Monday, January 27, 2014

Off Season Training Recommendations: Enrichment, Renewal, & Joining A Cause Close to Your Heart

Winter challenges our wellness goals. Here are some strategies. First of all, surrender a bit to the hibernation inclination. Get refreshed. Take time to learn. Maybe enroll in a class. Read. Write. 2nd: Plan something: a project, new goals, an athletic event, or travel. Set some benchmarks toward achieving your goals. 3rd: Experiment with new recipes & better nutrition. What’s best for you: Low Carb, High Carb, Paleo, Vegan? 4th: Choose a cause that matters to you and get involved. Find the tribe(s) where other like-minded individuals are working on the same mission. Sign on and be a part of something greater than yourself.

Here's the Sporting Our Spirit mission.  Active Grief Relief has been a focus of mine for some time. What is it? Active Grief Relief is a program to help individuals set back by grief (all different kinds of grief) get back to really living life. Grief is about loss: the death of a loved one, a divorce, a job, friends, a lifestyle, health. Grief brings about some crushing setbacks to the way you used to live your life, to your natural momentum. Manageability of the grief process can be supported with sound fitness. That’s a fact!

The SOS program proposes fitness, good company, and nature as prescriptions against becoming “stuck” in sadness and sorrow. It works. We can & do help. We are different. We talk less and move more. Anything from walking around the block to an ironman is possible. For us, at Sporting Our Spirit- the key target group, the number one focus, is all those who have suffered the loss of a loved one due to suicide, and maybe even attempted suicide themselves. Survivor & grief support is not "trendy".  People don’t want to talk about it. Never mind talk, some can’t even think about it. Yet suicide and loss reside in and plague so many families. This is the day & age of endurance events.  Events for the cause of, grief relief and suicide prevention & survivor support are incredible rare. Do you know of any?

In the past, I have been discouraged (maybe just my ego) by the smallness of my tribe and the quietness of our voices. Let’s (together) remember, there IS such a thing as "the power of one". Well, for Sporting Our Spirit, make that the power of two. Josh Shadle, my Boulder, CO son, is certainly invested in SOS. Our goal is to bring hope through the same vehicle that gave us hope: move, get physical. Small steps progress to bigger challenges. And everyone at sometime is affected by grief. Want to help?

In review, this winter, consider: resting more, learning something new, trying new foods and recipes, planning future travel and challenging events and goals, finding & joining a tribe that is doing good for a cause you are passionate about. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

How do you preserve & protect the “lovely” from the ruins? Persepolis (Old Persian kingdom and D.A. Shadle)

Nothing lasts forever. What are the ways to cull life’s treasures from its shattering defeats? My memories are a tropical rain forest mix of wonders, love, miracles, adventures, terrors, venom, & agonizing fear and grief. I was thinking today that if I could select out a sweet medley of some of each, I’d be happy to harvest closer to the middle of life’s highs and lows, to try to find a peaceful blend. That’s easier said than done. The scripture (Philippians 4:8) comes to mind: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

David A Shadle (Jan. 25, 1951 – July 19, 1999…Overlooking the ruins of Persepolis, not far from where we studied, Shiraz, Iran in 1971. Miss you and thank you for all the good you brought to our world.

David was good at just about everything he tried: love, fatherhood, camping, track, tennis, studying, music (a drummer), basketball, business, mechanical repairs, art, communication, and that was with very little practice or effort (by his own confession, not by my judgment). He was thoroughly organized and neat. Everything had its place. Organization was a practice he learned from his father and unsuccessfully tried to pass on to us. He’d wonder how far his talent might have taken him had he honed and practiced his skills like many others that he had admired.  What was that about? Maybe the Marianne Williamson quote applies- afraid of how great he could have been and what expectations might have come with that achievement.

Did he know he was battling demons even when he was young? He was NEVER, I repeat, never, a bragger. He was modest. If anything he minimized his achievements. There is pressure at the top, and he had come close in sport and music to pinnacles.  Here’s my favorite example. In Iran, when Shah Reza Pahlavi visited Shiraz University, the music department needed a drummer who could play anything by ear. They wanted an Iranian student, of course. Not some long-haired American like Dave. Nonetheless, Dave outperformed all other drummers. One other American, a cellist also performed in the concert. Due to tight security, the concert was by invite only, and all of us Kent State University exchange students were prohibited from attending. But we did hear Dave was a hit at the concert. His picture shaking hands with the shah was front page news in the next day’s paper. There is only one limiting factor that I can imagine when it comes to Dave. He always seemed unafraid to me. I can’t picture Dave afraid to give his all. If he believed in it, he committed to it.  Whatever fears Dave had he didn’t share them aloud. His confidant and personal adviser was alcohol. Primarily, rum and coke or possibly orange juice and coke. They were his army of two; the army that tortured and blasted away the multitude of talents and gifts that he possessed.  They also gave him release and escape from what…. I don’t know. Addiction is like that. It just is. You can’t challenge it. You won’t win. Addiction isn’t something you can bargain with. Believe me, I tried. I was always a bit jealous of Dave’s easy way with people. He had loads of friends. He cared for his plants like they were humans. He never forgot to give his dog a treat. He was full of life and had the biggest heart and sympathy for nature and underdogs. He would give the shirt off his back to someone who needed it more.  He was too sensitive to kill a spider. They’d get shuttled outside. One exception to loving all nature…. in the vac & sewing shop, inside a vacuum bag, he was personally offended by a cockroaches. Cockroaches often got nuked in the microwave. LOL. Most of all, to Dave, I want to say thank-you for Jake & Josh, for always believing in me, and for teaching me my #1 lesson, that God is Love. Pray for us, hug Jake, & help me to always see the good. How do we grow & protect the lovely matters of life that are tossed in with the ugly and the painful? I am making it a goal to be braver, more open to all that I am, being present to it, and then communicating- uncovering, letting out, and laying down in writing, embellishing- all of it: life’s buffet table. I expect this process to be hard but beneficial. I expect to see more rainbows, butterflies, hear more birds singing. Josh is in Boulder. But if he were here, I'd ask him play the drums. Dave said Josh was a better drummer. On Jan. 25, Dave's birthday, I’m having a rum something in one of Pop’s (what the kids called their dad) drinking glasses (that’s what Joe calls those plastic glasses- Pop’s drinking glasses), and perchance I see a cockroach- I’m nuking it. Here’s to you David A. Shadle. RIP.  (Philippians 4:8) “If there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Preserving the good takes effort. Whether its Persepolis’s history of thousands of years or Dave’s 48.

--> Persepolis (Old-Persian: Pārśa[2]), also spelled Perspolis, was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire (ca. 550–330 BC). Persepolis is situated 70 km northeast of the modern city of Shiraz in the Fars Province of modern Iran. The earliest remains of Persepolis date from around 515 BCE. UNESCO declared the citadel of Persepolis a World Heritage Site in 1979.[3] There are ruins of the palaces of Darius I, Xerxes, and later kings as well as the citadel that contained the treasury looted by Alexander; the ruins lie on a huge platform constructed of limestone from the adjacent mountain. ( on line references).

Monday, July 22, 2013

Naples Triathlon: Paradise Coast International Triathlon, 9/22/13

This is a review regarding an Olympic distance triathlon set to take place in Naples, FL 9/22/13. It was well-written, with lots of detail. I hope you find it helpful. Special thanks to Erik, a triathlete who lives in Naples & will be competing in this one.

Here's the race organizer's website.

Here is the low down on the Olympic tri course in Naples at Sugden park:  The start/finish line and transition area is nicer than most venues with good free parking and really nice bleachers for friends and family to hang out in comfort at the finish line.  The transition area specifically is paved so no worries about mud or wet grass.  For the swim, it’s a lake and pretty nice.  Its an old, deep, rock quarry which obviously breaks into the aquifer making the water temp somewhat cool, especially when the surface gets churned up after the first wave. (certainly it is cooler than the Gulf!... but won’t be wetsuit legal, so get any brilliant… I mean, ‘buoyant’ ideas)  The bike is obviously pancake flat, with exception of a couple of extremely small bridges in the ritzy neighborhoods, but it has a lot of turns, curves and cross streets, so it may be confusing (even to locals) if the organizers don’t have enough marshals to direct you… and it cuts across a few major highways… so be sure to have good breaks and watch for cars  (this organization does not have many volunteers and cops stopping traffic like the non-profits do and they don’t have any closed roads… usually).  Then, for the run, let’s call it the “economically diverse run”.  It cuts through differing types of neighborhoods from rough to ritzy out and back, but you may find your biggest encouragement will come from the rough parts because the gated community is no doubt full of head scratchers who care less about a triathlon.  In any case, it will be lonely out there until you reach the last quarter mile and finish to a cheering crowd in the grandstands.

Lastly, this organization usually lacks on post race yummies, so BYO food and drinks.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

"The Mother of Another"

“The Mother of Another….”

A group of twenty-somethings gathered in a mountain town for a wedding. Joy and anticipation fill the air. Stories began, all kinds of stories: adventurous, scary, light-hearted. A young man reaches deep to tell a story about the brother he misses. Close friends know the brother’s been dead for years. The story recounts fond memories of the outdoors they loved: fishing, mile-long bicycle wheelies, 4-wheeling, and an old beat up Ford truck that muscled through the woods & sprayed mud everywhere in its wake. When the story ends… a brief hush falls upon the group until the air is once again alive with memories of the next storyteller. The brother though, slips away noticed only by one. He is hoping not to betray a sadness that is welling within. In the shadows of the setting sun, the tears that begin to form are private…spotted only by the one. She’s the “mother of another”. She sees the signs of sadness and her heart goes out to the brother who’s distanced himself from his friends. A sob, a shudder of sorrow threatens to spasm upon his back. All this, she takes in. Then, without hesitation, she has him wrapped up tightly in her arms. They don’t really know one another. And yet, in this offering of comfort, the brother’s sorrow bursts forth fully, uncontained and unabashed. Until tonight, he’d said little about the brother he missed so much. Tonight, the good memories and the sadness of loss, met head on. The mother said nothing, only squeezed him tightly & gently patted his back. For a moment, he was lost and broken, until “the mother of another” shared the medicine that almost always cures everything… the touch of loving kindness.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Understanding Lactate Threshold (LT), Run Training Tolerance

Understanding Lactate Threshold- the basics for beginners and intermediate athletes, especially triathletes- swimmers, bikers, runners.

I am in Boulder, CO working with my son on his Boulder Sports Recovery business: All Sports Recovery Club. Please check it out. Come in and visit:

Friends and athletes that I train back in Fort Myers, FL asked me to review what I meant by time trial (TT) testing for lactate threshold. I put some thought into my explanation, so I felt it might be helpful to others.

Explanation: LT is lactate threshold. It is very important to know what your tolerances are in expending energy (meaning how hard you are working at your training). If you are working harder and demanding more oxygen than your heart can pump to your muscles, you will have to quit, bonk, or hit the wall, so to speak. This is obviously NOT the goal. In training, we try to find the magic number (and to improve that number)  where the exercise load you are demanding of your cardiovascular system does not exceed its capability. As you advance your conditioning, athletes and coaches do interject harder intervals to improve LT. Thus, you can run harder, longer with proper conditioning.

Heart rate is one way to ID your LT zone. Pace and power are two other ways. Most runners (and cyclists, even swimmers)  should, after at least two weeks of consistent conditioning, have an idea of what pace they can maintain for about 8-10 min. This is an average (pace) even with some breaks (aka, rest intervals: RI). Most athletes if well-conditioned can sustain at LT output for up to one hour. Most beginners and intermediate athletes can sustain LT pace for somewhere between 5-10 minutes. This is something that smart training (especially with good coaching) improves.

People with power meters on their bikes can tell how many watts of power they can expend. Cadence, pace, HR, & power can all help you on the bike to find LT (threshold or tolerance).

Important!! To know these LT numbers is to (1) tell you how effective your training is, (2) make you a smarter, more confident racer/trainer. Thus, you know when you are on track. You also know when you are not pushing hard enough or pushing too hard.

A common heart rate test for LT on the run is 3 x 10 minutes with 2 minute rest intervals (RI) slow run or walking recovery intervals between the 10 minute run sets. Ideally, you want to find a pace you can run that doesn't change more than 15 seconds on all three 10 minute run sets. You also need to know preliminary heart rate zones. I can help you with this. To find your heart rate zones for training takes about 2 weeks of conditioning to establish. So don't test for LT until you've begun your conditioning.

Warning: make the TT (time trial) test fit your conditioning. I have assigned LT tests for 2 x 8 min. when someone was out of shape or even 2 x 3 min. Don't go 3 rounds of 10 min. when HR is sky-rocketing and pace is collapsing. The tests has shown enough data. Your fitness stinks, you are not well, or something else, try again later.

Tools: A Garmin 305 is what I use. I could conduct this test on myself, unassisted. The Garmin 305 or newer will track: time, heart rate, and pace. You can also use a Garmin 205 combined with a heart rate monitor.  For example, you can set the heart rate monitor (HRM) to beep when your heart rate (HR) hits the high end of your LT zone and or drops below your low end, such as 148-152 beats per minute(bpm). Athletes with very different paces can use similar HR settings. One athlete may run an average of 8 min. per mile, while another runs 12 min. per mile, all at LT heart rate zone of 148-152. Keep your eye on the Garmin for time only. Try not to look too much. Looking at your watch too often can effect your HR. Start and stop the watch between the 10 min. intervals and also on each of the recovery breaks. How fast your HR drops is an important indication of conditioning. It's a good sign of your fitness when your HR quickly drops (aka, recovers) after you slow down. If you remember to start and stop the watch every time, you can do this test on your own with a Garmin (alone, if 305 or newer) and Polar HRM. Polar and Garmin are my choices. There are many other options. The Garmin will keep a pace history of all the 10 min. intervals along with the 2 min. recovery sets.

Let me know if I can help you further. If you provide me with some of your run times, I can help you establish a base pace for your LT test. Time Trial tests really should be done every 3-4 weeks for each discipline (swim, bike, run).

Good Luck!
Coach Susan Kelly
Youth & Junior Elite USA Triathlon Certified Coach, NASM Personal Trainer, Level II USA Triathlon & Level II ASCA (swim) Certified Coach

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Gift of Hope from an Airline Passenger

An airline passenger who brought me hope……

To be like a child can be a good thing. Why? I think it relates to trust, an openness to “possibilities” not limitations. When I fly, I often think of Jacob, my son who died in 2004. Lifted to puffy clouds in an endless sky ignites mystery and brings Heaven closer to Earth. Likely, this is a childlike mind-set that heaven is in the clouds. But the ritual of remembering gets me to thinking. This thinking about loss is tricky, especially of my son. More often than not, the Jake connection is likely to bring me to tears. Being a private person and in the airport sea of strangers, I do all I can to hasten along these thoughts, closing with a prayer to the Almighty Coach for encouragement.  “Get me through this. Make the thoughts happy. Help!”

Do be careful what you pray for. Here come-ith the lesson. This day, Oct. 25, I was flying back to FL out of my stopover in Chicago.  Boarding, I found my aisle seat and stood waiting for my seat mates to annoy, crowd, entertain, or enlighten or some combination.  A large, elderly (86 years-old) woman took the remaining middle seat.  Being a book lover, I am often curious about what others are reading, especially travelers.  Our chatting began then over the book she was reading. She told me a story that came  straight from her heart, and (I believe from) heaven. I am not sure what to do with it, so I am writing it down. Her conversation began about the book she was reading, Heaven is for Real.  The book was a best seller. It’s about a boy who almost dies, actually he may have died during an operation but lived. She said a relative gave it to her because she had a son who had died a few years ago.  At age 21, he had suffered a terrible accident was left paralyzed. So this mom took care of him for some 50 years. Here was her answer to my question” “To what do your attribute your long and healthy life? “Well,” she said, “God let me take care of my son all those years. I could not stand to think he might have had to live in a nursing home. He had tons of friends and a wonderful attitude. You know ,” she said, “he never complained about his lot in life. Well, just once….He banged his fist on a wall and yelled out, ‘Why me, God?’ I went to the wall, she said, and I pounded back, ‘Why me, God?’ She said, he laughed and so did I. He added , ‘You really do have it worse than I do, don’t you, Ma?.’” I grabbed my hankie with the peppermint and eucalyptus. It was all I could do to keep it together. I wanted to understand the pieces of her story as they related to me and to Jacob. What would my life have been like caring for him for the rest of his years? Would he have been able to laugh at life? Not likely. He had all he could handle even when his days were good. I know this woman beside me is/was a “presence”. Yes, on an earthly note, she takes up a lot of my already cramped airline space. But on the spiritual side, she has been gifted to me this day. Just as my heart was sinking remembering Jacob, my childlike mind prepared for a “possibility” and another angel appeared.  It happens quite often. “I’ve got him,” says my Lord. Yes, because I am an athlete, & because I do have a childlike imagination, I like to picture our Lord like a great outfielder. He will catch us every time, & most gently at our finish, He will catch us for all time. Indeed, He has my Jacob. I pause, I look over at her, this 86-year-old. I don’t know her name. Her book is down, as she quietly mouths the words to the Rosary, fingers working along a lovely wooden bracelet. Thanks  be to God. Let me remember you Jacob in the way that God always remembers each of us: full of love, goodness, and of course….Possibilities.

Monday, July 11, 2011

"Narrow is the Gate" Find the way to be encouraged.

We have so much to be thankful for.

I just "happened" upon this inspiring blog here today. It's from Therese at Beyond Blue or Beliefnet. The message contained is something of which I remind myself and others regularly. I say: "Step away from the self." It's so hard during life challenges when you think you are already maxed out, to reach within for more reserve. Yet, when we put our eyes & hearts back on our Source of Creation & Power, we know we were created to persevere. As a coach, I use fitness challenges to help others get stronger on many levels. You need a higher level of RPM,s to rev up your "gitty up" I think. This adding fitness to spiritual conditioning has worked well for me and others. Then, my setback, first day back home after being away from training and the clients I train. Don't you know, an accident, I hit a dip in the road, rolled my ankle and cut up my opposite knee. Holy Crap, as Frank Barone on Everybody Loves Raymond would say. The coach is the cripple right now. No idea just yet how bad. The fall happened yesterday, a Sunday. I am doing all the right treatments, RICE- rest, ice, compression (not yet), & elevation. Moving about is nearly impossible. The right knee is stiff and cut up. The left ankle is severely swollen and refuses to bear weight. Yet how can I complain? This too shall pass. I know that is the truth....somewhere. Anyway, thank-you all for sharing your challenges to remain "encouraged" in spite of the obvious discouragements. Your perseverance through adversity helped me today. You are doing the most and the best that you can right now. You can't beat up on yourself for not being able to do more, to provide more for others. I will have to do the same. May God bless you in your journey. If you have time and interest, you can read about how I came to this ministry of faith and fitness on my site: Read: Background.

Susan Kelly
Sporting Our Spirit, Coach & Founder