Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Season Wrap-Up

Of course, I still have my first cross race coming up in 2 weeks, and I still have a marathon in November. But...

Triathlon season is officially over for the year, and what a way to end! In a way, I'm sad because I love racing and I'll miss it, but now that the weather is getting cooler, the idea of swimming is a little bit unappealing, and it'll be nice to not be waking up super early every other weekend to race.

So it's bittersweet.

I made the executive decision to take this week practically off: only master swim workouts, riding to class and work, and cyclocross practice. The hard stuff will start up again this weekend, so I'm basking in my win and my "down time" for a couple of days.

But, to sum up the season:

  1. Hammonton Sprint Triathlon (May): 1st in AG, 12th female
    My legs cramped badly on the bike so my time sucked, but it was the first race where I got out of the water competently- I think 7th out of the water
  2. SBR Sprint Triathlon at Harriman State Park: 1st in AG, 4th Female
    Racing against some pretty legit women, at least one of whom was a pro, and had a great time. Fast swim, good bike, and a really strong finish on the run, even with the trails.
  3. Sprintin' Clinton 5k: 1st in AG, 4th female
    20:59, a minute over what I wanted, but I was happy with it. I think next time I do a straight 5k, I'll be able to beat that time.
  4. NJ State Triathon, Olympic distance: 3rd in AG, 17th Female
    Terrible swim that put me in a terrible position for the rest of the race. But the bike was good! The run, not so much- 10k is still a weird distance for me, for some reason.
  5. Steelman Olympic Triathlon: 2nd in AG, 11th Female
    This one was my first rainy race- it felt good though. Decent swim, nothing to write home about, but a good bike and my first really solid and strong 10k run.
  6. Skylands Sprint Triathlon: 1st in AG, 4th Female
    My swim was great, especially compared to last year, and while my bike wasn't as fast as I would have liked, it went well. The run was good but I think I could have pushed harder from the outset.
  7. Belly of the Beast Half Ironman: 1st OVERALL
    Great swim, my best long swim to date, easily. 4th Female outta the water. Then, problematic bike with some serious stomach issues and a gearing conundrum that almost blew up my quads. But a stellar run that could have been faster had I realized I had that much steam left!
Exciting season overall. There were a couple of non-noteworthy cycling races in there, but nothing worth re-mentioning.

There were a few workouts worth noting:
  • Running on the beach in VA- there is nothing like running on sand and by the water to relax me while getting an amazing workout in!
  • Swimming with Dad at Spruce Run, including the hilarious time we got kicked out. Only he and I would do something like that, and then plot about how to do it again the next weekend.
  • Riding with the A++ men riders in VA, getting my ass dropped, and picking up some interval training with a crew of Colombian dudes.
  • Running with Pete and really speeding up my runs because of trying to keep up with him! Holmdel's cross country 5k loop was the most intense run I've ever done.
  • Realizing that audiobooks are amazing for long runs.
  • Swimming in the Atlantic with Dad trying to keep up on the surfboard
  • Trying to keep up with Vlad when swimming at Belmar after a beach run.
It was a good season!!

And now, I have new training friends and Pete is back in town, so let the Ironman build begin!

Without further ado... Things I Learned and Need to Work On!
  1. NUTRITION: I say it all the time, I know, but this time I really mean it. Less pizza, more salad; less cookies, more fruit; less junk food, more protein; and definitely a more attentive attitude towards what goes into my body.
  2. RACE NUTRITION: I have to start practicing eating and drinking while running and biking. I've never been one to drink or eat more than absolutely necessary while training because I enjoyed the prospect of coming home to a big meal. Now, it's time to get more serious and start getting used to the calories while training, so while I race, my stomach works better. Plus, it'll improve the quality of my regular training!
  3. WEIGHT: all summer, I've wanted to drop somewhere between 5-10lbs. I didn't try though, because I didn't want to sacrifice any training for it. But now I can have time to do it, and I have plans to actually start weighing myself with a scale that calculates BMI and stuff like that. I'll actually pay attention to it and try to get my body at the best possible weight to be an effective racer.
  4. SLEEP: I may not get a ton of it during the week, but if nothing else, I need to try to calm down and sleep before races. I credit my Belly of the Beast win to me having gotten a good night's sleep beforehand.
  5. WEIGHTS: I have a new plan that's more tailored to triathlon and I need to follow it instead of just "doing weights" for an hour.
  6. STRETCHING: foam rolling, stretching after rides and runs, all that stuff I hate wasting time on has to start happening a lot more. Especially with the new higher volumes.
  7. SWIM: my Master Swim class should help speed me up - I'm working on my stroke and actually doing real swim workouts, not just swimming for hours on end. And when it does warm up again next Spring, getting into open water immediately!
  8. BIKE: clearly, my bike needs work. This means longer OUTDOOR rides with more planning- i.e actually doing intervals on flats, pushing on hills, really getting a legit workout, not just logging the miles. And while working with the team would be good, there's a lot to be said for solo rides and riding with Jenna, who can help me get better for triathlon, not road racing.
    And the obvious: I need a tri bike.
  9. RUN: marathon, marathon, marathon! After Belly of the Beast, I'm feeling more confident, and I'm not just thinking about finishing, I'm thinking about finishing STRONG and doing well. If I miss qualifying for Boston, I'll be pissed. But I also need to keep some focus on speedwork: Pete and I are planning to pick a 5k so I can go for the sub20 in the coming 2 months. Since Ironman probably isn't something I want to do forever (only a couple years), I want to still be doing some short courses next summer, so I need to keep my speed to some extent.)
In the past year, I went from novice triathlete to competitive age-grouper without a plan and just by training as much as possible. Now, it's time to get smart, think about future goals, and seriously consider what I want out of triathlon. I know I always reference "going pro" in a joke-y way, but lately, I've been getting a lot more serious about it. Hence the more serious approach to training. I'm only 22 and I have a while before I even peak, so it's worth giving 110% and seeing what happens. So yeah. Goals have changed and the bar has been raised for this next year. Game on.

Monday, September 28, 2009


A couple weeks ago, I had asked my dad what he wanted for his birthday. In his usual fashion, he said, "a first place trophy from Belly of the Beast."

So yesterday, I got to give him exactly what he asked for. I don't know who was more shocked!

Yeah. I won. My first half Ironman ever, and I won! It's the first time that I've been in first place overall, and that was a pretty awesome feeling.

The race itself was a pretty fun course- it was the first year it's been run, so there were some definite "kinks." A lot of people got mixed up on the course, went extra miles on the bike or missed a couple miles on the run. Luckily, I managed to stay on course despite the fact that the bike leg actually got changed. The race started late and there was a separate bike and run transition, something I was totally unaware of because it wasn't in the race packet. You could put your T1 stuff in a bag when you went off on the bike, and they would move it up to T2. I didn't have a bag, so I asked if it would be left there until I could pick it up. They said yes. My amazingly expensive wetsuit came THIS close to getting thrown out. Found it crammed in a uhaul after the race, after asking every volunteer I could where I could find it. The volunteers, though nice, didn't know ANYTHING about the race, course, transitions, times, or anything. Also, there was only one aid station on the bike when they advertised two, there was no Coke on the run course and they ran out of gels (also advertised) and there were NO bagels, bananas, sodas or anything remotely vegetarian at the end. What the hell? Luckily, mom had gotten me a PowerBar. And lastly (or firstly), the swim course was soooo poorly mapped. I was swimming totally alone, having gotten dropped by the first 3 womena nd way ahead of my wave, so I was on my own and literally had to tap a man breast-stroking to ask for directions. Hmm...

Anyway, the race.

Like I said, it started late. And did I mention that it was raining and had been all night? And that on my way down to the swim start, I got a blister on the arch of my foot. Great. We finally got in the water- the women, first timers, and Athenas- why is it women always get thrown in at the end? Anyway, as we're waiting in the water, we see not one, but two guys getting rescued about 150 feet out. Great way to start the race!

So once they got to shore, we started. I gotta say, the start sorta came out of nowhere, but I managed to shove out and be up in the front of the pack. However, the three or so women I was with just destroy me and all of a sudden, I'm on my own, in choppy water and can't see the buoys. So I SWIM and keep swimming. I look up for people, pass some men, and finally am sighting the women in front of me and steadily passing men from waves ahead of me. I knew I was doing well, but I was amazed when I got out and Dad was grinning and yelling "You're fourth out of the water! Go!!!"

It was faster than my mile swim at Steelman, in worse conditions. It was also easily 5 min faster than my goal swim.

Anyway, onto the bike. It was wet, and even with a plastic bag, my stuff was still soaked. Plus, the exit was a hill. So first, I mounted. I almost fell over, my pedal wouldn't clip in and I couldn't get enough momentum with just one foot in. Tried again, no luck. Then, I realized that the fastest way up the short hill was clearly to run up it. My cyclocross boys would be proud at how I hauled ass up that hill! After that, it was easy going for the first half. Ten miles in, the woman I barely beat at Skylands cycled up next to me, and told me I was good enough to go pro in a year or two. Then, she smoked me on the bike. But I had the biggest grin on my face. She told me that my swim and run are easily strong enough and my bike can be strong enough that I have a real shot at a legit career of some sort in my future. She's awesome. Afterwards, we exchanged emails and we're gonna ride together so she can help me get ready for Ironman.

The bike was ok for a while, then when heading into Frenchtown, I hit a pothole on the brutal downhill. I thought I was going over my handlebars. I barely made it but didn't fall, so my adrenaline was racing. Then, stomach troubles. Yeesh. I didn't get to eat as much as I would have liked but I got a decent amount in. I spent about 12 miles with a group of 5 guys, and later one thanks me for pacing him so well on the flat section. The course changed at the end of the flat, which was a huge bummer, since it was a HUGE hill out of nowhere. It was a huge bummer. But, up the hill. Here was where I started bonking a little and worrying about the run. My stomach hurt, I was getting tired, and it was just a bad situation. I kept my position and just tried to hold on and finally we were almost back. Bummer here though- the last huge hll of the day and my bike wouldn't downshift because of so much grit in the cassette, so I blew up my quads trying to get up that hill. Oh man. I was really worried about the bike, since my quads had started cramping that morning a bit.

I got into transition, Dad yelled that there were only a couple women ahead of me. I thought I was going to be walking out of transition, but when I got my warm dry socks and shoes on, I felt great. First mile, pounded it out and saw mom and dad again. Mom ran next to me for a few yards and hugged me and off I went. Got out of the huge hill and somehow managed to start running next to a really nice guy, and we ran together for about 3 miles and chatted. It was a great way to start, it calmed me down and relaxed me a lot. He had to pull back, but I was off to a god start. We hit a downhill, and it had a big turnaround and a huge uphill. As I was hitting the uphill, Rob was heading down and when we were across from each other, he yelled that the girl ahead of me was looking tired and I should get her. So, I did.

Then, we hit the trail section. Holy crap. Roots, rocks, winding trails that weren't clearly marked, and me yelling a choice amount of curses and making "if a tree falls in teh woods and hits a triathlete..." type jokes as I passed people. Big secret? I LOVE trail running. I want to do a lot more of it, and I think I definitely will be doing it at Round Valley in coming months. I loved it, and it added a lot of time for me, since very few people could be dextrous enough to navigate it well. Years of Irish dance and nimble feet paid off! I took in a gel halfway through and drank a few sips at every aid station, which was definitely a winning combination.

It was a LONG 13 miles- 5 different people told me that their GPS monitors said it was closer to 14, and I believe them, since it took a good 15 min to go from mile 12 to the finish. It was ridiculous. And with the hills and trails, I was amazed to find that I was the 2nd fastest in the run.

I hit the finish line and felt fine- even managed a final sprint. Shoulda gone harder!

When I went over to check the scores, Rod (my running buddy) was already looking at them. He had heard someone yell my name on the run, so he looked at me and hugged me. "Congratulations!" he says. I look at my name, and saw 1/42 next to it. I was FLOORED.

One woman I had been talking to pre-swim came up to me and asked how I did. I've never been so stoked to tell anyone!

Mom said that everywhere we walked, people were pointed me out and talking about how my bike/run/swim had been "strong" "effortless" "comfortable" and a bunch of other amazingly nice compliments. And a few remembered me from the Skylands race 2 weeks ago!

It was a great race despite the rain and the mismanagment of the race. I had fun, and I think that this may be "my" new distance. Sprint and Half Ironman are cleary my strengths- I think it's because sprint is all out, and half is more slow endurance, but Olympic is a weird combination and I never know how to pace on them.

Anyway, I have a lot to think about this week, Keith and I are starting to plan for IMKY and what we're working on with my swim. I want to drop a few pounds in the next couple months and really improve my nutrition. I was thinking about trying to lose a few pounds all summer, but because of constant racing, I couldn't. In the next couple weeks, I want to get better at cross, and really nail the skills that I'm missing. I want to pick up my run A LOT, and get marathon ready. After yesterday, I think I can take one on, should be fun! And god knows, my bike is absolutely in need of improvement- especially on the tri section where there's no drafting. And in a long course, I can't count on the huge power I can put out for sprinting. I focus too much on saving power ont he bike for the run, but I need to figure out how I can push the bike without sacrificing the run.

But yeah- as always, laundry list of things to improve, but right now, I am taking the day off and basking in winning my first half-Ironman and getting ready for a lot of work to come!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

More Taper = More Posting

Even a taper week is exhausting, but I'm powering through it and finally catching up with work (of all varieties) and blog stuff. Though I must admit, my actual real writing has gone by the wayside as I take any and all opportunities (~45 min per day) to totally veg and catch up on the mystery novels that I've been missing. The commute to Princeton 3 times a week is killing my free time, since it eats up 1.5 hours so I can't do much else- except talk on my sweet new bluetooth thing, so I can call mommy and daddy when I'm driving home from nanny-ing. Mainly to thank them for putting up with me when I was a kid.

As far as training goes, it's been a casual week- Master Swim yesterday, an hour on the trainer, and of course, the biking to the gym and back, and the lifting and swinging of two small children. I'm totally pooped though. I gotta start getting my boys (Robbie and his brother) to go to sleep earlier. Say, 9PM? They like to stay up to watch TV, and the problem is that since the TV is in our room, I get sucked into watching it! So my plans for an 11 PM bedtime fall by the wayside... Oh well. I just need to make sure I take my vitamins and try to stay healthy, since a new study just came out about how lack of sleep can make people more susceptible to getting colds and other fun stuff. Great...

I can't believe that after this weekend, my tri season will be at an end for a few months. Of course, I'll still be working on swimming with my new Master Swim group- I just ordered a couple new non-ratty and gross suits, a lap timer and counter, and a set of fins so I can work on fixing my slightly off kicking. And I'll have the marathon in November, and of course, cyclocross starts in a couple weeks for me. But still, I'm going to miss tris!

I have mixed feelings though, part of me can't wait to get it over with and finally check off what seemed to be a pretty successful season, especially now that Fall is really beginning. But the other part of me is still really psyched about this race, just as a fun gauge of where I am, so I can get an idea of what I need to focus on in the coming year if I'm going to do an Ironman, and do it well. So it's exciting in that aspect. What's annoying is that I think this is the first year they're hosting it, so there are no old times to compare myself to, so I have no idea if I'm doing well on the bike or not. We'll find out Sunday though!

Plus, unless some last minute entries come in, I'll destroy my age group... being as there aren't any other women in it. Gotta love small local races and being a strange age for long courses! Honestly, I'm sort of bummed- I have serious doubts that I have a shot at doing well enough to be in the top 3 overall women, but I figured I'd have a shot at age group in a mid-size field. So now I may do ok, but winning a non-existent age group is sort of a hollow victory. On the bright side, now I almost have to look at it as all or nothing- top three or there isn't a win- like if I was racing as an elite! (Someday...)

In the meantime, I'm going to take it super easy at cross practice later, and hopefully fix my freaking cleat. Weather dependent, maybe a short run afterwards, but if it's crappy, Iron Yoga time! Then, tutoring, followed by a pit stop at the greasetrucks for falafel and fries- yum! Hopefully I can hit a bunch of key stuff tomorrow, like my swim and another weight set and run, so Friday will be a bit more relaxed and I can just chill out... to some extent anyway!

Too much work, not enough play lately- hopefully next weekend I'll be able to have a little more fun time added into the schedule. But for now, back to work!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Why The Boyfriend is the BEST!

Because when we were going grocery shopping, he saw roses on sale and bought me these!
Exactly what I needed to gear me up for another crazy week. I'm insanely lucky, really.

Yesterday was another new weight set and a lot of campus to campus biking. It was also class, making study guides, meeting with teachers and directors, and or course, being a nanny to what turned into two very hyper cranky kids. So when I got home, I looked pretty beat:

But still dragged my butt out of bed at 6 this morning to the pool for swim class! It's weird doing real drills and intervals... Lots of fingertip dragging, 5 x 300's with the coach swimming one of them with me to speed me up (it was FAST). And a few 100's practicing going out super fast.

Ready to go start the day, still in a great mood thanks to my lovely flowers and great workout!

Monday, September 21, 2009

I'm in the paper!

From the Hunterdon County Democrat...
It's probably hard to read but they mention me as the first local female finisher. Yay!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Long Week, Done.

70.3 is coming up next week. In one week, to be exact. I think I'm ready for it... I think.

I know for a fact that I am ready for a taper week though. It's been a pretty brutal week, half because I was working like crazy and starting a new job in addition to putting in extra hours at the other one and getting new projects at the other one (3 jobs, 40+ hours a week and extra work at home, at least 10 hours worth). But the other half was trying to start my new swim class, run a 15 mile run in the middle of a hectic day, do my first ever cyclocross ride, and start a new weight routine. Plus all the normal training stuff. Oh, and riding the Belly of the Beast course today and following it with a run.

So... I've learned a lot about what I'm made of this week, because I handled it and handled it without complaining TOO much.

I think my favorite part- and most indicative of my mental state- was on Wednesday at Cross Practice with the team. Blake- the one who got me into this stuff- was there and seeing him was great, but when I saw the guys riding the course FAST and clearly in no mood to be teaching me the very basics, I got a bit nervous. I decided then and there that I was just going to watch and get the feel for it.

I watched for four laps, and they stopped to take a break. Blake rolled over to me and asked what the hell I was doing. I said sitting out because I didn't want to get hurt and had to work in an hour. He looked at me, and said:

"So what was it exactly written on your suit last weekend? Was it 'I'm going to sit this out.'?"


"What was it?"

I sort of muttered and sputtered, "killer."

So, the next lap, I went. Far behind the guys, but I went and fumbled through a lap on my own. Then another, and another.

Was I great at it? No. Was I better than I expected? Heck yeah. And I felt good about it. I'm actually pretty stoked about the season now, honestly.

As far as the rest of the week goes:
1. Started swim class, and though I missed Thursday's session (needed to fit in my 15 miler that morning instead), I'm feeling really excited about it. Bummed that Keith won't work on my stroke until after I race, since he doesn't want to throw me off.

2. Ran 15 miles, very comfortably. This was in part due to listening to Greg Rucka on audiobook- awesome action/adventure and something to keep my mid totally off running.

3. A new weight set- an actual plan this time instead of the haphazard way I've been doing weights lately. This one is a routine I figured out from reading a million different articles and figuring out what weight stuff would tackle all various parts of my body. And man, does it hurt!

4. Today, I rode the BOB course again, all HILLY 56 miles of it followed by a 30 minute run with my new fuel belt. It was a great ride, down from 3:30 last time to 3:11 easily, so I'm feeling good about that. Even better, my legs were moving great even at the end of the run, feeling completely comfortable. It was a beautiful day, and the only qualm I had about it was that my diaphragm didn't want to work during the run so I was half-hiccuping and trying to take deep breaths and failing. So that part sucked. I blame drinking Mountain Dew right before the ride...

After the ride as I was transitioning to the run, a really nice guy pulled in and started getting his Cervelo together and we chatted about the course, which he was heading out to ride. It was just nice to talk to someone about the course and feel helpful, telling him to watch out for Lilac, which has the WORST potholes known to man... And we all know how I feel about potholes.

So that's the week in review. God willing, this week will go smoother and be a bit more relaxed. It should be, now that work(s) is(are) figured out and it's a taper week anyway.

Now, off to grocery shop after eating my body weight in Boca burgers, salads and cookies at a family birthday party. Which reminds me, Happy Birthday Dad!!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Skylands Race Report (No, Really!)

Just to prove I really mean it, here's the proof of my picture from US Candids:
(Easily my most attractive finisher picture to date.)

Anyway... race report, right. It's been a crazy week, but more on that in another post that will quickly follow this one. I'm having "study hall" tonight to catch up. And I promise I'll be better about posting now!

OK, seriously, race report.

This race was amazing for two major reasons:
1. 9 AM start time
2. 5 minute drive from home

So I rolled out of bed at 6:30, ate half a bagel, and got ready to race. We got to Spruce Run around 7:15 with tons of time to set up in transition. There were only 4 stalls in the bathroom, so as usual, I was in line for most of the time.

I got to warm up for a minute on the bike, and got to see my favorite local blogger/fellow racer, Maija, who was doing the relay event. Awesome.

The race was running behind schedule and the buoys for the swim were a little out of whack, but the weather was incredible. Nice, warm but not hot, sunny, and even though the water was chilly, with a wetsuit it felt great. So wetsuit on and splashing around.

Then mom and Colleen showed up wearing shirts that they made to match my suit- grim reaper and KILLA down the side.

When the race started, they didn't waste any time and before I knew it, I was heading to the water. I'm not usually great at swim starts, especially when they involve running into the water, but I decided that the name of the game for this race was "the best pace is a suicide pace and today looks like a good day to die."

So I shouldered my way to the far right, in direct line with the buoy and prayed that I could get out fast enough to veer left and avoid it. We started and I had quite possibly the best swim start I've ever had, pounded into the water and got way out in front. Managed to stay with one girl through the whole swim, and I knew I was doing pretty well. When we made it out of the water after passing a bunch of men, Dad yelled that I was the fifth woman out of the water.

Now, onto the long run to the bike. Didn't seem so bad this year compared to last year. Got up and onto the bike with minimal difficulty. The bike went smoothly- not as fast as I would have preferred, but overall it went pretty well and I managed to hold my position. The hill was ripping people apart, but I've practiced it so it was no big deal. Plus, the woman who was there last year was at her driveway again, boom box in hand, playing Eye of the Tiger right at the steepest part. Just what we all needed for that extra boost! I wish I had gone out a bit harder, I think I had it in me, but it is what it is. I think it went well, and I was the first female off the bike without a tri bike. Guys were so nice to me on the course- I was wearing the suit with "Killa" on the butt, so as I passed, so many people yelled "go get 'em killer!" and would tell me how many women in front of me.

Lastly, heading back into transition for the run... I went to rack my bike and Maija was in the same row as me, waiting for her cyclist to get back so she could run. The guy next to me had racked his bike in my spot (jerk!) and Maija was trying to shift it for me, but I got frustrated and just dumped mine on the rack right on his stuff. Hmph. Then, pulled on shoes and headed out, trying to tell myself to stay strong. I knew there was a woman with a minute or two on me and I wanted to catch her.

First mile, felt great. Hit the turnaround strong, hadn't been passed by anyone and was making some serious progress and saw the woman in my sights. Then, we finally hit the home stretch- it goes up a parking lot (a long one) then back down to the finish. I knew it was now or never, so I passed her and as I did, she smiled and told me to Go Hard. I love it!

Dad saw me and her behind me and yelled to watch my back, so that pushed me to sprint it all the way in for a great finish.

Alas, no vomiting- which means I clearly didn't go hard enough. But bonus: no real cramping!

Conclusion: Best race to date, and next year, numbers one through three better watch out, I'm going to give them a run for their money (not much of one, as I'll be recovering from Ironman. But you get the point.)

I have to give a huge shoutout to the North Hunterdon Rotary Club- they let me race for half cost, and that allowed me to add another race to my season. So I really appreciate it. When I told them I could promise that if I raced, as a local girl, I would be at least first in my age group, and I was glad I could deliver. So thank you so much for the great opportunity!

And of course, thanks to my Dad, once again. He deserved my trophy more than me, and the first thing I did was give him my trophy when I got it. And Mom and Colleen are the best for making the sweet shirts and watching and cheering!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Happiness, Attempted. (No, Really.)

I swear, a race report is in the works, but this has been an insane week lately, so this is just a regular boring old post...

So I was reading Marit's awesome blog post about staying happy, and I have to say, it's a subject near and dear to my heart lately. When I'm feeling overwhelmed and busy and just totally drained, I've been really focusing inward ot find as much inner happiness and energy that I can muster. It's tough, but thankfully, Robbie is super supportive (and being great about doling out backrubs and keeping the house clean) and I got a Bluetooth for my phone so I can talk to mom and dad while I drive home from babysitting at night. The calmer and happier I can stay, the better life will be, being upset and frustrated and self-pitying won't make me feel better at all- it'll just keep me feeling miserable. "Stay posi" is the plan for the semester.

I've really been trying to stay super positive despite a super hectic schedule. When things get tough, I just keep thinking about this line from a Mountain Goats song: "I am gonna make it through this year, even if it kills me."

And after my first tutoring session tonight, I think I'm going to need it. Suffice to say: this is going to be a huge challenge. I think I can handle it though. Like I said, I'm trying to stay super positive about it. Ditto on babysitting. And all the new projects I just got handed to me at CWA. Et cetera.

On the MAJOR upside, tonight I started CYCLOCROSS practice! I did about half of what the guys were doing, in terms of laps, and didn't take them super fast at all. I started out super conservatively because I had a)never used SPD pedals, b)never raced cross or mountain and c)had just gotten on the bike for the first time to ride to practice. So it was slow. But by the third lap (~6 min per lap for most racers) I was speeding up and taking the crazy hills pretty quick. I need to tighten the pedals though- yeah, I could get out of them easily, but whenever I was pulling to get up a hill, they clipped off! Dammit! Plus, super huge bonus, I got to see Blake, my favorite triathlete/cyclist on the planet. In all, I'm definitely getting excited about the season, though I think I need to do more solo practice- in all my spare time!

Plus, afterwards I got to enjoy my tofu and mozzarella sandwich on wheat bread made with my crazy cool sandwhich maker- it heats and closes the edges together so it's basically a hot pocket. Fantastic and perfect to eat on the go. For cryin' out loud, I never get to eat at home anymore.

It was pretty great, but I can't believe how chilly it's getting out! I hope it doesn't cool off more- it's hard to imagine racing a half Ironman at the end of the month. It's sort of weird, I'm already starting to feel like it's the Fall, but my race season hasn't stopped.

Off to make some lesson plans, pretending to be a REAL teacher. I'm basically tutoring/teaching 25 kids, which should look pretty sweet on a resume.

Sigh. And working on a research project on green technology.

It never ends.

But still, being happy no matter what.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Making Improvements

I just heard those words I needed/wanted to hear: "we have a lot we can work on."

Normally, I'm not one for taking criticism. But in this case, I'm stoked. Why? Today was the first day of my Master Swim/Class. We did a 1000 yard time trial so the coach could get an idea of where we were. I took it pretty easy, not killing myself, and finished in 16:20. But then, he and I started talking about how my stroke can be seriously improved and how it'll really improve my swim time. Stuff like body rotation, smooth kicking, and keeping my elbows higher. This is awesome, because I know I was at the limit of what improvements I could make in the pool flying solo. Now, I know there's stuff I can learn and work on and get better at with this help. And that feels awesome! It's a good feeling when I realize that I have tons that I can improve on still.

Of course, I'll never be making the progress that I saw in the past year, but there's obviously room for improvement, not to mention room to get better at endurance stuff.

So yeah. This class is going to be perfect for me, especially right now- with tri season ending I have plenty of time to work on changing my stroke without screwing my swim up. I wasn't sure I would be good at taking criticism, but I think I've finally matured enough to know when I need the help. Besides, anything to improve my racing!

Skylands Race Report Coming Soon!!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Skylands Tri and Why It Made My Life Better.

Dad and I right after I crossed the finish.

Honestly, I had half a post done about how bummed I was feeling, how exhausted, how overworked, how crazy busy and jam-packed and un-fun my life was. Then, it got deleted. Now, I'm feeling pretty glad that my whining didn't make it into yet another of my posts.

Instead, I feel re-energized and ready to take on the week, even if the week is even crazier than the ones preceding it. I start tutoring football players in their Labor Studies class- 8 hours a week plus making syllabi, et cetera, but for $1800 for a semester, I'll deal. That means I'll be able to get a tri bike! Yes!!! Plus, my sister and I have a sweet shopping trip (clothes and tri stuff) planned for NYC next weekend. Double Yes!!!

But the reason I'm in a much better mood is due to today's race, the Skylands Sprint Tri.

I should be annoyed for one major reason, but I'm not. I placed 4th female overall, 1st in my age group. In addition, I was 44th overall, and 5th female out of the water. So I'm pretty stoked. I missed third by only a couple minutes, but I did move up a place in the last tenth of a mile, putting down a really awesome hard and fast sprint. So feeling pretty great.

But above and beyond that, it was a FUN race. I had an amazing swim, a super fun bike, and a run that for once had no stomach or leg "issues." Plus, the weather turned out perfect- in the seventies, with COLD water but wetsuits, so I was in seventh heaven.

Me after getting my trophy and the first CASH that I've ever won!

I'll get the actual race report done in the next day once my splits are posted online, but for now, suffice to say that I am feeling much better about life in general and about triathlon in specific. I'd been low on motivation lately and this was the boost that I needed.

I have some amazing pictures from the end of the race, so here are a few:
Front view:
Mom and Colleen made excellent tshirts that matched my Splish suit- they had the grim reaper and next to it, it said "Killa."

Also, the back:

Monday, September 7, 2009

Child Psych Coming in Handy

I am WIPED OUT. Maybe it was the long run Saturday or the legit ride and run on Sunday. Or maybe it was the 8 hour day of babysitting some VERY rowdy kids. Either way, I'm beat and the week has just begun.

On the bright side, I have found my Education Psychology class to be very helpful. Sure, it's obvious information about teaching that's basically common sense in big words, but this one section caught my eye:

Self efficacy is a person's belief that he or she can accomplish a task. "The stronger the perceived self efficacy, the higher the goal challenges set for themselves and the firmer their commitment to it." (Bandura)

I think that all of us triathletes can relate to this, whether we are going for a PR on a sprint or doing a first race, or training for our first (or tenth) Ironman! Either way, we are goal oriented people, arguably full of self efficacy. I think it's a pretty cool concept and I read about it just when I was starting to feel a little burned out. It's helped me really refocus.

Of course, this bulletin board I was looking at while I was reading the text might have helped a bit:

Also, meet the newest member of my family:
My borrowed cyclocross bike... I just ordered the new off road shoes so as soon as I get them, it's time to start learning how to kick ass on the cross field.

And onto the training updates:

This cartoon cracked me up, especially after my "wilderness day" on Sunday. While Saturday was a 16 mile hill ride, on Sunday I ended up getting hit in the face by cicadas and then literally RAN over a snake. I was midstride, realized I was on top of a big black snake slithering along. I've never had a faster sprint work out, and I've never hit a higher soprano note. Yeah, I'm a big baby. Whatever.

Anyway, Saturday's 16 mile run took about 2:10 and felt awesome. TONS of hills and a great time, especially with Dad meeting me along the way with my water bottles so I didn't have to carry them with me. Thank God. I was super psyched given that my 14 mile FLAT run was over 2:10 last time because of stomach problems. This was the longest run I did since the marathon and it was amazingly easy. I felt like I could have kept going and going!

Today was pretty laid back- got up and did an in house weight set because the gyms were all closed for Labor Day, then rode the trainer for an hour when I got home from babysitting. Of course, babysitting is practically entirely cardio, yeesh...

And last but not least, I give you a major highlight of last week. That's right, it's "Fat Weasel Ale" and a bikini body beer opener. Fantastic.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Biggest Shoutout Ever

While I was on my 16 mile hill run today, it occurred to me- as it frequently does- that I wouldn't be the person or the athlete I am today without my Dad.

And this occurred to me because, in the course of 16 miles, he served as my 4 water stops: he couldn't ride with me because he was too tired, so instead, he drove to strategic points along my course with Gu2O and cold water for me. He also had my outdoor ice bath already filled when I got home.

He has:
1. never missed a single race, getting up at 3 am in order to drive
2. volunteered at races so I could race since I registered late
3. spent thousands of dollars on gear (including "his bike" that I race with), and gas and lodging for all of the far away races
4. spent countless hours on the phone with me discussing training plans
5. encouraged me to take longer getting my Master's so I could race as much as possible
6. urged me to sign up for IM KY even though he'll be driving me there and back
7. is already making Kona plans for next year
8. reads up on everything triathlon and bike related so he can offer advice
9. serves as a bike mechanic and helper and team dad for the entire Rutgers team
10. coaches and helps me train in every way possible, whether it's biking with me, meeting me with water, biking while I run so I have a moving water station, sneaking into the reservoir after hours to swim with me, or paddling on a surfboard while I swim.
11. is my coach, my mentor, my inspiration, and my best friend

So, to say thank you to him, I bring you my Dad and I over the years in picture form:
This is my dad, circa 1987, participating in the Milford Biathlon. I was just recently born, and this was one of his last races.

Here I am, on Uncle Steve's back, watching the action and loving it!
Then here I am, the same year, heading out on my first ride! How awesome do I look? Apparently, it was one of the easiest ways to put me to sleep.

As anyone can see, I was clearly a total Daddy's Girl: I'm wearing his hunting gear and waiting to be old enough to go to West Va for "huntin' camp" in November. That's right, this vegetarian hunted until she was 15!

My second birthday and what do I get? A cycling outfit, complete with bike shorts and jersey with yellow stripes. I sorta wish I still had it...

I had training wheels for all of two minutes before I demanded they were taken off! This is me when I'm 5 showing my sister how to ride a bike (before her training wheels went on and stayed on for 3 years!)

OK, so we didn't exactly go out for a century ride or anything, but how cute is this?

And now...

Last year at a 5k- my second race ever, and the first time in my life I had ever gotten a trophy. I was so pysched! Dad raced it too, and while he was pissed at his time, we were all proud of him!

And this is last year at the race I'm doing again next weekend... the race that started it all. Skylands Triathlon was the race that Dad did back in his day, so me and that course have a lot of history. This year, I have every intention of bringing home a trophy for him. Dad has given up a lot for me and really been the driving force behind my crazy desire to be a triathlete.

So yeah. Thanks Dad!

(And for all you moms out there, don't worry, a post about how much my mom rules is forthcoming. Without her support, I'd be totally screwed!)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

It's Only Wednesday? Seriously?

Maybe it's the fact that instead of working for the union on Friday, I switched to Wednesday because of my class schedule. Maybe it's because it's the first week of school. Maybe it's because of the Lightning Bolt show on Monday, or driving to Bridgewater after babysitting last night to get my new cross bike. Maybe it's the wacky cooler weather all of a sudden. Maybe it's impending nerves about racing in the next 4 weeks or next 52 weeks. Whatever the reason, I am already feeling like I've been going nonstop for days now.

And you know what? It doesn't feel too bad.

I've been on the go to such an extent that I- for the first time in my life- have been drinking smoothies for dinner because I have no time to stop to eat. I actually went out a couple weeks ago and bought a single serving blender, and it is my new best friend. Low fat yogurt, a tiny banana, protein powder, skim milk and blackberry pulp (only $1.99 for a frozen bag of it at the Farmer's Market in New Brunswick) and I've got a meal! I'm still adjusting to the texture, but when you babysit two rambunctious munchkins for hours and finally leave after 8, you're hungry enough to eat dirt!

Seriously, these kids are nuts- I actually ended up going to Philly Monday night sporting a mohawk because El wouldn't dunk her head in the bath unless I did first and made my hair into funny shapes. Oi.

Nonetheless, at least it's giving me a good amount of cardio and weight training- I dare you to do a plank for a minute with 2 small children on your back! I really like the kids, and I love Stephanie, so really, it's ideal- especially since I'm still doing reserach for her anyway, so we can talk about it once the kids are asleep.

Training is starting to come together as I push to get back to routine. Rutgers will now have something early Tuesday and Thursday that resembles a Master Swim, so I'm stoked about that. Finally, people to swim with! This week is sort of hectic though, since Colleen wants to hang out, we had a show to go to, practices haven't started yet so my schedule is more open ended, and I need to do all those first week things like printing stuff and getting books and figuring out health insurance. I'm also supposed to be potentially starting to tutor student athletes and I'm waiting on details of that. Once I know what the deal is with it, I may quit the computer lab job that I have and just do that. I have plans to infiltrate the Hale Center where I'd be tutoring, since it's home to all of the perks student athletes recieve- sports med guys, nutritionist, masseuses, and TONS of recovery stuff for water running, etc. Not to mention some top notch weight stuff. Tutoring session in the sauna please?

Training-wise, luckily the weather has been cooperative, so I've been able to take super fun runs out and about. Yesterday I got to do a pretty legit 45 minute swim with a lot of sprints thrown in, then mooched breakfast off of Colleen and her never-ending meal plan before biking back home for a run.

It's sort of weird trying to fit training in and suddenly going from seeing Robbie for hours every day to saying goodbye in the morning and not seeing him until 9 or 10 at night. Bummer! And while I love his brother, the whole "never seeing Robbie" thing is sort of harder because when I do see him, Ad is always around. Hopefully he makes friends soon and stays out later. I've voiced my concerns to Robbie, but since it's his brother, I don't think he really gets it. He agrees that Ad will find more friends sometime soon, and even if he doesn't, I have a few tricks up my sleeve for getting Robbie's attention as to why we need more alone time! (Insert evil laugh here.)

I keep reading everyone IMKY race reports and I really must have Ironman Fever BAD because I cannot wait for this year to be over with! (Everyone has been saying it'll go by fast, but can I just get on with it?)

On the schedule for tonight: hour on the trainer, hour of trekking to Colleen's dorm, home, then back again to take her home at night. And Iron Yoga if I have time. Tomorrow and Friday I have shifts at the computer lab, and I'm just not sure how to go about quitting... I'm going to do the shifts that I signed up for, at least, but it's going to be awkward, quitting so soon after being trained. But then again, for minimum wage, can they really blame me?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Commencing Real Life...

Yesterday marked the "first day of the rest of my life" for two reasons:
1. it was the first official day of my "normal" Fall schedule, including 1 class, 5 jobs (40+ hours a week, but maybe a bit less if I can figure some money stuff out), researching for my own freelancing and for Stephanie, hunting for scholarships and financial aid, actually taking care of our apartment, and of course, training.
2. it was the day I finally signed up for Ironman Kentucky!!! Yes! It's a year away, but in all honesty, I want to qualify for Kona at IMKY, so I need to get started early.

It's hard, getting on schedule, honestly. I was working, training and researching over the summer, but not quite as much as I am now. Plus, two major races still to go, one on the 13th and one on the 27th. And Adam (Robbie's lil bro) and Colleen (my lil sis) just both started at Rutgers, so we've been trying to spend time with them and help out with them.


This past weekend went really well- I did the Skylands bike course in 44 minutes easily, my new personal best, which was great, and went on a brick run afterwards. It felt sluggish at first but then the run picked up by the end.

I also rode the Belly of the Beast course. All I have to say is: I had no idea Hutnerdon had so many damn hills! It was ridiculous. Plus, I dumbly didn't bring any Gu's, just a bottle of Gu2o and a bottle of water. By mile 40 they were both almost gone and I was dying. It was a beautiful day out, but all I wanted was a damn store to be open so that I could get some more water. Ugh.

But it was a gorgeous course, and during it I saw tons of people running, walking, horseback riding, a horse and carriage (!), and two cars drag racing (less good, but funny.)

It was a decent ride and I feel sort of comfortable doing it. I gotta ride it again before the race again though. I think I can cut a lot of time just with proper nutrition.

We've lucked out with great weather the past 3 days, it's fantastic! It's mid70s and running has just been so nice.

And now my time is up and I'm off to babysitting. On the bright side, tonight I'm picking up the cyclocross bike I'm borrowing for the season. Hurray!