Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Some Advice for Training For Your First 140.6 Iron Distance Triathlon

My life this past summer pretty much centered on training for the Rev3 Cedar Point Full, which was my first 140.6 iron-distance triathlon. It was a life-changing experience and I am looking forward to tackling a new 140.6 next fall. 

I thought it might be helpful to those considering taking on their first 140.6 next season to impart some of the things that I have learned and found to be helpful in my prep for Cedar Point:

  • Swim, bike and run often. Even in the off season you want to make sure that you’re engaging in at least one session in each discipline each week. This helps ease you into the training plan when it is time to get serious.
  • Have a plan and work the plan. An iron-distance race is too big of a task to wing it. You need to be both mentally and physically prepared. While no athlete can commit to 100% of the workouts (life gets in the way on occasion) you should commit to 95%. The plan will keep you focused even through life’s little setbacks.
  • Build endurance early on. But don’t overdo it in the training. Keep it easy on most days. You can challenge yourself by selecting a spring endurance event that you can focus on and it’s also a good idea to race a 70.3 half distance triathlon somewhere between 6-12 weeks out from your 140.6 race.
  • Seek the advice of elders. Never be afraid to ask your experienced peers that have already completed this challenge for advice. Most of the time they will happily share what they have learned along the way.
  •   Have some fun along the way. One of the best things about triathlon is the people you will meet and train with and cheer for. It is a fun and social sport. Make sure you have some fun along the way and don’t take yourself too seriously.
  • Be well. When taking on a challenge like 140.6 it is so important to be well. Make sure that you eat to fuel your body. Treats are okay but eat the good stuff too…lots of fruits and veggies and lean proteins and whole grains or alternative grains like quinoa, buckwheat, etc. And sleep well. Aim for eight hours a night especially during your build periods. Don’t be afraid to nap or kick your feet up when you can. And take vitamins and supplements like probiotics and vitamin C to keep your body’s immunity up.
  • Don’t forget recovery. With such a physically demanding challenge you must allow your body some time to recover as well. Designate a day to rest and stretch each week especially during the build periods. For me it works out well to take Mondays off after a long weekend of training. I sleep in a little and then get up and stretch well for 20-30 minutes. If you’re really restless on recovery days you can always allow yourself a short one or two mile walk.
  • Be Flexible on race day. It's a long day of racing and things may not go exactly as you've planned or envisioned. It's okay, your real goal is just to get to that finish line. Forget the time goals or doubting yourself if one leg of the race doesn't go well. You have done the training and you can do it. Stay mentally strong. Focus. The finish line awaits!


If you decide to go the full distance know that it is okay to have moments of frustration, worry or doubt.  Just don’t let those let those little worries hold you back because you can do anything you set your mind to if you follow a good plan, take good care of yourself and believe in yourself. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

2014 Salt Fork Challenge Race Report - 10.4 miles and 1900 feet of rocks, roots, mud and beauty!

Years back the Ohio Outside Salt Fork Trail Challenge was my first trail race. Steve and I actually ran it together for fun and ended up walking a good deal of it. This year we both wanted to race it and see what we could do.

For a 10 mile trail race it is a very challenging race! Salt Fork is full of hills and single track and mud and beauty! I loved this race and will most certainly do it again!

Shot of the park on drive in
Steve and I had planned a little get away for the race so we headed down Friday afternoon through some yucky Cleveland weather to the snow-free trails of Southern, Ohio. Salt Fork is located close to Cambridge, Ohio, which was about a 2.5-3 hour drive for us from Mentor. We stopped for a smoothie at Robeks on the way down and checked into our room about 4:00. On the way into the park I couldn't help but snap some pictures so I could share this beauty with my friends and family back home.

After unpacking and relaxing for a little while we went to pick up our packets and then headed to dinner at the restaurant in the lodge. The beer selection was not too great, which was no big deal as we had come prepared!

Salt fork hoodies!
It was a relaxing and fun night and we were able to enjoy some of our own hoppy beers after dinner as well as some tasty snacks. Our Salt Fork hoodies came in very handy as they were nice and cozy to wear around that evening and post race! We were also able to sleep in since we were onsite already, which was an awesome bonus!

Race Morning:

The wake-up call came at 7 am and I felt well rested. Steve brewed us some coffee and we ate some breakfast, got dressed and headed out for a warm up mile before the race. It was really cold early in the morning by by the race start at 9:30, it had warmed up some. In fact I ran back to our room to change my shirt so I didn't overheat.

Steve and I lined up together and chatted for a minute before the race. The race starts in front of the lodge with a fast, downhill trek through the parking lot and then quickly heads off road into the grass and through some bushes heading into the trails of Salt Fork. I tried not to go out too fast as is often my modus operandi because I knew the later miles were going to hurt. The footing was tricky due to heavy leaf coverage and I managed to trip and fall early on within the first mile. I was right back up before I could even be passed but this instilled in me very early into the race to use light feet.

With it being a technical trail with a variety of terrain and conditions as well as elevation, it's not a real fast course so you can't really plan to just go out and run an 8-minute mile. Some sections are fast like that but most are slower going as you have to really watch your footing and what lies ahead. I really love this aspect of trail running because it is NEVER boring as it can be running on the road at times. You can't just zone out. This makes for a very zen and interesting run.

There were some muddy sections and I even passed a woman who had lost her shoe in the mud around mile 3.5 or 4.
Muddy feet after the race!
I used that as an opportunity to try to distance myself from some other women. I wasn't sure what place I was in until just after the road leading to the aid station where a man yelled to me "third place female". This gave me a boost and I was prepared in advance of the aid station as I had taken in my gel and just quickly stopped to throw away the packet and sip some water. I took off on the road because this is a strong spot for me and I wanted to gain some advantage over the woman right behind me. This worked well as I glanced down at my Garmin and saw that I was running in the lower 7's for that section.

Of course once we headed back into the hilly grass section things were not moving as fast. A young woman came out of nowhere around mile 7 and took off ahead of me. She was soon out of my sight and I was in 4th and just trying to stay steady within myself. The fatigue was starting to set in for me and the end of the race is not easy. I really started to feel myself weaken and fade in the last mile of the race and another woman had passed me but I would not allow myself to get into a walking pattern and throw it all away. My thoughts of food, beer and Steve kept me moving.

My Award!
The last section is challenging straight uphill through the grass and a woman tried to pass me but I was able to fight her off and push through to the end of the race. It was a painful finish but it was a nice feeling to cross the finish line and be handed an award for 2nd in the 30-39 age group and 6th female.

The 10-year age groups made it difficult as Steve didn't place in his age group of 40-49 but was the first over 45. In looking at the results it was a competitive race. I would have liked to have held onto my top 3 status but better luck next time. It was still an awesome race and a hell of a good workout!

Our other award! Yakima!
We had to get back quickly for my cousin's funeral so we were not able to enjoy a beer right away but we did stop for a quick bite to eat at Einstein Bagels on the way back. After the funeral we headed to Ray's Place in Kent for a hoppy beer and dinner. Then we stopped at World of Wine in Mentor to fill the awesome growler we bought with some Columbus Brewing Yakima Fresh Hop Ale! Yep, that was worth 10.4 miles and 1900+ feet of running and climbing!

Ohio Outside does a great job with their races and I definitely recommend this one if you like a challenge on the trails!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

2014 Autumn Leaves Race Report

This was my second year of racing the NERC Autumn Leaves 5 Miler at the Lake Farmpark in Kirtland. This is a grassroots cross country style race with a fun vibe and some solid competition. It is definitely not a PR course but a great race to challenge yourself and have some fun. Each year the course is altered some, which also makes it interesting.

Steve raced also so we were able to eat breakfast and get in our warm ups together. It was a chilly morning so we did our best to stay warm up until the race start. The start is fast as it begins with a downhill section and quickly winds down through some of the dirt roads within the farmpark before heading into some lengthy sections of pasture. The grass was long and muddy from rains the night before. As usual this made for some slower footing. After about 2 miles the course winds through a corn maze. This year the maze section was longer. The twists and turns through the maze and the slippery sections definitely make it a challenging part of the course. If a corn maze won't get your heart rate up then I don't know what will!

I'm in the pink chasing 1st in my AG ahead of me after the corn maze
Coming out of the maze you reenter the pasture and there are some nice hills to keep that heart pumping. I had been passed by two women (including the one who won my AG) not long before entering the maze but was not able to close the gap as I had hoped. The rest of the race I just tried to run within myself and give what I could that day. After coming off a bad race the week before where I pulled out halfway due to lingering foot issues I wasn't sure how I'd fare a week later, especially in harder conditions. Fortunately the foot held up okay for me.

When we finally got out of the last pasture section and hit the dirt road leading back the finish I felt both happy and annoyed. My garmin had showed 40:01 (a slower time than last year by about a minute) but it also showed the course as 5.18 miles. In my mind I ran as best as I could on a hard course and ended up placing 9th female and 2nd in the 35-39AG (which is where I placed last year). All in all I am happy with the result and looking forward to tacking the the Salt Fork 10 Mile Challenge next weekend.

Post race with our award beer glasses!
Steve had a great race and finished with the same time as last year (33 & change), given the longer course. He placed 8th overall and 1st in the 45-49AG. We both won new glasses, which were perfect to enjoy the tasty IPAs we had that night to celebrate another race in the books.


Monday, October 13, 2014

2014 Northern OH Half Marathon Race Report

I can be stubborn. It's both a good and bad trait to have as an athlete. I had looked forward to the Lake Health Northern OH half marathon for months. I felt like it would be a great opportunity to go for a shiny, new half marathon PR. And it probably was a good opportunity for that; however, my circumstances had changed. Last Sunday I started to get sick and by the time the weekend rolled around I was still sick with a seasonal bronchitis that I tend to get each year with the seasonal changes. I told myself if I felt okay race eve and race morning I would go for the PR. As luck would have it I did feel better although not 100% so I made a judgement call and decided to give it 100% effort.

Prerace:

I had slept pretty well the night before the race and was up at 5:45 to get ready, which really just consisted of getting dressed, using the restroom and eating breakfast. Steve was racing as well and we left the house around 6:30. We parked near the start in Fairport Harbor at 6:45 and headed out for a little mile warm up and to meet my friend Jillian to give her the race packet we'd picked up for her the day before. It was a chilly morning with temps in the high 30s.

Start & First 8 Miles:

I lined up near the front of the pack a couple of rows back on the left side as the course started with a straight away quickly leading to a downhill ending with a left-hand turn. A few of my friends that were racing were nearby as well as Steve. I tried to stay warm until the bullhorn sounded for the start. It was a fast start and the downhill section was a little rough on my knees with the cold temps. My first mile was a little fast being sub seven but I knew I would slow down and settle in soon after and I did. My early splits were all between 7:25-7:35 so about right where I wanted to be. At mile 5 before the aid station I took in my first gel and felt pretty good heading into the little climb up Courdoroy road. I noticed my tempo starting to slow a little as we approached Headlands Beach for the turn-around so I took in another gel here at mile 8.

The Last 5 Miles & Finish:

The sun was out and it definitely warmed up the back part of the race, which I was okay with. I was able to lose my arm warmers and focus on the task at hand. There is some climbing heading back toward Fairport over by Pickle Bills and then again a little later. These splits did not look as good as I had some 8 minute miles in there and I had been passed by one woman. I really just tried to stay focused and not over think those miles. I figured I had some time from the early miles in the bank and knew I could get back on track. I still felt kindof bonkish though and did a final gel coming up before mile 11. That one didn't sit as well in the tummy but did give me a little boost.

The course was changed from last year so instead of crossing the bridge to head back toward the beach, a decent little climb up to a side street was added. This was a little tough at mile 11 and I slowed a bit there but was able to quickly get back on track as my heart rate came down. The last two miles I focused on a nice, fast cadence and trying to hold steady around 7:30-7:40 pace. I did start to wonder if the finish would ever come as I was more tired than usual for a half. Finally made the turn onto 2nd street toward the finish and was happy to be done with the race. I had come up short on the PR with a 1:40:45 but that was good enough for 7th place female and first in the 35-39 age group. It was also a PR for this particular course where I had run 1:42 and change last year.


Postrace & Closing Thoughts:

Steve, me, Jillian, Courtney & Chris post-race
After the race was not pretty. I walked over to the car and basically coughed up a lung or two. I was pretty exhausted from pushing myself. Eventually I changed into warmer, dry clothes and headed to the finish area to hang out with my friends and get some food. Steve ended up PR'ing and having a great race with a 1:27 and change and my friends Jillian, Courtney & Chris had all PRd also. I was happy for them but definitely feeling disappointed about my own performance. Everyone had things to do or just wanted to go home and relax so Steve and I headed home. I was not feeling well at all and spent much of the day in bed resting. In hindsight maybe I should have either sat this one out or went a little easier given my situation. Lesson Learned. I guess I can't beat myself up too much as I was only a minute and change off from my PR and that was at the Towpath, which is more of a PR-friendly course.

To make up for this race I feel I owe it to myself to try again when I am healthier so I have signed up for the Buckeye half in Akron later this month. It is a pretty flat course and I have run it years back when they held it in the summer. I'm looking forward to seeing what I can do at 100%. Hoping there's a sub 1:39 in me! If not, I may try again in late November.








Monday, October 6, 2014

Lakeland Clock Tower 5K Race Report

It's been a long time since I've run a 5K. In fact I think the last 5K I ran was in spring of 2012. I've just been so focused on endurance lately and haven't been able to fit in many shorter races. When I heard about this race I decided to do it because my daughter goes to college at Lakeland and I wanted to support the college and local community that I live in.

I had no real time to train for speed just coming off the Ironman recovery four weeks ago so I did not have high expectations for my performance. In fact I am surprised that it went as well as it did. Pleasantly surprised of course! It was a chilly day with temps around 45 degrees and some wind. Steve and I got in an easy mile warm up and tried to stay warm until the start. I lined up close to the front as it was not a big race. I told myself to have fun running and just do the best I could do that day. It was nice not feeling a lot of pressure and maybe that helped me to relax and enjoy myself.

The race started right in front of the clock tower that has become the symbol for the college throughout the community. The first mile was a little downhill and winding through the campus. It was a pretty fast first mile with my first split coming in at 6:40. I was pleased with this pace as I was not pushing as hard as I could but did not want to go out too fast and pay for it later not knowing how hilly the course would be when they mentioned running up Garfield Rd to the turn around. Fortunately the course was pretty flat with just one hill but then some gradual uphill heading back through the campus. I was able to see Steve around the half way point and he was in third place and looking strong. I took off after the turn around and hit the 2 mile mark with a 6:45 pace. I definitely slowed a little the last mile with the gradual uphill and wind but I was able to hold on to around a 7 minute pace for a finish of 21:17 (6:51 pace), which I believe is a new 5K PR for me. I was 2nd place female so that was a nice, unexpected bonus on a day where I didn't expect much from myself!

Post race picture with Steve and Lakeland in the background
Steve ended up finishing 3rd male with an 18:37, a new PR for him as well! I am pleased with how much the endurance work and cross training from triathlon has helped us with our running this season!

I got to see my friend Jessica (who I coached this year for Team in Training) and her family at the race. Her daughter Hannah came in 3rd place with a 23+ minute pace at 12 years old, which is so impressive!

Lakeland did a great job with the race and had lots of terrific snacks for the runners as well as a nice upbeat vibe with music and awards. I hope to do the race again and see it grow as this was only the second year they've had it.

After the race Steve and I headed over to Chapin Forest for another 5 mile run on the trails. It was the perfect fall day to run! After that we stopped at the Kirtland Diner and had a hard-earned, delicious breakfast. We of course had some celebratory beers later as well!

Next up is the Lake Health Northern Ohio Half Marathon this weekend! I'm hoping to earn myself a shiny, new PR there as well but have to see what the day and these legs bring. Stay tuned!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Recipe for a Better Looking, Stronger, Healthier Body

As an athlete and trainer I take my health pretty seriously. A big part of health is diet. Of course as with anything there has to be balance. If you are one of the few people that has perfected the art of never cheating on your diet then congratulations - you can move on from reading this article. I can't help you if you're perfect because I am not perfect. I am a person who loves to eat that strives to balance the demands of time: family, training, work and social activities all while trying to make good decisions along the way.

This article is for athletes and health conscious people that care more about just looking good. If you want to look good and that's your only motivation there are a number of "get skinny quick" diets out there, which include the ever popular juice and shake only cleanses. I can't help you with a quick fix. The fact of the matter is that being skinny alone does not have any indication of your health. There are skinny people that are very unhealthy and/or malnourished. My personal opinion is that being lean and strong is more much healthy and important to having a long, quality life.

Much like Google's search algorithm, good health is not one component alone but rather a blend of components that add up to make the best possible result. You can think of it as a recipe of sorts for a stronger, healthier body that is also better looking. Below is a list of suggestions to get your health and your body to where you want to be. The balance and importance of all these things is up to you. Don't expect huge changes overnight and don't allow temporary setbacks to derail you. Health and fitness is a lifelong commitment.

The Recipe:

On eating:
  • Decrease your caloric intake: If you're trying to lose weight an overall decrease in calories is needed or else you will NOT lose weight. For athletes this can be tricky. You can't really lose weight training for and competing in endurance sports for example. If you've ever tried to go for a long run on a day where you skipped or had very few carbs to sustain your workout you'll likely recall that feeling of fatigue and yuckyness often described as "hitting the wall". So lose weight in the "off" season in part by cutting calories.
  • Drink more water and non-caffeinated healthy drinks such as herbal tea
  • Cut out the sugar and not only that but the fake stuff. Splenda is not as healthy for you as the makers of Splenda want you to believe. If you must use sugar consider using the organic cane sugar in small amounts. I've recently switched to organic coconut palm sugar. You can also use Stevia and Agave or pure honey.
  • Read labels - Never believe what the packaging says. They lie. Be educated on what you put into your body. Sugar has over 50 names. And know if it's GMO-free. What are GMO's you ask? Google it. 
  • Less Meat - Vegetarian diets are not for everyone. Eating meat is fine if the quality is there. Do not just eat "junk" meat. Eat organic, hormone-free, free range, lean high quality meats like poultry and lean beef. Limit meats with less nutritional value and saturated fats such as pork. Even if you are a meat eater you can cut back your intake. Experts recommend eating meatless at least one or two days a week now. 
  • More Fruits and Veggies - That old saying "an apple day keeps the doctor away" had to come from somewhere. Eat fresh, organic or cleaned, raw fruits and veggies. Try to eat at least a few servings of each  day mixing colors and varieties. Beets for example are excellent for your health and have been shown to increase your aerobic endurance and stamina. Greens and berries help fight off cancer and lots of illnesses.
  • Good fats - your body DOES need fats to run properly but not the fats you get in a fried cheeseburger and fries. I'm not saying you can't indulge when the mood strikes you just make it a treat. The good fats come from wild fish like salmon and tuna, olive oil, avocado, raw nuts like almonds and cashews, peanuts and seeds.
  • Cut out the junk - if it comes in a box in the middle of the grocery store it is not a whole food. Limit your intake of these convenience snack foods and meals.
  • Less Dairy - as delicious as it is limit your dairy intake. It is processed. There are many good alternatives these days like almond milk, coconut milk, organic soymilk. I'll never give up cheese entirely but I know I can't eat it all the time. It's nutritional value is overrated and it is a fatty food and not in a good way.
  • Ditch the crappy wheat - the only wheat bread you should EVER eat is sprouted, whole grain. Otherwise look for gluten free options. But remember while gluten free is better than wheat gluten free does not equal guilt free. Watch the carbs!
  • Alcohol - this is a tricky one for craft beer lovers like me. Lately I've been trying to drink the lighter, fractional IPAs during the week, having a glass of red wine or abstaining. Alcohol of any form does add on the calories so if you're watching calories you either have to cut back here or somewhere. I've been known to forego the bread and have a beer but that's just me.
On exercise:

  • Do it daily: Exercise at least five days each week. Don't make excuses just do it. 
  • Cardio + Strength: Alternate cardio and weight training. For runners and triathletes I know it's easy to let the weight training go but it is essential to injury prevention and also to looking and feeling stronger and better. All the cardio in the world won't work for the majority of people. Mix in some yoga, pilates, free weights - whatever you like just get the core work in at least 2-3 x week in the off season and 1-2 during the season.
  • Try new things for better results: repetition does not necessarily lead to the result you might think it does. Try new things. Confuse your muscles and see the results. 
  • Fueling for workouts: Fuel any workouts over an hour. For anything under use your discretion. For hard and long workouts be sure to fuel after with a blend of carbs and protein for cardio and protein for strength work.
On wellness:
  • Listen to your body: rest when you need rest, are extra tired, fighting a cold, etc. Don't push through to your detriment. 
  • Quiet your mind: take some quiet time each week to decompress, meditate if you're into that or else just relax and enjoy something like a good book or whatever helps you feel peaceful and relaxed. Our daily lives are hectic and we deserve and need this time to rejuvinate.
  • Take high-quality supplements: just as with your food read the label for your vitamins and supplements. You should at minimum take a whole foods multi-vitamin, fish or flaxseed oil and vitamin D if you live in a region like Ohio where the sunlight is limited especially in the winter months.
As you can see a large part of how you look and feel is related to your diet but exercise and wellness are also important to your overall health. Commit to continuous improvement. You may never be perfect but you can improve little by little.



Friday, September 12, 2014

2014 Rev3 Cedar Point 140.6 Race Report - Part 2 - A Lesson in Humility

I knew it was going to be difficult to complete my first 140.6 race but never in a million years did I expect it to be as difficult as it was. It was the hardest thing I've ever done. Physically and mentally. Even though almost everyone I talked to said to "just finish" this one, I had higher hopes for my finish time. I can't help it. As a competitive person I want to always do my best. I know I shouldn't care what other people think about my performance but I do care. So when things started out so rough for me Sunday I battled my mind for hours and hours. Sure I might not have the time I had imagined but I would under no circumstances not finish this race! It meant too much for me. And it meant something to the people that love me and all of the people that supported me along the way including my Rev3 teammates, friends and family members. I didn't want to let them down.

Prerace setup in Transition
Prerace:

Steve and I got to transition around 6am with plenty of time to setup our bike fuel and our gear bags. It was dark and we were both more quiet than usual - probably the fear of the unknown stirring in both of us.  Transition buzzed with activity but all I could hear were my thoughts...We did the training, we practiced open water swimming at Mentor Headlands, we put in the long rides and the long runs. We should be ready for this. We have to be ready for this. We said hi to a few of my teammates and friends and got ready for the stroll down the beach to the swim start.

As daylight neared it was clear that the water was not as calm as I had hoped it would be. It sounded more like Ocean Erie than Lake Erie. I drowned out the worrisome thoughts and focused on my breathe. When we arrived to the start we had a little time for a warm up. The waves weren't too bad in the warm up and I felt good. The water felt pretty warm to me and I was ready to get it started. The waiting is always the part I dislike the most. They called us back out of the water and my teammate Rachel snapped a quick shot of us before the start. We saw some teammates and CTC friends and we all prepared for the start.
Almost go time! 


The Swim: 2.4 Miles of FML

I entered towards the back left of the pack with Steve and as we started to enter the water it seemed like the water grew more wild. Waves were smacking against our bodies and I tried to make it fun like when you're at the beach and you wave jump. After a minute of running in and a couple dolphin dives the swim was on. I could tell that it would be challenging swimming against the current with the waves and chop but I felt ready to take on the day so I kept calm and freestyled for what seemed like forever to get to the turn around bouy. I looked at my watch, which read 52 minutes. I was 10-12 minutes behind my goal pace so not great but not terrible in a rough swim such as this.

The second loop was definitely worse. The water was rougher and after seeing my teammate Susan backstroke I decided to do the same. It was a nice break from having the waves blast me in the face. The only obvious problem with this is the lack of sighting. Occasionally I'd flip back onto my tummy and freestyle or breaststroke to position myself. Even moving straight ahead it was very difficult to see the buoys and even other swimmers. There were a couple points in the race where I was just
The Swim start
treading water in the middle of the lake trying to decipher which way to go. I'd wait for a swimmer or kayaker to point me and I'd be off again. I looked at my watch and was shocked to see that I had been in the water for an hour and 50 minutes as I saw the last set of candy corn looking buoys I knew I didn't have much time so I did my best to push through despite being tired and feeling seasick. It felt like it took me forever to get to the shore and I looked at my watch in disbelief as it read 2 hours and 10 minutes. Most of my practice swims of 3500-4000 meters at headlands had taken me no more than an hour and 15 or 20 minutes so I of course was pretty fatigued not to mention sick to my stomach from taking in numerous gulps of tasty Lake Erie water. I have never been so thankful to finish a swim. I never thought I would drown or anything but I wanted to quit so many times on the second loop that I just had to keep my mind on the task at hand.

T1: 

I had a long T1 at 12+ minutes and at the point after the long, disappointing swim I really didn't care how long I took in transition. I was frustrated and sick to my stomach. Fortunately my Rev3 teammate Laura was in the women's changing tent to help comfort me and get me ready for the long ride ahead. She helped me get my head into a better place. I'm thankful to have teammates/friends who genuinely care about me and my well being.

The Bike: 112 Miles of Blah


I love the bike. Some days I even love it more than the run. This day however was not one of those days! It was a long, sufferous ride for me. For the first hour I was seasick and throwing up so I was not able to get in any nutrition. Once I started to eat I felt better but I definitely felt fatigued from swimming a lot longer than I had anticipated. And there were some funky winds as usual that I just
Beautiful, sunny day for the ride albeit windy!
didn't have much energy to fight. My plan had been to average at least 18, which I did only for the first split. My second split quite frankly sucked but I was able to get back on track somewhat on the second half. The special needs bag at mile 50 was a godsend. I chugged an iced coffee and ate some chocolate and that was a real pick-me-up! The last 30-40 miles of the ride my neck and back were killing me and I could not wait to get off of the bike and start the run. It seemed to take forever. Finally after 6 hours and 57 minutes I got off the bike. Not the time I was shooting for or capable of but I was elated to be onto the run. The run is my thing. I was actually looking forward to ending the day in my best event.

T2:

Again I had a long T2 at 10+ minutes. If you just add up my transition times alone I could have had a better race. I was exhausted and disappointed in how the day had went so far. In the women't tent this time I had my teammate Jaime and some others helping. I was again happy to have some friendly faces around this late in the day.

The Run: 26.2 Miles of Happiness

I was so happy to be on the run that I went out too fast the first few miles and then it caught up to me with a little walk break. I did not want to walk the marathon. I take the most pride of all in my run and I was determined to at least put in a decent run split to end the long day. I got to see Steve a few times including at mile 14 for me where he just had a mile to go until his finish so that was exciting and gave me a much needed boost. The run was by far my favorite. I had so many teammates and rev3 staff and friends cheering me on that it kept my mind off of the pain. I had been worried about my foot but it held up pretty well and really didn't even begin to hurt until later in the marathon. I kept to my plan to run and only walk the aid stations. Probably my favorite parts of the run were later on when they were handing out hot chicken broth, which was indescribably delightful for someone that's been working out already for 13 hours and then later when it got dark and I was running along the road to Cedar Point I could see the park lit up and all the cars driving by would beep at me and yell motivational things at me. I'll never forget that image. It gave me abundant energy. At a time when many were walking I just kept running. I finished the run in 4:51. Not bad for the end of a 14 hour and 21 minute day. I was at least happy with one of my three sports.

The Finish: Finally

Crossing the street to the finish a number of my Rev3 teammates were there running with me. I took everything in. The sights, the sounds, the smells. I was tired but awake. I had accomplished my goal of completing my first iron distance race. Not as fast as I wanted but I had perservered. I didn't let the sucky swim stop me or the lackluster bike. I went for it on the run and took back my race.

At the finish my friend and Rev3 announcer Sean English played a special song called "Rose Tattoo" by the Dropkick Murphys to honor my late cousin Danielle who loved the band. I was able to raise more than $2100 for the American Brain Tumor Association and hope it will make a small bit of difference for someone else that is fighting cancer. My battle for the day was hard but certainly nothing in comparison to those who must fight cancer.



Post Race:

After the race Steve and I hung out for a while with our Cleveland Triathlon Club friends. I devoured some Pizza and had a special post race IPA from my friend Phil and then we headed over to the Rev3 team tent for a while. On the way back to our hotel we found a 24-hour diner and both devoured a couple of hard-earned cheeseburgers!

My fast husband and me at the finishers brunch
The next morning Rev3 had a nice Finishers brunch and gave out awards for the Full athletes that placed overall and in their age groups including my husband! Steve ended up finishing in 12:09 and placing third in his age group out of 26 people. I'm so proud of him and glad that at least one of us made it to the podium.



Closing Thoughts:

An iron distance race is more mental than physical. You have to dig deep and ignore the aches, pains and negative thoughts. In my mind I wanted to quit a number of times but I knew that I couldn't succumb to those moments of weakness. I had to be strong. I worked too hard to let it slip away. Pain is temporary, pride is forever.

We are all capable of so much more than we think. We just have to decide that we want something and go after it. Such is the case with the 140.6 training. Just pick a race, commit to the training and do it. Don't overthink it or you'll always find a reason to get out of it. Sure there will be sacrifices along the way but in the end you'll be glad you did it.

Let your time be what it will be. If you show up on race day and go home a finisher then you succeeded. It's more about the journey than the destination anyways. I know I'll go back at it again for a faster time when I am ready but I now have the confidence to know that I have already done it. I took on the 140.6 distance and I survived it. Perhaps the adversity of the day made that finish just a little sweeter.