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I did it!! I can’t believe that after all these months and all the hours and miles of training that I can finally call myself a triathlete!

So how did it feel? HARD!  I mean, I knew that it was going to be hard but I guess I naively thought that since I had trained so hard that it wouldn’t be as hard as it was.  The feeling though as I crossed that finish line was just amazing.

Thanks Dad for being my triathlon paparazzi!

I set out all my stuff last night to make sure I had it before packing it up in my backpack, then we went out to dinner, watched a movie, and I was asleep by 9. Triathlon day started bright and early. I woke up from a nightmare in which I overslept my alarm and it was 7:00 and I missed the start. Luckily it was only 3:30am but I was wide awake.  It wasn’t too far from my 4:00am alarm so I just got up, drank some coffee, ate some breakfast and prepped mentally for the day.

I had been obsessively checking the water temperature all week and it was just hovering around 77*. The sprint race which was the day before was wetsuit legal so I was feeling optimistic. I had not had the chance to do an open water swim practice before the race and I was really nervous about the swim. Everyone kept saying “oh, you’ll be fine in the wetsuit. You’ll just float and feel safe”. I was really depending on that. I got to transition, got body marked, and heard the announcement “The water is 78.5* this morning and this race is NOT wetsuit legal.” My heart sank. I seriously almost cried. I had depended on that. It was allowed to wear the wetsuit but you had to start at 8:00 in the last wave. Mine was supposed to go at 7:20. I was so nervous and anxious as it was, I didn’t want to wait another 40 minutes, be the last wave on the course, and worry my friends and family when I got out of the water 90 minutes after I told them to expect me. I decided to do a warmup swim, felt good in the water, and decided to go without the wetsuit.

My wave went off and I hung by the back to let everyone go ahead. I felt ok at first but then started to panic a little. It was just so dark and I was getting disoriented. The finish line looked SO FAR away and I didn’t know what I got myself into. I was having a really hard time breathing and was not even swimming—sort of flailing in a mix of side stroke, back stroke, doggy paddle…Then the under 29 male wave which started 5 minutes after mine came up on us and they were so aggressive. It was like being in a washing machine—kicking and grabbing and splashing everywhere. I flipped on my back and did backstroke but was still swallowing so much water. I was hyperventilating and just could not breathe. I looked around for a kayak….I really considered quitting for a few minutes. Then when that wave passed, I thought “ok Sarah. You can do this.” Even though it felt right then that I had never swam a stroke in my life I KNEW that I could swim. I took it slow, and started breathing every other stroke. All of a sudden, everything got better. I was calmer, relaxed, and actually enjoying myself. Before I knew it I had caught up with about 5 girls from my wave! Once I got my rhythm I felt like I could have kept going for much longer. I was thankful that I didn’t have to though! Even with my panicking, I finished the swim in 34 minutes.

The calm before the storm

That little dot is most likely me out there all by myself since my wave and the wave after me all swam by 😉

Oh good---more yellow caps!

Never been happier to be on dry land!

I took my time in T1 and when I got on the bike my HR was 174! I was supposed to keep it below 170 on the bike but was having a hard time relaxing and getting it down. After the first climb/downhill it got under control but that’s when the problems started. I had swallowed so much water during the swim that it made me feel SO sick. The water was sloshing, I was so nauseous, and my stomach was clenching like someone was wringing my intestines. I really felt so awful which I was not expecting at all. I usually feel strongest on the bike. I finished the first loop in 45min but right when I started the 2nd loop I really thought I was going to throw up. I slowed down and started to unclip to get off the bike and do what I had to do, but then the feeling passed. Thank god. Instead of pushing it the 2nd loop I decided to take it easier and do everything I could possibly do to settle my stomach. I sipped my water and gaterade, ate a gel, and didn’t push too hard. It worked! By the last 20 minutes I felt back to normal. And the best part is that I kept my bike cadence at 87! I have been working really hard to average 90 but it’s so hard for me. Today I came pretty darn close and it definitely helped my run! Total Bike: 1:45.

Finishing Loop 1

Hi Dad!

Hmm, where did my stuff go? Too many bikes!

Transition madness!

Then the run! My legs actually felt pretty fresh! My calves were tight the first mile but loosened up. I walked through every water station and drank water and gaterade and dumped water on myself because it was getting hot! I wasn’t fast and had to walk on and off during the first 3 miles. Then, shockingly, the last 3 miles of the run was where I felt the best I did the entire day! I only had to walk through the water stations, and mile 5 was the only time the whole run I saw numbers under 10 min/mile. My friend Melissa came to cheer me on and was going to wait around mile 5 of the run. I actually saw her when I was finishing up the bike and shouted “I’m coming! It will be a long time but I’ll be there!” Having her there was SO amazing. On the run I kept thinking “just make it to Melissa” and I did! She was so encouraging and it was amazing to see a friendly face. It meant so much to have her there. I finished the run in 1:10 which I am really happy with! I was expecting 1:15!

3 miles to go!

Approaching the finish line! I was so happy!

DONE!

Total time: 3:35

I want to just thank everyone for all their encouragement and support. Especially my family who has been amazing through all of this. Thanks Dad for coming out to Philadelphia with me for the race and being the best cheerleader and photographer ever. Thanks to my Mom and sister for the encouragment and for anxiously waiting by the phone for updates. Thanks to all my readers, friends, and coworkers for putting up with me and my taper blues, for listening to me talk about triathlon all the time, thanks to Melissa and my friend Chris (who was doing the run section of the relay) for cheering me on during the run. And of course, a big, big thank you to my Coach Kim, I could not have done it without you. Thanks for preparing me to finish strong, for reassuring me that all the problems I deal with are normal and I’m not crazy, and thanks for always listening to me and making me feel better. You’ve become not only a coach but a friend and know that you are SUCH an inspiration to me. I listen and take in everything you tell me, and I hope I made you proud 🙂

I really am so proud of myself! I had some unanticipated problems (panicking in the water and feeling really bad on the bike) but I think I handled them really well.  I feel good about my future races because those things that slowed me down will get better with experience. My legs felt strong the whole race and I was able to control my heart rate on my bike and run. I could not be happier with my first triathlon experience! Here’s to many, many more!

Ok, I feel a TON better! Apparently the ‘taper blues’ are a real thing…I’m glad to know that I’m not alone!

Even though I am still really nervous about the race, I am getting really excited now too! I got an email with my bib number— 846. I like it 🙂

I talked to my coach last and she reminded me of how far I’ve come. I have put in so much time and effort…so many early mornings, so many long workouts. I ran repeats on the dreaded track, I swam countless laps, I ran a half marathon!, I rode my bike 100 miles in 1 day and then 60 the next! I had a 4 hour swim/bike/run workout. Sure there were a few days where I didn’t give it 100% but there were also plenty of days that I gave it 110%. In the past 3 months of training I logged 100 hours. 100 hours! Ok so maybe I cut a few workouts short or skipped a handful during the 3 months…but no matter how you cut it, 100 hours is no joke.

I’ve put in the time and now the race is when I get to enjoy my hard work. So that’s what I’m going to do! I’m going to go out there and have fun! And I can’t wait 🙂

It’s finally here! After months and months of saying “oh, it’s not until the end of June” I can finally say my very first triathlon is THIS weekend! Honestly it does not feel real one tiny bit. I don’t know if it will until the morning of the race when I am putting on my wetsuit and getting ready for the hardest physical (and very tough mental) challenge of my life. Up until now it’s just been a dream and now its about to become a reality.

Until just about this week I’ve been probably 80% excited and 20% nervous. Right now though I’m the opposite…80+% nervous and 20% excited. I’m scared. What if I can’t do it? What if it’s not fun? What if I panic in the water? What if I fall off my bike? What if I get sick on the run? I know it’s going to be hard and I know it’s going to hurt….that’s part of the fun(?)…well definitely most of the accomplishment is digging deep through the hurt and difficulty and succeeding. You have to 100% believe in yourself, trust your training, and know that you can do it. I don’t know if I have that. I’m doubting myself a little bit. I think that part of the problem is that when I look in the mirror I don’t see a “triathlete”, I see a chubby girl who needs to lose 20lbs. I just wish that I looked the part more. I know it’s so dumb and there are going to be people at the race on Sunday of all ages, shapes, and sizes but I just feel like people are going to look at me and judge me and think “what is she doing here?”

I know that I’ve worked so hard but I feel like I should have done more. I keep thinking about the days when I just jogged easy instead of running hard, dilly dallied at traffic lights, walked, spent too much time on the wall in between sets in the pool, cut my strength workouts a little short, avoided the bike routes with the hard hills, drank an extra glass (or two) or wine.

I have just been so stressed out recently which sure isn’t helping anything. I’ve been busier at work than I ever have been in my life, working from 7am-8pm and still having more to do. On top of that, last week the girl I was supposed to move in with on July 1 tells me she’s moving to Charlotte for a job and all of a sudden I don’t have a roommate. *Luckily* things worked out, as they always do, and another friend of mine will be moving in—and the best part is…..she’s a triathlete too! She did her first one last summer and has a couple more this season! I am so excited to have someone who will finally understand me!

Hmm, so this didn’t turn out to be the “I AM SO EXCITED FOR MY RACE” post that I was expecting to post. I think I’m just in a “funk”. I was actually warned that this might happen during taper week—feeling sluggish and emotional and worried. I think a lot of it is that I have become so used to training ~10 hours a week and depend on those endorphins and the high I get from working hard and sweating…it does wonders for my self esteem. So to go from that to 5 hours last week and only 3 this week leading up to the race is tough. That combined with everyone else going on is just not a good combination.

I know that I’ll start getting excited soon, I’m not too worried. I’m just going to let my body do what it needs to do and get this “funk” out of its system so that I’m ready for race day!

Wow guys, I just had the most fun, epic weekend ever! I took part in the MS150 bike ride which was a 2 day charity ride to raise money for MS. First, let me just say that this was the most well organized event I have ever taken part in. They did such an amazing job that literally the riders did not have to worry about one single thing besides riding their bikes! From the very start the check in and bag drop off was easy. There was coffee and snacks at the start line and throughout the ride there were crossing guards at most major intersections and SAG wagons driving the course in case anyone needed help. The rest stops were AWESOME. They were every 15-20 miles and there were signs at each one telling you how much longer the ride was and how far til the next station. There was a medical tent and bike mechanics at each stop too! They had plenty of port-a-potties (yuck) and the volunteers were awesome. As soon as you rolled in they came up to fill you your water and gaterade. Oh and there was so much food! Everything you could want–pb&j, turkey sandwiches, bananas, oranges, pb crackers, fruit snacks, chips, pretzels, popsicles, cookies, chocolate! They definitely kept you fueled up!

I made sure that I ate something at every stop and over the ride on the first day I think I had 3 gels, 2.5 pb&j, 1 banana, 1 mini smiley cookie, and a dixie cup of trail mix. It felt like I was eating all day! And sure that is a lot of food but I was on my bike for 7 hours and according my my HRM I burned a little over 5,000 calories! So eat I did! I tried really hard to stay hydrated but in the heat it is just so hard. I drank and drank, forcing water and gaterade down but it just wasn’t enough because I only had to go to the bathroom once the whole ride! I felt a little funny at dinner—not super dizzy or anything, but just sort of *off* so I had probably 3 bottles of water after the ride and then felt great 🙂

Ok, so back to the ride….The weather was great and I felt great! I rode with a team of people, some of which I know from my gym and everyone was so, so nice and encouraging. I was one of the youngest and I also think I was the only person on the team who was riding this for the first time—some people have been doing it for 10 years! I was nervous at first but spent the first 20 miles just chatting with my friends and it flew by. There were some climbs right off the bat but other than that just some nice rolling hills through the gorgeous countryside. I saw more horses this weekend (and horse-and-buggy!) than I have in my whole life! So the first day is about 80 miles but there is an option to do a Century ride which is 100 miles. At the start people asked me if I was going to do it and I laughed at them…there was zero chance I could ride 100 miles! And then as soon as I said that I just had to do it. If I said there is no way I could do it then I just had to prove that I could. That’s just how I am. So at mile 45, the Century riders split off to do a 20 mile loop and then join back up with the whole group for the rest of the ride.

Only a few people from my team were doing the Century and they were such strong cyclists that they dropped me almost right away. It was fine, I was feeling really good and didn’t mind zoning out and enjoying the scenery by myself for a while. Then some guy comes up and starts talking to me and he was just so annoying. I’m sorry, but he was. This guy would not stop talking to me. He was a stronger cyclist than I am so I could tell I was holding him back and kept telling him to go ahead. But he was like “no, it’s ok, I’ll stay with you. I like riding easy for a little bit.” That pissed me off because this was not easy for me! So I just sort of tuned him out and said “mmmhmm, yeah….” when he kept babbling on and on and just didn’t even listen. Ok, and also everyone forgot to tell me that the Century option is for crazy-ass super cyclists who belong in the Tour de France because good lord was it HARD. There were some climbs that were just outrageous….steeper than anything I had ever seen in my life. There was this one where we made a sharp right turn and then BOOM a wall in front of my face. Boy did those hurt! And that annoying guy just kept talking to me! Like, umm, hello I am dying here, clearly I do not want to talk to you! I was trying to keep my heart rate in check and he was not helping. Everyone I saw on that part of the ride was in amaaazing shape, with the best bikes, and just so professional looking. I felt so amateur. Also, interestingly, I think I only saw 3 other girls that whole loop! I think cycling is definitely a guys sport. Ok, so anyway I was dragging. I was pissed that I decided to do the Century, I was hot, I was tired, I had already been on the bike 3 hours longer than I ever had in my life, and then all of a sudden the longest steepest climb of the day. It was mile 65 and I was toast.  I made it up  about halfway and just couldn’t do it. I saw a Lance Armstrong-esque  looking guy walking his bike up the hill and that was the “go-ahead” for me to do it to. My annoying bike buddy was like “what, you can’t walk! This is 90% mental, 10% physical!” and I was like “No! This is 100% physical. Maybe if this was at mile 5 I could do it, but I have been riding for 65 miles and still have 35 to go. I know my limits and this is just not within them” So I walked. My calves were screaming and I could barely even walk up the hill. I think Alberto Contador biked up next to me and I was walking faster than he was biking 😉

We finally joined back up with the big group and I have never been so happy. I was able to lose that annoying guy and get myself back together. I got a pep talk from a nice older man who suffered through the Century too. Nobody could believe that it was my very first MS150, my very first ride over 35 miles, and I went for the Century. I kept pulling away and finally made it to the finish where my team was all there cheering for me! It was the greatest feeling. Turns out only a handful of people even did the Century today so that made me feel legit. One guy grabbed my shoulder, looked me in the eye, and said “Sarah, you are tough.” That made me feel really good. I am tough.

My lower back was killing and I got a nice massage in the team tent, went to the nice dinner they had in the dining hall, then had 1 beer at the outdoor concert with my friends and was asleep by 8:30.

Up at 6:15 and ready for day 2! Day 2 was SO much easier than day 1….only 60 miles and 4 hours today, not as many or steep climbs, and a nice long downhill at the end. It was WINDY though. Luckily there were some big strong guys on my team to draft off of 🙂

We made it to the finish, had a great picnic, and now I’m home! I seriously can’t believe I did that, I am so proud! I feel great too! My butt hurts. A lot. Getting on that seat this morning was seriously agony but it got better about 10 miles in. My quads are sore but that’s about it!

This was so long but I wanted to write it all down so that I remember everything! What an amazing weekend 🙂

My Dad always told me as I was growing up that the older you get the faster time goes. I can’t believe how right he is. I just have no idea where the time goes. On Wednesday I turn 24. I can’t believe it. This past year has definitely been the fastest one of my life. And also I think the one where I changed the most.

I seriously cannot believe how much can change in just one year. I think I really grew up this year and learned so much about myself. Last year at this time things were not great. I was in a tough place. I had just gone through a really bad breakup and just didn’t know what I wanted in life. I fell back into the same pattern as all of my friends of drinking way too much, being hungover, and lazy all the time, and I just hated it. I felt so blah. I hated lazing around, watching so much tv, and drinking so much. I felt like my life was going nowhere. There was nothing that defined me. There was absolutely nothing I felt passionate about and that really upset me.

DB (for those newbies—DB is my ex-bf. It stands for Douchebag) and I had signed up to do a 10k (my 2nd race ever) and even though we broke up and I hadn’t trained at all, I decided to do it anyway. I wanted to run it for me and nobody else. So I did and I had so much fun. It felt so great and I loved that I was doing something that I wanted to do because I wanted to do it. So I signed up for another. And another. And another 🙂

Then you know the story—one thing led to another, bought a bike and loved that, and figured I might as well try a tri.

It was by no means an easy year. I fell down. A lot. Both literally and figuratively.

I dealt with injuries.

And I certainly dealt with doubt.

But I never gave up. I challenged myself in ways that I never thought possible.

I started 23 having never run more than 6.2 miles and since then I have run 6 races greater than that distance.

I learned how to really ride a bike—clipless pedals and all (ok—this is still a work in progress)

I learned how to swim! That first day I literally could not swim with my face in the water and I couldn’t make it 25 yards. Last week I did a 3000 yard workout 🙂

I made some great new friends who love the same things as me.

Summer:

Fall:

Winter:

Spring:

I ran 10 races as a 23 year old. My race wall is growing!

What I love best about racing is that it all comes down to you. What YOU are capable of. Of course none of it would be possible without a support system. I have an amazing family who supports me and my crazy ideas. I have great friends who train with me and wish me luck. And of course, most recently I have a great coach who plans my workouts and reassures me when I’m feeling down, and inspires me. But ultimately I am the one putting in the time and effort, paying my blood, sweat, and tears. And when I cross that finish line it is something that nobody can ever take away from me.

I love the person that this sport has helped me become. I am mentally and physically stronger than I have ever been in my life. I am so much more appreciative of life and health, and a beautiful day. I love swimming and biking and (sometimes) running, and I am so glad that I get to do those things every day! I have worked so hard this past year and this is just the beginning. I know I am capable of so much and I can’t wait to see all the great things that 24 will bring!

You know the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Guess what! That relates to pretty much everything in life, including triathlon!

The Good= a great race or workout; the endorphins; the progress; the weight loss; the toning; the awesome people; the feeling when you finish that last interval and get to cool down, etc…. Lots of good!

The Bad= early mornings; lack of sleep; soreness; the bad races or workouts; the delay of results that you deserve; the pain…. Sure there is bad stuff but the good stuff waaaaay counteracts it.

Then there is the Ugly.  There sure is some ugly. Stuff that you just can’t really appreciate until you go through it. To anyone else it’s just gross and disgusting but I’ve actually come to expect and tolerate it. It’s just part of the life…

This might be TMI…be forewarned:

-Black toenails/lack of toenails…I remember during my first half marathon I saw a sign that said “toenails are overrated” and though “hmm, what an odd thing to say.” I definitely had no clue what that was all about. Then during my 2nd half marathon it happened to me….I told Coach Kim and she just said “yep, welcome to the club! 😉 ”

-Eating so much gu that it starts to taste good….Seriously that chocolate outrage flavor is just delicious….One day I was driving home from work, stuck in traffic and got SO HUNGRY that I seriously contemplated eating a gu out of my gym bag. Then I remembered that, no, it is not real food, and that is gross and weird.

-More sweat than you could ever imagine. Honestly I don’t know where it even comes from. The other day I was riding indoors and the room was SO HOT and I was sweating so much that I literally dumped a cup of ice down my sports bra. I’ve reached new levels of embarrassment the past few months.

-Snot. Again, no idea where it all comes from. It’s gross.

-Chafing. Ouch. There is nothing better than the thought of a nice shower after a race or a long hard bike ride. Yes, it’s a nice thought. Until you get in the shower and holy hell does it hurt. I think my garmin HRM is forever imprinted into my chest.

-Puking up gaterade. Nuff said.

-Port-o-potties. Ok guys, this is the absolute worst for me. Seriously I have a fear of them. I am a complete germ-a-phobe and they totally totally totally gross me out. When I was little I literally refused to use them. I remember once my family was on vacation and spent a day on this island where there were port-o-potties and I seriously went the entire day in agony/about to pee my pants instead of using one, that’s how much I Hate them. I still do, I cringe and gag thinking about it, but on race day you gotta do what you gotta do and its all part of the process. Bummer that 1) its so hard for girls to pee outside and 2) you have to stay SO hydrated before a race and 3) have to get to the start line so early. They are inevitable.

-Ok and it gets sort of weird how open other athletes are about talking about all these things. It’s not unusual to talk about urine color and bowel movements in the same nonchalant way as talking about the weather.

So now that I have officially grossed everyone out and my friends probably have even less idea who I am anymore…here’s some fun stuff!

Next weekend I am doing a 150 mile bike ride! It raises money for MS and I’m on a team with a bunch of friends from my gym. It’s going to hurt. I can’t even imagine how my butt is going to feel. I don’t want to think about it. Ignorance is bliss. Anyway, I got my team jersey today and I LOVE IT. IT makes me feel so legit with the name and all the sponsors. I love being on a team 🙂

Ok, that’s that! My birthday is in a week! The big 2-4. I have a good post planned about how much can change in just one year! I was reflecting on that during my 3000 yard (yep, 3,000 yards. 60 laps, 120 lengths) super long swim this morning. Yep, cya guys then!

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