Embarking on an unforgettable adventure often involves more than just marking the calendar and creating a plan. It’s about the pursuit of new experiences, self-discoveries, and the stories that will linger in your memory long the experience has ended.
Whether you’re training for an Ironman triathlon, attempting your first marathon, or building your overall fitness to live a more fulfilling life, every adventure is a tapestry of moments that challenge and change you. It’s the serene sunset to end a hard training day, the unexpected coffee shop conversations on group rides, or the early morning star gazing as you await the start of your A-race.
As you set out on your next journey, do so with an open heart and an eager mind. Be prepared for the challenges that lie ahead, for they are just steppingstones on the path to personal growth and unforgettable memories. Seek out the hidden gems that aren’t found in training plans, embrace the beauty of the natural world, and immerse yourself fully in the experience.
In the end, what makes an adventure truly unforgettable isn’t just the events you complete, or the places you visit, but the new perspectives you gain and the parts of yourself that you discover along the way. These are the stories you’ll tell for years to come and the moments that will inspire others to embark on their own adventures. So go ahead, step out of your comfort zone and into the extraordinary—the world awaits.
It’s now been 3 years since I started Carolina Multisports in December of 2020. I left the corporate world to go out on my own and do something new. I loved being around people and I loved helping others. I never knew this job would make these two things so meaningful to me.
My focus over the past year and a half was on recovering from a hip injury. I had my eyes set on the USA Triathlon 70.3 Nationals in Daytona Beach in December. I had qualified for worlds at the 140.6 distance in both 2020 and 2021 so my confidence was high. But after sitting out over a year to rehab my hip, I knew I wasn’t the same athlete. That realization came true. I didn’t qualify for worlds.
As I reflected on the race and the past year leading up to it, I was surprisingly not disappointed. I realized that throughout the entire year as I trained, my hip had improved and my health overall enabled me to experience a lot. I had been surrounded by some of the most wonderful human beings along my journey and together we helped make a huge difference in the lives of others through our community focus, not to mention some of the most epic adventures we had along the way!
The three words that kept coming to mind for weeks after the race were fitness, community, and adventure. It’s taken a few years to find it and attempt to articulate it, but the following thought process gave birth to my vision and mission statements.
Inspire the athlete in everyone.
Help individuals develop a lifestyle of fitness to serve and explore their world.
Fitness. Community. Adventure.
Improving your fitness gives you the opportunity to pursue new adventures every day
January often conjures up images of busy fitness centers, only to dissipate weeks later. Instead of a resolution, take some time to write in a journal, about who you are today and who you want to be in the future. Be specific. List your goals and any obstacles to those goals. Write for you, not for others to read. Be honest. Throughout the year, record your successes and failures and what you’ve learned from both. Then at some point, compare yourself to who you were when you started, adding what you are grateful for. Chances are, you’re going to be a much different person, and one to be proud of at that!
As you train and compete, remember, there will always be ups and downs. You are your biggest obstacle. Acknowledge the disappointments, setbacks, and failures, along with the successes. It’s only through this juxtaposition that we can truly learn, and eventually experience joy and success.
Then something miraculous happens. As your physical fitness improves, so does your mental fitness. (Or vice versa. You cannot have one without the other.) As your mental fitness improves, your life improves.
The ultimate reward of connecting both your physical and mental fitness to your daily life comes when you’re able to move beyond your own needs by serving others.
Our capacity to serve our community is greatly limited if we don’t have the health or strength to do so.
We can accomplish so much more as a group than as an individual. Therefore, service has become a cornerstone of Carolina Multisports.
As endurance athletes, we see firsthand the impact that litter has on our waterways, roads, trails, and greenways. Nature is our playground, and we want to keep it beautiful for years to come. As part of the Adopt-A-Highway program, Carolina Multisports adopts a 2-mile section of Shearon Harris Road in western Wake County.
Last year, Carolina Multisports partnered with the Arthritis Foundation, by participating in the California Coast Classic. This incredible event is the largest gathering of the arthritis community in the world, raising funds for resources and research, to find better treatments and a cure. As part of the event, Carolina Multisports was able to raise over $3,500. This amount was also matched by Amgen, the presenting sponsor, doubling our efforts. During the 2023 California Coast Classic, I was able to personally meet many of the recipients of the funds we raised. Collectively, 197 participants raised over $1.3 million.
As a volunteer for Zach’s Toy Chest since 2014, I’m proud to announce that 2023 was our best fundraising year ever, raising over $50,000 to assist local kids with cancer.
Participating in the delivery of toys and other essentials to these pediatric patients along with their siblings and parents is life changing.
We will continue to participate in all three of these areas again in 2024.
Some of our greatest adventures in life often occur when we’re serving others.
This area is new. To give you some background, I had the opportunity to participate in the epic California Coast Classic last year, a 525-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles last year.
On day 5 in particular, we began the day inland riding towards the coast through a cool fog. As we navigated several canyons, the fog gave way to warm sunshine, blue sky, and the smell of eucalyptus trees and salt from the ocean. As I enjoyed lunch with some friends at a seaside bistro, feeling quite fatigued after several days of riding, I was overcome with emotion. This was living. I had never felt so alive! Whether through race events, personal events, or general fitness, I want to help cultivate the pursuit of adventure to connect your fitness to your life experiences.
I attended the 2024 Endurance Exchange, the annual gathering of the multisport community, this past weekend on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with great anticipation. I was not let down.
We began the conference with keynote speaker, Dr. Indigo San Millian, who came out hot challenging the conventional thinking of the industry at large, citing his decades of research and working with world-class athletes such as the famed 2x Tour de France winner Tadej Pogacar and world-class cycling teams like UAE Team Mercedes, that lactate was not the “bad guy.” An audible and accepting rumble went through the crowd with a few claps and cheers, indicating that many intuitively knew this and that their thoughts were being validated.
He explained that lactate is likely the preferred fuel source for the cell. Glucose as a fuel source takes longer to convert while lactate is used immediately. When mitochondria aren’t efficient, they can’t use all the lactate available, and it builds up. That’s the burning we are all familiar with. The fix: We have to stimulate the mitochondria by targeting zone 4 or threshold to improve lactate clearing.
He ended his remarks by stating emphatically, “The future is in biosensors.” There is a boom in technology leading to more wearables. This has led to an explosion of data and with computing power ever-increasing, new insights and breakthroughs are being made possible.
From there, we all fanned out across campus to the many breakout sessions for the next two days.
The future is in biosensors.
Dr. Indigo San Millian
My path first led me to a panel discussion on strength training. Erin Carson, current strength trainer for pro triathletes Taylor Knibb and Tim O’Donnell, helped reframe our understanding of injury prevention by teaching, “Injuries don’t typically occur during force production, but during force reduction. For example, if you want to run fast, then you need to be able to put your foot into the ground really hard and be able to accept that load.”
Of course! We can only go as fast or hard as we’re capable of producing energy. That’s why we can’t jump 25 feet. We couldn’t safely land without injuring ourselves, so our brain limits our output. This inverse relationship of producing power and absorbing power is where we need to focus our strength training.
Speaking of the brain, my favorite session of the conference was titled, “Optimizing Performance from the Neck Up.” While strength training is obviously important, Dr. Scott Frey shared more incredible research, citing a recent meta-analysis of over 17 studies and 17,000 participants, that “54% of our output is limited by the brain.”
We experience a constant influence by our past, our current situation, and our expectations of the future. Reality and our beliefs are being filtered and affected by our brain below the subconscious threshold. The brain integrates this sensory feedback to predictively adjust output. The point at which we quit is a choice based on perception, not an absolute limit. We often quit far below our potential. This works in both directions too. For example, we can dig deeper and go farther than we often believe we can.
To summarize, the brain is the ultimate arbiter of output regardless of all the gadgets and data we have. Mental fatigue, whether it comes directly from activity, or indirectly from our life experience, affects our physical output in a major way. So, whether you believe you can or you can’t, you’re right.
The takeaway: Prioritize and train the brain as routinely and strategically as much as you train the body.
The conference proceeded in the same fashion with great sessions, one after another, touching on topics such as the latest breakthroughs in heart rate variability with Dr. Paul Lauren, nuances of the gait analysis with Board-Certified Sports Physical Therapist, Sam Rauchwater, and improving open water swim technique with former pro triathlete Tommy Zaferes, just to mention a few.
Throughout the conference, we also enjoyed a terrific trade show with opportunities to demo new products such as Form’s new smart swim goggles and Nix’s new sweat rate monitors. It was also exciting to be introduced to several game-changers like Fuel.in with their nutrition app and Velocity with their new virtual cycling app.
As I reflect upon this conference, I’m not only thinking about learning and improving as a coach but also about what this means for my clients and everyone who enjoys multisport in all its forms.
Carolina Multisports, LLC was born out of my love of connecting with people and helping others to discover, learn from, and excel in endurance sports. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? We often discover something new about ourselves when we pursue goals that often seem so hard at first. That’s what it’s all about for me. Carolina Multisports is not only a great fitness outlet, but a community to change your life.
I’d love to join you on your journey. Come on, let’s go do something that might seem impossible today.
As 2023 ends, there will still be no FDA-approved treatment for Osteoarthritis and 20% of all rheumatoid arthritis patients will still have no effective treatment available to them. As the nation’s #1 cause of disability, arthritis affects nearly 60 million adults and 300,000 children. Over 100 types of arthritis and related conditions damage the joints and often other organs.
During 2023, Carolina Multisports was able to raise $3,560 for the Arthritis Foundation thanks to your donations as a participant on Team Amgen as part of the California Coast Classic.
I’m excited to announce that Carolina Multisports will once again support the Arthritis Foundation in 2024 through their Arthritis Challenge Experience (ACE), a remote event held in conjunction with the California Coast Classic. I will be training and riding the entire Blue Ridge Parkway to raise awareness and funds for a cure.
I’ll be using the hastags, #WeLiveYes#WeJourneyTogether#RideForACure and more to humanize the experience. Follow them for more resources about arthritis. Arthritis steals everyday joys, forcing many who live with it to say “No” to the things they want or need to do. But there are ways to say “Yes” instead of “No”. Likewise, arthritis steals quality of life and impairs well-being. We use our fitness to advocate and journey alongside of those who suffer to support and strengthen them.
Join me and my team next year on this amazing adventure! As a team member you’ll help us raise funds while doing what you love, riding your bike! We’ll train together and then tackle one of America’s most beautiful and scenic tours. Get started HERE. Use the Promo code: ACE24 to waive the entry fee of $39. Please contact me directly for more details.
Whether you’re warming up for a workout or you’re getting in the zone for a race, follow these five steps to wake up the brain and get your body ready.
It’s important to remember that we all have different body structures and different movements feel better or worse. Explore movements within each pattern to find the ones that work best for you.
1. Diaphragmatically Breathe – Your diaphragm is a spinal stabilizer. When your spine feels safe, it lets the rest of your body move well. Breathing also calms the nervous system. Start by closing your lips and placing your tongue on the roof of your mouth so that you are nasal breathing. The tongue placement is very important. The roof of your mouth has neural receptors that toggle the autonomic nervous system. Belly breathe so you pull air into the bottom of your lungs with your diaphragm. Continue to nasal breathe throughout your entire warm-up. Breathing Progressions
2. Head Control – As the old adage goes, “Wherever the head goes. the body goes.” This is very true! Every muscle and reflex in the body is purposefully connected to the head, specifically the vestibular system. The VS is your balance and sensory information crossroads. The body is designed to protect the head and spine at all costs! So, if your head and neck don’t move well, the rest of your body won’t either. Choose several head movements that will explore the full range of motion of the neck. Start by going up and down, and side to side. Lead with the eyes.
3. Rolling or Rotation – Rolling and/or rotating further activates the VS and strengthens it. As we move down your body through this process, we are now connecting and warming up the shoulders and hips. This also nourishes and lubricates the vertebrae in the spine allowing you to move fluidly. Choose movements here that target the thoracic spine (middle part of your back).
4. Rocking – Rocking continues to nourish the VS and integrates all the joints in the body. It also calms the body and improves posture. Explore different directional movements like, back and forth, in circles, with one leg out beside or behind you, etc.
5. Crawling or Gait Pattern – You guessed it, yes, crawling, walking, and marching continue to feed good information to the VS. It also connects the two halves of the brain to increase our coordination. These movements may sound easy, but throw in different directions. Walk backward and sideways! Also, cross your midline with some marching cross crawls by touching your knee with your hand or elbow. If you’re preparing for a race, you may throw in a few sprints to top off your warm-up.
As you can tell, this process is intimately connected to the nervous system. As a word of caution, never move into pain. That’s bad information and the body will tighten up to protect itself. When your nervous system gets good information, you feel good. And when you feel good, you move well.
Dr. Evan Kahn of North State Sport and Spine will hold 4 webinars this year via Zoom to discuss the major muscle groups we use during multisport events, in particular, how muscle chains work together and how you can get the most out of your body! He’ll also discuss how to strengthen these muscles, how to prevent injury, and what can be done if you have a small niggle or big injury.
All Zoom events are from 7 – 8 PM
April 18 – Swimming
June 13 – Cycling
August 22 – Running
October 10 – Strength Training
Sports & Recovery Bodywork Clinic
Eddie Summers of Body Restoration Massage & Bodywork will hold 4 in-person seminars at his clinic in Holly Springs to discuss and demonstrate what you can do at home to safely work your muscles to increase mobility, reduce inflammation, release toxins, improve circulation, and much more!
As an athlete and running enthusiast, Kari combines her sports experience with physical therapy expertise to help her patients achieve peak performance.
Dr. Jenny Lennon, PT, DPT
Jenny’s primary goal of treatment is to guide her patients toward independence with self-care and symptom management by teaching them the proper tools and exercises.
Certified dry needling & pelvic floor specialist
Laura Hudak, PT, MPT,
Laura loves being able to teach people more about how their body works, and how to best take care of it in the short and long term. Treating the whole person is the cornerstone of her philosophy.
Mckenzie specialist & mechanical diagnosis
I’m excited to announce our newest sponsor, Prevail Physical Therapy and Sports Performance. They provide comprehensive, evidence-based care, utilizing a one-on-one, hands-on approach without the use of aides or assistants. They work with patients to optimize functional movement and sports performance by determining the root cause of injury. They then develop a plan of care to achieve wellness, reduce future injury risk and redefine performance.
Your Carolina Multisports membership includes a complimentary 30 min. sports performance review with Dr. Kari Smith. Take this opportunity to discuss your questions with a professional before training.
For the 2023 season, Dr. Evan Kahn of North State Sport and Spine proudly serves as the offical Carolina Multisports team health specialist and focuses on injury management to keep you training and focused on your goals.
Anytime throughout your training experience as a client, he offers a complimentary 30 min. injury assessment. Additional paid services may be recommended and include, but are not limited to, chiropractic, dry needling, taping, functional assessment, soft tissue mobilization, Normatec recovery, and more!
Triathlon is one of the fastest-growing sports worldwide. There are races all over the world of different distances and formats. You can participate at any time of the year, and across any type of terrain as in winter or cross triathlon. Some athletes prefer only two sports at a time like duathlon, aqua bike, or aquathlon. And of course, single sports like a marathon, grand fondo rides, or an open water swim event are just as challenging. There is an event for everyone!
Juggling three sports can be a challenge. The 2023 season is upon us and I’m here to help. Carolina Multisports provides a community that you are immediately plugged into for support. I’ve been working hard all winter to deliver even more value for your monthly training membership. I’m excited to announce several exclusive new services only offered to Carolina Multisports athletes.
Monthly coaching services now include:
Complimentary injury assessment at North State Sport & Spine
Complimentary sports performance review at Prevail Physical Therapy
Complimentary gait analysis at The Running PTs (Cary or Holly Springs)
Complimentary 30 min. bodywork massage at Body Restoration
Nutrition Guide from The Endurance Edge
I hope you’ll choose Carolina Multisports for your training and coaching needs. Feel free to contact me anytime. Your questions are very important to me. In the meantime, take some time to learn more about my coaching philosophy, check out our upcoming events, or browse our latest newsletter articles.
Let’s get started!
Donate to the Arthritis Foundation
Arthritis is the number one cause of disability in America. People with arthritis are warriors, boldly facing the pain, limitations and challenges the disease causes. Challenges like getting properly diagnosed, multiple doctor’s visits and treatments, a maze of insurance procedures, missing school or work, being unable to perform normal, everyday tasks or enjoy favorite hobbies and activities. I ride to cure arthritis to improve the lives of the 60 million Americans living with the disease. I’m raising funds for resources and research, to find better treatments and a cure. With your help we were able to donate $3,560 in 2023. Please consider donating this year to help me reach my fundraising goal of $4,000 and help the Arthritis Foundation conquer arthritis once and for all.