Wednesday, September 17, 2014

REV 3 Pocono Mountains Race Review

This is my first race report for a race I actually didn't run.

the medal was awesome pic from Rev3 FB page

I was signed up for it but as you know from my Maine Rev3 reports I wasn't very trained and I decided that one untrained OLY a season is good enough for me.

Aw. This was my unused spot
However the entire time I was in Mount Pocono I questioned my decision. It was beautiful and I was kind of itching to do it. But I showed restraint and didn't.

The Swim: 
My parents live in the Poconos so we crashed with them. It was nice spending a few days with the folks and my Dad really got into the spirit. As soon as we arrived he took us to look at where the swim would be. It was a picturesque lake on private property. 

I decided to accompany Angela to the practice swim the next day (I'm actually training for my next OLY in Palm Springs in December so an open-water swim opportunity is welcomed.) The weather that day was kind of nasty high 50's, raining, chilly. I'm a little soft so I wasn't thrilled with all this wet weather but we went to do the swim. The water felt great. It was much warmer (with a wetsuit) in the water than out of the water.  Parts of the lake were shallow. You could literally stand up in the middle of it if you wanted to. Most importantly, the water was clean. I enjoyed the swim because it's the first time in open water where I personally felt all of my swim practicing come together. There were a lot of rocks and branches and stuff in the water and it made getting out of the lake a little tricky but the Rev3 team cleared out as much of that as they could for the actual race day and I hear that it was a non-issue. 

The Bike: 
My Dad also drove us on the bike course. This is where I realized I had made the right decision to defer my race. If you're a confident and adventurous biker then this course is amazing. The first 4.5 miles is all downhill. A 25 year old named Hunter that we had met that weekend said on a practice ride he got up to 50 miles per hour going down that section! The bike course was pretty but has some serious technical riding to contend with. After going down hill for the first 4.5 miles you then had to navigate some pretty twisty / rolling hills roads / with a few decent climbs. This would be an excellent challenge if you were trained but if you're new to the bike / not trained / not so confident on the bike yet (like me) it could be tricky. Most of the triathletes getting off the bike seemed to really love it though. 

Biker - and yeah. That's a bear on the left side!! Um.
pic from Rev3 FB page
The Run: 
I almost got to run in this race because Angela was very close to wanting to relay (She would swim/bike and I would run). She ultimately decided to do the whole race on her own (and she wound up placing first in her division so that was a good call!) so we killed the relay plan. But in the end I did get to run most of the OLY course. A friend we met in our Facebook chat group, Michelle, was running her first half distance. She was bringing up the rear of the race and was out there for a long time. When she was at her 9 mile mark I decided that I would run out to her and keep her company for the last few miles. So out I went. It was challenging (always running up or down a hill) but it was super gorgeous. It felt awesome to be out there. Right past the 3 mile mark I ran into someone from Rev3 who told me that they mixed Michelle's route up to get her off the road and running through the park instead. Good thing I ran into him because I could've been running without finding her forever. So the good people of Rev3 scooped me up at that point to go meet her and finish the race with her.  It was awesome.

pretty run. Pic from Rev3 FB page
A few side notes:

Not that I've done many triathlons but this was the first I had ever seen where T1 and T2 were in two completely separate locations. So you had to coordinate your transition set-ups. You bike out by the swim and at the end of the ride you bike in to where you run out. The Rev3 folks provided everyone with bags to put all your T1 stuff in and they brought it back for you. 

I volunteered by making packets one day and by working packet pick-up the next. It was cool being on that side of things and fun to give back to the sport. I was also glad that I was familiar with the course and swim so at pick up I could answer a ton of questions for the athletes. 

The weather on race day was gorgeous. The day started off as on the chilly side but by the run it was low 60's, low humidity, blue skies and sunny. 

The Rev3 team is amazing. Truly amazing. Not sure if you know this or not but they pretty much will never sweep someone off the course. The girl who came in last (our friend Michelle) for the half distance was out there for more than 10 hours!! This team will do whatever it takes to get someone to the finish line and Sunday was no exception. When I went out to find Michelle it turned out that Stu and Eric (Rev 3 staff) had already met up with her around mile 7. They spent all those miles with her, keeping her moving forward and when I got to them they were all smiles and having a great time. These guys were generous with their time and support - it is so awesome. The Rev3 folks keep the finish line and jumbo tron up and make it a big party and celebration for that last runner in. The entire staff line the shoot, cheer the runner in and blast a special song for that person.  I love that they do that. I think it's wonderful. Makes me heart them big time. 

Stu - Michelle - Eric post-finish line
These guys rock and Michelle is bad-ass
Nearly every athlete I spoke to after the race was glowing and making plans to come back. It really looked like an awesome day and I was glad to be there even it was just as a spectator! 


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

10 Reasons why Triathlon is a Pain in the A$$

I am enjoying Triathlon but boy is it a huge pain in the ass!

Here are ten reasons why:

1. Waking up at Ass O'Clock in the morning. Triathlons never start at a lovely 10 AM. No. They start friggen early which means that you need to be at transition and set up at the crack of dawn. It's dark and sometimes cold. If you are training for a bigger distance Ass O'clock in the morning time probably extends beyond race day and to your daily training days.

2. The Swim. Right off the bat you are likely finagling your way into something ghastly like a wetsuit  and then at ass o'clock in the morning you are throwing yourself into some sort of body of water. Sometimes it's a calm, temperate lake (lucky you!) and sometimes it's a smelly dirty pond or a cold choppy ocean. But often no matter what the water, you are getting kicked in the face or elbowed in the ribs by fellow triathletes. Joy.

cold, wet suit, ass o'clock in the morning. Don't let the smiles fool ya... ;)

3. The Stuff. Triathlon. Requires. Stuff. Lots and lots of stuff. you'll need a tri kit, wetsuit, swim goggles, swim cap, bike, bike helmet, USAT card (or one day pass)  running sneakers and that's the bare-bone minimum. As you grow with the sport your stuff will grow. You'll likely want a transition bag, clip in pedals and bike shoes, nutritional needs, tire changing kit, race belt, tri-training watch, gym membership (with access to pool), tri coach (or at least tri training plan), sports sunglasses, visor, you might want even want a fancy tri bike. This sport just requires crap-loads of stuff.

New "used" bike
4. Expense. Well, holy crap this is not a poor man's sport. Just take a look at number 3 and keep in mind I probably forgot a 100 things or so that you can buy in the quest of triathlon. The bike alone can set you back several hundred (on the cheap side) to several thousands of dollars. Combine that with the entry fees of the races, the wetsuit and the other gear and you'll soon be trying to figure out a way to pay for your new-found hobby too.

5. Getting your stuff there. So you live in Jersey and want to race in California. Good luck. In addition to the expense of the race fee, and your airline ticket and your hotel stay - you will have to haul your crap clear across the country. So get ready to pay for essentially the cost of another passenger to ship your bike (or rent a bike on location) at the nifty 'location' venue.

6. Nutrition. If you're aiming to conquer a half iron or full iron distance (70.3 or 140.6) you will have to figure out how to NAIL your nutrition. And what I mean by that is how much you should eat and drink on the bike and run. This is critical. Super critical. There is an art to this and it varies for each person. Not enough and you'll "bonk" bringing your epic day down to your shaky knees and have too much and you'll be visiting every port-potty along the way. It's a trying process to get this right and once you do you better make sure to have it/pray that you don't lose anything while biking.

7. The Bike. The bike is a pain in the ass. (I know, I know. The bike is likely your favorite part of triathlon but it is still a bit of a pain)  You have to transport it, you have to maintain it, you have to master it. You have to know mechanics like how to change a tire, you have to worry about distracted drivers and you have to always be on-guard to be safe.

8. The Hunger. I am always hungry. This is a pain in the ass (at least for me) if you're (like me) and trying to lose weight. Oh well. Pass me a sandwich.

9. The training time.  You will be always thinking about how and when you're going to get that training in. This gets worse as you go higher in race distance.

10. The Addiction! You will curse the expense and all the pain in the ass reasons that exist in triathlon yet find yourself somewhat obsessed and addicted to this sport!!

All kidding aside,  I am loving triathlon and am now obsessed. And if you can say that after all the good P.I.T.A. reasons to run in the opposite direction then you know you're on the right path... even if that path is at "Ass o'clock" in the morning ;)

Newbies, don't be afraid. Give it a tri.  The water feels great (I could be lying) but still... you'll never know if you don't jump in!

What makes triathlon a pain in the ass to you despite your love for the sport?


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Rev 3 Maine OLY race report: The Run

Read part 1 of the race review the swim HERE
Read part 2 of the race review the bike HERE

So we manage to make it back from the bike and onto the run! I am flying high and in a great mood. I am not dreading 6 miles, instead I'm feeling like I just tackled 26 miles of biking and swimming - the two things that gave me the most fear - and now all that stands between me and the finish line is 6 miles... And six miles that I could walk, skip, run or jump if I wanted to. No time limit and the goal here was to finish. No pressure.

I could've actually run most of the 6 miles. Scott and Angela's least favorite part of tri is the run and it was heating up out there. So we did a combo of walking/jogging/running/walking. It was beautiful out there. 

I am used to music on the run so while we were running we definitely had a few sing-a-longs. At around mile 2 Scott and I had a Violent Femme moment and sang "Blister in the Sun" and a big Wisconsin fan Scott definitely busted out the Badger school song once or twice. I think there was also a little of "Walking on Sunshine," "I've Got a Feeling (that tonight's gonna be a good night)" and "Beautiful Day U2" out there. We only sang when we ran. We had a blast. 

I know, perhaps some of your hard-core triathletes are thinking we shouldn't be 'having a blast' and singing on the run... this is a serious sport!  Well. Yeah. But whatever. Yes. You're right - moving forward, this will probably be the last time that my triathlon experience is a group sport or a fun Sunday morning run after a swim and pretty bike ride - but for my under-trained attempt at my first OLY this was just what I needed! I smiled the whole time and had the time of my life! It made me want to do it again.

As we rounded the finishers chute and ran towards the finish line, I heard my name called saw the end and happy, gratitude tears filled my eyes. 

Not only did I not drown, crash or trip - but I had a great day with wonderful friends by my side. Lucky, lucky girl am I.

I went into this triathlon feeling down. I am up in weight, under-trained and thought the whole Tri thing was going to be over for me - I was planning on giving the bike(s) back, donating my wet suit and sticking to my running sneakers. But I found a love for it, that day. I get it. And instead of giving up triathlon, I have (in the two weeks since the race) - bought a beautiful new (refurbished) road bike and signed up to do Palm Springs OLY in Decemeber. I've even started to train (for real this time.)

My new road bike!

Yep, still no clip-less pedals on my bike. Ha. Baby steps.

Hope all is well with you. What finish lines are you reaching for? Before Palm Springs I do have a ten mile race in October called The Perfect 10.


Friday, August 29, 2014

Rev3 Maine OLY Race Recap: The bike

Read part one of my race recap (The Swim) here.
Yes! I didn't drown!
So I get out of my wet suit, shake off the cramping as best I can and find my bike. The good news is it seems everyone had left before me so my bike was very easy to find and I had all the space in the world! (See there is an upside to being a back of the packer.) If you look behind me you can see Angela squatting down and getting herself ready for the bike as well.

I'm not an awesome biker. I was lent a Canondale at the beginning of Tri season. A pretty nice one in fact. I even put some money into it - getting it fit, upgrading the tires, even adding something with the rings to help climb easier... But I could never get used to the bike. The clip less pedals continued to freak me out. I just couldn't get out of them and the fit isn't quite right. They brought the seat up as high as they could for leg length but the handlebars feel way too far away. I can barely reach the breaks. It just feels awkward - there's one last thing to try with the handlebars but I might have to let it go, get to a bike shop and get one that fits. 

Anyway, since comfort on the bike never happened, I never got around to riding a bike outside this summer. So the last time I rode a bike was last September at my sprint tri. And that was an 8.25 mile bike. I did a few sporadic spin classes so that had to suffice as my bike training.

So for my first ever 25 mile bike ride I would be using a hybrid with regular pedals. (And I was very happy to have it! This too is a borrowed bike from my friend Roxi - she was supposed to get it back already but with all the traveling this summer never got it to her. Which was lucky for me.) 

A side note: I was pretty much the only person in the whole race with a hybrid. Everyone else had a road or tri bike. I couldn't even fit the tire in the little narrow groove they provide to rack your bike. No problem, I just deployed the fancy kick stand! ;) lol...

Anyway, I was silently sweating a little bit because I didn't know what to expect. I never really rode more than ten miles or so and that was a year ago - plus everyone said it might be tougher for me on a heavier hybrid and without the benefit of the clip-in pedals. 

But off we go.

The course was beautiful. There were a few challenging hills but nothing horrible. I enjoyed the bike and just had a few dumb little issues like having a tough time getting my water bottle out... Well I finally got it out but couldn't get it back in so I stuck it in the back pocket of my kit. I also had a few cramps happen during the ride in my feet and whatever the muscle is under the shins. I'm just a cramper. But they would subside and it wasn't anything that stopped me in my tracks. 

The other triathletes were awesome out there. Very friendly, many waving and rooting us on. I love this about REV3 it's just such a friendly vibe. If I ever (hardy-har-har-har) were going to do a 70 or 140 I think I would want it to be a REV3 race. 

So 25 miles come and go and I know I'm almost home free! I didn't drown or crash - my two fears. Only 6 little miles stood between us and the finish line. 

Read the last part of the race report - the run HERE


Thursday, August 28, 2014

REV3 Maine Triathlon My first OLY RECAP: The Swim

I am very happy and proud of myself.

I am up more than I'd like to be in weight.

I haven't been able to train (like I would of liked to) but have kept consistent in doing something.

It's been a tough summer of lots of work and dealing with my autistic son.

AND... I competed in and accomplished my first OLY Triathlon.

AND... I came in close to last place.

But I'm thrilled.

So much of my accomplishing this was in the exercise I've kept up on (even if it wasn't close to full-on training) and so much of it was because I went into it believing and willing myself to make it happen.   Which if you know me and the negative voices that reside in my head is a big fricken deal.

Much of it was also having good friends (thank you Scott and Angela) by my side - no doubt. They stuck with me through the swim, bike and run and that was AWESOME.

So here goes the report:

I was undertrained and a bit nervous but because of being not trained it was the most relaxed I'd ever been going into a race. I really took the attitude of "nothing to lose." The pressure was off. If I finished it, good for me. If I didn't, I had valid reasons. But I was determined to get to the finish line.

Side note: I am in a tri club called RTA. They are pretty hard core. Many of them place in their AG and I was feeling bad about representing them knowing that I would be a back of packer... Maine is a team race and I was invited to the team dinner. They made me feel welcomed and I was so proud and happy to wear that kit.

So the night before, I put out my clothes and tatted myself up. Shit was about to get real.

And I wake up at 5AM ready to go. 

I head to transition, set up my crap, then head to the ocean. I go into the water and as I'm coming out of my warm up I realize that my wave is already in the queue and ready to swim! Shit. So I hustle on into the group and find my friends Angela and Scott. Scott actually took a green athena cap just so he could do this thing with me and Angela. They are awesome. 

So we get to swimming. Wow. This is hard. The current was decent and my lack of training was in full-effect. I'd swim, swim, swim and  the buoys still seemed a million miles away. Holy crap. Can I make it? Angela or Scott would call out, "Already a fourth of the way there!" And I would think, "Oh man, that's it? I'll never get there." But we just kept swimming. 

My rock star friends kept me going though. "Let's just do 20 strokes and then take a rest!" Scott would call out, "Looking strong, Jen" and Angela would say, "I'm keeping on your right to make sure you don't go too far out to sea in the wrong direction!" When things were looking grim they'd make a joke - the friendship and support just overwhelming. I wish everyone had this type of love and support during a tough race!

And when we were swimming I would fight the negative voices in my head by silently repeating mantras of being strong and capable. I kept focused on the fact that my body could accomplish it I just had faith in myself. 

Of course during the final push of the swim my legs started to cramp. No surprise as this happened during my (trained for) sprint last year. Awesomely painful charley horse/calf cramps in both legs. This worried me. What if they didn't uncramp? I was terrified of the pain. Terrified that this could undo me. 

A little bit from shore the water became shallow enough to walk and with the help of my friends I was able to get my heels to the floor of the ocean and walk in. My legs hurt from the cramping but the pain began to subside enough. I was going to be OK. 

Scott, Angela, Me. What's up with my swim cap? 

cramping but still smiling
So my time was like 50 minutes in the water for .9 of a mile. This might be absurd for some athletes but for me who has had 20 minutes of total swim training this entire summer - I'll take it. I made it out of the water and on to the bike.

Now on to a 25 mile bike ride. Did I mention that the most I've biked was 8 miles last September? (I have since taken a few spin classes but no outside bike riding since!) or that I'd be doing these 25 miles on a hybrid bike with regular pedals? Yep.  Stay tuned.

Race report continues HERE.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

This will be my year

I've been down.

I've gained weight.

Slipped in training.

Blah, Blah, Blah.

Today is my birthday. 42 years old. A fresh new year ahead of me.

I went to the gym and ran. I was perhaps slower than I was a year ago.

I was definitely in a bigger sized pair of pants and moving more weight than a year ago.

Doesn't matter.

All that matters is right f'ing now.

I felt great. And it was during that slow-ish 3 mile run that I decided that this was going to be my year.

No more crying about a few gained pounds.  No more lamenting about having no time. No more excuses. This year will be my year.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

An open and angry letter to a loser

Dear loser:

I am so, very, very, very angry at you right now. I am so disappointed that words cannot even begin to express. You who worked so hard to take off all that weight. You who worked so hard to keep it off. You who spent hours in your running sneakers logging miles, eating clean and avoiding temptation. You who even started a blog and have somehow even managed to inspire people and you have proven yourself to be a BIG FAT FRAUD.

How many miles have you run this week? A few. How many laps did you swim? None. Times on the bike? Does 20 mins at the gym count?

And you have the audacity to sign up for four triathlons. Pitiful. How do you expect to finish those races? Luck? Divine intervention? Certainly not with your lack of training. 

As you struggle to get into those size 10 pants and quickly nearing the next size up jump (when those 10s were once too big and 8s just right) I must ask, what the hell is your problem?

I know, I know. The excuses. There are many. But you've still blown plenty of chances to eat right and move your ever-growing ass. You are in this spot because of your choices. You suck.

I see you. Staring back at me in the mirror. Suck it up, stop eating, get to moving. Stop being a loser. 

The Loser

And this is the dialogue that's been rattling around my head for the last few weeks. Here's a better letter and one I'm going to try to read because the way I've been treating myself has been bad....

Dear Jen:

I love you. I know you are feeling down right now and I know you feel like you've made some crummy fitness choices lately but you've also made some good ones too. You're still exercising 3 or 4 times a week, even if it's not at 'full-training' mode, you haven't given up completely. And that's great because you are worth fighting for and not giving up on. 

You also have made many, many good food choices - even if some of the crappier ones are the ones you remember. 

Listen, yesterday might have not been great for you but you can't change it. You can do something different right now though. You can make tomorrow better. I can't say how those triathlons are going to work out - it's true, you're not trained but you have a few weeks to get as close as possible and then you are going to try your best. If you come in last so be it. If you get pulled that's fine too. Lesson learned that training is important. If for some reason you try and fail, it's hardly the end of the world. 

I know you don't like excuses but you do have a few good reasons why things have snuck up on you. Being on the road, still struggling financially, battling a recent round of depression, the pressure of being on the road and away from your son who is autistic by the way, et cetera. Falling down does not make you a loser, it makes you human. Not that we are keeping weight-loss score but you've still managed to keep off a good chunk of your weight loss - that's a victory! You have friends who love you - that's a victory! You have good health and a working body - victory! You started a small production company 5 years ago and this week premiered a TV show - that's  a huge accomplishment. It speaks to your level of commitment, dedication, fearlessness, willingness to work hard and dream big.  You're a winner, life is good and you deserve to honor yourself, respect yourself, even love your body through good times and bad. This is just a bump in the road and you have the tools to get where you need to go. 

Just please, please, please stop calling yourself names and feeling less than. It's so counterproductive and also not true. You aren't a loser, you don't suck, you're not a failure - you've proven this over and over again. 

You are stronger than you think.