My Rock Award

Have I mentioned how much I like winning stuff?

At the 2010 Giant Acorn Triathlon I killed it and won an age group award! Heck Yeah! Sadly I couldn’t stay for the ceremony (due to a previous obligation i.e. tailgating for a UMD football game with Karin, to be exact – Go Terps, unless they play UVA, of course). When I found out that I had won, I called and asked to have the hardware mailed to me. It cost me $7 in shipping. Whatever…I thought “It’ll be a nice addition to my collection – super shiny and show-off-able”.  I might even wear the medal around the house for a bit, just for fun!

When the package arrived a week later, it was like Christmas morning. Grown up Robin all-smiles like a kid, as I tore open the packaging and bubble wrap to behold my award and….wait for it….it was a rock. A rock with the Tri logo on it. It felt like I got coal in my stocking. WTF? Not even any inscription of “Robin came in second in her age group and ROCKS”, no medal to wear around my neck, no plaque to hang on the wall. Just an EFFING ROCK.  How are people gonna know what this means?

So the question is, who really cares about the rock? Answer (after a gut check and mindset shift): only Me. Why did I feel the need for everyone and their mother to know about my successes? Purely the big-head ego part of myself wanting validation?? I checked that attitude quickly.

But it IS nice to have a physical object acknowledging something I worked hard for to achieve. I personally know what that rock symbolizes – a PR at the time, a “sprint to the finish” to race ahead of another age-grouper who I knew had passed me on the bike (grrrr), a proud “all-out, nothing left on the pavement” kind of effort. Priceless memories and I display the rock proudly. Who cares if it means nothing to anyone else? On the very rare occasion when a houseguest asks a question like “what the heck is that rock doing there?”, I’m able to indulge a bit and tell my story of triumph!

The rock kinda rocks!


Radiance Retreat Fat Loss Tips


I attended a truly inspiring Radiance Retreat last weekend in Asheville, NC – With Jen Sinkler of Thrive, Jill Coleman of, Neghar Fonooni of Eat, Lift and be Happy. Here are my big bullet takeaways on NUTRITION for Fat Loss:

MY 3 fav nutrition tips from the retreat:

1)   Move where you can, so you can move where you can’t

2)   Find foods that make you feel good before, during and after you eat them

3)   Ritualize, do not habitualize

#1 – Move where you can, so you can move where you can’t. This idea can apply to weightlifting, running, nutrition, as well as a myriad of other activities. If we have a “big hairy audacious goal” (credit Good to Great by Collir) we seek to achieve in life, how do we get there? Especially if it seems practically unattainable? Go first where you can – take steps you are capable in the direction of the goal – not giant leaps, in order to bring yourself closer to the goal, so the goal will be closer to you. Then make sure you have perspective. As you are taking the steps closer to the goal, it is crucial to know that “slow progress is still progress”.  Imagine your life as a balloon – attempt to fill it up too fast by leaping too far away towards a goal, and you pop it! (i.e. get injured by running/lifting too much too soon, or binge eat after trying a “crash diet”)

#2 – Eat foods that make you feel good before, during and after you eat them. Sure, plenty of foods make us feel good before we eat them. Just thinking about chocolate chip cookies sends warm fuzzy feelings throughout the brain – comfort chocolate, sugary deliciousness. The first few bites of that cookie also feel A-mazing. What happens a few bites in and after the cookie is sometimes a problem. You know that “sugar-high then sugar-crash, followed by more sugar and salt cravings later on” routine? And the “I know that’s going straight to my hips and booty” kind of guilt? Eff that guilt! (right, Neghar?) Pasta can also have this effect on the body. It sounds so good and usually tastes great too, but afterwards the belly is bloated without totally feeling “satisfied” and causes more sugar cravings, heart burn, belly aches, and sometimes leads to a “continuous meal” until bedtime. No bueno. What is muy bueno is figuring out clean foods that please the palette as well as the physique. High protein, high fiber, high water, low/clean carbs is where it’s at.

#3 Ritualize, do not habitualize. Soooo, when is it ok to “cheat” or “reward” ourselves with some yummy (but not necessarily fat-loss-friendly) goodness? The Fat Loss Guru ladies spoke of “ritualizing cheats” instead of making them habits. A habit would be something like coming home from work and immediately cracking beer or pouring a glass of wine. Or perhaps it’s finishing dinner and, without really thinking about it, going straight to the freezer for that nice big scoop of ice cream and chocolate sauce (this is me on some days!). These habits, once they’re formed, can turn deadly for fat loss. On the other hand, planning ahead for that one reeeeally special “treat meal” per week will not only satisfy cravings in the moment, but can help us keep on track during the week – knowing that special meal is right around the corner.  Know exactly what you will have for your treat, when you will have it, and make it gooooood.

Guru’s fav tips:

Jen’s tips:

1)   Add, don’t subtract (look for ways of adding good things to your life – activities, friend time, meditation… instead of just subtracting food)

2)   Move where you can, so you can move where you can’t

3)   Bust out the crock pot (easy-peasy delicious dinners)

Jill’s tips:

1)   Overindulgence is directly related to deprivation

2)   Don’t look for easy. You learn that thru practice. (habit-hacking)

3)   Perspective – slow progress is still progress

Neghar’s tips:

1)   First bite rule (stop eating when it no longer tastes as good as it did the very first bite/sip)

2)   Eyelashes are not shovels (you are allowed to throw away food!)

3)   Find foods that please your palette and your physique

Extended Warmup

How I discovered the Extended Warmup at the beach by accident:

It’s here! The most relaxing week of the year – Beach Week! I’m chillin’ in the Outer Banks of North Carolina with extended family – there are 18 of us in a gi-normous house. Sun, surf, food, family, and (of course) running! We are a family of runners.

I started tagging along on morning OBX runs with my marathon-runner-Dad when I was in high school.  I was not a “runner” yet. I played softball and basketball and would run by myself occasionally to “keep in shape”. Dad, on the other hand, is a former college cross-country/track star and had double-digit marathons under his belt, including the Boston Marathon. Needless to say, he took it easy on me. Which is why, years later, I took it easy on HIM.

In 2008 Dad was recovering from knee surgery and just starting to get back to “yogging” (Anchorman, anyone?). I, on the other hand, had recently found my stride with triathlon training. I had incorporated track workouts into my routine and increased my weekly mileage big time. The tables had turned! We started out each morning together. I no longer struggled to keep pace. Dad was up to about 30-40 minutes of running at a time, and the first day we ran those 30 minutes together. Slooooowly. The heat was oppressive and the air was thick with humidity, but I felt awesome. The next day, Dad and I started out together at the same easy pace as the day before. Dad turned around after his scheduled 20 minutes out, but I kept going. Then something happened. Something miraculous. It was like I was underwater in the deep ocean, expecting to drown, but then suddenly sprouted gills and fins (a la Harry Potter’s gillyweed) and could breathe and swim like a fish. My lungs felt twice as big and my legs felt light and strong. I ran forever and never tired. Ok, not really forever… but I went for a solid 2 hours with no fatigue. This was unheard of. By going at a super-easy pace for 20 minutes, I was able to go 100 MORE minutes faster and easier than I thought possible. I found my Extended Warmup.

This still works for me on long runs. If I start the first 15-20 minutes about 2 minutes per mile slower than my normal pace, I’m able to go for longer miles and feel better. Now, when I run 5ks, my sister (Hi Caroline!) will make fun of me for “warming up” for longer than it takes me to race! There’s something about getting the lungs and heart to catch up to the legs that really works for me – and it can take different amounts of time on different days. There are days when I will not do a long warmup and feel “fine” but other days I’d be screwed without warming up slowly and long. Thanks to Dad’s bum knee I was able to discover this trick. I would not have had the patience to try it out on my own…. I’m telling you – TRY IT and your long run will ROCK.

Robin’s Story

I’m an Arlington, VA native and a die-hard DC sports fan…HTTR! I vividly remember 2 Superbowl Championship Redskins teams waaaay back in “88 and “92. If you told me at age 12, fresh off a Superbowl victory dance, that the next time one of my teams would win the championship I would be 33 years old (cuz this is always the year!)….well, sure, I wouldn’t have believed you and I might have cried a lil bit… but I would have cheered hard just the same.

I have always been super-competitive and love winning almost as much as I hate losing. Since my pro teams weren’t doing it, I was forced to win stuff all by myself. 12 year old Robin loved trophies. And I STILL DO. You know what I’m talking about, right? Hardware rocks. I might be slightly addicted to the stuff. Unfortunately, there are no trophies for piano teachers. So, in 2004 I competed in my first triathlon in Columbia MD. Even though I did not win a thing in that race except a feeling of accomplishment and a pretty cool “runners high”, I FELL IN LOVE with tris. Triathlons are the perfect combination of events that feels good to my body, challenges me and fills my competitive spirit. They’re just awesome.

After training moderately as well as diving into the group fitness world as an instructor, I won a few age-group awards in sprint and Olympic distance tris. Woohoo! I actually even came in 2nd overall in one smallish race – yeeeah Dewey Beach! In 2010 I decided to elevate myself from “pretender “ to “contender”. Heck, I only had to shave 2 minutes off of my best Oly time to qualify for the elite starts in some races – how hard is that… really? I began to train rigorously and consistently with longer and faster runs, a few weekly “2-a-days” and plenty of brick workouts. I slogged through miles that the advanced program had prescribed. It was no-doubt a grueling schedule, but I actually kinda liked that fact – I was SO HARDCORE! What I did not like was the extra 8-10lbs that seemed to have magically appeared on my body. I didn’t get it. Exercising more should make me weigh LESS, right? This was not all muscle either. I was training hard AND eating everything in sight too – because I was hungry ALL the time. So I fed myself. Duh! I was fatigued more days than not, but the program seemed manageable and it was designed to get me the results I wanted, so I stuck with it.

How easy was it to shave those 2 tiny minutes? Couldn’t tell ya. My butt started hurting. I suffered an injury at the beginning of the triathlon season. I still raced that year, but not fast. After my final race of the season, I saw an ortho who diagnosed ischial tuberosity tendinitis. Prescription: REST (the most painful news an athlete can hear). 6 weeks at least. At least I had company, though. I ran into a lot of running friends at the doc’s office and the pt office – we all had the injury bug. It’s a DISEASE! What is there to be done??? HELP US!!!

About a week after my first appointment with the doc, I received my first bill from the doc. $1200. Mind you, I’m self-employed with a basic health care plan… $1200 out of my not-so-deep pocket. Ummmm, nooooo. I cannot afford to be injured repeatedly, as many runners I know and love tend to be (hi Dad!). My subconscious was screaming “Learn this lesson, Robin. Fix yourself and your training!”

Enter Metabolic Effect, a nutrition and exercise program designed at fat loss. I became an ME certified Fat Loss Coach in order to help my personal training clients grasp a good concept of basic nutrition so they could lose weight. I started ME for myself in support of my clients, but also (since I couldn’t race/run/bike at the time) I too needed a way to keep MY body under control weight-wise. It WORKED. For the first time since childhood, I had balanced hunger/energy/cravings. Excuse the double negative here and stay with me – I did NOT think it was possible to NOT be ravenously hungry at all times. Make sense? I jumped off of the “eat less, exercise more” bandwagon and got on the “eat more of the right foods, exercise efficiently and practice proper mindset” bullet train to my new happy, healthy lifestyle.

My hamstring/ischial tuberosity issue healed after (not 6 weeks, but) 3 months of rest and very minimal exercise. Meanwhile, thanks to my nutrition program, I had lost 4% bodyfat, numerous inches and about 5 pounds. I started running again, limiting myself to 3 days a week and reducing miles considerably from before my injury. I felt GREAT in my own skin, on my short and medium distance runs and in the gym. My first race back after my hiatus was the Love the Run You’re With 5k. And guess what? SURPRISE PR. And I wasn’t even trying! Ok, I always try in races, but seriously, it felt so smooth and natural. I never would have thought it was possible to run faster after running MUCH LESS in training. I credit ME nutrition, CX core training, less long runs, more speed work, lifting heavier weights and, importantly, NOT working out when my body told me it needed a rest day. I also quit feeling guilty for taking those rest days, I stopped feeling guilty for having ice cream and pizza every once in a while, and I “took it easy on myself” by learning to look at myself and my body with greater kindness.

I’ve gone on to set a new PR at the Cherry Blossom 10 miler in 2013. I’ve found direction for workouts, meals and exercise psychology, and I want to spread the Gospel! Haha, no, I’m not talking religion. Although my dad ever-so-kindly reminded me that Jesus was 33 when he died – my age now — lovely. While I will not walk on water or change water into wine (as awesome as that would be!), I will ROCK YOUR TRI-training-eating-and-believing world! Stay tuned, please.

Love the Run photo 2012