Redemption

Is there a race that you have a love/hate relationship with?

I do. It’s the Ulster County Duathlon.

The Ulster County Triathlon/Duathlon was my first ever multi-sport race in 2010. It was back when I did not even own my own bike, nonetheless actually ride a bike. But, I thought it would be fun. I remember showing up at the race having no clue what to do–how to set up my bike–nor what the course was like. My mother was visiting at the time, and knowing she would be up early,I  gave her a call to see if she would come watch the race (in other words, I was scared out of my mind, and needed to borrow a watch to wear). The bike I borrowed was in okay condition, but I had numerous chain issues, and am pretty sure I had only ridden on it once before.  I finished it in a reasonable time, and despite the not-so-friendly course, embarked on this “journey” of multisport training. I loved it when it was over.

Finish of my first duathlon ever...Before I even knew they actually had triathlon shorts you could wear and not bike shorts...

Finish of my first duathlon ever…Before I even knew they actually had triathlon shorts you could wear and not bike shorts…

In 2011, I did the race again. Emotionally, it was the worst race I have ever completed (except for Mooseman). Now, looking back, I know why it was so miserable: lack of sleep, poor nutrition, and sheer exhaustion before you start a race is pretty much a recipe for disaster. It took me 43 minutes to run 3.5miles. I walked most of it. After the race, I could only beat myself up for the poor performance. I hate the course. I swore I would never do it again.

This year, I wanted to redeem myself. Prove to  myself that I could actually complete this race in a decent time (in other words, finish it in the time it took me the first year I did it). And redeem myself I did.

The course for the duathlon is tough in terms of sprint courses go. You start at the bottom of a hill, and the first mile is a sprint up the hill. Some athletes ran the mile a little over six minutes. I have no idea how that is possible, considering the fact you are running up. The bike is two 9-mile loops, with some rolling terrain. I think it might be the most difficult bike course out of the duathlons I have done in the area, plus the fact the transition area is at the bottom of the hill that you just ran down. (The bike course is also four miles longer than the other courses). The last run starts, again, at the bottom of the hill. Despite a decline, the majority of the first two miles of the 3.5mile out-and-back course is uphill. Sounds like fun, right? I’m pretty sure I complained about how much I hate this course half a dozen times with others.

I finished the race eight minutes faster than the first time I tried it. That may not seem very fast, but to me, that is an improvement…Where I found I improved most was on the runs, and for that I must admit it and thank Strava for keeping me running.  I finished the first mile in 7:42. May not seem fast, but considering I was sprinting up a hill, for me, that was awesome. Especially since I had a wire metal thing that decided to stick to the bottom of my running shoe mid-sprint and annoy the crap out of me (thankfully it fell off the shoe on its own).

Running back down to transition

Running back down to transition…And checking my watch.

The bike portion went okay. I think recent runs-then-bike rides on my days off helped my body become accustomed to riding right after running. There was one section where I was trying to pass another racer, who just would not give in. Finally, we reached a climb and I had to pass him. Of course, while doing so, he stated, “Maybe you need to clean your gears, sounds like shifting is a problem.” I responded, “Yup, probably.” As I sped up, I heard the guy exclaim, “You are making me look bad now!”

To that, I could not help but smile to myself and shout, “Sorry!”

Finishing!

Finishing!

I finished less than two minutes after the duathlon women’s first place winner. I could beat myself up for walking up the hills during the last run leg, or ask myself why I did not push myself more on the bike, but for the first time I decided to give myself a break from self criticism and say, “Good show, Mol. Good show.”

….And that is the best feeling in the world.

Second place overall for the Women's Duathlon

Second place overall for the Women’s Duathlon

A huge thank you to all of the race volunteers, law enforcement directing traffic, medical staff, and New York Triathlon organizers for a challenging but rewarding race.

And a big thanks to Mr. K.J.Young for being the best supporter out there, race swag thief, and official team photographer. 

Below is a link from a local newspaper regarding the race:

Area Athletes Score Top Honors at Healthy Ulster Triathlon, Duathlon

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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?

 

 

Something New, Something Tri-ed

I was supposed to write this post yesterday….And, really, had no excuse not to write it, since it was rainy and yucky outside all day. I know we need the rain, but after being incredibly happy with the gorgeous weather we had last week and all the rides and runs (oops okay, run) I was able to go on, having grey, gloomy, rain and wind is simply not my cup of tea. By the way, like my play on words in the title there?

Training

Yes, last week we had amazing weather. And I was able to enjoy almost all of it. I stuck to the triathlon training plan posted last week except for the speed run work out and one swim workout. I still cannot get over the fact that I simply dislike swimming. Especially in pools. Ohh lake water, when will you be warm enough so that I can swim in you and not get hypothermia? I did some more mountain bike rides thrown into the bunch as well, since I need to get somewhat better by June 10th when my first ever mountain bike race is (that has a cave….a cave…darkness…scared? Slightly). I still fall, but not as much, at least I don’t think.

Fur Ball getting her tan on

I actually found some new routes around my neck of the woods for road rides which was awesome; and found roads which should not be ridden on a road bike. **Note: if a sign says “Uneven, Unpaved Road Ahead,” they ain’t lyin’.

Catskills in the background

What I consider my artsy shot

I also learned (even though I am a nurse and know SO much better than to do this, I do) that water and gu (ewwww I hate gu) do not really help you when heat stroke strikes. Yes, I decided to get my long ride over and done with last monday–ohh, and also decided it would be a good idea to go for 60 miles instead of the 45 scheduled– on the hottest day this year. You know, at noon when it’s ninety degrees outside. STUPID STUPID. Don’t do it. Just DON’T. Despite the consequences of my ride, I did get one good picture in, which is below.

Side of a barn in the middle of fields

My IT band injury/hip/knee problem seems to be okay, and I was able to go for a run last week–it took longer than I have ever run in my life, but I had no problems afterwards. Not that you really care about that. On that note, I was recently introduced to Strava™. Have you heard of it? It’s this program that records your rides/runs/routes, kind of like a Garmin watch, but you can compare yourself to other people who have ridden/run the same route, and see who is fastest. Perfect discovery for the non-competitive over the top competitive person I can be. Usually, though, the competitiveness was just during races. But now with Strava™….

My first duathlon is this upcoming Saturday. I’m not quite sure how I’m feeling. Well, truth be told, I’m fine about the biking, just terrified of the running. I know the course–it is nice and flat–and in my old ‘hood, so we shall see how that goes, and how my hip and knee will like my sprinting (insert terrified face here).

The Saturday after (I cannot believe racing season is here already!), I’m doing the Trooper Biathlon which I did last year (if you are bored you can read about it here). It is actually a duathlon–run then bike then run). But this year, I decided to do it as a team–I will do the biking, and she will do the running. Perfect! We are actually trying to think of team names for ourselves, so if you have any ideas, feel free to give your suggestions.

Strawberry Cake Pops

Back in February it was my friend’s birthday, and I wanted to bake her a surprise birthday cake. I did most of it, but something came up and couldn’t make it. So, two months later, I decided to finally bake a cake for her. Well, cake pops to be more precise. I also made cake balls, as I soon tired of making the cake pops. I didn’t make ordinary pops either. I made strawberry cake pops. If you want to see how I make my basic cake pops, I wrote a post about it here.  I’m still new with the whole cake pop making thing, so they aren’t perfect.

Ingredients

  • Red Velvet cake with Cream Cheese frosting
  • Haribo sour straws (green colored–cut into 1/4 inch pieces)
  • Green, red, and multi-colored candy coating
  • Sprinkles
  • Sugar pearls
Flowers
First, I made the flower tops for the strawberries. To do that, I melted green candy coating in a candy piping bag until it was melted enough to use, and piped flowers onto grease proof paper. It took a couple tried before I actually got the look I was aiming for, so in the picture, that is why you might see loads of flowers. I piped the outline of the flower first, then filled it in.

Ingredients, and melted candy coating in piping bag

Once the flowers were dry, which doesn’t take long at all, I removed them from the grease proof paper and turned them onto the other side, which was completely smooth. I then piped a dot of green onto the middle of the flower and placed a sour straw and let them dry.

Before....After

I know they aren’t perfect…As I said before, it’s still a learn-as-you-go-trial-and-error baking craft
Cake Pops

I actually made the cake in advance and froze it then defrosted it, which came out fine–I’ve never frozen a cake before so was slightly concerned about that at first. Anyway, I formed the cake balls in the normal fashion, but for the strawberries, shaped them into rounded cones (thank you, Bakerella–I still strive to have my cake pops look as good as yours).

After freezing, I dipped them into the red candy coating and immediately added sugar pearls. After they dried, I added the top “flower” by adding a touch of red coloring as glue. Then, for the first time, I actually put the pops in styrofoam to dry, which is SO much easier, and sturdier, to keep them from tipping over, than an egg craton that I used in the past. Although, a flower holder (which is in the picture below) works well, too. It is important to refrigerate the pops afterwards, because of the cream cheese frosting….And, so that they do not melt.

Before entering the fridge

Since my friend likes to plant, I decided to display the cake pops in a terra-cotta planter that she could re-use later.

End result

And, to be somewhat crafty, I individually wrapped the cake balls (made out of the same Red Velvet cake) into a box. For the cake balls, right after I dipped them in coating, I sprinkled the toppings on top.

Now, I’m off to the dreaded pool to show off my lovely bruised and scratched legs, thanks to you, mountain biking.

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