Must Be The Weather

It is officially fall today. And for the past couple of days we’ve had perfect fall weather. Crisp mornings, warm afternoons and chilly nights. No humidity and bright, blue sunny skies. This is my favorite time of the year on Long Island.

I was walking at this time of year last year, having started my fitness quest in July, but I wasn’t running yet. That didn’t start until November, and then it was indoors, on the treadmill. Saturday, after 5 days off from doing anything, I went running. It was so gorgeous and I felt so strong, I ran a full three miles at a harder-than-usual pace for me. Could have been because it was chilly starting out? All I know is it was one of my best runs from a perspective of feeling strong and enjoying myself.

Sunday, my legs reminded me that I shouldn’t really take 5 days off and then run hard. Ouch. I went swimming on Sunday to try to loosen up, but ended up going much farther than I expected, swimming about 1100 yards. By Sunday afternoon, I was sore all over! But it was a good sore.

The nice thing is that when I got up this morning, I felt good again. No more muscle pain. And hubby was home from work today and could take our daughter to work. So I got to go running again in the spectacular weather this morning. I ran 2.5 miles this morning (because I did have to come home and get ready for work) but surprisingly, I was able to run good and hard again. I figured today would be a slower run because my legs were still a little fatigued from Saturday. I don’t know what’s giving me the extra pep in my step, but I’ll take it.

It must be the weather.

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I’m Back On The Run

I went running this morning. It was a great run. The weather was perfect, my legs felt great, my breathing was controlled and consistent and when I finished my 3-mile run, I knew I still had my running mojo.

I say “still had it” because I have this weird phenomenon that happens to me after a race or even after a few days off from running. And I had a few days off  this week, five to be exact. After my race on Sunday, I didn’t get any exercise at all for the rest of the week. My schedule was just nuts last week.

I knew had to get back out there no later than today. After races, because they are tougher, and a few days away from running, I start to develop this irrational fear that I won’t be able to do it again. Somehow, after a few days off, the fitness level I’ve worked so hard to achieve will just disappear. Does this happen to anyone else?

The longer I wait, the more apprehensive I get. So today when I got up, got dressed and got ready to head out the door, I was armed with my arsenal of choices. I could go for a longer run (3.2 miles), a shorter run (2.5 miles) or I could walk. I can always walk.

I procrastinated a bit this morning. I tried to set RunKeeper on my iPhone but that just didn’t seem to want to work, so I walked back home and left it there. Now I was going to just run for running’s sake.

I set back out, starting with my walking warmup and a funny thing happened. Maybe it was the crisp morning air, or even just the week’s rest, but I almost felt like my legs were saying, “Now? Can we go now?”

When I started running, it felt like I’d been doing it all of my life. No nagging knees and I felt like I had more push than I’d had even before the race. I opted for the 3.2-mile loop because it would have been a shame to waste feeling that good on a shorter run. Maybe rest periods aren’t so bad after all.

Today’s was possibly the best run I’ve ever had. Maybe it was the chill in the air. Today though, I felt strong the whole way and I was reminded that I really do like this running thing. And I’m not even training for a race right now, although I do plan to tackle a 5K or two before the weather turns too cold.

On a side note, thanks to Jill from Finishing Is Winning for putting me in the spotlight on her blog as this week’s Props Wednesday! I was so honored.

Triathlon Sunday To Marathon Workweek

Have you ever had one of those weeks where there doesn’t feel like there’s time to breathe? That’s my week this week. Work deadlines, outside obligations like doctor’s visits and vet visits have kept me on the run all week (and not in the I finished a 5K in under 30 minutes kind of way!).

I’ve gone from the high of my triathlon to the week from well, you can fill in the blanks. And while I have lots of blog posts milling around in my head, I have no time this week to write them. So I’m letting you know I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth. I’m still feeling mighty proud of Sunday’s accomplishment. And I will be back, just as soon as the insanity subsides.

If not sooner, I will be posting on Saturday.

Triathlon Trek Women Race Day Rocked!

In my Fat Girl 2 Fit Girl shirt, holding my medal to the side! Nice red face.

In my Fat Girl 2 Fit Girl shirt, holding my medal to the side! Nice red face.

Race Day Rocked! I’ve finally awoken from my post-race french fry coma and am coherent enough (I hope) to put a blog post together!

As of last night, I still wasn’t 100% sure I wanted to compete today. By last night, I knew I would be competing but my nerves were a bit jangly (there comes a point where there’s just no turning back). I had to get up super-early and the weather was still a little iffy for this morning. I ate a nice big plate of pasta and chicken, got my race gear ready and hit the bed at 9:30 last night so I’d be bright-eyed at 4:30 this morning, when I had to get up. It would have been nice if I could have slept. But, worrying about waking up had me up ever 20 minutes or so all night.

I ate my English muffin this morning, got dressed, and loaded up the car with hubby (can I just say how great he is to get up that early and go to these things with me? It’s so nice too to see that familiar face when you’re coming in on the bike and the run!). Made sure I had all my gear and my chip, etc. All set and we headed out in the dark over to Eishenhower Park, a 45-minute ride.

As I was bringing my bike into the transition area aroun 5:50, they were already announcing that they wanted to start lining us up for the swim, so I quick got my stuff ready, grabbed my swim cap and goggles and headed to the pool. It was a little chilly this morning to be romping around in just a bathing suit, but I had my nerves to keep me warm! Once in the pool area though, I started chatting with all the other women competing and nerves turned to excitement as everything got underway. While we were lining up in number order, Sally Edwards was giving an inspirational speech to get us pumped. Unfortunately, the sound was bouncing off the walls and we couldn’t make out a word she said. We cheered anyway!

They actually lined us up in the pool, about 10 at a time and had us start 10 seconds apart. This was better than jumping in the pool at the last race, but the water was mighty cold. Gets you going!

I even passed a few women in the swim part of the race this morning. I had a good strong swim and shaved 9 seconds off my first time. My shoulder didn’t get twingy once. In triathlon swims (pool or open water), having to pick your head up to see where the other swimmers are so you don’t get knocked out slows things down. Overall though it was smooth race and I felt good getting out of the water.

I promised myself this morning that I would pace. At the last race, I pushed hard in the swim and the bike and had nothing left for the run. I was determined today to RUN the run, all 3.1 miles of it! And I did it!

I.ran.the.whole.way!

I ran slow, but there was no walking. That in and of itself was a triumph for me and made this a crazy-good race!

After the swim, T1 took me 3.19. Again, socks, wet feet… a little tricky. But I pulled my clothes on, ate some Sports Beans from Jelly Belly (love those!!), took a swig of water and set out on my bike. The sky was brightening and while the road was still a little wet from last night, there was no rain this morning. The ride was smooth, well-marked and went pretty well. I realized when I got on the road that my front tire was a little low, but it was ok. A pretty strong breeze kicked up on the fourth loop, but the course was flat and it wasn’t too bad. Total bike time for 9 miles was 39.42 (averaged 13.5 mph). The bike is a leg I still really need to work on, but I was pleased with finishing the 9 miles in under 40 minutes. That was my goal.

The run. Ah, what can I say about the run? I RAN IT!

Racked the bike back in T2, ate some more Sports Beans and drank another swig of water and hit the porta-potty before heading out of T2 (2.34 cause of the pee break). It made all the difference though when I headed out for the run and I was so grateful for the bathroom, as disgusting as it was). You would think, all women, clean potties….nah. I guess everyone was rushing. I would have liked it, but there was no sitting in that thing.

I started the run really slow, like turtle slow, but I knew if I was going to make the 3.1 miles, it was a must. At least I was running or using that motion anyway. For the first mile, my legs were still lead and I had a little trouble regulating my breathing. When we got to the first water stop at mile 1 (seriously I think it was more like 1.5 miles), I was starting to get my rhythm back. I tried to take water there, but kind of spilled it all over myself. I’m not coordinated enough to run and drink at the same time.

There was one woman right alongside me the whole time who would walk a bit (I’d pass her) then she’d run and pass me and then she’d walk and I’d pass her again. I ended up coming in ahead of her in the end, and since I was the runner/walker in my last race, this felt kind of good.

Lots of other women passed me on the run, but that was ok because my run today was for me. A lot of women also had iPods which we were told were a no-no. I would have loved to have my music with me, but I didn’t. Maybe next time.

Mile two seemed to go by a bit faster than mile 1, and there was another water stop. I actually stopped for a second here to take a swig of water so I’d get it in my mouth and then ran on again. By mile three, I had my legs back, my breathing was normal again and I picked up my pace a little more. There was a downhill, and I love to run faster on those but my knees were not having any of that so I had to keep that a little slower than I’d have liked. All through the run, I kept hearing Sally’s voice from yesterday saying to remember that “Slow is fast.”

Once I got to the downhill, the music was blasting and you could hear people cheering on the ladies crossing the finish line so it was easy to pick it up and rock it into the chute. As I crossed the finish line I was high-fived by Sally Edwards herself! A brush with celebrity. She gave me a hug and told me I was an awesome triathlete when I went over to thank her for her inspiration too.

My run time was a bit slower than I’ve been in training, but that was ok. 37.49 for 3.1 miles, which paced out to a 12.36 pace. I’ll take it. It’s better than the 13.26 pace in the last race where there was lots of walking.  And there’s plenty of time now to get faster before next season.

Post-race, hubby and I stuck around for a bit, cheering other ladies across the finish line. I ran to get a banana at the food tent (I was starving!). They weren’t posting splits so I decided to head home, get a shower and something to eat.

But I should have stayed! I found out when I checked splits today that I actually took third place in my category! I competed in the Athena division (women over 150 pounds) and I came in third! Not sure if there was a prize for that, but I imagine there might have been. Had I stayed for awards, I would have gotten to hear my name called. I never even gave a thought to the fact that I might have raced fast enough to place. Oh well. Next time.

My overall time was 1 hour, 34 minutes, 13 seconds. I came in 148 out of 228 women. I placed 71 in the swim, 138 in the bike and 160 in the run, and I was thrilled with those results.

This race was made up of women of all ages, sizes and abilities and they all rocked it out there on the course. I was so impressed with the feeling of sisterhood and the strength that just poured out in this race. I can’t wait to do it again next year. And next year, they hope to have more than 1,000 competitors like they do in their other more established Trek Women triathlons. If you’re in the NY area, I highly recommend this very cool race.

I’m done for this triathlon season. But I will be training and getting ready for Spring. I already have my next races mapped out. After today, I’m so hooked!

Tomorrow’s the big day! Trek Women Triathlon, NY

I still was having ambivalent moments about the Trek Women triathlon until today. Some days, I was feeling like it’s going to be great; other days, I wonder what I was thinking. Yesterday, with all of the rain, and rain predicted for tomorrow morning and a 6:30 am start, I wasn’t so sure I’d even go. But, the weather is supposed to be nice now.

So today, I went and picked up my race packet, got my body marked and wandered around a bit. I tried Sports Beans (yum, those will be available tomorrow) and Greek yogurt, which I promptly went out and picked up at the supermarket. Also yum.

I bought a race belt for my race number and Trek Women gave away an awesome T-shirt. Not sure if I’ll be wearing that one tomorrow. My brother also made me an awesome t-shirt on Zazzle and gave that to me last weekend. It says Fat Girl 2 Fit Girl and has a heart with the Japanese symbols for strength and dedication inside. His take on the whole Fat Girl To Fit Girl thing is that it takes heart, strength and dedication to train for and participate in triathlons, especially coming from the unfit state of being I was in. He’s also a triathlete. Wasn’t that sweet? For that reason alone, I would feel awful if I didn’t compete tomorrow.

So I’m ready. I got really pumped at packet pick-up! Everyone was so nice and they talked us through what the race course will be like and where we’ll need to go. I’ve done the pool swim at this venue already so I know what to expect there. I’m going to make sure I pace myself carefully and just have a really good time. And I’ll have pictures and race results as soon as I can. Probably after my diner french fries and my nap!

I want to thank all of you who read this blog and have connected with me on Twitter too! Your encouragement and support as I’ve gotten ready for this race and my first one too has really kept me going, especially on the days I don’t feel like going! You have made the whole triathlon/getting fit experience even more worthwhile! I wish I could have you all with me tomorrow morning. Instead though, I’ll have my hubby to root me on.

I’m off to make my pasta/chicken dinner to get me through my race tomorrow, finish up my laundry and relax a bit before going to bed really early tonight, since I have to be up at 4:30 am. Hopefully I’ll sleep. And the next time I post, I’ll be done! But just for the season. I’m already planning out the triathlons I want to be in come spring!

Remembering 9/11

I know that many people will be writing similar posts today, because it is a day we must always remember, however difficult that may be.

I was working in Manhattan in 2001 and should have been in the city on September 11. I worked in midtown, so for all practical purposes I would have been safe, scared but safe. But that day I wasn’t feeling well and opted to drive into the Long Island office instead. On my way to work (I was late), listening to the radio, I heard news of the first plane crash. At first I thought it was a sick joke the DJ was playing. Then, when I realized it had actually happened, I thought it must have been an accident. And then the second plane hit. And I knew. We all knew. This was being done on purpose. And I was scared.

I frantically tried to reach my husband who also often works in the city (in construction so he could be anywhere), but by then his cell phone had stopped working. I called his office. He was on Long Island that day too. My friends who worked in NY made it home that night. My brother got stuck in his office in New Jersey. But everyone was safe. We were the lucky ones.

At work that morning, everyone was crowded around the one TV in the building – in the gym, watching and waiting. A coworker and I headed up to the cafeteria for something to drink and one of our other coworkers was bubbling over after getting off the phone with her husband, who worked on one of the floors above the impact in the South Tower. He was safe and they were awaiting rescue. She had two young children. Just a minute or so later, another coworker came running into the cafeteria to announce that the South Tower had just collapsed. We watched our coworker’s knees give way and she fell to the floor. I will never forget the anguish on her face at that moment. One coworker was simply announcing the events as they happened. What he didn’t realize was that he had just told this woman that her husband had perished and she would never see him again. I don’t remember the anguished coworker’s name. She had just started working there. But I will never, ever forget her face or her sorrow.

We went home around lunchtime that day, after it was deemed “safe.” I went to get my kids from school. My daughter, then in junior high, had been shuffled off to a room with other students whose parents worked in the city, I am guessing to keep them from hearing news until they knew their parents were safe. She cried when she saw me. My son was younger and didn’t realize, I think, that my working in the city could have in any way meant I wasn’t safe. My husband arrived home minutes later.

We sat glued to the TV for the rest of the day as events unfolded. We cried a lot. The next day  on the way to work, I could still see the smoke billowing above the skyline. I passed a man standing on the back of his pickup truck on the side of the road, saluting and holding up an American flag. I cried the rest of the way to work.

The next week, back on the train, with police and guard dogs, everyone had stories, some horrific, some triumphant. People spoke more on the train in those following weeks than I had ever seen before. New York commuters keep to themselves, but now, everyone needed to talk and connect. The stories were a testament to how amazing we humans can be in times of crisis.

Eventually, life got back to normal. I worked for another six months in Manhattan before permanently moving back to the Long Island office. It was not because of 9/11, but I was happy to make the move back.

After 8 years, the events of 9/11 have faded some and life goes on. As it should. But 9/11 is a day we must never forget. And we must never forget that we were the lucky ones.

My daughter sent me this this morning. It is a fitting way to pay tribute to those who sacrificed their lives that day and the families and friends who held them dear.

That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet. — Emily Dickinson
On this day remember to get out and live, not merely exist. Laugh much and love more.

Running: Treadmill vs. Road

running-treadmillIt was dark this morning when it was time to go work out. It was also kind of rainy. School started today in my neighborhood, and that combined with the dark signal that summer is definitely coming to a close. Kind of sad. I enjoyed this summer because I’ve spent lots of time outside.

I have come to love running in the morning outside. Long runs, short runs… even though my route is the same most days, there’s always interesting stuff to see and having a destination somehow gives each run a purpose, even if it’s just to get home again. Outside, there are hills and changing weather and trees and other runners and it just breezes by, even on slow running days.

Today though, since I needed to do my last brick workout before next Sunday’s race, I had to go to the gym. I actually prefer the stationary bike because I don’t have to worry about cars, but even though I don’t know what I would have done without it in the beginning, I now understand  the nickname I see so often for the treadmill – the dreadmill.

Running after biking is just not my favorite thing to do, under any circumstances. But doing it outside is a whole lot easier than jumping on the treadmill after a 10-mile bike. The treadmill doesn’t really allow for those points where I need to go slower or faster and because I don’t see my landmarks, it’s just me and the minutes.

Don’t get me wrong. The treadmill has its purpose and I’m sure as the weather gets colder I will be spending more and more time getting to know it and admire it again.

Without the treadmill, I never would have made it through Couch25K. Without the treadmill, I never would have become a runner. When I was interval training, those seconds, then minutes, ticking by made building up to running possible. It gave me the confidence that I could do this. The first couple of times that I took my new legs out on the road, I thought I might die and wished that I could do a triathlon in the pool, on the stationary bike and on the treadmill. But they don’t let you do triathlons in the gym, so I sucked it up and got better at running outside, never in the beginning thinking I’d ever trade the treadmill for the road in my heart. But I have.

This morning, I ran 2 miles after a 10-mile stationary bike training. I had to throw my towel over the readout so I couldn’t watch the minutes ticking by. It felt like an eternity. I tried playing with intervals, going faster, raising the incline. It still felt like an eternity, and it was only 23 minutes. I tried concentrating only on the music piping into my ears. I tried focusing on other people in the gym (there aren’t too many to focus on at 6:30 am). Maybe I was just tired, but the run felt long this morning and it was a short one.

Maybe I just wasn’t prepared for the transition back to running on the treadmill again. I certainly wasn’t ready when I transitioned to running on the road. I’m sure I will come up with ways to make the treadmill interesting again as I know I will be spending more time with it as the days get shorter and the air gets colder. Maybe by next Spring, I’ll be faster!

At least now I know that to mirror resistance on the road, I need to keep the treadmill at an incline of 1. That will make transitioning back to the road a whole lot easier. That and that I plan to run outdoors any chance I get during daylight hours.

How do you cope with treadmill boredom?