Sunday, July 17, 2011

One Week

That's right...after 9 months of training it's finally almost here.  Exactly one week from today the big race will be here.  It feels like I've been studying for a big test and now I'm just anxious for it to get here.  I've done everything I can for this race and hopefully those freezing cold early morning runs or trips to the pool will pay off.

After attending a wedding this weekend, we realized that training for the Ironman is way too similar to being pregnant.  The specific training has lasted 9 months, I eat like I'm eating for 2 (only I'm eating for me and working out me...guess that can count as 2), I can't really drink (at least not super close to race day), and I go to bed super early (9pm = triathlete bed time).  Anyways hopefully more posts to come this week and definitely a race report post race. 

Swimming Part Deux

After moving to Arlington, I figured it was time to start swimming with a masters team.  Off the recommendation of Ed, Keith and I joined Minuteman which was the best swimming decision of our life.  Seriously…any in the Boston area should swim with them.  I mean where else can you swim long course, listen to nice upbeat music, meet some awesome people AND be coached by some fantastic, enthusiastic coaches?

The first Minuteman practice didn’t exactly go as planned.  We got in the ‘triathlete lane’ which quickly became the ‘I’m way slower than you guys so I’m moving to lane 6-lane’.  When told to do an IM set, Keith and I kind of looked at each other like ‘what’?  I mean you tell a triathlete to do IM and they’re going to think you want them to swim 2.4 miles.  After finding out IM actually means to do all four strokes (wait there’s four strokes in swimming?  I thought there was only 1…well maybe 2…does doggie paddle count?).  I’m pretty sure it must’ve been comical to watch us try to figure out three strokes we’d never seen and I’ve almost positive I messed up IM order for the first 2 or 3 weeks.

Alas, I’ve finally figured out IM order (least favorite stroke to favorite stroke) but I don’t dread it any less.  My fly looks like I’m about to drown, my backstroke is slow and sometimes bothers my shoulder, and my breaststroke feels like I’m not moving.  The best part of IM though is the fact that it’s made me appreciate freestyle so much more!

While I’m still no great swimmer, I feel like my stoke has improved a lot and best of all: I feel so much more comfortable in the water and I actually started to not mind going swimming (which is big for me).  Before we moved, I’d finally moved up a lane - hooray!  While I love living in VT, Minuteman is one of those things (like BTT) which I truly miss.  My new masters team swims in a short course pool, people tend to jump out of the pool super early (I’m pretty sure they only swim for like 15 mins), and our ‘coach’ puts a workout on the board and then goes on her laptop.  Even the intervals are ‘chose your own adventure’ with times like, 1min, 1min 10, 1min 20, 1min 30, or 15 sec rest.  That is NOT going to help me get faster. 

At Minuteman, I’d actually thank the coaches for kicking my butt since I definitely need it (spacing out and losing focus has been known to happen with me).  They truly are a top notch group that I’m glad to have been a part of and wish would just move to VT…Minuteman North anyone?  Needless to say my new masters really makes me appreciate Minuteman.  Thanks guys and I’ll try to make you proud in the Ironman (or at least not drown).      

Some swimming pics from last season:

Just Keep Swimming!

People always ask what’s my favorite/least favorite or best/worst event in triathlon.  Without a doubt, the swim always falls under worse and least favorite.  My swim experience before triathlon consisted of the week or two I lasted in swim lessons around the age of 4.  There’s also the time my mom tried to teach me how to swim freestyle correctly at the gym….and then gave up on me...ouch. 

The year before I started doing triathlons I figured it might be a good idea to learn how to swim.  I could stay afloat and splash around but there’s no way I was making ¼ mile much less the 2.4 miles I’ll be doing.  I enlisted my friend Steph who swam in high school and taught swim lessons at the Y for some help.  After some instruction I swam a length of the pool (holding my breath the entire time).  At the end I stopped, completely out of breath and ready to pass out.  The conversation then went down like this:

Me: “ok now what?”
Steph: “um…do that again and don’t stop.”

Ugh I knew it was going to be a while before I’d turn into Nemo and “just keep swimming”.  Swim training didn’t last much longer that year and it wasn’t until the following summer when I started with the B&S training program did I actually start to swim more consistently.  My first few swim practices with B&S consisted of learning to blow bubbles or as I liked to refer to it: remedial swim.  Over the next few weeks I’d swallowed several gallons of pool water.  I mean seriously I have no idea how there was any left in the pool.  After a few weeks I took my water guzzling to the ocean (sorry fishies!).  Salt water…yuck!  Although chlorinated water isn’t any better…especially when you’re allergic to it like me.

My first open water ocean swim was a train wreck.  A combination of swimming in the ocean and wearing the wetsuit for the first time freaked me out and I’m pretty sure I ended up backstroking.  Honestly, I’m surprised I didn’t drown that first year.  On top of that, swimming has always been incredibly frustrating for me.  Swimming, like hockey is one of those sports I wished I had learned when I was younger but I was too busy playing soccer, softball and basketball.

Here's a few pics from the swim my 1st season:

Smiling after my first 1/2 mile swim..progress!


Swimming post part 2 coming soon....

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Rev3 Half Iron Race Report

Saturday we drove the 4 hours down to Connecticut in time to pick up our packets, get in a quick (30 minute) bike ride and then drop our bikes off.  The race transition and packet pickup is in a little amusement park.  Later that night, we went out to dinner with a bunch of people on BTT.  I finished off the evening with some foam rolling, icing my knees and getting my stuff ready for the morning.

4am came and off goes the alarm.  I did some extra foam rolling to make sure my legs were nice and loose (or as much as they’ll ever be).  After breakfast, we packed up our stuff and headed over to the amusement park.  I was one of the later swim waves so once they kicked everyone out of transition we went down to the beach to watch the pros go off.  There were a lot of world-class pros doing this race and it was great to see them swim (wish I could swim that fast).

After a quick warm up and a last minute port-a-potty stop it was time to race.  Usually the beginning of the swim is basically a frantic mess that I try to survive.  This race was weird in that I had some clean water right at the start and the frantic mess came later in the swim.  The swim felt surprisingly good and I was hoping to at least PR that part of the race.  No luck!  It turns out the swim was a little slower than my Timberman one which I definitely didn’t expect since it felt so good.  Oh well…need to work on that this winter. 

This transition went a lot better than my T1 at Timberman in that I could actually see this time.  It’s always sad seeing so many bikes off the rack when I get out of the swim but it just makes me work my butt off on the bike.  This race was no different so I went straight to work pushing as hard as I could.  I knew coming into the race that the bike course was pretty hilly.  I was feeling pretty good about this though considering all of my rides lately (since moving to VT) have been hilly and my last 60 mile ride had over 1,000 feet of more climbing than the Quassy course. 

About halfway through the bike course there was a pretty long hill but at least the pitch wasn’t too bad.  I actually enjoyed this bike course (I guess Keith is wearing off on me).  The one thing I did not like which always seems to happen is the excessive amount of slow people that feel the need to hog the lane.  People seriously need to stay to the side of the road and not on the yellow line.  Needless to say I was saying, “On your left!” way too much. 

T2 was uneventful and off I went for the half marathon.  Around mile 2, I stopped to use the port-a-potty since I’d been holding it the last half hour or so on the bike.  The guy that was in there took FOREVER!  I started banging on the door and was really close to yelling at the guy to get out of there (since there was only one).  After about a 3 minute delay, I was ready to tackle the rest of the run.  This run course was brutally hilly!  There was hardly any flat; just up, up and away or doooown.  I was way more worried about the downhill and I was just praying my knees would hold up.  My other goal during the run was to try to hold back a bit so I didn’t mess up my knees for Lake Placid.  This was really tough as I wanted to push myself on the run and go faster but I knew that would be a mistake in the long run (no pun intended).  Maybe one day my knees will cooperate and I’ll actually become a runner! 

The last couple miles were pretty painful and I was ready to be done.  The add insult to injury, there was another hill close to the last mile.  Everyone else around me started walking up the hill but I refused to start walking (even if my run pace may have been close to a walking pace).  The person who designed this course must have been an amazing runner with about 1/2 dozen screws loose!  I'm surprised they didn't just pick one super large hill and make us do repeats up and down it for 1/2 marathon.  Aaanyways I was very happy to see the amusement park again and the finish line!  

Aaaand done!

Wrap up:
-This course was extremely challenging and I’d definitely like to take another crack at it.
-Rev3 runs a really good race and I enjoyed the atmosphere more than a WTC race.
-My body has recovered fairly well from the race and I’m surprisingly not very sore (gasp!).
-More sunscreen is needed on the shoulder / forearm area as I definitely got sunburnt.
-Quassy is NOT a PR kind of race (although maybe with the help of some VT mountains it could be).

Post race

Swim time:  40:47 (17th out of 25 in AG)
Bike time:  3:05:19 (3rd out of 25 in AG)
Run time: 1:59:06 (Tied for 15th out of 25 in AG)
Total time:  5:49:04 (7th out of 25 in AG)

“We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey.”  ~Kenji Miyazawa

Season Opener Du Race Report

This race report is a bit belated but better late than never.  This race was on Mother’s Day  (nice and early in the season).  Last year we did this race but the triathlon version.  The water was cold, the air was colder and it was windy (making the water choppy) so we decided to give the Du a go this year.  I had no idea how this was going to go since my knee had been bothering me a lot and I hadn’t been getting much running or even biking in.  My main goal coming into this race was to try to not aggravate my knee any more than it has been.

Transition bag ready to go

1st race on BTT!!

My friend Laura also decided to do the race.  We were transition rack buddies so I chatted with her while getting my transition ready.  During this time I realized I had forgotten to put elastic laces in my running shoes.  Being unprepared for this race was an understatement!  I popped some Ibuprofen to try to prevent any inflammation and pain during the race.  It started with a 2 mile run consisting of one mile out and back.  I held back a bit on the run to try to save my knee for the rest of the race.

Me & Keith pre-race

Me & Laura pre-race

In transition, I untied my shoes (thanks to no elastic laces) and hopped on my bike for the short 10 mile ride.  The ride was pretty uneventful with some small hills and some pothole to maneuver.  Again I tried to hold back a little so my knee would be ok to run the last 5K.

Back in transition I had the joy of retying my shoes and then I was off on the 5K (praying my knee held up).  Luckily for me the run was mostly on dirt or grass to which I was very thankful.  At the beginning of the 5K I heard someone say something about me being the female leader.  That was at a turn around so I caught a glimpse of the 2nd place female fairly close behind.  I really wanted to race it and make sure I beat her but decided that it was in my best interest to keep my current pace (which my knee felt ok with).   

I spent the next 2+ miles repeating ‘Quassy’ or ‘Lake Placid’ in my head to remind myself to hold back so I don’t mess up my knee for my half or full Ironman coming up soon.  With about ½ mile to go, one of my shoelaces came untied (too rushed in transition to tie them right).  I decided to just keep running and hope I didn’t trip.  I spent the next ½ mile looking directly down to make sure I wasn’t going to step on the lace.  I thought for sure I’d trip on it right before the finish line.  Wouldn’t that make a great finish photo (a nice little face-plant)?

Towards the end of the run I was still in the lead but I knew the 2nd place female was still pretty close behind.  I told myself not to try to keep up with her if she made a push at the end but rather keep my pace.  This ended up working out and I held her off to finish 1st overall female and 19th overall!  I was thrilled to win and even more thrilled that my knee didn’t act up too much.  A pint glass, gift certificate and elastic laces (ironically) were my prizes for the win.

Finishing the race

Getting my 1st place award!

Keith getting his award!

Awards ceremony again

Run part 1 time:  14:09
Bike time: 31:42
Run part 2 time: 22:08
Overall time: 1:09:49 (1st overall female)

Our hardware!

“Winning isn’t everything, but the will to win is everything.”  ~Vince Lombardi

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Yup the title says where I’ve been lately.  There are a few reasons excuses behind it.  I applied and was accepted into a graduate physical therapy program…at the University of Vermont which = moving to VT! We decided that and Ironman training wasn’t enough to keep us busy so we bought our first home (see below).  Phew busy spring!  

New Home!

I think the real reason I’ve been MIA is the fact that my knee started bothering me over a month ago so my training has been really spotty.  After getting up to around 14 miles running and 80 miles biking, the all too familiar knee pain came back.  It’s always the same cause: tight muscles and weak hips.  I had to severely cut back my running and biking, even leaving me to only swim and water jog for one week.  Those of you who know me well know that this was complete torture!

Around Easter, it dawned on me that my half ironman (Rev3 Quassy) was right around the corner and Lake Placid wasn't too far behind.  I had a minor major freak out that I wouldn’t be ready followed by what I can only assume was an endorphin deficit mini depression.  The weather finally turned and I was stuck inside swimming or not doing a workout.  Seeing people posting about going on runs and bike rides seemed mean and made me jealous. 

Well after lots of foam rolling, stretching, taping, clamshells, bandwalks and the like I’m finally back to biking and running (working my way back to the mileage I was at before) and it feels amazing!  The knee still isn’t 100% and I am still super careful about not putting too much pressure on it since the half ironman is this weekend followed by LP in a little over a month and a half!!

Needless to say…I’m back (hopefully until the end of the season).  

"There's bound to be rough waters and I know I'll take some falls." ~The River by Garth Brooks

Friday, March 4, 2011

Tests & Time Trials

A couple of recent workouts included biking ITTs (indoor time trials) and an LT (lactate threshold) test.  The biking LT test was estimated (based off of heart rate not a blood test as an actual one would).  For this test, I started at 50 watts.  This lasted 2 minutes before the wattage was increased to 100 for another 2 minutes.  After that, every 2 minutes the wattage increased by 20 watts until I couldn’t sustain it any longer.  I was able to reach 240 watts.   Once I reached this point for about a minute, I couldn’t go on anymore.  My LT heart rate during this test was 188 BPM.  My max heart rate was 198 BPM. 

A few hours following that test, I took part in the Team Psycho ITT.  I’m not going to lie, watching the women’s only heat ahead of me was pretty intimidating.  My bike computer and trainer have not been working incredibly well lately so I had no idea what I would be able to put out for power and speed.  The top female ended up putting out something like 275 watts.  I just looked at Keith and said, “What did you get me into?!” (since he signed us up).  This was my first ITT and I really didn’t want to be embarrassed.  After showing up way too early and peeing too many times (maybe due to nerves?), we weighed ourselves (the TT was not well organized and there was no real check in or weigh in).  Since I was the last heat, I saw everyone else’s weight.  Turns out I was the smallest competitor.  “Well at least I won something today,” I told Keith.

After warming up a bit, it was go time.  The course was 9.3 miles with a couple hills.  I went as hard as I could and tried to ignore the guy grossly spitting and hacking up phlegm (I’ll admit I had to look up the spelling of that word) next to me as well as the other guy standing up and blocking my view of my stats.  I ended up finishing in 26:16 mins which put me in 8th place for females (out of 20).  I averaged 222 watts and 21.3 mph.  I definitely wasn’t expecting to be able to put out that much power.  The TT ended up being fun and I was able to see what I could do going all out for slightly over 26 minutes.

The BTT ITT was a whole other story.  It was the epitome of crash and burn or having dead legs.  I went into this TT coming off a rest week and all I can say is that my legs weren’t there…at all.  This one was only 8 miles but the course was definitely tougher than the Team Psycho one.  I finished in a painful 20:28 mins with an avg speed of 18.2 mph and power of 181.  This put me 14th in my division…ouch.  I’d prefer to completely forget about this TT which is probably the best thing I can do.  It was frustrating on so many levels but there’s nothing you can do when your legs just won’t go.  I also really wanted to show my new team what I could do and that really didn’t happen.

Keith on the other hand killed it!  He came in 4th in his division with a time of 16:15, avg speed 22.9 mph and power of 339.  It’s tough when one of us has a good day and the other doesn’t but I was so proud of him for kicking butt! 


Pain & suffering


Happy to be done with the torture


“Big shots are only little shots who keep shooting.” ~Christopher Morley

Pain in the Neck!

Towards the beginning of December I woke up at my normal time of 5am to get to swim practice.  After changing into my bathing suit, I decided to “throw my hair up into a ponytail”.  BIG MISTAKE!  I felt an extremely sharp pain go down the right side of my neck and for the next day I could not move my neck even slightly without the intense pain.  We’re talking neck probably should have been in a collar type of pain. 

Needless to say I missed that swim practice (along with a whole week and a half of training unfortunately) as a result.  I actually debated going to the ER since I’ve never had this kind of pain ever before and having it in my neck was incredibly scary.  I decided to forgo the high cost of an ER visit and wait until my PCP opened.  Keith then had the fun task of taking me to the doctor’s.  This involved a ½ hour car ride of me holding my head and neck in a certain position and hoping Keith didn’t hit any potholes or make any sudden movements.  The Nurse Practitioner determined I had a strained neck and a spasm in my right upper trap.  This was definitely not the way I wanted my training to go.

After some prescription strength pain pills and muscle relaxers, my neck felt a tiny bit better the next day.  Finally after about a week or two, I was in less pain but still having some problems rotating my neck. 

I thought my neck problem was a freak / lame incident that would heal itself.  NO LUCK!  Since then my neck has gotten tight and has several knots.  After driving for a while, it gets really sore.  To top it off, my right shoulder blade area started to feel “crunchy” when I try to perform my swim stroke and other movements.  I even had some trouble sleeping due to the pain / stiffness / overall discomfort.

I've been having PT on this once a week, performing my I’s, T’s, and Y’s along with other exercises to try to loosen up these knots.  After about 2 months of treatment, I’m starting to finally feel like my neck and shoulder is getting better.  It’s still not 100% and I still get stiffness in my neck when I’m in the car too long but it’s come a long way since the end of December. This only helps solidify my career goal of being a physical therapist.  Physical therapy has helped not only my neck area but also my knee last year!   

The only plus to this incident is that it’s ironically made my swim stroke better since I’m constantly trying to keep my neck and upper shoulder area more relaxed.  My head faces down towards the bottom of the pool now and I definitely feel more streamline.  There’s my glass half full!
I’ve been trying to come up with a better story than putting my hair up but I’ve decided to stick to the truth so everyone knows about the hidden dangers of ponytails!

“What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise.”   ~Oscar Wilde

Saturday, February 5, 2011

6 Months to Go!

The title says it all…a little less than 6 months and I will be lining up at Mirror Lake for the Ironman.  When I think of it as being in July, it seems so far away and yet when I think about 6 months, it seems surprisingly close! 

My training started in November which puts me at 3 months into my training.  The first things my coach had me do were tests.  The swim test was a 500 meter time trial, the bike was a 30 minute (indoor) time trial, and the run was a 3 mile run to determine my heart rate and power zones as well as pace for various upcoming workouts.

The past three months have included biking intervals, increasingly longer runs, running hill repeats, masters swim practices, and strength (lifting) workouts.  A traditional week has looked like: Monday – Master’s swim practice; Tuesday – Bike and Run (hill repeats); Wednesday – Master’s swim practice and strength workout; Thursday – Bike and Run; Friday – off day; Saturday – Somewhat long run; Sunday – Bike workout. 

The Sunday bike workouts have been tough since I usually ski beforehand.  Another challenge has become running in this weather.  Every week we seem to get another snow storm!  I’ve definitely become sick of shoveling and running has become a little more dangerous.  My options seem to be running on poorly cleared sidewalks where a path will become a dead end of a snow bank, running in the street where cars like to come dangerously close (not a game of chicken I want to be playing), or running on a treadmill.  I hate running on treadmills so I’ve been avoiding that.  Running on sidewalks has become annoying at best so I’ve decided to run in the street (usually trying to find a less busy or wider street).

My Saturday runs have mostly been up in Vermont before some skiing.  There’s a great run along a packed dirt road that barely gets any traffic.  It’s so nice not to worry about cars or slippery sidewalks!  This has become one of my favorite runs.  It gets interesting when a Black Lab or two comes bounding out of a yard and almost tackles us but at least I love dogs!

My coach recently sent me my next month’s workouts and they’ve certainly revved up.  I’ll try to update this blog a bit more since I’ve been slacking on it being busy with work, training and skiing.  

"Every great dream begins with a dreamer.  Always remember you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world." 
~Harriet Tubman

Saturday, January 8, 2011

What I did in my off-season...

Back in elementary school, we'd have to write about what we did during our summer vacation once we returned back to school. Well here's my triathlon version of that: What I did during my off season!
  1. 1st ski turns of the season in OCTOBER in VT!

  2. Went apple picking

  3. Ate pear-walnut-gorgonzola risotto
  4. Celebrated turning 26

  5. Ate tons of cider donuts...Cold Hollow in Waterbury, VT still has the best

  6. Skinned up Mad River Glen

  7. Ate an apple turnover

  8. Dressed in a snuggie for Halloween
  9. Ran the Cider Hill 5K
  10. Ate a birthday cannoli

  11. Got my new bike computer...Garmin Edge woohoo

  12. Ate waaay too much Halloween candy

  13. Walked around the Fenway area trying to find the Beer Mile. We found hour too late.
  14. Ate some BBQ at Blue Ribbon...mmm mmm good

  15. Actually got to have a life! 

    "Life is uncertain.  Eat dessert first." ~Ernestine Ulmer