While completing a 13-mile half marathon or a reverse-sprint triathlon, which entails a 5K run, a 15K bike race and a 150-meter swim, may not seem like a daunting task for those trained and conditioned athletes with years of experience and thousands of miles under their belts, for Valerie Talbert, who recently had her third child and had never run a half marathon or competed in a triathlon, the challenge was real and the goal, ambitious.
Valerie’s newest addition, Alexa, a beautiful baby girl, was born on July 7, 2009, and with only a few short months to train, Valerie was scheduled to run her first half marathon, the Rose Bowl Half Marathon in Pasadena, California, on February 7, 2010.
To make this happen, Valerie had to manage three kids, husband Jeff and a six-day-a-week training regimen in three disciplines (since she was also training for her first triathlon) while handling a professional career in real estate.
Valerie said, “Juggling diapers and day planners, bottles and business meetings, my struggles were endless. Striving to find the right balance between all the things on my plate was oftentimes overwhelming, but I was dedicated to getting back in shape after the baby and living a healthy lifestyle that included sports and fitness.”
Finding a gym that also offered free childcare was truly a blessing. But what really made a difference was having the whole family involved, as Valerie described: “We always ‘work out’ with our kids. They go to the gym with me every day and we talk about what I do there and what I am working toward. They can’t wait to join me in the spin room. We bike ride together, which they call their spinning, and the boys always try and get me to run with them and tell me, ‘Faster mom, faster.’ But they see me train and support me every day. In fact, Ryan, my eldest son, often asks if I did well in class—did I beat the others?!? Cute, huh?
“Although I had run 5K and 10K fun runs in the past,” Valerie added, “I never completed a half marathon distance, and so this was my goal. My whole family was on board and super supportive. Jeff always encouraged me to go train, and we even worked out together for the triathlon.
“After months of conditioning, I felt physically and mentally prepared. I had trained with tons of spin classes and mixing it up in preparation for the triathlon with running and biking together on different terrain in the gym and on the pavement. I did intervals to increase speed and endurance and concentrated on long runs for additional endurance leading up to the day of the race.
“My supplement routine included Natural Vitality’s antioxidant formula called NutraRev! which I took in the mornings before workouts. I felt more energy from taking this product and somehow felt cleaner inside. On a daily basis, I took Organic Life Vitamins, a liquid multivitamin, and I took Natural Calm at nights and always felt less sore by the next morning than I would normally have felt if I hadn’t taken it. When I lay down in bed after a day of work and training, my muscles would feel a little twitchy or jumpy, and Natural Calm would always relax them and help me recover from the day’s activities.
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“Race Day was an adrenal-pumping rush. The race gave me an opportunity to run past and through some of Pasadena’s greatest historic landmarks, including the Rose Bowl Stadium, the Colorado Bridge, which I always wanted to run, the Arroyo Seco, Devil’s Gate Dam, JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) and the new Flintwash Bridge. The course was scenic and hilly and mixed in a combination of both road and trail running, with 70% of the run on the trails near Brookside Golf Course and Hahamonga Watershed Park.
“I was doing fine for the first few miles, everything was working well, but I had made a rookie mistake. I hadn’t pre-run or pre-driven the course route, so I didn’t always know what to expect. I didn’t know how many hills were remaining or when a flat section was coming up. I just didn’t know when I could take it easy and when I should really push. By mile nine, it was purely a mind game, and I was all about getting myself to the finish line.
Valerie pushed on and finished the race in 1 hour and 58 minutes, achieving her personal goal of completing the race in less than two hours.
Her next challenge was to complete a sprint-level triathlon, which was scheduled for the following month. No ordinary triathlon, this was the third-annual Whole Foods Markets Pasadena Triathlon—only run in reverse.
Normally, a triathlon starts out with the swim event, followed by the cycling event and finishing with the running event. This reverse triathlon started out with a 5K run, followed by a 15K bike race and finished with a 150-meter swim.
“I flew through the run,” Valerie said, “and machined through the bike event. But by the time I reached the swim, which I knew would be the toughest part of the event, I was low on electrolytes and was feeling depleted when I hit the water. I also didn’t switch to swim gear, and this cost me dearly in water drag. It took an extra effort to finish the swim, but I did it!”
Valerie’s tip: “Carry electrolytes/minerals and don’t neglect the swim; join an aquatics club, get a swim coach and put more time in the water.”
Valerie’s next goal is an Olympic-level triathlon with an ocean swim. We are rooting for her along with her family.