As much as I’ve enjoyed writing this blog, it was time for a change and to take this to the next level.
If you want to keep reading, visit me at my new site: beautydoestriathlon.com or consider this an easy way out to stop reading!
I love Christmas. I love everything about it. I love the cold in the air that is so refreshing after the hot hot summer. I love buying gifts for my friends and family that make them truly happy. I love the lights and decorations. I love the feeling of hot chocolate in your hands. I love when snow decides to come to Virginia a little early. I love the time spent with the ones you love and care about. This list could go on forever.
This is the first Christmas where the Beast and I are living together, so I am trying to start some traditions. While I fell behind on being super crafty and making an advent calendar, we have managed to do some things that I intend on keeping.
1. Decorate the tree together. I had originally written this post about a tree I was going to make out of a tomato cage because I was going to be thrifty (cheap). Then I came home on Monday night and the Beast had gotten me our first Christmas tree. I have never been more happy than when I walked in to have our living room lit up, literally like a Christmas tree.
The Beast and I during our vacation out West in October also decided (a bit belatedly in our relationship) that we would start collecting ornaments whenever we took a vacation, so here are a few we picked up.
2. Toys for Tots. My dad started this tradition for my sisters and I years ago. In December, we would head to a toys store and my dad gave each of us a limit of $50 to spend. We could get one girl toy and one boy toy, multiple toys, really whatever, as long as it ended up being roughly $50. Toys R Us is the easiest store for this normally because they have the bin for Toys for Tots inside (or at least most of them do). We spend at least an hour looking at all of the toy options and finding the things that we want the most to play with then we buy them and put them in the bin.
It is heart warming and wonderful and makes me hope that on Christmas morning some little girl or boy opens a present that brings them joy. This year, the Beast and I found Legos and a princess dress up kit. The Beast loves doing this and when I was debating the toy I wanted to get he pushed me towards the dress up kit because he said every little girl deserves to feel like a princess and believe she has a chance of becoming one. Him saying that warmed my heart and now I know no matter how rough times are financially for us, we will always do this tradition.
3. Do kind acts every day. These can be big or small. Most of the ones that we do are small. On Black Friday, a store employee at Target told us they were bringing XboxOnes from the back and it would be about 10 minutes. Not everyone waiting received the same message and a couple of older teenage boys and their dad waited but then decided to go checkout looking downtrodden. We wondered why they had gone away, and not a minute later about 20 gaming systems were wheeled out. I quickly grabbed two and had the Beast go find the family so that we could guarantee they would have one. I have never seen a family more appreciative or thankful.
Most often my kind deeds are complimenting someone because that always makes my day better, especially when it comes from a stranger.
4. Christmas movies. Love Actually, Rudolph, It’s a Wonderful Life, any and all of them. The Beast insists that Die Hard is a Christmas movie because it takes place at Christmastime, but I let him have that one.
Those are just a few of the things we do and as time goes on we will probably find more things to do. What do you do for Christmas? What are the traditions in your family?
When I signed up for an Ironman , I knew that my Bianchi road bike, Beyonce, just wouldn’t cut it. We have had two amazing triathlon seasons together, and I’ve learned a lot. I could probably have done upgrades to her to get her in shape for an Ironman with clip-on aero bars and the like, but I knew if I was serious, I needed to be serious, which meant, upgrading my bike.
A couple of weeks ago, I went to all of the bike stores around DC, which I feel very thankful for this area because there are a plethora and I enjoyed my experience at every single one of them. My decision was based on the bike that felt right and truthfully, I felt emotionally upset about not being able to buy a bike at all of them, but only one had the bike that I clicked with.
The first trip to the bike stores, I perused, inquired about sales, asked about specs, but didn’t get on a single bike. I got a feel for the packages and the service and the store. Then over the course of the next week, I read reviews about bikes and pros and cons and tried to learn as much about bikes that I could within a week and without really knowing anything about bikes. Luckily, the Beast likes to research and came in knowing more about bikes than I did.
The next weekend, we set off on bike adventure round two. I was dressed for the occasion in tights (very windy, cold, but sunny day), a jacket, and my clip in shoes. I ended up test riding all the bikes with flat pedals because I was nervous about trying a tri bike out for the first time and being clipped in. I looked at bikes at the following stores:
Tri360 – This store is amazing. It is geared towards triathletes and the owner of the shop Blake remembers my name every single time I go in there, which is only every four months or so. He’s incredibly nice, knowledgeable, and helpful. They have Felt and Orbea bikes here, and at least one more brand I think, but it was out of my price range. You cannot go wrong here. They also carry SOAS triathlon suits, which are specifically geared towards women and are comfortable and cute. Even though I am a SOAS Brand Ambassador, I really cannot recommend their gear high enough. I may have to wear spandex for triathlons, but thank you SOAS for making cute patterns that make me feel confident and sexy doing it. I believe this is one of the only retail locations for SOAS for quite aways around.
The Bike Lane in Reston – This was my first time at the store, but they are definitely more of a bike store than anything else. They carry Felt and Trek bikes primarily. This is where I test rode my first tri bike, a Trek Speed Concept 7, and I really liked it. However, since it was the first bike I tested I couldn’t walk away with it. I needed to make sure it was the bike and not because it was a tri bike that I felt so good. The brakes were a little soft and the bike was a little wobbly, which could also be operator error.
Bonzai Sports – This is where I ended up getting my bike. They had a good selection of last year’s models and the bike that fit me the best. At this store, they have Quintaroos and Cervelos, which I test rode back to back. The store was nice enough to give the Beast a helmet and let us ride out and then switch halfway. Not only did it let me do a side by side comparison, but I also had someone out there to look at me on the bike and see what worked. The store didn’t feel up tight and were easy going. I ended up going with the 2014 Cervelo P2. It felt fast, it felt the most solid around turns and clung to them like a sports car, and it just gelled the best. The bike was on sale and I got an additional discount plus 15% off additional items (including the seat, a Fizik Tritone).
This adventure took up a lot of time and I really recommend test riding as many bikes as possible and seeing what works for you as well as what each store offers for service plans. I was a little late on sale season, apparently October is a better time, and here I was thinking I would wait until after the holidays. Ooops.
The price tag hurt a lot, but it was something I was prepared for. I intend on keeping a list of things that I buy for Ironman to be able to give a summation at the end of how much it costs. Next step for Ironman is trying out hydration mixes and energy mixes for the bike and run.
Oh, and of course, the name of the bike. His name is Traveller, or more affectionately named Trav, after General Robert E. Lee’s horse. The bike is blue and white, which was my school’s colors, and with my obsession with horses, the name only seemed appropriate.
It’s been awhile since I was honestly and wholeheartedly excited for each workout. Yes, I still lay around in bed a little too long and get my workouts done later in the day rather than earlier, but I look forward to each one. And to be honest, it’s probably been since the summertime that I was excited to lace up my shoes or hop on my bike or put on my goggles.
For a little while there I wasn’t in love with triathlon or running. It seemed like a chore and it sure felt like one too. My paces started to slip and I was missing key workouts and easy workouts and just workouts in general. I fell into a slug routine that I haven’t done in quite awhile. I used to never workout and now going without working out for a week feels weird and even during this time, I got a little tinge of what the hell are you doing?
To add to the discouragement because of my undertraining, I did less than spectacular at my Olympic distance triathlon and the Richmond half marathon. If I had kept up my July/August training, I would have been golden, but I didn’t and then suddenly it was cram all my key workouts in with as little time as possible. Really, not the smartest plan I’ve ever had, especially since I pride myself on being a planner.
Signing up for an Ironman though, I realize that that strategy is not going to work this time. I can’t slack off for days at a time, barring illness. I need to be diligent. I need to be determined. I need to work hard, every single damn day.
Which is why I am glad that the eagerness is back, the drive to get out there and change my body and my speed. I want to change, I want to get better, I want to enter Ironman knowing that this is the best that I can do.
It probably also helps that I am joining a triathlon team soon, more details on that to follow once I actually join. I will also include the post on the newest addition to the Beast and I’s family soon (hint, it does not even remotely resemble a baby)
So it’s back to swimming and the pool despite the cold and long rides on my bike despite the pain and running despite the cold chill in my chest.
I cannot even begin to list the things I am thankful for today.
I am thankful for my family, who I love to the moon in back
For my family who races with me.
That I have a mother in shape enough to run a half marathon with me (and kick my ass).
For the Beast. He knows how to trick me into a perfect photo at every wedding.
For my friends, who race and drink with me.
For my puppy, who always knows when I need a snuggle or a run
For my health and the courage to embark on my fitness journey, starting with my first triathlon.
You may have guessed it. I did already post it on Instagram for those who look there, but this next year just got a little bit (okay, a lotta bit) crazier.
As I was skimming over my Facebook feed the day before the Richmond Half Marathon, I noticed a couple of good friends of the Beast and I had signed up for Ironman Maryland. They had tried to convince me to do a Half Ironman in September with 6 weeks of training. I declined, but kind of regretted it even though I knew it would wreck me trying to do that much training in such a short period of time. After the race, the two boys talked about doing Ironman Florida in 2015 and asked me to join. Though I had considered an Ironman for 2015, Florida was just a little too far and expensive with travel costs for me, so I considered myself safe.
When I saw they registered for Maryland, I was overcome with emotions. Jealousy being the dominate one. How can these two men who have only ever done one triathlon and are not as committed or knowledgeable about the sport just sign up and decide to do an Ironman?! Don’t they know what goes into it? How hard it is?
The truth was, I wanted to do it, and I was scared to do it. I’ve competed in a couple of seasons of triathlon doing sprints and peaked with an Olympic distance triathlon this past September. According to my ultimate triathlon plan, I would peak with a half in 2015, and then go for the big one in 2016. Steady, logical, orderly. The way I like to do things.
But I couldn’t get over this feeling of “how dare you encroach upon my sport, you newbie, and think you can conquer it” jealousy feeling. (Note, I did not include rational in my list of descriptions about me). This was my dream and they were taking it away.
Until our friend Allen asked me to do it with them.
My first thought was, no, are you crazy, I have a PLAN I am sticking to, like a normal sane person does. But the more I thought about it, the more I wondered why? Why do I need to wait? Why can’t I go for it now? Because I haven’t done a marathon or half Ironman yet? So what.
So, I texted the Beast and ran the crazy idea past him. And he responded in his normal, I will support whatever you want to do. I told him it would be hard and I would need to start soon and it would be expensive and it would be trying and he would never see me on the weekend. He shrugged it off and told me to do it anyway.
Then standing in the middle of a JoAnn Fabrics store, I did it. I clicked the very expensive Register button.
I am registered for Ironman Maryland 2015.
I am going to be an Ironman.
So strap in, things on this blog are going to get a little bumpy, including the introduction of the newest member in our stable later this week.
Overall, I am satisfied with how the half went. I am not ecstatic and I am not disappointed. I am content with my results given my training and the weather conditions.
All week long the weather forecast become increasing colder until I woke up race morning to a balmy 25 degrees. This was not comforting since the coldest weather I had trained in was probably in the 40s. Probably even the high 40s. I had at most worn capris and a very light jacket. Race morning I wore my long tights, a long sleeved shirt (with my SOAS tank over top to represent), and my winter running jacket. I also had a warm headband on and gloves. It was freezing.
I started the morning out with my favorite race breakfast of a piece of bread (I prefer untoasted), peanut butter, and half a banana. The puppy was very sad I didn’t share any with her.
Mom and I hopped in the car with no traffic until about a mile and a half from where parking was. We had left the house at 6:30 to arrive in Richmond at 7 with a start of 7:44. We cut it pretty close with traffic but since we took her Mini we were able to squeeze in a compact car space and the street we parked on was the same as the start.
We headed for the porter potties for once last stop. At this point I was freaking out a bit. I hadn’t had any bowel movements since the night before and wanted to empty my system before starting. But nothing happened. I just peed and decided that was that and hopefully it wouldn’t catch me later (luckily it didn’t until well after the race).
We were out of the johns and immediately into our corral with 2 minutes to start. Perfect timing. My mom had decided to run with me during the race since she hadn’t been training that much and didn’t care about time for this one.
Despite my mom wanting to push it almost right away I told her that I was keeping it easy for the first 8 miles. The first mile ticked 15 seconds under my 12 minute pace and the second 8 seconds over. I was happy with both of these and wanted to keep my range between 11:45 and 12:05.
Miles 3-7 went about the same with mile 7 being my second fastest mile. I was getting ready to kick it. But then my plans began to get derailed.
The cold weather began to get to me yesterday. Not having trained in it I could feel my lungs retaliating. By mile 8 I couldn’t take a deep breath and my pace began to reflect it. My pace began to drop from mile 8 to 12 and I tried to push but my lungs wouldn’t cooperate and then my right hip began to flare.
I pushed and tried and didn’t want to give myself another excuse to not PR. But the pace was slipping too much and my mile paces were in the high 11s. With one more mile left and the marathon male winners beginning to come up beside us I tried to push harder. I couldn’t. Until the final turn and the big downhill. I looked to my mom and we kicked it into gear.
This is my favorite part of the race. There is a little over a quarter of a mile left but the downhill is so steep you just have to let it take you. So I lengthened my stride and pushed with my last little bit. Mile 13 was my fastest at 10:38 and I gave one last push to make it 13.1 miles.
I crossed in 2:31:29, about 30 seconds slower than the previous year. But I raced smarter. I had a negative split by 7 seconds unlike my very positive split of last year. Though my legs were jello I know I had given it my all. I tried and next time my training will be better but for this cycle, I am happy. And I am happy to have the opportunity to run a half marathon with my 50 year old mom.
I am literally sitting in the parking lot of the expo waiting for my mom to arrive (and the expo to open) to go inside the day before the half marathon. I haven’t run this distance since the Nike Women’s Half in April and I think that due to lack of training I will be luckily to do the same as I did there. The last three weeks have been phenomenal but I don’t know of that will be enough. Which is why I am laying out my goals and expectations for tomorrow.
A Goal: half marathon PR. My current PR is from last year’s Richmond half at 2:30:49. I may be off a little on the seconds but regardless I would like to get under 2:30 and if I have a good day tomorrow I think this is achievable.
B Goal: under a 12 minute pace. If I can’t PR I would like to keep my average pace under 12 minutes, which I think I could do easily.
C Goal or everything goes to shit goal: finish with a smile on my face and glad to be able to run a half marathon and do it with my mom.
She’s here! Time to enjoy!
Daylight saving time has begun and the mornings are dark and the evenings darker. Since I leave the house at 6:30 and get home at 5pm, this means that essentially I will be in the dark no matter when I workout: morning or evening. For me, this means, no more biking outside during the week, only on the weekends, and running has become a challenge as well.
While I could run in the dark, I choose not to do so. First, I am clumsy, and having little to no visibility most likely means scrapes and bruises. I already trip during full daylight in dry conditions. Second, the sidewalks/roads near my apartment to run are not the best lit and my only other option is trails through the woods, which are pitch black. This brings up the safety factor. If the Beast wanted to go run with me, I would consider doing it, but he doesn’t and won’t and we run at different speeds/distances.
This essentially means that until about March, my runs and bike rides during the week will take place inside. I don’t mind staying inside for the bike because I am more than happy to set up my trainer and watch a movie or two and pedal all day long or go to the gym for a spin class. However, running inside means I have to use the treadmill, the machine I hate most in the world.
I steeled myself on Tuesday for my first trek to the gym to run and my first run since my nasty chafing from last Friday’s long run.
Then I decided that my relationship with the treadmill for the next 5 months or so couldn’t start on a sour note, and I needed to find ways to make this partnership blossom, thrive! So here are my tips for surviving the treadmill.
1. Be positive. Easier said than done, but going into the workout dreading and harrumphing the treadmill is going to make it worse. Way, way worse. Unbearably worse. I rationalized with myself all day that this was my only option and if I wanted to continue running this was the safest and best way to do it.
2. Arm yourself with music. Taylor Swift’s new CD has been a lifesaver for me. The tunes are catchy, the beats are good, and it provided lots of entertainment for other gym goers as I danced and lip-synced on my treadmill. Other options also include having a movie or TV show or something to listen to and entertain you. For the treadmill I prefer the fast paced music as opposed to my book on tape or a movie which are not going to be an hour long thrill ride most of the time.
3. Turn on the TV monitor. Even if you aren’t going to watch it or listen to it, it provides another visual distraction and at least some scenery is changing while you’re running in place.
4. Have fun! I dance, sing, and do a myriad of other weird things while I run on the treadmill. Yes, there are many other people around, but I am getting in my workout and trying my best to enjoy it. If that means I look like an idiot and end up on YouTube at some point, so be it.
5. Mess with your speed. I like to have a range that I am aiming for whenever I run on the treadmill. I am sure my speed varies when I am running outside from quarter mile to quarter mile, so when I am on the treadmill I increase and decrease by 0.1 every lap. This adds some variety and breaks the whole run up in quarter mile intervals. If I can just make it to the next quarter mile mark, then I can change the speed, and that resets my mindset.
Since the Beast and I are headed to Lexington this evening to visit our alma maters for the weekend I decided to do my long run on Friday. After sleeping in, I ate a little something, waited for some bowel movement to occur then headed out.
I didn’t know what I was in for.
The first 4-5 miles went really well. My pace was getting faster by 2-5 seconds so I was pleased. I spent this portion listening to a book on tape which helps me not go out of the gate too fast. When I stopped to get water at the end of this segment
The first bad sign happened here. I had brought along my last salted caramel gu to eat for my last 4 miles. I checked my pocket and it had somehow fallen out. I wasn’t that upset and figured it would suck but I could manage.
During the next 3.5 miles my thigh started to burn. Not the muscle, the skin. And when I stopped at the turnaround to check it out I noticed my wonderful life saving CW-X tights were going bare right on that spot of my leg. I was already chafing and bleeding just a little bit. I asked some construction workers for duct tape to hold my pants together. This solution lasted until about half way through mile 9.
The duct tape came off and wouldn’t stick and the chafing hurt so bad that I had to hold the material together. By this point there was a hole bigger than my fist in my pants. I tried to run and was overcome with a burning sensation. I decided to try a walk run but even that failed and I succumbed to as fast a walk as I could handle while essentially holding my crotch material together.
Then my phone died. The last two miles would be in silence. No music, no texting to help me through the walk. I was alone.
With a mile left to go the cramping started and it took every ounce of my will power to continue walking. I wanted to stop but there was no other way to get home and I needed to not be on my feet anymore. I dragged on.
When I finally made it home I grabbed the jug of chocolate milk, peeled off my clothes, and immediately sunk into a nice hot bath. The sweat and pain began to leak out into the hot water and I began to feel like a human being again.
Today was a test of my mental power and what I was made out of. Without the pant rip I would have been on pace at about a 12 minute pace, which is about on par for what I should be doing during the Richmond half in a couple weeks. But the pants rip happened. And I had to hobble home.
I am at least thankful that my pants ripped today and not two weeks from now. I have plenty of time to buy new pants (which I already did) and it proved that I can do it. Despite a less than perfect training cycle with lots of excuses and reasons for not sticking to my plan, I am worthy of competing in the Richmond half. Will I PR? Probably not. But maybe that’s not always the point of running a race.