Monday, April 7, 2014

Galveston 70.3 Race Report!

When I talked to Katie about my race schedule for 2014, I of course, wanted to throw an early season marathon into the mix. It's no secret that I love to run, but when Katie suggested an early 70.3 instead, I started researching. Galveston seemed to fit into my schedule, made sense financially, and I could convince Sara to come race with me. Being away from the triathlon scene for so long, I was super nervous for such a long race, so early in the season. Katie decided not to taper me much, and I could feel I was carrying some fatigue into this race. This is a GOOD thing; peaking in early April certainly wouldn't be ideal! 

Sara and I arrived at the race site early Sunday morning, secured a parking spot that would make for an easy exit at the end of the day, and made our way into transition. I forgot how much more "stuff" there is to do when playing in the world of triathlon, as compared to running! I did my best to remember everything, slipped on my wetsuit, and started the walk to the pier. 

The water was M-A-D Sunday morning; many moments during that swim I was thankful I'm so comfortable in the water. The current was against us going out, we then swam with the current for a bit, and the last part of the swim was right back into the current, which was tough! I got tossed around, kicked a bit, but it was FUN! My swim has been in a fabulous place, and my pool times have been great. That did not translate to Sunday morning, and I have a bunch of stuff I need to work on (i.e try swimming ON the course perhaps, and not swimming all the way to Mexico and back?).Its all good though - I exerted very little energy, took a few gulps of salt water (tasted that for hours!), and smiled. A lot! 

Came out of the water, hit the wetsuit strippers (best.thing.ever!), and ran into transition. Helmet, wet bike shoes (it had rained while we were swimming), and off I went! 

The bike... ohhhhhhhhh, the bike... The bike is the leg of triathlon where I'm least confident, and really need to stay on top of my mental game. The bike course in Galveston was perfect for me, especially this time of the year. I was able to just spin my legs, watch my heartrate, and go. It's a lonnnngg out and back, along the Gulf Coast, and flat as a pancake. Yesterday was windy (although not as bad as I feared) and rainy. This gave me a lot of opportunity to really keep my head in check; race my own race, let everyone pass me, and just keep pedaling. I felt great, nutrition was going down just fine. I was smiling the whole time. Around my 35ish, my adductors started screaming and cramping. I think it's a combination of not having ridden outside much, and being in aero for so much of the course yesterday. Whatever the reason, I didn't know how to "fix" it, other than just get my butt to T2 as fast as I could! 

T2 was tough, only because the adductors were so painful. I didn't think though, just kept moving forward. Threw on the run shoes, my headband, and off I went, shuffling out to the run course. 

I absolutely love to run. I wanted to CRUSH this run course, and I knew I had a good time in me. When I started to run, my run legs just weren't there. I flipped my watch over, decided not to look at it for a little bit, and waited a couple miles for my run legs to show up. They never did. At mile 5ish, I started to get VERY frustrated when I realized my miles weren't the 8:xx I was really hoping to see, and realized I had a choice. I could pout, and allow for the mental spiral to define the run, or put my head down, and do what I could to get to the finish line. I started looking for shoes in front of me. "okay, go get the pink shoes, and pass her. Done. Now go get those yellow shoes, pass him." I repeated this for literally the last 6/7 miles. It worked to keep me moving forward and focused. So much so that I caught 123 women and 570 total athletes on the run! While NOT the run I was looking for, I kept my head together, smiled, and focused. Had I let myself fall apart emotionally, the outcome of the day would've been VERY different. 

I learned so much yesterday; I have some new goals for my next 70.3 in June, and a lot of things I want to work on in training. I have so much more in me, and am capable of being a lot faster. However, the time of the clock isn't always what defines the day (for me - I'm also not doing this for a living); it's how I managed myself throughout the day. I smiled so much yesterday, got to see some great people, and got to spend the day doing something I absolutely love. 

A huge thanks to Katie, for putting up with my shenanigans every day. She saves me from myself on a regular basis, and I'm so thankful to have her in my life. 

Thanks to Coeur for putting me in a kit where I have zero (yes, z-e-r-o) chafing, and a headband (not a visor girl!) that withstood the entire run. Not to mention the hoodie that I basically lived in all weekend! I'm so very thankful! 

Until next time.... 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Me Versus Me..

I was a total bitch to my coach yesterday. She sent me my race plan for Sunday, and I immediately wrote back some childish response about the race taking me 16 days to complete. There was no excuse for my temper tantrum, and I spent a lot of my run yesterday thinking about where that response even came from.

Social media is fascinating to me; it can be such a wonderful platform for so many things, but can also be a place of "hey - look at me!". As an athlete, my Facebook and Twitter feeds are often filled with reports of how many hours people swam/biked/ran, at what pace/how many watts/wearing a Superman cape, etc. Its so damn hard not to compare yourself to what everyone else is doing, even when you know it's not possible that so many people are training 65 hours a week while juggling 86 children, 3 jobs, and no baby-sitters. Ever.

This journey to Ironman is one that I chose to take for my own reasons. I chose a coach who I fully believe will get me to that starting line healthy, happy, and ready to slay the Ironman dragon. I have put in a ton of work, and the confidence in myself grows each week. There is no room for me to be worrying about what everyone else is doing, how everyone else is training, or at what races other people are peaking.

All of this "noise", ironically, was at the root of my meltdown yesterday. "What if it takes me XX hours to finish this race? What will so and so think of me if it takes me 9 hours to ride my bike 56 miles? Will I be a total loser if I run a XX half marathon? Why am I not faster?" And it left with me with a choice - choose to follow the race plan, trust my coach (and myself!), and execute my own race, or spend the next 4 days  (and the entire race) worrying about what "everyone" will think of my if I don't finish in under XX hours.  I will never be the fastest athlete out there (spoiler alert: I'm not winning Sunday!), but I train and race with my heart, and this sport is something I absolutely love adore.

I made my choice - I have spent the past 5 months ensuring all of my "life buckets" are equally full. When I'm with Caitlyn, she gets 100%. Family and friends - I make phone calls, and make the time. I'm fortunate that I love my job, and when I'm there, they get 100%.  And when I get in that pool, on my bike, or in my running shoes, I give 100%. It's a way that I have chosen to live my life, and I rarely compare my day to day life to anyone else's. In which case, why the hell would I care to compare my training/race times to anyone else?

On Sunday, I am going to follow that race plan as close to the letter as I can. I'm going to smile often, and make it a point to give out as many "thank yous" to the volunteers that I can. I'm going to be thankful that I have the opportunity to race, and be proud of this journey that I have chosen.

While being a bitch to your coach is never a great idea, that moment gave me the huge kick in the pants reminder I needed. It's me versus me, and nobody else.

"Courage starts with showing up, and letting ourselves be seen."
-Brene Brown

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Whats Your Why?

It's February in Massachusetts, which means we'll inevitably be slapped with a few more snow storms, just to remind us how long a nasty winter really can last in New England. We'll also get 40+ degree days, where you'll see people out running in shorty shorts, almost willing spring to come more quickly. 

I decided to play chicken with this morning's snowstorm, and head to the gym as soon as it opened. I knew the storm would start getting bad about 8am, but also knew if I was efficient, I could bang out my swim/run and get home before my little car got stuck under a foot of snow. 

When I slipped into the pool, the only other guy in the chlorinated paradise turned to me and said "whats the reason YOU'RE here so early on this snowy morning"? I smiled, turned, and got my workout underway. His words stayed with me through my entire warm-up set; it dawned on me that I never thought of it as an "option". I set my alarm, and as long as the ground wasn't already covered with 3++ inches of snow, I was swimming. Of course, I had asked coach for a contingency trainer plan, but that was truly worst case scenario. 

Similarly, on the weeks I have Caitlyn, I train early, before she wakes up. My alarm goes off at a time that either starts with a 3 or 4, I roll into my bike shorts, and execute my workout before she gets up for school. No lights or TV, simply because I want to be able to hear her in the event she wakes up. It's me, and the sound of my trainer, for a couple hours before sunrise. It's never a thought to not do the workout, or even hit the snooze button (full disclaimer - I'm a total morning person. I'm usually out cold by 9pm, making it easier to get up early!). 

This was clearly NOT a dark-thirty ride!
Do I tell you this because I'm trying to sound like a super hero, or being all bragadocious on you? Nope. 

I truly believe the reason my training is consistent is because I know my "why". I never question why I'm hopping in the pool that happens to look a little extra slimy, or jumping on my trainer super early in the morning. I don't hit the snooze button, because I know I'll be much more productive spending those 5 minutes slipping on bike shorts (sometimes backwards), putting on the swimsuit that's still a little damp from yesterday's swim rendezvous, or lacing up my favorite pair of trainers. And even when coach again makes me run a prescribed low heart rate, instead of letting me off the leash to be a screaming running banshee, I listen, because I know my why. 

Gorgeous winter day for a run! 
Everyone's reasons for exercising, training, or even getting up to go to work in the morning, is different. Maybe you're motivated by money, to lose that last 5 pounds, or to fit into your favorite pair of skinny jeans. Or maybe on certain days, you're motivated because you can eat a Thin Mint girl scout cookie as fuel on your bike (uhhhh, theoretically of course..). I think the reason people stop being consistent in certain areas of life is because it can be easy to forget the "why" that was the motivation at the start. 

I challenge you to figure out your why; write it down, post it on your fridge, or tape it to your forehead. Then when your alarm goes off, remember that very reason your feet are hitting the floor in the morning. 

Happy Training! 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Tis The Season For New Beginnings...

It's that time of year for extreme cookie baking, paper cuts from wrapping paper, and pictures of that damn elf being posted all over social media. Well behaved children, twinkling Christmas trees, and Mariah Carey's Christmas played incessantly on every radio station. And when your life is full of athletes, it's also that time of year that race schedules are being posted everywhere. It's definitely a time of anticipation and excitement. 

For me, 2014 is going to be a year of new beginnings. I have had this email sitting in my inbox since July: 

The journey to my first Ironman. I've been toying with the idea for a few years now, but never felt truly prepared to take the plunge until after I finished my 50 mile ultra. Once I completed that race, I felt like I was ready to tackle an Ironman, both physically and mentally. 

I then toyed with the idea of coaching; I knew I could buy a book, and figure out how to get to the starting line. I'm fortunate to have a degree in Exercise Science, and could put the pieces together. However, I can definitely be my own worst enemy. I've always fallen into the "more is more" category with training; I love volume. I'm also very injury prone, which I'm sure is directly correlated with this mentality. Combine this with being an Ironman rookie, a tricky schedule, AND not having a lot of bike experience? I started researching coaches. When I tell you I researched, stalked (what? no good?), googled, and researched some more, it's probably an understatement. I know I'm a pain in the ass to coach. I like to ask lots of questions. I always want to know the "why" and the science behind everything. I have a tricky schedule, which forces a "thinking outside the box" mentality as I ramp up to Ironman. I needed someone who can save me from myself, but also lets me play every once in a awhile. Along with all of that, I need someone who is a great personality fit; someone who really would "get me" at every level. I found Katie; and when I tell you she has been PHENOMENAL, it's another understatement. We've been working together since November, and I'm so very thankful for her guidance and friendship every day. 

Finally, to complete the trifecta, I was chosen to spend 2014 representing Coeur Sports. 

Not only does this company make sweet swim/bike/run gear, but more importantly, they're a company based on heart. Turns out, "Coeur" is the French word for "heart" and the root of the word courage (your French lesson for the day, you're welcome). From their website: 

As an athlete, you know that athletic performance is about so much more than genetic talent. Its also about heart. Heart is about digging deep and being mentally tough. Heart is what gets you to the finish line when all the body wants to do is lay down.  Heart is at the center of the community and the friendships you find in sport. Heart is what makes you give back to the community that has given you so much. the  Everything we do at Coeur - from our designs to how we play a role in our community - should reflect our values and how we aim to conduct ourselves. 

I'm so fortunate to have been chosen as a representative of Coeur; I am proud to be part of a family who dares women to dream big, encourage others, and be passionate. And of course, look badass while doing it all! 

I hope you all have a fabulous holiday full of friends, family, and swim/bike/run! 

Friday, May 17, 2013

On Re-Entry..

Whoa! What's this? A blog post? Shut the front door!

I know, it's been awhile.. I absolutely love blogging, but life has been insane, and every time I sit down to write something, I get pulled away into something else. That said, away we go.

After Stonecat, and then Philly a couple weeks later, my body cried mercy. I needed to take a vacation from running. This doesn't mean not running (I mean, that would just be silly), but it meant a break from a rigid training schedule. Stonecat was the first race since my first marathon that I was actually afraid of not being able to finish. My longest long run was 31 miles, and the race 19 miles longer. I trusted the training, but I was a S-L-A-V-E to that training schedule. I wanted to ensure that I did everything I could to be as race ready as possible when I toed that line.

The start of Stonecat.. 

Colleen and I pre-race

After Philly, for most of December, and January, and February, and.... I was logging slow miles. I retired my Garmin boyfriend, and ran with either the Timex, or no watch at all. I watched birds, I picked flowers, I walked when I wanted to walk. Some weekends I ran 20 miles at a time, others I logged 5 for the entire weekend. I had zero desire to race, run fast, or do anything than just be running. Or power-walking. Either way.. 

In February, I ran the Hyannis Marathon with Sara. It was her first marathon post baby, and we wanted to have fun. I thought that might be the fire under my ass that I needed to run faster than pedestrian pace. It rained/sleeted/hailed that day, and the winds howled at 35mph. Yeah, there was no desire to put in a mile any faster than a light jog. However we did help a friend PR at the half marathon distance, and had so much damn fun along the way. Isn't that what this sport is all about?

In April, we ran Boston before Boston. It's a ritual we have, every year we don't qualify. Our "punishment" is  running the entire course, but with none of the glory and fanfare. It's still damn awesome. That was the first day I put on my Garmin. But I never started it, because I was too scared. We had a good day, and I actually "pushed" the last 10K of the course. It felt surprisingly good to move again. 

Re-Entry.... After Boston I reunited with G-Man. I didn't look at my pace for the first few days. I was Captain Huff 'n'Puff, knowing damn well I was still frickin slow. It was a start though, and I needed to start somewhere. 

Over the past few weeks, I've slowly been chipping away at those paces. I've made it a point to finish every run feeling strong, and I'm watching my "easy" pace come down to some semblance of yesteryear. 

This week, when I was struggling to keep a solid pace, I remembered the re-entry from this, about a year ago: 

If I went from being in a cast, where 9+ inches of stitches laid underneath, to a 50 mile ultramarathon 6 months later, I can certainly handle a re-entry into the world of tempo runs, track workouts, and Garmins. It'll take time to get back where I want to be, but it'll be so worth it when I finally get there. 

Happy Running! 

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Little Off-Season Experiment..

And no, it doesn't have to do with how many Christmas cookies I can fit in my mouth at one time, thankyouverymuch.

I am that runner that always talks about strength training, but never does it. I'll go into the weight room, do about 4 bicep curls and a sit-up, and walk out. I just get way too overwhelmed, I don't have any structure, and frankly, I don't enjoy it. I've also talked about doing yoga, because God knows I need to stretch more. Turns out when you go from hitting "stop" on your Garmin to being in the shower in less than 30 seconds, you become VERY inflexible. Having a crazy busy life, I'd rather squeeze in 2 extra miles than stretch or spend that time in a yoga studio.

Insert Jess and Jo, who are are instructors at Barre N9ne, a barre studio local to me. They opened their original studio about 45 minutes from me, and although I went to a class and loved it, it was simply just too far to go regularly. When they opened a studio about 15 minutes from me, I decided to see what all the hype was about. I had read a lot about the studio, their mission, read Jess and Jo's success story, and thought I could really benefit from it. For more about Barre N9ne, click here.

For someone who considers herself in good shape, I got my ass kicked that first class. Yeah, I was the red-faced kid in the back of the class who couldn't complete one set without having to stop and take breaks. I left that class, and my arms were shaking just holding the steering wheel on the drive home. The next day I woke up with that hurt-so-good sore that I hadn't felt in awhile.

Being in the midst of training for my 50, I just didn't have the extra hours to fit in Barre N9ne as regularly as I wanted. I would go to class maybe twice and week, and loved it a little more each time. It was the class right before Stone Cat that I decided I was going to do a little off-season experiment. Keeping my running schedule of 5-6 days a week, but adding in the barre more regularly - committing to 3 classes a week, and seeing if I notice any differences in myself.

I am happy to report that just about a month into this experiment of mine, I slipped into a size 26 (size 2) jeans effortlessly the other day. I have more definition in my arms and abs, and my ass has definitely been whipped into shape. Literally. I don't weigh myself ever, as I have a very dark past with numbers, so I can't use that as a "success marker". I'm not saying the next time you see me, you'll fall over in awe, but to me, I can see the changes.

My genetics don't allow me to "be thin" - my mom was heavy when she was younger, and my dad was a heavy guy when he wasn't working out. I have to work really really hard to keep my weight down. Running has always been great in that sense, because it's such an awesome calorie torcher, and incredibly efficient. Spending time at Barre N9ne has allowed me to tighten everything up, and really "refine" my body. Admittedly, I wasn't someone who was in need of a total body transformation. However, I have realized over this past month that fatiguing, burning, and shaking at the barre is doing amazing things for my body.

I was worried about "giving up" my miles, which is why I decided to do this in the off-season. However, with a little creativity, I've still been able to keep my long runs, and then fit in Barre N9ne into my short run days. And I'm starting to see that it's really no sacrifice to give up those miles; challenging my muscles, strengthening, lengthening, and stretching those muscles is a GOOD thing. I'm buring a ton of calories combining the two disciplines, and I get that high after an hour of burning at the studio that I would after a 6 mile run.

I'm going to keep this experiment up, and see what happens over the next couple of months. And then, as I transition into marathon mode again (I registered for Sugarloaf Marathon - that deserves it's own post!), I want to make a concerted effort to stay at the Barre.

Keep your eye out for a few posts about incorporating the Barre as endurance athletes; I've made some really great observations that I would love to share with all of you.

In the meantime, I hope everyone's enjoying the start of the Christmas Season!

Caitlyn and I put up our tree last weekend!! 

Happy Training friends!!

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Season Closer.. Philadelphia Marathon Race Report..

This is so overdue, and I only apologize a little bit; I've been too busy making cake-pops and drinking wine to write. And if that's wrong, then I don't want to be right.

Ahhhhhhhhhh, Philadelphia.

I took an incredible lackadaisical approach to this race; I felt that after the 50, I could pretty much conquer the world. Pffffffffffttt.. 26.2? I can do that in my sleep. About 48 hours before the race, reality bitch-slapped me. As much as this race wouldn't be a PR kinda race, I also needed to respect the distance. I also had a funky knee thing going on, that had limited by miles after Stone Cat. I needed to put down the wine bottle, pick up the water and Ibuprofen, and stop being a princess.

Sara and I ran a short shake-out around her house on Saturday (no knee pain!), and then headed to good ole Philly. We almost had to set-up a lemonade stand outside the car to pay for the tolls between the GW Bridge and the NJ Turnpike, but we decided scrounging around the car for coins was way more fun.

After we debated the race start time (I thought 8am.. I was *only* an hour off) and devoured the-best-oatmeal-sandwich-cookie-EVER from Whole Foods (I told you, lackadaisical..) we were lights out by 830pm.

Race morning was chilly, but we ended up driving there and parking less than .25 miles from the start. Here's a hint: if you grab a couple runners at your hotel who are the ridiculously long taxi line, they'll pay for your parking, AND you score good race karma. It's a win/win all around!

Okay, moving on to the actual race... 

If I had to make one complaint about this race, it's that the streets at the beginning are too narrow to accommodate the amount of runners. The marathoners and half-marathoners run together for the first 13 miles, and there are some sharp turns that can be dangerous if you're not paying attention. Case-in-point, we saw a girl sitting on a curb with a gash in her forehead and blood running out of her nose. When you have wall to wall people, it's really hard to see where that curb starts. Just a "heads-up" for anyone who would be using this as a "PR' race. BE CAREFUL!

The race for us was so much fun, but H-A-R-D. Way harder than it should have been, given the pace we were running, and our respective PR marathon times. This course is great, in that it's constantly keeps you engaged. The aforementioned turns, a great mix of hills, and a big out-and-back at the end to keep you distracted. Thank God, because we both had to dig for this one. I can't speak for her, but I was tired. I definitely managed to smile, laugh, and have a good time, but there were a few times when I went head down and just listened to the feet hitting the pavement around me.

I did have some knee pain, but it was easily contained by Ibuprofen that I scored from some guy and his wife who lived on course (didn't pack 'em..). I was fueled by my trusty Clif Bloks (purchased at expo the night before the race - didn't pack 'em..). There were no salt tablets, because surprise surprise, I forgot to bring those too. I paid a little for that, but luckily the temperatures were low to keep the effect minimal.

This was an emotional finish for us; Sara as her last "hurrah" before the baby, and me as a top-off to the 2012 season. My ultra training and her pregnancy coincided beautifully; we were both running slower than usual this year, and therefore were able to train/race a lot together.  We've had some great adventures this year, and this race capped it off perfectly.

I'm not sure what's next for me, although I do have my eye on a couple different races.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving, and is enjoying the off-season!