Saturday, September 24, 2011

NYC 18 Miles a no go

Yeah, whatever I did to my left calf at the end of last weekend's run has taken me out of this weekend's race. I massaged, stretched, took extra days off, but eventually I had to run. I went out for a very easy run and 1.5 miles in, my calf got very angry, instantly, just like last weekend. Then I limped back home.
It's strange because most of the time it feels perfectly fine. Every now and then when I'm walking down stairs, I can feel some tightness but it doesn't cramp up on me like it does when I'm running.
18 miles would be a bad idea at this point. Strike 1.
I've got two weeks before the next possible LONG attempt and I have a 13 miler in Central park scheduled next Saturday. I'll do everything I can to be ready and see what happens.

In other news, 2012 Schedule Update:
The signup for IM Mont-Tremblant 70.3 was last week. Genine and I had thought that looked like a cool race venue when it was first announced. Some may remember that I had initially planned Ironman Newfoundland 70.3 to be my first Half Iron. Then they cancelled the venue.
Anyhow, Genine kept talking about wanting to do a new race next year and even tho' this one may not fit my schedule perfectly, I decided it's the one I wanted to do the most. So we are signed up!
One of the things that sounded really good to me was this: "Mont Tremblant takes pride in its bike course, which is 95% closed to other traffic and newly paved on 70% of its surface."
Yep, that should be cool.
Genine and I figure that by having a half iron scheduled in June, that should get us focused on getting in shape a bit quicker than we did this past year. Not that we aren't always trying to stay in shape. I'm just saying that having a tough race on the schedule is a really good motivator.

Lastly, because I've not been working out much I've put on weight. I really haven't been able to get in the zone with my eating habits in quite some time. (feels like a couple of years really) Well I'm kind of annoyed with myself at the moment so the motivation is there. So is back in action for me. I've got a few ideas about what I'd like to change in my diet long term but I've got to get some things together before adding in the changes. More on that later.

Monday, September 19, 2011

17 mile run.

If you are going to run 17 miles, Sunday’s weather was just about as perfect as you can get for running. I had been concerned about this run all week. The day after my 17 miler last year was when I messed up my ankle and was done for 8 weeks. Not to mention, last week’s need for an ice bath after a 14 mile run. Then to top it off, I ran 4 miles on Friday night and my left calf cramped at mile 3 and I had to short stride my way back in. At mile 3!!

Because of all this, I’ve been stretching out every chance I get. I even considered getting a massage on Saturday before Sunday’s run. I decided not to. Everything was feeling alright.

I also realized that I had better do a much better job with my hydration and gels this week. I decided to try out what had worked for me during my long bike rides this year. Salt Capsules, Water (not Gatorade) and GU. I woke up in time to get some good stretching in. I felt as good as I ever do. (I’m still only running 3x a week. I had run 8 and 4 as my mid week runs).

Todd and I meet up in Branchburg, then drive out to the High Bridge rail trail again. I asked how he wanted to run this. We decided to run out 6, so our first out and back would end up at 12. Then we’d only have 5 to go. It sounded like a good plan. It left us short of running the entire 7 miles of the trail, so we’d have that as a destination for our 19 and 20 mile runs in a few weeks.

I loaded up pretty heavy. 4 bottle fuel belt and a hand bottle along with 4 GUs and…. No salt capsules. I had left them at home. I had my endurance Gatorade mix with me but that combined with GU doesn’t always sit well for me. I stuck with water and off we went.

I knew I’d have to go slower than last week, if I wanted to get all 17 in. So I keep checking my HR monitor to try to keep to 150ish. Initially my legs were feeling like junk. It felt like they got tight immediately. So I stopped to walk a few times in the first 3 miles and that really helped. I think it just allowed for more blood flow and got rid of some of the junk that was there. After my first GU, I got a side stitch. I managed to run through that. At mile 6 we were in Califon. We decided to run off the trail to see if there was going to be a place to buy water/Gatorade on our longer runs in a few weeks. There were a couple options. That may save me from carrying so much next time.

7-12 was feeling much better than 1-6. I figured my hydration and GU plan was working well. I was looking forward to knocking out the last 5. Then with less than a quarter mile to go (of the 12), the inside of my left calf went into spasm and I stopped dead in my tracks. We ended up walking it in from there. We refilled bottles and such and I continued to try and get that muscle to relax. Eventually I decided to try and run but it just felt like I was asking for an injury. So we turned and headed back to the car.

So I fell well short of 17 miles but the 12 that I did run felt much better than the 14 the week before. I’m guessing the slower pace was a big part of that. My massage was scheduled later that day. I think that worked out to be a better plan. Get the massage the same day as opposed to waiting until the next evening.

Here it is Monday morning and I can still feel that muscle in my calf. I spent time stretching when I woke up but it’s probably going to take a day or so. Any time a muscle actually makes it into spasm, it seems to be a 3 day recovery. Fortunately, I’m in no hurry. At this point this is what I’m thinking.

I’ve got 3 chances left.

Next Sunday I will attempt my longest run ever in Central Park. 18 miles, 3 complete loops. That will be attempt number 1 of 3, determining if I’ve done enough to be ready to run the marathon.

The following weekend is a down week and I’m only scheduled for 13, which will be in Central Park again. I supposed it’s a good thing that mentally I’m feeling good about 13 milers.

After that, I’ve got a 19 miler as my 2nd of 3 attempts.

Then I’ve got a 20 miler a week after that as my 3rd and final attempt.

I think I’m in a 3 strikes and I’m out situation here. Meaning if none of them go well, it probably makes no sense to attempt the marathon.

On the other hand, I’m also saying that if I get 2 strikes and only one of them goes well, that may be enough to put me on the start line.

I was thinking this weekend that a marathon training schedule is probably not the best way to return to training after a layoff from illness. It sure presents a very real challenge to me tho’ and is inspiring me to focus on my stretching as never before. So unless I injure myself, I think I’ll be better for it at the end.

I probably shouldn’t say this out loud but I want it on the journal here. I think I’ve gone an entire week without feeling that nerve in my back that had the shingles. Finally!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Running and planning

2012 looks like it might look very similar to 2011 in terms of a schedule. I’m signed up for Columbia, Mooseman International Distance and Timberman 70.3 again. Then of course the Tango Adventure Race as well.

I think I would like something in July. Black Fly Tri would fit. Philly or Morgantown in late June is on the radar as well.

There are always a number of local races here in NJ starting in September. I was kind of bummed that I was going to miss Skylands and Buckman again this year. (because the marathon training is more than enough post Shingles). As it turns out, Skylands became a Run, Bike, Run. Which is not a triathlon in my book. It’s tough, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that the swim is what makes it fun for me. So that took the sting out of missing that one.

Buckman is this weekend and I just got an update saying that they are still without power from the hurricane rains a few weeks back. They may have to reschedule that event as well to October 8th. That is yet to be determined. This weekend I’m scheduled to run 17 miles. That weekend in October, I’m scheduled to run 19 miles. It’s not going to happen this year. I’m over it.

Here is the update on my recovery. In terms of pain, my #1 problem is probably my shoulder. I knew I landed on that shoulder pretty hard at the Tango. I wouldn’t have guessed it would still be so sore almost 5 weeks later. I’ve got to figure out some sort of therapy for it.

#2 I would say is my right heel. I’m guessing this is carry over from my ankle problem last year. My feet are going into the ice bath after every run. It’s making a huge difference but I would love to find a therapist that could tell me if there is something I could be doing to bring that foot back around. Maybe I’ll get lucky and all the massages I have scheduled will help that foot more than I expect it will.

#3 goes to the shingles. I can’t figure out what triggers that nerve to become irritated but it still makes its presence known from time to time. Also I still feel that I’m more fatigued than I should be. I’ve been sleeping as late as possible and I’ve been getting to sleep early as well. Which is why there has been no cross training. I’ve been limiting myself to 3 runs a week. (soon to be 4).

For the record, getting ready for this marathon has been much more tough on my legs than all my triathlon training was leading up to July. The 5 weeks of no training is definitely a factor. Also to be fair to that tri schedule, I wasn’t able to complete as much of the build/hard stuff on there as I would have liked, back in June & July. Either way, I find it odd that by having the sore muscles I “feel” stronger. This must go back to all the time I spent in the weight room back in high school. No pain no gain and all that. Fortunately I realize that I have to recover in a big way after every run if I have any hopes of staying on schedule and making the starting line of the Marathon. So after my run on Sunday, I did my first ever ice bath. (which is worth doing). Monday I had a massage (also worth doing). Tuesday my quads still felt like junk, so instead of running 4, I stretched and rolled them out on the foam roller and the stick. They felt great after that. I don’t think I’ve ever noticed such a drastic difference in my legs after just rolling them out before. Skipping the run for this was definitely the right thing to do. (this week anyhow).

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve got 17 on my schedule this weekend. I’ve got to practice my nutrition and fluid intake. I’ve been deficient the last couple weeks. I’m hoping that I have someone to run with, at least for the 2nd half of the run. I seem to do alright running for 90 minutes or so. After that I start getting bored. I don’t run with music. I don’t like to be that disconnected with the world when I’m out there. If I’m on my own this weekend I think I’ll have to put together a playlist and be ready to use it if/when I start to lose it.

Then the next 2 weekends I should be fine. I’ve got an 18 mile “race” in central park, then a 13 miler in central park the weekend after that. I’m behind schedule with my 9 NYRR races this year. I thought I had done 5 but only 4 of them counted towards my 9. That will be a good motivator for my 18 miler. I’ve got to pace it right so that I finish and get the credit towards the 2012 Marathon.

Monday, September 12, 2011

long run and a nice ice bath

I’m about to start week 3 of my 11 week marathon schedule. I really doubt 11 weeks is going to be enough time to put together a very good marathon time. I am hoping that it will be enough for me to complete it without feeling like I walked most of the time tho'.

I was having some serious doubts over the last week. Last weekend’s 12 miler was a sufferfest as was my mid week 7 miler. My brain was into it and I got them done, but it was a challenge.

Yesterday, Genine, Todd and I went out to the High Bridge trail to hopefully run 14 miles. The trail is 7 miles long so out and back would cover it. Except that would mean no hydration past what you could carry. Also it would mean if I couldn’t manage it. It could be a 7 mile walk back to the car. So I suggested we run out 3.5 miles then return to the car, rehydrate and fill up to do a 2nd run.

So we headed out. I was feeling much better than I did the other day. It was a nice cool day for running. A cool humidity, which was kind of odd but all in all, good running conditions.

I was definitely running faster than I should have been but everything was moving so well, I didn’t want to change anything. Even my foot strikes were feeling better than they had for a long while. When we reached about 3 miles. I suggested we switch to 4.5 out for the first “loop”. That way we’d have 9 down and 5 to go when we got back to the car. Everyone was on board with that plan.

When we turned to head back. Genine dropped to a pace I probably should have been running at, Todd and I ran ahead. I hadn’t run this trail in awhile and had forgotten how long the “hills” were. They aren’t steep but it’s enough to be noticeable. We got back to the car it what felt like a very short time. 9 down 5 to go. Genine thought she was a long way behind but she arrived very soon after us. She said she was done for the day tho’.

Todd and I headed back out. It was a climb to start, so there wasn’t much talking. About a mile in, I think I started to ask Todd how far we’d gone. (he had the gps). We kept moving. Just get it done. We walked for a short bit at 2.5. Then headed back. My legs were tight and I started to think about recovery from this. With about a mile left to go we spot Genine walking. She ran back to the car with us. It was kind of funny to see the high school kids running at us doing mile repeats.

We got back to the car and even tho’ I’d used body glide. I knew that what I was wearing today would not be what I’d wear for any other long runs. (ouch)

My massage is scheduled for Monday night. I think I may have to start scheduling those for Sunday night. On the way home, we stopped at a store to pick up 2 bags of ice. It was time for me to start doing this right.

Even putting my feet into an ice bath is a tough challenge but I’d heard of a trick of how to do this ice bath thing. You get into the tub when it’s just cold water from the tap. Then you add the ice in once you are in. Soooo much easier. And yes, the ice bath is very much worth the time and effort.

Hoping to get some help for my right foot at the massage tonight. That seems to be the weak link right now.

Anyhow, I’m much more hopeful about the marathon today than I was on Friday. I’ve got 17 miles on the schedule next weekend. I’m going to have to slow it down and really work on the salt tab, gel and hydration intake. I would love to finish 17 miles feeling positive. That would match my longest run ever and it's also the run that ended my training for 2 months last year. That's not going to happen this year.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

2012 Triathlon Schedule possiblities

Yep, It's that time already. Time to start signing up for next year's events. I'm really glad that I received a Facebook update about there being a Mooseman/Timberman Combo pack discount, because that got me thinking about next year. Which lead me to check on Columbia's signup. It typically fills very quickly and I found that it was already open! So I immediately signed up for that race. Why? Well I know I can do better than I did this year, (would be nice to finish without a flat). More importantly, I also have enough friends in the area down there that I probably wouldn't see otherwise if I didn't race this event. That makes it a must do.

Back to this Mooseman and Timberman notice. It turns out that if we register for both events before the 14th, we get a pretty nice discount. Its' enough that if we are going to do both of them we should sign up now. The thing is, Genine has been talking about going to the new Rev3 race up in Maine instead of Timberman. Which makes sense to me, except that Timberman is cheap for us because we don't have to get a hotel or eat meals out. Also I can see where Genine would want to move on, it's tough to top her Timberman Experience this year. I on the other hand have not had the race I'd like to have on that course yet. So it's still pulling me in. No decision has been made, we have a few days. Maybe we will do both! Meaning I race Timberman, Genine races Rev3 OOB. If we worked that schedule, there would be a lot more race photos. Ha!

One step earlier in our schedule next year is the Tango. Fortunately, we don't have to make a decision about how much of that race we are going to do any time soon. As always, there is talk about doing as little as one event, to doing the entire thing together. Genine has done everything but the 13.1 in that race. I haven't biked or run the 4.5. Relay is probably the most likely as I'm really unsure about how long it would take to recover from a full tango and be ready to race a half iron 15 days later.

Next step earlier was an empty July schedule this past year. Black Fly Tri in NH continues to be an event I'd like to do. Visions of doing the whole "Lord of the Flies" thing where you do every race that weekend. To just going over to compete in the bike time trial, as I've never done a straight up time trial before.

Before that is Mooseman. I've been thinking about doing the 70.3 next year. My main reason was because the Olympic event was so poorly attended this past year. It just lacked "big race" feel. The 70.3 didn't have that problem. Again, it's been tough to beat our prior years when we've had a bunch of our friends up for the weekend and they would race as a relay team. Well.... I am stunned. They brought back the relay team category to both Mooseman and Timberman!! That makes it more difficult for me to decide on the 70.3. If there is going to be a bunch of people post race partying from the Olympic on Saturday, it's going to be really hard to get sleep that night to wake up for a 70.3 on Sunday. The good news is, I still love the Olympic distance course and I would love to have a really fast day on it.

I have a couple days to think on all this. There are so many other events that we'd love to do. Mont-Tremblant 70.3 in late June for example. Or Rev3 Costa Rica. Or LavaMan. Or Boulder 70.3 to visit family and friends there.... You get the idea. There is plenty to do out there and I don't think there are many bad decisions on that list.

What do you have planned?

Monday, September 5, 2011

2011 Timberman 70.3: A Step toward my Destiny. A Day of Giving Thanks. Genine’s Race Report&Prelude to Race Day

For many of you out there reading this, completing a half-ironman has become a regular part of your race season. For me, however, it was anything but common. So if you will indulge me for a few moments, I would like to start with a prelude to my Timberman 70.3 race report. I will try to be brief, but no guarantees. Actually, you may want to get a cup of coffee before starting to read.

For the past 3+ years I had been working in a high stress retail environment, commuting over 100 miles each day (driving), suffering from insomnia and eating poorly – all while trying to live the healthy lifestyle of a triathlete. I felt as if I was living a lie and the life was being sucked out of me. By fall of last year I had reached my limit. I could not physically, mentally or emotionally continue on my current path. I approached my supervisors at work, explained my situation, crossed my fingers that I wasn’t committing career suicide and respectfully asked to be transferred to a store closer to home. In January of this year, I was granted the chance to change jobs and gain my life back. I felt like I could breathe again. It was the first step in changing my direction toward being happy.

In the months between when I asked for the transfer and it was finally granted, I made a promise to myself- a promise that I would make the most of this opportunity if it were given to me. I would not waste the chance to take the next big step toward my destiny. I needed a new goal – a BIG goal – to keep me motivated. Signing up for a half-iron seemed like the perfect idea. Achievable, but not without a lot of work. The day I accepted the offer to start my new job I went on line and registered for Timberman. There was no going back. Scared or not, I was going to do it!

I began my new job (now less than 5 miles from home!) in February. I had such lofty expectations of what the next 6 months of training would look like. Since our race schedule was very much the same, I was shadowing Matt’s coached training plan. It felt good knowing I had a plan to follow. Next was getting my eating back on track- story of my life. (I have always wished that I were one of those people that stopped eating when they are stressed. Unfortunately I am the exact opposite. I can’t seem to stop eating). Over the course of about 2 years, I had gained back 15lbs of the 40lbs I had lost when we first started triathlon in 2008. Back to Fit Day and tracking the calories. (::sigh::) The first 2-3 months brought only a slight drop in weight (still wasn’t in a place to wrap my brain around the eating part) and some good progress in getting back to a regular workout schedule. I was especially proud of my gains in my run training. I ran in two 5k’s and at the end of April I completed my first 15k. I finished right on my goal time of 1:30 (a few seconds under in fact). Wahoo! And yes, race reports are still needed for these run races.

Now it was May- only 1 month to Mooseman- my first A race of the season. The couple pounds that I had lost came back (grrrr…) and I was finding that the schedule of 14 workouts per week was harder to fit in around work and life than I thought. And since I tend to be an “all or nothing” person, I was skipping or post-poning workouts that I didn’t have time to complete as written (so dumb). On May 14th, I raced in the Jersey Shore Kick-Off (a small, nicely run sprint tri- close to home). It was a great warm-up race for Mooseman. My swim was a bit rough, but my bike and run felt improved. Overall I was happy with my times and actually won my age group! That was a first! (still need to write that race report! Ha!)

I went into Mooseman with the attitude of “it will be what it will be”. I was hoping to have been at a better place in my training/level of fitness. And I was certainly not happy with the extra pounds that were still lingering. But regardless, race day is always fun…especially on my favorite course EVER! All 3 of my splits that day were within seconds or minute of my 2009 splits. Kind of ironic and a bit depressing, but I didn’t dwell. Time to focus forward. I had 10 weeks to Timberman. Time to kick my own butt!

I had made a commitment that when I returned home after Mooseman, my eating would make a drastic change for the better. And it did. My biggest obstacle has always been my sugar addiction. Yep! I’m an addict… full-fledged, card-holding sugar addict. So I decided to go cold turkey and kick it once and for all. Through my Inten-Sati instructors, I discovered a diet cleanse that looked like something I could handle because I was able to eat solid foods – as opposed to only drinking smoothies or juice. I made the mind shift and began the 14 day Be Well Cleanse by Dr. Frank Lipman. Basically, this cleanse is 3 shakes a day, supplements and 2-3 meals daily that you choose from the “approved” food list. And the food list was plentiful. This 14day cleanse removes all possible food allergies from your diet- no sugar, no dairy, no gluten, no caffeine and all organic. Tough? Yes. Impossible? No way. I was determined! No more excuses. By the end of the 2 weeks, I had dropped 10 pounds just by changing what I was putting in my mouth- no counting calories – no fake “sugar-free” gimmicks. I felt lean, my energy levels began to even out and my clothes were fitting better - all the incentive I needed to continue with this new way of eating. I was also feeling some momentum in my training. Things were moving in the right direction! Mentally I had made a shift to knowing I was on the right path to get me to race day…and beyond. Even though I recite the words every week during my warm-up in Inten-Sati- “As above so is below. This is what I know.”- I sometimes forget how true it really is. What you put out in the world is what you get back. What you choose to focus on shapes the path of your life. What you give is what you get. It was mid-June when I came across this post from Big Daddy Diesel- a blog of a triathlete that I follow. It struck me so profoundly, that I have to share it with you.


So often hear that word thrown around. Many feel that we’re all predestined for this or that fate, predetermined to live this life or that life. Somehow, someway, mystically “meant to be”. I’m too wise to spit in the face of the cosmos or to second guess the presence of a higher power, but I don’t buy that laissez-faire, hands-off-the-wheel crap for a second. Yeah, I believe, elementally and fundamentally in my destiny and my dreams, but because I put that future in place. I set that goal, I fixed my gaze on that faraway destination, and if I’m ever going to have a puncher’s chance of getting there, that is ultimately up to me and only me. I don’t have the luxury of passing this buck to the whims of divine providence or to blame the great bogeyman on my fears or the miserable lot of life in the working class. The only “man holding me down”, the only force holding me back, is me. I don’t read my horoscope or heed the dictates of a zodiac sign or birthstone. Instead I’ve committed my life to willing my stars to order themselves as I demand. I refuse to be a passenger on my own journey or a bystander standing idly by, cheering from the sidelines in my own game. I’ll own my upshot, I’ll face my odds. I’m not following somebody else’s path or building according to a preset blueprint. If I’ll ever have a future worth telling, it won’t be read by some psychic reading my palm. It will be told in a story of blood, sweat, pain, and tears, in dark days of doubt and long nights of toil. Wielding this heavy hammer. Banging away. Framing and molding. Conceiving and creating. Intent on being the architect of my own destiny.

Wow! This was exactly what I needed to hear (well…read) at that moment, and I have read this post hundreds of times since then. I knew that if I was going to reach the starting line of Timberman (and hopefully the finish line, too!), I must not waver. No -way.

Several lessons were learned during the month of July. One: Traveling to PA or NH every other weekend to see family, while fun, is not conducive to sticking to a heavy workout schedule. Two: I need to take salt tabs on long bike/run bricks in 95+degree heat. (Go figure!) Because of our hectic vacation travel, most of the weekends we were home, I was working. I manuevered my schedule the best I could, but I felt like I still was missed many of my long bike rides. But I did the best with the time I had available. Swimming and running, for the most part, were getting done. Our NH vacation in mid-July made for great practice for hot & humid race day conditions. It was an oven most days, but we used that to our advantage to practice our nutrition & hydration…and learning that salt tablets are necessary for me to make it through these longer distances on hot & humid days. It was a tough go, but we put in the miles and got it done. Very satisfying!

The first weekend in August was the Kinzua Country Tango adventure race in our hometown of Warren, PA. It is one of my favorite races and weekends of the summer. So many friends come home for this race, so it is always a good time. When we decided to join forces to form a co-ed high school relay team (WAHS Class of 88), I volunteered to do the 2.5mile swim. I needed a new goal for this race. I needed to prove to myself that I could it. (And it would be good practice for Timberman). I completed the swim in 1 hour 5mins (still need to write a race report for this, too!) I was feeling good and was hopeful going into the final weeks to Timberman.

However, somewhere in the those last few weeks, I felt like I was starting to second guess myself. I was procrastinating over workouts and/or missing them totally. Putting the blame on “work” or “too much to do” or maybe I was having sympathy pains for Matt & his battle with shingles. Lame excuses, right? Maybe it was nerves or my own subconscious working against me. Don’t know why. Just was. How ironic that Tiffany’s Inten-Sati series for August zeroed in on whatever was going on in my brain at that time. This is the series. These are the words that got me thru to race day.

August Series
I am the change I want to see
I am done complaining
I set myself free!
MY life is on fire!
I am bursting at the seams
I have the will to BELIEVE
I have the will to be STRONG
I have the will to be EXCEED
All excuses are GONE!
I have the courage and confidence to be
the warrior I am meant to be.
I have the power, strength to see my beauty and divinity.

And so I stopped complaining, stopped my pity parties, stopped being self-deprecating and began accepting where I was. And being grateful for the opportunity that lay before me. Was my training 100% according to plan or what I had envisioned it to be back in February? No. I guess a person doesn’t become super human in 6 months! But, I had made significant improvements in my endurance (maybe a tiny bit of speed- relative to where I was) and overall fitness. I was feeling HEALTHY and was anticipating what I could do on the racecourse. For the first time in a very long while, I really had no idea what to expect. Both nerve racking and exciting!

The Wednesday before the race, I worked a half-day and went home to pack. The goal was to leave Thursday morning. As I was scurrying around the house, I turned the corner from the living room to go upstairs. Midway thru the turn, I caught the little toe of my right foot on the corner of the baseboard on the wall. I fell on to the stairs, screaming in pain! SON OF A B@*#H!! After sitting for a minute, I refused to believe that it was anything more than a stubbed toe. It will be fine. Continue packing. It will be fine. And so I did…hobbling along ignoring the pain. It wasn’t until we were getting ready to meet a friend for dinner that night that I glanced down and did a double take of my right foot. It was noticeably swollen and rapidly turning purple & blue. Still refusing to acknowledge that there may be a problem, I put on my flip-flops and we went to dinner. When we got home, I decided I had better check it out further. I got my running shoe and attempted to put my foot into it. Painful, but I got it in. That’s all I needed to know. We were good to go!

My toe in the car on the way to NH. Made it thru the race. Still hurts now tho.

The Timberman in Cannan, NH. Very appropriate, right?

Thursday we drove up to NH, arriving at the farm in the early evening and got to share a game of cards and some delicious homemade berry pie with Matt’s cousin Abby and her friend Melissa. I slept well Thursday night. Abby, Melissa & kids left Friday morning. Matt and I got a bike ride and short run in, went to the grocery store and then relaxed for the rest of the day. I slept well Friday night and awoke Saturday morning not to an alarm, but to the sun shining on the red barn. Aahh. Saturday was a super quick pre-race swim, bike, run- prep race gear and then it was into the car to drive to Gunstock for packet pick-up and Ellacoya Park for bike drop off. I was super excited to have a purple swim cap (whew! No pink!) and that my bib was # 500! That seemed like a lucky number! We got our packets, walked thru the expo and then went to drop off bikes. I was in the middle of a row, but easy to find by the tree with the big dead branch above my rack. Perfect! Time to head back to the house to meet my mom, sister & nephews (arriving from PA) and Matt’s brother & nephew for dinner. I wanted to be in bed by 8:00, then it was 9:00. I made it in bed with lights out at 10:00pm. Typical. It wasn’t a good sleep, but not a bad sleep either. Also typical.

Sunday – Race Day! The alarm went off a 2:15am. I was able to easily eat my oatmeal. I packed a PBJ, Hammer Bar and bananas for the car. It was still a long time until my 7:20am start. We left the house around 3:15am and arrived at Ellacoya at 4:00am when the park opened. We parked easily and Matt immediately fell back to sleep in the car. I tried to sleep, but it just wasn’t happening. I remained quiet, trying not to disturb Matt. Times like this are when I love my Iphone! I passed some time posting on FB and reviewing the day’s weather. In the hour+ before transition opened, while Matt slept soundly, I was out of the car 3 times to go to the porta-potties. Might as well take advantage of clean potties with no lines early in the morning! I also put to good use my new head lamp. It’s dark in the potties at 4:30am! Best $12 spent at L.L.Bean!

Early morning photo of my WARRIOR arm for race day.

5:30am arrived. Matt got up and we headed to transition to set up. I am always amazed at how quickly this time before race start goes. It FLYS!! Before I knew it, we were at the beach in line for one last pee stop and getting ready to start. My wave started ahead of Matt’s, so he stood with me until my wave was called. He gave me a kiss, wished me luck and promised me that he would take it easy out there today- not to worry. (I still worried). The water was calm & a nice temp. This was the first time that I felt any nerves. We were running just late enough to the start that we missed swim warm-ups. Was this bad or would it not matter? I was about to find out!

There were 125 women in my wave. I decided to start on the inside close to the buoys, but a little further back. The gun went off and I soon found myself in a washing machine of swimmers. Typically this would freak me out and I would end up in a panic. Today- all it did was make me aggravated! A small victory for me already! After about 200m of bumping, kicking and grabbing feet, I escaped to the left a bit and found some space. From there on out, I found a groove and swam. I felt good, the water was clear to see other swimmers and also the safety kayaks. Which was a good thing because even though I felt great swimming, I am sure that I swam the course on a zig-zag. It seemed like I swam from a buoy to a kayak- back & forth- the entire time! A bit frustrating, but over all I was very happy with my swim time. The swim seemed to be over in no time!

I have never used wetsuit strippers because I have never had any issues getting out of my wetsuit…until today. It wasn’t anything catastrophic, but just annoying. At one point a guy in the row beside me offered to help get the last leg of my wetsuit off in exchange for helping him get the back of his bike jersey pulled down over his back. Deal! Then it was time to bike. YES!!

I felt confident on this bike course. It was fresh in my mind from our practice ride the month prior. My only strategy for today was to not go out too hard, aim to maintain a 90 cadence, get my nutrition in and hydrate. Oh! And to have fun! Since there was only 1 wave of women that started ahead of me, I got to pass a lot of guys on the bike to start, but soon the fast guys & girls from the later waves were in the mix. It was crowded at times and a bit challenging at the beginning of the course, but once I was out onto the highway (Rt 106), it was fun riding. I kept expecting to have Matt pass me at some point as his wave started only 10 minutes behind me. It wasn’t until I had made the half-way turnaround that I saw him on the other side of the highway. I shouted and waved. He waved back. I was relieved to see him and know he was doing ok. I was also excited to see that I had made it to the turnaround in 1 hour 30mins! I was pacing to possibly finish my bike around 3 hours! I had figured closer to 3 hours 30mins, so I was thrilled. I kept on moving along feeling excited and hopeful! The only down side to my bike was that I had forgot to put my Cliff Shot Blocks in my bento box. Luckily I had taped 2 GU’s to my top tube the night before…just in case. Even though the shot blocks sit better in my stomach, I used both GU’s. They gave me the pep I needed, but my stomach was starting to revolt. And by the last 5 miles of my ride, so were my quads. Big time. In the last downhill (no passing zone) into the park, I stood on my pedals to stretch my legs. They immediately began to seize! Terrified of my legs freezing while clipped into my pedals going 20mph, I instinctively sat and coasted into the park.

T2 was painful. My quads were on the verge of seizing and my stomach was on the verge of puking. And it was time to start the toughest part of my race – the run. I took my time in transition, remembered my shot blocks this time, taped the back of my ankles, grabbed my hat & fuel belt palm bottle and calmly talked myself thru my plan of how I was going to get through the next 13.1 miles. I had never run 13.1 miles before. I figured today was a good day to do it! I decided to walk out of transition & talk my legs into working for me. I started to run when I hit the timing mat. Ouch! I kept going. I have to admit, part of me was hoping that Matt would soon be right behind me and we could run this together. But he didn’t show. He stopped his race after his bike. I was on my own. I needed to get to the mile 1 aid station so I could get some Coke in me to help calm my stomach. And so I did. Around mile2, I looked up to see a woman in a blue race kit with “Race with Passion” on the back. I knew immediately who it was. So I yelled, “Hey Frayed Laces! You’re looking good there! I am a big fan of your blog!” She asked my name and we had a quick exchange. She wished me good luck on my first half and off she went. (BTW- She PR’d this race. Congrats, Laura! You are awesome!) Then I got to see the pro women coming back on their last 2 miles to the finish. I yelled to Chrissie (as everyone was doing). So awesome to see athletes of that caliber! Meanwhile, I continued to run aid station to aid station- grabbing water & Coke at each one. Little by little, my stomach seemed to cooperate as did my legs. Now mind you, none of this was pretty. But I was doing it! I repeated to myself, “No more complaining!” and “I CAN do this!” over and over again. I looked at the WARRIOR on my arm. Oh YES! I am a warrior! This was the toughest mental battle of my life and I was winning!

Finishing my first loop of the run.

As I was approaching the park for the turnaround loop, I heard Matt yelling my name, but I couldn’t see him. In my mind I was still looking for his yellow tri top. Obviously he had changed! Don’t worry, I found him! He told me I was looking good. I said, “This is painful, but I’m going to finish!” As I started out of the park for lap 2, Matt was there again. It was so nice to see him and have him there cheering for me! I thought the second loop would be torture, but I have to say that miles 7-10 were the best feeling of the day. I just kept my pace, walked the aid stations, got my nutrition in me and focused on the beautiful scenery. Oh! Have I mentioned how much I loved the ice cubes in my sports bra and the snow balls (crushed ice) that the local high school hockey team was handing out on the course? Heaven!

When I started approaching the park for the finish, I switched from “I can do this” to “I AM doing this! I am going to FINISH!!” As I was running down the chute to the finish line, I was elated! Bursting with pride! I saw Matt and Kryste with Danny in the backpack. I was so thankful that they were there for this moment! But as I crossed the finish line and Chrissie Wellington handed me my medal (Yes! I finished in time to get my medal from Chrissie!), I felt my stomach revolt. I pushed the kid getting ready to take my timing chip aside as I frantically searched for a garbage can. I didn’t find one. I ended up throwing up (just a little!) in the corner of the tent were the very kind woman was handing our cold bottles of water to finishers. I apologized and assured her I was ok. She was very sweet and said not to worry. Once I gathered my composure again, I went to the side of the fence where Matt was telling me that Chrissie was autographing people’s medals, jerseys, etc. There was a bit of a gap, so I went walked back to the finish line and asked Chrissie if she would sign my medal. She graciously said yes. I didn’t say much, but thanked her and told her she is AMAZING! She was so sincere and grateful. What an incredible gift to receive as a keepsake from my first 70.3!

Chrissie Wellington signing my medal!

Happy to be done and showing off my bling!

With my autographed medal in hand, I made my way out the back of the finishing chute to meet up with Matt, Kryste and Danny. As I weaved my way through the crowd, my eyes welled up with tears. In that quiet moment alone, it hit me. I did it. I really did it. Wow. I wonder what else is possible. What is the next step toward my destiny? And then I decided now was not the time to wonder. Now was the time to celebrate!

I found Matt, Kryste and Danny. We went to get some post race food and relax. As we were sitting in the grass eating, I got a text from my friend Jeff. He, Debbie and Zoe were arriving at the park! Hooray! It was so good to see them. But within a half hour, the storm started brewing. And it was a BIG one! We decided to pack it up and head back to the farm. I am glad we escaped when we did. Matt & I drove Kryste & Danny back to Gunstock to get their car as the line to take the shuttle bus was GIGANTIC and filled with sweaty athletes, bikes, gear, families, etc. There was pouring rain on the drive back. When I called my mom to tell here we were heading home, she said the electric was out. Matt & I stopped to pick up pizza & salads at the B.H.O.P. for dinner and visited back at the house. After Jeff, Debbie and Zoe left, I was more than ready for a hot shower! Matt reminded me that no power = no water pump. Rats! So in the car and to Newfound Lake we went for a post race ice bath! Not ideal, but the water wasn’t too chilly and it got the stink off! And with that the day was done.

It was a day that will live in my memory as one of my best. Not only did I achieve my goal, I surpassed it. I finished in 6 hours 18mins and1 sec.(Swim= 38:36 Bike= 3:01:08 Run= 2:27:15) But best of all, I spent my entire day saying, “Thank You!” It felt so good, too! I made sure to say thank you to as many people as I could- all day long!. The guys parking cars at 4:00am, volunteers on the bike course, police officers, people handing out water, high school kids at the aid stations, the guys picking up sponges and empty cups from the run course, other athletes, the woman serving clam chowder in the food tent and on and on. But my most special Thank You’s of the day went to Matt (my AMAZING husband!)and Kryste & Danny. To Jeff, Debbie and Zoe. To my mom and Ian when she called after the race. To my Dad in PA when he called after the race. To my friends and family who checked in via text, email or FB. Thank you for always being in my corner and supporting me! With love and gratitude…..

My family at our house in NH.

(Mom, Ian, Kryste and Danny. Matt and me.)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Not so much..

My last post was "Back in business". I was hopeful but it wasn't to be.
Friday morning when I woke up, I moved my neck and it popped. (never a good sign). A muscle on the right side of my neck that connected on my back, opposite of my collar bone, was as tight as a piano string. So I couldn't turn my neck very far. Even looking up and down was a challenge. I knew I should just get to a chiropractor. I couldn't see missing work tho.
So I headed into the city. Carrying my backpack caused that muscle to spasm a couple times. Sitting at work, I was tilting my shoulders and back in all sorts of strange ways trying to keep off that nerve in my neck. I knew I had to get to a chiropractor ASAP. My NYC chrio was already gone for the weekend. I made an appointment near home and had to leave work early.

The chiropractor figures this is simply a result of my weeks of back spasms from the shingles, then the additional lack of motion from the right shoulder I fell on. He couldn't believe how little movement I could manage tho'. He started me off with electro-stim to try and fatigue the muscle to the point it couldn't hold the cramp. Then a bunch of stretches. He had to physically push my head around to get that muscle to extend. Eventually he felt like he could attempt to align my neck. I'm not typically nervous about that adjustment but it was definitely a concern today. He adjusted it easily. Then he put me back on to the electro-stim to really try and exhaust that muscle.

I had already scheduled a massage that night. I was hoping it was going to be for my legs. My attempt at keeping them loose and ready to take on my running schedule. Instead, he spent nearly the entire time working on my back and shoulder. Deep Tissue. You know, the painful stuff. I left feeling as if I had a bit more range of motion in my neck but it was still very sore. And my brain felt like i had poison running through my veins. They always suggest to hydrate well after deep tissue to flush the toxins. I don't think I've ever felt it this dramatically tho'.

The next morning it was back to the chiropractor for another round. Same routine as the previous day. Which meant I was there for probably 45 min to an hour again.

So instead of working out, I've been hanging out at home. We did go see the Harry Potter movie. We left feeling underwhelmed once again. I guess the good news is that's the end of them. If I want to relive the experience, I'll read the books again, with the exception of Azkaban, that film was pretty good.

I've also been working on my iTunes library and updating my photo software. The photo software update looks like it might take 12+ hours of just the computer doing its thing. After that I plan on trying a new backup scheme. That will take some time as well. I'm guessing that when I finish creating this system, they will give up on the software and I'll be stuck with something useless. (This has happened once before). Although I'm using an Apple product, so maybe I'll be alright for awhile.

Sorry for the lack of Triathlon or Marathon updates.