Friday, April 26, 2013

I get by with a little help from my friends

This past week I was fortunate enough to travel to Whister, BC to attend the 2013 Lululemon Ambassador Summit.  For those of you who may not know what that is, I'll briefly explain... Lululemon has several ambassadors for each store, and you've probably seen a few of them if you've been into a Lululemon, as their pictures are on the walls of each respective store.  Those ambassadors are a supporting member of their community through their respective practice, some of us are runners, some are cross fitters and personal trainers, and many are yoga teachers.  The summit is an opportunity for Lululemon to bring a hundred or so of those ambassadors from all over the world so that we can continue to develop ourselves by getting our learn on by day, and rocking out by night.

My intention for this blog post is to show some gratitude for the people who were a part of that journey this week.

Thank you Lululemon 4th Street

First and foremost I'd like to thank the amazing ladies and gents of the Lululemon 4th Street Store in
Calgary.   It's been almost two years since we've had a relationship and I'm incredibly grateful that I can genuinely call all of you my friends.  Some of you I'm actually so close to that when one of us is having a tough time on the hills reps or stairs, all we need to say to each other is #HTFU, and we know the other says it with love and affection.  But genuinely, without your amazing support I wouldn't have had the opportunity like I did this week.  For anyone who hasn't been by the 4th St store, be sure to go that way sometime or come to our Run Club Tuesdays at 6 or Saturdays at 9.

The Manifesto

Secondly, I'd like to thank the good folks of Lululemon.  As ambassadors, we get to see a little bit more of the inside of the brand and organization than most and I can wholeheartedly say that it's an organization that lives up to all the good things it stands for.  The brand stands on being the best through four core pillars; Technical Product, Stores, People, and Community.  As ambassadors, Lululemon provides us with support in our vision and goal setting, they give us support in our sports and practices, and they provide us with great opportunities like the Summit that allows us to connect with one another and hopefully create something greater than the sum of its parts... and of course we get a couple pairs of stretchy pants along the way.  All they ask in return is that we go out into our respective communities and try to do what we set out to do anyways, make the world a bit of a better place.  Big shout out to their Summit team who busted their asses out there this week to make sure we had a great time and everything went perfectly.

Stopping by the Whistler Lulu after our run this week

Next I'd like to say thanks to all of my fellow ambassadors.  This week was a great experience for me
and I'm so glad to have had the opportunity to meet so many of you.  I'm truly inspired and in awe of what some of you have accomplished.  Your stories are amazing; successfully owning and operating your own studios, running your one hundred thousandth mile at the Boston Marathon last week, going into state penitentiaries and juvenile homes to teach yoga to individuals trying to improve their lives, and many stories more.  I felt humbled and grateful to be in your company this week and hope that we can stay in touch for years to come.  And if any of you are ever in Calgary in the summer, I'll take you for a run, ride, or Stampeding, and if you're here in the winter, we're going skiing!  The title of this blog post is "I get by with a little help from my friends", and I'm happy to say I definitely made a few more this past week.

This is actually me during last year's "Dad Raf" photoshoot

I'd also like to thank my readers.  Over the past couple of years I've seen the readership on this blog slowly climb and its given me the confidence to continue writing and even consider writing my own book.  It's also thanks to the support I've received from my readers that I began mentoring athletes and athletes to be who have decided to take up running or triathlon.  When I wrote my first blog post I wondered what the heck I'd write my next post on, and the post after that, and after that.  That was about 80 posts ago now and somehow I'm still conjuring up things to write and if there was no one reading my posts, I would have given up on it by now.  So thank you.

Of course I also have to thank all of my friends and family that have helped me out along the way over the past few years.  I know that a few of you have had to put up with me falling asleep when we go for drinks, but it's only because I did something ridiculous like go for a run 14 hours earlier, or rode 160km just before.  I'm so happy to see that a few of you are even taking up the challenge yourselves and have started running, cycling, and racing triathlon.  This year I'll be coaching a couple of you yelling at you guys from the sidelines at your races, and for that... I'm stoked.

My business partner, my drinking buddy, my best friend, my wife.

Lastly but certainly not least I'd like to thank my wonderful wife Shirley.  Who has supported my passion bordering on obsession with triathlon, cycling, and running.  We live in a 640 sq foot condo where approximately 1/5 of the square footage at any given time has a bike, bike part, or bike or run related piece of clothing laying around.  One need only follow me on Strava to see how much time and money has been syphoned off to run and bike.  She also gets to see me come home with more than my fair share of snazzy new items from Lululemon... I get that that can be difficult. Thank you and I love you.

The last day of the summit was pretty sad as many of us were going our separate ways, but this week has been one that I am incredibly grateful for.  I'm fortunate enough to say that I've had so many great experiences over the past couple years, that if I was sad every time they ended, I'd be sad pretty much all the time.  So I leave with that great Dr. Seuss quote, "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened".

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Whenever someone asks me why I run, or why I race, every time I seem to have a little bit of a different answer.  In truth, there are lots of reasons why I lace up a few times a week and go for a run.  But one that keeps coming back to me, is I run because I can.  I truly believe that the ability to stand up and run down the block, or run across the city, is a blessing that must be taken advantage of because there are people out there who may not be so fortunate.

Watching the events unfold yesterday at the Boston Marathon was like a kick to the stomach.  The finish line of any race is a place of elation and joy, not terror and sorrow.  The overwhelming emotion you're supposed to feel at the finish line is one of gratitude, relief, and thanks.  So to see the pride of mother's and father's, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, watching their loved one crossing the finish line be replaced by the unrelenting horror of yesterday afternoon is simply heartbreaking.

Boston is the crown jewel of the global running community's events.  It's a race that people train years for, just for the chance to be a part of a tradition that's lasted over a century.  I choose to believe that races like Boston, and any other race that anyone aspires towards, are the embodiment of something inherently good.  They're the focal point of hopes, dreams, aspiration and courage, and they represent the belief that we can make ourselves into something better through sport.  Through sport we choose to make ourselves, faster, stronger, and healthier, and hopefully through sport we encourage others to do the same.

27,000 people were registered to run Boston this year.  And one fool thought that he could erase the passion and drive of every one of those runners, their families, their friends, and the global community.  They were wrong, they simply served to strengthen our resolve, affirm our compassion towards our fellow man, and remind us that in the wake of terror we can still find acts that will restore out faith in humanity.

Reflecting on the events of yesterday afternoon, comedian Patton Oswalt probably put it best,

"... When you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, "The good outnumber you, and we always will."

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Tips for your first Triathlon

This dude will be racing IMMT this August, way to go Jon!
So it's been a while since I got on here and put a post up.  Too long as a matter of fact.  But it's now high
time that I get back in the saddle and start writing again.

I have a few friends who will be racing their first triathlons in about two weeks.  It being that time of year, I can only imagine that there are many other people out there getting set for their first triathlon.  So I've got a few pointers for the first timer's out there that will hopefully help you when you get to the start line.

  • Practice your transitions- Being organized and efficient in your transitions can net you valuable minutes that you would spend hours chasing in training.  In a field of one or two thousand at an Ironman, wasting a just 5 or 10 minutes in the transition area can cost you dozens of places.  Likewise, in a sprint triathlon with a field of one or two hundred, 10 minutes can easily add up to 10% of your entire race and again cost you valuable spots that you've worked hard to chase.  A few days before the race, dress how you would getting out of the water and practice setting up your transition area and go through your swim-bike, and bike-run for just half an hour and you'll give yourself that small edge over the competition.
  • Show up early- Between finding parking, hauling your bike out of the trunk, checking in and getting body marked, setting up your transition area, getting changed into your swimsuit, saying hello to your friends, and getting warmed up, its easy to realize that showing up an hour early might not quite cut it.  Give yourself at least an hour and a half at the race start to get settled in.  There's nothing worse than starting a race that you've prepared for weeks (or months) feeling rushed.
  • Mind what you eat before the race- Generally a few days before the race I'll start cutting out things like bran muffins and Thai Express.  You probably don't need last night's butter chicken in your stomach before your go swim, followed by a bike, followed by a run.  At the spring distance there isn't a whole lot of need to be too regimented about your diet.  Instead make sure you keep hydrated and keep a water bottle with you the few days before the race.  If you want to carb load, I'd actually advise having that big pasta dinner two nights before the race so you're not feeling heavy the morning of.  Otherwise, simply eat what you're comfortable with and what you know sits well.
  • Mind what you eat during the race- Again, stick with what you're comfortable with.  Pre race I typically don't have a whole lot for breakfast, usually just an Ensure and a banana right when I wake up.  During a sprint triathlon there isn't a whole lot of need for refuelling, but if you've got a gel or energy gum that you take on runs, go ahead and use it here.  In a sprint, about midway through the bike is generally the best time to refuel and hydrate.  Have a sip of drink every 10 minutes or so on the bike, and take your gel midway through the ride, not too close to the swim, and not too close to the run.
  • Confidence- If you're properly prepared, you've swam the distance, biked the distance, and ran the distance.  There is no doubt that you can do it, you might have to do it a little slower, or maybe you'll be able to do it even faster, but you can finish the race.  In the days leading up to the race close your eyes and simply visualize going through each specific part of the race, the swim, T1, the bike, T2, the run, and most importantly the finish.  You've got this.
  • Have fun-  The cool thing about triathlon is that to finish is to win.  In the minutes before the race you'll probably be pissing yourself nervous (it's okay though because you're in a pool or a lake), but just take that moment to be grateful for being blessed and able to go out and rock at not just one but three sports.  Thank the volunteers with big smiles and waves, and share some words of encouragement for your fellow racers.  And remember to smile and do something stupid for the camera as your cross the finish line :)

If you have any questions or any blog posts you'd like to see up, feel free to leave a comment or tweet me at @raflopez.
Also, you can visit my other blog on the Ridleys homepage at Keep Calm and Ride On.