Life Lately

I thought it was about time to play catch-up on my blogging which has been lacking as of late.

Between full time work, training, and a “side business,” there is not a lot of down time nowadays to sit down and write.

The Patriot Half is in exactly one month from today.

How is training for that, you might ask?

I’m feeling mostly confident with the bike. My LSD rides have been up in the Catskills mainly, so I feel all the climbing will be to my benefit. I already know riding 50+ mile rides makes my 25mile ride this week feel like a walk in the park. I guess my perception of long distance rides has changed when training for this. I am more than thankful that the weather is turning nice and perhaps the wind might be calming down for awhile. 95% of my long rides have been in horribly windy conditions, testing me physically and psychologically. My coach told me riding in the wind was good because of exactly that: it prepares you for potential race day conditions.

Wouldn’t you know, last weekend’s Trooper Duathlon took place on a morning where the wind was fierce. So bad, they had to take down the race banner and tent because they kept blowing over. I remember asking myself why I was doing a duathlon in less than ideal conditions. I’m not sure what the answer is, maybe because I paid to race in it? It was the first time I have completed this race as an individual and not as part of a relay team since 2011. It was not as bad as I thought it would be. Having no expectations for yourself race day helps. I’m familiar with the race course, and racing up Dug Hill is always a pleasure.

From the Trooper Duathlon...Ohh how I long for a Tri bike....

From the Trooper Duathlon…Ohh how I long for a Tri bike….

 

Riding up Dug Hill pre-race might have paid off...

Riding up Dug Hill pre-race might have paid off…

 

Running has been good. I know I am capable of running a half marathon; I’ve already completed two this year. After swimming and biking? Yeah, I am pretty sure it is possible. A couple weeks ago I managed to get third place in my age group in the first Kingston Kiwanis Half Marathon in a town close to home. I never thought I was a good runner for some reason. I guess training is paying off?!? Despite starting at a wickedly early time (who starts a half marathon at 7am?!?) it was a nice race, mostly because I had people along the course whom I knew, and it was close enough for family/friends to come. We cannot forget that Meb Keflezighi was there too, which made the experience even more special.

My mom and my man came to support me :)

My mom and my man came to support me 🙂

Hanging out with my new bestie, Meb Keflezighi

Hanging out with my new bestie, Meb Keflezighi

 

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Swimming. Ah, swimming. Pool swims have been going well. I’ve seen myself improving. What about OWS you might ask? I tried on a new wet suit the other day and decided to go for a swim. Long story short, I am not sure if I will be doing this race in a wetsuit. I despise wetsuits. The panicked feelings of claustraphobia in one are not fun. It reminded me of the feelings from a couple years ago when I attempted Mooseman. I know they give you buoyancy while in the water, but is the added fear of not being able to breathe worth it in the end during the race? A difference in my training in open water and the race is, there will actually be people out in the water during the race who will be able to help me incase I have trouble swimming. Now, my swims in open water have been solo. So, why use a wetsuit? (Maybe any of you triathletes out there might be able to have an answer for this).

First OWS of 2014 at Onteora Lake

First OWS of 2014 at Onteora Lake

So, that has been my life as of late. I know the next couple weeks will fly by, and the Patriot Half will be here before I know it. I’m sure I’ll be posting before then 🙂

 

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Let’s Du This…Olympic Style

The lack of creativity in the title for this post may be due to recent lack of sleep, or due to the fact that, after writing about six duathlon races since beginning this blog, there simply comes a time when it can be hard to think of a fun title.

Last Sunday I took part in New York Triathlon Club’s Wheel and Heel Olypmic (distance) Duathlon. I participated in the W &H sprint duathlons twice, and was supposed to do this particular race last year, but from what I remember, I could not get anyone at work to switch a weekend with me. Bring on 2013 with new distance duathlons. Whereas a sprint duathlon is usually a 1 mile run, 14mile ride, 3.2mile run (some of the NYTRI sprints vary in their leg lengths), the olympic duathlon has a 5k run, a 40k bike , and a 10k mile run. (You math wizards out there will notice that is about 9.5miles of running total).

Just a tad bit longer.

I must admit, I had a lot of pre-race jitters before this race. I am not really sure why….I was not worried about the riding part. Dutchess County has given me a plethora of opportunities to work on riding up hills (and racing up them, too).  I was worried about the running. The last time I ran over 6.1 miles in one day was back in May, and that was for a marathon–slow, steady run. The Mad Dash killed my legs, and for six days prior to this race, I did not run whatsoever. Minus all the running around at work. I think another contributing factor to the pre-race jitters was the fact this would also be my first race being solo.*

Anyway, come race morning when the alarm went off, a part of me wanted to stay in bed and ignore the race. But, after some contemplating, I decided I would hate myself for not at least trying the race. I gulped some coffee and, I admit it, I did not give myself loads of la-de-daa time to get to the race.

My goal: to finish in under 3.5 hrs. No records needed to be broken, no muscles torn…Just attempt it. 30minutes for the 5k, 2 hrs for the bike, and one hour for the 10k.

My plan of race attack: Go out on the first 5k easy. Go out on the bike easy. Go out on the last 10k easy and walk if need be. 

What actually happened:

I got to the race with barely enough time to collect my bib, but did decide it might be smart, for this distance, to actually warm up and stretch.  (Yup, I just said I stretched. For reals.)

There was a fair number of racers, and the venue was quite serene: Lake Taghkanic is lovely. 

I set up my bike, and spoke with a few racers I’ve met at other races, or know from the non-racing world, and kept telling myself, “It’s just a long run and ride.” My main competition was an athlete (I can say that, because she truly is one) from up north who beat me in another race earlier this year. Mind you, she is almost twice my age,just competed in the International Duathlon Championships up in Ottawa, and has a tri-bike. Oh, she also was wearing a race kit from the championships. If you are thinking the same thing as I am, than yes, she is quite good at the sport. She also looks like a duathlete. Pshh, maybe next year I will just order a race kit to wear from the championships…It might help my race self-esteem 😉

The field of athletes doing the duathlon was quite small, and the first 5k was an out-and-back run through the state park. Rolling hills. I actually wore my garmin watch for the first time in about a year so I could keep track of my pace. Did I remember how to use the watch? Kind of, at least basics. I did not want to sprint to fast and have no energy for the rest of the race. Nine minute or so miles is what I was aiming for. I kept up with Ms. Championships the whole 5k, and felt good after the first run was over. The bike, ohh the bike portion. It was two loops around the park, and, I have come to the conclusion that in order for a race to be one of the New York Triathlon races, it must involve hills. Having not pre-ridden the course, I had no idea what the extent of the hills would be. Below is the image posted on the Facebook page of the race course….

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The elevation guide does not do it justice, and is actually a bit confusing.

On the second loop, I managed to find a gel (they are growing on me) which I do not think necessarily gave me energy physically, but mentally. Going up the same set of hills twice is just wrong in my book.

For some odd reason, I thought the 10k would be in the Park around the lake. That is what it looks like according to their website photo, right? Or, was it just me and my innate inability to read maps correctly?

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Well, the last three miles were in the park. The first four followed the bike course. Up the same hills. At this point, I was pretty fatigued, not going to lie. But, I kept thinking, “C’mon, you’ve ran marathons…you’ve climbed mountains…This, this is just another hilly run.” When my legs wanted to walk, I walked. When they felt good to run again, I ran. Once the course veered back into the park, I remember continuing to wonder when the finish would come.  Things people have said crossed my mind, “Go get em’ killer!” Finally, after what seems to be the longest 10k I have ever run/walked, I crossed the finish line. 3:02.

With tears in my eyes.

I do not know what brought the tears on. Maybe it was the fact I finished my first olympic distance race quicker than I thought I would. Maybe it was the fact that I finished, but had no one I knew there to give a sweaty, exhausted, thrilled-that-I-finished hug to.** Maybe it was because I finished my last duathlon of the season, and managed to pull off second overall in the Women’s duathlon. Who knows. I did have to pull some major self-control in order to keep the tears from continuing to stream down my face. You ever try to stop yourself from crying in public when your body is exhausted? It’s really hard to do, and I kept trying to cough in order to hide the fact I was crying, and then choked, which wasn’t helpful. Lake Taghkanic State Park  has a paved sidewalk along the beach near the parking lot which was perfect for cooling down and gaining composure.

After packing up all my gear and brining my bike back to my car, I headed to the post race food to score some free water and mini- cliff bars. On my way, I bumped into a fellow Fats in the Cats member who is also a duathlete/triathlete/runner. In her first olympic triathlon, she placed first in her age group. See? Mountain bikers are hardcore. We not only ride bikes over logs and roots, but can kick ass in the water and in a pair of running shoes.

Fats in the Cats!

Bev and I…Way to go fats!

God bless the volunteers along this race course. They were amazing. So so encouraging, especially the volunteers along the hills. I even got a smile and nod from a State Police officer when I said, “Hills are my favorite!” on the bike.

A huge thanks to the New York Triathlon Club for an incredible event, and awesome race season!

* Except for races back in college, I’ve been blessed to have friends or family either participate in a race with me, or at least be present at some stage of the race, even if it was only the end of the race.  I guess I got a little too used to this “luxury.”

**Don’t worry, I awkwardly gave that hug to a random other female duathlete who finished her first olympic duathlon that day.

***If you want to see the real elevation change, the link to my Strava activity is here. I am not tech savvy enough to get the “imbed link” to pop up on this blog.

My apologies for the lack of photos in this. Out of all the photos taken at the race, there failed to be just one caught of me. I think I searched through the events photos at least three times. Ohh well.  Win some, and lose some.

😉

“I Guess That Means We Can Start Running”

…Were the words  of another duathlete as a distant shot-gun went off at last Sunday’s Wheel and Heel Sprint Tri/Duathlon. I was at the front of the small pack of athletes eyeing my competition, wondering how we would know when to start running. *By competition, I mean others in my age group; specifically, one young woman who really concerned me from the start. I knew she was good just by the stretches she was doing pre race. Hardcore running stretches. At one point, she even had a roller and was rolling out her legs. My warm up, on the other hand, was merely a couple skips and play “air punching” with Kevin. I think I need to seriously reconsider how I stretch before races. For one thing, I’ll be bringing my own roller to my next race. Next minute, we were off.

I should get first place for most awkward photo...My concept of stretching before a race (sporting a new Mtn bike jersey)

First place for most awkward photo! This is my concept of stretching before a race

The 2013 Wheel and Heel Sprint Duathlon had a different course than last year’s event. Last year, the first mile sprint was up a nasty hill (almost like the Healthy Ulster duathlon in Ulster County). This year, organizers decided to be nice, and have runners go up a hill, only this time the hill was not as steep. Having hills at the start of a race is a theme for New York Triathlon events in the Hudson Valley.

My competition...She even looks fast.

My competition…She even looks fast.

Right away I knew the sprint would not be my best sprint as I felt that my legs were tight (probably because I didn’t roll them out first). But I did my best, and was able to complete it in under eight minutes. I continue to be awestruck by anyone who can run a sub seven minute mile.

The bike portion was not what I remembered it to be, in fact, I believe it is different than last years race.After about four miles, there were four miles of steady climbing. Throughout the climb, I was challenged by another duathlete who I’m guessing was double my age, in his orange jersey. He simply would not ease up and let me pass!  At different points, both of us would sprint ahead of one other, only to slow down again after burning legs (atleast on my part). Finally, I was able to pass him, but he did not make it easy. Psh, you thought I was competitive against women my age? Puh-lease. I’m more competitive against older men who aren’t even in my age/gender race category! Back to the course….It is not an easy sprint course.

Don't mind the triathlete running into transition...I know it is difficult to do

Don’t mind the triathlete running into transition…I know it is difficult to do

The problems of sunglasses: they can fall off your face easily

The problems of sunglasses: they can fall off your face easily

The last leg of the race was also shorter than last years by a mile. It started off similar to the sprint; you had to run up a hill right out of transition; and I will continue to blame my tired legs on the fact I did not roll them out pre-race.  I guess I have a way of showing the exact opposite of the exhaustion l felt by cracking jokes with each volunteer I passed…Perhaps some people would consider my jokes more like the crazy exclamations of a dreary, exhausted, semi-prepared-for-an-event participant. Knowing I was far behind Miss Intense Racer, I did not push myself as hard as I could, and walked (gasp!) some parts. We all have times when we have walked portions of a race, right?

Despite painfully exhausted limbs, I was able to finish four minutes slower than Miss Racer, and place third overall in the Women’s Duathlon. As I’ve mentioned before, in my opinion, the best part of a race is when you cross the finish line 🙂

I'd like to thank my mascot, a rubber chicken I found in my car, for my race success

I’d like to thank my mascot, a rubber chicken I found in my car, for my race success

A week after the race, I’ve come to the conclusion that I can still practice sprinting, and really should practice sprinting up hills if I wish to continue participating in New York Triathlon events. That would probably be to my benefit, don’t you think?

Other Thoughts

Last month, Fats in the Cats, a local mountain biking club, was looking for a new t-shirt design. As the weather was crappy for a couple days, I decided to dabble in t-shirt designing. I was under the impression I could draw something, scan it in, and submit it. But, they needed specific formats for the t-shirt submissions. Lo and behold, Adobe Illustrator has a trial free edition that I was able to download. Now, give me something medical, and I can probably do it. As for computers, I would consider my knowledge to be basic. I am no graphic artist by any means. I did fool around for a couple hours and figure out how to make lines and fonts, and submitted a design that ended up being chosen as one of the new t-shirts. A picture of my design is below. The other design is on the pint glass. Holy crap was his design freaking awesome. I may not be a computer graphics wizard, but I know super computer graphic skills when I see them. And that guy has some skill-z.

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Innocent little mountain bike rider

Enjoying a post-race beverage in a new club pint glass

Boom! Power to the pedal…Freaking amazing design.

And Even More of Molly’s Nonsense

If you are familiar with this blog, you may have race about my addiction to registering for races. Well, as of late I have been debating on doing another half marathon in September on one of the weekends I have off from work. (My other weekend off I am registered for an olympic duathlon…Now that will be a story in itself). I took my charge card from my wallet to register, and decided to “sleep on it.” The next morning, specifically the morning of the Wheel and Heel race, I could not find the card anywhere. Family members know the desperation I had in finding my card. Who knows where it disappeared to during the twelve hours it was not in my grasp. I came to the conclusion that the race gods, or perhaps it is the anti-race gods,were against my compulsive race-registering, therefore are to blame for my lost card. Since the episode, however, I do have a new card, and have signed up for the half….Not even anti-race gods can stop me.

 

Redemption

Is there a race that you have a love/hate relationship with?

I do. It’s the Ulster County Duathlon.

The Ulster County Triathlon/Duathlon was my first ever multi-sport race in 2010. It was back when I did not even own my own bike, nonetheless actually ride a bike. But, I thought it would be fun. I remember showing up at the race having no clue what to do–how to set up my bike–nor what the course was like. My mother was visiting at the time, and knowing she would be up early,I  gave her a call to see if she would come watch the race (in other words, I was scared out of my mind, and needed to borrow a watch to wear). The bike I borrowed was in okay condition, but I had numerous chain issues, and am pretty sure I had only ridden on it once before.  I finished it in a reasonable time, and despite the not-so-friendly course, embarked on this “journey” of multisport training. I loved it when it was over.

Finish of my first duathlon ever...Before I even knew they actually had triathlon shorts you could wear and not bike shorts...

Finish of my first duathlon ever…Before I even knew they actually had triathlon shorts you could wear and not bike shorts…

In 2011, I did the race again. Emotionally, it was the worst race I have ever completed (except for Mooseman). Now, looking back, I know why it was so miserable: lack of sleep, poor nutrition, and sheer exhaustion before you start a race is pretty much a recipe for disaster. It took me 43 minutes to run 3.5miles. I walked most of it. After the race, I could only beat myself up for the poor performance. I hate the course. I swore I would never do it again.

This year, I wanted to redeem myself. Prove to  myself that I could actually complete this race in a decent time (in other words, finish it in the time it took me the first year I did it). And redeem myself I did.

The course for the duathlon is tough in terms of sprint courses go. You start at the bottom of a hill, and the first mile is a sprint up the hill. Some athletes ran the mile a little over six minutes. I have no idea how that is possible, considering the fact you are running up. The bike is two 9-mile loops, with some rolling terrain. I think it might be the most difficult bike course out of the duathlons I have done in the area, plus the fact the transition area is at the bottom of the hill that you just ran down. (The bike course is also four miles longer than the other courses). The last run starts, again, at the bottom of the hill. Despite a decline, the majority of the first two miles of the 3.5mile out-and-back course is uphill. Sounds like fun, right? I’m pretty sure I complained about how much I hate this course half a dozen times with others.

I finished the race eight minutes faster than the first time I tried it. That may not seem very fast, but to me, that is an improvement…Where I found I improved most was on the runs, and for that I must admit it and thank Strava for keeping me running.  I finished the first mile in 7:42. May not seem fast, but considering I was sprinting up a hill, for me, that was awesome. Especially since I had a wire metal thing that decided to stick to the bottom of my running shoe mid-sprint and annoy the crap out of me (thankfully it fell off the shoe on its own).

Running back down to transition

Running back down to transition…And checking my watch.

The bike portion went okay. I think recent runs-then-bike rides on my days off helped my body become accustomed to riding right after running. There was one section where I was trying to pass another racer, who just would not give in. Finally, we reached a climb and I had to pass him. Of course, while doing so, he stated, “Maybe you need to clean your gears, sounds like shifting is a problem.” I responded, “Yup, probably.” As I sped up, I heard the guy exclaim, “You are making me look bad now!”

To that, I could not help but smile to myself and shout, “Sorry!”

Finishing!

Finishing!

I finished less than two minutes after the duathlon women’s first place winner. I could beat myself up for walking up the hills during the last run leg, or ask myself why I did not push myself more on the bike, but for the first time I decided to give myself a break from self criticism and say, “Good show, Mol. Good show.”

….And that is the best feeling in the world.

Second place overall for the Women's Duathlon

Second place overall for the Women’s Duathlon

A huge thank you to all of the race volunteers, law enforcement directing traffic, medical staff, and New York Triathlon organizers for a challenging but rewarding race.

And a big thanks to Mr. K.J.Young for being the best supporter out there, race swag thief, and official team photographer. 

Below is a link from a local newspaper regarding the race:

Area Athletes Score Top Honors at Healthy Ulster Triathlon, Duathlon

Bagpipes, Bagpipes, Playing Loud and Clear

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It’s that time again! Duathlon season in the Hudson Valley (semi) officially started this past weekend in West Hurley with the Trooper Duathlon, a duathlon dedicated to three New York State Troopers who lost their lives in the line of fire. It is different than other New York State Triathlon series event because it is a time of reflection of those who perished, and a time to really reflect on how fragile life is. Before I begin, I would like to thank all of you New York State Troopers, Police, and other emergency responders for everything you do. You are the reason we are safe today, and also a big reason to why I drive my car within 5 miles per hour of the speed limit.

After competing in the duathlon as a team last year, and wanting to continue the legacy of the Valley Girls, at first I was on a quest to find a female I know in the Hudson Valley area who would enjoy being on the team with me. Little did I know, there are not that many people I am aquainted with who were willing or able to do this race. (My teammate from last year was out of town).

Then I thought about Kevin’s sister, Meg, who is a Collegiate Cross Country coach. Tada! A runner! When asked if she would do it with me, she said yes!

Now, all you internet readers, remember how a couple posts ago I said that Kevin had running in his genes? Running IS in his family. This girl is a running beast–in the positive sense of beast. You immediately know this when she is off doing her stretching.

Hardcore warm up and stretching

Hardcore warm up and stretching

She finished the North Face Endurance Challenge 50mile race last year, which is, like the name, an endurance challenge. During her college running career, she ran in the NCAA Championships, and awarded a bunch of awesome titles, that you can read about here.  Thank you, Vassar Athletics webpage for allowing me to stalk info on your coaches. 

My stretching...Not sure what zone I am in.

My stretching…Not sure what zone I am in.

Meg finished both two mile segments in about 13minutes each.

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Having competed in this race twice before (last year with S.Z.B. and in 2011 as a one-woman team ), I failed to remember how absolutely horrible Dug Hill Road is. If you are unfamiliar with this road in West Hurley, thank your lucky stars, because unless you have a vehicle, or are being towed by something, you do not want to know it.

Starting the bike

Face of determination…starting the bike

It is basically 3 1/2 miles of uphill. The first three miles are straight uphill. Okay, okay, the first couple hundred feet are a rolling incline. But then it goes up. And up. Even when you think you are at the top, it is still rolling in an upward direction. The first eleven miles are fine, and you can even build speed, boosting self confidence. On numerous occasions, as my lungs flamed (why? who knows), I found myself thinking, “Man, this is a piece of cake.” Come Dug Hill, all positive self-talk plummets. Inbetween labored breathing come grunts and groans. And bless John McGovern, who played his bagpipes half way up the hill. But, really? I love bagpipes, but in the middle of Dug Hill, when I am already spewing every curse word know to man, you decide to play the bagpipes? Who, who, who enjoys hearing bagpipes when they are near death trudging up a goddamn hill? It’s as if tricking you to think you are at the end of the bike course, when you still have miles to go.* We are in West Hurley, not riding into a Scottish sunset with the theme of Braveheart in the background.

...And ending the bike, completely oblivious to troopers cheering me on

Face of defeat by the hill, completely oblivious to troopers cheering me on

Hence, I forced myself to the finish, bronchospasming, with remenants of my breakfast inching up my throat. I felt that no rides this season have helped prepare me for this. To be honest, I’ve spent more time running this year than years in the past when biking has taken priority. Marathon “preparation,” i.e. running, has a hold of me, full grip. The only thing keeping me from walking up Dug Hill was knowing an athlete was waiting for me, so that she could start her last leg of the race. To my surprise, I beat my best time on the hill by one minute.

Meg (pink) looking strong

Meg (pink) looking strong

Meg finishing strong...And as it looks, me ducking out of the photo to hurl

Meg finishing strong…(I’m not hurling to the side, I swear!)

Another differing aspect of the race than other races I have been to is the post-race food spread. A BBQ, salads, sweet foods, beverages…If I was not still feeling ill from the ride, I probably would have indulged in the amazing food.

Lo and behold, we took first place for the Women’s Relay Team. The Hudson Valley Girls did it again! (S.Z.B, you were missed)

First place Women's Relay Team

First place Women’s Relay Team

A fellow mountain biker and incredible athlete asked me how my training was for the marathon, and if I felt prepared. I’m pretty sure I just stared at her, as my “training” for this marathon (in less than two weeks, mind you) has encompassed six mile runs and a couple 13 milers. She said my training should be “winding down” now…And, I guess if the last time I ran longer than six miles was the half marathon in April, then, yes, my training is winding down. To be fair, I have developed an even greater love of mountain biking, and so on days off, I’ve wanted to save leg strength for rides as well.

Training

Basically, my training for the past couple weeks can be seen below, in the exact same sequence:

Wake up, inhale coffee, catch up on The Real Housewives, or other Hulu classics (What WAS Tamara thinking inviting Vicki to her gym?

Go for a run…Attempt to Strava the run, give up on Strava, and use Map My Run instead

Drink more coffee–usually iced, usually black

Go for a mountain bike ride, or road ride (I need to start spending more time on the road, as it is duathlon season)

Attempt to blog, but end up browsing potential races instead, then realize I have loads of errands to do

Prepare dinner

Meet up with Kevin and go for mountain bike ride #2 or walk (depending on my legs)

Eat, sleep,work

One would think that these upcoming races will be pieces of gluten-free cake, right?

Well, we will see….That is, if I survive this marathon.

*It was a nice touch, though. And, John McGovern is a triathlete wonder. In retrospect, it was pleasant having my attention diverted from the pain I was in.

Hello, My Name is ___.And I’m a Raceaholic.

If you have ever participated in a race (running, cycling, duathlon, or triathlon), you may understand the thought process associated with racing. I do not mean with the actual participation in a race, or emotions during a race–that is a completely separate post–but what is involved when choosing races. For me, looking at potential races is, ehh, addicting.Sometimes I think there should be a support group for people like me who constantly search for races that I can participate in.

“Hello, my name is Molly. I am a raceaholic.”

I came to this conclusion the other day, still on holiday, when I turned to Kevin and showed him a race website.

“Maybe I should train for this one?” I suggest, with a spark of excitement in my eye. Kevin let out a soft sigh.

“Molly, no. Put the laptop away…No races right now.” I silently shut the laptop, and did not think about races.

Less than twenty four hours later, while everyone was sleeping, and after failed attempts to watch ‘The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ on Hulu (FYI, Hulu does not work overseas), I found myself yet again searching for races. Working certain weekends affords less opportunities to participate in certain races, as most races take place on weekends–which is a reason why I think I cherish when my schedule does let me participate in a race.  I find myself scrolling through races throughout the state (or outside the state for that matter). Ouu…a 50k on September 8th of 2013! That is a weekend I am not working—I could totally pull that off. Wait, even better, a 5k on Saturday, and a duathlon the next day….Perfect! There have been times when I’ve had to stop myself, and think realistically regarding certain distance races, which, I guess most people do not have to do. I.e. When I decided that running a 50miler on a Saturday and doing a sprint Triathlon the following Sunday would not be a good idea.

Returning to the night of the sad acceptance of my inability to watch trashy television shows overseas, I decided to run a marathon this May. On my birthday. Why not? I ran my first marathon on my 21st birthday…Running another one on my 27th sounds like fun!’** Mind you, the amount of time to train for said marathon will be cut a little short, but I am not worried about that. I’m not one to stick to training plans…Or train at all for that matter. However, I am determined to change that aspect of running races, as my body is not the young, limber one it was when I did my other marathons. Long gone are the days when I can decide two days before a marathon to actually take part in it, and have a functioning body post-race.

Anyway, there is a thrill associated with registering for a race. Once you click that “Register” button, or send in that mail-in registration form (which do not exist with too many races anymore), there is no going back. The challenge of the race awaits. It is exciting! However, my mentality of “just finish the race without dying” does not apply to multisport races. Different emotions errupt when registering with those. A competitive drive forces me to study my past results, and the results of others in my age group…To train so that I will be faster than last year…Get through transition times quicker and more efficiently.

Finishing the Luxembourg Marathon--my first marathon

Finishing the Luxembourg Marathon–my first marathon, 2007

Do you share similar thoughts and feelings towards racing?

*I admit it, I watch TRHW.

**Not too many people consider running marathons fun. Truth be told, it is fun when you finish.

***I convinced Kevin to run the marathon with me in May. This will be his first marathon. Ohh what I can convince people to do.  

Twenty Six Check Marks in Black Boxes

I’m somewhat of a geek when it comes to lists of things I need to do. Whether it be around the house, or things that must be accomplished at work. And there is no better feeling than either crossing the task off, or checking the little boxes I placed adjacent to each idem needing to be done.

Unfortunately, I do not have the computer skills to add little boxes to my list of things I would like to accomplish before I am twenty-seven nor have the ability to check them off, so, black slash marks will have to do if I, or when I finish that mini task (or goals). I started this list after by 26th birthday– taking the idea from a friend of mine, Bekka, who has her own blog and, might I add, has the most adorable daughter ever! I have a link to her blog on the right of the screen if you would like to read a fantastic blog. Then I  thought I should finish it, even though it has been a couple of months since I turned 26. So, before you, I have twenty-six items, each of which I hope to do or attempt, before I turn (gasp!) 27.

1. Finish an olympic distance duathlon

2. Finish Timberman  stupid Lyme Disease.

2. Feel comfortable in a new type of nursing job–one which I’ve never done before.

3. Apply for graduate school.

4.Try a new recipe every month. Specifically, make homemade pasta, without a pasta machine….It is possible.

6. Create more complicated cake pops and cakes** I have done some here .

7. Ride the whole of the Tour de Catskills course. Not at the same time as the riders though. If I did that, I’d be dropped like a donkey taking drugs. (I have no idea where that thought just came from). 

co. of tour de Catskills

9. Take a random, spontaneous, weekend trip with no plan or destination in mind.

10. Cycle through NY, MA, and CT then back to NY. In one day.   (It is possible)

11. Find one new book to read (non medical related)—-every month—-have any suggestions? (I borrowed this idea from Bekka.)

13.  Go camping in the Adirondacks, bringing only the bare necessities, and bikes.

14. Travel to Europe.

15.  Crochet an afghan.

16. Run another half marathon. Or 5k.

18. Go on a group road ride. I’ve gone on several mountain bike group rides; basically the same thing except the type of bike being ridden.

19. Learn medical Spanish.

20. Learn how to meditate.

21. Run before work ( tough when you are on your feet for 13 hours a day).

22. Race two NYCROSS races.

23. Hike up Mt. Washington

24. Hide the scale and only use it in Doctor’s Offices.

25. Move out on my own.

26. Complete a course in Complementary and Alternative medicine and therapies.

Races, Gardens, Farmers Markets, and Everything Inbetween

This post may be composed of a variety of different themes–that seems to happen when you do not keep up-to-date on your posts.

Triathlon training has been going well, and I’m ecstatic that I can now swim outside without a wetsuit (wetsuits are a whole post in itself).

Lovin’ life

I finished my first individual duathlon of the season (the Trooper Duathlon I did as a part of a team), and despite the fact we got there at the very last minute and I had no time to eat breakfast, I finished in a decent time. Well, I could have really pushed myself on the runs (and create a list for why I wasn’t as fast as I wanted to be). But, the course was actually much hillier than I thought–not only on the run, but the bike ride as well. I was lucky to have my #1 fan and best sports event photographer waiting and cheering me on–as well as getting sunburnt. Below are some photos from the event.

My number

My Transition area

Listening to pre-race instructions (Yes, the number is not centered)

Where swimmers swam

Making friends with others while waiting for the start

First sprint….I’m not the most photogenic athlete

Running to T1; ignore my mis-matching outfit

Bike out

Preparing to dismount

Done!

Yes, mis-matching and post race stretching….

Done, sweaty, and disturbingly off-center bib

🙂

 

As a post race celebratory treat, we walked to the Rhinebeck Farmer’s Market. It is a small market, but has great falafels, and produce from local farms in the area.

Rhinebeck’s Farmer’s Market

Fresh lavender and local apples

Falafels, all the way from New York City….Pure deliciousness

Yummy

And, just a couple days ago, a pedestrians walkway was painted in Rhinbeck town. Finally, after years of dodging cars and traffic, people can cross in safety….God willing.

People can now cross without the fear of people hitting them.

Now, to my gardening. The past heat waves and afternoons of downpour rain have really given growth to my garden. My sunflowers (with edible seeds) are almost three feet, and my sugar snap peas are growing like crazy–almost big enough to eat! The lettuce is delicious, and I can tell that the carrots and cherry tomatoes will be edible soon as well.

Peas!

Fresh greens- perfect for juices and salads!

My sun flowers before the support structure went up (right after a storm)

And with fresh ingredients, I’ve been able to keep cool by cooking up some refreshing meals, such as homemade gazpacho.

Mmmmm

There will be a post soon about my bike (oh, remember that old thing I was building?) and recent wanderings, but I leave you with a photo of K with sparks flying…for my seatpost.

Please do take caution when attempting something like this…Or atleast know what you are doing.

Du Fast, Du Furious

Du Fast Du Furious

NYTRI

I cannot believe it’s already been a year since I raced in the 8th Annual Trooper Duathlon, which you can read about here, organized by the NYS Troopers, as well as the New York Triathlon Organization, which organizes similar sprint duathlins and triathlons in the Hudson Valley. It was the same course as last year – a 2-mile sprint run, followed by a 14-mile bike ride, and then a 2-mile sprint run.

However, this race was different than last years in that I was part of a relay team. I decided to do the relay with a friend of mine, SB, who did the running, while I did the biking. We were the Valley Girls. Might I add, the t-shirts we designed received a lot of praise around the course. All of the duathlons I have competed individually in. Being a part of a team added an extra element of possible complications, esp. with the handing off of the timing chip with each transition. My race day jitters were higher than normal, since in this race, I was a member of a team, so I had to work hard to not let the Valley Girls down. I think my jitters were shared by my partner. Normally, I’d warm up and run and then have the bike ride, so my legs would be warmed up. Only doing the bike portion was a little trickier since there was a delay from when the timer started, and when you biked. I should have brought my trainer with me….And a TT bike.

Showing how to warm up

Pre-race massage is what should be required at races. Don’t worry, they know each other.

BB transitioning, biking, and finishing the race strong.

BB did an awesome job considering he was basically on his feet most of the day before with the Fats in the Cats Annual Bike Swap. I am envious at both his run time and bike time. He was only 20 sec away from placing third in his category. Next year, BB, next year.

SB doing her part for the team, also finishing strong to bring in our first place!

Steph started the sprints and finished the sprints (both two miles each) strong–leading us to first place. She was consistent with her running, and, apparently, ran a quicker pace than she normally does–managing about an 8 min/min pace!

Zooming by

I cannot really remember the bike portion of the course form last year, or how I did, but this course is basically rolling hills that lead to the bottom of Dug Hill road–a hill that can make a grown man cry. It is a hill that messes with your soul and emotions. It is 4 miles– and the last 4 miles of the bike course. It goes up and up. Then, it has small sections of “flat” which are deceiving because just around the corner you’ll have a steep incline, and other steep incline. I did have a better time than last year, yet my thighs still burned (I definitely need to work on sprinting, and climbing–long road rides are good for Timberman training, but the sprinting is good for smaller distance triathlons or duathlons).

Race in Progress

Cheering on my partner at the finish line

Valley Girls post race–still strong. Let’s do another one!

The post-race refreshments were not your average bagels and bananas. The Troopers had a full BBQ with salads and ziti. I was stoked at the chocolate milk that they had. We all stayed for the award ceremony.

Valley Girls get First place!

I don’t know why I was slouching…Taken before we had to give the plaques back, because they were the plaques for the Co-Ed Relay Team. At least we got a picture. There will need to be a celebratory dinner when our real plaques come in.

SB and BB, what a great team in real life

My best supporter and me

All in all, it was a well organized race. Thank you, NYTRI.ORG, especially the NY State Troopers and those who have been lost doing their job. Another thank you to the Ulster County Sheriff’s Department and Ulster Police for keeping the roads safe for riders along the course, and to all the EMT’s, dedicating their time incase something happened to a participant. All of your services are greatly appreciated. Thank you, again. And a special thanks to K for taking all the photos 🙂

9th Annual Trooper Duathlon
co. of NYTri.org

Something New, Something Tri-ed

I was supposed to write this post yesterday….And, really, had no excuse not to write it, since it was rainy and yucky outside all day. I know we need the rain, but after being incredibly happy with the gorgeous weather we had last week and all the rides and runs (oops okay, run) I was able to go on, having grey, gloomy, rain and wind is simply not my cup of tea. By the way, like my play on words in the title there?

Training

Yes, last week we had amazing weather. And I was able to enjoy almost all of it. I stuck to the triathlon training plan posted last week except for the speed run work out and one swim workout. I still cannot get over the fact that I simply dislike swimming. Especially in pools. Ohh lake water, when will you be warm enough so that I can swim in you and not get hypothermia? I did some more mountain bike rides thrown into the bunch as well, since I need to get somewhat better by June 10th when my first ever mountain bike race is (that has a cave….a cave…darkness…scared? Slightly). I still fall, but not as much, at least I don’t think.

Fur Ball getting her tan on

I actually found some new routes around my neck of the woods for road rides which was awesome; and found roads which should not be ridden on a road bike. **Note: if a sign says “Uneven, Unpaved Road Ahead,” they ain’t lyin’.

Catskills in the background

What I consider my artsy shot

I also learned (even though I am a nurse and know SO much better than to do this, I do) that water and gu (ewwww I hate gu) do not really help you when heat stroke strikes. Yes, I decided to get my long ride over and done with last monday–ohh, and also decided it would be a good idea to go for 60 miles instead of the 45 scheduled– on the hottest day this year. You know, at noon when it’s ninety degrees outside. STUPID STUPID. Don’t do it. Just DON’T. Despite the consequences of my ride, I did get one good picture in, which is below.

Side of a barn in the middle of fields

My IT band injury/hip/knee problem seems to be okay, and I was able to go for a run last week–it took longer than I have ever run in my life, but I had no problems afterwards. Not that you really care about that. On that note, I was recently introduced to Strava™. Have you heard of it? It’s this program that records your rides/runs/routes, kind of like a Garmin watch, but you can compare yourself to other people who have ridden/run the same route, and see who is fastest. Perfect discovery for the non-competitive over the top competitive person I can be. Usually, though, the competitiveness was just during races. But now with Strava™….

My first duathlon is this upcoming Saturday. I’m not quite sure how I’m feeling. Well, truth be told, I’m fine about the biking, just terrified of the running. I know the course–it is nice and flat–and in my old ‘hood, so we shall see how that goes, and how my hip and knee will like my sprinting (insert terrified face here).

The Saturday after (I cannot believe racing season is here already!), I’m doing the Trooper Biathlon which I did last year (if you are bored you can read about it here). It is actually a duathlon–run then bike then run). But this year, I decided to do it as a team–I will do the biking, and she will do the running. Perfect! We are actually trying to think of team names for ourselves, so if you have any ideas, feel free to give your suggestions.

Strawberry Cake Pops

Back in February it was my friend’s birthday, and I wanted to bake her a surprise birthday cake. I did most of it, but something came up and couldn’t make it. So, two months later, I decided to finally bake a cake for her. Well, cake pops to be more precise. I also made cake balls, as I soon tired of making the cake pops. I didn’t make ordinary pops either. I made strawberry cake pops. If you want to see how I make my basic cake pops, I wrote a post about it here.  I’m still new with the whole cake pop making thing, so they aren’t perfect.

Ingredients

  • Red Velvet cake with Cream Cheese frosting
  • Haribo sour straws (green colored–cut into 1/4 inch pieces)
  • Green, red, and multi-colored candy coating
  • Sprinkles
  • Sugar pearls
Flowers
First, I made the flower tops for the strawberries. To do that, I melted green candy coating in a candy piping bag until it was melted enough to use, and piped flowers onto grease proof paper. It took a couple tried before I actually got the look I was aiming for, so in the picture, that is why you might see loads of flowers. I piped the outline of the flower first, then filled it in.

Ingredients, and melted candy coating in piping bag

Once the flowers were dry, which doesn’t take long at all, I removed them from the grease proof paper and turned them onto the other side, which was completely smooth. I then piped a dot of green onto the middle of the flower and placed a sour straw and let them dry.

Before....After

I know they aren’t perfect…As I said before, it’s still a learn-as-you-go-trial-and-error baking craft
Cake Pops

I actually made the cake in advance and froze it then defrosted it, which came out fine–I’ve never frozen a cake before so was slightly concerned about that at first. Anyway, I formed the cake balls in the normal fashion, but for the strawberries, shaped them into rounded cones (thank you, Bakerella–I still strive to have my cake pops look as good as yours).

After freezing, I dipped them into the red candy coating and immediately added sugar pearls. After they dried, I added the top “flower” by adding a touch of red coloring as glue. Then, for the first time, I actually put the pops in styrofoam to dry, which is SO much easier, and sturdier, to keep them from tipping over, than an egg craton that I used in the past. Although, a flower holder (which is in the picture below) works well, too. It is important to refrigerate the pops afterwards, because of the cream cheese frosting….And, so that they do not melt.

Before entering the fridge

Since my friend likes to plant, I decided to display the cake pops in a terra-cotta planter that she could re-use later.

End result

And, to be somewhat crafty, I individually wrapped the cake balls (made out of the same Red Velvet cake) into a box. For the cake balls, right after I dipped them in coating, I sprinkled the toppings on top.

Now, I’m off to the dreaded pool to show off my lovely bruised and scratched legs, thanks to you, mountain biking.

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