It’s Getting Hot Out There

How I feel exercising in heat

Today is supposed to be the hottest days thus far this year– temperatures reaching nearly 100 degrees fahrenheit, and feeling it too. On my bike ride this morning, the Red Hook bank’s big sign indicated at 0630, it was already 78 degrees. Yuck.

I’m not a heat-loving person. I prefer cooler (not frigid though) temperatures. Everywhere you go- even walking out to my car, I start to sweat. Thank the wonderful person who invented air conditioning, even though I prefer not to use the AC because it consumes crazy amounts of energy. But, when times get desperate, and when I need to sleep during the day, which is when the temperatures peak, I lose self control and turn on the AC (which is actually off right now, because a fuse blew).

Nothing is fun in 99 degree heat, with 100% humidity. Nothing. Well, except for swimming outside. That allows for some relief from the heat. And I don’t mean outdoor pools either. Lakes. Large bodies of water. Thank goodness I got over that fear of open water swimming!

And, in this heat, heat stroke and dehydration come into play, especially athletes. I realized I can no longer do things before work because it is too hot, so from now on, will need to do my runs/swims/bike rides right after I come home from work in the mornings while it is slightly still cool (not sure how my feet will like that after being on them for 12 hrs). It is possible to ride/run in this heat, but dehydration is a serious issue and can lead you into a coma and even death.

Basically, dehydration is when your body does not have the amount of fluids that it should–the body is depleted of fluids. This can be from sweating, not consuming enough water, medical conditions where there is excessive urination (like uncontrolled diabetes and diuretic use), also through vomiting and diarhhea. Luckily for adults, it’s harder for us to become dehydrated than children, because they have smaller body weights.

From a medical perspective (yes, I am bringing my nursing into this, sorry), there are three stages of dehydration (taken from ENA’S 6th Edition of Emergency Nursing, 2007), but I will just go through the basics with you with. When you are dehydrated, you can feel some of the below effects.

  • heart rate increases,
  • you can feel dizzy
  • you have low blood pressure,
  • unusual salt cravings
  • dry mucous membranes
  • concentrated urine
  • you can feel confused, light-headed, tired, weak
  • you have delayed cap refill, poor skin turgor, and shock (in the hospital, you can go into hypovolemic shock, which requires fluid boluses after boluses in order to regain the fluid/ electrolyte balance.)
As an athlete, if you are exercising during times when it is hot, it is vital to replenish both fluids and electrolytes that you lost through sweat.Sports drinks, or electrolyte replacements can be used, as well as drinking water. Nuun Hydration tablets can be used to replace the electrolytes lost through sweat.
The below video, taken from The Fruitarian , has some some very good insight into hyponatremia, which can occur with dehydration– he speaks about ultra marathons, but it is good for any athlete who is exercising for longer periods of time.
Fifteen minutes before you plan on exercising, you should drink 30-20 oz water
During exercise, you should drink 4-8oz of water every 15-20 minutes, or more, if the weather is extremely hot. After exercise, you should drink 16-24oz per pound lost–this is if you weigh yourself before you exercise. The loss of sweat through perspiration and the normal functioning of body systems can lead to serious issues!
Drink up!

Drink Up! Your body will thank you.

There are many different hydration packs on the market geared for running, biking, hiking, etc. Runner’s World has a review of hydration packs which can be found here. I use a small camelbak when I run, or an Amphipod “Full Tilt” waist pack, as I do not like to run with something in my hand. When I bike, I need more water, and the small Camelbak I was using which holds about 500cc of water was just too little. So I ordered a pack which has a larger water resevoir.
While I am on the topic of heat, it’s strongly advisable, if you can, to exercise early in the morning to avoid the heat, or, at night (like me), when the temperatures are cooler.
How do you hydrate during long rides/long runs/long periods of exercise?

All About Attitude

We’re approaching July 2011. Can you believe it? Can you remember what you were doing, or where you were a year ago? Take a minute and think….And then take a minute to breathe. Deep inhale in…and out. I have a feeling most people, myself including, forget to take that time out to stop doing, doing, doing, and just be. Now if you’re at your kitchen table, desk, sitting on the couch, or wherever you might be reading this, how does it feel to just be?

View of the Catskills from Snyderville

At first when I did that, I was sitting outside on the deck, drenched with sweat after my 37mile bike ride ( Milan Hill-> Snyderville->Elizaville->Red Hook route) . Having swam earlier in the afternoon, the bike ride zapped me of the remaining energy I had, but it did not matter. Evening was turning into the night. Fireflies were out. I just sat, and was. I did not think about how crazy my next couple of weeks at work are going to be, nor lament the fact I do not have a normal job thus making tri training more difficult. I didn’t think about recent events, or future events. I simply closed my eyes and listened to the breeze and frogs and nocturnal bugs.

You should do that. It takes two minutes. And it feels fantastic to for those few moments not to be worrying about jobs, families, races, relationships, training…Etc.

I’m looking at life differently now, perhaps it was an eppiphany I had. Who knows. But I realized (again), how you live your life, and the value you bestow upon it, are all about your attitude and perspective on it.

My first attempt at Mooseman was a disaster. Yes, I got 2/3 of it done. But mentally I went into it fearing I would be unable to complete it (and, yes, there was that fear of my first open water swim in a competition setting). I learned a lot from that race–and now I know more and how better to train for my next one.

Yes, my job isn’t ideal for training for these types of events, especially when working overtime or picking up extra shifts in the week. And, i’m jealous of those who have normal 9-5 jobs and weekends off, which can make training easier. By no means am I saying those types of jobs don’t have their stress! My job itself can leave me physically and sometimes emotionally drained. And mustering up energy to go for training rides/runs is difficult. But, it’s possible, as seen by yours truly.

But I’m looking at the next race, Timberman, with a different light. I’m actually looking at life with a different perspective. I’ve come a far way from my fear of swimming in open water (now, open water in large lakes is another thing, and swimming with lots of other people, is also different). As in my last post, yy time in the lake is time for me. Where I don’t need to think about everything else that is going on in my life. I can just concentrate on swimming.

Sun setting behind the Catskills, taken somewhere along route 19

For Mooseman, I did a couple brick workouts, but not alot. Now, I’ll do them more. On my long rides and runs, I never thought to bring fuel with me, or adequately nourish my body with the important nutrients needed for both significant training, and for work. Scratch that thought, I just ate poorly. I lived off of peanut butter and graham crackers at work. Now, I’m trying to look at food as a way of nourishing my body so that I do have the strength to train with my hectic schedule, and not it being simply food. You can eat anything, but it’s amazing the affect it can have on your system. More protein, more whole fruits and veggies, gluten-free foods, less sugar, more water.I’m pretty sure I’ll feel some improvement in how my body feels with these modifications, which might even help sleep and I know help with energy levels and performance.

A healthy dinner of a Molly's twist on a two bean salad,fresh lettuce from the garden, and herbed couscous

Also, to stop comparing myself to others who do have more time to train, and to get rid of any  (silly) feelings of jealousy

Men. Ahh, that’s a topic I’m not too fond of. Especially with the complications of my last “friendship.” But, you need to be completely at peace with yourself, be able to take care of you, and actually love yourself before you can love another person. And even though I might look like I have my shit together, I really don’t. And as somewhat heartbroken as I am about what happened, I’m not going to go crawl into a ball and weep to sleep (cause, I’ve already done that haha). Whoever coined the term “heartbreak” was dead on–I did feel like my heart was actually cracking in my chest.  But, I’m not going to dwell on the fact it did not work out, even though I was hoping it would. This opens up opportunities that I have for my future. Like travel nursing. I’m young, single, have great work experience under my belt, have no family or mortgage to worry about. It’s the perfect time to go out and try new things while I still can. Travel, and see different places. And, if the travel positions do not work out, well, I go somewhere else. I don’t want to look back at my life and think, “Man, why didn’t I do that?”

That’s one good thing I’ve learned about life: it goes on.

It’s Because She’s Lazy (wink)

The last couple nights at work have been insane. In the three years working as a nurse, I have dealt with numerous horrible situations, seen things which non-medical staff are unable to even comprehend, and with what happened to me, even medical staff were alarmed. unfortunately, I will not get into too much detail because of HIPPA, and the fact in those three nights I saw the most horrific things I have ever seen in real life. Saturday morning after I gave the report to the charge nurse coming in, she asked me, “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine….”

“Your tearing up, Moll, it’s not okay.”

“It wasn’t a good night….”

I went home, and in the car found myself weeping from the events at work, the insanity, how I had managed to keep calm in the midst of chaos is beyond me. I think the tears also came as a result of exhaustion, lack of sleep, and the fact that June has basically been a horrible month for me. With sickness, a DNF, a defective and now broken heart, I decided to restart my training and do Timberman in August. It will be tough, but I have a good base behind me. And, a friend joked around that I was too lazy to finish my last HIM, which, I know was a joke, because most of those I know think the amount of physical activity I do is nuts. But with everything which has happened, the comment made me even more determined to finish this triathlon….Ohh, btw, I took the comment seriously.

Yesterday, as a result of the comment, and the fact that there is nothing better to help heal a broken heart than by having an awesome ride, swim, and run, I brought my road bike to lake onteora and rode from the parking lot, then rode up meads road to the parking lot at Overlook mountain where I switched into my trail running shoes and ran up and then down towards Indian Head Mountain. It ended up being a 16mile trail run, one which I needed to digest everything which has happened to me this past month. But in retrospect my legs were not prepared for it.

I have not been on a trail run for months, and miss it so much (kind of hard to do trail running in the dark).

After maybe 5 or 7  miles I came across this area where there were just slabs or slates of rock. It was right near the mountains edge and I never even knew it existed on my other runs along the road to Indian Head Mountain.

Closer to the edge, there were chairs made out of slate and stone that overlooked the hudson valley, and from there I could see how far I had run from the fire tower at the top of the fire tower.

wow, so far away from the fire tower on overlook!

The views closer to the edge, despite being somewhat hazy, were pretty awesome.

looking out over the hudson valley

After finishing the run, and seriously dehydrated, I stopped at Bread Alone to fill up my camelback and water bottle and continue my ride back to the lake.  Once I was at the lake, I was hot and drench in sweat, and exhausted. But the water was calm and cool, and I went for a 45 min swim in the late which was incredibly peaceful. I love lake Onteora! The water was cool, and still, and it was only me in the lake swimming. For the first time I felt internal peace, which I haven’t felt for a long time.

So, to those who even joke around about this girl being lazy, beware, I might take it seriously.

Below is the bike route I did

Lake Onteora to Overlook to Glasco Turnpike and back down to lake onteora

Mmmmm olives. Salty,juicy, yumm

On my way back I stopped at Adam’s Fairacre Farms for food, because I had nothing to eat before I started the ride and run and was 1) so thirsty from dehydration and 2) starving. And, I managed to eat three containers of olives (mmmmm they tasted a-m-a-z-i-n-g), although now the thought of eating any more olives makes me feel nauseous….

And now I leave you with a song that was stuck in my head on my run.

You Don’t Give Up, Do You?

It’s been, actually, a week and a half after my first attempt at a triathlon. It took awhile for me to actually accept the fact I was unable to finish the race. And whenever anyone mentioned it, I think tears would suddenly, involuntarily, make their way to my eyes. But, I’m now feeling back to my old self for the first time in a while–and, the skin on my back is finally healing from the horrible sunburn I got  at Mooseman. I guess I’ll never really forget my first attempt, since I have the numbers “171” on each of my upper biceps (the numbers shielded my skin from the sun, so they are a couple of shades lighter than the rest of my arms.) Biggest lesson learned from that race, was to wear sun screen. I’m so glad I am in a profession where I can go up to a colleague and say, “Can you put lotion on my back for me? It’s killing me.” (My first night back before the blistering started, my colleague exclaimed, “Holy sh-t Molly, what did you do to your back?”) Yeah. It was bad.

Since returning from NH and the race, I’m back into training for the smaller tri’s and duathlons that will be happening this summer. I thought about giving up on the whole triathlon gig, but then thought, why? I’m not someone who gives up, and I’m not going to start giving up now. I have my whole life to train for a HIM or IM. And, maybe, when I work day shifts and a more normal schedule, it might be slightly easier to train for those races, too.

I’ve actually developed a certain enjoyment out of open water swimming, which is weird, because it used to be an insane fear of mine. Okay, the lake I swim in is small and nothing near Newfound Lake, or any other large lake that can create waves. But, a month ago, I would not even attempt to stick my head under the water with my coach. Now, I go there, and just swim. And, swimming in a lake is so much different from swimming in a pool–you don’t have to switch directions every 25 yards. You can just swim. And, I actually like that. Mind you, I’m swimming alone and not in a mass of other triathletes with the splashing and kicking etc. There’s something peaceful about swimming in Lake Onteora. And, yes, technically, I should be swimming with someone else because the likelihood of someone attempting to jump in to save my life is very slim. But I don’t mind the murkiness now or inability to see what is below me. And, it’s peaceful when it’s just you in the water…With flies buzzing around your head.

View from my ride

Yesterday morning when I went for a swim after a bike ride, walking down to the water I passed a rather large black snake and then thought, “Hmm, I wonder if there are any water snakes in this lake.” The thought creeped me out slightly, but I still went in to swim. (I guess that is a positive of pools: you have no fish biting your toes, no potential water snakes, you can see what is under the water, and if you accidentally take a gulp, the water is chlorinated and not filled with millions of lake microorganisms and fish poop). It’s kind of weird, actually. A year ago I swore I’d never swim. And now, I look forward to swimming outside in open water.

I must admit, with my schedule, it’s hard training for things. And with the temperature on the rise, it might be more difficult to train when I want to–I guess I could go back to running at 0200?!? But work seems to leave me drained. For the second time in who knows when, Monday after working two crazy nights I slept on-and-off all day. Which, for those who know me, is extremely rare because it’s a known fact that I don’t sleep. I even slept through the night, which was even crazier. Yes, this girl who does not think running in the middle of the night is crazy, does find it insane when she is able to sleep through the night.

Anyway, this morning was the first time I’ve been on my road bike (minus the short 45min ride yesterday) since the race. And I forgot how amazing a ride can be, even if I’ve done it dozens of times before. Not only that, but to be able to see how the environment has changed seasons in my short sabbatical from riding. I learnt that I need to put suntan lotion on my arms and face, but now need to remember to put some above my knees as there’s an even more distinct bicycle shorts tan line on my thighs. Oops.

Now, after I’ve had my delicious iced coffee and applied more-than-enough aloe/cucumber/camomile lotion to my healing back, I’m off to Jockey Hill to spend time with the other love of my life, my Contessa Spark.

And to get into the mountain biking mood, I leave you with some Slackstring.

What a DNF really means.

As most of my family and friends are aware, I spent the last 6 months training for Mooseman 70.3.  It kind of consumed my life. I did  plenty of runs and swims in the pool, but not enough pool time as I should, and have put over 356 miles on my bike since february. I can run a half marathon- I did two months ago. I’ve competed sprint duathlons in the past with no problem, and even did a short sprint duathlon a month ago. But I think, for some reason, Mooseman was the one race which I was not going to finish.

My cousin brought me up to NH, which truly is a beautiful state.It was hot, but clear crystal blue skies and gorgeous scenery. Newfound Lake is gorgeous–cold- but nice.

On our first day there, I went for a quick ride on my bike to make sure everything was working smoothly and met the friendliest (well, most triathletes you meet are the nicest people, them and mountain bikers seem to be very friendly) man who told me about the race and where to go for my quick ride. He asked if I had ever done 70.3’s in the past. “Nope, this is my first triathlon.” He looked at me in awe. “Wow, decided to go hard right away, huh?Good luck!” “Thanks, I really need it.”

putting the wetsuit on

looking out at the choppy water

The day before the race when i checked in my bike, and got my chip and athlete bag. There were loads of triathletes around, who came from all over the world to compete in this race. When the I decided to try on my wet suit (mind you, it’s the third time I’ve ever trained with a wet suit) and do a quick swim. And for some reason, once I got into the 56 degree water, with the waves, I couldn’t seem to put my head in the water and swim. My stomach leaped into my throat and I nearly had a panic attack. I can’t do this! I walked back to my cousin and then met tw0 w0men from Minnesota who were getting their wetsuits on to try out the water.

“Have you been in?”

“Yes, but I’m really nervous.”

“First HIM?

“No, first triathlon.”

“Wow, girl, you decided big for your first triathlon! Here, swim a little with us, and then see how you do!”

They were so friendly.Even still, I was terrified of the water. (Have I mentioned I have a fear of swimming in open bodies of water?). I swam with my head above the water, then swam back to shore- still with my head up.

After the “swim” and athlete mandatory meeting, my cousin brought me back to the hotel and I just relaxed. My stomach was in knots. My throat hurt and I woke up in sweats. Ohh man, the fever is back from the mysterious illness. I was worried but excited about the race. Since for the past couple of weeks I haven’t been able to train because of insanely busy nights at work leaving me with no energy to go for the required rides and runs in the plan. I fell asleep but woke up after a few hours–my night shift body is still used to being up at night and asleep during the day.

The day of the race I felt excited, but at the same time, something wasnt right. My head hurt and my whole body felt like someone had beat it with a baseball bat again (stupid flu!). Since I had been unable to train as much as I should have, my nutritional intact was poor and has been, and the fact I was exhausted, I set out to just do the race. My biggest fear was the swim start. I had never swam with anyone else in an OWS before. Not to mention the water was 60 degrees. We got there at around 6 for body markings, since I could leave my bike over night. Wow, first time being body marked!

in line for markings

There are different waves according to age and gender, I was wave 6. there were a couple waves that went before be and after a couple of minutes, more waves would start.

getting ready for my wave to start

Then, it was my turn to go into the water. Feelings of fear, anticipation, excitement all rolled into one was what I felt. I walked to the side of some swimmers and when the gun shot went off, I ran and jumped into the water with many other women.

my wave

The water was cold, and for the first 20 minutes, I swam a modified doggy paddle/breast stroke. Then, I thought of my coach who’d say, “put your head in the water!” And, finally, I did. And, I got into the rhythm of swimming, never pushing myself, but swam a relaxed pace, because I did not want to get even more sick.. I was swimming with other people in open water, and did the first 1.2miles I’ve ever done in the water!And, survived. And, faced my fear.

so happy I was able to finish the swim!

The transition was good, and the hills that everyone was talking about were  easier than the hill workouts I did in the past. it was a modified two loop course and I felt great on the first loop. Then on the second, things just went downhill. I lost any energy I had and could not get my legs to pedal. I would sweat profusely, then get frozen, stopping along the way to fix a tire and actually vomit. I rode the last loop longer than I ever have done 20 miles before.

When I got back to Wellington park, I missed the cut off time from the bike by one minute and was not allowed to complete the run.

I was devastated. My cousin came over to me, and I just wept with feelings of failure. Ohh how I wanted so badly to complete this race that i had been preparing for for months. But, with all the illnesses I’ve had, lack of sleep, lack of proper hydration and nutrition, high stress job, my body just couldn’t do it. And, I know I could have finished it if I pushed myself more, but my body had had enough of me pushing it through sickness and exhaustion.

This is the first race I’ve never completed. Yes, i was able to face my fear of the water and swim! And, had I not been sick and have bike trouble, I could have made the time for the run. (In reality though, I do not think I could have completed the run having the flu, so in a way, i think the DNF was a sign I was not meant to do the race at this point of my life with everything that’s been happening.

At first, I felt like a complete failure. How could I not have finished the race? There were people older than me completing it, and I couldn’t? I felt ashamed of myself and embarrassed. And then thoughts about giving up on triathlons all together came into my head.

Then I thought, wait, this was such a good learning experience. I had never swam with other people before this, and now i know I can swim in a competitive setting. For the next time, I’ll be better prepared at the swim, and transition. I’ll know how to have proper nutrition and hydration and rest before the race (which still might be hard with working night shifts). I’ll listen to my body more–if it feels sick, not to push it, even if I want sooo much to finish.

Yes, it is disappointing that I did not finish the race I so desperately wanted to. And for a long time I felt like a complete failure. But, there are many athletes who did not give up after setbacks or DNF’s. It’s like the quote below by Brian Tracy:

“Never consider the possibility of failure; as long as you persist, you will be successful.”

There are a vast number of races in the future which I can do. I’m not going to let one dictate how I do in the future. It was just bad timing, I guess. I was sick, exhausted, undernourished. And, now, I have even more determination to do finish one in the future.

” Failure is only a temporary change in direction to set you straight for your next success.” -unknown

Who stole my flip flops?

” There is something in every human being that seeks testing. A yearning to discover just how far one can go, how much one is capable of achieving. From this desire was born the most demanding athletic endurance test ever……..- the Triathlon”~ Unknown

Mooseman is in 4 days. It seems like just yesterday I was being called crazy for signing up for a half IM distance triathlon back in, when, November? (I wrote about that here) It’s funny how much life changes in that period of time. I’m trying to change my body’s sleeping schedule to sleep during the night so I can be awake during the day, so my body will be able to be rested for the race Sunday (I’ll tell you how that goes). Insane, long, crazy, busy, 12-16hr work nights have drained my body of any possible energy I’ve been attempting to reserve for the race, hopefully now that I am on “vacation” I can regain the strength I lost. I think if I worked normal hours during the day, and slept more than 4 hours a day, perhaps my body would have tolerated training better.

One positive thing that has changed (well, there have been a few positive things that have happened since I signed up for the race, including my new found love of mountain biking when I can stay on the bike without falling) is my swimming. Even my coach told me, I look like a completely different person in the water than when she first saw me trying to stay afloat in the pool. In retrospect, I wish I did more swimming. But today I did two open water swims- one this morning around 0900 with my wetsuit (and I was able to zip myself up! If you’ve never been in a wetsuit, they are tighhhhhht and easier when someone else zips you up. But I lubed the zipper with body glide and voila! I was able to zip myself in (how smart of an idea was that?!?). There was some hesitation swimming at the Lake, since no one else was around, but suprisingly, the 50 minute swim around the perimeter of the lake went well and I never felt any anxiety like I felt the first time I was in the wetsuit. It’s so much nicer swimming outside because you don’t have a wall you bump into touch every 25 yards. The swim definitely boosted my confidence for the swim in the lake, especially the fact I did not drown nor get eaten by fish.

I went for a second swim in the afternoon. The water was chilly, but I actually didn’t need my wetsuit. Now, there was some hesitation that I was going to be swimming without the suit, because it someone helps you float, but the swim went just as well. The water was a bit “choppier” due to the wind, but again I managed not to drown and deal with swimming when you are slightly chilled. There were a couple other people doing things around the lake (there is a parking lot… I mentioned info on the lake in this post ) but I was not paying too much attention due to the fact I was focusing on not consuming water filled with fish poop and other microorganisms found in lake water). However, when I went back to where I left my towel, wetsuit, and car keys, I noticed that my flip flops were gone. Hmmm. I know my short term memory as of late has been pretty yucky (which I contribute to stress and lack of sleep) but I definitely wore flip flops to the picnic table. For goodness sake, I drove there so I had to be wearing something on my feet. I looked around the table. Nope. No flip flops. Maybe the wind blew them? I looked around the area, then walked back to the waters edge. Nope. Not there. then I walked back and searched in the marshy area (well, scanned it–would you walk in a gushy marshy area with no shoes?). Nope. Still not there. Wtf? Then I looked down at the ground and the tracks from my flip flops definitely left their mark going to the table, but no marks treading back. Which means, they were carried out (I should be a detective). Someone stole my foot attire! I must admit, I was somewhat annoyed, because I had to drive home barefoot, and the fact I liked those flip flops. Anyway, the swim went well, but I could not stop at the store on my way home as I had planned, as you are not really supposed to go into stores barefoot.

Goodbye, my beloved flip flops

Yes, lots has changed in these eight months. I may be flip-flop less now, but can swim in open water without drowning now (however I still freak out if I swim into seaweed or something icky), have done more hills on my bike than I would have had I not have signed up for this triathlon, and have a little bit of glistening hope that I can finish this race that I started out to do. Only now, I won’t be able to wear flip flops.

I’ve decided to end posts with a song, and this was in my head on my second swim.

Was that a fish?

Lake Onteora

After who knows how many times I cancelled my open water swims due to work or fevers, today I finally had my experience swimming in a lake….Seven days before my race. Not too late at all, right? Don’t misunderstand me–I spent every summer of my youth at Lake George, so I’ve had plenty of fooling around and water play. Never, though, have I actually swam in a lake for swimmings sake (remember, up until November I swore I’d never swim). I was meant to do this last week, but the “mysterious disease” I’ve been suffering with for the past month would not allow it.

Today, at eleven o’clock, I met my coach once and for all at Onteora Lake which for people who are unfamiliar with the area, is somewhat close to the Ashokan Resevoir. Actually, if you are unfamiliar with the area, you have no idea what the Ashokan Resevoir is, so never mind. That comment was meant for people who do live in the area. I’m pretty sure there is a fair amount of mountain biking around the lake which I’ll need to check out once this dreaded race is over.

Here’s how my experience went:

I met my coach, who met me bright and early at a picnic table that is located next to the waters edge, carrying in her arms body glide, neoprene caps, a flotation device, and my wetsuit.

“You look tired, are you feeling okay?” Were her first words. I guess it’s obvious to nearly everyone I meet nowadays that I look like crap.

“Meh, not really, but I need to get into the Lake at somepoint before the race.”

My coach herself is doing a pretty popular, tough triathlon next weekend (and mountain bike race on Sunday—I want to be her) so she was going to watch me and not enter the water. After discussing my new baby and life, she went through the motions of putting on a wetsuit. I’ve only ever put a wetsuit on once before in my life and if you’ve never been in one before, it’s very…ehh… different. It took me about eight minutes to actually get into, even with the tri-spray D. used on the inside and body glide. The tri spray helps lubricate the inside of the suit, which makes it easier to take off. The body glide is for your wrists, neck, and ankles to help prevent chaffing.

“You have to inch your way with each leg, then the arms. At the race, you make lots of friends and will need to have someone zip you up. You are going to feel like you cannot breath at first in this, so that is a normal feeling,” D. said as she zipped the back of the suit up for me. There is a sequence that needs to be followed as to how you get into this suit. Holy crap, this is tight, and I cannot breathe at all!

Once the suit was on, I sat on the bench and put on my booties. Now, for race day, you need to remember in what order you put things on–if you put the booties on first and then the wetsuit, in transition, you need to remember to take the suit of first and then the booties. Apparently, Mooseman has people who help strip the wetsuits off you.

However, if you are doing a triathlon and the water is not 56 degrees, then you don’t even need to worry about wetsuits and hypothermia. I really have no idea why I chose to do a triathlon in New Hamphire at the beginning of the summer when the water temperature is in the 50’s. You know what, I really don’t know why I signed up for a half ironman distance triathlon either. I would strongly advise if you are going to try a triathlon, have your first one be (1) in warm weather so you don’t need to worry about a wetsuit and the feelings of claustraphobia associated with being in a suit that makes you have a better appreciation for batman and catwoman and any other superhero in skintight clothes and (2) don’t do a half IM distance one. Please. Listen to me. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever stop making silly mistakes, like signing up for insane races. Parts of me thinks I’ll have a normal thought process after this. And then there is a small part of me that will never learn. I’ll let you know how it goes in 20 years, if I survive Mooseman.

Back to wetsuit application. Once the booties were on,two caps and goggles, I followed D to the water where I continued to listen to her directions and try not to freak out because I felt like I could not breathe.

“Tie this around your ankle. Just incase,” She handed me the flotation noodle thing. Thank goodness she is prepared for if I possibly drown. The water was not too cold, and the fact I was sweating profusely in the skintight thick wetsuit helped me deal with the water temperature. As I tied the noodle to my ankle, I felt something nibble at my fingers.

“Ahh! I think a fish bit me!” I extracted my hand from the water.

“Ohh no! I should have warned you about the fish,” D. said.

My heart rate tripled. Not only was I going to drown, I was fish bait too.  No wonder I waited so long to enter this non-chlorinated water.

At first, I swam to the middle of the lake and back to my coach, mimicking how we would start the race. Then, my coach had me swim out for 5 minutes and then back to her, just enough to get used to swimming outside.

I started swimming when I heard my coach yell to me, “Molly, put your head under the water.”

I’m not sure it was because I’ve been sick and was afraid I would not be able to breathe under the water, the fact I could not expand my lungs enough to breathe in the wetsuit, my fear of what I would see in the murky darkness that loomed underneath me, or a combination of everything that stopped me from putting my head under the surface.

My wetsuit gear and tri suit

“Okayyyyy” I yelled back at her as I continued to keep my head above the water.

After another couple strokes I finally put my head in the water and began to swim normally. Stroke, stroke, stroke, breathe. Stroke, breathe. Stroke, look ahead and breathe. It took awhile to get used to the swimming rhythm, and despite the limited movement I had in my arms from the wetsuit (you are somewhat constricted in how you move your body in something really tight), I got back into my rhythm quicker than I thought. Mind you, I have not swam in a couple weeks due to the mystery illness, so it’s what I remember of my rhythm. It helped that the water was murky and I could not see too far ahead of me. When I almost reached the lake’s edge, I heard my coach yelling for me to come back. That’s when I turned around and realized that the breeze was facing me. I usually like breezes, but not when they cause currents in the water which you need to swim against, especially the first time you’ve ever swam in open water. That’s one nice thing about pool swimming–you don’t need to swim against currents. I was pretty sure seeing little waves coming towards me that I would never make it back, get really tired, and drown. But, eventually, I made it back to my coach.

“How was it?”

“Different,” I panted, out of breath.

“Okay, let’s go through what you’ll do at transition.”

I jogged back to the picnic table as I unzipped the back of the suit. Finally, expanded oxygenated lungs! The tri-glide and whatever other body lubricant I used for the inside of the wetsuit helped it slide off my body with more ease than attempting to get each of my large feet into it. My coach and I then continued to talk about transitioning and triathlons until it was time to leave.

I bundled up my two caps, wetsuit, booties and caps and balled them up on a towel in the back of my car.

“So this is it, Moll, you’re big race is in a week! Try to get a couple more OWSs in if you can, it would be best if you did not swim alone (uhh ohh, me having to wait for someone in order to do something?Not sure if that will be happening) and good luck! You’ll do awesome.” My coach stated as she got in her car.

To be honest, I could not be more anxious/scared/nervous about a race than I do now. My training these past couple weeks, as I’ve mentioned in a prior post, has been slacking do to exhaustion from working 12-15hr nights, lack of sleep, and sickness which I seem to be unable to get rid of. This race is freaking me out. Not necessarily the bike and run portions–I know I am capable of running and riding those distances. It’s the swim which terrifies me. Hopefully I’ll be able to breathe through my nose at somepoint before the race. I will keep you posted mid-week about further triathlon plans.

After a much needed nap, the grill was started up by X (yes, I have a grill and do not know how to use it. I do, however, know how to re-start a stopped heart if that makes you feel any better?) and we had a fabulous picnic feast outside in the humidity and heat.courtesy of Ironman events

So, Mooseman, after debating on whether or not I would actually go ahead and face you, it’s hard for me to give up. So, I’ll be seeing NH in a week!

I had this song in my head on the way to the water. It’s actually good for tempo keeping on a bike too.








Fuel for rides/runs

Remember a long time ago when I first started training for this race, and my coach said that the hardest part would come in April/May? Well, it’s April, and the training is harder than its ever been. And, the thought of mooseman in less than two months might actually make me cry

Today was my long ride/20min run, and it was a beautiful day for it. I did a new and I love riding places I’ve never been. It seems to make the time go by quicker. How was the ride, you ask? Nice for the first five miles.

At mile 40, I think I did have some tears in my eyes. How do people who compete in Ironman races actually ride more than 100 miles? The route I did (I attached the link to the map below) had some pretty nasty hills, and was suggested by my coach because, apparently, I need more hill work. I hate hills. You could not pay me ten dollars to ride up and down Turkey Hill Road more than once in a row…..Maybe if it was a thousand dollars, taxfree, I might.  I never realized that Dutchess/Columbia counties actually had hills. But, boy, do they have hills. And. for some odd reason, at the bottom of each hill when you would be speeding up to get as much speed to help in getting up the hill, there were workers at the bottoms directing traffic. So, I was never able to speed up on the decline before the incline. I had to STOP. Ugh. Slightly annoying.

It was  perfect riding weather–a little chilly at times when the sun disappeared behind the clouds, but it was nice. And my lungs and thighs ceased to be on fire for small amounts of time on the ride.

looking at the catskills- view from the church must be amazing.

At mile 50, I started getting hungry. So hungry that I began to fantasize about eating macaroni salad–you know the kind–with all the mayo and black olives and pieces of peppers. I have no idea why that food was what I was craving, because I hate mayonnaise, and do not eat pasta. But after 50 miles of hills and rolling hills and gradual inclines, that is what I wanted. And that’s all I could think about.

Mmmm Macaroni Salad

I’ve talked about this before, and I am going to say it again–the importance of supplemental energy when you are on long rides/long runs that last more than 60  minutes. Now, after trying my one shot of Gu last year and detesting it, I swore off any gu- containing products until I had a Shot Blok which I actually loved the night before the half marathon, especially the lemon flavored.

Gu is gross, but a life safer for sure.

After Turkey hill and other hills, after not eating anything before the ride except for consuming coffee, my stomach was starting to talk to me. Not talk, beg me for food. I stopped and searched my backpack for something…anything….because I had over 10miles left to go, only to find a Gu Energy shot–a Gu tirberry flavored shot- it was one of those free-be’s from another race I’ve done in the past. I was hesitant  to eat it, because the last one made me feel sick to my stomach. But I needed that extra boost.And since I was no where close to any place that would have macaroni salad, the shot would have to do. I think the drivers who passed me on Country route 6 headed to Nevis might have thought I was crazy, leaning over my handle bars and trying to eat the gu whist making faces because it was so odd tasting. As much as I hate it, it was a life saver for me because I needed something to eat as I was starting to tear up from so much hunger, and exhaustion (I have no idea how people complete full ironmans. Honestly, Moosman scares me. It’s so close and I don’t feel as prepared as I should.

I’ve talked about this before, and I am going to say it again–the importance of supplemental energy when you are on long rides/long runs that last more than 60  minutes. Now, after trying my one shot of Gu last year and detesting it, I swore off any gu- containing products until I had a Shot Blok which I actually loved the night before the half marathon, which I actually liked and then learned that they came be somewhat appetising, quick energy (preferable with caffeine).If you are going for a workout longer than 1 hr you should always bring something to eat or drink or chew that has some supplemental energy in it, esp sugars and sodium, because even if it is cold, you sweat, and can lose lots of sodium through that sweat. I wrote a post about this subject, so will not be redundant. But since you lose so much energy while working out, you need something, especially if it is longer than 60 miles.

56.68 mile route u p Turkey hill down to linthigo over to germantown, to Bard and home

Feeling  like you're the only one in the world

Feels like you are the only one in the world....

The below song was my motivating song to get me up and OOB to do this ride at 0900 when I usually am sleeping (man, working night shifts with being on your feet for 13hrs and training don’t really go well together. My feet do not really like 50 mile bike rides or any of that, or any of my training at the moment….) If you are a member of my family, you know I have every soundtrack known to man.

And now, off for my 11miler. Yes, it’s 0300. But no one will be on the roads.

How do you fuel up during rides/runs?

I Can

“So, what will you do when it’s over?”

“It’s never over. That’s the awesome thing. There will always be something I can do.”

“But, why?”

“Because…I can.”

Over these past couple months, I’ve dedicated my life outside of work to training. There have been setbacks–illness, weather, work commitments. Training is tough. Anyone who has trained for any type of race–either  running, swimming, biking (or all three), knows that it is hard. It takes mental and physical strength to push yourself further than you think you can handle–to move each leg, one foot in front of the other, on a run after you’ve put in miles on a bike and your legs feel like jelly. It takes patience with yourself–to continue that bilateral breathing and practicing those strokes, even after frustration kicks in. It takes commitment, to spending those hours in the saddle. It takes…Determination to do hill work in downpour. It takes admitting your flaws, and dissecting them, so you can improve what is incorrect. Most of all, it takes…Time.

Training for triathlons and duathlons has become my life. It’s become a passion. I’m excited when I meet someone else who is training for a tri–whatever distance it is. “Which races have you done? Woahh!” Seems to be my reaction to any race completed by a triathlete I’ve met. Start talking about Scott’s Plasma 3 bike (which almost became a future member of my household today–save the fact I no longer allow myself to bring my wallet into bicycle shops with me), and you have my full attention. Food is now fuel for my workouts. Everything I put into my body has the potential to affect how I perform in races this season.

Yes, there are days when I’m exhausted and mustering up the energy to do an endurance swim workout is painful. But, after those first fifteen minutes in the water, from somewhere, you find this energy–this, renewed sense of self. You think, “Holy shit, I think I can do this.”

And, yes, to be honest, I’m scared of this race, mostly though, the swim portion of it. And, especially after I meet triathlete’s who say, “that’s a tough race. And the water is cold…Like, 58 degrees cold.”

Yet, this girl who would never be caught dead in the water five months ago, can now sense when her strokes are correct and breathing is efficient. Today, she tried on a wetsuit for the first time in her life.

My colleague was spot on the other night when he said, “There is no ‘I can’t’ in Molly’s vocabulary.” What he forgot to say was, “There’s no ‘I can’t’ in yours, either.”

Just try. Odds are, you’ll be able to do what you thought was impossible. If there is one thing I’ve learnt from this journey I’ve started, it’s this: nothing can stop human will when it wants something badly enough.

“Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.”- Unknown

The Sound of Sunshine

It’s suprising to  write two posts in less than a 48 hour span of time, but I just came back from a swimming lesson with my coach and heard The Sound of Sunshine playing on the radio, which has a couple lyrics about learning to swim, and was inspired to write a post on swimming (my thought process is odd). The swim lesson was good. I continue to learn so much about swimming and how important it is in a triathlon race.

In all honesty, I have a love/hate relationship with swimming. In fact, I think I tend to err on the bipolar side whenever anyone asks how swimming is going.

“Oh, it’s great–best activity and sport out there! Works every muscle in your body, I feel fantastic after a workout.”

Or, quite possibly less than two hours later, my response could be:

“F—ing stupid sport in water, whoever invented it should be PUNISHED. It’s stupid and I hate it! Who works out in WATER?”

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve tried to meet up with my coach atleast once a week for a swim lesson. Yes, I am not ashamed to say that I have swimming lessons and am in my 20’s.Had I continued with the swim team/spending time in a pool after the age of 13, I wouldn’t have needed the lessons. Then again, pool swimming and triathlon swimming are quite different. Main difference is that triathlons are usually in open water, and the water is not chlorinated. Right now, my sessions in the pool on my own are still composed of doing drills, and then some are just LSD (long slow distance) swims. I have no plans on ever becoming a member of another swim team again in my life, but do plan on continuing to do triathlons in the future (if, that is, I don’t die doing Mooseman, which is a possibility).

What are the drills?
  • The one arm drill: where you have your left arm extended underwater and then just stroke with your right arm, making sure you have a high elbow and enter with your arm above the head  doing that for a hundred or so yards, and then switch arms.
  • Catch up: where both arms are still below the water, but when you go to stroke with your right arm you reach past the left arm under the water, and then when you stroke with your left arm, you reach past the right hand. There is a lot of extension involved–extending the stroking arm past the other arm.
  • Swimming using Finis Forearm Fulcrum Paddles which helps your arm entry form ( whenever I use them feel like I am drowning) and hand paddles (which show you if you are bending your hand or not in water–you feel resistance if you are doing it wrong–I was always meeting resistance).

Swimming is simply hard. Trying to remember to pretend I’m diving into a barrel but keeping my elbows up our of the water (who does that?) then having my fingers impact the water first–and fingers snug against each other. Using my abdominal muscles to keep my butt up so that my legs don’t sink when I take a breath (she notices these things). Whenever I go to take a breath, one goggle should be in the water, and I need to look back behind towards my armpit while breathing and doing the stroke. Remembering to keep my legs together, and kick from my heels, not my knees. It not only takes being in good shape to be a swimmer, but being mentally capable of remembering all these things whilst doing them that gets to me.

My coach likes to end sessions on a good note, and as time was running out, i just swam fifty yards, which, she said, was perfect. “It looked like you were just swimming, not thinking about everything I was having you do, like your brain turned off, and, you just swam.”


Previous Older Entries Next Newer Entries

When was the last crazy post written?

April 2023

Sign up to receive updates on my adventures by email.

Join 70 other subscribers

Monthly Archives of my nonsense