Roar

It’s been for-e-ver since I have written a race report. Scratch that, it’s been forever since I have written an actual post. Perhaps because nothing new has really happened. You know, how you get into the work-train-sleep-and repeat cycle?

Yesterday I completed my first race of 2014. My man and I decided to partake in the Ocean’s Run in Rhode Island. Truth be told, he did not actually decide to run in it….I decided for him by signing him up for the 5k he could do while I did the half marathon distance race. Similar to when I did the Lake George Half almost a year ago.

We made an over-nighter out of it, and Rhode Island has the spring feeling that New York has yet to feel. I forgot what the ground looks like without snow, and what it feels like to be able to walk outside in the sun without gloves and still have feeling in my fingers. Seriously, Mother Nature and the weather have not been pleasant to the Northeast. At. All. (Have you upstater’s heard we are supposed to get yet another “snow event”? Grrrr).

Anyway, nothing beats walking outside in 50+ degree weather when you have been subjected to sub-freezing temperatures for the past three months.

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Hellllloooo warmth!

Hellllloooo warmth!

After soaking up our fair share of Vitamin D, we hit up a local Diners, Drive-In’s and Dive’s hot spot to have the required pre-race carb loading meal. Food was up to Kevin, and, he decided that we had to try Crazy Burgers in Narragansett to have our fill of tasty burgers and fries.  I must thank Guy Fieri for finding Crazy Burgers because it not only has great options for carnivores, it has many different options for vegans/vegetarians!

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Thumbs up for pre-race-dinner-awkard-photos

Thumbs up for pre-race-dinner-awkard-photos

Race day was upon us sooner than we would have liked (due to the time change). The Ocean’s Run Half Marathon  and 5k took place at Matanuck Beach. There was plenty of parking at the elementary school, and instead of taking the shuttle to the start, we used the 0.6mile walk as warm up. The temperature dropped to the mid-30’s, but I cannot complain as I’ve been running in single digit weather for who knows how long.

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I started off running at a reasonable pace, and the course held my attention for the most part as it winded its way through ocean-side neighborhoods. Similar to most of the races I do, I try to find a fellow racer who I feel I can keep up with. Although, that tactic was crushed once the person sped ahead of me. Miles went by, and for the first seven or so miles I felt pretty comfortable just running along. At around mile 8, I started to feel fatigue set in a bit. Thanfully, another female runner came up and I decided to try the tactic of running along with her for some of the race again (mostly though because she had a triathlon t-shirt on). At this point the course returned back to the start (it was an up-and-back course). I felt my pace slow down a bit and contemplated walking a bit.

Race day needs no filter

Race day needs no filter

Once I hit mile 9, Katy Perry’s “Roar” played on my Pandora station and I thought, “I got this.” (Note: I am not a huge fan of Katy Perry, but the lyrics to that song can really pump you up. Please, do not judge.) 

At mile 10, you know you only have a 5k left to run and you are done with the race. I know my legs were somewhat uncomfortable, but I think it was my breathing/ heartrate that caused more discomfort, atleast that of which I was aware. I looked down at my watch and noticed I was around the 1:20ish mark. My goal was to finish under 1:56. If I can run a 24 min 5k, I can finish in under 1:50, I thought.

The next mile, I felt like I was shot. I felt out of breath. One voice in my head told me I could stop to walk for a bit, and still make the 1:56 goal. Another voice said, “Screw that, you can make it in under 1:47 if you try.” (1:47 was my goal for my “A” race next month).

I tried. I ran. Once I saw the finish clock ticking 1:44:44 I sprinted. And I succeeded.

My quads and thighs burned, and my lungs felt like they were on fire. But I finished my first half marathon in under 1:45. Five minutes faster than my last half marathon in October. Seven minutes faster than the Lake George Half. And eighteen minutes faster than my first half marathon ever a couple years ago.

Five minutes may not seem like a lot of time for non-runners. But, that is a significant change. I must admit, however, the race was the most flat course I have ever run. I went into this race feeling doubtful about my abilities, as the last long training run I completed was horrible. However, I was elated after this run. It is amazing how race conditions shift your focus away from the negative feelings away from “I can’t” to “I can.”

I greeted Kevin, who, for not really ever running since he dominated his last 5k, finished in a great time.

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I’m not a fan of pre-race photos, but am a fan of post-race photos (even if it’s impossible for me to ever look good for them). That way, you can show that you actually completed what you set out to do!

A big thank you to my man for being there with me (and, lets not forget driving), Trimom for an awesome race, and, Katy Perry, for giving me my second wind 😉

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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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She’s Baaaaack

Wow, has it been over a month since I have written a post? It is crazy how fast time goes. I feel the older I get, the faster months fly by!

November was composed of mostly working, trying to overcome colds, with some runs and rides thrown in with the mix. The bad thing about being a nurse (or, any other employee who must work on Thanksgiving for that matter) is that you miss out on family gatherings. But, let me say despite missing out on the big turkey dinner (actually I did not miss the turkey, since I don’t eat turkey), I am thankful for getting to see a sister for a couple hours, thankful for my wonderful family, Kevin, and great friends, my health, and for where I am today.

Homemade noodle soup delivered to me by a special colleague

Homemade noodle soup delivered to me by a special colleague

Cleaning your bike and derailleur every ten minutes because of mud accumulation isn't too fun...

Cleaning your bike and derailleur every ten minutes because of mud accumulation isn’t too fun…

What I'm thankful for: reminders on my way to work not to sweat the small stuff

What I’m thankful for: reminders on my way to work not to sweat the small stuff

So, what is with the title?

I was lucky enough to have two Saturdays in a row off and was able to participate in two races, and I feel I am back and better than ever.

Last weekend, I ran my first 5k in three years, the Run Santa Run:Return of the Claus 5k. Since I do not really ever run for speed, I used it as a test to see how I could do in a 5k that was not at the end of a duathlon. To my surprise, I did not do too shabby. Thirteenth place out of 400+ runners, plus third female overall made for a happy end-of November. My personal photographer/ support team/ race day chauffeur, Kevin, tolerated my Christmas music in the car the hour + ride to the race to snatch a few pictures of the exciting day. Before the start of the race, there was a fitness instructor who led a “warm up.” As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that warming up before a race is actually beneficial (wait, did I just say that?!?). For running with a sinus infection,the race wasn’t that bad at all. I still enjoy longer distance races, however, as you do not have to run as fast (well, for your average runner you don’t…Just wait and I might change my mind when I decide I want to run a marathon in a certain time period).

Race day go boom

Race day go boom

Look Kevin! Aerobics at a race!!!

Kevin, do you see this?!? Aerobics at a race!!! (I’m the crazy one turning around)
Okay. Enough of organized pre-race aerobics

Okay. Enough of organized pre-race aerobics

Annnnd, we are off! If you can spot me, I'll pay you a million dollars.

Annnnd, we are off! If you can spot me, I’ll pay you a million dollars.

Today, I ran my first 5 mile race, and got to do it with friends of mine which was a true blessing. It was the MHRRC Knights of Columbus Holiday Run . We did have a threat of snow last night, and I was extremely glad that it did not snow so I could partake in the race. However, even if it did snow, I would still run…I mean, if one of my patients exclaimed, ” you can still run if it snows!” then, I can technically run in the snow. It is just slushier, that’s all.

I had no idea what the course was going to be like, and it did have it’s rolling terrain that I was not expecting. I went hoping I would finish in under 40 minutes, and I managed 36:46–another PR for 5 miles. Not only that, the only female who beat me is a professional duathlete on team USA (my role model). I was pretty stoked. Lets see how my legs feel tomorrow. I was also able to witness friends run their fastest five milers, too, which was even more exciting. It is such a wonderful feeling to see others accomplish something–and to see them happy.

Jen (a mountain biker-turned fellow duathlete- turned runner) close to the finish

Jen (a mountain biker-turned duathlete- turned runner) close to the finish

My first running trophy ever

My first running trophy ever

Cycling chicks turned runners (but still spend plenty of time with their bikes!)

Cycling chicks turned runners (but still spend plenty of time with their bikes!)

In other (exciting) news,  met with my coach last week and decided to face my fear of triathlons and fear of failure and sign up for another half IM distance race next spring! Is it weird that planning/ choosing races do to brings me joy and excitement? I picked a few other races to do before the Patriot Half–I plan on running the Shires of Vermont marathon again, as it was such a (shall I say fun?) lovely race….Well, it was fun when it was overwith 😉 My main concern regarding the Patriot Half is the swim; I went for a swim for the first time since I saw at Onteora Lake this past summer, and it was—ehh—embarrassing. (The last time I was in a pool was over a year ago!) I guess this past race season I spent more time on biking and running instead of swimming. Thankfully, I have a few months to gain back my courage with the swim portion of races.

In the non-athletic news, I’ve experimented with new cupcake recipes. Thank goodness other people like cupcakes, otherwise, I do not know what I would do with all the baked goods I bake. I was also blessed to help decorate more than one Christmas tree. (If you don’t know, I am a complete Christmas dork and love everything about the season!)

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Gingerbread latte cupcakes with lemon cream cheese buttercream and little gingerbread boys

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Mocha peppermint cupcakes with peppermint buttercream swirl

eggnog cupcakes with spiced rum buttercream...Good for warming your soul...I mean tummy

eggnog cupcakes with spiced rum buttercream…Good for warming your soul…I mean tummy

First attempt at homemade peppermint chocolate bark= a delicious success!

First attempt at homemade peppermint chocolate bark= a delicious success!

Kevin's tree--he chose for a snowflake to be the tree topper this year instead of a nutcracker.

Kevin’s tree–he chose for a snowflake to be the tree topper this year instead of a nutcracker.

My favorite snowman nurse

My favorite snowman nurse

The 2013 Geuss Christmas tree

The 2013 Geuss Christmas tree

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My 2013 Christmas tree!

I wish everyone a wonderful Holiday season!

Sometimes You Surprise Yourself…

….And realize you can accomplish something were not planning on accomplishing.

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I was debating over the weekend on whether or not to do the Mad Dash 10k race I had signed up for (a local race) this morning…Craziness at work the past two days, having “a bug,” and not having gone for a run in at least six days dissuaded me from from running it.

Waking up to a downpour, thunder, and lightning gave me a perfect excuse not to participate in the race.

After a restless sleep, and dreams which included running races, at 8:40, staring at the rain outside, I decided to just do it. It’s rare when my schedule happens to accommodate a race, and when did anyone ever die from rain? The 10k started at 9:15.

Grabbing my rain jacket and a towel, with a goodbye peck to sleeping Kevin, and after a couple gulps of coffee and water, I headed (the one point five) miles to the race start.

You would think I would be familiar with the roads around the town in which I live. And, I am familiar with them…On a bike. The terrain is different running than when you are riding.

Leaving my iPod and phone in the car (why risk your phone getting wet just to Strava your race?), I made it to town, parked, did my usual “warm up” ( consisting of a couple jumping jacks) and found the start of the 10k. Due to the recent downpour, the race start was delayed. Yay! Giving me time to do a couple air jab punches in order to warm up.

Since I was not feeling 100%, had no music (I cannot remember the last time I ran without music–excluding the run portion of duathlon races), was still somewhat tired from a crazy work weekend, had not eaten any breakfast, and still digesting my inhaled coffee,  I decided this would just be a “fun run.” There was no need to set any records, nor any need to prove myself to anyone. Just use the race as something to do on my holiday off.

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Even though the start of the race was downhill, the course contained some rolling hills. At the 5k mark, I glanced down at my watch–yes, I was old school and used a simple watch to record my time–and noticed I was not doing too bad. And that is when the humidity struck. And the realization that there were rolling hills. And then trying to hum songs I knew in my head.

Without music to keep me going, I had to find things to occupy my thoughts as I ran. Shortly after the 5k mark, I noticed my shirt was inside out (I guess that is what happens when you decide last minute to run a race?). I’ll tell you, un-clasping small pins attaching your race number to your shirt, when you are drenched with sweat and running, isn’t too easy to do. But, I managed to switch the location of the bib to my shorts, and take off my shirt to turn it inside out (or is it right side in?) without running into another runner, or falling into the ditch. I am sure other runners figured I was simply nuts.  Hey, whatever diverts your attention away from the fact you are running helps, right?

Once the shirt was correctly on, it was mile 5. Glancing down at my watch, I noticed the time was 40:01. At the beginning of the summer, I made it a goal to run 5 miles in under 40 minutes. As the summer progressed, I forgot about that goal, and thought it was not possible. Today, I was surprised to see that I was one second off my goal. It may be one second, but considering I did walk a bit (to pick up the pins I dropped), I’m going to say I accomplished that goal.

And despite the last mile being composed of an incline, when I saw the clock at the end of the race read under 50 minutes, I figured, just kill it. Finish the race in under 50 minutes. That I did.  It may not be the fastest 10k time, but it ten minutes faster than I planned. I do not consider myself a competitive runner—all of the runs I run are done never with the intention of placing in my age group. I just always felt I was a slow runner. But placing in the top third of all runners, and receiving a first place medal for your age group, changed the way I think of myself as a runner.

I guess your personal goals are possible. Especially when you least expect them to occur.

The first time I have ever placed in a running race. First  in my age group.

The first time I have ever placed in a running race. First in my age group.

Never doubt your abilities to do something. Because if you put your mind to it, you can achieve them.

Another blog? And my thoughts on Strava…

I decided to dedicate another blog to satisfy my love of cooking/baking, separate from this blog…I forgot how “tough” it was starting this blog a couple years ago. Below is a link. It is a work in progress–of course, the wonderful weather has delayed my work on the blog, as my priorities revolve around outdoor activities rather than blogging 🙂 Feel free to check it out!

That (Vegan) Girl in Sneakers

Views from Overlook Mountain, taken last week on a hike

Views from Overlook Mountain, taken last week on a hike

For the past couple months or so, probably starting February when I started running more in preparation for the marathon, I began using Map My Run to follow my progress. I do have a very expensive Garmin watch and heart rate monitor, but do I use the $350 watch? Nope. The watch still works though…Maybe I’ll start wearing it again now that I feel guilty about never using such an expensive watch. Anyway, Map My Run is a great way to log your progress–the app is free, which is also awesome. However, many of my biker/runner friends use Strava. I used this app maybe twice last year, then deleted it…Not really sure why I deleted it. If you are unfamiliar with Strava (which, I doubt you are if you are up to date on cycling apps), it is basically the same thing as Map My Run. However, there are segments where you can actually “race” other riders (or runners). These segments are usually hills, but can also be segments, like a long, flat road that people use for time trials, etc. The fastest people are called “Queen” or King.” The program then places you according to your time compared to other peoples times. You can also analyze your performance online.

A couple weeks ago, I downloaded the app again. Let me tell you, I think I have actually seen a difference in my cycling. That, or I’m actually focusing more on my rides and pushing myself harder. Perhaps it is the latter. For the first time in a couple years, on my ride, I didn’t simply say (to myself), “Ack, it’s a hill. I’ll go slow.” Nope. My new mantra while going up hills is “Power up!” Pushing myself has definitely improved my tolerance to pain and burning thighs…As well as lead to me beating my “nemesis” female cyclists (road and mountain) whom I have never met.

Strava can also be used for runs…I’m pretty sure it was the reason for one of the fastest 5miles I have ever done.

View of sunset behind the Catskill Mountains

View of sunset behind the Catskill Mountains

I need to warn you, though. It is not always reliable, as I found out today after my run (trying to beat the time I managed for the “fastest 5” mentioned above), when it stopped recording for some reason mid run–and I swear I made a new PB on that run. Grrr! Frustrating! Ohh well, I guess it simply means I will have to do the run again.

Another possible negative regarding the program is it hinders your ability to “go with the flow” if something happens mid run (or mid ride). For example, I ran into an acquaintance on a run once, and had to stop to say hi. I feel it would have been rather impolite to run past her saying, “Sorry, can’t stop–I’m Strava-ing now.”

What are your thoughts on Strava? Is there another app or program you use to keep track of rides or workouts?

 

 

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.)

Bagpipes, Bagpipes, Playing Loud and Clear

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It’s that time again! Duathlon season in the Hudson Valley (semi) officially started this past weekend in West Hurley with the Trooper Duathlon, a duathlon dedicated to three New York State Troopers who lost their lives in the line of fire. It is different than other New York State Triathlon series event because it is a time of reflection of those who perished, and a time to really reflect on how fragile life is. Before I begin, I would like to thank all of you New York State Troopers, Police, and other emergency responders for everything you do. You are the reason we are safe today, and also a big reason to why I drive my car within 5 miles per hour of the speed limit.

After competing in the duathlon as a team last year, and wanting to continue the legacy of the Valley Girls, at first I was on a quest to find a female I know in the Hudson Valley area who would enjoy being on the team with me. Little did I know, there are not that many people I am aquainted with who were willing or able to do this race. (My teammate from last year was out of town).

Then I thought about Kevin’s sister, Meg, who is a Collegiate Cross Country coach. Tada! A runner! When asked if she would do it with me, she said yes!

Now, all you internet readers, remember how a couple posts ago I said that Kevin had running in his genes? Running IS in his family. This girl is a running beast–in the positive sense of beast. You immediately know this when she is off doing her stretching.

Hardcore warm up and stretching

Hardcore warm up and stretching

She finished the North Face Endurance Challenge 50mile race last year, which is, like the name, an endurance challenge. During her college running career, she ran in the NCAA Championships, and awarded a bunch of awesome titles, that you can read about here.  Thank you, Vassar Athletics webpage for allowing me to stalk info on your coaches. 

My stretching...Not sure what zone I am in.

My stretching…Not sure what zone I am in.

Meg finished both two mile segments in about 13minutes each.

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Having competed in this race twice before (last year with S.Z.B. and in 2011 as a one-woman team ), I failed to remember how absolutely horrible Dug Hill Road is. If you are unfamiliar with this road in West Hurley, thank your lucky stars, because unless you have a vehicle, or are being towed by something, you do not want to know it.

Starting the bike

Face of determination…starting the bike

It is basically 3 1/2 miles of uphill. The first three miles are straight uphill. Okay, okay, the first couple hundred feet are a rolling incline. But then it goes up. And up. Even when you think you are at the top, it is still rolling in an upward direction. The first eleven miles are fine, and you can even build speed, boosting self confidence. On numerous occasions, as my lungs flamed (why? who knows), I found myself thinking, “Man, this is a piece of cake.” Come Dug Hill, all positive self-talk plummets. Inbetween labored breathing come grunts and groans. And bless John McGovern, who played his bagpipes half way up the hill. But, really? I love bagpipes, but in the middle of Dug Hill, when I am already spewing every curse word know to man, you decide to play the bagpipes? Who, who, who enjoys hearing bagpipes when they are near death trudging up a goddamn hill? It’s as if tricking you to think you are at the end of the bike course, when you still have miles to go.* We are in West Hurley, not riding into a Scottish sunset with the theme of Braveheart in the background.

...And ending the bike, completely oblivious to troopers cheering me on

Face of defeat by the hill, completely oblivious to troopers cheering me on

Hence, I forced myself to the finish, bronchospasming, with remenants of my breakfast inching up my throat. I felt that no rides this season have helped prepare me for this. To be honest, I’ve spent more time running this year than years in the past when biking has taken priority. Marathon “preparation,” i.e. running, has a hold of me, full grip. The only thing keeping me from walking up Dug Hill was knowing an athlete was waiting for me, so that she could start her last leg of the race. To my surprise, I beat my best time on the hill by one minute.

Meg (pink) looking strong

Meg (pink) looking strong

Meg finishing strong...And as it looks, me ducking out of the photo to hurl

Meg finishing strong…(I’m not hurling to the side, I swear!)

Another differing aspect of the race than other races I have been to is the post-race food spread. A BBQ, salads, sweet foods, beverages…If I was not still feeling ill from the ride, I probably would have indulged in the amazing food.

Lo and behold, we took first place for the Women’s Relay Team. The Hudson Valley Girls did it again! (S.Z.B, you were missed)

First place Women's Relay Team

First place Women’s Relay Team

A fellow mountain biker and incredible athlete asked me how my training was for the marathon, and if I felt prepared. I’m pretty sure I just stared at her, as my “training” for this marathon (in less than two weeks, mind you) has encompassed six mile runs and a couple 13 milers. She said my training should be “winding down” now…And, I guess if the last time I ran longer than six miles was the half marathon in April, then, yes, my training is winding down. To be fair, I have developed an even greater love of mountain biking, and so on days off, I’ve wanted to save leg strength for rides as well.

Training

Basically, my training for the past couple weeks can be seen below, in the exact same sequence:

Wake up, inhale coffee, catch up on The Real Housewives, or other Hulu classics (What WAS Tamara thinking inviting Vicki to her gym?

Go for a run…Attempt to Strava the run, give up on Strava, and use Map My Run instead

Drink more coffee–usually iced, usually black

Go for a mountain bike ride, or road ride (I need to start spending more time on the road, as it is duathlon season)

Attempt to blog, but end up browsing potential races instead, then realize I have loads of errands to do

Prepare dinner

Meet up with Kevin and go for mountain bike ride #2 or walk (depending on my legs)

Eat, sleep,work

One would think that these upcoming races will be pieces of gluten-free cake, right?

Well, we will see….That is, if I survive this marathon.

*It was a nice touch, though. And, John McGovern is a triathlete wonder. In retrospect, it was pleasant having my attention diverted from the pain I was in.

Wet motivation

Wet motivation

Sometimes the best runs are the wet ones.

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Run- uh – Jogging

I had a stark realization the other day: my body is not what it used to be.

This may sound silly to you. But for some reason, “aging” and “body” were never an issue with me. I mean, aren’t the twenties the peak of a persons athletic performance?*If I felt like running for fourteen miles one day without running months before, my body would say, “Yeahhhhh here we go!” I ran my first marathon without training whatsoever for it, and my body was okay with it.

That was six years ago.

Now, when I want to go for a long run, my body screams, “Hellllllllll no!”

Okay, my body isn’t in that bad out of shape. But it is slightly out of running shape, as I found out the other day after my eleven mile run. Fine, even more honesty: it was less of a run and more like a jog. A very.Long.Jog.

The last time I ran longer than ten miles was last summer when training for a half iron man. Weather, work, life (and biking) became priorities over running. So runs became fast walks, and then strolls.

I know it takes time for muscles to get used to the motion of running, and, as it turns out, I think I might have started running a little too intensely (shin splints anyone?). Between the fatigued legs, and the painful shins, starting up running again has been the stark contrast of when I used to “pick running back up” a couple years ago, which is frustrating for a person who wants to be great right away.

I suppose we’ll just see how it goes. (I’m hoping the shin splints go away fast!….Any hints on how to get rid of shin splints?)

Last Week’s Training Round-up

Sunday: 4 mile run

Monday: 11.5 mile run-uh-jog

Tuesday: rest

Wednesday: in AM: 60 minutes on trainer (too yucky to ride outside) WU: 10min MS: 4x (8min at threshold, 2min recovery) CD:10min

in PM:  3mile run (on a treadmill–gasp! In a gym filled with germs–double gasp!!**)

Thursday: Rest

Friday: Same cycle workout as Wednesday, with a 4 mile run outside

Saturday: 40 min spin on the trainer***

Non- Training 

To combat the gross winter weather outside, I decided the inside of my house should have a “spring” feeling, hence began decorating for Easter.

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The ceramic birds are from a town close to where I used to live in Luxembourg, Nouspelt, where these little birds were (and are) made. There is a festival every Easter Monday  about these birds.

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I finally found a chocolate rabbit this morning small enough to complete my trio of decorated jars. The cashier saw it and exclaimed, “How cute! Perfect for a mid-day chocolate craving.” Naturally, you would think someone who is buying chocolate is going to consume it. My reply, “Not really, it’s for a decoration.” She looked at me puzzled, and smiled politely. I guess I am not the average person who buys chocolate. (That, and I am refraining from eating chocolate and sugar, which I will discuss later).

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The above cupcakes are cinnamon spice (I modified Martha Stewart’s Cinnamon Cupcake recipe) with maple buttercream and a maple syrup drizzle. The buttercream has real maple syrup– why is it so hard to find maple buttercream recipes that have real maple syrup instead of maple extract in it? A hit with coworkers.

* I’ve come across this in many fitness articles. However, aren’t some of the best atheletes in the world–Iron Man Champions and Ultra marathoners older than their twenties? Chrissy Wellington for example. In local duathlons, the largest age groups are those  30+ which gives me hope for the future.

**I loathe the gym. Especially in the winter, when sick people continue to work out and spread their germs on everything. Yes, you would think since I am a nurse and am around sick people all the time, germs would not ‘bug’ me. And, to an extent, in a hospital, they do not. But ‘bugs’ outside the hospital bother me. However, living in the Northeast, gyms are, on occasion, a place I need to go to run. 

***Or rest day–being on your feet for twelve hours makes early workouts before work tough.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

What’s been happening this holiday season?

My man ran his second Turkey Trot, and is a Speedy Gonzales. I decided he will start training for a marathon after the first run we did together…He just doesn’t know it yet.

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I think my taste in shoes rubbed off on him.

No one can miss two people running in these shoes.

He has been a true sport, indulging in my (perhaps sometimes excessive) love for this season; from dragging him around Rhinebeck to look at store displays and holiday decorations to  watching a Muppet Christmas Carol with me…Okay, he fell asleep five minutes into the movie, but he started watching it with me, and put up with me singing along with the muppets to what might be the best Christmas soundtrack out there. Last weekend, we were able to have a “late” night out on the town, giving me the opportunity to snap a zillion photos, and force Kevin to take photos in front of the Rhinebeck Christmas tree.

All dressed up ready for dessert

All dressed up, ready for dessert

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He gives “digging in” a new meaning

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It’s his, “What did I get myself into with this crazy girl?” look.

Sinterklaas came!

Sinterklaas came!

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Kevin was a little jealous of Santa…

I was able to decorate trees that Martha Stewart would be proud of. From this:

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The tree was a little heavier than I thought…And a little larger…

To this:

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The best gifts ever, homemade chainring ornaments with spoke hanger-things, had to come out from their hiding place, and hang on Molly crafted garlands.

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Even Kevin got in the spirit when decorating his tree with the five ornaments he owns…He was warned of how excited I get in the winter last year when he was greeted at his front door with a strange girl holding a bag of Christmas tree ornaments in one hand, and four foot tree–already put together–in the other. Yes, that girl was me. To be fair, I waited until after Thanksgiving this year to decorate his house for Christmas. All I need is for Silk soymilk to come out with their Chocolate mint milk, and I’ll be all set for the season.

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Nurses rock, even snow-woman nurses

Nurses rock, even snowman nurses

My bike is very happy that the weather in December has been amazing as of late. Yes, I miss the time when I didn’t have to worry about losing feeling in my digits, but I could get used to having no snow, even as much as I love white winters.

So long, warm autumns...

So long, warm weather…See you in a couple months

I seem to find new trails–or make my own trails thinking they are actual trails– and come across crazy bike obstacles going down hills. I thought about trying out my skillz on said obstacles, but then decided my arms and legs are much more useful to me when not broken.

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Mountain bikes seem to be accumulating in the barn. Watching Kevin play on his new full suspension bike was like watching a little child receiving the toy truck he asked Santa for…So long, rigid Dean…

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My man’s got skillz

…Kevin will be found on a bike with a suspension fork from now on.

Kevins full suspension bike

And I leave you with a song straight from a Muppet Christmas Carol.

Happy Holidays!

"Wherever you find love, it feels like Christmas"

“Wherever you find love, it feels like Christmas”

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