How This Pro Triathlete and Coach Trained to Run a Marathon at 18 weeks Pregnant

Everyone has a different experience being pregnant.  For some, it’s not safe to exercise and they need bed rest.  Others have extreme morning sickness (or all day sickness!) and really can’t do much at all.  Others, me included, may be able to continue some version of their pre-pregnancy physical activity level.

When I was pregnant with my first daughter, I didn’t know until after the first trimester was over.  As a result, I was training as a professional triathlete, including spending a week in Florida with a group of other pro’s, training full time.  It’s true, I didn’t feel amazing at training camp – but I was still able to do it, and just figured I was getting older and my years as a pro were coming to an end as I was feeling a little more tired than I had in the past.

Cindy Tomoka 2Because of this experience, when I found out I was pregnant this time around (and I was pretty sure about 2-3 days after conception!) I decided to continue training for the marathon I was aiming for, with modifications to my training plan based on how I felt each day.  Worse case would be that as we approached it, if things weren’t going well, I would just step down to a shorter distance event on race day and do what I could – walk, run or a combination thereof – to get to the end.

Once I knew I was building a baby, I was following a training plan that had me running 70-85km per week.  It included two specific interval or tempo runs, and three other runs to build volume.  I also had two strength training days and two days of cross training, which I have to admit I often did not do – electing to rest instead.

For the most part I got in 70% of those weeks of volume, but the intensity days didn’t always happen. If I wasn’t feeling good one day, I would move it a day forward.  The other 30% of the weeks may have started out okay, but at some point during the week there was a hiccup where my body just didn’t want to run. Often I would be lightheaded or just so heavy and fatigued. In these cases, I would listen to my body and skip it or cut it short.

This winter was very cold and slippery; so many runs were on the treadmill. That worked out okay because if I started to feel weak or light headed I could tone it down or stop – and not have to call for a ride home!

I started to really feel like I was pregnant in the last three or so weeks before race day. I was at about 15 weeks at that time, and starting to look like it. I felt heavy and tired and just achy!  Those weeks were not great for building confidence that I could run a marathon.  But still, I did my best to stay positive and continued trucking along the best I could.  One day would go well and the next wouldn’t, but I stuck to my plan of doing what I could.

I would be 18 weeks at the time of the race and I thought,”let’s just see what happens”. I planned to go slow, not stress out my body too much, and make sure both the baby and I got to end healthy and happy.  If necessary, I was ready to call it quits at any point during the race if I felt like it wasn’t safe to continue.

Race day came.  Waking up that morning I thought “Oh man, am I really going to do this?? Yes, I am!”  We drove to the race venue and got ourselves organized.  It was pitch dark as the race started at 6:00am.  When it was time to go, I started conservatively and just worked on finding my way through the dark path where it started without tripping over something or someone!

When your body starts to grow as you build a baby, your centre of gravity changes and you can feel less balanced.  It’s like re-learning every few days how your new body works!

I ran comfortably until about 25km and then started to feel more tired than I felt I should, and that running was a bit more of an effort than it should be.  At about 30km my back and hips realized they were carrying 15lbs more than they were used to, and Cindy Tomoka 3the newfound laxity in my ligaments showed up as a very stiff back and hips that became pretty sore over the next couple of kilometers.


I have to admit that a short time after that I considered asking a stranger along the way if they could give me a ride to the finish line!  Instead, I just did a bit of a walk/run and took it one mile at a time, while maintaining a good headspace.  I was not out here to win a race; I was out here to take on a different kind of challenge!  I texted my husband and told him what time I thought I would be done so he wouldn’t be worried about me, and then relaxed and did what I set out to do – get to the end with some version of running and walking.

We did it!! It was the slowest marathon I have ever done, including Ironman marathons, by about 45 minutes, but it was my best ever (and only) marathon done at 18 weeks pregnant!  I was happy to be at the finish line and I was happy to have done what I set out to do. (And happy for my husband, who had a great race!)

As I said in the beginning, this is not something for everyone.  Every pregnant woman should listen to their medical doctor and get advice on what exercise is safe for them and their baby.

From what I have researched, most times you are safe to continue doing something that you did before you got pregnant, with modifications based on how you feel. Those might include some drop in intensity to make sure you have enough blood going to your baby, and watching that your core temperature doesn’t get too high.  But I am not an expert on this so please get your own medical advice.  My goal here is to share my experience and motivate other women who are pregnant to continue some form of physical activity and do what makes them happy – provided they are clear to do so.  Going into the birth process feeling strong and healthy typically makes everything smoother during and after delivery.  And getting your body back post-partum is typically easier if you maintain the habit of exercise.


What are we (this baby and I) doing now?  Well, now we are half way to having baby #2 arrive and it’s time to stay fit in a more casual way, doing a variety of things.  I have been running 30-40 minutes when I feel like it, cycling and swimming casually, and have been focussing on being in the gym maintaining strength through weight training.  After my first daughter was born I had some issues recovering from a C-section and the muscle imbalances that came along with that afterwards. This time I hope to be more strength balanced going in to be in a better place to hit the ground running again afterwards!

Editor’s Note: Notice that Cindy’s approach included ‘HOW to keep going – not IF she would keep going! These kids will have to work to keep up with their Mom, but at least they have a running start.

  •  Cindy Lewis-Caballero is the founder of CL Performance Training. She is an endurance coach, a Chiropractor, a personal trainer, a professional triathlete, and a mom. She works with athletes of all abilities and ages to help them stay motivated and able to go after their personal goals.
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How to Fit Training into Your Life

Finding the time to train for a triathlon, regardless of the distance, is challenging – especially when you’re trying to do it while succeeding at your full time job, raising a family and maintaining quality relationships with family and friends.   As a coach and an athlete myself, I understand that training is not the only thing on your plate and that every person is different with respect to how that “life balance” is created.

I have raced as a professional long distance triathlete for years, beginning in 2011, and throughout that time I also worked full time as a chiropractor, trainer and coach, met my husband, got married and had a baby who is now a very energetic two year old.   I also saw many of the athletes that I trained and raced alongside who had their own unique situations.  Some of them were able to pursue triathlon full-time.  Some were married, some were single, some had children; some didn’t.  Everyone had their own unique situations to figure out and balance.  None of them had it easy!

As age-group triathletes we tend to have even more things to balance and a different checklist of priorities.  I have coached many athletes of different levels, from those who want to lose weight to those who have qualified for the Boston Marathon and the Ironman World Championships.   In my opinion, every person’s goals are just as important as the other person’s; we are all in this to be the best we can be – regardless of our goals or abilities.

I have learned from my own experiences and from the many athletes I have worked with over the years some tricks on how to fit workouts into your calendar when you have a lot to juggle.  Here are some ideas which may sound like something for you to try:

  • – Have a shower at the office or a gym next door with a shower? Get a running backpack and run or ride your bike back and forth to work.
  • – Use your lunch break to slip in a short run or a strength/core workout.
  • – Get up early! Getting a workout out of the way early in the morning before the rest of your family wakes up means you don’t have to take time away from them later, and you don’t have to worry about that time being taken away and given to something else that has come up in the day.
  • – Bring snacks and stay hydrated so you have energy to get those workouts done instead of being derailed by working around a meal.
  • – If your work hours are flexible, plan a 90 minute break in the middle of the day to get out and get a workout in. You may feel rejuvenated and ready to take on more of the day once you’re finished.
  • – Have small children? Get a good running stroller and take them out with you! Fresh air is good for kids and often they love to be out there with you! Pushing a 30+lb kid in a stroller definitely equates to a faster run even though the watch doesn’t say so!
  • – Be willing to exchange some of the ‘shoulds’ (spotless house, styled hair, volunteering for every cause) for training time, and enjoy feeling great about your fitness instead of guilty about not being ‘perfect’.

Think about how you can get creative with your schedule, and build in some discipline.  Try a few things and see what works for you.  Just don’t give up.  Remember, if you really want to do something, most of the time there is a way!

Dr. Cindy Lewis-Caballero is the founder of CL Performance Training. She is an endurance coach, a Chiropractor, a personal trainer, a professional triathlete, and a mom.  She has an intimate understanding of the challenges of work/life/training balance, and enjoys helping other athletes find ways to achieve their goals.


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Triathlete Recipe for Staying Injury Free this Season

As both a Multisport Coach and a Chiropractor, I’m lucky to be able to coach my roster of athletes and also work with athletes in my clinic (Burlington and Toronto based).  I see two types of athlete injuries in my chiropractic practice – those incurred by trauma or accident, and those created over time by repetitive actions – such as endurance exercise like swimming, cycling and/or running.   The injuries created by repetitive activity are the most complicated to treat and often take more time to get better because it involves identifying and fixing imbalances that have been created by habitual overuse.

Management of overuse injuries requires a combination of passive treatment in my clinic and active exercises done by the athlete themselves in order to correct the imbalance situation that has been created by using the same muscle groups repetitively and ignoring others.  Habits are hard to break and I find that athletes suffering from more chronic conditions have more trouble maintaining the routine required to prevent return of their injuries rather than sliding back into old habits.  Often once the pain is gone it is easy to stop the stretches and strengthening that is required to keep it gone!

It takes work to stay balanced and injury free.  So many athletes ignore the work until they have a problem that interferes with their performance. Their foam roller sits in the corner day after day while they ignore the tightness and pain that creeps up slowly at first. Left unaddressed, it shows up after a hard run or race, or doing a make-up workout on a rest day.  The best way to keep injuries at bay is to work on preventing them in the first place.  This includes taking care of three things:  strength, mobility and stretching.  Make “prehab” exercises a part of your weekly training schedule in order to avoid having “rehab” exercise!  This will help make sure you continue training strong and don’t have interruptions due to aches and pains.

My recipe for staying injury free takes about 15 minutes every day – and includes a set of basic strength and mobility exercises. Add in 5-10 minutes of foam rolling and stretching, and proper rest, and you are ahead of the game.

To see a video demonstration of this program:

Do a 10 minute full body warm up before these…even if it means a brisk walk around the block or up and down some flights of stairs. Note: As you’ll see in the video, babies and dogs are not excuses for skipping this workout!

  1. Lateral Lunge (10 x on each side)
  2. Step Up (10 x each leg)
  3. Single Leg Squats (10 x each leg)
  4. Push Ups (on toes to failure, then 5 more on knees)
  5. Supermans (10 x)
  6. Plank & Side Planks (30 secs each position)
  7. Dead Bug (10 x each side)
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Guest Blog Post: The Joys of Running and Where it has Taken Me by Peter McCluskey

I like running.  I guess that’s as good a way as any to start off a column about running.  Maybe, I hate running, would be more of an eyeball catcher, but that wouldn’t be true.  I’ve always liked running it’s something free and natural – and these days I find it liberating, wonderful, transcendental.  I also like travelling – especially to out of the way places. Over the years I’ve met interesting people, made good friends and visited wonderful places, so Cindy asked me if I would write a guest column for her blog about my experiences running in different countries.  I said “Sure.”

Running is its own reward certainly but it is also a ticket to visit other places, people and cultures.  While training for my first half marathon I met a young woman from Switzerland who was doing a nursing degree in Toronto.  After finishing her courses she was going to work in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and was also planning on running the Phnom Penh marathon.  She said she could always find a race wherever she went and that set off my curiosity and I wondered if I could incorporate runs into my travels as well.

Ottawa was my first destination race.  Just a few hours away but the race was going to take the runners through some parts of the capital I had never visited and across the river into Gatineau.  I went with a group of friends and I spent a few extra days there before and after the race, had lunch with friends, visited museums and reacquainted myself with the city.  It was great.

The next year I was heading to Berlin for a celebration of running that I think is unsurpassed.  The marathon has 40,000 runners and a million spectators.  Running down Yorckstrasse at 10 in the morning you’re serenaded by a full jazz orchestra while Berliners lean against chest-high tables on the street sipping their first (?) beer of the day.  I heard Latin drummers, a Turkish rock band, and a woman doing an impression of Edith Piaf.  In Buenos Aires they had tango dancers and ABBA impersonators – but both women were dressed like the blonde singer! They had water and fruit at the finish line but they also handed out tickets for a free choripan (chorizo sausage on a bun).  The friends I went with went back to plead for a second ticket.  Warsaw had the best tasting sports drink – so good that I took a fresh bottle at every station.  I’m sure my time reflected my oversaturated state.  Oh, and before I forget Berlin had a beer-tasting station (Yes, I stopped) and one nutrition station that served hot tea!

In Sofia, Bulgaria they handed out lemon wedges instead of orange slices.  And they were magnificent.  It was like getting a little boost of rocket fuel.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd then there are the people.  I ran about 10 kilometres in Berlin with a guy I had never met but who lived about two blocks away from me in Toronto.  In Buenos Aires I counted people from every country in South America – and discovered that one group from Brazil even brought their own photographer.  In Bucharest I finished alongside an Australian nurse who had landed in the country the night before.  In Warsaw I passed a young woman in the last 200 metres and then saw her coming for me on the giant screen in the National Stadium – the people in the stadium started screaming and she beat me by less than a metre.


In Bulgaria runners had to have a doctor’s certificate. If they didn’t they needed to pay the equivalent of about $1.50 to have a medical student take their blood pressure.  One young woman came to pick up her bib and forgot her purse at the office so I paid for her test.  The course was six laps of a seven kilometre course – Alexandra had already finished but ran an extra lap just to keep me company on the last lap.

This year the plan is to do two marathons: Krakow, Poland in April and Berlin for the fifth time at the end of September.  I try to get to the location three or four days in advance to give myself time to acclimatize and so I have something resembling a regular sleep pattern, but really it just gives me time to look around and make my final post-race travel plans.  From Buenos Aires I travelled by bus to the Andes Mountains in the north.  From Berlin and Warsaw I’ve travelled all through Central Europe.  From Sofia and Bucharest I’ve made my way to the Carpathians, slept in monasteries and seen some of the most under visited tourist sites in Europe.  In Odessa, Ukraine I found a market that was so large it had one building just for dairy products and another for smoked meats.  I also discovered that not speaking Ukrainian was no barrier to buying a new pair of trousers or getting a haircut.  And I found a trail in northern Poland, right beside the Baltic Sea that runs forever and connects three cities.


No matter where you go you’ll find kind, friendly people.  Some races have a homemade feel to them, some are so well organized it makes your head spin.  Wherever you happen to be you’ll have fun and come back with some interesting stories.  Like the one about the naked women …..


Copyright 2017 Peter McCluskey, all rights reserved



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Baby Triathlete (“Iron Baby”) is here! And more news.

Wow, it’s been a long time since I wrote a blog!!! But, hey, are you really surprised?? I think most of my blog posts start that way . I always have good intentions of getting on here more often! This time I have more big news to tell you! Al and I have a 7 week old daughter – Kaitlyn Caballero!! She was born September 10th and is a beautiful healthy little girl! And, get this – she is already working! She has been working alongside me in my home Chiropractic office and my home training studio since she was born.



Not only that, she has also been to her first 5km race!


She is bound to be a clever little girl and fit and fast! We are cheering her on already .

When I found out I was pregnant I had an open mind about it and how life would work. I really didn’t know. I knew I would do my best to be the best mom I could be with the resources I had. And that I would do my best to stay as fit as I could be and train when it made sense to be the best athlete I could be – while keeping my mom duties first. Al and I both decided we wanted to make Kaitlyn a part of our life when possible and not “stop” life because we had a baby. We have been pretty good about making all of that happen. In seven weeks she has been to a 5km race, a costume party, a weekend up north at a friend’s house, and more.  She has a BOB running stroller and a baby trailer ready to hook onto the back of our bicycles next spring!  Al and I have tried to get in the habit of getting on our bicycles or running in our basement studio when possible in the evenings once she goes to bed. For now, that is working for us! We will continue adapting to our new life as needed and go with the flow to see what works for the three of us.

This week brings new challenges… I return to work in my Oakville clinic – Lakeside Physiotherapy and Massage on Robinson Street – and she will come with me. Let’s hope she likes that clinic as well as our home office! Next week I return to Toronto on Monday, Wednesday and Friday – but she won’t be making the trek in there with me. And November 13th she will come in to Toronto with Al and I while we run CL Performance Training’s “Mega Day” – a big training day that will consist of a computrainer bike ride, a group run, run biomechanics lesson, strength and mobility session and a roadside bike maintenance hands on session. Want to join us? Email

And that’s life right now! Stay tuned, because I really will try and write soon about the real emotional and physical challenges that go with the transition from being a professional triathlete to professional mom… in the hopes that I can inspire and help some other ladies out there who are currently going through or planning to go through this adventure sometime soon!

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Baby Triathlete is On His/Her Way!

Those of you who have been reading my blog this past 8-12 months know that I went through some issues with overtraining, low iron and life issues that I blamed for feeling tired and not performing as I felt I should have been.  I felt like I was climbing out of that place through the fall and into the early part of the winter.  And then in January/February I started feeling a little tired again, had trouble doing more than two days of quality workouts in a row and finishing long workouts strong.  I thought, maybe it’s my lifestyle now, the fact that I now drive a lot and commute into Toronto and back and therefore have much less time in a day.  Maybe it’s the decrease in sleep that I’ve gotten since moving out to Burlington.  Maybe it’s still the stress that I went through related to business that I haven’t recovered from yet.  Maybe I’ve just been in this sport too long and it’s time to step down from racing at the elite level.  Well folks… none of that was it!! I came home from training camp at the end of February feeling strong and motivated to stay that way and I looked at myself and thought “Hmm, I’m not as lean as I should be…”  My stomach felt bloated all the time after camp and I said to my girlfriend, “I think I’m sensitive to wheat or something, Al and I have been eating a lot of bagels since we got back from Florida.”  She says “Could you be pregnant?”  I said No… and then I took a test.  And it was positive.


We are having a baby!  Parker will be getting a human brother or sister sometime in the middle of September 2016.



Wow.  In a snap of the finger I went from professional triathlete heading into a new season and feeling positive to a pregnant person wondering how to stay motivated to exercise for general health and fitness.


I want to be clear here – I’m happy about this baby.  It wasn’t planned and shouldn’t have been able to happen at all.  It’s a small miracle really.  We wanted it one day in the near future, it came a little early but that’s okay.  I expected it to be hard to get pregnant, at my age, Al’s age, and with my sport background.  So really we are lucky it happened as it did.  But I don’t want to pretend that the physical and emotional changes that come with it aren’t difficult to deal with.  I am a pretty calm person overall.  And in general I feel I am pretty good and dealing with the punches and whatever challenges life delivers.


The first day after I found this out was a Saturday.  Typically on Saturday’s I get up and get on a bicycle for a few to a lot of hours.  Instead I opened my eyes and just laid there.  What was I going to do?  Getting up and sitting on my bike in the basement for the 4-5 hours that were in my training schedule wasn’t at the top of my list.  There wasn’t a race goal anymore.  There was no specific goal to focus on.  So I stayed there for a while and then I got up and made pancakes.   I can’t remember what the rest of that day looked like but I know I didn’t exercise.  I didn’t exercise the day after either.  The first little while was about dealing with the changes, thinking about life and making some very different new goals – short term and long term.


Since then, I’ve gotten myself together and am happily going to the gym most days of the week for an hour or so to strength train, elliptical or spin.  If I’m tired, I don’t go or I cut it short.  Often I will show up with big plans and once I get going I just want to sit down.  I have to admit that a few times I have driven to the gym only to take a nap in my car before dragging myself in there, if I get in there at all.  I sometimes think back to that time when I was training and racing as a pro ironman athlete… and then I laugh and realize that was only 6 weeks ago and I have no idea how I was doing it.  Most of the time I have been feeling good and positive about what is happening and okay about the changes my body is going through, because I know it’s because a baby is growing inside me and the changes my body goes through are healthy for the baby.  But for someone who is used to constantly trying to get lean, constantly training to the extreme to perform at ironman racing, and someone with a history of nutrition and body image issues, it is difficult sometimes.  Aside from the physical changes it’s also hard emotionally.  Pregnancy brings with it lots of changes in hormones which can mess with your emotional stability!  Overall I feel that I have been fairly even keel, but there have definitely been times that I experience huge amounts of anxiety and a low mood and feel like I could start crying at any moment.  The good news now is that I know why and can just breathe and realize that there is a reason I feel this way and it will eventually pass.


So what’s happening with training and racing?  Well, I’m taking this year off of doing this for myself and putting it all into helping my own coached athletes at CL Performance Training ( train and perform at their best.  I may not race elite again in the sport but I’m okay with that and excited to make myself into the best mom possible and put even more energy into my business and being the best Chiropractor, Run and Triathlon Coach I can be.  This summer I will be around the races as a professional cheering squad!  I look forward to seeing you out on the race courses.


Stay connected with this site as well as to get updates on events that we have planned.  Coming soon is a training camp in Mt Tremblant, a big training weekend in Muskoka and a bike maintenance and swim clinic.  There is a link to sign up for CLPT newsletter on the website if you are interested.


Until next time…



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Guest Blog Post: My Growth Through Triathlon by Mike Boydell

The following is a guest blog post by my CL Performance Training Athlete Mike Boydell.  Take a read to learn about someone else’s entry into triathlon and how it played an important role in personal growth.

My Growth Through Triathlon

By Mike Boydell

It started simply enough. For a few years I’d been hearing tales of bravado and spirited trash-talk from a close circle of long-time friends in their early 40s who were using the KTown sprint triathlon to keep their competitive juices flowing. My curiosity to join the fray was overshadowed by the daunting prospect of finding time to train amidst busy career and family life. Also present (but less obvious) was an inner voice that was quietly happy to play it safe and avoid putting myself out there in not one, but three sports. Beyond recreational participation, I had little experience in swimming, biking or running, but that didn’t stop me from imagining all forms of spectacular ways to publically flop in them all!

Things changed for me in the summer of 2009. The year I turned 40 also marked the sad and tragic loss of a central member of our circle of friends. This giant-hearted, vastly talented and passionately unique individual was taken suddenly in a senseless, random act of gun violence. Love and camaraderie brought a new group of friends and families to the Ktown triathlon that year. We swam, biked, and ran. We shared fears, cheers, hugs, laughter and stores. Individually, collectively, we remembered how lucky we were.

That experience also sparked in me a new sense of possibility – a next chapter awakening at a whole-life level. I felt a strong pull toward longer distance triathlon as a metaphor and means to embrace personal growth. After building up a few more sprint and Olympic distance experiences, my first 70.3 in 2012 became an invitation to really approach my own self-limiting, anxiety-laden inventory of “what if” fears – what if I panic in the water; crash on the bike; bonk on the run; and so on. That list was as limitless as I was prepared to allow my inner critic to roam!

Committing to the more complex journey and mental chess-match of my first 140.6 helped me approach the bigger question, “What would I do if I wasn’t afraid?” The first answer – get comfortable asking for and accepting help! An important point easily overlooked by so many successful, driven, type A personalities.  Several triathletes and coaches in my circle introduced me to Dr. Cindy Lewis, professional triathlete and owner of CL Performance Training. Cindy took the time to know me, my aspirations, my life realities, and supported me through all aspects of the preparation journey.

By race day, a second, bigger answer had matured from within myself: I would be wise and focused in planning executing my own race plan; I would be resilient and resourceful when unplanned snafus presented themselves; I would bring courageous drive to every challenge presented; and, my heart would be full with compassion, love and gratitude for all the family, friends, coaches, trainers, volunteers, organizers, spectators and fellow-athletes who had come together to celebrate this day of possibility. Crossing the finish line forever reframed my perspective on fear. Going forward “Face Everything And Recover” became a mantra to embrace my fears, no longer as debilitating self-limiters, but as positive invitations to the deeper growth and broader possibility that lay just ahead.

I’m so grateful for the experience and metaphor of triathlon; for all those who gift us with their own unique spirit, courage, learning and compassion, helping us see our own possibilities with the sunrise and sunset of each day.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy your race!

Ubuntu (I am because we are).


More About Mike

Mike is a CEO coach and president of Boydell Inc.

Since transitioning from corporate leadership roles in 2009 his professional life has been dedicated to understanding and serving the unique needs, challenges and opportunities of CEOs. This passion led him to create The Fearless Leader™, a powerful growth platform that helps leaders spark that deeper connection to their own brilliance as they strive for achievement, impact and fulfillment in their world.

Mike has served hundreds of leaders and executive teams from around the world. He is also certified resource, speaker and workshop facilitator for Young Presidents and World Presidents (YPO-WPO) Organization.

More About CL Performance Training

Cindy Lewis is a professional triathlete, chiropractor, personal trainer and multisport coach.

Her mission is to help everyday athletes achieve goals and dreams, and change their lives in the process. Her company CL Performance Training works with athletes from beginner to elite around the globe helping them reach their goals in endurance sports via online training plans and 1-on-1 training.

Visit: (soon to be active website!)



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Miami 70.3 – racing and coaching

My career choice is very rewarding. When I think of people who go to work every day and hate their jobs, or just “spend time” doing something mindless, I think about how lucky I am to have built something that I really like doing every day. Helping people get and stay healthy and helping athletes achieve goals that are important to them – how can every day not be a good day?? People set goals in health and fitness for many reasons. And people set goals in endurance sports for many reasons just the same – which I get to be part of, not only in planning and taking them through a training schedule, but also getting to know each persons personality and what drives them. Relationships are created between a coach/trainer and athlete that are deeper than most people realize.

2 weeks ago I was in Miami for the 70.3. I went there to race – but also to support five of the athletes I coach. To be there for them before the race and after the race was my favourite part! Knowing how some of their lives have changed, what they have given up and what they have introduced into their lives, and being part of the up and downs of their journeys to race day is something that is hard to describe.

As for me, I raced too! The end of the 2015 Triathlon race season. If you know me or if you have followed my blogs throughout this year, you know that it wasn’t the best year ever for me and triathlon, but I have been feeling better as the weeks go on. I dealt with a chronic hip injury over the winter months and then some overtraining in the spring and first half of the summer. After recognizing that and making some changes in the summer, I have been feeling better and stronger each week. I’m looking forward to getting through the next bit of off-season and getting stronger and faster for the 2016 season! Miami was a great way to end things off this year. Here is the story…:

The swim: This part wasn’t so good – but that’s because of the jellyfish!! There were jelly fish every few metres. Big one’s!! I was stung at least 12 times, all over. One big one in the arm and armpit that is still a pain 2 weeks later. This was the first time I ever saw a jellyfish…and I’m not looking forward to seeing them so close up ever again! Other than that, I felt okay in the swim, although it was definitely hard to focus on swimming!

The bike: The bike was fun. Flat and fast. The first half with the wind at our backs was FAST. It was important to stay in control on that piece though and not get too excited.. because the second half was back in the opposite direction with that same wind as a headwind!! It was fun to fight through the wind, to stay focussed on pedalling, stay strong mentally and work on passing one person at a time. I felt good on the ride and was consistent most of the way through.

The run: It’s hot in Miami! When I got off the bike I was feeling good. Quickly I realized that sun was hot! The run was a little slower than I would have liked, but I kept going without looking at my watch so I wouldn’t be stressed by the data – this is something that has been a good thing for me to learn to do this year! Having data can be good for some people, but for others it’s better to put it away and listen to your body instead at times. This course is fairly flat except for a big overpass that you run over four times. I kept going one foot in front of the other and trying to keep a smile on my face – my last race of the year and five coached athletes racing.. that kept me going and kept me in a good headspace! I saw a few of my friends who were racing a few times during the race because of the out and back x 2 course. It was nice to see them and their smiling faces! In the end, I ran significantly slower than I would have liked, but I did give it a good effort overall and it turned out that almost everyone ran slower than they normally would. I ended up 11th overall in a big field of pro’s! Overall, I’m happy with this race and the way it ended up, and I’m excited about getting back into it in a couple of weeks once off’season is over. For now.. time to put up the feet and take 2 weeks of rest and recovery!

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70.3 Timberman: Back to racing!

This past weekend I raced 70.3 Timberman.  And, for the first time in a while, actually felt like I was in a race instead of going through the motions.  I have been having issues for a while now with self-defeating thoughts related to both training and racing.  One of the things I have really appreciated about training and racing endurance sports is that you can let your mind be free of day to day thoughts and stresses and just focus on the task at hand.  Until you can’t… !  During the months before Ironman Austria I felt myself getting more and more tired and performing worse at workouts despite getting in the time/volume that was prescribed in my training schedule.  I found myself regularly wondering “why am I doing this?” and thinking “I’d rather be doing this instead,” and thinking “I can’t do this anymore.  It’s too much, I’m not good enough…” and on and on.  Triathlon is hard… and takes a whole lot of focus and commitment to be good at.  So when this starts happening, it’s impossible to race as well as one would like.  After Austria I decided I needed a change.  It was time to change focus – I decided to switch coaches within QT2 Systems and to start focusing on half iron distance racing instead of iron distance. These two things were what needed to happen if I was going to stay in the sport and start loving it again!

The goal at Timberman was to race fast of course but more than that it was to find focus, to keep my head in the game, stay positive and have fun.  As a professional triathlete it is so easy to get caught in a game of feeling like you’re not good enough.  There can be a lot of pressure – from yourself and others.  (As well as a ton of work!  It’s definitely not as glorified as people think.)  Coach Vinny told me to pretend it was my first triathlon ever and re-experience that excitement.  He gave me some ideas to stay focused on my body during the race and nothing else.  I did it… and that’s the biggest reason why I feel like this race was a success.

I traveled to this race with another local pro, Kristen Marchant, and my boyfriend Al who basically played race-sherpa and helped us with whatever we needed – a huge support to us.  We met friend and teammate Amy down there and it was great to spend time with good people while prepping for a race.

Pre-race it was great to see a few fellow QT2’ers in transition to chat with and lighten the mood.  As we walked toward the swim start I looked around and took in the positive energy.  Tried to think about the great things that would happen that day instead of “I can’t swim fast enough right now” or “my bike power isn’t where it should be right now”… etc.  I got in the water, warmed up, and actually felt great.  The gun went off, I went out with the group and managed to stay with a few girls in the middle of the field.  It was a strong effort throughout the swim.  Into T1 – it’s always a good thing when there are a number of bikes still in transition!  A couple girls got out of T1 in front of me… time to work on transitions!  On the bike I was focused on pedaling.  That’s it!  Every time my mind started wandering I recognized it and brought the focus back to “it’s just me and my bike.”  I managed to stay consistent from start finish, keeping heart rate where it was supposed to be and keeping rpm up when possible.  I passed a couple of girls on the bike and a couple passed me.  Through T2.. onto the run.  This run is challenging – lots of long hills which can kill the legs if you’re not careful.  Again, I headed out with an eye on heart rate and just worked to keep it where it was supposed to be – not worrying about what everyone else was doing, just running my own race and doing what I was supposed to do.  I didn’t run my fastest race but I did run one of the smartest – by listening to the plan and not starting out too fast I was able to stay more consistent than others and pass a few girls in the second lap.  During the run I was able to do the same as on the bike – as soon as the mind started wandering I was able to recognize it ASAP and bring focus back to my body – in a positive or neutral kind of way.  I was able to push the effort a little in the last mile and come across the finish line strong.

As I said in the beginning this race was a success for me.  Not because of my time or my placing.  But because I was able to get my head in the game, keep it there, and feel like I was actually in a race instead of going through the motions and not sure why. Coming out of Timberman I feel motivated to keep it up, get stronger, get faster, and race again soon!  There will be no more full ironman races this year – half distances and shorter only.  The plan is for 2 more half iron races and maybe a running race thrown in there for fun.  Time to lay down the hammer and get strong again!

Thanks to all those who support me in my triathlon dreams, including:  Coach Vinny @ QT2 Systems, PowerBar Canada, Pearl Izumi, Quintana Roo, Base Performance, Normatec Recovery, Rick Choy and Reel Kool Products.

Until next time…

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Ironman Austria 2015 – The Whole Story!

Wow, what a trip – one of things I like about racing triathlon is that it brings with it the opportunity to travel to different places in the world, some that you may have always wanted to visit and others that you may never have thought of!  My race calendar this year has changed a number of times for various reasons and ended up with race #1 of 2015 being Ironman Austria.  This adventure came about after Challenge North America cancelled the pro race at Challenge Atlantic City about a month and a half ago.  I’m going to tell the whole story of getting my mom, my bike, and myself to Klagenfurt and then getting myself to starting line and the finish line of this race.

Last Thursday we (my mom and I) headed to Toronto Airport to begin our trip.  Our final flight destination was Venice, Italy and we had a short 40 minute stop-over scheduled in Vienna.  From Venice our plan was to drive to Klagenfurt, Austria, where the Ironman was going to take place.  We got to the airport almost 3 hours early, thinking we would have more than enough time to get ourselves checked in, through security and to the gate and we would not have to stress about time.  When we got to the airport and found the Air Canada check-in area, we put our passports into the self-check-in machines and our reservation was not found.  Okay, well, we had a piece of paper with us that told us our AC flight number and the time and date, so after making sure we had that right we went to see an agent.  We then found out it was actually Austrian Airlines that we were going to fly with and learned of the new flight number.  So away we went to the Austrian check-in area.  The check-in line was pretty short so we were happy to see that.  We got to the agent at the desk pretty quickly and she takes our luggage minus the bike, tags it, sends it away, and then begins to look into checking in the bike.  There looked to be some confusion and she said “I cannot check in your bike, you have to call your travel agent and pre-book it, or you can go over there to the ticketing area and she can do it for you, and then come back.”  Okay.  So.  We head to the lady at ticketing.  She says she can book the bike to Vienna but not Venice and as a result we cannot take the bike at all.   I speak with her a minute and then someone else comes over and tells me to call our travel agent – which we don’t have because we booked it directly with Air Canada.  I call Air Canada and explain the situation and they laugh and say they have no idea, it’s Austrian Airlines we are dealing with and they can’t do anything about it.  I ask the lady at the airport if she can speak with the person on the line w/ Air Canada and explain what they need and she says “No, we are not permitted to speak with them.”   Eventually I find someone else to speak with.  He puts in a call to someone else at Austrian and asked for special permission to put the bike on the plan from Vienna to Venice.  He says “wait 20 minutes and then come back” and he would let us know then, he said he’d asked for special permission and that there were no guarantee’s.  You can imagine how much time has gone by at this point.  Here we are, my mom and I, in Pearson Airport with this bike box, wondering if we are going to get on a plane at all, or if our luggage was going without us and we were staying in Toronto with this bike.  I think my heart rate was running in zone 4 throughout this ordeal.  The good news is, after 20 minutes I went back to this “guy” and he said okay, you can take the bike, now go back to the agent and check it in.  We go to her.  She says “go to ticketing, she has to do it there so you can pay.”  It’s about 6 minutes before our check-in deadline at this point.  There’s a line-up.  Everyone let us go ahead of them and we got the thing checked in and then ran with it to the oversized baggage area and they took it.  We have to then get ourselves through security, now it’s boarding time for the airplane.  They let us skip the line through security.  We get through and we run to the gate… to be told we have no seat, the plane was overbooked and is now full.  We DID get assigned a seat eventually though, thank goodness!  We got on that plane, we got to Vienna, we RAN through Vienna airport to try and catch our connection, assuming we were not going to since it was already 5 mins past when it was supposed to be leaving when we got out of the first plane, but we made it!!! Big sigh of relief.  We were going to get to Venice after all!!  That flight was short and sweet.  We got off and headed to the area to pick up our luggage.  We get our bags.  We go to oversized luggage area and some bikes come off.  Not mine though!  Oh the adventure continues.  We see the lost and found people and fill in some forms and the guy says not to worry, they would have a courier drive it to Austria to where we were staying and it would arrive in the morning.  Okay, that’s fine, they knew where it was and it was going to get to us the next day.  Off we go to get our rental car and we drive to Klagenfurt.  The next morning we do a few necessary things related to the race and there’s no word from the airport.  I go to the pro meeting, then call the airport.  They have my bike there.  They’re not couriering it after all.  They said they could send it on a plane to Vienna that night, have it then go on another plane to Klagenfurt and then come to our hotel by courier the next day.  By then it would be Saturday morning.  My confidence in that bike betting to Vienna, making a connection to Klagenfurt and then getting to me was not high.  I lost my cool at that point and told that guy he better find a way to get that bike to me today or he could keep it.  The words that I actually used were slightly different than that.  I guess that’s what you have to do, because in the end they did end up couriering it to me that day and it arrived at about 8:30pm on Friday.  *Phew*!

Saturday was bike check-in day.  I had built the bike on Friday night and took it for a short spin on Saturday morning to make sure all was good and it was ready to go.  These legs hadn’t ridden for a number of days, but hey, that extra rest could be a good thing right?  I drop the bike and my transition bags in transition and we head back to where we were staying (which was a really nice apartment in Portschach at a placed called Haus Pickert – I would recommend this place to anyone racing IM Austria).  All is good, I always feel a little bit more relaxed when things are dropped and I can’t do anything else with it but show up and race the next day!  We went about our day, fell asleep pretty early and woke up at 3:15am for breakfast.  All good.  We got in the car and headed to the race.  We got there and my bike shoes are not there.  “Oh man, this race is not meant to be”.  I took a deep breath and I found someone to talk to about this.  Somehow I found a guy who had a bike shop at the expo.  He loaded me into his car and we drove to the expo, found my size of shoes, he put some cleats on them and we drove back to transition.  *Phew*.  I quickly got things set up properly, found my mom and we walked the mile or so to the swim start.  At that point I realized that everything was going to work out, I really was going to do this race.  I’ve never started a race with so many less than ideal things happening in the days before, but hey, “let’s just go for it and enjoy it and see what happens”.

I get the warm up in, and get on the dock to start.  Pro athletes at this race have to dive off a dock to start.  I think that has something to do with the race being broadcast live on an Austrian sports station.  I laugh to myself that everyone watching that sports station is going to see me do a belly flop and my goggles fly off.  Hahaha.  I didn’t care, I just laughed to myself about that.  The gun went off and all was fine.  The swim was nice, it was nice clear waters and calm.  The swim is usually my weakest link but has improved a lot in the past year working with QT2.  I was able to stay with the pack for the first 500m or so and then settled in with a couple of other girls.  The course was a little bit difficult to navigate because of the sun rising but we did it and it was all good.  Through T1 we go and onto our bikes.  Into my new bike shoes.  I laughed to myself a bit about the whole thing and start pedalling.  My mom and I had driven the bike course the day before to take a look at it.  It was really nice!  Lots of hills and curving roads, through lots of nice towns.  It was a two loop course.  I didn’t feel great on that first loop – physically and mentally.  I decided eventually to just ride my bike and look around and enjoy the fact that I was riding through Austria and not be stressed by the data and the details.  That was a good call.  The second loop went better after I decided to do that.  My bike time was significantly slower than I would have liked and lower power than it should have been, but I had been struggling with some health/hormone stuff for the few weeks before the race so I just went with it and did what I could on the day.   T2 was quick and smooth and out onto the run course.  As many of you know, I had a hip injury for about five months this past fall/winter, a nagging thing that just wouldn’t go away.  I finally got that sorted out in March and started running at the beginning of April.  As a result, run mileage was about half of what it ideally should have been, with a long run of about 13 miles leading up to the race.  Coach Tara had told me “don’t worry, the run will be a bit of an unknown but you will be okay, I think you will just be a little bit more sore after the race than usual.”  I took that in but I wasn’t so sure :).  I started out cautiously as she suggested, and kept going at between 7:30 and just under 8:00/mile for the first half, knowing I had a long way to go and hoping I could just get myself through it running, without causing any injuries.  I had decided I was going to get to the end of this Ironman whether I was running or walking, so if I could just keep running no matter what the speed, that’d be the best case scenario rather than running a fast half and then walking a slow one.  At about the 14 mile mark my legs started feeling the way they normally do at mile 20, tightening and stiffening and feeling like something was going to give.  I decided to slow down a lot and just jog my way as far as I could.  I talked to some people along the way, stayed positive as best as I could, realizing I was here in Austria doing a race and that’s pretty cool.  Aside from walking a few aid stations to take in anything and everything I possibly could, I managed to jog my way through the marathon, crushing 9:30 miles for much of that second half :).  I have to say, I was happy to see that finish line!  I was okay at the end, one of the only Ironman’s I have done without needing some medical attention at the end.  My legs were sore and couldn’t move much more, but that was to be expected considering I had just “run” a marathon off a 13 mile long run, but the rest of me was okay.

This was definitely not an Ironman experience I would dream of, but you can’t expect the best every time.  I felt that this one was a success just by getting to the finish line after for months earlier wondering if I was ever going to be able to run pain-free again.  I like to learn things from every race experience, and my thoughts from this one are:

  1. If you want your bike to get to Europe, you should probably ship it some other way than with the airline. It’s probably not that much more expensive to do that either, the fee’s to bring a bike between continents are not cheap!
  2. Always arrive at the race early. You never know what you might need to do once you get there.  Find a new pair of cycling shoes!  Race morning is stressful enough already!
  3. Sometimes you just need to chill out and do what you love. Things don’t always go your way, even when you do your best to prepare yourself.  Shut off your technology if necessary and just do your thing.  Racing should be fun, for most of us it’s a hobby and not a job.  For me it is a little bit of both, but it still needs to be kept in perspective.
  4. Klagenfurt and the surrounding areas is beautiful. Crystal clear waters and mountains all around.  It’s safe and clean and the people (at least those that I met) are very nice and happy to have foreigners visit.

Post-Race my mom and I went back to Venice and spent a few days there.  What an interesting place – one unlike any other I’ve seen.  A few thousand locals and a few million tourists.  A water town with no motor vehicles, no bicycles, and no roads at all.  Everything built centuries ago and unable to be changed.  All travel is on foot through narrow stone alleys with tall buildings on either side.  Very minimal greenery, mostly in the form of plants on people’s balconies.  Public transportation is by boat which takes you to various terminals around the islands, functioning pretty much like the bus transportation system in Toronto.   Overall, really an interesting place to visit!

Before signing off, I’d like to say some “Thank You’s” to those who have helped and supported me along my triathlon journey.  Firstly to my own sponsors and QT2 team sponsors, including Quintana Roo Bicycles, Pearl Izumi, PowerBar, Normatec Recovery, Smith Optics, Base Performance and Rick Choy of Reel Kool Products.  Secondly, to my family and friends who continue to support my pursuit of goals they may see as “crazy” :).  Thanks to Jeff, friend and Physio extraordinaire, for putting this body back together again when no one else could.  To Shiela, the best RMT and co-worker I know (as well as a great friend).  To Coach Tara of QT2 Systems for having the patience to work with me through this hip issue I’ve had “forever” and getting me to the starting line at all.  To my triathlete friends from around the world who are always there with encouragement and motivation when it’s needed.  And special thank you to my boyfriend Al Caballero not only for just being awesome all around but also for supporting me no matter what – including spending so many of his weekends keeping me company in the pool, on the bike and on the road.  (And for putting up with me falling asleep 14 seconds in to any move or TV program we ever put on).  What will the future hold?  It’s time to sit down and look at what’s next!  Stay tuned 🙂

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