Millheim Sprint Triathlon

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When I decided that I was going to try this whole triathlon thing, I was most worried about swimming. To me, running was what I knew, biking was just what kids did, but swimming was HARD and new and I had issues wrapping my head around it. With that in mind, I signed up for the Millheim Sprint Triathlon. The thought, in my mind, was that I would have a short swim just to get the hang of it.

So, I signed up thinking “how hard could this be.”

The Millheim Tri is small. Less than 80 people did the “full” sprint. They also have a mini triathlon as well. The “full” is a 300 meter swim, 15 mile bike and 5k run. The swim is also in a pool, which is heated. You get to basically choose, on the honor system, where you will start in the pool swim. Not having a clue where I would be at the time I signed up, I said it would take me 10 minutes. Lesson number 1 learned – seed yourself properly. I was able to finish and get out of the pool in under 7 minutes according to my friend Debbie, who was there cheering me on. While I was really glad that I was faster, the pool swim at Millheim in a serpentine swim. For this swim, you went down and back, and then under the rope to the next lane to repeat for a total of 12 pool lengths. There was only 20 seconds in between each swimmer. That meant I stuck myself in the middle of a pool filled with swimmers that were slower than I was and a few others that had misjudged their time.

Prior to getting in the pool, the race director said that if you needed to pass someone, tap their foot and they should let you pass. In reality this didn’t happen. I was bunched up with several people and none of them would let me pass. I finally let the person behind me pass me, just so I was at least only dealing with people in front of me. Of course she wasn’t able to pass either. Lesson learned for the future, seed myself properly, and if I’m in the situation where someone needs to pass me, just let them go.

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Once I got out of the pool, I grabbed my sandals (there were rocky parts of the transition area) and headed to my bike. The transition took me longer than I would have liked, but that was because everything was wet and muddy. I was trying to somehow keep my feet dry, and also not sit in mud puddle. Lesson 2 learned, bring something to sit on so you can more easily transition.

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The bike started off awesome. I was actually passing people early on and feeling amazing. Then I hit a hill and some of my bad decisions from earlier in the day hit me hard. See, I had woken up nauseous and wasn’t able to eat. I took a bit of a banana, but other than that my stomach wasn’t handling anything. Lesson 3 – eat SOMETHING. I was totally dead at the top of the hill. I could not keep going. I pulled out a Gu and also a ginger chew from Trader Joe’s. I drank some water, took a breather, took off my long sleeves and stretched. After that I was able to get back on and finish the bike. This was another lesson as well. The huge hill I stopped on the top of was THE big hill, but I thought it was before the biggest hill. So I was riding cautious and worrying about getting to the biggest hill, when I had already done it. Lesson 4 – stay in the moment.

Pulling in with the bike was awesome. The hubs had brought both kids to see me, and I wasn’t expecting it. So I saw them both when I got off the bike. My daughter was a great cheerleader and so was Debbie. My son ran away and my hubs had to chase him, but I’m sure he would have been a great cheerleader given the chance.

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The run, well, it sucked. I totally underestimated running off the bike. I had not had time to do brick runs and was over confident considering I just ran a half marathon in May and felt like I was ready. I was not. I walked the first hill and ran/walked in the slowest pace I’ve had in a long time. I was pretty upset with myself. I had left my water pack on for the run, which was also a mistake. It added weight and heat, and there were water stops on the run, which was short enough that I didn’t need them. That will be my Lesson 5- be more minimalist in the run. I’m thinking no water and no headphones. It’s only 3 miles, I can do without.

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When I finished I saw that friends of ours had also come to see us, which was a nice surprise. After I rested a little and got changed, we all went to Elk Creek Cafe for lunch. I got a free beer as a race participant. The only problem is that I was still not feeling great and wasn’t able to fully enjoy my lunch because of it.

The rest of the day Saturday I was wiped. I napped and then I slept 9 hours that night. Sunday I felt like I was getting sick, but I napped again and ate some ice pops (I think I needed sugar) and was much better. By Monday I was pretty recovered. Oddly enough, I was never sore. I was more sore after a half marathon or a weight training session than I was after this race.

My Next race is in Cayuga in August. I have signed up for swim lessons and have a healthy fear/respect for the bike and run now, so I know what I need to work on. I’m hoping to improve. Since the swim is longer, finishing in a similar time to what I did in Millheim would be pretty respectable I think. Hoping that since my training is moving in to peak weeks I will see some definite improvement before then.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Kentucky Anniversary

I have been working with a triathlon coach who has made me a handy training plan which I was all set to follow 100%. Between the bad weather, the stomach flu, a little swim fear and an anniversary trip, I’ve not been doing as well as I’ve wanted, but I would say I’m about 80% right now. I really did have a lot going on and sometimes in life you have to just roll with it and that’s what I’m aiming for.

But I decided I’m going to mix it up and talk a little and talk about my trip to Kentucky.

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A basic summary of our trip to Kentucky

The hubs and I have been married for 15 years now. We left on a cross country trip in early March 2003 and when we got to Oklahoma a few weeks later, he proposed that we get married when we got to Vegas. I laughed, thought he was joking and then said “sure” when he assured me he was not joking. That trip was awesome for a lot of non-marriage related reasons. We didn’t plan much at all. We had a basic outline and timeline of when we wanted to be places. We didn’t book hotels or camp sites or decide where we were going to stay until we got somewhere. We stopped to see quirky things and found a lot of fun things to do along the way. Oh and this was before GPS was widely available and affordable, so we did it all with an Atlas.

This trip was similar. The hubs had a race in rural Kentucky that he was doing and so we decided that we would drive there together, and take a few days on either side to visit Kentucky. I had scheduled a bourbon tour for him for his birthday a few years back, but it fell through do to scheduling so I also owed him one. We decided to pick up a Bourbon Trail Passport to give us a general idea of where we might go.We went to all of the 9 distilleries on the passport and then also went to Buffalo Trace since that was something we both really wanted to see.

 

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We stopped and tasted a lot of bourbon and did more tours than I thought was necessary (but sometimes they made you do a tour to get a tasting). The one interesting thing was that a lot of the tours focused on different things. Buffalo Trace was pretty specific to their distillery. Wild Turkey was more about the process and took us into the distillery to see the mash fermenting. Bulleit was an overview of the history of the bourbon industry. So in that was it was good to have some of those experiences.

Overall we had a really great time and it was a nice time to get away from the craziness of work, kids, and training. I was able to come back and feel more rested and have been hitting my workouts more consistently.

In other news, I was able to sign up for the Millheim Sprint Triathlon which will hopefully provide me with some practice before my goal race in Cayuga. I’m hoping that provides me with a little extra confidence around the mechanics of a triathlon, which currently is my biggest worry.

 

Swim #2 and Muskies

Today I made it to swim number two, and it went a lot better. The weather was ridiculously wonderful here so I also ran prior to swimming. I wasn’t supposed to according to my plan, but how could I pass up 50 degree weather in February? I also was able to go for a bike ride with my daughter last night and had a good run Monday, so overall it has been a good few days. I had a horrible 7 mile run Saturday so I needed some good workouts to move me forward.

Even though I have a half marathon in May, I think right now I am most focused and concerned on learning to swim. The swim is the scariest part of the triathlon to me, so it was a good hurdle to get back into the water and just try to go at it. I am so lucky that my friend Debbie is willing to go. She is there to answer questions, but just having someone there to support me and also to share a lane with me with no judgment makes going so much less intimidating.

I have a long time to get better at swimming, but also a lot of work to do. There are a few reasons the swim is the scariest, and the more I think of it the more I’m figuring it out.

  1. It’s just new to me. I never swam laps much in my past, and also it’s not something that is natural. I’m not a great runner, but it’s just one foot in front of the other.
  2. I could fail. If I start the bike or the run, barring something weird happening, I need to just keep peddling or otherwise moving forward. I can stop for water or pull over if I need to. But if I’m swimming in a lake, and I can’t make it, there aren’t a lot of options. That is where I think I’m most likely to get a DNF.
  3. OPEN WATER. I touched on that last time, but open water is terrifying. Who knows what is in it? (The answer is “I DO.” Horrible sea creatures that are hell bent on destroying me for invading their space. Also plants that want to tangle me up and pull me under like they are possessed by a Disney villain) Also not actually knowing for sure makes me think that every little thing I touch is something awful.

To go along with that open water fear in general, I have a very specific fear. When I was a kid, my family would often camp near the Delaware Water Gap. My family had a boat and also a giant tube. We’d pull the tube behind the boat and hang on to it for dear life. One day, as I was getting on the tube, my older brother told me that I better not fall off. When I asked him why, he told me the Muskies would eat my toes. Now, You might not know what Muskies are, but suffice it to say that are giant ugly fish. I knew how giant and ugly they were because my family also fished for them, so I had seen them up close and personal. If you want to have some nightmares of toe eating fish, click here and here. Also Wikipedia tells me that they eat things like ducklings, birds, snakes and small mammals. Now tell me you want to hang out with your toes out around that thing. I didn’t think so.

Suffice it to say, I didn’t fall off the tube much. I was the smallest kid, but I was not letting go of that damn thing. So there it is, my stupid fear that I will not ever completely get over. But I’m going to try to work through the weird fear. It might not work out. But if I don’t at least try, I won’t know for sure. My friend Jeannie reminded me today that even making a difficult goal is something that you should be proud of, so I will try to hold on to that for now and hope I can also reach that goal as well.

Two out of Three ain’t bad

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Our crazy pre swim run – 3 miles through puddles, ice, snow, on to busy roads, through a park where nothing was cleared. But we finished! And then swam. There are not pictures of me at the pool since I figured that sort of thing was frowned upon.

Saying that I didn’t know what I was getting into when I signed up for my first Triathlon might imply that I looked into it. Much like most things in my life I kind of just jumped in and then worried about it later.

Some good examples might be that I ended up eloping with my husband just 7 months after we started dating and just 3 months after I graduated college. I jumped in to applying to law school without really knowing what I wanted to do. We bought a house quickly because we needed one before my husband could get a work dog. I consistently jump in to volunteer for everything without thinking, often double and triple booking myself with activities that all overlap. I signed up for my first half marathon without having run more than a 5k. I just kind of commit sometimes and worry about the details later. I don’t recommend it, but it’s worked for me so far.

As I said before this race sign up was emotionally charged. Amy R. (not to be confused with the Amy D. from my last post) announced she wanted to do this race, and since I love company on my adventures and I wanted to commit to a tri this year I hopped on it. I’m not completely crazy. I have plenty of lead time for a sprint tri. I know that I can easily run a 5k , and that while I couldn’t hop on a bike right now and finish 15 miles, I’m proficient enough that I can get there. That’s two of the three things. Plus, I mean I knew swimming was hard, but how hard could it be?

The answer, it turns out, is much harder than I thought. I will say over and over how fortunate I am to have wonderful people in my life. This time my friend Debbie gets the spotlight. I was terrified of my first swim. 90% of the reason was that I was worried about the lap pool. Would I be in the way of real swimmers? Would people be annoyed at me? Would some poor soul try to share a lane with me and regret it immediately. In stepped Debbie. After an insane run, she went to the YMCA in order to give me tons of pointers. Debbie is a marathoner and a Half Ironman finisher. She’s also just a really cool person and fun to run with. She watched me swim, watched me drink pool water, taught me what all the swimming gadgets were for, and gave me both long and short term things to work on. She was there to share a lane with me so I wouldn’t be so worried about it, and overall she was just very encouraging. I would have left after my first lap if I had to do it on my own, so I was very glad for the company and advice.

Now, I still have a TON of work to do on swimming. I couldn’t finish the swim right now if I had to, but again I have until August. I don’t know how I will ever figure out the breathing thing. But, I got into the pool for the first time and that’s a start. All I need to do now is actually learn how to swim!

On to the Next Adventure

I had mentioned to a few people last year that I was considering doing a Triathlon in 2018. I’ve been running regularly for over 2 years now. I was thinking of a Marathon, but it was never something I really wanted to do as much as something that I thought I should do since it was a logical next step.

One of the people I mentioned my triathlon thoughts to was my friend my friend Amy. A few years ago, when I was considering posting in the running page that is an offshoot of our gym, Amy was the one that encouraged me to post. She told me to give information about my pace and when I wanted to go. She mentioned that she knew there were other people out there with similar paces and goals to mine, that had not yet posted for whatever reason. I had been lurking on the page for a while, but when I saw the people who were running and the paces they were going, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to keep up with them and I wasn’t comfortable asking for people to wait for me. Amy  even invited me to come to help some friends map out the annual running group holiday run. She was recovering from Lasik at the time and would be walking, so there were no worries about pace.

I was not someone, at the time, that ever thought I’d be a runner. I had decided to sign up for a half marathon because at some point in my life, I put it on a list of things to do before I turned 45. I often joke that the version of me that made that list certainly didn’t know me very well. My thought at the time I started running was that I would do this one race, and then I would be done and probably never run more than a mile or two again. I did know myself well enough to know that I wasn’t going to run all those miles on the treadmill or all alone. On the other hand, I was terrified to meet new people, let alone people who would call themselves runners. But Amy was very encouraging and gave me all the reasons I needed to put myself out there.

The result of the advice Amy gave to me has been that I have found some of the most wonderful and important people in my life. These are people that I’ve spent countless hours with and yet I still get excited to wake up and run with them at 5:45 in the morning. Because of the time that we’ve spent together running and chatting to take our minds off the miles, these people know more about me than almost anyone else. To say that what Amy encouraged me to do that day is life changing is not an exaggeration by any means.

Now to the part that totally sucks. Amy, one of the most fit, wonderful vibrant, spirited, encouraging people I have ever met, was set to do her first half iron man last summer. Not to get into too much detail, but she got sick and eventually found out that it was all being caused by pancreatic cancer. She was not able to do that race and is currently not able to run, bike or swim. Amy has often said, even when she was in the midst of a hot, humid and long marathon training run, that we need to enjoy the process. She would say that we needed to think of the people who want to run and can’t or alternately remember that there will be a day when we are not able to do it anymore. At the time, of course, I thought that second part was years and years away for her. Instead, at a too young age, she is not able to do the things she loves the most.

I decided that I had to commit. I had to let her know that this year I was going to do a triathlon and that she was what inspired me to do it. I signed up and will be going to NY in August to do my first Triathlon (unless I decide to do a smaller, shorter, local one to get the hang of it but NY will be my goal race). I sent her a message and of course she was nothing but supportive and excited for me.

I have no swimsuit appropriate for doing anything other than chasing kids at the pool. I don’t own goggles. My bike is a hand me down mountain bike that weighs so much I can barely lift it. I am terrified of being in open water (because , of course there are sharks even in lakes right? I mean it FEELS like they are there. No? OK, well then snakes, and fish and someday I’ll tell you all about when my brother told me that Muskies in the river would eat my toes off) Let’s just say that there are a lot of stumbling blocks in my way to this goal.

Amy often says that when you make a decision to do something, sometimes the world conspires to make it happen. When I told my friends I was doing a triathlon, I was gifted a swim cap, a triathlon head band, and offered swim lessons. My running group will of course will be there for any runs I need. My friends told me all about the bike rides they would plan to go on with me that would end with beer (which they call “beer pressure.”) As always, they all came through. I don’t know why it surprises me every time, but I am so lucky. After all of that though, Amy reached out and offered to lend me her bike. This is amazing in so many ways, not the least of which is that I was seriously concerned about spending money on a bike. Also, I cannot think of anything more motivating or meaningful than to be able to train on Amy’s bike.

I feel guilty in a lot of ways for borrowing this bike. There are certainly people that are closer to Amy than I am and who have been by her side helping her through her illness. She has been such an inspiration to me well before I ever talked to her, that I can’t even imagine all the ways my life would be different if I hadn’t met her. I feel like nothing I’ve done for her or could do for her in the future will ever even come close to matching what she’s done for me. But she told me she really wants to do this and so she will again be the person that motivates me and pushes me out of my comfort zone.

I don’t start official training for a while (until after the Pittsburgh Half), but given all the things that are new to me, I will be getting myself in to a pool way before official training starts. I already hopped on the bike for a quick ride around the block so that I could see if any adjustments were needed. It was an amazing difference over my huge clunky mountain bike and now I believe everyone who told me I needed to get a good bike. I’m confident that the world will conspire to help me get there to meet my goal and honor an inspirational woman.

Resolution Run

As much as I like to travel to run, I also really enjoy local races. I am usually able to run with some friends, support a local cause, and there is minimal stress since there is no travel arrangements to make and childcare for a few hours is easier than for a trip away. It also means I can run in familiar places and I know what is coming next.

This is the second year I’ve done the Resolution Run 5K that is part of our town’s First Night celebration. The Hubs has done it a few more times than I have, and he is not one that does a lot of races. I think it’s just a good time for him to restart after the fall since his work and hunting schedule don’t allow him a lot of time to fit in work outs from September through December.

Last year, the weather was pretty mild for the end of December, and we knew we were not going to be going out for NYE, so it seemed natural to do it. I waited much longer this year to commit since our NYE plans were not set, and also the weather has not been as mild as it has been for the past few years. I also was burnt out from too many races so I wasn’t looking to jump in to another one, even if it was easy and local.

But then there was the Hubs. When we were visiting my mom a few days before the race he asked me if I had signed us up. I told him no, and then he told me the weather was going to be brutal. Thinking it was my chance to back out I told him we could just pass. Then he said the magic words. “I am going to still run, but you can wuss out if you want.”

Well, I couldn’t exactly pass on it now. So, I signed us up. I knew that at least a few friends would brave the cold with us, but I was happy with how many came.

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Some of my running group buddies who ran, not everyone showed up in time for a picture.

The other nice thing about the race being local is we knew where we’d want to park, how much time to leave to get there (it is less than 2 miles from my house) and we were able to quickly readjust when the initial parking plans didn’t work out. Because of that we were able to show up right at 8:15 for the planned group photo.

I wore 2 long sleeve shirts with my favorite winter running jacket, which has a built on balaclava, on top. I wore 2 pairs of leggings, one of which were fleece lined. I had new running gloves and a pair of wool socks. All in all despite the fact that it was in the single digits and I think a negative real feel, I wasn’t too cold. Part of that was getting there without much time to stand around.

I finished with an official time of 33:25, though my time would have been a little faster. There was no starting mat at this race, so that’s the gun time and not chip time. That’s pretty fast for me especially in those conditions, a course that starts on a huge hill and not having run much in a few weeks. I was pretty happy with the time. I ran with two of my regular running buddies, Becca and Debbie. I even “raced” Debbie a little at the end, which I’m sure she was oh so happy about. 26240957_962380779800_819002325_n.jpg

Hubs and I walked back to some of the first night festivities so he could get some hot strudel from one of the food stands.

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After that we headed home and had a relaxing night in. My sister in law and her boyfriend came over about 10 and left shortly after midnight. Hoping that I can do a little better this year since I want to really buckle down on weight loss and improve my half time enough to pace a good friend for her first 9 miles of her upcoming marathon.

Happy New Year!

Tim’s Turkey Trot

I LOVE my local 5K Turkey Trot. I have no good reason to love it. It is so hilly and the start is annoying and it’s never going to be my best time. But it’s for a good cause (the running club at the local catholic school and the Boalsburg Military Museum), the people are fun, it’s close to home and it’s just become a tradition at this point.

This year though, we traveled over Thanksgiving for the first time in a long time. Because of that I couldn’t do the local Turkey Trot. Our plans were still changing up to the last minute, so I wasn’t ready to commit to another race since I wasn’t sure where I’d be on the morning of Thanksgiving. When we figured out that we’d be at my Mom’s house that morning I thought I would be overwhelmed by the wealth of Turkey Trot opportunities since she lives in a fairly large area. Turns out that people in Northeastern Pennsylvania don’t love their Turkey Trots like I thought they would. In searching my only option was a 5 miler race called Tim’s Turkey Trot. I wasn’t planning on doing 5 miles that day and I have been doing much shorter runs since I was working on a heart rate plan and running by time rather than distance. I hadn’t run more than 4 miles since I did the Wineglass Half in October. I thought that I would just run on my own in the morning before we got on the road. My husband, however, got it in his head that we were doing this race AND he was offering to run it with me. He’s much faster than me, so we generally don’t run together, so it was nice that we’d have an hour to chat uninterrupted by kids, get a head start on the calorie burn and get some exercise before we got stuck sitting in the car for a long time.

It was only about 5 minutes from my mom’s house, which was a nice bonus. When we got to the starting line, in Forty Fort PA, there were a lot of people doing race day registration. We hopped in line to sign up. Unfortunately we didn’t get shirts since we registered late, but since I rarely wear them anyway, I wasn’t all that disappointed.

The start of this race was ridiculous. It wasn’t that cold for a November morning, but it was cold enough that no one wanted to stand around longer than needed. For whatever reason though, 5 minutes after the race was scheduled to start the race director stood up and gave us a turn by turn of the ENTIRE course. The course, by the way, was well marked and manned by volunteers. It would have been tough to get lost. At this point the Hubs started making jokes about the directions since they used landmarks that neither of us knew. He kept talking about how we needed to “turn right at Jimmy’s house.” At least it kept me laughing to distract me from my frozen toes.

After the turn by turn directions, she then went into all the sponsors. I get it, they need to mention them, but at that point I was so cold, I just couldn’t care who they were. After that they played the national anthem. It was the longest version of the national anthem ever. In true NEPA style, they grabbed a mini flag from a small child and held it up. Parts of the crowd saluted and even yelled an un-ironic “Merica!” at the end. I’m not judging, it was just a very different vibe from races I’ve done elsewhere.

By this time I was so ready to just go. I was already nervous about running a longer distance and faster speed than I had attempted in months and I couldn’t feel my toes. Once the race started though, I quickly forgot all of that. It’s not the most scenic run, but it ran through neighborhoods that I haven’t seen for a while since I don’t live there anymore. We also had a few people yell funny things at us about “chasing the turkey” and s few racers chat briefly along the way. As weird as my hometown and surrounding area can be, the people are really nice and not afraid to chat with you.

The first half mile was fun since we were still joking about the pre race ceremonies and deciding which house must be Jimmy’s so that we knew to turn there. There we signs with distance every half mile and then there were also additional signs at what seemed to be quarter and three quarter spots that had sponsors on them. The volunteers were cheery and helpful and encouraging.

As for me, I had fun just spending some time chatting with Hubs and catching up on things. We’re both so busy with kids, work, friends, pets, and other things we don’t often have time to just chat. The pace was really easy for him, and felt moderate to me even though my HR at the end was really high. I didn’t feel like stopping at any point, which was one of my worries since I’ve not been running as far recently.

I had set a mental goal of finishing in under 1 hour, and I knew at mile 4 that it was very possible. I kept a good pace (for me) and finished in 57:51. There was beer at the end, but we just grabbed some water and headed home since we had a long day ahead of us. Overall it was a good race. We both said that we would do it again if we found ourselves in town on Thanksgiving day. We just wouldn’t be in a hurry to be outside right on time and maybe would bring wool socks.

As a side note, I love unplanned races. Signing up race day and just doing the run is always a less stressful process for me. I think I will do one or two more local races this year. There is a Rudolph Run 5K in a few weeks and then the Resolution Run 5k on New Years Ever. I haven’t signed up for either one yet, but hope that I can do them both. If nothing else, the Resolution Run has always been a fun way to end the running year and get in a few last miles. Plus a lot of friends do it so I can see them before and sometimes right after.

As a side note, it’s hard to believe that this year is almost over and that I’ll be training for my Spring races soon. The most exciting of those races is the Pittsburgh Half Marathon. Where I will get to run the first 9 miles with my good friend Loren who moved to Texas, but is coming back to do her first ever full marathon. I hope that having a goal of pacing her will help me be consistent with my training. I’m not aiming for a PR, but I want her to be able to run with me and run at whatever pace is comfortable for her.