes are incorporated with the peanut butter and honey. Once all mixed up together, use your hands to break off small clumps of the mixture and roll between hands to form into bite size balls (about 1 inch bite sizes). Then test one to be sure it’s not poison. 😉 Place them on wax paper lined tray or plate and refrigerate for about 30 mins just so they can harden a tiny bit. Feel free to store in plastic zip lock baggies or however you please. See? Super simple, delicious, and healthy. You’re...

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My Fight Song – Remembering my greatest season, as the next is on the horizon

My Fight Song – Remembering my greatest season, as the next is on the horizon

Posted by on Jan 25, 2016 in Dina's Blog, Uncategorized |

My Fight Song – Remembering my greatest season, as the next is on the horizon…  “Whenever you find yourself doubting how far you can go, just remember how far you have come. Remember everything you have faced, all the battles you have won, and all the fears you have overcome.” One of my favorite quotes, and one that accurately encompasses last years season. It all started when I received this in my inbox one morning… I thought to myself, “Are you seeing this? I’m not dreaming? YES, I QUALIFIED FOR USA TRIATHLON NATIONALS!!!” This. Just. Happened. My #1 goal going into 2015 (also #1 audacious goal) was to qualify for USA Triathlon National Championships. I knew this was a crazy, scary, goal because the odds were against me. But I had to give it a shot, to prove to myself and to other warriors that we can do the things we think we cannot. All I focused on in my mind during training early this year was Nationals – “don’t give up Dina”, “you can make it to Nationals”, “keep fighting.” I imagined I’d cry with happiness…and I definitely did! Who would have thought – someone diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, was disabled, had 2 total hip replacements, whom was told she would never run again and be in a wheel chair… Would also be someone who, after a 13 year battle w/ RA, qualifies for USAT Nationals. When I couldn’t walk or chew food or get dressed – if you would have told me that one day I would become a triathlete and race at USA Triathlon Nationals, I would have never, ever believed you. But come hell or high water, I’m here making my dreams a reality despite all the pain and turmoil. By some miracle it seemed, I qualified for USAT Nationals on my first shot. Crazy right? I was shocked. I remember thinking, “well crap, now I have to get serious and train!” I made myself an Inspiration Board for this major milestone to help me get through the soon-to-be greatest accomplishment of my life. I trained harder than I’ve ever trained before. I mean, you kind of have to when you achieve the goal of a lifetime – am I right? When I was having really tough training days, whether it be mentally or physically (or both) I always turned to Fight Song by Rachel Platten to help me dig deep and remind myself why I was doing what I was doing. This song quickly became my personal fight song on my quest for Nationals (and still is). Fast forward to Race Day. Again reciting the following quote in my mind: “Whenever you find yourself doubting how far you can go, just remember how far you have come. Remember everything you have faced, all the battles you have won, and all the fears you have overcome.” And...

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