Running

Sunday Funday Runday

“Today I will run for the pure, absolute joy.”
-Lopen Lomong

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This morning I got up to some pretty chilly weather. In fact, when I checked my Authentic Weather Ap, it looked something like this:

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Now I know it’s December, and there are plenty of FREEZING days in store between now and January; buuuuttttt I live in New England. The weather here is unpredictable. Sure today it’s in the 30’s, but tomorrow it might be in the 60’s.  I’m not taking any chances, which means taking advantage of the really cold weather when I can. None of that unseasonably warm stuff for me. I have a sub-freezing ultra to train for!

Besides, I just got a sweet deal on a Pearl Izumi Elite Barrier jacket, so I obviously needed to test it out. In addition to being wind and water resistant, it was supposed to also be thermal. Given the light weight paper thin fabric, I had some doubts. As it turns it, it really was warm. No false advertising there. Good on you, Pearl Izumi and your freakishly warm paper-thin jacket.

Aaaaannnnyway I picked the Larkin State Bridle Trail because it’s a nice long, flat out and back that is about as close as I’m going to get to the Winter Beast of Burden terrain… minus the multiple feet of snow. In fact, despite the freezing temps and recent snow fall, there actually wasn’t any snow this morning. We’ve had some heavy rain over the past two days that likely washed away any that was left from our most recent storm.

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Trails make me happy.

As usual, the scenery was breathtaking. I spent the entire run out soaking in the views without stopping (and soaking in general thanks to some flooding…). Then I gave myself the liberty of snapping a few photos on the way back. Unfortunately, I couldn’t run the entire trail because at just over eight miles in, it was completely underwater. Having already run through some ankle deep freezing water prior to that point, I really wasn’t excited about the prospect of wading waist deep. I know, I’m a wimp.

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Um, yeah. No

My goal going into the run was to try to get in an easy ten. However after about four miles (when my legs finally warmed up), I was feeling surprisingly good. That’s when I decided it might be fun to take on the entire out and back and get in a 20 miler (yes, I just used fun and 20 miler in the same sentence). After all, I’m never one to waste a good runner’s high!

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 Doesn’t get better than this, right?

Not being able to run the full route meant I would have to do some extra miles at the end. I took this at a fantastic opportunity to do some mileage at my favorite place on earth… which conveniently happened to be just across the street (Yea! Lucky me!). I think I would have enjoyed the scenery there more if I were not hitting the 18-20 mile wall; however, it was still pretty awesome.

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With the plan to go extra long, I thought today run would be perfect for my Emma’s Little Wonder Virtual Fun Run. Emma’s Virtual Fun Run is a fundraiser started by an awesome young lady runner as her Bat Mitzvah project. According to the website for her run “Little Wonder is a non-profit organization that enriches the lives of patients going through cancer treatment and gives them and their families a night out by providing them tickets to local concerts, family entertainment, live theater, and sporting events free of charge. The funds we raise will help spread the word about Little Wonder and increase awareness for patients, hospitals, and vendors.

Like a said, she’s a pretty awesome young lady to set up a fundraiser for such a worthy cause, but then we all know that runners a generous, giving breed. As someone who has been touched by cancer both in my personal life and as a healthcare provider, I was honored to take part in supporting her project.

Furthermore, I would like to encourage all of you to participate as well. You have until December 31st to register. What better way to motivate yourself to get out and run now that the weather has turned cold (at least in my neck of the woods)? Emma recommends a 5K walk or run, but is encouraging everyone to put forth their best effort and do what they can. She is even recognizing winners in the following categories:

Best 5K time Boys under 12
Best 5K time Girls under 12
Best 5K time Boys 12-18
Best 5K time Girls 12-18
Best 5K time Boys 18-35
Best 5K time Girls 18-35
Best 5K time Men 35+
Best 5K time a Women 35+
Longest Run (for those venturing beyond 5K)
Coolest Place to Run
Best running picture (must be a selfie)
Oldest Runner
Youngest Runner
Best excuse to donate and not actually run/walk

So there you have it folks! The gauntlet has been issued! It’s only $18 to register and the money goes toward a great cause. Plus, you have to opportunity to win one of these great titles (because if you aren’t motivated by charity, you might be tempted by the chance for glory). For those of you considering going for the longest distance, you’ll have to top my 20 miler from today… which was epic by the way (except for miles 18-20 which sucked miserably).

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If you do decide to sign up, be sure to tag your running related selfies and photos with the hashtag #littlewonderfunrun; and while you’re at it consider giving Emma a shout out for what a terrific thing she’s doing.

Happy Running!

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It’s Almost Go Time

“Fear is gradually replaced by excitement and a simple desire to see what you can do on the day.”

-Lauren Fleshman

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As I type this post, I am waiting for my husband to get ready for our trip to New Hampshire.  I figured this would be a more productive use of my time than nervously drumming my fingers while breathing down his neck.  My original hope was to be on the road by now; however, my hubby works second shift and runs on what I affectionately term “California Time”.  Thus, I expected when he agreed to come that we would get a late start.  It’s a small price to pay to have his undying support. (At least that’s what I tell myself when I start to feel stressed…)

At this point, I have packed, unpacked, laid out all my gear to double-triple-quadruple check I have everything, and re-packed.  I am pretty sure I will still forget something, but at least I know I have the essentials.  Plus, it’s not as if we are traveling out to the middle of nowhere.  Anything I’ve forgotten beyond my gear (which we’ve established is all accounted for… 4 times) we can replace when we get there.

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Lucy would like you to know that she helped. She’s such a good girl!

The hubs is currently installing a new derailer on his bike.  No, he’s not racing, but he’s bringing it with him to spectate.  Therefore, it obviously needs to be in PERFECT working order.  Yes, this is the best time possible to fix it.  No, I am not freaking out.  Instead, I’m distracting him with awesome videos like this:

Aside from being behind on our scheduled departure, I am ready to go!  I went to the chiropractor yesterday and got stretched out and taped up.

photo-27Having a good chiropractor is my Ace in the Hole! 

I also had my parents over for dinner last night to celebrate both their anniversary and my Dad’s birthday (which happen to fall on race day… Is that a good sign or what?).  I surprised them with fresh cut flowers from my garden and they surprised me with this:

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Having an awesome family also helps…

Then before I went to bed, I completed my triathlon pre-race ritual and made sure I had some fire on the outside to match the fire within…

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Sky Above, Earth Below, Fire Within… Ready for Go Time!

All that being said, I am set to go!  I have put in the work, now it’s time to reap the reward.  Sure, I didn’t expect to go into my big day with an injury, but I am certainly not going to let it dampen my mood or detract from the experience!  I earned my spot at that start line, injured or not.  I am ready to take on those miles and enjoy every wonderful/awful minute of it.  I am an endurance athlete.  This is what I do.  It’s what I love.  I get to spend an ENTIRE day outside swimming in a beautiful lake, riding my bike, and running my favorite (running) race distance.  I honestly cannot wait to get out and start!

This a dream that has been over a year in the making.  It’s required more grit and determination than any race I’ve taken on to date.  A year ago I didn’t know how to swim or even own a rode bike.  I had to grow tremendously as a person and athlete to become a triathlete.  It’s been an amazing journey which has been a roller coaster at times. (Triathlon mirroring life..)  There were so many points when I felt so close only to have one set back after another.  Yet, I stuck with it, and now it’s really happening.  This will truly be my biggest physical challenge to date, and I feel 100% ready to take it on.  

The great thing about chasing a dream like this is how much it forces you to grow and change.  The person who arrives at the start line is not the same as the one who started training.  Nor is she the same as the person who crosses the finish.  The whole process is a crazy metamorphosis.  I know I will finish that race a different person than when I started.  I am already so far removed from the runner who dreamed of an Ironman.  I am now a swimmer, cyclist, and triathlete.  Tomorrow (God willing!) I’ll be a Half Ironman.  It a huge step on my journey to Ironman.

The best thing about chasing a huge (and at times insurmountable) dream is inspiring other people to do the same.  I never hid how much I struggled with the swimming or cycling or how terrified I was.  I wanted to show that it’s ok to suck and fail as long as you don’t give up on your dream.  Failing is part of growing.  It’s a sign that your are truly challenging yourself, and there’s a lot of value in that.  

There’s a chance that I may fail tomorrow.  I could get sick or crash or have my injury get the best of me, but I won’t give up.  I’ll find another half.  I’ll keep chasing my dream, and I will get there.  Regardless of how the day goes, I’ll be grateful for the experience.  I’ll be thankful for the opportunities triathlon has given me and the personal growth that has happened as a result. 

More than anything though, I’lll be delighted to be finished tapering!  I miss all the high volumes of swimming, biking, and running!  Plus, I have a great game plan to get Ironman ready. 🙂

 

 

No Room For Fear

“It’s less about the physical training, in the end, than it is about the mental preparation”
-Jimmy Smits

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I am officially less than one week away from the biggest race of my “career” and one of the biggest challenges if my life (thus far anyway). With the recent set back of my IT bands/knees acting up and the knowledge that I will likely not be 100% by race day, I feel fully entitled to be completely freaked out right now.

However, nothing useful has ever been accomplished by getting all worked up over stuff that can’t be controlled.  I mean it’s certainly not going to enhance my performance!  Rather, it will just exacerbate the situation and make for a miserable racing experience… which kind of defeats the purpose of signing up in the first place… unless you’re a masochist, which I am not (contrary to popular belief).

Instead I’ve decided to make “No room for fear” my mantra for the Timberman 70.3. Why? Because it’s absolutely true. There is no room for fear when you are taking on the biggest challenge of your life. Fear is a distraction and a hindrance. Ain’t nobody got time for that!  Not to mention that fear will suck every ounce of joy out of what otherwise could be an amazing day!  You can’t simultaneously live in the moment of race day while worrying about all the horrible things that might happen… or the terrible pain you may be in… at some point… probably hours from now…

That’s not to say I’m immune from the nagging fear and doubt that looms in the pre-race period. Tapering is enough to make anyone question your sanity, let alone tapering while nursing an injury. The thing is, while I fully acknowledge their presence, I refuse to let the pre-race jitters undo me.  I know I am going to be uncomfortable at some point during my HIM.  There is also a good possibility I will be in a fair amount of pain on my run.  It is even probable that I will be absolutely hating life by the time it’s over.  Of course, it is also possible that I may have a mind blowing endorphin rush and one of the best racing experiences of my life.  The best part is, they are not mutually exclusive.  I could have a gloriously miserable race experience and still come out as a win. (I may have lost a lot of you there, but I know my fellow ultra runners and endurance athletes understand what I’m saying… or maybe you don’t because it’s late and I’m rambling…)

The good news is my knee issue conveniently started at a point when I was supposed to be tapering anyway.  With just about all my training behind me, the most useful thing I could do was get it taken care asap and trust the work I put in over the past relaxyear. I was fortunate that a fellow Tri club member happens to be a chiropractor. She managed to squeeze me in almost immediately (Did I mention it was a weekend? How lucky am I to know great people!?!). Within a few visits she’s been able to break up the scar tissue along my IT bands and stretch my uber tight hips and hamstrings. With her help and lots of rest, ice, and elevation my knees are now pain free, but they aren’t 100%.

There is a good chance they still won’t be 100% on Sunday, but that is okay.  Yes, it is a set back.  Yes, it really stinks to have worked so hard and avoided injury so long just to blow up my knee on a short, flat run.  Absolutely yes, taking extra rest time pre-race completely sucks; but it also beats the alternative.  I would rather risk being undertrained the last couple weeks than overtrain and potentially develop a real injury.

Plus, there is always a silver lining.  Going into this event not 100% has actually given me an opportunity to step back and allow myself not to expect my absolute best.  Instead, I plan on being in the moment on race day.  I want to savor the whole experience and revel in just how lucky I am to be able to spend an entire day enjoying the outdoors while doing a sport I LOVE. So while I could wallow in how awful it is to have a setback two weeks out, I’d rather say ‘How lucky am I that I get to just race this one for fun?!?’

At the end of the day, it isn’t about the time or PR for me.  It’s about stepping out of my comfort zone and taking on a challenge SO BIG that I had to take on TWO NEW SPORTS to even attempt it.  It’s about pushing past my fear of swimming and cycling and failing and growing into a person strong enough to get to the starting line.  The real victory won’t be crossing the finish line.  The real victory came from overcoming every obstacle along the way.  To me, the Timberman 70.3 may be the biggest challenge yet on this journey, but it is also the icing on the cake.  It’s a whole day of doing something I truly love in good company with tons of support.  What could be better than that?

Now let me ask, when’s the last time you allowed yourself to race with no pressure?

 

What I’ve Learned From Triathlon

 “One can acquire everything in solitude except character.”

-Stendhal

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Today I applied to be an ambassador for the 2015 Swim Bike Mom Team.  I think my heart may have actually skipped a beat when I saw this post on my Facebook feed:

Screen shot 2014-08-08 at 8.43.27 PMSince it is a goal of mine in life to be just like Swim Bike Mom when I grow up (ie. a badass triathlete and author inspiring woman to “keep moving forward” and chase their dreams), I jumped at the chance to join.  Plus, I figured I would be perfect for her team since I already tell everyone how awesome she and her book (and blog) are every chance I get…  Oh and I’m into that triathlon stuff too 😉

As part of the application they asked how triathlon has changed my life.  I spent a lot of time putting together my response because the truth is, it has dramatically changed my life.  Given that this was a topic I have been wanting to write about anyway, I figured I would share my answer:

I have never considered myself an athlete. Even when I became an avid runner, I still never identified myself as athletic. I’m about as uncoordinated as they come… downright clumsy actually. I have been plagued with all sorts of knee and joint issues, and even when I ran, I wasn’t able to really excel at it because I was limited by pain.

After extricating myself from an abusive relationship, I found myself again through my love for running. I discovered the minimalist movement and built my way up to running ultras. That is when I first felt the pings of desire to enter the world of triathlon.

From day 1, the goal was never to do A triathlon, it was to do THE triathlon– an IRONMAN. At the time I didn’t know how to swim or bike, so I would say the first way triathlon changed my life is by making me a swimmer and cyclist.

Unlike people who learn to swim or bike simply for the sake of triathlon, I have learned to LOVE both swimming and cycling. I now have two more forms of retreat from the everyday stresses of life. I have two more sports that help me feel connected and centered. Everyday I am grateful for that simple gift for triathlon has given me.

Beyond that, learning to swim and bike have taught me some lessons in humility and perseverance. I was kicked out of my first swim class because I couldn’t rotary breath, but I didn’t quit. I had anxiety every time I went to the pool, every time I had to put my face in the water. I was THE WORST SWIMMER EVER, but I still wanted to be an Ironman. I practiced everyday until I was invited back to class. Then I graduated up a lane. Now I swim at an open water swim group.

It was the same story with the bike. I was TERRIFIED. I rode with white knuckles and braked down every hill. Then I discovered group riding. I felt so much safer. Instead of worrying about going too fast, I was engaged in conversation. I enjoyed the company and almost immediately the fear dissipated.

Through those first attempts at swimming and cycling I LEARNED THE VALUE OF COMMUNITY IN SPORTS.

Running is an individual sport. You train and compete alone. Yes, there are running groups and the whole running community- and don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my running community– but you don’t NEED other people to run. Triathlon is different. There is SO MUCH technical skill involved in swimming and cycling, let alone the rules and logistics of racing.  It’s near impossible to pick it all up on your own.

In triathlon you need other people to help you navigate the sport. You need people to talk you down when you are hyperventilating on your first open water swim and teach you how to grab your water bottle while riding in a straight line. Plus, there’s a ton to learn not just about swim and bike technique, but about all the bike maintenance and the gear. It’s a whole foreign world which is much easier to understand when you have other people to guide you through it.

They say “it takes a village” when it comes to raising a child, but I think the same applies to entering triathlon as well. One of the best things I did getting into the sport, was join our local YMCA tri club. Those people have changed my life. What they have done for me is on par with teaching me to walk. They have stood by through every struggle, crash, fear, doubt, and meltdown. Their support has been unwavering and unconditional. They truly are some of the most inspiring people I have ever met and not just based on their athletic achievements (which are both impressive and endless). Everyone is so willing to share what they’ve learned. They are humble, kind, and without judgement. Above all, they genuinely love the sport.  It’d be hard not to enjoy training in their company.

So by far, one the best ways triathlon has changed my life is by giving me an amazing community to both support and inspire my dreams… Not only the amazing people I have met and trained with in person, but also the online communities like the Swim Bike Mom Army, Team Tough Chik, blogs, and Facebook pages.

Finally, triathlon has forced me to realize that I am, in fact, an athlete. I am a clumsy chicken of an athlete, but an athlete none the less. I swim, I bike, and I run; and that makes me a pretty tough lady… and yes, a triATHLETE.

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Just about one week from today, I will be taking on my first half ironman.  There have been plenty of setbacks along the way, including a recent knee injury, but I am determined both to finish and have fun.  Above all else, I know I’ll be appreciating the journey, the places it’s taken me, and the people I’ve met along the way.

My heroes are the ordinary people in lycra chasing their dreams.  The everyday people who step outside their comfort zones and take on great challenges.  I am beyond fortunate to have met so many new ordinary heroes in the past year.  Hopefully someday I can be as inspiring as they are.

What I’ve Learned About Failure From Diana Nyad

“I wanted to teach myself some life lessons at the age of 60,

and one of them was that you don’t give up.”

-Diana Nyad

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I think you are all aware by now that I have a rather substantial lady crush on Diana Nyad.  In fact, I am pretty sure I wrote a whole post about it at one point.  This post, however, is not simply about how much I am in total awe and inspired by her (which I totally still am), but rather what I have learned from her about life and specifically failure.

When Diana made her #EPIC journey from Cuba to Florida, I was glued to the CNN app on my phone (I’m talking Boston Marathon levels of stalking).  For me, it was the equivalent of Man’s First Steps on the Moon.  Here was this woman in her sixties taking on the ocean, Gulf Stream, dehydration, hypothermia, sharks, jelly fish, and exhaustion in the hopes of finally chasing down her dream.  She wasn’t deterred by her age, all her failed previous attempts, or even the fact that her most recent attempt had nearly killed her, TWICE!  She was all in, Cuba or Bust.

It happened at a time in my life when I was struggling to learn to swim.  I couldn’t even wrap my mind around swimming the amount of time or distance she was attempting, forget all the other hazards… or the currents… or salt water… or restrictive gear (because we all know how much I love my wetsuit… NOT!)  To me, she was the epitome of the indomitable human spirit.  I would think about her during my swims just in awe on so many levels.

The more I learned about her, the deeper my admiration grew.  This is not a woman who has had an easy life.  In fact, she’s had very much the opposite.  She was abused by her father and assaulted by her swim coach for years in silence.  Being abused by my ex husband as an adult almost broke me.  I can’t even imagine what kind of strength it took to survive and endure being injured in that way by the men she was supposed to be able to trust at such a young age without ever reaching out to someone for support.  Beyond that, that fact that she has the courage to speak about it openly (especially in a culture with such prevalent victim shaming) speaks volumes to her personal fortitude and character.

I don’t know whether it was inherent strength that got her through or developed out of necessity, but I doubt it is a coincidence that a woman who was able to endure and thrive after that kind of childhood abuse is the same one who was able to shut down her critics and swim from Cuba to Florida.  Coming from a place of having survived and overcome the betrayal of physical and emotional abuse, I can speak first hand to the type of perspective it can give on life and specifically on pain.

Everyone has a scale for pain.  When something hurts, your brain is programmed to compare it to past hurt.  There is NOTHING in this life that I have ever encountered in the way of physical pain that even comes close to the psychological pain associated with abuse.  No sport, race, or distance to date, and I doubt any ever will.  It may be a reach, but somehow I think swimming 50+ hours across the ocean probably doesn’t compare for Diana either.

However, the reason I admire Diana is not the fact that she is an open survivor of abuse, so much as who she is as a person.  She had a crummy past, but it doesn’t define her.  Instead, it has made her tough as nails.  She is utterly unwilling to accept defeat, and that is my kind of lady.  If Diana has taught me anything in life, it’s that there is no such thing as failure unless you quit.  You may have failed attempts, but until you throw in the towel and give up- it’s not over.

Prior to hearing about Diana and learning about her, I used to worry about the big D-N-F.  I was afraid of failing.  However, now I realize it’s not a failure unless I give up on my goal.  As long as my desire and dream are still alive, I’m not defeated; and the story isn’t over.

When you look at her journey from Cuba to Florida, Diana didn’t fail on those previous attempts.  They were all important steps on her journey to get there.  In the end, I’m sure the fact that she had to fight so hard for so long made it that much more meaningful and rewarding.  So now, every time I have a goal (like 70.3) that I just can’t seem to get to, that is what I think of.  It’s not a failure, it’s just going to take a little longer than planned.  Eventually I will get there, and the victory that much sweeter.

PS. If you haven’t seen Ms. Nyad’s documentary The Other Shore yet, you should probably watch it. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t a swimmer or even remotely interested in swimming. You should still watch it. Because the truth is, it’s not about swimming. It’s about living.

Feeling Tri-Umphant

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.”

-Theodore Roosevelt

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You know how I’m always saying that “I will succeed because I am crazy enough to think I can”… Well this past weekend, I was crazy enough!   

That’s right! It’s the post you’ve all been waiting for: My REV3 Olympic Recap

It would be wrong for me to tell you that it started Friday night with the race expo because the truth is, it started loooooonnnnng before that.  It started as a little, tiny, glint-of-hope, pipe dream.  It was one of those crazy goals that I wanted to do someday.  It was so far out of my comfort zone, I never actually believed I would do it.  Yes I hoped and I dreamed, but I couldn’t wrap my mind around ever getting there.

Through countless hours of training (and regular public humiliation) I learned to swim and bike… from scratch.  Ten months later, I found myself at a safety briefing for my first real triathlon.  It would have been far too sensible to start with a sprint distance.  Instead, I had set my sights on a half and downgraded to the Olympic.  I was clearly smoking crack out of my mind.

ImageI am reasonably sure that the actual job of the race director who gave our briefing was to scare the bejesus out of all the newbie triathletes.  I found this both cruel and sadistic. I had visions of him knocking over the ice cream cones of small children for fun while he spoke.  After stressing how hilly and difficult the course was, he actually made it a point to say that the race officials would be focusing their attention on all the newbies who didn’t know what they were doing.  Well thank you so much Mr. Sunshine, because I wasn’t terrified enough already.

After his glorious pep talk, I went home and couldn’t sleep.  In fact, I called the hubs almost in tears on my way home.  He assured me I would be fine.  I made him promise that he would have told me if he thought I couldn’t do it.  I tried my best to calm my nerves, but it was no use.  I applied my race number tattoos (while second guessing where I was supposed to put them, convinced that it would invariably be wrong) and headed to bed.

By 3 am I was wide awake and still utterly terrified.  There was no peaceful calm, no get it done attitude- just sheer terror.  I forced down some water and sweet potato and headed back to the park and bike transition.  I hadn’t racked my bike ahead of time because it was raining when I left.  I did heed the advice of the director and arrived well ahead of check in only to find it completely empty.  This dramatically dropped his credibility in my book.  I tried to catch some sleep in between trying to cram last minute calories and frequent trips to the bathroom for that wonderful pre-race nervous pee ritual we all know and love (hate).  Thankfully, I was forward thinking enough the evening before to have asked one of the transition volunteers about the set up, so I was at least fairly confident arranging my transition area.

Before I knew it, it was time to head to the shore.  On my way, I saw my personal kayak escort from my open water swim!  It was like the heavens themselves opened up and smiled down on me I was so relieved to see her!  She told me I would be fine, and I actually believed her… for like 30 seconds before I hit the water.  I did take the advice of the director and do a warm up swim.  It definitely helped with calming my nerves.  Once I was confident that I could swim without having an all out panic attack, I headed over to watch the other waves start.

I distracted myself by making friendly conversation with some other first time triathletes which, thankfully, gave me a sense of ease.  In fact, I entered the water feeling relatively calm.  I knew my task for the swim would be to remain calm and conquer my nerves.  It is something I have had to do countless times being terrified of swimming from the beginning (who knew that’d turn out to be such a plus?).  I just kept repeating “I love to swim” over and over in my head and focused on my stroke.  The course went by fairly quickly, and I learned my first newbie lesson- wear tinted goggles when open water swimming.  For approximately one third (the backstretch) of the course, I could not see anything above water due to the sun.  Instead, I tried to follow the trail of bubbles in front of me and hoped that the people ahead of me knew where they were going.  Once we were back on the final stretch, it was smooth sailing.   I was complimented on my way out of the water for being the first to exit smiling- which is amusing when you consider I started in the 4th wave and got passed by a good part of the 5th (the last)… who literally swam over me.  Did I mention that was the Athena wave (ie. Amazonian sized women)?  Yea, that was not intimidating at all…

I took my time in transition because I knew I could.  I didn’t want to rush and forget something.  My goal for this race was simply to finish, and I knew I had enough people behind me in the water that I wouldn’t get pulled.  I had no idea what my swim time was when I headed out for the bike. (It turned out to be 38:59) I was so relieved that the hubs and I had done the course earlier in the week as a test ride.  I felt so much more confident knowing every turn and hill on the course.  More than that, I had enjoyed the ride, and looked forwarded to repeating it.  It was beautiful with rolling hills and picturesque scenery.  There were two steep sections and a couple sucky hills, but there were also some AWESOME downhills with nice wide roads.  The best part was that the bad uphills were in the middle of the course while the fun downhills were all in the second half.  In my mind, they were my reward for all the hard work I had put in up to that point.  I slid back on my seat, tucked in, and FLEW down those stretches (On the preview I clocked just shy of 40 mph!).  I barreled past other riders- despite the fact that I managed to drop my chain on the way down.  I had to stop twice to fix it at the bottom and toppled once unclipping, but none of that even remotely dampened my spirits.  Even with dropping my chain and the stops, my bike took 1:54:39.

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My free finisher photo. Thanks REV3!

My transition time between my bike and run was shorter than my first primarily because I ate while running out.  The run course was hilly but completely manageable; and the miles went by quickly.  Because I knew I was in no danger of getting pulled, I ran smart instead of fast.  I picked a comfortable pace.  When the hills got steep and I thought I could walk faster than run, I did.  If ultra running has taught me anything it’s that there’s no point or glory in running when all you are going to accomplish is burning out your legs.  It’s better to spare the energy and kill it on the downs and flats.

So that is what I did, and it worked for me.  I finished the run strong- blasting through the finish (It’s amazing how much faster I can move when the end is in sight!) with a total time of 3:43.  The hubs was there waiting with one of our friends.  They had actually ridden out to meet me on the bike course and cheer, though, in truth, they met me going up while I was headed down and were completely out of breath.  I was still happy to see their faces, nonetheless! I also was fortunate to have AMAZING support from the the Waterbury Tri Club peeps volunteering throughout the course.  It was definitely a HUGE boost every time I saw any of them- and especially when I hit the aid station at mile 5 of the run and they all erupted into cheers.  I would have stopped to hug each of them had I not been so ready to be finished!!!

I can’t even begin to explain what it feels like to work SO HARD for something and then FINALLY achieve it.  Even though I still have not reached my dream of a half or full ironman, I did accomplish my goal of becoming a triathlete- and that is HUGE!  I am now officially a woman who is too badass for just one sport.  I swim, bike, and run.  I will continue to swim, bike, and run until the day when I no longer can.  There may even be an Ironman Full REV at Cedar Point 2015 on the agenda.  Who knows what the future holds.

You can bet no matter where life takes me that I will keep pushing and challenging myself.  To me, that’s what really living is.  It’s taking risks, getting out of my comfort zone, and redefining myself everyday. #thriveon

Are you a triathlete?  Thinking of becoming one?  You may be interested in checking out the ladies below for some laughs and inspiration:

Brook’s Tri Sprint Recap: The raw, [uncensored] TRUTH about my race day mistakes. – Make sure you aren’t drinking anything when you read Brook’s blog or it may come out your nose.  You’ve been warned!  Also consider joining her Sole Sisterhood while you’re there! It’s completely free.

Swim Bike Mom’s  Journey to 140.6: Week 3 of 24– Really you should just read her WHOLE BLOG and her book.  In case you hadn’t noticed yet, I’m kind of a big fan.  She speaks my language, and by that I mean snarky… oh and she refers to her lady parts as “the queen”… This may make us soulmates, but I don’t think she’s realized that yet so we’ll keep it on the DL (That’s “down low” btw)

Norma Bastidas’ Record Triathlon Brings Awareness– I first heard of Norma in reference to her ultra running, which is pretty darn amazing in its own right.  I am not going to give you all the deets of what makes her such an awe inspiring individual because I really want you to read it yourself, but I will say that this women has truly persevered beyond just learning to swim for her Mega Triathlon (woman after my own heart…).

That is all for now my loves!!!! I hope you are having a wonderful week!

Go chase your dreams!!!!

Trust In Yourself and Your Training

“Never give up.

And most importantly, be true to yourself.

Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in.”

-Louise Brown

itsyou

Hello My Lovelies!

I meant to update you all sooner, but I had an unexpected detour.  Before I get into the details of my recent #EPIC adventures, let me update you on the preceding events.

The weekend prior to my BIG RACE, I decided to go for a ride with my tri club peeps.  I had originally hoped to do the Rev3 Olympic course for practice, but instead we did the local Griskus Olympic course.  I wasn’t terribly disappointed because I figured any time on the bike would be good for me.  Plus, I typically enjoy riding in groups more than riding on my own, so I thought it might be a good confidence boost.  Turns out, it was not my greatest ride.  In fact, it was my most disastrous in some time.  I think this was partly due my nerves about the upcoming race and partly because I was super intimated by the group of individuals who came out.

Normally when I meet up with people from the club, there tend to be one or two people at my skill level.   However, these people were all far more experienced than me not only with cycling, but triathlon in general.  A few of them seemed surprised that I had signed up for the Rev3 Olympic as my first tri, especially given my obvious lack of confidence (and skill) with the bike.  I did not even bother to mention to them that I had actually downgraded to Olympic and had originally planned on the half.  Given that they were already questioning my sanity, I didn’t want to go ahead and confirm their suspicions for them.

Needless to say, before we even started our ride I was feeling out of my league.  It only went downhill from there (cycling pun).  Despite my best efforts to relax and have fun, I just couldn’t find my groove.  I was fumbling with my pedals and even tipped over upclipping at the top of a hill.  Then, because I had dirt in my cleat (I HATE you Speedplays), I couldn’t get back in my pedals to get down the hill.  Everyone else was light-years ahead of me.  And just because that wasn’t bad enough, I managed to get my chain completely stuck between two gears during a steep climb.  For those of you unfamiliar with cycling, that means I had to dismount and fix it (not such a big deal)… and then try to get started again… uphill… on a steep incline… yea not so fun…

I can’t actually remember if I did anything else to embarrass myself on that ride.  The whole experience was rather mortifying.  I was frustrated because it was the mechanical stuff I was struggling with, not the actual riding.  I knew I could do better, but everyone assumed I was just struggling because I was new.  I did manage to run a few miles as part of a brick, but I still couldn’t relax.  I felt like I was being silently judged (and unfavorably judged at that!)…  I am sure that most of this angst was just my nerves and in my head; however, it was the little comments here and there I had trouble tuning out.  Things like how the Olympic Rev3 bike course was very similar to the half, how hard open water swimming is, and how I should be doing my bricks in order (instead of swimming last which I still stand by as more efficient in terms of showering and making me a stronger swimmer… I mean if I am statistically most likely to die on the swim then doesn’t it make sense to make sure I am comfortable swimming tired?  just saying…) kept working their way up into conversation.

So here’s the thing, I am just not a subscriber of the cookie cutter training method.  I truly fail to believe that one training noeasyregimen can work for everyone.  For example, what if I don’t feel up to a 10 mile run on the day it’s scheduled?  Am I supposed to just push through and do it anyway?  Where is the allowance for listening to your body?  Plus, I find a lot of those plans require significantly more mileage than I would do on my own.  Now that is not to say that they don’t work great for some people, but I just would rather do my own thing.  I feel like I have trained for enough endurance events to know what I need to do to be prepared.  Apparently, that makes other people a little nervous… especially Type A people.

The thing is, those people aren’t with me when I’m at the YMCA every Saturday morning doing 24-30 miles of spin, followed by a 7+ mile incline run, and a 1 to 2 mile swim.  They aren’t there for the other countless miles I swim, bike and run.  They aren’t with me when I’m running half marathons or ultras, and they have no idea that I’ve been cross training with a personal trainer twice a week.  Beyond that they aren’t aware of what kind of background or mental conditioning I have had up to this point in my life, and they don’t know me.

All that being said, it’d be silly of me to take it personally.  It’s not that I’m incapable in their eyes; it’s that they don’t understand where I’m coming from.  There are some people who would just never sign up for a race they weren’t sure they would do well at, let alone finish.  The way I train and challenge myself is scary to them, and that’s ok.  I don’t need them to believe in me.  I believe in myself.

Perhaps when those same people see me crossing those finish lines and chasing my dreams it might inspire them to break out of their comfort zones and do the same.