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Femme Community

“Femme Community”; A Forum for All Female Athletes

All athletes are not created equal. We are the sum total of our experience, training, desire, genetics, even geography. De Soto Sport Femme Apparel is designed with a mind for every female athlete’s celebrated differences, as well as their shared, multisport enthusiasm. Likewise, this Femme Community blog is where we may congregate to embrace our differences, share our experiences, gain support and give voice to our passion.

As the name suggests, we are a community. What you will find here are tips, tales and matters of importance to female endurance athletes. But, more, you will connect with likeminded women, sharing their own stories and concerns. Navigate the site to your heart’s content, and know you are invited to participate. Ask questions. Leave comments. Join in the exchange of ideas. Find the support you crave, while offering it to others.

By joining the Femme Community you will be kept up on activities, events and, sure, specials and product offerings. But you do not come here for pressure or a sales presentation. You come here for advice. You come here for guidance. You come here for nutritional and training assistance. You will get informed. You will hopefully be entertained. And above all, and I cannot stress this enough, you will find support. You have found us.

Now become a supported member of the Femme Community. Bookmark us. Register your email for convenient, updated blog posts. Or, simply commit us to memory and return at your leisure when in search of empathy, camaraderie and affirmation. Welcome to the family. Feel free to try something on.

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26 September 2015: Going to Kona? Doing the race? Swim the distance, in the ocean, on the swim course, in your race kit...and bring some lube!

by CEO and Repeated Ironman Kona Finisher, Emilio De Soto II

Unless you are in Kona for more than 10 days before the race, you are probably not going to ride 112 miles or run 26 miles in one workout. It should however, not be unreasonable to swim the 2.4 mile course. After all that is only 4224 yards. Before you swim make sure you have plenty of sunscreen on, and put it on your inner thighs, arm pits and any where your limbs touch any other skin. It will help for more than just sun protection as you will see. The reason to swim the distance in the ocean goes way beyond just putting in the distance. Here is why:

1. GET USED TO THE OCEAN: If you do not spend much time in the ocean, it can be overwhelming. There is wind, movement on the water surface, and below the water surface. There is sea life, buoyancy, and salt, lots of it. The only thing ocean swimming has in common with lake swimming is that neither has a black line at the bottom like a pool. Start the first day swimming just 5 or 10 minutes. Swim in the morning before the wind picks up. Swim with someone else, believe me it will be impossible to swim alone all week. Don’t expect it to feel the same the next day, as currents and winds may make it choppy or create more or less movement.

2. SIGHTING: As you swim the 1.2 miles out to the turnaround buoy, which for years has been a boat on race day, you will notice that you are swimming almost parallel with the coastline and Ali’i drive. Stopped frequently along with way out and notice the landmarks like hotels, condos etc. This will make your race day swim feel really familiar. Remember don’t trust that the person swimming in front of you knows where they are going. They probably are not reading this tip!

3. CHAFING: The saline concentration is different on the Kailua-Kona coast, and with that you may find that salt might cause some chafing between your skin and the garment you are wearing, or even between your skin and your skin! While that sunscreen I recommended will help prevent this, it may not entirely. so during your training swims bring a small 3 ounce tube of vaseline or Aquaphor. Tuck it into your shorts. Better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.

4. TAKE YOUR GOGGLES OFF, PUT THEM BACK ON: Do this a few times while you are training so that if by chance on race day, they either slip off, or they get knocked of by a fellow competitor’s swimming hand or kicking foot, you will not panic and you know what you have to do to put them back on. Remember everyone is racing, so if this happens it was probably an accident. Don’t burn up energy seaking revenge on that person. Chances are you will not have any idea who you bumped into.

5. ENJOY THE VIEW: The swim course is located in an area where people come from all over the world to dive and enjoy the underwater sea life. Make sure your goggles are clean and enjoy what will surely be a 2.4 mile swim in the world’s most amazing aquarium.

6. ENJOY RACE DAY: If you do not plan on winning or placing in your age group, do not let yourself get caught up in the hype and the crowds when the gun goes off. Instead let all those people go. Wait 30 seconds or so, and though it may seem like along time, and you will see how much free open water you will have in front of you. You will not feel people pulling on your feet, or hitting or kicking you. Chances are you find yourself passing many of those people along the swim course.

25 August 2015: Body Image: When Can We Finally Appreciate Ourself, Our Accomplishments and Our Life?

by Femmebassador, Wife and Mother of Two: Kristin Radcliffe

This wasn’t the last picture that did it. It was one in a series that included the last one. At the end of a solid little Sprint distance, where I raced as an Athena but darn near won the age group had I competed in it, despite the seaweed that had wrapped around my arms and grass in between all my toes I felt a little bit like a rockstar. (and not to be tooting the De Soto horn, but the kit was delicious!~) I’ve raced solid Sprint races for the last several years, shooting toward my first Olympic in a few short weeks. But something in what I saw in one of those pictures led me to exclaim, “God, the back of my legs look like wrinkly elephant skin….and those hips?!” My son later interjected, in seeing another picture, “Mom, you do have big boobs and your hips are a lot bigger than all those other ladies.” That strong immediately dissipated. I’ve raced three half marathons, am swimming more than ever and cycling is stronger than I could ever have imagined. What is wrong with me?

What is wrong is a lot of things, not just with me, but with many of us who put ourselves out there in spandex that doesn’t hide a thing, swimming, biking and running to cast out whatever demons we may be facing. We forget that every time we step into the water, every time we clip in to our pedals or lace up our shoes, we are leaps and bounds ahead of those who don’t even try. Every stroke, up every hill we pedal, every mile we run- a seven minute mile or a 14 minute mile, regardless, a mile is still a mile- is more than the hours sitting on the couch wishing for something we are too afraid to try. We are more.

The beauty of this sport, the beauty of any woman who is strong enough to try (how do you like that play on words?), is that we come in all shapes and sizes. We come in all speeds, tall and short, small and large breasted, every color of the rainbow. And we need to be better about remembering that- that no matter who or what we are, we are enough.

So today, I put my suit on and climbed in the pool. I drowned out the sounds of the Aqua aerobics, which dominated the pool, I ignored the older man who couldn’t stop talking about the remnants of my poison ivy, I didn’t let the woman who couldn’t remember how to circle swim and share the lane and I just went. Wasn’t fast, wasn’t the prettiest of swims, but it didn’t matter. I swam more yards than I have since I was 13 and on swim team. And today, that was more than enough.

18 July 2015: What Inspires You? Injured, Blind Ironman Scott Smiley Should.

by CFO/Attorney/Mother/Triathlete, Tracy M. De Soto

What lifts you off the couch? What gets you out on the road and keeps you on your bike? How do you get yourself into the gym; the water? Why do you invite and then push through the occasional pain and displeasure, then do it all again the next day? Is it an insistent little voice in your head? A persuasive partner? An elusive personal goal? If you can draw upon it when you want or need a little lift, it doesn’t really matter what it is.

Inspiration might well filter through your family. Could be the motivating glow that shines in their faces, which makes you want to succeed at everything you do. There’s the thought of getting older and wanting to be healthy; wanting to be there for your kids as they grow, and to live well and long enough to share experiences with their families.

You might just be one of those passionately driven people, who doesn’t need anything beyond your own determination to get out and tackle something as potentially daunting as a triathlon. Whatever your incentive, whether you need or are looking for further motivation, the story and recent accomplishments of Scott Smiley will move you to tears, as it drives you to question, then push your own limits.

Army Maj. Scott Smiley was serving in Iraq, in 2005, when he was injured in an explosion that left him with permanent blindness. On Sunday, June 28, of this year, Scott took on and completed the Coeur d'Alene Ironman in Idaho. A 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and a full marathon. He trained, competed and conquered it all without the benefit of sight, but with the blessed gift of support from his family, friends and a burning desire to persevere.

Rather than give up, rather than let fate ruin, or even rule his life, Scott is consciously disputing the limitations blindness is meant to bring to his table. Directly following his injury, he stayed in the army. He enrolled for and got his MBA. He and his amazing wife Tiffany (Scott credits her as his source for inspiration) are now raising three children. And with the help of his brother and sight coach, Scott completed every stroke, step and mile in the most grueling of tests of endurance and will.

Scott Smiley does not hold his achievement over anyone’s head, though he is proud to offer up his example. He is determined to never give up, and, as importantly, wants to show others that they don’t have to, either. If an accident, circumstance or series of unfortunate events threaten to put you or your ambitions on the shelf, look within, look to family, find your fire; your motivation. Perhaps you can find your way onto the path of an incredible spirit who has faced something supposedly insurmountable and emerge an Ironman.

12 May 2015: Mother’s Day Motivation: Find Inspiration in Family, Friends or a Field of Complete Strangers

by CFO/Attorney/Mother/Triathlete, Tracy M. De Soto

Over the weekend, on Mother’s Day, West Covina’s own Lenore Moreno made pixie dust out of the Disneyland Tinker Bell Half Marathon; toping the previous best, 1:24:11, by over 8 minutes. And, yes, we are all serious athletes who gravitate toward more strenuous and meaningful competition, but at 1:15:55, Moreno’s time would have stood as the world record until about 1980, and is only a few minutes off the best recorded half marathon for a woman ever.

As serious and set in our ways as we are, many won’t run in a “simple” half marathon. Others won’t participate in anything not presided over by the USAT or IAAF. And who even considers signing up for a Disney spectacle? Maybe you just don’t compete on Mother’s Day because it falls right around your middle child’s Birthday, coating that weekend with a thorough and sufficient level of excitement (see chaos). If you’ve been exercising at any level, for any amount of time, the reasons not to do something can pile up like the children’s laundry. Reflecting upon a certain accomplishment, on a certain special Sunday might well alter such toxic behavior.

About 13,000 women participated in the Tinker Bell Half, at 5:30 Sunday morning. Yes, they were there on purpose, and got to enjoy the sights, sounds and Disneyland atmosphere, but how many of them didn’t have anything else demanding their attention? They managed to find the motivation. Maybe Disney’s not your thing, but see if you can identify what is, and take a look at how it can and does drive you.

You don’t need to be a mother to find inspiration on an occasion like Mother’s Day. You needn’t even have an emotionally fulfilling or even stable relationship with your own mother. Become motivated by the effort and accomplishment of Lenore Moreno, a strong, passionate woman you’ve only just heard of. Find the strength to motivate yourself on a weekend when you have no events scheduled, then do it again on a Wednesday. Learn how to get yourself up, then see how easy it is to stay there..

24 April 2015: Early-Season Fitness: Preparation plus Enjoyment equals Success

by CFO/Attorney/Mother/Triathlete, Tracy M. De Soto

Training and Competition are Not Simply About Side-Splitting Achievement- Find Your Balance Early and Realize Better Results

Last month’s LA Marathon took place amid record heat and participation levels. 54 runners were hospitalized for heat-stroke and related complications. About twice as many were treated for dehydration out on the course. The following week the BADWATER Ultramarathon series got underway to the dubious comfort of all. Needless to say, even as snow continues to thaw on much of the continent, the 2015 competition season has gotten off to a scorching start. Despite eagerness to get the year’s first race under your belt, pursue an event with conditions or qualifications for which you are not prepared and you may jeopardize more than your positive outlook. Season, even career threatening consequences await the impatient and unwary.

Proper readiness, and a fulfilling year of fitness, can be as simple as which early-season event you choose. An Ironman, Ultra or Century right out of the gates is not a sound strategy, despite what you hope to prove to yourself or that neighbor with whom you are so competitive. No one is saying you can’t handle it. But, nearly all of the 54 LA Marathoners who ended up in the hospital were, are well-conditioned athletes. Despite your capabilities, sometimes conditions and circumstances just aren’t in your favor. Negative results most often occur early in the year before you’ve settled into your reliable groove.

Everyone understands moderation, but how many practice it? The complicated mental makeup of even a recreational competitor can drive one to the edge of excess, even on a supposed off day. Consistent, light training early in the season is not a step backwards, nor is participating in a race for which your body is “overqualified.” Sprints and Half Centuries are not for amateurs. Signing up for one in advance of a more intense and lengthy event is a perfect way to kick start your more serious training without overreaching. Your most grueling race of the year should never be your first. Similarly, your next event should not be so far in the future that you justify putting off meaningful training for it.

It’s okay to sign up for something that isn’t meant to test your limits. Participating in an event of less severe intensity can remind you how enjoyable fitness is meant to me. Besides, just because something isn’t impossible doesn’t mean it’s not competitive. Ever heard of the Carlsbad 5000?

31 March 2015: New Season: Full Speed Ahead!

by CFO/Attorney/Mother/Triathlete, Tracy M. De Soto

Wow - it's that time again, April and Spring are here! Many of you may have your first races of the season under your belt while others on the east coast in particular are still unthawing. I am eager for this season. It is spring, and close to summer like weather in San Diego! Whatever it takes to inspire you, go out and find it.

Remind yourself why you do what you do. Is it to achieve a personal goal? Maintain a lifelong fitness? Set an example for your children? Or simply to de-stress from the rest of our fast-paced world that we live in? Whatever it is, keep on keeping on and get out there for another great season!

14 January 2015: New Year’s Resolve - Unleash the New You in the New Year

by CFO/Attorney/Mother/Triathlete, Tracy M. De Soto

The gym is packed. Just battling through the parking lot is enough to put you off your game. Every bit of exercise equipment, to which you have unlimited access for most of the year, is now unavailable; dominated by rosy-cheeked and, if only temporarily, motivated new fitness enthusiasts.

New Year’s resolutions are currently in full effect. The next few weeks are going to test your own resolve as every cycle, elliptical, yoga mat, heck every towel will be two- and three-deep. Until the annual new-found enthusiasm wears off, it’s up to you keep your own serious training on track. This is the time of seasonal adjustment, and not simply due to dubious weather conditions. If it were nice outside, the gym wouldn’t be such a mess. It’s a pity we as a society don’t just make Spring resolutions, then in January every indoor lap pool wouldn’t look like a freshly disturbed anthill. Alas, you need to keep focus and keep up with your trusted routine. How do you do this in the face of prohibitive conditions, inside and out? It’s time to challenge yourself.

As crowds and climate present particular problems in the new year, it’s an opportunity for the committed athlete to push back. The cardio machines you excel on are going to be essentially off limits until around Groundhog Day. Your best class now has a line and a signup sheet. As mentioned, the pool, you can forget about it. But despite the masses, there are those secluded corners and bits of equipment that repel the average member like a tax audit. It’s most often those things which are difficult to use. Again, this is your opportunity. Tailor your own workout to employ those items others avoid. Jump ropes, balance trainers, the heavy medicine ball, every pull-up bar: they’re likely all yours. Then, it may be still hard to find, but with any five feet of empty space you may hole up and do some meaningful, seriously productive stretching.

What separates the committed athlete from the casual plodder is not simply the fact that the latter will let their membership expire, though that’s a sure symptom. The difference is heart, and slogging your way through a busy gym is only part of it. The dedicated New Year’s competitor has got to gear up and get outside. Okay, it’s cold, probably wet, and it gets dark too early. That’s what thermals, tights, helmet beanies and Extreme Sleeves are for. Don’t have any of those things? We’ve got a good idea where you can get them.

21 December 2014: Keep Committed: Winter Weather Motivation and Training Guide

by CFO/Attorney/Mother/Triathlete, Tracy M. De Soto

While there is technically an offseason for triathletes, and it is theoretically now, fitness does not take a vacation. Unfortunately, neither does lethargy. You either maintain your training in the winter, or you risk some serious setback for the upcoming year. Staring out the window at two feet of snow, pouring rain or just a wholly uninviting chill, what separates the competitor from the spectator, the athlete from the former athlete, is simple desire. You have to want to get out there. You have to be willing to drag yourself out of a warm bed to go running, cycling even swimming in the cold.

How do you keep the fire burning? Here’s how.. Sign up for a race: Again, this is the “offseason”. The next IRONMAN isn’t anywhere near you, and isn’t for months. Yet, there are races going on year round, no matter where you live. Brave souls in Miami, Ohio will take on the Zumba Triathlon on December 13. The December 14 Colony Christmas Tri takes place in Palmer, Alaska, of all places. As everyone around you packs it in for the winter, your best training partner may just be that next race. Nothing sidetracks even a committed fitness enthusiast quite like having nothing on the horizon. Similarly, who amongst us has not moved snowy mountains mindful of an upcoming event?

There’s a race up a volcano in Iceland, so no matter where you live, there is opportunity. But, if your hometown and state positively hibernate in the winter, why not plan a vacation around a run or bike race? The Key West Triathlon and Marathon are both winter events. This is the peak season in Australia and New Zealand. The 2015 Tour de Palm Springs is on Valentine’s Day. Pick a location where the sun still shines, there’s likely an event and wonderful holiday just waiting for you.

Stay on schedule: Nothing crushes motivation quite like a series, or even a single missed workout. We all know skipping a run, ride, swim or gym session becomes easier every time you do it. Your preferred cycling and running route may well become untenable in certain weather conditions, but do not let this become an occasion for doing nothing. Sure, it may not deliver the same pleasure, but it rarely rains on a treadmill. It snowed last night? Every lifecycle at the gym is safe and toasty. Freezing rain? Blizzard? Flooding? Try Group X, Jazzercise or spin classes. Even a private Zumba workout in your living room could make the difference between maintaining proper fitness and a wholly erratic, unproductive offseason.

Remain flexible: For the finely tuned athlete, flexibility is important in your limbs and within your daily planner. There are those instances where no matter how fired up you are to exercise the elements are going to win out. In certain circumstances, even your backup plan needs a backup plan. In the dead of winter, during yet another interminable February downpour, when you are climbing the walls to get out for a real, invigorating workout, do just that. You belong to a gym, surely. But even the finest fitness center can pale after a while. When’s the last time you played basketball, or tennis? Haven’t your kids been after you to take them to the place with that rock climbing wall? When your body is crying out for something new, seize the chance and do it. You don’t have to be good at something to benefit from it. Do some impromptu gymnastics, join a water polo match with strangers, play indoor handball. Every fresh activity helps keep the blood flowing and the rust off. As spring approaches, and you resume a more regular exercise regimen, see if you can’t carry over some of the new activities and exercises. The mental and physical benefits often multiply when your workouts are not so routine. Season’s greetings. Keep moving.

21 July 2014: 3 Tips for Picking a Training Partner: Is your training buddy a help or a hindrance? Improve your workouts, and race results, with these running compatibility cues.

by CFO/Attorney/Mother/Triathlete, Tracy M. De Soto

Training with a partner is an invaluable way to increase motivation and keep you on track. A running buddy to pique your competitive spirit, heap on the guilt or entertain you on your long runs can be the difference between success and a succession of missed workouts. However, training with the wrong partner, someone with rather a different level of ability or set of goals, can be more harmful than going it alone. Test your current partner within the following important compatibility factors.

1. Find Someone with a Similar Approach to Conditioning.

To train together successfully you and your partner don’t have to be clones. You don’t have to have the same background or even be in the same shape. A triathlete and a weekend ambler, though, are not ideal running companions. So that you don’t spend your entire workout either bored or under duress, partner with someone who shares your training philosophy.

Got a half-ironman approaching? Partner with someone in a similar circumstance. Shared goals often reveal a similar mindset. If you can agree on workout distance, frequency and intensity, you free yourselves to enjoy what is designed to be a mutually beneficial experience.

2. Set a Realistic Mutual Pace

From walking to water aerobics, a desire keep up with or even impress your peers is a powerful motivator. Runners can be particularly competitive, but need to protect against overdoing it. You want a partner who challenges you, and vice versa, but within reason. If you are an eleven-minute miler when it comes to running and your partner runs regular sub sixes, you aren’t doing yourselves any favors. Compromise is healthy for friendships, though you don’t want to sacrifice your own workout. Your splits may generally improve, and your partner could learn a thing or two about moderation, though the gap between your comfort zones may be too wide.

3. Consider all the elements

Does your partner love the things you loathe? Does one of you thrive on hills and trails, while the other prefers a track? Is only one of you an early riser? I couldn't stand to do an 8 p.m. workout these days! Your personal preferences can have as much impact on a run as a sprained ankle. In opinions, as with conditioning, you don’t have to be in lockstep with your partner. But the more similar you are, the more easily you will mesh and enjoy your training. Temperature, topography, scenery, time of day—talk through your preferences before committing to training together.

Triathlon - swimming, biking and running - are one of the world's most popular pursuits. There are droves of triathletes out there whose ability and enthusiasm match your own. Finding one of them will significantly improve your training, outlook and results.

12 July 2014: Why Do I Tri?
by Femmebassador, Pat Puchaski

I just returned home from a Half-Ironman 70.3 called "TOUGHMAN" where I drew a smiley face on my pink swim cap and wrote in bold, black marker letters "TOUGH GIRL"! I had left for Indiana with a heavy heart due to the fact my father has end stage prostate cancer and two of my closest friends have terminal in her brain and the other in her breasts that has spread throughout her body during the past 15 years. Being a 10 year cancer survivor myself, my plan was to spend the day enjoying the countryside, meditating, and talking with God about HIS plans for my life.

How was my cancer even detected at Stage 0 when there was not even a lump? The cells of my tumor were "high grade" which as an elementary teacher usually means it is a good thing...definitely NOT the case with breast cancer! I had postponed my mammogram in 2004 because I was training for KONA IM World Championships while teaching full time. Interestingly, IF I had gone in for the mammogram at the one year suggested appointment, my 6 mm tumor would not have even shown up! Following an amazing experience in KONA where I placed 10th in my AG, I woke up one December morning and KNEW I needed a mammogram! I've been told since that time that when an athlete is preparing for Ironman, he/she becomes so "in tune" with his/her body we know when something has changed. At the appt. I was extremely anxious and told the Tech. to just go to the next step..I KNEW I had breast cancer. When I told her there was no lump but I knew the precise location, she laughed and went ahead with the mammogram. There was a small shadow so another film was taken. The Radiologist told me she was sure it was a cyst and to come back in 6 months for another mammogram. I went home and called my Sports Med. Physician who knew my history and the fact that my mother and her sister, my Aunt, both died of from brain, the other from breast that had metastasized to the lung. He immediately wrote a prescription for a needle biopsy which came back positive for breast cancer. A miracle occurred in that 5 mm of the 6 mm tumor was removed during that biopsy. At the time of the lumpectomy, the Surgeon found the 1 mm tumor which was encapsulated in the muscle, something she had never seen previously! She asked what I did besides teaching and I told her about my passion for triathlon. She told me that if I had waited the 6 months to have another mammogram, my "life as I know and love it would have been over" because I would have needed a mastectomy and chemo. instead of lumpectomy and radiation. Her exact words were, "Don't ever saved your life!" This was the 3rd time I had been told TRIATHLON SAVED MY LIFE!

The second time I had been told that triathlon training saved my life was when I was bike training for KONA in 2004 and was hit by a teenaged driver who ran a red light! He turned directly in front of me and I didn't have a chance to escape being hit with such force that I dented the door of his car, flipped off my bike landing on my back and hitting my head on the road. The result was a 5 day concussion, broken teeth, and multiple contusions. At the ER, following head to toe x-rays, the Dr. asked me, "What do you do outside of teaching?" He told me that training for IM was the only reason I did not have broken bones at the age of 55! He was shocked and told me never to stop training! The first time I was told triathlon would enable me to have a HEALTHY life was when tests revealed I had a "sponge kidney"...basically a birth defect that can lead to polycystic kidney disease and exercise is extremely important! The only admonition was to NOT become dehydrated and that still needs a lot of work!

"Why are we triathletes?" SO MANY REASONS! When I trained for my 1st triathlon it was because my husband had a heart attack and refused to go to rehab. at OSU! A friend told me that IF I went along, she was sure he would go and my response was that "I didn't want to workout!" Well, she was right and the Trainer assigned to me was a Certified Triathlon Coach...the only one in Ohio 15 years ago! He told me he could have me ready for my first triathlon in 8 weeks and I laughed! I had never run a mile in my life, was riding my daughter's 10 speed Huffy, and had been a synchronized swimmer in college:) I also responded that he was the age of my son, and I was not sure I should listen to him. We have laughed many times since our first meeting! He now works with Olympians, and I have completed 6 full IM including 2 KONA finishes and over a hundred triathlons/duathlons of all distances. I have competed at national and World Championships as well as running races from 5K to marathons including Boston 3 times. My energy level soared, and I used triathlon stories in my classroom for language arts lessons as well as bike geometry for math lessons. I started a girls' running club at my elementary school and covered reading/math Course of Study objectives related to running that improved scores on the Ohio Achievement Tests. I was invited to be the Keynote Speaker at Ohio University's "Celebrate Women" Conference and have been invited to Sport Psychology classes for presentations. I can keep up with my 4 grandchildren and tell them about the AMAZING and INSPIRING athletes I have met during my 15 years as a triathlete: Team Dick/Rick Hoyt, 84 year old Sister Madonna Buder, double amputee Scott Rigsby who rode beside me in Kona after I was in a bike crash, Marine Clayton Treska who was diagnosed with terminal cancer and went on to cross the Finish Line in Kona. There are so many others who have blessed my life and I wake up each morning with gratitude in my heart! To say that triathlon changed my life is an understatement!

30 June 2014: Summer Time is the Time to Relax...What?!?
Take a Break from Excessive Training and Competition to Avoid Needless Injury and Setback

by CFO/Attorney/Mother/Triathlete, Tracy M. De Soto

Summer is, positively, peak triathlon season. If the number of summer events does not bear this out, then just look at the all the runners, cyclists and swimmers with whom you now share your preferred training grounds. The increased frequency of races and workouts naturally increases the potential for fatigue and injury. In summer, triathletes of every level need to take special care not to overdo it.

Anyone who trains for a triathlon is, by definition, a serious athlete. To realistically undertake such an endeavor classifies you as such. You know your body. You know what you are doing. This is no guarantee against misfortune, as even the most experienced competitors can attest. One significant cause of injury is simple excess.

Warm water, sunshine, lithe bodies parading past your office; the motivating factors increase exponentially this time of year. Add to that the greater number of events you simply can’t miss, and chances are you’re not taking, or even considering, necessary time off.

So what is the proper recipe? Moderation. Not what an extreme athlete wants to hear, sure, but no one’s suggesting you take the summer off. You don’t really even have to cut back. The problem here, again, is how one tends to overload their schedule in the summer. Sure, your three or four favorite events happen in July and August. But should you try to participate in all of them? Consider the courses and distances involved, and the amount and level of training each requires. As a serious athlete who knows your body, long-term success comes from knowing how far to push yourself, then committing to stay within those limits.

Yes, talk of limitations is like kryptonite for the endurance athlete. But know, every heroic tale of back-to-back-to-back Ironman races comes with an equally tragic example of Achilles tendon surgery. Be active, yes. Be aggressive even. But be smart. Be honest with yourself and your health, and allow yourself a break, a little pleasure and a little time for rest.

21 May 2014: The Brain Power of Exercise

by CFO/Attorney/Mother/Triathlete, Tracy M. De Soto

Why are we triathletes? Well, for one - most of us are driven individuals. I think very few people, if any, can say that triathletes are lazy, lack motivation in life (though we certainly can for a workout, particularly your weakest of the three disciplines or your long run or ride), or lack discipline. But for what purpose do you tri?

I'll be honest, as a mother of two young children, I am not racing these days. Yet, I still train. I train, almost as though I were racing. I have my workout schedule and I generally stick to it (albeit a sick child.) As a "silent" triathlete, I still enjoy the predictability of my workouts, the fitness from keeping my workouts, and I still enjoy each discipline. I enjoy that there ARE three disciplines and I'm doing the same thing every single day, yet they are all cardio workouts and my heart is working. I also like that each workout is for a purpose because when we are training for three sports. After all, there cannot be a workout without a purpose, right? I like that each sport works different muscles and impacts my body in various ways.

Most of us train with a heart rate monitor or at least have our mileage tracked on our rides or runs and certainly, we know our meters in the pool. Again, a symptom of a triathlete. We are driven, and we like results. We like to make a PR. We like to see that negative split. We like to feel the pain of the sore muscles or the hurt in our lungs. We are triathletes.

But what about the other side? What about the mind? Most of us live in the "chaos" of modern day society. I whole-heartedly acknowledge that technology makes the world a better place. I absolutely do! I couldn't have the life that I do without computers, wireless networks, 4G and smartphones! But I also recognize that constantly being "on" to technology, to our ever-increasingly busy lives with more stimuli than ever before, demands a break. My training, though religiously disciplined though not racing, is a way for me to just focus on my heart rate, my breathing, my turnover, my stroke, my cadence. It's just me and the beach sand being flipped under my shoe, m my torso turning in the lane, my high elbow or my sidis spinning faster or more methodically to make the top of the climb. There is a calmness that sets in. A peace. Even a comfortable predictability about training. Though it is may be difficult to make the 6 a.m. masters workout or to do the long run in the heat, there is a comfort in our routine and in our choice. Why am I a triathlete? For the love of it.

30 April 2014: Warm Weather Workouts: Staying Cool is No Sweat

by CFO/Attorney/Mother/Triathlete, Tracy M. De Soto

Winter has given way to spring across the nation, delivering 20-degree temperature increases virtually overnight. Summer scorching is not far off. In fact, in Southern California, with the warm Santa Ana winds blowing, we are experiencing temperatures over 90 degrees right now! Exercise anytime between April and November and you are going to get hot. You are going to get sweaty. If you put off your workouts, holding out for perfect conditions, you are going to lose your fitness and as triathletes, we simply don't wait. Seasonal heat cannot interfere with your exercise program any more than the cold. The key to success lies in motivation and preparation. We’ve got tips involving both.

Hydration, necessary when you engage in any physical activity, is vitally important when the weather, and your body, heat up. Fluids, particularly water, should be consumed before, while and after you exercise. The level of intake should match your level of exertion. Seems obvious, though there are many who overlook hydrating, then wonder why their performance suffers. The Human Performance Resource Center (HPRC) recommends drinking 20 fl oz up to two hours before strenuous exercise to properly balance your system. Continue to drink water and carbohydrate (sugar) and electrolyte (salt) replacing fluids through and following your workout or race. Drink in moderation. Overconsumption and under consumption can be equally detrimental. Take in small amounts frequently to maintain equilibrium and promote a balanced performance. (HRPC, “Staying hydrated during exercise”, Oct. 2013)

The equipment that accompanies your inclement or even a perfect weather workout is as important as, and will have significant bearing upon, your mental state. And there is no doubt, how you feel effects how you perform. Well, what you wear is going to effect how you feel. Nothing beats a properly fitting pair of shoes, unless of course it’s a jersey, shorts, top or cap that literally facilitates cooling. Skeptical of clothing designed to whisk moisture away from the body, our Skin Cooler apparel works with the athlete and the elements. Trademarked Skin Cooler fabric radiates wetness from perspiration and precipitation through special channels in the garment so you do not experience cumbersome, or simply uncomfortable, pockets of saturation. Moisture is distributed evenly throughout the fabric where it just waits to lend relief. The slightest breeze, even that generated by the simple movement of your body, works to cool you off. Go further, feel better.

The best gear looks as good as it works. Skin Cooler’s reflective composition means white or black, you won’t overheat. You also want to be aware t-shirts, jerseys and other tops, while protective, do not completely block harmful UV rays. If you are going to undergo prolonged exposure to the sun, and you are, safeguard your skin with some trusted sunscreen, even under your clothing. Don’t forget, slathering yourself with lotions full of chemicals is worse for your skin than the burn you’re hoping to prevent. Titanium dioxide or zinc oxide is all you want, and all you need. See below.

Prepping for the Ironman or getting in a few laps around the track, a change in the weather, for the worse or hotter, does not have to derail your training. With proper preparation, and some sporty cooling gear, as a part of your routine, you can maintain your workouts, and your sunny disposition, in the fiercest of conditions. Now go get 'em.

10 April 2014: Sunlight and Sunscreen

by CFO/Attorney/Mother/Triathlete, Tracy M. De Soto

Sunscreen, Sunscreen and more sunscreen! I see it everywhere - especially living in Southern California. Kids cannot step outside of the indoors without being slathered with chemical-induced sunscreens because the sun is evil, right? I realize I will receive some backlash from this one, but I think it's important to think about, ponder yourself for a moment or two....

In a world without sunscreen from year's past, when our ancestors lived, what did they do? Did they stay inside like hermits between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.? I doubt it because there was work that had to be done during the key hours of the day - farming, for instance demanded work during those hours, in fact, isn't that from where daylight savings came? Sure, we could say we have evolved to these conditions but actually we evolved outdoors. Sun exposure, regular sun exposure, was required then and in fact, even today our body requires it.

Now, I'm not saying go get on your bike and stay out there for seven hours without sunscreen. Of course, you could get on your bike for seven hours, or 400 miles, with our 400-mile bike short, right? But regular sunlight exposure is still important for optimal health. In fact, even newborns are now given Vitamin D drops because we are told to keep babies and all children out of the sun. Well, if we have regular limited sunlight exposure, our body produces Vitamin D, which acts more as a hormone than a vitamin and is necessary for bone mineralization, it also improves insulin sensitivity and increases fat loss, it's required for testosterone production, prevents tooth decay, boosts our immune system and reduces inflammation.

So how much sunlight is good? Well, to get the effects of what I refer to above you only need about 30 minutes a day. But Vitamin D is only made from UVB (the evil burning rays), not the UVA. So - go out for a short 30 minute run and allow yourself to basque just a bit in the sun. Sunscreen will block the UVB rays so it doesn't count with sunscreen.

Now, since most of us are in the sunlight for more than 30 minutes, first think about something to physically block the rays. Obviously when we are running, we can wear a run cap but we can also cover our arms and shoulders with Cool Wings and our legs with Leg Coolers.

But what about when we are swimming (without a wetsuit)? If it's 30 minutes, go for it! If it's more, then you will likely want to wear sunscreen. When purchasing your sunscreen, look at the "block" so to speak, in your sunscreen. What is blocking those rays? You only want sunblock that has one of two ingredients: titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. All the others: oxybenzone, oxinoxate, anything methyl.., propyl..., butyl..., ethyl..., trieth.., dieth...are all chemicals. Anything you put on your skin will be absorbed by your body. That's why we say babies under 6 months shouldn't use sunscreen and children should be using natural sunscreen (my personal favorite: Thinksport). I realize this is all unconventional, but when 70% of the population is Vitamin D deficient and we stay out of the sun to avoid cancer, it's important to consider what we slather all over our body and what may actually cause problems, instead of merely fixing them.

27 February 2014: Part 2 of 2 Nutrition Series: Carbohydrates and the Female Athlete,

by Femmebassador, Kathleen Rafaat, Sports Nutrition Counseler, Team La Jolla Multi Sports Coach.

Part 2: How to Plan Your Carbohydrate Intake

If you look at training as a cycle, triathletes usually break the year down into four distinctive cycles, beginning with the Base Cycle. This is time you are laying down your foundation to develop aerobic endurance and muscular strength. It is filled with moderate intensity and high volume. If you look at the year as a whole, your carbohydrate volume should follow your training volume. So it makes sense to match up what you consume in the hours before, during and after training with the loss of fuel that happens during your training session. Once you become fatigued, you have no choice but to slow down or stop. Let’s work on how to stop that from happening!

In a perfect world, it is best to fuel your body 3-4 hours before you train but most of us have busy lives and it is difficult to eat that early. Let’s start with 1-2 hours before a training session that lasts for 75 minutes. An example is a 140-pound female triathlete. She will need between 2.5-3g/lb. of carbs for a low intensity training = 1,400 calories of carbohydrates.

Keeping in mind that you are eating 1-2 hours before your training session, it is better to limit your intake of carbohydrates to 1 gram per pound of body weight. So the 140-pound athlete could take in a max of 140 grams of carbs. Two hours before a whole grain bagel, 1 T peanut butter, banana and endurance sports drink would give you around that amount. If closer to an hour, using a liquid carb meal or energy bar is great since it is quickly and easily digested. Choose wisely and look for organic versions with the least amount of ingredients.

During your workout, you will need to ingest around 30-40 grams per hour if training longer than 2 hours. Start drinking as soon as you begin your exercise and continue to drink at frequent intervals throughout your workout. Gels, sports drink, banana, bars, are all good and should be used during your training to see which one works best for you. Remember to check your race website to see what they use, and practice what is on the course, in case your “special” combo is lost or dropped during the race!

After your training, make sure you are replenishing energy stores at a rate of about .75 grams per pound of body weight, during the first 15-30 minutes and for the next four to six hours. That is equal to 100 grams of carbohydrates for 140-pound athlete. This way you can maximize your glycogen stores and feel great for your next day of training!

17 February 2014: Compression: What You Need to Know

by CFO/Attorney/Mother/Triathlete, Tracy M. De Soto

As athletes, we are concerned with so many things, but often one of them is how we can perform at our highest level. We are constantly looking for what will keep us comfortable, but also, what will help to get us to the finish line, while still feeling strong and healthy, or at least not in pain.

The recent trend in compression was evident when sales jumped 170 percent from 2008 to 2010. A compressive garment should increase blood flow and hence oxygen to the muscles, thus better performance, or perhaps in turn, better endurance. This isn’t limited to the sports apparel industry either. Over the past decade, we have seen a surge in “shapewear,” which women love because it holds in the unwanted bulges or creases.

While, we too, make compression socks, shorts and even tops, it is important to be mindful, especially as a woman, some of the problems associated with wearing compression in the wrong areas. This is particularly true when competing in long endurance events, like a half ironman, ironman, marathon or even half marathon.

One of the common problems is a waistband that can compress on your colon, stomach and intestines. This can be a particular problem on the bike, when we may sometimes encounter gastrointestinal issues. The intestines need to move food along, but if they become compressed, digestion is slowed and sometimes backed up.

An additional problem of compressive gear can be that it causes shallow breathing. As an athlete, we know this is the last thing a person wants. Sometimes, it’s all we can get, but oxygen is our first fuel source and we need to be able to breathe!

Because Femme is made of women designers and we test the gear out, along with our femmebassadors, we have made our compression and non-compressive gear as friendly as possible to women. Our Femme gear provides support for your stomach, while not allowing a tightening around your abdomen region to halt digestion altogether. In our 400 Mile Bike Short, we have created a mesh center panel that allows for expansion of the inner organs, while creating a body of leg and gluteal region. In our Femme Run Short, we have made a friendly Carrera band, that allows for expansion as well, and the placement of the drawcord, should you desire to use it, is lower, well below the abdomen.

An additional problem with compression gear is bacterial infections. De Soto Femme fabrics provide maximum breathability for air flow. Additionally, all of our shammies or pads, are microbial and antibacterial. This will help aid is helping to ward of bacterial or fungal infections.

One thing you can be certain of is that we are women, making clothing for women, who experience the same frustrations, annoyances, issues or celebrations as you. De Soto Femme is thinking of things that women athletes are, or at least should, be aware of. We've got your covered, literally, in the best possible way.

15 February 2014: Part 1 of 2 Nutrition Series: Carbohydrates and the Female Athlete,

by Femmebassador, Kathleen Rafaat, Sports Nutrition Counseler, Team La Jolla Multi Sports Coach.

Part 1: What is a Carbohydrate?

As a female, we have been taught to be careful, almost fearful, of carbohydrates. When you become an athlete, the fear becomes a stumbling block if you do not approach it as a way to maintain physical strength and stamina in your daily workouts and races.

Understanding carbohydrates and how to use them is one of the most important tools in your workout routine. If you are a triathlete, your workouts are based on cycles and each cycle requires a different amount and timing, of those carbohydrates. It can get complicated, but let’s look at the simple side of what carbohydrates do for your body and how you can use them to your benefit.

Carbohydrates are found in all food and are made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. There are simple carbs, or sugars, which include glucose (blood sugar), fructose (fruit sugar) and galactose. There are also two-molecule carbs that include sucrose (table sugar), lactose (milk sugar) and maltose (malt sugar). Complex carbohydrates, or starches, contain large 300 to 1,000 molecule compound and contain nothing but glucose molecules. It takes these compounds longer than simple sugars to come apart in the digestive system.

The nutritional advantages that complex carbohydrates have over simple sugars as a source of energy, derive not only from the rate at which their glucose is absorbed, but also from the amount of fiber they add to the diet and from the other nutrients present in the major sources of starch (grains, beans, tubers). However, an increasing amount of evidence indicates that distinguishing which carbohydrates are good for you is more complicated than this simple dichotomy suggests.

What is also important when differentiating between various types of carbohydrates is how rapidly a particular carbohydrate will get metabolized into sugar and impact blood sugar (glucose) levels, otherwise known as the Glycemic Index.

Part 2: See above!

6 February 2014: Why We Do What We Do

by CFO/Attorney/Mother/Triathlete, Tracy M. De Soto

After being in touch with many women endurance athletes throughout the year, we were inspired as women to fit all women endurance athletes. Don't get me wrong. We are not there yet. But we aspire.

We have found that many other apparel brands require a certain physique. A certain size. Or a certain shape. De Soto Femme decided that we wanted to be a "hard-core" triathlete brand, that cared about women of all sizes and women of all levels. We understand that everyone starts somewhere. Some of us may have always been an endurance athelte and have always been in shape. Others of us may have been that same athlete, but became pregnant or injured and needed to pull overselves back into the shape that we desired. Others may have decided to join endurance sports later in life. We, at De Soto Femme, embrace all women.

Trust that when you join our Femme Community, you will not be judged and you will not be made to feel inferior or silly. We will not tell you that the deconstruction of our apparel is due to your body structure. We may help size you, but it will be from other women. And I can promise you, that we care. We want to ignite that passion in you for endurance sports, for fitness, for health! We want to make you comfortable and allow you to not think about the clothing you're wearing. If you do, we have failed.

Please note that above, I said we are not there yet. We recognize that WE NEED YOU! We need your feedback and questions and issues to make us work harder. For you. For women. For female athletes.

27 January 2014: What is the Femme Community?

by CFO/Attorney/Mother/Triathlete, Tracy M. De Soto

After launching the Femmebassador program in 2013, I found myself connecting with our Femmebassadors, and they reaching out to me. I enjoyed the camaraderie of other women, just as they did. It's not that we can't find other women with whom to speak, share thoughts, feelings, current events and politics, but it's also comforting to be able to connect with those whom do similar sport and training. Why? Well, we, as women tend to experience some of the same pains, trials, joys or sorrows. We are all trying to find life-work balance and that balance includes trying to get in daily workouts (I know, we can't always get them in, but we certainly try!) And training for three sports certainly presents its own challenges, right?

I was inspired to start this blog because a Femmebassador informed me of the #megsmiles hashtag due to the terrible accident of a mother of three hit by a drunk driver while she was out running. Training. Just like you. Just like me. You may not be a mother but immediately, I thought of my two young sons. Motherless sons. And my heart sank and I felt physical pain for her children and her husband.

I find comfort and feel stronger knowing that women around the country and even globe rallied behind this horrific event and joined forces and went out and ran. Why? Because that's what we do. We run. And run. And run. Not from something (well, maybe occasionally) but rather to celebrate life, to support each other and to express ourselves. But this community, built of mere "strangers" is so beautiful. You see, we are not strangers. We are a community. We are strong. We are women.

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