Ironman Training in Clermont, Florida March 2017

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Beautiful sunsets on Lake Minneola from our cottage

Once again for the second year in a row, we flew down to Clermont, Florida in March. The goal was to get a couple weeks of warm weather training in before flying off to do Ironman Puerto Rico 70.3. This year we rented a small, cozy, rustic cottage right on Lake Minneola 20170316_073127which was about an easy 10 minute drive from the National Training Center. This spot was excellent as we were right on the bike trail which was also great for running. Scott and I worked remotely and also fit in our training. It was tricky but we got a lot done on both fronts. I worked with Lisa and Dave many days on my swimming which was super helpful. It was also really wonderful to do some road riding on our tri-bikes instead of the computrainers. We knew the run portion of the Puerto Rico 70.3 was going to be wickedly hot and hard. So being in a warm climate and doing some workouts in the heat was part of the plan to acclimate better.

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This year we flew with both bikes instead of bringing just mine and renting a bike for Scott. It’s definitely stressful and difficult traveling with two bikes but everything went surprisingly smooth, even with the airlines. Scott is now an expert at breaking down and building back up bikes quickly! There are advantages to being a bike mechanic 20+ years ago! It can cost between $75 to $150 per bike, one-way depending on airlines. Next time we race far away from home, we might try one of the professional bike transport services especially for Ironman events.

 

Swimming

The first week we had swimming lessons almost every day from Lisa and Dave and a couple more the following week before heading off to Puerto Rico. They are truly awesome at swim coaching and I definitely found some much needed improvements in my swim stroke. I’ve read that swimming is over 80% technique. I still have a long way to go before I will ever be at the top of my age-group in the swim portion of half and full Ironman events. But it’s getting better and I’m making improvements in technique and efficiency . Lisa says my swim is a “work-in-progress”. It’s not easy learning to swim from scratch at age 41 but it is possible to improve and get better. It just takes a lot of hard work, dedication and support. I like to say “it takes a village”.

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Thanks Lisa!

 

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The National Training Center 50 meter pool is a gem!

 

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Swim training with Scott, Len, and Ivan

 

Biking

It was so enjoyable to be able to ride on the quiet Clermont roads which always feel so much safer than riding in Vermont. We would start out on the bike trail right from our cottage and ride out onto more rural and country roads. While it was a bit busier on the weekends, it never felt crazy or dangerous. And drivers in Florida are much nicer compared to the hostility we face on our local roads here in the Green Mountains.

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On our first Sunday, we did a four hour hard training ride with Lisa, Kate, Scott and Dave. Kate is a pro so we were nervous about the ride but we all rode strong that day. group rideAnd it was SUPER windy as well to make it truly challenging. Lisa said the winds were like Kona that day. This was the key ride before Puerto Rico. I’m so glad I got to do this ride outside in the warm Florida sun. We also got out during the week days but nothing longer than a 2 hour ride due to working most days on our laptops. I really enjoy riding in the Clermont/Minneola area. There are good sized rolling hills and quiet roads for working on time trialing and harder intervals. And it was always nice to see so many cyclists all the time while riding. A lot of pros spend their winters in Clermont. The Florida drivers out there are used to seeing lots of cyclists to they are generally polite and give us room. They don’t seem to mind sharing the road.  

 

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Running

Clermont has a lot of great places to run including the bike trails, the Apopka Trail, the Clay trails, Lake Louisa, etc. This year we didn’t have time to do the Apopka trail which we ran last year. I was disappointed about that, but sometimes you just can’t do everything. And we also didn’t get a chance to visit Lake Louisa State park and try the trails there. We visited twice last year but still haven’t run there. Hopefully next year! I highly recommend a visit to Lake Louisa State Park.

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Scott finishing up a nice sunset run after working

Most of our runs were right from the house after our bike rides. And it was so convenient to jump right onto the beautiful bike trail and run along Lake Minneola. The highlight of the running was our last Sunday run at the Clay trails. These were located off of Route 27 heading towards Lake Louisa State Park. They are a very popular running spot with very little car traffic. The trails are really just bright orange dirt roads out in the countryside. It truly feels like you are running in Africa or somewhere very remote. I loved running here!

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Food and Beverage Report

Clermont, Florida is not known to be a vegan mecca or even very vegan friendly. Luckily there now is a new wonderful little vegan restaurant that opened this past February. Loving Heart was located a couple miles from our cottage on Route 50, closet to Route 27. This is one of our favorite vegan restaurants! We were so excited to have delicious, healthy, and affordable vegan meals. We ate there almost every day. This is a family owned restaurant and everyone made us feel so at home. They were very excited to learn we are Ironman athletes and even asked to have a photo taken with them.

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We also had delicious vegan, curry tofu pizza at Mellow Mushroom in Orlando, Florida. This is the second year in a row we visited this vegan friendly pizza joint. They have decent beer on tap and the service is friendly. This is a chain restaurant but still recommended if you crave vegan pizza. There are a couple in the area but we visited the one on International Drive both times. Scott LOVES vegan pizza! Smile

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One other vegan restaurant we visited was called Ethos Vegan Kitchen which was located in Winter Park (north of Orlando). This was a super fun restaurant with delicious vegan comfort food. It was worth the 45 minute drive from our cottage. It was a Sunday afternoon at 4pm and the place was hopping! I’m sure most people weren’t vegans and probably didn’t understand the restaurant was meat-free. The food was good and the atmosphere was very trendy and hip. I think people just thought it was a Greek restaurant. I’m glad they were busy! I’m sure they are enlightening people that vegan food is fun and fabulous! Smile

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Overall it was a great two weeks in Clermont this year! I was sad to leave our cozy cottage by the lake. I truly hope to be back next year! Details on Puerto Rico will be coming soon.

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A Soaking Wet Mont Tremblant Ironman Race Report August 21, 2016

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It was a long and difficult journey to finally do my first full Ironman. Scott and I started our Ironman quest almost two years ago. We both signed up for the 2015 Mont Tremblant Ironman and trained all winter and spring.  At the end of June while participating in the 2015 Mont Tremblant 70.3 I had to stop after a mile of running due to a severe stress fracture in my hip (femoral neck). I was out for a long time which was devastating for me. I also came down with pneumonia and gave that to Scott as well. So neither of us were able to do the Ironman last August. We both recovered and my body did heal. I started the run/walk protocol in late January of 2016. I also began working with one of the best Ironman coaches who helped me arrive at the starting line healthy. And this was an amazing challenge. She was patient and worked with me closely giving me very smart training each week. Thank you so much Lisa! I couldn’t have done it without you!

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 Around midnight! Exciting to watch the last finishers!

After a very hot Mont Tremblant 70.3 in late June 2016, I was prepared for another warm race day on August 21! I made sure I got outside enough during the hotter days to better acclimate. I was running and cycling well in the heat during training. I was ready for whatever mother nature sent my way. But I wasn’t expecting to be cold and wet for such a long time. The weather for race day was treacherous. I couldn’t believe it! When we first learned of the rain on Sunday, we thought it might work to our advantage living in Vermont and dealing with a lot of crappy weather in northern New England. I used to love cold, rainy bike races twenty years ago when racing on the New England circuit. I thrived on those long rainy bike races during the early spring season! That wasn’t the case when we had monsoon rains and high winds during the 112 bike ride. It was cold and rough. I was miserable on the bike for over 6 hours! Apparently I can’t handle the cold like I did when I was much younger! Luckily I ended up having a good run after a very challenging swim and bike. My run saved the day and I ended up salvaging my whole race! Scott did extremely well handling the weather on the bike and had a stellar first Ironman. I’m so proud of him!

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Being a numbers person and Financial Analyst I will get right to the results and race statistics:

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With only 40 Kona slots (for the Age-Group Ironman World Championship in Hawaii) this year, there were only two up for grabs in my age group (F45-49). While it was a little disappointing to have missed by two places, it might have been a blessing in disguise. I’m not sure if I would have been mentally prepared to do this all over again in 7 weeks! But my close 4th place left me hungry for a Kona slot in 2017. I honestly thought I had about a 40% chance this year of getting one, but I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself for my first full Ironman. Mont Tremblant had a highly competitive field of women in my age group this year! I would have gotten 3rd in the F40-44 age group! I do feel that with more work on my swim and more time pushing out the high wattages on the Computrainer, next year could be a possibility for me!

IMG_5497 Taken 2014 during our first time to Mont Tremblant – Favorite part of run course!

Scott and I drove up to Mont Tremblant on the Thursday before the Ironman. This time the drive was uneventful except for heavy traffic around Montreal. But it wasn’t as bad as June! Once again we stayed at the Homewood Suites by Hilton at the top of the Mont Tremblant ski village. We enjoy staying here since there is a good sized kitchen and separate bedroom. And the staff is always friendly and helpful. And it’s one of the quieter spots. Noise was never really a problem which is key for us. It was so nice to arrive a day earlier than originally planned. On Friday we had time to go wetsuit shopping at the Expo, pick up our race packet, swim and then relax later in the afternoon. We even took a nap before the athlete dinner and briefing.

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Friday swim at the Exit Beach with some of Lisa’s other athletes

Saturday was a busy day with a group bike ride and then a group swim. During the 8am bike ride with Lisa and her other athletes, I discovered my bike wasn’t shifting properly due to a bent derailleur hanger. It was a bit stressful while Scott tried to fix it. We had someone else look at it after the ride. It wasn’t possible to get a replacement but I was told it would be OK during the race. For the most part it was fine until the big hills at the end of the 56 mile loop. More on that later. Our Saturday late morning swim went well. I had purchased a new fancy wetsuit because I was worried about some tearing in my older one. Long story but I ended up wearing something new on race day! The new wetsuit felt great swimming with Lisa, Scott, Kelly, Page and Carolyn. I even thought I felt faster in this new wetsuit. Lisa said I was doing great since I was keeping up with her on the way back toward the shore. After the swim and long walk back to the hotel, we ate a big lunch and got our bike and transition bags ready to drop off. The evening was more relaxing. Our main task was making our water bottles filled with Tailwind and sorting out our bike nutrition. We actually got a decent amount of sleep that night. 5 hours is a lot for us before a race!

group bike MT Saturday “activation” bike ride with Lisa and her crew

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We were well fed the days leading up to the Ironman. Carin of Sweet Pea made us another “magic” vegan lasagna and amazing vegan pastries. Mariah made us the most awesome fried vegan donuts.  Thanks so much ladies!!!

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The Swim

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After a disappointing swim at the Mont Tremblant 70.3 due to anxiety issues in the beginning, I prepared well for the full Ironman swim. Lisa had me doing more intervals in the open water and specific training in the pool as well. I had a new plan for the Ironman swim and felt ready! While my time of an hour and 26 minutes is a very slow swim, I am very proud of my swim that day. My goal was around a 1:15 to a 1:18 which was very reasonable. However, this Ironman swim turned out to be very wavy, choppy with big swells at the far end of the course. It was the craziest and toughest open water swim I have ever experienced. The female pro winner of this year and last year said it was rougher than any ocean water swim she’s ever done, so I felt better hearing that. Many people were reporting times of 5-10 minutes slower. While it wasn’t raining yet in the morning, we were very concerned when we felt the wind walking down to the start beach. I knew it would be a choppy swim with the wind but couldn’t believe the swells at the far end of the course. I kept thinking to myself, “how is this even possible in a lake”??!! But that’s what happens when a storm is rolling into the area!

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This time I started on the far left side a few rows down to stay out of trouble. It was great to meet up with Jenn while lining up. We both went to the left side. And this plan worked well for me. I had no anxiety attacks like I did in June. I also did a better warm-up before the race with a few quick bursts. The big thing for me was not starting out too fast. I’m a slow starter and usually don’t feel good in a swim until about 10-15 minutes into the swim. For the first part of the swim I was almost enjoying it. I had more clear water to swim and felt more comfortable. I was constantly sighting and finding paths to swim even if there were still a lot of women around me. We had close to 300 women in our wave but it wasn’t as bad as I expected. Starting off on the outside made a difference for me.

After about 15-20 minutes the waves were getting progressively choppier and bigger. I expected there to be a lot of chop but not that much! I kept plugging away and focusing on the task at hand. I was starting to pass the slower women in the 35-39 age group and a few men in the 50-55 group. I even caught up to more women in my age group once I was warmed up. Once I got close to the last buoy before turning right, the swells became huge and ridiculous. I was moving up and then back down as if I was on some amusement park ride. I was worried I might get “seasick” or nauseous out there but luckily that never happened. Swimming across was difficult with many bodies, congestion and the big waves but I finally made it to the last turnaround. I was still passing people which was sometimes a nuisance but I just kept moving forward the best I could.

scott swim Scott rocked the swim. While a few minutes slower due to the huge waves, he swam strong!

When I rounded that last turnaround buoy I couldn’t believe how far out I was from the line of buoys heading back. The wind and waves were pushing masses of us swimmers way out from the line back to shore. I felt a bit of panic at one moment when the closet buoy looked very far way. I swam in a diagonal direction picking up the pace and finally got closer to the line of buoys. I then stayed close to the buoys on the way back. This presented me with more people to swim around but I did find clear water many times on the way back. I was still passing a lot of swimmers in other age groups which was getting tiresome with all the waves and chop. At this point I was taking things one buoy at a time. This was a good strategy. As I was getting closer to the shore I could see the blue arch and hear the cheering. This was exciting and I felt relieved to be close. I eventually made it to the shore.

The one alarming thing was that I felt my right calf  muscle cramp up a few seconds before I stood up. I thought I felt the sensations that happen before a cramp on the way back a couple times. But luckily it happened at the very end. And then I was fine running to the wetsuit strippers. Crisis averted! I didn’t know my swim time as I couldn’t see it on my Garmin even though it was recorded. If I had known I had swum 10-11 minutes slower than planned, I would have been stressed on the bike. Ignorance was bliss! I ran on the red carpet to the transition tent very happy I had finished a very tough swim. I saw Lisa and Dave and gave them a smile and “thumbs up”.

 

The Bike

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The 112 miles on the bike were the toughest and most miserable part of the day for me. I am proud of myself for staying strong mentally and keeping safe on a very treacherous day. Heavy rain, wind and dangerous road conditions made this one of the toughest bike races I’ve ever done. And I have much experience racing in the rain from 20 years ago. Another challenge for me was that I never felt comfortable on the bike due to a sore neck (partly from the wavy swim) that seemed worse being cold on the bike. While training rides were also uncomfortable, this was by far the worst of any ride this summer. Between the cold, nagging discomfort and not feeling safe, I never felt like I rode well or fast enough. It was as if I was running on 3-4 cylinders compared to 5. It was like I just didn’t have any energy or passion on the bike that day. I’d like to think it was from the brutal elements. My goal time was between 5 hours and 50 minutes to 6 hours if it was windy. I was a little disappointed in taking a little over 6 hours and nine minutes to complete the bike course. But it was a super challenging day on so many levels. I am so grateful I did finish safely!

scott bikeScott looking mean on a wet, soaking day! 

The rain didn’t start until about a few miles on Route 117. At first I thought this might be to my advantage and just took it as it came. There was a good tailwind heading out on Route 117 which has some fast sections and down hills. After the turnaround, the ride back on Route 117 was difficult as the rain and wind got stronger. The headwind was ferocious! Heading back on Monte Ryan the roads were getting dangerous with deep puddles and many riders taking the descents too fast. While the course didn’t feel overly crowded on this race, there were times of congestion with many riders of varying levels of bike handling skills. This sometimes made me nervous and conservative with my own descents. I’m a good bike handler in the rain, but I didn’t have a lot of faith in some of the other riders. This was stressful. And I was growing colder!

Luckily the end of the first loop finishes with a 6 mile rolling climb up Chemin Duplessis. I knew I would warm up on the steeper sections of the long climb and this was the case. Unfortunately I discovered that my shifting issues were back. I couldn’t shift into the second and third easiest gears up the hills without a lot of skipping. Luckily I could get into my granny gear which was fine for 8% grades. As long as I shifted smoothly and easily, I was OK. I had to be careful and mindful to get safely in and out of my granny gear. I was so happy when I finally came to the turnaround to the start the crazy fast roller coaster ride back down Duplessis. Sadly there was a very bad crash that I passed on the way down the long hill. The race director was out in the middle of the road trying to get riders to slow down. I was very rattled seeing someone in a neck brace as the result of the crash. I tried not to loose focus and continued with my own race. I truly hope the crash victims are OK. My thoughts go out to them!

84_3rd-116977-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-1360_072704-3227749 Monsoon rains and wind on the bike!

It was a bit daunting to think I still had to ride the 56 mile treacherous loop again! I picked up two more of my water bottles at the Special Needs station in the beginning of Monte Ryan. I was doing pretty well with my nutrition plan. But it didn’t help the fact that I was once again very cold. The big rolling hills on Monte Ryan were making me even colder and I was worried about how I would get through the second loop feeling this cold. I was breaking on the down hills due to the big puddles but also because it wasn’t quite as cold when I went downhill slower. No wonder I had such a slow bike split!!  (just under 3 hours the first loop)

Luckily I started to warm up on Route 117. I even settled back into my aero position and kept moving forward. Surprisingly my neck pain subsided a little and I focused on trying to pick up the pace a bit. It seemed like there were less riders on the second loop which was helpful. Overall Route 117 was rather uneventful aside from the weather conditions which were still rainy and windy. After the turnaround, the headwinds were still brutal and felt much harder with tired legs. After about 4 hours I caught up to Kelly who luckily was wearing a jacket. Being from Florida, she had a very tough day in the cold but stayed super strong! I’m so glad she finished!

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The way back on Monte Ryan was once again cold and dangerous with more puddles on the roads. Again I was careful on the descents especially the last one which was very sketchy (single file only) with at least 5 inch puddles and slop. Again I was happy to get to the base of the Chemin Duplessis hill climb. As I was heading up, I heard Scott call my name on his way back down. I couldn’t believe how far ahead of me he was!! But I was also happy for him. I knew he’d be doing well in this weather. He is an awesome rider in the rain. The hills felt much harder this time around and my legs were very fatigued! I was wondering how I would run a marathon after this! The turnaround seemed to take longer! Once I was heading back downhill, I was so happy to be almost done. But I knew I had to be careful on this very dangerous section of the course. I new that if I stayed out of trouble, I would be running soon! Once at the bottom, I turned right towards the transition area. I was thrilled to give my bike to a volunteer. I saw that my bike was under 6 hours and 10 minutes. I was OK with this slower than planned time. I was actually worried it might be more like 6 hours and 20 minutes from being too cold on the second loop. I took off my bike shoes and ran on the soaking wet carpet into the transition tent. My lower back was screaming and I wondered again how I would run a marathon feeling like that!

scott more rain bike

I got into the transition tent and saw my friend Jenn who was pulled from the course. They thought she was going to get hypothermia as her face was turning blue. I was stunned and a little confused in the changing tent. I felt so sad for her. But I’m glad she was OK. I somehow put on dry socks, running shoes, visor and my belt. I ducked into a port-o-potty which took an extra minute but was so worth it as I felt so much better. And then I was off to do my favorite sport!!

 

The Run

Running is what I do best. My first Ironman marathon is one that I am very proud of after a very tough swim and bike. I had no idea how it would go as I was heading out on the first mile. I was happy that my back and legs were doing OK after previous doubts. I was actually surprised at how well I felt after such an ordeal on the bike. It was drizzling and raining lightly and I was feeling comfortable. Not cold and not too warm. As I ran by the lake with the boats to my right side, I felt so happy to be on the run. This is my favorite part of the course and I tried to savor it before things got too hard.

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My goal was to run between a 3:30 and a 3:40 marathon which Lisa felt was realistic for my first Ironman. So I was thrilled to have run a 3:37:09. Surprisingly my run was faster than 6 of the 10 pro women who participated. And my run was among the top ten fastest runs of the female Age-Groupers. I just wish I could get my swim and bike to be stronger! That will come in time!

I was feeling pretty good on the first few miles into the village of Mont Tremblant. However I was also cautious about keeping my pace conservative. My plan was to run slower the first few miles but this was harder to do as my legs kept turning over smoothly and easily. When I got to the paved bike path, it was very crowded and difficult to constantly pass people. I was running around and in between people. I felt like a broken record saying “excuse me”, “coming through”, “on your left” hundreds of times.…..But I did my best to be polite, supportive and kept moving at a good pace. I slowed down for water at the aid stations but kept on moving forward and efficiently. I did run with one nice younger woman in pink who was setting a good smart pace. On the way back after the turnaround I took a turn to lead and set the pace. But eventually I did loose her and never saw her again. Before the turnaround, I did finally see Scott again on the run and he was looking strong. He was a few kilometers ahead of me and I knew I would catch him eventually. I looked forward to that!

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The course has a pretty out-and-back section on a gravel path along Lac Mercier. I was still feeling decent at this point (around mile 9). An older woman caught me, passed me and then seemed to settle down. I was staying close behind her. I thought she was in my age-group so I hung back a little. She was setting a nice pace and it was helpful climbing the hills back out of the village. As we headed back downhill by Lac Tremblant I was still feeling good and eventually passed her on that short steep hill by the swim start. Later I learned she was over 50! Nice job Judy! In about a kilometer I was running through the ski village on the cobblestones with cheering crowds lined on both sides which was fun. I was feeling tired and my legs fatigued but knew I could handle another 13 mile loop even if it did feel like a daunting task. I am a marathon runner and have done this before!

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On the small steep hill near the swim start beach, Dave was yelling out to me that I was running into 5th place and that my run was the second fastest in my age group. I told him I thought I was slowing down but he said it was OK and to just keep going. This news gave me a bit of a boost. I still ran conservatively up the gradual climb to the village. I was still going at a good pace of around 8-8:30 minutes per mile. On the bike path I had some of my fastest splits at around 7:47 minutes per mile. The bike path was still crowded and I was still constantly trying to run around or through people running side by side. And this stretch really felt tedious this time around. But I kept focused and my legs kept doing their job even with the fatigue growing in quads. I finally caught Scott on mile 19 and he looked very good and strong. He was sticking to his plan and running very well. His 4:24:55 marathon was well paced and he finished strong that day!

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After I passed Scott it seemed to take longer to reach the turnaround on the bike path. I caught up to another woman to see if she was in my age group but she was 41 and I just stayed behind her for a few minutes on the way back as her pace was good. But then my legs wanted to move a bit more quickly so I passed her. I did pass one woman in my age group on the way back along the bike path. My pace was much quicker so I wasn’t worried about her trying to stick with me. The out-back-gravel section by Lac Mercier was uneventful and I noticed I was still doing OK even with all the fatigue. I couldn’t wait to be done but was realizing I only had about 3+ more miles to go. At this point I was taking things one mile at a time which is what I do on the last 5-6 miles of a marathon. The climb out of town was slow and tedious. Before I turned left onto the bike path with the pretty views of ski trails, I took my first cup of Pepsi. With 2 miles to go I really didn’t want another gel. I’m still not sure if the Pepsi helped but it didn’t hurt or bother my stomach. I then took another Pepsi at the next aid station at the bottom of the hills leading out of the village. After this I passed Susan C who ended up as the 5th place women in my age group. I was running a good bit faster so I didn’t worry about her. I knew I had this!

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My run up the short steep hill by the swim start was very slow and hard! I almost walked because it might have been faster! But since I never had to walk, I didn’t want to start on the last mile or so! I knew if I found this hill very difficult, so would any other runners behind me. Running up to the ski village was super tough! But at this point I was so close and the discomfort was overridden with excitement of the finish line. It was such a great feeling running on the final stretch on the cobblestones through the ski village. The crowds were amazing and all cheering. I loved hearing my name! (our names were on our bibs) I felt like a super star running to the finish! I heard Mike Reilly call my name vaguely. I ran through the finish and was caught by a couple volunteers. I left everything out there and had nothing more to give! It was a wonderful and very emotional feeling. Lisa and Dave were right there too which was so awesome. I love them! Receiving my medal was also very special as I have dreamed of that moment for the last two years! I was very happy to learn I was 4th in my age group out of almost 100 woman after a very challenging day. I would get onto the podium this time and was thrilled! It was OK that I didn’t get a second place for the Kona spot. Next year!

Scott finished about a half hour after me. I sat at one of the tables eating food and talking to other athletes. Lisa was so kind to bring me a plate of food. It was so great that there were some vegan salad options (cous cous, pasta, quinoa, fruit, chips). I was so happy to see Scott after he finished. He looked so fresh. I kept joking that he looked as fresh as a daisy! He’s a champ!

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Afterward we took some time that evening to lug our bikes and gear bags back up to the hotel. After a much needed shower we headed back out to meet Dave and Lisa for a beer. We hadn’t enjoyed a beer since the Mont Tremblant 70.3 in June so we were really looking forward to this! The big basket of fries tasted amazing as well. I believe our bodies were craving fat and salt after such an ordeal.

20160821_230332 20160821_232619 Post-race celebration

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After celebrating with a beers and fries we headed down to the finish line to cheer for the last finishers before midnight. This was so much fun and very emotional seeing these amazing people finish a crazy long day! Some people were out there for almost 17 hours! I can’t imagine being out there that long even if the weather had been nice! My hat goes off to the last finishers! Huge Congratulations!!!

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20160822_110818  This Ironman goes all out for everything! Brunch!

me podium 4th place Awards Ceremony on Monday morning after the brunch

Monday afternoon was our time to relax and do a few touristy things in Mont Tremblant. We rode the gondola up to the top of the ski Mountain which was beautiful and so enjoyable. It was a cooler day and very chilly at the summit. So we headed into the lodge, purchased a couple beers and chips. We found a warm, sunny, quiet spot by the windows and savored the beautiful views. We talked about our next Ironman. We also talked about how amazing it felt to finally become an Ironman! One of the biggest accomplishments for both of us! I still couldn’t believe we finally did it!

MT view from gondola View from the Gondola

That evening we treated ourselves to a lovely dinner at Coco Pazzo, a fancy Italian restaurant right in the ski village and a minute walk from our hotel. Scott jokingly called it “Coco Expensive”, but it was the only place in the village with a clearly marked vegan dinner option. And it was a delicious pasta dinner with fresh vegetables and the best tasting sauce. With warm soup and a tasty glass of red wine, we were very happy sitting outside waiting for the main entre.

dinner celebration

While it was sad to leave Mont Tremblant the next day, we did enjoy lattes in the morning and then smoothies at Fluide, the juice bar right in the ski village. After two hours of packing, we checked out and headed to the village of Mont Tremblant to walk around and check out an art gallery. We found a great place that had awesome vegan burgers and good local beer!

me tuesday vegan burgers

scott au coin pub We highly recommend Au Coin for a great vegan burger and local beer!

 

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Overall, words cannot describe how awesome it was for us to become an Ironman! It truly is an amazing accomplishment. I will always treasure the memories of our first Ironman experience. While the swim and bike were true tests of our will, the whole race gave me more confidence as as athlete and overall as a person. There is no greater lesson than doing your first full Ironman and the training that it takes to get to the starting line. It’s a life-changing journey! And this was one Ironman people will be telling their kids and grandchildren in years to come!

I want to send out a huge thanks to the amazing volunteers, the tireless Ironman staff, and the lovely people of Mont Tremblant. I can’t imagine how other Ironman events could top what they do in Quebec! What a truly spectacular event! Thank you to everyone who made the day possible!

We are signed up for the Lake Placid Ironman in July of 2017. We both can’t wait to begin another Ironman journey. We are also singed up for the Ironman 70.3 in Puerto Rico which will take place in March 2017. For the next two months, we will enjoy some downtime, trail running, mountain biking, gravel grinding and of course much swimming with our beloved masters group!

medals

Thanks for stopping by!

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The Hottest Mont Tremblant 70.3 Race Report June 26, 2016

Mt finish me

Finishing the Mont Tremblant 70.3 (half Ironman) triathlon at the end of June was a huge accomplishment on an unseasonably hot summer day in Quebec. But most importantly it was crucial for me to cross the finish line this year after a big fat, heartbreaking DNF last year due to my stress fracture disaster. As mentioned in previous blog posts, I unknowingly had a femoral neck stress fracture going into the race. The breaking point must have been when I attempted the run last year and had to stop after a mile of severe pain. It was physically painful but more so mentally as my full Ironman dreams were crushed that summer. Crossing the finish line this year was a celebration and confidence builder in my Ironman journey.

scott finish

This year race day was very hot! By the time I was well into the run, it might have been in the mid to high 80sF with plenty of humidity. For us folks who live in the Northeast, this is super hot for racing! Regardless of the exact temperatures, the run felt like a furnace. Even the bike was hot and a bit uncomfortable especially at the end. While this was a super tough race day, I am very happy with my performance even if there were areas needing improvement. My awesome coach Lisa keeps reminding me of how I was out of commission for almost 8 months and doing the walk/run protocol into late January/early February. I might have been a bit undertrained but I was healthy and ready to race! Due to the heat, Scott had some stomach issues and got very sick after 2 miles of running. While he is very disappointed in his run, I consider him a hero for finishing and being so tough on a very difficult day.

2016:

results 2016

2015:

results 2015

While my internal goal was to place in the top 3 of my age group, I was less than a minute from 4th place. Lisa was still thrilled with my 6th place finish of 141 women in my division. And considering I’m still coming back from a severe stress fracture, I am happy with my results. Although being so close to the podium had me a little disappointed the night after the race. Had my swim or bike been a few minutes faster I would have gotten third place. The first and second females were former pros according to Lisa and have been racing triathlons for many many many years. Triathlon is still new for me and I have a lot to learn. It’s quite a journey! But hey! I did have the fastest run in my division (and faster than a few pro women) so that was comforting!

tram view MT

View from the Tram – We loved riding this!

MT village

 Mont Tremblant Ski Village

Mont Tremblant is a beautiful four season resort with triathlons in the summer and skiing in the winter. The center for all the Ironman action takes place in the ski village at the base of Mont Tremblant ski area. Lac Tremblant is at the base of the resort and creates some of the most beautiful scenery. We love this area north of Montreal. It is considered one of the nicest Ironman destinations. We stayed at the Homewood Suites by the Hilton at the top of the village which we highly recommend. We also stayed there last year and enjoyed the big suite and lovely hospitality. The locals are really wonderful and love the Ironman races.

MT and lac MT

Mont Tremblant and Lac Tremblant

We left Vermont on Friday morning and got up to Mont Tremblant in the late afternoon. Due to the Quebec holiday and construction we did sit in traffic for over an hour and a half once out of Montreal. It was the worst traffic we’ve seen in years! Hopefully we have better luck this August for the full Ironman up there. This year there were many more racers and athlete check in took a long time and the lines were long. Last year, we blew right through. Get there early! Saturday was busy but a fun day. My coach Lisa was representing Subaru and was one of the spokes people so I got to see her a few times that weekend which was great. Her and Dave were there to give us pointers for the Saturday swim.  We also had a good chat that afternoon about the race. She reminded me of what a gift it was to be there this year healthy and able to race. She also reminded me to celebrate, smile and have fun out there on race day. It really is a gift to be able to do this kind of endurance event. We are truly lucky!

scott transition area Transition area before the race

 

The Swim:

me and lisa pre MT 70.3Myself and Lisa at the swim start 

The swim was almost a disaster in the beginning. Lisa told me to go out fast the first 400 yards which is what a good triathlete swimmer should do! However, I learned that I still have trouble in pack swimming especially in the beginning. I lined up in the middle front row which was my first mistake. Last year I had a pretty good swim experience (slower but steady) where I started on the inside and gradually built up speed. I’m not an aggressive swimmer and I had trouble with 141 women this year swimming all around me with no clear path to go. It was total chaos and I had anxiety issues. I couldn’t find a straight line to swim so eventually after 5 minutes or so I just took a sharp turn right and swam on the inside of the buoys like last year (this is legal but you have to swim on the outside of the last buoy). I still felt terrible for a while and had trouble breathing and getting into a rhythm. I even had thoughts of quitting triathlons due to the swim. And there were moments I felt like I didn’t know how to swim anymore. It was very unsettling. But I told myself I would get through this and I just kept swimming. There were a few times I would look ahead and see the endless buoys and wonder how I would make it to the turn. I eventually settled down and made it to the first turn.

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It was a sunny day this year as opposed to the cloudy start last year. This was challenging as the sun was in our eyes and it made it hard to see other swimmers and the buoys. At one point I was close to a kayak on the outside and knew I had to swim closer to the course. I was still swimming with other swimmers but a bit too far outside. I was encouraged when I started catching the slower swimmers in the next age group. But it was also tough when the fast swimmers from the age group behind us went by me. I never did feel like I was enjoying the swim like previous triathlon swims but I kept working hard and making my way. Once I turned the last corner, I was heading back to the shore. This leg went much faster and it seemed I was at the finish sooner than I anticipated. It was still tough with so many bodies all around me and I was still constantly swimming around people or having people bump and push me. I was worried my swim was going to take well over 40 minutes but when I got out I was shocked to see a bit over 37 minutes! That is not a fast time but considering my rough start, I was very happy with that time. I was two seconds faster than last year. So I do have a lot to work on in regards to my triathlon swim.

scott swim

Scott has gotten very fast in his swim over the last year but he also had anxiety issues like myself in the crazy beginning. He said he did the breast stroke for the first two buoys before he settled down. He still had a fast swim but was close to 4 minutes off his time last year. We both have some work to do on getting through the chaotic swim start of a triathlon.

 

The Bike:

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The bike went well for me in spite of being over 9 minutes slower than last year. Many factors contributed to this significant variance (I’m a financial analyst and love this kind of analysis). Firstly last year was cool and the winds were calm. This year it was hot and quite warm when I started my ride. The sun was out in full force. And the head winds coming back on Rt 117 were fierce this year. Everyone’s bike time was slower this year. Because it was going to be a very hot day, I also rode more conservatively than last year. I also slowed to take water at all aid stations; sometimes just taking a few sips and pouring it down my back to cool off.  I’m also coming back from a big injury and I am still not quite at 100% of my potential fitness compared to last year. Again, Scott and I had almost identical bike times last year and this year with just a few seconds apart from each other. He is faster on the flats and down hills and I make up the time on the big climbs at the end.

scott bike

Like last year the course was very crowded but that is to be expected with one of the most popular Ironman 70.3 events.  I didn’t get stuck in as many packs as last year but it was still a bit stressful at times making sure not to get a penalty for drafting. I was constantly passing people on the bike and making sure I was getting by within the 23 second time limit. I was also getting passed by some very fast guys in the 40-44 age group.  I didn’t ride with many women this year compared to last year. There were a couple where we took turns passing but I did finally leave behind one woman for good on the run. I was wondering where the females in my age group were. It was hard to tell without the ages being marked on the calves like some triathlons.

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I was smart about nutrition and taking in lots of fluids. Your nutrition will always show up on the run so I must have done a good job with my shot blocks and sports drink and taking water at the aid stations. I mentally noted many times I was still feeling OK throughout the ride even while it was getting warmer. I even did well up the hot hilly section at the end. These long hills are similar to our hills here in Vermont so it felt like a regular training ride. I was conservative in the heat but felt I was riding at a good pace. This part of the course was crowded as well. Once I turned around and went back down the hills, I rode very carefully and stayed out of trouble on the descents. Many triathletes do not have strong bike handling skills. So I stayed out of my aero bars and played it safe to avoid collisions. Sadly there was a very bad crash going down that hill later on which involved several riders. I heard it looked very bad. I wasn’t able to find out if everyone was OK. My thoughts go out to these athletes. It is a very scary and sobering reality of triathlon, especially with so many riders out there having varying degrees of skills. Once I got down the hill, the transition area was about a mile away and I was thrilled to be almost done and in one piece! I was a bit disappointed in my slower time but I knew I did my best to be safe, healthy and ready to run in the heat.

 

The Run:

The run is always where I shine in a triathlon! Even with a competitive cycling background, my true talent is running. Last year I didn’t make it two miles before I had to stop with a stress fracture. This year it was so amazing to run past that place of agony and continue on without any pain. I made a note to myself to feel gratitude about my comeback this year. It was a special feeling being out there that afternoon! Our health is our wealth and being healthy this year was such an amazing gift! This 70.3 will always be special for me with such a strong run a year after a devastating injury.

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The plan was to start out conservatively at maybe 8 minutes per mile and see how I felt. While I always run much faster in cool temperatures, I was running well in the heat compared to most out there that day which was a pleasant surprise. Maybe I am pretty good in the heat! But I always respect the heat and ran the first couple miles at a comfortable 7:55 pace. There were also some small rollers in the beginning to slow the pace down a little bit. Going through the quaint town of Tremblant, it was so great to see so many people out to support us with cheering and even water hoses. The crowds were so enthusiastic and I loved hearing my name called out (our names were on our bibs). The aid stations were abundant on the course with plenty of water and ice. I was even putting ice down my jog bra and down the back of my shirt. I would pour water down my back at almost every aid station and run through every hose. This is key in order to get through a hot running race.

A good chunk of the run is on a newly paved bike/rec path which is really awesome. It was hot with not as much shade as I had expected but I could get into a good rhythm running between aid stations. I was feeling very hot and the sun was oppressive but it was all manageable for me out there. I felt I was in good control of myself and pacing well. I was surprised at how many people I was constantly passing. Strong, lean, muscular men were being left behind. This was a good confidence booster for me. I was finally realizing I that was getting my running fitness back.

I saw Scott on the way out while we were on the bike/rec path and caught up to him on they way back. He was having a tough time running and walking. He said he was OK so I continued onwards. I knew he could always walk the last 5-6 miles if worse came to worse. He’s tough! I was still surprised I was doing so well averaging between paces of 7:30 to 7:43. I was getting pretty hot with 4 miles to go so I just took it one mile at a time. At one point I looked up and saw the ski area and thought how beautiful this course was. I was also impressed by the beauty when running along Lake Mercier. It’s truly a gorgeous run!

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As I made my way through town I was so happy to run through more hoses to cool off briefly. It was a gradual uphill which felt very hard. I did manage to catch up to a woman in the 35-39 age group. We ran together until the last half mile before the village. We exchanged a few kind words and I introduced myself. It was nice to run with Lisa and have a bit of support the last few miles. It was the most interaction with anyone I had during the whole race. Before running through the village she took off to catch someone in her age group. I was thrilled to finally get to the village but knew the last hill up the cobblestones was going to be challenging. But I did pretty good and even passed a couple runners. It was hot and hard but I was elated to be almost done. It was such a thrill on the final stretch with the cheering crowds. I was gaining on a woman and decided to sprint to the finish and overtake her at the very end. I didn’t know if she was in my age group or not and didn’t want any regrets. So I ran like a mad woman to the finish. It felt great to cross that finish line! And having Lisa there at the finish was icing on the cake! Thanks so much Lisa!

 

beer MT scott vegan burger

 Post race beer, vegan burger and fries at Fat Mardi’s

 

Me MT village post race

Post-race shopping in the village

Overall I highly recommend coming to Mont Tremblant to do a sprint, 5150, 70.3 or a full Ironman. The course will be crowded and there is always the danger element on the bike course, but it’s special place to experience. Just be careful and stay out of trouble on the bike course! The race organizers in Mont Tremblant are amazing and the volunteers are the best ever. This is probably one of the most well-run 70.3s in the Ironman circuit. And the people in the town love the racers and the events. You feel truly welcomed in Mont Tremblant. Thank you to all the wonderful volunteers and the people who made this happen.

Me post race swim lac tremblantSwimming in Lac Tremblant the morning after the race!  

While I still have more training and work to do on my swimming, I am excited to come back in August for the full Ironman Mont Tremblant! Stay tuned!

medal mt

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The Cold Wet Race Report: Stowe Triathlon 5-15-2016

group bike stowe tri

Nice Photo from the Stowe Triathlon facebook page

Last weekend we both raced in the Stowe Triathlon in Stowe, Vermont on 5-15-2016. Our friend Scott M. has been raving about this early season sprint triathlon for a while now. Last year it didn’t quite fit into our training schedule and I am not a fan of triathlons with a pool swim to be honest. But this year I am returning from a very bad stress fracture in my hip which I incurred last summer (femoral neck). This was my first race in almost a year. So it was a good tune up and great mental practice for our upcoming half and full Ironman in June and August this summer. Plus it was very close by!

The Stowe Triathlon is a fun local event. It is simplistic without timing chips, but it is still well organized and the volunteers are super friendly and do a great job. Thanks everyone! The race is held out of the Swimming Hole which is an athletic facility with a beautiful 25 meter pool. This is where I learned to swim back in the winter of 2012 after incurring a 3 month long running injury. So this pool is near and dear to my heart. It’s very clean, clear, and has views of Mount Mansfield and the ski trails. If anyone had told me I’d be racing in it someday, I would have thought they were crazy as swimming 10 laps was a big deal back then.

group photo pre swim scott M and Julie

 Julie, me, Scott M. and my Scott – thanks for the photo Barbara M.

Since I am a numbers person who loves race data I’ll give out the statistics right off. I was the second female overall. First place went to our awesome local professional Ironwoman, Jessie Donavan. She’s amazing! I had to fight for second place as Julie is super strong and was only about 49 seconds behind me. Scott was the 5th male overall and beat me by a few minutes. Congrats Scott! Here are the top ten results (out of 52 people). The run time includes the transitions. The bike course was different this year and the cold, rain and wind made the times slower than last year from what I understand.

swim             bike                               run

1  289 Arthur Mathisen      40-49 M   1  7:08     2   35:03    1   42:11    2   19:46  1:01:57
2  270 David Connery         40-49 M   13  8:16    1   34:50   2   43:06    5   21:25  1:04:31
3  291 Scott Moylan            40-49 M    7  7:36     3   37:04    3   44:40    6   21:31  1:06:11
4  279 Sean Fleming            30-39 M   3  7:18     4   39:01    4   46:19    3   20:17  1:06:36
5  393 Jessie Donaven         40-49 F   11  7:59    5   39:35    5   47:34    9   22:31  1:10:05
6  283 Scott Holsten            40-49 M  10  7:55    6   40:46    6   48:41   12   23:58  1:12:39
7  264 Walter Bean              15-21 M   14  8:32   10   43:41   8   52:13    4   20:45  1:12:58
8  300 Chris Shaffer            40-49 M  16  8:43    9   43:33    9   52:16    7   22:06  1:14:22
9  282 Joyce Holsten           40-49 F    17  8:47    7   42:48    7   51:35   10   23:24  1:14:59
10 386 Julie Viau                  30-39 F    8  7:45   13   45:54   11   53:39    8   22:08   1:15:47

We arrived at the Swimming Hole a bit too early which is usually how we roll when it comes to races. I like to have plenty of time to get organized and warmed up. However because the pool swim had 5 different heats, I didn’t start racing until after 9am. I was in the 4th heat. And my short quick warm up in the pool was about an hour and a half earlier. So I recommend getting there a little bit later for the next time.

The Swim

my pre swim start

The swim was 500 meters (10 laps) which is now very reasonable for me. However, this was not a stellar swim for me even with all the master swims in Williston week after week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and many Saturdays. Without a proper 1,000+ yard warm up with a few sprints, doing 10 fast laps cold was hard for me. This is because I have anxiety issues in the beginning of triathlon swims. My heart rate spikes in the beginning if I go out too hard without being warmed up and I have trouble getting it to back down. Plus I am a long distance person with all my sports so sprinting is never easy or natural for me. So without a good warm up right before my heat, I had to start out slowly and build up. However my heart rate took a while to stabilize and I was never able to swim as fast as I am capable of doing. This is an area that truly needs work on my part. On a positive note, It was great to share a lane with Julie who is such a fast swimmer. Luckily she only lapped me once Smile.

swim start stowe tri

The only true problem with the swim was that my counter only counted 9 laps when I was finished with 10. So I swam another lap. But after that I showed the counter that my Garmin had down 550 meters. And Julie vouched that she only lapped me once, not twice so I did indeed swim my 10 laps. This caused a problem for the bike race as my name wasn’t called off when it should have been and I ended up riding 10 seconds after my real start time. It wasn’t a big deal as it wouldn’t have made a difference on my placing 2nd. Overall while my swim was slower than I had hoped for, it was a great learning experience for sure!

The Bike

me on bike pre race

Thanks Barbara for another good photo – I wore a running jersey over my tri kit

Once I dried off from the swim and got dressed it was drizzling lightly outside. The big question of the morning was “what are you wearing for the bike?” It was 45F but windy with the potential to rain. And once I got out there it started to rain pretty hard. To make matters worse my Garmin didn’t get satellites after the pool swim so on the first mile of the bike I was playing around with scott and scott on bikes my Garmin on dangerous conditions pedaling fast. After turning it off and back on and setting the lap button I finally had GPS to see how fast I was going and log my ride and heart rate. So while the course is supposed to be about 14 miles I am not sure on the exact distance. This was a surprisingly slow bike ride compared to what I have been doing in training. But the rain and wind slowed things down a lot for me. The wind made my race wheels feel like sails and pushed me around throughout the course. And after finally healing from a broken hip, I didn’t want to take chances on the wet roads. I was rather conservative on the downhills (not a flat course) on Barrows and Luce Hill roads. And I didn’t rip through the turns either on my skinny slick tires. I had so much more to loose than gain out there. But heck it was still a good ride and I passed so many people. I passed Julie and the fastest female swimmer somewhere before the turnaround on Nebraska road. And I was the second female cyclist out there and 7th overall with the men. I did enjoy riding back and forth with one guy on a fast looking tri bike. It was nice to meet Chris after the race who was just head of me by 37 seconds overall.

The Run

me at finish stowe tri

Barbara is awesome for taking this photo! Thank you!

My run can be analyzed as a great run or my slowest recorded 5K at 21 minutes and 16 seconds (per Garmin). However after all that I’ve been through the last year it’s a true gift that I’m racing at all right now.  11 months ago I had such a bad stress fracture in the top of my femur bone (hip) that I was on crutches for almost 12 weeks and not able to run for 7 months. And when I think about doing the run-walk-run-walk protocol only a few months ago, I am so happy to be currently uninjured and getting my running legs back!

This was my first time being sidelined for over 7 months and I kept forgetting it would take a while to get my fitness, speed and endurance back. While my awesome coach Lisa is helping me make a comeback, it doesn’t happen overnight. However when I finished the 5K portion of the triathlon, I was very disappointed because I was about a minute slower than previous sprint 5K races. I had forgotten how far I had come this year. Of course being cold from the wet bike ride, it is no surprise I wasn’t running faster. The brutal weather certainly made a dent in everyone’s times! And speaking of times, my transition time from the bike to run was over two minutes as my hands were almost too cold to tie my darn running shoes! (speed laces are coming for future races!)

My first mile started off at a 6:30 pace which was a bit overly ambitious. My pace eventually ended up being around 7 minutes for the first mile which was not terrible but I didn’t feel I could run much faster without blowing up. I felt like I had an empty “gas tank”. The next mile wasn’t a whole lot better but I trudged onwards. It was nice to see Jessie Donavan running well on the way back. After I got through the turnaround I saw Julie rounding the corner. I knew I had to pick it up or I would loose my second place. I kept thinking of what Lisa would do so I really pushed hard. Still I wasn’t running that fast. The last mile was hard but it was better than the first two at a good sub 7 pace. It is also slightly downhill so that helped! I looked back on the last 1/3 mile to see if Julie was closing in, but luckily she wasn’t in sight. I felt some relief but still pushed hard to finish strong. My overall pace was a 6:56 after hitting my Garmin.  That is slower than my normal half marathon pace but I now realize it was the best I had in me on that cold typical New England day.

me getting award st tri

Thank you Jeremy Bradley for putting on such a nice local event! Well done! And thank you for a cool prize. We have been enjoying Jenga made by Burton Snowboards. While Jessie was the overall winner and fastest in the 40-49 female age group, I was given the prize for that age group. But I’m still happy with being the second place overall female after a tough, cold and wet day at the races!

I can’t forget to mention the best part of the whole day! I really enjoyed hanging out with Scott M. and his family, Julie, Jessie and many other nice triathletes. Even when race conditions are difficult and challenging, it’s the people at the races that makes racing so much fun and fulfilling!

scott and scott Scott and Scott talking shop!

Thank you for stopping by!

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Femoral Neck Stress Fracture: Rising from the Ashes

me crutches IB

 Swimming at Indian Brook Reservoir right after incurring my stress fracture (big no no)

I’ve had a lot of injuries over the past 5 years and have always gotten right back to business and training. But a femoral neck (top of femur bone) stress fracture was the worst injury of my athletic career. About a year ago in May 2015 I started to have some right hip soreness. By the end of May after a 5 hour hard bike ride and 1 hour run, I had a very sore right hip. And from there it never got better. I thought it was a strained hip flexor and did take a week off from running. However the soreness persisted mostly when I attempted to run. My mileage was so much less than marathon training but my body was just tired from the many hours of swim/bike/run. I still wanted to attempt the Mont Tremblant Half Ironman on June 21, 2015 which was the biggest mistake and the day where the bone definitely “cracked”. I did have a decent swim and a good bike ride but after a mile into the run I was limping pretty badly. I couldn’t believe how painful it was to run even slowly! At about 1.7 miles I had to stop and have a volunteer drive me back to the medical center. My hip seized up so much that I couldn’t even get out of the golf cart and had to have a wheel chair. It was one of my toughest days not being able to finish a race and incurring such a severe injury.

me tri bike MT 70.3

 Mont Tremblant 70.3 bike course June 2015

A week later I had an appointment at Dartmouth Hitchcock in New Hampshire for an MRI. I was crushed when I received the bad news that morning from my doctor. I would be on crutches for the next 11-12 weeks. It was bad, very very bad. A femoral neck stress fracture can take anywhere from 4-8+ months to heal. It’s one of the worst injuries a runner can receive.  I was crushed as my Ironman dreams went down the toilet for that summer. I new it would be long time before I could run. And to add insult to injury I came down with a bad case of pneumonia. I’m not joking! I had hit rock bottom. For July and August I was injured and sick, living mostly on my sofa. And much to my fear I gave Scott my pneumonia so he was not able to do his Ironman either. It was a real sh*t show at our house last summer to say the least. It couldn’t have gotten much worse.

In regards to training, I bit off more than I could chew that spring. I thought I could handle a full time job along with a 20-26 hour training week. Boy was I wrong! I also made a few training errors by moving some running hill work right before a 16 mile club time trial on the bike. And my body may not have had enough time to recover for the big weekend of training. The doctors said they believed it was over training that caused my stress fracture. Also I might have been slightly underweight as well. My body BMI was well under 20 and many coaches want their female triathletes to be at least 20. My blood work came back stellar and my bone density scan was normal for a female in her mid 40s. I just did too much. It happens. There was a well known female pro triathlete who also had the same stress fracture as me last summer. And I have learned that this type of stress fracture is not uncommon for runners and triathletes.

cross bike maine  me in ocean

Maine in September – doing a little too much!

The body does heal and I did get better slowly. By the end of December my 3rd MRI showed more than 90% healing. My doctor was trilled with that since my second MRI in September showed the fracture line had increased. That was bizarre since my hip was feeling progressively better and I was walking around, running on the Alter G (at 20-30% of my body weight) doing some easy fat biking and swimming. It was hard to be patient but eventually I did get better.

me mtn bike rail trailMountain biking on the Rail Trail from Morrisville, VT – Oct 2015 

me running on bike path feb 2016

 Running on the Burlington Bike path in February 2016

me riding in Morrisville easter

Riding from Stowe up through Hyde Park in March 2016

I hired a wonderful new coach who is now working closely with me and watching my training almost on a daily basis. I feel I’m in good hands and trust her completely. She gave me my first easy week of training in January 2016 to be cautious. I started with the walk-run-walk-run protocol and eventually by February I was running outside without walk breaks.  I had also done a lot of “jogging” on the Alter G up to 95% of my bodyweight by the beginning January. But it was exciting to finally be running outside. We had a mild winter here in Vermont so there were many days where it wasn’t too cold to run. We also purchased a treadmill which has been a huge help in the road to recovery. I have never been a fan of the “dreadmill” but as I get older, I really have no interest in running when it’s –7F or in other silly winter weather. The computrainer is another important tool that has been helping me regain my bike fitness. Hard wattage workouts are new to me but very effective. I know they have been a huge help. And I can’t forget to mention the master swims on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The training and friendships have been one of the best parts of my week for the past 6+ months!

us in FL by lake

In March, we decided to visit my new Ironman coach in Clermont, Florida for a week. I wanted to work on my swimming and ride my bike outside in the sun. Vermont winters are long, dark and difficult and this was exactly what I needed. I also did get 3 very nice runs done during the week while still being conservative. The week was beautiful with temps in the mid 80s and sunny every day. It felt like paradise and I was happy all week long. I flew my tri-bike down and Scott rented a nice tri-bike during the week (he had to switch it with a road bike on the last 2 days due to a race and it being rented). We rode every day on the nice quiet back roads in Clermont and Minneola. It was nice to feel safe on the roads down there. The pool at the National Training Center (NTC) was the best aspect of the trip. It was our first time in an outdoor 50 meter pool. And I had swim lessons with Lisa and her husband Dave almost every day. It was super helpful! They are great teachers!

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National Training Center in Clermont, Florida with Lisa

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Running on the beautiful Apopka Loop Trail outside of Clermont, Florida

scott alligator lake louisaNo open water swimming for us in Florida!! Lake Louisa State Park

When we got back from Florida we began to volunteer each Friday evening during the next four weeks for Swimming Saves Lives. This is a volunteer program through the US Masters Swimming and it helps teach adults to learn how to swim. I’ve gotten so much out of our own masters swim program that I feel the need to give back! It’s a wonderful program and this was our second year helping people in the water. While it does benefit so many people (nationwide), I feel that I get a lot out of this program as well. I love helping people get involved with swimming, biking and running. It’s my true passion. I loved working with my student who was so eager and excited to learn to swim. At the end of the 4 weeks, she was swimming freestyle all the way across the pool. It was so satisfying for both of us. I look forward to helping out again next year and teaching more people how to swim and save their life!

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I recently got back from a business trip out in San Jose, California. My training has been going so well the last couple of months that I wanted to make sure I was able to run and swim out there between the conference and socializing with clients and co-workers. I did find another outdoor 50 meter pool at the San Jose University Aquatic Center and the Guadeloupe River trail, both close to the hotel and convention center. I always do love training in new places. I even had one of my awesome co-workers join me on a swim workout and early morning 8 miler! Thanks again Mike M!

San Jose Aquatic center

Guadeloupe river trail san jose

The Guadeloupe River trail was a bit sketchy in the morning with homeless people sleeping on the side which made me sad . I was glad to have company on Thursday morning. The pool was big and uncrowded, but not quite as clean as it looks. Band aides and bubble gum were among many things sited on the bottom of the pool. But it is a university pool, not the National Training Center. Still it was awesome to swim outside after being indoors all day at the conference.

Now that I’m almost back in full force there is a lot going on in May. On May 1st I finally participated in the Waterbury Gravel Grinder dirt road ride. It’s not a race but sorta is a race! I had a lot of fun riding Scott’s new Litespeed gravel bike since he was flying back to Vermont that morning. I’ll probably blog more about this when I do it again next year. It was great to see many cycling buddies.

me chris john gravel grinderWaterbury Gravel Grinder – post ride with Chris and John

So now I continue to train for the Mont Tremblant 70.3 on June 26, 2016 and the Mont Tremblant 140.6 on August 21st. I’m so excited to do our first Ironman together! And I have unfinished business at the MT 70.3!! Next week is the local Stowe Triathlon Sprint. That will be a good little tune up and super fun day. I haven’t raced in almost a year so it will be exciting to see how I’m coming along with my fitness. I’m not quite 100% yet but I’m getting there thanks to Lisa. I’m making a comeback! Stay tuned!

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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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“Joyce Holsten (205) is the first woman to cross the finish line Sunday for the Plattsburgh Half Marathon on the U.S. Oval.

(ROB FOUNTAIN/STAFF PHOTO)”

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.

scott at big stacey pool

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.

scott and I running half

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.

mr natural sign

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.

geuro's menu

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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