“I Guess That Means We Can Start Running”

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

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

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

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

My competition...She even looks fast.

My competition…She even looks fast.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Thoughts

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

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Innocent little mountain bike rider

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

Boom! Power to the pedal…Freaking amazing design.

And Even More of Molly’s Nonsense

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

 

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Ramblings of a Twenty Something Year Old

If you haven’t noticed, there is a pattern to this blog, of which I do a race-recap after each race: reflections on what went well and what I could have done more to prepare for races.

Once again, I am going to focus on training and preparation, or in my case, lack there-of.

I just finished the Shires of Vermont Marathon this Sunday (perhaps you remember when I signed up for it a couple months ago). Kevin and I made a weekend trip out of it. He truly deserves a gold medal for his support in all my crazy sports endevours.

Indulging in mandatory hydration of team support at Madison Ales Brewery

Indulging in mandatory hydration of team support at Madison Ales Brewery

We stayed at the Four Chimneys Inn, a bed and breakfast less than a mile from the race start in Old Bennington. If you are ever in the area, you must stay there. The Inn keeper, Lynn, greeted us and made special arrangements so that I could eat breakfast early the day of the race. (Marathon man actually stayed there too, and ate breakfast next to us). It is within walking distance to downtown Bennington, as well as the Bennington Monument and Robert Frosts grave.

View of the Monument from behind the Inn

View of the Monument from behind the Inn

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Our room

Our room

Birthday running ribbon

Birthday running ribbon

At the start

At the start

I was not completely unprepared for this one–atleast I did some running in advance. At the half way point, when my legs began to hurt, I remember thinking to myself, “Man, it would have been good to get some more long runs in.” The longest “long run” I did in preparation for this event was a 14miler, back in the middle of April.

Where's Molly?

Where’s Molly?

At mile 18, when uncomfortable turned into pain, all I kept thinking about was the finish.

Honestly, once I passed the start, all I thought about was said finish, 26.2 miles away.

Super happy to see Kev

Super happy to see Kev

My not-too-shabby pace increased mile by mile until, at about mile 20, the running turned into a painful-attempt-to-run, then walk, back to painful-attempt-to-run. At that point, I turned off my iPod (there is just so much of Daft Punk’s TRON soundtrack one can listen to before they go mentally insane) and just focused on not keeling over.

The course, however, was very nice– only a few stretches were along roads with traffic. The rest were on country roads–some gravel/dirt roads. Too my surprise, it was a hilly course as well.

Having completed the Boston Marathon in 2008, I am aware of hilly marathons. The exception in that case was I was regularly running up Heartbreak Hill (easy when you go to school at Boston College). I never looked at the course elevation of this race. For future races, I think that is something I will plan on doing, to mentally “prepare” myself.

There were plenty of water stops, and two stops along the way had gels. We all know my thoughts on Gu (if you don’t, you can read about it here), and this race was an exception to my “no-gu-for-you” rule. I managed two gels during the race, and used them as a distraction more than anything else, as I knew well that no amount of caffeinated artificial gel would miraculously save my legs and make the pain dissapear. At mile 13, I consumed my first, which wasn’t horrific (A mocha flavored Cliff Bar gel). I decided to consume it slowly, over two miles, which helped pass the time. My second gel was over two miles as well, at around mile 20.

Yes, I stopped mid race to take a picture.

Yes, I stopped mid race to take a picture.

It was suprising to have Kevin meet me at different points throughout the race, which ended up giving me a bit of a second/third/fourth wind, considering the fact I was not expecting him to meet me anywhere along the course except for the end.

Finally, after what seemed like the longest half-mile of my life, the finish line was infront of me. No matter what pain you feel, you cannot walk across a finish line. (Well, you can, I just try not to). A nice touch to the small marathon was that as you finished, the MC announced your name and the town you were from. Time: 4:41. I cannot complain about my finishing time, as my goal was to simply finish the race in about five hours.

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Voila. Marathon completed. On the day I turned 27.

Eeeek so old!

Eeeek so old!

The finish had fresh Battenkill Creamery Chocolate milk, which I devoured, despite my feelings towards dairy milk, and, it was the most amazing chocolate milk I have ever tasted. (Infact, this chocolate milk is given to participants of the Tour of Battenkill).

The best part of the Shires of Vermont Marathon, other than being on the celebration of my birth, are the finishers medals. They were all made by a local potter. Definitely more meaningful than mass made bronze medals (although, those are always pretty sweet).

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The weather held up for the duration of the race–some of the misting/showers actually felt good mid race. After, though, it rained the rest of the day. So Kevin and I bummed around Manchester until a celebratory birthday dinner–an early bird special at the Seasons restarurant in Manchester. I had the most amazing veggie burger I have ever had in my life–even Kevin, an omnivore, agreed it was amazing.

Exhausted, achy, and feeling amazing

Exhausted, achy, and feeling amazing

Nothing beats a birthday sundae

Nothing beats a birthday sundae

The next morning, after enjoying fantastic homemade breakfasts, we explored a little more of Old Bennington before heading back to Rhinebeck.

Yummy yummy in my tummy

Yummy yummy in my tummy

Lilac love

Lilac love

For someone used to doing some sort of physical activity every day, “muscle recovery” and “complete rest days” are hard. With such nice weather awaiting our return, I decided to rest my “running muscles” and use my mountain bike muscles on a leisurely paced ride at Ferncliff. Plus, Kevin took a vacation day, so I could not have it go to waste!

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Channeling my inner beaver. Hard to imagine I turned 27, right?

Channeling my inner beaver. Hard to imagine I turned 27, right?

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Kevin playing with his newest bicycle project...Sporting the new Fats in the Cats jersey

Kevin playing with his newest bicycle project…Sporting the new Fats in the Cats jersey

After the marathon, I announed my accomplishment to my mother over the phone. She said something which really struck home: “Moll, imagine how you’d do if you actually trained.”

Hmm. Interesting. Actually train…

We’ll see how that goes.

😉

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This post is dedicated to my biggest supporter, endless motivator, chauffeur, personal race photographer, top rated at “I know how to annoy Molly,” and kick-ass best friend, Kevin.

(And also my folks…If it wasn’t for them, I would not be here today.Literally.)

Mountain Biking—Clipped in

We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot. ~Eleanor Roosevelt  

They say that your first time clipped into pedals on a bike can be intimidating. Yes, over a year ago I went clipless with my Mavic’s on my road bike, and that was nerve-wrecking, especially stopping intime for cars and traffic etc etc. But with time, the thought of having normal pedals became an idea of the past. Plus, with duathlons and triathlons, my biking shoes are clipless. It’s something that I got used to.

Being clipped into a mountain bike is, yes, intimidating, but it is also terrifying, atleast for a beginner.

I’ve done my share of mountain biking around Dutchess County– mostly 909 and Ferncliff Forest, but have also dabbled in Round Top in Greene County and Onteora in Ulster County. There are amazing Mountain bike clubs, such as Fats in the Cats and the up-and-coming Round Top Mountain Bike Association who have done really a great job at keeping mountain bike trails biker friendly and have group rides if you are ever interested. Heck, I even went to Kingdom Trails by myself–alone–to mountain bike ride. For those rides, though, I was never clipped into the pedals of the bike. Simply put, being clipped in is being attached to the bike. You and the bike are one. **In basic terms, you are stuck to the bike.*** 

With the amazing March weather we’ve had, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to spend more time mountain biking than normally. And, found out there are many more bike trails at Ferncliff than I ever really new which is amazing for me since it’s about a 3mile ride from my house.  Anyway, I decided it’s time to put on my big girl pedals on my mountain bike, and take them off my cross bike until next season, and learn how to ride clipped in. Actually, I need to know how to ride clipped in, because the first mountain bike race of the New York State Mountain bike series is in June. And, I need to crush that race (What, me? Competitive? Pu-leeez, not at all.)

Sun setting on the Hudson

Yesterday was my first time clipped in. And within the first seven minutes riding on trails I’ve done many times before, I fell four times. That’s when all the confidence built up from prior riding simply oozed out my pores and left me fearful, and dreading being stuck to my bike. Ohh, by the way, when you fall, your shoes actually clip out of the pedals without you even knowing it! The ride was fun, but with shattered confidence, I rode home after an hour, full of scratches and bruises over parts of my body, thinking “I’m never mountain biking again clipped in. I will forever be horrible at this. Everything hurts. Ughhhhhh why is there a hill on Mt. Rusten road going back to Rhinebeck?” (Yes, I wasn’t very chipper).

This morning I woke up and decided, after an amazing cup of coffee, the only way to conquer a fear is to face it full on…That, and to practice…and just know you are going to fall and get hurt. I got to the parking lot, clipped in, and was off. Riding a mtn bike clipped in is much easier for going up hill (1) because you can keep up momentum and (2) your shoes don’t slide off the pedals.

My car and bike--first in the lot!

And, after LOTS of psyching myself up…I was able to weave through trees, ride up over roots, and on descents jump off the rocks.Okay, they weren’t huge cliffs, but I’d say riding off a large 6-7 inch high rock is pretty decent for being concerned for my safety. ***Another FYI, it’s easier to go faster than to go slower when clipped in.***

Fun

Coming down...It's steeper than it looks

Then, the inevitable happened. No, I did not fall off a bridge into water like last year (which can be read about here). But I fell. And hard. You know, the type of hard where the end of the handle bar jabs you right in your trachea and kinda “blows the wind outta ya.” But, it’s bound to happen. I just hope the bar jabbing into my windpipe won’t happen again (knock on wood), but I did make it out of the forest alive and with more confidence mountain biking than I ever had using normal pedals. (Which, by the way, I switched off my cross bike all.by. myself…Learning how to build a bike from scratch really teaches you things.)

Seriously...It is steeper than it looks

So, if you are ever hesitant about going clipless, it just takes time, practice, no fear, and knowing that you’ll fall and hurt yourself at somepoint. And, you WILL get better. Trust me.

**Ohh, and it’s a smart idea to have health insurance, too, if you do such an activity. And to let someone know where you are going, just incase.And having a mobile phone isn’t always the best thing, since some dislike being thrown from your CamelBak or crushed against rocks when you fall. ***

Goose in pond....Just because I like taking pictures

December in a Nutshell part 1

I cannot believe how quickly december flew by, and the fact I did not even write one post during this whole month. And, the New Year is soon approaching. Lots has happened this past month and every time I told myself I’d write, something would happen. So, instead of writing, I’m going to sum up the month in pictures.

I had a glass/glittery/silver themed Christmas Tree that would make Martha proud

I participated in Fats in the Cats Annual Christmas Bike ride, where all the riders wore santa costumes and decorated their bikes with lights and bells, delivering gifts to the children’s shelter and other gifts along the way. Not only was I the only reindeer, I was rudolph.

reindeer bike

tour of the lights of Kingston

trying to have my hands look like hooves

I had my first ever dinner party which, I think, was a success. Even though I might have made a mess. Wonderful Thea from Thea Sphere Sweets brought dessert.

Thea's magical creations

I made gingerbread sleighs, or attempted to.

my sleigh fell apart

I managed to pull off my first surprise congratulations dinner for a friend. And, he was indeed surprised. We ate at Terrapin then ate brownies in S’s van (also known as the mobile party van)–six grown-ups and a dog.

next time ill remember napkins and a knife

I was able to see my whole family for Christmas–the last Christmas we had together was in 2009.

I started training again for triathlons, and think I’ll do a couple road races in the spring if possible.

I realized right now I need to focus on me first, job second. And I need to find a day job. Which, I’ve learned, isn’t a selfish thing to do, but a vital thing for me to do now.

I was in a car accident which totaled my little favorite blue Honda Fit that brought me on my first vacations and road trips to Burlington and Kingdom Trails, drove me to the pool and served as a changing stall at Onteora Lake before OWSs. Both my new bikes- the Scott and the Giant- were brought home in that car, and would travel with the car to races and rides. It carried water bottles, extra goggles, hiking boots, my stethoscope. It will be missed.

Seat belts save lives, trust me on that

I was able to spend time with my sisters and the men in their life, which was fun. Seeing them happy makes me happy.

I realized that life is hard–I’ve known this in the past. But in order to get through those tough times, you  just have to keep going.

Instructions to life are two simple words: inhale and exhale. Breathe. You can climb and conquer mountains, slay dragons, fight your enemies, overcome fears and go full force towards your dreams and be completely at peace with yourself. If. you. simply. breathe. – Molly Geuss

When was the last crazy post written?

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