Thursday, December 12, 2013

Honoring my Vegetarian-iversary!

I don't talk much about my decision to stop eating meat, and a lot of that has to do with the fact that most everyone has thought I have been vegetarian for a long time now. The truth is that I fully committed to this lifestyle choice after Christmas 2012.  I went back and forth through my teenage years, the waves of anxiety and depression made it hard to commit to much at that time in my life. Once I became better educated about food I tried to commit for the first time only four years ago. It lasted about 4 months until one day my Mom and I hiked Mt. Monadnock and I got the hunger signals that only protein could satiate. Being naive and under-educated, I really wasn't sure how else to quell such a craving other than with meat. We ended up going to a restaurant in Amherst and I ordered the five spice beef rice, and it was the best meal EVER.

Birthday Meal 2009 - kielbasa & mac 'n cheese
I reverted back to meat eating and 80% of meat consumption was local and/or grass-fed. At this point I only ate meat about once a day and never cared for it much when I did eat it. Honestly, the buffalo sauce is the only reason I ate chicken and I enjoyed being a part of the local, grass-fed beef cycle. Yet I was still bothered by my meat consumption - animals helped me find comfort all throughout my life, and this is how I returned the favor? Not to mention all the problems with environmental degradation and fossil fuel consumption associated with meat.
2010 regression - stir fry with my garden veggies & local grass-fed beef
Thus, I decided last November to give up meat after the holidays. I was not ready to handle all of the concerns from family and friends about how I could possibly get enough protein in my diet, and I didn't want to make a big deal at the dinner table. However, with a few years of living on my own and cooking for myself, I felt adequately armed with the knowledge and know-how to follow a vegetarian lifestyle.

The transition was really easy for me and it helped to have a supportive boyfriend on this go of it. He joined me back in January, and eats vegetarian 80% of the time now. Knowing where to look for cooking inspiration, where I can get the best price on local produce, and meal planning have been essential to my success. I am not a fan of having strict ANYTHING so deciding to commit was a big decision for me. I believe there is a lot of grey area in the world, but I just can't handle contributing to the pain any longer. I am aware of the issues with the dairy industry and have largely cut back on my dairy consumption (definitely have problems digesting it) and have incorporated a lot of vegan baking methods into my kitchen repertoire. I do not buy new material goods anymore and I make sure to get my honey and eggs locally.

I do not judge others based on the foods they eat, which is one of the most personal decisions we can make. Everyone has their reasoning for what works best for them aligned with their values. And in this openness I have found success in sharing meals with people of all different backgrounds. Sometimes they like my food, and sometimes they don't. This bonding over a meal brings up so many wonderful conversations and I'm always surprised at where we end up. If you haven't gotten it yet, I love food. I love meal planning, figuring out how to use new ingredients, and most importantly....sharing!

One final point: For any doubters - I ran a marathon based on a vegetarian diet, with only vegan foods before and during the run. I never hit a wall, never crashed, and never cramped. It is SO doable and if you're thinking about making this lifestyle change, there is no reason to not commit other than fear of commitment. I made this beautiful dish for Thanksgiving and plan on recreating it for Christmas in a couple weeks - it was that good! As we cannot afford to give each other gifts this year, my boyfriend and I will be sharing a healthful and delicious meal in gratitude for all that we have together.

Here's some inspiration, if you're interested:

Until next time...

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Post-Marathon Thoughts

I have been thinking a lot about what running a marathon means to me...and I cannot find many words. The experience was a lot less grueling than I expected. From the training all the way up to recovery, I was careful in respecting the distance, but gave those 26.2 miles more space than was warranted. I now have four half marathons under my belt along with four triathlons, so I did not feel like a stranger to endurance events. What's another two or three hours once you've already done several two hour-long events? Anyways, I realize that I could easily turn this into a rambling post with many paragraphs so I'm gonna stick to bullets.

First Race Ever: September, 2009


*Respect your Body: I got really sick after my 18 mile run and was never able to fit in my 20 mile run before the race. Sure, I covered less distance than I planned, but I was extra rested and just barely healthy come race day.

*Course Selection: I love running on hilly terrain, but in the end, I'm glad I choose a fast & flat course for my first marathon. The monotony has the potential to weigh you down.....but I'd rather be bored than mess up my knees.

*Podcasts: Do it! I learned interesting information and listened to inspiring stories about perseverance which kept my brain in the right place for 5 hours.

*Tell the World: Accountability keeps you going on those training days where you question what you got yourself into.

*Yoga: I went to class once or twice a week and I credit yoga with keeping me healthy. This time allows you to assess how your body is functioning, what may feel out of place, and stretching and strengthening in a safe environment are always beneficial. Bonus points on the class atmosphere!


*Cross Training: With life getting in the way, I dropped my biking & swimming. I continued these sports for about half of training....but feel my runners knee would be better if I had stayed with them.

*Shoes: I planned poorly with the timing of my purchase and my race. By the end of 26.2 my beloved Brooks Adrenalines were completely worn through on the R shoe, to the point where the foam middle was completely exposed. Those fancy shoes only work well when you use them correctly!

*Fuel: Compared to others I talked to, I thought I was eating enough. As it turned out I ended up burning 5,000 calories during the marathon and maybe replaced 500 of them while running. I was a bottomless pit for 3 days afterward, I would wake up in the middle of the night and eat raw tempeh out of the fridge. It was incredible how long it took to become satiated and I plan on proper fueling next time I tackle the marathon.

*Mental Preparation: I am not really sure how to change this yet, but the marathon was a huge weight that I did not know I was carrying. I was so busy that I had no time to acknowledge the anxiety I had about my largest physical commitment to date. The days leading up the race I started getting night sweats which I attributed to illness at the time. On race day I had butterflies like never before and could hardly keep my breakfast down. I will definitely acknowledge any fears I have next time and embrace them as a part of the process.

The marathon is a really incredible event, and I am looking forward to my next race. I truly expected everything to change when I crossed the finish line. That's what Hollywood says is supposed to happen. As it turned out, the transformation came gradually during my training, through the race, and continues through my recovery. More than anything I took those 26.2 miles to meditate and enjoyed putting one foot in front of another, with no other cares in the world. It was a great time where I had space to be selfish and take care of only myself. I truly loved every minute of the run and think the timing could not have been better. The fall of 2013 was a huge season for my personal growth and I am so thankful that Tim, my Mom, and Stephen were able to share in my day. Also - I cannot forget to thank my running partner who conquered the marathon in 2012 - Kimmy and I have learned what distance running is all about by sticking together and pushing one another. It's difficult to find such a well-matched and dedicated workout buddy, and I'm glad to have her around!

Our first 13.1 in June, 2010

PS. Signage is super important in keeping up morale! Here are a few of my favorites from the day...

"What happens on the course, stays on the course"

"I have met my hero and she is me"


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Smuttynose Rockfest Marathon Recap

I have had two weeks to process the big race, and now I can finally write about it. I will need to do a follow-up post about my thoughts post-marathon. But for now, I'm going to revel in the joy of being a new marathoner.

I started race day with a big bowl of oatmeal and a nice fresh coffee from down the way. Our motel had a communal microwave and that served my needs just fine. I was really happy to be able to eat my own food and not have to worry about what I was going to eat...especially since I can be picky about pre-race foods. All seemed to be going well.....until I discovered this situation in my bag.....

Yes - I packed a pair of mismatched socks. But not even two of my own socks - one of my own and one of Tim's! Ah! For a split second my mind screamed and raced with the lack of possibilities. Luckily, my real life scream woke up Tim and he saved the day. You will notice in photos that I am wearing mid-ankle length black socks. They are definitely not appealing to the eye, but his men's large socks saved my feet from terrible blisters.

I was lucky in that this was the only problem of the day. Well, unless you count cold, wind and rain as positives for a 26.2 mile run! I bought a lovely raincoat in August and I told the cashier this is my "no excuses, I am running 26.2 miles no matter what the weather brings" and my prediction was right. Plus one for preparation!

So clean & dry .... no idea what's coming
As I said earlier, my goal was to finish strong, happy, and healthy. I seeded myself in the last wave and enjoyed the company of ~5,000 other runners for the first eleven miles. The first four were along the ocean, the middle fiver were among neighborhoods, then we wound back along the ocean for another two. The split of marathoners and half marathoners occurred at mile 11 and man was that a lonely first mile. To go from running amongst many cheery people to a few determined runners was a lot to handle.

Luckily, Tim was waiting for me at mile 12 with the goods - Arnicare (right knee was trouble), banana, chocolate soymilk, and a refill of my homemade energy drink. I also took the chance to take some ibuprofen. He grabbed a quick shot of me and I was off.

The weather did not deter me, nor did the lack of runners in sight, and I'm not sure why. I had not run in about three weeks by the time the marathon came, so I think I truly got lost in the meditation of running. That, and Radiolab was helplful in keeping my mind occupied on others' stories. I ran the first half in 2:26:27 and was glad to see that my slow pacing was on track. I had trouble going slow on my long runs, but knew it was absolutely key in this - the longest run of my life.

First I passed the three hour mark, then I passed the 18 mile mark, and I was completely in unknown territory. I told myself to keep doing what I was doing and the miles and minutes continued to add up. I got a call from Tim somewhere around mile 18 saying that he was going to run with me. That thought kept me motivated until the end, and I couldn't wait to see his smiling face waiting for me.

Around mile 22 we returned to running along the ocean and it was so beautiful! I snapped a couple photos with my phone, but obviously I was coasting downhill so they are a little blurry. I did what I could to share with everyone!

Tim met met at 24 miles and I was so happy to see his blue raincoat from afar! It was like a snow day or Christmas morning, the anticipation of finally coming across his face. We chatted and ran together for two miles until it was time for me to close in on the finish. He sprinted alongside me - but on the other side of the barrier - in hopes of catching me at the end. It was so adorable and lovely!

I ended up sprinting the last .2 miles and finished feeling very strong, with a huge grin on my face. I got a time that was a *little* disappointing, but I accomplished my main goal: I crossed the finish. I did not walk once (well - except for the THREE bathroom stops I had to make). I did not sustain any significant injuries during the race. I was secretly afraid of DNFing due to freak injury in the unexplored miles of 19-26.2. Oh and my proudest accomplishment: I did not hit a wall!

4:56:10 ... avg pace of 12:26
My Mom and Stephen were waiting for me at the finish and it was really great to have more fans. I wasn't sure how social I would be feeling afterward, but it turns out I was excited and on a high that had not yet run out. We grabbed some photos at the finish then ran to the warmth of the motel room to freshen up. I had no trouble scarfing down a plate of nachos (I NEVER eat those) and a spiked hot apple cider. The little celebration lunch was perfect and hit the spot. We went our separate ways afterward and the big marathon weekend came to a close with our journey home.

Logistics-wise, this was the easiest race I have ever done. Our hotel was two blocks away from the start line, the check-out time was waived so we didn't have to pack nor move the car, and I was able to shower in my room! Kudos to the community of Hampton for being so accommodating to the runners.

It's hard to believe that this marathon has passed. I had never been so nervous in my life, even before my first 5K four years ago. I was so close to throwing up that morning, I hardly spoke to Tim before the race, and my mind was swirling with a mixture of doubt and excitement. But - I can now call myself a marathoner. This journey was a whirlwind....and I'm not sure it's over yet. To be continued.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Night Before...

Tim and I are in our hotel in New Hampshire, settling in for a quiet night before my marathon. If all goes well, I can call myself a marathoner this time tomorrow. The whole thing is kind of surreal, just like the fact that I am going to Mount Holyoke. Two years ago I never would have believed that this is where I would be. Do you know how ridiculous it is packing for an overnight trip to run 26.2 miles? Oh my goodness! I have not run anything requiring such preparation in...well, ever.

Packing included: homemade energy drink, agua fresca, chocolate soymilk, bananas, apples, apricots, polenta bars, oatmeal, espresso beans, fuel belt, watch, ibuprofen, iPod, sneakers, and all types of clothing because who knows what the weather will be like.

Is this a bit much? I'm not sure, but I know my body well, and I know that it is high maintenance. My ONE goal for this race is to cross the finish line strong and smiling. Time? I have a vague goal in mind, but that is nowhere near as important.

We started the night off right with fried pickles and pumpkin beer, then traveled to hang out on the beach in the dark. Now we're going to take it easy and try to stay awake for a couple hours. Who knew preparing for a quick trip could be so exhausting?

Tim will be traveling around to meet me at different checkpoints via bike. There were will be 5,000 runners, 10,000 spectators, and closed roads galore. I'm glad I will have his smiling face to meet me at different points throughout! I am one lucky gal!

Send out good thoughts, I've only done 18 miles thus far!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Surftown Half Marathon in Misquamicut, RI

Oh boy, Surftown, I have waited for you. The first year it just never happened due to lack of training and funding. I had just started AmeriCorps VISTA and was 100% broke and sick off of a summer of full-time waitressing. Last year, I was told by my physical therapist a week before the race that I had to sit it out, after forking over the $50 or whatever to register. This year? Oh.....Kimmy  and I conquered this race. FINALLY.

This half marathon takes place at Misquamicut State Beach in Westerly, RI and winds along the beachfront properties, out to Watch Hill, and back. It is a fast and flat course that offers beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean and has been on my list for a couple years now. My Nana lives in Mystic, CT so this course is accessible because I can sleep over 30 minutes away while visiting family!

The most remarkable part of the race was the start - and it was not good. In fact, this was the very worst start to a race I have ever had. There were 1,800 runners registered for the 13.1 and another 400 registered for the 5K. There aren't too many paths leading to the ocean, and our commute took twice as long as it should have. By the time we found parking we had to run 1/2 a mile to the registration tables, run 1/2 a mile back to the car, then 1/2 a mile back to the starting line. The race start had been pushed back 15 minutes and we still crossed the start line 4 1/2 minutes late! We actually had to walk the first bit because the 5K runners were already lined up our course and would not move out of our way when we tried to jogged through. Never, ever, have I had to travel so far from parking to packet pick-up, never have I encountered such disorganized parking, and never have I missed the start gun.

Lucky for us, our goal was to have fun and enjoy the race - how disappointed we would have been if we were planning on running for time! We grabbed our iPods as the course passed the car and decided to be obnoxious and talk over our music the entire way through. Looking back, we were probably very annoying to all those we passed. Considering that we started so far back, we passed many other runners and didn't shut up for a second of the over two hours of running. One man remarked, "Man you guys make this look so easy, I can't believe you're still talking!" We smiled and laughed - it was a nice reminder of how far we have come since our first half marathon in 2010.

Despite our goal to "take it easy" we still finished in 2:06:16 - faster than our first, and faster than I wanted to go! We went a little crazy with a sprint that made me want to vomit for the last .1 or .2 but it was well worth the fun. Our morning ended with free beer on the beach of an inlet. The race directors won our favor with all the SWAG - awesome ladies tech tee, fun medal, and HMF bag to boot!

After consuming our calories, we moved over to the ocean and did some yoga and gentle stretching. Oh man - if you have never done yoga IN the ocean after a race, you are missing out! It was such an incredible healing feeling and I felt so whole.

Next week: Rugged Maniac! I must be crazy.....

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Bridge of Flowers 10K Race Recap (8/10/13)

So some of you may have noticed that I have been absent in the blog world lately....especially my running bud! But with the abrupt decision to move into a new place for September 1st, my writing was definitely been put on the back burner. Since my last update I am now an unemployed Mount Holyoke student living in a beautiful new place and am only 19 days away from my first marathon. Wow!

Now - excuse me while I time travel and share a brief recap from the 2013 Bridge of Flowers 10K.  

My running friend and I decided to run this race in a very relaxed manner. This race is only run for tradition's sake, because nobody would run a 10K up a mountain in early August because it's fun. Ok, maybe that's an exaggeration - only 90% of the runners are seen walking up the hill. The atmosphere is intoxicatingly friendly and the beauty of Shelburne Falls is awe-inspiring. I mean, look at this view!

Kimmy and I have each done this race three times now. The monster hill comes in around mile 2.5(ish) and last year she ran all the way up the ridiculous hill. I hated her for it and decided it would always be impossible for me. As we approached the beast, I noticed that I was feeling a little confident. Cocky, maybe? But I set my one goal for the race: conquer the hill. I'm happy to say that I ran the entire way up! It must have to do with marathon training, as KB was not too keen on my brilliant idea this year. This was old news for my marathon veteran running partner.

Heading down, we talked, laughed, and coasted together - reminiscing about years past. We were serious about taking the race easy....or so we thought. Turns out we ran this 10K course in 1:00:44 - a course PR for me. Whaaat?! Crazy things happen when you have fun with friends. It's fun to dream of what may have happened if we actually aimed for time. Here's a finish line photo to prove that we did indeed run this course. As usual, we sprinted the last tenth of a mile. We changed things up and agreed to hold our arms up in victory as we crossed the finish. We ran so fast, this is all the photographers caught...

Look at that stance, man was I into that sprint! We had so much fun, and I know that I felt a renewal in my running energy. I feel like there is a learning curve that all runners must go through - especially when you start as an adult. I have just passed the anniversary of my first ever race (Smith Fall Fit 5K in September 2009) and have learned so much in the past four years. It has taken me FOUR YEARS to understand how to have fun in a competitive world. Better late than never!

Next up: Race Recap of the Surftown Half Marathon ... my white whale.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Holistic Healing

I have had another post in the works about my favorite summer foods and another about the 10K I ran on Saturday. But, this is what is fresh and feels pressing. I believe I wrote a little bit about the bursitis in my left hip that I struggled with about a month ago. It put a dent in my training plan as well as my mood - but also gave my body the break that it needed. In my time off from running I was bed-ridden for two straight days, where I was able to watch the complete first season of Orange is the New Black and totally veg out.

That time off of running also gave me the space to hike with friends and enjoy the freedom of being off a training plan....even it it was just temporary.

Anyways, after taking two weeks off I returned to running and have been fine ever since. Outside of my exercise regimen, I also had a lot of things in my personal life being mixed up: I am co-directing a 5K in November, we adopted a second cat, my term of service ends in two weeks, we decided to move at the end of the month and my first day of classes at Mount Holyoke is September 4th. Wow, talk about major life changes!

I set out for an hour-long bike ride today, and it wasn't until after getting a flat tire about 3 miles in that I realized maybe something is going on. I have hardly had any appetite this week and when it came to meal time tonight I just wasn't feeling anything.

When this happens I head over to tumblr to see what new recipes have popped up, outside of my regular blog reading. And then....miso soup. Yes. That is what my life is missing. I was sitting in my half-packed, darkening and increasingly chilly apartment, wondering what to do with myself. My stomach was queasy and I wasn't feeling up to much of anything. Not music, nor television, nor reading.

Inspiration hit and I suddenly found myself craving simple, wholesome foods. Beyond simple: miso soup with tofu. I don't even like tofu! When I went to the store for tofu, I picked up a Bolthouse Farms "shake" - with kale/spinach/romaine, cucumber, celery, and lemon. I am already feeling better.

I always forget to nurture the soul part of body and soul. Tonight is a reminder that taking care of the mental self is just as important as the physical self. My body is strong and recovered, but my mind needs time to catch up. This is why I strive for regular yoga practice, and truly hope to reincorporate it soon. By setting aside time to practice, I give my mind and body the time they need to process. I'm already looking forward to getting up early Saturday morning for my next class!

For now, I'm off to enjoy this refreshing treat! What do you do when in need of a break - whether it's physical, mental or both? For me, a little bit of cuddling is always a guaranteed stress relaxer!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Boilermaker 15K Recap

The fact that I am posting over a week late has everything to do with how awesome this race is! Ok....maybe that's not entirely true...but The Boilermaker Road Race is a one of a kind event that convinced me it is cool to "race" 9.3 miles and then drink endless beer at 9:30 in the morning.

Alright, rewind to the night before. I am sad to say that I left the camera behind as it was a whirlwind weekend and too tough to think about cooking, running, and visiting in all of 36 hours. This race sold out in a matter of four days and it is capped at 14,000 runners. This year was the fastest it ever sold out so I knew it would be a good time. Not to mention, my Dad's entire family lives in Central New York so of course I had to do a race in Utica! 

I had planned on running alone since I have gotten used to that by now - and one is certainly not alone among 14,000 others. But lucky for me my sister had an idea up her sleeve and connected me with some friends who were Boilermaker veterans. I got some advice the night before and then hitched a ride to the start first thing in the morning. My sister volunteered to cart my stuff around, my post-race essentials: camera, dress, flip flops, coconut water, chocolate soy milk, wallet. ESSENTIALS! 

Of course there was disorder and it was impossible to appropriately line up according to finish time, so we chose the first place we could find and stood...and waited....for what seemed like for. ev .er. This was my first 15K and I was a little concerned about the distance (9.3 mi), but more about how I would possibly find anybody at the finish.

The race started at 8:00 and we crossed the start at 8:04:29 ... woo, what a wait! This was the first time I had ever seen people just leave the course left & right to pee anywhere they could find. It was quite amusing and occurred for the entirety of mile 1. Mile 2 was the "International Mile" which I enjoyed, being a non-profit person and all. Mile 3 was my mental prep for THE HILL....and I obsessed about conserving energy for this monster. I think my photos found here were just after hitting that marker.

I had kept the elevation chart in mind so I knew that the peak of the hill was at the fourth mile marker. But with all of the people and beautiful scenery, I didn't notice how far along we were. So when we reached mile 4 I got a bit obnoxious yelling "THAT WAS THE HILL? WHAT? THAT'S IT?" Hahaha...tell me this elevation chart is not horrifying, I dare you! I did not actually read the numbers on the left-hand side...obviously.  

I happily breezed down the hill with the excitement of "conquering the beast" and got to use that coasting form I have been trying to perfect. Both of the guys stayed with me for mile 5 then one took off, and the other took off at mile 6. And then mile 7 hit.

Did I mention how there was music all along the course? I swear either a band or a DJ played at half-mile intervals and it was SO FUN. People were cheering continuously on either side of the streets, the zoo brought some animals out to play, it was awesome! And then you hit mile 7.....all is're on an overpass that is made of grooved concrete....and you're on the tiniest bit of an incline. I was alone, the road was wide, and spirits were low. IT SUCKED. I got bored and slowed down to a 10 minute mile because I lost interest.

In retrospect, I am disappointed that I let the atmosphere bring me down, but I came right back to life as the crowd thickened through miles 8 and 9 - both mostly downhill. Once I hit the 9 mile marker I was ready to sprint but panicked....where was the finish line?! I was looking for a big overhead clock and scanned the horizon, finding nothing. I even asked out loud and nobody responded. Then, with about .15 miles left, I found it and zoned in.

When my Dad prepared to shoot this picture, he said that he had me in the lens in front of him. Do you see me? No? Yea - that's because I flew! I had reserved energy to sprint the last .3 and was so bummed that I missed out. So I made the most of the time I had left and weaved in and out of those stragglers nearing the finish. Alright......that's an exaggeration, but I am unhappy to report that there was no competition as I neared the finish. 

This race definitely lived up to its claim that it is basically a party through Utica. There were so many people and so many djs, water stations, and showers that you could run through. Food was decent, I pretty much shoved everything resembling food that was thrown at me (no meat in sight). Certainly grabbed my two beers then reunited with the group. When we went back over for seconds, the jets flew over and the National Anthem was sung once more.

Under no other circumstances will I willfully run a race in mid-summer heat then proceed to hang out with 40,000 people at an after-party drinking beer on a Sunday morning. But the Boilermaker? That's a different story. I am so siked to make this an annual race, and my family is pretty siked about that!

BY THE WAY: I finished in 1 hr 26 min - that's an average pace of 9:13. Not too shabby for me, the girl who melts in the heat and humidity. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Quaboag Plantation Triathlon Recap

As I have just arrived in upstate NY to run the Boilermaker, I should probably write a recap on my triathlon from last weekend, eh?

On Saturday my Mom and I participated in the Quaboag Plantation Sprint Triathlon in West Brookfield. Neither of us had ever been out there before and we were both pleasantly surprised. I found this race by accident and only signed up because it worked with my schedule and was low cost ($50) for a Tri.

If you care to remember, this race occurred during an awful heat wave that had me, the one who can’t get enough of the outdoors and sunshine, glued to the coach under a fan. Yes, it was that hot. Or maybe I just need to move further North?

Anyways, the water was approaching 80 degrees by 8 am and we knew we were in for a tough race. My thoughts at the start line were “who cares about racing, I want to finish without walking” and “as long as I get in for 1:21 I’m good.” Yep – just a little confusion.

Swim ¼ mile in 10:35: The swim start was from a narrow entry point and they split the women up into two waves, under/over 40 years old. I learned right off the bat that the participants in this race were mostly strong swimmers and I fell back pretty quickly. I did maintain pace with one woman throughout the whole swim and we ran up to transition together, so it was good to not feel alone out there. My least favorite part of a tri is when you can’t find the shore due to the sun’s glare….how do you sight without a landmark?! Definitely one of my weaker swims and I was a little disappointed by my time.

T1 1 min 35 sec : I think I actually started to get excited during this point because this is the first transition where I dropped things and had difficulty tying my shoes. I was so excited to get on my bike and catch up to the others in my group!

Bike 12 miles in 41:41: Oh, the scenery was so lovely out here! I wish I had a camera because this bike was just beautiful. I recall the course as rolling hills with lots of trees and sunlight streaming through, but I might be glossing over the tough parts. There was definitely one hill that I had to stand up for, I saw the traffic jam of racers before I knew what was coming on that one. I passed 4 or 5 women here and about 9 miles in the men over 40 started to catch up with me. I can proudly say that I was the only one doing the passing for women under 40 – new for me on the bike! My pace averaged out to 17 mph which I guess is pretty good? I’m gaining confidence and taking advantage of the downhills & the drop handlebars. Considering my not-so-fun past with cycling & injuries, this is a HUGE step for me. OH – and I used some new energy snacks that I had gotten for free at the co-op awhile ago, they were some jelly bean type deal. They were SO good and worked SO well – I was pleasantly surprised. Ate these around mile 10 of the bike, easy to pop in and chew.

T2 58 sec : Quick, easy transition…other than more difficulties with tying my shoes. Apparently I came into T2 at the same time as the first finisher crossed. That excitement didn’t even phase me as I was ready to RUN!

Run 3 miles in 24:45: Did I mention it was a hot day? I mean….I have never been so hot while swimming in my life. I came out of the water with a red hot face, that’s how hot it was. The first part of the run was uphill with full sun exposure – ah! Luckily I just had some sugar & caffeine so my energy was high despite my tired legs. I splashed some water on myself and prepared for the run. I felt that I had a good pace and was not as tired as at my last Tri, that’s a win in my book! The run is always funny because my position in the pack just shuffles. I always pass around 10 people and feel awesome, then a 65 year old woman will sprint past me followed by 9 more. Every. Time. It’s interesting and exciting, there’s always more camaraderie on the run in a tri than anywhere else. Since running is you know, what I do, I feel that my big smile contributes to that. I depleted my water and homemade energy drink stores on this run and felt strong and hydrated throughout. The finish was downhill and at the end of a dirt path so it was easy to end on a great, fast note. Rather than try to calculate what 84 minus 5 equals and what that meant in regard to my 1 hr 21 min goal I just ran as hard as possible. Math just slows me down.

Imagine my surprise when I finished in 1:19:35! Only 35 seconds sooner and I would have been 4th in my age group, but I got 5/10 for F 20-29 and 63/121 overall. Most importantly – I crushed my goal time once again! I based my goal on my pacing for the last tri so I was proud to see improvement in only a month. The course was beautiful and I will gladly do this race again next summer (if I’m in MA!). If only I could do a triathlon every weekend……

PS Did I mention the awesome hats? QPT in the front and Swim Bike Run / West Brookfield, MA on the back. Sweet!