To the Person Behind the Athlete…

Behind every athlete, is a person.

Whether the person is a man, or a woman; a friend or a family member; it doesn’t matter.

That person believes in the athlete.

That person wakes up early on their days off, in order to drive with the athlete to far-off races.

He sacrifices his own schedule to be with that athlete, even if the race is as short as a 5k race, a marathon; a mountain bike race or a triathlon.

That person is the one who stands on the side lines, while the athlete prepares for a race.

He  stands by, as the starting shot goes off.

He not only cheers for that athlete, he cheers for everyone.

He cheers as the racers pass, and the racers finish.

He willingly gives a helping hand to other participants, whether it be helping with a flat tire, or taking a photo.

He is there at the end, with arms open wide, embracing the athlete, whether she finished first, or finished last.

He is there for her.

For support.

For encouragement.

Because without him, she’d never be the athlete she is today. Nor will be tomorrow.

To all of those people, who stand behind athletes:

Thank you.

For your support.

Your words of encouragement, your clapping of hands,

And your never ending enthusiasm.

It means more than words can express.

If you have never been acknowledge before, let today be the first day that you are acknowledged.

If you have never been thanked for being on the side lines, in the shadows, let today be the day that you are thanked.

For even if you were there to be with a certain athlete, and/or racer, you were actually there for everyone. 

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Let’s Du This…Olympic Style

The lack of creativity in the title for this post may be due to recent lack of sleep, or due to the fact that, after writing about six duathlon races since beginning this blog, there simply comes a time when it can be hard to think of a fun title.

Last Sunday I took part in New York Triathlon Club’s Wheel and Heel Olypmic (distance) Duathlon. I participated in the W &H sprint duathlons twice, and was supposed to do this particular race last year, but from what I remember, I could not get anyone at work to switch a weekend with me. Bring on 2013 with new distance duathlons. Whereas a sprint duathlon is usually a 1 mile run, 14mile ride, 3.2mile run (some of the NYTRI sprints vary in their leg lengths), the olympic duathlon has a 5k run, a 40k bike , and a 10k mile run. (You math wizards out there will notice that is about 9.5miles of running total).

Just a tad bit longer.

I must admit, I had a lot of pre-race jitters before this race. I am not really sure why….I was not worried about the riding part. Dutchess County has given me a plethora of opportunities to work on riding up hills (and racing up them, too).  I was worried about the running. The last time I ran over 6.1 miles in one day was back in May, and that was for a marathon–slow, steady run. The Mad Dash killed my legs, and for six days prior to this race, I did not run whatsoever. Minus all the running around at work. I think another contributing factor to the pre-race jitters was the fact this would also be my first race being solo.*

Anyway, come race morning when the alarm went off, a part of me wanted to stay in bed and ignore the race. But, after some contemplating, I decided I would hate myself for not at least trying the race. I gulped some coffee and, I admit it, I did not give myself loads of la-de-daa time to get to the race.

My goal: to finish in under 3.5 hrs. No records needed to be broken, no muscles torn…Just attempt it. 30minutes for the 5k, 2 hrs for the bike, and one hour for the 10k.

My plan of race attack: Go out on the first 5k easy. Go out on the bike easy. Go out on the last 10k easy and walk if need be. 

What actually happened:

I got to the race with barely enough time to collect my bib, but did decide it might be smart, for this distance, to actually warm up and stretch.  (Yup, I just said I stretched. For reals.)

There was a fair number of racers, and the venue was quite serene: Lake Taghkanic is lovely. 

I set up my bike, and spoke with a few racers I’ve met at other races, or know from the non-racing world, and kept telling myself, “It’s just a long run and ride.” My main competition was an athlete (I can say that, because she truly is one) from up north who beat me in another race earlier this year. Mind you, she is almost twice my age,just competed in the International Duathlon Championships up in Ottawa, and has a tri-bike. Oh, she also was wearing a race kit from the championships. If you are thinking the same thing as I am, than yes, she is quite good at the sport. She also looks like a duathlete. Pshh, maybe next year I will just order a race kit to wear from the championships…It might help my race self-esteem 😉

The field of athletes doing the duathlon was quite small, and the first 5k was an out-and-back run through the state park. Rolling hills. I actually wore my garmin watch for the first time in about a year so I could keep track of my pace. Did I remember how to use the watch? Kind of, at least basics. I did not want to sprint to fast and have no energy for the rest of the race. Nine minute or so miles is what I was aiming for. I kept up with Ms. Championships the whole 5k, and felt good after the first run was over. The bike, ohh the bike portion. It was two loops around the park, and, I have come to the conclusion that in order for a race to be one of the New York Triathlon races, it must involve hills. Having not pre-ridden the course, I had no idea what the extent of the hills would be. Below is the image posted on the Facebook page of the race course….

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The elevation guide does not do it justice, and is actually a bit confusing.

On the second loop, I managed to find a gel (they are growing on me) which I do not think necessarily gave me energy physically, but mentally. Going up the same set of hills twice is just wrong in my book.

For some odd reason, I thought the 10k would be in the Park around the lake. That is what it looks like according to their website photo, right? Or, was it just me and my innate inability to read maps correctly?

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Well, the last three miles were in the park. The first four followed the bike course. Up the same hills. At this point, I was pretty fatigued, not going to lie. But, I kept thinking, “C’mon, you’ve ran marathons…you’ve climbed mountains…This, this is just another hilly run.” When my legs wanted to walk, I walked. When they felt good to run again, I ran. Once the course veered back into the park, I remember continuing to wonder when the finish would come.  Things people have said crossed my mind, “Go get em’ killer!” Finally, after what seems to be the longest 10k I have ever run/walked, I crossed the finish line. 3:02.

With tears in my eyes.

I do not know what brought the tears on. Maybe it was the fact I finished my first olympic distance race quicker than I thought I would. Maybe it was the fact that I finished, but had no one I knew there to give a sweaty, exhausted, thrilled-that-I-finished hug to.** Maybe it was because I finished my last duathlon of the season, and managed to pull off second overall in the Women’s duathlon. Who knows. I did have to pull some major self-control in order to keep the tears from continuing to stream down my face. You ever try to stop yourself from crying in public when your body is exhausted? It’s really hard to do, and I kept trying to cough in order to hide the fact I was crying, and then choked, which wasn’t helpful. Lake Taghkanic State Park  has a paved sidewalk along the beach near the parking lot which was perfect for cooling down and gaining composure.

After packing up all my gear and brining my bike back to my car, I headed to the post race food to score some free water and mini- cliff bars. On my way, I bumped into a fellow Fats in the Cats member who is also a duathlete/triathlete/runner. In her first olympic triathlon, she placed first in her age group. See? Mountain bikers are hardcore. We not only ride bikes over logs and roots, but can kick ass in the water and in a pair of running shoes.

Fats in the Cats!

Bev and I…Way to go fats!

God bless the volunteers along this race course. They were amazing. So so encouraging, especially the volunteers along the hills. I even got a smile and nod from a State Police officer when I said, “Hills are my favorite!” on the bike.

A huge thanks to the New York Triathlon Club for an incredible event, and awesome race season!

* Except for races back in college, I’ve been blessed to have friends or family either participate in a race with me, or at least be present at some stage of the race, even if it was only the end of the race.  I guess I got a little too used to this “luxury.”

**Don’t worry, I awkwardly gave that hug to a random other female duathlete who finished her first olympic duathlon that day.

***If you want to see the real elevation change, the link to my Strava activity is here. I am not tech savvy enough to get the “imbed link” to pop up on this blog.

My apologies for the lack of photos in this. Out of all the photos taken at the race, there failed to be just one caught of me. I think I searched through the events photos at least three times. Ohh well.  Win some, and lose some.

😉

The days after a race

from Runners World

It’s been a week since my last post–work has been keeping me away from the computer.

This week, I am not sure if it is because I had just fininished a great race and felt on cloud nice, and the fact my friends were there for me made all the difference in the world, but I feel odd. Probably because I was on two nights, off one, then back on three in a row, which can make you exhausted, or the fact I did no workouts last week, except for a small jog, and now I’m kicking myself for taking a week off, because my next race is at the end of april. But this “funk” I’m in, really needs to stop. Now.

I think it all has to do with the “Runners High.” If you are a runner, or other athlete, you know what I’m talking about. The feeling of euphoria after you complete a great work out. I was so estatic the race was over, so happy and excited, and then, BOOM. Back to reality. And then, BOOM, feelings of almost… Depression. But, I have  my bike tuned and ready for my long ride this week, and can’t wait to be out there, exploring more of Dutchess county, or possibly go over to Greene county….Who knows really.

Below is my schedule for this week (from my coach) which upon thinking, I’ve never actually written what a week for me looks like on this blog (or, have I?):
Tuesday
bike = 56 mile LSD
you can start to ride the hills harder. Getting your HR into zone 3 (HR = 155-164bpm)

T-run = 20 minutes

Wednesday:
swim = total 2100 yards    repeat but with shorter rest

Warmup = total 300 yards.
swim 3 x (swim 50 yards / kick 50 yards) focus on one aspect for each 50 yard swim (such as high elbow, hand enrty, fingers, pull technique.)

Mainset = 1600 yards
4 x 400 yards with :30 RI between

Cooldown as you like for 200 yards

Thursday
run = hill repeats.
Warmup first then:
6 x 3:00 up burger hill. Easy 3:00 jog down and recovery before repeating.

Friday
swim = total 1800  yards   repeat

Warmup = total 300 yards.
swim 3 x (swim 50 yards / kick 50 yards) focus on one aspect for each 50 yard swim (such as high elbow, hand enrty, fingers, pull technique.)

main set = 1300 yards
10 x 50 as:  (25 yards FAST then settle into 25 yards easy) :45-60 RI
8 x 100. alternate between fast and easy :30 RI

cooldown as you like for 200 yards

Saturday
Bike =  big gear. Elevate front wheel 4-6″ on block. repeat

warmup: 10:00 – 15:00

main set: 5 x (2:00 big gear <80 rpm / 1:00 >100 rpm /  2:00 big gear 50-60 rpm / 1:00 >100 rpm) 2:00 RI between intervals. HR 3+ to low zone 4

cooldown: 10:00

Sunday
9 miles LSD

After a monster work week, I’m actually going to get this done.

Man, I cannot wait for the next duathlon!

Interesting article from the NY times about Runners Highs

NYC Half Race Report Part deux

Bib number 8288

Well, it’s over. First race of the season, and I must admit, the season could not have started off any better. The racing weekend started off on a semi-stressful note, as I somehow managed to lose my drivers license and credit card somewhere between Poughkeepsie and Grand Central Station, but without some sort of issues on a racing weekend, it just wouldn’t be right–at least in my case. As mentioned in “part one,” I was able to get my bib without my ID–thank heavens,because it really would have sucked to be all the way in NYC to run a race and not be able to run in it.

I’ll continue from where I left off last night before attempting to sleep.

I did get a good 4 hours of shut-eye last night; my attempts to switch my body starting Thursday from nocturnal mode to day time mode was unsuccessful to say the least. I have a feeling if I decide to go pro, i might need to switch to working day shift, because the constant “back-and-forth” with sleeping during the day but needing to sleep at night before a race just does not work. Unfortunetly, I don’t see myself switching to day shift anytime before the “big race,” so I’ll need to grin and bear entering races already exhausted. A positive, though, was that I was up at 0300 and was able to hydrate and eat and let it “digest” before starting the run, hence not having to run with the feeling that you have a brick in your stomach.

lemon-lime= deliciousness

Up at 0300, filled with anticipation and excitement, like other races I’ve done, I hydrated, and decided to eat that gu gummy blok. As I’ve mentioned before I’m just not a fan of eating while exercising, dont like anything gummy or sweet–which rules out most energy bars/gels. However, the lemon flavored gu energy block I ate tasted fan-tast-ic. I’m not sure if it was because I was incredibly nervous and that is the only thing I could manage to eat before the race, or that my body just craves more sugar, electrolytes, and caffeiene, that if i had a whole box infront of me, it would have been consumed in less than five minutes.

Picking a hotel that had a shuttle to the starting are–let me correct myself, booking through an agency linked with NYRR and the race–saved a lot of grief when it was time to leave. If you are looking for a place to stay before a race, and the race organizers have certain companies they are partnering with (be it hotels or whatnot), make sure you book through that company. There were a lot of runners who stayed at my hotel who did not book through that agency, and, my heart went out to them, because the shuttle was only for people who were with the agency. Just a heads up.

Bag checks were organized according to coral numbers

The race was extremely well organized, and had bag drop-offs according to your coral number. Each runner also had a brightly colored sparkly ID band which allowed them into the coral zone (I love sparkly things). We got to Central Park by 0610, and it was quite chilly. Next time, I’m going to wear a crappy pair of sweatpants with the crappy shirt that I can keep on until the race starts, because I was on the brink of hypothermia wearing shorts, the t-shirt, arm warmers, gloves, and a thin cotton long sleeved shirt on. I advise that you wear something that you don’t mind throwing out to wear after you check your bags, because there is a heck of a lot of waiting around before the race starts. And, even though it was above freezing, it was still 33 degrees and the sun wasn’t out yet. (That was lesson one). Lesson two is that you should not walk for hours around New York City the day before you need to run 13.1 miles. Because that is not considered rest, especially if your feet hurt and you haven’t even run the race yet.

Central Park at 0600

I met up with the other members of the DetermiNation team at 0630 and continued to wait and freeze, making new acquaintances and taking team pictures. It was nice “knowing” people in the race, even if i had just met them. They were all in the same boat. The DetermiNation team coaches were awesome, upbeat, and at different points along the race course to cheer you on. It was around 0645 when we finally took a whole group picture and made our way to our different corals that the gal I was talking to started to mention the hills on the course.

“There are hills in New York City? I thought it was just flat,” was my dumb struck response.

“Yea, there are a couple short inclines in Central Park.”

Since I’ve never been to Central Park, I had no idea what to expect. Considering I’ve done trail running in the Gunks and Catskill mountains, the panic feeling I had about the inclines went away (kind of).

From around 0650 to 0730, there was standing. And waiting. And teeth chattering, as all the 10,000 runners stood in place trying to keep warm until the race began. A neat thing was that I saw Central Park in the dark, and was there when the sun was rising, and as the temperature rose to 37 degrees.  I met some fellow runners whose lips were just as blue as mine, and matched my blue DetermiNation T-shirt, and prayed that the feeling in my legs would come back before the start. *This is the time you want to be wearing the throw-away sweats–standing in the cold is miserable. And, once you shed them at the start, you are doing the homeless people a favor by giving them free clothes! Heaven forbid you find yourself living on the streets and can no longer afford to buy clothes, just head to the nearest race start, and you’ll find a whole new wardrobe of clothes!

After the NYRR organizers speeches and introductions of all the famous runners whose names i can’t remember because I wasn’t paying attention due to the incessant teeth chattering, the race started. It was a nice loop around Central Park (I had no idea Central Park was so big), and by mile 2 I was pretty warmed up and feeling good. It was a picture perfect day for a race- blue sky, sunny, a tad chilly, but I’m not going to complain, since there have been races I’ve done where its 98% humidity and 90 degrees (that is hell).

Race Course

After completing about 6 miles, the course headed down 7th avenue, which was by far the best part of the race. Scratch that, the best part of any race is when you are done. Running down 7th Ave was the most memorable part of the race. I’ve been to NYC only a couple times before, and it’s always been crowded and people bumping into each other trying to avoid all the tourists taking photos of every billboard imaginable. There was still bumping into each other, it’s just that the bumping was faster, since it was now runners running into each other at the water stations.

It was awesome. The people on the sides of the roads cheering for you as you ran down towards Times Square where cars usually are was incredible. I would have taken pictures with my phone, but thought it would look too weird snaping pictures of buildings while running a race. Similarly, the texts I was going to send to my friend never occured because, again, I felt it would be weird texting and running at the same time. I feel it’s a racing faux-pas to be on your phone texting. So, I didn’t. (And, the zipper to the pocket holding my phone was stuck, therefore i couldn’t even get my phone if I wanted to).

DetermiNation Cheerleaders along the course (from NYRR site)

I was feeling pretty good, running faster than my anticipated 10minute miles (yes, my goal is that slow). After passing times square, I think the adrenelin started to wear off (around mile eight) and I began to wonder how I ever ran marathons because I was beginning to feel the run.And then the thoughts of  “wait, why do I think this is fun again?” begin to creep into my thoughts. But the cheering was helpful, and I was able to keep my mind occupied by taking in the sights of the City.

The last three miles were along the water on West Side Highway. Even though the distance was only a half marathon, those last three miles seemed to be painful. It’s like other races–the last leg is just horrible, because you know you are so close to the finish, and yet still need to continue to run. (I still don’t know how I ever managed to run marathons).

Finally, after 2hrs and 2 minutes, it was done. In retrospect, it went really quickly. And with my fatigue and lack of rest, I was content with how I did (okay, I really could have done better, but, whatever, I was doing it for “fun”–and yes, I just said “whatever”).

Despite the thousands of people (literally, thousands) at the finish line, I was able to find my most dear and amazing friend, who was waiting at the end at 0930 with camera in one hand, and flowers in the other, for me. There really isn’t anything better than being greeted by a familiar face, especially in a city like New York, and especially if it’s the dearest, most thoughful friend and reason you were running the race. That was definitely a highlight, thank you, T.Linscott. You’re a rockstar.

This brings me to my third lesson: it’s virtually impossible for the majority of runners to look presentable and not like complete disasters after finishing races for the pictures. Yes, snapshots are required of you after you have completed any distance race–whether it be 2 miles or 60miles. Pictures are a reminder that you accomplished something, no matter how big or small it might have been. But I’ve learned after 99.9% of the races I have finished, there is just no humanly possible way for me to look like I’m pain-free and happy, when in reality, I’m estatic that the race is over. I always appear to be a miserable mess, and really do envy people who can complete races and are in mint condition. I really want to know their secret to how they look incredible. If you are one of those people who look incredible after a race, tell me, what is your secret to looking amazing?

Anyway, after picture taking (my attempts to look somewhat presentable for the photo shoot were very unsuccessful) and getting situated, we headed back to the hotel where I could finally get warm, which brings me to lesson numero quatre: pack sweatpants to wear post race. When you are finished running, you are sweaty and warm, but if it is a blistery cold windy day like it was this morning, the sweat and heat is replaced by ice. There is a reason for why runners get those gray shiny aluminum looking sheets (in all honesty I forgot the technical name for them) after they finish. They really help keep you warm. In the bag I checked, all I put in it was my warm-up jacket, and that was not enough, even with wrapping the shiny sheet around my legs like a towel.

NYC Half 2011 frozen finisher

my cheerleader

I was so thankful to have T.Linscott with me and guide me back to the hotel, as I really had no idea where we were. I keep forgetting NYC is so big! I took a quick shower, checked out of the hotel (and learned you don’t have to literally “check out” in hotels–you can express check out!) and lugged my big hiking bag garbed in a sweatsuit, passing women in the lobby wearing coats and bags that cost more than my car. We met some fellow Kingstonians for brunch at Cafe Ronda which was very good, and I highly recommend it if you are in that area of the city and want brunch.

 

Cab after brunch...I felt like I was about to fall asleep

Kingstonians + New Yorkers all together...Notice my coordinated sweatsuit

After a delicious meal we headed back to my friends car (they had driven down, and had an extra place for me). One of my favorite quotes of the day is when Povill said to me,  “You know, you look like one of those high schoolers who are traveling with their sports team in your addidas sweatsuit lugging that huge hiking bag around.” (Lesson 5: it is vital to have your track suit color coordinated. It just so happened the pink strips on my sleeves matched the pink on my sneakers).

The short road trip back from the city to Kingston/Poughkeepsie, where I had parked my car, was full of singing along to songs, laugher and jokes. Being surrounded by the people I love just made the day even more special than it already was.

Thea's flowers

Many of the races I’ve done, I’ve done alone. Going to and from race location by myself. Today I realized the importance of friendship, and how it’s so much more fun when you have other people doing the race with you, or on the sidelines cheering for you. I was blessed with friends like that.

All in all, the race was awesome. Being able to experience what it is like running such a big race (well, I guess the Boston Marathon was just as big) through the Big Apple was an experience I will never forget. I definitley recommend it to people looking for a good half marathon to do.

As I sit with my compression socks on and my sleeping cat by my side, I can’t begin to fathom how my body will deal with the Mooseman that is coming up shortly. I guess the quote below sums it up.

‎”Racing teaches us to challenge ourselves. It teaches us to push beyond where we thought we could go. It helps us to find out what we are made of. This is what we do. This is what it’s all about.” -PattiSue Plumer, U.S. Olympian

Below is a link to a video of the race–take a look–you’ll want to do it next year for sure!

NYRR Video re-cap of NYC Half 2011

Today was awesome. Thank you, NYRR, for an awesome race, and special thanks to T.Linscott for being at the finish line,J.Povill for holding my backpack, and N. Conklin for the laughter in the back seat.

You have to wonder at times what you’re doing out there. Over the years, I’ve given myself a thousand reasons to keep running, but it always comes back to where it started. It comes down to self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement.” – Steve Prefontaine

The perfect song for the perfect day.


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

When was the last crazy post written?

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