Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Palm Springs Triathlon Race Recap

It's been a few weeks since my last post and thought I would take a little time on this Christmas Eve morning to catch up with you all.

A few weeks ago I participated in the H.I.T.S Palm Springs Triathlon. I was signed up for the OLY but I didn't train as hard as I should have and still new to a road bike, decided it best to drop to the sprint level.

Funny, I always feel the need to say "just the sprint." I have a lot of friends who might be able to do a sprint triathlon with their eyes closed but it's still really challenging to me - and around 2 hours of exercise. There's nothing 'just' about it.

Anyway - Palm Springs itself was interesting. I had never been there. There were some really gorgeous areas and some sketchy ones. I got to spend some time with friends Angela, her boyfriend Dave and our good friend Scott - all who were signed up for the half distance. On day one I volunteered the bike course and Angela and Scott headed out for their race (half and full distance was on Saturday and sprint / OLY on Sunday). That was an interesting experience. You have to run along side bikers as they are coming by to hand off water, an electrolyte drink or gels. The bikers generally shout at you what they need and you try to make the handoff. It was a little tricky at first but it was fun. In the few hours that I volunteered I had racked up over 10,000 steps on my fitbit!

Me in blue and the rest of the bike volunteer crew
Unfortunately, towards the end of my shift I got a call from Scott saying that he was unable to finish his race. He had a head-on collision in the water and suffered a concussion. He tried to press on through the bike and eventually had to call it a day - I headed back to hang out with him and wait for Angela and Dave. Thankfully he was woozy but OK.  Angela and Dave both finished. Angela loved her first experience with the half.

So I was up next.

half ready to TRI half ready to go back to sleep


Nice sunrise
THE SWIM
Sunday morning and an early rise time came and I was nervous but excited. I had to go through the worse part of my day which is the struggle into my wetsuit. Ugh. It takes a village and a lot of trislide to accomplish this feat. It's never pretty. The water was very cold so I was appreciative of that fricken wetsuit and luckily Angela had lent me some booties and a neoprene swim cap which really helped. The first part of the swim was weird. You could literally walk all the way out to the turn around. I would try to swim and my hand would hit the bottom or I would swim into someone who was just walking. Oh well. I worked it out. And then all of a sudden, when you round the buoy to come back it got really deep! I struggled a little bit in the water - I really have to figure out how to swim more efficiently. But all in all it was OK and I wasn't the last out of the water. In fact I think there was a bunch of people after me.

I look crazy - this pic is so funny to me
Look Ma - no hands! I made it! 
Then it was on to the bike. I really took my time in transition. I had no illusions of winning anything (more on that later) so I figured I'd dry off, have a snack, and just get it together. I think my t1 was absurd like nearly 10 minutes! I'm going to work on this in the future. It's a dumb way to burn time in a race. 

THE BIKE


I just got my first road bike a few months ago but never had the chance to really ride it outside. Just a half a block to the park to screw around with my seven year old, so I was a little nervous about the bike. Angela brought me hers to use for the race so I wouldn't have to haul my bike across the country. I am still not comfortable in clipless pedals so I used flat. It's a flat course so it wasn't an issue really. I'm a little slow and I do think that if I can get over my fear of the clipless pedals it would be better. I was happy that I didn't crash and it was a good experience over-all. Along with swimming I definitely have to work on a lot when it comes to biking if I want to continue to TRI.

The good news about not having bike shoes is that my T2 was considerably faster :) Nothing makes me happier in a tri than getting to the run part. I am almost home!

THE RUN
It's getting hot but I'm psyched for the run. Angela got a good picture of me heading out that I'm going to have to try to get from her at some point because I was looking strong! (Probably more relieved that I didn't crash on the bike but whatever.) I felt good. I wasn't running super fast but I did manage to pass a lot of people on the run. Since I was still at the back of the pack at this point, I figured that a lot of the people I was passing might've been stronger than me on the bike or swim but just not great runners. Since running is what I feel most comfortable at, I passed up the walkers and the walk/runners. I managed to run the entire distance (which turned out to only be about 2.7 of a mile according to my garmin... not the 5K as advertised. I was bummed at the shorter distance.)

Smiling as I'm heading for the finish! 
So I finish and wouldn't you know it that despite taking a lunch break during T1 I actually did win something. I came in SECOND PLACE in the Athena 40+ division! (The chubby older ladies division). WHHHHHHAAAT!? I've never received an athletic award in my life. I grabbed my plaque and ran away before the other chubby middle-aged ladies could demand a recount. :) 

yes, I have the whitest legs in the world
All in all it was a fun day. My swim was about 20 mins for 750 yards, bike was just under an hour for about 13 miles and run was around 29 mins for 2.7 miles. Not fast but not last and good enough for 2nd place. I have a lot of places I can improve on! 

BTW Angela placed in her division too! 


All in all the triathlon was a fun experience. I'm looking forward to doing it again.

The rest of the month has been a little up and down struggle in sticking to the WW plan. I went into that weekend pretty strong but since coming back it's been touch and go. I've decided not to really sweat it through the holidays. I'm keeping an eye on it, making good choices most of the time, getting in some exercise and not flipping out. 

Hope you're having a wonderful holiday!!! How are things with you?

XOXO 
Jen





Monday, December 1, 2014

Monday Musings and Making a Comeback

So I'm three and a half weeks back on Weight Watchers and into Marathon training and things are clicking and feeling good. I feel like I'm on a comeback after a long stretch of nothing feeling like it was working.

This past Friday I had my weigh-in and I was down something small like .2 pounds. ALL GOOD. I wasn't even the slightest upset with the mini loss. First, I had lost a combined loss of about 7 pounds in the first two weeks which is a lot for me. Secondly the day before was Thanksgiving and I'm pretty sure that the extra sodium and wine wasn't helping my cause at the scale. As long as that scale is moving in the right direction I will take those .2 pounds proudly. :)

At this point even if I only lose .2 a week for the rest of my journey (annoying as that would be) I would be at peace with that. I'm feeling good. I'm exercising and moving often, eating right (for the most part), watching my portion size and doing a better job at hydrating. 

Starting line at Turkey Trot

On Thanksgiving I kicked the day off with a turkey trot. It was a great day. I ran it with a bunch of girls from the running club I belong to and it was great to see those friends. I planned for this race to be pretty much incorporated in as just a general training day. I didn't 'race' per se but I found myself pushing the pace more than usual. It's a tough little 5K because it is very hilly and it's also pretty congested for the first half of mile or so. Lots of little kids and walkers 5 across. This would not be the race to try to PR at. However, even with all that said, I wound up running it faster than I've done a 5K in a long time.  I've been training at around 11'50 - 12'00 min. mile. My hope was to be around 11'30 in this race. I wound up doing better - an overall average of 10'31! I didn't expect that.  It was a beautiful run. A little chilly (but felt great once running) big fluffy snow flakes falling and in a beautiful upscale, Bergen county neighborhood. 

And talking about beautiful - check out these sexy splits: 

9'56!? Wow. Haven't seen that time for a mile in a loooong time! Woo!

After the race we went up to my parent's house for festivities. I did well. I 'counted' my points for all the indulgences and between my weekly points and the points I earned through activity had plenty to cover. I'm happy about how I handled things.

Of course, the irony is that I did well on Thanksgiving and then while visiting a friend on Saturday afternoon wound up falling face first into a bowl of chips, dip and a few glasses of wine. :/

Partially responsible for that empty dish of french onion dip
Ooops. The good news is that I had the points to cover the damage thanks to a six mile run that morning and I had just got all my weekly bonus points back. The bad news is it's not the way I wanted to uses those points. Oh well. Crappy food happens every once in a while and the fact that I was aware of what I was doing is the key. It's important that I acknowledge it so I can learn from it and also adjust my eating the rest of the week to compensate for the slip. 

This Friday I'm heading to Palm Springs to participate in a Triathlon. I am signed up for the OLY distance but I'm going to drop down to the sprint. I'm not trained for the OLY distance - I have been exercising but focusing on running. I just haven't been motivated lately to work on my swim or bike. I don't know what my problem is. Part of me really wants to love triathlon but the other part of me just feels overwhelmed by the idea of breaking my training up into three different things. Just running is so much easier for me to wrap my head around. I'm not giving up on it yet (I just bought that bike!) and I'm already signed up for the Pococnos OLY next year but triathlon definitely continues to be a challenge for me. 

How was your Thanksgiving?

Thanks to you all for your comments and to those who've sent me notes I appreciate it!

XO
Jen



Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Talking Turkey, Weight Watchers and Running

Happy Thanksgiving!

So I'm into week three of marathon training already. It's a long-a$$ training program (24 weeks or something!) So far the runs have been manageable - a few 3 mile runs, a few 5 mile runs and I've been getting them all in - which feels great.

Beautiful park for running and eclectic collection of music getting me through the miles!

I'm aiming to run the New Jersey Marathon on April 26th. In case you didn't know, the New Jersey half marathon is what kicked off my whole "From Fat To Finish Line Journey" back in 2010. It was my first half marathon ever and what started me running.  I've run the half every year since and it's a very nostalgic and special race for me. 

I'm already signed up for it. To be honest with how crazy work has been I can't even guarantee I'll be in New Jersey to run the race! But the journey of training for a race is important so instead of not going for it, "just in case" I won't be here, I'm training. If I can't do that one I might find an alternate race around that time. We'll see. I am just finding a need to have a big goal and challenge right now. 

I'm also well into week 3 of doing the Simply Filling Program (a weight watchers plan) and it's been awesome. My first week I lost 5 pounds and last week I lost 1.6 - almost 7 pounds in two weeks! That's really solid for me. It's been a period of making some changes. The biggest sacrifice has been giving up my nightly cocktail. There's been a few cases of, "I could really use a glass of wine" that I have passed up. I'm pretty sure that the alcohol was a big part of my weight gain and weight loss stalls. I am trying to adhere to a "drink only on a holiday or Friday/Saturday" rule and limit it to one or two tops.  I've also been writing down what I eat and keeping an eye on portions - even of healthy foods. 

However, I also eat when I'm hungry. And that's what I like about the program. Not only can you eat but it doesn't have to be limited to just fruits or veggies. You could grab a bowl of black bean soup or have a little chicken breast with some sweet potato. Tons of whole, good for you foods are options. That makes me happy.

I am proud of myself because I've been striving to make good choices. Yesterday I conquered a challenge. I occasionally work as a freelance producer for a YouTube cooking show. During the course of the day we make 6 - 8 recipes and usually they are pig-out days. Not only do we eat what we make but the company also brings in a really impressive spread of food for lunch. Yesterday I didn't eat the food from the shows and for lunch I had a salad along with something I brought from home. I didn't feel deprived like I thought I might. I felt accomplished. If I felt hungry I took out one of my snacks (like yogurt or a banana). This was a major victory for me. 

On the cooking show set - all smiles no over-eating! 
I weigh in on Friday morning (which is the day after Thanksgiving this week.) And I'm not sweating it.

I've been eating good and exercising consistently. I'm doing it right. My plan for Thanksgiving is to eat moderately and indulge a little bit in seasonal foods that are worth it to me. I have saved some points and earned some activity points so I should be covered. Realistically I know that when I step on the scale on Friday that it might be artificially up simply because of the sodium and foods I eat (and the wine that I will be drinking) on Thanksgiving. I'm going to weigh in and not put too much stock in it - if I happen to show a loss, well, that would be awesome but I'm not going to be disappointed if I don't show one. I know I just have to keep eating well and exercising. 

For as rocky and tough it's been the last year or so weight-wise, I'm at peace with it right now. I don't want to sound like a spokesperson for Weight Watchers (I am not. Though if they'd like to throw me a few bucks we can talk ;) ) but this Simply Filling Program is so good for me mentally. It just brings me back to common-sense eating with a good balanced approach - with a little wiggle room for treats. So far so good. We'll see.

Tomorrow I'm running my very first 5k Turkey Trot. I'm kind of looking forward to it and kind of not. It looks like it's gonna be cold and today it's snowing but I am excited to start the day off right with a good run with friends. 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! How are you doing? Are you doing a turkey trot? 

XO
Jen 






Monday, November 17, 2014

Getting My Groove Back: Week 1 Recap

A week ago I wrote a post, "It's A New Day" and so far it's been good. 

Here are the results for week one... (cue confetti) In the first week I dropped five pounds! Yippee! 

Pretty unheard of for me!  I am usually lucky if I drop .5 pounds in a week.

To be fair I started off probably artificially elevated a pound or two in water weight because the day before my last week's weigh-in I flew across the country and then ended the day with Chinese food. But still, I'm pretty sure it was at least a solid 2.5 weight loss and I will gladly take that! :) 

For the first time in a long time I feel like not only am I back on track but that I'm not going to fall off track so easily. I know there will be blips and set-backs but not for weeks or months like what has been going on.

In that last post I reported that I was returning to Weight Watchers and focusing on the "Simply Filling" technique. Going that route has proven to be such a great call! I'm not sure why I hadn't thought to go back to that sooner - I did lose most of my weight following "Core" which was Weight Watchers first version of Simply Filling. 

I'm loving it. I'm loving it for all the reasons it worked the first time. The program is basically based on eating healthy foods until satisfaction with a little room for indulgences along the way. If you're hungry, eat something that is on the approved list or use your weekly points. No need to ever feel hungry on this program. It's been great. I also started week one of Marathon training - nothing too stressful - a 4 mile run, two 3 mile runs and one five mile run. Got the runs in and some strength training. 

I just kind of finally had a 'did things right' sort of week. I drank more water, I didn't drink alcohol during the week (I left my wine behind during the week but definitely enjoyed on Friday and Saturday), I wrote down my foods, and made a real effort to make good choices even in tricky situations. 

newest member of my household
silly but it's making me drink more water! 
For example, on Friday I had this thing with work and we had a pre-set menu to choose from for me (as a gluten free person) I could have gf pizza, gf pasta primavera, gf penne with vodka sauce, a cheese burger with no bun and fries, or a grilled chicken caesar salad. Now trust me, this is a really good Jersey Italian place and I know their pizzas and pastas are awesome. In the past even if I was trying to watch it, I would've just jumped for the pizza or pasta but I also know that if I did these meals would eat up most of my weekly extra points. 

I decided to get the caesar salad (no crutons) dressing on the side. I will not lie. As my co-workers received plates of pasta and pizza and I got my little dry salad with chicken, I had pangs of regret and food jealousy. But then I started to eat my little salad and it was tasty and I got full and felt good. No  it was not as tasty as penne with vodka sauce but you've gotta decide what you want in the big picture every once in a while. A mid-day work-lunch was not where I wanted to use 'indulging' points. And I also passed on the cheesecake and requested a plate of fruit. I'm happy I made that choice. 

delicious lentil soup I made for some easy SF lunches
RECIPE HERE 
Those were the types of choices that I used to regularly make years ago (2007-2010) when I lost my weight. Those choices become easier and easier as you make them. I am realizing that this weight crept up because I forgot about doing all that. I got too comfortable going for the delicious choice rather than the healthier one. I had fallen back into the habit of indulging perhaps more than I realized. If this lunch was two weeks ago, I  would've had the pasta and the cheesecake. I would've thought my pretty healthy breakfast and pretty healthy dinner (with a martini) "wasn't so bad" and scratch my head as to why I keep gaining weight. 

So, sometimes an old dog has to relearn old tricks. Guess that's just how it goes on. The journey never ends. :)

How are you doing? 

XO
Jen

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

It's a New Day

Why yes I have disappeared off the face of the earth for a bit.

Sorry about that.

It's been a time of reflection for me. I've been humbled by a gradual weight gain that I've been trying to nip in the bud.

My run has slowed, my jeans are a little bigger.

I have tried a few diets to get a kick-start loss but it seems I lose five and gain back 6. Kind of like how it seems to go for people. 

I guess the overall problem is I wasn't paying attention and I let a few bad habits come back.  I was in denial about that because I still exercise and eat pretty clean for the most part. This weight didn't come from all of a sudden scarfing a pint of ice cream every night or slopping mayo on everything. The weight has crept up because of the handful of potato chips a few times a week instead of salad with lunch. Or the extra piece of cheese on something instead of being cheese free. Oh and the nightly glass of wine after my son goes to sleep probably hasn't helped either. 

For a minute I felt doomed. I blamed my age and just kind of accepted that being 25 pounds overweight is the new me and I should just deal with it.

Ha. NO. I can't accept that. 

Right after eating about 10,000 calories worth of Chinese Food on Sunday night I get this.
Oh. Good news.

For a long time I thought to myself, "but I train now. I should be able to have a glass of wine or a slice of cheese." Yes. I should but only depending on how hard I'm training and how often I'm eating the foods. If I'm having one slice of cheese in the morning, a few chips at lunch and a glass of wine a night that's 350 extra calories a day -2,450 calories a week! Without thinking much about it, then add a nibble of chocolate or a healthy heaping of guacamole to dinner and well - this is how the weight creeps back. Something has to give (or be given up) so I'm buckling down and cleaning up my act. And I do not mean I'm hard-core dieting per se. I'm revisiting the idea of balance and moderation. I have to get on a scale once a week. I have to track my food. I've decided to go back to what helped me take the weight off originally and that was Weight Watchers. More specifically the "Simply Filling" technique.  Of course back when I was losing my weight it was called "The Core" program. 

I like this program. It's based pretty much on clean eating and you don't have to count many calories or points. You base your meals around "power foods" (most lean proteins, veggies, fruits, whole grains, fat free dairy and a little healthy fat like olive oil) and then you get 49 'points' for the week and can earn even more points through activity. You use those points for treats - like if you want a glass of wine, some cheese or something that's not on the power food list (I like to try to use some of my points for healthy stuff that's a little more caloric like avocado in my salad.) 

FYI wine is 4 pts. for 5oz. :) 

You don't weigh or measure your food, you eat until satisfied. I am not sure why I haven't gone back to this sooner. I lost my weight with the core program. I like that I don't have to obsess about serving sizes and can eat if I'm hungry - it gave me structure without feeling suffocated. Anyway... 

This is what my day looked like yesterday: 

Breakfast - 2 scrambled eggs, 1/2 cup of black beans and salsa on a corn tortilla (certain corn tortillas like "Mission white corn" are considered a power food - so the whole breakfast was Simply Filling)

Snack - banana

lunch - steamed shrimp and broccoli with brown rice and a cup of egg drop soup (2 pts for the soup) 

pre-workout snack - small lean turkey burger (no bun) topped with salsa

Run 4 miles - (earned 6 activity points) 

Dinner - Lean pork chop, steamed broccoli with 2 tsp. of olive oil, sweet potato with 1 tsp. of ghee. (1 pt. for ghee).

snack - 1 tsp of cashew nut butter (licked off the spoon lol) 1 pt. 

= used 4 points for the day (And by the way if I was hungry during any part of this day I could've eaten more - and anything on the Power Foods list - like ff greek yogurt with fresh strawberries might've been another snack or a cup of homemade lentil soup - I could've also used points if I wanted a non power food treat.)

Now this day isn't "WW perfect" technically the plan calls for 2 servings of FF dairy to fulfill the guidelines they provide. 

You might remember that I did Whole30 earlier this year and some of you might wonder why I don't go back to that. Looking back I felt it was a bit restrictive for me. I think it's a decent plan and I know many who are successful on it. I enjoyed my journey while on it but it's a lifestyle too and not the lifestyle for me at this time. I lost a few pounds with Whole30 but because I felt a little deprived on it, gained the weight right back. 

I like the WW Simply Filling Program because I can strive to eat healthy most of the time but use a few points on indulgent foods and drinks too. I have kept a few of the habits I got from Whole30 like using ghee, eating avocados, using cashew nut butter, etc - I just don't use them without abandon and keep an eye on the servings. And even though WW considers fat free cheese and some other processed foods "power foods" I, myself, will be avoiding the few processed items that make the list. I'd rather spend the points on a real piece of cheese for taste and I try to avoid foods with ingredients that I cannot pronounce. 

I'm on day 3 of the program now and feel happy. I'm not hungry, I'm eating foods I enjoy and for the first time in a long time I feel like I'm truly back on a good tack. For the first time in a long time I'm not afraid about the future of my weight and feel positive again. 

In other news - I started day one of a new marathon training program. 24 weeks until race. 

24 weeks to go, 25 pounds to lose and 26 miles to run...

It's a new day. I'm back on my path and once again going 'From Fat To Finish Line.' ;)

XO
Jen





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! 

XO
Jen


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?

xo
Jen




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.

XOXO
Jen



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

XO
Jen 






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.

XO 
Jen 





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.

XO
Jen




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. 

Signed,
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.

Love,
Jen




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!!

XO 
Jen




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... 

XO
Jen