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. 

To be continued.


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.


Saturday, June 7, 2014

Coming Back and Looking Forward

I didn't fall off the face of the planet... though lately I've been feeling like I've fallen off the wagon.

Funny thing about this journey of getting to finish lines is there never really is an end, just another challenge and another finish line.

I will cut right to the chase. I've been gaining weight and struggling to keep it together.  I'm probably a good 15 pounds north of where I like to be. (More like 20 if I'm being really honest). 

Oh I have excuses. Plenty of them. Some are even valid - traveling 3 weeks of the month for the last few months for work, being away from my family, out of a routine, working around the clock... and those excuses fly a little but I can't hide from the fact that I've let bad habits creep back in (like stress eating and eating junky foods on the go) and have passed up opportunities to train when I could. So there you have it.

And because I know it's mostly my fault that I'm hating the number on the scale and hating the bigger sized jeans and hating the slower run times (when I get them in) I've come to realize I've been really hating myself. 

But beating myself up is doing me no good. Feeling fat and miserable is doing me no good. Hating myself is destructive and pushing me down the wrong path. If a friend was going through what I was going through I would beg them to see all the good. I would feel sorry that they were so hard on themselves, I would lift them up. So today I decided to do something I haven't in a while and LOVE myself. I am a good person, I've still managed to keep off 80% of my weight, I work hard, I am a good friend and I deserve better. 

Today I take back control.

Today I tell myself I'm strong, I have the tools to succeed and I can do it. I can pick myself up, dust myself off and get back on the track. There are still plenty of finish lines in my future. 

This morning I ran 3 miles with my new running group, "Jersey Women Strong" and pushed to run those miles faster than my current average. I'm still so much further along than I was when I started running a few years ago and if I'm looking back I must take pride in the progress and how far I've come instead of the setbacks. Wherever I am right now is good enough. 

3 miles in the right direction! 

I've learned that looking back can be a blessing and a curse. You have to work at looking back for lessons but not for finding reasons to shame yourself. I am learning to play the "lessons learned game" instead of "why can't I be where I was a year or two ago" game. Yesterday is gone. I've got right now and God willing, I will have tomorrow. ;)

In any case, and for better or worse I have a BUNCH of finish lines coming up. I am signed up for the Jersey Girl Sprint Tri in early August, the Maine REV3 OLY in late August, The Iron Girl Sprint Tri in early Sept. And the Poconos REV3 OLY in mid Sept. 

I don't know what I was thinking when I signed up for all of that but I better get training. I am yet to really get on my bike or in the water. I'm going to do a run / ride tomorrow. 

Finish lines await! Onward and upward!!


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Long Branch NJ half marathon race report: Five years of VICTORY!

I'm so happy right now.

It's two days after running my five year anniversary of running the NJ Long Branch half marathon. This was the half marathon that started me on my running journey. What a changed person I am because of that first race.

I will tell you that this year was a great race for me.

It wasn't my fastest. Nor my most trained for but it was such an amazing day.

I went out there with the intent of just enjoying it. The last few years have been tough. I've battled cramping and pain in the later miles of my halves so I guess I've let the negative thoughts really seep in.

Getting ready to run with a few friends :) 

A few weeks ago I found myself already worrying and kvetching about pain and cramps and through talking to my friend Angela and also a little self reflection, realized that I was losing the mental battle big time. And I've been losing it for the last few years. I had no chance of ever enjoying a decent race again if I couldn't take control back on that front. I made up my mind to no longer hate but embrace. Pain was going to come. I had no choice in that but I had a choice in how I could react to it. Previously I had been 'crying' about it and letting it defeat me but now I made a new choice. I chose to embrace it, to welcome it, to say to myself, "this pain will make me stronger" and smile at it. If pain is inevitable then I have to do something about it.  I could let it crumble me and continue to limit me or I could mentally raise my threshold for pain. That simple. 

Yes and when the pain started to come I smiled and welcomed it.  I took it as a sign of getting stronger and more accomplished rather than weakness. 

And because I did that, this was a great race. Instead of hobbling those last few miles I smiled during those miles and let the pain propel me. I knew that I would make it through. I believed again - where  in the last few years I doubted and feared. And it wasn't that painful. I was sore and tight - as most would be after running 13 miles. But I wasn't going to die and I reminded myself that it's normal to feel like that! If it was easy and totally comfortable everyone would do it! It's what makes running these things special - it's why you can proudly take that medal and feel victorious at the finish line. 

What doesn't kill you...

I also didn't over-hydrate. I think that trying to "fix" the pain led me to drink too much water in the days leading up to the race in years past - I think that this over hydration did harm by throwing off my electrolytes so I drank moderately (a touch more than I usually would but nothing crazy.) I think that helped too.

So race day was great. It started brisk but was generally perfect temps throughout the race (sunny and low 50's). I was running with my friend Kerry who is generally super speedy but was slowing it down. She has a half Ironman in June and is recovering from an injury. her slower pace matches the pace I wanted to do this race so it was perfect. We ran mostly, but per the advice of her coach,  walked  through every water station and walked a few times when her injury was acting up, we even stopped to take pics and use the potty. My time on Nike was 11:38 (2:37 half) pace and I'm very happy about that (it pauses when stopped). That was our 'moving' time. Our official time was 12:07  per mile 2:42 / but with all the walking, pic taking and the potty break - I'm good. Especially considering last year's race was long at 3 hours!

Kerry and I pre-race 

I ran my race Sunday. 

And in bigger news - On a whim, I signed up for the FULL marathon next year while at the expo. And I'm excited. I know that 26.2 is going to be tough training both physically and mentally for me but I'm ready to bring it on... 


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Dealing with Scale Fail

I know I haven't been the best blogger ever lately and I'm sorry about that. I've been struggling with a few things and just haven't known where to start.

Coming off the very exciting Runner's World thing I am feeling a little conflicted.  I am proud of the accomplishments that I have had and the magazine experience was awesome. It was so cool to see my picture and story in my favorite magazine.  I am proud that I've mostly kept the weight off since 2010 and I'm proud of my journey - but what's making me feel so conflicted is some weight gain. It's been happening it's kind of panicking me.

I am 15 pounds higher than my lowest weight, 10 pounds over my Weight Watcher goal weight and 6 pounds over the weight that I was in the RW article and it really is scaring the crap out of me. Up until a few months ago I had been able to "hold between 147 - 151" and I was OK with that but now I find myself flirting with 160 and it's freaking me out.  Over the last few months I can't seem to hold steady and the scale continues to creep up. I'll have a week where I will "buckle down" and shed a pound or two, only to be away from home on business again or thrown off track the next week and back up again. I know I'm eating a little more, having another drink here and there and not maybe running quite as much as I had been in years past. (A tough winter and being on the road to film the show has definitely made things more challenging. And perhaps being closer to 42 years old rather than 38 or 39 when my weight loss was happening isn't helping either?) 

And I'm not freaking out because of the 160 number per se. I don't mean to insinuate that number means someone is fat or not. When I was 255 I enthusiastically rooted for the day that I'd be 180. Yes, clothing feels tight and I'd rather be 150 but I'm not completely miserable at 160. My fear is that the upward spiral will continue, that this is a runaway train headed back to a place I don't want to visit. 

trying to keep this in mind on days where I'm beating myself up

It is annoying. I thought I had this shit conquered. I vowed not to be a "gain back the weight" statistic. And while it's not 100 pounds back, and it's not too much percentage wise, it's really enough to get me feeling yucky about it. It's a daily, constant unease that I can't shake. 

On top of it because of the magazine, I'm getting emails from people looking for inspiration and I feel completely like a fraud. How can I espouse advice when my running pants waist band digs into my belly and with every pound gained my running pace gets slower? 

Interestingly right after the magazine article came out I went on Twitter and discovered that I had THREE twitter impostors!! Three strangers out there created profiles, using my name, my picture and even my "twitter bio description"! It was weird because I don't have the hugest blog following (though the quality of those of you who do follow is stellar ;) ) and I couldn't understand why I would have people posing accounts as me. 

one of the fake twitter people (even stole my wall paper)
My actual twitter account is:

For a brief moment it struck me ironic because while these people were trying to pose as me, some weight loss success story, I was struggling with feeling like an impostor myself. 

But I don't want to feel like that anymore and I need to stop the weight gain train so I have to figure it out and get it together. 

I do have some ideas for getting back on track and I'll be employing them - nothing fancy - eating cleaner, drinking less alcohol, exercising more, the usual. I will not give-up without a fight. I guess my bigger issue to tackle (even bigger than the weight) is how horribly I'm letting it mess with my head. I have to admit I'm more worried and preoccupied with it than I should be. I definitely am falling into the trap of letting it get under my skin and that's not good. This is contrary to the advice I would give someone else. 

So here's the advice I would give to someone in my shoes:

1. Leave no mile behind. Whether it's an hour or ten minutes get some kind of daily activity in.
2. Eat as clean and lean as possible and eat smartly so you never get to the point of 'starving.'
3. Drink lots of water. 
4. Add strength training.
5. "Track points" or count calories - not to be obsessive but to have an idea of how much you are eating and where your calories come from and if there's someplace you can cut unnecessary calories.
6. Surround yourself with 'birds of a feather' to keep motivation up and for reliable support when you need it.
7. Set goals that force you to move forward and challenge you.
8. Strive for good health always - nourish your body.
9. Cook it at home! Don't order out or eat out more than once or twice a week. (If possible.) 
10. Limit alcohol and empty snacks. Make your snacks meaningful - fruits, veggies, nuts, foods that nourish.

Yep. I'm not reinventing the wheel here people - mostly simple advice that's not so simple to always follow but I'm going to try! 

By the way, even in the face of the annoying gain I've got things to celebrate - I've signed up for a few Triathlons, joined a tri-club, I'm getting ready for another half marathon in a few weeks (did 8 miles today!) And while I may be a little slower I'm still a runner no matter what size pants I'm in. 

How are you doing? What advice would you give someone in my shoes?