Race Report: JFK 50 Mile

Earlier this year I thought it would be “fun” to run a 100k, 50 miler, and marathon within an 8 week period. Alyssa was on board, and I guess I was delirious, and I went ahead and registered for the JFK 50 Mile, which touts itself as the country’s oldest ultramarathon. You can read more about the history of the race here: http://www.jfk50mile.org/history/

JFK would be 5 weeks post-Cloudsplitter and in my mind that would be more than enough time to recover and get ready to go again. However, I struggled to recover from Cloudsplitter. The most unexpected part for me was that the recovery was hard not only physically, but also mentally. I definitely underestimated how much that kind of effort would take out of me. I didn’t do much in the month after the race and my quality efforts were few and far between. I can recall one solid swim and one decent outside ride and a couple of good treadmill efforts, but really that was it. 

In light of that, a week or so before the race, I emailed Alyssa saying I presumed I wasn’t doing JFK. In what comes as a shock to no one who knows her, Alyssa replied that she presumed I *WAS.* She told me to just go out and “cruise” for 50 miles. Mind you, I couldn’t even remember the last time I did a long run, between taper and recovery from Cloudsplitter. JFK has some strict time cut offs throughout the course and you have to finish in 13 hours. That seemed fairly aggressive to me, but Alyssa was convinced that so long as I kept moving, those cut offs wouldn’t be an issue. 

I was so uncertain about what I would be able to do that I told Jennifer (who would be spectating) and Megan (who would be running) not to mention anything about me running on social media. I had told a couple of friends that I wasn’t sure I would do it, but basically no one knew I was going for it except for Alyssa, my husband, my boss, and the girls.

I drove up to Hagerstown on Friday night and didn’t buy any swag because I thought the chances of me not finishing were pretty damn high (although I did buy Megan the cutest Maryland pom-pom hat).

Race Morning

If you’re thinking about doing this race, there are a couple of items to note from race morning. First, packet pick-up is a solid 20 minute drive from the race start, so if you stay by packet pick-up account for that when you’re planning your race morning schedule. Second, parking at the start is a total shit show. They really should have people there directing traffic. That is one of my few criticisms of the race. 

In any case, after I finally found parking, I met up with Megan in the school parking lot and we went inside for the athlete briefing. It was nice to be inside for this, although the bathroom lines were too long to even attempt a final pit stop before the race start. After the briefing, everyone walked together to the race start, which is maybe a quarter to half mile from the school.

Start and AT (15.5 miles)

Just like at Cloudsplitter, you start the course running uphill on the roads. Lots of people were walking this but I really didn’t want to get stuck behind a bunch of slowpokes on the trail, so I wasn’t sprinting or anything, but tried to keep moving. Megan and I stuck together, even thought it was semi-crowded.

We got on the Appalachian Trail (AT) together, and fairly early on we started talking to two woman we had been running with. This is when I met “H” who I ended up running the majority of the race with. 

The AT section was fairly uneventful. It was muddy and I did fall into the snow once (I was totally fine), but other than that, there isn’t much to report. What’s funny is that after Cloudsplitter, the AT section didn’t feel technical AT ALL until the very end. I think Cloudsplitter has forever changed my perception of what constitutes a “technical” trail.

You exit the AT and there is a big crowd waiting for you and cheering. A man said “Welcome to Waverton!” as we were descending to the road and it felt like I was in a movie. It was very cool!

46749893_10218310042885454_5324027411283574784_n

Towpath (through mile 42) 

The second part of the race is on the C&O Canal Towpath. H and I ran this entire thing together. Although calling it “running” might be generous. We “ran” 13 minute miles. We were slow and steady. We stopped at the aid stations to eat and drink, grab nutrition, refill packs, etc., but otherwise jogged the whole way.

Stopping and starting again at the aid stations was so painful (we would actually countdown “3-2-1” and then start running it was so bad getting started again) that we decided that walking was actually going to be worse than just maintaining a steady trot (lots of people were doing run/walk intervals and I honestly have no idea how their legs were handling that).

Through this entire section, I was SO good about my fueling. I learned my lesson from Cloudsplitter: no matter how tired, cranky, hurting, etc. you are in a race, you need to EAT. 

Somewhere along the towpath, we started doing some math and figured out that we might be able to break 12 hours, which was both an unexpected surprise and a great motivator to keep on chugging along!

Pavement (to the finish at 50+ miles)

By the end of the Towpath, H was really hurting. I gave her some ibuprofen (even thought she had been anti taking pain killers earlier in the race). I waited while she used the bathroom and then held back with her on the pavement for a time, but ultimately it was pretty clear I was feeling stronger than her and she told me I could go ahead. I felt bad since we had spent the entire day together, but I didn’t want to let the sub-12:00 finish slip through my grasp.

This section had been described to me as “rollers” but I actually didn’t think it was that bad (I always think “rollers” is a euphemism for big hills). I tried to continue with my slow and steady effort and slowly count down the miles one by one.

As in any race, these last few miles started to feel *very* long. A lot of people were run walking and it was getting a little annoying for me to pass them only to have them pass me and then walk again. But, I tried to focus on my own race. I kept doing the math, and realizing I would be well-under the 12 hour mark, which was quite unexpected, particularly in light of how I felt heading into the race.

I ended up crossing the line in 11:33, surpassing my expectations by a long shot!

I saw Jennifer and Megan at the finish and it was hilarious because Jennifer was very animated and clearly annoyed at herself for not having her phone out to take a picture of me crossing the line. That image will be in my brain forever when I think about this race.

In the end, while I liked this race, I’m not sure if it is one I will do again, just because the towpath is so monotonous, but I am glad I did it.

Now, I have to rest up for the Rehoboth marathon on December 8! If nothing else, I know I should be able to “cruise” for 26 miles!

Advertisements

Race Report: Richmond Half Marathon

I’m not exactly sure why or when, but sometime over the summer I decided to register for the Richmond Half Marathon on November 11.

It’s a convenient local-ish race and one I have quite a positive history with. While I’ve never run the half marathon distance, I’ve run the Richmond Marathon a total of three times. It was the site of my very first marathon (in 2009) and the third time I ran it (in 2014), I achieved a pretty big PR. Because of that, Richmond has always held a special place in my heart. Richmond is also known as “America’s friendliest marathon” and while that may be a bit of hyperbole, I have always appreciated the tremendous course support at the race.

Registering for the half distance this year created some training challenges, as I’d be coming off the Cloudsplitter 50k, just 5 weeks earlier on October 7. Suffice it to say, training for a trail 50k and training for a road half couldn’t be more different. The former requires a strength/endurance focus, while the latter, speed. I didn’t have much turnaround time – just three weeks – once I factored in recovery after the 50k and taper for the half. My training largely consisted of some of my “favorite” Team HPB speed sessions on the treadmill and one two-hour tempo run outside two weeks before the race. I was able to nail that tempo session, which made me feel fairly confident heading into Richmond, but you never know how you’ll feel on race day.

Speaking of race day, the weather leading up to race day was a bit of a puzzle for me. I usually run hot, but with temps predicted to be in the 20s, I wasn’t sure how to approach dressing for the race. I ended up packing three outfits with progressing levels of warmth – (1) capris and a lightweight long sleeve; (2) tights and a lightweight long sleeve; and (3) tights and a mid-weight long sleeve and a very lightweight wind vest. More on that shortly.

Richmond is always a Saturday race, which I normally love because you have Sunday to recover. However, this year, it presented some challenges for me. I had a work event the day before and it wasn’t something I could skip or leave early. My normal eating would also be thrown off, as lunch would be catered in and there weren’t any vegan options. I should have packed a PB&J, but hindsight is 20-20.

In any case, by the time I left the event and drove down to Richmond in rush hour traffic I was tired and starving. I’ve never, ever, moved so quickly to get in and out of an expo. I probably spent a total of two minutes running in, grabbing my bib and teeshirt, and running out. My bib number was 12666, by the way. Not a good omen.

IMG_2954

After I left the expo, I checked into my hotel (the Candlewood Suites, which I highly recommend if you’re doing this race!), ate spaghetti I packed from home, laid out all of my gear for the next morning, and went to bed.

On race morning, I settled on the medium warmth outfit – tights and a lightweight long sleeve. I followed my standard race morning routine with regard to breakfast, got in my car, and drove the ten minutes into Richmond only to realize that I didn’t have cash to park in the parking garage. #racemorningfail

Luckily traffic was light and I was able to scoot back to my hotel, grab cash, get back to the parking garage, and run to the start just in the nick of time. It definitely wasn’t an ideal way to start the morning.

By the time I got to the start line I was feeling really hot. I normally leave on a layer of throwaway clothes – at least a light shirt – at the start when it’s cold (and in this case, temps were in the low 20s), but I was so warm, the only extra layers I wore were gloves and a headband. I ditched the rest of my layers in the coral. I assumed I was warm because I had a bit of a frantic morning, but it ended up that I was coming down with a stomach bug – more on that in a bit.

My race strategy was similar to what I did at the Rehoboth Marathon in December 2016. I set my Garmin to only show my pace and distance for the mile (lap) I was in and as soon as the mile past, I put it out of my mind. I tried to focus on staying relaxed and getting into a rhythm, but I just didn’t feel right. I didn’t know I was getting sick at the time, so it was a mystery to me, but I just tried to focus on my cadence and nutrition. I’ve learned over the years that you can only focus on what you can control during a race.

At one point, the half course has an out and back section and I noticed there were some speedsters heading back as I was heading out. I figured I would probably see Alyssa during this stretch, so I moved to the right so I had a better line of sight. I did end up seeing her and I was able to give her a quick cheer. It gave me a boost, too, to see a familiar face.

I ditched my gloves and headband in the park (at about half way) and in retrospect, might have been better off in a tee shirt and arm warmers because it was warming up (or, I was warming up). I definitely should have worn sunglasses. It was really perfect fall racing weather with the brisk temps and sunny skies.

My only physical issue during the race was a tight left hip flexor, which I paused to stretch, but was otherwise able to work through.

The half marathon course was definitely not as scenic as I remember the full course being in my three prior Richmond Marathon experiences. Maybe that is true, maybe I am remembering incorrectly – OR, more likely, maybe I’ve been spoiled by all of the trail running I’ve been doing over the past year. In any case, between that, the cold temps keeping the spectators away, and not feeling quite 100%, I can’t say this was quite the usual Richmond experience for me. That being said, I kept my head in the game, focused on my nutrition, and ended up crossing the line in 1:56.28.

IMG_2957

Unfortunately, I didn’t have much of an opportunity to celebrate a solid race because after I got back my hotel and showered, I ended up getting quite sick with a stomach bug. I will spare you the details, but it was unpleasant to say the least and definitely not the ideal way to recover after a race effort (especially with a full marathon on the schedule just three weeks later).

The stomach bug was mostly better in about 24 hours, but I didn’t feel right for several days. With the short turnaround time to the Rehoboth Marathon, I didn’t have much time to rest and recover. Just one week post race I did a 3:30 easy effort so that I would get in at least one long endurance run before the full. That run actually went decently well, which was a pleasant surprise. I was even able to go to a “Friendsgiving” and have fun that evening, which is pretty good considering I ran over 21 miles.

Now, I’m tapering and focusing on nutrition, rest, and recovery for the next two weeks as I prepare for Rehoboth on December 2. I also want to keep stretching out the hip flexor so that I don’t have to worry about that on race day, and foam rolling to make sure I can stay injury-free for my last race of 2017. My goal in Rehoboth is to run a 4:10 or faster, which will be a challenge, but is certainly within the realm of possibility, as I ran a 4:11 and change there last year.

March Favorites

Here are five things I’m loving this month:

1) Vitacost. This website is officially a new obsession of mine. They not only carry all of my favorite vegan brands (Bobo’s Oat Bars, Larabars, Vega), but they also offer great pricing, free shipping on qualifying orders, quick delivery, fabulous customer service, and an awesome referral program! Speaking of the referral program, if you use my Refer-A-Friend code, you can save $10 off your order! Claim the offer here. My husband is on a low-carb diet and they have tons of products for him, too. They also carry ingredients that I cannot find in my local grocery stores. I cannot say enough about how impressed I am with Vitacost! You should definitely check them out!

I can purchase Bobo’s Oat Bars at a local health food store, but they only carry a few flavors. I am so excited to try some additional flavors I ordered from Vitacost.com.

IMG_2701

 

2) Oiselle Toolbelt Rogas. Oiselle just needs to take all of my money because their Spring 2015 line is fierce! There are SO many items I love (seriously, you should see my online shopping cart right now), but I wanted to highlight the new Toolbelt Roga shorts. I think these are brilliant! They are super practical for long runs because they are loaded with pockets. If you’ve read my blog before, you know I am a big fan of pockets in my tri gear, so I was so excited when I saw Oiselle’s CEO, Sally, wearing these awesome shorts at Oiselle Team camp last August. Since then, my friends and I have been stalking the Oiselle website waiting for these to arrive. I am so excited that they are finally here and cannot wait to give them a try! I ordered a pair in black and I am obsessively tracking my package as it travels across the country to my door. I will let you know when they arrive!

Toolbelt Rogas rock! (photo from Oiselle website)

toolbelt-pockets_0

 

3) Vega Sport Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Bars. I have used Vega protein powders for a while now, even prior to trying to cut animal products out of my diet, because they are the best-tasting protein powders I’ve tried. Yes, they are a bit more expensive, but the flavor is so much better, it has been worth it to me. While I love a nice thick, cool recovery smoothie after a hard workout, recovery bars are a more convenient option when I’m working out away from home. I usually have one stashed in my gym bag, one in my car, and one in my purse. That way, I know I always have something to eat after a big swim, ride, or run. The bars I used last year contain milk, so I have been searching for a vegan alternative to help fuel my muscles after training sessions this year. I am happy to report that the search is over. I recently purchased a box of Vega Sport Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Bars from Vitacost (I told you I’m obsessed) and they are delicious! Each bar is 260 calories and contains 15 grams of protein. These Non-GMO Project Verified bars are also gluten free. If you order from Vitacost right now, a 12-bar box is only $26.87 (the retail price is $41.79)! That’s an incredible deal!

 

4) Smashed Kale & Cannellini Bean Sandwich. If you saw my February favorites, you know I picked a smashed bean sandwich as my favorite recipe of the month and, believe it or not, I have another amazing smashed bean sandwich recipe to share this month! This Smashed Kale & Cannellini Bean Sandwich is super tasty and was easier (quicker) to make than the Sunflower sandwich. It has a great garlic flavor and the recipe made enough sandwich filling for an entire week’s worth of lunches! It’s a great way to add some kale to your diet, too. Try it and let me know how you like it!

This sandwich. So. Good.

image2

 

5) Matt & Nat Bag and Wallet. As you know, I’ve been eliminating animal products from my diet and the next logical step is incorporating cruelty-free living into other aspects of my life. I started investigating vegan handbags and came across Matt & Nat, a company I wasn’t previously aware of. I immediately fell in love with practically everything on the Matt & Nat website! Their bags are gorgeous and look just like leather. In fact, my mom – who is most definitely not a vegan – even ordered a new bag and wallet. I am now the proud owner of a Matt & Nat satchel and wallet and I am in love!! 

I knew I was going to like the style and color of my new bag and wallet, but I wasn’t sure about the quality, being unfamiliar with the brand and ordering online, but I am really impressed. I can definitely see myself purchasing more from Matt & Nat in the future. If you check them out, definitely read a bit more about the company. I think you will be impressed with their brand values and ethics.

My new Matt & Nat handbag! The photo doesn’t do it justice!

image1

 

What are some of your favorites this month?

 

 

February Favorites

No one has ever accused me of lacking enthusiasm. I’m either not interested, or I’m all in. Here are five things I’m loving this month:

1. Minimalist Baker Chickpea Sunflower Sandwich I recently tried the most delicious recipe from Minimalist Baker. This chickpea sunflower sandwich is AMAZING! I really can’t say enough about it. The recipe says the garlic sauce (which is made with hummus and lemon juice) is optional, but you really need to make it. It’s so tangy and bright. That may even be my favorite part of the entire sandwich. I added sliced tomato and avocado, but you could certainly add other toppings (lettuce, red onion, etc.).

The most amazing sandwich in the history of sandwiches.

IMG_2512

FullSizeRender

While I initially made a sandwich, I have subsequently put a scoop (okay, maybe more than a scoop…) of the chickpea mixture on greens with chopped tomato and avocado and the garlic sauce drizzled on top to make a salad. I’m sure I will be using the sauce on a zillion different things going forward. Both the sauce and the chickpea filling were quite easy to make. I think this will appeal to meat-eaters, as well. Make this recipe – you won’t be disappointed!

2. TRX at Machine M3 If you live in Northern Virginia, you must try a TRX class at Machine M3 in Vienna. One of my major goals for this year is to work on my strength. I know I’m not alone here – getting stronger seems to be a popular goal for many runners and triathletes, based on the blogs and social media posts I’ve read lately. Several people recommended TRX to me and I finally tried it a few weeks ago. The great thing about TRX is that there are always alternate versions of each exercise to make it harder or easier. For example, in my class, I do sit-ups with a weighted ball, but only extend the ball forward (easier), as opposed to holding it over my head (harder). I hope to eventually be able to do sit-ups with the ball over my head, but for now, I like that I have the option to modify and still benefit from the exercise. I think I may be the last person on Earth to discover TRX, but if you haven’t yet and are a runner or triathlete looking to improve your strength in 2015, I highly recommend trying it!

3. MooMotion Revolution Shorts I know I have raved about the MooMotion Revolution Shorts before on my blog and social media, but they are that fabulous, and I know people may be looking for new gear as their cycling mileage builds heading into the spring. These shorts are comfortable, flattering, and durable. I used two pairs for almost all of my training and racing last year and they still look as good as the day they arrived at my door (I say “almost” because I also had a pair of Rosa Tri Shorts in the rotation, and although they are beautiful, I didn’t wear those quite as often because they didn’t mix and match with as many tops). One of the features I appreciate most in the Revolution Shorts are the pockets. There are pockets on both the left and right sides of the shorts for holding gels or keys (you can even fit an iPhone in the pockets), which is perfect if you’re running off the bike. They come in classic colors (black, navy, charcoal), so you can mix and match them with any tri top or cycling jersey. If you have been looking for new tri/cycling shorts, you should definitely give these a try.

That’s me at Rev3 Poconos, wearing the Hudson Tri Jersey and Revolution Shorts.

REV3POCONO.00001-583

4. Bobo’s Oat Bars I recently discovered Bobo’s Oat Bars and they are absolutely delicious. These vegan bars are made in Colorado, from non-GMO, natural, and organic ingredients. They come in many flavors and every flavor I have tried so far has been outstanding. These bars really do taste homemade. I have been looking for a vegan fueling option for my long training rides this spring and summer and these are going to be perfect! They are also great as snacks with a little peanut butter on top! I’ve found them in a local health food store (Roberta’s in Fairfax, for anyone in the area) and my local CVS (a pleasant surprise), but you can also order them online from the company’s website.

5. Hoka Cliftons As you may remember, I had some issues with knee pain leading into the marathon last fall and the pain reappeared when I started building my running mileage again heading into the spring racing season. Alyssa suggested I explore some other shoe options and after trying several different shoes, I bought a pair of Altras. I liked the Altras, but I never felt quite comfortable in them. While the knee did seem to improve from the added cushioning the Altras provided, I was starting to have some other issues popping up during runs. I went to see my chiropractor, and she suggested I try Hoka Cliftons, as they would provide the cushioning to protect my knee, but have a slightly higher drop (Altras are zero drop). I’ve worn them a few times and already feel more comfortable in them than I did the Altras. I’m hopeful that these are going to work well for me and keep me injury-free this year.

My new shoes!

IMG_2481

I’m always looking for new things to try, so let me know in comments what you’re loving this month (I know it’s not the weather!).

 

 

 

Monthly Goals

I want to start off this post by thanking Kaleigh Gerlich for her awesome work on my blog. I am absolutely thrilled with the results! If you are looking to upgrade your site, I highly recommend getting in touch with her.

I recently tweeted about my monthly goals and I got quite a bit of positive feedback on the idea, so I decided to blog about it. I think it’s a really cool concept and I hope it takes off.

In sum, what I’m doing is setting monthly goals in lieu of making a New Year’s resolution for 2015. Each “goal” is really just a small lifestyle change, but they are cumulative and, my hope at least, is that by the end of the year all of these little changes will make a big difference.

I can’t take credit for the idea. I got the idea from our 2015 wall calendar, which includes space to write-in goals each month. I bought the calendar because it has health tips and each month features an inspirational phrase, such as: “Do Something Today That Your Future Self Will Thank You For” and “It’s Not About Being the Best, It’s About being Better Than You Were Before.” Since I’m always striving to “be my best self” I knew this was the perfect calendar for me the minute I laid eyes on it!

It has been well-documented that people often struggle with New Year’s resolutions and I understand why. Big, lofty goals are hard to maintain on a day-to-day basis for an entire year. In contrast, my small monthly goals (I’m doing two each month) are very “doable” and after thirty days should be an established part of my daily routine before I add the next set of goals.

For example, for January, my two goals were to diversify the vegetables on my plate by eating at least two different vegetables each day and to work on strength twice a week.

Chopping veggies for dinner.

IMG_2467

The vegetable goal sounds quite simple and it was, once I was mindful of it. I set the goal because I often get stuck in ruts of eating broccoli or spinach for days on end and I know that I need to have more variety of vegetables in my diet to get sufficient nutrients and to fuel my workouts and maximize my recovery. Over the course of the month, I ate over 20 different vegetables. I made my two-a-day goal – and far exceeded it – every day but one. And I have continued this goal into February. Because of this, I have experimented in the kitchen with vegetables I’ve never cooked before, such as radishes, green onion, and, most recently, bok choy.

Bok choy time!

IMG_2472

For the strength goal, I have taken a couple of classes at local rec centers and tried some exercises on my own to meet my twice weekly goal. More recently, I tried a TRX class and that is something I definitely plan to blog about soon!

My new strength routine – JUST KIDDING!

IMG_2421

For February, I am adding two new goals. One is to do a thorough foam roll after every single runno excuses! I don’t have time for injuries this year!

My foam rolling tweet got lots of positive feedback, which is why I decided to blog about my monthly goals.

IMG_2476

The second goal is to be reasonable in portioning out my desserts. I have a major sweet tooth and have no intention of completely eliminating sweets from my diet. However, I do want to avoid two cookies turning into six cookies. This is going to be a tough one for me, but I’m doing okay so far. One night when I really wanted something more for dessert, I had some dried apricots instead. Those are sweet, but at least have some nutritional value.

For March, one of my goals is going to be limiting the amount of sugar I put in my coffee (I can go a bit overboard in the mornings with the sugar!). I still have to decide on a second goal for March, but I’m thinking it may be something related to positive thinking/problem-solving when things aren’t going as planned.

Are monthly goals something you’ve tried or plan to try?

 

 

January Updates

My 2015 is not off to the most auspicious of starts. I’ve already dealt with both an injury and illness and we are less than a month into the new year! That being said, I’m trying to stay positive by telling myself I’m fortunate that I’m getting all of this bad stuff out of my system before race season starts (maintaining a positive attitude is one of my big goals for 2015!). Here are some updates:

Fairfax Four Miler

I had been planning to run the Fairfax Four Miler on New Year’s Eve, since it is a nearby, affordable race that I had heard a lot of positive things about from members of my local running group, Moms Run This Town (MRTT). I also thought it would be fun to try a New Year’s Eve race for the first time. Unfortunately, the knee issue I had leading up to the marathon flared up as soon as I started building my running mileage up again after some post-marathon down time. Because of that, I didn’t run much at all in the two weeks before the race and, even though four miles isn’t a very long run in the grand scheme of things, it’s long enough to feel the lack of run training. While I’m not planning to do a complete race report, I will sum it up by saying I didn’t have the best of races. I ended up running an average pace of about ten minute miles (39:35 chip time), which I was fine with, considering the circumstances, but obviously not really happy about. The good news is that although the knee hurt, it was much, much better and the pain was never unbearable (thanks, Dr. Grove!). I enjoyed seeing some of my MRTT friends before the race and it seemed appropriate to end the year with a run, since 2014 was such a great year for me running-wise.

Frozen 5K

Since the knee held up okay during the Fairfax Four Miler, I decided at the last minute to sign-up for the Frozen 5K just a few days later, which had turned into a Team HPB race. Alyssa and Leslie would be battling it out for the win, with Katie not far behind, and I would be just trying to survive until the finish! During our warm-up jog, I told Katie that I would be happy enough if I could pull out 9:00 minute/mile pace because of my lack of running and that is about where I ended up – 27:58 (chip time), 28:11 (gun time). Well off my PR pace, to be sure, but I’ll take it!

The day after the 5K, I woke up with a cold that got progressively worse throughout the week. Almost two weeks later, I’m still dealing with a bit of a cough and congestion, but feeling much better than I was. I tried to keep up with training throughout the cold and I, generally, did well with that. I only took two (non-consecutive) days off and did some pretty big swims despite the cold, so I am happy with that.

New Shoes

In light of the knee issue, we decided it made sense for me to explore some new shoe options (I’ve worn Saucony Kinvaras for the last couple of years). After trying on many, many pairs of shoes, I bought a pair of Altra running shoes for the first time. Specifically, I bought a pair of Intuitions (2.0 version). I wore them for both races. They have a very wide toe box and more cushioning than I am accustomed to in my Kinvaras. So, they feel a bit odd. I’m sure I’ll get used to them, but for now, I’m still feeling a bit awkward in them. In fairness, some of that may also be attributable to the lack of running, generally, and hopefully both of those things will sort themselves out as I get a few more miles under my belt.

photo-15

Swim Camp

I just finished up a block of swim-focused training that went very well. I swam a ton – five to six days a week, including a 60×100 which is my second longest swim ever (I did 75×100 at Charlottesville camp last summer). This is my second year of “swim camp” and I have to say that I really love it. It actually makes me like swimming. I think seeing improvements in my speed helps build my confidence in the pool and confidence is a powerful thing. Hopefully this is a sign of positive things to come with my swimming this year.

Cooking

And, finally, I am happy to report that I have been cooking lots of delicious, nutritious meals. This is something that I have always wanted to do, but I’ve never been able to stick with. I have some very big running and triathlon goals for 2015 and I know I am going to need to eat right if I want to accomplish them.

(top to bottom: bean and vegetable soup; Asian noodle soup; and simple biryani with chickpeas)

IMG_2380-1

IMG_2394

IMG_2388

How is your 2015 going so far?

 

 

 

Liebster Award

Thank you to my Oiselle teammate Lisa Holt for nominating me for a Liebster Award!

Liebster Award

This is an award that is given by bloggers to other bloggers to bring attention to their blogs and to let their readers learn a bit about themselves. The nominator “nominates” bloggers for the award and asks each of them to answer a series of questions. The nominees answer the questions, and then nominate bloggers and the process starts all over again. In my particular case, Lisa asked 11 questions.

Here are my answers to Lisa’s 11 questions:

1. How did you choose your blog name? I never really named my blog. I’m not sure why, but here we are.

2. What is your favorite thing to write about? I always want to write about long training rides or runs, but rarely do. Maybe I’m too tired afterward. Most often, I blog about races, since I think they are more interesting.

3. Why did you start blogging? I started blogging for a couple of reasons. One was that I wanted an outlet to “talk” about my training. My husband loses interest after the first 30 seconds. Tops. Another reason is was that I wanted to be able to document my progress training for and competing in races. I actually wish I had started this sooner – whether in a blog or in a journal – so that I could look back and read about my highs and lows training for various events. I really wish I had done this for my first marathon, especially, and that I had tried to put into words the pure joy I felt after I finished that race – achieving something I wasn’t sure I would actually be able to do. I remember some of those feelings, but I’m sure not all of them. This year, I had a major running breakthrough. After running 10 minute miles for 5 years, I’m all of a sudden running 9 minute miles seemingly overnight and it’s nice to be able to record how I’m feeling as I go through this major (and surprising!) change in my running.

4. What kind of workout makes you feel the best after it is all over? Really long bikes and runs always make me feel very accomplished. Lots of people can go fast, but I think fewer people are willing to go out and spend 4 hours on their Saturday on a bike. But, maybe I just say that because I’m not fast 😉

5. What has been your proudest racing memory/moment? Hands down, finishing my first marathon, the Richmond Marathon, in 2009.

6. Why did you start running/triathlons? I started running regularly in the fall of 2008, although I had started and stopped quite a bit before that. I did my first tri in 2012 and it was one of the most exciting and fun things ever. It was a sprint, which I think helped. It went too quickly for me to have time to think! I started running and doing triathlons for self-improvement purposes. I think it’s good to challenge yourself to do new things, especially things that require discipline and hard work to achieve.

7. What is your “A” race or biggest fitness goal for 2014? Finishing my first half iron distance race, and finishing it strong. I have two planned, so that gives me two chances.

8. Name 5 songs on your iPod. I’m assuming this isn’t limited to workout songs, since I rarely listen to music when I workout, so here are a few of my favorites, chosen randomly as I scroll through my iPhone library: Greatest Love of All by Whitney Houston (can’t not sing this one at the top of my lungs when it comes on!); Sand in My Shoes by Dido (always makes me want to go to the beach); Forever and Ever, Amen by Randy Travis (a classic); Rhythm of Love by the Plan White T’s (the soundtrack for my wedding photo slideshow, so it always brings back great memories); and my favorite song of all time, Something in the Way She Moves by James Taylor.

9. What is your favorite race and why? Probably the Richmond Marathon. I have done it twice and it will always hold a special place in my heart since it was my first marathon.

10. If you could give your 16-year old self a piece of advice, what would it be? I would say that your value as a person comes from inside, from who you are. Don’t be so worried about what other people think. Still working on this one, but I really wish I had that perspective then.

11. Are you going to pass on the torch and nominate 11 fellow bloggers? I’ve nominated 5 of my favorite running/triathlon bloggers, although knowing that there are all very (very) busy people, I will forgive them if they don’t play along. If nothing else, I just want to share their blogs, since I enjoy each of them!

Gretchen: http://energizermomma.blogspot.com

Kelli: http://destinationcortina2014.blogspot.com

Nathalie: http://thespandexlife.blogspot.com (best blog name, ever!)

Katie: http://1bed1bath6bikes.blogspot.com

Alexandra: http://blog.lexielovestorun.com

Here are the 11 questions I’d like them to answer:

  1. When and why did you decide to start blogging?
  2. What is your proudest training or racing moment?
  3. What is the strangest thing you’ve ever seen on a long ride or run?
  4. What is your favorite post-workout reward or treat?
  5. What is your favorite running or tri-related piece of clothing or equipment?
  6. What is your favorite race and why?
  7. What is your least favorite part of training and how do you overcome it?
  8. What is your favorite quick and easy weeknight dinner recipe?
  9. What race is at the top of your bucket list?
  10. If you could tell someone who doesn’t run why they should start in just one sentence, what would you say?
  11. If you could have dinner with one current or former professional runner or triathlete who would it be?