Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Looking Back - The 2014 Running & Triathlon Season in a Nutshell

It's hard to believe that in a couple of days it will be 2015! This year went fast between work, kids and training and racing. It was a good year and I accomplished some new goals, made some new friends and shared a lot of ups and downs with my family. Here's a quick recap of all my racing in 2014:

Dirty Love - As all my Cleveland friends will recall last winter was a real doozy. My first race of the year was the Dirty Love Trail 10K. On that particular day old mother nature had dumped a fresh foot of snow for us. Needless to say it made for difficult race conditions. I had my slowest 10K time ever and still managed to win my age group but I learned a valuable lesson here: always have fuel with you even if you don't think you will need it because if you're out there working for a long time you will in fact bonk at an inopportune time like at the end of the race. Post race we went with our friends Mark and Phil to Willoughby Brewing for some much needed food & beer.

Fools 25K trail race - With the race being at the end of March the weather is definitely a major variable. For this particular year much like the Dirty Love race we received a gift of 6+ inches of fresh snow. From previous melting and the new snow this turned out to be a cold, wet and muddy race. I absolutely loved the race - especially the first 10 miles. It was a lot more difficult than I expected. The last hour or so I pretty much hated my life as I was cold, tired, wet and hungry. I nearly fell running the hilly pasture leading to the finish but luckily I did not. I was very happy to be done with this one and spent much of the day feeling sick afterwards. I managed to place in my AG and my husband had an awesome race, coming in 2nd overall! We did manage to hit up the Winking Lizard in Peninsula for some post race food & bevs on the way home.

20 Mile Drop - While preparing for the Cleveland Marathon I decided to run this little gem as a 20 miler as part of my prep. It ended up being a gorgeous, sunny day in the 60s and the race went even better than I expected, Partly because I was not supposed to be racing it according to my coach at the time. So, I started off slow for the first 3-4 miles and felt so good I decided to go for it. I'm glad that I did because I won my age group and made a new friend (Jillian). After the race my coach was pretty confident I would qualify for Boston at Cleveland.

Flapjack 15K - A little speed work the week before Cleveland, this race is down in the Valley on the Towpath so it is flat and fast. It was pretty competitive also. I barely snagged 3rd in my AG! I think we celebrated this race with a visit to Ray's Place after. Love that place!

Cleveland Marathon - We had perfect weather this year and a terrific new course and I was on pace to BQ until about mile 22 where I cramped up and lost my opportunity. I did however manage to have a PR and got to celebrate my husband's first BQ with him. We had a great time hanging with our friends Jillian and Bryan and ate the most delicious burgers ever at Luxe and they had Bodhi on tap. Complete post race bliss!

Blossomtime Run - This was our first time running this race in downtown Chagrin Falls and it definitely will not be our last! Loved this race. Starts and ends downtown and is a challenging 5.25 mile course. With this being a week post marathon I wasn't as fast as could but I managed to place in my AG and got to see many of my Cleveland Tri Club friends as well as some of my Team in Training friends as well.

Twinsburg Duathlon Relay - I had a blast racing the relay this year. My friend Laurie was not able to run due to a stress fracture so we paired up and she did the bike and I ran. We ended up placing in the relay and it was fun just to watch the competition at this one. This may be thee most competitive duathlon in Cleveland and the race director Mickey is my pal!

Girls With Sole Lula 5 Miler - I just love Liz Ferro. She is such a great person. I was happy to run this race to support her. It ended up being a soggy, rainy day but I almost think that made me run faster. I ended up setting a new PR and winning my age group, got the most adorable custom made trophy ever and had brunch afterwards at Sweet Melissa with my friend Jillian.

Rev3 Williamsburg 70.3 Tri - I just love this race and with the improved swim course this year going with the current and the updated run course with much of it on trails I was in heaven. I set a new PR and managed to place 3rd in my AG. I had a blast hanging out with my Rev3 teammates and made some new friends.

Milton Man Olympic Tri - This is one of my favorite local triathlons and I try to do this one every year because Greg and Julie from Champ racing are the coolest! The weather pre race was bad but fortunately it cleared up and we had good conditions albeit some wet roads on the bike course. I ended up setting a new olympic PR and winning my AG so it was a good race. After the race we got to visit Ray's Place and we met up with our friends Bill & Lynn, Tony & Nate.

Bay Days 5 Miler - Running in July you know it will be a hot race. This one is flat and fast. and competitive as I wasn't even able to place in my AG! The hubby did manage to place though! Afterwards we enjoyed a post race ride with some of CTC and Snakebite Racing friends and then headed over to Fatheads for some amazing beer and food!

Johnnycake 5 Miler - Another hot July race! This one in our backyard and also competitive. I was a little slower but I think the humidity zapped me. Was able to snag 3rd in my AG as was my friend Jillian. The hubby won his AG as well so after the race we went to Burgers & Beer in Willoughby for some food & beer.

Challenge New Albany 70.3 Tri - Loved this course! The swim was mellow, rollers for the bike and it was tougher than I expected and it was a scenic, hot run. Manged to PR and place 3rd in my AG despite some GI issues. I had forgotten my salt tabs and ended up drinking gatorade, which did not agree. Fortunately was able to work through it. After the race we got to hang with my teammate Maggs and checked out a restaurant called The Goat, which had good, hoppy beer!

Rev3 Cedar Point 140.6 Tri - This was my first full and it was humbling! I had quite an emotional week with my baby brother's accident. My main goal was just to finish but of course I had "ideas" about what my time should be. With a turbulent swim those goals quickly evaporated and I went into survivor mode. My bike time was not what I had wanted either as I bonked from lack of nutrition and over-exertion on the swim. My run was decent and I was happy with my effort there. I was so thankful to have my Rev3 teammates and Cleveland Triathlon Club friends and of course Steve there to cheer me on. Although this was a tough one I am proud of myself for sticking it out on a tough day. This race definitely taught me that attitude is everything and an iron distance race is just as much mental as it is physical.

Lakeland Clocktower 5K - For about 3-4 weeks after the 140.6 I just felt sluggish and slow but I wanted to see if the legs had anything in them so why nor run a 5K? I surprised myself with this one by running a new PR of 21:17 and taking 2nd place. Steve also PR'd by about a minute so it is nice to see that the longer stuff does not necessarily slow you down and that you can in fact convert endurance into speed.

Lake Health Northern OH Half Marathon - This was a toughie. With having bronchitis I pushed myself to the limit to try and PR. I ended up with a 1:40 and change so no PR but it was a PR for the course and I won my age group despite feeling miserable for the rest of the day. Lesson learned here is to know when to back off. I should have ran this easier as a training run or just sat it out. It was nice that a group of my friends were there and all did well and PR'd including my hubby.

Buckeye Half Marathon - Only ended up doing 1 loop of the 2 due to lingering bronchitis and foot pain. They can't all be wonderful, right? On to the next one!

Autumn Leaves 5 Mile XC Race - I love this race! It is a tough one too. Guaranteed to be muddy and slippery, part trail, part pasture, part pavement, part corn maize. This one is not a boring race and it is challenging. I was a bit slower than last yr but the course was harder. Placed 2nd in my AG and won a sweet pint glass that was filled later with some delicious beer!

Salt Fork 10 Mile Trail Challenge - When the words "trail" and "challenge" are in the race name you can expect it will in fact be a challenge. I fell very early in the race but luckily caught myself and got back up quick. I gave it all I had and definitely labored towards the end for a 2nd place AG win which got me a very cool cutting board. That combined with my "Built salt fork tough" hoodie and pint glass were probably the best swag I got this year! We also purchased a growler which we promptly filled after we got home but first we had to attend my cousin Michael's funeral.

Painesville Turkey Trot 5K - Crappy, cold, snowy, slippery weather conditions for a road race... Good thing it was a short race! Steve and I both managed to win our age groups and for that we won pumpkin pies and some sweet insulated travel mugs.

NERC Interclub Relay at Westwoods - Ending the season with a relay sounded more fun than another serious race so I put together a co-ed team "Blood, Sweat and Beers" with my friend Jillian, husband Steve and myself. The race consists of an 8, 5 and 3-mile leg. Steve ran the 8, I ran the 5 and Jillian ran the 3. It was a tough course! I definitely worked hard and still came in slower than I anticipated. Fortunately Steve and Jillian both did great and we placed 2nd in the co-ed division. It was a fun way to end the year.

Special thanks to my 2014 sponsors!!!

Now it's onto 2015! Just putting the finishing touches on the race calendar and will posting that in the next week or two. Already busy training for the first race of the year, which is the Run for Regis trail half marathon. My original plan was to do the 50K but decided to run the Green Jewel 50K instead!1

Monday, December 22, 2014

2015 is Shaping Up to Be an Epic Year!

2015 is shaping up to be an epic year. With all the excitement I had to share the details!

  • Team Rev3 Triathlon will now be Challenge Triathlon Team. I'm excited to be part of the newly branded national age group team! This will be my fourth season with this team and I just love them! If you're considering signing up for any of the Challenge races, all US races (except Rancho Cordova) and Canada races are 10% off if you use my code. Please message me with any questions or for the code. Additionally be sure to watch for other specials. Right now for the month of December Challenge Maine and Challenge St. Andrews are buy one get one 1/2 off! 

  • I have been selected as a 2015 Official Cleveland Marathon Ambassador. I am excited to represent my hometown race! If you're considering a spring marathon, half marathon or 10K, this is a great race. Last year the course was redone and it was awesome. We also had perfect running weather!

  • I have a new coach...Chris Martino of New Level Coaching. I am looking forward to working with Chris this season and pushing my limits in running and triathlon. I'm hoping for some shiny new PRs and podiums 2015! 

  • My husband Steve also has some exciting things going on for 2015! He has joined the Snakebite Racing Team for 2015 and is also now an official Boom! ambassador

Watch the blog for my 2015 race schedule, which is coming soon!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Blood, Sweat & Beers Relay to End the Season

It's official...the last race of 2014 is in the books! I had debated racing the last Ohio Outside trail race again as well as the Run Santa Run 5K in Mentor but decided to have some fun with things and make my last race of the season a relay! Northeast Running Club (NERC) hosts an interclub relay race at the end of the season and I've always wanted to run it so this year I got a team together for the co-ed division consisting of my speedy husband Steve and my speedy friend Jillian.

The race, which is free to run simply requires you to sign up and show up that day ready to run with your team and maybe to help make some chili for the chili cookoff. The race takes place at the West woods park in Russell Township/Newbury. It's a gorgeous park with some challenging and fun terrain.

Me, Steve and Jillian prerace
Steve and I got in a little mile warm up on what I thought was the start of the course, which was a good little climb up a hill. Fortunately the start wasn't uphill! We met up with Jillian for a quick team pic as the hubby had designed some fun shirts for us to run in.

The relay consists of an 8-mile leg, 5 mile leg and 3 mile leg for a team total of 16 miles. The starts are staggered with 3 minutes between each group so the 8-milers go first, followed by the 5 milers followed by the 3s. Steve volunteered to do the 8 mile leg, which I hear is pretty brutal! I did the 5 mile leg and Jillian did the 3 mile leg.

My race didn't go as well as I hoped but it went okay. I woke up battling GI issues and just loaded up on the pepto and tums and made the best of it. According to my Garmin I did 5.11 miles in 42:15 so about an average pace of 8:17. That's not bad for the trails but I was shooting to come in around 8 minutes flat.

Fortunately Steve and Jillian both did better! Steve came in just over 56 minutes in 2nd place for the 8 miler (fortunately for us some of the speedy men got lost!). And Jillian did around a 21:50 for the 3 miles.

post race team pic w/ our award!
Our team goal was to break 2 hours and we sure came close at 2:00:07! This was good for 2nd place in the co-ed and we won a custom award made out of wood. After the race we enjoyed some hot cocoa and chili and hung out among friends.

It was a nice way to end the season and I will definitely plan to do this again either as a co-ed relay or female relay! Thanks to NERC, especially Guy Gadomski and all the volunteers including my good friends Melanie Lynn and Christopher Miller!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

2014 Lake County YMCA Turkey Trot 5K Race Report

Steve and I had opted to do the Lake County YMCA Turkey Day 5K race instead of the downtown Turkey Trot since it is in our local community and was easier for us logistically. For it being a local 5k, it is a fairly big race with about 1200 runners coming out each year.

I was not happy to wake up to snow on Thanksgiving morning as I knew this would slow things down for the race. On our mile warm up my feet got wet and my warm up clothes were drenched in wet snow. Luckily Steve and I had both brought trail shoes in case the conditions were bad so we both changed after the warm up. This proved to be a good decision as the roads were snow covered for much of the race.

The race starts at 8:30 in front of the Painesville YMCA and heads east down Mentor Avenue towards Lake Erie College. It is a flat and fast course but with the snow it slowed things down some. I saw a few people slip and fall including one woman that tried to pass me around the halfway point. It was a cold, wet run but it went super fast. I wanted to break 22 minutes but I ended up being just over with a 22:07, good for 10th of 670 women and first in the 35-39 age group. Steve ended up running just over 20 minutes and winning first in his age group as well. Neither of us had a PR but in these conditions I think most people were close to a minute slower than usual.

Post race with our hard-earned pies!
The YMCA does an excellent job with the race. It is well organized and they give awesome awards! The age group winners received pumpkin pies and really nice travel coffee mugs so Steve and I each earned a pie and mug, which was awesome! We shared the pies with our loved ones but the mugs are ours! After the race we went home to cook a delicious Thanksgiving meal and enjoy spending time with our families.

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.


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

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.


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.


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.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

2014 Rev3 Cedar Point 140.6 Race Report - Part 1 Getting to the Starting Line

I dreamed of the day that I would complete my first 140.6 iron-distance triathlon race. In my dreams it went a little smoother than it did on Sunday. It was a roller coaster of a race for me and I am proud of my ability to dig deep and finish my first full on a tough day and tough week emotionally.

Race Week had been going well. I was staying calm throughout the taper and all was well in the universe until Thursday night at 8:45PM when my phone rang. My dad had called and left me a message that I needed to call him back right away. I called him and was completely shocked when he told me that my baby brother Justin had fallen at work and was lifeflighted to Metro Health in Cleveland. I had no idea if he was going to live or die at that point so I was terrified. Steve and my daughter Marley and I rushed to the hospital and got there around 9:45 just as my parents and Aunt were arriving. We were not able to see Justin right away so we all nervously sat around and paced in the ICU waiting room waiting for news. Finally around 11:30 we were able to see him. I went in with my Mom and Dad. The poor thing was not conscious and it didn't really even look like him as his whole face was swollen, eyes black and blue, face bloody with a breathing tube. It was a sight I will not soon forget. We left the hospital to get some sleep but needless to say sleep did not come easy. 

Friday I had a couple of morning meetings at work that I somehow managed to get through but left early to pickup my daughter and head to the hospital to see Justin again. As of that morning he had still not gained consciousness and we were not sure the extent of the damage. Fortunately he did regain his consciousness that afternoon and the doctors confirmed that his brain seemed to be okay as were his neck and spine. He had suffered several facial fractures, arm and hand fractures, broken ribs and one broken vertebrae in the neck. Once the doctors confirmed that he would be okay I decided to move forward with the race. I rushed home to pack, get something to eat and try to get some sleep.

Saturday I awoke feeling a little better but still tired. Steve and I had a big breakfast, did a quick 20 minute trainer ride, loaded up the bikes and gear and headed to the hospital for another visit with Justin. I was relieved to see that he was doing better and was awake and talking. He even asked me for a hug and kiss. Knowing he was improving put my mind at ease. We headed out to Sandusky, stopping on the way at Panera to pick up food for the team lunch.

My crazy awesome Rev3 Family!
We arrived at Cedar Point around noon and picked up our race packets, timing chips and goodies. We met up with the Rev3 teammates at the Rev3 tent for lunch and there was a great group of people there. I was so excited to see everyone as some I have not seen since earlier in the summer or even March at the team summit. Our team manager Carole (mama bear) was there with us too!

Bikes racked in transition!
After lunch we got our bikes ready for check in and set them up in transition. With this being my first full and Steve's first full we had a lot of questions about the swim to bike and bike to run bags, special needs bags, etc so my teammate Stephanie who was working the race explained all of that to us and showed us where to put everything and where the changing tents were. Once we had all that figured out it was time to head over to the Breakers Express to check into our hotel room and get ready for dinner.

For dinner we met the Cleveland Triathlon Club folks at Sorrentino's Little Italy for a big dinner of bread, pasta and of course an IPA. It was great to be around so many friends many of which were doing their first 70.3 and another who like Steve and I was doing his first full. Once we were so full that we could not walk it was time to head back to the hotel to pack up our swim to bike, bike to run and special needs bags. The process went pretty smooth. Since we had two beds in the room I used one bed to organize all my stuff and Steve used the other to organize his stuff. After about an hour it was done and we decided to read for a little while and get ready for bed. Even with the melatonin I took I could not sleep. I was way too excited. I tossed and turned looking over at the clock anxiously as it read 10PM, 11PM and then 12AM. I think I finally fell asleep around 12:30 and the alarm was set for 4:45. Needless to say I have had weeks with better sleep leading into a race.
CTC dinner at Sorrentions with our friend James and many others!

Race morning the wakeup call came at 4:45 and it was almost a surreal feeling. Was I dreaming or was it actually thee day that I would toe the line for my first 140.6?! Steve and I were both excited and nervous. I chugged a Starbucks iced coffee and took a quick shower to mentally prepare myself for the long day ahead. After getting dressed and affixing all the race tattoos including a special one honoring my cousin Danielle "Smoxy" who lost her battle with cancer last year and hand drawing a heart with my brother's name on it, I was ready for breakfast. I was able to eat a couple of gluten free blueberry waffles with maple syrup and some watermelon and I downed a cocount water. We were out the door at 5:45 and headed over to the transition area. Once we arrived there it would be just a matter of minutes before our first 140.6 triathlon would begin. Wow!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Five days til my first 140.6 & five things I've learned along the way

The countdown until Rev3 Cedar Point 140.6 is on! In 5 days I will run, jog, or hobble across that finish line as fast as humanly possible for me on that day. Whatever the day brings I'll be ready. I feel like so much of the journey has just been leading up to the race, which will be a part of that journey also. I'm excited to share this special day with my husband, who is also completing his first 140.6 race as well as my Rev3 teammates and Cleveland Tri Club friends. It's been a long summer of training and I am so ready. 

So to honor these last five days leading up to the race I wanted to share five things that I've learned as a result of training for my first 140.6 iron-distance triathlon:

  1. Training is easier when you have family and friends that support you. In my case having a husband to train with and friends to train with as well as my Rev3 teammates has really been so valuable. My work has also been supportive too. On days when I felt low they were there to lift me up. On days when I felt high they were there to share in those moments too. I am blessed to have the support of so many people, which has helped me get to where I am today.
  2. Planning is key but plan to have some fun too. You must have a plan to get in the needed hours to train for such a big event. You have to get up early and workout, fit things in on your lunch and workout at night before dinner. Weekends during the build period can be consumed with key workouts but you can still have fun. Plan some workouts and races with friends and make some memories as you train. I look back on all the good times we've had with friends this summer and the training went by so fast!
  3. Embrace every part of the training. I've been guilty of ignoring the swim in past years but that was not an option this season training for a 140.6. I started the work on cold, snowy days and it continues a few times each week. In particular I have fallen in love with open water swimming. I've spent many days swimming at Mentor Headlands this season and each time I am out there I feel so alive. It is challenging and fun and I look forward to it. Not to mention that swimming gives my tired legs a break! I hear other triathletes complain about the bike or run. Whatever your weakest of the three is make sure you put in the work in that area especially!
  4. Recovery is part of the training also. I have had knee pains, foot pains, back pains, total exhaustion and days where I feel like a million bucks. There will be aches and pains. Make sure to rest and recover. Stretch frequently. Use a foam roller. Get a massage. Eat well. Sleep well. Hydrate. Take vitamin supplements. Take days off when you need to. My foot has been bothering me for the last month or so with tendonitis or my arthritis flaring up. I've taken up to a week off and been in for treatments on it. Don't wait too long if something hurts. Fix it! 
  5. Keep calm and carry on. This phrase is used often now but I had to use it. This is so important to successful training. There will be ups and downs in your training. And as I just mentioned there will be aches and pains. There will be days when you just want to throw in the towel. Accept those days. It will pass. Just stay as calm as possible and carry on with your plan or as close to your plan as possible. You will get to where you need to be. For me, I can remember being so nervous before my first 70.3 also at Rev3 Cedar Point. I don't feel as nervous for this. I feel more calm than I expected to the week of the race. Sure I am excited and a bit nervous but I know that I have done the training and I know that I will give it my all Sunday. I can see my goal. The finish line awaits

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Cedar Point Preview Day & Training Update

CTC Rev 3 Preview Day:

This past Saturday the 16th Cleveland Triathlon Club held a course preview day for the upcoming Rev3 Cedar Point Triathlon. Riders had the option of riding a 62 mile loop or double loop that ended up being 100 miles. Close to 100 riders came out to take advantage of the day. A number of CTC members and local companies volunteered their time to make it a successful training day. Thanks to Ken Beech for helping manage the event; Leah at Liquid Lifestyles for helping with the swim clinic; Boom Nutrition  for donating some nutrition and a huge thanks to Powerbar for providing us with a lot of great products for the event including gels, bars and the delicious new wafers!

getting ready to start the ride!
It was a chilly morning when the ride started just after 9am but things quickly heated up. The weather was good and the route was clearly marked thanks to CTC. Unfortunately things didn't start out so well for me. Not thinking, I had had a deep tissue massage the day before the ride to celebrate my birthday. It was a painful hour or so to warm up as my hips, quads and back felt like they were on fire and I was a wee bit crabby. Once that feeling passed I was okay. Special thanks to my husband Steve for putting up with me for the day. CTC had arranged for an aid station and restroom to be available around mile 40 and then again around 80, which was awesome. They had water, cookies, Powerbar, Boom and pretzels available, which really helped us out. Thanks to the folks that volunteered at the aid station!

Steve before the ride
Overall the ride went okay for us although not as well as I hoped for. We finished the 100 miles in around 5 hours and 30 minutes (around 18mph) despite a heck of a lot of wind and it getting hotter in the afternoon and it just being the two of us for the last 40 miles. I think we would have been more efficient with our race wheels and aero helmets. After the bike we headed over to Fatheads Brewery with our friends Janet, Joe and Brandon for some hard earned beer and burgers, which was a perfect end to the day!

Training Update:

So the bike has been going well and on schedule with about 10 hours of riding last couple weeks and the same planned for this week leading into the 2-week taper. I'm hoping to finish the 112 mile bike in around 6 hours on race day but also know I have to save a little juice for the "little" 26.2 mile run after the bike.

The swim has been going well. I've actually been swimming three times a week for at least an hour to an hour and a half, which is terrific for me. I am hoping this consistency pays off. Last Sunday I completed a long open water swim at Mentor Headlands alone. I swam for an hour and 5 minutes and calculated about 3400-3500 meters. I felt good even coming back against the current.  Because I tend to swim better after I am warmed up I hope to have some more efficiency in the second 2000 meter lap. I am hoping to complete my swim at Cedar Point between 1:15-1:20.

So ironically my run has been the only area of concern and only for the last week. I started to feel some abnormal fatigue and pain in my left foot at the end of my long run on Sunday the 10th. It started around 90 minutes in but I pushed through for another 45 minutes on it. Following the run it was sore so I iced it and took some ibuprofen for a couple of days. It felt okay by Wednesday so I went ahead with my 10 mile run that was scheduled for that day. All seemed well and I had no issues until later that evening. It was painful to walk and get onto my tip toes. I then decided to follow PRICE (prevention, rest, ice, compression, elevation) so I have not run on it since last Wednesdsay.

I went into the chiropractor Monday after work and he moved around some bones in my ankle and put the STIM on the foot and massaged it and also made some light adjustments to my back. He said he did not want to do anything too aggressive right now with the race being so close. In terms of the left foot, there is a history of injury with this foot including tendinitis and stress fractures. I was diagnosed with arthritis in my ankles years back but have been able to work through it. My left is definitely weaker and something I need to once again address in the off season. For now I have went back to using a shoe insert to give me a little extra support on the foot. I will also be using KT tape and/or compression socks for now. My chiropractor told me to run on it tonight on an even surface as we both suspect running on the roads (often the same routes) is largely part of the culprit for this current bout with tendinitis. The foot feels okay so I am hoping for good results and I will probably keep the run to 45-60 minutes at most. If that goes well I will do another shorter one Friday and then hope to attempt my long run on Sunday just before the taper starts. If the run does not go well I may have to shut it down for another week. For the race I would like to finish the 26.2 miles in 4:15-4:30 but will have to see what I have left in the tank at that point.

I think we're 17-18 days out now so much of the work for the race is done. This week is the final push with next week starting a recovery week and the following week being very relaxed leading into race day September 7. At this point I am feeling pretty good and assuming my run goes well this week I will feel very good about the training going into the race. All in all I hope to finish in around 12:30-13 hours but will have to wait and see what the day brings. The main goal for this one is to be able to finish.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Rev3 Cedar Point Training Update & Powerbar Contest Winner

This past week was the first of three big build weeks leading into a recovery and taper week for Rev3 Cedar Point 140.6. I'm happy to say that I got through it pretty well with just minor aches and pains. The week consisted of three bike rides: 2 hrs, 1 hr and 5 hrs; 3 runs: 90 minutes, 45 minutes and 2 hrs & 15 mins; two swims: 90 mins and 60 mins and about 60 minutes of stretching and lots of eating of course. 

I feel pretty good with the only minor issue being a little pain in my left foot around the navicular bone. It did not hurt while running but was achy after. I am taking advil and icing it and stretching, rolling it out as it likely a little tendinitis. I plan to tape it up with the KT tape before running my 90 minutes on Wednesday am. Aside from that a minor amount of low back pain towards the end of yesterday's run, which feels okay now. At this point I have to expect some discomfort for the next couple of weeks and then hope the recovery/taper will have me back to 100% for race day.

During this build I have designated Mondays as an off day although I did get up to stretch for 20-30 minutes, which felt very good. I will repeat this for the next couple of weeks as well as taking a gentle yoga class. I am avoiding the power yoga that I love so much right now as my body really does not need the added stress. This week I have about 18 hours on the schedule with about 10 of that on the bike, 4.5-5 on the run and the rest on the swim and yoga. Saturday I will be participating in the Cleveland Tri Club's Cedar Point Preview Day and will be riding about 100 miles of the course, which will be a great prep workout for the race. If you're planning to do Cedar Point or a different race please feel to join us just visit the CTC event page on facebook to sign up!

I am happy that so many people have been supportive of my fundraiser for the American Brain Tumor Association. Right now I have raised about $1200 towards my $2500 goal with 4 weeks left to go. If you have given thank you. If not, please consider even a small donation of $5-10 helps. To donate just click on this link and you'll be taken to a secure webpage. Last week I did a contest for a package of Powerbar goodies. The winner of that contest is Marianne Zappella. Marianne if you're reading this, thank you and congrats! Please contact me so that I can get your shipping address and send out your goodies!

Stay tuned this week for a sweet Cleveland Indians giveaway package!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Northern Ohio Team in Training Team Takes on the Greater Cleveland Triathlon

GCT Team in Training Team and Me on the end
One of the best things that happened to me this year was having the opportunity to coach a team for Northern Ohio Team in Training. A special thanks to my Rev3 teammate Heather Oravec for the suggestion. This amazing group that I've had the joy of coaching has renewed my love for triathlon. Week after week they showed up on Friday nights to swim at the Twinsburg Rec. Then for the last month as weather would allow they drove to Mentor Headlands on weekends to practice the Greater Cleveland Triathlon course. These folks didn't sign up to win the race. They signed up to make a difference in the lives of people suffering from cancer. Triathlon (or duathlon for some of the team members) was simply the means to make that difference. And the staff at Northern Ohio Team in Training are amazing too...probably the most caring people you'd ever meet.

This weekend it was time for this group to race. All these months of training had led up to that one moment when they would swim, bike and run (or run, bike, run) to the finish line of either a sprint or olympic distance race. For many on the team it would be only their first or second multisport event. Imagine if you will the excitement (both good and bad) that comes with such a task.

Mariah, Kelly, Ellen, Rebecca and I after the dinner
Saturday we planned to have a group open water swim at Mentor Headlands but we ended up having a storm with heavy rains and as a result I cancelled the swim practice. Team in Training hosted a lovely inspiration dinner for the team. Their speaker for the evening had been diagnosed with Mantel Cell Lymphoma and he shared his story with us. We also had an honored guest who had been diagnosed with childhood leukemia. So many stories of people just like you and me who had been diagnosed with blood cancer. At the dinner I got to say a few words to the athletes and their families. What I mostly wanted to say to them was thank you. Thank you for caring about and helping the patients and their families for reminding me what's important in life. After the dinner Steve and I had a chance to hangout with the team and enjoy a drink before heading back home.

Kelly & Mariah prerace
Sunday morning we were up at 5 to eat a quick breakfast and I needed to be at Mentor Headlands around 6am to meet the team. From 6-7 we gathered at the Team in Training tent and shared some laughs and advice. Mickey (the race director) started the athlete meeting at 7:15. Following the meeting it was time for the triathletes and the swimmers from our two relay teams to walk down the beach to the swim start. Even though I know some of the team were anxious there was a good vibe. They were ready!

Kelly and Rebecca before the swim
The olympic athletes would start first so I headed down the beach to see off Kelly, Rebecca and Ellen. They were able to get in the water for a few minutes to warm up and get used to it and then they were off. I shouted goodluck as each of them ran in to start their first leg of the race and then headed down the beach toward the sprint start watching over the swimmers to make sure all looked well.

Anita, Mariah, Jess and some other folks doing the sprint and sprint
Jess looking ready to go!
relays were also getting warmed up and ready to go. Again we had a few different waves and this group would not have to swim as far as the first group. I tried to keep everyone calm and shouted goodluck to each person, gave some hugs and they were off!

First out of the water was Kelly. Holly from Team in Training and I stood near the swim exit and cheered for all the team members until the last one came through. They all looked so happy to be done with the swim in Lake Erie!

Kelly finishing the bike!
Next up was the bike. My hope was just that the weather would hold out and that everyone would ride safely on both courses. Most of the athletes had road bikes but not all. In fact one of our team athletes Rebecca actually won a new road bike from Bike Authority as part of the annual raffle! Everyone made it in safely from the bike and the last thing remaining was the run (my personal favorite).

The run was either a 5K or 10K run depending on the race and
Rebecca finishing the olympic tri!
again we had athletes doing both race distances so it would be a little while before some of the folks finished and we headed over by the Team in Training tent and finish to cheer on the finishing team members. Everyone did well on the run as well! It was fun being able to scream and ring the cowbell for each one as they hit the finish.

Anita getting her award
After the race we had coffee, water and lots of good snacks at the team tent as well as some yummy post race food from Northcoast Multisport. Once most of the finishers were done they started the awards for each race. Our team did really well with a number of athletes placing in their age groups! In the olympic we had Ellen win her age group and in the sprint we had Anita win her age group, Jess placed 3rd in her age group and had a 5-minute PR and one of our relay teams won as well!

It was a great day and I am so proud of the work that the team did! They all pushed themselves to do their best and most of all helped Team in Training raise the money needed to save lives. Thank you to Mickey and Northcoast Multisport for putting on this event each year, to the volunteers on the course including my husband Steve and stepkids Evan and Grace as well as the Team in Training staff who came out to help and cheer. And an extra special thanks to Steve for all his help this season as I couldn't have done it without him!