Saturday, April 26, 2014

DC Rock n Roll Marathon

Why did I sign up for a spring marathon you may ask? Well, my dad qualified for Boston at the Des Moines marathon last fall and this was all the motivation I needed to train through the winter and try to get a qualifying time. We both ran Boston together in 2003. How wonderful would it be to be able to run Boston a 2nd time with your father… would be absolutely amazing of course!
My dad and I both signed up for the DC Rock n Roll marathon held on March 16th. I knew if I were going to do a marathon to qualify for Boston 2015, I would have to do it at the beginning of the year. Marathon training would not be conducive for me right in the middle of tri season.
After 70.3 Worlds last year, I was ready for a long break. I had trained hard all year for Ironman Mont Tremblant, suffered through Worlds three weeks later and my body was TIRED. I took over a month off from working out. Then I slowly started to add in running a few times a week and taught Body Pump and cycle classes at Gold’s once or twice a week. In December, I was mentally and physically ready to start training for the marathon. My training plan was to get in just enough fitness to get under 3 hours and 40 minutes. This training was quite interesting and was definitely the least amount of training I have ever done for a marathon! But, it didn’t consume my life and I worked out when I felt like it.
I do not advocate minimal training for marathons, but I figured why not experiment with some different ways of training. (Plus, I’ve had years of experience running marathons so my body is used to endurance training).
Here is a summary of what I did:
·     December was base building time (sort of).

·     I did not use my heart rate monitor from last September until the end of February. Most runs were on the treadmill until about mid February. Crazy cold and snowy winter this year! My heart rate is always higher when I run indoors since I get so hot but I know my body well enough to run by how I feel. I got outside mid January for my first long run of 13 miles.

·     I skipped several long runs on the weekends after that first 13 miler. I decided to experiment with two-day runs. I believe I did three of these two-day long runs getting in 12, 15 and 16 miles split up into six on the treadmill at lunch and then 6-10 after work.

·    This was the winter of snowstorms! I remember the day before Valentine’s Day there was a big storm and I was going to be gone over the weekend. So, I ran ten before the big storm and then 8.5 the next day with some good friends in the snow! (picture that was featured in multiple press releases below; one press release here) Now, that was a workout!

Alejandro, Trevor and I running in front of the Lincoln Memorial

·     After that storm, I finally got in an 18 and 20 mile run….then it was already time to taper ha!

·     I took Ron’s indoor off-season-cycle class on Saturdays in January and February. These classes were two hours long with some intense intervals. I know I gained a lot of fitness incorporating these classes into my schedule. Thank you sweetie for kicking my butt on Saturday mornings!

·     Weekday workouts consisted of a couple five-six mile runs with some intervals and a spin class or indoor trainer ride here and there. It was not uncommon for me to take two to three days off each week.

·     I have not uploaded anything to Training Peaks from my Garmin since last September! I would write some notes in TP, but otherwise I just kept it all in my head. I figured if I tried to look at my speed, HR and distance too much, I would psyche myself out since this was not the normal training schedule for me.

·     I made sure I kept up with my back/core exercises, became a foam rolling fool, went to the chiropractor once every week or two and finally the last five weeks before the marathon my PT did some dry needling (intramuscular stimulation). I know my body well and know when I need a little extra help from my chiropractor and PT to dig deep, stretch, rotate, strengthen and do some ART on my muscles.

My purpose for giving my training plan is to show that you do not always have to follow a plan exactly the way it is written. Sometimes, it is just more fun to go with the flow, not worry about all the data and listen to your mind and body. I have also been an endurance athlete since college so have figured out what works and what doesn't work.

The Race

My dad and I had a great time hanging out together before and after the marathon. The day before the race, we drove some of the course and then finally gave up on trying to drive the last ten miles because I kept getting lost and it was nearing rush hour. We both ran the half together last year so knew what to expect for that portion of the course. I had heard from several friends that the second half was pretty boring and didn't have too many spectators along the route. I usually don't run with my headphones in races (in most races this is prohibited) but knowing I would need some extra motivation that second half, I opted to bring my iPod with me. Disclaimer: I pay attention and am aware my surroundings when I listen to music while running. I'm not one of those people who will cut you off just b/c I have headphones in. I hate that! 

Pre-race selfie! Metro ride to the race

Our good luck bracelets from Sadie, my dad's training partner's daughter!

It was very easy to get to the actual race site by metro. Finding the VIP area to drop off our bags and use the bathroom at the hotel was another story. Let's just say when we got off the metro I was turned around and led my dad on a mile long journey which should only have been a few blocks. This created some stress because I had to be at the start line 20 minutes before the race started. I had a surprise for my dad.....I was singing the National Anthem! My plan was to just walk up to the stage and tell him right before I sang. But, since we got to the VIP area a little late, I had to tell my dad that I was supposed to sing and that we needed to jog to the start line. Once we got to the stage, they let my dad stand on the side of the stage with me. I was honored to have been asked to sing again at a large event, but what topped it all of was having my dad right there with me! I didn't get a video this time so I'll just link to the video from when I sang at the Nation's Triathlon in 2011
We stopped to get a picture of the Capital when we were walking the wrong way to drop off our bags. 

With all the emotions from singing, it was funny to look at my HR before the race even got started. Maybe that's why my HR ended up being so crazy high for most of the started that way! lol 

My dad and I did not plan to run the marathon together. He knew he wouldn't be running as fast as me this race since his training was not where he usually wants it to be at for a marathon. Since he had his Boston time, his goal was to run nice and easy and not beat up his body too much. 

The half and the full distance runners all started together. It was very hard to not take off with all the half marathon runners. I kept telling myself to just run my own pace and try not to get caught up in a pace I knew I wouldn't be able to hold past the first 13 miles. 
I like that this course now goes through Rock Creek Park instead of having the long steady climb through DC on Connecticut Ave. However, for some reason I forgot about the steep hill on Calvert leading out of Rock Creek Park. Now that was a HR spike! Once I got up that hill, I didn't get back up to my marathon pace until I got my HR down. The crowds were awesome! My dad said he remembered the drummers that were on the course around mile nine and how they really pumped him up last year. They were there again! I smiled knowing my dad would enjoy hearing them again.

Next came the dreaded turnoff signs...'Turn here for half marathon finish' and 'Marathon course, turn here'. It did help a little that I was mentally prepared having run the half course several times. Even worse than running past the half finish turnoff was separating from the energy of all the runners and then all of a sudden running with a lot less people. It was crazy how quiet it got! My heart rate was actually pretty high for most of the 2nd half. It was reading high zone 3 into low zone 4. I didn't feel like I was working hard enough to be in zone 4 so I just focused on how I felt and tried to ignore my heart rate. I chalked it up to nerves and adrenaline.
Once I got to mile 19, that's when it started to get tough. The course went over a grated bridge that HURT the bottom of my feet. Once across the bridge, it was time to head into Anacostia Park. I had been told that it was  going to be reallllly boring and quiet during this part of the race. Let me just say that I was thankful I had my music with me. A guy was pacing off of me (which became a little annoying after awhile) and I just needed to zone out and try not to get distracted by anything. I didn't want to give into my muscles wanting to stop at this point. I did get to see my teammate, Mindy Ko, ahead of me who finished with a marathon PR!
I knew that I would have to be mentally tough the last six miles. I got through it, but I knew my body wouldn't be too happy with me after this marathon. I ended up running fast enough to get under the 3:40 qualifying time for my age group, finishing with a 3:35. Once I crossed the finish line, I got some fluids, tried to get a little bit of food in me and then went back to the finish to find my dad. When he crossed the finish line, I knew by his face that he was not feeling the best. I was just so happy to see him and so proud of him. My dad is one tough, determined guy! I ran up, gave him a huge hug and started to tear up. He told me he walked/jogged a lot once he got to mile 19 and felt horrible. My dad was pretty hard on himself, but he still got 4th in his age group! Serious props to my dad for sticking it out when it hurt and getting through his 22nd marathon (it actually might be more than 22....he will have to verify!)
After the marathon
After the marathon, it was nice to be able to go to the VIP tent to get our things, change, and eat some good food with some good friends. A big thank you to the Competitor Group for giving my dad and I the VIP access tickets for singing. Just singing the National Anthem is an honor and thanks enough to me!

Boston 2003


The week after the race, I could definitely tell that my recovery was going to take longer than usual! I was completely exhausted for two days after the marathon and my legs felt sooo sore! The muscle soreness stayed around longer than normal. I took that whole week off from working out. I typically take awhile to recover after long races, but I knew it was going to take a bit longer this time around since I didn't train as hard or as consistent as I usually do. That's's so worth it because.....

I'm going to Boston in 2015 with my Dad!

I am truly blessed and thankful to have been given the opportunity to run the Boston marathon with my dad not once, but twice!

Post race relaxation with Oreo

Delicious cake that Ron made after the took him about the same amount of time to make this as it did for my dad and I to run our race ha!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Ironman Mont Tremblant Race Report

I started writing this race report over two months ago. I can’t believe it is now November! After the Ironman, life was pretty crazy. I hopped on a plane the next day to Denver for a week long work conference, came back to DC for a few days, visited my family in Iowa for five days, back to DC two days, then flew to Vegas for Worlds. Whew! I’m very surprised and thankful that I did not get sick with all of that traveling after putting my body through an Ironman. Since I was so busy after the race, I didn’t really get a whole lot of time to reflect on it until I was done with my travels. I was on my Ironman high the week after the race and then struggled with trying to a do a little training before 70.3 Worlds three weeks later. I opted to not race in Iowa at the 5150 HyVee Championships. There was no way my body would respond well to that!

Needless to say, after 70.3 Worlds, I was ready for a break. Sometimes I have an on and off switch and the past month it has definitely been in the off position. I know I needed that break and I’m finally to the point where I want to work out again. The past month I’ve also struggled with post Ironman blues, coming off of being in the best shape of my life, to sucking wind and hurting when I go for a run. If you have not done an endurance race before, you might wonder where ‘post race blues’ come from. It boils down to this….you work so hard and put in so many hours of training for one race over the course of 6 or so months and then all of a sudden it’s over in one day. So, in a long way of saying it, I now feel like I’m in the right frame of mind to finish my race report.

Ironman Mont Tremblant
I finally have a race to report on! I’ve never done an Ironman without doing some other shorter distance triathlon before it earlier in the season. So, I went into this race not really knowing how I would feel. Luckily, my build in July went well so I had some good distance runs and rides to give me some sort of idea of how I was feeling. I’m not the fastest swimmer and even slower in open water so I was more in the dark about how my swim would go. I just hoped the horrible swim I had at the Rev 3 Williamsburg would not mentally haunt me when I hopped in the water come race day.
Pre Race
Ron and I ended up flying into Montreal the Wednesday before the race. We both had to hop on a plane the Monday after the race to get to Denver for a work conference so driving was not an option as originally planned. Plus, unfortunately, both of our backs can’t handle being in a car that long. We got a ride from our friends, Alejandro and Karen, from Montreal to Mont Tremblant. We were staying in the Mont Tremblant Village and you could definitely feel the race excitement as soon as we got there. I would highly suggest staying in the village where all the race action takes place. It makes everything so convenient! Packet pick-up, transition and the race finish are all within walking distance. The swim start is close as well and about a 10 minute walk.
DC Tri Snapple Teammates with our cool Custom Yogi Towel

Two days before the race, Mindy, Bart, Ellen, Karen and I headed to the lake to test out the waters. We all put on our Xterra wetsuits and hopped in. The water was amazing! You could see all the way to the bottom in the shallow parts! During the practice swim, there was a boat giving out shots of coffee. So cool! I stopped on the way back in for my morning caffeine. Too bad there isn’t someone to hand me a shot of coffee halfway through my swim practices! I might actually swim more often with that service. ;)
The practice swim definitely put my mind at ease. Being able to see in the water makes a lot of my open water swim anxiety go away. I was actually excited for the swim portion of the race now. Whew! Soooo relieved! And the water temperature was perfect!
View of the lake the day before the race.

Race Day

I try hard to make sure I get everything organized the night before a race and have definitely learned from mistakes I have made in the past (like forgetting to bring my race bottles filled with nutrition at not just one but two races! Luckily, Ron saved the day at both those races and got my nutrition in time for my race. I’m so thankful to have such a wonderful boyfriend!!) I forgot to do one big thing the night before this race and that was put my chip on my ankle so I didn’t forget it or lose it. Well, come race morning, after dropping off my special needs bags, I realized I didn’t have my chip! Luckily, we were staying right by the start so I could run back up to the room to get it. Nope…I could not find it anywhere! I thought, ok don’t freak out, you can get a new one at the start. Once we got to the start line I started asking any worker or volunteer I saw where I could get a new chip. No one seemed to know who I should talk to or where I should go. I followed several people around for what seemed like a half hour and then I broke down. I started to cry, telling Ron that I was not going to have a time for the race and running around all over the place. He told me to calm down and said he would get me a chip to have when I came out of the water. I did not want to do that and have to worry about it the entire 2.4 miles of that swim. I didn’t need any more anxiety added to the swim. I walked up to the start line and asked if they had chips, and low and behold, that is where they had them! You would think that would be the obvious place to look, but when you already have Ironman race jitters, anxiety and every other emotion that comes before a big race, you aren't always thinking rationally. I was so relieved! With a few minutes to spare, I ran over to Ron, got my good luck kiss and hug, and lined up with the rest of the women in my age group. I was finally ready to start this race. 
Mont Tremblant Village

This swim was one of the best swims I have experienced in a triathlon! Being able to see to find feet helped out a ton and the water was perfect for my long sleeved Xterra wetsuit. I found a couple good drafts the first half and then the second half I couldn’t seem to find someone to draft off consistently. The water seemed to get a little choppier on the way back in too. It seems like most swims in a triathlon I see something that makes me laugh out loud and swallow a bit of water. This time it was watching someone swim smack into a buoy. I didn’t feel bad laughing b/c I know they are soft and the person didn't get hurt. I like it when I find something to make me laugh when racing because it relaxes me a bit! Once I saw the beach I was so excited. I was at the point where I could stand up but I swam as long as I could. I found the wetsuit strippers and then ran the quarter mile to T1. It didn’t seem as long of a run to T1 as I thought it would.
Swim time: 1:14:48

Everything went smoothly in T1. Then I was off for a little bike ride! This bike course is awesome! I have found over the years that I like rolling hills mixed with a few flats. The course had it all. It was two loops and the steepest hills were in the last ten miles.

The first loop of the course I was surrounded by the 45 and up men since they were just ahead of my swim wave. There were several men out there who did not enjoy getting passed by a girl. I just wish men who feel this way would get over it. It’s so annoying to keep a consistent pace and then have someone push a little bit faster just to pass you and then slow down again. Which means you then have to slow down your pace to keep from getting a drafting penalty. I played frogger back and forth with several guys the first loop. The second loop is where things spread out more and you don’t see the people who started out too fast anymore.
This is what was smiling at me from the roof of a barn...only a lot bigger!

There were several things that made me laugh during the bike portion of the race. There was a HUGE stuffed cornstalk on top of the roof of a barn waving and smiling at us all. It made me smile and reminded me of all my friends and family who were cheering for me from Iowa! I actually have a tiny version of this stuffed cornstalk on my desk at work so I felt like it was put there on the race course to make me smile.

Then on the way back in from the first turn around you get to one of the steeper climbs. I was coming up along the side a group of men and all of a sudden I heard one of them say, “Oh great! Here comes the bitch.” At first I was like what the hell is that guy’s problem. Then I made a joke of it and looked at him and said, “I hope you’re not talking about me.” He laughed and said, “No, I knew once I said that, you probably thought I was talking about you. I’m talking about the bitch of a hill up ahead.”

All of us around laughed a bit and then we all got silent as we started our climb. It really wasn’t that bad! I think the worst climbs of this course were within the last ten miles. That also meant some really fun descents! It was fun to hear the race wheels as they sped down the hills and see the smiling faces of the athletes having a blast descending. I saw my teammate, Mindy, on one of the climbs and we cheered each other on. She had a wicked fast hour swim! Then towards the end of the second loop, my other teammate, Ellen, came up on me. It was fun to go back and forth with each other and chat a bit. We ended up having about the exact same bike time! Once I got to the steep climbs the second time through, my legs were definitely ready to be done with the bike portion! I averaged over 20 mph the first 56 miles and then ended up just under 20 mph the second loop because I couldn’t keep as fast a pace on the steep climbs towards the end. I was very pleased. My goal was in between 19.5-20 mph.
Bike Time - 5:39:12

When you finish the bike, the volunteers take your bike from you and then you run right into transition. T2 went very smooth and actually was a quick transition. Time for my favorite part of the Ironman, the marathon!

Well, let’s just say that the marathon is the favorite part of the Ironman for me if I’m having a good day since I love running. My marathon in IM Cozumel a few years ago was not a fun one at all! I could tell that my body was ready to race hard at Tremblant, and I was pumped that I had achieved both my swim and bike goals so far. The marathon is where you can either reel it in or have everything fall apart. Luckily, my running legs showed up that day! I took off holding a sub eight minute pace. This was a bit fast, but after seeing how I felt the first few miles, I decided I was going to keep that pace as long as I could.

I enjoyed this marathon course. It’s a two loop course. After about three miles, you get to run on soft, finely crushed gravel. You go out three and continue back in three with about another half mile or so until you get back to the pavement. The transition to the pavement hurt a bit, especially the 2nd time around! The few hills didn’t bother me a whole lot. I made sure to train on similar terrain and if definitely helped a ton! I got to see so many of my friends on the run course which helps a ton to encourage each other! I knew I was hydrated and have never peed so much in a race before! I decided since I was throwing my shoes away after this race and I was trying to get a Kona slot, that I would just pee when I needed to and not worry about stopping. Yeah, sounds gross but at that time, I didn’t care! One thing I did find out though is you will feel wherever you are chaffed from the bike when you just decide to pee in your tri shorts. I know TMI but just a heads up if you ever try it. ;)

When I started the run I took a couple Advil and pepto bizmo pills. I had done this at IM Louisville so figured I’d try it again. It worked for the first loop so to be on the safe side, I took one more Advil and one more Pepto around mile 17. This might have been a bit too much. I ended up getting a side ache around mile 19. It wouldn’t go away, so I walked for just a little bit to try to shake it off. It went away enough to run without side pain to the end. My pace definitely slowed the last seven miles. I wasn’t too worried though. I saw Ron the end of the first loop as you run through the village. (This is one of the best parts of the run where you can feed off the crowds energy, get chills and prepare yourself for the second loop!) Ron didn’t tell me what place I was in for my age group, so to me that meant I wasn’t close to top three. I told myself to just run how I felt the last few miles of the marathon and just get to the finish line.

I ended up passing a few other girls in my age group within the last two miles. Sometimes I fear doing that with that much distance left, because you never know when someone still has some gas left in the tank to give you a chase if they see you are in the same age group. Luckily, none of them wanted to battle it out with me. Whew! I didn’t have too much speed left in me for two miles. However, when I had half a mile left ,when I entered the village with all the cheers, the adrenaline took over my body! I absolutely love the feeling of the last half mile of an Ironman! The Ironman finish is not something you can really describe and you just have to experience it. I ran with my head up, smiling ear to ear, knowing that I was going to PR and go under 10:40! All muscle pain left my body that last half mile and as always, I just soaked it up and enjoyed one of the greatest feelings I’ve ever experienced. I crossed that finish line with tears of joy and with my arms raised in the air. I was a four time Ironman finisher! My marathon ended up being 3:33 just a few minutes over my goal of 3:30. I’m completely satisfied with that, because I thought shooting for a 3:30 was a bit fast. I’m happy that it wasn’t too far out of reach!
Marathon time: 3:33:55
So happy to finish!!!

A volunteer put a finisher medal over my head and walked me over to where we could get food and sit down. For a little bit, I just sat there in a zone with tears streaming down my face. I was so ecstatic that I felt great throughout the race, ended up with a PR, didn’t have any mechanical issues and for being healthy at the beginning and end of my race. I must have worried one of the volunteers because he came over and asked if I was ok. I told him I was just emotional from finishing and just thinking about the day. He said he would keep an eye out on me until Ron showed up to be sure I was ok. This is just one of the many great examples of the wonderful support the volunteers give to all the athletes!

Ironman time: 10:37:39 - 6th in 35-39 AG

I found Ron and we hung out at the finish line for a little bit. I asked him what age group place I ended up in, and he told me 6th. I tried to not be disappointed because I know 6th place is great, but I also knew that there were probably only about three Kona slots to be given out in my AG. I tried not to think about it until the next day when slots were accepted and would head to the roll down.

I did not feel the best after the race so couldn’t stay at the finish line too long. I found out that if you take pepto during the race, it can have bad side effects after. My stomach hurt so bad, and I couldn’t go to the bathroom (you know what I mean) to feel better. I had to lie down in bed most the night and didn’t even eat dinner until about 10pm. I really wanted to go down and cheer for my friends finishing and see the last finisher at midnight. Unfortunately, my body did not allow me to do that this time. I might have to rethink my strategy with taking certain pills during the run. I don’t train this way knowing taking Advil and Pepto is not the best for you body when working out but it has worked for me at long distance races in the past.

The next day was roll down. This is where you might get a chance to claim a slot that one of the other athletes didn’t claim. I saw that my age group only got three slots. I knew that meant a very slim chance one would roll down to 6th. I have to admit, my heart sank when I found out that all three slots were taken. I sooo wish I hadn’t aged up to 35 this year. There was one slot that rolled to 4th place in the 30-34 AG and that would have been my placing! Ah well…it just wasn’t meant to be. In the end, I met my personal goal of getting a PR in all three disciplines in an IM and an overall IM PR, while feeling great and had a blast sharing the course with so many friends. I’m so thankful to have finished injury free and healthy and just feel blessed to have the ability to train/race this distance! There’s nothing like an Ironman high! 
I'm also thankful for my wonderful family, friends, Coach Mackenzie and Ron for all your support. Training for an Ironman takes a lot of time, energy and dedication! It can be hard at times to fit everything in, so all the patience and support is very much appreciated!!

Off season is here and it's now PUPPY TIME!!!!
Our new puppy Oreo! I love this little guy!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Summertime in DC...I Mean Swamp Land

Just like every other summer in DC, the summer of 2013 is living up to the usual hype of high humidity and high temps. Unfortunately, I have felt the wrath of DC summer once again with my training and racing. As I get older, I definitely don’t respond as well to the heat as I used to!

Crazy hot day in July!

The Race (er Races) That Were Just Not Meant to be

My first race of the season was originally going to be the Kinetic Half back in May. If you follow my Facebook posts at all, you know that this was the time Ron was battling his illness from Cancun. The weekend of Kinetic, he was not doing well at all, so I stayed home to take care of him. Getting Ron better and healthy was my primary focus of course and racing would just have to wait.
Then, my next ‘first’ race of the season was Rev 3 Half in Williamsburg, VA the end of June. I had been feeling off a few days prior and experienced some light headedness a few times the day before the race. Even though I had been hydrating, something with my body didn’t feel right, but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was. I just chalked it up to me being nervous, tired and every other excuse besides getting sick since there was no way I could be sick right when I’m supposed to race right?!  
I do have to say that the swim at Rev 3 Half in Williamsburg was the worst swim I’ve ever experienced! Even people who are excellent swimmers and who have been swimming their whole lives said the swim was awful.

The start included a wade/waddle for what seemed like forever until the water actually got deep enough to swim in. Then the chop was out of control. I just thought it was from the wind and the direction we were swimming but found out later, there was a barge that was coming in so it was creating the rough waters. I saw several people stop and have to call out to get some help all around the same time I swallowed about a gallon of water and was dry heaving which caused me to panic a bit. I’ve never been so happy to see the finish of a swim. This swim definitely did not help the way I was feeling, so I decided to call it a day. After getting cleaned up, Ron and I came back out on the course and cheered our friends on to the finish line. A few days later I realized that I had made the right choice to stop racing. I ended up in the ER to be treated for dehydration and heat exhaustion. This has never happened to me before so I know part of why I got to this point was b/c my body was still fighting something off. If I had known I wasn’t 100% still, I wouldn’t have gone out for such a long run in the heat and humidity. I’ve definitely been cautious and have been very in tune with my body since!

Into July, peak Ironman training began. This consisted of several 100 mile rides and 15-20 mile runs for the several weeks build to taper time. A week after my trip to the ER I was well enough to do the Total 200k but stopped at mile 108 knowing that was definitely enough for that day in the heat, and stopped while I still felt good. No sense in setting myself back again! My mom also visited for about a week and we got to spend the 4th together. Thank you mom for your support while I got in some of my training while you were here!
At the top of the 'Newseum'

Since my training was on and off through June, my taper was going to consist of two weeks, instead of three. That meant, I could sign up for Bike to the Beach for Autism! Even though I had to make a last minute decision to ride, I ended up being able to raise $650 for Autism Speaks! Thank you again to all my friends and family who donated on such short notice. I was so pumped when I got to do this ride for such a great cause a 3rd year in a row. As of last Friday, Bike to the Beach has raised $398,982 for Autism Speaks! If you’d like to learn more about the event and charity rides click here.

The ride begins near the Capitol at 5:00 am and you have a rolling course for 33 miles into Annapolis. This year there were over 500 riders. It's quite a site to see hundreds of bikers riding through the streets of DC with red blinkers flashing away! Bikes are not allowed to ride over the four mile Bay Bridge (thankfully!) so everyone gets shuttled over the bridge and then another 15 miles or so to the next start point. Ron and I were going to spend the night in Dewey Beach so he met me in Annapolis and drove me over. The rest of the ride was pancake flat. It was nice to get some flat riding in b/c I have been training on hills all summer in prep for Mont Tremblant. I can tell the hills have helped me build leg strength b/c the flats felt real good. Surprisingly, I hit mile 100 at 4 hours 53 min and this included the slow part getting out of DC in the beginning! That’s a first for me to hit 100 under 5 hours and I was pretty much by myself the last 70+ miles!! I was beginning to feel my body peak! I love that feeling! The ride ended up being 107 miles. I met Ron at his car and had to get ready for an hour run. I ran towards Rehoboth Beach and got to run along the Boardwalk then into a nice shaded neighborhood. Ron and I used to have a share in a beach house several summers ago so it was nice to bike and run around some of the old training spots I used to frequent when at the beach. After my run, we hung out at the finish line for awhile, showered up and took a two hour nap! We were watching our roommate’s dog, Chuck (love him!), for the week so we just hung out with Chuck, got some dinner and relaxed the rest of the night.

For my last long run before my IM, I ran 20 miles. I lucked out and the weather was perfect that Sunday in DC! Mentally and physically, I wanted and needed to see if I could hold 8 min. pace comfortably. My training session was to do 2 min. 30 seconds faster than marathon pace, 4 min. steady marathon pace. I wanted to simulate the IM marathon course as best I could so chose a hilly route that included crushed rock. I ended up averaging under 8 min. pace for the 20. Once again, I surprised myself since my body has caused me to second guess my ability several times this summer. After this last long weekend of training, I felt I had peaked and was ready for my taper to begin!
It is now race week and tomorrow morning I leave for Montreal. I am so freakin excited!! I have so many friends who will be racing and there will be so many of our friends and their families out cheering on the race course. Ron is flying up with me and we are staying with our good friend Alejandro right in the village close to the finish line. Sweet! I can’t wait to share this experience with everyone up there this weekend! I also hope to have a race report to share for my first race (finally!)of the season when I get back! I'm hoping to be able to do another blog post while I'm in Mont Tremblant before race day and post some pictures of the beautiful area.

Oh and please excuse any edits I may have missed. I wrote this earlier and finally posting tonight. I need to get to bed and get on my flight to Montreal at 6am tomorrow. Woo hoo!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Pilates at ATHLETE Studio

First Pilates class at ATHLETE Studio - using the Reformer

Earlier this year I saw an announcement posted on Michele Landry’s, ATHLETE Studio’s Facebook page, that she was looking for one female and one male who would like to be put through six weeks of Pilates at her new studio. I have been meaning to start doing Pilates or Yoga consistently and thought this sounded like such a great opportunity! It’s so hard to fit in stretching, strength training, core work, Pilates/Yoga on top of triathlon training, however, it is sooooo important for injury prevention. So, I sent in my story. I haven’t talked about it much on my blog so here is a brief summary with the email I sent to Michele:

Here are my reasons for wanting to particpate in your 6-8 week pilates series. In 2008, I found out that I had a bulging disc in my L5-S1. I started out going to the basic prescribed physical therapy at a hospital doing some basic lifting. Then I got a few steroid injections. In 2009, I was training for my first Ironman. The surgeon told me he didn't think it was a good idea to do it but I didn't let that discourage me. From that point, I found a great chiropractor at Capital Rehab and started to get needling done at Sports and Spinal PT. All of these things helped me get through my first Ironman and since then I have done two more, just missing a Kona slot by 3 minutes at Louisville in 2010. I did halves and under last year and this year, I am doing Mont Tremblant and 70.3 World Championships in Vegas. I still struggle with my back/hip/hamstring issues and I know a lot of that is my lack of core strength. I still go to the chiropractor about once a week now but I know this alone is not going to get me through my tough training I have ahead of me the next five-six months. I haven't even been putting in a lot of training yet and I feel my hamstring/hip/back bothering me. It worries me a bit b/c I have set some challenging goals to try to reach this year. My ultimate goal is to try to qualify for Kona at Mont Tremblant. This will probably be the last time I do an Ironman for quite some time as I'm going to take some time off from that long of distance. So, this year I'm going all out with my training and need to definitely take time to do core and strength training. I want to do what I can to get to the start line at Mont Tremblant with a strong and healthy back and try to race my best Ironman ever. I know the only way I can do that is to work on my core and back strength. I do not take the time like I should to do this on my own. I feel a set program like this would be so helpful for my body and training and help prepare my body to be able to push myself in all three disciplines. My swim is the worst of the three sports and I know have a strong core would definitely help with keeping the proper swim form.

As I mentioned in the email above, in 2008, I developed a bulging disc in my L5/S1 vertebrae. In case you don’t know what this is, here is a definition from WebMD:  A bulging spinal disc occurs when the disc's soft, jellylike center (nucleus) is squeezed into cracks in the disc's outer covering, weakening and stretching that covering. As a disc bulges out from between the neighboring bones (vertebrae), it can press on nerves that travel to the legs or arms and can cause numbness, weakness, or pain.

Ron and I were training for the NYC marathon at the time and I knew something was not right. After visiting an Orthopedist, I started going to physical therapy and was prescribed Celebrex. Ron and I would always joke and say we had to take our ‘happy pills’ after our long run. He was also dealing with his own back issues so had some happy pills too. Lol I was not so happy when my whole right leg went numb at mile 16 of the NYC marathon! It went away luckily (for the time being), Ron and I finished our marathon together (his first!) and when I got home, I had an MRI done to confirm what was going on with my back. From there, I had a few spinal transforaminal epidural injections which helped for the short term. Then I found a wonderful sports oriented chiropractor, Dr. Beck with Capitol Rehab in Arlington, and he started treating me with adjustments and active release therapy. (I will be blogging separate about this soon in greater detail! It’s great stuff!!)

So, what exactly is Pilates?


1.    A system of exercises using special apparatus, designed to improve physical strength, flexibility, and posture, and enhance mental awareness

Pilates is a body conditioning routine that may help build flexibility, muscle strength, and endurance in the legs, abdominals, arms, hips and back. It puts emphasis on spinal and pelvic alignment, breathing, and developing a strong core or center, and improving coordination and balance. Pilates improves muscle tone, balances musculature, supports correct posture, and teaching to move with ease and grace.

Michele has a great explanation on her website here. In the picture above, I am doing an exercise on the Reformer, essentially a moveable mat with pulleys and springs to provide resistance.
On a Facebook post, Michele, explained what my muscles are doing in this exercise below on the Stability Chair:


Intermediate Sidebends on the Stability Chair.

Lots happening here: Internal and external obliques working like crazy as she laterally flexes the spine, glutes and hamstrings are engaged and isometrically holding to prevent her hips from flexing. Her core is on fire to prevent rotation of her torso. Court is also doing a fabulous job maintaining scapular stability all while avoiding tension in her head, neck and shoulders.


As Michele mentions on her website, Pilates is great for anyone!

If you sit at a desk all day for your job, I’m sure you notice your body slouching over. Doing this day after day, can lead to horrible posture and back issues. If your job entails standing, lifting or any type of repetitive motion, body alignment and proper muscle balance is key to prevent injury. In the sport of triathlon, triathletes are constantly moving in one plane (sagittal plane – forward and backwards movements) while swimming, biking and running. If you ask a triathlete to do an activity that involves side to side movement (frontal plane) watch for the freaked out look you will get! Lol But, we need to do exercises in all planes to obtain balance!

While endurance training is excellent for the body in so many ways, if you do not focus on some sort of injury prevention with musculature strength and flexibility, injury is inevitable. You can’t expect your body to continuously move in one repetitive motion (overuse) and not have some sort of musculature imbalance. This is exactly why I signed up to do Pilates at Athlete Studio.

In my 20’s I could get away with running day after day and not have too much of a problem with nagging injuries. When I turned 30 all hell broke loose!.....Well, not really but my body could definitely tell I had been doing marathon training year after year (sometimes two a year) and I had developed some muscle and postural imbalances. I experienced plantar fasciitis then some hip/hamstring/back issues all related to that bulging disc that developed. Definitely not fun things to deal with!  Sure, I’ve been teaching Body Pump classes for over ten years and some strength training on my own but that is not enough to prevent injury with the type of exercise load I put on my body.

I’ve learned a lot since I developed that bulging disc, yet, I never made myself attend yoga or Pilates until I started up with Michele this summer. I even went through Stott Pilates training before I moved out to DC (just never took the test to get certified) so definitely understood the benefits it has on the body. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes an injury like what I had, to really buckle down and do something about it. I don’t recommend that to anyone, but who am I kidding…..when we are younger none of us think we can get injured!

Michele is an endurance athlete herself and has years of experience training and working with athletes. She believes that ATHLETE studio can help athletes reach another level by incorporating Pilates training along with endurance training. After doing my first century of the season in June, I went to a recovery Pilates class the day after. I felt amazing when I was done and actually went to the pool for a recovery swim after class. I had one of the best swims I’ve had all year! My legs also didn’t feel as sore as they usually do after putting in that type of mileage. Needless to say, I’m hooked! I now have six weeks until my Ironman so I’m looking forward to continue to see the great results Pilates is doing for my training! Michele also has recovery boots for clients to rent and pay for some time to use at the studio. I’ll blog more about those in my next post!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

I'm blogging again!

Wow, this has been the longest amount of time I have gone without writing in my blog. I think it has been about six months! There is just too much that has gone on in the past six months to write it all out, so a brief update will have to do.
The beginning of the year didn’t start out too well. Ron hurt his back, we had to reschedule our Cancun trip, Ron’s Grandmother passed away (she lived a wonderful, healthy 95 years!), I battled horrible allergies and finally on our rescheduled trip to Cancun, Ron, caught some sort of nasty virus or parasite or what the hell was that thing?!?!….We still don’t have official word, but after four doctors, two trips to the ER and Ron being poked and evaluated many, many times, the infectious disease doc came to the conclusion that it was most likely enterovirus. He thinks he most likely had something else as well and at one point we were told that Ron had giardia (ahhh a parasite with eyes and it smiles!) Whatever made Ron sick, it lasted a long seven weeks! L  He’s still only about 90% and slowly gaining back the 14 pounds he lost during this whole ordeal.  So, needless to say, it has been a pretty stressful few months!
We did have a nice time in Cancun before Ron got sick. This picture was one of our favorites we picked out from a photo shoot we did with the resort photographer.
The last time I wrote, I was contemplating running the Rock n Roll marathon in March. Well, that didn’t happen because my dad and I did not have the time or motivation through the winter to put in the many miles needed to run a marathon. My dad still came out to DC to visit and we did the half together. I also got to spend a little over a week in Iowa the end of May to spend time with my family and good friends.

Fun ride in Iowa!

In April, the DC Tri Snapple Team went to the Lost River Barn in West VA for some amazing riding around the mountains. We all got our new cycling kits and I have to say, I really like the colors and the way they turned out! The weekend was full of some great training and delicious group meals. It’s so fun to be able to bond with everyone on these training weekend!

Snapple Girls at camp

 Just a few weeks ago, I rode a century for Tour de Cure for Diabetes. I do this ride every year and I am always thrilled to be able to ride for such a great cause! Everyone out there was riding for a reason and promoting a healthy lifestyle to prevent the onset of diabetes. Good stuff!
Ron got to do the 20 mile ride and this was his first ride since being sick!
The past several months I have started to focus on changing my diet to help me with my allergies and sleep patterns. I have been meeting with a holistic doctor who has helped me with this journey. I have also started to take Pilates with Michele Landry at her new studio Athlete Studio.   Coupled with my weekly visits to Capitol Rehab, I believe my body will stay strong through my Ironman training this year. I want to dedicate a separate blog post for each of these and hope that some of the information I start to post about will help others and/or maybe spark some interest in what these life style changes are all about.
One more thing….I finally have my first race in Williamsburg, VA next weekend. It will be my first test to see where I am at with all the training I have been doing.  I just really hope that it is not crazy hot because I already know my body is not adapted to training/racing in the heat and humidity yet. We shall see!  

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Going back to my marathon roots...part II...Plus an Ironman

So…..yes, I have decided to do a marathon next March! I have chosen to train for the DC Rock n Roll marathon which will be on March 16, 2013. My dad will also be racing! Usually, we do the Cherry Blossom 10 miler but my dad said he’d come out for the marathon instead. The only bad part for my dad is training for a marathon through the Iowa winter. Right now as I write this, the state of Iowa is getting ready for their first blizzard of the year. Last year, Iowa actually had a pretty mild winter. I’m hoping for my dad’s sake that the rest of the winter won’t be like the next two days. At least I will have a white Christmas when I’m back! I am happy about that, however, I’m not looking forward to leaving the 50-60 degree weather we’ve been having in DC this week. I’ve already decided that I have to get my long run in here tomorrow before I hop on a plane to Iowa Friday morning. It’s going to be in the single digits there. Ouch! My lungs would definitely not be up for running outside in that! Looks like my dad and I will be spending some time at the Y. Which is fine, but I can’t stand doing more than 10 miles on a treadmill so I’m hoping the weekend after Christmas it at least warms up to the 30’s so we can get outside. I think I have become a little bit of a wimp with training outside in the winter elements since I left Iowa. Now, getting on a bike if it’s below 50 degrees doesn’t appeal to me at all! I remember training for Boston one winter when I lived in Iowa and had to get a 20-miler in one day with my friend Dave Mable. We ran all 20 miles in the cold, wet snow during the beginning of a blizzard! Now, that was roughing it!

I had to think hard about whether or not I wanted to train for a marathon this winter. The main thing I had to think about was whether or not training for a marathon would be a good idea to start off the long season I have ahead of me in 2013. My big news is that I have signed up to do Ironman Mont Tremblant which is in August! Yes, another Ironman….but, after 2013, I may have to retire the distance and stick with the half distance and under. I loooove racing the IM distance b/c my body loves the endurance. Ironman training just takes up a ton of time, energy and requires a TON of life balance. I will be working very hard on the life balance part by doing a lot more workouts in the early am and getting the right amount of sleep. This will allow more time with friends, family and of course everything else that goes on in life. This IM will be the main race I will focus on for next year because I really want to try to get my time down some more. If this is going to be my last IM year, I’m going hard and pushing my body to the limits. So, I admit, starting out with a marathon in the spring is a bit risky. Why? Well, several reasons which include:

·         Burnout when I get into my hard Ironman training.

·         More risk of injury.

·         Training through the winter…which won’t be as bad in DC if we don’t have several snowmageddons.

I think I’ll be ok though and this is why. I’m still only going to be running 3-4 times a week. All my running will have a purpose and there will be no junk miles! During the week I’ll have two days that will include either, track, hill or tempo work, a day of a semi-longer run in the middle of the week and then the long run on the weekend. So, it will basically be like the training I do for an IM and just doing more running at the beginning of the season than I normally do. If I do start to feel any type of injury flare up, I will back off and make a decision on whether or not to continue with the marathon training, or drop to the half. I will not jeopardize my whole triathlon racing season for the marathon and will be smart about it. Being smart will include doing my strength training exercises and stretching that my coach and chiropractor have told me to do, swimming a lot (good for recovery) and using that damn foam roller all the time! (Oh hurts so good!) I’m really looking forward to running a marathon again and having my dad come out and run it as well!

In the meantime, I have taken some time off from structured workouts. I just started getting back into a training schedule this month. It has been nice and exactly what I needed in order to be motivated and ready to go for 2013! My mom and I took a trip to NYC the week of Thanksgiving and had a blast. Here are some pics from our trip.
In front of Rockefellor Center
Empire State Building


Off season is a great time to catch up with friends you haven't seen for awhile and to not worry so much about diet, what workouts to get in and just have a blast during the holidays! You can even incorporate exercise with fun group workouts. Last weekend I did a fun 10 mile run with High Cloud. We passed out winter hats to the homeless and stopped along our route to get some pictures in front of the White House and Capitol Christmas trees. You have to have fun while training and I’m definitely incorporating a lot of group workouts into my training regime next year. This shouldn't be a problem since there are about 50 DC Tri Club members training for Ironman Lake Placid and 10 or so training for IM Mont Tremblant. Fun times to be had!
I wish everyone a very happy holiday season!!
10 Mile run - in front of the Capitol Xmas Tree
In front of the White House National Xmas Tree
Kathryn's 30th Bday Wine Tour Party
IAFF Work Party