Ready, Set, Race!

“Ready, Set, Race!”

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Those were the words my 2.5 year old was saying as he raced back and forth across the kitchen a few weeks ago as I was making dinner.

Sometimes you wonder where kids come up with some of the things they say but in this case I had a pretty good idea. Owen sees my husband and me participating in races constantly and he has picked up on what racing is and of course that you get a medal at the end. It’s all about the bling, right??

I want Owen to understand that we race for fun and we race to stay healthy so I was really eager to get him involved in running as early as he wanted to. Since he was showing signs of it I searched for a kids run that I could sign him up for.

My search brought me to the Veteran’s Day Dash 5k held at the Shenendehowa school campus in Clifton Park, my Alma mater! The 5k race started on the track and then proceeded out onto the roads through the campus before looping back and ending with a lap on the track. The kids run was held before the 5k and consisted of either a ½ mile or 1 mile option. I was a little concerned that the ½ mile was even too far for his little legs so I spoke with one of the organizers of the event who informed me that he didn’t have to do 2 laps, he could just do 1 and that would be fine, it was all for fun.

So we planned a day out for racing and since we were in the hometown we also planned a trip to my mom’s house for a visit once the race festivities were over.

Wednesday morning dawned cold and dreary. It wasn’t a hard rain, but it continually misted the entire time we were outside for the race. We got down to the school early so we killed some time in the car playing games on my iPhone before venturing outside to sign up Owen for the kids race and pick up my number and swag. Once that was taken care of we headed out to the track so Owen could stretch his legs and we could move around and get warm.

IMG_6089The kid’s races were held in 2 waves, one for the ½ mile and one for the mile. Promptly at 9AM the little kids were off! Owen was probably the youngest, or close to it. There was one guy pulling his son in a wagon and there was one other little girl who was close in age but the other kids were all much faster. Owen was a champion and only got a little distracted. He ran once around the track, ¼ mile, and earned his medal. Although he might not understand it completely, I was so excited for him to be involved. I hope that he continues to want to be active and involved in the racing community.

IMG_6096 Once done there we hunkered down near the bathrooms under shelter from the rain before the 5k start time of 10AM. As it neared 10 we made our way back to the track so Owen could run around before having to get in the stroller for the 5k. There were a bunch of high school students involved in the race who were all warming up on the field so Owen was right there with them running around. As they started the commentary before the race began I packed Owen back up in the stroller and got ready for my race.

I wasn’t really expecting much from this 5k for myself. I really was doing it only because of the kid’s race held before and because it forced me to run fast. My goal was just to finish feeling strong and have a good time.

The start of the race was a little congested with the jogging stroller. As much as I love to see all the students involved in the race some of them don’t quite understand that they need to watch behind them for other runners, especially those with jogging strollers. I nearly took out a few young guys who cut me off. So my first mile was spent dodging other people and trying not to run anyone over. I tried to dodge some of the puddles but I knew I was going to end up with wet feet so I didn’t try too hard. Mile 2 I settled into a good groove and I picked it up in mile 3 to finish strong. Was it my best race, nope, but it was good and I was happy with my outcome since I was pushing 33+lbs of toddler in the jogging stroller and I managed negative splits, go me! It may actually be the first time I had really consistent negative splits, which was pretty cool.

IMG_6102I thought there was a chance that I could have placed in my age group although I realized after the fact that the age groups were 10 years not 5 so there was no way. But I stayed around to find out and then we took off. We didn’t stay for the raffle because of the weather, oh well. We were cold and wet and ready to go see Grammie! We spent a few hours at my mom’s house visiting before heading back north. It was a fun day spent with my favorite boy doing something I love. I hope I pass the passion on to him some day.

Mohawk Hudson Half Marathon (Race Recap)

Although I am really behind on writing race recaps, I’m going to skip past the 2 that I still need to write (the Lake George Triathlon Festival Weekend & Ragnar ADK) and get back to them later. Instead I want to talk about this past weekend and the Mohawk Hudson Half Marathon (MHHM).

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I’m going to preface this post by apologizing for the lack of photos. I waited for the professional photos to be available before publishing this post in hopes to have a few good ones, but honestly, they are awful. I look fat, and slow, and I can’t bear to put those photos here, nor am I going to spend any money for them! Oh, and this post is kind of wordy, so if you don’t care about my race, you might want to stop reading now…

So anyway, this was my second time running this race, the first time was back in 2010 and it was my first half marathon. I trained my little heart out back then and was super happy with my sub 2 hour finish. I signed up to race it again in 2013 as a goal race to get back in shape after having Owen but that was a pipe dream and I didn’t end up running. Harrison had also planned on running it in 2013 with me but neither of us were prepared to do it so we picked up our race garb and called it a day.

This time around we both signed up in the hopes of being able to run it together. The race is always on Columbus Day Weekend which is close to our wedding anniversary so we thought it would be a fun anniversary race. After Ironman was over I started to have my doubts about being able to set a personal record (PR) during this race, which was my goal. When I ran it in 2010 my time was 1:55:56 which works out to just below an average 9 minute mile. While I have run those speeds in shorter distances this year I wasn’t really thinking I’d be able to do it for a half marathon.

Two weeks before the race Harrison hurt his back and wasn’t sure he was going to be able to run it at all. A few trips to the chiropractor and he was ready to race but wasn’t sure what kind of speeds he’d be able to pull off without hurting himself further. This meant I was going to run it alone if I wanted to try and PR.

Huddled together at the start.
Huddled together at the start.

Race morning was cold, very much like the weather in 2010, but while cold the weather report called for it to be a beautiful sunny day. I went back and forth on what I wanted to wear but finally decided on my favorite long roga shorts from Oiselle, calf sleeves, my new tanktop from Oiselle and long sleeved Oiselle shirt (can you tell who I go to for running clothes these days??) I contemplated wearing a beanie to begin but knew I’d regret it really soon so I opted for my Prince George ballcap which was perfect to keep the sun out of my eyes but provide a little extra warmth in the beginning. I also wore a sweatshirt for the first mile that I tossed just past the first water stop. The zipper was broken so I figured it was no real loss to me!

My strategy at the start was to take it easy. I was feeling a little sore and I wanted to use the first mile to warm up. It’s also the only part of the race that has any real uphill to it so I wanted to make sure not to push it and to just relax and let the legs work themselves into a good groove. So my first mile was a 9:18 which I was super happy with. Once out of the park and onto the bike trail I just tried to focus on staying at a comfortably fast pace but not push it too much. Whenever there was a downhill I let gravity take me and tried to use it to my advantage as much as possible. I didn’t stop at the first water stop but by the second I was getting thirsty so I grabbed some Gatorade and kept running. After that water stop I actually took my time and walked through them taking Gatorade and sometimes water. I didn’t carry any fuel with me as I knew I could get by with just Gatorade.
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Other than the miles through Cohoes and Watervliet the course is gorgeous. The first 4.5 miles are on bike trail followed by 4 miles on the road (which are a little unpleasant, it’s pretty narrow with cars) and the last 4.5 miles are on the bike trail along the Hudson River heading into Albany. It’s quiet on the bike trail with minimal crowd support but I honestly don’t mind that. And once I got about 3 miles from the finish I knew the terrain as I often run along the river when I head out for lunchtime runs from work. So I was familiar with landmarks and knew what was around the next corner. I loved it! It was along this last section that I started to slow down and really doubt my ability to PR. As my splits above show, other than the first mile, miles 11 & 12 were my slowest. It’s flat and I was tired. Everything was tight and I was so ready to be done.

Zooming through the second water stop.
Zooming through the second water stop.

About a mile from the finish the crowd support picked up and I gained a little momentum back. I was determined to finish strong, and I did, earning myself a PR by 1.5 minutes! Although 1.5 minutes isn’t much, it was still a PR and while I was a little disappointed, I was hoping for better, I had a great race and really dug deep for it. I haven’t done nearly enough speed training going into it so my ability to squeak out what I did made me a happy girl.

Once I crossed the finish line I made a beeline to the food tent. My body was seriously craving salt! I grabbed a bag of fritos, wolfed those down and headed back to the finish to try and capture Harrison finishing. I had seen a friend about a mile from the finish so I texted her and asked her to give me a heads up when H was on his way. Not long after I found a spot to spectate he was coming in.

Almost done!
Almost done!

He had a great race, despite his bad back, I was so proud of him! That was the farthest he has ever run and it didn’t kill him, so I might be able to talk him into doing it again… maybe.

Happy to be done!
Happy to be done!

We snacked, a lot, stretch, a little (not enough) and cheered on a few friends at the finish before heading up to one of the water stops along Broadway in Watervliet to help out for the last marathon runners coming through. Our triathlon club was manning the water stop and we thought it would be fun to give back to those who were awesome enough to be running the full marathon on Sunday.

Once we were done there we headed back to my mom’s to collect Owen who had spent the day with Grammie and then had a cookout with friends from the tri-club to wrap up the day up at their house in Wilton. Fun times were had by all and I am really happy with my race. I’m not sure if I will run the half again next year but I do hope to do some more speed training and perhaps a PR will be in my future next year.

Until the next adventure, happy running! (or hiking, which is what is in store for this weekend!)

Ironman Lake Placid – Race Recap (Part 2 of 2)

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If you are jumping in now and haven’t read Part 1 you may want to go check it out. It will tell you how the swim and bike portion of Ironman Lake Placid went for me. This post contains the finale of Ironman Lake Placid, THE RUN!

T2 (bike-to-run transition)
Time: 5mins. 36secs.

I opted in T2 to make a complete outfit change out of my triathlon shorts and into a clean pair of running shorts. I was afraid of chaffing issues from the tri shorts that were drenched in sweat and covered in salt my body had poured out.

The changing tent this time was a lot less crowded than during T1. I ran in and found a plethora of empty seats so I sat down and started to do my thing. As soon as my butt hit that seat I had a wonderful volunteer there asking me if I wanted help and what she could do for me. I explained that I was making a complete outfit change and so she started to grab out my clean clothes and hand me things as I asked for them. I opted to take off my calf sleeves due to the heat and she even helped pull those off! The volunteers were so amazing! I toweled off my sweaty self, threw on clean shorts, my Multiple Myeloma tech shirt, a hat and my race belt and I was off! I chatted with a friend who had sat down next to me in transition and we wished each other well. I told her she’d see me again as I was sure she would be passing me on the run. The volunteer took care of my stuff even going as far as putting all the clean stuff that I didn’t use back in my giant Ziploc to keep it separate from the dirty bike stuff I had just taken off. Again, THANK YOU VOLUNTEERS!

 
The Run
Distance: 26.2 miles
Time: 5hrs. 29mins. 18secs.
Average Pace: 12:34 mins/mile

The run was brutal, especially the first loop. The sun was bright, there wasn’t enough shade and I was miserable. While my splits may not show it I was hurting the first 3 miles of the run and I knew if I didn’t figure out what my body needed I was going to be spending a really long time out there on the marathon course (as if 5.5 hours isn’t long!). After doing a full scan of how I was feeling I concluded that I needed to take in more calories and more electrolytes so I grabbed oranges at the first water stop and Base salt from the tent and ice cold water. From there on that was my pattern. Orange slices saved my day, they tasted so amazingly good and were the perfect amount of sugar to keep me going. I’m not a huge Gatorade fan so I didn’t take Gatorade very often, only when I really felt like I had maybe drank too much water and needed to replace electrolytes. My run was a pattern of run when I can, walk through the water stops, walk up the hills, and walk just because when I couldn’t fathom running. I had my watch set to show me my average run pace so I just aimed to keep that under 12:30minutes/mile if possible. The hills going back into Lake Placid are brutal, and I knew they would be, and I had absolutely no shame in walking up those bad boys.

Caught walking. Ooops. was bound to happen considering how much I walked!
Caught walking. Ooops. was bound to happen considering how much I walked!

When finishing the first loop of the run you have to pass by the chute where finishers enter the oval. What a tease to have to keep going when there were already people finishing and who had been finished for 2 hours already! Luckily, Harrison & Jason were at that juncture so I stopped for a quick pep talk from them. And my friend Allison was just across the way from the boys so after chatting with them I talked to her for a minute as well. I figured it wasn’t going to hurt my time that much to get a good mental kick in the butt that I needed to go back out there for round 2.

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Stopping to chat with H before heading out on the second loop. That’s my, “I don’t think I can do this” face.

Luckily on the second loop the sun was starting to set and it was cooling down a bit. Unfortunately the humidity did not dissipate and the air felt thick. I continued my run/walk/walk/walk pattern and was still feeling OK. I’m happy to say that throughout the entire run I never had the stomach issues that I kind of expected. I figured I was going to be running from porta potty to porta potty on the race and that never became an issue, (thank god!). I did stop a few times to use the bathroom but I think that was more because I knew I’d get to sit down!

The worst part of the run for me was between miles 19- 23. It’s odd to me that it was there as those miles are relatively flat along River Rd. but it had nothing to do with elevation at that point and all just had to do with my body being so ready to be done.


I stopped constantly to stretch out my hamstrings and made sure to take my time through the rest stops to get what I needed. They had started handing out Chicken Broth at this point and it was heaven! It was the best thing I had ever tasted during a run. Why don’t more races have chicken broth available?? I also started sipping coke through some of the rest stops during these miles thinking the caffeine could help me get to that finish line, and while I don’t know physically if it helped, it tasted great!

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About 4 miles from the finish, just past the horse show grounds, I heard cheering coming from a car waiting in a line of traffic. It was my friends Ed & Kait! They had to leave before I could finish but it was honestly a great spirit boost to see them at that point as some of the spectators had packed up and moved to the finish line to see their athletes become Ironmen. As we neared town I kept on trucking along and then we hit the hills, again. One. Last. Time. At the base of the steep hill I started chatting with a nice guy about the charity team and what not. It was a great distraction as we walked up the hill. Once we turned onto Main Street I said my goodbyes and picked up the pace again. I was determined to run to that finish line. I still had the out and back to do but it was only 2 miles and the cheering coming from the oval for all those finishing lifted my spirits. A group of my friends (including Harrison) were cheering for me as I turned onto Mirror Lake Drive for that last out and back which gave me some energy to get through that section with a HUGE smile on my face.

I think adrenaline definitely kicked in at the end. I was flying (relative to how I felt for the first 24 miles!) and soon enough I was entering the oval. I originally thought I was going to cry all the way to the finish line (tears of joy of course) but I just felt awesome. I was grinning from ear to ear and feeling good. It was such an amazing experience to cross that finish line with the crowds of people cheering you on. I can’t relate it to anything I’ve ever experienced before.

Happy to be crossing that finish line!
Happy to be crossing that finish line!

As I crossed the line 2 wonderful volunteers were there to “catch” me and make sure I was steady on my own 2 feet. And then out of the blue appeared Jason who took over! It was so so awesome to have a friendly face at the finish line to help me along. I collected my finishers gear and headed back towards the food to figure out what my body wanted. I saw a can of coke, which looked great, so I grabbed that and a piece of pizza and sat down to chill. Being off my feet was the best feeling in the world! I met up at the fence edge with Harrison and chatted for a bit before heading over to the massage tent to see how bad a line there was.

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I must admit, I was shocked that there was barely any line at all. Those people were amazing! If you do Ironman, please take advantage of the massage tent. I really think that it helped immensely with how I felt the days after the race. I had a very kind woman who took great care of me. Thank you, thank you, thank you!


When that was over I met up with Harrison outside the fence and we made our way back to the MMRF spectator’s tent to watch some friends come in. At that point I was getting cold and so Jason gave me a fleece he had and I wrapped my lower half in a space blanket and took a seat on the hill to watch people come in. After our last friend crossed the line I called it a night. As much as I wanted to stay to cheer everyone in I couldn’t (it was already 11:30PM, I was tired!). We still had to walk back to the apartment and shower and I needed to find some more food. And that’s exactly what I did. Harrison had grabbed all my gear while I was still out on the run so I didn’t have to worry about any of that which was great. All I had to do was get myself home!

I showered, I ate and I hit the sack!

It was a great day. Congratulations to all those who finished Ironman Lake Placid on Sunday July 26th. It is a day I will NEVER forget. I’m still riding high on the feeling.

Did I sign up again to do it next year? Hell no. But not because I don’t want to do another Ironman distance race. I don’t see myself ever wanting to race long races like Ironman in consecutive years. The training is so time consuming and I want to be able to spend time with my family. I have my eyes on 2017, but until then I’m planning on focusing on short distances, speed and getting my body stronger.

I’ll be back with some follow up thoughts on my race experience, but until then, thanks for following me on this journey!

Mini Mussel Sprint Triathlon (Race Recap)

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Over the weekend Harrison and I competed in the Mini Mussel Sprint Triathlon in Geneva, NY. We signed up for this race before I knew I was going to race Ironman Lake Placid just 2 weeks later so I decided just to use the sprint tri as a training day and to go out there and have fun. It’s the only triathlon that Harrison planned to race this year so I thought it was fun we were doing it together, it was the first time we have ever raced a triathlon together!

We headed out to Geneva Friday afternoon arriving in time to pick up our packets, grab some breakfast foods for the morning and meet up with Theresa, Jason and their two girls for dinner at the Beef and Brew. Dinner was good and I had an excellent IPA made by Ballast Point Brewing Company called Grapefruit Sculpin. It was an IPA with a refreshing hint of grapefruit, an excellent summer beer. After dinner we called it a night and threw all our gear in the car to sort out in the morning.

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The events of Musselman Weekend all take place at the Seneca Lake State Park located at the north end of Seneca Lake in Geneva. We had never been to the park before and were impressed with the facilities. In fact we were actually really bummed that we didn’t bring Owen with us because he would have loved it. There was a huge splash playground and multiple play areas along the waterfront. If we go back for this race again we will definitely bring him with us!

The sprint race didn’t start until 9AM (that’s late for a tri!), so we were able to get a bit more sleep than normal and didn’t head down to the race until a little after 7. We got our transitions set up, grabbed our swim gear and headed down to the swim start with plenty of time to spare.

Transition set up and ready to go
Transition set up and ready to go
Pre-Race selfie!
Pre-Race selfie!

SWIM:
Distance: 750yd
Time: 15:09 (2:01/100yd)

The swim was an L shaped course (one direction) that starts in the lake at the mouth of a small canal and ends at the boat launch. It was an in water start with 5 minutes between waves. I was in swim wave number 2 and Harrison was in the swim wave after me. The first 3 waves all enter the water before the race starts so that things can run smoothly and all waves can get started on time. Lately the swim portion of racing hasn’t been my favorite part. It’s not that I’m uncomfortable with it, I’d just much rather be on my bike.

My swim for the mini mussel was okay, not my fastest but not too bad. I managed to carve out my own spot in my wave and didn’t have too many issues until the end when the canal narrowed and I had a swimmer who kept swimming across my line. I had to actually stop and let her get ahead because I couldn’t get around her. It was a bit annoying but it is what it is. I exited the water feeling good and happy to be onto the bike portion of the race.

BIKE:
Distance: 16 miles
Time: 52:50
Speed: 18.17 mph

My transition was fine, nothing really to report on that. I was purposely trying to kill some time because I wanted Harrison to catch up to me so that we could finish the run together. As I said before I wasn’t really racing this, I was just using it to go through the motions of racing and transitioning. So I took my time in T1 making sure I had everything set for the bike and set to go for the run.

The bike was fun. I passed a bunch of people, but got passed by all the crazy fast guys and gals who were in the swim waves behind me. I wasn’t pushing it, but I held a pretty good speed and was happy with how I felt. The finger lake’s area is gorgeous and the last stretch of the course is along Seneca Lake making for some pretty views. I came into transition feeling good and with a smile on my face.

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RUN:
Distance: 3.1 miles
Time: 38:31 (my slowest 5k ever, ha!)
Speed: 12:02/mile

The run was funny. I say that because I basically threw the race on the run because I didn’t really run with all I had. I took the first mile at an easy jog, walked through the water stop which is just before the turn around (it’s an out and back course along the lake), and took it easy as I waited to spot Harrison. Just past the water stop heading back to the finish I saw him coming my way. He was hurting, having some tummy issues, so moving slowly. I told him I would stop running and just walk so that he could catch me, I really wanted to run with him. Once he caught me we ran a casual pace to the finish line, I was smiling all the way.

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Overall the race was a great experience and I would definitely race it again (perhaps aiming for the half or the double Mussel next time). We stayed the rest of the weekend to spectate the half ironman on Sunday. We knew a bunch of people racing and we were also acting babysitter for our friend’s two girls while they raced. Harrison took the morning shift so that I could head out on a 60 mile bike ride that I needed to fit in for training. I rode 30 miles out on the half ironman course so that I could turn around and cheer on all the racers on my way back. It was a fun way to get in both a workout and some spectating!

Hudson Crossing Sprint Triathlon 2015 (Race Recap)

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Before I signed up to race Ironman Lake Placid with the Team for Cures I had planned out my race season and signed up for a few races with a focus on short distances, speed and hoping to set some personal records. Then Ironman popped up and my focus turned from speed to long distance and endurance.

But of course I was already registered for my short races so I decided to use them just as training and to go out and have fun while going through the motions and working out the quirks before the big race. The first of these short races was the Hudson Crossing Sprint Triathlon held in Schuylerville, NY at the Hudson Crossing Park. This race holds a special place in my heart as it is where it all began back in 2011. It was my very first triathlon and it opened up my eyes to the fun of the sport. The first year I raced it I came in 4th in my age group missing 3rd place by a mere 2 seconds and the second year I raced it (in 2012) I was faster but moved down to 5th in my age group as the race field that year was faster. So as much as this race was supposed to just be “training” I really wanted to see just how much I could push it and possibly take home an age group award.

Here’s how it all went down:

Start of the swim in the Champlain Canal
The Swim:
Time: 8 minutes 59 seconds
Distance: 500 yds.

The swim for Hudson Crossing is in the Champlain Canal, just above lock #5. It starts on the east side of the canal heading upstream before making the turn to head back and ends on a peninsula of land that juts out into the canal on the west side. It’s only 500yds, so it’s short, but the water temperature is on the cool side (it was 67 degrees on Sunday) and it is an in water start (you can’t touch the bottom) so you have to tread water for a few minutes before the gun goes off. I was in wave 1, which I was happy about, as it meant I had less time waiting around in the cool air (it was 44 when I left my house that morning!) and I could get the swim out of the way (it’s my least favorite part). I was one of the first people in the water so I had time to get water into my wetsuit and move my legs to warm up a bit. Because the water was cold and the air was cold my goggles kept fogging up due to my body being warm which was kind of annoying, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it. I had limited visibility so just followed the masses and made it through. I felt good during my swim but I also felt like I was going as fast as possible and working very hard for it! I wasn’t relaxed and was just counting down the minutes until I was done. Overall I was very happy with my swim time, but would like to be a little more at ease during it.

The Bike
Time: 39 minutes 38 seconds
Distance: 12 miles

I love the Hudson Crossing bike course. Other than Bacon Hill which you have to climb ~1.5 miles into the ride, the remainder of the course is rolling hills through beautiful farmland. I rode the course last week to remind myself of the hills and to see what the road conditions were like before race day. There are some sketchy sections on Route 32 going down Bacon Hill and Route 4 has seen better days but overall the roads weren’t too bad and it was just as beautiful as I had remembered it was. Since moving across town I haven’t ridden much in farm country and hadn’t realized how much I missed it until riding this course. The scenery is great and there’s much less traffic than some of the roads I ride near my house now.

But anyway, back to Sunday… In previous years, biking has been my weakest sport but I have worked hard on it this year trying to get faster. While I still have a long way to go I was very happy at how my ride turned out in this race. I got passed by a bunch of crazy fast men but I managed to pass one other female and knew I was keeping a pretty good pace. When I came in off the bike a friend shouted out to me, “go get her, I think you are second!” I assumed he meant second in my age group, I couldn’t imagine that I was second female overall (though now that I think about it, the first swim wave was only 2 female age groups so it should have dawned on me that he meant overall…). As I entered transition I saw the other female so I hustled and had a quick transition and managed to exit before her. On to the run I went…

At the bike dismount
At the bike dismount

The Run:
Time: 25 minutes 54 seconds
Distance: 3.1 miles

Heading out on the run. I was first female at this point (but not for long)
Heading out on the run. I was first female at this point (but not for long)

The run for Hudson Crossing starts on the road heading into Schuylerville, passes through a few residential streets and then picks up the canal trail back to the park where it continues on trails. It’s a very scenic run and I love not having to pound the pavement for the full 5k. Coming off the bike I was feeling pretty strong and had that finish line in my mind, along with the possibility of a personal record and placing in my age group. As I rounded the first turn heading out onto Route 4 towards Schuylerville I heard a spectator yell, “Awesome job, first female out!” Who, me? Was he really talking to me? I had no idea I was the first female out on the course and I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d be hearing those words. I have to say, I was riding high on that feeling! Unfortunately I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to hold that place, my run isn’t strong enough right now, but I held it for the first quarter mile before I was passed. I was later passed by 3 other ladies, (good job, ladies!), but managed to hold onto my pace only slowing in the last mile, crossing the finish line with a total time of 1 hour 16 minutes 39 seconds, beating my previous record set back in 2012 by a huge 7 minutes! I placed 1st in my age group (yay!) and was the 5th female overall, boy did that make me feel awesome. I know it is a small race and having a smaller field to compete against helped me earn my age group award, but it was still a major accomplishment in my books.

Rounding the final turn, so ready to be done!
Rounding the final turn, so ready to be done!

Overall I had such a great day. It was nice to start out my season on a high note. I have one other sprint distance triathlon two weeks before Ironman Lake Placid which I will be using solely as a training day, no racing for this girl, I don’t want to risk injury so close to Ironman. After that I have 5 weeks before my last races of the season, the Lake George Olympic Distance and the Lake George Half Iron Aqua bike. I’m hoping to set a personal record for the Lake George Olympic race, it was my first (and only) Olympic distance race that I participated in back in 2011 so it’s a big goal of mine to PR. The Aqua bike is just for fun, to say I completed the “Prince George” (both the Olympic and Aqua bike in the same weekend). The bike course for the half is beautiful so I figured it will just be a nice day to ride and cheer on others racing.

I have a couple more big training weeks coming up before it is time to taper. I can’t believe Ironman is less than 7 weeks away!

Happy National Running Day! (and a long overdue race recap)

Since this is way overdue I’m using National Running Day as my motivation to recap my most recent races, the Tinker Bell 10k and Tinker Bell Half Marathon (aka the Pixie Dust Challenge) held in sunny southern California Mother’s Day weekend.

I signed up for these two races way back in August 2014 for the sole purpose of earning my Disney Coast to Coast Medal which requires a person to run an official Disney race (at least as long as a half marathon) in Disney World (FL) and Disney Land (CA) in the same calendar year. Having already run the Walt Disney World Marathon in January 2015, the Tinker Bell Half Marathon earned me my Coast to Coast. And because the more medals the better, I also decided to run the Tinker Bell 10k held the day before the half marathon because that earned me another medal for completing what Disney termed, the Pixie Dust Challenge (running the 10k and half marathon the same weekend).

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We arrived in California Thursday evening and were soon nestled in bed due to a long day of travel.

Morning came all too early but we had a pretty good night of sleep and lazily made our way to find some breakfast. The race expo opened at 10AM so we made our way towards the expo while wandering through Downtown Disney on the way.

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I found packet pick-up, signed the necessary waiver and collected all my loot (3 tech t-shirts, one for each race plus the Pixie Dust Challenge shirt, woohoo!!). Once that business was taken care of we made our way to the expo. The expo was great, as I assumed it would be since Disney is known for their great race expos, so we found ourselves spending some time stopping at all the booths seeing what they had to offer. Unfortunately it wasn’t a place that Owen could run around due to the high traffic and tight space so we made some stops but made our way quickly through without spending too much money. It was probably good that we had him in tow, otherwise I would have bought a lot more! I walked out with just an official Pixie Dust Challenge car magnet to go along with the Walt Disney World Marathon magnet I had picked up back in January in FL.


The remainder of Friday was spent exploring around Disney, sitting in the pool hot tub and finding a grocery store so we had some breakfast and lunch food in our hotel room.

Saturday morning dawned bright and early, though in this case the time change worked in my favor. The race started at 5:30AM meaning I needed to be up and out of the hotel room around 4:30AM. Luckily for me 4:30 west coast time felt like 7:30 east coast time so I was up and ready to go without a problem! Owen was also awake so Harrison planned on heading out to spectate the race which ran right past the hotel, talk about convenient!

I’m not usually one to eat breakfast first thing in the morning but I knew I needed to eat something before heading out the door so I scarfed down a banana and brought along a fruit/veggie smoothie to have on my walk to the start (~ 1 mile from the hotel) and while waiting for the race to begin. I made it to my corral with about 20 minutes to spare (I was in corral A, woohoo!) so I sat down and stretched trying to keep everything loose before the race began.

Going into the 10k I had hopes of setting a personal record (PR) for the distance but with traveling and whatnot I wasn’t sure if I could still pull it off. I knew it was going to be very dependent on what my legs were feeling like, how the crowds were and if my stomach was going to cooperate. I had run three 10k races previously (not counting the 10k at the end of the Lake George Olympic distance triathlon) and my best time of the 3 was the first one I ran in 2010 where I finished in 53 minutes 53 seconds which works out to roughly an 8 minute 40 second mile. Having raced a (speedy for me) 5k back in April and my continued training I thought a PR was possible.

Sorry for getting sidetracked, let’s get back to it, shall we? So I made it to my corral, I finished my smoothie, did some stretching and was ready to go. Soon enough we were singing the national anthem and counting down to the race start. The guns went off and we were on our way!

I started out feeling really good and decided I was going to give it all I had to PR which meant not stopping for any pictures. While that made me sad, I knew I would be running the half marathon the next day and would have plenty of photo ops.

IMGP8197Just past mile 1 I saw Harrison and Owen cheering for me which put a huge smile on my face and helped me through the remainder of the race. The crowd support for the whole race was awesome, we ran through both parks and only had a few quiet stretches through the entire race which definitely helped keep the mind off the running pains creeping in! As I neared the end I realized a PR was going to be close so I gave it all I had crossing the finish line in 52 minutes 40 seconds. I shaved 1 minute 13 seconds off my previous 10k time, I was so happy about that!

After the race I got some water and PowerAde, had my picture taken and wandered back to the hotel room where Harrison and Owen were waiting for me.

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I’ll recap the rest of Saturday in a later post but let’s stick with the running theme and discuss the half marathon now.

Having set a PR during the 10k I decided that the half marathon was going to be all about having fun and getting pictures taken along the course. The morning started out exactly like the day before and soon enough we were on our way. I don’t have a lot to say about the half other than it was a ton of fun. Instead of gabbing away I’m going to let the pictures do the talking.




     Overall the Tinker Bell race weekend was so much fun. I am so thankful for my husband who supports me through all these races and takes me on crazy race vacations. Having him and Owen there to cheer me on was great, it’s been awhile since I’ve had a support crew during a race, I loved every minute of it.

I’ll be back to share more about our vacation, but for now, enjoy the day. And get out there and run!

 

Walt Disney World Marathon Recap

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When I signed up for the Walt Disney World (WDW) Marathon I had no goals in mind. I planned on running it with my sister and having a good ole’ time. As my training progressed and my running improved I started toying with the idea that I could potentially set a PR. My current PR for the marathon is 4 hours 49 minutes 4 seconds, which was set back in 2011 during my first marathon. During my WDW Marathon training a number of my long runs were at paces that would have allowed me to PR but I was never able to hold the pace for the entire run without bonking, so it was probably an unreasonable goal to have, but in the back of my mind it was there, taunting me.

The Good

Running through Disney, enough said! Running through the parks at Disney World was a blast. It was so much fun to see everything, especially for a newbie like me who has never been. Yes, there were a lot of roads that we ran but Disney tries to make those entertaining as well with characters and music along the way. While I found myself a few times ready to be done with some of the long stretches on the highways I never felt alone and was always entertained by other runners in costume or marching bands or what have you.

The number of water stops along the course was amazing! By the time we finally started running I was getting hungry so I took PowerAde from the beginning and at pretty much every stop along the way. There were bananas at 2 places along the course, Clif Shot gels at 2 stops and a stop devoted to chocolate, which was awesome! And I can’t forget to mention that in the later miles there were some very generous spectators handing out pretzels, animal crackers, Coca-Cola and candy! I took full advantage of all of it. The twizzlers I got in Epcot helped get me across that finish line, I swear. I was proud of myself for fueling well along the way, it has been a downfall of mine in the past. And I never ran into any stomach problems, thank heavens!

My playlist. I didn’t start out with music but I did bring my iPod with me for when I was desperate to take my mind off the fact that I was running 26.2 miles. Sometime shortly after the halfway point I put the headphones in and listened until the list ended which was a few miles from the end. I didn’t mind since by then we were running in areas that provided a little more entertainment. I called my playlist, Desperation Disney, and it had a mix of the lyrical songs from the soundtrack to Frozen (yes, I love it!) and a mix of current POP music such as Pitbull, Flo Rida, Mackelmore and Taylor Swift.

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The Bad

I honestly have very little to complain about after this race. I guess I could say the bad was that I didn’t PR, but I’m not too upset about that. I knew it was a farfetched idea and I am happy that I didn’t kill myself trying to PR, instead I had fun taking in the sights and enjoying the journey to the finish line.

I guess I could complain about the early wake-up call, I mean come on, having to set my alarm for 2:45AM for a race is a little ridiculous. But that comes with the territory. As runners it’s a given that races are usually early. And honestly, I often set my alarm for 4AM to get up before work to workout, so I guess it’s not so different.

I could have done without the rain at the end of the race, but that isn’t anything that anyone could have changed. It poured as I was crossing the finish line and while I was trying to weave my way through the crowds to find my sister and our shuttle. I was so happy to be done, but I also really wanted to just sit down somewhere dry!

The crowds in some of the parks were a little bit of a nuisance, especially in the Magic Kingdom. There were a number of places where I wanted to run but couldn’t because it was too congested. While I don’t think it made a huge difference on my overall time it could have spared me a few minutes I think if it hadn’t been so packed.

(For not having much to complain about I sure did manage to just say a lot, ha! Let’s move on, shall we?)

The Best

Done!
Done!

Crossing that finish line! While I may not have finished in my “goal” time (and I use that term loosely), I did finish, and I did so feeling pretty good. Don’t get me wrong, I was ready to be done, but I was in good spirits and was overall happy with my race. Harrison would attest to the fact that normally if I have a bad race I’ll swear to never sign up for another and shockingly that was not the case this time. While I’m not planning any marathons anytime in the near future, or the next year really, I will run another someday. I have a couple on my bucket list that I have to cross off sometime in the future. Oh, and in case you were wondering, my official finish time was 5 hours 10 minutes and 1 second.

Marathon Castle with Frame

In summary, I had a blast running this marathon, and that is not something I can say about the other 2 that I have completed. While the Shires of VT Marathon (I ran it twice) is a great race in a beautiful location it is lonely and remote and hilly! Disney was so much fun with all of the crowd support and all of the characters and bands along the course. There were a few stretches that seemed to drag on but overall it wasn’t bad and there were always other runners around for entertainment as well. I finished this race happy. Happy to be done, but happy to have run such a fun race. I can’t wait to run the 10k and half marathon in Disneyland in May. I’m sure it will be just as fun as this was, if not more since I don’t have to run 26.2 miles!