Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year's Eve!

Today I read a bunch of "reflections on 2013" type posts from the blogs I follow in Feedly and figured I should write my own. But then I thought NAHHHHHH!!! I want to spend time with The Husband on NYE and I always get sucked into writing a longer post than I mean (and here I am, CAN YOU BELIEVE IT). But then, as I'm getting into my car after leaving work, the 5th 11 hour day in a row (and I have 3 more on Th, F, and Sat), I'm thinking, okay, I have all day tomorrow. I can write a 2013/2014 post. What will I write? It's been so complicated. So up and down.

I turn the key and as I'm pulling out of the parking lot, flip through the stations to find one actually playing music. As I pull out onto Rt 9 and I'm trying to think about tomorrows post, I hit 100.7 at the exact moment a song comes on.

Ted Nugent. Stranglehold.

I just posted about that song in my last post! If I'm going to be completely honest I like to run to it and fantasize that I'm some sort of BAMF. I'm just cruising and picking off opponents one by one. Steely expression. Just the sound of my feet and my breathing. Clearly a fantasy, but one of my favorites.

But then I realize it. If not now, when? When I'm back to my lowest weight? Then I can take myself seriously? Or my lowest this year? Is that acceptable? No. No no no no NO!

Now. I want it now. I am it now.

Food is fuel.
Sleep is repair.
Work outs are deposits in the bank.

So that's it. That's 2014. I want to cash a big "check" at the end of the year. A check that will buy a permanent change.


I know...shaking in your boots, right?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

And on days like today...

And on days like today, I need a little Nazareth in my life (if you don't know this song, it's NSFW):

And I KNOW! That's not the original version I posted, but I...um...actually like the G n' R version better. I'm a classic rock girl, but I can't help it. This is the one I want when I'm in a REALLY BAD mood.

So, the back story? We got a bunch of snow, all a few hours before and into rush hour and the towns and cities around here didn't do ANYTHING to really clear the roads. It's especially annoying because I don't have a choice about going into work. My job is the type where when everyone is told to stay home except "essential" personel, I'm one of the ones who needs to go in. I love my job, I just wish the people who cared about keeping the roads safe cared about theirs! I'm looking at you, municipal services in the greater Boston area!

You know what I  needed to do? Run it off! I even had a gym session scheduled with my trainer and training partner, but there was no way for all of us to get there on time so we had to cancel it.

When I started running I did it because I felt this need to burn off all that crazy, annoying excess energy from being wound up. Today? If I had the chance, I'd listen to Hair of the Dog on repeat a few times and then end it w/ some Ted Nugent.

You gotta do what you gotta do!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

What "never again" really means...

It means I'm signed up for the Cohasset Triathlon again!

This is from the pictures The Husband took. I really love this one!

I said never again because I had such a rough time in the swim this summer. The bike was a hilly blast and the run was still nice even though I was toast. The race itself is AWESOME. The race director does a fantastic job and this event has raise over a million dollars for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. However, I wasn't sure I could agonize over the swim again like I did last summer. The conditions were much better than it has been other years. (You can read the recap from this summers race here.) 

I just couldn't resist though. The thought of sitting it out this year actually almost made me cry! I've done two more triathlons with swims that are twice as far and I feel better about it. This race will also coincide right around the time that my 70.3 triathlon training plan calls for a sprint distance tune up race. What's funny about that is I will surely be FAR better trained for this so called tune up race than any race I've ever done. Well, I'd better be or I will DNF my 70.3.

Wah wahhhh...sad trombone.  Not gonna happen!

Also, you can park at the beach and train on the course. I plan on taking full advantage of this and doing 2-4 loops of the 12 mile course to get some challenging long bike rides in for my 70.3.

So The Husband, being awesome, agree to sign me up again (it's my Christmas present) and will almost definitely end up doing the rides with me too. He's the best trained non-triathlete I know! Well...the only one.

Also, I went through his pictures from the Boston Triathlon and put them on facebook. I realize I never did a race recap. It's pretty much the same as my last Boston Triathlon recap but I was way less nervous and other than the bike leg, undertrained. I pretty much did this one for fun and it was!

This dog was staring and staring at The Husband so he decided to take his picture. He knew I'd love it!

Fun race. Highly recommended!

Sooooo....what have I been up to? Not much and it's not good. I was sick for the first three weeks of November, which I may have mentioned (I can't even remember and my laptop is being a stinker about opening another tab for me to check). Four bottles of liquid daytime medicine and 2 of night time and I came out the other side completely exhausted. As  in, I'd go see my trainer, come home and nap from 1-4pm and then go back to bed at 9 and fall right asleep. I'm a horrible sleeper, so when I sleep like that I know something's wrong. I'm finally feeling a little better, but little stupid things keep happening to set me back a bit. It's really annoying. I was supposed to start my off season training weeks ago and it hasn't happened. I'll do a couple of days, but not the whole thing. I have time, I was going to have to do the ten weeks twice to keep busy, but I don't want to waste time. Plus, all this down time is not getting me any closer to "race weight." Precisely the opposite, in fact. But hey, persistence, not perfection, right?

Speaking of my laptop. Mine is a 6 year old macbook. You know, the kind with the white plastic casing? Yeah. I'm surprised it works at all too. Anyway, it is so slow and at this point, the software updates are too new for it. Wah. The Husband has done a bunch to spiff it up and keep it running but you can only do so much. So, sorry for the sporadic posts. Between being so tired and it being so  much effort to convince it to let me write a post (and not delete it 75% of the way through THANKYOUVERYMUCH), I just haven't written anything. I'd like to write shorter more frequent posts, but I'm not sure how realistic that is before the holidays either! I feel guilty taking the money for a new laptop out of what I normally earn and put towards bills, so I'm waiting for the end of the month for when I have some overtime. I may actually have enough to pay for the whole thing with just OT. We'll see!

Friday, November 8, 2013

West African Style Peanut Stew with Chicken, Sweet Potato and Kale

The other day (when I ended up making my Baseball aka Kale Soup instead) I was searching and searching for an African Peanut Stew recipe that included more veggies than just onions and the occasional sweet potato (although those are necessary too!) when I found this recipe by Cookie and Kate that included collard greens. I liked the look of her recipe and although I used many for inspiration in this recipe, this was the main one I looked at. I added her site to my blog reader. Looks like she has lots of great recipes!

I added some stuff as I tasted and also threw in chick peas (aka garbanzo beans) and diced chicken thigh. I think the thigh meat holds up better in soups. As always, feel free to make this vegetarian, as it is in the original recipe, and to sub in or out and ingredients you like!

West African Style Peanut Stew with Chicken, Sweet Potato and Kale

This makes a big pot, so halve it if you don't feel like having leftovers and/or freezing some. I won't make soup unless I have a ton of leftovers!


3 32oz boxes of chicken stock (or vegetable stock if you prefer)
2 red onions, diced
6 garlic cloves, diced
1/4 minced fresh ginger (less if you don't like ginger, the piece I used was about 4" long and 2" wide)
2 red bell peppers, diced
4 medium sweet potatoes, diced (or 2 ginormous ones like I had)
1lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into small bites
14oz can of diced tomatoes w juice (preferably salt free)
14oz can chickpeas
1lb bag of frozen chopped kale
6oz can tomato paste
1 1/2 cup peanut butter
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp black pepper
3-4 Tbsp white vinegar
hot sauce to taste (I used Sriracha)
salt to taste
green onions (scallions) chopped for garnish

Put the chicken stock in a large pot and turn it up to boil. While its getting to a boil, chop up your onion, garlic, and ginger and throw that in. I didn't wait for the stock to get all the way to a boil and it was fine. Next chop your bell pepper, sweet potato and chicken thighs and add that to the pot. Add the can of diced tomatoes with their juice, chickpeas, kale, cumin and black pepper and let all of that come to a boil for about 20 minutes. Turn down to a simmer. In a large heat safe bowl, mix the peanut butter and tomato paste. Add some broth from the stew to thin it out and then add the peanut/tomato paste mixture to the stew. Simmer for at least another 20 minutes and add the vinegar. Start with 3T and add the 4th if you want after tasting. Add the hot sauce and salt to taste. Serve with chopped green onions (and more hot sauce if you want!).

Friday, November 1, 2013

And the Half Ironman is....

The Pumpkinman Half Ironman on 9/7/14!!!

As of yesterday, the money has been paid and I'm registered!

Okay, so first, it's technically a half iron-distance race. It's not run by World Triathlon Corporation, who put on the Ironman and Half Ironman branded races and own the trademark names. However, it's the same type of race. For my purposes, I'm going to call it my "half ironman" because that's how everyone else refers to their 70.3 distance races, regardless of if the race is one of the trademarked races or run by another organization. Just wanted to get that straight so no one gets riled up!

What is a Half Ironman? It's a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile bike ride and a half marathon, which is 13.1 miles of running. An Ironman, the full distance, is double all of those distances.

I had been considering three other races, one of which was an Ironman branded race, before I made up my mind a couple of weeks ago. Every time I'd search for race reports, I'd always find discussions on triathlon forums and every single time it came back to people enthusiastically recommending Pumpkinman. Even if the person requesting opinions had stipulations Pumpkinman didn't meet, such as where they'd travel or time of year. I had originally been drawn in by the big production the branded Half Ironman events would be (Timberman, specifically). I wanted to see the logo at the finish, even if I was only (only?!?!?!) doing the half distance. I wanted to buy every piece of race merchandise I could get my hands on (like I can afford that after how much these races cost!). But part of me was weirdly dreading the day registration opened. It just didn't feel "right." It felt like more of a production than I wanted. I was also already agonizing over the race weekend logistics. I didn't want to HAVE to check in my bike the day before and I didn't want to deal with what was looking to be a huge parking hassle in the am (apparently you have to get there REALLY early to park close by). So I kept on looking and kept on seeing Pumpkinman. I searched for Pumpkinman race recaps and was hard pressed to find even minor complaints.

There are quite a few pros to this race: 

- The course still has challenging rolling hills, but is also not as insane as some others. It's just about an hour from Boston in southern Maine and if I absolutely had to, I could drive up and check in early on race morning. While that would not be ideal, it leaves me with an option if my schedule or finances don't permit a hotel stay. There are plenty of hotels in the area and all are affordable, so I can book later if needed. It's also in a beautiful scenic area. Love it!

- All three legs of the race are two loops. Even the swim! You swim .6 miles, run onto shore, jump back in and swim .6 more! Some people hate that, but I actually think it will be mentally easier to break it up. It will probably be physically harder, but it's always my mind that gets in the way. I love that the bike and run are two loops. I used to think it would be torture to go a long distance and then be like, "what? Do it ALL OVER AGAIN?! Are you CRAZY?" I think back to the three half marathons I've done and imagining that if it was a two loop marathon I'd have to do it all over again. Oh heck no. I have a friend who had the same thought and later did a two loop marathon and said it's totally different. Different prep and a different mind-set going in. Well, good, because I'm going to have to bike 28 miles, come almost back to the transition and then get back out there and do the 28 again. This is AWESOME. I plan on driving the course (if not riding as well) ahead of time, but during the race I will have a chance to race it twice and adjust the second time. Same thing for the two loops of the half marathon at the end.

- It's small, only 550 racers in the half iron, but there are tons of volunteers and spectators. All of the racers really feel like they're special.

- Uh, you get tons of free stuff! 2 shirts (race shirt and finisher), a backpack, other random swag, a full Thanksgiving style dinner with dessert and free Shipyard Pumpkinhead beer!

- Did I mention free Shipyard Pumpkinhead? My FAVORITE?

- There's more, I'm sure, but the cold medicine I've been taking is melting my brain.

Did I mention I'm sick? I caught a cold Tuesday night that knocked me on my behind. Down for the count. Writing this is actually taking more energy than I really have to expend, but the cold has turned into laryngitis and I WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT DANGNABBIT!!! Also, I'm really bummed. Our one month weight in for my partner training is Wednesday and I had managed to lose about 5 lbs and they're all back this week. I don't know if it's the extended couch time or what. I've basically been eating fruit, english muffins and homemade (low salt) chicken soup. Like, two meals a day of broth, tons of veggies (I even added kale!) and chicken. It just sucks. I was doing so well and it is going to sound like, "but but....(a bunch of excuses)..." and no results. I didn't expect to lose more with the lack of exercise, but I hoped to maintain.  I had been spinning my wheels for a long time, not making any progress because I wasn't doing what I knew I needed to. Now that I'm having some results, it sucks to not be able to be like, "look what I did!" It's 5 days away so maybe I will go back to normal.

Ok, pity party over! Back to the race:

Since some of you may want to know what my projected times are, I'm going to paste some of the text from the email I sent my trainer below. I will say that these are VERY ambitious times. The swim is the least ambitious because I think I am really capable of that speed if I put in the volume I plan to. I'm joining a pool down the street from me with wide open hours that is supposed to be fantastic (and cheap!). I miss chlorine sweat. I REALLY miss my swim class but the gym membership is too much money there (and I already have a primary gym membership so I can see my trainer). I'm going to try and get into one of the non-member slots. I missed it last time.

The bike is pretty ambitious, but I have been holding around that speed fairly often on 20-25 mile rides. These are "fun" rides too, so I know that once I get into the real meat of the training I should do well. The run is the wild card. My pace is the pace I've aimed for during training for my last 2 half marathons and I missed it by a LOT. A LOT A LOT. Like 1:20 a mile slower, a lot. However, I think in the back of my mind I knew that no matter what I could complete the distance. In the half ironman, you have to complete each leg of the race by a certain time or you get yanked from the course and earn a DNF (did not finish). You'll see the cut off below in bold and my projected time to the right.

Swim 1.2 miles (cut off 1hr after last swim wave, will probably be in the second to last wave) - 50 minutes projected time

The swim is actually a 0.6 mile course swum twice. The though of just doing a bit more than the half mile swim I'm used to and then getting out, getting back in and doing it a second time makes me feel much better than the thought of waiting at the start and looking at a long 1.2 mile course. (Nerves will be my main issue here)

Transition 1 - 10 minutes (60 minutes total)

This race has a HUGE hill (you'll see it on the site) going from the swim to T1. They actually give you a separate time (there's a prize for the fastest) for the hill and T1. 10 minutes should still be good though

Bike 56 miles (cutoff at 12:30, about 5 hours in for me depending on swim wave)-  3:20:00 (total time 4:20:00)

I figure I can maintain between 16.5 (3:23:00) -17mph (3:18:00), so 3:20:00 for the bike leg is good. I've been riding 20-25 miles easily and maintaining between 15-18mph with some faster portions. Here is the map with elevation. The Cohasset tri has a similar course (harder hills actually) so I can go do multiple loops of that one to practice.

Transition 2 - 5 min (4:25:00 total)

Run 13.1 (3pm cutoff ,7.5-8 hrs into the race depending on when my wave starts)  - 2:20:00/10:40 min mile pace (6:45:00 final time)
Same plan as before: Closest I've been to this is 2:36:00/11:58 pace. Will actually train and not cry about it this time. Should be able to run faster. Haha.

So, you can see I don't have a ton of room for a meltdown. I don't have room to not train and wing it. I definitely don't have room to not lose the 15-20 lbs I've been hauling around the last few years. Don't get me wrong. Triathletes are all shapes and sizes, that's part of what I love about this sport. We're all accepted and supported and cheered for. However, it hurts my race. It's not fun for me anymore when I know I have so much more to give. One day I was with my trainer, doing walking lunges while holding two 10 lb dumbbells. I was whining about how heavy they were and then it hit me...I used to weigh that much. My current weight plus 20 lbs. I used to always haul that around. It was part of me and I couldn't escape it then. I can't imagine how awesome it will be to hold those dumbbells another 20 lbs down from now. Actually I can!

Well, hopefully that's all coherent...haha. Have a great night everyone!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Autumn Bike Ride

Every time I bike on the Charles River path, I think that I should really stop and take some pictures. I figured today was a good time with the leaves turning. All of these were taken along the Boston side of the Charles River between Newton and Boston Common. The last few are from our lunch stop at the common. Yay for the Clover Food Truck!

Also, just saw that we rode a big part of the 22 miles at 16-17mph, hitting 18 a bunch of times and up to 20!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sunday Update (and an awesome recipe!)

First of all, hello to all of my new readers! Welcome. I'm really trying to post more and remember that each post doesn't have to be some huge recipe or race recap, that the day to day stuff is good too. We'll see how that goes, but I hope you stick around.

Yesterday I was feeling pretty crappy and I couldn't have timed a sick-couch day better if I tried. The live stream from the Ironman World Championship in Kona was on at noon my time and the winners wouldn't cross the line until 8 or 9 hours later. Normally I'd feel guilty about laying around for a whole day, but this time I didn't have to. The race was awesome (of course) but some of the real greatness is the last hour of the race. The athletes have until midnight (17hours) to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles, which is a full marathon. In addition to the midnight cutoff, they have to survive multiple cut offs within the race or be pulled from the course. That last hour is magic. Mike Reilly, the "voice" of the Ironman is unstoppable, dancing cheering and and announcing to each athlete that finishes "YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!!" He runs up and down the chute, pumping up the crowd and getting everyone to scream for the last few people to "let them know we're here for them." You can see how badly he (and the crowd) want these last few people to finish. The last 10 minutes is seriously intense and it always makes me teary (such a sap!).

You wanna see what I'm talking about? Go to this link http://new.livestream.com/ironman/imkona and scroll down to the Finish Line Part 2 video. It's hours long, so click on the progress bar so you're about 10 minutes from the end. Or watch the last hour or so like I did. Amazing.

What's a sick couch, you ask? It's the only good thing about being sick. It's ultimate necessary laziness. I clear everything away from the couch and then I put a blanket on the bottom and get a cozy blacket to get under. I get 3 or 4 bed sized pillows and gather everything I'll need - tea, water, tissue, medicine, phone, computer etc. This time I pulled a footstool up for my laptop for easy viewing and stole The Husbands iPad so I could still check in on facebook and stuff. You know what? Other than some sinus pain, I feel much better.

Today I'm still going to take it easy. A Trader Joe's run is in order and I'm going to make Savory Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with White Beans and Kale.
I put the link for the recipe above, because there's nothing I'd really change. I do double the recipe, as usual, and I keep the baked sweet potatoes and the filling separate until I'm ready to reheat. It makes AWESOME leftovers and a great lunch to pack. It's really filling and feels like comfort food (but it's healthy!). It's also "dude" approved. Haha.

I also need to start putting together my Half Ironman training plan. The book I have is giant and includes plans for different distance races and for beginners through advanced. All the workouts are coded and it's giving me a major headache to flip back and forth. Plus, I like to be able to look at a whole week or month to see what's ahead. You can't even tell what the workout is each day without going back to a table. I'm not complaining though. It's what makes including such all inclusive training plans possible. I'll share the book title with you once I figure out where I put it. Oops! I have a while until official training starts, but I need to rebuild my fitness base (coughcough-losesomeweighttoo-coughcough) and also start getting used to training when I REALLY don't feel like it. I leave for work at 6:30am so the possibly definitely necessary am workout should be LOTS of fun. < sarcasm font

Some of you know I have been waffling a bit as to what race I am going to do. Well I'm 99.9% sure of which one it will and I'lll neveeeer teeeelllllllll!!! Okay, I will tell you when I register, which will be in about 3 weeks. All of the ones I'm considering will be open by 11/1 and once I sign up, that's it! No refunds at $200-250 for the race registrations means it for REALLY real.

Have a happy Sunday everyone!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Pumpkin Turkey Chili

It's supposed to be in the 80s on Wednesday, so I'm making chili while it's a cool 60º out today! This recipe makes 10-12 servings, so I can throw the rest in the freezer in 1.5-2 cup portions for a quick lunch. I have to admit that even though I love fall and the cool weather, I'm excited for the temps to warm up just for this little bit. The Husband and I have tickets to the Red Sox ALDS game 1 on Friday and then we're going to a wedding on Saturday. Yay!

Ok, on to the chili. I made this on the stovetop, but you can make it in a crockpot if you would like.

Pumpkin Turkey Chili

2 Tbsp olive oil
3 large yellow onions, diced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 lbs lean ground turkey
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 green bell peppers, diced
2 small cans diced green chilies (I have two different brands in the pic by chance, use whatever you find)
2 14.5oz cans no salt added diced tomatoes, including the juice
2 15oz cans of pumpkin puree
2 15oz cans of kidney beans, rinsed and drained
salt and pepper

Heat the oil to a large heavy stockpot over medium heat and saute the onions until they are browned. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Add the ground turkey, Worcestershire sauce and cumin to the pot and cook turkey through until it's no longer pink. Once the turkey is done, add all remaining ingredients to the pot, including the juice from the tomatoes. Add two cans worth of water to the chili and mix thoroughly. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for at least an hour. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Notes: I use the no salt added tomatoes (and beans when I can find them) to counter the salt in the Worcestershire sauce. You can use what you prefer. You can also add any veggies you'd like and substitute different meat (or leave it out) and beans. You can also add cayenne pepper, chipotle pepper or hot sauce to make it spicier or reduce the green chilies if it's too much.

I still suggest cooking the onion, turkey and garlic in a skillet first, adding the Worcestershire sauce and cumin just before the turkey is cooked through. Then transfer the mixture to your crockpot and add all the other ingredients. I'd probably cut the water in half, since none of it will cook off like it will on the stove top. Cook on low 6-8 hours or high 4-5 hours. Season with salt and pepper to taste at the end.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Pumpkin Spice Smoothie and 2014 Half Ironman plans

I am ready for fall. I am ready to not be sweaty anymore (it was 96º in here yesterday!!!). I am ready for this smoothie I made!


1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or "milk" of your choice)
1/2 cup canned pumpkin (not pie filling, just plan pumpkin)
1 banana (better if it's frozen)
6 large ice cubes
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 scoop/serving of protein powder
cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, ground cloves

Add everything to the blender, spices to taste, and blend it up! I did about 8 good shakes of cinnamon, 5 or 6 of the ginger and nutmeg and just a dash of the cloves because I love cinnamon and ginger. Adjust as needed. You can always blend it with less at first, taste and then add more. Enjoy!

In other news:

Ever wonder what goes through my mind as I realize juuuuuust how far away the turn buoys in an open water swim are, despite how they appeared from land?

This is also most definitely what my face looks like when someone touches my feet, receives a warning kick and then GRABS my foot. You can imagine what happens next. Not. Amused. 

I realize that some of you wondered where my Boston Triathlon race report went. I also owe you a report on the Cranberry Trifest Sprint Triathlon that I signed up for at the last minute and did on 8/24. Mostly, my computer is SUPER old and slow and getting the pictures uploaded on here takes forever. I'll do an overall recap of the two at some point. Both were great races and I learned something in each of them. I really fell in love with triathlon this summer. I had so much fun I kind of forgot to train hard and actually race! Next year.

So what's next? A Half Ironman of course!

A Half Ironman is half of the classic Full Ironman. A full is a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride and a marathon/26.2 mile run. I'll be training for a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile bike ride and a half marathon/13.1 mile run, for a total of 70.3 miles.

I have no fear about doing any of those distances alone and I feel confident I can string all of them together with proper training. There are a few things that make the race special though.

#1 and the least of my control - the weather. I plan on doing a race I can drive to in August or September. If all works out well, it will be the Timberman 70.3 in Guilford, NH. It can be sunny, humid and in the 80s or it can be stormy and in the high 50s/low 60s. The course was even closed early one year due to a severe thunderstorm rolling in. It's just that time of year!

#2 time cutoffs. ARGH!!! You have 8.5 hours total to finish the entire race, but there are cutoffs along the way. You have to be out of the water 70 minutes after the last swim wave starts. I'm hoping to be done in 50 minutes. You must complete the bike by 5.5 hours after the last swim wave starts. I hope to be done in about 3:45 (which is a fairly conservative pace for me), which put me about 4:55 in. If I survive the bike cutoff, the final cutoff is the finish time at the end of the run. If I make all my paces, I'll have 3:35 to complete the half marathon. I did my first with a sprained ankle in 3:10 so I should be good. I'm shooting for  2:20 half marathon. That's pretty ambitious for me but I've never been as motivated (read: been able to force myself to follow the training plan) as I am now. Hopefully I'll be in killer shape by then! ;)

#3 COURSE ELEVATION!!!  Man oh man. The half and full ironman races are notorious for not only being a true endurance event, but for each leg being really challenging on its own. Check out the course elevation:

So there's that.........oh, and don't forget the run!

HAHAHAAA...HAHA...HA.....ha......hooo doggie. It's like I'm seeing them for the first time each time I pull them up! Good times! Gooood tiiiiimes...

So you can see why I'm excitedly nervous. Or nervously excited. Or...yeah. I am really truly excited though. Not only to race, but because I am starting the process now. Over the next 6 months or so I really want to drop some weight. I can't imagine hauling myself up those hills where I am now. There's no magic to it and I know what needs to be done. Eat real food. Eat more lean protein, lots of veggies and some fruit and healthy oils. Eat less sugar and cut out processed food. Most importantly, less booze. Wah. Byebye nightly glass of wine (or two)!

In addition to tightening up my diet, the exercise I'll need to build my base will be more than enough for weight loss. I'll train for an hour with my trainer once a week. I now share my sessions with a partner, which saves me about half of the cost and is a good motivator to not slack off. I'll also be swimming at least once a week as soon as I get a chance to check out the pool at the South End Fitness Center. Finally, I will stop being a weenie and sign up for a spin class orientation. Yep. Next Friday if I can get a spot in the class after the 15 minute orientation. I'll be riding my bike outside as long as the weather permits. I don't mind the cold, but snow and ice is an issue. Oh yeah, and I'm going to need to run a bit more than I did this summer. My run times were laughable during this summer's tris and pretty much what I deserved. That's what happens when you just do some fun swim workouts a bike rides!

So that's it for now! Thanks for sticking around during the radio silence here.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Cohasset Triathlon 2013 - race recap

Are you ready for an Ironman length recap for a sprint distance race?! This is my (long) story of the event. I'll do anther post regarding times and standings and my thoughts on all of that.

1/4 mile swim, 12 mile bike, 3.2 mile run

Wow. I don't really even know where to start. What an awesome race! I should really say event. It was so much more than just the race day. Bill Burnett, the race director, and his team of volunteers are amazing! Let me start from the beginning...

Back in early December I begged The Husband to register me. I knew it sold out extremely fast and I had to work that day. I said that if he paid for it, that could be my Christmas present. I wouldn't even whine when I didn't have something to open on the day! About 35 minutes after registration opened, I saw an email on my iphone to sign the waiver, which would finalize my spot. Yay! Turns out, the registration site was so swamped, he wasn't even sure it went through. Later I found out that although no records are officially kept by the registration site, it was likely the fastest sprint triathlon sell out ever. I just barely made it through. The Husband also bought me a nifty "I'm in!" Cohasset Tri shirt that they were offering with registration.

Throughout the winter and spring we were kept updated via email or their facebook page. As we got closer to race day, emails were sent almost weekly with 3 in the last week. It was nice to get the Athlete Guide and "goody bag" coupons online. If you do a few races it creates a bit of clutter and I always lose the ones I want to keep. We were also sent a really nice email titled, "Things to Think About." Quite a bit of thought was put into this email including tips to stay calm during the swim. I needed those! It was obvious that every athlete was important and that they have the best experience possible. I emailed Bill about two weeks before the event to ask to be switched to the novice wave (from the general age group). It was a Sunday night and I had a response early Monday morning that I was all set.

There were multiple days of packet pick-up, but there was a special enticement to go to the Saturday date (other than getting to be the first to buy race gear...yay!). Team Hoyt was speaking at the church next to the pick-up location. If you don't know who they are, click on their name above. It will bring you to their "about" page. I couldn't miss that! I arrived to find all kinds of motivational signs posted around the common and some of the cheeriest volunteers I've ever seen. They were so nice and just seemed to love the race. Everyone wanted to know if I had done the race before and wished me luck and to have fun. I picked up my packet, my chip, my race shirt and bought an insulated race logo water bottle and long sleeve pull-over. We had a CHOICE of colors for the free race shirt and I got bright orange!

We stood out on the town common for a bit, watching the little kids play and then headed over to see Team Hoyt. They both spoke, Rick via a computer, and showed a video. It was incredible. The video was about 5 seconds short of me for-real crying it was just so inspirational. I can't do the talk justice, so I won't try. I will say that even as someone who though she knew quite a bit about the team, I was astounded by some of their stories and marathon times (somewhere around a 2:45:00!!!). Check them out below (their story starts about a minute in):

I went back to my parent's house from there and obsessively packed, unpacked, rechecked (repeat times 5) my transition bag (oh holy moly, typing transition bag made my stomach flip!). I was really nervous about the swim. I did a 1/2 mile ocean swim last summer in my first tri. This was only 1/4 mile but the water was far less protected and the forecast was sketchy. I went to bed at about 10:30 knowing I had an early wake up, but also knowing I wouldn't fall asleep right away. It's possible I got called out for being on facebook at 11pm, haha.

At 4:10am I woke up on my own and realized my alarm would go off in 5 minutes. Ugh...so...early. I have been having trouble figuring out what to eat before races, especially triathlons. I can't have anything with a lot of fiber or I get really bad stomach cramps. White bread of some sort seems to work. I get so nervous that everything turns my stomach. I made myself a peanut butter and honey on soft white bread and hoped for the best. I tried having a bagel for my first tri but it was too chewy and I'd end up chewing it forever (hello nervous dry mouth) and then gag when I tried to swallow it. It took me 30 minutes to eat half of it, which is a problem when there's a lot of time between eating and your swim wave. I also do this fun cough-gag thing when I'm trying to eat before races. I never get sick, but I always do it. That morning The Husband just laughed and said, "it's officially race day!" (ha, thanks a lot). I took the rest of my sandwich, a banana and some coffee in the car. By now it was 5am and I expected to swim just before 8. Three hours, for me, is the perfect amount of time to eat a good amount of food and have it be digested enough that I don't get cramps. It's also not so long I get hungry again. I had bad timing in my first tri and it ended up being 4 hours. I actually felt hungry before my swim wave and had to drink some water to feel full. It was pretty annoying, but totally my fault. Timing is definitely something to consider in your own races. So back to the tedious eating details...I'd take a big bite of the sandwich, chew it really fast, take a sip of coffee and swallow all of it together. This somehow worked and I ate almost all of it and a banana. If I had not been able to eat all of it, I probably would have had a Gu gel at about 7 in transition. Also, if my swim wave was later, I'd probably save the banana for about 6:30/7.

We arrived at the parking lot at about 5:45. It was a 1.5 mile walk or bike from there to the race venu. The Husband could have taken the spectator shuttle, but I was nervous. Walking together gave me time to calm down. By a little after 6 we arrived and it was pretty nice out. A little overcast, in the low 70s but a bit windy. Honestly, with the marine forecasts of rough current and head-high waves, I was pretty happy! The water looked flat, although I could tell by the rough texture that there was definitely some current. I also knew the tide had been going out for about 2 hours and that it would cause a pull making the swim back to shore tough. Knowing this probably did more harm than good since it made me nervous. That's what I get for having to look up everything!

Thanks to all the information given out ahead of time, early packet pick-up and great volunteers, getting checked into the transition area was a cinch. I ended up being really lucky with my spot. I was 4 rows from the bike/run out arch. Running with my bike after swimming seemed to be the toughest part and I'd only have to pass 3 racks on my way out. Even the run in after biking wasn't as bad. I also had the spot next to the legs of the stand (more room!) and the two people to my right didn't show up. Sweet! My bike is the smallest men's size in my model and as I suspected, the front tire didn't touch the ground. There it was, just a-swayin' in the wind! I was really nervous it would fall off while I was swimming. I had everything I needed out of my bag, so I propped the tire onto the bag and it worked perfectly. After a few porta-potty runs, I decided to put my wetsuit halfway on. The pre-race meeting was soon and I didn't want to feel rushed. Getting it on is a process and it has to be done right to be able to swim comfortably. Just then my parents arrived, so I went over to say "Hi" to them and then down to the water to get wet. One of the best tips I've been given is to get in the water in your wetsuit and completely submerge yourself. Make sure to get your face and your head wet. Swim a little if you have time and adjust your suit if needed (it will settle a give a bit when wet). Getting your face and head wet kind of primes your nervous system to the cold. It helps diminish some of that panic when you hit the water and reduces that fight or flight reaction.

As I was coming out, the first wave was called to the corral with the elites in front and the novice men right behind. My wave would be next so I nervously made my way up near the chute. We were held for a few minutes and then brought down to line up. Oh my gosh, my stomach was full of butterflies. I decided to move back to the halfway point of our pack and onto the outside. It meant a little more swimming than being on the inside but it also meant that no one would be swimming over me for a better spot. If you are a nervous swimmer or not as strong, many suggest lining up at the very back and taking your time. Most tris wont start the next wave until everyone is at a certain point. They want everyone to be safe. Rushing and freaking yourself out won't help anyone. I personally get nervous when everyone is beyond me. I like to be able to gauge my progress based on how other's are moving. This isn't really even competitive. I just want to know I'm making forward progress!

The airhorn goes off and we run in. I try to find some space, but it's tricky. I'm not happy with how I've put the wetsuit on and it's pulling on the front of my neck. I try and make some room in it but it doesn't help. I realize that this is going to be a very tough swim. I can't really breathe well doing a freestyle stroke due to how it's pressing on me so I flip over and do the backstroke. I pass the first turn buoy of our rectangular course. I see that a lot of people are swimming on their backs. By now it's sunny and I just try to look at the clouds and make some sort of forward progress. It's beautiful and I remind myself that this struggle is a gift. I'm able to do this for many reasons and there are others who cannot. Then I remember that I had this vision of charging in, swimming like a dolphin and coming out in the front of the novice pack. It occurs to me that I'm currently swimming with all the speed and grace of a Mola Mola. I laugh at the visual (which is fairly accurate) and flip over to try and actually swim.

I was a little confused about the angle of the picture until I realized that the swimmers in the foreground are in the warm-up area.

I can't. I can't reach far enough to straighten my arm and get any reach. I can't rotate to help push myself forward. When I put my head down to stay streamlined I can hear myself wheeze from the pressure on my neck. I try to cough but it's definitely the wetsuit causing it. I try to just force the swim and after about 4 strokes I end up just kind of splashing in place. What the heck? This is not what it was supposed to be like! I've swum twice as far! I try to tread water and pull my wetsuit up. It helps a teeny bit and I convince myself to swim to the halfway point turn buoy. The entire time my brain is screaming at me to stop. Im trying to block it out but it's exhausting me.

As I grab on to just give myself a second to calm down from my epic wetsuit struggle I see that many people are holding onto the kayaks and boats along the course. Many more than I saw in my last one. We're all being thrown around by the chop. You can't see it from shore at all and it's disguised my the washing-machine effect of swimming in a pack, but it's there. Stopping was actually much worse. As the buoy starts to drift from the pack I catch the eye of a kayaker who is watching me closely. I give him a thumbs-up and swim back out to the others. I just try and swim as best I can to get to that final turn buoy.

I turn the corner and I can see the crowds on the beach. Hundred of people. Cowbell. Spotters waving orange flags to guide us in. People screaming, cheering. They are so close but I feel like I'm on another planet. I swim hard and they appear just as far away. This is what messes with your mind in open water. You can't let yourself think about it too much. Distance in the water feels a billion times further than it is, especially with the tide going out. It doesn't matter. You will get there, you just have to keep at it. I flip over a couple of times to make sure I'm actually moving away from the turn buoy and I am. Faster than I think, actually. As I get closer the waves start and I know we're getting close to being able to stand. I can finally touch the bottom about chest deep and walk myself in. Ideally you swim in until you are almost belly-on-the-sand but I didn't care. I wanted out. Apparently so did everyone else around me as we all professed our love of sand. How did only 1/4 of a mile knock us all on our butts?

I stagger out of the water and struggle to find the motor skills to remove my swim cap. I don't even remember peeling the top half of my wetsuit off, but I did. I waved to my family and tried to run up to transition but couldn't. So many people were cheering for us to keep going but I just felt stunned. I cross into Transition 1 relieved that I would see my bike soon. My bike that I used to be terrified of, and up until last spring wanted nothing to do with purchasing.

It wasn't too bad removing my wetsuit, but it took a bit to get my feet rinsed and my socks and shoes on. I ate an energy gel, gulped some water and took off. I like to wear my race number on a belt during the bike. I just slide it around behind me until the run. It's not needed for the bike, but it ensures I won't forget it in Transition 2. This time I was actually able to run my bike out of T1 to the mount line. I head off and I'm right behind Team Hoyt! They're going at just the speed where I want to pass them, but it's just fast enough that I will be in their way if I slow down or they speed up at all. I use this as a chance to check in with myself and see how I'm doing. I'm actually feeling pretty good and when there's room I decide to pass them with a shout of encouragement.

A few miles in there's a decent hill. I finally remember that I will need to shift to the small ring in the front and get to the top much more easily than before. I fly down the next hill and pass a bunch of people. I kept up with most everyone around me and was really happy to find that I was still passing people, even on the uphills. Hills are not my strength. They're for people much lighter than I am and I try and make up for it as much as I can on the downhills. This course was tough for me. It has a lot of rolling hills, which wouldn't phase an experienced cyclist, but I'm used to fairy flat land. I'm glad I got out there and rode the course twice. It's also really fun with some twists and turns, especially on some of the downhills. It's a very scenic, pretty course that loops back around next to the ocean on the way back. I loved it. I arrived at the dismount line feeling like I had the best ride yet. I ran my bike back, racked it and took off my helmet. I had another gel and water, turned around my race number and I was off again.

I ran out of transition and felt stiffness in the back of my left leg. I'm pretty sure the seat that came with my bike isn't doing me any favors. I get numbness down the inside of that leg while I ride and my foot will eventually get numb too. I walked a little bit at the beginning and then started to run again. It was at the top of the first hill that I had trouble. Glute cramp! It went away a bit as I crested the hill and I carefully ran down the other side. I was fine until the next hill where the cramp came back. I ignored it and it got worse. As great as I felt running, I had to walk every hill. I let it go and decided to just have run with the remaining 2 miles of the race.

The spectators here are great. There are tons of people around the transition area, but plenty in through town too. On the run there were many families that set up their own water tables. You pretty much had water whenever you wanted. There were kids with supersoakers and adults with hoses for anyone who needed a cooldown. I appreciated it since it was getting pretty hot and humid. It was so much fun to race with so many enthusiastic spectators. I mean, we shut down their beach, some of their roads and caused traffic on others and they were more than happy to have us there. About a half mile from the end I could hear the band playing at the finish line. I turned to the girl next to me and said, "I feel like that's the sound equivalent of a mirage...we're really almost there!" She replied, "I'm so relieved you hear it too!"

We went down the last hill, around the corner and the finish was in sight. There were so many people it was happily overwhelming. There was the blue carpet, the fencing and people three or four deep. I saw my family. Strangers yelled my name (this race gets bonus points for personalizing the bib with our names...it's really great). People high-fived me and I ran through the finish arch. I was done! I was so happy and relieved. After getting through that swim, I felt like I could finally enjoy the race. Even the scary swim was enjoyable in some weird, overcoming obstacles kind of way.

The finish area was also nicely done. Having a live band, Aldous Collins, play was a great choice. He was able to infuse more energy and fun into the event. The post race snacks were great too. There was a bagel station with at least peanut butter and jelly (too much for me at that point) and Whole Foods was there with oranges, bananas and hummus/cracker snack packs. They may have provided the bagels too, I'm really not sure (sorry!). There was even iced coffee from Jim's Organic Coffee. We hung around through the awards ceremony and then walked back to our car.

It was a great day. I can't say enough about it. Even my Mom commented on how seamless and stress free the day was (I guess minus the parts where people were wearing wetsuits...haha). I can't wait for the Boston Triathlon (Bill Burnett is part of that team as well) and hope to make it back to Cohasset next year!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

One Step at a Time

Boston Strong - MBTA bus on April 27th

First, I want to welcome all of the new readers on here. Thank you to everyone who has reached out to say my last two entries have helped. My posts have been sparse over the last few years, but I've found a new motivation and need to write. If you ever have any questions or even a request for a specific topic, let me know. I'm certainly not an expert on any of this, but I think my perspective may help. I'm just a regular girl with no inherited athletic gifts. It was just that one day the portion of myself that desired to try was greater than the part that was scared. It was this new community of runners, triathletes and spectators that was the tipping point.

I also need to again, thank everyone who has been there for The Husband and I over these past two weeks. Your calls, texts and messages have meant a lot. Even if you just "liked" a comment or status, I know you were thinking of us. If it wasn't for a friend looking out for us, I wouldn't have known to tell The Husband to stay at school on Thursday night when the shooting happened instead of riding his bike right through that area. I drove up to get him and by the time we were headed back, the streets were just swarming with police and SWAT vehicles. We had to pull over to get out of the way and I was shaking hard enough that it was really hard to drive. When I got home, there were dozens of messages on facebook, asking us to let them know we were ok. When we woke up the next morning, to find out we couldn't leave our apartment, there were again, dozens of messages from people checking on us. I had friends and coworkers I hadn't talked to in over a year contacting me and people from a facebook running group that I've never met in real life tagging me in a post to see how I was. Did I expect that amount of attention? No. Did it help? It sure did.

I think the two of us have somewhat moved past the extreme sadness we felt all of the first week. I know I was feeling pretty angry most of this past week too and now that I've had a few days off to catch up on sleep and visit the memorials, I feel a lot better. We're still both sad though and there are moments where something catches one of us off guard and brings it all back like it's brand new. I expect it will be like that for a while. Our neighborhood has been permanently changed.

If anything I have a sense of clarity now. The outpouring of well wishers and support has really shown me just how much people really care. I've always spent as much time with my family as possible and this has really reaffirmed that. Same thing with my friends. We saw a couple of friends yesterday that we hadn't seen in a while and I couldn't think of a better way to spend the day. Those hugs were some of the best yet. That's what I'm focusing on. The positive. The important things. There were some we know well that we still have not heard from. How I feel about that is irrelevant because, it's not about me. They have their own battles to fight. I've learned that you can only put yourself out there and then you have to let it go - and that's ok.

In the spirit of moving on, here's what's next:


The Peace Marathon can be run or walked, all in one day or in segments, between April 29th and May 31st. The money goes to the One Step Ahead Foundation to benefit the children injured in the Boston Marathon bombings, particularly, those in need of prosthetics. I'm planning on trying to get it all in during the next two weeks. I'm thinking I'll do two 5 milers, a 10K (6.2 miles) and a 10 miler.

If registration will allow (opens 5/8), we plan on running the Boston Athletic Associations 10K on 6/23. It's the first race that will occur for the BAA since the marathon and I have a feeling it will fill up fairly quickly. 

A week after the BAA 10K is the Cohasset Triathlon. I've been registered for it since December, but all of a sudden it's in two months!

On August 4th is the Boston Triathlon. It was my first triathlon ever and it's pretty special to me. I'm really looking forward to it.

Even though I SWORE that I was not going to do anything crazy this summer or fall (famous last words), I've been making myself crazy by looking at longer races. Will I really not do the BAA Half Marathon this year? Am I crazy for looking at Half Ironman triathlons after only one sprint distance race? Could I do a marathon? Or more accurately, would I make myself, and my family, insane if I register for one? Will I lose my motivation and burn out like last summer?

I'm seriously considering doing the Baystate Marathon, the Cape Cod Marathon or the Mount Desert Island Marathon. The latter two are challenging hilly courses, so I'd probably go with MDI if that was the only factor. I've had my eye on it for a while. However, Baystate is close by and a great race. It's also flat and I may need all the help I can get for my first full marathon. While I'm taking some time to think, I'm going to be building up my base mileage to see how I do. I need to test my body and my motivation.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Run for Boston

First of all, wow. Over 250 people read Monday's post. The sharing and reposting I saw and the response from people I've never met is overwhelming and heart warming. I wrote it partly to heal, but I also wrote if for all of you. I hope you stick around here.

Yesterday I ran what some are referring to as "memorial miles". I just had to get back out there and as usual, running was good to me. When I returned the tightness in my chest had eased a bit. I actually felt somewhat hungry and that maybe I'd sleep more than four hours tonight. I know I'm not alone in this and that many others are faring far worse.

The first few pictures are of my morning. First, my BAA Half Marathon jacket (the same group that runs the Boston Marathon, runs a half marathon in the fall), worn to show solidarity. What I didn't expect was the eye-trail from the logo up to my face and their change to sad acknowledgement.  There was the large media presence at the Stuart St side of Copley Sq that I have to weave through to get over to my gym. My gym that, at that time, was on the actual crime scene boundary. Then, a pretty Magnolia tree on my walk. After, are a bunch of pictures from my run. I didn't run to run fast. I ran to embrace all that running in Boston can be. I ran to see all the things I take for granted and I share them to show you that in our sadness, the city is still beautiful.

What you don't see here are the two SWAT team men that I thanked as I was about to start my run. They were a bit taken aback for a second until it sank in. There were the countless runners on their own runs and almost every single one of them gave me a sad eyed smile and nodded. There was the barista this am who gave me my coffees and as he handed them off, with the same sad smile, told me to take care with a look that made me know he meant it. There was the mailman walking through the Fens who gave me a slight smile. So I gave him a big smile. In turn he gave me a wonderful silly toothy grin. Both of us cracked up. Lastly, I caught something pretty awesome in my last photo. As I was waiting for the light at Huntington and Mass Ave, a group of 40 or so runners, every single one of them in BAA yellow and blue, ran by. The lead two held signs:

Run For Boston