Pool Running – Make it Your Fitness Savior

Posted by on May 9, 2016 in News, Pam's Blog |

You know you’ve done it, too. Felt a niggle during your training. Maybe a bit of a limp after your run. Some specific pain you thought you could run through without being out of the game. So, with big races on the schedule this year, I committed all of those athletic sins. I ran in a 5K race in early April, feeling some pain in my Achilles in every step during my two-mile warmup. I’d never had an Achilles injury, and knew that they could be pretty bad. So of course I lined up at the start and got ready to run hard. You’ve already correctly guessed the outcome. The pain worsened, and by the end, it was excruciating. I continued with my brilliant good judgment and didn’t drop out, really wanting that age-group win. To get that win, I paid a big price. I could barely walk when I finished, and rather than being something that a few days off would resolve, it was five weeks later until I ran my first steps. So what did I do to maintain running fitness? Pool running. To mention it brings eye rolls and the inevitable comment about how boring it can be. Yeah, it’s not as stimulating as running outside where I can enjoy the Parkway, the wildlife, and often see friends. But it sure is effective and can land you back on terra firma with as much running fitness as before your injury. Some elite runners even incorporate it into their routine when they’re NOT injured (gasp!) just so that they can add non-impact mileage. I read that Neeley Spence-Gracey, first American woman at Boston this year, does pool running to increase fitness – when she’s not injured! The cool thing (I’m not talking about the water) is that you can do hard intervals during every pool workout. It doesn’t require the same hard-easy pattern that we need to follow on land (you’re salivating at the potential PRs dancing around in your head about now). I found some great workouts online from Olympian and running-book author Pete Pfitzinger. The intervals aren’t too long, and doing them throughout the majority of the workout not only keeps you fit, it helps mitigate that boredom. (You need only a short warmup and cooldown, maybe five minutes each.) You can also have your coach modify your workouts for the pool, adding intervals and perceived tempo efforts. If you’re lucky enough to have waterproof headphones, then loan them to me. Kidding (or maybe not). But if I had them, being in the pool is definitely a place where you can use them without compromising your safety (or that of others), as can sometimes happen on land. One other thing I do to keep myself motivated is to employ visualization. If you’re in a pool with backstroke flags, they’re the finish line of that race you’re...

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Team Freeplay Gets the Year Started

Posted by on Apr 17, 2016 in News |

After a winter of hard training, Team Freeplay was more than ready to get the race season started. There have been all kinds of, what we like to call, “tune-up” races over the last few months: running races, mountain bike races, Spartan Races. But now the days are getting longer and warmer (much warmer), which means one thing. It’s time for the super-serious, putting-it-out-there, real races. Sara Randolph, our resident #IronMomGoingtoKona, got things kicked off at the Bayshore 70.4 in Long Beach, where she didn’t let things like an open course (!) and crowds of people on the bike route stop her from taking the overall female win. And she broke five hours in a half-Ironman for the first time ever — even with the extra .1 miles. Guess she’ll have to get a new goal for the rest of the season! Sara’s now in Boston spectating the Boston Marathon as she rests a sore IT band and prepares for Ironman Texas next month. For most California triathletes, race season starts in So Cal at Oceanside 70.3, where Freeplay was represented by our youngest athlete, Jaimee Davis. Don’t be fooled, though. Jaimee is so relaxed you’d think she had decades of experience. After a mini-vacation and some hanging out at the beach, she dominated the tough and competitive course with a 5th-place finish in her age group (the youngsters 18-24). It wasn’t that long ago that Jaimee had never even seen a triathlon, much less finished one — much less finished a half-Ironman! Watch out for her in the years to come. Since she couldn’t get into the sold-out Oceanside (*sad face*), Kelly O’Mara headed to Galveston — as in, Texas — for her first triathlon of the year. It didn’t go quite as well as her half-marathon PR in February, but it still went well enough. Galveston was windy, hot, and very competitive. But Kelly toughed it out, and did not lay down in the shade like she was seriously considering at one point, finishing in 4:43, 2nd in her age group (30-34) and 4th amateur woman. And then she re-packed her bike in the race parking lot and headed home to get recovered in time for Wildflower, a California classic. The team’s enthusiastic running ambassador, Erin Wachter, wasn’t focused on triathlon through the long winter months, but on something a little crazier: The Gorges 50K up in Oregon. Even though she started the year off recovering from wrist surgery and was still struggling with a knee injury going into the race, Erin was not going to let go of a top 10 finish once it was in her grasp. She sprinted for the 6th-place woman overall spot and only threw up after she crossed the line. We’ve also had women taking podiums at the Sactown 10-Mile, the Super Sunday 5K, and Xterra Real Granite Bay. And our fearless leader has been doing her best to try not to podium on the trails, but...

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TBF Trail Racing

TBF Trail Racing

Posted by on Apr 11, 2016 in News, Stephanie's Blog |

At the end of February I agreed to join teammate Erin Wachter at the TBF Racing Lost Trail Half Marathon. Out of shape and lacking trail skills I knew I was in for a challenge but who can pass up an opportunity to race with a friend around Folsom Lake. As expected the race was hard but is it possible to do a race that isn’t hard?  I promised myself that I would run “easier” for the first half and then pick it up if I felt good and I am glad I did. I was able to pick it up to secure second overall. I learned that running the trails is hard – jumping over rocks, run from side to side at times, steep climbs and tricky descents but it was a refreshing change from Ironman training and chasing PRs on the road and a great opportunity to get in long runs with aid station support! Next up was the TBF Racing Chanoko 30k+(plus because it was almost 20 miles). I call this race the Poison Oak 30k because I walked away with enough poison oak for 3-4 people! The race took place the weekend of the big storm in March. Trees had fallen and covered parts of the trail leaving runners no choice but to climb through the bushes. These sections were so thick with foliage that you couldn’t decipher what was poison oak and what was just pretty green plants! This was my longest run ever (outside of the Ironman). I started fading the last few miles but I was happy with my effort, enjoyed being out their with fellow triathlete, Robin Soares, and happy to have got the win! Stay tuned for my report on Inside Trail Racing’s Knickbocker 35k and the Woodside Crossover 35k…   Stephanie...

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RACE RECAP: Gorge Waterfalls 50K

Posted by on Apr 10, 2016 in News |

Wyeth Trailhead aka the staring line! If you want to know what it is like to run a race with 6,000ft of climbing, on very limited training with injury, please continue reading.  I started the race off just as planned: EASY. I made sure to position myself behind a group of people where if the pace felt too easy, then it was perfect. I felt really good with where I was running. I didn’t feel like I was straining and I made sure to check my breathing rate often to make sure I was never going anaerobic on any the hills. A group of four of us found each other around mile 6.5 and all started chatting. Two of us were nursing injuries, one had been sick all week and the other guy said nothing. I am sure he thought we were all psycho for even being out there! But then again, he is an ultra-runner, too. We’re all a little weird. 🙂 We were having a blast keeping the pace lax, and chatting away about races we had run. When we came into the first aid station at mile 9 it was a bit chaotic and I could’t find any of them when I was ready to leave. Also, Coach Dad decided to tell me I was in 10th position. Considering I am not competitive at all (major sarcasm), this race just got real. Since I couldn’t find any of my new buds, I set out solo. Thankfully, two of them were not far behind me and we regrouped. One of the guys, named Aaron (cool na me, bro!) decided it was time for him to take off and left me and my new friend Summer to run. Her and I were clipping right along. We were passing people, chatting and really having a good time. I informed her that we were top 10 and we made a goal that we would finish this race that way.  She pulled ahead just before we came in to the second aid station and I never saw her again.  Good job opening your big mouth, Erin. (She ended up winning like a total badass!) At aid station two Coach Dad told me I had moved from 10th to 5th.  Things were really real now! We started a section of the course that was a 2-mile stretch on the road, exposed to sun and my quads had already started pushing me into the pain cave. This was probably the one of the lower mental spots that I hit along the way. I knew a lot of people would take advantage of the flat and try to push their pace. I decided to chill because I knew we had one heck of a climb ahead of us and if my knee and lack of fitness was going to get me to 31 miles, I...

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Super Sunday 5k

Super Sunday 5k

Posted by on Feb 10, 2016 in News, Stephanie's Blog |

It is the beginning of February and there are a few things I am certain of right now. One -I am getting stronger. I know this not only because I can do more push-ups and bench more than I could last fall but also because I recently put a shirt on for work and it didn’t fit and worse I couldn’t get it off. I contemplated suffering in the uncomfortable shirt all day but instead chose to wake up Sean to ask for help. He looked at me somewhat bleary-eyed and asked what I did to my shirt which of course I replied nothing; my deltoids are to blame! Secondly I am not in 5k shape right now. I was totally fine with this…at least until race morning when I had to figure out how to run 3.1 miles without imploding, suffering and getting beat by my friends’ kids. On the drive to the race start I managed to talk myself out of participating in the event but once I got there and saw my teammates, friends, and the race atmosphere I realized that running with everyone would be way more fun that hanging on the sidelines and it was! I also managed to achieve two of my three goals during the race– I didn’t implode and I minimized the suffering. And while I didn’t get beat by any of my friends’ kids several kids did beat me which made the day all the more fun. How often does a 40 year old get to run to the finish on the heels of a 12 year old boy! In the end I managed to finish 10th and sneak away with an age group win which landed me a huge gold ring and what girl doesn’t enjoy adding a little sparkle to her jewelry...

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Freeplay Announces Its 2016 Roster

Posted by on Dec 3, 2015 in News |

Rocklin, CA (December 3, 2015) – Freeplay magazine is pleased to announce its roster for the 2016 season. Team Freeplay added ten female triathletes to create the core of its 2016 squad, while adding five additional runners and/or triathletes under the new ambassador program. The 2016 team has a strong group of long course triathletes including 2016 Ironman World Championship qualifiers Kelly O’Mara and Sara Randolph as well as Gina Anixter and Mary Tanner. Elise Winter, ITU Age Group World Championships qualifier, will return for a second season and will be joined by Xterra triathlete and mountain biker, Kimberly Larson. Top age-group athletes Eileen Swanson, Dina Neils, Marsha Oldenburger, and Jaimee Davis will complete the 10-woman race team. The ambassador program, new for 2016, is comprised of five women who have excelled in running or triathlons. Ambassador athletes will represent Freeplay in both training and racing along with their individual sponsors. The ambassadors include Erin Wachter (2:50 marathoner and record holder at Blood, Sweat and Beers), Stacey Armijo (Ironman athlete and sub-3 hour marathoner), Pam McGowan (Boston Marathon qualifier and triathlete), Christine Scott (6th overall at Ironman Wisconsin) and Pam Goodley (2nd AG at Ironman 70.3 Victoria). Co-founder of Freeplay magazine and former elite athlete, Stephanie Artis, continues as team director for a second season. “I am excited about fielding a women’s team again in 2016. After 25 years of racing in endurance sports, I enjoy being able to give back by supporting other female athletes through both the magazine and the team,” stated Artis. Although Artis will also race with the team next year, her main focus will be on the growth of both the team and the magazine. “This year we are looking to build on what we established in 2015,” said Artis. “The 2016 team continues to target women in Northern California who have demonstrated commitment to the sport, the team aspect and involvement in their community. We looked for athletes who were interested in training together throughout the season in addition to being active in the endurance sport community. With a variety of individual goals Freeplay will not have required team events in 2016. Athletes’ individual goals include competing in the Ironman World Championships, Ironman 70.3 World Championships, XTERRA World Championships and the Boston Marathon. Team athletes will also target other major triathlons and running events including Wildflower Triathlon, USA Productions’ Half Moon Bay Triathlon and California International Marathon.” The Freeplay Triathlon team is proudly sponsored by Rudy Project, Salming Running, Folsom Bike, Sacramento Running Association, Nature’s Bakery, Fluid Sports, XX2i Optics and Hoffart Chiropractic. For more information on sponsoring the Freeplay Triathlon Team in 2016 contact: Stephanie Artis Team Director Stephanie@freeplaymagazine.com For Media Information contact: Sean Dulany Director of Media...

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