On the Sidelines

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

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

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

Enter peroneal tendonitis.

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

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

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

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

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

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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 ūüôā

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 ūüôā

 

Roar

It’s been for-e-ver since I have written a race report. Scratch that, it’s been forever since I have written an actual post. Perhaps because nothing new has really happened. You know, how you get into the work-train-sleep-and repeat cycle?

Yesterday I completed my first race of 2014. My man and I decided to partake in the Ocean’s Run in Rhode Island. Truth be told, he did not actually decide to run in it….I decided for him by signing him up for the 5k he could do while I did the half marathon distance race. Similar to when I did the Lake George Half almost a year ago.

We made an over-nighter out of it, and Rhode Island has the spring feeling that New York has yet to feel. I forgot what the ground looks like without snow, and what it feels like to be able to walk outside in the sun without gloves and still have feeling in my fingers. Seriously, Mother Nature and the weather have not been pleasant to the Northeast. At. All. (Have you upstater’s heard we are supposed to get yet another “snow event”? Grrrr).

Anyway, nothing beats walking outside in 50+ degree weather when you have been subjected to sub-freezing temperatures for the past three months.

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Hellllloooo warmth!

Hellllloooo warmth!

After soaking up our fair share of Vitamin D, we hit up a local Diners, Drive-In’s and Dive’s hot spot to have the required pre-race carb loading meal. Food was up to Kevin, and, he decided that we had to try Crazy Burgers in Narragansett to have our fill of tasty burgers and fries. ¬†I must thank Guy Fieri for finding¬†Crazy Burgers¬†because it not only has great options for carnivores, it has many different options for vegans/vegetarians!

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Thumbs up for pre-race-dinner-awkard-photos

Thumbs up for pre-race-dinner-awkard-photos

Race day was upon us sooner than we would have liked (due to the time change).¬†The Ocean’s Run Half Marathon ¬†and 5k took place at Matanuck Beach. There was plenty of parking at the elementary school, and instead of taking the shuttle to the start, we used the 0.6mile walk as warm up. The temperature dropped to the mid-30’s, but I cannot complain as I’ve been running in single digit weather for who knows how long.

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I started off running at a reasonable pace, and the course held my attention for the most part as it winded its way through ocean-side neighborhoods. Similar to most of the races I do, I try to find a fellow racer who I feel I can keep up with. Although, that tactic was crushed once the person sped ahead of me. Miles went by, and for the first seven or so miles I felt pretty comfortable just running along. At around mile 8, I started to feel fatigue set in a bit. Thanfully, another female runner came up and I decided to try the tactic of running along with her for some of the race again (mostly though because she had a triathlon t-shirt on). At this point the course returned back to the start (it was an up-and-back course). I felt my pace slow down a bit and contemplated walking a bit.

Race day needs no filter

Race day needs no filter

Once I hit mile 9, Katy Perry’s “Roar” played on my Pandora station and I thought, “I got this.” (Note: I am not a huge fan of Katy Perry, but the lyrics to that song can really pump you up. Please, do not judge.)¬†

At mile 10, you know you only have a 5k left to run and you are done with the race. I know my legs were somewhat uncomfortable, but I think it was my breathing/ heartrate that caused more discomfort, atleast that of which I was aware. I looked down at my watch and noticed I was around the 1:20ish mark. My goal was to finish under 1:56. If I can run a 24 min 5k, I can finish in under 1:50, I thought.

The next mile, I felt like I was shot. I felt out of breath. One voice in my head told me I could stop to walk for a bit, and still make the 1:56 goal. Another voice said, “Screw that, you can make it in under 1:47 if you try.” (1:47 was my goal for my “A” race next month).

I tried. I ran. Once I saw the finish clock ticking 1:44:44 I sprinted. And I succeeded.

My quads and thighs burned, and my lungs felt like they were on fire. But I finished my first half marathon in under 1:45. Five minutes faster than my last half marathon in October. Seven minutes faster than the Lake George Half. And eighteen minutes faster than my first half marathon ever a couple years ago.

Five minutes may not seem like a lot of time for non-runners. But, that is a significant change. I must admit, however, the race was the most flat course I have ever run. I went into this race feeling doubtful about my abilities, as the last long training run I completed was horrible. However, I was elated after this run. It is amazing how race conditions shift your focus away from the negative feelings away from “I can’t” to “I can.”

I greeted Kevin, who, for not really ever running since he dominated his last 5k, finished in a great time.

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I’m not a fan of pre-race photos, but am a fan of post-race photos (even if it’s impossible for me to ever look good for them). That way, you can show that you actually completed what you set out to do!

A big thank you to my man for being there with me (and, lets not forget driving), Trimom for an awesome race, and, Katy Perry, for giving me my second wind ūüėČ

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She’s Baaaaack

Wow, has it been over a month since I have written a post? It is crazy how fast time goes. I feel the older I get, the faster months fly by!

November was composed of mostly working, trying to overcome colds, with some runs and rides thrown in with the mix. The bad thing about being a nurse (or, any other employee who must work on Thanksgiving for that matter) is that you miss out on family gatherings. But, let me say despite missing out on the big turkey dinner (actually I did not miss the turkey, since I don’t eat turkey), I am thankful for getting to see a sister for a couple hours, thankful for my wonderful family, Kevin, and great friends, my health, and for where I am today.

Homemade noodle soup delivered to me by a special colleague

Homemade noodle soup delivered to me by a special colleague

Cleaning your bike and derailleur every ten minutes because of mud accumulation isn't too fun...

Cleaning your bike and derailleur every ten minutes because of mud accumulation isn’t too fun…

What I'm thankful for: reminders on my way to work not to sweat the small stuff

What I’m thankful for: reminders on my way to work not to sweat the small stuff

So, what is with the title?

I was lucky enough to have two Saturdays in a row off and was able to participate in two races, and I feel I am back and better than ever.

Last weekend, I ran my first 5k in three years, the Run Santa Run:Return of the Claus 5k. Since I do not really ever run for speed, I used it as a test to see how I could do in a 5k that was not¬†at the end of a duathlon. To my surprise, I did not do too shabby. Thirteenth place out of 400+ runners, plus third female overall made for a happy end-of November. My personal photographer/ support team/ race day chauffeur, Kevin, tolerated my Christmas music in the car the hour + ride to the race to snatch a few pictures of the exciting day. Before the start of the race, there was a fitness instructor who led a “warm up.” As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that warming up before a race is actually beneficial (wait, did I just say that?!?). For running with a sinus infection,the race wasn’t that bad at all. I still enjoy longer distance races, however, as you do not have to run as fast (well, for your average runner you don’t…Just wait and I might change my mind when I decide I want to run a marathon in a certain time period).

Race day go boom

Race day go boom

Look Kevin! Aerobics at a race!!!

Kevin, do you see this?!? Aerobics at a race!!! (I’m the crazy one turning around)
Okay. Enough of organized pre-race aerobics

Okay. Enough of organized pre-race aerobics

Annnnd, we are off! If you can spot me, I'll pay you a million dollars.

Annnnd, we are off! If you can spot me, I’ll pay you a million dollars.

Today, I ran my first 5 mile race, and got to do it with friends of mine which was a true blessing. It was the MHRRC Knights of Columbus Holiday Run¬†. We did have a threat of snow last night, and I was extremely glad that it did not snow so I could partake in the race. However, even if it did snow, I would still run…I mean, if one of my patients exclaimed, ” you can still run if it snows!” then, I can technically run in the snow. It is just slushier, that’s all.

I had no idea what the course was going to be like, and it did have it’s rolling terrain that I was not expecting. I went hoping I would finish in under 40 minutes, and I managed 36:46–another PR for 5 miles. Not only that, the only female who beat me is a professional duathlete on team USA (my role model). I was pretty stoked. Lets see how my legs feel tomorrow. I was also able to witness friends run their fastest five milers, too, which was even more exciting. It is such a wonderful feeling to see others accomplish something–and to see them happy.

Jen (a mountain biker-turned fellow duathlete- turned runner) close to the finish

Jen (a mountain biker-turned duathlete- turned runner) close to the finish

My first running trophy ever

My first running trophy ever

Cycling chicks turned runners (but still spend plenty of time with their bikes!)

Cycling chicks turned runners (but still spend plenty of time with their bikes!)

In other (exciting) news, ¬†met with my coach last week and decided to face my fear of triathlons and fear of failure and sign up for another half IM distance race next spring! Is it weird that planning/ choosing races do to brings me joy and excitement? I picked a few other races to do before the Patriot Half–I plan on running the Shires of Vermont marathon again, as it was such a (shall I say fun?) lovely race….Well, it was fun when it was overwith ūüėČ My main concern regarding the Patriot Half is the swim; I went for a swim for the first time since I saw at Onteora Lake this past summer, and it was—ehh—embarrassing. (The last time I was in a pool was over a year ago!) I guess this past race season I spent more time on biking and running instead of swimming. Thankfully, I have a few months to gain back my courage with the swim portion of races.

In the non-athletic news, I’ve experimented with new cupcake recipes. Thank goodness other people like cupcakes, otherwise, I do not know what I would do with all the baked goods I bake. I was also blessed to help decorate more than one Christmas tree. (If you don’t know, I am a complete Christmas dork and love everything about the season!)

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Gingerbread latte cupcakes with lemon cream cheese buttercream and little gingerbread boys

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Mocha peppermint cupcakes with peppermint buttercream swirl

eggnog cupcakes with spiced rum buttercream...Good for warming your soul...I mean tummy

eggnog cupcakes with spiced rum buttercream…Good for warming your soul…I mean tummy

First attempt at homemade peppermint chocolate bark= a delicious success!

First attempt at homemade peppermint chocolate bark= a delicious success!

Kevin's tree--he chose for a snowflake to be the tree topper this year instead of a nutcracker.

Kevin’s tree–he chose for a snowflake to be the tree topper this year instead of a nutcracker.

My favorite snowman nurse

My favorite snowman nurse

The 2013 Geuss Christmas tree

The 2013 Geuss Christmas tree

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My 2013 Christmas tree!

I wish everyone a wonderful Holiday season!

Fall Foliage Half RR and Other Fall Ramblings

I know I said the last race I would be doing was the Adirondack Half, but, did you really believe me when I said that?

I had been scheming ways to get last Sunday off, as there was a half marathon to happen in my hometown, and I figured, there is no better location for a race than the town in which you live…And, even though the Adirondack half was my last scheduled race, there was still a part of me that wanted to do another one this fall. Thankfully I managed to get the whole weekend off, giving me the opportunity to partake in yet another half marathon in which I was unprepared for (as well as to spend time doing fall activities I’ve been wanting to do, like pumpkin picking!)

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Now that I think about it, I guess I was somewhat prepared for this one, as I ran a half marathon only a couple weeks before.

This is the second time I’ve run a race in my “hometown” (first being a 5k a couple years ago) and this half marathon had a great course, one which I’ve run a couple times before.

My only criticism of the race was packet pick-up. It was at Dutchess County Fairgrounds, and it took me walking up to four different fair entrances to get to. (There was another event happening that weekend, and no one at the entrances would let me get through to where I wanted to go…Even if packet pick up was less than 15 feet away!) Actually, my other criticism was that it was another late race start. What is wrong with having a race start early?The earlier you start, the earlier you are done. I guess others do not think the same way I do.¬†

Since I was not planning on doing the race until the day before, I did not really have a “time goal” in which to finish. Gauging from the Adirondack Half, and Lake George Half, and considering this course had some uphills, I decided to just go for anything under two hours.

Race day could not have been more perfect for a race. It was a clear, crisp, sunny, perfect autumn day. At the start of the run, I picked out another female runner who seemed to run at the same pace as I was, and decided to use her as my own (pretend) pacer. The first four miles of the race are pretty much down hill. Then the rolling hills start. It was nice knowing the course, and the “ups” and “downs” as I knew when to ease up and when to speed up.

Picture snapping mid race

Picture snapping mid race

At about mile seven, since I was still feeling okay, I decided, why not just push yourself? Other halves I’ve run to “finish” and, yes, I did push myself in those races. But, this race was in my territory. I couldn’t allow myself to run an easy race in my home town. So, I just went ahead and challenged myself. Maybe this is not a good race strategy, or maybe it is. I don’t know. I just wanted to see what I was capable of. ¬†This meant I had to find another pacer to run with.

Which I did, and I have no idea how some people, who may not look fast, end up being really fast. (In case you were wondering, I figured out the reason why they are fast: they actually train. Duhhh.) 

I will admit, I did walk up the small “hill” at the mile eleven mark (on Mill Road if you are familiar with the area). Walking up was not part of the “race strategy” I created at mile seven, but I had to.

After “mini mini¬†heart break hill on Mill” I started running again. When I looked down at my Garmin and realized I could finish in 1:50 (which would be my fastest half time yet), I decided to just go for it. Pain is only temporary, right?

Despite feeling like vomit was creeping its way up into my throat, and legs that felt like bricks, ¬†I finished with a sprint and managed 1:50 (even though Strava said I finished it in 1:49). I think when the MC said, ” Here’s a fast finisher”…and then pronounced my name correctly (which never happens!), a smile might have crept across my face.

If you look really hard, you can see me.

If you look really hard, you can see me.

Thirsty much?

Thirsty much?

However, no smiles were caught on camera. But, I was really happy inside…Trust me. 5th in my age group, in a race I wasn’t even planning to do. Goes to show if you push yourself, you can surprise yourself.

I was happy, I swear.

I was happy, I swear.

Best tasting iced coffee. Ever.

Best tasting iced coffee. Ever.

Onto Other Fall Ramblings

Later that day, Kevin (who was able to go to a Fall Foliage even of his own) was a super trooper and allowed for me to drag him pumpkin picking. Have I mentioned how amazing he is to put up with my requests to do corny things? We came home with mini pumpkins, and more apples than I knew what to do with.

I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion."-Henry D. Thoreau

I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.”-Henry D. Thoreau

We found the really big pumpkins.

We found the really big pumpkins.

Just like last year's shot.

Annual picking shot

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There always needs to be a blooper picture

There always needs to be a blooper picture

I let the tree do most of the work...

I let the tree do most of the work…

And Fall Shots

Below are some reasons why I am so grateful to live where I do. ¬†Photos taken on rides around the Hudson Valley. I’m most certainly thankful for the amazing fall weather we’ve had, and thankful to my legs for allowing me to put some major miles on my road bike these past couple months…

Somewhere in Columbia County

Somewhere in Columbia County

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Shokan (I think)

The Ashokan resevoir

The Ashokan resevoir

The Catskills

The Catskills

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Milan, NY

Milan, NY

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Our second annual Geuss Fall Foliage tour

Our second annual Geuss Fall Foliage tour

Kevin preparing for Cross

Kevin preparing for Cross

The Road Less Traveled

The Road Less Traveled

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New Paltz

New Paltz

Some climbing

Some climbing

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Woodstock, NY

Woodstock, NY

Love is when one person falls into stride with another.

It’s All Mental

My last event/race of the 2013 season was last Sunday up in Schroon Lake at the Adirondack Distance Festival. I mentioned a couple posts ago that I was thinking about running it. I figured, the 9 miles I ran at the olympic duathlon, and a recent 10k were enough training for a half marathon, right? Plus, after my obsessive race-searching, I realized this would be one of my last opportunities to participate in a race on one of my weekends off.

Schroon Lake is a little less than three hours away from R’Beck, and it was a nice overnight trip in the Adirondacks. I had never been to Schroon Lake, and must admit I do prefer it over Lake George where I spent summers growing up. It just seems more “Adirondacky”–if you get what I mean. It felt more like fall up there, too, with more copper and amber leaves speckling the mountains.

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The town itself is quite small, and seems to come alive during this Distance Festival every year. As Kevin was not going to join me, I coaxed my mother into a mother-daughter bonding race trip (in other words, she would be the official race photographer).I waited until the very last minute to find a place to stay for a night, and who would have thought that almost all accommodations in the small town were booked? Finally, I found a super B&B close to Paradox Lake (there are zillions of little lakes up in that area) whose keepers welcomed us as if we were long lost friends. I found out later she is a nurse, and we instantly found things to discuss before having to say goodnight.

There were a couple other runners staying at the B&B, and everyone gathered the next morning for breakfast. The non-runners devoured homemade pancakes, eggs, bacon…While the runners had their “pre-race” meals. Funny, how runners have their rituals when it comes to what they eat before races, huh?

My go-to pre-race breakfast. PB+ banana.

My go-to pre-race breakfast. PB+ banana, and coffee, ofcourse

Unsure of what traffic would be like, and road closures, we got into town around eight am. To keep warm, I sipped on some more coffee at a local coffee shop before taking the shuttle bus to the half marathon start in Adirondack Village. The ride definitely felt longer than 13.1 miles away.

Random runner, "Do you want your picture taken?"

Random runner, “Do you want your picture taken?”

My only gripe about this race was having to wait about an hour in Adirondack Village before the start of the race. I probably could have waiting longer in Schroon Lake Village to catch a shuttle, buuuuut I didn’t. It was chilly and windy, and there is so much standing around I could tolerate. I found solace in taking an excessive number of pictures. What would we do without iPhones?Plus, ¬†I’m used to early race starts from duathlons, and this was a late start(I consider 10am a late start), especially since my breakfast was eaten at 0700. By the time we were ready to start, I was already hungry.

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I didn’t train, but I still passed you.

Waiting at the start

Waiting at the start

Whoa colors

Whoa colors

The course was pretty flat with some rolling hills. Scenery of the lake helped pass the time. The race course went through the Word of Life Institute (I’m not sure if it is a camp, or a college), and I must admit, having all the young folks along the route cheering you on helps lift your spirits, especially when it decides to downpour and become cold quite quickly. It reminded me of running past Wellesley during the Boston Marathon, except on a much, much smaller scale.

Thankfully, the downpour was short lived and I continued trudging along.

The volunteers along the way were wonderful. Very excited for you, and encouraging–the way race volunteers should be. As with other races I compete in, I make sure to acknowledge them as I pass, smile, and even joke around. At one point, the course entered an intersection, and a group of volunteers were pointing in the direction you had to go, as well as cheering. Being the somewhat goof I am (racing makes me silly), I pointed to the opposite direction and exclaimed, ” Wait, are you sure? We don’t run that way? I want to extend the race.” And started running the opposite direction before then heading the proper way. They all found it funny. I know little things like this that I do does not help me finish the race any faster, and may even prolong my race time. But, for the few seconds I can mentally ignore the physical discomfort I am in from running 13.1 (or any other distance) miles helps give me energy to continue.

My pace was fairly consistent at around 8:30, and for most of the run, I think I felt good. My legs were a little tired as the day before the race I decided to go on a 50+ tough bike ride (not smart!). Well, I told myself I felt good. It was not until mile ten when I thought it would be fun when this was over. Later on I realized that had I been two minutes faster, I would have placed in my age group. I guess that is some fairly good motivation to actually¬†train¬†for my next half, when and wherever that might be. My time ended up being 1:52, which was a teeny tiny bit faster than the Lake George Half. As always, the best part is when you pass the finish line and can say, “I’m done!”

Finito!

Finito!

Cutest trophies ever! Maybe next years goal?!?

Cutest trophies ever! Maybe next years goal?!?

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The real reason to run races: post race food.

The real reason to run races: post race food.

So what did I learn from this race season?

I’ve learned from races, whether or not I was prepared for them or not: a large majority of racing is mental. Yes, you have to be physically prepared for what the race will demand of you. But if you are not in the right frame of mind, you have a disadvantage. Especially if it is an endurance event, when you have lots of time to think. Negative self-talk, or thinking that you cannot make it…It’s too hardI didn’t train enough…I’m not prepared…can, and will work against you. When I didn’t finish¬†the race¬†a couple years ago, I had so much self doubt and I don’t think I ever thought, “I can do this.” (There were other circumstances that lead to the DNF too, mind you). In recent races, I’ve found lifting yourself up, however that may be, whether it is kidding around with volunteers, or giving yourself mini pep-talks, gives you a renewed sense of energy to continue, and to be successful. And that success does not necessarily mean earning first place. It’s a more personal achievement.

I must admit, I am rather sad that my last semi-planned race of 2013 is over. Completing three races in the past month alone is the most races I’ve done in that time frame. A huge thank you to those who were there to keep me company, whether being official photographers, personal chauffeurs, cheerleaders, or a combination of all three (K-dawg). I know it wasn’t easy or fun all those weekends, but it was awesome having you there.

Now, what will I do from now on with my weekends off??

Thumbs up to a great season.

Thumbs up to a great season.

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 ūüėČ

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.

ūüėČ

Sometimes You Surprise Yourself…

….And realize you can accomplish something were not planning on accomplishing.

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I was debating over the weekend on whether or not to do the Mad Dash 10k race I had signed up for (a local race) this morning…Craziness at work the past two days, having “a bug,” and not having gone for a run in at least six days dissuaded me from from running it.

Waking up to a downpour, thunder, and lightning gave me a perfect excuse not to participate in the race.

After a restless sleep, and dreams which included running races, at 8:40, staring at the rain outside, I decided to just do it. It’s rare when my schedule happens to accommodate a race, and when did anyone ever die from rain? The 10k started at 9:15.

Grabbing my rain jacket and a towel, with a goodbye peck to sleeping Kevin, and after a couple gulps of coffee and water, I headed (the one point five) miles to the race start.

You would think I would be familiar with the roads around the town in which I live. And, I am familiar with them…On a bike. The terrain is different running than when you are riding.

Leaving my iPod and phone in the car (why risk your phone getting wet just to Strava your race?), I made it to town, parked, did my usual “warm up” ( consisting of a couple jumping jacks) and found the start of the 10k. Due to the recent downpour, the race start was delayed. Yay! Giving me time to do a couple air jab punches in order to warm up.

Since I was not feeling 100%, had no music (I cannot remember the last time I ran without music–excluding the run portion of duathlon races), was still somewhat tired from a crazy work weekend, had not eaten any breakfast, and still digesting my inhaled coffee, ¬†I decided this would just be a “fun run.” There was no need to set any records, nor any need to prove myself to anyone. Just use the race as something to do on my holiday off.

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Even though the start of the race was downhill, the course contained some rolling hills. At the 5k mark, I glanced down at my watch–yes, I was old school and used a simple watch to record my time–and noticed I was not doing too bad. And that is when the humidity struck. And the realization that there were rolling hills. And then trying to hum songs I knew in my head.

Without music to keep me going, I had to find things to occupy my thoughts as I ran. Shortly after the 5k mark, I noticed my shirt was inside out (I guess that is what happens when you decide last minute to run a race?). I’ll tell you, un-clasping small pins attaching your race number to your shirt, when you are drenched with sweat and running, isn’t too easy to do. But, I managed to switch the location of the bib to my shorts, and take off my shirt to turn it inside out (or is it right side in?) without running into another runner, or falling into the ditch. I am sure other runners figured I was simply nuts. ¬†Hey, whatever diverts your attention away from the fact you are running helps, right?

Once the shirt was correctly on, it was mile 5. Glancing down at my watch, I noticed the time was 40:01. At the beginning of the summer, I made it a goal to run 5 miles in under 40 minutes. As the summer progressed, I forgot about that goal, and thought it was not possible. Today, I was surprised to see that I was one second off my goal. It may be one second, but considering I did walk a bit (to pick up the pins I dropped), I’m going to say I accomplished that goal.

And despite the last mile being composed of an incline, when I saw the clock at the end of the race read under 50 minutes, I figured, just kill it. Finish the race in under 50 minutes. That I did. ¬†It may not be the fastest 10k time, but it ten minutes faster than I planned. I do not consider myself a competitive runner—all of the runs I run are done never with the intention of placing in my age group. I just always felt I was a slow runner. But placing in the top third of all runners, and receiving a first place medal for your age group, changed the way I think of myself as a runner.

I guess your personal goals are possible. Especially when you least expect them to occur.

The first time I have ever placed in a running race. First  in my age group.

The first time I have ever placed in a running race. First in my age group.

Never doubt your abilities to do something. Because if you put your mind to it, you can achieve them.

30 before 30

I just came across this list I had started earlier this year (before my birthday in May) and decided to finish the list and post it. ūüôā

Last year I thought about a list of things I would like to accomplish before my 30th birthday. I accomplished most, but many of the things I wanted to accomplish I simply forgot about :-/ As I am soon to turn 27, I decided to make another list–a more accieveable list, with more amount of time. ¬†My priorities changed when I started working at my current place of employment, and I actually started exploring different avenues of life and living.

1. Complete another marathon.  Shires of Vermont Marathon on my 27th birthday!

2. Make homemade nut butter(s).  Have made almond butter and peanut butter.

3. Make my own milk (nut, oat, or other).

4. Compete in a mountain bike race.

5. Go vegan completely for one month.

6. Try vegan baking (eeek! Baking without real butter and eggs?) Done! Vegan and non-vegans have approved.

7.Take a yoga class.

8. Read a book in one month.

9. Try a new recipe at least once a week for a year (progress can be seen at my “That Vegan Girl In Sneakers” page)

10. Go on a weekend biking trip.

11. Bike 100miles a week.¬†Done! The week of August 27th, 2013…Strava is the entity that knows I actually completed it!

12. Run 5 miles in 40 minutes or under.¬†Done! Sept 2nd 2013 during the Mad Dash 10k…Read about it here!

13. Compete in all 4 New York State Triathlon Series events.

14. Go on an overnight hiking trip.

15. Run a 50k race, or try a half ironman again.

16. Host a dinner party, shower, or other fancy event.

17. Take a cooking class.

18. Submit my writing to a publication of some sort.

19. Refresh my climbing skills and take a rock climbing clinic.

20. Go on a spontaneous adventure.  I consider our trip to Canada a pretty spontaneous adventure.

21. Crochet a blanket.

22. Have someone take my photographs, naked, and not worry about my appearance, whether I am not in shape or not.

23. Go to New York City during Christmas time.

24. Throw away my scale.

25. Go to a broadway show.

26. Get new glasses.

27. Go back to school/apply for graduate school.

28. Take a stretching class

29. Move into a house with the love of my life.

30. Start my own business (whatever that may be).

Are there things that you would like to accomplish?

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

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