Monday, November 23, 2009


Yes, it's coming.  But no, I am not about to blog about the drag it is for us Northeast triathletes to have to spend much more time trianing indoors.  Instead, I am going to provide you with the boost you, or ANYONE (traithlete or not) might need, on any given day. 

If you are ever in search of some inspiration --- WATCH THIS!

Simply, Amazing.  What a finish!  You go girl!!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Things Happen...

For a reason.

I'm a firm believer in that. From small, everyday occurrences to big, life-changing events. Some things seem to be blessings, helping push us along, or succeed. Other things might seem to be destructive, or hindrances to our success. The truth is that almost always, the former is true.

Today I needed no convincing that a pretty "random occurrence" - my Dad accompanying me to my pool workout- was definitely a blessing.

I hate even admitting this...but, today was the first time I seriously considered quitting in a workout. After such a good week of swim workouts, I just felt "off" in the water. I felt heavy, unbalanced, unfocused, and unable to get rid of any of these feelings throughout my entire 600 meter warm-up.
A 300 aerobic pull next. Ok, a little better - more able to focus, staying conscious of stroke. But still can't shake that blahh feeling - just not into this. No idea why.
100 repeats - This should perk me up! Orrrrr.... frustrate me more. I feel like death. Huffing and puffing (hard) after each one. Only swimming 1:30's. After my fifth, I decided I was going to call it quits. I didn't have a swim scheduled for Sunday. I promised myself I would re-do entire workout then. I told myself, "I just don't have it in me today. This just isn't worth it." Then I told my Dad and ...

Thank goodnes.  He corrected me.

He asked me "What if you don't have it on a race day?" That's all I needed to hear.

I thought to myself - this is what training is for. Days like today are actually the days that matter most. They teach your body that it must obey your mind. And your body will. When your head is telling you that you are tired and you don't want to be doing what you are doing right now, as an athlete you have to be able to overcome those thoughts. You have to find a different thought - the thought that says on any given day, at any given time, this is what you want to be doing most. Or the thought that says when other people are stuck inside cubicles or watching and waiting for the clock to hit 5 so they can leave their job, I have the opportunity to pursue a job that will never leave me feeling confined or bored by. I want my job to be an adventure. I want my office to be outdoors on my bike some days. I want my desk to be a pool - or an ocean preferably. I want my time-card to be my watch.  And yes, like other "normal" jobs, there will be days (like today) that I don't feel like sitting at my desk (aka being in the pool)- but the difference with my job is that after forcing myself to go and do so, I will always leave "work" feeling better.

So, I flipped a switch in my brain and repeated these thoughts to myself. My body was still rebelling, but my mind was now in control. The last 10 100's didn't feel good. But they got done- and with some hard aerobic work.

That's when the second reason for my Dad being there proved to be a blessing.  Another 300 pull - this time with paddles. 
Dad told me I swam so much better with the paddles- turning my entire body in the water rather than struggling to pull harder and faster, like I was during the sprints.  So during my cool-down, without the paddles, I decided to try to mimic my stroke for the pull. 
I was honestly shocked after the first 300 of my cool down I stopped and he told me that I had just swam each 100 faster (mind you without rest between and in what I considered a cool-down/relaxed/easy pace) by 15 seconds.  I don't use my watch for my warm-up or cool down. If my Dad hadn't been there I would have had noooo idea, I was actually swimming faster???  I finished with another 100 of "easy" (yet again faster than my "sprint" pace, haha, still amazes me) swimming, and got out of the pool genuinely happy.

Not only did I finish my workout, but it was productive.  If schedules didn't randomly align, and my Dad didn't decide to replace his normal workout with a pool run, who knows what the outcome off today's swim session might have been.  But, you know what they say...
... things happen for a reason.

Thanks, Dad.

Friday, November 13, 2009


And I thought I had courage - doing what I do everyday in pursuit of becoming the best triathlete I can be...

this thing has COURAGE (check it out) : http://www.phillyburbs/news/news_detail/articles/678/2009/november/13/wild-turkey-plays-chicken-on-nj-turnpike.html.

Memo to "Tammy the Turkey" (yes, I named her):  if you're going to play in traffic get a helmet !

Hmmm,  now I'm thinking about turkey.  Making me hungry.  But first, I swim.
C'mon hip flexor!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

So, Off-season

I don't really get it yet.  But, oh well.  I only have a few hours left  (and I'm not complaining about that, coach)
I've done lots of random, fun things ---- a lot of time spent cheering for my Phils.

I've also played racqetball with my uncle (who schoooooled me every time - yes, Diane, there is something that I stink at-  ) I was able to run all over the court, but hit the ball,... and with any accuracy... ummm, no. The problem is (I am going to tell myself) is that I *think* too much.  Every ball, I'm wondering:  "How many times has the ball hit the wall?"  "Did I hit it last?" "How many times has the ball bounced?"  "Am I going to nail someone in the head if I swing at this ball?" ... wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy too much info for my brain to process in less than 1-2 seconds.  I give TONS of credit to batters at home plate in the NLB who have a less than .6 seconds to react.

  Nonetheless, I don't play in the NLB, I torture myself MINDLESSLLY apparently --- which makes it crazy and understandable all at the same time ;)
I wish I had pics of racquetball because the attire is ammmmmazzing (must wear safety glasses)  but no such luck. 
For now you'll have to be bored with pics of me resuming my training. 
Time to get back on the horse... slowly but surely.
BIG goals for next year, means BIG efforts.

Stay tuned. Promise there will be lots of BIG stories of living, learning, and everything in between.
But just before we get at 2010,
MUCH love to the people that have inspired me and made 2009 possible, which include:

- AO

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The (happy) ending of a chapter

First a quick race report:  This weekend I returned to the race that was my final (and at that time, only third) race of 2008 - Orlando Womens Triathlon.  I did it then for the same reason I chose to do it this year - an excuse to visit my boyfriend and have him at a race without (him) having to hop on a plane.  This year's race also had an additional motive:  to end the season with a second and*complete* Olympic distance race.  The DNF in Dallas left a sour taste in my mouth, and I didn't like it.  After working so hard, especially in the second half of this season, I did not want to let a negative race experience tarnish the memories of 2009.  Nor did I want it to discourage me from going full-throttle into 2010.  I love the feeling you get when you cross the finish line of a triathlon, one of ultimate achievement, fulfillment, success!  I needed to feel that one last time.

I did.  And I enjoyed every second of it!

the 4 am car ride...

who wouldn't want to swim in this lake at dawn, gorgeous!

exiting the swim...

and the finish!

That's me running toward the finish line.   I won the race, which was nice considering last year I came in second by less than a second.
More importantly, I had my best swim, bike and run splits.  All were significantly faster than my times in Chicago (my only other Olympic distance race) and allowed me to win by a gap of 15 minutes! - ahead of the second place girl.
It is very satisfying to know that all of the hard, new training is definitely paying off.  It has propelled me onto another level (as demonstrated by the 15 minute win margin).
That next level is where I want to be!  So, off-season, here I come!!!

But not before a little fun first ;)

some post race pics:

still sweaty, but a happy finish.

        then clean, and happy.  Time to have some fun!

and so I play!

and play some more!

it was a lonnnggg day of happiness and playing.

But soooo worth it.  Couldn't imagine a better commencement to an eventful season :)

This weekend marked the official end of my 2009 (first full) race season. It was a great season filled with TONS of new experiences.  I've made so many new friends - expanded my ever-growing support system- traveled to two new parts of the country, learned so much about the sport and soooooo much about myself.
It is hard to imagine only 5 months ago I was still just recovering from a broken collar bone and considering not racing at all this season!

Now the plans are to put in an awesome effort over the next 5 months and go in to 2010 season as fit as ever and race among the elites, with the goal of professional racing by 2011.  This seems like a very accelerated and pretty ambitious goal -especially among triathletes, who know that triathlon is a sport that requires time and maturity (in racing).  The name of the game is longevity. 
And I intend to race in triathlon for decades.  Yet, I know that now is the time in my life that I can really push my body and my mind to their maximums and have fun chasing my dreams. 
Right now I have the fitness, time, support and drive.   Right now I have the confidence that my dreams are attainable.

Here's to the next chapter.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009


often comes in the form of misfortune, or temporary defeat."
- Napoleon Hill

So Dallas... was not what I expected, nor hoped it would be.  But that's life.  And if I want *this* to be my life, I will have to deal with it, learn from it, and move forward with the same attitude I have had since I began this journey. 
Let's face it, that's what this is - a journey.   If I earned my M.D and became an ER doctor and decided to quit after my first patient died, I'd be ... broke and lost.  Or, if I decided to start my own company - which I did- and decided to quit after I saw my first tax return was going to strip me of half of the money I earned that year, I'd also be ... broke and lost. 
Thank goodness I went through that first, right?!?!?  Haha

Now, I have the maturity to savor these moments

I was definitely way more confident in my swim, in this race. And my legs had it. My body said "no." So I listened to it (at least I can say that). And I am not discouraged (today - two days later... I know, Jasmine, I took a little more than my allotted 10 mins).
Coach and I have decided to give me the opportunity to end the season on a positive note and race once more in Orlando - has to be above 60 degrees there right?!?!?
After Orlando, it's a brief re-charge break, and then full-throttle into this off-season. Then, the next city on my mind will be Tuson, where hopefully I will get a true taste of professional training among a roster of amazing professional athletes.

But for now, I am focused on getting through this BIG training week. And keeping my eye on the prize - one last good race + one GREAT weekend!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Final Race Prep

The day's on the deck are finished (for now).  So all that is left to do before taking off for Dallas tomorrow morning...

My hair of course!!!  and mom's too ;)

why do I look like I'm in pain? I'm in a chair, not on my trainer?!?!?
ahhh, that's better. 

and the finished product...

alll peeertty :)

now it's off to yoga, to ... ruin my do, but give the legs a good, last stretch before the plane ride and give me the zen I need to calm the pre-race nerves. 


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sushi says it all

To top off a weekend of great training efforts, some great recovery grub - sushi!

Now I could list all of the things I love about sushi, but anyone who is a sushi fan would be bored, and all those who aren't would probably be disgusted.  One thing, I think everyone likes- and are intrigued by- are fortune cookies.
And tonight mine was perfect: "Be the labor great or small... Do it well or not at all!"

Whenever I train, I try to stay positive and motivated by repeating quotes.  The sources of the quotes are diverse.  But this is definitely one worth repeating.  During those times on the trainer in the basement, when you're not sure if you'll make it back up the steps if you do another interval, during that time during your run when you only have a mile or more to go, but your legs suddenly say "no" and begin to fill with lead, while you stare at the clock quickly tick away those 10 seconds of rest between 100 meter sprints in the pool, when you feel like your heart might pop out of your chest if you push for that last meter/mph/negative split.
Whenever it may be for you - tomorrow when you train think to yourself:
Do it well or not at all!

This week will be a bit less intense for me, getting ready to head to Dallas on Friday.  This week will be all about mental focus, controlling nerves and staying present in the moment.  It's going to be a challenge- on all fronts - I know, because I am already struggling with the "present in the moment" piece missing the temporary training partner - who also provided lots of non-training fun to keep me balanced and so happy last week. 

Nonetheless I will use these positive thoughts to keep me going, focused, and reminded of why I do this.  Watching kids in the stands with Jimmy Rollins jerseys on cheer as he makes the play at first base, is so motivating.  That kid is thinking he wants to be "just like Jimmy Rollins when he grows up" and may be someday he'll be able to run as fast as him, or hit as hard as him. I want to inspire people interested in triathlon in the same way.  I want them to think, "if she can do it, I can do it."  Truly, I believe, anyone can.  Follow your dreams - whether they involve sport or not.  If you are true to yourself and  true to your discipline, you will inspire someone! 

--- and then you can create the quote that someone might repeat to them self.  For now I'm sticking with my "fortune"

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Made it through a full week of hard (harder than I've ever attempted) training, and ready for another.  Each day is a new challenge, each day is a new opportunity.
I challenge my body.  Sometimes it responds favorably, sometimes (like today) not.  I learned today that I cannot "sprint" to save my life.  I have no speed. Which means I DO have a challenge to conquer.  That is the beauty of this sport.  It's is completely humbling.
I might have thought that running was my strength.  Today I found that I am a decent runner, but I lack a major component - short-burst speed.
This humbles me, but does not discourage me.
All of the success I can and (I believe) will have in this sport will be earned through a lot of intense, hard work.    Too often, in life, people believe that they do one thing correctly, or well, and are therefor entitled to reap the benefits.  Hence, the state of our current economy, but that is another topic for another blog entirely.

Earned success is the most rewarding. The harder you work, the better it feels when the goal is achieved.
I intend to feel AMAZING when I can consider myself successful in (and along the way) in this journey.

To more hard work tomorrow.
:) AO

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Tomorrow is the day.

My biggest training day, by far, to date.  Hoping for some big results.
But anticipating my biggest and, by far, BEST reward to come at the end ;)

hasta manana!


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

changin perspectives!

Exactly one week ago today I completed my first "real" swim workout. When I saw it on my training schedule, I almost fell over. Then I saw 2 more workouts - similar in yardage later on that week- and knew I was reading correctly, and would have to get use to spending more than 30-40 minutes in the water "training" for the swim.
Prior to those workouts last week, my "workouts" consisted of swimming laps in my grandmother's pool - for a time/distance that I thought (total estimation) equaled 1500 meters. No mixed strokes, no drills, no sets --- just laps.
Pretty pathetic, I know, but when it came to racing, my goal for the swim had still been to "just survive it."

Not any moreee!
Now I'm focused on actually learning how to swim well, how to swim fast, and how to compete with the "swimmers" in the sport.

So after a week of workouts of twice the normal yardage, today I was granted an "easy" swim workout, just 2500 yds.
And - here's the crazy part- after only a week of doing real workouts in the pool with real distances, today's workout DID feel easy!  I was almost tempted to stay in the pool and do a little more (I had the time- I finished this workout so quick) butttt then remembered what my training schedule looks like for the rest of this week and decided to conserve each and every ounce of energy I have.

But ME actually wanting to stay in a swim workout longer than required is unbelievable/amazing/INSPIRING!

I hope I have the same motivation on hour 3 of my brick on Thursday (after a big swim)


A little about me before I start: Life has been good to me. I am 26 and have my own business. I have a big, loving and supportive family. I have a best friend that has been the most amazing influence in my life, makes me feel the happiest, makes me want to do, see, be more, and I would love nothing more than spending each and every day enjoying life with.
I also have a name that is the same as a half of a famous pair of child-star twins, but those jokes haven't bothered me since pre-high school. 

This Ashley Olsen loves hard work, but loves having fun! That is why triathlon is a natural fit for me. Triathlon actually started as a way to take my time and energy away from missing that best friend I mentioned, when he left last year for chiropractic school in Florida. 
Another friend of mine that was racing and training for them told me to give it a try, that she thinks I'd like it.
I ran track and cross country in college, so I knew I could do the run. But bike and swim? Well, I got on a bike once a year - for a charity bike ride that my family created in memory of my cousin (check it out and I hadn't swam since I quit swim team at age 10 after two seasons of realizing that torturing myself every morning in cold water and then dragging my parents around south jersey for meets on their weekends was not worth watching me loose (probably, holding their breath the whole time, hoping I wasn't drowning, rather than swimming), I figured... ahhh, why not?

Like I said, I like hard work (esp physical) and I like challenges. I've matured since my swimming/drowning days and maybe I had now the brainpower to teach myself really how to swim with any degree of efficiency. And the bike -- well I had a bike (thanks to Kelly's ride). All I have to do is pedal... hard- right?

I could do it.
And I did. Last August 30th I completed my first triathlon. It wasn't any award winning performance - actually, I did take 3rd in my age group, but that certainly was not the goal then. I - honestly - just wanted to finish.  But that finish got those competitive juices - the ones I hadn't felt since college meets - flowing again.
I was hooked.  I managed to get in 2 more races last season. And gave competing (rather than completing) a shot. Each time the results got better - placing 3rd and 2nd (by less than 1 second, photo finish!) in my last two.

This year the results have been rewarding as well.  And wow how perspectives change! After training in the off-season and then breaking my collar bone right before Easter, I was crushed - thinking that my season would be ... well, non-existent having to remain virtually sedentary for 4-6 weeks.
I was running in 3 (weeks).  I healed amazingly well, and amazingly fast - doc said due to my fitness when the fracture happened, and I decided not to give up.
In addition to completing my first Olympic distance race (Chicago!), I have placed in all my races. Thus, I have done *relatively*well for myself up to this point - racing mostly local/regional sprints, but "relative" is the key word and ... I want more.
Moreover, I see the possibilities.
So I have decided to take the plunge.  I got myself a coach! And subsequently got smacked in the face with a training regimen I would have never dreamed of!
BUT I LOVE IT! haha. Yep, that's me. Give me more, work me harder. I love everything about this sport, the training, the racing, but more importantly the people, the places and the camaraderie and enthusiasm that seem to be contagious.
So this blog is starting as my season is concluding.
I am racing my last race in Dallas at the US Open. I am very excited to make this my second Olympic distance race and my FIRST race in the elite division.
I am hoping to end this season on a high note! And goals are long term.
This blog will take me through my last race and right into my first year of *real* training with *real goals* Here's to my second week of *real* training! with no letting down.
Thanks for the day of recovery, coach, and tomorrow's gift ;) But can't wait to see how my body responds to some big efforts later on this week.

Keep ya posted - on all things "3" - the good, the bad, and the ugly ;)
(mostly, hopefully, the good)