Exciting News!

Happy 2017 everyone!

I hope you had a wonderful holiday season. I must admit mine flewwww by (I guess that happens when you work on the actual holidays…) and I am enjoying my time off before classes start next semester. It is going to be a busy semester, juggling work, taking three classes, and diving back into training (like that??!). BUT I think this might be one of my best years yet ūüėÄ

When I started this blog back in 2010 to keep track of nursing/my life/ “training” (I said I trained but everyone knows, I never believed in training until LP), I had no idea I would eventually try a triathlon,¬†or even contemplate attempting a 140.6 distance race. I certainly never ever thought I would¬†be on a triathlon race team.

This year, however, I’ll be representing Rev 3 on their race team!

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Say what?!?

Me?

Racing on a team?

YES!

I was waiting to writing this post until after I met the team down in VA and have a zillion photos of my new teammates and myself, but I guess life happens and I was not able to attend. So, to my dismay, I do not have a zillion photos to share with you. But I *WILL* have photos with my new family!

I love¬†Rev 3’s values, and cannot wait to represent them with everything I do this upcoming season.

So, with THAT being said, I really hope to see you guys at some (if not all!) of their races this year! ūüėÄ

Cheers to an exciting year!

“You are the best author of your own future. So, the next time you sit down to write your own story, remember that you are the creator of the best chapters that could ever be written. ” Catherine Pulsifer

Thankful, 2016 Edition

It may be a couple weeks past Thanksgiving, but it’s never too late to write down what you are thankful for. I’ve been meaning to write a post for awhile but just have not gotten to it.¬†I was lucky to have Thanksgiving off from work and jogged/walked a Turkey Trot with my mother. It was the first “race” I have done where I started at the back of the pack and¬†took my time. It it still a bummer I cannot run without pain, run long distances, or run at the speeds I was at a couple years ago, but it felt good to be able to participate in a Turkey Trot!

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The fact that today is December 6th already simply blows me away. Where did autumn go?

I just finished my last class and turned in my last assignments for this semester which is exciting! Juggling three classes next semester with work should be an interesting challenge.

There are simply so many things to be thankful for this year, but I thought I would jot down just a few.

  1. First and foremost, health and family. Jogging again is a blessing– you do not know how much you miss jogging until you are unable to do it for eleven months. Christmas is my favorite time of year to run (yes, in the cold temperatures) because the lights of the village gives me motivation to wake up at 0400 and jog before work (haha). ¬†Despite sisters being in two different locations, I’ve been blessed to be able to see them more frequently this past year which always makes me happy. I cannot wait until Christmas when everyone is back home.
  2. The incredibly amazing and uplifting guy in my life, who never ceases to love me, even during my crazy days, who puts up with my chaotic schedule, and never forgets to guide me when I feel lost.
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  3. Where I am today. I’m thankful that I am almost halfway through grad school. As much as I really do not like studying and writing papers and tests, I’ve met some pretty awesome people through school, and am excited at the work possibilities this will give me in the future being a Nurse Practitioner!
  4. Friends. Because without friends, what would life be like? People¬†who give you words of advice, don’t judge you, are able to laugh with you, keep you sane and¬†add fun to life.13438809_10209433031480092_7587248188497350002_n
  5. Aquabikes. Yup, I’m thankful that I was able to continue to participate in events that I love over the summer! They helped me become a better swimmer and cyclist, and in turn a better athlete.

I’m super excited to see what 2017 has in store (and I can’t wait to tell you what will be happening!!)

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Lessons from a Stranger

Have you ever met someone who instantly knew who you are as a person, and changed the way you think about life? A couple months ago I had the chance to spend 24 hours with a man who changed not only the way I think about triathlons, but about life.

As much as you ¬†might find me complaining about being a bedside nurse, this profession has lead me to meet some incredible individuals. I had the opportunity to be Mr. X’s nurse, an incredibly talented athlete whom fascinated me. I’ve met other athletes and triathletes, have had coaches, etc., but have never learnt so much about myself,¬†about racing and training¬†in under twenty-four¬†hours.¬†Well, perhaps in the back of my mind I knew some of the things he told me, but I’ve never had anyone tell them to me to my face. He gave me tips, hints, and advice that I would end up using for the last three races of the season.

Numerous times, he suggested I read Golf is Not a Game of Perfect; he said it was a “game changer” and should be read by everyone– not only athletes.¬†¬†I went to a local library and glanced at it. Sure enough, it was about golf. You probably have the same thought as I did when I first took a peek at the book:¬†I am not a golfer. I do not know anything about golf. High handicapper? Have no idea what that means. The only thing I know about golf is that golf carts are fun to drive (hah). I decided to rent it because, what the heck, and realized¬†that Mr. X was correct:the¬†psychology in the book can be applied to other aspects of life and other sports.

So I thought I would share some things that I learned both from those twenty-four hours, and take away messages from the book.

  1. ¬†I remember Mr. X stating, “You are an anxious racer, aren’t you?” after just twenty minutes talking to him. When he said that, I felt like he could see into my soul :-p Being an anxious racer was brought to my attention back in June in Tupper Lake when someone else mentioned it to me. Yes, I am an anxious racer. I stress over everything. I stress over the appearances of other people in the race (and compare myself to them). Stress leads to doubts about my abilities. A certain amount of excitement and adrenalin is good in a race. But when doubt¬†replaces trust,¬†you are screwed. A [triathlete] must train herself in physical technique and then learn to trust what she’s trained.¬†You spend hours during the week training for the big day, and you have to learn to trust yourself and all the hard effort you have put into preparing for the event. I’ve found I doubt my training and capabilities, ultimately leading to feelings of anxiety.
  2. This leads to the next point from the book: People by and large become what they think about themselves and Confidence is crucial [to a good game]…Confidence is simply the aggregate of the thoughts you have about yourself.¬†If you don’t think you can do well in a race, you won’t do well. You “psych yourself out.” If you think you can win, you can win. Go to a race with confidence. “Don’t stray to the back of the pack. Push yourself. When you get to the race, think, ‘I’m going to own this motherf-ing course, and no one can stop me.’ Believe in yourself and start at the front. You are there to dominate.'” A little intimidating? Maybe. But I’ve become one of those people who starts at the front of the pack.
  3. [Athletes] who realize their potential generally cultivate the three D’s– desire, determination and discipline; the three P’s– persistence, patience and practice; and the three C’s– confidence, concentration and composure.¬†I found it incredibly interesting to hear about Mr. X’s training routine when he trained for 140.3 races¬†and other triathlons. He had three workout sessions a day, 6 days a week.¬†It was not just the number of hours he put into his training, but he went into training sessions with a focus. “What is your plan today? What is your focus? Every training session should have a focus– whether it is a speed session on the track, power work on the trainer, or drills in the pool. Never go into a session without a plan….Train like you race. If you aren’t seeing stars at the end of a swim workout, you did not swim hard enough.” When training for my first two 70.3¬†distance triathlons, as well as IMLP, I put the training in “to log in the hours.” I didn’t focus on speed in the pool. I didn’t focus on speed on the track. I did workouts without any thought to it. When I was injured and started training for Aquabikes last March, my mindset regarding training changed, and meeting Mr. X emphasized that new mindset: train like you race. If you don’t train like you race, how will you perform on race day? If you don’t practice your transitions, how will you do no race day? “Don’t be that person who will not ride in the heat or the cold. Train in the elements. Know what it is like to push hard in the humidity or in the hail. Know what your body will do. Practice changing tires. Sit in front of the TV and change them over and over and over again until you can change a flat in under 60 seconds. When you are out on the bike course, concentrate on the road. Know the course. Never go into a race not knowing what to expect.”
  4. A golfer cannot let the first few holes, shots, or putts determine his thinking for the rest of the round.¬†Okay, so how does this relate to triathlons? Triathlons are more complicated than a running race or swim competition: there are more elements involved, meaning there are more opportunities for problems and potential obstacles. I can give you a perfect example with my most recent race: the swim start was one of my most horrible swim starts ever. It was windy and extremely choppy, and I was unprepared for the choppiness. I felt confident when I first started but then found myself swallowing gulp after gulp of lake water, choking and coughing. I hated the swim start. It was not going the “way I wanted”. I freaked out and had to swim breaststroke for the first couple hundred yards to help gain composure, which means I was not swimming as fast as I had hoped. I could have just given up on the race then, and a part of me thought, “F- this.” But, another thought crept in, “no, don’t let this bad swim start ruin the whole race.” ¬†Instead of dwelling on the negative, I accepted that the swim was not what I planned, and continued with the race….Golfers¬†must learn to love the challenge when they hit a ball into the rough, trees, or sand. The alternatives–anger, fear, whining…do no good.
  5. Attitude and self-talk can make or break an athlete. I would say that I am probably one of the greatest negative self-talkers of all time.¬†Unfortunetly, thinking negatively about myself has become such a habit after all these years, to actually have positive self-talk is rare (sad, I know). This negative self-talk does a triathlete no good during race day. Imagine being at the start of a race and thinking, “you suck, you are not going to do well, why do you even do this?” Fortunately, on race day, I’ve actually been able to change my negative self-talk into some positive self “pep-talk”–and I think those positive thoughts have changed the person I am. [Athletes]¬†with great attitudes constantly monitor their thinking and catch themselves as soon as it begins to falter. It would be so much easier for me to tell myself that I am a horrible triathlete, that I cannot place, that the other women look like “true, slim and strong athletes.” And in the past, those thoughts have crept up in my head, like at the beginning of Tupper Lake. Now, if I start to have those questioning thoughts, I try to change them and rephrase them. I am *just* as good of an athlete as those other women out there.
  6. Which leads me to another lesson: If a [triathlete]¬†chooses to compete, he must choose to believe that he can win. Winners and losers in life are completely self-determined, but only the winners are willing to admit it.¬†It is highly unlikely that you are going to win a race if you don’t believe that you can win it. If you believe in yourself, anything is possible.
  7. Another thing: fear. I learned that fear is completely normal in an athlete. Personally, I have a fear of failure and of another DNF in my life. That one DNF left such an imprint on my life that I fear it happening again. I know in reality there are possibilities of future DNFs that are outside my control. Heck, the professionals have DNFs and DNS’s, so why can’t us “common athletes” have them? But you need to overcome that fear and not let it consume you. Courage is a necessary quality in all champions. But an athlete cannot be courageous without first being afraid.¬†
  8. (Okay, so this does not come from the book, but after recent news, I thought it¬†¬†to be an important subject to bring up). You are not a¬†product of your coach. You are a product of your own hard work and dedication. What a coach does in his or her own personal life is not¬†a reflection of the you; their values and their life decisions do not represent the person you are. ¬†I used to think having¬†a coach whose athletes pulled off podium results was the one to look for. It did not matter if they were expensive: if they were able to have athletes win, then why not pay the money for them to coach you? But I came to realize that my own growth and progress as a triathlete was not because of my coach. My growth was because of the dedication and hard work I¬†put into my training…It was for the mornings I woke up early on my days off to go to the pool, when I really wanted to sleep in and be lazy. My growth was because I followed a plan, and attempted¬†things that were outside my comfort zone. The one person¬†who had the biggest impact in my “triathlon career” would have to be my swim coach. She is the one I spent the least amount of time around, and met late into my training for IMLP. She is first one to push me to test my limits during an actual race– and for that I will be forever thankful.
  9. Lastly, A person with great dreams can achieve great things.¬†If you asked me last year at this time if I would compete in a championship race, I probably would have laughed in your face. I¬†think there is a little section in each of us that wants to excel at something, whether it is athletic or non-athletic. But before you can excel, you need to have a dream. I admit my dream has been to qualify for something– even if it was not the Ironman World Championships. And you can’t let anyone else belittle that dream or criticize you for it. Emotionally, participating in aquabike races last season instead of triathlons ¬†was difficult. More than once I heard people say, “She only did the aquabike– she did not do the whole race,” and hearing that was hard. It is like telling a sprinter who does 5K races that “he only did a 5k and not a half marathon.” My reasons for not competing in full triathlons races was beyond my control, and it was not by choice I cut out the run portion. I was overjoyed to find races that had aquabike options. ¬†I decided to dedicate myself to the disciplines that I could still complete, when I could have simply given up on the sports all together. To hear people say I didn’t finish the whole race felt like someone was telling me all my training for the events was not true training. But you know what? I trained long and hard for those races I participated in, and even if I was not able to finish the run portion, doesn’t mean I did not try or work as hard as the others who were able to run. If I let those people impact how I did in events, I would never have qualified for a race. Don’t let anyone belittle your dreams. They are just jealous because they may not have dreams of their own.

Now go, rent that book and read it ūüôā

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All quotes taken from Golf is Not a Game of Perfect, by Dr. Bob Rotella

Back At It!

I know it has been forever since I have written anything! But, K and I took our first vacation in three years and headed to Iceland for a couple weeks (which was incredible! That post is to come!).

There isn’t anything like coming home from vacation to return to school work and regular work to make you truly appreciate your time off!

Before we left, I decided to go ahead and sign up for the Toughman Aquabike Championship race in September that I qualified for! This is super exciting, as I have never qualified for a championship race. The bike course will be challenging (I plan on heading down within the next couple weeks to check it out) but it should be fun….Not to mention, it is (somewhat) close to home!

Now, it is back to training in preparation for September!

Cheers!

 

Toughman Tupper Lake Race Recap

Prelude

SO I know I stink at writing posts nowadays…But my life might seem boring to others as it is basically work/ school/ school work/ swimming/biking/ repeat.

Since I have a paper due, I figured now was the best time to write a race report ūüėõ

Sometime during this past winter,¬†¬†I decided to sign up for Toughman Tinman Aquabike, which¬†was a 1.2 mile swim followed by a 56 mile bike ride. Basically, a 70.3 distance, minus the run. Perfect for those who are unable to run. Since March, I’ve¬†put my share of swimming and cycling in– and have¬†focused more on my training than I ever have in the past (to include IMLP). This race was going to be a fun one: one where a bunch of other women from the Hudson Valley would be “tri-ing” out their first triathlon race!A fellow Hudson Valley-er (and terrific mother/athlete) helped organize some swim lessons with Jane¬†who helped me with my swim last year. They did Monday night swim workouts together, to prepare for this race!

(My apologies ahead of time for going on and on during this post!)

Race-Recap: They say sometimes you have good races, and sometimes you have bad ones. 

Friday I drove up to L.L’s¬†amazing camp in Long Lake, where she opened up her doors to us ladies doing the race Saturday morning. We went to packet pick-up and tried out the water where the race would be. (Oh, and side note: the race is not actually in Tupper Lake. It is in Raquette Pond!).¬†Dinner was low-key and relaxing– it reminded me of summers growing up on Lake George. I loved everything about it. When I grow up I want a lake house in the Adirondacks.

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The 30 year olds are ready to race!

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The first of many selfies!

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Just a couple of nurses contemplating life and the race course…Photo courtesy of K. T.

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Pre-race healthy carb loading dinner! Yes, we wore PJ’s at 5:30 PM

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Good night, Long Lake.

Saturday morning we woke up and had breakfast/ coffee, and headed to Tupper lake for the race. I had my english muffins with PB and a local honey blend (which is my new favorite breakfast, thanks to Devon!).

Driving up, I listened to music and thought about how fun the race would be. I was not prepared to go out super hard, because I had not been feeling well the week before. It was all about fun– riding and swimming in the Adironacks!

(Toughman Tupper Lake is a relatively small, local race, but really great value for the entry fee!)

I knew that the Aquabike (AB) field was fairly small, but as I racked my bike and prepared my transition area, I could not help but notice the other women who were doing the AB with me. They were fit, slim, toned, had (more) expensive bikes, aero helmets, and donned fancy team tri-kits.

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Transition

I could feel my heart drop into my stomach.

Holy crap. Look at them. They are hardcore triathletes. I’ll never be able to keep up with them.¬†

I put on my wetsuit and took a dip in the water to get acclimated, trying to stay positive and not worry about doing well, but just having fun. I found the other Hudson Valley women and wished them luck on their first triathlon. Then I found my swim coach Jane and fellow RN/ Ironwoman-to-be, D.J.

“Did you see the women doing the aquabike? They are so fit!I have nothing against them.” I remember exclaiming.

“Nahh, don’t judge a book by its cover.” Jane said. “Man, Molly, you are really an anxious racer!”

Uhhh, duhh.

We waited for our waves to start.The swim start to the race is so low- key and relaxed– you can wait with family/friends right until you enter the water.

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These triathlon newbies about to DOMINATE!

I was not sure how my swim would be, but I was hoping for under 39 minutes, which is what I was able to swim one lap of the IMLP course last year. Jane kept saying, “I think you can swim a 35– try for a 35.”

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Staying calm before the start…

“Yeahhhh,” I remember responding,” Or maybe a 40 minute swim…” I¬†have a fear of pushing myself in the swim, and did not think it was possible to do¬†it in 35 minutes.

The aquabike wave started after the mens half swim wave. It is no surprise that I hate swim starts. They just freak me out. All the kicking, bubbles, shoving…Especially when you are starting with men! My goal was to start hard and then settle into a comfortable rhythm. Before I knew it, we were off.

Unfortunetly, I felt panicked quickly and tried to swim away from the buoys and the crazy people. After a couple hundred yards, I was able to weed myself out of the mass and tried to ease into my 1-2-3-breathe rhythm, but ended up breathing with every stroke. Oh well. I didn’t push myself, but went at a comfortable pace. Eventually,¬†I made it to the¬†turn buoys. When I was heading back to the beach, I found myself catching up to the men from the wave in front of us.Which meant, men swimming into me.

More than once I found myself choking on water and doing breast stroke to gather myself back together, and then sight. They had warned about the sun being right in your eyes on the way back, but other races I have done, like Quassy, have a similar return swim. Finally, I was back at shore. One unfortunate aspect of the swim was you had to run on rocks to get back to shore. Major ouch.

I thought there would be a clock showing your time, but there wasn’t. And my watch had no OWS tracking capabilities, so I had no idea how I did on the swim. I remember hearing Jane shouting ” Go molly!!!!!” and yelling back, “What is my time?????”

When I reached¬†transition I had to make a decision: do I worry about putting my socks and cycling gloves on? When I grabbed a glove and was about to spend time putting it on I though, “screw it,” and started on the bike course.

I felt good starting on the bike and since I had not ridden further than 30-32 miles this spring, I decided to race to the turn around in Cranberry Lake, and then at the turn around, have a race back to the finish. I was told the course was not too hard– just rolling hills. They fail to mention that the rolling hills begin two miles into the course. Thank goodness I’ve made it a point to do hill work once a week– I think it definitely helped.

Once out on the course, I realized i had made the mistake of spraying suntan lotion all over my watch, so it was nearly impossible to see the screen (and with that, see my distance, the time, etc). Not knowing the time was going to make nutrition a bit more complicated. But, I was fully prepared with bars, gels, and gummy chew things. (Yes, I was that oddball triathlete with a $3000 bike who wore a camelbak…Hey, ¬†I did not want to have to stop to get nutrition on the course.)

I rode hard, and had a couple gel chomp blocks in the 30 minutes on the bike. I have never had gel chomp blocks (NOTE: there IS a taste difference between types of gelled blocks) and thought they would be like the Gu chomps I used when training for IMLP. Wrong. I had three of them and they left me with a disgustingly sweet aftertaste in my mouth. Ewwwww gross. So I just sipped on my water and Biocharge along the rolling hills.

The first 28 miles out I felt fine. I was pushing harder than I would normally on a bike ride, but felt like I could maintain what I was doing. I ate a VO2 prime bar over the course of the last hour, and made sure to drink lots of water.

This isn’t so bad at all!

When I turned around in Cranberry Lake to head back to Tupper Lake, things drastically changed.

I felt myself incredibly nauseous and light headed, therefore I continued to drink more water thinking I might be dehydrated. I then noticed that I was not sweating at all (which was very abnormal for the girl who sweats walking up a flight of stairs).

Sh*t. Something is not right. 

I continued to push myself, despite the way I was feeling.

At¬†mile 30, I wanted to quit. I was mentally and physically done with the race.¬†I¬†tried to hum music to myself, which has helped me in the past. But after “singing” a verse in my head, my nausea would return with a vengence.

Why am I doing this? This is not fun. Why am I doing this? This is the last race I’m ever going to do…Why am I doing this? F-ck you, rolling hills!

I kept pedaling.

This is stupid. Just stop. You aren’t a good triathlete, so who cares if you finish or not? You aren’t like the other women. Just stop.

Then I would think, “No, get to the finish line. Just get to the finish line and you are done. Just finish and you can go home. Just finish….Just finish…”

The¬†5 mile distance¬†signs felt like for-e-ver. With each sign I tried to reason with¬†myself by comparing the distance to rides I would do at home, “this is the ____ loop you do at home all the time….No big deal….You got this”¬†

I felt like I was riding slower and slower. People started passing me.

The rolling hills that I hadn’t really noticed going to Cranberry Lake, were like mountains.

I thought about how my nutrition and hydration was so out of whack. The “200-300 calories/hour” on the bike did not happen. I calculated the amount of calories I had consumed total, and it was less than the amount I consumed on my olympic aquabike course at Quassy. I kept waiting for my body to bonk. I could feel the tears starting to well in my eyes.

I hate this. This is not the way the race is supposed to go. I’m not going to make it. I’m going to have another DNF.¬†

When I finally hit the 50 mile point I thought I could make it.

“C’mon Mol, this is just like riding to the Fork in the Road at home. You can do this”

Except, at home, we didn’t have two “hills” to climb in those five miles.

After what I felt like was an eternity,¬†I saw the “Welcome to Tupper Lake” sign. I was almost done.

I was going to finish.

Finally, I was able to dismount the bike.

I felt sick, yet relief that I had finished, and disbelief that I had completed the 56 mile bike ride in three hours.

I found my fellow Hudson-Valley-ers who had already finished their races (and PLACED!!! woo HOO, those women ROCK) and tried to force myself to feel better. It was a shame that I honestly felt like crap, because the post-race food was awesome, and there was even a post-race beer tent.

After about half an hour and  forcing myself to eat some orange slices, I started feeling better. I was still concerned with the fact I was not sweating at all, nor felt any urge to pee, and felt nauseous as heck.

Jane sat with me, and we chit-chatted for a bit. There was a live band (ah-mazing post race!) and despite not knowing how I did on the race, I felt a small chance that I might have placed in the race. I wanted to wait and see what occured with the awards before heading to my Adirondack home to shower (Yes, L.L.РI consider your amazing Adirondack camp MY camp HAHA). Jane ended up finding the results and came back to me:

“Well, good news: you won¬†your age group– because you were the only one in it….And, you also are first place overall in the womens AB division!”

Wait– I actually beat those hardcore women triathletes in their fancy kits and expensive bikes?

Wait– I placed in a long distance race?

Wait– I qualified for a “series championship race”?

I never in a thousand years believed I was capable of doing well in a longer-distance triathlon. Never before did I push myself. I’ve always finished long distance races (well, just the three long distances triathlons I’ve completed) with the mentality of “just¬†saying I¬†finished.” I never thought I was capable of swimming fast, or riding my bike faster than 15 mph.

Heck, halfway in, I never believed I was going to be able to finish that race to begin with.

But, I managed to perform better than I ever have, despite feeling physically the worst I have ever had.

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Male and female aquabike winners

So, there you have it. I managed to have both my best race time wise, and my worst race physically.

I’m stoked I did’t let the voices in my head win and tell me to quit.

A HUGE thank you to L.L, D.J., and all the other ladies for a great women’s weekend away! It was super fun.

A HUGE thank you to my swim coach, Jane, for pushing me to go faster than I believed I could go.I don’t think I would have done as well as I did if you were not there.

=)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aquabike Training

I sat down to start my last project¬†of the semester and¬†somehow ended up on my wordpress site starting a blog post instead. What can I say?¬†Apparently I have no self discipline when it comes to end-of-semester-powerpoints…Especially when they are about¬†Nursing Leadership (yawn).

I figured I would blog about training, since I’m almost finished with my second¬†full month of training after a four month¬†swim/bike hiatus.It is hard to believe I started this blog about running and duathlons, and now it has turned into a blog about biking and swimming…How does that happen?

I can’t remember if I blogged about it, but I signed up for the Tupper Lake Tinman aquabike in June! I am overjoyed that I remembered some races have an aquabike option– which is awesome for people who cannot run. In fact, a fellow nurse is doing it too!¬†I figured an aquabike¬†would be good prep for my race in September, even if I am not running yet. Might as well focus on the sports I still can do, right? The event is composed of¬†a 1.2 mile swim and then a 56 mile bike.* Woot woot! My racing life is not over just yet! It is crazy, but after IMLP last summer, those distances seem like a piece of cake.

Swimming

From¬†the beginning of March when I started to swim and bike again, I’ve put in some major pool time (for me): swimming 3-4 times per week. To put it into perspective, 3-4 swims last year is what I would do in two or three weeks!

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I cannot believe¬†I¬†am going to say this, but I think not being able to run and focus on swimming has definitely changed my views of the sport. Truth be told, when I trained for my past two half IM’s and Ironman Lake Placid, I swam once *maybe* twice a week if I was feeling “inspired.” There were some weeks when I never swam at all. I thought that since I “was not a swimmer” I would never get better at it, and might as well focus on the run and biking. I was always reading how athletes should focus on their weak sports, but I never took on that mentality. Plus, being in the pool was a complete bore. I still have no idea how I was able to finish the 2.4 mile swim at LP only swimming once per week. My prior training methods should NOT be followed. Hah.

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All prepared for training!

After consistent swimming for the first time in my life (well, since I was maybe 10 years old) I actually see myself improving. Not only improving, but I’m pushing myself harder at the sport than I ever have, and pushing through my fears of swimming that still haunt me occasionally. I still basically have two swim speeds (fast and easy) and would love to learn how to do a kick turn, but I’m pretty¬†excited about¬†how far I have come from this point last year. Focusing on my weakness is slowly transforming it to a strength.

Training

Back to aquabike training. Training for this race is basically the same as training for a triathlon, minus the run. Part of me thought training for just two sports instead of three would be easier, but aquabike training is actually difficult. Part of the difficulty is probably due to the months I missed of all swimming/biking. The other difficulty is the fact I am trying to follow all the workouts the way they are meant to be, and pushing myself harder in my training than I did in prior years.

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A snapshot of last weeks training

My weeks are composed of 3-4 swims and 3-4 bikes, with a couple strength sessions thrown in,** and range from 6-9+hrs per week. Last week I swam more in one week than I ever have (totaling over 6 miles). I was looking back at my training for my first half IM and the hours I spent training for that race ranged were really not enough for that distance. Heck, for that half IM I went two months without swimming…No wonder it took me 55¬†minutes to complete the swim. Training sessions are short and focused, which I like. (In my opinion, there is no need to spend more than 2.5 hrs on an indoor trainer). There are still about two months before Tinman, but I am focused and dedicated to doing my best on this aquabike….Especially the swim portion!

I am SUPER excited that¬†my doc gave me the go ahead to bike outside and not only on the trainer!¬†I’ve missed riding up hills ūüėõ (No really, I’ve missed riding up hills!¬†All about feeling the burn.)¬†Being outside makes me feel like a human again.

Happy training everyone!

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“My attitude is if you push me towards a weakness, I will turn that weakness into a strength.”- Michael Jordan

* I also signed up for another aquabike later in July in the Hudson Valley! How could I not? I mean, without the running, it should be easier on my body…Right?!?¬†

**I went for a walk to see how my ankle and foot would do (lets be honest, it was a walk/slowwwww jog/walk/slowwwww jog) and the foot did not hurt! My leg muscles on the other hand felt as if I had just run a marathon. Baby steps!¬†Shhh, don’t tell my doctor.¬†

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My $$$$$$ orthotics, the cure for my foot problems…Hopefully

What My Injury Has Taught Me

I’ve been meaning to write a post for a couple weeks now. And since I have a paper to write, presentation to start, and studying for an exam to do, I figured today would be the perfect time to write one (insert laughing emoji with tears here). Let’s face it, I focus better under stress, and always find writing posts as means of procrastination to benefit me in the long run. At least, that is what I hope.

Please bear with me while reading this post…It has been awhile since I have written and thoughts may or may not¬†have a coherent flow.

At the beginning of the fall, I was riding high with excitement that I was one of the lucky few to register for Survival of the Shawangunks. After completing IMLP in July, I was finally getting my running speed back, and started trail running again for the first time in years. I met with a new coach, finalized the races I would be doing in preparation for SOS, and took full advantage of amazing fall weather.

But, as mentioned in my last post, I was sidelined due to an injury. Thus began misdiagnoses, money spent on physical therapy and other therapies in attempt to heal “whatever was wrong with me.” After two months,¬†no relief, and instructions to “refrain from doing any activity whatsoever and keep off your foot,” I decided to get a second opinion on my injury and found a doctor who was sympathetic and understanding of my desires to heal and return to triathlon training. (As a side note, if you are injured, it definitely helps to go to a physician who understands your lifestyle AND has experience treating athletes). Other than understanding my pain (literally and figuratively), he was able to figure out what my injury was due to. If you followed this blog when I first started it, I did not believe in training for anything. My first three marathons were done without any training. In fact, I remember three days before the Boston Marathon that I would run it. What the hell, right? Well, as my new MD put it, I am now paying the price of my bad decisions in my youth. Honestly, I knew I would injure myself eventually, but I did not think it would happen before I turned 30.

I guess my body is paying for all my poor athletic decisions in my youth. That, and a bony coalition in my foot that I inherited which is ultimately the cause of my problems.

So, here I am. The last time I ran was November 4th. The good news is, after four months of refraining from cycling and only swimming with a buoy, I am allowed to swim (and kick!) and cycle again (well, only on a trainer for now).

Some might say that everything in life happens for a reason, to include injuries. I actually think that is true. About a year  ago this time I was in the hospital, trying to see if I could possibly put off appendix surgery until after my ironman, because I was scared about losing training time. (Haha, yeah, I actually wondered if surgery could be postponed). In the end, that time I lost from my training did not negatively affect my performance at all. In fact, it gave me an opportunity to sit back and take a hard look at my life and what I wanted to do in the future, which lead to applying to graduate school.

After months of feeling depressed that I could not run, and scared that the pain I felt would never go away, I finally realize that this injury, just like my appendix deciding it did not want to be a part of my anatomy anymore, is teaching me a lesson.

When I first began partaking in races, I did them just to get out and do something.Getting a t-shirt was an added bonus,¬†not to mention a medal for completion– now that was just so cool. I did races because I was able to. I ran the Boston Marathon, not for the medal at the end, but because I wanted the chance to run up Heartbreak Hill, high-five my friends at Boston College,¬†and complete a prestegious marathon. Yes, I remember thinking it would have been cool to receive a medal at the end, but it wasn’t the most important aspect of the race. The fact I finished it was an accomplishment (especially since I never trained for it). I continued to do other races because for me to finish any race was an accomplishment. They were fun ways to get exercise, and basically that was it.

Once I started duathlons and won my first award, I think my views of races changed. Yes, they were still fun ways to get exercise. But, the more times I won something, increased¬†race stress/ anxiety came into play. I did a race because I wanted to get something¬†else out of it other than just a t-shirt. I wanted to place. Since i am still somewhat new to triathlons, this mentality of “having to beat other people” dealt more with running races. Growing up, I never thought I was really good at anything. In fact, those negative voices in my head (which still show up, unfortunately) saying I would always be a failure, intensified when I didn’t finish my first triathlon. However,¬†in future races¬†each time I placed, it meant¬†I was finally good at something in my life, that those negative voices were wrong.

At the end of the summer after IMLP was finished,  I wanted to focus on getting faster at shorter distance triathlons.My sights for 2016 were to place in triathlons, something which is still somewhat new to me, and I wanted to do whatever it would take to be able to get that extra recognition. I remember pouring over race results for the races I planned on competing in this spring/summer and trying to figure out the times I would need in order to place. All my focus had shifted to determining races that fit around my work schedule.

How had I turned into someone who once completed races just for the sake of doing them, into someone who sulked if she did not win an award, had severe race anxiety, and studied past race results to make sure she would finish at the top of her age group? Someone who felt like a failure finishing a 5k, when once upon a time, felt on top of the world for simply showing up at the event?

Not being able to run¬†has taught me that there is more to life than winning. It has taught me that even if I *may* not be able to run again, there are still other things I can do, like swim and cycle. It’s given me the opportunity to focus on my relationships with family and friends. I’ve focused on bettering myself. Let’s¬†face it, competitive people do have an element of greed. They need to succeed. And before my injury, I was greedy. I wholeheartedly admit it. I am not saying¬†it is a¬†bad thing– to go after something you really want. But, when it takes your focus on everything else in your life, that is when it isn’t a good thing. These past couple years, instead of focusing on the free time I would have to spend time with Kevin, my free weekends during the spring and summer were spent racing, doing the activities that I wanted to do, not what we wanted to do. What type of partner is that?

One that I do not want to be.

Yes, I did sign up for an Aquabike event this summer, and I still have my sights (and hopes) to complete SOS in the fall. But, this time around I will be doing these activities with a different mindset.

The mindset that simply attempting them are accomplishments, and that my finish time does not define the person or athlete that I am.

You must learn a new way to think before you can master a new way to be. 

On the Sidelines

Training for IMLP took me away from speed training; I know a lot of ironman training programs do incorporate speed sessions. But my goal was simple: to finish the race within the 17 hour time limit. So I wasn’t focused on speed. Late summer/ early fall I decided it was time to gain my speed back. I’m not going to lie, running hard and fast is tough. But, I was able to get back to my sub-8minute miles, and was estatic. I made sure I was able to have Thanksgiving off in order to take part in our local Turkey Trot; I had a goal to beat my previous 5k time.

I failed to mention during this time, I switched shoes brands (and shoe type). From my first run in the shoes, there was pain in my left foot. But I figured it was just my foot getting accustomed to the new shoe. (I am “profoundly” flat footed and decided to try a minimalist shoe). There continued to be pain as I ran, but we all know that runners are pros at running through pain.

Then, one day, I started out on a run and it was too painful to run. I decided to take a couple days off from running, focusing on biking instead. A week later I attempted to run again, and found the pain was extreme. After working a busy shift, the pain was not only present when I walked but all the time.

Enter peroneal tendonitis.

Long story short, this is my second week in a CAM boot, out of work, in hopes the tendons will forgive me for being so cruel to them. I was unable to take part in that Turkey Trot, and haven’t run for almost a month.

I have been sidelined before (i.e. my appendix), but this injury has been a lot harder, emotionally. I still have the occasional pain when I walk without the boot, and I haven’t been able to bike for over a week, and kicking when I swim even aggravates the foot. The impatient person in me wants this to heal quickly–even though the damage I did was probably over a couple months. I’ve tried to do other activities, but nothing has “felt” the same way as a tough run or good bike ride feels. Truth be told, deep down I fear I may be unable to run again. The goals I had for next year’s races seem to be disappearing before my eyes. It’s lead to feelings of depression and sadness that I haven’t felt in a long time.

Yes, you might say I am being dramatic right now, but the fear of being unable to do the things I love, is real.

I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. A friend of mine reminded me that things happen at the times they were meant to happen in our lives. But right now I cannot seem to figure out what the reason is behind this injury…

Has anyone else been sidelined by an injury? How did you cope?

She’s Back, and Just as Crazy as Before

Well, I cannot remember the last time I wrote on this blog. Okay, that is a lie, I know the last time I wrote was back in July after I finished Ironman Lake Placid. There have been numerous instances when I have thought about this blog, including really interesting topics to discuss. But alas, life got in the way, and grad school has become a priority over blogging. Only three more years of school to go!

Anyway, fall has come and almost left in the Hudson Valley. The leaves have fallen, or are almost gone. I have no idea where September or October went. Before we know it, it will be the Holidays! Between work and school, I was able to take full advantage of the gorgeous fall days that we had and take a plethora of foliage photos. The scenery never gets old for me here.

I have heard of people becoming a bit depressed after finishing up their first ironman triathlon. I would not say that I became depressed. In fact, it was nice not having 5-6 hr rides planned on my days off from work. I did find myself wondering what to do with all my free time (back before I started school haha). I actually found myself highly unmotivated to do anything related to triathlons, especially swimming. So, I took a three month triathlon hiatus and focused on things that I had neglected while training for IMLP, including spending time with my man, and doing activities such as mountain biking and trail running. I must admit, it was a nice change of pace.

But now with the days getting shorter, and the weather getting chillier, I decided I want to train for a couple other (short) races next year, and do another triathlon. In fact, all through Sept/October (especially since I started trail running again) I kept thinking about S.O.S: Survival of the Shawangunks. I remember mentioning the race back when I first started this blog five years ago and writing:

I’ve studied the map and website for the race, gawking over the different stages, and give any athlete who has completed the race my utmost respect. There is no way I could ever complete a race like that.

At that point in my life, I had not started swimming again and had just completed two sprint duathlons–I never imagined I would (1) ever do a triathlon let alone (2) completed a full iron distance race. I guess a lot can change in a couple years.

Anyway, I thought it would be really challenging, and super fun, if I was able to do S.O.S. After all, the race is local, which means it would be easy for family to get to, and I could do a large part of training on the race course itself.

The first challenge of this triathlon would be registering for it. Apparently, it sells out within minutes of when registration online opens. I am not one to wait for any registration to open. In fact, I am not one to wait in lines for anything to open (except for that one time in September when Kevin wanted to get a special release Beer up in VT). But, I guess I’ve changed. So the night of registration, I drank lots of caffeine and ate some candy* and waited¬†for the registration to open.

Within eight minutes, the race sold out.

And I was lucky to snatch a spot for the race in 2016 ūüėÄ

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If you are unfamiliar with what S.O.S. is, it is an eight-stage triathlon that takes racers through Minnewaska State Park and Mohonk. It starts with you riding for thirty miles¬†(with the last 5 miles all uphill), then you¬†run, then swim, then run, then swim, then run….then swim….then run up to the finish at Skytop tower. The thing that¬†is unique to this multi stage event is you must carry everything you will be using from your first bike-to-run transition. I still don’t know how I am going to do that, but I have some time to figure it out.

This brings a whole new set of challenges for me, including swimming with shoes , and having multiple swims and runs during a race. But I embrace the challenge, and am giddy with excitement for this next event!**

I guess this means I should start swimming again, huh?

*I actually had¬†pizza and a beer instead of coffee¬†and candy, but¬†neither choices are healthy, so¬†why does it really matter? ūüėõ

**I will be recruiting the best support team out there to help me with this next challenge if they are up for it (wink wink to my man and soul sister)

Becoming an Ironman: the Run

After handing off my bike to an amazing volunteer (there were other volunteers asking if you were alright and if you needed anything!), I walked, along with others, to grab my run bag. I felt no need to rush, as I was about to embark on a 26.2 mile run.

By this time, it was warming up, and I thought it would ¬†be a nice time for a shower of some sort to pass by. But, Mother Nature had the rain happen at last years event, not this years. I sat down in the changing tent and a volunteer brought me a cup of water. The volunteer was SO helpful and patient with me! I changed into running shorts and put on a new pair of bright compression calf sleeves (so that I would “stand out” and family could find me more easily). I grabbed my race belt, visor, sunglasses, and a Honey Stinger, and walked outside and asked the Sunscreen volunteers if I could have some sunscreen (i forgot to put it on my legs for the ride–oops). I’ve never had three people apply sunscreen to various parts of my body before! They were dancing and singing– under different circumstances one might see this as some sort of rite of passage in a cult. But in an Ironman, it is totally acceptable to have people smear suntan lotion all over you! I thanked them, and was out of transition.

Bike-to-run transition time: 7:23

The Run

Just like arriving back into town on the bike, leaving the town of Lake Placid was amazing. There were people everywhere cheering for you as you ran. I heard a lot of “Go Molly!!!!! You can do it!” and then I heard a lot of “Go Holly, Go!” which made me chuckle to myself. Heck, I’ll take anyone cheering a name that rhymes with my real one! Since I had not eaten as much on the second loop of the bike I worked on eating the honey stinger. The last time I had run a marathon was two years ago on my 27th birthday. I had no idea how this run would go; the longest training run I had during my training was 14 miles (oops) so I just decided to jog to each aid station, walk through the aid station, then jog again. I had no idea what time of day it was. I just knew that I finished the ride in 7 1/2 hrs, and the swim in under 1 1/2 hours, so that meant I had 7 hours left to complete the marathon.

Completely doable.

The first three miles out of town to the ski jumps was mostly downhill, which was quite nice. I kept my pace easy– I didn’t want to get tired out too quickly– and just kind of ran along. I knew I had a friend, Bev, volunteering down at the ski jumps, which gave me something to look forward to.

My nutrition plan for the run was to have something ever 4-5miles, and have a sip of water or gatorade when I felt like it. The aid stations had cookies, gels, pretzels, gu chomps, oranges, gatorade, coke, water, ice…you name it. Mentally, I broke the marathon into 4- 6 mile chunks (because, when you do the math, 26.2/4= 6, right???? Well, to someone who just finished 9 hours of continued exercise, it made perfect sense.) I saw Bev, and was overjoyed. Seeing her helped me get through the out-and-back portion of the run. At mile 4, I decided to have some gu chomps. As I walked, my intestines decided they were done with the race. Apparently, I am not the only athlete who had GI issues on the run. In fact, it is completely normal to see people vomiting along the course, or hear¬†people’s major flatulence issues. I made it a point to bring some tums along with me, as I had read people advise bringing some along.

I felt a bit worried that, by mile 5, my intestines were in major turmoil. Instead of having the goal to get to each aid station in order to get ice or water, my goal was to get to the aid stations because they had port-a-johns there. Let me tell you, there is nothing more rancid smelling than those things along an Ironman run course. I must have a weak gag reflex, even for being a nurse, after having to go in them. But, I kind of had no choice.

Volunteers were, again, amazing, and despite the intestinal discomfort, I kept truckin’ along. Once I hit mile 6, I was excited that I was about to head back into town, where I would get to pass Bev, and see Kevin, Jen, and my parents.

Looking forward to seeing these two!

Looking forward to seeing these two!

Once you hit the Ski Jumps, you have to go up the hill you ran down to get into town. At this point, most people walk. I ended up chatting a bit with someone who had a neat water bottle carrier, and figured my walking pace was faster than my running pace. All I wanted to do was get to the turn around point in town and see my family. I felt hot, and took the opportunity to stuff ice cold sponges in my top, which helped cool me down. (A spectator later told me what good use of sponges I had! HahahРthe spectators were the best).

I jogged up the hill in Lake Placid to Mirror Lake Drive (where the run special needs bags were), along the way I glanced through the crowds to find those familiar faces. Finally, I saw everyone which made me extremely happy.

First loop almost done!

First loop almost done!

Okay Molly, just get to the turn around, and you can give everyone a hug!

I finally reached the turn around after walking most of mile 12 because my intestines were relentless. I had no idea how I was going to do another 13.1 miles feeling this way. But I kept thinking, I am so close to finishing! I am so close!

When I got back to my family, I gave everyone a hug, and went back out for the last 13.1miles of my 140.6 mile adventure.

They say the last half-marathon of the marathon run is more mental than physical. And, I think that is true. I was prepared to be in more physical pain than I was, which was good, I guess. But my body was tired. I was no longer jogging from aid station to aid station. I would pick out a tree or landmark, jog upto it, then walk. I told myself I would jog the downhills and flats, and walk up the hills, which helped pass the miles.

Then,at mile 18, when I thought, “yes! only 6 more miles!” it dawned on me that, no, it wasn’t 6 more miles until the finish– i had EIGHT miles to go. Oops. I guess we know now that it is a good thing I didn’t become a math teacher.

At this point, more and more people were walking than running. I was able to give some tums away to some other people who were like me and had some “issues” going on. I imagined the eight mile run I did back in Rhinebeck. You can totally do this. It’s only eight more miles.

At the same time, I was so tired. My lungs hurt. It was hard to even muster energy to thank the volunteers.

By this time, the sun was setting. On my way back to the ski jumps, I really wish I was able to carry a camera, because it was gorgeous. If I saw people running past me and start to feel disheartened when my body wouldn’t let me run, I kept thinking, this is a race against you, not them. I thought about things in my past that had discouraged me, and those things and those people who had left their marks on me gave me the energy to keep going. To prove them wrong.

When I got into town, it was dark. I was tired. The crowds were still there, and still amazing. I saw my family, Kevin, and Jen, and waved as tears started to flow. I was so close to the finish, and yet had another mile/mile and a half to go.

I think it was the longest mile I have ever had to run.

I could hear Mike Reilly at the finish chute. I could hear the cheering. I wanted my body to run, but it wanted to walk.

I walked most of that mile, and chatted with yet another person, this time, about how long this last mile seemed to be.

We were all in the same boat. It wasn’t just a long mile for me, it was a long mile for a lot of other athletes.

When I got closer to the finish, I started to run. As I started to run, there was no holding back the tears. I saw my dad, gave him a huge hug, and started bawling.

“Okay Molly, you are almost there! Keep it together! You got this!”

I’m going to be an Ironman. Holy crap, I’m going to finish! I kept thinking.¬†

As I ran, I passed all the spectators cheering for me, and for others running with me. They make you feel like you are a winner.

I ran up to the finish, and stopped.

I heard Mike Reilly say, “You are an Ironman!”

I did it.

I made my dream come true.

Most awkward finish photo?

Thanking God that I finished! Gotta love the guy in front of me, too ūüėõ

I’m an Ironman!

Months of preparing for this, and just like that, I was done. It took me 14 hrs and 27 minutes, which was a surprise, because it was two hours faster than I anticipated.

A volunteer took me in is arms and another gave me a bottle of water. Then, someone placed the finishers medal around my head. Everyone congratulated me, and the volunteers were amazing. They stayed with me, to make sure everything was okay. After I took the finishers photo, another volunteer gave me a thermal blanket and asked me if I wanted anything to eat.

“There is pizza, coke, sprite, water, gatorade, hot chocolate, chicken broth.. french fries..” He went on.

“Wait, french fries???” If you know me (hint hint, Jen) then you know I LOVE french fries!

This was the most perfect post-race food, ever….If only I was hungry.

I sat down for a second and then realized I wanted to find my family; I didn’t feel like sitting and eating by myself. I heard my name and saw Jen, Kevin, and my parents. Floods of tears came back.

“I did it! I did it!” I was still in shock that I finished. At this point, everyone was crying. Hugs were given, and photos were taken.

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My man.

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My soul sister

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It is a day I will always cherish and never forget.

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My family.

There were a few times in my training I didn’t think I would be able to finish the race– from surgery a couple months ago, to time taken away from training for my new job, and school– life seemed to happen. But ten months ago I was determined to finish this adventure that I had started, and finish I did.

A HUGE thank you to Kevin, Jen, my parents: for a long day of waiting, and driving hours to see me. There is nothing more important than family, and I love you all.

For Jen D.,  a fellow RN, and Lisa and Bev, fellow triathletes, for cheering for me!

And for those of you who sent me letters– THANK YOU! They meant SO much to me ūüôā

To my coach, and Jane, thanks for helping me out!!

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