2015 IRONMAN Lake Placid

There were countless times on Sunday I believed I would be starting this blog post like I did last year; as an athlete who tried her best, but just couldn’t do it.

But instead, I am starting this post as a 2x IRONMAN Finisher. I can’t flipping believe it!!! I am still on cloud nine, and so, so grateful to have had the opportunity to redeem myself on one of the toughest courses on the IRONMAN circuit!

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Was it easy? It was one of the hardest days of my life.

Was it worth it? Absolutely. Pushing yourself to the brink, you find out what you are capable of. You realize you are stronger than you ever. thought. possible. You feel truly alive.

As many of you know, I failed at my first attempt in Lake Placid last year, getting a DNF with 10 miles to go. Ever since, I’ve always wanted to go back – I wanted to prove to myself I could do it. And the opportunity to do so came a knockin’…

This race sells out a year in advance. However, an opportunity to purchase an entry through my sponsor, Team Chocolate Milk, came up — so I took it, and registered about a week before the race. Did I feel even less prepared than last year? YES. I have definitely been doing less cardio than I did 12 months ago. Did I know if I could do it? I had noooo idea. But, rereading my blogs from last year, I knew I would still have an amazing experience no matter what happened. It would be a weekend filled with inspiring people I aspire to be like; a weekend surrounded by uplifting people and positive energy. I also knew that if I had an IRON will, and just kept moving forward, there was a chance I could finish. So, that was that – I was going for it!

I went up to the race Friday afternoon, went through check-in, walked around town, met up with a friend, and then checked into the place I was staying at – a $35 room I got off AirBnB 5 miles away from the start.

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Saturday was also low-key and spent in a similar fashion … I relaxed, checked-in my gear and bike, and walked around town. And ate, and ate, and ate.

Both nights I went out to eat with Keith, a friend who was also doing the race. And by dinner, I of course mean carbo-loading. And by carbo-loading, I pretty much mean pizza. And by pizza, I pretty much mean this: carbo loading

(I was really hoping everything went smoothly on race day for multiple reasons. But I couldn’t help but think that if I didn’t even make it through the swim, I’d be really regretting the 10+ lbs of pizza, pasta and bread I stuffed into my face the week before!)

Anyways, after dinner on Saturday, I headed back to my scary, desolate, no phone service  room to try and get as much sleep as possible. (Sleep – HA!) I was realllly hoping I would sleep well, but sleep is something I always struggle with, even more so when I’m stressed. And I was stressed to. the. max. I could only manage about 5 hours of sleep Friday night, and 3 hours race night. 3!! I wasn’t happy about that number, which was stressing me out even more, but it was out of my control. … I’ve raced on little to no sleep before. Luckily, my high calorie endurance formula I would be drinking, Hammer Perpetuam, had caffeine!

And not being able to sleep did have a perk. … I was probably one of the first people to get to the race start. Sooo, I basically got the closest parking spot to transition. I knew this would be extremely beneficial after the race, when I would have to somehow carry all my gear bags and wheel my bike back to my car all by myself. Sounds easy enough. But after 140.6 miles? I knew I would probably be hobbling and looking like someone beat me with a 2×4. So with about 45 minutes to chill before transition even opened, I just laid down in the back of my Jeep and tried to get a little more rest before it was GO TIME!

The Swim (2.4 miles) – 1:34:14

There was actually talk that they may have had to cancel the swim, and we didn’t know for sure until about 5 am race morning. The night before, there was a large building fire on Main street directly in front of Mirror Lake.  It raged for hours, but thankfully no one was hurt (the first responders were incredible and worked tirelessly through the night!) . However, race officials were concerned about unsafe levels of ash and runoff in the water. Luckily, DEC tested the water and it passed – the swim was a go!

Over 2,300 athletes were at the start, and I positioned myself somewhere in the 1:21 – 1:30 expected swim seed. The cannon went off at 6:30 am sharp, and the fastest swimmers began funneling into the water. The clock read 6:47 am by the time I entered the water, meaning I had until 11:47 pm to cross the finish (17 hours), or I would receive a DNF (Did Not Finish).

. Swim pic

I entered the swim smiling, and finished the swim smiling. Overall, I thought it went well for me and I was happy with my time – one hour and 34 minutes for 2.4 miles. Not too bad for me considering I hadn’t swam in over a month. The water was fairly calm and I just got into my groove and kept on swimming. I swam as far to the left as I could to avoid the mass of swimmers as much as I could, and luckily I didn’t get hit or punched by another swimmer accidentally. It was pretty uneventful, but I’m always happy to be out of the water! And Greg and Carrie, friends I know from my home gym, were volunteering and were my wetsuit strippers!

The Bike (112 miles) – 8:32:07

The bike is normally my favorite. But today, it was rough. And not just because of the 6,898 feet of elevation gain. bike profile Last year, eating and drinking too little led to my demise. This year, I was determined to take in as many calories as I could. However, I learned pretty quickly that this was not the best approach, either. I started having severe stomach pains on my right side around mile 30, and by mile 40, I was hunched over my handlebars, sobbing. If I had to describe it, I would say that i  felt like my kidney’s were going to explode. I had noooo idea how I was going to be able to keep going! And at mile 40 of the bike?! I usually love the bike!

I didn’t know what to do. I ended up just standing on the side of the road for about 5 – 10 minutes, hoping to feel better. A kind group of spectators tried to help me, offering me hugs and encouraging words. And eventually a medic drove by. … He wanted to call a SAG vehicle for me! No, no, no. I was not ending my day before noon! My new goal was to just make it to the next aid station to reexamine how I was feeling. So, slowly but surely, I pedaled my way to the next aid station where I was able to talk more to a volunteer nurse. She asked me what I had been eating and drinking, and she guessed I was taking in wayyyyy to many calories. She said my kidneys likely couldn’t process all I was eating/drinking. She told me to try switching to just plain water for the next hour or so to see if that helped, but that if I started vomiting or peeing blood I should stop. (Peeing blood?! I’d be done; don’t have to tell me twice!) Her advice seemed to save the day, for as the clock ticked on, I felt better and better. I drank just water for a while, and then I slowly tried to consume about 300 calories / hr thereafter. Biking

Feeling better, the second lap was much better for me than the first … at least in that regard! But once I hit mile 80, I was just tired of being in the saddle. My toes burned, my butt was sore – I was ready to be in a different position. But I knew it would eventually come to an end, so I really tried to take in the scenery and focus on how beautiful that bike course really is. It really is breathtaking at places!

When I eventually rolled back into town, I was sooo excited to be done and grateful to not have had any flats/mechanical issues (besides my chain popping off at mile 111). Had that been the case, I would have been tight to make the 5:30 pm bike cutoff. And even though my bike split this year was almost an hour more than last years, I’m okay with it. It was one of my toughest rides, but I fought through it and didn’t give up! For that, I am proud!

And fun fact: My max speed on the bike was 40.6 miles on the massive downhill. Wahoo!

The Run (26.2 miles) – 6:20:05

This is the part where it really became a struggle for me. Running is probably my weakest discipline of the three, and I knew my training was not up to par with being able to run a marathon. And, in the IRONMAN, you’re already worn out from the previous two legs, so its a whole different type of marathon. I didn’t know how it was going to go exactly, but I was determined. The run is what got me last year, but I had made it this far again. I wasn’t going to go down without a fight.

Starting the run, it was extremely hot out. Hotter than anyone expected for the race. The heat index was probably in the 90’s. It seemed like countless people were having to rework their plan, and many people slowed to a shuffle or walk.

Since it was so humid and sunny, I decided to take a canister of Base Salt that they offered at one of the aid stations. I had never used Base Salt before, but they were encouraging it, and knew I should be keeping my sodium levels up. The volunteer told me all I had to do was lick my thumb, press it to the canister, give it a shake, and then lick the electrolyte salt off the pad of my thumb. She said I should do this about once per mile. I did as she advised.

But then I immediately thought about alllll of the disgusting porta potties I had been in throughout the day, and how none of them had Purell.

And I was licking my thumb.

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Gross. For people who don’t know me, I can be quite the germ-o-phob. But, no matter how disgusted I was, I wanted to finish the race more. So, each mile or so, I kept taking the Base Salt as directed. Along with the salt, I tried to grab whatever else I could try and stomach at the aid stations. Chicken broth, water, flat Coca Cola, orange slices and grapes seemed to be all I could stomach. I was just trying to stay hydrated in the heat, and get in some calories.

I kept moving forward, talking with other athletes here and there, high-fiving others I knew as I passed. But about 1/2 way through the run, I started to have a small melt-down. Everything hurt … And as I was trying to put one foot in front of the other amidst the crowd of cheering spectators knowing I had 13.1 miles left — it dawned on me that I didn’t think I was going to make the time cut-off. I didn’t think I would finish before 11:47.

I was grateful then to see some familiar faces who assured me I had plenty of time. So, I was able to calm myself down and do some math, and figured if I kept moving at the pace I was going, I would have a nice cushion of 20 minutes or so. (sarcasm there … 20 minutes is not really a cushion!) … But I knew it was in me to make it. I just had to put my head down, and dig deep! And once I stopped crying, I returned to my happy, smiling self: Running pic

A couple things I immediately thought of when I saw this photo (that I HIGHLY debated about sharing):

  1. OMG, do I really look like that? I LOOK LIKE HELL.
  2. Whatttttt am I doing with my hands?! Who runs like that?!
  3. Do I really have that many chins?!
  4. Is that even a smile?! Like, why do I look scared?
  5. Did I mention I look like hell?

Any who, it thankfully was dark at this point so not many people could see I run like a freak with my arms looking like a Tyrannasaurus Rex. As it night continued to fall, I just kept saying “I CAN DO THIS” over and over again, and kept. on. trekking. Sounds easy enough. But really, it took every fiber of my being to keep moving forward. Because this pretty much sums up how I felt miles 16 – 22:

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There were countless times I wanted to throw in the towel on that longggggg out and back stretch, in the pitch black. It felt like I was never going to finish. I had hourssss left. My toes burned. My knee hurt. My legs ached. I felt sick. An athlete walking next to me said this felt like a death march. I had to agree with her.

Mile 24 was the last hill of the day, and we were finalllyyy back in the heart of town. There were some spectators and earlier finishers cheering us on. You could hear the music and excitement coming from the oval. I had 2.2 miles to go; just an out and back down Mirror Lake Drive. I was excited; I thought at this point I was going to make it. But I was also still struggling. Luckily, these two strangers on the side of the road saw me, and cheered me up the hill. They must have known I could have used a pick-me-up, because for the next 2 miles, they walked on the sidewalk next to me, blaring music from a portable boombox they had. They were playing some of my favorite songs! Beyoncé, Shut Up and Dance … I was now picking up my stride and focusing on the music as we talked and they reiterated over and over how I was going to make it! I was going to be cross that finish line! Best 2 miles of the run and I couldn’t thank these strangers enough!

The Finish – (16:48:13)

I will always remember making that turn into the Olympic Oval. The crowd was roaring. People were lined all around, cheering loudly, clapping, and offering their hands for high fives. I saw some old neighbors I didn’t know were going to be there, along with Greg and Carrie, my awesome support crew for the day! It was so great seeing familiar faces after a longggg day!

And then Mike Reilly told me as I was an IRONMAN as I finally crossed the finish. 16 hours, 48 minutes and 13 seconds after I got in the water to begin the day.

I had less than 12 minutes to spare.

I’ll tell ya, the rush you get from finishing is nothing like anything in the whole, wide world! It makes me feel like I can accomplish anything – that I am stronger than I ever thought possible!! That in itself makes the day worthwhile! And … at least after pushing myself for almost 17 hours, I can say that I have a beautiful finishing photo to remind myself of what I accomplished:

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(sarcasm, again ;-)) But if you look closely, you can tell I’m smiling. 🙂 …

Thankfully, they had more than one photographer, and I do have an alternative: FINISHER PIC

Muchhhh better. 🙂

And I don’t think I’ve stopped smiling after becoming a 2x IRONMAN. I was AM on CLOUD NINE.

Proof that amazing things can happen when you don’t. give. up.

… And, to test my endurance even further, after finishing around midnight, I drove home at 5 am and made it to work by 9 am! Yeah, I guess I’m a little insane! 😉

THANK YOUS

I’m not even sure where to begin, but I am so, so thankful for this experience. I am forever grateful to my sponsor, Got Chocolate Milk, for the opportunity to give IRONMAN Lake Placid a 2nd try, and for their continued support. I am thankful for my family and friends who wished me well and believed in me – your support carried me through some of the darkest parts of this race. For my friend and fellow athlete, Keith, who inspired me throughout his IRONMAN journey with his determination and passion for this sport; for doing long rides with me and pushing me to be stronger; for helping me with nutrition. (HE CROSSED THAT SAME FINISH LINE AND I COULD NOT BE MORE PROUD AND HAPPY FOR HIM!!!) I am thankful for Greg and Carrie, friends I met at my gym who were my support crew during the race. They had my back the whole time I was up in LP, tracked me throughout the day while constantly updating my parents back home, and cheered me on at various spots throughout the swim, bike, and run. For Andrea who gave me the pep talk I needed at bike special needs. Who told me I was doing fine and could still do this. For my other friends who cheered me on the sidelines. Thank you to the AMAZING volunteers who would literally do anything for you. To the lively spectators who lifted our spirits, chanted our names, and kept us going. I am grateful for my parents, who deal with my insanity when I announce my plans to do these races, and for supporting me even though they worry. … I feel like I could go on, and on. But basically, I can’t THANK EVERYONE enough! You all have impacted my race in immeasurable ways, and have made this race beyond special. For that, I am so, so grateful.

… And as I’ve been enjoying some R’n’R, I’ve already begun to ponder my next 140.6 attempt, with my new favorite cup:

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I’m a happy girl right now. 🙂

AND HUGE CONGRATS TO ALL THAT RACED!! It was a very memorable weekend!

Seven Weeks of Workouts

Sooooo, I hate how I haven’t posted in a while. I know I have about zero readers, but still I enjoy writing for myself. And a lot has happened since my last post! But, I’ve been busy with it being tax season, and I’ve just simply been unmotivated to sit down and blog with the free time I do have. I promise to write a new post in the next few days and update you all on my crazy exciting life (thats sarcasm if you couldn’t tell 😉) … but until then, I’ll just leave you with my super interesting workout log. Enjoy! 😉

Summary:

 49-Day Total Time Working Out: 62 hours, 26 minutes 

Average Time Per Day: 76.4 minutes

9 Rest Days <— Ugh. Disappointed with that number. I hate taking rest days, but I know that sometimes they are important (like today, since my hip has been bothering me). Mainly, my reasons for rest days were due to being sick, or having to work. I was sick three times over the 7 weeks; once with a cold, and twice with a stomach bug, and had some unexpected 12-hr workdays. But tax season is almost done which means I’ll just have my normal 8 – 4 job! 🙂

Workout Log:

2/18 – Back-to-Back F.I.T. Bootcamps (2 hrs.)

2/19 – Nothing (12 hr. workday)

2/20 – F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.)

2/21 – F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.).; Bike Trainer (50 minutes)

2/22 – Stairmaster (65 minutes) Climbed 400 flights

2/23 – Nothing (12 hr. workday)

2/24 – Stationary Bike (80 minutes) Rode 23 miles; F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.)

Week 1 Total: 8 hours, 15 minutes

2/25 – Back-to-Back F.I.T. Bootcamps (100 min.)

2/26 – F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.)

2/27 – F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.)

2/28 – Sick

3/1 – Sick

3/2 – F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.)

3/3 – F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.)

Week 2 Total: 5 hours, 40 minutes <- That low number makes me sad!

3/4 – Back-to-Back F.I.T. Bootcamps (120 min.)

3/5 – F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.)

3/6 – Stairmaster (35 minutes); F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.)

3/7 – Rest

3/8 – Treadmill (1 hr., 45 minutes) 10 miles

3/9 – F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.)

3/10 – Stairmaster (40 minutes); Stationary Bike (35 minutes); F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.)

Week 3 Total: 9 hours, 35 minutes

3/11 – Back-to-Back F.I.T. Boocamps (2 hrs.)

3/12 – Eric Church Concert – No workouts

3/13 – F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.); Treadmill (40 min.) Ran 4 miles

3/14 – F.I.T. Bootcamp (75 min.); Stairmaster (68 min.) Climbed 400 flights; Pool (45 min.) Swam 2,000 yards

3/15 – Bike Trainer (3 hrs) Rode 48.5 miles

3/16 – F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.)

3/17 – Treadmill (80 min.) Ran 8 miles; F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.)

Week 4 Total: 13 hours, 8 minutes

3/18 – Back-to-Back F.I.T. Bootcamps (2 hrs.)

3/19 – F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.)

3/20 – F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.)

3/21 – Rest Day

3/22 – Syracuse Half-Marathon (2:14:06) Ran 13.1 miles

3/23 – F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.)

3/24 – Swimming (46 min.) Swam 2,000 yards; F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.)

Week 5 Total: 9 hours 

3/25 – Back-to-Back F.I.T. Bootcamps (2 hrs.)

3/26 – F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.)

3/27 – Nothing (12 hr. workday)

3/28 – Sick

3/29 – Bike trainer (2 hrs.) Rode 34 miles

3/30 – Bike trainer (1 hr.) Rode 16.8 miles

3/31 – F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.)

Week 6 Total: 7 hours

4/1 – Back-to-Back F.I.T. Bootcamps (2 hrs.)

4/2 – F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.); Run (25 min.) 2.3 miles

4/3 – F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.); Run (38 min.) 4 miles; Walk (10 min.) 0.7 mile cool-down

4/4 – Stationary Bike (1 hr.); at Vent Fitness, 11 Rounds of: 25 kb swings (70 lb KB), 20 suitcases, 15 jump squats, 10 push-ups, 5 burpees (45 min.)

4/5 – Bike Trainer (1 hr.) Rode 17 miles

4/6 – F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.); Run (50 min). No Garmin, probably 4.5 – 5 miles

4/7 – Rest (hip is bothering me :-()

Week 7 Total: 9 hours, 48 minutes

Hope everyone has had some kick-ass workouts lately! 🙂

Pushin’ Those Limits!

I’ll start with my Workout Roundup since I’m pretty happy about it!

2/6 – Treadmill (1 hr. 45 min.) Ran 10 miles

2/7 – F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.)

2/8 – Bike Trainer (1 hr., 52 min.) Rode 31 miles

2/9 – Nothing. 12-hour work day

2/10 – Treadmill (76 min.) Ran 7.5 miles; F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.)

2/11 – Back-to-Back F.I.T. Bootcamp classes (2 hrs.)

2/12 – F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.)

2/13 – Rest Day

2/14 – Stairmaster (2 hrs.) Climbed 805 flights of stairs.

2/15 – Stationary Bike (6 min.) Rode 1.82 miles; Treadmill (1 hr., 57 minutes) 10 miles total (Ran the first 6.5 in 65 minutes; Walked the last 3.5 at an incline)

2/16 – Bike Trainer (121 minutes) Rode 33.5 miles; F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.)

2/17 – F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.)

12-Day Total: 17 hours, 57 minutes

I had some a-w-e-s-o-m-e workouts in these last 2 weeks; and I feel really great! Some highlights:

  • I went up my Box Jumps not once, but twice!! Since I’ve been going to bootcamp, I’ve always kept it at the lowest level, 20”. Last week I finally flipped the box up to the 2nd level, and then on Monday I decided to just go for the 3rd. Not gonna lie, it was nerve-wracking! And I only did it twice, but I managed to make the 30” jump and stand tall. Yeaaaaahhh baby – I was SO pumped! (Big thanks to my friend Becky for inspiring me to try – she also nailed the 3rd level at the same time!)

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  • I also upped my Kettleball weight for swings and squats. Was at 44 lbs – now I grab the 53 lber. 🙂 Feels so good movin’ on up!
  • I had T-H-R-E-E amazing runs. Finalllllllly. I missed my time rocking out on the treadmill lip singing to my favorite songs.
  • Had an awesome 2-hr trainer ride watching the 2011 NBC IRONMAN broadcast on Youtube. Watching the Kona World Championship always get me soooo motivated, and brings back all the happy memories I have of finishing Maryland! I still can’t believe I did that! Yes, there are many times you suffer during an IRONMAN, but you also never. feel. more. alive. It is the BEST.

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  • The Stairmaster. I had a stairclimbing PR! For the longest time, I was going after a goal of climbing 400 flights of stairs in 1 hr. Over the weekend – I DOUBLED that! 800 flights in under 2 hours! I did intervals, alternating between level 12 and 15 the whole time, and I found it helped if I mentally broke it down into 4 half-hour chunks. As long as I spent about 8 minutes at level 15 during each 30-minute chunk, and the rest at 12, then I would hit 200 stairs in time. There were times I was huffing, puffing, grunting, cursing … anddd it looked like I had stood outside during a torrential rainstorm, but I DID IT! I didn’t get off or pause the machine once, but just.kept.climbing.

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  • I tackled another back-to-back conditioning Bootcamp class. And not only did I survive, but I finished both times feeling decently strong!

The Back-to-Back Class:

15 Chin-ups

20KB swings (I used 53 lb KB)

30 Dumbbell Push Presses

20KB swings

45 burpees

60 walking lunges (30 each leg)

20KB swings

75 XT Knee-Tucks

20 KB swings

15 Dumbbell Thrusters (each arm)

Down and back bear crawl

30 XT Pike-ups

Down and back bear crawl

45 KB Goblet squats

Down and back bear crawl

60 hand-release push-ups

Down and back bear crawl

75 wall balls

Down and back bear crawl

** I had a GU energy gel in between the classes before doing it all over again. The second time took me a little longer to finish; (and the 2nd round of 45 burpees totally sucked) I had to stay about 5 minutes past the time the class ended to finish my wall balls. But I finished! 🙂

Some other highlights:

  • My coworkers came over on Friday the 13th, and we had an absolute blast. We ate tons of pizza, drank wine, laughed, and watched this movie:Sinopsis Film The Last Five Years (Anna Kendrick, Meg Hudson, Jeremy Jordan)

It was SOOOOOOO good! It’s in theaters now, but you can also rent it on Demand, which everyone should do! it is now seriously one of my f-a-v-o-r-i-t-e movies! It’s a musical (And if you know me, you know I loveeeee musicals), and the two characters pretty much sing to each other the whole time, but it is just amazing! The acting, the actors, the music, the lyrics, the storyline. So, so good.

  • Speaking of coworkers, oneee of them (I wont name names) thought they’d try and be funny during my runs. We go to the same gym, and she happened to get on the treadmill next to me. So what does she do? She hits MY little red stop button!

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Granted, I was only about 0.06 miles into my run, but stilllllll. I laughed, but I also gave her the stink eye at the same time. I think she learned quickly, because she didn’t do it again. 🙂 (And she’s not really rude, shes one of my favs and one of my only readers!)

  • I’ve been digging Jesse J’s album Sweet Talker. She has an amazing voice, and it’s made these last few runs flyyyyyyy!
  • And I almost forgot Valentine’s Day was in there!

That holiday was just splendid, like it is for most single people.

cry2Joking. It was pretty great. I ate a boatload of chocolate and watched The Last 5 Years a few more times. 🙂

  • I signed up for two races, both of which I’m stoked for.

Race #1 – The Rock ‘n’ Roll DC Marathon on March 14th. HUGEEE thanks to my sponsor, Got Chocolate Milk, for the complimentary entry. Can’t wait to meet new teammates and attempt Marathon #5!!

Race #2 – My 5th Ragnar – Ragnar Chicago June 12-13th! I got invited to be a part of a 12-member team with some Team Chocolate Milk buddies. Some very speedyyyyyy buddies. Hopefully I don’t slow the team down that much. 🙂  But nonetheless it will be a fun filled weekend living in a van, running, eating, running, eating, running and not sleeping. Besides lots of choco milk, I also expect there to be a stop for some deep-dish pizza at some point!

How was everyone’s workouts this weeks? Sign up for any races?!

 

The Tough Dodger?!

Superbowl Sunday

-Started with a 2-hr sweatfest on the bike trainer watching the Pink concert on Netflix…She is one talented person.

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-Went to my Uncles annual Superbowl party @ 2

-Ate my weight in spinach artichoke dip, garbage bread and cheese and crackers before the game even began

-Continued to gain another 10 lbs. during the game with platefuls of ziti and more garbage bread

-I mayyy have had a drink.

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-I think I found my next race: The Tough Dodger

We replayed that commercial like 3 times … and I still laugh.

That poor guy on the bike!

-Managed to lose every single one of my football pools. And I was in 5. FIVE!

Bridesmaid Shopping

Tuesday night I realllly wanted to at least make it to bootcamp since I didn’t do anything on Monday (stupid snow), but my sister asked me to go look at Bridesmaids dresses with her for the first time. Can’t really say no to that.

Her wedding is in October, and I am sure the time will fly! I am honored to be her Maid of Honor, and then there are 6 other girls in the bridal party. Just 4 of us went shopping this first time to help my sister get an idea of what she wants. Besides my sister, my mom, Becky (a bridesmaid), and I went. We hit up two different stores and tried on a few different dresses, but man does she have some tough decisions to make! There are so many gorgeous dresses out there, and she still hasn’t decided on her colors. But whatever she chooses, I have no doubt it will be an absolutely beautiful wedding!

Afterwards, we headed to a fancy restaurant, Tala, for some drinks and food. We ended up just splitting two small pizzas amongst the four of us: a margherita and a white broccoli.

When they came, my sister immediately went for a slice of the white broccoli, which the waitress had placed in front of Becky and me.

I looked up just in time to see the slice tumble off her knife and slowllllllyyyy summersault into my drink, a fresh Gin and Tonic filled to the brim.

you-didnt

I managed to get out most of the broccoli chunks, but the ricotta cheese skid mark? Yea, that baby was stuckkkk on that glass.

Anyways, we laughed for a while, as I choked down an interesting cocktail with my 6 slices of margarita pizza. It’s slightly embarrassing when you manage to consume basically an entire pizza while the three others can happily share one.

When the waitress brought the bill, everyone reached for their purse, and I quickly put my credit card on the table, assuming we were all splitting. Across the table, my mother started waving at Amanda and Becky, saying, “No, no girls. Put your credit cards away. …” I reach in to slowwwwwwlyyyyyy grab mine back, and then I hear it.

“Erika and I got this.”

At first, it was like:

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But then I was all like:

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*We all thought it was hilarious and joked about it, but really, I’m happy to treat my sister, especially during this special time. 🙂

My First Double Bootcamp:

Since Monday and Tuesday included ZERO workouts, I knew Wednesday had to be intense. And it just happens to be conditioning day at F.I.T. So, instead of taking one class and going to my other gym in hopes of getting a machine (I’ll vent about that in another post), I decided to push myself and take two back-to-back classes.

Oh. My. Gosh.

After a 10-minute warm-up doing things like burpees, supermans, jumping jacks, bear crawls, etc., there was 10 minutes of stretching. Then the fun began:

Three rotations of:

Heavy sled pushes, burpees, kettleball pinwheels, kettlebell thrusters, and rope slams. (1 min., 15 sec. each exercise)

After the first rotation, there was a 6-minute intermission of 100-push-ups.

And after the second rotation, there was yet another 6-minute intermission, only this time: 100 KB weighted goblet squats.

After the first hour, I was huffing and puffing and my arms felt like complete Jello. But I stayed, and did the Whole. Thing. Over. Again.

It wasn’t pretty, for I definitely lack in the whole strength department, but I tried to push myself.

During the workout:

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Leaving the gym:

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I was like, “I DID IT!!!” (Although I couldn’t really move that fast!) ….Yup, that’s why I love workout out so much! Hellooooo endorphins!

Running:

I haven’t really run since the Dopey Challege. I tried once, but it was pretty ugly.

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But my goal is try again this weekend. If all goes well, this will be me.

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Which is probably why I don’t make friends at the gym. 😉

Well it was a busy week or so, and I tried my hardest to not slack, but here’s my Workout Recap:

1/28 – F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.)

1/29 – Treadmill (12 min.) 1 mile warm-up; Stationary Bike (10 min.) Rode 3.5 miles; Stairmaster (45 min.) Climbed 300 flights; F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.)

1/30 – F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.)

1/31 – F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.) Stationary Bike (64 min.) Rode 20 miles

2/1 – Bike Trainer (2 hrs.) Rode 34 miles

2/2 – Snow Day 😦

2/3 – Nothing

2/4 – Back to back F.I.T. Bootcamp classes (2 hrs.)

2/5 – F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.)

9-Day Total: 11 hours, 11 minutes.

Ughh, that total is a lot lower than I wanted it to be. But, it was a fun week!

Hope yours was just as fun!! 🙂

Change.

Do you want to be BETTER? It is such a simple question. Of course, the answer is YES, I mean, who wouldn’t want to be better? I like to think I strive to be a better person than I was the day before, but in reality, what am I really doing to make that happen?

The bootcamp that I go to sends out daily e-mails, on a variety of fitness related topics, and a lot of them get me thinking. And it gets me thinking not just about my fitness abilities and goals, but also my life in general.

There are just sooo many things I could be doing that would help me become a stronger athlete, that I Just. Don’t. Do.

Nutrition

Diet plays a crucial role in the life of an athlete; there is no denying that. I learned that first hand during Ironman Lake Placid; if I don’t give my body enough calories/fluids, my body will not be able to support my goals. But honestly, I really don’t pay that much attention to nutrition; and weight-wise, I know that I am pretty fortunate with regards to that. For the most part, I try to eat somewhat healthy, but I know I could eat wayyyy better than I actually do. I don’t eat a lot of fruit or vegetables, I eat pizza multiple times a week, I eat a TON of carbs, have a major sweet tooth, and protein/energy bars would probably comprise an entire food group for me. Plus, I’ve been on a major trail mix kick since Christmas.

And by trail mix, I really mean:

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Besides what I am eating, I should pay attention to the QUANTITY and QUALITY of those calories. Am I getting in the right ratio of protein/carbs/healthy fats? What about micronutrients? … Basically, I have NO FLIPPIN’ CLUE.

And to BE better, I know I need to make changes. For starters, I should start LOGGING my foods – EVERY single thing I put in my mouth so I can see my areas of strengths and weaknesses. To see where I need to make deviations; to note when my body feels strongest, or sluggish. If something isn’t working, or I’m not making progress in the direction I want to, I will have something to look back on. Something I can learn from.

And like everyone, I like to indulge in the occasional cocktail. Andddd, sometimes I overindulge. I’m sure it affects my performance. Even so, I make sure to carry on with whatever workout I had planned for that day. I at least tell myself if I’m going to drink, then I need to get my workout in. NO. EXCUSES. But I can’t help but wonder if my workout would feel differently had I not drank the night before. Would it feel easier; would I push harder, go further, pedal faster, etc. etc. etc.

Maybe I can try limiting myself to one glass … 😉

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Sleep

Sleep is when my body recovers, and even though I try to go to bed early, I’ve always had difficulties falling and staying asleep. When I don’t sleep well, not only do I feel tired throughout the day, but I also know it limits what I can give in my workouts. Am I really able to give 110% on four hours of sleep? What positive changes can I make that will help me reach my goal of 8 hours a night?

Fitness

Everyone knows I like to run, but my pace is pretty consistent at 9, 10, even 11 minute miles. I don’t do tempo runs, fartleks, etc. I don’t follow a plan. How am I going to ever get faster if I don’t do speed work? I have a bike trainer, but I’ve never put the second block on to simulate a hillier course. I kind of just do laps in the pool now, instead of trying new exercises, incorporating swim sprints, etc. So how will my form and time ever improve?

At Bootcamp, I haven’t really added weights to my deadlifts. I probably lift the lightest bar there, maxing out at 105 pounds. I’ve never attempted a higher box jump. I always set it at the lowest level. When toes-to-bar are posted on the board, I don’t even try them. WHY? I like to think I am pushing myself, but when I look at every little thing, there are sooooo many areas I can try harder. And really, it’s just about trying. You’ll never know your limits unless you push them.

Where is my fitness level going, now? Where CAN it go?? But most importantly, I have to probably figure out where I want it to go. What are my GOALS??

Do I want to try and run faster? Break a 1:45 half? Qualify for Boston? Try a Spartan race? Aim for the Trifecta?

If running harder and faster means I get to run less, and do less races, then I probably don’t want to go for that right now. I enjoy being at races/events so much, that I’m happy with where I am. I just like being out there: meeting new people, crossing a finish line, being with friends, etc. So, I guess, at this time, I’d rather be able to do more races at a slower pace, than have to do less. But do I have to choose? Are there changes I can make that can allow me to do both?

What changes am I willing to make? what changes are out of my control?

The same questions I’m trying to answer with regards to my fitness are the same questions I should, and NEED to be making with my life.

Because I sure as hell am not where I thought I would be in my life.

I have my Master’s in Educational Psychology and Methodology.  I feel like I can do absolutely nothing with that degree, and every job I apply to, I usually hear nothing back. Every job I see that sparks some interest in me, seems so out of reach, and I wonder how people get the jobs they have. From working in a student affairs setting, to a study abroad program, to working for IRONMAN (<— DREAM JOB!) … How does one stand out amongst applicants and get noticed?? I JUST want a chance. Even though I am grateful for the job I have, I don’t want to be working in the field forever.

I don’t date. But I don’t want to be single forever. It would be nice to be able to share my life with someone.

I still live at home. I would like my own place, more independence. To not get yelled at when I leave a cabinet door open.

But like above, all the things I want REQUIRE change. Scary changes.

They require facing fears, stepping outside comfort zones, taking chances, making mistakes. They require hard work.

In terms of my career, it requires me figuring out what I really want to do with my life. I’m 26, and I’m sad to say I still don’t know.

I have regrets, like not finishing Teach for America, or for not choosing a different major. But I need to get past those things, devise a plan and finally GO after what I want, no matter what that is.

And maybe the scariest of all,  I need to accept that changes in other areas of my life may lead to changes in my athletic life. If I move out or go back to school, I may not have the funds to do as many races, maintain memberships at the gyms I go to, etc.

If I go back to school, I may be even more strapped for money, and may also have LESS time to work out.

And if I date someone, I may have to ease back on my training or long runs to make time for the other person.

But again, do I have to choose? Or are there changes I can make throughout all areas of my life that will allow me to get closer to my goals? To the life I eventually want to have for myself (even if I don’t quite know what that is yet!)

In summary, it boils down to change. Change can be good, or bad. It can be surprisingly easy, or an enormous struggle. It may feel impossible. It may take try, after try, after try.

But we are capable of it.

Enough of my rambling ….

Here’s my weekly recap:

1/21 – Stationary Bike (67 minutes) Rode 20 miles; Treadmill (8 min.) Cool-down walk; F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.)

1/22 – F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.)

1/23 – Swimming (1 hr.) 2,500 yards (First time back in the pool after 3 months off!)

1/24 – Stairmaster (90 min.) Climbed 561 flights of stairs; Stationary Bike (35 min.) Rode 10 miles (Longest time on the Stairmaster ever!)

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1/25 – Bike Trainer (3 hrs., 3 min.) Rode 50 miles of hill repeats

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1/26 – F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.)

1/27 – Snow Day.

Total: 10 hours, 23 minutes

What are some changes you are trying to make in order to bring you closer to your fitness goals?! … Whatever they are, cheers to being stronger and better than you were yesterday!

Starting 2015 Being Goofy!!

I don’t even know where to begin. But basically, if you like running, and you like Disney, DO A DISNEY RACE.

Or, even if you reallllllyy don’t like running that much … DO A DISNEY RACE! 🙂

It’s unlike any race I’ve done. For me, I had two goals – to go out there and have FUN, and to finish. There was absolutely zero pressure to finish in any sort of time (minus the race cut-off).

My friend and I registered for the Dopey Challenge back in April of last year, and had been looking forward to the trip for some time. She flew down with her family, and I drove down with mine. There, we all stayed in a large 3-bedroom timeshare at Orange Lake, located a few miles from Disney.

The first half of the week was relaxing; like a normal vacation. We slept in, chilled by the pool, played games, drank some frozen cocktails, shopped, went out to eat, etc. etc. etc.

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Sooooo happy we got to spend some time poolside soaking up some rays before a cold front moved in later in the week!

Then on Wednesday, we hit up the Expo. It. Was. Huge! It was held at Disney’s Wide World of Sports, and we got there around 11 am so we could have ample time to explore, shop and enjoy!

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Even with sooo many people, lines were relatively short, and they were super organized. Gotta love that. Plus, they gave away tonssss of swag … I mean, just for running the Dopey Challenge, we got SIX shirts! And they are all adorable. 🙂

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Come Thursday, the races began, along with 3:30 am wake-ups!

You read that right —-> 3:30 A.M.!

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That face pretty much sums up how I felt when the alarm went off. Every. Morning.

But, I have to admit, once I got out of bed, I quickly woke up. It was fun getting ready and dressing up, and since our dads brought us each morning we always made a quick stop at Wawa (They loveee Wawa). They got coffee and donuts; and I got to get COFFEE!!! 🙂

The 5K (3.1 miles)

One word: COLD. I know, I know … it’s hard complaining since it supposedly felt like -30 back in Albany, but man, oh man, we were freezing! Since this was the first race and we didn’t know what to expect, we got there superrrr early. Translation: we had to stand in the cold for about 90 minutes before the race even started. It was about 42 degrees, windy, and no humidity.

But once the race started, we warmed up fast and forgot allll about the cold. But for this race, Becky and I didn’t start together – I was in Coral C; Becky was in D. And even though the race started right on time, complete with the national anthem and a fireworks display (which was AWESOME!) … I didn’t cross the start line until about 30 minutes after the initial start.

After the first 1/2 mile or so, we entered EPCOT, and it was SO cool running through the park, before they opened. They still had Christmas decorations up, and all the buildings were all lit up with lights. We ran all around the different countries; it was really beautiful. So many things to look at! Andddd — they had a character or two every mile. That was soo fun! Every time I saw a line of runners off to the side (usually 20-30 runners deep), I’d get all excited and be like, “Who is that!? Which character is that?!?”

Since it was still pretty dark, and my first race, my phone took some crappy pictures, and not all the pics came out 😦 — but I did get a picture with this cool guy:

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After finishing the first race Becky and I were on such a high!! It was only a 5k, but we had a blast and were instantly hooked to Disney races!! I was looking SUPER forward to the next 3 days!!!

The 10K (6.2 miles)

I decided to start with Becky this race, and we both started in Coral D. Our goal: Stop at as many characters as possible, take pics, smile and like usual, have fun!

To sum it up: I’d say we accomplished our mission. We ran the whole race together – and it was a blast. We stopped at a ton of characters – our favorite one being MICKEY himself!! We had to wait about 10 minutes for him — but it was soooo worth it. We can do countless races … but how many times do you have the opportunity to stop and take pictures with characters??!

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But … we diddddd kinda get in trouble at one point. 😉

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The poor sheriff had no idea he’d be a character himself and have a line of runners! It was too funny!

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That picture just makes me smile. 🙂 Love Mickey Mouse!

The Half-Marathon (13.1 miles)

Soooo …. for this race, we didn’t have a costume to wear. Which, frankly, made us kind of sad. We couldn’t have that. 🙂 Insert a trip to Target and a silly purchase at Downtown Disney — and we were good to go!

We decided to be what we are 99% of the time: GOOFY!! Althoughhhhh, Grumpy or Sleepy probably would have been fitting costumes as well! 😉 And this is why: I was feeling reallllly stressed before the half (even though my goal was to not stress!!), and just knowing that the alarm was going to go off bright and early, I got ZERO sleep before tackling day 3 of the Dopey Challenge. But seriously, Goofy was a perfect fit: being sleepy just made me more goofy than normal!

Becky and I started the race in our own seperate corals, and I ran the first 7 miles or so solo. I kept a good pace, felt good, and enjoyed these magical miles!!
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But then, thanks to our tall hats, Becky and I found each other!!

And, guess where?!?! Waiting in line for none other than:

GOOFY himself!!

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How perfect timing was that?!?

We stayed together until the end, but ended up walking a majority of the last 2 miles together. We both felt good, and could have totally ran it, but we also knew we had 26.2 miles waiting for us in less than 24 hours. So we decided to just be more cautious than normal. No sense in pushing since our times were already through the roof.

Once we finished, our families met us at the finish. And my sister and her fiance, Matthew, got out of bed to also cheer us on!! It meant a lot to have everyone there supporting us! 🙂

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The Marathon (26.2 miles)

This was the BIG. DAY. The MARATHON. 26.2 miles between you and the finish. Your tired. Your legs are sore. Your feet hurt. Doubt sets in. You think, “Can I do this?!?”

And then something magical happens. The race starts, you put one foot in front of the other, you get into a rhythm. The miles tick by. One after the other.

You run through Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and EPCOT. You run through the Wide World of Sports; on the NASCAR track, around the bases of the baseball field. You run through Cinderella’s castle. You stop and take pictures with every possible character you can. You smile. You laugh. You appreciate. You worry. You dig deep. You start to run the mile you are in. You walk. You walk fast. You keep checking your watch. You start conversation with runners next to you. … You DIG DEEP. Mile 24. Mile 25. Mile 26. Mile 26 you pick up the speed. You run through the hundreds of cheering spectators. You run towards the finish. You hear your name called. YOU CROSS THE FINISH LINE.

That feeling you get from crossing the finish line will never grow old for me. Every single time, it represents so much: dedication, perseverance, commitment, to believing in yourself, to pushing your limits, defeating doubt, to accomplishing a GOAL. It’s a high like no other.

And I am so grateful that these 26.2 miles were filled with so much happiness. Disney, I owe ya one! Here’s just a glimpse inside those 5 hours, 47 minutes:

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After Minnie and Daisy, I of course had to stop for a pick with these kind looking folks:

 

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And of course this guy:

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He told me he’d come and visit me on his magic carpet 😉

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And, of course, THE BLING!!:

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Those are some serious. medals.  … My neck is still sore from all that bling. 😉

I wont go into any more detail since this post is SUPER long, but basically, my foam roller has been my best friend for the past week!!

Andddd lastly, for all those interested, my Workout Recap since my last post:

Week 1:

1/2 – F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.)

1/3 – Nothing (Road Trip to FLORIDA!)

1/4 – Nothing (Driving: Day 2!)

1/5 – Stationary Bike (1 hr.) Rode 18 miles of hill repeats; Weights/100 push-ups (20 min.); Walk (30 min.) 2 miles

1/6 – Stationary Bike (1 hr.) Rode 18 miles of hill repeats; 100 push-ups (5 min.); Walking (1 hr.) 4 miles

1/7 – Nothing

1/8 – Disney’s 5K! (49:01) 3.1 miles

Total: 5 hours, 44 minutes

Week 2:

1/9 – Disney’s 10K! (1:45:16) 6.2 miles

1/10 – Disney’s ½ Marathon (3:18:15) 13.1 miles

1/11 – Disney’s Full Marathon (5:47:44) 26.2 miles

1/12 – Rest Day

1/13 – F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.)

1/14 – F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.); Stationary Bike (35 min.) Rode 10 miles

1/15 – F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.)

Total: 14 hours, 26 minutes

Week 3 (5 Days):

1/16 – F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.)

1/17 – F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.); Stationary Bike (65 min.) Rode 20 miles

1/18 – Stationary Bike (68 min.) Rode 20 miles

1/19 – Bike Trainer (1 hr.) Rode 17 miles of hill repeats; F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.)

1/20 – F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr).

Total: 7 hours, 13 minutes

19-Day Total: 27 hours, 23 minutes (plus LOTS of time stretching!!)

Hope everyone is tackling their 2015 goals and getting in some kick ass workouts in!! Believe in yourself, push through, and enjoy whatever fitness journey you are on!! This is OUR year!! 🙂

Goodbye 2014 … Helloooo 2015!!

First off — HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Crazy how another year has come and gone! 2014 truly was a great year. I learned a lot about myself, tried new things, took chances, accomplished goals and made amazing memories with family and friends, new and old. I feel stronger than ever entering the New Year, and I am super excited for what 2015 will bring!

But with this crazy time of year there comes lots of parties, crazy good food, and LOTS of eating. Lots and lots of eating, anddddd unfortunately, my Workout Recap is not good. Not good in comparison to what I ate. I wanted to do sooo much more, but I got a cold the week of Christmas, and then it was just a super busy time. Old friends were back in town for the holidays, so it was a necessity to spend time with them <— which is always a blast.

Workout Recap:

12/22 – F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.)

12/23 – Home Sick 😦

12/24 – Home Sick 😦

12/25 – Bike Trainer (1 hr.)

12/26 – Stairmaster (66 min.); 100 push-ups (5 min.)

12/27 – Treadmill (1 hr. 45 min.). Ran 10 miles; 100 push-ups (5 min.)

12/28 – Binghamton for the day (No workouts)

12/29 – F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.)

12/30 – F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.)

12/31 – None

1/1 – Treadmill (68 min.) Ran 7 miles; Stationary Bike (1 hr.) Rode 17.5 miles; Chin-ups (5 min.)

With Dopey Challenge next week, I just try and tell myself that taking it easy is a good thing (just like all the cheesecake and cookies! ;-)).

Taper and rest days will be helpful. … I hope anyways!

So in summary (once again):

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But let me rewind, and talk about a very magical day: Christmas!!

Christmas is always a special day in our family, filled with smiles, laughter, too many Christmas cookies, and most importantly, each other. We started the day bright and early, with my parents, brother, sister, her fiancé and I enjoying coffee and checking out what Santa brought everyone. And Santa was very good to us this year!

Some highlights:

An IRONMAN medal holder …

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Basically, I interpret this as Santa telling me I need to do 4 more IRONMAN’s. 😉

No biggie.

And since Dopey Challenge (Disney’s 5K, 10K, 1/2 and Full Marathon) is next week, Santa also brought some Disney customes to run in! Those will remain secret for now — but expect lots of pictures soon!! 🙂

And since everyone knows my love for fitness, my Aunt bought me some tanks from my favorite company, Lorna Jane. I LOVE their inspirational clothing. Love, love, love!

… And a box of Quest bars. Gotta get that protein. 🙂

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Who could not love that tank?!?

After some time opening gifts (and a small snowball fight with the gift wrap) some family started arriving for brunch! My mom always makes my favorite strata, a spinach-wheat one, and I always look forward to it. And of course we popped champagne and had mimosas!!

In between brunch and mimosas, I had some time to spare before the rest of the family arrived. Since I was finally feeling better from my cold, I hopped on my bike trainer to get in a solid hour of exercise in before enjoying the rest of the day. It went by fast (maybe the mimosas??) – and then it was back to family!

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Insert an afternoon of a gazillion appetizers, stories, giggles, jokes, drinks and gifts with aunts, uncles, cousins, my Grandma … it was just all GREAT!

We eventually sat down for dinner around 6. At the dinner table, my Grandma asked me to say Grace this year. I was happy to, and then right in the middle of thanking God for all our blessings of health, happiness, etc. – my Grandma says, “THANK YOU ERIKA, that was beautiful!” … Welp, I’m guessing someoneeeee was hungry (and/or left their hearing aids at home!). 😉 Everyone’s laughter ended that Grace … Amen!

It’s fun loving memories like that that make the day so special. ❤

After dinner, which for me consisted of about 4 plates of Turkey and gravy, and a smidgen of sweet potatoes, we busted out another one of Santa’s presents: Cards Against Humanity. For anyone not familiar with this game –> You are probably a good person. Basically, it’s a game for horrible people. It crosses all types of boundaries, but OMG, it is hysterical. And playing with my 83 year-old Grandma brought it to an entirely new level. We laughed, and laughed, and then laughed some more. I actually don’t think I’ve ever seen my uncle laugh so hard. …Good times. And probably going to sound like a broken record, but it is definitely what the holidays are all about -> spending time with loved ones, and making memories. I’d say mission accomplished. 🙂

New Year’s Eve was another special day, and it is also my mom’s birthday! I rang in the New Year with the Birthday girl and some neighbors, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. It was a great night, and I managed to stay up until the ball dropped!

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I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, and a safe and fun New Year’s — and I wish everyone a wonderful 2015 filled with health and happiness!!!