Toughman Tupper Lake Race Recap

Prelude

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The 30 year olds are ready to race!

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The first of many selfies!

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

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

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Good night, Long Lake.

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

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

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

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

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Transition

I could feel my heart drop into my stomach.

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

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

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

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

Uhhh, duhh.

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

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These triathlon newbies about to DOMINATE!

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

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Staying calm before the start…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This isn’t so bad at all!

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

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

Sh*t. Something is not right. 

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

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

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

I kept pedaling.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I was going to finish.

Finally, I was able to dismount the bike.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wait– I placed in a long distance race?

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

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

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

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

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Male and female aquabike winners

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

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

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

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

=)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aquabike Training

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

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

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

Swimming

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

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

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All prepared for training!

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

Training

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

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A snapshot of last weeks training

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

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

Happy training everyone!

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

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

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

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

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?

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

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

pre-race B-fast

pre-race B-fast

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

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Mike Reilly!

Mike Reilly!

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

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

“No no, I have to do number two!”

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

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

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

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

“You will have time! Don’t stress!”

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

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

Sea of green and pink

Sea of green and pink

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Happy face!

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

…To be Continued

LP Training Realizations from Last Week

The other day I saw my name on the list of registrants for Lake Placid and it dawned on me “man, I’m really doing this.” I know, I know, I’ve been training for LP, but seeing my name on¬†the official IMLP’s website made it real. Last week was¬†somewhat exhausting, not from training, but from life. Work has been insane. I’ve realized that sixteen hour shifts followed by twelve hour shifts completely drain the life out of me and leave me physically exhausted, making training difficult. But, despite the exhaustion, I¬†was¬†able to muster up the energy to complete the workouts of my “rest week.”

A couple of realizations from last week:

1) Once upon a time I thought brick workouts were created by the devil. Truthfully, I didn’t do as many brick workouts last year in prep for the Patriot Half as I really should have (seriously, why run 9 miles after a 50 miler road ride?). Training for Lake Placid has changed my idea of training. This bricks are vital for the race. Two or three of my trainer workouts are followed by a run of somesort. My legs used to HATE running after biking. Now, they are used to it. Crazy how your ¬†body becomes accostumed to certain activities.

2) Strength training has an important role in triathlon training. I always used to think that running, swimming, and biking was enough to prepare for a triathlon. I never knew the importance, however, of adding strength training to your program. My coach has me do two core sessions (ab exercises) and one to two leg strengthening sessions. A strong core and strong legs really do assist you when you are swimming, running, and biking. In fact, just today I was able to complete a run on a hilly route that in the past I have had to stop and walk up some of the hills. Strength training has given me powerРallowing me to  me to have that little extra umph when exercising. I never thought I would actually agree with my coach when she said strength training pays out in the end.

3) Training for this race requires someone with self discipline and will power. It’s tough waking up early to get a workout in before work, especially knowing you will be on your feet for 12-16hrs with few breaks. You only hate yourself for waking up early for the first 15-20minutes. Later on in the day, you are thankful you got up to do it.

4)¬†I seem to be hungry a lot. And snack often–not sure if that is good or bad. I have gone through luna bars like they are candy (they taste like candy!) and decided to save some money and make my own protein bars. They were a hit with people I work with. And I have added to my greek yogurt addiction with discovering powdered peanut butter. Oh my goodness. YUM. I never ate greek yogurt, or any yogurt really, until I was sick in january and it was the only thing I could eat. Now,¬†if I don’t have it on a daily basis, I get moody. (Okay maybe I should cut back a little on how often I consume it…)

No, of course I do not have a problem with too much greek yogurt...

Problem? What greek yogurt problem?

5)I never thought a “Rest week” like mine last week would include a 13 miler and three brick workouts.

6)I feel the amount of training per week increasing significantly. I cannot imagine putting all this effort into training for something you really don’t want to do. Some people have equated training for an ironman as a part time job. Looking at this weeks workouts, I now know why they would say such a thing. Workouts are no joke, and I cannot remember, or don’t think I have ever, trained 10-11 hrs in a week. Thank goodness I enjoy it.

What are some things you have realized when training for a long distance race?

A sneak peak at this week’s plan (will probably change around a little):

Monday:60min spin pre-work

Tuesday: speed work (run)/core strength + 3500 yd swim

Wed: Long trainer/t-5mile run

Thursday: 60min spin+ leg strength/core pre-work 

Friday: 9 miler +2800 yrd swim

Sat:Trainer/t-4mile run

Sun: rest (or 10 mile road race instead of fridays long run)

Patriot Half IM Race Report: The Swim

Yes, I am aware I have been slacking on this whole blogging thing; such is life. But, I figured I should post something about my recent triathlon–one which I actually FINISHED (insert a million smiley faces), not only that, but finished faster than I expected. Since there is so much to share regarding this race, and the fact it is almost dinner time and I need to work the next couple of days, I decided to separate the post into a couple different installments.¬†Yes, the post about Mooseman was gut wrenching to write.¬†But this post may just be the polar opposite ūüôā

Before the Race

The days leading up to the race were raining and yucky–perfect for stopping any motivation I may have had to sneak in an extra ride or run. Truth be told, my conception of “tapering” meant “do as little training as possible.” I did follow my training plan for the most part. And, I even swam in my wetsuit twice (I’ve mentioned how I despise swimming in one). With all the hills around us, I just couldn’t be motivated to do longer than 50-55miles on any long ride, especially knowing I would be jogging after. Sure, back in the autumn I went on multiple 50+ mile rides a week, but those rides never proceeded runs. Or attempts to run. My thought process was, “hey, I’ve run numerous half marathons this year. I’ll be find running on race day.” My mindset preparing for this race was completely different than the last time I trained for a triathlon. Nutrition? Unlike the last race when I thought you would be able to complete a full half IM eating perhaps one power bar and drinking gatorade, this time around I started my nutrition plan when I began my long rides. In the end, I think it helped. Finishing a couple long bricks made me hopeful that I would finish this race.¬†I was filled with postitive excitement for the race.

And then I had a seizure. One week before race day.

Yes, I’ve had them before; I was diagnosed with Epilepsy when I was 16.¬†But I’ve¬†gone for a couple years being seizure free. This one, however,came out of the blue. I kept thinking, “I didn’t even do a long hard brick work out today….I fueled well…I think I hydrated myself enough…”¬†It has been years since I have had two seizures within six months of each other. If you¬†have epilepsy, you know the feelings associated with having a seizure. Thankfully for me, I know when I’m going to have one. But despite the fact that I know I will “survive” a seizure, the post-ictal phase (or when you are “coming to” from having one) freaks the living day light out of me. It is a weird out of body experience, and there is always a small part of me that is terrified that I will have a seizure that will be prolonged requiring medical intervention.

By chance I had a doctors appointment a day after I had a seizure and I was trying to think of things which might have provoked it. It couldn’t have been physical exhaustion; I had completed far tougher brick workouts in the weeks prior, and the day before the seizure I only did a small easy brick–one I’ve done time and time again- which never caused me to have one. Even thinking back to when I worked night shifts with sleep deprivation and lack of nutrition, I never had one. My doc, on the other hand, thought differently. In fact, he advised me against doing the race.¬†He told me I was at a higher risk for having a seizure when my electrolytes were out of balance and probably had one as a result of not a single work out, but an accumulation of stress on my body. “It is your body, but just keep in mind what can happen when you push yourself to the limits.”

Not exactly what you want to hear the week before a race which you have been training months for, huh?

Having this seizure changed my feelings towards the race. It especially changed the feelings I had towards swimming. Before, I had no problems swimming by myself. Heck, it was something I loved to do–being the sole person swimming at dawn at Onteora (or Stissing) while the water is still¬†with a mirrored reflection of the trees, and the songs of birds brought on a sense of serenity and peace that biking and running never really brought. It was a sense of calm. Over night, my feelings about swimming changed drastically. For the first time, I was afraid to swim by myself. I remember a couple days after having the episode, going to Stissing and looking out thinking, “there is no one here. What if I have an aura…What if I have a seizure and no one sees me and I drown?What if I get to the beach, but can’t swim back to the car? What if I have a seizure during the race?” These feelings of anxiety were different than those I felt having to swim in a wetsuit. I actually feared for my life. (Sounds crazy, I know).

Somehow, I managed to just face this forgotten fear of the water and just swim. Race day was soon approaching, and the thoughts of Mooseman were still fresh in my mind. I couldn’t just give up on all these months of training because of what happened. I’ve never let my epilepsy stop me from doing what I wanted to do in the past, so why let it govern my life now?

The Race

The Patriot Half IM takes place in East Freetown, MA, a little less than three-and-a-half hours away from me. My chief cheerleader and chauffeur took Friday off and we drove down, and, like we have the tendency to do on races that take place out of town, made a mini-trip out of it. (By “trip” I mean stay in a hotel and eat dinners out. Yes, very exciting I know. But when you have not had a weekend off from work in over a month, an over-nighter trip in a hotel in a different state is freaking amazing.) The race itself is small–limited to 1000 participants and that includes the aquabike portion (please don’t ask me what aquabike means. I assume you swim then bike then swim, but really have no idea.) The whole vibe from the event differed tremendously from Mooseman three years ago. For one, it was raining and dreary. For another, there weren’t a zillion vendors offering free samples (I admit it, I love those free samples from race expos!). Long pond, where the swim would take place, is the largest body of fresh water in Massachusetts. Kevin willingly stayed while we listened to pre-race tips and then we headed out to dinner for the big pre-race dinner. As we departed and learning what I should do for my transition, Kevin stated the only transition he would be doing is from his bike to the couch with a beer ūüôā Ohh my love.

I think I have everything I need

I think I have everything I need

It is my tradition to have a veggie burger with french fries the night before any race (I’m not a pasta kind of girl) but the restaurant we went to didn’t have any veggie burgers. So, I decided on a sandwich with french fries. I don’t think I have ever, in my life, said, “I think I will eat this because it has more carbs.” I may never say that again, either.

I’ve read that it is typical before long-distances races for participants to have trouble sleeping; I was no exception to this. I kept thinking of the place I was in three years ago before I attempted my first half IM and triathlon. Man,¬†I’ve grown so much since then, not only as an athlete but as a person as well.¬†So much can change in three years.

My ¬†0430 alarm went off sooner than I would have liked. I’m not sure if I know of any non-athletes (or athletes) who enjoy waking up at that time on their weekend days off. But my man was a trooper and we were able to grab some grub before I did some last-minute foam rolling and were out the door headed to the race course. (Our hotel provided early breakfast for those participating in the Patriot Half.)

I got my body marked with my number 700 and set up my transition area.

I've never had a specific spot in transition before.

I’ve never had a specific spot in transition before.

Triathlons include way more accessories than duathlons and the transition area seemed so much more cluttered than my usual transition areas at races. Mind you, this race was three times longer than my normal duathlon race so, I guess there would be more “things.” I got zipped up in my wetsuit and kept thinking calming thoughts. Instead of fearing the suit and thinking it was constricting my airway and choking me, I decided to think of it more as a flotation device to help me in the swim. Mind control :-p

Pre-swim warm up...I'm the one in the wet suit

Pre-swim warm up

There were people getting into the water to warm up a bit and after I had a gel, decided to do that in order to acclimate to the temperature of the water. I swam for a couple strokes to warm up and the fear, tension, and anxiety I felt was nowhere to be found.

See me? I'm the one in the wet suit and pink cap haha

See me? I’m the one in the wet suit and pink cap haha

 

No panic attack means thumbs up!

No panic attack means thumbs up!

It just so happens a fellow Hudson Valley-ite/mountain biker/triathlete/duathlete who has been in a number of local races I have done in the past was at this triathlon too. It was great having her there, to get triathlon/swimming tips from someone who has done triathlons and group swims in the past. She also brought it to my attention that my number, 700, could be read as “007.” Little did she know that would have a big effect on me during the run portion of the race.

Bev--an amazing athlete :-)

Bev–an amazing person¬†ūüôā and fellow Hudson Valley athlete

The 1.2mile Swim

Unlike Mooseman, Patriot’s swim start was a “time trial” start. Instead of having a mass exodus of swimmers (which is what I remembered), three swimmers ran into the water to start the swim every ten seconds. Swim waves were categorized by age group. A pro to this style of swim start (not that I can really speak of triathlons, since I haven’t really ever completed a full one before) is that you are not surrounded by thousands of swimmers splashing at you and trying to drown you. A con is that you are unable to acclimate to the water. (¬†That mini-swim I decided to do ended up being a good idea as I knew what the water temperature would be likes). Before I knew it, it was my turn to start the swim. If I was able to finish the swim portion of Mooseman in frigid water, I could do this. And sure enough, I did. From the start I was able to get into my normal rhythm of breathing. As I swam I thought, “Just keep swimming.”

And, we're off

And, we’re off

Just keep swimming...

Just keep swimming…

 

…To be Continued…

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

 

IMG_4897

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

 

Looking Back on a Year of Tri Training

The other day, well actually yesterday to be more precise, I was lamenting the fact that I wanted to write a post but felt incredibly unmotivated to do so, even though I have quite a bit I would like to share with the world. My friends response, “You could just start writing it and not publish it yet, right?”

I did take his advice to heart, and decided to start writing…Twenty four hours later. And, in order for me to sit down and watch a football game (I cannot ignore the fact that Boston College is playing Notre Dame…Even if the TV is on mute because I cannot really stand the commentators–is it obvious I’m not a huge American Football fan?), I needed to do something. Hence why I’m writing now. (FYI, Boston College is not doing so well. And I don’t like the change in their uniforms since I last watched them play, which was over a year ago…I know, I’m a bad alumnus. Honestly, their football went downhill after Doug Flutey).

So, it’s been almost a year since I started training for my first “big triathlon”–or really, just a triathlon. And after recent runs/rides/swims, I cannot tell you the difference I feel from when I started. I’m not saying I was in bad shape before starting my training–I had just never followed a formal training plan, nor had a coach before guiding what I should be doing, and when I should be doing it. And to those of you who are just starting out training for something–whether it be a running race or biking race or triathlon or duathlon–when you first start out, how you feel you are doing may be discouraging because you can’t really see the progress you are making in the midst of training. But after you finish that race, or in my case, attempt to finish, and look back, your strength and growth as an athlete increases tremendously.

My favorite place to swim at dawn

Last October was the first time I had entered a pool in years. Swimming 100 yards felt like infinity. I choked on water, swam into the swimmer next to me. My form was horrible–I didn’t kick, my body sank as I swam, my arms crossed below my body with each stroke…I could go on and on about what I was doing wrong. Oh! And, I didn’t put my head under the water (which you need to do when swimming, just FYI if you don’t swim). When it was time to swim in a lake with fish–might I add, a cold lake–in a wetsuit–I was terrified. I won’t be redundant because I’ve written posts about my first experiences with OWS.

When I went to the pool last week, I felt like a completely different swimmer, and, truth be told, I am. Strokes come with ease–all of the “high elbow/head under water/kicking….” etc my coach told me–is there when I swim. 100 yards now is nothing, especially after spending the summer swimming in a lake , which as you know, I enjoy better than swimming in a pool. I no longer swim into other people, or swim into the wall, or feel like I’m drowning. Crazy! Although, I cannot say how I feel in a wetsuit, since the last time I was in one was Mooseman–which, I will dominate next year. Just you wait. I don’t give up that easily.

Off of Turkey Hill Road

As for biking, I cannot begin to tell you the change I’ve seen in my stamina and strength on a bike (road bike that is). And it’s an awesome feeling when you can see how much you have improved. The “time trial” I had before I started my training program last year I can do in half the amount of time ¬†as it took me last year, if not more. And, it seems like nothing. All the dreaded hill work and hill repeats my coach had me do made a huge difference. I remember when I first rode up my “hilly route,” ¬†I thought I was going to have a heart attack and die, or that my legs were going to turn into mush. Since then, those “hilly” routes have become standard rides ¬†(i.e. all the “Hills” in my area, including Turkey Hill, Millan Hill, Academy Hill…My question of why there are so many hills in this area will be saved for another post), and yes, I can feel the burn, but they are no longer dreaded challenges that make my heart rate increase to above 200. Okay, my HR never went that high, but I felt like it did at the time. And, I’ve come to realize that slimming down/eating healthier does make a difference in your performance. But to feel the progress that has occurred in a year rocks (woohoo! Riding in 11 degree weather dressed like a crazy person last winter paid off!) Furthermore, after spending so much time on a bike, it’s funny when you actually drive past roads you’ve ridden on and think, “Dude, that’s the road I ride on!” Okay, so my navigational skills have not really improved over the past year and I still get lost easily, but I do know my way around country routes in Dutchess/ Columbia/ and Ulster Counties better than I would ever know if only driving. And, even though I always somewhat knew this, I’ve realized I love biking (I know, I know, you already know this after the number of bicycles I’ve purchased in the past year). Not only this, but I want to pursue bike racing come spring. Don’t worry though, I won’t be one of those anal, mean road racers. Maybe.

Along with the positive aspects of my training also comes many things I learnt–and continue to learn. I would not neccesarily call them mistakes, but rather things I did/did not do which definitely affected race performance–most of which I’ve addressed in prior posts. No one (person or athelete) is perfect. Some might think of that as a blessing, some might think of it as a flaw. I’ve chosen to think of it as a positive–and this not only applies to training but about life in general. Everyone can improve upon something; they can learn, and grow from experiences. How boring would life be if you knew everything, if you were perfect at every single thing you did? Yes, maybe life would be easier. But the growth you have throughout life is what makes it exciting. And, you never know what will happen tomorrow, which is one thing my job has taught me–never take anything for granted. Because it could be gone in an instant.

Well, Boston College still isn’t doing very well, which I blame on their uniforms. How can you beat a team like Notre Dame which has awesome gold-colored helmets? And, I’ll end this post by telling you that if you dedicate time, and work hard, and continue to train towards something even if you feel you aren’t progressing, as I mentioned above, in the end, you’ll succeed.

OH and, if you are in the Hudson Valley and need baked goods for a special occasion, contact Thea at Thea Sphere Sweets— not only is she amazingly sweet, but will bake custom cakes, cookies, cupcakes…You name it. To say her baking is simply food is an understatement. Her baking is an art.

One Year and 112 Posts Later….

My original plan was to write on the same exact day when I had started this blog in the first place, but life and work got into the way (like always) and tonight i decided to sit down and reflect on the “blogging” world, since I’ve had mine for over a year now. Insane how fast time goes by!

I started this blog originally about my biking, running, and nursing. Over time, I started writing on different topics- most related to those three topics, and then some random topics about nursing, relationships, food and little insignificant things that popped into my head which I felt a need to relay to other people. On that note, I just made the most amazing Vegan Banana Bread with Carob powder swirled through, and carob nibs throughout the bread. Mmm. No, I’m no longer vegan, but when you run out of eggs and milk, and have vegan margarine and soymilk in your refrigerator, then you can create any type of vegan baked goods possible. And, they are actually pretty healthy for you! Thank you, Post Punk Kitchen (great website for vegan baking, FYI).

Vegan Banana Bread with Carob chips

A lot has happened within my year of blogging–it’s interesting to start a blog, and even more interesting when some people subscribe to it, which, no doubt about it, makes you feel good about yourself because they obviously think your blog is awesome. One of my first blogs was about my new Scott road bike (ahh, I love that bike) which is still one of the main focuses of my life. Last August, it had been years since I had entered a pool.A year later, I have no problem swimming in open water. Infact, this morning, there was no better place to be than Lake Onteora while it was raining, and have the whole lake to yourself. Just the pitter-patter of the raindrops on the lakes top ¬†while you swam in complete silence. A year ago that thought would have freakend me out. Heck, in May swimming in open water freaked me out. Now, it’s incredibly scenerene and peaceful. Just you, the drops of rain, and the water. No better feeling. (Okay, well, maybe there is a better feeling).

Favorite time to swim at Lake Onteora: daybreak, and when it is raining

I don’t want to write the same things as I wrote in my Reflections of Two Years¬†¬†post. But, even more has happened since I wrote that post. I managed to survive two of the worst storms New York has seen in years (the one in January when I had a little accident shoveling) and then this past tropical storm which lead to the destruction and devistation of communities I’ve come to know quite a bit within the past few months, esp, in the catskills. Unless you live in the area, or know the area, you would never know how much damage was done by Irene. Not only down south, but ¬†all the way up through Vermont. If you feel the desire to help those communities out, including Windham mountain, you can check out a website¬†http://www.catskillmtn.org/initiatives/windham-chapter/donate.html¬†to help them repair and rebuild the area.

Flooding in driveway after Irene

Within this year of posting, I had started working night shifts at the Kingston City Hospital. I love my coworkers to death ( if this is redundant from prior posts, I apologize). I was able to absorb an enormous amout of knowledge working there, especially working night shifts. ¬†I must admit at this time, I might be going through a quarter year crises as in what I want to do with my life. Do I stay in the area, or relocate somewhere different. It would be the perfect time to go someplace different, or make a change in my ¬†career ( no offense to Kingston City Hospital, but I don’t think I’ll be abe to work there forever). ¬†Working in an intensive care unit has it’s stresses (major stresses), but after being there ¬†a year an a half, I’m thinking there might be something else out there for me to do. I’m not sure what, or where whatever it is I want to do may be, but I’m looking. I used to hate change. But now I’m ready for it.

I developped a stronger bond with any Scott Bikes. I have two– the scott contessa spark (so pretty!) and my CR1 Team. Although, I think i might need to branch out to other brands of bicycles (gasp!) when it comes to my cyclocross bike, which I plan on purchasing at some point, and a TT bike, since, there are other brands out there with pretty decent products for those people like me who may have a (small, but healthy) addiction to anything bicycle related. Within this year of blogging, I developped a love for mountain biking with my mountain biking baby (contessa spark) whichI had always wanted to do in the back of my mind, but never really did it until April of this year. It is completely different than road biking, and actually helps training/cross training for triathlons. And ofcourse, I have already written about that subject.

I love my Scotts!!!

I must admit, with work being insane, and working night shifts, and the crazy rain we have had as of late, I have not been able to be out training as much as I would have liked. But, the Vassar brothers du/tri is next week (which, I am not at all prepared for but, whatever)¬†and I need to get back into the biking-running-swimming mode . ¬†Deep down inside I still want to compete a full ironman race. And, for a while, I thought I had to do everything right now. I had to complete a HIM, I had to do this and I had to do that. But, I have my whole life ahead of me to do things– I am only 25. One day it will happen. One day. I’m not that easy of a person to give up on something I’ve wanted to do for years. And if it doesn’t happen, well, no big deal. There are bigger, more important issues in life I’ve needed to deal with, and am sure, will come my way.

Within this year of blogging, I’ve been blessed to meet amazing friends, some who are incredbily patient with my poor mountain biking skills, others who are incredibly patient and I never leave their company without knowing more about the hunting world. I’ve had friends come and help ¬†fix the flooding in my garage…Tell me how to start the John Deere lawn mower when I was pretty sure I had broke it (oops). And then come and kill spiders for me (I can deal with snakes in my house, but have an incredible fear of spiders.) And I can’t forget about some others who would never tell me to shut up and give great advice on relationships, and life (who is a fabulous baker and if you need someone to bake you a fantabulous, delicious cake, let me know, cause I can hook you up with this incredible woman), when I’d go to them in tears not knowing what to do. Or spend their two personal days driving up to New Hampshire with me to cheer me on for my first attempt at a triathlon. Everyone knows who they are. Thank you. Each one of you has a very special place in my heart.I know, I know, I’m corny.

I’ve learned how to use a bow and arrow, and, might I add, am quite good at it.

First attempt at archery

I went on my first ever road trip/vacation by myself in the United States, and being lost outside of Albany during rush hour was more stressful than getting lost in Slovakia on their public transportation system, where I could not communicate with anyone or read their written language since their alphabet is so different than ours.

But, anyway, we shall see. I tend to take one day at a time and ¬†blog when I feel like it (yes, I know, it’s been awhile since I have blogged) to share useless information that is on my mind…And do want to take advantage of every possible opportunity that comes my way.

I cannot believe it is a year since I started this.

And, to finish this, I leave some songs for you.

Thank you S.F. for putting the above song in my head

And one that played on my Pandora station which I hadn’t heard in awhile.

And, some White Stripes, because I just learnt to play it on my guitar.

And lastly, yes I have a very ecclectic sense of music, just….because.

I hope this post finds you safe, happy, and after reading any of my posts in the past, might have sparked some inspiration for you to try new things which you never thought you’d do. This past year I realized nothing is impossible. It may be strange, and difficult at first, but if you try, and continue to work hard, the task you have at hand is possible.

Laugh at yourself, but don’t ever aim your doubt at yourself. Be bold. When you embark for strange places, don’t leave any of yourself safely on shore. Have the nerve to go into unexplored territory….You have to leave your city of comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself. – Alan Alda

This is Just Plain Nasty

Upon finishing my delicious dinner of Peanut Butter Clif Bars and settling down for the first time today (yes–I was up all day, during day light hours! Unimaginable! And, yes, the Clif bars were tasty, but I’m really craving a large portion of Pomme Frites covered in salt and a beer at the moment), I realized it has been quite a while since I’ve written a post. And after running (not literally–it was more like stumbling) into a friend of mine who exclaimed, “I think the last time I saw you was in early March,” (my response, “Really? Dude, that’s a long time.”) I thought it is about time to resurface from my semi-hermit-nocturnal lifestyle and attempt to do things during daylight hours like the majority of the rest of the world.

So, what do I write about? Thank goodness the heat wave seems to have left the area, and I thought about writing a post on sports nutrition, but then decided I’m probably not the best to give advice on nutrition if I just ate Clifbars for dinner, and the fact my stomach for some odd reason cannot tolerate gels or energy things during races or training (as I found out the hard way yesterday when I scarfed down a package of Gu-bloks right before riding up Platte Clove Road. Less than ten minutes up the hill, I felt the gelliness (is that a word?) creep into my throat and had to stop to puke). However, my knowledge of nutrition is quite extensive due to a career in nursing and juggling an athletic/vegan-vegetarian lifestyle…My enthusiasm towards creating and cooking new dishes has actually increased recently–only a hand full of people who have eaten the food (and survived) would believe that since the juices and beverages are basically the only habitants of my refrigerator, except for the lone jar of pickles. A favorite website of mine is Fat Free Vegan Kitchen¬†which has amazing dishes.

In my defense, I prefer to go food shopping on days I cook and only have enough for me or whomever is joining me to eat so that the chances of anything going rotten is slim. On that note, I also prefer to shop locally instead of large chain stores. Yes, the food might be a bit more expensive when not bought locally (there are farmer’s Markets in most towns where you can get local fruits and veggies as well as local butchers) but you are helping the local economy stay afloat. And, honestly, after my last trip to Wal-Mart I was not only terrified by the condition of the people shopping there, but I just felt gross leaving. In no way am I suggesting people who do shop at Wal-Mart are unconscious¬†of their health. And, Wal-Mart does have some good prices for certain items….But if I can buy locally, I’ll do so. Below is a site that lists of farmers markets in the Dutchess¬†and Ulster counties. I know I’ve spoken about CSAs before–and those are fantastic during the summer months…Although the summer is quickly passing and fruits will be off the vines soon, but it will be apple picking time in no time! Mmmm, I love baking Apple pie. Adams seems to have amazing food, and if you eat fish, it seems to be the best fish I’ve found in the area– so fresh, and you can find fish that were wild caught, not farm raised.

Back to the post about Cycling. I have a couple of friends who will be participating in the Tour of the Catskills this weekend, which is a three stage road race up through the Catskills. It is mountainous with sharp ascents and long descents, winding roads, and on a beautiful day, the views on parts of the ride are breathtaking. It’s intense. Lots of thigh burning.I decided to do one of the stages yesterday because I needed to get my long ride in, and was bored with¬†Dutchess County and thought, “Hey, I’ll do the stage 2 course!” I got lost so my ride wasn’t exactly the same, and my written instructions of where to go were useless when I ran into rain going from Windham to Durham.

I’ve ridden over in Ulster/Greene county before, and the one time I’ve ridden up Platte Clove was at the beginning of my ride. In the tour, the ride up Platte Clove, or “the Devils Kitchen” is after riders have been riding for over 50 miles–and¬†thats¬†the higher category cyclists. The pro’s and cat 1/2 do a longer loop, but still end up going up Platte Clove Road.

I give the people racing this weekend an incredible amount of credit for what they are about to do. The kicker of the race is Platte Clove road, a road only open seasonally (according to the Daily Freeman last week, a hiker fell somehow off the road and was seriously injured) and this road is over 3 miles long with a 7% grade incline. And after riding over 50 miles, having to ride up it is a b*tch. As I was riding along route 32 from Durham towards Mountain Road, I looked over at the Catskills and a horrible thought came over me: I need to get back up there to get to my car…. and it’s up there.

I’m not a fan of hills, or mountains I should say, when biking, especially after riding for over 50 miles (I know, hardcore road cyclists think that is nothing). I’ve only done Platte Clove once, and it is like the hill from hell– it’s just plain nasty. It is never-ending. Once you think you are at the top, you still have a couple of miles of rolling hills to get to Tannersville, or Haines Falls where I parked. If you were to pass me, you’d hear my “ughs” and the swearing started once mosquitos decided to have a feast on my arms. However, I did stop along Platte Clove and wrote in large letters a couple of names of people I know who will be riding up this devilish hill this weekend. However, by that time, most of it will be just one large smear of orange from the cars and if it rains. (Crayolla Sidewalk Chalk is amazing–there is even glow in the dark chalk! But, its washable– who makes washable sidewalk paint?).

HF‚ÜíDurham‚ÜíRound TOP‚ÜíSaugerties‚ÜíPlatte Clove

Once I made it to the top after having a break to speak with someone who was walking their dog (I might be semi-quiet in general, but seem to be able to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger over useless, random topics of conversation.)

Training wise, I went to the lake to swim today ¬†which was wonderful, and actually found a rope swing which I just could not swim past and no try it. It was fun; I haven’t been on a rope swing in years.

Onteora Lake-- complete peace

My next race is the Timberman; I decided to sign up for the sprint, since it is in the middle of my ten day vacation (woohoo!) and I plan on doing lots of mountain bike rides and road rides up in Vermont and New Hampshire so I would prefer if I was able to walk and do activities after the race. However, after my ride yesterday and my swim today, I think I could technically do the full half IM, but since it’s my vacation, I want to be able to do more hiking/road and mountain biking with by babies. My long run is tonight, so depending how that goes, I’ll decide what I’ll do. Then, I should really start planning my trip (insert extremely happy face). I really would love to do the half IM, but am not sure it’s possible now, especially with my insane, nasty night-shift work schedule which make it hard to train because you are so physically exhausted. Ohh the day when I can work during normal hours… Imagine how much easier it would be to train!

Before I end his post, I am going to share some useful info for you regarding cycling, and doing anything outside in the Catskills, even if it is only 0700.

1) Bring sun glasses, or those clear cycling glasses you can wear. They not only help on a bright day, but also keeps rain from pelting your eyes so you can see during sudden rainfall (however, there is nothing like riding in the rain).

2) Reflective cycling jackets are a smart idea to wear when you are riding right when the sun comes out and when you are cycling in fog. It helps drivers know you are there.

3) Not all reflective jackets are waterproof, as evidenced by my drenched, wadded up pathetic paper directions of my route (perhaps the reason I didn’t know where I was a couple of times… thank goodness I kind of had an idea of where I was going).

4)Even when it is overcast, you can still get burnt. I think I have three different shade of color on my upper arm from wearing different sleeve-length jerseys.

5) If you carry a cell phone, put it in a plastic bag so incase you do run into rain, it does not destroy the phone. This I learned the hard way after a mountain bike ride when my phone, along with my whole body and bike, fell into a stream.

Farmers Markets in the Hudson Valley

To end this post (my apologies if it is all over the place), I leave you with a small teaser from a documentary which is coming out on the Catskills.

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