15th Annual Hudson Valley Triathlon and Duathlon

15th Annual Hudson Valley Triathlon/Duathlon

Remember when I said all races are learning experiences (if you have read any of my posts that is)–how at every event, you learn something new that you can use in the future, see what you can improve upon and what you have improved upon since your last race? Well, it has been a year since I competed in my first multi-sport race (my first one was the HV Duathlon last year!) and my knowledge of both multi sport racing, and training, has increased dramatically since completing my first duathlon. And it is safe to say I (finally) learned some very important lessons at the race yesterday, ones which perhaps a normal person would have figured out months ago (hey, I’m just stubborn, okay?).

Yes, (a little more than) one year ago I competed my first duathlon. I remember it as if it was yesterday. I used the second hand Giant bike which was a piece of crap (don’t get me wrong, I love Giant bicycles, just this one was old). I had no idea what I was doing or getting myself into. I had gone on maybe three long bike rides on the bike–at that time I did much more running–now it’s actually a bit of the opposite. I signed up for the race three days before the event. What a first duathlon, too. It starts at the bottom of a slightly steep incline at Ulster Landing Park next to the Hudson River, which, if you do the duathlon, you must go up three separate times with the sprint, then the bike, then the last run. The first leg is a one mile up (literally) and back sprint, then a 18 mile bike ride which is actually two nine mile loops up along Route 32 and through Glasco–if you are familiar with the area then you know where I’m talking about. Then the last 3.5mile run is another up (and another literally going up) and back sort of deal. This race is put on by the New York State Triathlon Organization, which I must thank for all their volunteers and work, especially yesterday in the heat/humidity/downpour/ultimate weather grossness that we had. I actually am thankful for the rain, because it made the bike sprint more bearable. I also thank my rides in Dutchess County and the Catskills for preparing me for the nasty start of the bike race.

Waiting for the start of the sprint

Post my attempt at Mooseman in June, my training somewhat dwindled a bit–that, couple with insane work hours just left no real good time to train. And after the race yesterday I finally realized (yes, it has taken months as I said above) that my body just does not like me when I make it do things on 1)two hours of sleep and 2)when it’s exhausted and wants to be sleeping. I know I never let my work schedule affect whether or not I do races. But in the midst of the last leg of the run my body just said, “enough not listening to me when I’m exahusted. Enough. Enough.” I ended up with the slowest 3.5 mile run time that I have ever had in all the duathlons I’ve done (okay, all four of them– I haven’t really done that many.) And, yes, my body talks to me when it’s angry at me, which it seems to be more and more often now a days.

Transition number two- my apologies for poor picture quality.

Starting the last run

So, dearest reader, please listen to this advice, and take it to heart. It’s not smart to force your body to compete in multi sport races, or any races actually, when you got two hours of sleep the night before, and average 3-4 hours of sleep a day for the past week leading upto the race. Your body has had NO time w-h-a-t-s-o-e-v-e-r to relax and replenish and rebuild muscle and strength if you’ve also been continuing to train (ça c’est moi). There is just so much pushing your body that you can do. And, make sure you are physically well before the race, and not have GI issues the day before/day of the race. When I started the bike portion I thought, “man, I can’t do this! My intestines/ stomache ache so horribly bad.” But, once I got over the wave of cramps and riding 5miles per hour (which definitely affected my bike time), I got back into the rhythm of cycling and the ride was great. I like rolling hills. My new Aero Bars came in handy too. I’m not used to sprinting on my bike- as most of my rides are greater than 30 miles, and I don’t sprint on those rides, but I do go up nasty hills, so the burning sensation you get in your thighs is just like that of when you cycle uphills.

All in all, the race was okay. I feel if I pushed myself harder (which my body would hate me even more for) I could have done better on the last leg of the run. Despite a time longer than my time at last years race (then again, at that time I was still working a day shift job), I did manage to make 1st place in my age group!

exhausted post race with my sister Laura, another triathlete--the craziness must run in the family

My next race is the Timberman Sprint, which will be my (second) triathlon. Hopefully in the next month, I’ll 1)have more than 2 hours of sleep the night before the race and 2) have energy before starting the race and 3) have a normal functioning immune system.

I hope you all were able to stay cool this past weekend- it was somewhat warm!

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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.

New York City Half Marathon

 

copyright NYRR

Part one of a two part story

I’m here! New York City–the “Big Apple”–the “City that never sleeps” and just  checked into my very fancy hotel room after meandering through the city streets. The sweet smell of polution and the honking of horns blare outside my window. There is a reason why I live in the country.

I made it safe and sound after taking the train south, hoping to catch a few zzz’s while the train rumbled on the tracks but alas, if this girl cannot sleep during the day, there is no chance she’ll sleep on a train…Or tonight before the race for that matter.

I rode the NYC subway for the first time and managed to get to  the expo and as I reached through my wallet, I thought, “ohhhh shit.Where is my ID?”

Now, for you runners/triathletes/cyclists…or any race you are in. Tell me, what are the two things that you need in order to pick up your bib number? Your confirmation email of registration, and YOUR IDENTIFICATION. Then the panic kicked in. What if they don’t let me race? I can’t go all the way back to Rhinebeck to get my passport and then come down. Is this really happening to me?

It was.

Thankfully, I was able to get my prized NY half t-shirt (only do races where you can get shirts! All my racing shirts are like a racing diary) and not have to sit out on this race. I met the other people from the team DetermiNation, who were all great. Thank you to all of you who donated– the American Cancer Society raised over 200,000 dollars– thats the most any charity has raised for a half marathon. Not only do i thank you, but millions of other  people living with cancer are thanking you as well. And if you still would like to donate, just let me know and we can work it out.

 

in Memory of, In honor of Wall at DetermiNation

 

 

infront of the wall

 

I walked around times square which was bustling with tourists and people throwing paper advertisements at you. Can you imagine the amount of energy they waste on all those neon signs?!?I acted like a complete tourist, and really should have gotten a map (my earlier words: Pshh, I don’t need a map, how lost can I get?–those were my famous last words). I zigzagged my way through the streets and managed to find gatorade and cliff shot bloks, which I have never tried on a run before and might be having one tomorrow…I know you should never try something new in a race, but I need to try them at some point. Plus, I already paid for them. On my long runs, I’ve never eaten food, just drank lots of water….We will see.

I got back to my room and set everything up for tomorrow for my 0500 wake up call. Our hotel has  shuttle busses that will bring us to the start (one reason why I chose the hotel, so I wouldn’t have to deal with the subway that early in the morning. )

My outfit

It’s supposed to be a nice day out, and i just found out my dear friend Thea will be there cheering me on! (and part of why i’m running this race is for her!!!)

I should probably hit the sack now…Part two will be here after!

“In running, it doesn’t matter whether you come in first, in the middle of the pack, or last. You can say, ‘I have finished.’ There is a lot of satisfaction in that.”
-Fred Lebow

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


When was the last crazy post written?

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