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 😀

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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? 😛

**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)

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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! Hahah– the 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 😛

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 🙂

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

IMLP: The Bike

Transition 1 time (swim -to-bike): 9:14

The Bike

As athletes were  running though the Olympic Oval, there were volunteers on walkie-talkies relaying athlete’s numbers, so that once you got closer to your bike, a volunteer was there with your bike waiting. I ran the bike to the mount line, pulled to the side (so I would not be murdered by other athletes on their bikes), and hopped on the seat that would be the place I’d sit put for the next 7+ hours. Right after I mounted, I heard someone call my name which made me smile (anytime someone shouts your name you get a little burst of energy). Heading out onto the bike course has a couple sharp turns, and is downhill, so I took my time. I ate a luna bar and the bike portion of IMLP began.

The course heads down through Lake Placid, past the famous ski jumps, and then has a gradual 7 mile incline before you head down the famous Keene Descent. Having read as many Lake Placid race course information guides/blogs as I possible could in the past couple of months, I came to LP fearing this descent. People said it was dangerous, curvy, fast, and terrifying. To me, going down from Tannersville to Palenville on a tribike is terrifying, and I assumed this descent would be the same. But I was mistaken. The descent itself is not scary– it is all the crazy triathletes around you that is the scary part. I stayed to the left because I love going fast, but I soon realized that “slower cautious” triathletes had the tendency not to stick to the right side of the road and veer right in front of me, I had to slow down a bit (note: I think it is presumed that if you plan on being slow, you stay to the right side of the road, so that speed demons can be on the left). People can reach 50+mph on that road. I, however, was not one of them.

Looking back at part of the Keene descent (not on race day!)

Looking back at part of the Keene descent (not on race day!)

Anyway, I heard in the Endurance Nation talk that you should be conservative on the first loop of the ride, and let everyone pass you; you should focus on nutrition and hydration during the first 30 miles (after the descent that is). So, that is what I tried to do. From mile 7 to 30, it is basically descent and flats: perfect for eating/drinking. My goal was to take in one cliff bar per hour (~230-240cals) and take in water ever 20-25 minutes. Then, depending on how much I sweat, take 1-2 salt tabs/hour. I went as fast as my legs felt comfortable: I knew the course was long, so I didn’t feel the need to go super fast.

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At about mile 35 you start going uphill from Jay to Wilmington. I was prepared for this (thanks to the EN talk!) and at this point I was starting to feel a bit hot. (Mistake to wear arm warmers!) From this point until you head back into Lake Placid, it is basically 21 miles of gradual uphill. But, gorgeous uphill, with rivers and amazing views. Within the last 10 miles of the course are what are called “the Three bears”: Mama bear, baby bear, and pappa bear. These are three hills. Truth be told, they actually aren’t the worst hills in the world (right after pappa bear, which is the steepest of the three, there is another little hill that you need to go up–I think they should call that one grandpa bear) and all the climbing I’ve done in the Catskills and Gunks really prepared me well for the bike course. On each side of Pappa Bear there are people cheering you on, which is pretty cool.

Back in town, you stop at the bike special needs to grab anything you might need. I took off my arm warmers and made another mistake by putting on sun sleeves which were NOT at all “cooling” like they advertised. In fact, they were BOILING. Right when I was heading back to on the second loop of the bike, I saw my friend Lisa which was pretty cool, as I seem to have missed Kevin and Jen.

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The second loop I did the same thing: focus on nutrition and to just keep pedaling. I stopped at an aid station to get sun tan lotion applied, since the sun sleeves had to go. The aid stations were great. People are ready to help with whatever you need, even if that is spraying on sunscreen.

After that stop, I started to feel waves of nausea ripple through my stomach. I wasn’t sure if it was because I wasn’t hydrating enough, or over hydrating, or not eating enough. I just kept pedaling and tried not to think of the nausea. Then, a friend Don pulled up beside me (yay!!! a familiar face!) and asked how I was doing. “Honestly, I’m feeling kinda sick right now and don’t know what to do.”

He suggested maybe taking it easy on the nutrition and sticking to water for a bit. (The food in my stomach was probably sloshing around unable to be digested as fast as I was eating.) I welcomed any advice at this point, and, eventually, the nausea subsided.

Similarly to the swim, I tend to count miles on the ride– only 30 miles left. Only 15miles left. I know rides around my house that are those distances, and it makes it easier to “determine” how much longer I would be on the bike.

When we hit mile 100, I was ready to be off. I was done with riding. My feet started to scream at me with sharp pain and each pedal stroke was miserable. I tried imagining I was pedaling on water to help ease the pain. It didn’t work. I tried to take a bike of a cliff bar, because I had not been keeping to my nutrition plan (due to the stomach issues) and one bite made me want to vomit. Cliff bars had become repulsive. So I sipped gatorade and tried some cliff gummies. I kept waiting for the three bears to come along and it seemed like forever until I saw the little markings for the bears on the road. Once I passed Pappa Bear and headed towards town I started getting a little emotional. (Being emotional is a common theme for me in this race). I could feel tears filling my eyes thinking, “I’m almost done with the bike! I’m almost 2/3 done!” Coming back into town is amazing, because there are lots of people along the course encouraging you to keep going. I saw Jen and Kevin and was so excited– I was scared that I would miss them in town because I had not been very precise with my timing.

My favorite picture: this is my friend Jen cheering me on!

My favorite picture: this is my friend Jen cheering me on! She was literally a foot in the air!

Then before heading back into the Olympic Oval, I was surprised to see my parents which was exciting. I never give up the opportunity to wave while on the bike, as you can see.

Hiiiii

Hiiiii

I dismounted the bike, and was beyond joyful that I was off the bike and had only one more thing to complete: the run!  Volunteers grabbed your bike from you, and I ran to grab my run bag and head back into the women’s changing tent.

Elevation profile of the ride

Elevation profile of the ride

Bike time: 7:29 (pretty stoked since it was my first ride longer than 102 miles!) In retrospect, the bike course is not as bad as I thought it would be. It was difficult, but very doable, and not nearly as tough as Quassy’s bike course.

…To be continued….

Lake Placid Swim Recap: “I’m Crying Because I Have to Poop!”

My alarm went off at 4am and I woke up feeling pretty ready for the day I’ve been waiting months for. I prepared PB&J sandwiches for breakfast for Kevin and I and had a cup of coffee, whilst getting dressed and filling water bottles.We were out the door headed to Lake Placid forty minutes later. Like most other athletes, I had been watching the weather closely and low and behold, the weatherman was incorrect in that it was not thunderstorming (is that a word?) but only drizzling out.

pre-race B-fast

pre-race B-fast

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We parked, took a shuttle into the town, and I went over to get my body marked with my race numbers. The town was bustling with athletes and spectators, and the once-empty race bag racks were now filled. I dropped off my dry run/bike clothes, prepared my bike, got into my wetsuit, and went back out to find Kevin and drop off the bike and run special needs bags.

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Mike Reilly!

Mike Reilly!

The bike transition is a bit of a walk from the swim start, and so were the bag drop-offs. By this time, it was about 0600, and people were beginning to line up at the swim start. Ofcourse, after dropping of my special needs bags, nature called and I needed to get into a port-a-john line that was insanely long. But, what can you do when nature calls? So I stood in the extremely slow moving line with Kevin while my anxiety rose. I was worried I would not be at the swim start in time. Instead of focusing on the swim, my focus and stress was on getting to the port-a-john. Seriously. They should put out more of those things; Lord knows a lot of people will be using them! As time ticked away and it got closer to 0630 I started to panic. My friend, Jen, found us, and by this point I was fighting back tears. “I am not going to have time to go! This line is SO SLOW!!!!”

“Just line up and go in your wetsuit.” Jen suggested

“No no, I have to do number two!”

“Ohh.Yeah, can’t do that in a wetsuit.”

I looked around and then the tears came. I wasn’t going to make it in time to go to the bathroom and get to the swim start. The people in front of me were looking at me like I was crazy. And, they are right I probably was crazy at that point.

“I can’t believe I am crying because I have to poop.”

Never in my life have I had such stress over this matter.

“You will have time! Don’t stress!”

A few tears too late. I kept wiping my eyes, slightly embarrassed I was crying over such a matter.

About a million minutes later, I was able to get business done and zip up in my wetsuit. I hugged my race support team and after a few moments was off headed to the crowd of 2400 athletes about to head into Mirror Lake to start their race.In retrospect, such anxiety over having to go to the bathroom totally diverted all my emotions away from the swim, so by the time I ran over to the swim start, I felt very little anxiety in regards to the swim start. The IM race has a rolling start to the swim, according to the time you think you will finish in. It was so packed that I was in the 1:44-2hr swim time. But I didn’t really care. I was aiming to finish the swim in 1:30-1:40 (based on the one other 2.4 mile OWS I did in training) and figured I could always go faster in the water once I was in.

Sea of green and pink

Sea of green and pink

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Right before we entered the water, volunteers were at the start high-fiving you as you entered the water. Mirror Lake is pretty awesome, in that it has a yellow underwater cable that runs the swim course. You really don’t need to sight if you are over the cable. However, every swimmer wants to be over that cable, and I veered as far away from it as I could. (Away from the cable= away from mass of swimmers). I was able to get into a comfortable swimming rhythm pretty much right away, which is far from what I felt during the swim at Quassy Half (during that swim I think I did breaststroke more than freestyle). There were some people that kept swimming into me, but for the most part until I hit the turn buoy, I was able to keep my distance from people. I kept the pace comfortable and then started to count. 1…2…3….25….73…..100 I am not really sure why I count when I swim outside– maybe it is an automatic mental response to help pass the time? Or help with nerves? Anyway, once I reached 100 I started to count from 1 again. When I reached the turn buoy, I was faced with lots of swimmers swimming into each other as they turned. I tried to swim to the outside of everyone, and had to stop and figure out what was happening. I actually heard a swimmer shout “C’mon people! Take it easy!” Basically, a giant cluster f-ck.

When I turned to head back to the start, I was able to get back into an easy pace and try to focus on my form. As the speaker at Endurance Nation said, only swim as fast as you can keep your form. So, that is what I did. And I then began to count.

I reached the beach, where you have to get out of the water and run to enter it again for your second 1.2 mile loop. I was excited that I finished the first loop–it wasn’t as hard as I imagined it to be–and I purposefully did not look at my watch. I did not want whatever time it was to cause me to get anxious over being too slow. I entered the water again, and the counting began. Between the counting, I kept thinking, “holy crap, I am swimming in an ironman right now!”

I finally reached the swim finish and looked at my watch: 1:21. Holy crap! I wasn’t expecting to finish that fast, and to think i was even taking it easy so not to wear myself out.

Trying to get my wetsuit over my watch. Face of determination?

Trying to get my wetsuit over my watch. Face of determination?

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i was thrilled to finish my second 2.4mile OWS ever. 1/3 of the race was done! I ran over to a wetsuit stripper and they peeled my wetsuit off (hallelujah!) and I started the jog back to transition. On my way, I saw Kevin and Jen in the crowd.”I finished the swim!!!” I exclaimed.

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Happy face!

The transition, as I mentioned before, is quite a little jog from the swim finish. Once I reached the Oval, I grabbed my bike bag and headed to Women’s changing tent. I had read about this part in blogs before, and people’s description of the tent was spot on. There were chairs to sit in, and it was warm and filled with partially naked wet women changing frantically into their bike gear. Volunteers were great, and helped you grab what you needed from your bag. Since I had no plans on winning this race (hahaha) I decided I wanted to be comfortable on the 112 mile bike ride so I changed into bike shorts and put on my Fats in the Cats Bike jersey. I can now say that I am butt buddies with another random woman after bumping into her when I was changing. I made sure I had everything, put on my helmet, and ran around the oval (more running?!?) to get my bike.

…To be Continued

Ironman Lake Placid: Days Leading Up

It is insane to think that Ironman Lake Placid is over. I think that reading this will probably take longer than the whole race itself (just a heads up!) I figured the best way to handle such an event would be to break it up into a couple different parts.

After a couple days of craziness (IE work, cupcake order, packing, last minute race shopping, lack of sleep due to excitement), Kevin and I took the trip up to Lake Placid on Thursday morning to get their early.

Packed and ready to go!

Packed and ready to go!

I wanted to get there with plenty of time, and to have a couple days to just “bum around” before the masses of athletes went up. Packet pick-up was composed of signing my life away with waivers, getting weighed (that was a first at a race!) and getting my race number, chip, and cap. We also took a look around to see where “The Miracle on Ice” occured.

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The Olympic Oval!

The Olympic Oval!

Site of the Miracle on Ice

Site of the Miracle on Ice

We walked around the town for a bit before attending an athlete meeting and then headed to Saranac Lake to our lodging for the next couple of days. We stayed in (what used to be) a bed and breakfast that was nice. There was a refrigerator in our room and a coffee maker, so we could prepare breakfast and lunch (which ended up being PB&J sandwiches). It was about 20 minutes from Lake Placid and about 1/3 the price of what I would have had to spend to stay in Lake Placid itself.

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For dinner, we headed to this neat small local restaurant called Eat and Meet (thank you, Yelp, for helping us). If you are there, you should check this place out. It has outdoor seating that is actually on a little hill so you can sit on the balcony and look down on the street. There was a little fire pit with a fire, and it is also an old mini-golf course! There was some rain as we ate outside, but the ambiance was awesome. I think we fell asleep by 7:45pm– let me tell you, I cannot remember the last time I was so exhausted.

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Friday morning we went back into Lake Placid so I could take a quick swim in Mirror Lake. Ofcourse when we left Saranac Lake I realized I forgot a vital piece of swim equipment: my goggles. So we wasted a bit of time in town before the Athlete Village opened so I could purchase a pair of goggles. I mean, you can never have enough goggles anyway.

Mirror Lake is gorgeous. Compared to what I am used to (which is, swimming in a murky pond) I felt in heaven. It is crisp and feels “fresh.” Over the past couple days I had been concerned that I would overheat in my long-sleeved wetsuit (pre-race jitters probably contributed to it). After much back and forth with whether or not to try a sleeveless wetsuit that a friend of mine had lent, I decided to just go with what I know and use the full-sleeve wetsuit. There were other people who were doing the full loop of the swim, but I kept mine short  (about 20 minutes) since I knew I would be swimming enough in a couple of days!

After the swim, Kevin and I headed to a little race info session presented by Endurance Nation. I really wanted to go, since I had never ridden the bike course before, and figured I could use all the help I could get with this race being my first Ironman. It was very informative, and gave Kevin a chance to take a snooze. We even got a free training DVD and some gummy chews.

Kevin picked up a few extras while I went to the restroom. Haha

Kevin picked up  just a few extras while I went to the restroom. Haha

In the afternoon, we headed back to Saranac Lake and took a leisure ride around the area, which was gorgeous. The air in the Adirondacks is crisp and the weather was beautiful. No humidity whatsoever. Perfect.

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The views were amazing

After the ride I packed all my bags and prepared my bike. They give you five bags: one for AM clothes, one for the bike portion, a bike special needs bag, one for the run portion, and a run special needs bag. I’m pretty sure all IM athletes are just as anal as I and packed/unpacked/repacked all their gear at least two or three times before actually placing everything in the appropriate bags!

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My packing list:

Morning Of bag:

  • tri-top,
  • tri-shorts,
  • flip flops,
  • long pants,
  • sweat shirt,
  • body glide,
  • wetsuit,
  • goggles (x2),
  • swim cap,
  • timing chip

Bike:

  • Helmet,
  • gloves,
  • long fingered gloves,
  • arm warmers,
  • bike shorts,
  • jersey,
  • spare tube/ co2 cartridges (three on the bike),
  • socks,
  • bike shoes,
  • sun glasses,
  • sun tan lotion,
  • chap stick,
  • wet wipes,
  • towel
  • sunsleeves (which were horrible! cheap does NOT mean better)

Bike special needs:

  • rain jacket
  • wet wipes
  • contact solution
  • contacts
  • chamois cream
  • luna bar
  • 2x cliff bars
  • extra tube
  • extra CO2 cartridges
  • advil

Run bag:

  • running shorts
  • compression calf sleeves
  • socks
  • running shoes
  • visor
  • race number
  • fuel belt (with tums/salt tabs/ chap stick)
  • nutrition waffle

Run Special needs:

  • contact solution
  • nutrition waffle
  • arm warmers
  • long sleeve t-shirt
  • wetwipes
  • gloves
  • advil

Nutrition:

  • cliff bars (goal: eat one per hour on the bike; I cut them into six pieces so they are easier to eat)
  • energy waffles
  • bio-charge
  • Salt tabs
  • O2 Gold

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Once that was done, we took a little trip down to Schroon Lake to visit my parents at their campsite and have dinner as well as go through race day arrangements.

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Saturday

Saturday morning, we awoke early and headed back to Lake Placid for a hearty breakfast and took a nice walk around Mirror Lake. Then it was time to drop off my bags and bike. Since the weather forecast showed rain overnight, I left out the clothes that I wanted to stay dry overnight. Let me tell you, there are some pretty cleve people who came up with ways to keep their bags dry if it rains (hints for a future IM race?!?) I checked in my bike (and they even take pictures of every bike!) and we headed back out of town. I kind of wanted to get away from all the craziness/ excitement and just relax outside of town.

Perfect day.

Perfect day.

Loading up!

Loading up!

I ordered a

I ordered a “side pancake” and this is what I got. To put it in perspective, that is a pint glass of water in the back. It was HUGE. And yes, I ate it all.

My love helping apply my number

My love helping apply my number

Bike is racked!

Bike is racked! Thanks to the wonderful volunteer who took my photo.

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We visited a local Hudson Valley-er (and also triathlete!)at their campsite for a little while for a beverage (well, I had gatorade) and then headed to an early dinner. By early, I mean 4:45pm early. There, we met up with another fellow ex- Hudson Valley-er/ mountain biker/road rider/duathlete/ my soul sister Jen C) for some pre-race de-briefing. It was important that I had my pre-race veggie burger and french fries–a pre-race tradition that is vital! Low and behold, I found out this restaurant did NOT serve french fries (whatttttttt???????). Jen, I love her, spoke up and asked why they do not serve french fries if they serve chips. The waitress was great and offered home fries instead, and Jen and I had some of those instead of french fries. We chatted about everything and then headed back to our lodging early so I could relax and, yet again, go over all the things I would need in the am.

Veggie burger with....home fries

Veggie burger with….home fries

Love this guy

Love this guy

My soul sister :-) Traveled all the way up from FL to be here with me!

My soul sister 🙂 Traveled all the way up from FL to be here with me! And yes that is a brownie which I just HAD to have. 

….To Be Continued

The Emotions of Ironman.

…Okay, tomorrow it will be one week until the big day.

Calm my excited, rapidly beating heart.

I finished my last “big ride” (50 miler) today. Tomorrow morning before work I’ll head for a short 6 mile run and Monday I plan on another swim around here. (I am not sure what is in store in terms of next week’s workouts, but I’m pretty sure next week is all about taking it easy.) I found myself wanting to go out and do more (of either running/biking/swimming) today, but in a weeks time I will be doing plenty of all three (and hopefully all under 17 hours).

As I was driving around picking up some last minute items to pack, I was trying to figure out what I really feel in regards to this race.

Disbelief. When I started setting out all my gear the other day, I could not really believe that I am taking part in IMLP. For years I have followed the blogs of triathletes; I have read about their own packing lists and experiences training and racing in Ironmans. But I never actually thought I would be doing one someday. There is a difference between wanting to do something, and actually going out there and doing it.

The start of my packing task

Packing has only just begun.

Fear. No doubt about it, I am scared. I am scared of the mass swim start. I have only swan 2.4 miles outside once before, and that was by myself. I am scared of bodies swimming over me and the feeling of “drowning” under them. I am afraid of not finishing by the cut off times. I am afraid of not finishing, period. I have invested so much into this race, the thought of not completing it is frightening. I am afraid of having to stop and waste time going to the bathroom (i know, silly things). I am afraid of failing. I fear all the missed workouts from surgery, or when “life” happened, will add up and ultimately, my body will not let me finish.

Regret. Parts of me regret those times when I “listened to my body” and refrained from going further, or pushing myself harder. The times I took an extra “rest day” when my coach had workouts planned.

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Sadness. There are parts of me that are sad that this journey I started in October is almost over. What will I do with my life? My weeks have been planned around my long rides and long runs! (Well, we all know I’ll be going back to grad school in the

Stress. There is a certain element of anxiety/stress that goes along with every race I do: getting to the race location, making sure everything is all set up by the time it needs to be; the stress of parking and finding family members (and also knowing the stress that family members will encounter trying to find me! I know I will hear about it after the event.)

Joy. I’ve talked about it before: ironman training has created an emotionally unstable being in me…Atleast when it comes to watching ironman finish videos. Tears of joy seem to well up in my eyes when I imagine myself crossing that finish line and becoming an “ironman;” hearing my name by Mike Reilly on the loudspeaker…I choke up inside thinking that that could be me. Seriously. I do not know how people watch those YouTube videos without crying. (Lets face it, those people must simply be robots).

And the biggest emotion I have felt recently is excitement/anticipation. I am definitely excited for next weekend (rather, Thursday, when Kevin and I head up to Lake Placid). I have embarked on other adventures in the past, and have challenged myself physically and psychologically, but nothing compares to taking on the challenge of an Ironman.  I cannot wait to get my race packet– to see my number with my name….To see Mirror Lake in person…To meet other triathletes I have come to “know” online, who have given me tips and hints on the big day…I am sooooo excited!

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It’s Doable.

There are 15 days left until race day.

A little over two weeks.

While tying that I just had a “Ohh sh-t” moment. Seriously, only two weeks left?

Where did the time go?

Ironman Lake Placid has been a part of my daily life for the past 8 months. I’ve thought about it, in some capacity, everyday. Whether it was a long training ride, or jitters I had the night before a tough training day, or if it was a “rest day,” I’ve thought about this race on a daily basis.

Crazy? Yea, probably.

For me, it is crazy to think that now I am “tapering.” I don’t think I have ever really “tapered” before. There are parts of me that want to make up for all the long runs and rides I never finished. But I know that pushing myself now will not get me to the finish line any quicker in this type of event. It takes weeks to build up to riding the full ironman distance ride (and run, and swim). So one extra day will do nothing.

It may be because  I have settled into a more normal pattern at work, and finished up that summer class, but I feel I have all the time in the world at the moment (which I know will not last once I go back to grad school in the fall). So I figured I would enjoy this time and blog.

It is funny how as the length of the race you train for increases, your perception of training decreases. For example, I remember training for my 70.3 triathlons and thinking, “Holy crap, a half marathon after a 56 mile bike ride? Are you kidding?” Now, the thought of jumping on the bike for a 56 mile ride is nothing (heck, any ride under 4 hours is a short ride). I run half-marathon distance runs weekly, as if it is “just another run.”  I never thought I would be able to finish a century ride, especially alone. But I’ve completed four 100+ milers since the end of May.

Despite wanting to complete an ironman in my lifetime, I never really thought I would ever be able to swim 2.4 miles in the open water without the use of flippers or a buoy (as crutches to use when I was tired). Yet, I finished my first 2.4 OWS alone on Monday. To my surprise, I did not drown, nor have a seizure, nor be eaten by fish. I put my mind to completing that distance, and I did it.

I remember vividly my first time back on the mountain bike last August after my nine month mountain biking hiatus. I was horrible. I was scared to ride over rocks and roots that I once was able to ride over without difficulties. The ride was supposed to be fun. All I could think about while trying to concentrate on the trails through my tears was how I wasn’t good at anything. I ended up walking more of the bike ride than riding. I gave up. I’ll never be a good mountain biker. Why can’t I do this? Why can’t I buck up and be brave? I suck at mountain biking. I’ll never be good at anything.

 It is during this bike ride that I made the mental decision to sign up for IMLP–to prove to myself that I can do something that I put my mind to; that I can be brave, that there is something I am good at.

(Mind you, the next day of mountain biking was the complete opposite– I guess it took awhile for me to get my “mountain bike legs” back.)

Now, I am just your average beginner triathlete. I’m not out to gain a slot at Kona by doing IMLP. I’m a back of the pack swimmer, and your average cyclist and runner. I don’t think I will ever be a triathlete who gets to Kona, and I am okay with that. I am doing this race because I want to do it. I’ve turned into an emotional guppy during training; whenever I see a video of people crossing the finish line at IM races, I start to cry. Yes, it is because I may be tired, but crossing that finish line is something I want to do so badly that even the thought makes me tear up.Why? Because completing this type of event is beyond what I think I am capable of doing.

Despite those little voices that tell me I can’t finish this race, there is a voice that states, “It’s doable.”

I did not realize those two (or three) words could have such an impact on me.

This Ironman is doable. Just like the 2.4mile open water solo swim was, and a century ride was.

It’s doable.

I know I am physically in the best shape I have ever been in. I’ve gained stamina and strength through all the training I’ve done. I’ve gained knowledge about my body, and the power of nutrition. I’ve learned that no matter the weather, you are still able to ride/run and swim. I’ve realized that on those rides where I’ve been cold, wet, and tired, I never gave up. (Well, being alone in areas without reception, you kind of have no choice whether you give up or not, because no one can get to you). My last long ride was horrible. I didn’t even finish the distance I was supposed to,nor did I finish the long run I had planned. But, I know in a little over two weeks I will be doing it all again. The next time time, though, there will be thousands of other athletes around me. We will all be in the same boat together. Attempting for the first time (or second, or tenth for others) a race that so many people have called us crazy for attempting. Doing something that people say is impossible, and that is unnatural for the body to do. We will push ourselves, mentally, physically, and emotionally, to see what we are capable of doing.

Despite the doubts, pain, and fear, we will do it.

Just Believe

I figured now would be the best time to write a post, as I am sick of studying, it is raining, and everyone around seems to be napping. So, why not write? I have been meaning to write a post since, forever, but June has been one of the craziest months to date. Between training for an IM, doing a one month intensive summer course required before starting grad school in the fall, and beginning a new job, my “free time” has been next to nothing. I would exclaim, “man, I am so sad that June went so quickly” but in fact, I am super glad the month is over (because of everything that was happening). I can say that I survived juggling so many things at once, but, I really detested doing so. Due to everything occurring at once, I had to put training on the back burner, which stinks, but I had no choice. There were a couple emotional breakdowns spread out, but June: You are almost through! And, July, I welcome you with open arms.

Just a little heads up, this post is a mash-up of life and Ironman training. For one, Ironman Lake Placid is less than a month away. Heck, where did time go? I feel like it was yesterday when I decided to sign up for the race. (I remember when I decided to race like it was yesterday!) With a race of such calibur, I know it is normal to doubt the training you have done thus far, and question whether or not you are prepared to race. You dwell over the workouts that you missed–those hours you were supposed to be training when in reality, you didn’t. I’ve caught myself more than once thinking about everything I have not done, which quickly leads to self doubt and negative thinking regarding the race. If I missed those OWSs, I’ll never finish the swim in time. I haven’t finished all the long runs scheduled…I’ll never finish this race….You get my drift. Training has brought on some full-blown “negative thinking” fests, which I’ve realized, from which nothing positive comes. And, I guess this is where my “training life” and “day-to-day” life overlap. I’m pretty good at the whole negative thinking/self-talk thing. Infact, years of my life were devoted to thinking I was not “good enough”: not thin enough, not pretty enough; I was unlovable and a horrible human being for things I’ve done to those around me. This lead to living an obsessed life: obsessed about food and weight loss. Obsessed about finding the time to exercise. Obsessed about acheiving what I thought was “the perfect girl that any guy could fall in love with.” (I now know all of this was just internal lies). Over time, this negative thinking lead to substance abuse. I was in search for a place where I would not think; a place where I did not care, or worry, or fret, about what I ate that day, how much sleep I got; whether or not I was in a relationship, or the size of my clothes. I know negative thinking leads me down a very dark and scary path.

Despite how i’ve caught myself doubting my abilities to complete this race, I’ve learned the power of positive thinking can uplift, give strength, and ultimately bring a happier me. And, in a way,training for this Ironman has taught me more about myself that I may not have realized otherwise. Last week, when I was on my third 100+ mile road ride, I found myself wet, cold, tired, and ready to be off the bike. Six plus hour training rides solo really gives you plenty of opportunty to think about everything in your life. At the end of this ride, I found myself doubting my ability to be able to complete the full 112 mile bike course that I’ll be doing on July 26th. I was trying to add some extra miles in at the end of the ride, and ended up turning down a county road. About a mile or so down the road, I noticed the words “Believe in yourself” spray painted across the road. I did not realize how much of an impact those three words would have on me. After a couple minutes, I turned around and when I saw the words, I stopped, and smiled.

I’ve gotten my nutrition strategies pretty down pat. I’ve run marathons in the past and know even if I have not run the whole distance in this training, that I can do it. I know I can swim with other people and not “freak out” (as evidenced by my last half IM). But the one thing I’ve lacked is the self confidence and the belief in myself that I can  finish what I’ve set out to do. I remembered how I was able to finish Quassy after missing training from surgery. At the beginning of the race I thought, “You’ve got this; you can do this.” And, I did it. Truth be told, finishing a race may seem important and an accomplishment. In some ways, it is; and I want to finish this Ironman so badly. But, whether or not I finish it, I’ve accomplished much more within the past year as a person.

Last Fourth of July, and the months that came after it, were a couple of the darkest months I’ve been through, and believe me when I say I’ve been through some pretty crappy times. I was physically there on the 4th, celebrating with family and friends. But psychologically and emotionally, I was far from being “present.” I had lied. Again. Despite promising to “never do it again,” to the ones I loved, I did. I went kicking and screaming back to get help for something I felt I could control. Yet in reality, it had control over me. Fast forward a year, and here I am. On that ride when I saw those words on the ground last week, it dawned on me that it’s been almost one year since I’ve polluted my body with something it does not need. To put some perspective on it, this is the first year in the past eight years that I’ve gone more than six months without quote-in-quote relapsing.

Shit. Eight years of my life, wasted.

This is the first time I’ve been myself in years. Molly; unfiltered. It has definetly not been easy; I’ve had the stressors of more frequent seizures and medical diagnoses that are not easy to deal with (you  might remember the post “Elephant in the Room.” But, it has been such an amazing and fun year. I’ve challenged myself; I’ve challenged those fears of seizures, and swimming. The fears of the inability to finish Quassy. The self-doubt that I would ever be able to finish a 100 mile bike ride. I’ve started a new job, and in the fall will be going back to start a Nurse Practitioner program (which challenges the inner thoughts I have that I am not smart enough to become a NP). I’ve felt true and unconditional love from the most amazing man I have ever met; the man who decided last July not to give up on me.

Finishing races are an amazing feat. But learning to believe in yourself, loving the person you are, and living is even better. 

So, if you ever have any self doubts, challenge them. Believe in yourself. Because no matter what you are going through, you can do amazing things if you simply believe.

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Quassy: The Beast of the Northeast

First of all, I would like to thank Kevin for being at the race: beginning/middle/end, race chauffeur, photographer, personal cheerleader. 🙂 Race support do not get enough credit for what they do. So, thank you!

Challenge Quassy. Where do I begin? I learned a few lessons the day before and day of the race–little hiccups–but this race was all about going with the flow; rolling with punches (is that a saying?). Middlebury, CT is less than an hour and a half drive from me, which was awesome, because we did not have to travel far. Quassy is a little amusement park that is right on Lake Quassapaug, and it wasn’t a horrible location at all to house an event.

Mmm Carbs!

Pre-trip breakfast. Mmmmm carbs!

Saturday we drove up and I was able to take part in the practice swim, get my packet, check-in my bike, attend athlete meeting, etc. When we were getting my stuff together, I realized I forgot my toiletry bag. Okay, no big deal, except it had my glasses and all my epilepsy meds. Sh*t. Usually, I’m not the most organized person and just keep meds in two places: cabinet, and thrown in a bag I use. However, recently, I have been attempting to be more organized, so I put everything (meds included) into a toiletry bag. No bueno. I should go back to being unorganized, because I always had something with me.

Anyway, my thoughts at the point I forgot everything: This is already going to be horrible. Slight melt down, and we hadn’t even been at the race location an hour. If you have read some of my prior posts, having seizures (esp in the water when swimming) really freaks me out. Not having those meds (“safety net”) threw me for a loop. The rest of the things in the bag could be replaced, and we did indeed get what I forgot (minus my glasses). But, not a great way to start a race weekend.

My name! Bike is checked.

My name! Bike is checked.

Lesson #1: If you take medications for a medical condition, always bring extra in your purse or what have you.

Later, we checked into the hotel and found a restaurant with food that was decently priced where I could get my pre-race veggie burger with fries. That is the traditional meal I have before races (I know, I know, not the healthiest, but it is tradition and we know what happened when I broke my “Tradition” of throwing meds into a bag, right?).

There were no ice machines, so when I asked for ice, they brought

There were no ice machines, so when I asked for ice, they brought “just a little”

We were back at the hotel by 7:30pm, where I went through all of my belongings i would need for the race, and pack them. I am sure I am not the only triathlete who lays out all their stuff atleast two or three times, making sure they have everything they need.

“We are going to be late, we are going to be late!” I kept telling people, trying to get everything ready to bring to the race start. “It is almost 6:30 and transition closes!” I parked the car and ran with my bike and race bag to the changing area and tried desperately  to put my wetsuit on. For some reason, it was taking forever, but I made it to the swim start. However I was still trying to zip up my wetsuit, and no one would help me. “Three, Two, One….Beeeeep.” The race director said as swimmers ran into the water. I was still on the beach when he looked at me, lifting up a red card. I was disqualified at Lake Placid before I even began the race. How could this happen? How could I let this happen?

I woke up at 3:15 to a nightmare of not even being able to begin the swim at Lake Placid. I was oddly not feeling anxious about the race the day before, but I guess the nightmare which woke me up would suggest otherwise! Being unable to fall back asleep, I hung out in bed until my alarm went off. Time to get ready! Quassy is neat in that instead of body markers at the beginning, everyone gets removable tattoo numbers that they apply. I’m not going to lie, I think it was badass 😛 When we checked in, the receptionist said to another person that they were having an early cold breakfast starting at 4am, and i was starving when I woke up, so I ventured down stairs and not knowing where breakfast was, asked the receptionist. She then pointed to a table and said, ” We have granola bars and fruit for sale, and complimentary coffee.”

I looked over at the table, with the $2 granola bars and $2 pieces of fruit. Are you kidding me?What am I going to eat for breakfast? I NEED BREAKFAST!!!!! I returned to the room and stated, “Kevin, we need to find a Dunkin Donuts. There is no breakfast here!”

Lesson #2: Never assume a “cold breakfast” means actual food. In fact, just pack supplies for breakfast (which is actually what I usually do. Do not know why I did not do it today.

We were able to find a DD’s (Hallelujah!) And I shoved a raisin bagel with cream cheese down my throat on our way to the race.

The Swim

As with may triathlon starts, there is a lot of waiting. I made sure my transition area was all set, got into the wetsuit, and then it was time to head to the start. There was a small warm up area for people to go and I acclimated myself to the water (which was 66 degrees and it felt much warmer being in the water than in the 48 degree air temperature). I did learn something about warm up areas for races though. Well, I did not learn it per say, but it is a theory of mine. If you are waiting for the swim start and see a bunch of people waist deep in the water, just looking out, I am 99% sure that they are peeing. No joke. I guarantee you that is what people are doing. If you are a triathlete who has never peed in their wetsuit in the water, I want to know your name. Because (almost) everyone does it. I realized this when I was walking into the water and thought, Man, I am going to dunk my head in an area filled with the urine of hundreds of athletes. Maybe that is why the water was so warm?

My swim wave.

My swim wave.

😛

Anyway, I was oddly at ease waiting for the swim to start. Today was not a race for me. It was just a long training day, to see how my training for LP is going. After about 45 minutes of waiting and shivering, our swim wave started and the 1.2 mile swim began. It was a mass start, but I was able to find the outside and just get my groove on. It was slightly hard to sight the bouys because they were directly in the sun, but I didn’t mind, since we swam with them to our right and in OWS I tend to only breathe on my right. I swam then did short breast stroke breaks. Before I knew it, I was clumsily running out of the water. I looked down at my watch and saw 43:00. Holy crap. I could not believe that I swam that distance in that amount of time (the last half IM I did was in 55 minutes). I was ecstatic. I know if I didn’t take those breast stroke breaks the time would be even faster!

This is my

This is my “ehh how am I going to get the wetsuit off?” look

I ran to transition to get my bike and take my wetsuit off. Of course, the last time I wore a wetsuit someone helped strip it off. So, I wasted about 5 minutes trying to get it off. But then I was off on the bike!

Lesson #3: Practice taking wetsuit off

The Bike

Locked, loaded and heading out on the bike

Locked, loaded and heading out on the bike

Ohh, the bike. I knew going into this race that the bike course was hard. My goal was to keep plugging along, stick with my nutrition plan, and getter done. The bike course is really quite beautiful, and a lot is shaded which is nice. The thing with the Quassy bike course is that there is almost no flat. You are either climbing, or descending. I guess in a sense that is nice, because on the descents you can get “free speed” and recover. But the hills are relentless and there is 3,996 ft of elevation gain in the 56 miles. Now, this is nothing I have not seen before; Dutchess county has terrain just like that of where the course is. Heck, the sprint duathlons I have done all include some sort of hills. The Patriot Half last year was flat as a pancake. Quite a different course. I found my training in the Catskills definitely helped with my climbing, and I found I was able to pass people on the climbs (and then they would zip past me on the descents).

Elevation of the bike

Elevation of the bike

People often wonder what you think about on the bike. I am pretty sure the same thoughts circled in my head. Keep going, this is really a lot like D.Co….Are the hills done….?Ouu, nice house. 

By mile 40 I was ready to be off the bike, mostly because triathlon shorts have no padding whatsoever and my butt hurt like the dickens. I will most definitely be wearing cycling shorts for IMLP. My legs were ready to be running. There were plenty of aid stations along the bike course which was nice. I did stop once for a pit stop (I have mastered peeing in the water, but not on the bike.) Towards the end of the course I was getting a bit fatigued, and the last portion parallels some of the run course. At this point I was slow enough to have a bit of a conversation with a runner.

“Hey, nice bike I have the exact same one.”

“Yeah? It’s great, isn’t it?”

“Yea, you are looking great. You look super fast on it!”

“Thanks!”

“You just need white shoes now!”

“Haha, keep up the strong run!”

It is funny how little comments like that can really give you that extra energy to keep you going.

Run

I made the dismount with my legs wanting to run. Kevin was there and shouted out some words of encouragement (how I love that man!). I probably could have saved some time on the transition, because I decided to run back to my bike to put more sun tan lotion on, but oh well. The run is similar to the bike: it is hilly. In retrospect, I do not think I have ever run such a hilly half marathon course. It was great though, a nice combination of dirt roads and paved. And, most importantly, there was a ton of shade! I took it easy and did not push myself. I thought about running and training. I questioned whether or not I will be able to finish IMLP, because this course is only half of that.

Heading out for the run

Heading out for the run

 People say the run tests you physically, mentally, and emotionally. And they were not kidding. There is over 900 feet of elevation gain on the course. Towards the beginning of the run, I decided to break it up into chunks of 6 hours. By mile six I thought, “Okay, only three more to go.” And then I realized, wait, this is not a marathon, it is a HALF marathon! Only one more to go! Mile 9 to the finish are tough. Like, “Are you f-cking kidding me? Another steep hill?” tough. Yes, there were downhills, but at mile 9 there is a 7-9% incline you have to run up, and they have the same type of incline at mile 12. You know that you are going to be running up that hill at mile 12, because you run down it. (Actually, there is a similar out and back on the bike where you go down and then have to turn around and go back up). just keep moving along. Almost at the top of the hill, I spotted Kevin on his bike. It was a sight that made me so happy.
Run

Run

“Kevin, this course is no joke.”

“I know, that’s what they say.”

He rode next to me for a couple hundred feet until I turned into the park and headed down the finish chute. Well, I first ran past the finisher chute when people yelled, “wrong way! It’s down that!” Ooops. So, after I turned to head towards where I was supposed to be running, I finished!

As I crossed the finish it dawned on me that exactly three months and one day ago I had my surgery, and missed the whole month of March. Which means, I was back training for this beginning in April (so, two months). I remember first getting back into training wondering if I would be able to finish this race, this “Beast of the Northeast.”

And I did.

Not only did I finish, I had a PR 1.2 mile swim, and only finish the whole race 9 minutes slower than my first half IM last year, which was the total opposite of this race in terms of difficulty.

Right at the finish I met Kevin and gave him a huge, sweaty, salty, sun-tan lotion drenched hug.

“I did it! I finished!”

“You did awesome, Molly.”

Selfie!

Smile, Kevin!

Last week being sick, and reading about how hard the race was, I had some self doubt about being able to finish this. But, it goes to show what you can do with will power.No, it wasn’t a course record, nor am I as fast as other people, but I’m pretty happy with my time on such a difficult course. Excluding the nightmare, treating the race as “just a long training day” helped tremendously in that I felt almost no pre-race anxiety. I went in knowing what I had to do, like other training days, and just went in and did it. There is still work I need to do before IMLP, but I’m pumped and ready to train!

IMG_7388

Race day memento

Race day memento

The end.

🙂

Above all, challenge yourself. You may well surprise yourself at what strengths you have, and what you can accomplish.

-Cecil Springer

T-4 Days (Or is it 3?) to Quassy

I figured I would try to write a quick post before heading to work, as I consume “sore throat lozenges” like the are candy, pop vitamin C drops one after another, and guzzle water like it is the last water left on earth.*

My newfound love: homemade machta iced tea lattes. The BEST!

My newfound love: homemade machta iced tea lattes. The BEST!

Yeah, I know, the last thing any athlete wants is to be sick when counting down the days to a race. Especially a half Ironman.

I guess it is a good thing that since the race is Sunday, that means this week I’ve been taking it easy (and by “take it easy” I mean “do no physical exercise whatsoever”). I need this cold to be gone, baby, gone in a couple days and will do what it takes to get there.

Mmmm post workout pick-me-up

Mmmm post workout pick-me-up

It seems with taking a summer course, starting a new job, and training for an ironman has made life a little bit more busy than before– I’m not complaining! It’s all about time management, right? So today looks like the best day to do a quick update on training.

Last week ended on a better note emotionally than the week before. I was able to put in another 2.4 mile swim at the pool, and did my first couple OWSs of the season (I always find my first OWS similar to the first outdoor ride of the season: a bit disheartening, but that is because I am not used to it). I ordered one of those swim safety buoys to help with my fears of swimming alone, so that (once this cold goes away) I can dedicate some more time getting used to swimming outside again. I mean, swimming is completely different outside than inside, no doubt about it– especially on a windy day! My challenge is getting to the same speed I am in the pool, somewhat soon. Over the weekend I was blessed to have a day at the lake, where I swam and my man and younger sister kayaked. (My man is pretty darn amazing at documenting things, too, might I add).

First OWS-- gotta love smacking yourself in the jaw when trying to put on a wetsuit...

First OWS– gotta love smacking yourself in the jaw when trying to put on a wetsuit…

Action shot

Action shot

Weekend fun!

Weekend fun! (I was looking at fish)

This should help with OWSs, right?!?

This should help with OWSs, right?!?

On Thursday I set forth to do ride 100 miles. It was my goal to ride 90-100 the weekend before, but that fell through. I do not think I wanted to do it to get the miles in, I wanted to do it for psychological reasons (remember how I’ve said a lot of IMLP is psychological as well as physical?). I wanted to prove to myself that I could complete a century. Most other people I know who have done centuries have done organized long rides, and I realized that, yes, it might be nice to be in a group of people doing a long ride with support, as it is a long time to be riding by yourself. But, I completed it! The route I did may not have the elevation gain of the IMLP course, but I was able to complete it and still have energy at the end. You realize on long rides that your rear is not the only thing that begins to hurt after 6 hours of riding. I started noticing a lot of other body parts that began to make their presence known. I also realized a lot of self organization goes into long bike rides, especially if you do not know what services are like along the route. (Thank goodness on race day there will be aid stations!). Another realization I had, or rather, lesson learned, was to check the condition of your face before you walk into a gas station/restaurant/whatever it is that may have other people. I know I have said this before, but I still don’t take my advice and look at myself in a mirror before I enter public places. And I should, I really should. At Margretteville (my “turn around” on my ride at mile 50) I decided to do a quick pit stop and bought gatorade. The lady at the register was very nice to me when I asked where the rest rooms were. Only once I was looking in a mirror that I noticed I had chocolate all around my mouth– as if I was licking chocolate batter off a spoon. (I had eaten a chocolate Clif Bar en route!!) That, plus some streams of sun block down my cheeks and a bunch of small dead flies pasted to my forehead was not a pretty site. No wonder no one else at teh station said hello to me when I greeted them. Smacking my forehead. 

IMG_7284

Starting a century at 5:45am means you pass the Ashokan Reservoir when everything is still.

Starting a century at 5:45am means you pass the Ashokan Reservoir when everything is still and calm.

Post- century meal. You know me and my sandwiches/wraps/etc

Post- century meal. You know me and the soft spot in my heart for sandwiches.

Anyway, that was a big accomplishment. Mentally, I know now that I should be able to complete the IMLP bike portion. And that self confidence goes a long way.

I know I have paid little attention to the Quassy Half. Well, that is because I have. Training has been geared towards Lake Placid. I could not help but notice that discussion forums regarding the Quassy Half have boomed over the last couple of days, and I knew going into the race that it would be difficult. But I do not think I am really as prepared as I think I am for said difficulty of the course. One person asked the question if Quassy was really as difficult as people say it is. My favorite (and perhaps the most terrifying) response was: “You are f-cked. Gun ammo and rocket fuel for breakfast!”

Ohh gotta love knowing “you are f-cked” before you even start a race. However, on a good note, most people who have completed both Quassy and IMLP say they would much rather do the full IMLP bike course than the Quassy bike course. Should I be worried? Well, at this point, I am slightly concerned. But, i will be treating it as a long training day. And as of right now, I am trying to contain this cold, so there will be no last minute, long training rides before the race.

I guess we all will see how Quassy goes next week, when it is over!!

Last Week in Numbers

Running 3:30 (20mi)

Biking 7:36 (115.6mi)

Swimming 2:45 (3.8)

Total: 14hrs (139.4miles)

*I did not finish this post before work, nor did I really pop the lozenges like candy. But you get the drift.

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