Plattsburgh Half Marathon 4-26-15 Race Report

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A couple weekends ago Scott and I ran our second half marathon of the year. I’ve always wanted to take the ferry across Lake Champlain and do this early spring half marathon over in Plattsburgh, New York. And I’m so glad we finally gave this a shot. The Plattsburgh Half Marathon is a great event that we highly recommend! It’s a nice, friendly, local race with just under 500 runners. This half marathon is very well organized and the course is a lot of fun. It’s a fast course with just a few small inclines. The only challenge some might consider is that there are about 40 different turns to make during the 13.1 miles. While this makes it more interesting, it can add a bit of overall time (and mileage if you don’t cut the tangents perfectly). Another great aspect of the day was the perfect, slightly breezy, cool, crisp, sunny weather in the morning. My garmin reported a starting temp of 44F which to me is perfect for racing.

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ferry early morning

Scott and I are still training hard for Ironman Mont Tremblant 140.6 this coming August. While it can sometimes feel like a second job with the long hours of training, it’s been going well for both of us. It’s quite a journey! And the training is very different than the marathon training I have been doing the last four years. So with only running a little over 30 miles per week without speed work or big tempo runs, I wasn’t sure how we would fare on the 26th of April. However we both surprised ourselves with some great results! Scott had a new personal record with a smoking time of 1:33:05! I won the women’s race with a time of 1:30:28. But I was almost a minute and a half off of my own personal record. This was the first time I have won a half marathon so it was a really nice feeling. Not bad for an “old lady” Smile.

Race Recap:

The race start was situated on the New York Base Oval – City of Plattsburgh Recreational Department. The first mile was run around the Oval. Scott and I started out together for the first mile and a half. I decided to be very conservative on the first mile and kept it at a comfortable 7:05 minutes/mile pace. Scott started to run ahead of me but I knew I’d catch him soon enough. As we made a U-turn onto the bike path I caught back up and slowly passed him just after 2 miles. I didn’t want him to go out too hard. It was really nice running on this paved bike path with some views of Lake Champlain. It went uphill very slightly and then back downhill. I was warming up after 3 miles, but started to get my first ever stitch on the right side of my stomach which really hurt. I was worried this might wreck my morning. Luckily by mile 4 it went away and we turned left to head into downtown Plattsburgh.

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Mile 4 was fun as we ran through some downtown sections with  shops, cafes and restaurants. I was enjoying myself and pacing myself well. Miles 2-4 ranged from 6:55 to 7:00 which was the plan. Miles 4 and 5 had a small gradual climb (mostly on Dennis Ave.) of about 200 feet. This wasn’t terrible but I kept it conservative as I knew the next half of the race had more declines where I could make up the time. This is where we started to run though many neighborhoods with lots of turning.  Miles 7-8 were back down a gradual hill and I was able to kick it in a bit with paces ranging from 6:39 to 6:47. At one point I looked down at my garmin and mile 7 was looking like a 6:25 without a lot of effort. I knew that might be dangerous, so I slowed it down to have some juice at the end. I was still having a good morning, but working hard.

scott running pro pix

After 9 miles I passed the second place woman who I had been following for a while. I was slowly closing the gap on her. I am patient and knew it would happen towards the second half of the race. I asked her if she wanted to work with me for a better time, but she didn’t have the energy. We chatted very briefly. It turns out she is also training for the Mont Tremblant Ironman and had done it in the past. It was nice to meet Erin and I was happy she maintained her second place. I was still feeling good and picked up the pace a bit after leaving Erin. Miles 10 and 11 were fast and fun. It was the final loop before heading back to the Oval. I was cruising at a good pace ranging from 6:35 to 6:43. It was a really beautiful day and I was happy to have views once again of Lake Champlain on Cumberland Avenue.

me running pro pic finish

Mile 12 brought us back through a portion of downtown and then back towards the Oval. We ran over a short steep bridge which had many spectators. It was fun to see the crowd and that helped push me over the bridge. I was getting tired but my pace for mile 12 was a surprising 6:40. It was the last mile around the Oval with a slight incline that slowed me down. I really couldn’t get myself to move faster than a consistent 6:57 pace. I knew I had the first place locked up, but didn’t really have it in me that morning to dig deep for a faster finish. I was also feeling a soreness in my left hip on that last mile which concerned me since I had hip issues in the fall. Luckily I was fine and just had some tight muscles afterward. I did kick it in for the final quarter of a mile with a fast finish. The race crew didn’t realize I was the first woman, so I didn’t get to break the tape. But they did have me hold up the tape for a nice race finish photo which I happily purchased Smile.

me finish tape

Overall I was satisfied with my performance that morning! I honestly didn’t know how I would do with such little running mileage and more hours spent in the pool and on the bike. I can only say that Ironman training does build you up as an overall strong athlete. If I had been purely marathon training I am hoping I would have been a couple minutes faster, but this was a nice result. And it was a great morning of training. Scott was very happy with his speedy run that morning. I am so happy for him. He keeps getting faster!

We hung around for the awards ceremony and listened to the band that was playing in the recreational center which was spacious and had many tables set up for everyone. There were massages available and a lot of food. Unfortunately there was nothing vegan for us accept for some fruit. But we always travel prepared. We then took the ferry back to Vermont and did our 2 hour bike ride which was part of our training for that day! Ironman training is no joke!

me awards ceremony 

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We have the Corporate Cup 5K coming up this Thursday, May 14th. But our next big race is the Mont Tremblant 70.3 (half Ironman) on June 21, 2015. And then it’s the full Ironman in August on the same course (but we do it twice). There will be many more long hours of swimming, biking and running. It’s what we love to do! Stay tuned! And thanks for stopping by!

me ferry award

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Austin Adventures in the Water, on the Bike and the Austin Half Marathon 2015

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Running along the “Town Lake” boardwalk on our first night in Austin. Temps were almost 80F when we arrived!

Normally I don’t blog about our vacations, but this was a training vacation with a half marathon thrown in for fun. We are also considering Austin, Texas as a possible place to live in the near future. It’s an eclectic, progressive, forward thinking, athletic, vegan friendly city. Basically Austin is a small blue oasis in a big red state, politically speaking. “Keep Austin Weird” is a popular motto along with “Home of the Hippie”.  It is also the live music capital. And as a haven for triathletes, you can imagine why Austin is so attractive to us. It’s still a big city with a rapidly growing population and plenty of traffic and urban sprawl to offset some of the benefits.  However, we do love Austin and everything it has to offer for vegans and triathletes.  My one regret was only visiting for a week. I recommend more time especially if you are trying to run, bike and swim. This was one of the first vacations where I really didn’t feel like we had enough time do do and see everything.

Scott and I are still training for our first full Ironman in Mont Tremblant in August 2015. And our training has been going well in spite of another brutally cold winter with much snow to make it challenging for outdoor training. Going to Austin in the middle of February was such a welcome break and we enjoyed the warm weather and sun so much! I think the best way to tackle this blog post is to divide it into a section for swimming, cycling, running and of course vegan food and beverages! If you are traveling to Austin I hope you may find this blog post insightful and informative as well as entertaining Smile.

Outdoor Swimming in February!

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I loved our condo we rented for the week called the Treehouse. One of the best aspects was being a few blocks from the famous Barton Springs outdoor pool which is less than 2 miles from Austin’s downtown. This is an absolute gem and we had never seen anything like this. The pool is spring fed and remains 68F degrees year round. When swimming laps it does feel like a lake or pond as there is underwater plant life and ducks casually hanging out. I’m a huge fan of open water swimming so this felt very authentic. We swam here while the air temps were in the 60s and 70s. But we did have a couple days at the end of our trip that dipped down to the high 50sF and even mid 40sF (we found heated pools on those days).

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One swim that I’ll never forget was at Barton Springs almost immediately after running the Austin Half Marathon on Sunday February 15. I figured it would be great for our legs. And I made the mistake of thinking we should leave the wetsuits in the condo. The water felt VERY cold and I even had trouble breathing the first few yards due to the shock! I’m not kidding! It felt frigid. But I did warm up after a couple laps. However, my body was tired from the hard and hilly 13.1 mile run and my body just couldn’t maintain that warmth. My swim pace was slowing and it felt like my body temp was cooling. After a 30 minute swim I was done. It was still great to swim after the run as I’m sure it helped with the recovery. Scott eased into the water mainly for his legs to recover, but no way was he going to jump in and swim a few laps with me. I’m tougher sometimes…or maybe just crazier! Smile

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As I said above we had a few cooler days in Austin. Back home in Vermont the temps were below freezing and Austin went from 60sF and 70sF to mid 40sF on Monday after the half marathon. Luckily this was more of a recovery day. Thanks to one of our new vegan runner friends we got a great tip to check out a town pool called Big Stacy. So on Monday we had a nice morning swim in our first outdoor pool experience. The morning felt cold and when we pulled into the parking lot we could see steam coming off the 100 foot long pool. This was an ancient (but clean) pool maybe decades old and the temperature felt like it was 90F compared to the air. It was almost hot! But honestly it felt so good and we weren’t swimming very hard that morning. It wasn’t crowded but every lane was soon occupied so Scott and I shared a lane.  I really enjoyed this swim experience even if we were both still tired from the half marathon.

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About to jump into a very warm Big Stacy pool!

On Tuesday it got into the mid 50sF which was still nice compared to what was going down in Vermont! Being a swim and run day we decided to check out another outdoor pool. We drove a few miles outside of Austin to the Hills Health Club and Wellness Center.  This was a very nice health club that had a well maintained 3 lane 25 meter pool outside and another 3 lane pool indoors. It was a quiet day and we each got our own lane outside. This pool was not as warm as Big Stacy but warm enough to last a good 2300 meters. The air felt cold on my back even when putting out good hard efforts. But it was still a lovely day and experience. I do love outdoor pools!

me in The Hills pool

Riding Road Bikes in February!

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One of the best aspects of our week was renting road bikes from Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop for a few days. Our first ride was right from the shop which was a very hard and hilly ride out towards Bee Cave. We were given a printout with directions of a ride that IMG_6086 was 30 miles with 3,000 feet of climbing. I figured how bad could these hills really be? We live in a hilly state where gap rides are the norm. But we both got a pretty good spanking on the constant uphills and downhills. Austin has lots of hills! And being new the the area we shouldn’t have tried to go out riding by ourselves. We had to stop a million times to look at the directions. And having missed a turn in the beginning caused us a lot of stress dealing with roads with more heavy traffic. Once we were back on route it felt safer and there were plenty of bike lanes. One thing I love about Austin is that even though the traffic volume is overwhelming, motorists are used to cyclists and MUCH more polite and accommodating. And this is a very sharp contrast to Vermont drivers who do not like sharing the road with cyclists or runners! Our 30 mile ride ended up being closer to 40 miles as we missed a turn 20 miles into the ride. We had to back track but it was OK  and we were still in good spirits. I was still happy to be riding outside in the sun without 3 layers of clothing! At the end of this ride we were beat! But we still got our run done later that day.

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The next day we decided to drive 50 minutes northwest of Austin to the Balconnes Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge.  This was a beautiful place to ride bikes as the scenery was pretty and the roads were much more quiet. We were lucky we rented a Prius as Scott was able to get both road bikes in the back with the seats down. I wanted to do more riding out this way but our days were limited! A picture says a thousand words so I am posting a few from that bike ride.

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On Saturday we decided to do a group ride from Mellow Johnny’s called the Middle of the Road ride that went off at 8:30am.  I was a bit apprehensive about joining this ride as we hadn’t ridden with a big group since living in San Diego in the late 1990s! We got down there early for soy lattes in the Juan Pelota cafe which is inside the bike shop. The coffee was excellent and we enjoyed chatting with other cyclists, some local and some visiting like ourselves. There was a couple from NYC as well as Newport, Vermont also on vacation! Small world! The ride had about 50 people and it was fast and crazy even while leaving downtown Austin. The ride advertises 17-20mph in the front group which is where we rode for the whole way. My Garmin showed an overall average speed closer to 20mph and this was even with slowing down for red lights in many places! While it was a very fast and furious group ride, everyone was very friendly. We regrouped after about 15 miles at a Walgreens out towards Bee Cave.

me and scott mellow johnnys

Once we got back on the bikes, we did some very fast technical downhills and then a good climb in the same neighborhood we had ridden through the first day. Sadly one person crashed who was a newer rider trying to take a turn too fast. It was scary to see an ambulance drive by as we regrouped at the top of the hill. But cycling is an inherently dangerous sport especially when you have scott group ride mellow johnnys 50 riders who don’t all know each other and everyone is trying to maintain a good position. Overall the ride was an exciting, exhilarating and exhausting experience! We both had to work hard but we did remain with the front group. By the time we were back in downtown Austin, there were only about 15 riders left in our group. I was very proud of myself for not only keeping up with the faster riders, but for remembering how to ride in a large group of cyclists. And I was also reminded of how much I miss riding in a regular organized local group ride. Perhaps Scott and I should seek out a weekly group ride here in Vermont! The only downside to the hard group ride was that we were signed up for a half marathon the next day. Even though it was only going to be a training run, I was worried my legs would be a little shot. Even a few riders thought we were a bit crazy for doing a half marathon after that ride. But it all worked out fine!

The Austin Half Marathon Race Report:

Austin half marathon start

The Austin Marathon and Half Marathon is a really awesome event! When we booked our flights sometime last fall, I didn’t know the marathon would be happening on February 15, 2015. So it was pure luck that we ended up being in Austin the same time as the full and half marathon! Having dealt with a running injury for most of the fall season, I didn’t have a lot of base miles yet. I was nowhere near race shape, but I still wanted to experience the half marathon and the Texas runners. My Sunday long run was up to 14 miles so my coach gave us the green light to do the half marathon as a long run. This is a very hard and hilly course so my coach agreed an overall average pace of 7:30 minutes per mile would be a good conservative tempo run for this stage in my training.

me leading with vegan guy

The race started at 7:00am so we arrived close to Congress Street at about 5:30am! This gave us plenty of time to scope out the start, figure out a meeting place and use the porto potties. It was still dark, but I was surprised at how warm and humid the air felt that early. It wasn’t going to be a chilly race start. We both marveled at the loud chorus of birds chirping away in the nearby trees.  Soon, we did an easy one mile warm up run around a block a few times. And then we made our way to the start line. We should have gotten to the start a few minutes earlier as we had a hard time making our way up to the 7:30 pace area. We pushed our way through and made it up to the 7:40 pace which was good enough. Our plan was to start slowly on the first four miles which were mostly uphill.

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scott looking lean and mean

Scott and decided to run together for the first few miles and then do our own thing later on as things got harder. The first mile was flat with a bit of a downhill which was fun. But we knew the next 3 miles would be mostly a gradual 200 feet climb up Congress Street. I was thinking this would feel worse and we would be going much slower. But we were cruising at a comfortable pace of around 7:40 and 7:30 minutes per mile. I was enjoying all the runners around me and we even had another vegan runner compliment my No-Meat Athlete running jersey. And it was really fun to have Scott running with me and experience it together. Normally I loose him after a mile when we are racing.

Me full photo at finish 2

After we climbed to the top the hill, we got to run back down it on 1st Street which was very enjoyable. We picked things up on miles 5-7 where we were running a pace of around 7:08 to 7:13. We could have gone much faster but I knew there were a lot of hills on the last 5 miles. It was fun to run back over the bridge and into downtown Austin. There were so many people out early to cheer us on! And the best part was that Scott was still with me doing just fine. So we plugged away for a couple more miles together. Scott stayed with me for 9 miles before the hills started taking their toll.

capital finishing strip

As I ran alone I knew that Scott would be fine doing his own thing. After all that was the plan. And he exceeded my expectations by sticking with me for so long. I really enjoyed the next part of the course with all the hills. It wasn’t easy but I was so happy my legs were cooperating after yesterday’s hard group bike ride. And I was able to run a pace between 7:20 to 7:12 minutes per mile.me racing midway We never drove the course so I wasn’t quite prepared for so many hills at the end of a half marathon. When I thought the last big hill was over, a very steep hill hit us at the beginning of mile 13. That hurt a little, but I got over it surprisingly well. Luckily I have been running on more hills from our house this winter so I actually did just fine out there. The last half mile was fun and fast and we made a lot of turns even going by the state capital. The stretch before the finish felt so good and I decided to have a nice fast finish at a 6:22 pace. I was very happy to cross the line. I had a decent time considering I wasn’t racing. My official chip time was 1:36:22, overall pace 7:21 (about 7+ minutes slower than my personal best). And when I turned around, there was Scott! I was so proud of him! He ran a 1:37:03. He was less than a minute behind me! He’s really becoming a strong runner! And we weren’t even racing. It was a good morning for the Holstens!

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Running in Austin was fantastic and we only got to explore the trails around “Lady Bird” Lake (also known as Town Lake or the Colorado River). We really needed more time to explore all the trails and running paths around Austin. This really is “America’s Fittest City”.

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Food and Beverage Report:

Austin is one of America’s best cities for vegan food! It rivals other hip, progressive cities like Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington! It was actually overwhelming trying to decide where to go each day. We didn’t hit all the places we had hoped but we made a good dent in sampling Austin’s best vegan food.

The first night night in Austin we got back from our run a bit later and in the dark. So we hit Whole Foods which was less then 2 miles away from our condo. The flagship store is right in Austin where it all got started. And the flagship store was HUGE! There was a multi-level parking garage underneath with traffic control guiding the non-stop flow of cars coming and going. I’m not kidding. In the store there was even a bar and restaurant with many people drinking wine at hip little cafe tables. And the place was packed even on a Wed night at 9pm!

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After our first bike ride and then a nice run on Thursday we were starving in the late afternoon. So we made our way to a fun vegan restaurant called Counter Culture. It was very quiet in between lunch and dinner, but it was nice to have a lot of time to chat with our waitress who was so friendly. We split some nachos which were yummy. And next came the Southern Baked Seitan and Tempeh Rueben. Both were very large servings and we split each one. They were very good and satisfying. I love vegan comfort food. It hit the spot after a solid day of training.

counter culture food

And for dessert we hit Mr.Natural for some yummy vegan pastries! They have two locations and one was only a mile away from our condo so we hit that place a couple times for sweet treats! Most of their pastries are vegan and they are clearly marked.

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Friday night we decided we wanted Mexican food and to experience some delicious vegan Tex Mex. A super fun place called Guero’s Taco Bar has a separate vegan menu which is always exciting for us! The restaurant was hopping on a Friday night especially being located right on Congress Street. We put our names in for a table and enjoyed some margaritas. Our table was ready after about 15-20 minutes and our waitress was super friendly and happy to give us the vegan menu.

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Gearo's taco dinner

On Saturday after our crazy fast group bike ride from Mellow Johnny’s, we were starving! Even after a vegan pastry and coconut water in the cafe, we needed a big meal. And since we were going to carb load for our half marathon the next day, fuel was crucial. So we made our way to a hugely popular vegetarian restaurant called Bouldin Creek Cafe that can make just about everything vegan. It’s a super popular brunch joint as well with a very crunchy, hippy vibe which of course we love! When we arrived it was super packed with a 40 minute wait for a table. Being valentine’s day it was extra busy. But we put in an order and found seats at the bar which was fine. Scott ordered the Veggie Royale a yummy veggie burger and I ordered the Chick Pea “Chik’n” Salad Sammich. Both were amazing and so good. No photos were taken of the food as we were just too hungry to pull out the cameras! But afterward I did snap a photo of the inside as I really liked the atmosphere. It reminded me of something out of Portland, Oregon. The food was so good that we ate there again!

scott in bouldin creek

Later on in the evening decided to hit one of the popular vegan food trucks for dinner. Food trucks are very popular in Austin and you can find food trucks specializing in anything you desire! We heard great things about Bistro Vonish which is going to be opening up a brick and mortar restaurant in Austin. We arrived around 6:00pm and just in time before they were closing for a private event. They had a flurry of customers right before us so only a few menu items were left. We had vegan pizzas in the spirit of valentine’s day with red beet sauce, cashew cheese and spinach. This was very good and filling! It was perfect for carb loading right before the half marathon. We also had some sweet potato pastries and some delicious and rich chocolate pie. I have to admit we did have to take some stuff home for the next day as we were so full!

vegan vonish food

After our half marathon we met up with some really awesome vegan runners at a place called the Buzz Mill. This was a cool place that served coffee, beer, and many other drinks. We sat outside as there were a few food trucks with various menus and many picnic tables. One was all vegan and super delicious. This was the Golden Spike Rail Cart.  Scott had this super yummy burrito and I had the waffles which were epic. I practically inhaled them! So again, no photos were taken of our amazing vegan food experience. But I did snap this photo before we left.

Golden spike food truck

On Tuesday morning we decided to check out another great place for vegans called Thai Fresh. It was our last day and we heard great things about Thai Fresh. It’s known for its vegan ice cream and many vegan desserts. But the Thai food is also delicious! Part of the restaurant is more like a coffee house and the other side is a Thai restaurant. The coffee was excellent and my vegan coconut cream pie was to live for! Scott loved his vegan crumb cake! We went back that day for a late lunch after our training and had amazing curry meals with tofu, veggies and rice. I had the green curry and Scott had the yellow curry.

pie at Fresh Thai

Since this was a training vacation we didn’t go out that much at night but did make it to a couple places that served some great beer! First was an excellent brew pub less than a mile from our condo called Uncle Billy’s Brew and Que! We weren’t sure what we were getting ourselves into when we drove in to park. But it turned out to be an awesome place to hang out and sample the fresh beer brewed right on the premises. We were there around the time people were getting out of work so there were people in suits and tradesmen coming in for a beer after their day was done. It was a nice well rounded crowd. Texans are very friendly! We both enjoyed a yummy Belgium style ale. And then I ventured onto a tasty IPA called the Green Room. That was my favorite!

billy's brew and cue

On the Monday night after our half marathon we stopped into a super cool place called Brew and Brew which is well known for its coffee and huge beer menu. We really enjoyed the beers and had a really fun time! Thanks Rob for the suggestion!

brew and brew beer list

brew and brew sign

Overall it was a super amazing time away from Vermont’s brutally cold winter. I am so grateful Scott and I got to experience Austin, Texas and all it has to offer. I highly recommend coming out to sample the endless vegan food, and enjoy all the year-round outdoor activities. There is still so much we didn’t get to see or do. While we haven’t decided if we will move there, we are seriously considering Austin as our home base someday. For now we need to focus on getting to our Ironman in August and checking out a few more possibilities.

scott and bike mural

Stay Weird Austin!

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Turning Running Injuries into Opportunities

I didn’t make it to the California International Marathon this past December as planned which was a true disappointment. Out of the blue a couple weeks after our first half ironman triathlon, I started to have hip/upper leg soreness that kept getting worse as I ran. I know I’m not fragile! I had trained so hard all summer tackling 5 hour brick workouts, intervals on the bike and many open water swims. I made it to the starting line of our big triathlon healthy and strong and did so well. I thought I could train through this current obstacle. Heck, I ran through very painful shin splints while training for the Boston Marathon all last winter and finally ran it. I believed I could also get through this “bump in the road”. But that wasn’t the case. Denial of an injury made things much worse after a hard 8 mile progression run one Friday afternoon in late September. And afterward I couldn’t run outside for a good solid 8 weeks (an MRI ruled out a stress fracture)! It hurt just to walk and put any pressure on my hip/leg. That was tough and it sucked big time! The doctors couldn’t pinpoint my injury, but it was deep in my left hip flexor. Running is my life and not being able to do my favorite passion is like clipping a bird’s wings.

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Beautiful bike ride a day after I realized I would not be running for a while

However, sometimes these bad times have a silver lining and we are presented with new opportunities. And I have dealt with long-term running and cycling injuries in the past and knew I would get through this difficult time as well. The great thing about being a triathlete is that usually you can focus and work on your other two sports if you are injured in one discipline. And that was the case for me. While it was painful just to walk around, I could bike and swim with almost zero pain or discomfort. So for the next 8 weeks I bumped up my swim schedule to four days and started cycling six days a week. While it seemed like it took a long time for my hip/upper leg to heal, I kept myself busy in these various ways. I’m writing this blog post for other runners out there who finds themselves injured and in need of support. Perhaps someone out there is looking for ways to maintain their fitness and come out as a stronger athlete, both mentally and physically.

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Still love commuting to work by bike!

Even if you are a runner who has no plans of ever doing a triathlon, swimming, cycling, and even hot Bikram yoga are excellent ways to maintain fitness. Nothing truly takes the place of running, but you can stay strong while healing an injury. When my triathlon coach Kelly learned of my bad news, we talked a lot about my upcoming Ironman in August of 2015 and how I would focus the next few weeks on cycling and swimming. It was October and it was getting a bit cold for road biking in Vermont, so I would bundle up and ride my cross bike (and sometimes my mountain bike) on the hilly, scenic gravel dirt roads from my house almost every day. This was excellent as the training was good quality and I was happy to be outside. We had a few warm days where we did get out on the road bikes, but my cross bike was a true savior! I was commuting to work a couple days a week as well on my cross bike which was also helpful.

me cross bike snow One of the last times on my cross bike before the real snow started!

Towards the end of October we made a courageous decision to join the local Masters Swim group and swim every Tuesday and Thursday morning (and we have no plans of stopping). I’ve always read that if you truly want to become a better swimmer as a triathlete, getting your ass kicked at the Masters swims week after week will make you so much stronger. I absolutely love being a part of this group of awesome swimmers. I do get my ass kicked, but the swim workouts are so much fun! Most of these folks are real competitive swimmers and are amazingly fast. Scott swam in college and has been getting faster, but even he’s not quite ready to join the fast lanes. I’m in the slow lane but have improved quite a bit over the last few months! As a newer swimmer I actually find it inspiring to be swimming with such an incredible group of athletes. And to top it off, everyone has been so nice and supportive towards me and my quest to become a good swimmer. I have truly learned to love pool swimming because of this group. I know this will make a huge difference in my 2.4 mile swim this August up at Ironman Mont Tremblant!

master swim 

Another great aspect of the Masters swims is that we have a great swim coach, Kim who has been super helpful. I’ve even taken a few lessons from Kim which have also improved my stroke. I can’t recommend enough to sign up for swim lessons if you are a new swimmer considering or already doing triathlons. It will make such a huge difference. Swimming is almost all technique. Even the pros are always working on technique. So joining the Master Swim group was a huge benefit of taking a break from my running this fall. And now that I’m back to running, I’ve noticed that I feel stronger and almost lighter out on the roads after doing so much swimming.  And my running fitness came back so much quicker compared to past injuries!

Another activity we decided to do back in October was hot Bikram yoga once a week on Mondays. This is a 90 minute very intense yoga performed in a heated studio at about 105F degrees! I’ve been doing this style of yoga off and on for many years (more off  than on however). And I have always returned when I’m injured from running. While this might not be for everyone, I know several other runners and triathletes who swear by doing this yoga. It’s not only good for injuries or injury prevention, it’s also yogagreat for heat training! And in Vermont, it’s a great tool if you are planning on doing an event somewhere warm when training all winter in the cold. But honestly, I just really like this hot challenging yoga. I did it the last time I was injured for a while which was 3 years ago.  It stretches me out thoroughly and I love all the sweating. It’s almost cleansing in a way. I feel good and relaxed after doing a 90 minute session. And after a long week and weekend of training, Mondays work so well. It’s my new way of taking care of my body and getting it ready for the new week. I love going Monday nights up at Bikram Yoga Stowe at 5:30pm after work. Today we had the day off so we ventured down to the Burlington, VT studio. It’s a great place but it was packed this morning at 9:00am! Lots of people love this yoga! Check it out!

At the end of November we started to get snow here in Vermont. And once that happens my cross bike goes down to the basement until probably April. Slippery dirt roads and paved roads full of salt are not good for my cross bike. We put our studded tires back onto the mountain bikes for riding around our gravel snow packed roads. However we knew we needed to break the bank and finally invest in Computrainers for our triathlon bikes. While we have regular trainers for indoor cycling, the Computrainers add a whole new dimension to training. They measure true bike speed, miles, elevation, heart rate, wattage, cadence, etc. And there are many 3-D and real life video triathlon courses to ride with accurate elevation gains.

computrainers

While the Computrainer (or a compatible device) is a must for serious triathletes who live in cold weather states, it doesn’t really cure the mind-numbing boredom of riding a bike indoors for hours on end. So what did we do next? Buy Fat bikes! Yes this really did happen:

my fat bike We both purchased Salsa Mukluks which we absolutely love!

We love our fat bikes so much and will post our adventures this winter. While the fat bikes won’t exempt us completely from riding the Computrainers, they will allow us to enjoy our Saturdays and some weekdays outside in the woods and on the trails. I have to admit that I do love playing in the snow, so fat biking is our answer to training without the misery of being trapped indoors for our long bike rides on Saturdays. I call this creative Ironman Training!

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Trying out a Salsa fat bike rental at Catamount Outdoor Family Center a few weeks ago!

So I did start running outside in early December after doing a few weeks on the Anti-Gravity (Alter G) Treadmill (starting at 20% of my body weight). I have been slowly building back up a mileage base. Luckily I wouldn’t be running too many miles at this early stage of Ironman training even if I hadn’t been injured. But it’s nice to be up to 10-11 mile long runs and 6-7 mile runs during the week days. This week I hit 29 miles but look forward to when I’m running 40-50 miles a week. I always do feel the best when I’m running more.

me running Building back my running base! Typical Vermont running conditions!

My eight weeks off from running wasn’t easy but it did present many great training opportunities for myself. I’m on my way to becoming a better swimmer. I have developed a good base mileage of cycling indoors and outdoors. I’m taking better care of my body after a long week of training. I’m going to my Bikram yoga class to stretch myself out and promote healing. Sometimes we just need to give our bodies a much needed rest and embrace other activities that use different parts of our bodies. 

Thanks for stopping by! Please feel free to reach out if you are injured and need some support or advice. I feel like I have a good handle on getting through running injuries and making a bad situation become a blessing in disguise. Injuries are normal and part of the process when passionate about endurance sports. From professional athletes to newbies, we all experience these tough times. But they don’t have to be dark times.

scott fat biking

And I have to say that the best part of the last few months has been having my husband join me in the swimming, indoor cycling, yoga and fat biking! Best Husband Ever! Smile

 

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Pumpkinman Triathlon Race Report: Our First Half Ironman 9-7-14

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Last October 31st, we signed up for the Pumpkinman Half Iron Distance Triathlon in South Berwick, Maine after hearing rave IMG_5614 reviews from many different local triathletes. We were even invited to share a beach house with some accomplished triathletes we have met through the local running and swimming community. This turned out to be a super fun experience for our first half ironman triathlon. The Pumpkinman Triathlon Festival is a super well organized weekend event that has a sprint triathlon on Saturday and a half ironman on Sunday. The race directors and volunteers all do a stellar job putting on this top notch triathlon. I can’t say enough good things about this event! Thank you to everyone who made the weekend possible! It will be an experience that will never be forgotten!

Overall we both had a great day out there on Sunday and exceeded our expectations. We trained very hard all summer and had excellent guidance and help from our talented running and triathlon coach Kelly! Thanks so much Kelly! Having a training plan week after week based on our progress and fitness levels really did make a huge difference! This was our first big triathlon after two sprint triathlons. While we are both now certified RRCA running coaches with marathon and USCF bike racing experience, balancing three sports is completely new for us! Kelly put it all together for us based on her expertise as an accomplished professional Ironman triathlete! It was smart training that got us to the starting line in good health and in peak shape.

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I will get right down to the results since I’m a “numbers person” who loves analyzing race data. Smile I was awarded the 3rd place woman for amateurs (7th overall including elite women). I was first in my age group and I also won a gift certificate for being the fastest female runner (including the elite women). I was shocked by all of this! Even the race announcer giving out the awards told me not to look so surprised. Scott also stood on the podium that day as well for being the 3rd male in his age group (45-49). I’m so proud of him! He was thrilled and so happy! It was a great day for our Vermont crew with many podium finishes and very fast times! We are so lucky to be able to train and race with such talented athletes. Here are our results that I copied and pasted from the website:

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me podium scott podium

On Friday before Sunday’s race, we drove down to South Berwick, Maine to pick up our race packet and check out the venue. It is a very pretty area with lovely views of Knight’s Pond where the swim took place. We walked around checking out the water and transition areas. It was unseasonably hot that weekend almost reaching 90F! But luckily it was cooler on Sunday for race day. New England weather is so unpredictable that you can never really know what to expect until the time is close. We then drove about 30 minutes east to York Beach, Maine which is where the beach house was located. It was lovely finding cooler temperatures and a soothing ocean breeze. We were about a couple minutes walk from the beach! One highlight was doing a nice easy run with Scott, Kristen and Marty to the Nubble Light House as the sun was setting. So beautiful! The night was fun and relaxed as we hung out with everyone catching up on races, life and playing a very entertaining game called Scattergories. (We love this game and want to order it) I’m lucky my stomach wasn’t sore from laughing so hard! Smile

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Saturday was another nice relaxing day that allowed us to unwind before the big event. I didn’t get much sleep on Friday night as I’m not a good sleeper in new places. So I missed the first sunrise with the gang. But sleeping in a little was very helpful. I did get IMG_5634 to ride my bike in the morning with Scott and everyone around York Beach to make sure our equipment was all good. It was a lovely and enjoyable 45 minute ride to keep the legs fresh. We then hit a fantastic breakfast spot which I’ll discuss in the “food and beverage” report below. Carb loading was the big job of the day for Saturday. And relaxing under a tree by the ocean was another highlight. I think I almost fell asleep a few times. Having days like that are few and far between, so we relished the opportunity to close our eyes and listen to the waves and distant thunder (which never seemed to get too close). What a blissful day! And I even got some sleep that night! Usually sleep alludes me before a big race, but being a little tired from Friday’s lack of sleep definitely helped me fall asleep without the usual tossing and turning. And we were up right on time for Sunday morning’s oatmeal breakfast with the gang. Everything was going so well right up to the race!

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It was still dark at 5am when 3 cars loaded with gear and bikes made the 30 minute journey to South Berwick. While I’m always very nervous the morning before a race, I was especially apprehensive about this venture. It was a long time since I had raced over 5 hours and the first time I would manage all three sports over 70 miles in one day. It was a large order in front of us! But we were prepared and all the hard training was in the bank. We were ready to rock! Plus we had a lot of support from our fellow Vermont triathletes who would share the same long journey that day.

The pre-race morning went smoothly for us. After getting our ankle timing chips and body markings, we set up our bikes and gear in the transition area. I was happy and surprised when a co-worker said hi while I was setting up my transition spot. Greg’s wife was racing as well that day. We later hung out at the swim area with Eric, Kyle and Kristen before we went off in our separate waves. It was a beautiful morning and very exciting being surrounded by a large crowd all decked out in dark gray wetsuits and brightly colored swim caps.

The Swim:

This summer was the first season that we swam 3 times a week in the open water with specific workouts. I know I’m a bit faster than last summer where I was only swimming once a week as marathon cross training. But I still have a long ways to go regarding my swim as a triathlete. As a  new swimmer I’m doing well and have come a long way. But compared to the elite women I need to knock off about 10+ minutes in the 1.2 mile swim portion of a half ironman to be competitive. Luckily swimming is almost 100% technique and I have the entire winter to focus on this for next season! If I can knock off a few minutes each year, I’ll be happy!

my swim wave My swim wave! Thanks Greg for the Photo!

For Sunday’s swim, there were 8 different waves that went off and they were divided up by age groups. I was in the 6th wave and Scott was in the 8th wave. It was a beautiful morning with air temperatures in the low 60s F. As my wave in purple swim caps walked into the water, I felt a wave of excitement (no pun intended)! This was finally it! No turning back now! As we jumped into the water and started the swim, it was a bit hectic with moving body parts splashing all around me. There was no surprise with this type of commotion. I knew what a triathlon swim was like and I was ready to take it on. I didn’t have any panic attacks and I started at a good steady pace. The course was a two lap triangle marked by large orange buoys. The first portion of the first lap felt hard as I negotiated my way through bodies all around me and choppy water from the mass of humanity swimming as fast as we could. It was after our first left turn around a big buoy that I started to feel more comfortable and get into a bit of a rhythm. It was thinning out a bit and this was helpful. I even started to enjoy the swim. I know that many of my peers in purple caps were faster than me, but I was holding my own out there. I even passed a few people in pink and green swim caps. And of course there were some fast swimmers from previous waves that caught and passed me.

Scott swim

After the first lap I took a peak at my garmin and saw that it took me 19 minutes for the first lap. Not great but not horrible. I tried to swim a bit faster on the second lap and I was sure I did. But when I got out of the water at the end my garmin showed a time of 39:20 (yikes!). My official time was 39:50 minutes. To put things into perspective, the faster female swimmers were doing this in about 30 minutes!  While my swim was not fast that morning, it was good for my first 1.2 mile triathlon swim. I swam hard, I enjoyed myself, I did the best I could that day. And that is all we can ask of ourselves. Scott rocked the swim and was about 5 minutes faster than me even with swimming off course a bit in the beginning. The more experience we have with swimming in large groups, the better we’ll become at navigating through the swim traffic and chaos that is inherent in triathlon swims. Overall the swim was a success for both of us! I can’t wait to get better that this! Smile

The photo below shows me running up a small but steep grassy hill after the swim. This little section is timed separately and there IMG_5618 is an award given out to the fastest runners up this hill. In the winter I’ve heard it’s used as a ski jump. I jogged up it conservatively and then made my way to the transition area to get ready for the bike. My T1 transition was still a little slow at almost two minutes, but it was my T2 transition from bike to run that was VERY slow. It took most people one minute or a little more. For me it took me THREE minutes! I changed into running socks after wearing bike socks. I had trouble with one lace, and had to hit more buttons on my new triathlon garmin (910XT). I’m still slow in transitions even though this is only triathlon #3 for me. But hopefully I can get more efficient in the transitions! It’s “low picking fruit” and a great opportunity to save a few minutes overall!

 

me running up hill

Running up the long hill after the swim. Thanks Greg!

The Bike:

While the bike course was supposed to be 56 miles, my garmin showed only 54.6 miles (Scott’s showed a bit more). I am going to admit that my bike portion of the race was slightly disappointing. Yet I’m not going to beat myself up over it. A time of 2 hours and 46 minutes is still a solid time, but I know I am capable of being faster on a bike. This was the first time I have trained hard and raced a bike over 50 miles in 14 years (12 of which I was completely off the bike). And I only had logged close to 1,200 miles outside on my new BMC time trial bike this training cycle. This may sound like a lot, but back in the 1990s during our bike racing days, we would ride easily over 1,200 miles a month. With plans of purchasing Computrainers this winter and another summer of racing, we should have our old bike racing legs back…I hope! So in light of this information and background, we both did well even if it wasn’t as fast as I had hoped!

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While I didn’t crush the bike portion, I still feel I rode strong and smart. I kept it easier in the beginning and worked hard where it counted. The course didn’t have any significant mountain climbs which worked to my disadvantage but to Scott’s advantage. Back in my racing days, my forte was climbing big mountains. I lived for the App Gap! The longer and hillier the course, the more I thrived. Short, flatter and fast courses were never my friend while Scott excelled with his powerful fast-twitch muscles and technical skills. In spite of a lack of big climbs, I still thought the course was super fun and truly fantastic! There were sections of bad road mostly from the harsh winters, but there was a lot of fast new pavement with little traffic. That was indeed awesome! During the first lap my legs felt a bit tired in the beginning and rather flat. This was alarming during the first 20 or so miles. I am a slow starter even on the bike, so I tried to relax and tell myself that I would feel better as the morning went on. Because I was in the 6th wave there weren’t a ton of people to pass but enough to keep me focused and motivated. One woman in my age group caught up to me and we stayed close to each other for a bit (never drafting) but then I left her behind sometime before the second lap. There were a good handful of men and one woman who blasted by me like I was standing still. I smiled and felt inspired. There are a lot of fast people who do these events! Smile

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I was feeling better on the second lap but had some problems a couple times adding my sports drink from one bottle into my front bottle between the handlebars (due to the cap not staying open). This was my only technical difficulty which was a minor one. But it did slow me down a couple times. Not a big deal as nutrition is more important than losing a minute or two. The cliff shot blocks were going down well and our Tailwind sports drink was working great. At about 10 miles to go, I saw this woman burst out of a porto-potty and jump onto her bike. She was in my age group and we played leap frog until the end of the bike portion. I wanted to hammer hard and get rid of her, but at the same time I knew I would be running soon. I needed to be smart about not wasting my legs for my strongest portion of the triathlon. As we turned up the final road to the transition area, Scott caught me on the bike! I was shocked but super proud of him! He had a fantastic bike ride that day at 2 hours and 40 minutes. It was his type of course with fast rollers and no steep climbs. He is a super bike handler and knows how to work the down hills to their fullest potential. And he is powerful enough to blast the rollers. While I have been riding a little stronger all summer on our training rides, he was stronger on Sunday! He rode like a champ! And to think he’ll be even stronger next season with more training miles! Go Scott! Great job on your first big bike race in over 14 years!

scott bike-greg me back bike

The Run:

The 13.24 mile half marathon (according to my garmin) was the best part of the day! Having focused on marathons for the last 4 years, I have fallen in love with running. This has become my strongest sport at the moment! I am crazy about running! I also love to swim in the open water and ride all kinds of different bikes. But running is my true passion. And I felt that Sunday’s half marathon after the bike was one of the best races I’ve had in a long time. Kelly had us doing a couple brick workouts each week and I grew to love running right off the bike. In fact I started running better off the bike compared to running “off the couch”. After a 3 or 4 hour bike ride on Saturdays, I would happily run a 7-7:15 minute/mile pace for up to 8 miles. I was actually surprised at how well my running was going. While I didn’t think I’d do well at the moment trying to tackle a marathon, I was feeling confident about running well in a triathlon.

me running out of transition Running out of transition. Thanks for the photo Greg!

The run course was not terribly difficult but it was challenging with several gradual hills. By the time I started the run, it was in the low to mid 70s F and sunny. It never felt unbearably hot, but it was warm enough where volunteers had two spots where they handed out sponges soaked in cold water. That was very nice! The first mile seemed to have a good bit of gradual downhill and I tried to keep my pace conservative but it ended up being a 7:10 minute/mile pace. I didn’t have any goals set in stone as I really didn’t know how I would do in a half marathon after swimming and riding almost 56 miles. So Kelly and I agreed to be conservative in the beginning. And that’s what I did. The next 3 miles were mostly a rolling gradual uphill and I kept the pace between 7:22 – 7:34. This was a good move on my part as there were some spots in the sun that felt very hot along that stretch. It was around mile 2 that I caught and passed Scott who was running well. I laughed to myself when I heard Sarah yelling at Scott to “go catch your wife”.  It was so great to have her cheering us on especially at the end! (Thanks Sarah!) I caught up to Kyle around mile 3 and asked how he was doing. I also saw Eric, Marty, John S, and Jason running the opposite direction. They were having a great run as well. The course is an out and back twice so there is a lot of opportunity to see everyone. I really enjoyed that aspect!

Once we turned left the course went back down hill, then a little back up hill, and then repeated that sequence a few more times. It was on these rollers where I felt my pace get stronger and a few shady spots helped. We then turned into a neighborhood development at about 4.5 miles. I loved the signs out in the yards! They made me smile several times!  “This seemed like a good idea 3 months ago.” “The Kenyans finished an hour ago.” “You are almost there, NOT!” “Your ass looks great.” “Chuck Norris never did a triathlon.” “To think you paid for this.” As I headed back, I saw Kristen who was also running strong. And on the gradual downhill,  I got to see Marty and a few others heading back up for the final time. I loved the downhill part of this. My garmin was showing sub 7s for both down hills, but I felt I was still running smartly. My paces for miles 5-8 were: 7:07, 7:09, 6:55, 7:10. I was running “comfortably hard”, but trying to make sure I had enough energy for the last 4-5 miles where it counts. I ate 3 caffeinated Powergels during the run and that worked well for me. I always felt well fueled.

scott run finish Almost at the finish! Go Scott!

Running up the long hill the second time felt surprisingly easier than the first time. Being conservative in the beginning paid off big dividends for me. I still felt hot and took another cold sponge, but my pace was still decent with a 7:16 for mile 9 which was the longer gradual hill. I was then happy to take that left turn and enjoy a bit of shade and gradual down hill before seeing the funny neighborhood signs for the second time. Just before I turned left again, I caught up to Lauren who was running strong and looked so fresh. I was happy to see her but had to keep going and do my own thing. On the way back I waved to her and also to Kristen once again. She also looked very strong and fast out there. Miles 10-12 went very well and I was very happy to head back down the hill for the last time. My paces for those miles were a 7:03, 6:57, 6:41. It was warm but I was still feeling strong and running well. I wasn’t suffering or living in the pain cave, but I know my heart rate was close to max. I did manage to catch and pass a couple women in my age group during those last few miles.

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Mile 13 gave us the hardest hill of the day. While it was really not that bad, it felt tough after traveling almost 70 miles! And it was sunny and hot by this time! Both Scott and I had even considered walking for just a bit. It felt slow and so hard but when I looked down at my garmin I was shocked to see that I was still averaging a pace of 7:05! Wow, Kelly did a good job with me this summer! I was still running strong after all that. Luckily the last portion of the run went back down hill! And the last 1/10 of a mile was down this crazy grassy descent to the finish. I was surprised I didn’t see people tripping down this including myself. Having seen it on Friday, I was very mindful when I ran down this stretch to the finish. I really didn’t want to fall on my face! As I crossed the finish line, and looked down at my garmin, I was thrilled. Wow, this was a great day and a special run! My garmin clocked a time of 1:34:19 for 13.24 miles. My official run time was 1:34:17. Scott also had a great run especially for his first half ironman! His time was a 1:48:53 which is very solid. He felt good and didn’t have any stomach issues on that warm day. I will admit I was really worried about his sensitive stomach, but the Tailwind treated him very well. He was a champ that day! While his strengths lie in the swim and bike, he is becoming a very strong runner. I can’t wait to see what he can do next season!

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The post race atmosphere was really super. There was a Thanksgiving themed dinner with a nice vegan quiona stuffed pepper option for us. And it was so fun to hang out with everyone and eat some really good food. One highlight for me was talking to Mary, one of the amazing elite athletes. She was sitting next to me eating the vegan dinner option. I asked her if she was a vegan and she said she was about 95-99% vegan. It turns out we are both vegan for the animals and that is exciting to me. I don’t meet many other vegan athletes who also care deeply about how farm animals suffer, so it felt good to have a nice conversation. I hope to do more triathlons with Mary and get to know her better. While Scott and I always respect other peoples’ choices, it’s always nice to meet someone with the same values.

After training so hard all summer and finally accomplishing our first half ironman, I was ready to party that evening. And for those who know me, I do love to party! Smile While this didn’t quite happen, it was to our benefit. Driving back up to Vermont on scott margarita Monday evening without a hangover was a new and pleasant experience for us! I know this sounds rather bad, but I like to celebrate BIG…similar to how I love to train and race. But it was all good! While the gang decided to go out for lobster, Scott and I found a nice little Mexican restaurant with vegan options and yummy margaritas. Our waitress was fun, engaged and happy to help us celebrate our accomplishment that day. We could have sat there all night drinking margaritas, but after two each we took a walk on the beach and snapped photos. The moon was amazing and the ocean was magical. I wish we had time to do more beach holidays! It was truly a wonderful evening. When we got back to the beach house, Scott passed out while I enjoyed a couple hard ciders and relaxed on the sofa. Soon everyone was back and I was hoping to drink more and hang out a bit longer. But everyone was tired and going to bed was the smart thing to do. I slept well that night and felt so grateful for such an incredible weekend!

beach moon me beach moon

On Monday morning, we were all up early for the final sunrise of the weekend. We grabbed our coffee cups filled with delicious coffee and carried our beach chairs down to the ocean. The sunrise was gorgeous and the morning was cool and crisp. I enjoyed everyone’s company so much. I felt so lucky to be hanging out with such cool people who are super fun as well as awesome athletes. We all love the ocean so we lingered for quite a while, exploring the beach, rocks and tidal pools. We also made friends with some crabs and sea birds. I smiled a lot that morning! And later on after breakfast we took a nice long walk along Marginal Way in Ogonquit, Maine. This is a paved walking path that follows the beautiful rocky Maine coast for a couple miles. While many of us were a little sore including myself, it was great to stretch and move the legs. The day turned out to be one of those clear crisp sunny days where everywhere you look is a beautiful picture. I enjoyed so much taking photos and soaking in the ocean air.

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Food and Beverage Report:

First off I have a million thanks to give Carin and Tom of Sweet Pea Natural Market and Cafe for another awesome vegan veggie lasagna! Carin actually made two pans of lasagna so we could share it with everyone at the beach house. And it was amazing! Others agreed as well! It was the perfect nourishment for a big triathlon! It fed us for two dinners, a lunch and some leftovers. I never got sick of eating it. That lasagna was super tasty!

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For breakfast on Saturday we wanted to join everyone at a very nice restaurant called The Roost Cafe and Bistro in Ogonquit, Maine. I saw that their dinner menu had a nice Pad Thai dinner which was vegan, but didn’t see anything vegan on the breakfast menu. I asked the waitress to see what the chef could do for us and he made these very yummy vegan pancakes! We were thrilled this place was so vegan friendly. I didn’t get any photos but they were excellent for carb loading and very filling. We also ordered hash browned potatoes but had to take most home as our bellies were full. They were tasty but we could not eat everything at one sitting. It was an enjoyable breakfast. They even had soy milk for the coffee!

As mentioned above we found a fun little Mexican Restaurant called Guac-n-Roll a short walk from our beach house in York.  This was a casual place and the service was very friendly. We started off with nachos and a black bean hummus dip that was very tasty along with margaritas. We also enjoyed some spicy burritos with veggies, black beans and a vegan soy sausage mixture that was also pretty good and filling! And a second margarita to wash it down was perfect! Our waitress was super cool and made sure everything was vegan. She even humored us while we told our triathlon story Smile

us mexican rest Post race celebration with vegan Mexican food and Margaritas!

On Monday morning after our sunrise adventure, everyone went to a restaurant that was not vegan friendly. When I called to inquire about vegan options, the woman didn’t even know what a vegan was. While the southern Maine coast would not be known for vegan food, it’s getting better. But I was still surprised a person in the food business had no clue! Oh well, Scott and I found a nice bakery called Bread and Roses in Ogonquit that had a few yummy vegan pastry options and smoothies with soy milk. We love our vegan treats, so after a big triathlon, we splurged a little for some vegan apple turnovers and twists! So good!!

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Luckily after everyone had breakfast we all met back up. Later on after a nice long walk on Marginal Way with the gang, we went back to the beach house to pack up and get ready for a stop in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. We love the Portsmouth Brewery and discovered that they now have a couple marked vegan options on their food menu! So awesome!!! I had my eye on the tempeh reuben with vegan Russian dressing and vegan cheese! Yes you read that correctly! And it was super delicious! No one would ever miss the dairy and meat! It was so good! I wanted to walk into the kitchen and give the chef a hug! And for a those with a big appetite like ourselves, they also had a vegan sausage dinner entre! No I’m not joking! New England is evolving! More and more people are choosing veggie options! It’s exciting!

ruebens beer Vegan tempeh reuben and beer! Post race treat!

Overall it was a fantastic weekend! I highly recommend putting the Pumpkinman Triathlon Festival on your calendar for next year! It is probably one of the best races we’ve ever done including marathons and cycling races! Thank you to everyone who made the weekend possible. It is truly a first class event. It’s a perfect venue for your first half ironman or it’s a great race if you are a pro triathlete! And many thanks for having that yummy vegan quinoa stuffed pepper dish with vegan potatoes and squash! That was so much appreciated. I wish I had my camera at the time as it was a beautiful meal as well as delicious! Thank you so much! Spring Hill is the restaurant/catering service that made this delicious vegan option possible. We did hear that the chef is a fellow vegan! So cool!

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In Other News….

A few weeks ago we signed up for our first full Ironman in Mont Tremblant next August 2015! And we also signed up for the Ironman 70.3 in June of 2015 which is also in Mont Tremblant! We are so excited! One hard decision for me was not signing up for the Boston Marathon again this coming April. While I plan to run Boston again someday, it will have to be during a year where I’m not training for a full Ironman (140.6 miles!).

Our next race will be half marathon in North Conway at the end of October and then the California International Marathon in early December (details/links under Tentative Race Schedule). I am very excited about doing some running races! And then after a big rest during the December holidays, we’ll both start up our full Ironman training! Who says you can’t do your first full Ironman at age 45 and 47! As vegans we feel anything is possible!

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Vermont Sun Triathlon Sprint Race Report: 7-20-14

me seconds from finish

This past Sunday we both did our second triathlon which was another fantastic race day. We had such a great experience at the Lake Dunmore Vermont Sun Triathlon three weeks ago. (read about it here) So we decided to sign up again for the same course which was valuable experience in the swim and transitions. We have a 70.3 mile distance triathlon coming up in 7 weeks and this race gave me more confidence for a longer swim event.

Again, thank you to Steve Hare and all the awesome volunteers who made the day so successful. The Vermont Sun folks do a really great job with this Triathlon race series! It’s a friendly local race that attracts some impressive talent from Vermont as well as all over the northeast and Canada. It’s also a great venue for first timers and newbie triathletes like ourselves. Whether you are thinking about doing your first triathlon or a Kona regular, do come to one of these events! It’s a super fun day! You can’t go wrong! And if you are a vegan, you are going to be very excited like ourselves. They offer vegan pizza after the race and vegan nutritional shake packets in the race bags. How awesome is that!

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Plus it’s the second time in a row, the weather was just about perfect! Late June through August are usually gorgeous here in Vermont. The morning was cool but warm enough for a refreshing swim. The morning temps never felt too warm while cycling or running. And the post-race sun and temperatures were truly beautiful. These are some of the best times to be in Vermont! It’s been a great summer!

So I’ll get right into the race results as we both had some improvements over our first sprint triathlon three weeks ago on the same course. I improved my overall time from 1:15:24 to 1:13:54 which gave me second woman overall. I achieved a second place finish in a sprint by catching a woman at the very end of the run. It was exciting and very unexpected for me! I was very happy with my overall performance especially for my second triathlon. Some highlights were that I didn’t have any panic attacks in the water like the last time. My swim wasn’t fast at all, but it was smooth and steady. I know it will eventually improve. My bike was about 32 seconds faster and my run was 2 seconds faster. This time I wore socks during the run and had no blisters! While my transition time in T1 was about 30 seconds faster, they both still need a lot of work. I swear, I wasn’t brushing my hair in T2 .Smile

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Scott had a very good day as well! He went from a time of 1:16:50 to 1:15:53. His swim, bike and transitions improved but his run was about the same. I believe he just needs to have a few more weeks of good brick workouts under his belt. They make all the difference in being able to adjust to running quickly after getting off the bike.

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The Swim

After a very disappointing 600 yard swim three weeks ago in my first triathlon, I really wanted to redeem myself. I know I can swim well over a mile in open water without problems. But I had a panic attack which prevented me from breathing in the water me swim pro pic as I normally do in training. I had to swim a good part of the event with my head above the water and stop a few times. While I learned this is very common for new triathletes, I never wanted to experience it again! So I took the good advice of doing a few quick sprints in my wetsuit right before my wave went off to get my heart rate up a bit. I probably looked foolish doing this, but it might have helped my swim that day! This time my plan was to start off swimming slowly and gradually get up to speed. Easing into the swim worked during the last couple Monday night group swims which are intense for me, so I figured it should work at Lake Dunmore. And it did! I actually felt good swimming even with many other moving bodies all around me. After a few minutes into the swim I started to feel a little tense and anxious but I calmed myself down by saying to myself it was just another group swim. And after that I was relatively comfortable. I was actually passing many swimmers. I even caught up to some swimmers in the previous wave who were having difficulties (doing the back stroke, resting on their backs,  etc).

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I know that I swim faster in the group swims and training with Scott, but for me that day it was all about finishing up without any problems. I have worked much harder in group swims, but on Sunday I needed to be calm and steady. Overall it was a huge improvement and a good accomplishment for me that day!  I will now go into the Pumpkingman 1.2 mile swim with more confidence! Scott had a better swim from three weeks ago as well. Comparing times in the swim is difficult. Our coach who is a very accomplished Ironman triathlete said, “The swim you can never really compare. Distances can vary, currents, chop, the pack you are surrounded by… “. This is good news as I was a little disappointed that my swim time only improved by 30 seconds. But there are a lot of variables to swimming!

The Bike

The 14 mile bike portion of the race went very well, but no huge improvements from three weeks ago. I wasn’t expecting to knock off minutes so I was pleased with knocking off about 32 seconds. (My bike was the second fastest of the women) The weather conditions felt very similar to three weeks ago so it was a good benchmark. I was excited to get onto my bike after the swim. This time there were a lot more people on the roads toscott bike pro pic pass as I was out of the water quicker. I find this fun and helpful in a time trial to have people to catch. My legs started off feeling a little tired on the first few miles but came around. I was having a lot of fun on the first 5 miles which are rolling with a lot of down hill. There was one minor obstacle during a downhill section on mile 5. A car got stuck between the cyclists and wasn’t sure what to do. She was following behind a group of cyclists and didn’t want to pass them on the quiet country road. But this became a problem for myself and a couple other riders who were catching up to this car. I had to use my brakes on some of the down hill portion as this car was in my way. Luckily one guy was brave enough to go around the car by riding into the opposite lane. I followed suit and we were free of any more cars that day! This car may have cost me a few seconds but playing it safe was more important. I have crashed in bike races back in the 1990s and I can report it is not a fun experience!

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The long stretch on Route 7 was once again a good time to put the hammer down and get into a good zone. It was really helpful catching and going by so many people. It really does improve your time when you have other riders in sight. Once I turned onto me dismounting pro pic Route 53 which takes you back to the lake, I worked hard to not loose too much time on the “hill”. I rode up smoothly and kept up a good cadence. Hills are not the place to mash big gears. And I continued to pass people. I even passed one experienced woman who was my age at the top of the hill. Before the race, I just assumed she would be light years ahead of me, but I learned that I need to have more faith in myself! “Never judge a book” as the old saying goes….even if they have branded Ironman transition bags, out-of-state plates, and very nice racing wheels. Smile The next few miles back to the park continued to go well. I rode hard and fast after the hill . I worked on keeping my overall average pace somewhere around 21.4 miles an hour which was a small improvement from the last triathlon. I also didn’t want the 44 year old woman I passed to catch me. Luckily I kept my lead. Scott also had a good bike and improved by 37 seconds overall. After the bike I was again excited for the run which currently is my forte! Eventually my bike will improve as I accrue more quality training miles. I’m nowhere near as fast as I was 20 years ago when racing, but I plan to reach my full potential as a good masters rider! Smart training and a good base of miles is the key!

The Run

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The 5K run went very well overall but in the beginning I had my doubts! This time I did remember to put on my race belt with my bib number. I decided to attach my cliff shot in the belt so I could eat it in the beginning of the run and not loose more time in T2. This was a good idea except I ended up getting some of the brown chocolate mocha gel all over my face like a 5 year old. I was definitely looking like “Pig Pen” out there! But getting a bit of fuel into my body was more important. I normally have no problems eating gels gracefully during a marathon but this time it was tricky! I felt really slow starting out and I was still winded a bit from the bike this time. So I did what I normally do and gradually eased into the run. The small short incline at the beginning felt a bit harder this time. But my first mile was about the same as the last time which was comforting. The next mile was faster in similar fashion to three weeks ago. So I was right on target. My goal was to run about the same as the last time.

me running pro pic 2 Sprinting for a second place finish!

Close to the turnaround, I did notice one woman was not that far head of me. Could I catch her? It looked like I was running a little faster but I didn’t know if I had enough time and distance to close the gap. On the third mile I had her in sight and could see I was slowly gaining on her. I still had my doubts. I was running at a good clip of around a sub 6:30 pace right before the park entrance. As we turned I was close but I still didn’t think I had enough distance to catch her. Yet I continued to close the gap on the park road. The finish line was not too far ahead. With about 1/10 of a mile to go, I decided I might have a chance if I throw it all out on the line.  I acted on my gut instinct and went full throttle into a sprint! It probably wasn’t pretty, but I was hauling ass! I went by this woman feeling strong and powerful. But at the same time it did hurt and I knew I couldn’t go much further than the finish line at that pace. Luckily I crossed it pretty quickly and a wonderful feeling poured over me. I took a risk and won! I didn’t win the race but I have never felt so happy to earn myself a 2nd place finish! I took that second place by only 5 seconds! It was one of my best running moments in a long time! My running time was a 20:15 which was 2 seconds faster than 3 weeks ago. I had the fastest run of the women and 9th fastest overall including men. I’m happy with that! It was a great race for me overall! The speed work has been paying off!

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The overall female winner Donna Smyers is a local legend who is an extremely accomplished and talented triathlete. So here’s a shout out to you Donna! Congratulations! It was great to finally meet you after hearing so many great things about you. I was a good five minutes behind Donna which is a long time in a sprint! She is super strong! And what’s also inspiring is that Donna is 57 years young! We all can do great things! And age doesn’t have to limit us! Believing in yourself is so important!

 

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Awards Ceremony. I love the medal for placing in the top 5 women!

Overall I highly recommend putting at least one of these triathlons onto your race calendar! I wish we could do the next one in August which also has an Olympic distance as well as the sprint distance. But this August is all about hard core training and getting some long bike rides and long runs logged in during the weekends. It will be peak training for us in preparation for our Pumpkinman half iron triathlon in early September. But we will make sure our coach can fit at least one of the Lake Dunmore Sun Triathlons into next year’s full Ironman training schedule for 2015. Maybe we’ll even try the Olympic Distance which has a longer swim! Thanks again Steve! And it was great meeting you!

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Lake Dunmore is a beautiful place to swim!

After the race we met our friends Jess, Chris and Bob at the Indian Brook Reservoir a couple hours north for some much needed fun time and post-race celebration. It was a full afternoon of socializing, swimming and stand up paddleboarding. Thanks Jess and Chris for renting the boards for the day! I love paddleboarding but have only done it a few times. I highly recommend it! Someday we’ll purchase some boards! Such a blast!

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Thanks for stopping by! We look forward to seeing you in the water and the roads this August!

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Clarence DeMar 5K and a beautiful 55 mile ride in the Islands 7-5-14

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En route to Isle La Motte, Vermont

Today was an awesome day and I was looking forward to it for a while now! Three years ago about 6 weeks after my first marathon I ran the Clarence DeMar 5K race in South Hero, Vermont with Scott. We had the most amazing day! I had a great race and it has been my fastest 5K so far! We even got to ride our road bikes with my first running coach Jack after the race which meant a lot to me. I have missed running this race and then doing a bike ride the last two years due to my chronic shin issues. I could only focus on my half and full marathons in 2012 and 2013. But this year I have enjoyed SO MUCH being able to participate in some of the shorter distances put on by the local running clubs. I love these races so much! And this year’s Clarence DeMar 5K was another happy memory for both of us!

The Clarence DeMar 5K is put on by our local running club the Green Mountain Athletic Association (GMAA). I am so proud to be a member of this super group of athletes! And I was so happy to finally run one of their local races today. Jessica, Liz and Sarah P do a really great job with this race. Thank you ladies for everything you do! And for those of you who don’t know, Clarence DeMar is a famous seven time Boston Marathon Winner who once lived in South Hero! I highly recommend putting this race on your calendar for next year. It’s a friendly local race that is so professionally organized! Well done everyone! And many thanks to the volunteers! I must also say that the course is super fast!!! If you are looking for a personal best, this is a good one!

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The weather was really fantastic today for a running race. It was a bit overcast and cool! Yes it was a bit windy and we had a good head wind on the way back. But it actually felt refreshing after running in some very hot and humid temps earlier in the week. I knew my running has improved after last weekend’s spring triathlon, but I didn’t feel I could beat my time at this course from 3 years ago where I ran a 19:42. But I was hoping to break 20 minutes today. It was close! My official time was 19:59.8! Well, that is my fastest 5K so far this year with the new triathlon training, so I am fine with my results. The positives are: I was the second woman overall and each mile got a little bit faster. It was a good effort today!

Race Recap:

Mile one started off feeling sluggish and I almost felt right off it wasn’t going to be a good race even in the nice cool temperatures! My plan was to start conservatively at a 6:30 minute per mile pace since I ran too fast in the beginning of my first two 5Ks this year. That worked well and after about a half mile I started to feel better. Anne was someone I was hoping to stick with as she’s a fast runner. She went out a bit faster than myself but I was able to keep her in safe distance for the first mile. I wasn’t concerned about placing. My time was more important and not blowing up! But I figured I could try and keep her in sight to help me run fast enough. Right before the small incline and the turnaround I caught up to Anne and told her to stay with me. I honestly didn’t want to leave her behind as I would be out there alone without any other women to chase or pace! The overall female winner was a young woman of 17 years old who was ahead of me by 30 seconds and I didn’t even notice her on the turnaround. So on the way back I had to rely on myself to push hard!

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Mile two was a bit faster which was good news at a 6:26 pace. I was working hard but the turnaround always slows me down some. Mile three was a bit fast at a 6:23 pace and this felt so hard for me. Three years ago I ran a 6:15 for this mile and it was hot! But I was still pleased that I didn’t fall apart on my last mile and kept it strong to the end. I was happy to finish as my heart rate was very high. While I was happy to be in the top three women, I would have preferred more competition to push me hard even if it meant not placing. I’m all about the time and breaking my own personal records. That didn’t happen today but it was still a good day out there!

Scott had a great race today and achieved a personal record in the 5K distance! Congrats to Scott! He ran a 20:51 today which is 2 minutes and ten seconds faster than his time back in 2011! At the turnaround I was actually surprised to see him so close. I was excited for him! And after I crossed the finish line, it seemed like he wasn’t far behind me at all. Wow, you are getting fast Scott!

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The best part of the morning was winning a big watermelon! How awesome is that! I love local races! Smile And I even have a silly “Joyce” story about my watermelon. Liz thought it would be funny if I held it over my head at the finish line while Scott took a photo. She was going to put that on the GMAA website. It was a great idea! But of course the watermelon slipped out my hands and dropped to the ground cracking it open a bit. How embarrassing is that! Luckily we were able to salvage it and I am now stuffed with watermelon tonight! This is the perfect example of why I do not play any sports that involve balls or large round objects!! Smile

 

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After the race and a bit of socializing with our running friends we got into our cycling clothes.  We made our way up north on Rt 2 through the Lake Champlain Islands. It was a great bike ride today even with a lot of holiday traffic and crazy cross winds coming at us from the West. We ended up riding 55.7 miles. We have never been on the Isle La Motte, so after about 19 miles we headed west on Rt 129 towards Isle La Motte. It was so beautiful out there! The whole ride was gorgeous as we spent a lot of time riding along the water! There were many times I got out of my aero bars just so I could look around at the beautiful lake views. The islands are truly a unique place in Vermont!

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Thanks again to the GMAA for another great race! Hope to see everyone soon!

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Vermont Sun Triathlon Sprint Race Report 6-28-14: Our First Triathlon!

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Scott and I finally did our first triathlon last weekend! This has been meant to be for a very long time! As serious USCF road bike racers from 1990s who have recently focused on marathons, this was bound to happen. I’ve always had great respect and much intrigue towards the awesome sport of triathlons, especially the Ironman distance of 140.6 miles. The obstacle holding me back from triathlons for many years has been the swim! Due to a 3 month long running injury keeping me on the sidelines in the winter of 2012, I decided to finally jump into the pool. I needed to maintain some sort of fitness! And I learned to swim! Scott swam in college so he was my first teacher. And after two winters of swim clinic in South Burlington, VT we were finally ready! Or I should say I was finally brave enough to put all three sports together and see what happens! Thank you Maria and Kelly who are both great coaches! After our first triathlon, we are hooked! Triathlons truly rock! We had so much fun!

IMG_5399 Setting up the swim buoys

The Vermont Sun Triathlon Series puts on sprint and Olympic distance triathlons throughout the summer at Lake Dunmore in central Vermont. We signed up for the June 28, 2014 sprint distance. I cannot say enough good things about this super well-organized, friendly event. This is their 29th year of running these triathlons, so they know what they are doing and greatly welcome feedback. Steve Hare runs this triathlon series and does a fantastic job. Thank you Steve for making our first triathlon such a wonderful memory! And thank you to all the great volunteers who made the day happen!

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So first off since I love racing statistics and analyzing numbers, I’ll discuss the results.Smile  I had no idea how I would place so I put no expectations on myself. This was a practice race for our first 70.3 mile triathlon in early September. It was going to be my firstIMG_5392 competitive swim and first fast bike effort in almost 17 years. I was hoping to run a decent 5K as my running has finally started to improve since struggling after the Boston Marathon.  Overall I was the third woman and first in my age group. I was thrilled with the outcome for my first triathlon! I had the fastest bike and run of all women but a minor panic attack in the swim cost me a couple minutes. And my transition times were VERY slow! You would think I was sipping a soy latte in the T1! Smile The second place woman was only ahead by less than a minute so now I understand the urgency of getting the transitions done efficiently! Had the running race been longer, I would have caught her as I was making up time in the run and closing in on her! Scott did great and was only a minute and a half behind me overall. I’m so proud of him especially since he had just run the Vermont City Marathon a month ago. He has barely begun his triathlon training and pulled off a great result! I’ll get into all the gory details soon.

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 Cool Running Results

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We drove down to Lake Dunmore early on Saturday morning with a car loaded up with gear and bikes on the roof. It almost felt like our early bike racing days. It was exciting but I was super nervous! The drive was about an hour and 20 minutes and the race IMG_5387 started at 8:30am for us. I am one of those athletes who likes to show up early for a race with plenty of time to get ready and warm up. This triathlon was no exception. We rolled into the Lake Dunmore State Park a few minutes past 6am! The race crew was barely just starting to set up registration. Luckily a few more athletes pulled in so we were not alone. The pre-race morning was a lot of fun. Everyone we met was so friendly and helpful. When we picked up our numbers and race packet there were definitely some questions we had in regards to what went where. It was my first time wearing a race chip on my ankle. The atmosphere was festive and very relaxed. I found the other athletes to be so nice! There were other people as well doing their first triathlon. It was great to see a few familiar faces from swim clinic and the Monday night group swim! Seeing Alison, Rich, Dave, Kyle, Siobhan, Dot, John M and John S made the morning memorable. And we also met some great new people who we hope to see again soon.

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The Swim

The swim was 600 yards which we felt was a very feasible distance for our first triathlon. Just doing one lap on our Monday night group swim is 560 yards and that is done four times without problems. And I was able to do a few group swims last summer with experienced triathletes at the Indian Brook Reservoir which would total about a mile. The weekend before this triathlon, we drove down to Lake Dunmore to ride, run and swim the course. So I was fairly comfortable and confident for the swim portion of this sprint distance! The Olympic distance racers went off first and then we warmed up a little in the water. The water felt great and I was ready to race! After that warm-up in the water a good 15 minutes went by before my wave was finally ready to go. I was in wave 5. It was fun to see Scott go off in wave 3 and another group just before it was our turn.

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Once we started I swam right out with the leaders and felt confident. My wave included the women over 40 and masters men. But it was still aggressive and I had people all around me. I was bumped into a lot and had swimmers all around me. This is what I used to fear and dread when I thought about the swim portion of triathlons. But strangely enough I felt a calm and didn’t mind the arms me swim pro pix and legs flailing and hitting all sides of my body. I was OK with all this commotion and chaos. But once we turned the first corner by the buoy, I experienced a panic attack. I had trouble breathing and swimming. I couldn’t put my head into the water and swim as I normally do. It was scary to say the least. I had to swim a good distance with my head above the water and stop a few times which was very inefficient to say the least. I had people swimming on their backs and doing the breast stroke around me. One woman even grabbed onto another buoy. I was not alone in my struggles! I thought about swimming to the shore and calling it a day but decided to just get through this. It was not a long swim I kept telling myself. Thankfully, once we turned around I was able to start swimming properly! That was a huge relief. I knew I could still catch people on the bike and run. And once I started swimming I was slowly catching back up to some other swimmers. I was happy to stand up and be done with that portion of the race! It wasn’t pretty out there but I did push through and finish! Of all the 112 sprint racers that day, I was 55th in the swim! Not terrible but I know the next swim for the sprint triathlon on July 20, 2014 will be so much better! I can’t wait to do this again!

Scott’s swim was about couple minutes faster than me but even he had a few minor panic attacks that slowed him down as well. And he is a very solid swimmer. We have been told by so many experienced triathletes and friends that this is normal especially during a first triathlon. One of the best words of advice I’ve also heard is to make sure your heart rate it high before starting the swim. Even if it means running a few sprints in your wetsuit. Maria our swim coach did mention this, but in the excitement of the race and all the socializing, I just plain forgot to do this! Next time we both will be ready! And also it takes experience to do do well in triathlon swims! The more you do the better it becomes! And our swimming journey has just begun!

The Bike

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The bike portion was only 14 miles which was not ideal for my style of racing. Back in my racing days I preferred long hilly courses of 50 miles and over. The longer the better for me! I didn’t inherit the “fast twitch muscle” genes! Even back in my racing days, I had only done a few time trials on the bike so this short fast distance was knew for me. We both purchased nice triathlon specific bikes this year and we are slowly getting used to the new position of racing. We rode the course twice when we were down there the previous weekend to get used to it and also log in more miles that day.  I have to admit I was a bit apprehensive about some of the road conditions due to a very harsh winter. However when I got onto my bike, my old instincts came back to me and I had no fear while riding. It felt so natural to be riding fast with confidence. I was truly enjoying myself. I was back racing a bike and it felt so good to be out there! 

Two decades ago I was a strong cyclist racing almost every weekend and logging in around 200-300 miles a week. Those were some of my best days as an athlete. Then came the knee injuries, the knee surgeries and ultimately over a decade off the bike! While I’ve gotten “back on the horse” the last few years, I still don’t have a solid base of miles at the moment. I’m not that fast twenty-something year old anymore. I knew I would not be riding an average of 22-23 miles per hour just yet. But right before I turned into the state park at mile 14 I saw that I had an overall average of 21 miles per hour which was not bad considering I was still “rusty” and getting back into cycling shape. And the good news is that I could have kept going at a consistent speed for another loop! I wished the bike course was longer! Smile 

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The first five miles were a lot of fun with rolling hills and a lot of downhill! I wasn’t overly aggressive but feel I rode well with confidence. I did pass a lot of people out there even on the down hills. I was happy once we turned right onto Route 7 which was a IMG_5381 nice long stretch. You could really get into the “zone”.  This went on for about 5 miles. I was riding hard and still passing people but I wasn’t really suffering. Was I not riding fast enough? Do I need more interval work? This was a very different experience from the European-style bike racing that I did many years ago. After mile 10 we turned right onto Route 53 and headed back to Lake Dunmore. There is a nice hill to climb on this section but nothing too crazy. It did put me into my small chain ring but that was fine. I didn’t kill myself on this section, but rode up at a steady even pace. I then put the hammer back down for the last few miles to the finish. Considering I have a little less than 500 miles on my new bike, this was a good day. I am commuting once or twice a week to work on my cross bike, but that hasn’t resulted in a ton of mileage either. So I’m excited to see what I can do once I have a bigger base of riding.  Scott had a good bike ride too! He has a lot less mileage than me on his new Cervelo and still did great! I’m so glad he also enjoyed his bike portion of the triathlon! He will be monster on the bike by the end of the summer!

The Run

The run went surprisingly well for me! It was my fastest 5K so far this year after two open 5Ks that weren’t so stellar. The Boston Marathon left me tired and fatigued for weeks. It was frustrating not being able to feel strong and run fast. But I knew it was normal and that I would eventually recover and also adjust to the brand new triathlon training schedule. After another slow transition from the bike, I was out on my run and still feeling pretty good. I was happy with my bike ride and excited to see how fast I could run after the swim and bike. The first mile was my slowest but that was the plan. It takes me about a half mile for my legs to loose that flatness after a bike ride. And the course had a gradual up hill for the beginning. It was shady and still felt cool so heat wasn’t an issue that day! My overall run took 20 minutes and 17 seconds for the 5K distance. The overall pace for that is 6:32 minutes per mile. However each mile was very different.

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My first mile was was a little under 7 minutes according to my Garmin. I am normally a slow starter!  But I was able to keep picking up the pace. The next mile was even better at around a 6:40 pace. I was pleased whenever I looked down at my Garmin. I did see Dot (overall female winner) ahead of me and the second place woman not far ahead at all! On the last mile I was still feeling good and kicked it in even more with a surprising pace of a 6:22. The gradual downhill was fun and I was getting close to the second place woman. I really wished the run was longer so I could have caught her. But it was all good and I am still happy with my run. Smile Scott ran well too but feels like he is still recovering from the Vermont City Marathon. It was great to see him on the run coming back while I was heading out. He looked like he was running strong and pacing himself well.

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There was a big problem happening during my run that I should mention. I decided not to wear socks for my run and ended up with two huge severe blisters in the arches of my feet! I wear Superfeet orthotics so that was the problem. I felt this happening in the first mile. I knew it was going to be bad, but there was no way I was going to stop running. I wasn’t in terrible pain running but it was very uncomfortable. I’m not sure if I would have run faster without the blisters, but it surely didn’t help. So if any people reading my blog are about to do their first sprint triathlon, please wear your socks on the run! Luckily I heal quickly and only missed a day of running. I should be OK for tomorrow’s Clarence DeMar 5K race in South Hero, Vermont!

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Overall it was a truly fantastic experience for both of us. Even the post-race atmosphere was a lot of fun. I enjoyed hanging out with everyone so much. And it was really great to chat a lot with Dot and John who are truly amazing athletes and have so much race experience. Congrats to Dot who won the race after doing a half ironman the previous weekend! I’m so glad she won! She is amazing! Dot and John both are an inspiration!Smile

me and john post race pro pix

There was plenty of food including bananas, bagels, water melon and vegan pizza! Yes, you read that correctly! We were both thrilled that the race organizers had something for everyone! I’ve never seen vegan pizza at a bike or running race! So this was exciting for us! And there were also vegan race recovery nutritional shake packets in our racing bags! How cool is that! I love a race organization that is veg-friendly! And check out the professional race photos I’ve posted by Pat Hendrick Photography! They were included in our registration fee! (Normally we pay a lot of extra $ for professional marathon photos!) We are really excited to do another sprint triathlon on July 20, 2014!! Again, thank you Steve and all the awesome volunteers! It was a special day for us!

vegan shake Super yummy shake mix in our goodie bag!! Thanks!!

me awards ceremony pro pix Awards Ceremony! Love my cool pint glass!

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We look forward to another great experience at Lake Dunmore on July 20, 2014! Hope to see you there!

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