Some Races, a PR, and Lots of Brownies

A lot has happened since IM Maryland – it’s been a busy 3 months!! Since that race had not originally been on my race calendar, I was already signed up for 3 half-marathons the 3 consecutive weekends following Maryland. Talk about potentially overdoing it.

Half #1: the Adirondack Half Marathon in Schroon Lake, NY. I had NO idea how I would feel after pretty much beating my body up for 16+ hours of nonstop exercise 7 days before. A part of me thought I should just go and volunteer, while supporting my friends up their racing. BUT – I have a hard time saying no and I do like to push myself! Even if I had to walk, I decided to go for it – and I am so glad I did! It was a B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L race, and picture perfect sunny day. The scenery was just so amazing, running around the lake with the leaves changing. But… It was hilly. Not gonna lie, that sucked… and there mayyy have been some cursing. Okay, a lot of cursing. But I ended up running most of it, and finished feeling strong in 2:19:35 (which is about my average finishing time). And the post-race food spread was on-point! Bagels, brownies, cookies … did I say brownies? Yup. So, so many delicious brownies.

10636252_10100626572989785_9064648538743410881_n

Half #2: was the Mohawk-Hudson Half-Marathon, and we were blessed with another perfect day to race. And I don’t know how I did it – but I PR’d by over 6 minutes and had my first ever sub 2-hour half!! I was soooo excited!! But with all I had done the past couple weekends – I was not expecting it – at all!

The course is flat, and I felt good for the most part. And when I saw my Garmin at mile 11 and realized I could potentially go sub 2, I had to dig deep and push. It was a challenge; I had to maintain a sub 8:30 min/mile pace for the final 2.1 miles. And I basically all-out sprinted for the final 0.3 miles into the finish. Luckily, a Ragnar friend was able to capture that final stretch… and oh man, my face:

1891080_558186804308610_1601946701465789110_n

Justttt hideous. I reallllly hope I don’t normally look like that when I run! S-c-a-r-y.

Once I finished I headed right towards the food tent to grab some my go-to: chocolate milk. 2 bottles! And then I noticed the massage tent — which had NO line! This has never happened to me before. By the time I normally finish, they usually make you write down your name and they say they’ll call you in 30 – 60 min. Not this time! — there are PERKS to finishing so quickly! 😉 Anyways, that 10 min. massage felt heavenly! I was so sore!

Afterwards I headed right back to the finish to cheer my friend Becky on, who also had a great race and PR’d!! Such a great day for both of us!!

1016543_10100642288670435_1656631564670123134_n

Half #3: The Empire Half in Syracuse, and last race of the year. Becky and I drove up for the weekend. The day before, we had a fun time checking out the expo, shopping, eating ourselves into a food coma, and staying way too long in the Brookstone massage chairs.

Race morning was f-r-e-e-z-i-n-g. It was super cold, and super windy. We stayed in our cars as long as possible. When we finally headed to the start, I had to run to the bathroom quick. With about 20 minutes before the gun, I thought I had plenty of time. Nope. It seemed like the entire race was in the line for the porta potties. And somehow, I ended up being the lastttt one. The race started right as it was finally my turn, and as I hurried towards the start line, all the runners had already made it through the start. No big deal, the crowd of spectators probably just thought I was running late — until the guy with the freakin megaphone yells, “Here comes another runner; she must have been in that long porta potty line!!”.

One word:

10822623_10100679866778605_1925311556_n

Just kidding. I thought it was kinda funny. 🙂 Anyways, this race hurt. I’m glad it was the last one for some time; I think my body needed a break. I wanted to stop sooo many times; but since it was so cold and windy I kept trudging along, yet at a slow pace. Once I saw the finish, I was ecstatic. But I finished with a slower time of 2:32:52. Even though it wasn’t my best race, it was still a great race – scenic, flat, and I got to run next to my friend basically the entire time!

1794600_10100648421360475_3587704573182680741_n

photo

I would definitely do all three of those half-marathons again! All were fun and super well run!

With the 2014 racing season over, some people cut back their workouts during what is called an “off-season.” I love working out too much, so I knew I didn’t want to take an “off-season” – but I knew I needed to cut back on some cardio before I got burnt out. So to keep things fresh and to help me get stronger, I joined a local Strength and Conditioning gym that offers 6 Bootcamp classes a week (think Burpees (LOTS OF BURPEES!), box jumps, bear crawls, sled pushes, chin ups, dead lifts and other forms of torture). I took some of their classes during the Spring and loved it, and knew I wanted to go back. Plus, the people are awesome. And besides kicking @ss in the gym by doing things I would never attempt to on my own, they do cool things like play dodgeball and go on bar crawls. <— Who wouldn’t love a gym like that?

I enjoyed tracking my workouts earlier this year, but have basically stopped for the last couple of months. It helps me to see my progress and if I’m improving, and sharing it on the blog helps keep me accountable. So, once again, I am starting to track! I know, I know — it’s super exciting stuff 😉

Workout Recap:

12/15 – F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.); Stationary Bike (66 min.) Rode 20 miles

12/16 – Treadmill (75 min.) Ran 7.5 miles; F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.)

12/17 – Stairmaster (66 min.) Climbed 400 flights; Treadmill (5 min.); 0.30 miles cool-down; F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.)

12/18 – F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.)

12/19 – F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.); Stationary Bike (35 min.) Rode 10 miles

12/20 – F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.)

12/21 – Treadmill (2 hrs., 30 min.) 13.1 miles

Total Time: 12 hours, 37 minutes

And speaking of tracking, I haven’t been in the pool for over 2 months now!! AH! I seriously need to get back into a routine doing laps a couple times a week, or I’m going to back to swimming like a rock. …

swimming-what-I-think-I-look-like.1

Yup. That picture pretty much sums it up perfectly 😉

I have A LOT of goals for 2015 (which I’ll share later!)– and I hope to start the new year feeling stronger than ever!!

First up in 2015: The DOPEY Challenge in DISNEY WORLD!!! So flipping excited!! A 5k, 10k, half-marathon and full marathon in 4 consecutive days. Less than 3 weeks away!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

And, last but not least – HAPPY HOLIDAYS EVERYONE!! It’s the season of giving, of hope. Appreciate what you have, spend time with loved ones. Smile, laugh, eat, indulge in those favorite Christmas cookies you love. Reflect. Make goals. ENJOY it all!! 🙂

IRONMAN Maryland

It’s December … and I’m just attempting to recap my experience at IRONMAN Maryland now. The race was held September 20th; almost 3 months have passed. I tried many times after the race to sit down and just write, but I often found myself staring at a blank computer screen. It seems almost foolish to write it now, but a fellow racer reminded me that it is never too late to document such a special and unique journey.

Why I couldn’t write it afterwards? I honestly don’t know. The last post on my blog has been of my DNF (Did Not Finish) in Lake Placid…so actually giving the full distance another try, and finishing is a dream I am so, so proud of. And I think that was part of the problem. I was so overwhelmed from the entire experience, I was fearful words wouldn’t do it justice. The race itself was so magical; so many emotions comprised those 16 hours, 28 minutes and 47 seconds. How could I possibly convey everything?! But, in the end, I write for me. I write because I like to, and I want to have something to remind me of this experience. And if it happens to help others who are thinking about embarking on a similar journey, then that is an added bonus – one that helped motivate me even more to finally sit down and write!

Background

I registered for IM Maryland on September 10th, exactly 10 days before the race. … It took me a long time to actually register, but ever since I failed at my first IRONMAN attempt after 130+ miles (you can read about that here: https://erikaruns.wordpress.com/2014/08/08/ironman-lake-placid-my-first-dnf/ ), IRONMAN Maryland had always been on my radar.

But clicking that big red “Register” button and actually committing to Maryland was difficult – the thought of spending $700 for a race I had the potential to not finish again was scary.  Besides the money, I didn’t know how I would handle another DNF; I would be devastated and humiliated all over again, and I knew that if I didn’t make it a second try, it would be a while before I tried again. But at the same time, I knew I would hate myself if I didn’t go for it.

After signing up, I tried to go into this race with a totally different mindset than with LP. Before, I had been extremely stressed and put a lot of pressure on myself. And I knew I was going to be extremely stressed with Maryland (maybe even more so!), but I tried my hardest to just relax. I was very aware that I could fail again, and I tried to be okay with and prepare for that possibility. I knew I didn’t have a solid nutrition plan. I knew there would be a lot of unknowns come race day. I didn’t know how my body would react to attempting another full IRONMAN just 8 weeks after Lake Placid, and 3 weeks after finishing a half. Would it be too much? But, with persevering and by not giving up, I also knew there was a possibility that I could finish, and that is what I clung to.

Whatever happened, I knew I would have a great experience with teammates and I was excited to experience the thrill of an IRONMAN race again.

Race Weekend

My parents and I drove down Thursday night after work, and went through athlete check-in Friday morning. It was official, no turning back now! I had fun with my parents walking around athlete village and exploring the small, friendly town of Cambridge, MD. We ate at a cute little restaurant, took pictures, walked along the shore and checked in my bike and gear bags. And thanks to Got Chocolate Milk, my parents and I had VIP status for the race. I was extremely grateful, for I knew my parents were going to be treated well while I was out on the course for who knew how many hours!!

15785_10100619125295025_1733195813188473508_n

I also had a blast meeting some of my Got Chocolate Milk teammates — all of them have raced multiple IRONMANs and are pretty much all around a-m-a-z-i-n-g. They make these races look like a breeze, and being around them really helped to calm my nerves. We talked, we laughed … and they even convinced me to take a pyramid picture. Days Weeks before an IRONMAN, I walk around like bubble boy trying not to hurt anything, so getting on my hands and knees with someone climbing on my back was kind of a big deal for me. 😉 But it aligned perfectly with my goal of just trying to have FUN and enjoy the weekend with great people, no matter what the outcome! 10689607_10100619290883185_7422440405209922724_n

Race Day

Got to transition around 4:30 am or so … checked my bike, gear (all okay and ready to go!) and met up with the Team one more time for some pictures, laughs, and final “Good Lucks!”

10415730_10100625347610455_7095712343841496955_n 10628593_10204756023485698_2943570386079252724_n

The Swim ~ 2.4 miles (01:45:16)

With a high focus on nutrition, I remembered to have a GU about 30 min. prior to the swim start. After that, I put on my wetsuit, hugged my parents, and self-seeded myself in with the 1:30 expected swim time group. There were no pros at this race, so when the cannon fired at 6:50 am, the age-groupers immediately began entering the water.

10696380_10100622504542985_2914863179265672122_n

Entering the water was a little slow, but we still all managed to be in the water by 7:05 or so. As we all had to enter through a narrow boat ramp, it was a little bottlenecked at first. But once we made our first right turn, it opened up. Having only swam in lakes (free-style anyways), I wasn’t quite sure what to expect in the Choptank River. It was brackish water, so half fresh, half salt. Thankfully, it wasn’t very different from my past open-water experiences. You could definitely taste the salt, but it wasn’t overpowering. But the water was dirty, and I couldn’t see anything. It was nothing but black/brownish water, then foggy cloud for the entire two-loop swim.

10173533_10100649670317555_8109907423955193705_n-1

Knowing we had 2.4 miles to cover, I knew it was going to be a decent amount of time in the water. It was also a little choppy being out there, but not as choppy as the swim I had done in Lake George 3 weeks prior. I just tried to find my rhythm, stay swimming in the right direction, and to stay calm. If I did those things, I knew I’d be getting out of the water eventually. But dang, did the swim feel lonnnnggggg. I felt like I was swimming forever!!

And I guess I was. For when I finally reached the exit and saw my watch, my Garmin read a time of 1:45 — 15 minutes slower than my goal time. But even so, I was very happy to be exiting the swim! One part was DONE, and I made the 2:20 cut-off!! And I later learned that just about every athlete had a slower than expected swim time, by about 10 minutes or so, due to a current. Its weird to think that I was out there swimming for that long of a time, non-stop … no touching bottom, no grabbing onto a raft, etc. –> When I first took up swimming back in March, I had NO idea how I would finish a half-Ironman swim of 1.2 miles. It’s amazing seeing yourself progress, and to break through ceilings you previously believed in!!

T-1 ~ (10:32)

Coming out of the water, I was smiling, until I took off my goggles — OMG. I felt like I ripped off all the skin around my eyes. Those babies were super-sunctioned to my face … it hurt!! But the sting quickly wore off and I was back to smiling and running my way through T-1, smiling and waving to my parents! There was a quick stop at the wet-suit strippers, then it was off to the changing tent to switch into my bike gear!

The Bike ~ 112 miles (07:19:48)

The 112-mile journey was extremely scenic, and pancake flat. Totally different elevation compared to Lake Placid. Of course, there are pros and cons to a flat course, just like there are to a hilly course. With a flat course, you get no respite from pedaling. And if its windy, it can feel like you are climbing, except there is no reward of a downhill. But man, did we really luck out weather-wise! The wind was minimal: under 10 mph all day! It was just a beautiful, sunny day!! The weather could have easily been different; Cambridge often has much, much windier days. But as with any IRONMAN, weather is out of our control. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best. And I think we were blessed with the best!

0890_016829

The first half was smooth-sailing. I was cruising at a moving speed of about 17 mph per my Garmin, and I was all smiles. I tried to sit back, pedal and enjoy all the wonderful scenery – it kind of reminded me of movie The Lion King! And at one point I looked down and saw a ladybug on my handlebars. That made me smile, as I took it as a good luck sign. And I immediately made a wish that I would reach the finish line — a wish I thought about many times during the next 10+ hours!

I was also EXTREMELY focused on eating and drinking during this segment, since nutrition is a huge weakness of mine. I struggle to consume enough calories and fluids … and my past plans have failed. Severe dehydration ended my day in LP, and when I experiemented with new things in my last half, I faced extreme stomach pains. So even though I was focusing on it, I didn’t totally know what to expect, or how I would feel. It was going to be another day of experimenting.

I made a bottle of Hammer Perpetuem, a high-calorie endurance drink (my bottle had 540 calories) at T-1, and again half-way through the bike. It kind of tasted like chalk, but it was an easy way to get calories and fluids in at the same time. I also had CLIF bars, Lara Bars, high-calorie granola bars I bought at Whole Foods, salt tabs (didn’t end up taking any), and a bunch of pre-made packets of GU Brew, an electrolyte powder I would dump in my water bottles at the aid stations.

0890_001182

I tried to drink at least one full bottle of water/GU Brew every half-hour, and consume 250-300 calories per hour –> more than triple what I did during the bike portion of Lake Placid. I think I succeeded, and for the most part, I felt good. And having to stop and quickly use the restroom each hour during the bike, I knew I was drinking enough.

The last 40 miles were rough. I’ve rode centuries before, both flat and hilly, and I’ve never had my toes hurt as bad as they did then. I had to mentally start breaking down the miles into segments of 5 to keep going; and I seriously contemplated asking a volunteer if they had a pocket knife or something so I could cut the tops of my shoes with. I didn’t, I kept pushing through, but I worried how the run would be with my toes being in so much pain. I was worried.  … But I wasn’t alone. I stopped at one point to just put my feet down for a second on the ground, and another biker said she was experiementing the same thing … she told me to try pulling up more on the upstroke, and that did seem to help relieve some pressure on my toes for the final 12 miles in.

0890_006454

And I was OH, SOOO happy when those 112 miles were done!! And just like in LP, I was super grateful for no flats or mechanical issues!!

T-2 (9:39)

I pulled into the transition area after 112 long miles, and immediately saw my parents waiting for me. I think I looked better at this point than I did in LP (no tears!), but I also knew the next and final segment was going to be a longggg road to the finish. It was going to require every ounce of my being to keep moving forward. To start the journey, I knew I needed fuel, so walking out of T-2, I ate the chocolate brownie LaraBar I had left from the bike (220 calories).

The Run ~ 26.2 miles (07:03:32)

Starting the run, the sun was beating down strong with the temp being around 80 degrees. It was HOT, and there was virtually no shade on the course. Athletes who had already been on the run course for some time looked pretty drenched in sweat. Fearful of what happened to me in LP, I decided to start out walking. I figured when the sun went down I could start running. I knew I drank wayyy more during this bike portion, but I knew dehydration was still a risk since I was basically winging my entire nutrition plan.

And the run is where I started to struggle big-time with nutrition. The LaraBar I ate at T-2 was basically the last food I could stomach, besides a handful of potato chips at one of the first aid stations. After that, I survived 26.2 miles on nothing but water, Coca-Cola, and chicken broth. Definitely not ideal. I tried to grab 2 of the tiny cups of water at every aid station, but I was worried about my electrolytes and salt intake. I’ve heard horror stories of athletes having to be hospitalized from over-hydrating on water and depleted sodium levels. So I still tried to get things down, but I gagged trying to drink the Gatorade Perform, and I did the same thing with GU’s. After one such attempt with a GU, I thought I was going to hurl right on the course … which lucky for me, the photographer happened to capture:

0890_030007

…And it had the potential to be such a great shot!! 😉

The run was comprised of three loops, each loop being a little over 8 miles. I finally saw my teammates on the first loop of the run, who all gave me hugs! And being able to see my parents two times every loop was super motivating for me … but I also fell apart each time I saw them. Yes, there were tears. Lots of tears. I would cry, shake my head, and tell them I couldn’t do it. Every time I passed them, it felt like it would be forever before I would see them again, and I doubted if I could finish.

But I kept moving forward, and when my Team Chocolate Milk Teammates were finished, they were out on the course by the finishing area to cheer me on as I passed. And Dougin gave me great pep talks to keep going, making me believe I could do it. They were tracking my pace, and kept telling me all I had to do was keep walking, and I would finish. He told me I would be much happier with myself if I didn’t give up, and I needed that reminder. It couldn’t have been truer.

But by mile 11, my legs and toes hurt so badly I felt like I was walking on stress fractures. And knowing I wasn’t even HALF-WAY through was ROUGH. But talking to other athletes who were walking helped to distract me, and it was comforting to know I wasn’t alone. Everyone out there was experiencing the same thing, and no one was giving up. And everyone roots for each other. Such a beautiful thing.

I grew hungrier as the miles ticked by as I started the second lap, and I just kept trying to drink Coca-Cola (and I never drink soda!) … It was the only thing I could stomach with calories. The second lap was long … and making that third and final turnaround was the hardest. As it was about 9:30 or so at night, just about everyone was making the left hand turn towards the finish. They were done. I had to turn right, and venture into the darkness for another 8+ miles. I kept trying to tell myself just one more lap, just one more lap … but I was bawling as I ran at the only pace I could … a snails pace.

And then, out of the massive crowd, this woman came up beside me, running alongside the outside of the barrier, yelling, “I DON’T KNOW WHO YOU ARE, BUT DO NOT GIVE UP!!! I DON’T RUN, AND I AM RUNNING NOW TO TELL YOU THIS! YOU CAN DO THIS; DO NOT GIVE UP!!!” She brought a smile to my face as the tears fell, and I can’t even tell you how much this stranger’s act of kindness impacted my race. Her words literally helped carry me through that final stretch … I will never forget it!

And when I passed my parents again on that final loop, my dad started walking with me along the sidewalk. We promised my mom we’d see her soon, and with his help (He stayed with me for two miles, waited for me to head out to the out-and-back, and then walked back those two miles with me!!), we saw her again around 11:15. I had about ONE MILE LEFT!!

We knew at this point I would make it … and the three of us headed towards the finish area from transition as one. When we reached the finish area, they went into the VIP tent as I headed up the street to do the last 1/2 mile turn-a-round. This time, turning LEFT into the cheering crowd instead of right back into the darkness. … I couldn’t have been more excited!

The Finish (16:28:47)

The finish was everything I had dreamed it would be, and more. To finally see and hear the finish around 11:30 pm, after starting at 7:00 am, was unreal. SO. MANY. EMOTIONS. I will always remember the song that was blaring as I ran (lets be real, waddled) down the finisher chute with the largest smile on my face and tears in my eyes – Pink’s “Raise your Glass.” People were yelling, clapping, whistling, and wildly offering their hands for some awesome high-fives.

photo copy 30890_043010

And then I heard the six magical words I had waited so long to hear, “Erika Morrissette, you are an IRONMAN!!”As I crossed the finish, I waved to my parents and teammates who were right there in the VIP tent. I can’t tell them enough how much it meant to me to have them there. … I DID IT.

I’ve dreamed about crossing that finish line for over a year, and it will forever go down as one of the best days of my life. Even though I am extremely slow and finished almost last; even though I finished with less than 32 minutes to spar before the 17-hour cutoff. Honestly, I couldn’t care less about my time. For me, finishing signified so much more than just a time. I’ve quit so many things in my life, but today, I didn’t quit. Throughout this entire journey, I didn’t quit. I perservered when times were rough. I dug deep and found strength I didn’t know I had. I believed in myself and kept moving forward. I proved to myself soooo many things, and I will be forever grateful for that.

10377173_10100622499582925_796291663358295647_n

You doubt yourself. You say you can’t do something. And then you DO IT … There is NO greater feeling!!

photoAfterwards, I immediately caught up with my parents and teammates (who all rocked the course, and who stayed to watch me finish!) — for some hugs and congratulatory words. I was hungry, but I couldn’t stomach any food directly after the race. Instead I grabbed two bottles of chocolate milk (my always go-to!) and it has never tasted better! I drank them sitting with my teammates in the VIP area, talking about our days as we watched/cheered on the final finishers of the night.

10665143_10100625347211255_8599460145335627080_nWhen midnight fast approached, everyone started to head out, and I said my goodbyes to my teammates. I cannot even imagine how I would have gotten back to T-1 to pick up my gear and bike had I gone to the race solo. Again, SOOO glad my parents were there! My dad was able to grab my stuff from transition while I was on the run, so he had the car packed and ready to go. And instead of having to walk 1+ mile to the car, he grabbed the car and picked my mom and I up basically right at the finish.

But without a hotel room, we were heading straight back home to Albany. Note to self: after working out for approx. 17 hours, getting in the backseat of a car for a 7+ hour drive is not the brightest idea! I can only imagine what I must have looked like walking to the bathroom at rest areas. I don’t believe I’ve ever been as stiff and sore in my life!! BUT — there was absolutely no complaining from me! And since I couldn’t sleep (I was on CLOUD NINE!! — and maybeee the 4 liters of Coca-Cola played a role), I just sat in the back, rehashing the day, with the BIGGEST smile on my face … for the entire car ride home.

I think I am still smiling — 3 months later! Just the best weekend!! SO THANKFUL for every single person who helped me, believed in me … and for all of the amazingly kind words I received from friends and family. I am so blessed to have such caring people in my life!! This experiernce WOULD NOT have been the same without you all — so again, I thank you from the bottom of my heart!!

And last but not least … if dragging my parents to MD to spectate for a short 17-hour race wasn’t bad enough, they surprised me with this treat Sunday night. ❤

10672317_10100625350369925_5261560992750143135_n

I wont tell you how big my slice was 😉

And … that 140.6 bumper sticker is finally on my car! 🙂

IRONMAN Lake Placid – My First DNF

I really hoped, and had actually started to believe, that I’d be starting this post differently. Sadly, I am not. I did not get a chance to cross that finish line on July 27th; I did not become an IRONMAN in Lake Placid. I understand it was “just a race”, and that there will be more. And with so much hurt and pain in the world, my DNF seems so trivial. But at the same time, I can’t help but be upset. I devoted a solid 6 months to training, 15-20 hours a week. I skipped out on plans with friends to drag myself to swim classes in the dead of winter when the temperature was barely breaking zero, missed out on lazy poolside days with family to bike 60, 80 or 100 miles weekend after weekend. And to make it SO CLOSE to the finish – within TEN miles – was devastating. One of the hardest parts to cope with is the fact that I know I could’ve made it the full 140.6 miles if I had done a couple of things differently … I made some big mistakes that ended up costing me the race. More on that later…

In helping me deal with my failure, my friends and family came to the rescue and knew exactly what I needed:

 tumblr_n2365hljkv1ql5yr7o1_500

Joking … sort of ;-).

But in all seriousness, all of the support I received from my family and friends was AMAZING. I felt so loved, and I am so thankful for all of the kind words; all the texts, messages, calls, flowers, cookies (which didn’t last long) … everything meant so much to me! It was much appreciated, and will never be forgotten. It made me feel proud of what I did accomplish and inspired me to try again (although I’m pretty sure “never again” went through my mind at least 100 times during the race). Funny how that works.

And I am proud because I did give it my all, and made it over 130 miles before my day came to an end. All I can do now is learn from the experience and to try to correct my mistakes. And try again. And again. And again. And with dedication, perseverance and commitment I can only hope that one day I will get to experience that feeling that comes with running down the finisher chute amongst the crowd of cheering spectators hearing Mike Reilly yell, “Erika Morrissette, YOU are an IRONMAN!” … One day. Until then –

10441165_10152427217582421_8448483557309978450_n

So without further ado, here’s a more detailed look into first IRONMAN attempt… Hope ya got some time because it’s a little really lengthy! … Sorry! But keep reading, it gets quite positive at the end! 🙂

Race Morning

Our alarms went off at 3:15 am, and my parents and I were on the road headed to Lake Placid by 3:30. Staying in Plattsburgh, we had an hour drive to the start, but it went by quickly. I had time to wake up, eat my breakfast, and think about the day ahead. Upon arrival, I first had to get body marked (#836 – no turning back now!) before I was able to head into transition to make sure everything was all set. I was pretty quick; my bike and gear bags looked good to go! This is one of my favorite pictures of the transition area that IRONMAN posted to their site:

10499562_630135920434237_4836430339229520616_o

I then met up with my Got Chocolate Milk teammate Anthony and staff member Kelsey who flew in to support us. Who are both AWESOME by the way! We talked a while, but time went quickly and before we knew it we were saying our goodbyes. Anthony and I wished each other luck, zipped up our wetsuits and headed into the sea of pink and green swim caps.

photo

DSC02403

Where's Waldo?! ... Can you find me?! ;-)

Where’s Waldo?! … Can you find me?! 😉

To be standing amongst 2,500 other athletes awaiting the start of the 16th annual IRONMAN Lake Placid was surreal. I didn’t know how the day would pan out, but I was so grateful to just be there. To me, it was like being at the Olympics… it is probably the biggest sporting event I will ever have the opportunity to participate in. I was determined to take it all in and try to enjoy it all.

The Swim (Swam about 2.1 -2.2 miles, but only 1.2 miles is counted ~ 45:44)

The cannon sounded and the pros were off!

DSC02416

Us age-groupers would soon follow, entering into the water via a rolling start beginning at 6:30 am. The weather was fairly nice at the start, but by the end of the first loop, the weather turned for the worse. It was pouring rain as I exited the lake before beginning my second loop. And GOOD NEWS – I can swim in the rain – Although I got a little wet 😉 It was definitely a fear of mine, for I had never done it – so I was happy I was okay!

I continued on, absorbed in the repetitious motion of free style, trying to keep myself a little off to the side so I wouldn’t hit (but mainly to not BE hit) by any other swimmer. But being off in my own area also reminded me how much I need to work on my sighting. Yup, I may have started swimming a little out the way, multiple times. But as the time ticked by and the rain kept up, I just kept my rhythym and counted down the buoys as I passed them.

Then, as I was making my way around the second red turn buoy, meaning I only had 0.5 miles left, I heard yelling. I stopped to see what the commotion was, and the lifeguards were screaming, “SWIMMER’S THE SWIM IS CANCELED, SWIM TO THE NEAREST SHORE NOW.” At first, everyone was confused and didn’t know what to do. It was kind of chaotic. We didn’t know why the swim was being called until we saw the huge bolts of lightning ripple through the sky and the loud rumblings of thunder. That got my attention. And with each bolt of lightning you could hear the crowd roar back on the beach. I was 0.5 mile from the swim exit and a little scared.

Lifeguards on boats started literally pulling some people from the water:

swim

I wasn’t near a boat, so I tried to remain calm and started swimming with the other swimmers around me towards a small dock about 0.1 – 0.2 miles away. It was all jagged rocks on the bottom, so swimmers were swimming as close to the shore as they could get.

img_2585

Some guys helped pull me on to the dock, and then we proceeded to walk 0.5 miles barefoot, in the pouring rain, down Mirror Lake Drive towards the transition area so we could hop on our bikes to begin our next leg. Just a short 112-mile ride through the Adirondacks. I was beginning to think we were all crazy.

*Even though some people managed to finish the entire 2.4 mile swim before it was canceled, IRONMAN took out the second loop and T-1 out of the official time.

The Bike (112 miles ~ 7:39:28)

Just like we did in the swim, we were fortunate to have mother nature on our side as we began the 112-mile mountainous bike ride with roughly 7,000 feet of climbing.

This picture says it all:

-ec7a01d24a4d2be7

Yup. Nothing like starting the bike during a massive storm. For some reason, I always imagined my first IRONMAN attempt would be in ideal weather. WRONG. Anyways, it made a for a very slow start. The roads were slick, and the beginning has a steep 6-mile downhill. I’ve always liked long decent’s, they are like nature’s playground on a bike. But in those weather conditions, it was treacherous.

The rains continued for a good 20 miles, but eventually it dried up for a good chunk of the bike, but more rain and storms did move in in the afternoon. 

The first loop went by fast, and I actually really enjoyed it. I was smiling, trying to just enjoy the day. And once the rain stopped, it was a BEAUTIFUL course. I loved it. I thought about how I definitely want to go back there to ride. And I only stopped twice on the bike – both at the same aid station. I refilled my Camelbak and quickly used the bathroom – although surprisingly there was quite the line. I waited about 5 minutes! But it was a good excuse to stretch and just enjoy being off the bike for a second.

DSC02424

The second loop was harder; 112 miles is just a long time. I was ready to get it off around mile 70. And then the second set of storms, with punishing rain and wind didn’t help matters. But I still felt strong on the bike and finished in 7 hours and 39 minutes, super thankful for no flats or mechanical issues!! 

The Run (Only made it 16 miles, approx. 3 hours)

After 112 hilly miles on the bike, I was HAPPY to be getting off the bike. But you probably couldn’t tell because, well, I was sort of having a meltdown. Knowing I had 26.2 miles left in front of me just made me a tad bit emotional. And question my abilities. You know, the usual. I saw my parents and started tearing up, but when I saw Chris while walking towards the transition tent, I lost it. I met Chris a couple of years ago and have run two Ragnar’s with him, so it was great to see a familiar face. I started crying, saying, “I don’t think I can do this.” Well. Chris was awesome. He talked me off the ledge and gave me the inspiration and motivation I needed to continue on. So off I went into the transition tent to change. I had my gear bag in one hand, a CLIF bar in the other, and I was still crying. I must have looked like I needed a little help because the athlete next to me, who was getting assistance from a volunteer, said “I can handle the rest if you want to help her.” That poor volunteer. I was a mess. And I’m thankful to the athlete next to me who also gave me the strength to keep going! After changing, and leaving the tent, the wave of cheering spectators yelling, “Go, ERIKA, or “GO, CHOCOLATE MILK GIRL” lifted up my spirits and I really started to feel great. So much better from just a few minutes ago. 

Yes, I was sore from the bike, but I actually started to feel pretty good once I started. I finished the first 5K averaging around a 9:30 min./mile.

14788730055_4d6d443057_o

DSC02428

I pressed on, keeping with my walk/run shuffle. And the first 10 miles actually went by fairly fast. I kept trying to focus on what was waiting for me at the end of this “short” 26.2 miles. The medal, the hat, the T-shirt. My parents. My teammates. Chocolate Milk. A moment I would never forget. A milestone in my life. A dream realized. Bragging rights forever. The reason to get the M-Dot tattoo. A reason to splurge on the shiny finisher jacket.  … You get the drift. And as it was a two-loop out and back course – I started seeing some familiar faces, which was nice. I saw Anthony, JP – who is another teammate, and a bunch of people from the Capital District Tri Club. But I kept feeling progressively worse, and worse. I didn’t know what my body needed. I thought maybe salt, so I drank some chicken broth. Around mile 15, I was in a dark place again, but I’m thankful I ran into another familiar face – Keith, another Ragnar buddy I met a few years ago. He gave me a pep talk, a hug, some ice and made me believe I could still do this. I had over 4 hours to go just 10 miles. All I had to do was keep moving forward.

But around mile 16, my vision started going. I was shaking, and I did not feel right. At all. I’ve passed out before, and losing my vision is always the first sign. “No, no, no. NO.” I knew right then and there my day was over. I slowed, and eventually sat down on the course. A course official in a golf cart drove by, who got me in and said she was going to be driving me to the nearest med tent, about 1 mile up the road. I blacked out right as we pulled in; everyone had to help me from falling out of the cart. They moved me to a camping chair and started taking some vitals; immediately they said my blood pressure was super low. I kept coming in and out, but I still couldn’t see. They were asking me questions, like if I knew what day it was, and if I’d eaten anything purple. I had not, so they were saying I was cyanotic. I had no idea what that meant … I was like, “What?! What does that mean? Am I going to be okay?” I’m not going to lie, I was a little scared. Then they started an IV right there on the side of the road and called for an ambulance. They told me my race was over.

Getting into the ambulance, they piled 3 blankets on my and turned up the heat. I was extremely cold, and still couldn’t stop shaking. They took more tests, including an EKG and gave me oxygen through my nose; my O2 was very low. I did NOT picture my day ending like that.

They took me to the large Medical Tent right next to the finish line, where the nicest doctors and nurses took wonderful care of me. I was able to call my parents, but I must have been blubbering a little, because it took a little while for them to comprehend:

Me: “Hi, Dad … I didn’t make it … I’m in the Medical Tent by the Finish.”

Dad: “What?! … What are you saying?!”

Me: I’m in the M-E-D-I-C-A-L  T-E-N-T by the finish.

Dad: What?! I can’t understand you. Here, I’m putting mom on.”

…. Finally they understood and rushed to where I was.

BUT, the Medical Tent was so packed that they weren’t allowed in. Almost every bed was taken … there were probably 20 people around me on IV’s. C-r-a-z-y. 

And I literally had the cutest doctor that had to be fresh out of medical school, and a handsome PhD student conducting research on dehydration at IRONMAN events (Yup – I’m now part of a research study). Any who, they were super caring and attentive, and asked me questions as they took more vitals. Then they said they needed to know how many times I went to the bathroom on the course. Great. 

“Well, I went once at T-1, once early on during the bike…[pause] and I peed once in my wetsuit.”  – That was supposed to be MY little secret! I was so embarrassed! I expected a reaction similar to this:

tumblr_inline_mm4pzs1OFk1qz4rgp

But the doctors just laughed. I literally debated for almost 20 minutes about whether or not I could hold it — and believe me – it is not easy to go while swimming freestyle!

Moving on…once I was feeling better they brought me chocolate milk so I could properly refuel (everyone was calling me the chocolate milk girl :-)) and volunteers were even walking around with boxes of pizza. YES, please! I was so hungry. Who would have thought Pizza and chocolate milk would have made such a perfect combination. … But they were amazing. 

Even though the Medical Tent was was the last place I wanted to be, I can’t help but be SO GRATEFUL for the help of everyone there. So dedicated, caring, supportive, kind … the people were the reason I still had a smile on my face. 

Nutrition/Hydration – This is the part I majorly screwed up on.

Obviously, I have to work on this. Like, a lot. And luckily, there are about a million articles out there with great advice. Which, again, I obviously should have read before hand. You live, you learn I guess.

Before the race (approx. 3:45 am): One plain Thomas’ bagel with reduced fat cream cheese; One bottle of G2 (45 calorie Gatorade in Blue Raspberry)

Swim: Nothing. I meant to have a GU or something right before, but I was so caught up in the moment I forgot to bring it. #FAIL

Bike: Two 1.5 Liter Camelbaks of water; 2 bottles of Powerbar Perform (170 calories each); 2 CLIF bars (250 calories each); 1 GU (100 calories); 1 Bonk Breaker (125 calories)

T-2: 1 CLIF Bar (260 calories)

Run: Tried to grab a small cup of water at every aid station, and a small cup of pretzels. Also had a cup of chicken broth around mile 13 and a cup of Coca-Cola around mile 14.

So that’s it. For 130 miles. I probably needed to have at least doubled that amount. WHYYYYY did I not eat and drink more?!? It was stupid, and I have no one else but myself to blame. I’m embarrassed because it is such a rookie mistake, one that everyone cautions you about. I should have known better. They say nutrition is the fourth leg of triathlon, and I blew it. I can just try to learn from this and focus on it in the future.

Thank You

I have been a member of Team Chocolate Milk for the past two years, and I owe a gigantic THANK YOU to Got Chocolate Milk for providing me this race entry and believing in me. Having never completed a triathlon before, they gave me a chance and a race bib to IMLP back in January. I have always been a fan of chocolate milk after my workouts. I trust it, and it’s got me to the start line strong and healthy. And a HUGE congrats to my Team Chocolate Milk teammate Anthony who placed 2nd in his Age Group – earning him a slot at the IRONMAN World Championships at KONA!! I can’t wait to see him rock the course on TV in a few short months!!

photo copy

And a HUGE Shout-out to all the amazing volunteers on the course. Even in the pouring rain, they always had a smile on their face and were willing to do anything for you. Their goal for the day was to help every athlete realize their dream of becoming an IRONMAN, and their kindness and generosity cannot be repaid. The same holds true for the thousands of cheering spectators. The people cheering us on literally give us strength to carry on. They inspire us, believe in us; they make us all feel special and unique. They make what we have worked towards so magical. 

In Summary

I wouldn’t trade this journey for ANYTHING. I will always look back on this opportunity with a smile. I loved the training – the days you crushed a workout or just pushed through. The days you doubted yourself and faced your fears. The days you stepped out of your comfort zone. The days you gained more and more confidence. The days you found inner, and outer strength you didn’t know you had. The days you met other crazy-minded people like yourself. The days you devoured a pizza and pint of ice cream and not felt [as] guilty.

This is just the beginning of a longer journey… one I look forward to being on. 

One last thing…Chocolate Milk cheers to all the athletes who Became One on 7/27/14; It was a very inspirational weekend seeing so many people fight and push and see their dream of finishing 140.6 miles come true. 

And to those who are just starting on their own path chasing down a dream. Remember, Anything Is Possible. 

1621756_524727424308421_1647922070_n

Oh, and if you see someone in the near future driving around with a 130.2 bumper sticker, that’s probably me. 😉

IRONMAN Syracuse 70.3 Race Recap

I’ve delayed writing this post because I am not even sure where to begin. But in summary – my first triathlon – Half-Ironman Syracuse – was an absolutely magical day and I am SO incredibly grateful to have had such an incredible first tri experience! It will go down as one of my favorite days, ever! I hope you have some time on your hands, as it’s a little lengthy … and I hope you don’t mind some pictures … because there are A LOT!! 🙂

This one pretty much sums up how happy I was:

CT0740_025122

But let me start from the beginning:

Pre-Race
I’ll start with packing. Yup. Packing. For this race, let’s just say it was a little more intense than my previous races. I followed a list in hopes of helping me not forget anything, and I laid everything out on the floor trying to keep everything organized. It was a little overwhelming…

10416584_10100536445371255_4828132443094065408_n
My friend Becky helped, and slept over Friday night … we made pizza and called it an early night. We were planning to leave for Syracuse as soon as we woke up. It took me some time to fall asleep, but I eventually did and the morning came quickly. We quickly finished packing up the car, and I hugged my mom and dad good-bye before Becky and I hit the road right around 9 am. We of course made a quick stop at my favorite place – Starbucks – and the drive went fast as we jammed out to 90’s throwback music. Gotta love Satellite radio!

We pulled into Jamesville Park in Syracuse right around noon. It was a picture perfect day and it was exciting seeing the set-up for an Ironman for the first time! I was intimidated as I walked around amongst people who looked like hard-core athletes and seasoned triathletes. Thousand dollar bikes, Ironman tats … these people knew what they were doing. Here I was, attempting my first triathlon…ever. I tried to take it all in and stay calm, reminding myself that everyone starts somewhere. Everyone had to have that first race. And I knew I wasn’t alone; I knew there was also many first-timers like me there. I had to try and stay focused on myself, and to trust in my training. I had to stop comparing myself to everyone else and how ready they looked.

After perusing the IRONMAN store (in which I couldn’t resist buying a couple of shirts!), I headed over to athlete check-in. I got my bib (#184), some stickers for my bike and helmet, an athlete wristband to be worn at all-times and my timing chip to wear during the race. You had to wear it on your ankle – and it resembled the ankle bracelet one must wear while serving house arrest. It was pretty serious.

After checking in, Becky and I sat through the mandatory athlete briefing, where they went over what to expect and various rules everyone had to follow. After that, it was time to check my bike into the transition area. We then drove the first 12 miles of the bike course to see how bad the hills were… as the course chart listed on the IRONMAN site had me a little nervous …

Capture-1024x760

There were some beasts in there, but overall I didn’t think it was as bad as I was expecting. … But one way or another, I would find out tomorrow!

Hungry, we decided to hit up an early dinner before the restaurants got packed. I wanted Italian, so we headed to the closest Olive Garden. Being 5 pm we didn’t encounter a wait, but almost the entire restaurant was full of athletes – you could spot them wearing those blue athlete wristbands. I downed 2 breadsticks, a bowl of soup and the cheese ravioli with extra meat sauce. Everything was delicious! I was stuffed, but it was the perfect pre-race meal!

I had booked a room at the host hotel – The Crowne Plaza back in January when I booked the race. We checked in around 6:45, but they said that we would have to wait a little while as they prepared a room for us. They assured us it would be no longer than 30 min. Well, they were wrong. We waited patiently for those 30 minutes … and 30 minutes more… until finally I complained. How could you not have rooms clean that late at night when reservations were made almost 6 months ago?! It’s not like we were checking in early. Our room should have been ready at check-in time, which was hourssss ago. The front desk staff finally said they themselves would go help housekeeping. Really?! Finally, after I was really starting to get frustrated, we got our room keys around 8:30. When you have a 3:30 am wake-up call and stuff to do before heading to bed, it was unacceptable that we had to wait that long to get into our room. They gave us 25% off the room and apologized – I was just so happy to finally be in a room. I quickly got settled and organized the things I would need for tomorrow. I set every alarm I had for 3:30, and arranged for a wake-up call as well. Definitely did not want to oversleep!

Right before I was going to go to bed, Becky handed me a card she and a couple of other people had signed wishing me good luck and telling me I got this! It was such a nice surprise – and so incredibly thoughtful! I can’t thank Becky enough for coming with me and being my support crew! Not many people would jump at the occasion to go away for a weekend with lights out at 9 pm on a Saturday, a 3:30 wake-up call and then, like, 8 hours or spectating. But she was amazing – she was a great cheerleader and got a bunch of awesome pictures. We’ve been friends forever and her friendship means so much to me – I can’t wait until we are racing IRONMAN’s together!

Race Morning
We awoke at 3:30 am sharp to the sound of three alarms and the loud ring of the room phone. I had probably only gotten about 4 – 5 hours of sleep, but I hopped out of bed excited for the day to come. I quickly got ready and we were out of the room by 4. The hotel had a quick grab-and-go breakfast, and COFFEE! I immediately grabbed a cup and inhaled a plain bagel with cream cheese before we hit the road. I made a slight wrong turn and momentarily freaked out about being late and missing the race, but after an illegal U-Turn (shhh!) – problem was averted. We were at the race site and parked a couple of minutes before transition even opened. We waited 20 min. or so then it was off to get body marked, set up my gear in the transition area and then count down for the day to begin!

The Swim ~ 1.2 miles ~ 41:49 (02:09/100m)

IMG_0509

I was in the first age-group wave after the pros went off at 7. After the first cannon signaled the start of the race and the pros went off, our wave headed out in the lake where we had to tread water for a few minutes while waiting for our cannon to sound at 7:05. It was a weird couple of minutes, knowing the start of my first triathlon was finally here. I was all types of emotions, but I definitely had a smile upon my face.

0740_001033When the cannon finally sounded, it was like being in The Hunger Games. Everyone reacted and started swimming. It took a couple of minutes to get into a rhythm and to get into a place where I wasn’t getting hit or hitting anyone else. With hands and feet flying everywhere and your face in the water, it is easy to get kicked or punched by other swimmers – all part of the experience! It was a struggle those first couple of minutes; I kept telling myself I was okay, there were lifeguards everywhere … and to just keep moving forward; The swim wouldn’t last forever. 

I’m somewhere in this mix:

IMG_0520

In the beginning I kept popping out of the water a bunch of times to try and sight a spot I could move to where I wouldn’t hit other swimmers, and just seeing the lifeguards helped me to relax a little bit more. I told myself to just swim to the next bouy and then I could reassess the situation if I needed to; pause on the lifeguards kayak if I needed to. I told myself that was always an option – but I also kept reminding myself that I COULD do this. I had done this distance in training at Crystal Lake, and I was fine. So I just kept moving forward. I kept counting down the buoys as I passed them, and was looking forward to the turn about ½ mile up. About 15 minutes in, I was finally getting into the groove and was like, I got this – and, “wow, that baby shampoo in the goggles really worked because they aren’t foggy.” Then WHAM! Kicked in the face and my goggles go sliding across my face. I popped out of the water to quickly fix my goggles – they were fine, but no longer crystal clear… HELLO FOG. I just kept moving forward and loved seeing the beach get closer and closer. When I finally reached the Swim Exit, my Garmin read 41 minutes – my fastest swim time for 1.2 miles yet!! I was all smiles knowing that I had one part down – I had survived the swim!

T-1 ~ Swim-to-Bike ~ 8:52
As I hopped out of the lake, I immediately saw Becky and gave her a big wave.

0740_016015

Then I started pulling down the zipper as I approached the wetsuit strippers – enthusiastic high school kids who volunteered their time to help 2,500 athletes get quickly out of their skin-tight wetsuits. As it was my first experience with a wetsuit stripper – they were awesome! I laid down on the grass and they had my suit off in no time! (For which the guys were advised to make sure their swim trunks were tightly tied ;-)) After that – there was quite a distance between the swim exit and the transition area, so I walked briskly/jogged to where my bike was.

IMG_0524As people were rushing all around me, trying to be as fast as possible (some even jumping onto their bike with their shoes already clipped in) I busted out my bag of cotton balls and rubbing alcohol to put some drops in my ears… had to dry out the water! People probably thought I was crazy! Then I used a bottle of water to wash the grass/sand off my feet before I put on my biking shoes and socks. Obviously I have some work to do on my transition times!

The Bike ~ 56 miles ~ 3:20:44 (16.74 mph)
The bike is the longest part of a tri, but it is also my favorite. If you had asked me this question 2 years ago, I probably would have had a different answer … I didn’t even start cycling until about a year and a half ago when I signed up for the 4K for Cancer… and then that 4,000 mile trek to San Diego occurred. Lots of hours on the bike will either make you love it or hate it. Luckily, I fell in love with the sport! I hopped on the bike still smiling after the swim ready to tackle the 56-mile ride. Studying the course elevation chart on IRONMANs website, I knew the first 12 or so miles would be the toughest, and then it looked like smooth sailing. Yes the first 12 miles were tough, but they weren’t nearly as hard as I thought they were going to be. I was expecting more of a constant climb in the beginning; like a wall. But it wasn’t like that. There were a lot of hills, yes, and some steep. But there was always a flat section at the top before the next climb. I felt strong and it really went by fast. Before I knew it, my Garmin read 12 miles in and I knew it was time to crank it up a notch and enjoy the rest of the ride.

0740_014309

0740_006390

There were some good descents and flat sections that followed, with perfect country scenery. There was the first aid station at mile 14, and another one around mile 30. I didn’t stop at either; I had my camelbak full of water (I think I was the only one wearing one btw) and some food in my jersey pockets. I did eat a CLIF bar on the bike about half-way in, and a Gu a couple miles later. I was feeling great on the bike until about mile 40, when my hip or something started to bother me. I’m not even sure what it was; I was wearing newer shorts I had only wore one other times, so maybe it was the padding … all I know is it slowed me down and made those last 20 miles slower that I would have liked. That doesn’t usually happen to me and I’m used to long miles on the bike, so I was like, “wtf??!” I kept thinking how would I be able to finish the ride if this happened in Lake Placid. PRAYING all goes well for the 140.6 miles of that Ironman!

I did stop at the final aid station on the bike course around mile 45, hoping a few minutes off the bike may help. I went to the bathroom quickly and grabbed a PowerAide, but it unfortunately it didn’t really help matters. I just kept peddling along watching the miles tick by… and I was fortunate for a fast finish with it being mainly downhill the last 10 miles. Overall, I LOVED the bike course. People say it is one of the more challenging on the 70.3 circuit – I thought it was scenic and provided a good mix of climbs, descents and flats.

T-2 ~ Bike-to-Run ~ 6:11
2nd part done! I was happy to be off the bike…

IMG_0531

I quickly re-racked it, switched shirts and changed into my running shoes. Then it was off to tackle the run!

The Run ~ 2:08:19 (9:47 min./mile)

After 56 miles and the struggle I had the last 20 miles, I was happy to get off the bike; 2 parts down – just 13.1 miles to go!! I saw Becky once again and I smiled and waved as I headed into transition. I quickly changed my shoes and shirt, and then headed out to tackle the run. I didn’t know what to expect – I knew there were some nasty hills and it was getting HOT. There were a lot of people walking… and I figured I would end up walking a good chunk of the second portion. But I just kept running. And running. I stopped only to walk up the two monster hills (which almost everyone did – I think my running and walking pace would have been near equal during that climb). Besides for some stomach cramps, I couldn’t believe how GREAT I felt! I had 2 Gus and stopped to use the bathroom once – for which I now regret for I finished just 2 minutes shy of a half-marathon Personal Record! And when I approached the finish line and saw the clock read 6:31 – I knew I finished under 6:30 (since my start time was 7:05 – 5 minutes past the start of the race clock). I picked up the pace and sprinted down the finished chute with a BIG FAT SMILE planted across my face.

0740_020655

My official time was 6:25:55 – and I COULD NOT HAVE BEEN HAPPIER!!

0740_023411

The After
I was on CLOUD NINE. SO, SO happy!! I quickly found Becky, and then we headed over to the chocolate milk tent for some chocolate milk! That’s all I wanted – It is my recovery drink of choice and I think I downed the bottle in 2 minutes flat! It was ice cold and tasted so refreshing. I then walked around and stretched, and grabbed a couple slices of pizza they had for the athletes.

IMG_0538 IMG_0542

After sitting and talking with other finishers, we decided to start to head home. After repacking the Jeep, we started the 2+ hour drive, pulling into my driveway around 6. After trying to quickly explain all that had happened to my parents – I was probably talking a mile a minute! – I quickly hopped in the shower and got ready to meet our friend Marty at a very important place. Where? THE CHEESECAKE FACTORY. Oh, yea. I had no problem plowing through the bread, my dinner, and a ginormous piece of mouthwatering-good cheesecake. Perfect way to end a perfect weekend!! ☺

4 DAYS TIL IRONMAN LAKE PLACID NOW!!!!!!!!! AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

28 Days

Once again, I am a little behind on blogging. 4 weeks have passed – so I’ll at least post my workout stats. Full post coming soon! 🙂

28-Day Workout Recap:

5/19 – Treadmill (63 min.) Ran 6 miles; Various weight machines (15 min.); Swimming (1 hr.) Swam approx. 2100 yards

5/20 – Stationary Bike (40 min.) Rode 13.3 miles; Stairmaster (20 min.); Bodypump (1 hr.)

5/22 – Stairmaster (28 min.); Focusmaster (30 min.); Stairmaster (32 min.); Recumbent Bike (15 min.); Treadmill (15 min.) Walked 1 mile w/ incline; Swimming (1 hr.) Swam approx. 2,400 yards

5/23 – Friend’s wedding – Rest day!

5/24 – F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.); Stairmaster (16 min.); Focusmaster (30 min.); Stationary Bike (75 min.); Treadmill (15 min.)

5/25 – Bike Ride (4 hrs. 50 min.) Rode 75 miles

5/26 – Bike Ride (3 hrs. 25 min.) Rode 50 miles

Total Time: 18 hours, 49 minutes

5/27 – Stairmaster (1 hr.); BodyPump (1 hr.)

5/28 – Treadmill (25 min.) Ran 2.4 miles; Focusmaster (30 min.); Treadmill (40 min.) 3.6 mile

5/29 – Rest day

5/30 – BodyPump (1 hr.); Stationary Bike (15 min.); Treadmill (15 min.); Stairmaster (30 min.)

5/31 – Bike Ride (4 hrs.) Rode 65 miles; Run (26 min.) Ran 3 miles; Walk (10 min.) Cool-down .65 miles

6/1 – Various weight machines (30 min.); Stairmaster (30 min.)

6/2 – Stationary Bike (30 min.) Rode 10 miles; Stairmaster (30 min.) Climber 172 flights; Swimming (1 hr.) Swam approx. 2,000 yards

Total Time: 13 hours, 11 minutes

6/3 – Stationary Bike (50 min.) Rode 17 miles; Body Pump (1 hr.)

6/4 – Stationary Bike (70 min.) Rode 20.5 miles; Swimming (1 hr.) Swam approx. 2,000 yards

6/5 – Treadmill (1 hr. 40 min.) Ran 9 miles

6/6 – Rest Day

6/7 – Bike Ride (4 hrs. 27 min.) Rode 75 miles

6/8 – Rest Day

6/9 – Treadmill (65 min.); Ran 6.94 miles; Treadmill (58 min.) Walked 4.06 miles at an incline; Swimming (55 min.) Swam 1,950 yards

Total Time: 13 hours, 5 minutes

6/10 – Open-water swim (38 min.) Swam 1.05 miles

6/11 – Stairmaster (1 hr. 3 min.) Climbed 375 flights of stairs; Focusmaster (30 min.)

6/12 – Stationary Bike (1 hr.) Rode 20 miles; Treadmill (30 min.) Walked 2 miles

6/13 – BodyPump (55 min.); Treadmill (22 min.) Walked 1.5 miles; Swimming (55 min.) Swam 1,850 yards

6/14 – Treadmill (7 min.) Walked .5 miles; Recumbent Bike (1 hr. 40 min.) Rode approx. 30 miles

6/15 – Recumbent Bike (2 hrs.) Rode approx. 35 miles

6/16 – Stairmaster (61 min.) Climbed over 375 flights of stairs; Swimming (55 min.) Swam approx. 2,000 yards

Total Time: 11 hours, 36 minutes

4 week total: 56 hours, 41 minutes

… And IRONMAN Syracuse is THIS WEEKEND!!! AHHH!!!

Learning to Keep my Distance

Almost 3 weeks with no new post. My bad! Let me fill you in …

  1. I finally got a decent ride outside in! I participated in Billy’s Ride – 50 miles through beautiful Saratoga. It is a great route – lots of quiet, country roads. I did this event last year – and I would highly recommend it to anyone. It is a smaller event, with only a couple of hundred participants, but they are super organized and everyone is so, so nice. And it is for such a great cause: Team Billy. This was their 10th anniversary, and since its inception, they have raised over $1 million for brain tumor research.

10297800_10100510229732605_2155597097630006184_n

We totally lucked out with the weather. The high was slated to be around 68 – with clear, sunny skies. All we seem to have these days is rain, so definitely can’t complain! Who am I kidding? I love to complain! … but I only have two. 😉

  1. There was a headwind the entire time.
  2. Early on in the race, maybe 5 miles in, I was following pretty closely behind this gentleman. As it was the beginning of the ride, everything was great – I was smiling, looking around at the scenery, taking everything in. And then… the man directly in front of me turned his head and snot rocketed. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this, it pretty much looks like this:

snot_rocket

And this brings me back to my initial complaint: the headwind. Yup, his little snot rocket flew back and hit me Directly. In. The. Mouth.

You can imagine the horror. tumblr_inline_mm4pzs1OFk1qz4rgpI was somehow able to contain myself and continue on, and eventually my smile came back — and I learned to stay back…No more drafting for me. I’d take the headwind over snot any day.

And even though the ride was beautiful, the route itself was challenging – but not so difficult that it is was not enjoyable. There were some nice flat sections, but also some significant climbs and fast descents. Here are some fast facts from my Garmin:

  1. Total elevation gain: 1,711 ft (which is more than Ironman Syracuse 70.3!)
  2. Total elevation loss: 1,661 ft
  3. Average moving time: 15.6 mph
  4. Total time: 3:10:01
  5. Fastest pace: 37 mph

Here’s a map of the ride’s elevation … Have I mentioned how much I love my watch?!

Screen Shot 2014-05-18 at 5.47.14 PM

So even though the ride was pretty slow, I had a blast. I just love opportunities where I get to wake up and spend my mornings outdoors in the sunshine, pushing myself and meeting new people. I love feeling a huge sense of accomplishment before some people have even gotten out of bed.

I also tested out my nutrition, and felt pretty good on the bike – although I was hungry when I got home. I had a CLIF bar and caramel macchioto beforehand (I needed caffeine since I only had about 4 hours of sleep the night before), a CLIF bar at mile 20 and a Lara bar right at the end. When I got home, I filled my blender up with chocolate milk, a frozen banana, Isagreens, and peanut butter. My favorite. I always try to get my chocolate milk in post-workout; it gives me confidence in my recovery – knowing that I am getting the protein and nutrients I need:

10367141_746398152046952_2218820429459291969_n

3. I took a nap. Yup – you read that right. A nap. After the 50-miles in Saratoga I came home, showered, and told myself I could lie down for a couple of minutes. Well, I must have fallen asleep the moment my head hit the pillow. I woke up 2 hours later thinking I had to go get ready for work. It was a glorious moment when I realized I didn’t. I felt so refreshed; it was heavenly. Note to self: try to incorporate more of these naps people always talk about.

4. The 2nd 7-week session of my swim-classes started. When I got there, I hopped in my usual lane with my normal people, feeling pumped and ready after a week off. I started warming up, feeling like I was gliding through the water like an actual swimmer. I was like, I got this, I’m a seasoned vet now. Already made it through one whole session.

And then he asked me to move to the slower lane.

tumblr_n0jy504uch1ql5yr7o1_400

I didn’t really mind. I was with two people around my age who just started swimming — they too signed up for a tri — so it was fun talking with them! And the coach tells me I really need to focus on not dropping my front arm when I go to take a breath. I focused on this for the entire 60-minutes and I have no idea how to not not do this. I mean, I think I left class being able to hold my lead arm out a little longer while rotating and taking a breath, but then I drop it to continue with the stroke — but I guess this is still wrong. I. Do. Not. Know. How. To. Fix. It.

5. I had a cold at one point, which made for some not-so-fun workouts. I downed C-Boost for a couple of days – and I did a no-no; called into work but still made a trip to the gym. Shhhh.

6. I celebrated mother’s day with my beautiful momma. Poolside. 🙂

10298900_10100505389761945_5991052147929867674_n

7. I really need to run more.

8. I went to a beautiful wedding for two beautiful people. The bride is one of my sister’s bestest friends (my sister was in the wedding), and it feels like she has known our family forever. It was held at the NYS museum, and it was like out of a fairytale. The bride looked like a princess and the venue was amazing. The ceremony was outside, and then indoors there was a carousel, a photo booth, an ice cream sandwich bar –> everything was awesome.

10314571_10100509921081145_7058819709084344635_n

And after dancing the night away, I was quite ecstatic when I realized that more than half my table didn’t want their slice of red-velvet wedding cake.

rob-yeah-gif

So I had three.

9. Even though I haven’t completed, or even attempted one yet, I love working out in my IRONMAN tank. It is so motivating to me! 🙂 And speaking of IRONMAN – I am so proud of all my Got Chocolate Milk teammates who rocked IM Texas on Saturday. Words can’t say how much they all inspire me!

10275986_10100507852436725_3706906489101307371_n

And since it’s been so long since I’ve posted, my workout recap is a little lengthy…

5/2 – Treadmill (45 min.) Ran 4.5 miles; Pool (1 hr. 15 min.) Swam about 3,000 yards

5/3 – Various weight machines (10 min.); Stationary Bike (21 Bike) Rode 7 miles; Focusmaster (30 min.); Stationary Bike (1 hr.) Rode 18 miles; Pool (1 hr.) Swam about 2,300 yards

5/4 – Sick day = Rest

5/5 – Bike Trainer (123 minutes) Rode 32 miles; Stationary Bike (1 hr.) Rode 18 miles

5/6 – Treadmill (70 min.) Ran 7 miles

5/7 – Stationary Bike (25 min.) Rode 8.5 miles; Focusmaster (30 min.); Stationary Bike (38 min.) Rode 11.5 miles w/ climbs

5/8 – Stairmaster (61 min.) Climbed 375 flights of stairs; Stationary Bike (80 min.) Focused on climbing; Treadmill (23 min.) Walked 1.5 mile cool-down w/ incline

Weekly total: 13 hours, 31 minutes

5/9 – Bodypump (60 min.)

5/10 – F.I.T. Bootcamp (60 min.); Stationary Bike (17 min.) Rode 5 miles; Focustmaster (30 min.); Stationary Bike (17 min.) Rode 5 miles; Bike Trainer (120 min.) Rode 32 miles

5/11 – Bike Trainer (62 min.) Rode 16 miles

5/12 – Swimming (1 hr.) Swam approx. 2,200 yards

5/13 – Treadmill (2 hrs. 27 min.) 13.1 miles

5/14 – Stationary Bike (27 min.) Rode 9 miles; Focusmaster (30 min.); Stationary Bike (63 min.) Rode 19 miles; Swimming (1 hr.) Swam approx. 2,100 yards

5/15 – Stairmaster (50 min.) Climbed 306 flights; Focusmaster (30 min); Various weight machines (15 min.); Stairmaster (10 min.) Climbed 45 flights

Weekly total: 14 hours, 18 minutes

5/16 – Bodypump (1 hr.)

5/17 – F.I.T. Bootcamp (65 min.); Stationary Bike (12 min.) Rode 4 miles; Focusmaster (30 min.); Stationary Bike (58 min.) Rode 14.5 miles

5/18 – Billy’s Ride (3 hr. 10 min.); Rode 50 miles

Mid-Week Total: 6 hours, 55 minutes



Advanced Notice Required

Workout Recap

4/25 – BodyPump (1 hr.); Stationary Bike (1 hr.) Rode 20 miles

4/26 – F.I.T. Bootcamp (1 hr.); Stationary Bike (12 min.) Rode 4 miles; Focusmaster (30 min.); Bike Trainer (1 hr.) Rode 16 miles

4/27 – Bike Trainer (3 hrs.) Rode 45 miles

4/28 – Treadmill (1 hr. 40 min.) Ran 10 miles

4/29 – Swimming (1 hr. 30 min.) Swam approx. 3,200 yards

4/30 – Stationary Bike (25 min.) Rode 8.7 miles; Focusmaster (30 min.); Stationary Bike (58 min.) Climbs; BodyPump (1 hr.)

5/1 – Stairclimber (1 hr.); Focusmaster (30 min.)

Total Time: 15 hours, 15 minutes

April 23rd was our last session of our 8-week Master’s Swim class. Thankfully, another session starts up soon, because we all know how much I need it. But guess when it starts back up? May 5th. AKA Cinco De Mayo. That totally interferes with my love of margaritas. And a socially acceptable excuse to drink them on a Monday just doesn’t come along all that often. I guess I’ll just have to wait 365 days to enjoy my Monday Mangorita on the rocks … no big deal.

Lauren-Conrad-Mascara-Tear-was-slowed-down-for-The-Hills

365 days? Who am I kidding? … I’ll probably just celebrate Cinco de Seis on Tuesday. 😉

tumblr_mqwsktsQ0O1ql5yr7o1_500

Speaking of drinks, after our last swim class, I was invited to go out for a beer by the others in my swim class at a nearby bar. Shockingly, I was asked this question at about 8:50 p.m. on said night, about 10 min. before swim class was slated to end. How I even got the invite is unbeknownst to me… I still have yet to invest in waterproof mascara and I’m pretty sure I was slacking on the whole shaving your legs business. For obvious reasons, I had to decline… ADVANCED notice is definitely a must in that situation (and even that may not be enough!) or else I would have shown up at the bar looking pretty much like an upset train wreck, in pajamas and flip-flops. And lets not forget the huge crease across my forehead, thanks to my super snug and sleek hair cap. Until that baby faded, it’d just be screaming “I’m the ideal candidate for Botox … at the age of 25.” Sad I had to decline an opportunity to go out and get to know other triathletes, I went home and drowned my sorrows by attacking what was left of my Easter candy stash. Reese eggs, why do you taste so much better than all other Reeses? And whyyyyy did the Easter bunny have to be SO generous this year? It’s only been like 2 weeks since the holiday … and this is me:

mean-girls-sweatpants.gif-w584

With no swim classes this week, I was in charge of making sure I got my a@@ to the pool. I decided to go on Tuesday, hoping to get in at least 90 minutes. I followed a workout that we had previously did in the master’s class – our instructor had given us all copies one night, and it was nice going into my solo workout having something to follow. I made it through the entire set, and even added on some yardage at the end.  I felt as good as I can swimming – the sprints were the most challenging part. And, another thing — My goggles are constantly foggy. I don’t understand. I dip them in the water and put them back on, and within 25 yards, I can barely see. I said this out loud, and the gentleman in the lane next to me said I should get some de-fog solution.

De-fog solution?

De-fog solution?

Say what?? That’s actually a thing? Hm. You learn something every day.

And then he said I could also just spit in them.

tina fey oh no

As in, literally spit … inside my goggles.

But, I must confess, that after about 70 minutes of basically swimming blind, I got frustrated and quickly hawked in each of the lenses. I really hope nobody saw me. Unless it’s, like, totally cool in the swimming world. In that case, I hope everyone saw me. 😉

And…not going to lie, it did help. It allowed me to see the bottom of the pool for about 50 yards at a time versus the 25 beforehand. Really made those last 20 minutes much more enjoyable. 😉

On that note, I am proud to report that I was successful in making it the entire 90 minutes – my longest swim yet! My Garmin registered 3,425 yards, but I’m thinking I did more like 3,200 – 3,300 yards. Which would be my furthest swim as well! — Baby steps!

photo

Saturday morning I left bright and early to do my usual FIT Bootcamp class followed by a quick Stationary Bike ride and Focusmaster class. Well, both those classes kicked my butt – like usual. I then left the gym to run to Starbucks – I’ve learned that with a Venti Iced Caramel Macciatio with an extra shot of espresso, my speed and strength on the stationary bike drastically increases. I’m sad to spend $6.05, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do? Right. 🙂

As I pulled into my driveway at about 10:15 am, already having done an intense 1 hr., 40 min. of various exercise, I was mentally preparing myself for the next hour on the trainer. I was going to power through it like a champ, and be all high on endorphins by noon time. Then, as I got out of my car, I realized that my parents, along with several other neighbors, were next door in the driveway having a “garage sale”. Read: all sitting in lawn chairs around a little cozy fireplace drinking Bloody Mary’s. I was soooo tempted to grab a chair and join in on the fun (and may have had I not just spent a small fortune on my coffee) … but instead I hauled myself inside to spend the next 60 min. peddling to nowhere on my trainer. Sometimes, I just can’t help but wonder, WHYYYYYY do I do this to myself. But those thoughts are always trumped by the thoughts of how wonderful I feel when I finish a hard workout! Of thoughts of crossing that finish line next month (AH! – next month!) at Ironman Syracuse 70.3.

But back to the garage sale…apparently, the “garage sale” was such a success, they are going to do the same thing next weekend. Read: Party. I don’t remember garage sales being like when I was growing up. But now I look forward to the days I’ll be having my own. 😉

Sunday looked like this. Three hours on the bike trainer. THREE. Ugh. That was a very mental ride. All in all, it was probably about 4 hours total… but 3 hours of pedal time. I kept pausing my Garmin every 20 or 30 min. when I had to hop off and run to fill my water bottle. I think all together I went through 7 water bottles, 1 CLIF bar, 2 sweat towels, and I changed my outfit midway since I. Was. Dripping. So thankful I invested in the mat that chills under my bike. I am gross. I also switched the gears around a lot, and I did a lot of climbing – but watching Les Miz on my TV helped to distract me somewhat. I watched the whole movie, and then some of Rock of Ages. That’s how long I was on that thing. Indoors. Again, ugh. But, like any other workout – I felt great afterwards!

photo copy

Afterwards, I could not drink my chocolate milk, banana, peanut butter smoothie fast enough. I was starving… and everyone knows I love my chocolate milk. So, so delicious.

Sunday afternoon was spent on the recliner, but I eventually got up to make a 5 lb. taco salad. It was Mexican night with the fam. 🙂

I realize I talked about the week a little out of order – but glad tomorrow is Friday! Hoping to get a run and swim in – and then some super long workouts this weekend!

Have a super duper weekend everyone!! 🙂