Thursday, May 30, 2013

Have You Made it to Your "One-derland"?

In my early 20's I was incredibly overweight and thought, poor me, I just don't have the right genes.  I weighed over 200 pounds (much more, but we won't go there today) and just assumed that I would always have a 2 in front of my weight.  When I joined Weight Watchers in 2007, it wasn't my first time.  I knew I would be successful, at least temporarily, but making it to the "One-derland' of weight loss was not even a possibility.  Well that summer, the weight melted off and I made it below 200 pounds and it was a celebration to finally make that goal that I never thought possible.

My Weight Watcher anniversary coincidentally was this past week.  Six years ago I started my weight loss journey that will hopefully be my last journey of losing weight.  This past weekend, I made it to a new "One-derland" for me.  This was another place that I never in a million years thought that I would reach, and I did it again.  You bet there were celebrations going on in my head that day.

On Sunday, I had a 5 1/2 hour bike ride on my schedule.  I knew these long rides were coming, but I still hadn't grasped what that meant.  Based on my past rides, I knew that if I could maintain an 18ish MPH pace that I would be close to making 100 miles in that ride.  100 miles!!  'Are you kidding me?' is all I could think about when thinking of hitting that number.

The first 80 miles actually went really well minus the terrible wind and cold that decided to roll in for the day.  And while, the final 20 miles were really tough, I felt amazing.  I was hitting that bump in my training that I knew was coming but didn't know how I would get there.  From 90 miles on, I counted down the miles to this huge milestone.  (My longest bike ride before this was 74, so I had PR'd the distance, but 100 still seemed so far off.)  95 miles in and I had tears in my eyes and was pumping my fist.  You would think I was about to cross a finish line.  I had to pass my house to get the distance in, but when my Garmin finally clicked over, I just smiled.  I made it to a new "One-derland".  I am a cyclist and had just finished my first century ride.

And, I know this won't be my final Wonderland.  This just proved to me that I can reach that much further to accomplish things I didn't think I had in myself.  Do you have a goal that is so huge that the day you hit it, you will be in your own Wonderland?

***And an FYI, I will have a race entry give away coming up that I am really excited about, so please check back.  And for the local Massachusetts runners, Steph has a giveaway going on right now for a local race!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Where Do Triathletes Live?

Everywhere, right?  But, that is not what I am asking.  I want to know where is the best place to live in the United States that makes for one fun year of training for triathlons.  Why do I ask?  Let me back up a bit...

I am starting PT school in August.  I am so so so excited.  I am going to be a Physical Therapist in three years.  When I graduated from undergrad 10 years ago, I never pictured myself going to graduate school and here I am about to start.  Starting school is a huge step in my life and my family's life.  I will be busy for 2 1/2 years and then ready to start my career.  Three years may seem like a long time to people, but I know it can go very fast.  Eric and I were talking this weekend about where we want to be after I graduate and the "where" really did mean "WHERE?".

I love the town I live in.  We moved here when my oldest daughter was 3 months old.  But, when we bought our house it was under the assumption that we would upgrade in 7-10 years.

Here we are, 8 years later and our house is only worth what our mortgage is sitting at.  Thank you housing market crash for ruining our plans.  The schools are great here and we live in a good location for training.  I have a nice rail trail 5 miles away from my house that I can bike to.  I have run so many runs on this trail that I know it like the back of my hand.

I can go on a bike ride from my house that will be full of hills and little traffic.  I love all this for training.  But, what I do not love is that it is cold and snowy way too long in Massachusetts.  I was on my bike trainer into March this year and did one too many long runs on my treadmill.

That was about 5 months of being on the trainer.  UGH!  I know it could be worse, but I also know it can be better!

So now, the conversations have started.  Where should we move after I graduate?  I am LOVING training for the Ironman so know this is only my beginning.  Where can I live that I can train closer to year round outside?  Here in Massachusetts, we have run clubs everywhere.  There are only a few triathlon clubs.  I have read blogs about others having large triathlon clubs where they live, where are you located?  Where can I find good running trails and fun bike rides with limited traffic?  Hills, no snow, training partners, and miles of beautiful trails.  I know you exist somewhere!  Oh, and I can't forget good races.  I can tell you about all the great local Massachusetts races so I am sure you all have great local races that make living in your community that much more fun.

And, training is obviously, not my only priority when looking for a new place to call home.  Where can I find a this type of  community combined with good schools and jobs?  I know I may not find the best of everything, but I would love to hear about where you live and why I would want to live there.  Share with everyone why you live in the perfect place for endurance training.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Massachusett's Iron Girl 2013

One of my favorite parts of working at Athleta is speaking to all the women that come in talking about their sports that they enjoy.  If someone mentions triathlon, I get even more excited to share experiences with them.  If we talk about triathlons, I am quick to mention the Athleta Iron Girl which will be taking place in Massachusetts in July this year.

Last year I participated in my first sprint triathlon and this year I will be headed back to the same event, which has now become the Iron Girl.  The Masscahusett's Iron Girl event is July 21st in Webster, Massachusetts.

If you have ever thought about trying out a triathlon, I highly recommend an all women's triathlon such as this event.  All types of women show up for this race.  Competitive, non-competitive, mothers, sisters, daughters, grandmothers....You will feel comfortable here!  The swim is incredibly relaxing including swim angels floating around encouraging you and giving you a friendly hand if needed.  The bike and run are FAST, they were over before I even knew it.  The finish line is AMAZING and one I smile every time I think about it.

A little bit of information about the event:

Iron Girl’s Mission is to Empower Women Toward a Healthy Lifestyle!

Launched in 2004 with just two events, the Iron Girl brand has grown to now include 18 events nationwide, varying in distance from 5K, 10K, 1/2 marathon to duathlon and triathlon.

Iron Girl's mission is to empower women toward a healthy lifestyle. The Iron Girl event experience provides women with a competitive platform and amenities such as: a post-race catered Breakfast Café, performance shirts sized just for women, professional timing, personalized race bibs, custom finisher medals, post-race giveaways and much more. The Web site is filled with training tips, guest columnists and nutrition information. Iron Girl has also furthered its offerings with the addition of with items such as hydration and nutrition products, jewelry and sports bags. The Iron Girl brand has been featured in a range of media outlets to include USA Today, The New York Times, Runner's World, Family Circle, Ok! Magazine and Women's Health.

Event Details:
Date: Sunday, July 21, 2013
Location: Lake Chaubunagungamaug
Entry fees:  Sprint Distance Triathlon   1/2 mile swim/12 mile bike/3 mile run
     $95.00 until June 21
     $105.00 until July 20
     (you must be 18 years old to participate in the sprint distance event)
**Note there is an additional $12.00 fee for non-USAT members to cover your one-day permit through USAT)

Read more:

To receive a discount to the Iron Girl event please enter WESTFORDMOMMY as your Coupon Code.  You will receive $10 off your entry.  This expires June 1st.

Please let me know if you decide to sign up for the event as I would love to share training stories as we get ready for our goal races.  My sister is also competing this year and I hope to share some of her training as she gets ready for her third sprint triathlon.

**I was given a free entry from Iron Girl for this year's event.  All opinions are my own.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Tales from my Long Ride

Yesterday I spent my Mother's Day on my bike.  Besides the time I spent with my kids, I wouldn't have want to spend my day any other way.  I rode for four hours followed by a 40 minute brick run.  Four hours of alone time leaves you with a lot of time to think and so I will bring you along on some of my thoughts...

Last week I completed 14 hours of training in preparation for Ironman Lake Placid.  This was around 6 1/2 hours biking, 4 hours running, and over 3 hours swimming plus 30 minutes of core...14 hours!  It was my third week of building so luckily I will have a rest week this week.  As for how my body is responding to training, it is doing amazing.  My mid-week rides are in the mid-19 MPH.  My runs are still averaging low 8's.  My swimming is showing improvement on times and I feel strong in the pool.  The most notable is while I am tired at the end of the day, I am not overly sore nor feeling burnt out, YET!  Do I feel ready for Ironman?  I can only answer that with a big, ehhhhh.  :)  I know I can do it and feel more confident than I did last year.  But, I am afraid of the long ride.  My back starts aching at the end of my rides.  It starts aching further into each ride so hopefully with many long rides I can reach the 6 hour mark before it starts hurting.  In 2 weeks I have a 5 1/2 hour bike ride on my schedule.  I am scared of this one.  I know I will be approaching 100 miles with that ride.  And I am only 2 weeks away from it.  SCARY!

This long ride was full of climbs.  Miles and miles of elevation gains.

Those small blips at the beginning and the end were hard hills for me last week.  This week they were just blips as I felt like I was climbing a mountain out there.  The whole ride I wondered what my elevation gain would be and how it would compare to Lake Placid.  Climbing for 10+ miles with really no breaks was really really hard, more so mentally than anything.

My plan for the day was to make it to my new school's main campus and turn around.  (This was around 35 miles from my house.)  I had every intention of taking a short break there and taking a picture.  Well, I didn't make it there.  This was very hard mentally as I looked at my average pace and saw 16.5 MPH.  This was really slow compared to what I have been riding lately.  In hindsight, I probably could have made it all the way there as I had to add on a lot of miles at the end due to my faster speed on the way back down the hills.  But, I stopped on a downhill as I wasn't ready to climb that hill on the way back.

The way back was much more eventful than the way out.  I FLEW down the hills.  I had one 5 mile stretch average over 24 MPH.  While riding downhill was physically easier, mentally I freak out.  One of my biggest fears for Lake Placid are the steep downhills, so I just got in aero and focused on being steady and calm.

After completing the downhills, I got back into the busier roads.  And this is when my day turned not so good.  I was riding along at around 19 MPH and I see a dog dart out from across the road into the street to run after me and hear its owner yell at it.  Immediately I heard a car hit the dog.  I turned around and saw the poor dog.  My heart dropped.  Why oh why wasn't that dog on a leash?  This was a very very busy road.  I spent the rest of the ride thinking about that poor dog.  I am not a dog person at all, but I love my pets.  The thought of losing one's pet hurts me so much.

When I first started running, I got chased by 3 dogs and was bitten by one of them.  The owner denied it was his dog that bit me so I had to get rabies shots just in case.

I was bitten at around 8am on a Sunday morning, but again on a busy road.  Why wasn't that dog fenced in or on a leash?  Why do owners think they can just yell at a dog and expect that it will listen.  I run on a quiet trail and often times someone's dog will chase me as I am running because the owner doesn't have it on its leash.  It drives me crazy because I am afraid of getting bitten again.  I know these owners feel comfortable with their dogs being off the leash, but I wish they would take into thought that some people may not be as comfortable.

My heart rate rose so quickly after this.  My adrenaline was flowing and I used that adrenaline to bring home my ride.  I picked up my pace and rode fast and actually enjoyed the end of my ride.  I had to add on extra miles as my average pace on the way back was so much faster.  (My overall pace for the day was 18 MPH, so I must have been well over 19.5 MPH on the way back.)

And 72 miles later, I made it home.  I was full of adrenaline and proud of my day.  I am ready for the next long ride and to see what challenges are ahead.

Monday, May 6, 2013

My Boston Marathon Thoughts

It has taken me 3 weeks to return to my blog to write.  Not because I haven't had time.  Yeah, I have been busy, but I have wasted a lot of time.  It took me this long to write, because I needed to process my thoughts before putting them into words.  I look forward to getting back to normal writing and talking about triathlon training, but I know a bridge has to be made between then and now.

I don't plan on writing a race report for the Boston Marathon this year.  I still haven't looked at any of my photos.  The joy of a race was ripped from the runners and spectators on April 15th.  I will bullet point a few things about my race as I know some people were wondering what happened during my race.

  • I was incredibly relaxed going into this race.  I didn't set my expectations high and felt no nerves at the starting line.
  • I knew in mile 1 that my legs weren't fresh.  I did a two hour workout three days before.  Boston wasn't my goal race and I was OK with this.
  • Even though I knew I wasn't going to hit a PR, I still went out at a PR pace and held a 7:30 pace through 15 miles.  This wasn't easy, but it wasn't terribly hard.
  • Mile 15, I went to take my salt tablet so that I could take a gel and my salt was gone.  My heart dropped and I lost all normal thinking.  My last gel for the entire day was at 90 minutes.  My stomach was hurting and my legs started cramping on the hills because of the lack of salt and electrolytes.
  • I ran with a friend from mile 18 on.  She kept me moving, along with my co-workers who were waiting for me at mile 24.  These ladies kept me moving to finish my race faster than I could have hoped considering I had given up mentally at mile 16.

  • I visited two medical tents.  Miles 21 and 23.  They didn't have salt tablets but they did have bouillon.  It was cold and gross, but within minutes of taking it my head cleared a little bit and the cramps started going away.  I thought about stopping for the day at both these medical tents.
  • I finished in 3:44.  I don't know the seconds because I haven't looked up official results.
I really don't feel right talking about post-race.  I will just leave it with this, I went through so many emotions that day that it took me over two weeks to even begin to rest.  I am finally sleeping through the night.  All the victims and families have been in my thoughts non-stop these past 3 weeks and will continue to be.  The strength that I have seen emerge from such a tragedy is so incredible.  

I will be back for the Boston Marathon in 2014.  When I crossed the finish line, I said absolutely never again.  The Boston Marathon is a tough race and I wasn't sure I wanted to do it again.  But, I will be there in 2014 as this city takes back their race and their day.  

And, thank you all for listening to my rambling.  It is a relief to finally get it out of my head into words. I have so much to share and be excited about but I had no idea how to move on without making a mention of something I wasn't ready to talk about.