You are currently browsing the monthly archive for April 2011.

Ok, I have a lot on my mind—hope you can keep up!

First things first, a lesson:

It is not wise to go to the grocery store at 8pm absolutely starving after biking almost 2 hours. If this situation does occur, do not keep the groceries in the front seat next to you.

Food should taste good. Oh and it does.

Now, let’s talk nutrition for a second. I know all the right things to do, I’ve just been sucking at doing them lately. There have been way too many sweets and way too much alcohol and it’s affecting me. I feel so much better when I eat right (duh) and it’s a cycle–eat right, feel great, continue to eat right. It’s just tough getting through that first cycle. I’m starting to think about nutrition as another aspect of training, like swim, bike, run, nutrition. Yeah, like any other workout it’s going to be hard and suck sometimes but it will feel great once you do it, and it will get easier as time goes on. Eating crap is only standing in the way of my goals and I’ll see much better results if I do better in this area.

So, in other news, today I had 1:45 bike on the schedule. Too bad I live in Pittsburgh with its rain and hail and thunderstorms and tornados. So indoors on the spin bike it was! Ok, now just the thought of almost 2 hours in the spin room, alone, with no tv, made me want to skip the workout. How incredibly boring. But then I had the most brilliant thought. I typed “triathlon” into youtube on my phone and found the 2010 Ford Ironman World Championship special. AMAZING find. It lasted almost the whole workout and made it fly by. I was getting so pumped up just watching it! I did make the mistake of not bringing any gaterade or gu or bars with me though and by about 1:15 I was starting to get really tired. It was hard to keep my legs spinning at the right rpm and I felt tired and like I was working hard but I couldn’t get my heart rate up which my coach told me is a telltale sign that your body needs calories.

So, guys, a seed has been planted in my brain.

That’s what is on my nightstand. I just picked up that “Becoming an Ironman” book last week which is a collection of stories of people’s 1st time ironman races. I think I’ve cried at the end of every single one when they cross that finish line. I know that the surge of emotion I get after every running race is unreal that I can’t even imagine what it would feel like to finish 140.6 miles. Oh, I really want to know what that feels like.

Whenever I tell someone the distances in an Ironman they say “that is crazy, why would anyone ever want to do that?!” And a few months ago I had the same reaction. I thought “yeah, a triathlon would be awesome but there is no way I would ever want to do something like that.” I don’t know what changed but now I want that SO BAD. When I was watching that documentary today, I just felt something. That WILL be me. I love the way everyone cheers for you–they stay up until midnight (the cutoff) and cheer so loud for the last people to cross that line. So even if it takes me all 17 hours (let’s not mention the fact that I’m not usually even awake 17 hours) to finish, people will be there cheering for me.

A couple months ago I started having like a major identity crisis. Growing up things were easy, I was kind of a nerd, always did my homework, band geek. I had a goal: Valedictorian. I busted my ass working and it paid off and I accomplished my goal. Then I went to college. Everyone at Tufts was smart though so being the “smart girl” wasn’t really an option anymore since everyone was. Then the economy started to crash and my new goal became pretty clear: get a job. Success again. Then I started work and things were even less clear. Again, everyone was smart, and really the odds of me being promoted to CEO anytime soon were about as likely as me winning the next Ironman World Championships.

I am a goal-oriented person, that’s just how I work. I love having something to dedicate myself to, work as hard as I can for, and then see results. I started running and for a while that was great. I trained hard and completed my half marathon and loved it. That wasn’t exactly what I was looking for though. Tons of people run. These days it seems like everyone you talk to has done a half or full marathon. It didn’t make me feel special enough. Also, you all know by now my love/hate relationship with running. Running was definitely a step in the right direction but it wasn’t quite right. Then somehow, I don’t even remember how, I found out about triathlon. Now, I know I haven’t even done one yet but I think I am in love with it. I just can’t get enough. It has everything I am looking for.

Ok, wow, this has become a novel. Also, its time for me to go to bed because I have a 5ish mile run in the monsoon tomorrow morning. It’s ok, I’m a lunatic and actually like running in the rain—I think it is like the most cleansing and relaxing thing ever.

Until next time friends!


I was reading my USA Triathlon magazine the other day and came across a list called “The Tao Of Triathlon” which gave 14 tips for racing. One in particular really struck me, especially coming off my funk from the beginning of the week. “No matter how bad and irreperable things may seem, stay the course, it will all eventually get good again.”

This is something I always try to remind myself of when things aren’t going so well. It’s definitely hard to believe that things will get easier and better when they seem so tough, but they will. Whether it’s the crappy mile 7 of a race, or a rough week of training.

I just had my “recovery week” and it was exactly what I needed…I feel refreshed, re-energized, happier, and ready to work hard again! It was pretty funny though, I was talking to a friend at work and he asked what workout I had planned that evening and I said “nothing! It’s my recovery week!” and he goes “haha, yeah, we’ll call it mine too because I haven’t done anything for 5 days!” and I said “well, I’m still training….just once a day instead of twice and they are easier workouts….I only had to swim 1200 yards today 🙂 ”

So today I went out for a 40 minute run, my first run since the disasterous one on Tuesday. I went to my usual trail which is uphill going out and downhill coming back. Boy were those first 2 miles tough! I did want to quit a few times but I just kept reminding myself of that quote and how I just have to make it to the turnaround point and things WILL get easier. I made it and they did 🙂

This also reminded me of a time last year when I started running again after my 4 month winter hiatus (luckily I didn’t make that mistake again this year!) I had a particularly tough run and was whining about it to my friend saying that it was just so HARD. That’s when I got the advice: “It’s supposed to be hard. If it was easy, everyone would do it.”

That is so true. If running was easy it wouldn’t be the same. It wouldn’t be as rewarding—nobody is going to brag “I’m going to walk 2 hours this weekend, how cool is that?!” Now I’m not saying that running is supposed to suck and be painful and awful, but if it wasn’t challenging it wouldn’t be as fun. If there were no obstacles, there would be no victories. And where is the fun in that?

So I started physical therapy for my knee. It’s actually my IT band that’s the problem, it’s super tight and pulls at my knee. Also I’m off balance….like literally my right side is nice and strong and my left hip/glutes/core muscles are just kind of blahh so we’re working on strengthening, stretching, loosening all that up. So when I was leaving on Monday my therapist told me that we’ll do massage next time. Oh boy was I excited! I just love massages!

I was getting excited all day at work, it was a very stressful day and I just kept thinking about my massage. Then I get to physical therapy and my therapist goes “ok, are you ready?” and had this sort of evil smile on her face. “OK!” I said, ready to go into a nice quiet room with dim lights, some candles, relaxing music and a pleasant lavender scent filling the air.

Boy was I mistaken….

Guys, I cannot even describe to you the pain I felt while she was digging her knuckles into my leg. My IT band is so swollen and tender that it hurts when the wind blows the wrong way on it and there she was tearing it apart. It was agony. I longed for the foam roller which felt like a nice feather brushing my skin compared to this. So she is kneading away and my eyes are welling up with tears and I almost bit off my own tongue trying to keep myself from screaming. Then she asks me how I’m doing, and I said “well it HURTS!” and she goes “I know. I can feel it. I can see how swollen it is. No wonder you are in pain!” And then I just start doing what I do on tough interval runs and count each minute down in 10 second increments.

She slows down for a second and I pray it is over, when she then says “Oh! I found a tough spot….get ready this will hurt a little.” Wait…what? This might hurt a little? Because what we’ve been doing for the past 10 minutes hasn’t exactly been the massage I was waiting for! And then everything went black as I blocked the remainder of my “massage” from my memory. But, as she assured me, “don’t worry, we’ll do this again next time”. Lovely.

In other news….I got new shoes. Yeah, they are literally the exact same pair, just 342 miles newer!

I am a Saucony girl all the way now. I  judge people based on their running shoes. That is weird, I know. Like a guy on my kickball team wears Saucony’s and I liked him immediately. And I just don’t trust people that wear Brooks. Don’t question me, it is what is.

Anyway, as my parents can attest, I’ve always sort of had weird sympathy toward inanimate objects. Like I would feel bad when there was just 1 apple left in the bowl or for the poor flavor of yogurt that nobody wanted. I like to think it means I have a good heart, most likely though, it probably means that physical therapy isn’t the only kind I should be getting. Boy is it tough for me to get rid of my old shoes. They have been with me through SO MUCH. This was the pair of shoes I bought when I decided I wanted to really get into racing. They have been with me through 6 races and countless training runs. I’ve gone almost 350 miles in them. Think about that—350 MILES…that is far. They have soaked up my blood, sweat, and tears. Those shoes have gotten me so far and I just am so sad to have to move on! I know they are just shoes but really they are so much more. So…RIP Saucony Progrid Ride 3…you have been such a great training partner, such a trooper through all the rain and snow and mud and 5am runs that I put you through. Thanks for everything, and here is to many more pairs joining you through the years, each with more wonderful races than the last.

I’ve kind of been in a funk the past few days and I have no clue why! I had a FANTASTIC workout this weekend…my very first brick. That was a 1 hour 45 min bike (25 miles) followed immediately by a 30 min run (3.3mi). I was nervous about this for many reasons… it was my first brick ever, it was pouring rain all day, it was windy, and I hadn’t been on my road bike for weeks and was still scared to death of those damn clipless pedals. Well, I needed to conquer this fear sometime and Saturday was the day. I headed out to the trail looking silly awesome with my padded bike shorts, shoes, fancy schmancy bike, bike gloves, helmet and sunglasses. I was surrounded by kids on tricycles….

So I pull up and am gathering up my courage to get on the bike when who do I see… very first boyfriend from high school and his mom. Are you kidding me? Yeah, that would only happen to me. So we chat for a second and I keep hoping they will hurry up and leave but they are just standing at the car watching me. I sent up every prayer I had that I would not fall trying to clip into my pedals because that would be the most mortifying moment of my life. Luckily everything worked out and I cruised off like a champ. A little down the trail I whizzed by a kid who then turned to his dad and goes “wow, is she a professional???” It made me smile 🙂

Then I learned an important piece of information. I had incorrectly assumed that “brick” was some weird combination of the words bike + run. No. That is not the reason it is called a brick. Rather, it is because getting off the bike your legs literally feel like BRICKS when you try to run. I had no clue what was going on because it literally felt like I was not moving. Maybe actually going backwards. Weird. But miracle of miracles even though I felt like I was crawling by at the slowest pace imaginable, I actually finished with an average pace of 9:06. What? That is faster than I normally go. So strange but I’m not going to question it and just hope that whatever magic took place on Saturday will continue with all my bricks.

So now I am in recovery week–THANK GOODNESS. I have worked harder in the past month than I have ever worked in my life. It is awesome and I’ve loved almost every second of it. Sometimes though, there are bad days. Like today.

The schedule called for run testing…I was to go to the track, warm up for a mile and then run 2 miles all out and record my times. From the second I woke up this morning I was not into it. I don’t know what is going on with me…maybe I am worn out from the tough workouts the past few weeks, maybe I am in a funk because the sun doesn’t shine in Pittsburgh, who knows. I drove to the track after work though and my body was like ‘hell no, I am not getting out of this car.’ But out I went, mostly because I had just bought a new hat that I wanted to wear. Yeah, I bribe myself with workout gear. It’s normal.

So right from the warmup things didn’t feel great. I did the warmup mile in 9:55 but felt like I was dragging and tripping over my feet and my shins felt a little tender. Crap. I ignored it though and pushed on to my first speedy mile. I actually felt a lot better going fast–I kept looking down and seeing numbers in the 7s which was SO COOL and exciting! I can’t wait for the day that I can run those consistently! I finished in 8:24 but did not feel good. Shin splints. Nooo. I hate them so so so much. Nothing is worse either, the pain just radiates through your shins up your knees and right into the depths of your soul. Then I do what I always do in that situation and freak out and think “if I can’t even run 3 miles how will I race?” and feel like a failure, etc etc, and start to cry. Good thing I had that new hat to pull over my eyes!

Anyway, it was super embarrassing to be crying so I just left and cried in my car. Then I got home and was so pissed off that I went out and ran that last mile, I didn’t even care about the time and finished it in 9:12.

Then I called my coach and she told me that it’s normal to cry in your car at the track and that it would be weird if that never happened. Then I reassured my roommate that I am indeed not crazy, but rather normal. She just did that thing where she looks at me and slowly shakes her head and says “oh Sarah”. I get that all the time.

Now you know me and my love for motivational quotes…I have a bunch hanging on my bedroom mirror and this one particularly stood out to me tonight:

“The harder the conflict the more glorious the triumph.” -Thomas Paine.

What a wise man.

Hi! Sorry for the delay in race recapping! I came back from DC and pretty much immediately turned around for a wonderful week long vacation at the beach in Florida. Super relaxing, no computer allowed!

So, the race went great! 🙂

Saturday morning I pulled on my compression socks and my dad and I hit the road for the 4.5 hour drive down to DC. When we got there it was off to the race expo, an early bird dinner and bed by 8:30, it was pretty wonderful. Like always though, I never sleep well the night before a big race, especially when I have to stay at a hotel.

5:00am came pretty early but I jumped out of bed, ate my peanut butter sandwich, drank a TON of water, a cup of coffee, and got dressed (sports bra and all 😉 ) I stretched and foam rolled and then it was time to hit the road for the 15 minute walk over to the start line.

Yikes, I look tired.

It was about 40* at the start so it was pretty chilly! Of course I warmed up quickly as soon as I started running but I felt bad for my poor dad who had to stand in the cold for HOURS. I told him to wait in the hotel for a few hours and then just show up for the finish but he wanted to be there with me the whole time. Even though I came literally in like 7,870th place he always acts like I won the race. He got there so early that he had the perfect spot right at the finish line to cheer me in. It makes me happy that he is so proud of me–it’s nice to have someone believe in you like that.

The race went off by corrals and waiting while other people get to start is always the hardest part! Before the race I talked to my coach and she told me to go conservatively at first, warm up for a few miles, pick up the pace, and then go as hard as I can for the last few and negative split. Ok great!

Except all my nervousness and the great energy and adrenaline in the crowds make that EXTREMELY difficult to follow. I always start out too fast. The first few miles I was FLYING! I felt so great! It seriously didn’t even feel like I was working, I felt like I was just being carried along by everyone else. I wasn’t thinking I was just going and it felt amazing. It was warming up a little but there was a nice breeze and the course was pretty flat:

Mile 1: 9:06

Mile 2: 9:05

Mile 3: 9:02

Mile 4: 9:07

So yeah, the first 4 miles were great! I walked through the water station during mile 4 and still had a really fast time. I should have known that wasn’t sustainable though because I never go that fast!

Then things started getting tough. I planned on having a gel during mile 5 but my heart rate was just so high up to this point that the thought of taking in anything was just repulsing me. I knew that trying to have anything in that state would just lead to disaster, but I also wanted to take in some calories so I slowed my pace down to get my heart rate and breathing under control. There was another water stop right at mile 6 so I slowed down and took the gel right before then.

Mile 5: 9:30

Mile 6: 9:17

Ohhhh mile 7. This is always a rough point for me. It’s at this time in any long race that I start thinking “why the hell did I decide to do this again….?’ I start to get tired and things start to hurt and I think about how far I still have to go and how much I just want to be done. I’m guessing it’s probably normal for people to start to feel this way in the middle of a race, the excitement at the beginning has worn off and it’s still too early to think about the final kick. I also started getting SO HOT. The sun was beating down on me and the breeze was gone. I really wanted to take off my outer layer but didn’t even know how because it was a zip up but my race number was attached so I couldn’t unzip it. I had to stop and pull it over my head which caused my hat to fall off and I had to turn around and grab it. Ugh, it was really frustrating and I lost a lot of time. Then I started getting flustered and really anxious and had a really tough time getting back into my groove, and never really did for the rest of the race.

Mile 7: 10:33

I slowly walked through the water stations and even had to walk a few times. Blech. I guess that is what I get for starting out to fast! It was definitely discouraging though, seeing so many people pass me running so strong. I just kept plugging away though.

Mile 8:9:59

Mile 9: 9:51

Mile 10: 9:19

Once I got to the last mile I kicked it up again and got excited for the finish! I could hear people cheering from about 1/2 mile away and it gave me chills! Of course to be cruel the finish was uphill so it was hard to go all out but I just kept pumping my arms and finished strong! I threw my arms over my head and had the biggest smile on my face 🙂

My final time was 1:36:00 and my garmin read that I ran 10.19 miles (all that weaving around runners adds up!)

Wooohooo! I love medals! And another number to add to my race wall!

Overall it was a great race and a great day! I had a blast and I’m so excited that race season has begun!

Hey guys! Happy weekend 🙂

I’m getting ready to hit the road for Washington DC for the Cherry Blossom 10 mile race and let me tell you, packing for an out of town race is much harder than you’d think! And this is just for a running race, I can’t even imagine how hard it’s going to be when I have to pack for my triathlon in June. My list will be as long as the swim! 😉 (you know… ‘I have a list a mile long!) Right, if you have to explain a joke it’s not funny…

Ok so anyway, back to why I am especially paranoid about packing….You see, I am about as type-A and organized as it gets. My closet is color coordinated by style. I carry a notepad around with more lists than you’d even believe. I sometimes write out my schedule to the minute (7:22 leave for the bus)… so you would think that I would never overlook something very important on race day. But alas, I guess I am not perfect after all!

So let’s go back to my first half marathon in November. I trained hard for months and months. Everything was looking good, the training done, the registration complete, the hotel and dinner reservations made. Great! I packed up everything I would need from my apartment, spent the night at my parents house and off we went. Great expo, great dinner, bed by 8:30.

Then I woke up in the middle of the night with the worst feeling in the world: I forgot something. So of course I got up to double check everything. I had my clothes, shoes, socks, garmin, bread, pb, gu, race number. Oh crap, I forgot a knife. I guess I’ll just have to spread the peanut butter with my finger. Not the end of the world. I still have a nagging feeling something is wrong but it must just be the knife. Go back to sleep.

Then the next morning I am eating my pre-race meal and starting to get ready. Wait, where is my sports bra? Oh no, oh no, no, no, no, no, no! This is not happening. Now everyone who knows me knows that there is no way I could possibly get away with no sports bra or just that little shelf thing in my running tank. No way. I started to panick but had to get going so I could get to the start line in time! Well, lacy pink underwire bra, looks like it’s just you and me.

I did have the tank with the built in bra and since it was cold, lots of other layers which helped keep everything in place. Honestly I didn’t even notice it the entire race.

Then, I got in the shower. HOLY CHAFING! I actually screamed. I don’t know if I have ever been in so much pain. But you know what, it didn’t matter, I still had one of the best days and races of my life. And I had a great story to tell. Whenever someone complains about anything dumb, ” I can say “Well, once I ran 13.1 miles in a regular bra. Beat that.”

So, moral of the story: Check everything at least 87 times. I did. And I packed 2 sports bras, and am wearing one now, just in case.

Ok, running 10 miles tomorrow. Wish me luck!

April 2011
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